life beyond the well…

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Lessons from My 5K

This weekend, I ran my first 5k.  With Preacherman accompanying me the entire time, I ran (the whole time!) and finished right at my goal time!  It was tough, but it was good.

Now, in my former life, I was a runner.  Let me correct that- I was a SPRINTER.  I say that because there is a difference between being a sprinter and being a distance runner.  Preacherman, in his younger days, was a cross country champion.  He started “training” for the 5k about 3-4 weeks before the race.  I started training about 6-8 weeks before the race.  I knew that while I had running experience, it wasn’t going to be enough to get me across the finish line so I was determined to prepare accordingly.

Despite my desire to prepare accordingly, I wasn’t able to complete my running plan due to some changes in our schedule.  As a result, I came into the race on Saturday having not run (at all) since the previous Monday. I ran the first half of the race pretty easily- and felt great.  After that, I began to struggle, probably feeling my lowest between 2 and 2.5 miles.  Through it all, Preacherman was super encouraging, and never left me behind.  Though there were points where I was able to push myself, I really struggled.

As we approached the end of the race, I felt myself being able to provide a burst of energy to finish (and meet my goal time).  I finished, almost  in a full-out sprint, and was overjoyed.  One of my bucket list items was complete and I had pushed myself beyond what I believed I could do.  This experience was great physically, but also mentally.  Here’s some things that I learned from my 5K:

  1. It’s not enough to train for the race.  You have to train for the course.
  2. You need to have people on your team who’ve been where you been to encourage you for where you’re going.
  3. While it’s great to finish strong, you should train in such a way that you can be strong for the duration of the race, not just the end. 


Lesson 1: It’s not enough to train for the race.  You have to train for the course.

I did ALL of my training for the 5k in the gym, on the treadmill.  For about 6-8 weeks, about 3 times  a week, I hit the gym and followed my training plan.  While I did increase the speed as I was training, never once did I increase the incline.  When it came time to run the race, my body was shocked at the number of hills we were climbing.  Had I prepared for the course, instead of just preparing for the race, I would have been better equipped and could have possibly finished faster than I did.

Lesson 2: You need to have people on your team who’ve been where you’ve been to encourage you for where you’re going.

As I mentioned, Preacherman is a former cross country runner.  He ran the race with ease and confidence.  His support was integral to my finishing the race and meeting my goal.  Since he has run many 5Ks over the course of his life, he was able to effectively encourage me for the race.  If we had run separately, I probably would have finished 10 minutes slower than I did.  With his encouragement, I was able to run the race marked out for me with perseverance.

Lesson 3: While it’s great to finish strong, you should train in such a way that you can be strong for the duration of the race, not just the end. 

On the way home after the 5k, Preacherman told me how proud he was of me for my strong finish.  But then he said, “You know, if you were able to finish strong, you probably could have done more the entire time.”  I was initially shocked, but I realized that he was right.  With better, more consistent training, I would have been able to not only have more endurance, but more speed.  While I am proud of my strong finish, my goal for the next 5k (and there will be more) is to run a stronger race for the duration of the race.  I need to work on my timing and my pacing.

I’ve been mulling over these lessons for the past few days, striving to apply them not just to my running, but to my life.  In the race of life, I want to be prepared for the race and (as much as possible) the course.  I want to build a team of mentors who can encourage me as I strive to get to the next level.  I want to run a strong race with endurance to the end.  And at the end, I want to get the prize.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!

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Justin Combs + UCLA: What’s the Big Deal?

This blog also appeared at Up4Discussion, an excellent site that strives to promote positivity, peace, laughter and love.  Make sure you check it out!


It’s no secret that I love education and that it is one of my passions.  I believe that unequal access to public education is a huge civil rights issue.  I have studied education, I have spent my professional career working in education, and many hours volunteering to promote education.  I’m most likely to peruse the education section of a major newspaper first…every day.  I just wanted to put that out there.

I heard this news about Justin Combs, son of entertainment mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, being accepted to UCLA and awarded a full football scholarship.  And people were mad about it.  And I couldn’t understand why.

This kid worked really hard at one of the top prep schools in the country, earning a 3.7 grade point average; and excelling as an athlete- earning scholarship offers to places like The University of Virginia and The University of Illinois.  And we’re mad about this?  Hmmmm…

There are a few things that I find disturbing about this.  I feel that the underlying implication of all of this conversation is that he didn’t EARN this scholarship.  That he got it for who he is, or because of who he is related to.  Interesting.  The other thing that I find to be disturbing about this is these conversations that are saying that his father should donate the money back to the school, because he can so clearly afford to do so.  While that may be the case, you can’t go around here telling people what to do with their money.  It just doesn’t work that way.

And besides- we weren’t upset when Eli Manning was awarded a scholarship to Ole Miss, while both his father Archie Manning and his brother Peyton Manning were earning NFL money.  I’m just saying.

If there’s anything we should be upset about, it’s the system of education in our country that makes it difficult for those who are not wealthy to achieve a decent education that places them anywhere close to the same education that Justin Combs was able to receive at his prep school.  The truth of the matter is that people who are wealthy are able to afford resources that help their kids be in a better position to earn merit scholarships such as the one earned by Justin Combs.

I refuse to be upset at Diddy because he can afford to send his kids to the best schools, and he can provide them with resources and experiences that set them apart from other students.  When I’m in the position to do the same for my kids, you better believe that I’m going to do my best to provide them with every opportunity necessary to help them be successful and to afford them as many opportunities possible.

Do I think that Diddy should donate money to UCLA? I think it would be a nice gesture, but he doesn’t have to do it.  Besides, what would it prove; other than something that we already know, which is that he can afford to donate a large sum of money to UCLA.

Bottom line- I fail to understand the big deal in this kid earning a scholarship.  Let’s focus our energy on education reform.  When we can prove that UCLA or any other school is awarding merit scholarships to students who don’t meet the appropriate criteria, then we can be upset.

Just my thoughts.

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Friday Night Lights

“Turn up the lights in here baby/extra bright, I want y’all to see this/turn up the lights in here, baby/you know what I need/want you to see everything/Want you to see all of the lights” ~Kanye West f. Rihanna “All of the Lights”

This is my second year living back home in rural North Carolina, and many times I find myself amazed at rural values.  Quite simply, there’s nothing like small-town values.  I enjoy knowing students and their families (cousins, sisters, brothers, aunties, grandma and grandpa, etc.) and I find there’s a certain comfort in knowing that building those relationships with students and their families can have extremely positive benefits.

However, when you consider rural life and small town values, sports are a HUGE part of that, which is something that I underestimated as an “outsider” moving in.  On any given Friday night during the fall or winter, you can find gyms or stadiums packed with students, family, and community members; cheering their team on to victory.  In small towns, every game is the big game- and there are a few that are bigger than others, but with every game it’s about pride in your school, your team, and your town.  Oftentimes these games are for bragging rights among family members, fellow church members, and neighborhoods.

But what didn’t really strike me until I sat at the game last night and watched many of my seniors play against our “cross the field” rivals (literally on the other side of our football field and a few other fields), that for many of them, this MAY just be as good as it gets, when considering athletics.

While we fully anticipate,and are well on track to having 100% of our seniors accepted into a four-year college for the third year in a row, many of our students won’t continue with athletics in college, other than playing intramurals, or perhaps club sports.  For many students, especially our males, they live for these Friday night lights.

It’s an interesting, yet sad phenomenon.  Sad, when you consider the statistics and the reasons why students from rural areas DON’T attend college.  In many areas, young men and women who are extremely gifted and talented don’t attend college, despite excelling in many areas- academics and athletics, just being a few.  And for those students, who become alumni, it’s a hard draw for them. I see several in the gyms and the stadiums recalling their own glory days, when they were under those Friday night lights.

At no point do I want to crush the dreams of my students.  However, I feel an incredible responsibility to be honest with them about the likelihood that their athletic prowess will be the source of their success.  I want to push them towards more.  I want the Friday night lights to be a part of their memories, but not the best ones that they have.

Any suggestions on how to make that happen?

Until next time…