July was certainly an eventful month. It started off in Africa where our mission trip for Hope In The Harvest was continuing. I was blessed to get in 4 different barefoot runs and actually had different running partners for each. Each of the runs was from 3 to 4 miles long depending on which way we turned after leaving LICC (Liberian International Christian College) in Ganta. The surfaces varied from rocky to muddy, and dry to wet so my pace varied quite a bit as well. On the dry, rocky sections I would fall behind the group but when the wet muddy sections hit I was able to make up ground and even sprint ahead. Depending on who was in the group each day we sometimes split into two groups, a faster and a slower one, but we all usually ended up finishing together. There wasn't too much competitiveness in these groups, just good fellowship and site seeing as we ran through the Liberian villages along the main road. We always started our morning run at about 6:15am (first light) and within about an hour the motorcycle traffic started to overtake the road so we really didn't want to run any farther! I was just happy to get in "something" while I was over there since I'm still trying to make up my mileage deficit from earlier in the year with the cold Indiana winter. That being said, I got in about 14 miles total for the 2 weeks in Africa which didn't really help the average...but it was better than logging a bunch of Zeros!
The Lutes Family in Liberia
We had a great mission trip and I was blessed to have my entire family with me so they got to experience the wonderful African people as well. We had 3 different VBS sessions while in Ganta, we built shelves and a workbench for the storeroom, installed fans, doorknobs and kitchen cabinets in the Ag Center and taught several different computer classes. We also continued our main curriculum "Farming God's Way" and followed up with the pastors from last year's Alpha Outreach program. All in all, it was a blessed trip. Our main host Gina Sheets, however, came down with malaria and mumps at the end of our trip so she stayed in Ganta while husband Travis accompanied us to Monrovia for the flight back to the USA. Thank God that Gina is doing much better now and is actually now back in the USA herself. Travis and Gina travelled back about 2 weeks after we did. I just heard today that Travis is now coming down with some kind of fever so please keep him in your prayers.
Rehydrating with Coffee!
They will stay here during the rainy season and retool for a return in September, God Willing. Of course the other factor in their return will be the rampant spreading of the Ebola virus which is continuing to take it's toll in Western Africa so please keep this situation and all concerned in your daily prayers as well.
Once back in Indiana, I got right back into a daily routine of high mileage barefoot runs first thing in the morning. The first two days back I ran a 10 and a 12 and then did 10 miles per day the whole next week. Then, without much planning or forethought I embarked on yet another ride on the "Crazy Train." I began last week running 17 miles a day but took it one day at a time. I literally, couldn't even think about the next day...I had to concentrate on each day...one by one. By Thursday, I began to have real issues with my achilles on the left foot. Then on Friday, I felt a tight achilles the entire 17 mile run and it was REALLY aching afterwards. I prayed a lot that I would still be able to run Saturday and believe it or not, I ran the entire 17 on Saturday without any problem at all from the achilles! God definitely answers prayers!
Travelling Barefoot in Africa
So by the end of the week, I now had a new weekly mileage record of 102 miles! And that's with or without shoes and beats my record from last August of 90 miles which I thought at the time would be VERY hard to beat. This time it just seemed to be almost methodical, but like I said, I couldn't think about the next day...I had to just run each 17 as if it were a standalone event and then see how the body responded in the next 24 hours. I continue to be amazed at the healing power of the human body and how much it can adapt if taken care of. It is truly a gift from God which we need to treasure. Now this week I'm taking it easy and glad to be caught up with my 38 mile/week average. I will do sort of a "taper" in August to get ready for the next challenge: The Jackson Hole Marathon on August 30...can't wait! This will be a nice long weekend for Linda and me (with no kids!)