Leading Up to the Race

I’m so glad to finally share with you the events that have occurred since I last posted.

Have you ever said, “I feel like I’m working more just to take some time off”. I’ve actually said this not only before taking some time off, but also afterwards. I sort of felt this way just recently.

I contrast this with what’s known as “tapering” or “cut back” in a running training program. For me, I have been in a 14 week half marathon training program that is pretty structured so that there is no guesswork as to how far and how long I run on a given day. Towards the end of the program, you taper or cut back the activity in order to allow your muscles to heal in time for the big race. I’ve often been told to fight the urge to do more than what is laid out in the program. I guess I would attribute that to the whole phenomenon that takes place at work before going on vacation.

I was did pretty well in sticking to my running program; tapering and all. I’m thankful for that because activity in the other areas of my life ramped up…as I should have expected. I’m just going to list what took place in the two weeks leading up to my race.

      – Participated in an all day workshop focusing on the ministry partnership that exists between churches and Christian counselors


      – Coordinated and executed the audio/visual details for the launch event of our global outreach ministry


      – Executed the third of three Saturday morning trainings for care ministers at our Barrington campus


      – Conducted two mid course performance reviews for two awesome staff members of whom I get to work alongside


      – Participated in a tour of what started out as a food pantry 30 years ago and now provides not only food but also clothing, adult literacy, GED, and citizenship programs, art programs, among many others for their community.


      – Participated in an all day seminar downtown on team building, coaching and mentoring.


    – With my family not being able to go with me to the race, I coordinated with friends for my boys to hang out for the weekend while Jen is at a women’s retreat.

Whew! I’m tired just reading that! I have to confess that during those last two weeks, I asked myself if this was really worth it? Is going through all this really worth the trouble? I should just cancel. Why don’t I just give up…I’m going to die of stress in the process anyway (exaggerating, of course)

I’m reminded again of a statement by Greg Anderson, athlete/author, that I’ve heard throughout my 43 years of life,

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.

Stay tuned and I’ll give you an summary of how my race actually went.

In His love,




Hello My Friends,

Couch plus Tony plus Dog plus 8 mile run equals discipline!

Here I am after working while standing on my feet for 5 hours knowing that I have an 8 mile long run to complete before the sun goes down! The couch and dog aren't helping either!

If you remember my last post, I talked a little bit about the storm I weathered.  Well, it looks like the skies have cleared up!  This last week was VERY exciting for me to say the least.  I’d love to share with you some of the things that I’m celebrating.

  1. Team Oasis Launch Event
    On Thursday Evening, we had our launch event at The Runner’s Edge in Libertyville.  It was so exciting to meet so many runners in one place for the same cause!  It was neat to hear the different stories as to how people started running and why they chose to run for Team Oasis.  We heard from different representatives of the Oasis Team: Kim Huffman, our Team Captain; Jen Neumann, our Team Coach; Chris Herden, Oasis for Orphans Co-Founder.  Additionally, we heard from Frank Honold, founder of The Power of ONE Bars; Chris, The Runner’s Edge Store Manager; Ryan Hall from ASICS shoes; and Tony Smith from Moji.  I was so excited to have been recognized as Team Oasis’ top fundraiser to date…all thanks to YOU!
  2. Four New Partners for Team Oasis
    I have a monthly goal of asking at least 5 new people/families to financially partner with Team Oasis with a gift of at least $20.  I’m a firm believer that God worked mightily and laid it upon the hearts of four people/families last week.  Together their gifts totalled $220 over a 2 day period!   Again, thank you all SO much!  Please keep praying for this ministry and share this website with your friends and family: http://run.tonyjao.com
  3. Eight Mile Run
    Every weekend for the past 12 weeks I’ve run what’s called, “a long run”.  In my training program, I have 2 runs typically scheduled on Mondays and Thursdays that are time based and a long run that is distance based on Saturdays.  (I’m supposed to cross train on Tuesdays and Fridays; but let’s not get into that right now.)  So for example, on Monday and Thursday I may have a 50 minute run scheduled and on Saturday I would have a 6 mile run scheduled.  Well this week, because I knew I couldn’t run on Saturday, I shifted everything one day; 50 min on Tuesday, 40 min on Friday and 8 mile on Sunday.  The challenge was Sunday’s run because I had to work Sunday morning while standing on a hard concrete floor at a local Target for 5 hours!  Well, I got home from work and honestly didn’t want to go because my legs and feet were just plain tired.  I laid on the couch for a while with my dog and almost didn’t get up (see picture).  I knew I had to go, so I suited up and went outside.  After miles 1 and 2, I was tempted to turn around and just head home but I kept saying to myself, “Just one more mile, then you can turn around”.  Well, eight miles later, I realized that God helped me through each step!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

I am humbled by seeing not only how God reveals Himself through me during my running but also through YOU all!  I believe that together we can come together to see God take all of our contributions and build a 2nd orphanage for Oasis!

Thanks again for joining me on this journey!


Weathering the Storm

Hello again, my friends!

Have you ever weathered a storm?  For some, a storm could be described as a powerful thunderstorm that contains strong winds, lightning, and a heavy downpour of rain.  For others, a storm could be a time in their life where they may be experiencing a crisis.  And for others, it may be just a period of time where there is so much activity requiring his time and energy such as projects, meetings, presentations, etc…  I’d like to share a ‘storm’ that I experienced over the last week or so.

If you remember from my last post, I had a number of things for which I asked you to pray.  And, yes, last week was my storm.  I had a number of meetings, email responses, and phone calls that required a good portion of my time at work.  There were a number of correspondences that I engaged in that left me emotionally drained.  Because the training that I was preparing for falls on a Saturday (three consecutive Saturdays to be exact), I’ve had to reschedule long runs to Sunday, which has its own challenges for the weeks following.  The weather forecast for this past weekend was predicted to have thunderstorms with high winds.  And to top it all off, I still had not begun to prepare my taxes!

How was I going to make it?  On the date of my last post, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to the other side of this storm that I was looking at.  It was my life verse that God kept bringing to the forefront of my mind and to the depths of my heart.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
~ Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

And strengthen me He did!  The training for work that I had been preparing for took place on Saturday better than expected.  The ten mile run that I had to reschedule for Sunday went better than when I did it last summer AND the weather was great with no thunderstorms!  And finally, I completed my taxes!  God was there all the time waiting for me to acknowledge His presence.

"Wow, am I really getting run 10 miles?"

Setting out on an 10-mile long run @ Rollins Savanna

When am I ever going to learn?

Prayer Requests

1) Some good friends of mine are visiting Kenya right now ministering to pastors and youth leaders.  Would you pray that God would protect them in addition to giving them His wisdom?  Pray for John T., Dave G., Conce G., and Trent M.

2) April is half over and I’m still praying for 5 more financial supporters for Team Oasis.  Share the following website to all those who might be interested in supporting as you have: http://run.tonyjao.com

Thanks again for joining me on this journey!


Where Do You Go To For Help?

Just after the start of my first 8K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day 2011!

Happy Easter my friends!

Thanks for your continued prayers and for coming back to see what’s been happening on my journey.

The Ultimate Training Manual

Throughout my training, I’ve been obsessed with the mechanics of running, running efficiency, the proper balance of carbohydrates and protein, hydration, the proper apparel, the proper shoes, etcetera and so on.  I’ve educated myself with this information through research, e.g., books, magazines, websites, talking with other friends who are runners along with the friendly staff at local running stores.  In the midst of all this obsessive behavior, I am constantly reminded that running is only part of my life and that it does not define who I am.  I am reminded that the ultimate training manual has already been given to me, The Bible.  I need to remember that my ultimate goal isn’t ‘a crown that will not last’, a medal, a t-shirt, and the like.  My goal is that others would be see God working in my life and that they too have the opportunity to rediscover Him in a very real way!

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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)

Team Oasis’ Goal for April – You Can Help!

March has come & gone and thanks to you, we were able to add 6 partners to the growing list of Oasis for Orphans supporters!  I need your prayer and help in finding 5 more people this month who would be willing to donate at least $20 to help build a 2nd orphanage, like many of you have.  Please either share this blog or my FirstGiving website at: http://run.tonyjao.com.

My Training This Week

This was week 10 of 14 for my upcoming half marathon.  I was encouraged by my run on Monday which was supposed to be a 60 minute run based on my ‘Mortals’ training.  Using Jeff Galloway’s philosophy from “Marathon: You can do it!” I walked after each mile for a minute and it really helped.  Thursday was a 50 minute run and Saturday was a 6 mile long run.  It turned out that I did 6.9 miles instead.  Next weekend will be a 10 mile long run!

He is Risen Indeed!

Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior is Risen!  He is risen indeed! He died for our sin; taking on the penalty of death for us – for me!  In doing so, He made it so that I could once again be reconciled to God, my Father, with new life!  If you haven’t yet acknowledged Jesus the forgiver of your sins and the leader of your life AND have questions, I’d love to talk to you about it.

Prayer Requests

  • This is going to be a REALLY busy week for me at work.  I’ve got a big training project that I need to deliver on Saturday morning in the midst of having at least one meeting each day this week.  Pray that God would give me the wisdom and discernment as to how to spend my time in order to honor Him through my relationship with Him, my family, and my ministry.
  • In light of my busy week as mentioned above, I am scheduled to do a 10 mile long run during the weekend.  Pray that God would give me the discipline to train well this week.
  • With a new month brings new goals for support of Oasis for Orphans.  Pray that God would identify at least 5 more supporters for this month.

Thanks for coming along on my journey!


Getting Up to Speed

Well, here we go! I’d like to take a moment to get you up to speed as to where I’m at.

At the finish line of my first half marathon! My youngest brother is in the background also in yellow!

Rewind and Fast Forward
Up until this point in time, I’ve officially participated in 5 races: two 5K’s, one 8K, one 10K, and one half marathon. (Take a look at my Athlinks link on the right sidebar for details.) I’m currently training for the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus, OH on May 5, 2012. This week completes week 9 of a 14 week training program out of the book, “Marathoning for Mortals“. After this half marathon, I will be training for the Chicago Marathon on October 7, 2012 while raising support and awareness for Oasis for Orphans, with Team Oasis. Our goal is to raise enough money collectively to build a second orphanage for the children in Kenya.

Training Then and Now
I have to admit that it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve already been in training for 9 weeks and that my race is coming up in 5 weeks! I’m pretty happy with how things are going so far. Last year’s training through the summer was challenging not only because of the fact that I was so new to this activity called ‘running’ but because of the combination of the sun, heat, and humidity. Running in the winter was actually rather enjoyable for me! I can honestly say that I rarely got ‘too hot’.

Hurry Up and Weight
One of my biggest challenges at this point is my weight. I’d love to get down to 200 lbs when I cross the starting line in October. That would mean I’d need to lose OVER 50 lbs in less than 6 months; that’s like 9 lbs a month; or 2.25 lbs a week! I’m not sure that’s healthy and everything I’ve read (which isn’t a whole lot) says that losing weight while training for a marathon is very difficult because of the amount of energy you need feed ‘the machine’. I’m convinced, however, that I’ve got PLENTY of stored energy to at least train through the next few months!

Prayer Requests
I’d like to ask you to pray for a few things for me:

  • Pray that I would find at least 5 more financial supporters for Oasis for Orphans for at least $20 each for the month of April.
  • Pray that I remain injury free in my training for the half marathon in May.
  • Pray that I would be able to balance my time between family, work, rest, and training.

Thanks for coming along on my journey!