The Thing About Iron

Hello everyone, Mitchell Hollis here with Run for God. I want to start this blog off by making a few statements. First, I am not a medical doctor, nor any other kind of doctor. I’ve never been to medical school, and I do not claim to know much about the human body. This blog is not meant to diagnose anyone of anything, but rather tell you of my experience. Should you need medical advice, please contact your physician.

Now that all of the disclaimers are out of the way, let me tell you about why I’m writing a blog on the subject of Iron and Ferritin.

I have a 14-year old son named Lane Hollis. Lane in many ways is your typical freshman high schooler. He attends public school, makes good grades, plays the guitar, and loves hanging out with his friends. But there is one thing that is not so typical about Lane. He’s a very focused nationally ranked triathlete who trains 15-20 hours per week and has some pretty lofty long-term goals. He runs a mid-17 5K, and his current PR in the mile is 4:56. He’s also experiencing that dramatic change every young man experiences when their voice changes and they seem to grow 6-inches over night. With this background let me explain what happened.

On September 1 of this year, I showed up to Lane’s cross-country practice just like any other day. As Lane walked into the area where we all meet for practice, I could tell that something was wrong. He walked up to me and said that he did not feel good. Now let me stop right there and say, Lane is almost never sick, he never complains, and he’s always ready for a good practice. So when he told me he didn’t feel good, there was no question at all that something was wrong.

We immediately left the practice and walked in to our local family care physician to get him checked out. Lane was pale, weak, and fell asleep in the waiting room. My first thought was the flu or some other random bug that kids pickup this time of year. After a few minutes we were able to see the doctor and after she checked his temperature we found that he had a 101.9 fever. That would explain why he felt as though a truck had hit him, but what caused the fever?

After she had checked for the flu, strep throat, and ran a urine sample she came back into the room somewhat puzzled. Everything came back negative. He didn’t have any of those things. She indicated that he may just be fighting off something and he’d be better in a few days. Sure enough, by Sunday he was back to what seemed like normal, at least until he showed up for XC practice on Monday.

On Monday following his fever, Lane showed up to XC ready to go. Lane came into the season as one of the top runners as a freshman and was ready to start this season off right! As soon as Lane started running his warm-up, he knew there was something wrong. He couldn’t get his legs to work! He said that he felt fine, nothing hurt, but he was having a hard time holding an 8:30 pace. Lane’s slow zone at the time was 7:00-7:30. He finished practice frustrated, but not too worried. We assumed that the fever he had on Friday must have taken more out of him than we thought. Tuesday and Wednesday was the same story and it was Wednesday afternoon when I realized we needed to head back to the doctor. I made an appointment for Thursday afternoon, and let his coach know that we would not be at practice.

On Thursday, I picked Lane up from school and once again he stated that he felt great. By this point I’m thinking that something else is going on and the fever may have just been a coincidence? As we met once again with his doctor I asked if we could get some blood work to see if there was any kind of imbalance. I had read about athletes, especially female athletes, who had performance problems due to low iron. Right away, he sent Lane back to the lab for a CBC (Complete Blood Count). The doctor told me that he’d give me a call later that afternoon with the results. This is it! I just knew this was going to be the problem. I got the call later that afternoon, but it wasn’t the call I was hoping for. Everything was normal. It’s strange to say that I was disappointed with a normal result, but we knew something was wrong, and once again we hit a dead end.

On Friday and Saturday Lane’s run only seemed to get worse. You could tell by looking at him run that something was very wrong. He almost seemed uncoordinated and it looked as though he had trouble just putting one foot in front of the other. On Monday, his XC coach (a great friend and coworker), and I were talking about what might be going on. We’d been to the doctor twice and everything was normal, maybe it’s just that he’s going through a growth spurt? Lane had grown a couple of inches in a short period of time.

I’ve coached triathletes for many years now and I’ve seen the effects that growing can have on kids. Their body awareness gets out of wack, and they’re just not aware of how tall they are getting which can spell big trouble when it comes to running efficiently. That must be it, so we went with it. For the next two weeks, we backed Lanes volume down and had him do other workouts when the rest of the team was doing speed. High intensity and growing quickly in many cases can lead to injuries and we just wanted to let Lane get through this.

Asking Lane to run less than everyone and not run hard is like asking a basketball player not to dribble the ball. It just didn’t make sense, and if it did, he was not happy about it. One day at XC practice almost a month since he first had his fever, I could see that this was getting to Lane. He was upset, which in turn made me upset. Something just didn’t feel right! He had grown, but not that much! And if it was a growth spurt that was leading to coordination issues then why were we not able to see it anywhere else? If it’s that bad, then it should be at least a little noticeable just walking around while not exercising. It wasn’t.

That evening I got on the phone with a coaching friend of mine out of Des Moines, Iowa, Jenny Weber. Jenny is a high-performance triathlon coach and the head coach of Z3, which is a high-performance team that Lane is a member of. I began to tell her about what was going on with Lane. She listened and said, “It’s his Ferritin”. There was no hesitation. I knew Ferritin had something to do with Iron and I told her that his CBC, which does check for iron, came back normal. Jenny calmly ensured me that a CBC does check hemoglobin, which is the iron-containing protein in the blood that carries iron and oxygen to cells, but it does not check for ferritin, which indicates the amount of iron stored in the body, almost like your iron reserve tank.

It all made sense, but I still wasn’t getting my hopes up. That night I read article after article about this very thing, and how low ferritin would affect athletes in exactly the same way that it was affecting Lane. But why didn’t anyone tell us this? Why didn’t anyone explain the difference between hemoglobin and ferritin? Why did the doctors miss this? Because while this condition is very common in young endurance athletes (some estimates are as high as 40%), it’s very uncommon with the average active young person. The average active young person is not training at the volume and intensity as Lane and many of his peers are. This is exactly why someone who coaches athletes such as Lane was able to quickly point this out when doctors didn’t.

Needless to say, Lane was happy to get his blood drawn once again the next morning for a specific ferritin test. Unfortunately we would not get the results until Friday and this was only Wednesday. For the next two days we were on pins and needles. We stuck to our plan of low volume, low intensity, and as much as I wanted to go ahead and get him on an iron supplement, I didn’t.

Friday, the call came in and it was the news we wanted. Lane’s ferritin was extremely low. What a relief! Crazy right? I’ve never been so excited to hear that something was wrong with one of my children. It was because we had an answer. We knew what the problem was and now we could work to fix it.

The “normal” range for ferritin in a young athlete such as Lane is 70-300. Lane’s was 11. That Friday afternoon Lane skipped XC to get a crash course on how to manage your iron naturally as well as to find out a supplement regimen for his iron deficiency.   We decided on 65mg of iron with vitamin C twice a day until his levels are back to normal.

So what caused the fever a month ago? We’re not real sure, but I have read that in some cases low ferritin can lead to infection, which would explain the fever.

So what caused the low ferritin? Again, I’m not sure, but I assume that when you couple the fact that Lane trains year round with the fact that he’s currently growing like a weed, deficiencies are going to occur.

There are still some questions that may never be answered, but there’s one thing for sure. The solution worked. Lane took his supplement on Friday afternoon, two on Saturday, and raced the final triathlon of his season on Sunday. He was back to the old Lane, claiming second overall against a strong field of athletes two and three times his age.

One thing I found during this 4 weeks of not knowing what was going on with my child is that answers were hard to find. Reading clinical studies, visiting the doctors office three different times, and conducting trial and error experiments that only lead to dead ends was not the easiest route. I only wish I had read Lane’s story that someone else had written from the very start. My hope is that this story will find its way to those who are searching for the same answers as me.

Please share!

One morning when I awoke, I listened for the sound of the waves. “The tide is out,” I thought. There would be enough hard sand on the shore to run. I opened my eyes and saw a flash of lightening; “So much for running,” was my next thought. I wanted so much to go watch the sunrise as I ran. It is such an important part of why I love the beach. I hear God in the perfect recipe of the sunrise, the crash of the waves, the footprint of my running shoe in the sand, the sound of my breath, the fatigue of my legs and the quiet of my mind. Instead, I pulled out my Bible and read about Gideon and how the Israelites, time and again underestimated God and wandered away to do their own thing (Judges 6-8). I read a devotional based on Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish and how the disciples still questioned how the next group of people would be fed (Matthew 14).

After my reading, I got out of bed. I put on my running clothes and shoes and opened the door to witness the most amazing sunrise. There was a thundercloud in the horizon and the sky blazed with bright pinks and oranges. It was amazing. I stepped out onto the beach and looked to the south; it was just the way I wanted to begin my run. It was quiet—very few people, no high-rise condo buildings, nothing to interrupt the solitude. The beach was smoother, too, an easier run, but if I wanted to watch the sunrise, this amazing work of art God was painting before my eyes, I would have to go north.

I could already see people littering the beach that way and the buildings rising along the shoreline. I looked at the sky again and began to run north. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful. Bright oranges, pinks and purples surrounded the clouds, the sun rose above them, blazing orange and streaks of light filled the sky. My lesson for the morning, however, was not in the sky. As I skipped through tide pools like obstacle courses, looking for a dry place to put my foot, I thought about how life is like that. It’s not a nice, smooth beach of sand. Sometimes I have my pace set; I’m running through the days of life and I come to a rough patch. It forces me to change my pace, choose my steps more carefully and seek out the Creator of my path to make sure the next step is the right one. Slowing down, changing course, it’s not always a bad thing. “Your ways are not my ways, says the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:7-9). I looked up at the sunrise, just like in life; the beauty is worth having to change my pace.

There was a man fishing; he made eye contact and wished me good morning. I smiled and returned the greeting, anxious to get back to my pace and my thoughts. He wanted to talk more, so I stopped. We talk about the sunrise, the spectacular lightening show he witnessed in the sky this morning and told me a little about himself. I wished him a good day and returned to my run. I thought about how much my life is like this encounter. I’m in the middle of something, pursuing my goals or deadlines or just simply not wanting to break the pace of life when God puts someone in my path that needs something I can give because of what He has given me.

I looked up at the sunrise. The beauty of it, just like the beauty of reaching out to someone in need, is worth the break in my pace. I was to the part of the beach with the high-rise condo buildings, which did not add to the beauty of the morning. However, when I looked right instead of left, I saw the massive ocean, the beauty of the continuing assent of the sun. Life is like that, too, right? There is so much ugliness in the landscape of our lives. I can easily be drawn into focusing on that ugliness or I can choose to see the beauty that God has placed in my life. God says he works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:27-29); it doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.

I had to turn around. My legs were tired and my body weak. I’d made very few good choices that week when it came to eating and my body was feeling the effects of the lack of fuel. My life is like that, too. Sometimes I choose to focus on the wrong things: worry, things that don’t feed my spirit, the negatives of life. I run out of fuel for my days or the things life brings my way. God tells me to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17), Jesus says he is the bread of life (John 6:35). What does my life diet consist of?

As I finished my run, I start to notice the people around me. A couple was walking together, but looking as if they were miles apart. A young mother was trying to enjoy the sunrise as her two young boys ran along the beach and her husband tried to wrangle them in. She looked tired and distracted. What had brought these people to this place in time? What choices or decisions had they made? What would they do differently if they could? I know what regret and disappointment feel like. Thank you, Jesus, that all things become new in you (II Corinthians 5:17). I no longer have to wish I could change the past. I only have to focus on what the Master has planned for right now.

I finished my run strong. I was thankful for the beauty of the morning, the beauty of life and the beauty of the unplanned stuff of life: the rough patches, the distractions of life and the people who enter my life, the things that fuel my days with positive things and the grace that forgives my past. Most of all, I’m thankful for a God who speaks into my life through the beauty of a sunrise and the unplanned stuff of a run.

Written by Bonnie Burnside.  Excerpt from Run for God – Devotions v1

Pick up your copy of Devotions at http://www.RunforGod.com

Go Run!

Here is a comprehensive list of ALL the times when it is advisable to miss a scheduled run:

Number One.  When it would make you a worse runner or a scoundrel.

That’s it.  No other rules apply.  It’s only a little more complicated than that.

Obviously, if running would be injurious to you, then it would make you a worse runner.  Don’t run if you would injure yourself more.  If you’re just sore, go run.  If you ran twenty miles yesterday, then running twenty more miles today would probably make you a worse a runner too.  It’s all just common sense.

It’s the scoundrel part that makes it more complicated.  For example, you would be a scoundrel to run instead of going to your best friend’s anniversary party.  That part’s simple.  However, the complexity comes from the fact that there is probably sometime during the day when you can fit that run in.  Can you get up a little earlier?  Note that getting up earlier neither makes you a worse runner nor a scoundrel.

Sick?  How sick are you?  Tired? So what.  Is it raining?  Snowing? You get wet on purpose every day when you take a shower; it won’t hurt you.  Don’t feel like it.  You’ll be fine once you get going.

Stop the excuses. Make some time.  Go for a run.

Christianity is just as simple.  There is one way:  John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  You either believe Christ is the answer or you don’t.  It’s black and white, simple as pie.  Once you believe that, it gets a little more complex as we struggle to become more Christ-like, but, just like there is one rule for whether or not you run, there is one rule for whether or not you’re going to Heaven.

It’s a convoluted world out there, but there are some things that are still uncomplicated.  I like simplicity.

Dean

Recovery Runs

I love recovery runs. There is no pressure to accomplish any particular goal except to cover a certain distance or time. The idea is to work some soreness out of your legs and you don’t have to run hard to do it. As a matter of fact, you have to run slow. I always run a recovery run the day after a hard run. Running hard will take its toll on your body and it needs rest. I believe active rest is best that day after a hard workout or race and an easy recovery run is perfect.   If I am going to take a day off, I would prefer it to be the day after a recovery run. Your legs get stiff with lactic acid build up from running fast and an easy run will help to alleviate that soreness.

So how do you go about a recovery run? Easy. That’s the key. A couple of minutes slower than your regular pace is not too slow. A little faster is okay, but not necessary. At the fastest, thirty seconds to a minute slower than your average run is appropriate. Run slow, take it easy, and enjoy the lower effort! Think of it like lying on the beach, or relaxing to a good movie. I always think about recovery runs as a reward for working so hard the day before.

Recovery runs will help to prevent injury. Keeping your legs as loose as possible is an important part of keeping yourself on the healthy track. In addition to the run, take time to stretch when done. Pay attention to particularly sensitive muscle groups and spend a little more time on those, gently stretching them.

If it is important to run easy the day after a hard workout, it is even more important to recover from a race. The longer the race, the longer the recovery needs to be. My (and a lot of other folks) rule of thumb is a day of easy running for each mile of the race. For a 5K, I will run a recovery run the day after the race and then at least two more easy days before getting back to hard running again. For a marathon, I will run recovery runs for a week and then run easy for another two to three weeks before attempting to run hard again.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” It’s a good way to look at recovery runs. Each race is the end of a journey, some short and some long. Either way, new beginnings are always intriguing. Any time we are tested and we become tired and worn; it is good to remember that we are New Creatures in God’s eyes.

  • Recovery runs are a reward for working hard. Enjoy them without guilt!
  • As a rule of thumb, run one easy day for each mile of a race to ensure your body is ready to get back to hard running.
  • Each mountain we climb, whether a race or difficult life circumstances, new beginnings are welcome. But nothing beats the new beginning of becoming a new creature in Christ!

An excerpt from Devotions v1.  Pick up a copy today at www.RunforGod.com.

We All Have Talents

Thirty-eight years ago this month (May), I ran my first sub-five minute mile. I was a ninth-grader at Pointe South Junior High School in Riverdale, Georgia. I remember that day acutely because I had been trying to run a mile in under five minutes for the entire season, and I was successful on my final attempt, the County Championship. Coincidentally, that was also the first one mile race I ever lost. Isn’t it funny how God will keep our ego in check!

Fast forward thirty-eight years and I stood on the starting line of the Market Street Mile in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My goal? Run a mile in under five minutes. The gun went off, I felt great running straight to the front of the over-thirty race. I never looked back and finished the mile in 4:55, the same time I had run thirty-eight years ago the first time I had broken the five-minute barrier. Hopefully, that’s not my last time, but it may be. I don’t know what God has in store for me tomorrow.

God gave me a gift: Running. He has made my body in such a way that I am able to excel at something I love to do. But, if I use it strictly for my enjoyment, I am completely missing the point and I am dishonoring the very God who gave me the ability to do what I do. For about thirty-four of those years, that’s exactly what I did. But, as I have grown closer to my Lord, He has shown me ways to impact others through the sport of running. I don’t know what He has in store for me in the future, but I have seen enough to know that following His will is never a bad thing.

He has allowed me to travel down some dark paths. They were places I would never choose to go. They were disappointing in some cases and painful in others. But, in the end, I have seen what the mighty hand of God can do when I choose to trust Him and go down that path, regardless of the immediate appearance of the direction.

Why is that important? I would never have followed His path to Run for God if He had revealed the entire picture to me from the beginning. I’m pig-headed. In addition, I found that really tough circumstances can lead to great things. But, it only works when you do two things: 1) Make yourself available to be used by God in whatever your area of talent may be, and 2) Follow His path no matter where it takes you.

My talent happens to be running, but maybe you have a talent for comforting people. God wants to use that talent, maybe through visiting nursing homes, for example. Or, maybe you can fix anything and God would enjoy seeing you repairing things for people who need it. I have heard a lot of people say, “I don’t have a talent.” To that, I reply “poppycock!” I know a lady who’s talent is sending thoughtful notes through the mail. They never fail to make my day! There’s something God wants to use you for…

Do you think God gave you that talent just so you could use it for yourself? Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” When you help others, you are serving the Lord! Jesus tells us this in Mathew 22:37-40, “And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” When you honor God with your talents, you are proving your love for Him and for others, fulfilling the commandments that Jesus considers the most important.

What are you doing with your talent? Are you sharing it? If not, what are you waiting for?

Dean T.

I’m Not Qualified

Have you ever used the phrase, “I’m not qualified” or something similar? Maybe it’s “I can’t do that”, “I’ve never done that”, or “I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to that”. Sure you have, we all have. Many times that is an appropriate answer, but sometimes it’s simply not.

I like photography, it’s one of my hobbies, and I feel I’m actually pretty good at it. I mean, I’m not National Geographic material, but I do understand what makes a good photo. I’ll never forget years ago someone asking me to shoot their wedding. I considered it for about 1-second and kindly said no. My response was, “I’m not qualified”. Sure I can shoot great pictures of flowers, kids, and sunsets, but all those things are easily replicated should something go wrong. If my battery goes dead on a wedding day, I can’t simply ask everyone to come back tomorrow for a redo.

The example above is very similar to why we here at Run for God do not have our own race timing system. By the numbers, it makes pretty good sense for us to make that investment, but we don’t. The reason is the same reason that I will not photograph a wedding. We need people who are qualified and specialize in the area of timing, people who do it every weekend and are known for getting it right, because just like that wedding, we can’t ask everyone to come back tomorrow to run that race.

Now I would argue that the answer, “I’m not qualified” is the correct answer to the scenarios above. But when is the answer, “I’m not qualified” misplaced? When it’s God calling!

When is the answer, “I’m not qualified” misplaced? When it’s God calling!

 Almost eight years ago God made a request of me that initially I dismissed. He was very clearly prompting me to start a running ministry. Number one, I wasn’t a minister. Number two; I wasn’t even that good of a runner. I mean there’s no way that a marginal runner who doesn’t know the Bible like he should, would ever be asked by God to start a running ministry. In my mind, God had tapped the wrong person for this job because obviously, “I’m not qualified”.

Think about this. Matthew was a tax collector, a pretty “worldly” job in those days. He went on to become the author of the first book in the New Testament. Peter was a fisherman, and went on to become the rock on which Jesus built the church. Paul was a persecutor of Christians, killing them just for being who they were. He went on to be one of the greatest Ambassadors of the faith authoring over a dozen books of the Bible.

God wants us to answer His call in any situation. “I’m not qualified” is never an acceptable answer. Many times God will use those who are not qualified, by worldly standards, to do great things, so that there is no other explanation for what happened than Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Even in our salvation, God calls us when we are not qualified.

Today, God may be calling you to do something that sounds crazy, something you may not be qualified for. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been there, and it seems as though God has me there often. But the only correct answer is, “Yes God”. It may be something as simple as talking to a coworker about Jesus, or going on a mission trip. Maybe it’s something a little more complicated like making a drastic life change because you know it’s what God wants.

Eight years ago God called me to start a running ministry. I felt inadequate, but I stepped outside my comfort zone. The result is Run for God. The credit can never come to myself, Holly, or any of our staff. The credit can only go to God, and to what He can do through someone who simply says, “I’m willing”.

Have a great day everyone!

Mitchell

When Two Worlds Collide

For those of you who don’t know, I wasn’t always a runner; I haven’t always been the Run for God guy. Nope, in fact, my profession since I graduated high school has been a general contractor. That’s right, I grew up on jobsites, swinging hammers, toting lumber, and hearing all the normal conversations that take place in this setting which is usually far from spiritual. I love being a contractor. I love taking nothing one day and building it into something beautiful the next. To me, it’s very satisfying.

Over the last several years I’ve been somewhat removed from that setting due to the growth of Run for God as well as the weak housing market. My partner and brother Jerome was very understanding in 2010 when I told him I felt the Lord calling me to start a ministry that we all know as Run for God.

As of late, I’ve been making a return to the job site. I’ve got great people around me at Run for God, which has allowed me to step back into a world that has dramatically changed. Or has it? You see, as I sit here typing this blog, I’m sitting in my truck on one of our job sites. There are dozers, dump trucks, men chewing and smoking tobacco, foul language, and the smell of fresh turned dirt permeating the air. I won’t forget walking up on a job a few weeks ago and a sub-contractor that I’d known since I was a kid was using words that I hadn’t been exposed to in some time. Had he changed? Nope, but I had.

God really began to open my eyes to the fact that He had changed me. He had taken me out of an environment that’s not always so Godly so that He could change my heart and place me back there to point people to him. Something I would have never done years ago.

So where does God have you right now? Do you shy away from those who don’t have a relationship with Christ because your fearful of what they might say, think, or do? If you don’t shy away, are you blending in? Or, are you shining the light of Jesus to the very people who may need to see it most?

Don’t try to compartmentalize God! Don’t try and show Him off in some areas and hide Him in others. Let the love of Jesus flow into all areas of your life and make it your goal to reach those whom you’d never expect to reach. Matthew 5:16 says to, “let your light shine before others.” Is your light always shining before others? Go ahead; let your worlds (church, family, job, recreation) collide! Who knows, maybe it’s stepping outside your comfort zone and teaching a Run for God class whereby your recreation and spiritual worlds collide?

Mitchell

Absolute

Absolute

adjective | ab•so•lute | \ˈab-sə-ˌlüt

: Free from imperfection. Pure, outright, unmitigated, free from mixture.

As many of you know, I coach a group of junior triathletes in my hometown. These kids and young adults are great. They’re a hard working, passionate, and coachable. Lately however, we’ve been dealing with the fact that our team has rules, and there are consequences for those rules not being followed. I have several rules on our team that tend to be the topic of much discussion from time to time. Rules like, no cell phones, be prepared, always listen, be ten minutes early, do your best, and always represent Jesus. I’m known for being firm on these rules and excuses just aren’t acceptable. I’m convinced that the pillars of who we are as a team should be “absolute” for anyone to associate those qualities with us. Notice that none of these rules have anything to do with being fast, but often being fast is the result.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that one of my rules has begun to loose it’s meaning, and honestly, much of the blame can fall to me. It was the rule of being prepared. If you know anything about the sport of triathlon, you know that it takes a lot of preparation. There are three sports with three sets of gear, three environments in which you exercise, and simply put, three areas in which you can be unprepared. I’ve told our athletes that their gear bag should always be prepared for their sport when they show up for practice, and their sport is triathlon. It’s not swimming, biking, OR running, it’s swimming, biking, AND running. Sure, on most days we are only doing one discipline, but there are days when we as coaches decide to work on something else, and our athletes need to be ready. Long story short, I call it the One Bag Rule.

As I mentioned, this rule as of late, has begun to lose it’s meaning, and it’s because I had not done my part in making it “absolute”. Athletes were approaching me saying they had forgot this or that because it was in a different bag or because they didn’t know that we were doing a certain workout. I had allowed my lack of “absolute” consequences to begin eroding one of the things our team stood for, preparedness. It was time for a change!

I sat all of our athletes down and explained why I had always had the One Bag Rule and that going forward this rule would be “absolute”. There would be no excuses, and that failure to have all their gear in one bag at every practice will result in them watching everyone from the bench at that particular practice. Wouldn’t you know that at the very next practice three athletes showed up without some of their gear? They were devastated to know that while everyone was hitting the trails to run, they would be sitting at a picnic table silently while processing the fact that they would be doing their workout later that evening alone. To them it seemed harsh. To me, I could sense the judgment from being what seemed irrational. But at the end of the day, I fully understand one “absolute” truth about the sport of triathlon, your career, your education, and your life. If you are not prepared, you will not be successful. Vince Lombardi may have said it best when he said, “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” That is “absolute” truth.

So let me get to my point.

Society today says there is no “absolute” truth. It says that there is no black or white, but rather, gray is the safe place to be. It also suggests that rules are merely suggestions, and consequences, well there is no place for those. Society these days says to do what feels good, not what is right. It’s your life, live it how you want. Today, it almost seems that apathy is to be desired rather than avoided.

Let me be completely blunt about the growing trend of how society views “absolute” truth. It is wrong! It is wrong because along with “absolute” truth come “absolute” consequences.

If you’re apathetic to your job, it will lead to termination.

If you’re apathetic to your spouse, it will lead to misery or worse.

If you’re apathetic to your beliefs, it will lead to confusion.

If you’re apathetic to your schooling, it will lead to failure.

If you’re apathetic to your community, it will lead to displacement.

If you’re apathetic to Jesus Christ, it will lead to an eternity separated from Him.

God’s word is clear. It say’s in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER you do, do it for the glory of the Lord.” In short, this passage is saying that everything we do should be done in a way that brings honor and glory to God as if he were physically standing there watching us. How many times have you seen someone do something in someone’s honor? There is no apathy there! Whatever it is they are doing, they do it with everything they have. In 2014, a gentleman by the name of Bob Natoli, along with his son and son-in-law, held a fitness fundraiser in honor of a young lady who had been killed by a drunk driver. That day those three men broke 6 world records. No apathy there! These men set an example of how we should honor God in everything we do.

In closing, I would associate the word apathy with being lukewarm. You’re not hot, you’re not cold, and you really just don’t care. Jesus has a clear message for those who try and bring this attitude to a relationship with him. He says in Revelations 3:15, “I know your works, that you are neither cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Jesus wants “absolute” followers.

Today, live your life free from apathy and rooted in absolute truth. Be hot toward the things that matter and cold toward the things that don’t. Stand firmly and proudly on the convictions you know to be “absolute” but the world says are irrational. Be a leader of Biblical principals and not a follower of worldly desires. Be the person who doesn’t participate in idle chatter so that when you do speak people listen. Be the person that people look at and say, “There’s something different about them, and I want it.” Be a reflection of Jesus Christ.

Mitchell

The First Run for God Race

This weekend was the seventh running of the Run for God Run at the Mill. It was a great day with runners coming from all over the country filling the country roads of northern Whitfield County. God put an exclamation point on the day when the last runner came down the hill toward the finish line. We always gather everyone to the finish line for the last finisher, but this race was special. It turned out that the last finishers, a group of three, contained a rather small-statured person in the middle. We had a three year-old girl finishing a 10K! Of course, that just made the cheers even louder as the adults backed off and let the little girl have the spotlight. It was awesome!

As I said, this was the seventh time we ran this particular race and we have hosted many other races in the last seven years, but the first Run for God happened way before Mitchell Hollis ever created the concept. Pastor Charlie Bridges talked about the first Run for God before the races began. John 20:1-2 says, ”Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Mary ran to the disciples.

The disciples responded in verses 3-9, “Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

They ran to the tomb, and John indicates that this may have been the first race! The first Run for God participants were Mary Magdalene, Peter and John. And then comes the greatest part of the story when they find out that He has risen and is alive. It changed their lives forever.

Today, we run or walk for various reasons. Some of us do it for weight control, while others like the feeling of being more fit. Some just want to be more healthy in general and others like the thrill of competition. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand that God gave us running for all of those reasons and much more.

But, our most important run of all is when we emulate Peter and John and run towards Jesus. The difference is that we know He is alive. We have the luxury of knowing what He has done and the hindsight of all of the Biblical writers. How about you? We’re all running in one way or another. The question is, are you running towards Jesus or away from Him? There’s no place like the safety and comfort of His arms! It will change your life forever.

Dean

Knowledge or Relationship

This past Saturday we hosted the 7th Annual Run for God – Run at the Mill in Dalton, GA. This 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon was the first event we ever hosted, and is, to this day one of my favorite events. Maybe it’s the onset of spring, the fact that it’s close to my home, or that we’ve always been blessed with perfect weather, but I always look forward to race day at The Mill!

Last year at this race I began doing something different during our pre-race announcement, prayer, and National Anthem ceremony. I began to simply pose the question, “Do you know where you would spend eternity should you leave this earth today?” As you may already know, the Lord has really been pushing me outside my comfort zone when it comes to evangelism, and posing this question in front of hundreds of people was about as far removed from my comfort zone as you can get.

This year, the Lord laid on my heart something a little different, and He did this the night before the race. On race morning as I took the stage, I told the crowd that I’d like to introduce someone very special to them. I asked my pastor Charlie Bridges to join me as I formally introduced him to everyone. I explained that Charlie was my pastor, my friend, and one of my mentors. I went on to explain to everyone that there is no other way that I would introduce Charlie. I’d never say this is Charlie Bridges from Grove Level Baptist Church. I’d never say this is Charlie Bridges, the husband of Lynn Bridges. And I’d never say this is Charlie Bridges the guy who drives a white Chevrolet. No, I would only introduce Charlie as my friend or my pastor.

How I introduce Charlie matters. The pastor of Grove Level, the husband of Lynn, and the guy who drives a Chevy, all indicate that I know who Charlie is. But the fact that I describe Charlie as my pastor and my friend indicates a relationship.

Over 2000 years ago a very similar conversation took place. It took place as Jesus was talking with His disciples. He asked them “Who do men say that I am?” They began telling Him about all the rumors and who people were saying that He was. Then Jesus looked at Peter and asked what could be considered the most important question in the history of the world. He asked Peter, “Who do YOU say that I AM?”

So why is this question so important as it pertains to Jesus? Because, here again, how we describe who Jesus is matters! I’ve heard people describe Jesus/God in many ways. A supreme being, the creator, all knowing, the “Man” in the Good Book, JC, and many others. But none of those indicates a relationship. I’m always comforted when I hear people say things like my Father, my Savior, or my Everything because this indicates a relationship with Jesus Christ in the same way that me introducing Charlie as my pastor/friend indicates a relationship with him.

Who do you say that Jesus is? The answer to this question has eternal consequences.

Have a great day everyone.

Mitchell

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