Tuesday, March 21, 2017

100 miler thoughts

Here are a few thoughts after my recent run at Rocky.  From an objective standpoint, things went well.  I had set a primary goal of a sub 24 hour finish and made that goal in 22:23.  My 20 mile splits were 3:40, 4:00, 4:20, 5:00, and 5:23.  I won’t go into everything that made that happen here except to say that I focused on an overall effort level and never really wavered from that.

The lessons learned are much more interesting to me.  This is only my second 100 miler but I’ve run a good number of ultras now and I really figured out a big key during my training and this race.  Essentially, I figured out how to embrace living in two states of mind at the same time.  Or maybe it would be better to say I figured out how to just deal with things differently.  I’m having a hard time expressing this still because, well, I think it’s just not the way most of us think.  To better illustrate this, I’ll just give a couple of examples. 

When explaining that I ran one hundred miles to people, It’s hard for most people to wrap their mind around it.  I certainly have difficulty doing it myself so I understand how they’re feeling.  I was pretty tired after the first twenty mile loop.  Therein lies the challenge.  You just ran twenty miles and you absolutely cannot dwell on the fact that you have eighty miles to go.  You have to keep it in mind, that’s important, but it has to become something you keep only one eye on.  The rest of your attention has to focus on things like getting from one aid station to the next, not tripping over that root, running form, etc.  The end goal is ultimately important and you have to have a laser focus on making it, but you almost need to dissociate your thoughts from it to where you have a very dim view.  The thoughts have to be associated more immediately on the present moment, lest you trip over a root and go sprawling like a newborn fawn, as I did at about mile 96.  The wonderful thing about this approach is that it can be applied to anything you put your mind to, even a lifetime of events.  Grand ideas lose focus when they seem so far away.  We have to always have them in mind, but it’s better to focus on the present.

I would like to say that my running is fun and that the races are always full of enjoyment but that wouldn’t be very true.  Yes, there are times when I am really enjoying myself and running has taken me to places most people will never see in person.  I’ve learned that they’ve become more about adventure, friends, and an experiment about what my limits are.  And since I mentioned limits, that brings me to another interesting observation.  The thing I’ve really picked up from moving a hundred miles on foot is pretty interesting.  I am simultaneously empowered and humbled at the same time.  That’s the big lesson here.  It will make you feel like you can do absolutely anything, and I’m not necessarily talking about running.  Whether it’s work, a sick family member, a tough decision - that’s the kind of endurance I’ve gained.  It’s like there’s some supernatural endurance that has nothing to do with my physical self.  At the same time, I’m also the guy that tripped over two hundred roots stumbling around in the dark and just barely trotted across the finish line.  A hundred miles will take everything you have to finish and will humble you for sure.  I’m cool with all of that.  I can accept both the endurance gained and the humility.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Big Cedar 100: Thoughts from my first 100.

The physical toll from my first 100 mile journey on foot was more than I expected.  I’d somehow thought that since the race had a Friday start and a Saturday end, I would be able to hobble over to Mass on Sunday.  When I could barely even get out of bed the morning after, I saw how ridiculous that idea was.  My wife, Sonya, even had the homebound ministry come visit me to bring me the Eucharist.  I tried to sit up on the side of the bed to receive, and thankfully my friend Catherine said it was fine if I wanted to lie down.  In my debilitated state, I admit it felt more like “last rights” than a bedside Eucharistic service.  It wasn’t just my debilitated state that made me think about what had transpired the past few days. During Catherine’s reading of the Gospel for the day, Matthew 25: 31-46, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the race.

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ …”

Speedsters at the front of the pack
The Big Cedar Endurance Run took place in Duncanville, Texas.  It’s amazing what the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association has done out there.  They’ve built so many trails that we were able to do the 100 miles in 4 loops of 25 miles with only about 6 miles of each loop repeated.  I’ve run many times out there, so I knew what to expect.  Those who hadn’t were quite surprised to find themselves on a trail that never seems to be flat or straight for more than a few minutes.  Instead, you are always twisting, turning, going up, or going down.  You had better pay attention when you have all of this trail laid out so close together, as it can get confusing as to where you are on the course.  The first 50 miles or so went about as I had planned.  I ran all of the flat sections, gently cruised the descents, and walked up every single hill.  I tried to keep moving and not linger around the aid stations for too long.  Sonya, my friend Judy, and her daughter Grace had been crewing for me all day and helping out with changing some gear from time to time, but everything was going pretty well during the day.  This got me to 50 miles in a little under 12 hours, which was slightly off of my goal pace, but I was fine with it, since the ultimate goal was really just to finish. 

At the halfway point of the run, I was allowed to have a pacer.  Your pacer is there to keep you safe and going in the right direction, make sure you are taking care of yourself, and do everything he can to get you to move just a little faster than you probably want to.  I was blessed enough to have two guys willing to come help me.  Chad is a friend who has paced our friend Matt a couple of times and also just finished his own first 100 miler.  He would help me get through the 3rd quarter of the race.  Jon is a friend whom I paced at his first 100 miler, Rocky Raccoon.  I know what he went through there and that he knew what it might take to finish the race.

Chad looking ready to run.  We did, for a little while.

Jon and I hanging out before the race.
Things were going well as Chad and I started our loop together.  We were still jogging all the flat areas and jogging down the descents we could manage - just catching up and letting the miles tick by.  As we left an aid station at about mile 59, the skies suddenly opened up, and rain came down.  It probably only rained hard for a few minutes, but it was a complete game changer.  My friend Matt told me months ago what a mess the trail would be if we had any rain, and he was completely right.  It only took a few minutes of rain to turn buttery smooth, hardpacked trail into something completely different.  After only a few steps of walking through the sludge, we had at least 5 pounds of mud on each shoe.  We managed to get out of the open areas where the mud was really bad and do some actual running again, since the tree-covered areas on top of the hills were still somehow pretty runnable.  I was still feeling positive about keeping up a good pace until we got to a small segment called “S.O.S.”   It was a complete mess, full of slippery ascents and descents and long open areas where we had pounds of mud caked to our shoes the whole time.  The toll of 65 miles on my feet plus having to pull my shoes up out of the suctioning mud, while carrying along a bunch of extra shoe weight, had finally added up.  The tendons in my feet and ankles were so sore, I wouldn’t run another step the entire race.  Chad helped me get back to the main aid station at mile 69, and we decided to do a pacer change.  Jon would have the task of helping me make it through the next 31 miles of mud.

It was muddy...
At 2:45 on Saturday morning, I was listening to Chad give a pass down to Jon and my crew on my status.  Somehow I couldn’t remember things like the importance of eating on a 100 mile run.  That’s what Chad was currently tattling on me about to Jon and my crew.  “He needs to eat more..he’s not eating enough.”  I committed to eat more, and Chad was right; it helped.  When Jon and I headed out, I really wasn’t sure what I would be able to do.  I remember trying to run a little bit down some slopes, but my feet and ankles were so shredded, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other.  Between my current state and the mud, the run turned into what I had wanted to avoid the most: a long, slow death march.    

Jon, Judy, and myself hanging out and trying to get some calories in.
The last 31 miles turned out to be just that.  The trail got much worse because we had more rain, and there was a 50K race going on concurrently.  The clumpy mud turned to a very slick variety, so now we were sliding all over the place.  This really turned into some humorous situations.  Jon commented that he wished he had his camera when I approached a slick bridge, and we decided it would be best to get down into the ditch and use the bridge as a rail for my hands.  I looked like a little baby cruising along some furniture.  Whenever we had to go up or down a steep and slick slope, we used little tree branches along the trail’s edge as a way to pull ourselves up or to keep from sliding down.  The biggest challenge might have been a concrete drainage slab that was on an angle and covered with slick mud.  We finally figured out the best way to handle it was to lay out on all fours and crawl sideways across.  All of this added up to a very slow pace.  We figured we were averaging about 30 minutes per mile toward the end. Maybe. 

Now back to that Gospel reading...At some point, I realized I had turned the reins over - given up the car keys, so to speak.  I put my trust in my pacers and crew and let them take over for me.  For example, when Jon and I would approach an aid station, we would have a little talk about what we thought I might need.  It was up to him to remember once we got there because I’m pretty sure I forgot the results of those conversations within minutes.  The Gospel reading was realized many times over again.  Jon would tell me I needed to eat, and an aid station volunteer would cook me a cheese quesadilla in the middle of the night or perhaps serve up a delicious bacon grilled cheese sandwich!  I was hungry, and you gave me food.  People I had never met welcomed me to an aid station and gave me a warm and welcome look in the eyes.  I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.  I am grateful that my crew took over when I saw them and got everything Jon asked for out of my drop bag.  I’m pretty sure I would have just rummaged around for a few minutes and ended up thinking, “what was I looking for?”  Then there is the long slow march that Jon led me on.  I can’t even believe what he did for me.  Walking for thirteen hours through all kinds of sloppy mud? Yay!  Jon just kept going, leading the zombie at a pace slightly more uncomfortable than what I really wanted to do.  In a very strange way, I was ill, and you cared for me. 

Getting some kind words from a couple of veterans I have great admiration for - Judy and Drew
During the final three miles to the finish line, I started to get pretty emotional as I reflected on how covering 100 miles had affected me.  All of my runs have some meaning to them.  This one is different.  This experience has changed my life.  To complete something like this is incredibly empowering.  It helped me learn that I can be really strong when I want to.  Maybe a better way to put it is that I don’t see limits or distractions the same way anymore.  I’m also incredibly humbled.  I’ve heard humility described one way that I think really nails it – “there is a God, and you aren’t it.”  I don’t know what left me most humbled.  Maybe it’s the pain I experienced.  Maybe it’s the fact that I relied on friends and strangers. Maybe it’s due to the many prayers and my faith which I relied on to help me finish.  The end result is that I feel incredibly humbled after finishing.  You might think those two virtues, strength and humility, are mutually exclusive, but they’re not.  The truth is, there is strength in humility.  

Steps from the finish, giving thanks to God

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rough Creek Trail Run Report: 40 miles and a serving of humility

This race was to be a step towards ramping up for the Big Cedar 100 in November.  I’ve done this before with other races, with good results.  The basic idea is to try to treat it as a training run for a more difficult race later on.  You might end up having a lousy finishing time, but if you recover well, a great training effect.  It was also my return to the ultramarathon distance after over a year of dealing with an injury.  I was both excited and grateful to be running, but also nervous about how things would go. 

Rough Creek Trail Run  

I certainly picked a tough course for a return to ultrarunning.  I guess I forgot how hard it was since I ran the ½ marathon in 2012 and then hung out in the shade working an aid station last year.  Yeah there are long flat sections where you can cruise along without having to even look down for rocks, but then there is this stuff: 

over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over... 

I’ve run a few hard races, including some in the mountains, and this might be the toughest race I’ve run.  The rocky, technical nature of the crown and the accumulation of the steep ascents and descents really add up, even though it’s a small portion of the course.  Try to remember the beautiful view waiting for you at the top...

because remember you get to do this:

over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

Might not look like much if you've run those mountain races.  Trust me, it isn't easy...

Thoughts from the trail…

“…Mind, body, and soul all do best when none are neglected…”  This was something I read just prior to the Rough Creek 40 miler and it would certainly frame much of my thoughts during the run.  Where was I right now?  This run would be pretty revealing in all three areas, and a good learning experience overall.

The Body

I’ll start with the area that had the weakest showing at Rough Creek.  OK, so I did a handful of runs in the 4-6 hour range, I was acclimated to the heat, I had done hill repeats.  I was still kind of ramping things up though and only had about 3 weeks of what I would consider good ultra training under my belt and it showed.  Loop one was easy except that I was sweating a lot and felt dehydrated even though I was drinking and trying to take care of nutrition.  On loop 2, I started to get cramps in my calves, which I've never had before.  I was still able to run about ½ the flat sections.  I knew part of this was probably a result of being undertrained for this course, but I saw some signs that I was getting really dehydrated as well.  I spent the entire 3rd loop trying to manage my cramps and dehydration just so I could finish the run.  It turned out to be a long walk with a little shuffling mixed in.  Lots to work with here, both in my training and with my race-day fueling and hydration.

The Mind

I took a wrong turn the last time I ran here, no wrong turns this year.  I was especially cognizant of following trail markings. 

I kind of screwed up by getting behind on hydration but once I recognized it, this became a focus area.  I set goals between each aid station like what I would force myself to eat and drink.  I made myself drink so many bottles of fluid at each aid station and between each aid station.  In retrospect, I might have been able to regroup better if I would have sat down in the shade for 20 minutes or so and recovered more fully before moving on.

I admit my mind did wander and I did think about quitting, which is uncharacteristic of me.   I’m usually good at keeping positive but I found myself thinking “these rocks suck, this rusty crown sucks, this heat sucks, my cramps suck.”  It’s easy to do that.  Heck, it’s easy to do that in life, isn’t it?  I tried to think about how working through my physical and mental challenges would probably be of great benefit in a couple of months when I’m going for the 100 at Big Cedar.  And turning those thoughts positive finally started to happen…“There are beautiful yellow and purple flowers along the trail, I get to go do this, I’m still moving, I’m in a beautiful place with a great group of people!”

The Soul

What is it about these runs that get to the soul?  It’s probably all the hours on the course without a lot of distractions.  Even though I make a focused effort to cultivate reflective time into my life, it’s nothing like a full day of running around in the woods.  Add in a few challenges and I might have to think about what’s really important.  What is this suffering all about?  Is it something I should run away from, quit?  I often worry when life’s difficulties come up and wish things would go “the way I want them to.”  That’s a complete waste of time.  Maybe I could decide that the suffering could be redemptive...maybe I could even accept it and decide to carry my cross a little while. 

Dave (race director extraordinaire) asked me before I headed out for the final loop what I thought of the course since it was modified since the last time I ran it.  I said something like, “I’m really thinking about humility, Dave.”  And really that was what I thought about on the last loop.  A couple of funny things came up to help with that.  I left my shirt at a crossing where I could pick it up later, something I’ve done many times before.  I grabbed it on the way back and stuffed it in my waist band.  About a hundred yards down the trail I started to feel a growing burning sensation in my nether region.  After a quick inspection, I realized I literally had ants in my pants!  I’ve heard the phrase many times before, but whoever coined that phrase, really must have experienced ants in their pants.  You will jump around like a crazed nut and shuck your pants down without checking to see who’s looking to get rid of ants in your pants.  And that is exactly what I did. 

The hills and the cramps were really the humbling part of this experience.  Having not really experienced such disabling cramps before, it was almost comical to have the same series of events repeated over and over.  All of a sudden one of my calves would seize up, which resulted in my toes pointing straight down, which resulted in my tripping.  Soon to follow was some weird noise from me that sounded more like the bleat of some distressed animal and a flinging of my bottles up in the air as I headed for the ground.  The only way to recover was to stretch the cramp out by bearing weight on it and then pull myself up like a little baby trying to stand up for the first time.  I know it sounds like I’m being very dramatic but I think if you’ve ever experienced that you know what it feels like. 

The final 3 miles to the finish were flat.  I finally saw some signs that my hydration was getting better.  I actually shuffled along a few times without cramping up but really I just walked.  I would like to say I made a miraculous comeback but that’s not going to be part of this report.  When I got to the finish line area, I didn’t even try to muster a jog.  I just strolled on in, bottles in one hand.  Rough Creek had humbled me for sure. 

I am so grateful for this experience.  As I finished, I thanked God for humility. I thanked Him for my health.  I thanked Him for everyone out here running and volunteering.  I thanked Him for my wife, children, family, and friends.

Monday, September 15, 2014

And the band played on....

Something pretty cool happened recently at Mass.  A pretty mild Sunday rainstorm somehow knocked out the power right in the middle of the celebration.  All the lights went out and suddenly we were all in the dark other than the light coming in through the stained glass windows.  Suddenly, it seemed as if we had gone back in time about two hundred years.  I couldn’t help but wonder how magnificent those stained glass windows must have been to someone who had not been fully desensitized by all the “flashing bright lights” of our current time.  I imagine it would feel like Heaven had come to Earth.  It was also a reminder to me that that was exactly what was happening at that very moment in our very Church.   

I was slowly transported back to the present as everyone started dusting off the flashlight app on their smartphone.  That was when I started to look around and see what was going on.  People just started helping each other out, shining lights on hymnals so people could keep singing, alter servers positioned with candles to light the way, and the band played on…The choir never seemed to break stride and the band kept playing despite the darkness throwing them this little distraction.  They got a well deserved applause at the end, one of the loudest I have heard in the Church.  And just to boot, they threw in “Rain Down” for their next song.    

I don’t want to over dramatize it, but it was neat to see people spontaneously helping each other out.  Let’s open these doors to bring in some light…lets put these candles here…I’ll light your hymnal…let me help that older person who might not see as well…let’s go get the flashlights…hey let’s just keep going...

Yes, let’s keep going.  What’s really important?  The Eucharist, our community, loving one another.  As my Priest said after the celebration, “Well this is how we did it for the first 1800 years or so, we don’t need any stinking electricity.”  Well said Father!  


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Altra Lone Peak 2.0 - A Comparison Review

Altra Lone Peak 2.0 on the right...1.5 on the left (picture in the driveway...but both have seen extensive trail time)
The Altra Lone Peak 1.5 has been one of my daily trainers this summer.  One of the reasons for this is that it’s one of the shoes in the Altra lineup that still has the firm/moderate cushioning that I prefer.  They replaced my beloved original Instincts, as I couldn’t find them anymore, and after putting probably a ton of miles on my last pair of Instincts, I finally retired them.  So it is with some excitement and also some anxiety that I ordered a pair of the new Altra Lone Peak 2.0 for comparison.  I was excited in that I thought it might be more comfortable for longer distance.  What made me anxious was that I thought they might be as super-soft as the Instinct 2.0, which I did not like.  This review will be a comparison of the Lone Peak 1.5 and 2.0 to see how they stack up.
Lone Peak 1.5 insole laying on top of the Lone Peak 2.0 insole
The fit is about the same when comparing the two shoes.  If you look at the insoles, they have about the same footprint.  If anything, the 2.0 has a bit more space at the big toe and small toe areas. 
Lone Peak 2.0 has a softer and more padded heel collar and softer upper overall
The uppers of both shoes are different and affect the fit and feel of both shoes.  The material of the 2.0 is relatively soft and flexible as compared to the 1.5.  The overall result is that the 2.0 feels very comfortable on my foot.  That softness can feel great when running on flat, non-technical trails.  When I hit more technical trails, I find myself wanting the tighter weave of the 1.5 upper to hold the foot in place.
Altra Lone peak 2.0 - midfoot "straps" from the midfoot eyelets that go to the base of the shoe - grey part near my thumb. 
A neat feature that somewhat makes up for the looser feeling upper on the 2.0 is that the laces run through some mid-foot straps that go all the way to the footbed of the shoe.  That seems to secure the mid-foot a bit, although I had to tie my laces pretty snug to get this effect. 

Altra Lone Peak 2.0 outsole on the left, 1.5 on the right
 The outsoles of both shoes are about the same.  If anything, the 2.0 has a little bit more tread.  I prefer more of a hybrid outsole, so this isn’t really a big deal to me.  For those who really like an aggressive outsole, the 2.0 might give you a little more grip. 
Altra Lone Peak 2.0 on the bottom, 1.5 on the top - much more cushion
The new midsole is the major change in this update.  The 1.0 and 1.5 both had a more “minimal” feel but ran like a bigger shoe.  In other words, even with a relatively low stack height, I would feel comfortable running on just about any surface in those shoes.  The 2.0 not only has a higher stack height, but also has a softer feel compared to the previous version.  This will probably frustrate those who were in love with the earlier versions of the Lone Peak, but I bet it will be welcomed by most.  For me, the main downside for the change is a slight loss of agility and balance from being up higher on the softer platform.  As someone who does longer trail runs though, I can appreciate the extra cushion.  My feet felt much less fatigued after a recent 5 hour training run, and I didn’t feel like I sacrificed a lot in the way of running form.  

If you think the previous versions are the greatest shoes in the world, you might want to stock up now because the Altra lineup seems to be trending towards more cushioned shoes.  Overall though, this is a good update that I think will appeal to many people who like the zero drop, foot shaped approach but didn’t want the more minimal cushioning of the previous versions. 
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Praying and Running

The last couple of weeks have been a little tough….not “how am I going to feed the family” tough or anything like that.  It has just been one of those periods where things start to add up, and I become a grouchy person to be around.    You know…work stinks, the house looks like a dang construction area, some folks are driving me batty, it’s 97 degrees for weeks on end, and I’m trying to find time to get in a long run, etc… 

Remember this guy?

I’m grateful that my wife, Sonya, has been patient.  She has put in a couple of thoughts about my grouchiness, but that’s OK.  I needed that.  I certainly do the same for her.  That’s one of the ways we serve one another.

The telltale sign that I’m not coping well is cynicism.  What better way to revel in my misery than to deny the sincerity of your actions?  And if I can throw in a little subtle sarcasm, I can even pass it off as light humor, right?  HA, HA!  Some other signs include general jerkiness, brooding, and long, prolonged sighs (as opposed to cleansing breaths).  Where does it get me, really?  No where.

For some reason, I always seem to neglect the two things that help me most during these times – prayer and running.  My prayer life is liturgical in nature and includes reading the psalms.  I can easily fall into a quick read on the “Prayer Express” if I’m not careful.  The running can go the same way.  I’ll default to just getting in a quick run here and there, rather than going on a long run to clear my mind or trying to maintain the focus required of my hill repeat workouts. 

What I miss out on during the “Prayer Express” is a real conversation with God.  I jump past those important listening moments.  Why do these few words in particular get my attention?  What does this passage mean for my current situation?  How can I pray about the meaning of this?  I recently remembered some words of wisdom from a wonderful Franciscan Priest I met named Father Francis – “Don’t try to overdo it or get all fancy with what you do.  Find out what works for you, and try to do it first thing in the morning.  The point is to spend time with Jesus.  Spend ten minutes with Jesus every day, and that’s a good start.”  Good advice…

Many people have written about how running can be addictive.  If it was a drug, I would classify it as an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication with a hint of something to add a little focus.  It may seem strange and even kind of pathologic to say that I use running to cope sometimes, but I freely admit it.  It seems to smooth things out when I’m feeling anxious.  It gives me a jolt of energy when I’m feeling down, and in a world that seems to lack focus, it is one thing that really helps me bring focus back in my life.  If I have something on my mind, it’s a time to block out the many distractions in life and collect my thoughts.  Often, the results have also been some of the most moving prayer experiences I have had.  What better way to spend my ten minutes (and more) with Jesus?

By the way, Oscar was just misunderstood.  He really just loved trash...

If you can't see the video (click here)I

Thursday, July 10, 2014


What is healing?  For my running, that might mean being able to finally do the longer runs I’m used to.  Being able to head out the door and run for 3 hours or so without worrying if I might have to detour back home is a good measure of my physical healing. Yes, the miles don’t roll by as easily or as fast as they have in the past, but that will get easier.  Anyone in Texas who is trying to put in a long run in the middle of the day at this time of year is really just surviving the run, anyway.  Regardless, I am grateful to be able to do it. 

I work in a hospital, and you might think that I get to see people cured all the time.  Objectively, that’s not necessarily true.  Acute care hospitals are generally not a place where you are admitted with an illness and come out “cured.”  That does happen, but most of the time it’s only the start of the process.  I might get to spend a few days or maybe even weeks with patients, but they might be fighting their diseases for months, maybe even the rest of their lives.  I rarely get to see how everything turns out for these people. 

Even though I rarely get to see the outcomes for the people I am with in the hospital, I have seen a great amount of healing.  When does that happen?  It happens when a patient is calmed by someone sitting with them for a few moments and listening.  It happens when someone gets a hug from a coworker.  It happens when someone comes along and wakes you up by saying just what was needed.

Healing does happen with comfort in the early stages.  We have to have comfort to calm ourselves enough to process what is going on in our lives.  Later on, healing seems to be different.  A better description might be one of change or transformation.  At some point, maybe healing looks like someone with heart disease who is (almost) happy about eating broccoli.  Maybe it is someone who realizes they can turn away from addiction.  The most wonderful change I see is when someone realizes what a gift life is and decides to live each day with a renewed joy. 

I fully recognize that healing from a running injury pales in comparison to some of the suffering in the world.  In fact, I have had some guilt about the time I have spent whining about it.  However, what does my healing look like besides how far I can run now?  It’s a realization that I need to do other things besides going running to take care of my body.  It’s a new joy I have when I head out the door for a run.  It’s a new hunger to find out what happens wherever my feet take me.