Labor Day Funk Run 5k Race Report

funk start

Three weeks ago, I was privileged to be a part of a really special opportunity to serve my community by putting on the Labor Day Funk Run 5k. This was the 4th annual event, and my third consecutive year as race director. We had our largest, most competitive crowd yet. High energy, strategic organization, and our awesome volunteers made for a smooth and successful day.

bryan funk finish

In the 1980 Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell proclaims, “I feel God’s pleasure when I run.” That really resonates with me. I love to run for a lot of reasons. Fitness, competition, and fun are just some of the reasons I lace up my sneakers and pin on running bibs. But running for me is also spiritual. It is a chance for me to get away from the chaos of real life, and get in touch with the divine. The main goal of any race I put on is that space is created for runners to have a safe and fun time, and even feel the love and peace our soul’s often crave.

funk awards

Of course we also want to leave our community better than we found it. I’m proud to say we are certainly doing that! We work with non-profits like United Way to get shoes for those without proper footwear. Last week, we got our first request for shoes. A family with several children lost all they had, and we were able to buy them each two pairs- one for every day wear, and one for gym and athletic activities. Our rep at United Way told us these children had never owned name brand, new shoes. I believe God loves all of us from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes. On days when I deliver shoes, someone’s feet just get a little extra love. We raised just over $2,000 so we will be able to buy approximately 50 more pairs of shoes this year. I have this crazy dream of tripling our proceeds in 2015, and you can help make that dream a reality!


Now is the part where I thank a whole lot of people.

First, I want to thank United Assembly, our biggest supporter and sponsor. They make the race happen by proving generous funding and a wonderful volunteer base. We could not do this event without them, and I’m so blessed by the out-of-the-box ministry they encourage.

I want to thank Southern Wesleyan University for their substantial sponsorship, and their commitment to provide a quality education for so many.

I want to thank Issaqueena Pediatric Dentistry. They have partnered with us from the very beginning, and their loyal and generous support has helped us get to year four with the race.

I want to thank Pace Running Magazine for their partnership. I attribute our growing field to their outstanding publication. They are connecting runners with quality running events, and building community and comradery in the process.

I want to thank Randi Owen’s and Red Art Photography for allowing all the runners the option to download ALL the event photos for free!

I want to also thank Life Springs Media, Advanced Electrical Services, The Mordecai Project, Blue Ridge Pediatrics, Gotta Run Clemson, and Sole Grill and Sushi Bar for their impactful support.

I want to thank the City of Seneca, our city police, Go Green Events, and T&R Graphics for helping all the important details come together.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank all the runners who participated. I hope you enjoyed your running experience, and that you will run with us again on September 7, 2015 for the fifth annual Labor Day Funk Run 5k. 

Grady funk finish

Until then, may the funk be with you.

Book It 5k Race Report

Last Friday night at 11 PM, I decided to do a 5k that took place the following morning. I know, I know. How unlike me to impulsively add an event to my carefully planned out racing calendar. I had not run a 5k race since giving birth, and I thought it would be a fun way to test my post-partum fitness. Before pregnancy and childbirth, I ran a 26:24 5k on Furman University’s fantastically flat course. I did not have hopes of setting a new PR, but I did want to run at an 8:40ish pace.

The race benefitted the Oconee County Library System and began in downtown Walhalla, just 15 minutes from my house. The local 5k is an ideal race for me currently, as I am still breastfeeding Han. I was able to feed Han immediately before leaving for the race, and made it back in time for his next meal.

My Garmin is out of commission right now, so I did not have my favorite running gadget telling me if I ran too fast or too slow. I decided to just push hard from the start. If I crashed, so what? In the second half of the race I actually started passing people. I played this game in my mind where I was a super-running member of the Tarahumara tribe, and every person in front of me was Ann Trason at the ‘95 Leadville Trail 100 Ultramarathon.  The field was small, so I kept my eyes on the women in front of me thinking, “If I can pass her, I might win an age division award. If I can keep this pace, I might be pleasantly surprised with my finish time and my overall effort.”

As I climbed uphill to the finish, I saw the clock. I was the third woman to cross the finish line with a time of 26:44. I would have grinned, but the gasping for more oxygen prevented a smile.

When running hurts, that’s when it feels the best.

The Beauty of Being

I’m very achievement driven. I always want to be working toward a new level of success. I want to hear God more clearly. I want to lead more effectively. I want love my kids more dearly. I want to be a more supportive friend. I want to run faster and further. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to bring the Kingdom here, until I’m in the Kingdom there.

And quite frankly, that is exhausting.

Yesterday I got home after a busy day at work, which including creating benchmarking reports, helping students apply for financial aid grants, and doing 400s on my lunch break (for those of you keeping up with the summer scorcher workouts, this week just do 400s…lots of 400s). I made Grady and I grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, while helping Han finish his homemade sweet potato and apple mush, then bathed both boys, read Grady his favorite book and then put him to bed. Han had spit up on me when I first got home, so I decided a quick shower was in order. On the way to the bathroom I thought about what I should do with the remaining hours before bed.

Should I clean the living room?

Should I do some more crunches?

Should I work on the article I’m writing?

Should I pack up the diaper bag for tomorrow?

And then I heard from the divine, “You can relax.”

I laughed, but then felt a very deep sense of relief. This might not sound spiritual, but sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is relax and just be with the Lord in a hot shower. I know God loves me just the way I am. He made me ambitious and motivated and full of energy. But he also loves lifting the weight from my shoulders, letting me know He wants me to enjoy the beauty in just being, when all I could previously think about is doing, doing, doing.

Last week the ultra-distance runner stud, Krissy Moehl, set out to run the John Muir Trail, a 210 mile trek from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney (yes, that is a very long, tough trail, and yes, she is that awesome to set such a goal). While she aspired to break the fastest known women’s record of 3 days and 20 hours, Moehl stopped at mile 136 with major GI issues. She later posted on her Facebook page this excerpt from the Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko:

“But what if the idea of setting a record was ancillary, maybe even irrelevant, to the true goal? What if the summit on which you had set your crosshairs had absolutely nothing to do with trying to elevate yourself above another man’s achievements, and everything to do with forging a connection inside yourself — in this case a connection with the river and the canyon that might deepen the intimacy that bound you to both. What if the reward you were chasing lay not in the result which you were ostensibly striving, but in the simple doing of this thing?”

Wow. What beautiful words. And this message has been a theme in my life for a while now.

My good friend Chris Maxwell always tells me to not become so focused on the destination, that I forget to pause and enjoy the journey. All who heed this advice show great wisdom.

And the achiever in me still wants to quantify and justify. I think maybe it’s okay if my 28-year-old self has not yet earned a Ph.D, or written a best-seller, or made enough money to travel the world running races on my bucket list. Maybe I should have small goals for each month or week, to work towards the bigger picture. But that misses the point entirely.

I am going to pause. I’ll never stop dreaming, striving, planning, or playing. But I will remember the Author and Perfecter of my faith invites me to a life full of meaning, not characterized by never ending to-do lists, but by deep and intimate connection with my Savior. The relief of rest, the beauty of just being, that is the gift of life with the Holy Spirit.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10

Fall Racing Calendar

Last week’s summer scorcher workout was pretty tough, so this week I’m keeping my speed session simple. Run 4 miles and include somewhere between six and eight 30 second surges. The surges should feel fast, but not as quick as all out sprints.

Summer might be full of 5k racing, but it is also time to start training for the longer fall events. Next week I begin a 16 week half marathon plan! My husband, sister, brother-in-law, and friends from college are running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah race. Most of us are doing the half, but my sister is tackling her first full marathon ever. We’re staying in a stellar Victorian mansion that is just a few blocks from the finish line, and I’m taking off work the Thursday and Friday before the race to make a mini-vacation out of the weekend. My college roommate and I hope to help each other break the two hour barrier for the first time. We’ve both done 2:06 on hilly courses, so with some hard work, I think it is a realistic goal.

I’m looking forward to my fall races, but I’m enjoying summer training. If we could have daylight till almost 9 PM year round, that would make this mother runner very happy.



Apple Festival 5k – Westminster, SC – September 6                     

Spinx Run Fest Downtown 10k – Greenville, SC – October 25                          

Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Savannah, GA – November 8               


Run-Dates and Racing Bibs

Week three of the Summer Scorcher Workouts continue with a simple but challenging training run that I call The Sweaty Third Wheel.

Slowly jog for 1 mile to warm up.
Run a mile 10 seconds slower than 5k race pace.
Walk or slowly jog 400 meters.
Run a mile 5 seconds slower than 5k race pace.
Walk or slowly jog 400 meters.
Run a mile at 5k race pace.
Slowly jog for 1 mile to cool down.

I hope these workouts are fun and effective in helping you speed up this summer.

Other than these scorcher workouts, my training is pretty relaxed in July and early August. I’m currently running about 15 to 20 miles a week while also trying to make time for a few other recreational activities like reading for pleasure and sleeping.

The family and I traveled to the beautiful St. Simon’s Island to visit with my husband’s mom and step-dad for the Fourth of July holiday this past weekend. My plan to run a 5k unraveled quickly as my two year old son Grady got so hyped up upon our 11 PM arrival at Nana’s house, he was up till after 2 AM. Instead of getting up to race the next morning, I slept in. My husband offered to run the 5 mile trek from Nana’s house to the island pier with me, and I jumped at the chance. Rick is awesome. He’s not a running enthusiast like I am, even though he is a good runner. His half marathon PR of 1:49:13 puts mine to shame. But he did not offer to run with me because he enjoys steamy runs (it was 89 degrees and 85% humidity with NO BREEZE when we ran). He suggested it because he loves me and supports my obsession…I mean hobby. Our run made for a great workout and some enjoyable time without the kiddos (Thank you, Nana for babysitting!). I was able to run mile 5 at goal half marathon pace, which satisfied my need to be progressing toward my goal of running a sub-2 hour half this Fall.

So I got a run-date instead of a racing bib. I also married the best guy in the whole wide world. End of mushy rant :)

family vaca st. simons
Me, Rick, Grady, Han, and Nana enjoying time at the pier.

Summer Scorcher Workout part 2

My first race ever was the ING Georgia Half Marathon (currently the Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon). It was so exciting racing with 10,000+ other runners, not to mention all the spectators. Families and friends huddled with signs to encourage their loved ones. One church, along with their full Gospel choir, serenaded us with a hip rendition of This Little Light Of Mine. In front of the local psychiatric hospital, some dude wearing nothing but lime green briefs played the guitar and repeatedly yelled, “Stay focused, runners! STAY FOCUSED!!” I had a blast.

Years later, when I took over as race director for the Labor Day Funk Run, I set out to create a high energy race. Just because a 5k is only 3.1 miles does not mean there is not time for some hype. And just because a race happens in a rural town does not mean no one wants to watch. Neighborhoods get involved in cheering. Funk music and funk themed cheer zones keep energy high. Of course there are other reasons to run this race too. Our super-cool age division awards are made from vintage, recycled records. Our post-race breakfast features everything from homemade, whole wheat blue berry muffins to deliciously greasy sausage biscuits from McDonalds. And most importantly, the proceeds from this event are used to buy low-income men, women, and children new shoes. For those of you doing these summer scorcher workouts, but have not yet picked out a summer 5k to run, I hope you choose the Labor Day Funk Run on September 1. I know you’ll have a great time!

Funk record pic
My dad placed in his age division at the 2013 Labor Day Funk Run 5k.

Okay, enough about the Labor Day Funk Run. On to the point of this post, the second installment of the Summer Scorcher Workout! You remember last week’s workout? If you did it, you remember. This week’s is the same, but in reverse. I call this one the upside-down triangle inferno.

Lightly jog for 10 minutes to warm up.
Run 400 meters at 5k pace.
Walk or slowly jog 200 meters.
Run 800 meters at 5k pace.
Walk or slowly jog 200 meters.
Run 1200 meters at 5k pace.
Walk or slowly jog 200 meters.
Run 1600 meters at 5k pace.
Lightly jog for 10 minutes to cool down.

To me, this workout is much harder than the one completed last week. I like doing the longer intervals first. The nice thing about my track session was it was cloudy and lightly sprinkling, so I was protected from the summer heat. When you do these workouts, remember to replenish fluids. It is hot out there, and dehydration is not so fun.

Register for the Labor Day Funk Run 5k at

Summer Scorcher Workouts

Summer is here, which means it is sizzling hot in South Carolina! But the season’s heat won’t keep avid runners indoors. Why? Because most of us have a fun holiday 5k to run in the not so distant future. And whether you are lacing up on the Fourth of July or on Labor Day, you probably could use a little speed-work in preparing for your 3.1 mile event. Thus, I am instituting THE SUMMER SCORCHER WORKOUT. Starting this week and going on until Labor Day, I will be posting my fun but tough speed workout for the week, for a total of ten workouts, guaranteed to make you sweat and then sweat some more.

This week’s workout: The Pyramid of Heat

Lightly jog 5 to 10 minutes to warm up.
Run 1600 meters (1 mile) at 5k race pace (or desired 5k race pace for a challenge).
Walk or slowly jog 200 meters.
Run 1200 meters (¾ mile) at 5k pace.
Walk or slowly jog 200 meters.
Run 800 meters (1/2 mile) at 5k pace.
Walk or slowly jog 200 meters.
Run 400 meters (1/4 mile) at 5k pace.
Lightly jog 5 to 10 minutes to cool down.

I really enjoyed this workout. I ran my mile in 7:55, which is my fastest postpartum mile to date. I barely held on to an 8:15 pace for the 1200 and 800 meters and then pleasantly surprised myself by finishing my 400 in 1:52. I’m running a 5k on July 4. I don’t have any time goals at this point. But I would like to break 25 minutes in a 5k at some point in the fall.

Will you attempt all 10 summer scorcher workouts? Are you racing this summer? Tell me about your upcoming event!

Remember you should always consult a physician before beginning any exercise routine. Also remember I am not a personal trainer, certified coach, professional athlete or a kinesiology expert. I’m just an average, recreational runner who enjoys encouraging the running community to stay fit and have fun.