Friday, January 3, 2014

the smiling runner.

When I lived in Iowa, my friend Bob and I would go for long running treks.

One blizzard-infested day, running against the traffic of a small Iowa county road Bob waved at every person who drove past us and smiled.  They smiled back or honked their horn, or better yet, gave the crazy look of "Why the heck are they running on the road in this blizzard."

In concern for safety, I told Bob, "Stop distracting the drivers as they drive by.  It might cause them to hit us, or drive off the road trying not to hit us."

Waving and smiling at people was Bob's "thing."

What I didn't realize is that each time Bob waved and somebody waved back, it triggered some kind of feeling of joy and I believe it helped him and me on our long runs.


I think the same effect happens when running a race or training for an event and someone cheers you on, or someone you know shows up and yells out "Go get 'em!"

Back in 2008, with 10 miles to go of a 62-mile run, I was defeated, wanted to quit and give up.

In the distance, I saw a giant bunny.

At first I thought I was hallucinating?

If I'm seeing bunnies, I should definitely stop.  But the bunny got closer and closer, and quickly discovered it was my buddy Mark in a bunny costume riding a bicycle.

He had come to pedal and run alongside of me the last 10-miles of the run.

Him showing up gave me the energy and joy to continue on.  We finished those last 10 miles in no time.

Mark in the bunny costume
 There was another time when I was running the Sioux City marathon, and some buddies jumped out behind some bushes to encourage me.
surprised by Remy and Nathan

Today, on my run, I tried running while smiling.  Not the easiest of tasks, especially when training they encourage you not to smile while running cause it actually uses energy that could otherwise be spent on training.  

So, I ran and smiled.

I know, sounds cheesy.

Truth is, it was cheesy.  Imagine a full grown man running down a path with grin from ear-to-ear.

Hopefully no one saw me.  

But science suggests that smiling-alone can increase joy.  Seriously!

Why not combine smiling with running, right?

Below is a depiction of what I might have looked like (Imagine several layers of running gear added, due to the cold North Dakotan weather)

At the end of my run, I did in fact feel more "Joy."  Just by adding some smiles to my run.

Consider smiling when you do your hobby, or smiling randomly at work.  Just the mere fact of thinking of smiling when no one is watching, and how weird that is, makes you feel more joy.  Just imagine if someone does see you smiling, it can only make their day better.  Just don't distract them and cause them to crash.

Whatever hobby or thing you love to do, throw a couple smiles in.  It may add some joy.


9 benefits of smiling

7 benefits of smiling and laughing


From the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

"Run, run, run, run, run...."

Favorites From 2013

Top Blog Posts From Awake My Sole in 2013

These are the top blog posts over the past year:
  1. Unplug and Run
  2. Is Your Journey Worth Your Life?
  3. Every Idea is Wacky Until it Works
  4. Top 5 Music Albums to Run to
  5. Is Coffee Bad For Long Distance Runners?

My Favorites From 2013

Here are some of my favorites from 2013.  Would you share some of your favorites in the comments below? It will be exciting to see others' favorites from the year.  
My Favorite Books:  Insurrection by Peter Rollins & Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck
My Favorite Movies:Monsters University & The Way Way Back
My Favorite Albums:
"Damage" by Jimmy Eat World

My Favorites Pics From 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Restless. Sojourning. Soul. Sole.

One year ago today (December 23) the Awake My Sole Iowa journey came to completion.  Crazy to think it has already been a year.

To celebrate, I trekked some miles in the frigid negative North Dakota temps.  Yes, that is frost on my hat, and yes I am wearing 3 pairs of socks interlined with plastic bags.  

This song and lyrics sum up my thoughts and feeling today.

Restless soul, turning leaf 
Tomorrows unknown mysteries 
I'm leaving here, I end up where 
Into the unknown we fly 
We said there's no time to waste 
So hand in hand we run this race 
Let's end it well 
Escape them fires of hell 
Wander all out lives 
Till we're gone 
Pick up sticks and pack your bags let's go 
Where things grow, in the hills in summer time 
Under trees and over streams we walk and we talk 
All our days, into the night 
Into the unknown we fly 

And our hearts are beating 
And our feet they've got a long long way to go 
And our souls want to shine 
Can't you feel it from your head to your toes 

Touching down we're breaking through 
To a land that seems brand new to you and me 
And God makes three 
Lost and now we're found again 
This place playin' it's tricks on me 
Help me down from a strangers tree 
There's beauty here, but I miss it there 
Trace my path in wind and snow 
Thunderstruck I've got a place in mind 
All our time in the world, is gonna pass 
Grab your hand we've got some plans to know 
Open roads, we're together at long last 
Wander all our lives, till we're gone 

And our hearts are beating 
And our feet they've got a long long way to go 
And our souls want to shine 
Can't you feel it from your head to your toes 

And I thank the Lord, for everything He's done 
And I thank my Father, for sending us His son 
And I thank that Spirit, for helping us be one 
Helping us be one, out there on the run


"Into the unknown we fly"

"Lets end it well"

"Our feet they've got a long long way to go"

"Helping us be one, out there on the run."


the core pillars of Awake My Sole

Run Passionately
Run Purposefully
Run with Beautiful Feet
Run with Endurance
Run towards the Goal (Jesus)


"Oh Lord Jesus, Guide our feet into the way of peace"

Where are you being guided?
By whom?
By what?  
By what influence?  
To where?

"Oh Lord Jesus, Guide us today for your glory's sake"


"A sojourner is a person who resides temporarily in a place."

We runners are those with literal Restless Soles, each run a temporary sojourning endeavor.  Whether it's half a mile in little time to thousands of miles in a lot of time, we sojourn.  

I can't help but think of the Christmas story, and the wise men whose feet were guided by the star.  They were sojourners, guided by God


Just some of the thoughts in the restless, sojourning, sole, soul of mine.


I want to Learn Amharic, What language program should I use? Foreign Service Institute (FREE), Instant Immersion ($29.95), EuroTalk (39.99), 2Speak ($35.95), etc.

After traveling to and returning from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this last May (2013), I've been determined to learn "Amharic," the native tongue.
Coffee beans being roasted during the Coffee Roasting Ceremony
I remember participating in a coffee roasting ceremony, longing to communicate with the locals.

Whenever I return I will be fluent with the hopes of being able to speak with the locals.

Every day since May I've been teaching myself the language: the 200+ symbols in their alphabet (abugida), how to pronounce the words, how to write and speak the words, some grammar and more.  
Practicing writing Amharic with a cup of coffee (the best way to learn Amharic)

Dictionary I purchased to help in translating and learning the words

The Amharic symbols, each symbol is a consonant and vowel sound

An app I've been using on my phone to help learn the language
So far, I've invested a lot of time in learning the language.  I want to invest in the next step of using a language program.  I've done some research, and found 4 software programs that will help in helping me learn this beautiful Semitic language.

I'm posting in hopes that others who know the Amharic language will comment below with suggestions, reviews or other programs that might work better. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

"a time for every purpose under heaven"

Every year each floor of my college dorm was given a theme by the floor's Resident Assistant.  One year, one of the floor's themes was "Turn, Turn, Turn."

It wasn't as fun as the "Arrested Development" or "Star Wars" themed floors, and I remember thinking "What a bizarre theme for a floor."

Looking back on it, it was a brilliant theme for a floor, however my immaturity kept the meaning at bay.


In a recent excursion to Denver, on vinyl I acquired The Byrds' single "Turn, Turn, Turn."  The song was originally written by Pete Seger, the words originally adapted from Ecclesiastes (the Bible).

The world is turning.

A fascinatingly simple concept.

24 hours a day.

Sometimes I think we forget this.  Especially during holiday seasons.

We are rushed and busy and our 24 hours quickly goes by, taking very little time for the things that truly matter.  The things people on their death bed wish they would have spent more time on.


The Divine

Not working


Helping others


A friend of mine who helps direct funerals mentioned about a recent funeral, how in a family they were mourning the loss of a loved one while at the same time they were filled with joy of the birth of another.
Death and Life.  Together.

There is a time for it all.

... for babies to be born

... for people to die

For me and the Awake My Sole journey

... a time for running across Iowa for a year

... a time for resting in North Dakota


A year ago, the Iowa Awake My Sole journey was coming to an end (the official day was December 23), and over this last year, things have continued to "Turn, Turn, Turn."

What's next for Awake My Sole?

There are some cool things on the radar, things involving mentoring and running.

For now, lets enjoy this moment, because the earth isn't stopping.  Soon our time will come.  My hope is that this life of yours and mine will be lived in a way that glorifies and honors the Creator.


lyrics to "Turn Turn Turn"

"Turn! Turn! Turn!"
To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven 
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep 
To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven 
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together 
To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven 
A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing 
To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven 
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time of peace, I swear it's not too late!

Friday, December 6, 2013

it "feels like" -27 out, time to UNPLUG and RUN

The beautiful state of North Dakota blesses its residents with cold temperatures every winter.  After residing here for almost a year, it seems as if every person forgets how cold it gets in the winter, and then frigid cold fronts blow in and everyone talks about how cold it is.

North Dakota alone hosts 3 of the top 25 coldest cities in America, with Grand Forks at number 2, Bismarck at number 3 and Fargo at number 4.*

running in last winter's cold temps
I enjoy the frigidly cold weather.  Each morning I've become my wife's car starter.  Today, I got to run outside.  I hope to start biking to work again.

Some call me crazy, but nothing is more thrilling than running in frigid temperatures and surviving.  So far, my survival rate is one hundred percent, lets hope that doesn't change.

Running to Orange City in frigid temps  on the Awake My Sole Iowa journey.  Post by Awake My Sole.
Every time I go out and run, it's like this little expedition I conquered.  Starting and finishing at my house, with the journey being wherever my feet take me.  In these frigid temps, I see less and less foot prints in the snow, allowing me to feel that I was one of the few who journeyed out today.


Here are some thoughts from today's "feels like" -27 degrees run:

I should have worn a warmer hat.  Each gust of North Dakotan wind froze the sweat from my head underneath my hat.

Running is simple.  You don't need much to run.  A pair of shoes, some clothes, two hats.

Running isn't punishment.  Its such a freeing activity.  Too often, people correlate running with punishment, when in reality it should be distanced far from punishment.

Wearing plastic bags was a good idea.  Base layer wool sock, plastic bag over it, cotton sock over that, then place the shoe on.  Perfect way to keep your feet warm by keeping gusts of wind out.

Unplug and run.  I didn't run with my music today or a watch.  I love music, and I love running to music, but today I really tried focusing on my surroundings,  on the outdoors and what I was running by.  Also, with so much ice, I didn't want not pay attention and slip.  Also, when I run with limited distractions I find I have more ideas pop in my head.  Its great for brainstorming.  When I don't have a watch, or an app whispering in my ear how far I've gone, I find that the time goes by quicker.  For serious trainers this might not be a possibility.

Enjoy the moment.  Don't worry about your speed, just run.  Be free and aware of your surroundings.  Be thankful to the Creator who has you in this moment experiencing this path.

Write down any thoughts.  After a run, writing down thoughts or ideas that popped into your brain.  Many ideas for the Awake My Sole journey were formed while running.



As a runner, North Dakotan and fellow advocate for ideas that better other people, I found myself inspired by this runner from North Dakota.

Anne Mahlum


Friday, November 22, 2013

Freedom + Structure = Booyah!!!

I love setting goals (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).  I enjoy dreaming big crazy dreams.  I love to plan and prepare.   

I also love freedom and not being tied down by structure and programs.

I think I need a healthy balance of both.


In running long distances, I have to enjoy both "free runs" and "structured runs."

"Free runs" are the ones where I have no watch on my wrist and no headphones in my ears.  Where I just run.  Through the streets and up mountainsides, often rediscovering the joy of running and being outside exerting my body.

"Structured runs" are the ones where I plan to accomplish a training task,  discipline and setting specific tasks are involved.  When completed, they are the ones that give me the "I'm really happy" feeling, however they too don't excited me beforehand.   Why?  Because they are the ones I need to exert more energy than I'm used to, where I push my body to the limit.  To become a better, stronger, healthier runnier, I need these.


I try to incorporate both styles into my runs.

A little Freedom + A little Structure = Booyah!!!

It's like life.

For the dreams we dream, and the goals we set, to the joys we wish to experience, to searching what it means to be human, and seeking the depths of our soul.

We need both freedom and structure in our life.

Freedom to experience our surroundings, to enjoy our friends without busyness and time limits...

Structure to help us achieve what we were created to achieve, and to do it well.


There are a lot of things I want to do, and without both freedom and structure, I won't be able to.


at one of the stops of my trip.  did some reading and juggled the soccer ball.  

Several years ago I took 10 days on a solo trip to Canada and back.  I took my bicycle, some running shoes, some food, books and good music.

I knew I wanted to go around the great lakes, up into Canada and come back down through Niagara Falls.

I knew what my starting and ending was going to be, but I didn't know the details in between.  It made for a great 10 days.  I enjoyed it, found it to be very relaxing.

this trip provided both the freedom and structure to make a great trip.

Freedom, waking up each day exploring and visiting new places.  Stopping wherever I wanted and going for a quick couple mile jog or bike ride.

Structure, knowing my trip was 10 days long, and I had a certain place I wanted to get to.  


we need structure.

we need freedom.

we need a healthy balance of both.


From Rob Bell's book What We Talk About When We Talk About God
I believe God is with us,
around us,
beside us,
present with us in every moment. 
The question, then,
the art,
the task,
the search,
the challenge,
the invitation is for you and me to become more and more the kind of people who are aware of the divine presence... (p.109-110)  

Friday, November 15, 2013

"The road goes ever on and on"

True Trail Runners: Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Lord Of The Rings
Yesterday, someone asked me, "Do you like Lord of the Rings?"

I replied, "No, not really.  When I was in high school I watched the first movie of the trilogy six times in the theater, but that was about the extent of my fandom."

***I did write an earlier blog post called "What Would Bilbo Do?"
****I also collected Lord Of The Rings action figures during my fandom, I still have them somewhere


I came across this Lord of the Rings quote when I was finishing up the Iowa Awake My Sole trek:

“The road goes ever on and on” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit


The last mile of the 1339 mile Iowa Awake My Sole journey.  Taken in December 2012.
Pic courtesy of Sioux City Journal 

After running and speaking across the state of Iowa for the year, I didn't get to the end of the yearlong journey, and say "I'm done with life."

I was done with this particular task, but I wasn't finished with living.  

I was merely at the beginning of something new, unknown, challenging and unexpected.


I've seen people set a goal, work towards achieving it, and when achieved, they wrestle with "What's next?  How could I possibly set another goal, or achieve something like I just achieved?"

This road of life goes "on and on."

Where and when does it end?

Some believe it's at our last breath.  Others believe our last breath is the ushering into what's next.


Author Donald Miller often writes about how he goes about seeking out the next adventure for his life.  He envisions the end of his life, standing before Creator God who says, "Well done my good and faithful servant."  From this envisioned encounter with Creator God, he tries to implement things that would evoke such words from Creator God.

Some quotes from Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

“It wasn't necessary to win for the story to be great, it was only necessary to sacrifice everything.” 
“If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn't remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.  But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either”

music from the Awake My Sole journey

"This is Not the End" by Gungor

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Every Idea is wacky until it works."

Runners World

Over 10 months have passed since the completion of the Iowa Awake My Sole journey.


It was mid October, newly wed and in Webster City Iowa, as I prepared for the day, I wrestled with this question:

"What are the next steps for Awake My Sole?"

Ideas flooded my brain, but one popped in that has continued to root.


In speaking across Iowa, a frequently asked question, "What state are you going to run and speak across next?"

Often I would respond, "Maybe my home state of Colorado or Rhode Island."  The second answer often produced some chuckles from people who knew their states.

All along I knew I wasn't going to be running across any additional states after completing Iowa, or at least not as highly invested.

You see, the Iowa journey was a yearlong "away from home" commitment.  It was risky and fun.  I met new people and host families.  The speaking and running schedule was exhausting.  It wasn't the most conducive for a newly wed who actually enjoys the ideology of "laying roots" and investing long term into a community.  I was only investing in communities for a week at a time.  It was very rewarding, especially when kids and elderly alike shared how much they enjoyed what I shared about.


So, since I don't foresee any yearlong running adventures across others states, you might ask yourself, "Then what is in the works?  What idea popped into his brain while in Webster City?"

The answer, "Mentoring."

Making a committed investment into younger people.


Awake My Sole is evolving... from an inspiring journey across Iowa to a program combining running and mentoring.

I don't have the nuts and bolts down, or the planning and preparation in place, but I do have a wacky and crazy idea.

I never thought I would spend a year running across Iowa, but I did, and so I'm excited to see what lies ahead.

"One step at a time."

Friday, October 4, 2013

the dream of a long distance runner living in north dakota.

the dream of a long distance runner living in north dakota.

840 miles.

*woke up early this morn.  drank some coffee.  brainstormed this outlandish idea.

dreamers gotta dream.  right?

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some inspiration for the morning.  enjoy!!! - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

run with passion, purpose, beautiful feet and endurance.  run towards Jesus.  gotta run to awake the sole.