28 January 2008

Stop the Violence (in Kenya) -- Updated

WARNING: If you click on the news links in this blog, be prepared to read some horrific reports and to see some heart-breaking pictures. Google News compilation on Kenya. When I checked, there were at least 18 pages of lists of news articles on Kenya over the last 24 hours. Sample articles:
Ethnic clashes spread in Kenya
Gangs on rampage in Kenyan towns

Things just do not look good in Kenya. The level of violence and hatred and pure evil is rising rapidly. People who were living peacefully as neighbors just 4 weeks ago are now attacking each other. There are reports of threats by one tribal group to retaliate 300%. Sunday, ABC News online quoted one man:
We have moved out to revenge the deaths of our brothers and sisters who have been killed, and nothing will stop us, said Anthony Mwangi, hefting a club threateningly. For every one Kikuyu killed, we shall avenge their killing with three.

It's not just the Kikuyu because earlier, people on the opposite side were quoted as saying they would kill 2 for every one of their tribe killed.

This is madness; this is insane; this must stop. What good can be accomplished in this way? The Standard, one of Kenya's major daily papers, is begging people to stop killing each other and begging the political leaders to actually lead and find a solution to the problems.

The Kenyans who are participating in this bloodshed are not solving anything but only making a bad situation infinitely worse. Forgiveness is often more difficult than revenge but it pays dividends in both the short and long-term that are huge.

There are people who are doing their best to stand firm for Kenya. Many disciples of Jesus are going into the internally displaced persons camps to help with needs as best they can -- many at obvious risk to their own well-being, even their lives. I got a phone report tonight about the members of Parklands and Ridgeways Baptist Churches in Nairobi doing that. I am so thankful for the large number of people -- among them are personal friends -- who are saying No to violence but who are ministering across ethnic lines because they want to be Kenyans and they want to demonstrate Christ's love. My prayer is, Oh God, intervene.

Psalm 46 (New International Version) (the link takes you to a different translation
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

If you are a follower of Jesus, pray for Kenya (and the numerous other countries who are experiencing the same kind of chaos and destruction).

Pray well, y'all,

AirTap! and PercusienFa - Erik Mongrain

If you have never seen this kind of guitar playing, prepare to be blown away. I really like the music but am just awed by the way Erik plays. (If this is old hat to you, well, I'm an old guy and old hats are just fine. :) )



Run well, y'all,

26 January 2008

Random: Roller Coasters

I really like roller coasters but some people really hate them. Crabby McSlacker, who writes co-writes (sorry, Mary) the Cranky Fitness blog, pointed us a video of a British newscaster who rode a new roller coaster on live TV. As Crabby said, it's either hilariously funny or extremely painful to watch, depending on your perspective. I was in the former group -- I got a good belly laugh.

Scream well, y'all,

Group Run Then Solo

As part of the prep for the Richmond 10K in April, I'm participating in the local YMCA training program. I'm doing it more to get to know people than for the training benefit because I'm already running more than their highest group and am following a Runner's World training plan. We did 2.0 miles as a group and I ran with Louise who is aiming for a sub-50 minute 10K (my goal is 46-47 minutes). The pace felt comfortable so I was quite surprised when we finished in just under 16 minutes -- more surprised when I plotted the run on Gmaps Pedometer and found that it was actually 2.2 miles.

After we finished the group run, I needed about 7 more miles so I headed out to finish my long run. I don't know what it is about stopping and then starting again. I stopped after the group run just long enough to sign out of the group run and to say "Good-bye" to Louise and then headed out. But, it was long enough to tighten up. It still took a couple of miles before I felt loose again. I thought I was taking the pace slow (the plan called for 9:05 mpm), but every mile was just at 8:00 mpm. After about 3 miles I just thought, Forget trying to slow down, I'll just finish. Even at that pace (the total ended up being something like 7:45 mpm), it was a great run -- another runner's high. The only problem was that I was cold at times -- there was a steady breeze, you know, one of those that is in your face no matter which way you turn. Still, a good way to start a Saturday.

Run well, y'all,

25 January 2008

Did You See It?

I went to see Spirit of the Marathon last night. Except for having to pay $10.00 for the movie (I did get a free bag of popcorn) and going by myself, I'm glad I went. It was an interesting experience being in a theater full of runners watching a movie about running. Well, at least, based on comments and laughter at all the right spots, I assume most of the folks there were runners. Everybody groaned right along with the runners who were profiled.

The movie profiled 6 runners who were preparing to run the 2005 Chicago Marathon. The crowd shots of the marathon itself were something. They aren't unique but vividly showed the size of the running crowd.


Gerald, 65 years old, gives me hope. At almost 54, though I know I'm not as fast as I was at 16, I'm in far better aerobic shape than I was then. But, I do sometimes wonder how long I can continue running.

Ryan was really intent on qualifying for Boston. I loved his comment to the effect of not having a runner's body. And, his demonstration, on a treadmill, of the difference between an "average" runner's pace and an elite runner's pace was effective.

Leah started running again to help her get her life back together. Though I haven't had the problems she faced, I do think running has helped me keep my sanity in a stressful, every-changing job.

Lori likes running by herself. I enjoy running with others occasionally and there have been times when I really wished for a running partner. But, for the most part, running is my "I-time".

Then there are the professionals. Deena Kastor came across as focused, intense but very down-to-earth. We all hurt with her when she talked about the injury that kept her out of running for several months. Then her race to the finish of the Chicago marathon was great.

I've saved Daniel Njenga for last. Daniel took me "home". Having lived in Kenya for 18 1/2 years, I was instantly transported when he started speaking in that unique accent that is so typical of central Kenyan English speakers. I wanted to shout, "Ndiyo! Sema." Then, when they showed him walking around and running in the Nyahururu area of central Kenya, I could almost smell the smells and feel the mud clinging to my shoes. I don't know, specifically, if Nyahururu has been hit by the violence in Kenya during the last 3 weeks, but it is so typical of those areas. That left me with mixed emotions -- glad to be seeing what felt like home but sad over the plight of so many innocent people who lives have been devastated by the killing and burning that's gone on. Previous blogs on Kenya situation:

Runner's High
Update on Kenya
In the Midst of Chaos and Suffering
Kenya Relief Work
And God Sighed
...and Sighed Again

The movie will be screened again on 21 February 2008 in several locations. Even at $10, I recommend it to runners.

Run well, y'all,

23 January 2008

Tempo Run - Day 3 of 10K Training

Well, wasn't sure how my fitness had held up. Since running the half marathon at the end of September, I had done very little faster work. Plus, though the temperature was only 32°, I found out that there were some icy patches on the road. The Plan for this 3rd day of my 10K training called for 1 mile warm-up, 3 miles @ 7:36 mpm, 1 mile cool-down. Here are my splits:

0.23 x 2:58.72 (Walking)
1.00 x 8:56.78 (Warm up)
1.00 x 7:40.95 (At this point, thought I wouldn't make it)
1.00 x 7:13.15 (Hmmm. Probably should slow down)
1.00 x 7:14.96 (Whoa! Didn't slow down much -- felt good)
1.25 x 9:51.82 (Ahhh. Watch the ice!)

Run well, y'all,

21 January 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

This Thursday (24 January) is the release of the documentary, Spirit of the Marathon. I plan to see it at the Short Pump Regal theaters. The write-ups look good.

Started an 11 week training program for the Richmond 10K. It was bitter cold (11°) and I wasn't sure I had the gear for that. So, I went to the YMCA and hit the treadmill, set it at 6.7 mph and ran 5.18 miles (I did the last half mile or so at 8 mph just to get the lead out), the longest I've run continuously on a treadmill.

Run well, y'all,

19 January 2008

Update: What to Wear

On 13 January, I talked about what I wear in the colder weather and referenced an article in the February 2008 Runner's World. I finally found the article online (or RW finally posted it): Ten Tips for Running in the Cold.

Run warm, y'all,

Healthy Lungs

This is great!

Run (or bike) well, y'all,


Monday is Martin Luther King Day. CNN did a special on him this morning. This Last Word clip is a portion of that report. He was a great man in many ways. What courage! He didn't sit in a mansion or a fancy hotel room and direct demonstrations, he was right there, marching in the front. He continues to be an inspiration to many. Despite his strong insistence on non-violence, even he couldn't prevent individuals in his movement from committing violent acts -- CNN commented on the fact that some youth broke storefront windows in Memphis even though King had called for passive resistance. Those kinds of independent actions undercut the power of a movement (in case anyone is unclear, I'm thinking of the current situation in Kenya).

Before King's I have a dream.... speech, he counseled with his advisors until the early morning hours. Then, CNN reported that he told them he was going to his room to counsel with the Lord. When he gave the speech, it was not what the human advisors had agreed on. I trust King's final authority.

One of the best lines in the speech is this (IMHO):

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

That's worth remembering as each of us makes a decision about who to vote for in the primaries, caucuses, and the November election. Character is not the only consideration for a President -- he or she does need to understand the Constitution, be able to make decisions, know how to enlist advisors, have leadership qualities, etc. -- but character is the foundation for all of that.

I'm not sure if this will be a repeat of what I saw this morning, but looks like it will be good. (From the Student News section of CNN.com):
Set your VCR to record the CNN Special Investigations Unit Classroom Edition: MLK Papers -- Words That Changed a Nation when it airs commercial-free on Monday, January 21, 2008, from 4:00 -- 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN. (A short feature begins at 4:00 a.m. and precedes the program.)

Well, let me toss in a running-related comment. Isn't running strange? Today was my 3rd day in a row -- 6th day out of 7. I should have been more tired today. In addition, I was planning to run longer than any other day. Yet, though I ran almost 9 miles at a faster pace than any other day (7:58 mpm), overall, it was the best and easiest run of the week. Miles 3 and 4 were pretty tough but the others weren't. Go figure!?! I hope your run was good today.

Run well, y'all,

16 January 2008

... and Sighed Again

The news out of Kenya today is not encouraging. Keep praying:

Kenyan police shoot protestors
Violent clashes at Kenya protests
Residents braced for chaos as mass demos kick off

Though I can't find a news reference, word is that the President has closed Parliament for 4 months. That will certainly not calm tensions in the country.

Sigh ... run well, y'all,

Excuses Debunked

If you've ever made excuses for not exercising -- I know I have -- this video should provide a good dose of perspective:

Thanks to Amy at Runner's Lounge for finding this clip.

Run well, y'all,

And God Sighed

My predecessor in my current job spoke in chapel this morning on Mark 7:31-36 -- one instance when Jesus healed someone. I want to credit Larry with the thoughts that follow. While not his exact words, what he said this morning stimulated my thinking on this.

As Jesus went about his day-to-day activities, he traveled through the region of the Decapolis where some people brought a deaf and mute man to him for healing. What Larry said this morning focused my attention on verse 34 where it says that Jesus ...looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh...." The word, sigh, in Greek (stenazo sten-ad'-zo) means to sigh, murmur, pray inaudibly:-- with grief, groan. Larry's interpretation was that Jesus knew that it was not God's perfect will that this man be unable to communicate clearly.

The things that are going on in Kenya and many other parts of the world are not in God's perfect will. That's not what he wants for His creation. It happens because of the rotten choices that people make. I wonder ... God is sighing over the situation in Kenya. There are a huge number of people, believers and non-believers, who are sighing over that situation. Jesus didn't just sigh over the plight of the man, he took action. Many believers are taking action. I can't just sigh over the situation in Kenya (or Zimbabwe or Dafur or wherever) either. I wonder what action I should take?

Run well, y'all,

The Longest Mile

Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine has a running article that got my day started with a laugh: My Longest Mile. I'm definitely not part of the running lunatic fringe that Corrigan describes:
always chiseled and hairless, in the slick running magazines smiling and gliding effortlessly through the miles. They never sweat, never frown, and always run in good weather

None of those phrases describe me. Neither do I have about a hundred words to describe how much I loathe running. But I can relate to the agonies of the first year of running:
Gravity surely exerts more force just on me. I can hear the barometric pressure chuckling as it quickly doubles along only my path. My feet pull away from the ground like sweaty thighs from a hot vinyl car seat. The wind actually blows at me from opposite directions.

It's a good read from an unexpected source.

Run well, y'all,

14 January 2008

Kenya Relief Work

Some pictures of the relief work in Kenya

I thought some pictures of the relief efforts in Kenya might help you understand how people are working together to demonstrate love and concern during the humanitarian crisis in Kenya. (My apologies for the odd formatting -- I don't quite have the hang of finessing pictures into a decent alignment.)

Families arrive at safe locations by a variety of means. Some come by punda (Sw. donkey) cart...

... others arrive on the back of large lorries.

Once in the safe havens -- police compounds, churches, schools, etc. -- there's not a lot to do but wait.

Many fled to the safe havens with no possessions -- only the clothes on their backs. Kenyans donated sacrificially to help.

Baptist Global Response brought in blankets.

Relief workers tried to register everyone in the camps both to ensure equitable distribution of food and to try to enable families to locate missing relatives.

This was an incredible scene. The lady on the right had been displaced from her home by the riots. Still, she brought sugar cane to one of the camps to share with those who had lost more than she. The youth registering the donation are from a local Baptist church.

13 January 2008

In the Midst of Chaos and Suffering...

(Kenya ethnic map is from the BBC)
I thought it would be good to give a bit (OK, this is longer than a bit) of an update on the situation in Kenya. Since I pointed some folks to my blog last week, I figure they might come back to see what else is happening. (DISCLAIMER: Except for quotes and references to articles, the following comments represent my personal thoughts and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of anyone else, including my employer.)

The news coming out of Kenya is not real encouraging. Last week, Kibaki selected his Vice President and most of his cabinet prior to mediation attempts. It appeared to be a move calculated to firmly entrench himself in power and to effectively cut out the opposition (those who claim the election was stolen from them) from any meaningful part in the current government. That, alone, could cause tensions to go back up again. Then, neither side seems to be willing to budge from hard-line positions and the two leaders still haven't talked face-to-face. The opposition has called for rallies on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. Not good.

The man who was chosen as VP, Kalonzo Musyoka, was a minor third-party candidate for President who received only 9% of the vote and didn't even carry his home province. I was privileged to meet and have lunch with him about 3 years ago as part of a trip to his district to see some water catchment work that had been done by Baptists in Kenya. He seemed to be a sincere, clear thinking politician. His agreement to be the Vice President in these troubled times and in partnership with one who had been accused of fraudulent election practices has puzzled me. I'm not alone in that as the following editorial makes clear:

Irony of Kalonzo-Kibaki Relation

One of Kenya's leading daily papers pointed out the complexity of this crisis, giving credence to my own thoughts:

Kenyans are fighting inequality, not ethnicity

NPR has a good selection of stories on the political issues and the crisis that has resulted -- NPR stories on Kenya.

But, I'd like to focus on a different aspect of all of this. In the midst of this crisis, many believers have refused to be drawn into the conflicts and the tribalism and are demonstrating their faith in practical, loving ways. This is one of the things that differentiates the Kenya situation from the incredible violence in Rwanda in 1992 -- believers are showing that when Christ truly rules in one's heart, that person is changed, she is different, he does not respond based on prejudice or the normal expectations of culture. The following news articles and snippets from various e-mails demonstrate those responses by both Kenyan nationals and expatriate missionaries:

Kenyan needs trigger Baptist ministry

Kenya refugees sheltered at Baptist school

9 January 2008 -- Mark Hatfield, Africa Director, Baptist Global Response

I have used an additional about $5,000 (Baptist Global Response had already used $25,000 for relief work) for the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons, I think) center here at the Tigoni Police station and the KRC (Kenya Red Cross) center in Limuru. Most of that has gone for blankets and non-food items. I may have to have the pit latrines pumped tomorrow :) They are overflowing

There are about 800 in Tigoni that we are feeding daily. For the first three days I hauled about 1500 liters of water to them daily but we were able to get the Tigoni water to turn on the police tap so the water hauling has slowed down.

I have been pleased with the KRC's ability to manage something this size and even more amazed at the generosity of the community around here. Many donations come in daily. We have not had to buy fresh Veggies yet. The Limuru center is better off in all areas than those at the police station.

The Barton's (Baptist family) have been super and Kathy fixes something daily to bring to the police station. Ian helped me haul food from town and has been very involved.

We had 50 KG (about 110 pounds) of beans soaking in the bath tub last night that were served today. Tomorrow is Ugali day.

We have enough food depending on what all is donated locally for about another 5 days. What we are doing is not large but I think significant.

12 January 2008 -- Bert Yates, Prayer Coordinator for Kenya

We will not take an oath or join the homeguards. We will stand in the centre. As we awaited the delivery of relief food last week, Arthur Kinyanjui [Baptist pastor and past moderator of the Baptist Convention of Kenya] repeated these words to us. He and others at a Bible School in the Rift Valley first made these statements over 50 years ago. As God’s servants, this was their answer when they were asked to join either the Mau Mau soldiers or the homeguards, the soldiers with the colonial British government. Later as we visited the camp for the displaced at the Nakuru Showgrounds, Arthur and an elderly friend shared that they had seen many difficult situations during their lives, but what was happening today could only be compared to what they had seen during the Mau Mau Uprising in the 1950’s. Both men had tears in their eyes as they shared. Arthur, who has started churches in Kenya and Uganda during the last half century among many, many different tribes, finds it impossible to accept that once again as an ambassador for his Saviour, he must stand in the centre in his own country.

Jack and I continue to praise God for how our Kenyan friends are looking beyond economic or tribal boundaries to meet the needs of those around them. During the relief efforts when tribal clashes erupted in the Rift Valley in the late 1980’s, most of Jack’s calls from pastors and church leaders began with the list of their needs and requests for outside help. Yes, much of our job at that time and today is to encourage those hurting and give them the opportunity to share, but this time is different. Even as the needs are shared, the emphasis is on what they can do to meet their needs and praises for what God is doing already!

But, the needs are there and they will need outside help. We are certain that some of our churches have been burned and destroyed, but we are awaiting confirmation before we share the facts with you. I asked Jack today if he had received word yet on the churches in Burnt Forest, an area between Nakuru and Eldoret which has especially felt the fury of the election madness. Jack answered, Not yet, but I have delayed calling my contact there. I don’t think I want to hear his answer. I helped build almost all of those church buildings. I know where each Baptist Church is located. I know their people. As you pray for the thousands displaced and hurting in our country, please also pray for the Kenyans and others like Jack who are ministering to them. Pray for strength and compassion as they listen and encourage. Pray for wisdom as the IMB and many other groups seek to find the best ways to help meet the incredible needs around us. Pray that new attacks and threats will not continue. And pray especially for those who are in national leadership positions. Pray that they will look beyond any political, tribal or personal desires or rivalries and truly seek true and lasting peace for all Kenyans.

13 January 2008 -- Bert Yates, Prayer Coordinator for Kenya

Regardless of what is happening in our country, THE LORD IS KING! These are the words our worship leader, Carol, spoke this morning before leading us in singing We Crown You Now. She also reminded those of us at Parklands Baptist that in spite of what we see in the news and all around us our Lord is Good. We then sang, Lord you are good and your mercies endureth forever. As I sat among my Kenyan friends this morning, I was awed once again by their desire to praise God and totally depend upon him in times of suffering and sorrow. Many arrived this morning with guests – after the service I learned from a friend, that as I expected, these were displaced family members now sharing their homes, yet they all joined fervently in the praise songs.

Later, as we sang our usual welcome song, we were challenged to sing it to our neighbours this week. Pastor Simon Mwangi shared, For peace to be generated, it is not just the job of politicians. All of us must get involved. Can you imagine what would happen in our city and country or even in our world if everyone honestly sang, God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it should be to their neighbours in the coming days?

Pastor Simon added that Kenyans need to focus on God totally, not politicians, newspapers, or even international help. He said Kenya must look to God and only to God for help and for peace. In the morning prayer, Deacon John Rono stated, The best mediator is Lord God Almighty. Later, Pastor Ambrose Nyangao repeated this by asking us to not focus on current circumstances, but to join him in singing, Turn your eyes upon Jesus…and the things of earth will grow dim in the light of his glory and grace.

I’m afraid that all these positive comments might make you think that those at our church are imitating the ostriches that we see in our game parks and on open plains. Yet, in all I heard this morning, no one was hiding their head in the sand and denying the current problems of Kenya. Pastor Simon shared how his family had visited the many displaced camps in our area yesterday. As his children joined in playing with the displaced children, he realized that there was a great need for comfort, not just food for the many who have been through such trauma. When Pastor Ambrose stated that the devil is working hard to get our focus away from our Saviour, there were many, many nods and sounds of agreement. There was also great understanding when Ambrose asked if we remembered how Jesus calmed the sea and the storm and added, For there to be a great calm, there must be a great storm.

I am proud of my church and my Kenyan friends, but I am not sharing these things to brag. I want you to see the other side of what is happening in our country – the side that gives me hope among all the turmoil and pain of recent days. I am certain the message and challenges Jack and I heard this morning are being heard in churches throughout Kenya today. Please continue praying with us for not just a time of peace in our country, but a lasting peace that is a result of an end to the tribal, political and economic problems that have fed the discontent and anger that has caused current clashes/attacks as well as destruction and death in the past. Join us in praying Deacon Rono’s plea this morning for the leaders of Kenya – Pray that they will prefer peace for all above all personal and political ambitions and desires.

13 January 2008 -- David and Robin Stow, Volunteer Coordinator, Baptist Mission of Kenya

As I write to you, we have just returned from another wonderful worship service at our church where the focus was prayer for the nation of Kenya. Three groups went to three different areas in the town to see first hand the situation. In all three areas, the groups consisted mostly of women with small children and the elderly. After returning, they reported the most urgent needs in these specific areas are underwear, diapers and wipes for the babies, sanitary napkins for the ladies, water and a means of cleaning their bodies. Today we collected money specifically for these items. There has been an outpouring here with people donating clothing and food and while there is still a HUGE need for all of these things, the items they identified are items not being donated as readily and are critical to the needs of these displaced people.

There are refugee camps all over Kenya trying to meet the needs of those displaced. Many have found refuge with other family members as time has gone by, but there are many who do not have anywhere to go. Many have had to leave the only home they have ever known just because their tribe was not of that area. Many marriages are suffering because of the intermarriage that has taken place. Many camps are for an individual tribe so families are split. One of the groups from our church learned that in one camp they visited there had been violence within the camp because it was a mixed group.

What can you do? Most importantly, you can pray as requested in the e-mails that I've copied above. The International Mission Board, SBC maintains a fund for Human Needs Ministries from which it draws in situations like this. Help is given regardless of religion or tribe and 100% of the contributions go to providing help because the programs overseas are administered by missionaries and Baptist relief workers. Read about that here -- IMB Human Needs Ministries. If you want to give, you could designate your gift for Kenya disaster relief.

Run (life) well, y'all,

Are We Ruining Our Knees or Other Joints?

I'm sure most people who run regularly have heard the warnings about ruined knees, ankles, hips, etc. Runner's World online has an article that should be encouraging to us: If I continue to run, will I get arthritis?

Run well, y'all,

Weather and What to Wear While Running

We went to the early worship service at our church today. So, I decided to run after Bible study (about 11:30). My wife also planned to run but was concerned about being cold. AS I advised her about what she might wear, I realized that this is a very individual matter depending on one's tolerance for cold and the level of effort, which determines internal temperatures.

The February '08 issue of Runner's World printed a guide created by a couple of runners from Rhode Island and Ontario (p.65) - I can't find the article online so can't link to it (why doesn't Runner's World at least have the full contents of the magazine available online for subscribers?). It's almost dead-on the way I decide what to wear. I'm very warm-natured and sweat profusely, so the following might not apply to you (to save typing, assume that all items are "tech" cloths unless otherwise noted -- little or no cotton for me):

  • 80°+: I only run around in the shower! (I'm a heat wimp)
  • 50-79°: short-sleeved shirt, shorts, light socks
  • 40-49°: long-sleeved shirt, shorts, gloves, heavier socks on the lower end of the range
  • 32-39°: short-sleeved shirt, polyester/cotton sweatshirt, shorts, gloves
  • 27-31°: long-sleeved shirt, poly/cotton sweatshirt, shorts, wind pants, gloves -- if I'm feeling wimpy, I'll add the stocking cap with the ear flaps turned up
  • 13-26°: short-sleeved shirt under a long-sleeved shirt, poly/cotton sweatshirt, shorts, wind pants, stocking cap w/ear flaps down and tied under my chin (my family "loves" the style), gloves
  • 13°: I don't know as it hasn't gotten that cold in Richmond in the last 2 winters

(BTW and for what it's worth, I really like Balega socks -- Enduro when the temperature is warmer, mid-40's and up, and the gray/black Trail when the temperature is cooler, 40's and lower, or when I'm running 10+ miles.)

Today wasn't that cold (47° and breezy when I went out) so I wore my fluorescent yellow Brooks long-sleeved shirt. My family says nobody can miss seeing me when I wear that shirt but they worry that it might blind somebody and they'll run over me because of it! Not a bad run -- 5.5 miles at 8:10 mpm.

Run well, y'all,

12 January 2008

Most Bizarre Question While Running

I've been asked some interesting questions by non-runners when I'm running. One chilly spring morning, I was stopped by someone in a car who asked if I had seen a horse running around. One night, in an upper-middle income neighbourhood, I was asked by a rather unkempt man where the free overnight house was. But today's question was the most bizarre. I was running around a small, local lake and coming up on 3 children who were fishing. As I approached them, a boy about 9 years old asked me if I had any scissors. I guess his mother never said to him, Don't run with scissors. (On the other hand, maybe he couldn't tell I was running!)

What's the most bizarre question you've been asked while running?

Great run today and the longest run I've had since the half marathon in September -- 9.4 miles at 7:53 mpm, 51°.

Run well, y'all,

05 January 2008

Update on Kenya (NRR - Not Running Related)

The news this morning from Kenya is encouraging. According to both the BBC and CNN, Dr. Jendayi Frazer (photo from BBC's web site), the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, has been able to talk to both Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga and they have agreed to talk together. No one is quite sure what might come out of those talks but possibilities mentioned include power sharing or an interim government leading up to new elections. We'll see. My friends and colleagues in Kenya reported yesterday that things were much more peaceful and seemed almost normal in Nairobi except for the light traffic.

What happened in Kenya was an undeniable tragedy. More people have died in Kenya in other conflicts over the past 15 years but that doesn't make this week's death toll any less significant: 300 600+ people killed; as many as 250,000 displaced (according to the U.N. and reported by BBC and CNN). CNN reports that the Kenyan Red Cross ... is appealing for $15.4 billion in aid for those forced from their homes by the crisis. Pictures sometimes speak more clearly than words. The BBC has posted pictures of the riots here -- captions are in Swahili but the pictures clearly show the violence.

These two articles, written by an IMB journalist who lives in Nairobi, give the most personal accounts of the situation that I've seen anywhere:

Safe amid turbulent times, writer shares concern for Kenyan friends

Kenyans forge ahead to rebuild future, return to 'normal life'

There are a whole lot of factors that have led to the current situation:

• frustration at perceived election irregularities
• frustration at the slow rate of change to full democracy
• frustration at the slow rate of economic progress
• long-standing inter-tribal rivalries and distrust
• opportunism -- thugs taking advantage of the general unrest
• strong egos that won't back down
• sinful hearts

This morning, I read Psalm 10. I was struck once again at how clearly God's Word is relevant to modern times.

In verse 1, the author utters the question that all of us ask when things happen like the events in Kenya this week,
Why, Lord, do you [seem to] stand far off?

Then, in verses 2-11, he describes the evil that he sees around him. Reading that, I was struck at how closely that correlated with the events of the week in Kenya. He not only describes the plight of those who lost their lives or their possessions in the rioting, but he talks about the actions of those who stir up the trouble behind the scenes:
the oppressed are trapped by the schemes the wicked have dreamed up.
The oppressed are both the victims of the violence and those who were incited to participate in violence for the selfish desires of power-hungry individuals.

Verses 12-15 is the author's request to God to intervene and to halt the senseless violence:
Rise up, Lord! O God, strike him down! Do not forget the oppressed! ... Break the arm of the wicked and evil man! Hold him accountable for his wicked deeds, which he thought you would not discover.

Finally, verses 16-18 is a statement of faith in God's response to the plea for peace and protection:
You defend the fatherless and oppressed, so that mere mortals may no longer terrorize them.

Evil, suffering, poverty are the inevitable consequences of sinful choices that every person makes. Nonetheless, God is merciful and does not allow evil to continue unabated. As a believer, I'm obliged to pray that God would intervene and to do what I can to relieve suffering, to live out God's mercy by what I do.

Continue to pray for the people of Kenya.

Run well, y'all (on the roads, trails, dreadmill, and in life),
Richmond, VA

03 January 2008

Runner's High

Benjamin Cheever, in Strides, says, "The runner's high is built on a foundation of runner's lows. The joy is often paid for in advance." My run tonight was a case in point. A number of my runs lately have seemed difficult. Tonight, however, was really nice -- I really felt good, even after finishing 8.1 miles at a 7:48.6 mpm pace.

I like running in cool weather and it was 29° when I started and about 24° when I finished. The air was dry unlike most mornings in Richmond. While I like running early in the morning (normally I'm on the road no later than 5:30 am), I generally feel like I run better in the evening -- so, that was a plus. And, this week has been stressful. We have about 205 people in Kenya for whom our organization is responsible -- adult missionaries, their children, and a variety of family members and other guests who were in the country either visiting family or doing volunteer work. And, if you have kept up with international news this week, you know that things have been unusually tense in Kenya with the tribal/political clashes that have been going on for about 4 days (CNN story -- CAUTION: the picture with the article is gruesome). Because of the stress of the week, I think I really needed to run tonight.

So, everything just came together for a runner's high for me tonight. I run for my health, for weight control, for stress relief, to get some "I" (introvert) time but this kind of outing makes running pure fun! I hope you have a runner's high this week.

Run well, y'all,
Richmond, VA