Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014 American Canyon 50k - Peace in the Storm

The funny thing about storms is that they are inevitable. Whether in gale force or a light spattering - no matter how much we will against them, love them, or have ill-feelings toward them - they come. And it's not so much the storm that "rains on our parade", I believe; but our perspective and/or preparation for this inevitable earthly cycle that ultimately makes the difference whether something turns out "good" or "bad."

Just like with life. "Storms" and/or trials will come. There's absolutely no avoiding it. A wise college professor once told me, "You're either entering a trial, in one, or coming out of one. So be prepared, always."

Jesus' kid-brother James even had something to say about this when writing to dispersed, persecuted Christians all-over the Greek and Roman world. These believers were being put to death for their faith. For them, they knew trials were coming. And James is writing to these folks to comfort them, to encourage them, and in some way, build up their faith.

In the Book of James 1:2-4, he opens with: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way" (The Message Translation).

And that is the sheer beauty of storms and trials. They test us to our core. Like a goldsmith putting intense heat to the kettle, the impurities WILL rise. The goodness AND ugliness are both exposed. But, with the hopeful intention we will deal with what is ugly, so that, more of what is good can shine.

For me, this has been a challenging season of life. As you may or may not know, I had a daughter (Sadie) on November 8, 2013. An indescribable joy for both Sara and I. And when discussing who would raise our daughter, it was a no-brainer that Sara wanted to and was gonna stay home and raise Sadie. Because lets be honest, if there's anyone I'd want my daughter to grow up to be like, it's Sara. No question. 

However, this meant I would be the sole bread-winner. Our income would drop, obviously, but the sacrifice and long-term vision made absolute sense. Yet, no matter how good-intentioned our hearts were, this didn't prevent the storms from coming. And they came.

Mostly financially, but man, God provided in unbelievable ways. We were always taken care of. And I wish I could say I always had the best attitude or was always full of faith. It was challenging. Having that "pressure" to pay the bills with just my income from Starbucks and William Jessup University stole my joy at times. But, by God's grace, we have stuck together as a family, communicated needs, and have grown stronger through this. There were some tough storms in December and January; and I know there will be many more ahead. But, to paraphrase James, "Let it come, deal with it, so you can mature and grow" (easier said than done, right???) :)

So ….. what does this have to do with a 50k?

Well, as we were all huddled under a tent before the start of the race, we all knew we would have to venture out into this storm and deal with it. The weather in California, as you know, has been near-perfect in terms of dryness and sunshine. But, of course, the weekend of the American Canyon 50k, the floodgates of Heaven opened.

This would be my first race since Western States, so even though the conditions were not going to be favorable, I had the perspective of "I'm just happy to race again and have those feelings and challenges all over again." And thankfully, I had the preparation of previous trials that had been overcome so I was entering the race with a lot of joy and peace. 

My race itself wasn't anything to gloat over. I was pretty much by myself for nearly all of it, just cruising out there, so there wasn't really any racing going on. But, again, internally, I was just able to be free out there - wet, muddy, slipping, and sliding around in the same pair of PI Trail N2's I wore at Western States - and not caring what was going on around me. I didn't focus on the storm, but rather, having peace in and through the storm. Not ignoring it, but not letting it define me. It was, by far, the wettest and muddiest conditions I've ever raced in, but it didn't matter. Just being present, listening to music (mostly One Direction's "Story of my Life!" HA!….And Mumford and Sons) and thanking God for the beauty of the day and the gift of running he's given me. 

This external detachment, but internal presence and awareness is something I hope to race with moving forward as the competition will undoubtedly become more and more apparent and therefore, the trials will be more ferocious.

So all in all, this race was just a good reminder for me to be prepared for the storms when they come, to deal with the storms when they come - with faith, hope, joy, and love - and to GROW through and out of the storms when they *temporarily* go.

A big thanks to those who tried to stay dry out there to come support or who supported from afar: Sara and Sadie, My Mom, In-Laws (Mike and Tracy) and brother-in-law (Ryan), the WJU distance team + Coach Parker and his wife Maria, and Craig Thornley and Meghan Arbogast. And Scott Jaime of Pearl - much thanks brother for all you've done to support us! Connor Curley, too, for helping a brother out pre-race.

RD Harlan Reymont had everything dialed from what I could tell. I can't imagine how hard it would be to put on a race in those conditions. But he did it with excellence. And so did his volunteers. They all seemed happy to be out there. Appreciate that sacrifice and time. And all the finishers I talked to had a blast out there. Dealing with the elements, but making the most of it in true ultra-running fashion.

Awww she's getting so big!

That climb up Robie Point back to the Overlook was tiring!


  1. That climb up to Roby point, yeah I did that once. ONCE. It was horrible. Good read, Jake!

    1. Horribly good? :) ... Thanks for reading

  2. I don't visit your blog enough Jacob, but I always enjoy it when I do! Nice work and I'll make sure to tell Harlan about your shout out when I see him next! In Spirit and health, Lee.

    1. Thanks Lee! Always good to hear from you, man. Hope to see you soon!

  3. Jacob- Great to hear about your adventures and to see your passion for running + God- Very cool indeed! Hope you have a nice Easter week and all the best getting ready for WS!