Thursday, May 17, 2018

Last Minute International Retreat

It is Tues, 27 March, and I get a call from a Cru FC colleague, asking if I could give a couple of talks at a Chi Alpha International Student retreat in Gulf Shores, AL. After a short, short prayer, we said yes, we could do it. Brenda's sister who had been staying with us for a short visit was due to head home on Thursday, so we quickly figured that we could swing by her home, just north of Atlanta, and from there drive straight down to Gulf Shores arriving Thursday night.

We dropped off Brenda's sister, then headed south west for the Gulf. The traffic was a bit daunting, but then it started to rain, and occasionally blindingly hard. Our goal was to get to Foley, AL, but had we found a hotel earlier, due to the hard rain, we would have taken it. Some bad timing on my part meant we missed our best shot at a name-brand place to stay. The rain continued, and so, I cried out to G^d, "Please stop this rain!". A minute later Brenda said, "Look how bright the sky looks up ahead!" And, in a matter of just a few minutes the rain had quit. "Thanks be to G^d!"

We made it to Foley and spent the night in the same Econo Lodge we stayed in years earlier when we learned that Michael Jackson had died.

The next day we made it on to Gulf Shores. We were the first in our group to arrive. We got to spend a bit of time walking on the beach, and Brenda go in over 12k steps, and her comment was, "And I never even noticed"!  Such is the power of the beach.

We'll share more later.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Life Review: Free Range Play

Right now there is in the news some discussion of "free range Parenting". I guess this is in contrast to "helicopter parenting". Those of us who grew up in the late 50's in rural America, generally find all this amusing.

I am second oldest of 5 surviving boys (we lost an older brother who died of pneumonia as a child). We roamed the world in the best possible "free-range" fashion. As young boys we walked about 2 miles on a fairly busy highway almost daily during the summer months. We walked to the swimming pool and spent the best part of every day there during the hot summers of North Georgia.

We roamed the woods the other months. There were literally thousands of acres behind our home, and we seemed to have general access to it all. We hunted squirrels, gathered wild ginger buds, build huts, camped, hiked, explored, played in the creek, and no one thought anything about it...everybody did pretty much the same.

As we became old enough to drive, our exploits expanded to include floating the Etowah River to fish and jump-shoot ducks, and harvest more squirrels for the pot. We frog-gigged local ponds with great success, and oddly enough, we survived all this.

There is more to tell, but that is enough for now.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Life Review: Running Man Part IV

As I ended last post, let me tell you a little about running 106 miles per week.

I mentioned that my best distance was 50 miles. I had my greatest success at this distance.  The largest, by popularity, 50-miler in the USA was the JFK. I ran it, I think 5 times, maybe 6.  In 1978, I won the race in 6:14:59.  This was the peak of my running success. I also won the Runner's World 50-miler "national championship" around 1977 or '78, but I considered the JFK a much better achievement.  The Runner's World race was 200 laps on a 400-yard track!  Pretty boring.

In June 1980, I ran one, and only one, 100-mile race in VA.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Life Review: Running Man Part III

I had some success as a long distance runner.  My best marathon was a 2:32, my best 10k was a 34:00.  My best competitive distance was 50 miles, and on two occasions I ran that distance, on trails and hills of the JFK 50-miler course in 6 hours, 14 mins and some seconds. I was a slow runner, but didn't lose much speed, even when the distances got long.

When I speak to coaches around the world, I make it crystal clear that I am no coach. I tell them a bit about my competitive running success and tell them I would have done much better if I had a decent coach. I then show them a picture of my coach- me!!

Despite my terrible coaching I had a successful competitive career.  I don't recall ever winning a 10k or even a 10-miler. I often placed in the top 3-4 of my age class, but as in all competitive sports, your race results depend more on who shows up than on how fast you might be.

I ended up winning, I think 3 marathons:
The Waynesboro, VA marathon,
The St. Mary's marathon, run in part on the NAS Pax River, my old running gounds,
and, I surprisingly found myself in the lead , and eventually won the middle GA marathon from Fosyth, GA to Macon, GA.  My runner borhter, who got me started racing, happened to be coming down the Interstate Hwy, and for some reason, heard that I was leading or had won. He surprised me by showing up at the finish line.  What a thrill.

But I ran a lot, up to 106 miles per week in Lexington, so it's gonna take me another post to get all this down.

Until then, think about running 106 miles in a week!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Life Review: Running Man Part II

My last tour in the US Navy was with a Marine Corps NROTC unit at VMI.  Marines LIKE running.  My boss asked me how much I ran, I told him about 10 miles a day.  His words were, "As long as your work for me, you can run as much as you want to."  I took him at his word.

We were living in a runner's paradise, Lexington, VA.  In those days there was little traffic in Lexington, and I could leave VMI, run across the river, and be in the country in no time. I could run 20 miles, which happened fairly often and only see 3-5 automobiles. Plus the country side was beautiful, rural, and rolling hills. In fact Lexington has very little flat ground.

I had my best years of training, and racing in those 3 years there. The first summer I was sent to temporary duty at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi be in charge of the obstacle course training NROTC students from around the country.  It was there at NAS Corpus that I ran down a jack rabbit.

I was by myself, so in the evenings, after work, I would spend a good bit of time running around the base. One evening I noticed a jack rabbit on the golf course.  I ran around between the rabbit and the rough growth where his den most likely lay. The sun was still up and all I had to do was keep myself positioned between where the rabbit stood, and where he wanted to run. I noted that when he ran he kept stopping in the little bits of shade on the openness of the course. I also noted that after just a few minutes, he was stopping more often.  Rabbits are spring animals, not endurance animals like me.

I kept the rabbit out in the open, and kept him moving, as fast as I could. Finally the rabbit took refuge under an oleander.  He wouldn't leave, just ran round and round the base, which meant he was only running about a 4-foot circle. Finally, he stood on his hind legs and refused to run. I broke a small branch and "counted coup" by tapping him on the head. I ran away and left him to recover.

That was June, 1978, and I still recall it vividly.  Fun, at least for a crazy guy.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Life Review: Running Man Part I

A large part of my young life was spent running.  My brother, David was a highly successful athlete who won a track and field scholarship along with an academic scholarship to Berry College.

In about 1974, my brother suggested that I might want to run the Atlanta 4th of July 10k (in those days). This was about Feb. I went out soon after and ran about 8 miles. I slowly figured out that I was a very slow-twitch muscle guy. This meant I could run long distances, which I quickly did. It didn't take me long to over-do it and get shin splints.

I read everything I could find about running, which wasn't very much in 1974. Runner's World magazine was a small black and white magazine, which I checked out of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station library.

I connected up with my soon-to-be good friend, Roger B., and we ran around the periphery of the Naval Station most lunch times. If I recall correctly, a full circuit was a good 10 miles.

In those days, most races were 10k runs, with an occasional 10 miler.  There were marathons which was the glamour race in those days. My first every marathon was the Washington DC, Marine Corps marathon. I am guessing it was November of 1974. I ran a 2:48, which is pretty quick for a first-timer.  Most importantly I was hooked.

I was flying with the USN a lot in those days.  I ran extensively in England, but also in Spain, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, The Azores, as well as on many USAF bases, including Eglin and Homestead. I remember getting a bit lost on a long run in Eglin, a huge base.  By the time I was done, I had run about 31 miles to get back to the Officer's quarters.  Whew! 

More in a later post.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

England Happenings II

In the last post, we shared a little bit of our trip to jolly ole England. So much happened that we wanted to share just a bit more England Happenings II
One of the unanticipated highlights for Brenda and I was meeting a Cru staff member named Jimmy R, who ministers in London with his wife and 5 kids under the age of 10. Perhaps because we also have 5 children, or perhaps because of Brenda’s welcoming spirit, Jimmy seemed to love to talk to Brenda, and to me. He shared with us many of the immense challenges he faces. He has an utter commitment to ministry, but also to his family, a tension he shared with us. Please pray with us for Jimmy R and his family and his ministry.

I (Phil) don’t cry too often, but I was brought to tears by one meeting in Greenwich, England. Can you guess what could do that?

Estelle had “by Chance”, run into the Local Cru Team Leader who noticed the evangelistic bracelet that they both wore. He engaged her in conversation and immediately recognized Estelle’s enormous potential as a Christian leader on campus and in the workplace.  He set up a meeting with our traveling team member Dick G, who had been a bank president for 33 years. I tagged along to spend time with Dick, and as Estelle was sharing with him, we all learned that she has a strong desire to become a University prof! I (Phil) was able to share with her about 2 Tim 2:222222222, and encourage her and pray with her that G^d would direct her steps and she would feel G^d’s pleasure. I expect Estelle will impact a great many people for Christ in her lifetime, and perhaps she will do it as a Professor!

Brenda had a vital conversation with Matthew, a law student, and she was able to give him some crucial advice on relationships within his church congregation. Brenda and I also got to encourage Ane Mary, a German undergrad who studies Classical languages and too wants to become a professor. We had a wonderful conversation with her and prayed for her.

Brenda and I think back on the terrific people we met: Dick and Kay, Oli, Pam, Meredith and Rush (Auburn grads), Mary Grace, Nicole, Nathan (a French non-believer with whom Dick shared the gospel), Gio, Faith, Erica, Holly… too much to tell!

So, once again, thanks for your prayers and donations! Remember, anything we accomplish is partially attributable to you as well!  Thanks too for your friendship.