« Tracking our progress in the marathon | Main | Zero degrees of separation »

October 10, 2007

Comments

Scott Holland

Syler, great job finishing the marathon! Display your medal proudly.

Franny P

Amazing! I'm so happy you completed 23 miles despite all the distractions of 90 degree weather.
That's especially cool to be apart of a marathon that made history. The only history I got out of the Army 10 miler is Ellen totally creaming me and my knees giving out. Awesome. At least we were running on the same day and had a better success story then me :)

Susan Syler

Loved reading about your experience! So glad you chose to include Foster's sweet perspective. The graph was really interesting, too.

Wayne Pederson

The Marathon
I ran the Chicago Marathon Sunday. I’ve always said I’d like to run a marathon someday, but never thought I’d want to invest the effort the time and the pain.

I actually started running while growing up on the farm. I’d occasionally run to the highway and back—about a mile. After Norma and I got married, I’d run the length of the park close to our apartment—about 2 miles. That was in ‘68, long before running was popular. People who saw you running would stop and offer you a ride.

I began running seriously in 1974. I’ve normally run 4 miles every other day. Dr. Ken Cooper and Mayo Clinic both say optimal lifetime running is about 15 miles per week. At that point, you reach a level of conditioning. More than that, injuries begin to kick in. I’ve been blessed that in those 30+ years and miles of running, I’ve had very little knee or hip problems. Let’s hear it for moderation!

Some of my favorite memories are running in Minneapolis with my daughters riding their bikes along side. I remember my daughter struggling uphill, complaining, “Daddy, I wish there were no such things as uphill.” I responded saying the joy of coasting downhill meant hard peddling up hill. I added: “Life is like that.”

This year, a group from WMBI decided to run the Chicago Marathon in behalf of World Vision. So about 10 staff and 80 listeners joined the WMBI/World Vision Marathon team. This was my chance for a marathon. I joined too. Norma asked what on earth caused me to sign up. “Peer pressure,” I said.

My running program was from an article I cut out of Runners Magazine years ago. It recommends two 4 mile runs each week and a long run on the weekend. Then, over the 3 month training, gradually increasing the length of the weekend runs. So my weekly routine was: 4 miles, 4 miles, 8 miles. Then, 4 miles, 4 miles, 10 miles. Then 4, 4, and 8. Next 4, 4, 12. And so on until two weeks before the race, you run the longest weekend run of 22 miles. In the final two weeks you taper off to let your body recover for the big event.

My worst run (if you call it running) was the 18 miler. It was 86 degrees and humid. I ran/walked the last 5 miles. My legs burned. I felt like throwing up. My muscles had expended every ounce of strength. Every fiber of my body screamed “Stop this!” When I got home, my legs burned for a couple hours. At that point I was thinking I’m not gonna be able to do this. But by now I’d invested so much time and effort in this, and I didn’t want to be a quitter. Besides, my friends and family knew I was doing this. Surprisingly, by the next day, I was fine!

Two weeks later, the 20 miler was tough. At the 9 mile mark I was spent. I just knew I couldn’t do 20. I had visions of explaining to everyone why I dropped out. But at about mile 12, I broke through. Maybe it was the electrolytes I was ingesting. Something clicked in and I finished the 20.

The final 23 miler was uneventful. Basically just gutting it out. But I did it!

Fortunately, living in Chicago provides one of the most beautiful training routes possible. All my runs are along Lakeshore Drive. Hundreds of runners use the path, which makes great people watching. Plus there are tennis courts, volleyball games, golf courses, boat harbors, sandy beaches and of course, beautiful Lake Michigan.

The last week before the Marathon, I was traveling all week. Plus, on the trip, I got a horrible cold and felt miserable. Zero running that week!

Well, it’s Sunday night. The race is over. Today was the hottest October 7 in Chicago history—88 degrees and very humid. Of 45,000 registered runners, 10,000 didn’t show up because of the heat. 1 person died. 312 taken to the hospital. I was at mile 22 when Chicago Police began announcing the Marathon was officially closed. We were told to stop running and walk to the finish line. Runners further back in the race were forbidden to continue. My friend tried to continue past mile 16, but was told to get off the street or be arrested.

At mile 22, with 4 miles remaining, I was determined to finish. So a bunch of us at that point in the race ran/walked to the finish line. I finished at 4:49. My goal was to finish in 4 ½ hours. I didn’t win. But I finished! It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t glamorous. Just keep running the next mile.

I have a poster at home picturing a runner going down a long straight road downhill with the road continuing straight ahead going uphill far in the distance. The caption on the poster reads: “The race is not to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” Just run the next mile. And the next.

This week, I complete 40 years in Christian radio. As I reflect on this, my ministry career parallels my lifetime of running.

Growing up on the farm, I always wanted to be in radio. I played radio in my room as a kid. I produced hundreds of hours of radio on the seat of a tractor. I loved visiting our hometown radio station.

While at the University, I began taking broadcasting courses, just for fun. About the same time, I started working at KTIS AM/FM in Minneapolis. That childhood dream, that part-time college job became a life work. Like my running became more intentional, I became more passionate about radio.

Occasionally, in long runs, I’ve been bored. But the sights and experience along the way made this road incredibly interesting. The sometimes long hours of hard work in 24/7 radio are sustained by a passion for what God calls you to do.

And there have been times of pain. Disagreements over music. Scolding from angry listeners. The threat of being fired. Actually being fired in a public and painful way. And the inherent temptations of media: notoriety, pride, ambition, and pleasure.

There’ve been many times I’ve been tempted to quit—to do something else. But the conviction that God called me to this ministry has kept me on track.

And there are even times when the heat is on and the atmosphere is oppressive. Many don’t even show up for those difficult days. And circumstances cause many to drop out. But with God’s strength, we’re able to keep moving forward and finishing the job.

Far more prominent are the joys: Building a music format that connects with listeners. Creating a phone center where thousands call to receive Christ. Working with a network of gifted and dedicated professionals who make serving Christ a real joy. Interviewing great men and women of God. Providing content the draws people to Jesus and changes lives.

Yes, I wish there were no such thing as uphill. Life has a lot of uphills. But there’s strength for the journey, there’s thrill at the momentum and a great view at the top of the hill!

I haven’t set any speed records. There are people in Christian broadcasting faster, smarter, more gifted than I. But, I did it! With God’s leading, strength, direction, and protection, I did it. This was my calling. And until He makes it plain otherwise, this is what I do. Just do the next thing.

Life is not to the fastest, the smartest, the most talented. Life is to those who are faithful to God’s calling, consistently, intently serving God through the level places, the uphills and the mountain peaks. And it’s helpful to remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Will I do another marathon? I hope not. But I will keep running: 4, 4, and long.

“But those who serve the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” Galatians 6:9

Wayne Pederson

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