Apr 08

Boston for A21: Injury Update and 14 Days Till Boston

Yes!  A 20 mile training run for Boston completed today!!!  It was not stellar but it is done!

Those of you who have been following my blog know my last post from 3 weeks ago was a “stepping out of denial and acknowledging that I was injured” post.  I had pulled my hamstring and hamstrings take a while to heal.  So in the last few weeks I have dialed my training way back and developed a strong love/hate relationship with my foam roller.  How could something that looks so tame hurt so bad!  I have also increased my swimming, kept my cycling steady, stretched and iced regularly, had two deep tissue massages, worn compression shorts under my work clothes, slept more and increased my intake of water.  Most of these items were things I was not doing consistently which led me to being out of balance and a target for injury.  I also took six days off from running and gently increased mileage and pace when I started back.

So how do I feel after running 20 miles?  To be completely honest I feel the way I always feel after running 20 miles on asphalt…stiff, sore and wiped out.  (In some ways I feel more like I do after running an entire marathon!)  Now if you were to see my training log you would notice that I was much faster five weeks ago when I ran the same course prior to my injury.  And that is true.  And what is also true is focusing on that fact is depressing.  Instead, I choose to compare where I am today to where I was three weeks ago when I left my house intent on running a 20 miler and I had to pull out and quit.  In fact the first few miles of that run were agony.  Three weeks ago I was broken.  Today was not stellar but it is improvement.  So here is a funny thing that probably only other runners will get…we (my friend who I run with has been injured too) are getting healthy just in time to taper!  Oh well!

Of course, all this preaches and applies to situations far more important than running.  We get knocked down by situations in life either through our own poor decisions, the poor decisions of others or the fact we live in a fallen world.  Loss of a job, illness, injury, broken relationship, loss of a loved one, etc., nobody is exempt.  Living our life focused on how things used to be and wondering “what if” steals our joy and aborts our future.  The reality is the situations that have happened in the past happened and we cannot change that fact.  Life may look different but different does not mean bad.  True champions get up and move forward. As the Apostle Paul’s wrote:

But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14 NIV

So back to running.  Boston is in 14 days and I am looking forward to enjoying the journey!


Mar 15

Boston for A21: Injured :-(

I am five weeks and two days out from Boston and I have to accept the fact that I am injured.  My training had been going really well with good times at both the track and on my tempo runs.  I had completed quite a few pretty long runs and I was excited about the potential of setting a new p.r. at Boston while raising funds to restore the smiles of the girls living in the A21 shelter for victims of trafficking in Bulgaria.  But a week ago Tuesday I over did it at the track and have been in denial regarding an over-use injury to my hamstring ever since.  To be fair, it wasn’t just one workout that caused the injury.  I have been able to identify a few smaller contributing factors which would probably bore the readers of this post if I wrote about them.  The track workout was simply the final trigger.  So for the last week and a half I have been operating out of denial.  But you can only live in denial for so long when you see your tempo pace increase by 90 seconds a mile and you have to pull out of a track workout because you have no power or speed and the ache in your leg continues to increase.  This morning my friend Amber and I were scheduled to run a 20 mile street run (I was so dreading it!).  Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, Amber has also been nursing a sore hamstring so we agreed the pace would be kept slow.  At least we didn’t have to suffer alone.  But as we ran toward San Dimas Canyon common sense began to overrule denial.  What was I doing?  At this point I was simply dealing with an overuse injury that with proper care I should be able to overcome in a reasonable amount of time.  But if I kept pushing things I was risking a far more serious injury which could take me out of commission for months.  That kind of injury would not only have the potential to knock me completely out of Boston but also take me out of some other fun events I have planned for the summer.  We talked as we ran out Route 66 and agreed that neither of us should be running 20 miles today.  So we turned north and headed up to the trails above my house (I love trails!).  We spent the next hour and a half jogging/hiking/walking and it was awesome!  We still ended up with over 11 miles.  When I got home I pulled out the donut (ok, donuts) from Donut Man I had bought last night thinking I would eat them as my reward for running 20 today.  Instead they became my pity party food.  The pity party is now over.

I will still be running Boston (even if I have to crawl), but I have refocused my goal.  Rather than training to run it fast I will be training to run it healthy.  I am not posting my running drama to gather sympathy.  Let’s be real.  God has blessed my life in so many ways and a running injury is nothing compared to many of the challenges so many people face on a regular basis.  I am writing this because the content of this blog over the next few weeks will probably change to overcoming the injury challenge and this post serves to set the context.  I hope you as a reader will continue to join me on this journey and I really hope you will consider supporting A21 regardless of what time I run on April 21.  Here is the link if you are interested: http://www.crowdrise.com/BostonforA21/fundraiser/dawnjackson

So no more whining over my sore hammy (and glute).  It’s time to get healthy!

Mar 09

Boston for A21: How I Survived My First Marathon

In honor of today’s LA Marathon I thought I would write-up a quick post about how I survived my first marathon.  People who have only known me the last 5 – 7 years assume I have always been a runner, but that is not the case.  I have always been athletic–growing up playing softball and basketball and being very active, but I never ran track or cross-country.  In fact, I was completely clueless when it came to training for a marathon.  Here is what happened and how it all got started.

Back in 2006 friends from church had asked me to help them train to hike Half Dome in Yosemite.  I had hiked Half Dome before and thought, “What the heck!  This would be fun!”  So we did some practice hikes and headed off to Yosemite in July where we had a great time!  Below is a pic of Half Dome and one of the infamous cables you cling to while ascending the final portion.  So fun!

Half Dome



Within a few days of completing Half Dome my friends asked me what was next.  So I responded, “I guess we could do a marathon.”  I had no idea how to train for a marathon yet within a couple of weeks I had 14 friends committed to the 2007 LA Marathon and I was their leader/coach–I do not know what they were thinking trusting me like this!  Nobody in our group had ever run track or cross-country, nor were any of us avid 5k participants.  So I bought a book called Marathon, You Can Do It by Jeff Galloway and we began 6 months of training.

For a beginner with no running experience Galloway’s training was probably a good approach for all of us to take.  He advocates a run walk approach where you set your own ratio of running and walking based on time.  For example, my friends Patia, Evelyn and I did a 5:1 ratio.  We would run for 5 minutes and walk for 1 and repeat that over and over and over.  I bought a watch where I could set an alarm to beep according to my ratio.  After 5 minutes it would beep and then after 1 minute it would beep and then repeat.  All we had to do was obey the beep.  This approach was easier on our bodies as we became accustomed to running long distances.

We also followed Galloway’s advice for our training plan.  Every Saturday we did a long run.  The first Saturday was 3 miles and each week we added a mile until we reached 12 miles.  After that we ran half that mileage (so 6) then the following week we added 2 more miles to the big number and ran 14.  We continued this build up until it was time to taper three weeks prior to the race.  I used an online service called Map My Run to map out our route and each Saturday my friends had a love/hate relationship with me as I took them up and down streets and hills and across Glendora, San Dimas and Claremont.  During the week we each ran 2 “maintenance” runs which were 30 – 45 minutes each.  I knew nothing about speed work or tempo runs.  We were basically doing the minimum training you could do to finish a marathon without being completely beat up.

As new runners most of us had some type of injury along the way and our local chiropractor became our best friend.  I had serious IT band challenges and learned to run through the pain.  In March of 2007 we all ran, walked, crawled, cried and finished the LA Marathon.  I was hoping to beat 5 hours and literally finished in 4:59:54 with 6 seconds to spare.  I look back now and shake my head at our training (no speed work, no tempos, hardly any stretching, little diet change and freezing ice baths).  I train so differently now.  But here is the point–we were green and had no idea what we were doing but we did it.  I fully believe that if you wait until you know enough or are perfectly prepared you will never do it.  Sometimes you just have to commit and then learn along the way.  I have learned a lot in the last 7 years and I will post this week about how I currently train, but I have fond memories of those early days, that crazy beeping watch and a bunch of friends who were so trusting of me.  What started as a bucket list item (I use to tell people I was only doing one marathon) has now become a lifestyle.  I have now run 10 road marathons and while I am still not fast I did qualify to run Boston next month.  If you had told me 7 years ago that I would be running Boston (as well as all the other adventures I have had along the way–running the Grand Canyon, ultra-running, ironman, etc.) I would have laughed and thought it impossible.  But it is amazing the opportunities which come your way when you step out of your comfort zone and push yourself to be a little uncomfortable and learn new skills.  So here is what I wonder for all that are reading this as well as for me who is writing this “What opportunities and adventures will we living in the next 7 years because of decisions we make today?”  Just a thought!  Happy Sunday and good luck to everyone running LA today!

Feb 11

Boston for A21: Restoring Their Smile

This morning as I scrolled through twitter I came across this picture from A21:


These are the decorations put up by the girls rescued from trafficking and living in the Bulgarian shelter.  I thought to myself, “Those are our girls!”  Perhaps you are wondering what I mean by “our girls”.  I have never met them personally and I do not know their names, but they are very special to me.  Here is why.  These girls (five of them at this time) endured such abuse from their traffickers that their teeth were destroyed.  When I connected with A21 to see what project they might like us to help with (us being those participating in Boston for A21/Santa Anita 5k for A21) they asked if we would raise the funds for the dental work to have not only the girls lives and dignity restored but also their smiles.  Of course my response was “YES”!

What I love about the picture above is the hope that it expresses.  These are just young girls who have gone through hell.  But now that they have been rescued and are living in a safe house their lives are being restored.  They can dream again!  I wonder what dreams those hearts in the window represent.  After enduring such abuse it is a wonder to me that they can celebrate Valentines Day.  But isn’t that how God works?  As I quoted a couple of days go in my post, “Let the ruins come to life…rising up from the ashes…”  HOPE!

This project will cost about $10,000 plus the cost of sending an oral surgeon over to do the work.  Will you join me in this adventure?  Every little bit helps.  Or perhaps you would like to join our team and do an event (like the Santa Anita 5k) for A21, raising awareness to fight human trafficking and funds to restore the smiles of these beautiful girls.  To set up your own fund-raising page follow the direction on this post: http://www.trailrunningpastor.com/2013/11/08/boston-for-a21-step-2-supporting-a21/

If you would like to support me or one of the members of our team by making a donation please follow this link: http://www.crowdrise.com/BostonforA21/fundraiser/dawnjackson

In case you are not familiar with A21 here are a few stats and details about what they do.  A21 exists to abolish injustice in the 21 century.  They have only been in existence for about seven years, yet in that amount of time have been extremely effective.  They focus on prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships.  Since their inception they have successfully prosecuted 24 traffickers resulting in 353 years in prison and over $2,000,000 in fines.  Recently on twitter they highlighted what their shelters help to do:

- Rebuild identity.

- Re-establish skill sets, self-esteem and personal interest.

- Work towards social and familial reintegration.

- Provide culturally sensitive mental recovery.

- Go beyond meeting basic needs.

- Empower survivors to make their own decisions again.

- Treat any illnesses or ailments obtained during enslavement.

Which bring us back to the girls living in the shelter in Bulgaria.  I hope you will join us in restoring their smiles.

If you would like to read more about A21 please follow this link: http://www.thea21campaign.org/index.php#.Uvo1GPDTmtU


Feb 10

Food and Gear for Rim to Rim to Rim at Grand Canyon

Every once in a while someone who is researching running the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim to Rim contacts me through the blog and asks what I ate and how I packed for that adventure.  I stumbled across an old picture this morning of all the food I packed so I thought I would write a quick post answering that question.  It has been almost two years since I ran this (how I would love to do it again!) so I am pulling a lot of this out from memory.

For context, in March of 2012 my friends and I ran (walked, crawled and most likely cried) from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other side and then back again in one day.  We covered 46 miles and it took me 16 hours.  It was absolutely beautiful!  If you would like to read about that adventure and see the pics click the links below:





The day we ran it (third weekend of March) there was snow on both rims with a temperature in the high 30′s when we started.  The bottom of the canyon was probably in the low 70′s in the middle of the day.  For running the canyon it was perfect weather.

Here is the gear list: pack with bladder, micro spikes, arm warmers, calf sleeves, mittens, North Face torpedo pants, tank top, long sleeve Patagonia Capilene 2, hat, La Sportive trail running shoes, handheld, Garmin, head lamp, chapstick, sunscreen, sun glasses, camera and Steripen water purifier.

The pack I used was an UltrAspire.  If I were to do it over again I would use my newer pack which I absolutely love: Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest.  I bought this last year for our 3 day run across 100 miles of the San Gabriel Mountains and it was awesome.  It has so much more space, is very comfortable and distributes the weight in such a way that it feels lighter on your shoulders than it actually is.

Below is a pic of the food which I brought (I did not eat all this!): gels, Heed, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter pretzels, beef jerky, bars and ginger candy.  What is not pictured is a P, B&J sandwich.

On that day I found it was easier to get liquid calories down.  If I were to do this over I would take more powdered Heed and Perpeteum for calorie intake.  I would ditch most of the bars and the beef jerky.  I would take more raisins as they tasted really good and were easy to eat.  After a while I got sick of the gels and ate a lot of the peanut butter pretzels.  We grabbed a lemonade at Phantom Ranch in the afternoon on the way back and that was a HUGE mistake.  It tasted wonderful but upset my stomach for most of the climb out.

While I had plenty of food on me I did not eat nearly enough.  The first thing I did when I climbed out at the end was to hit the cafeteria as all I could think about was real food.  Any way, I hope this helps those of you planning a future trip!


Feb 09

Pastoral Musings on the Colby Fire: Hope

Cross after fire

It’s been a few weeks since the Colby fire broke out and torched the front side of our mountain, destroying homes along the way.  A week and a half ago when GMR opened back up I went with a friend to the upper portions of Colby to view the damage.  It looked like a moonscape.  Blackened.  Destroyed. Decimated. Desolate.

Colby burnt 1

So I was shocked when this last Thursday (little more than a week later) I returned to the same location and saw this:

New growth

New growth!  Life!  And it was only three weeks since the fire.  The first word that came to my mind was “Hope” and then the lyrics from Hillsong’s “Glorious Ruins”:

Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign

I thought about the symbolism in all this.  There are times in life we flat-out go through hell.  The hell may have been caused by our own foolish decisions or perhaps by the decisions of others (which is a really hard one to swallow).  Perhaps it was a result of living in a fallen and broken world where bad things sometimes happen.  The aftermath of this tragedy can cause our life to look like a moonscape.  Blackened. Destroyed.  Desolate.  Sad.  We may be tempted to think it is over. Yet the Bible teaches that when our hope is in Christ that hope acts like an anchor for the soul.  I think of a rock climber anchored into the side of a cliff; not held by his or her own strength but by the strength of the anchor in the rock.  A ship properly anchored may be tossed up and down by the waves but it is not moved.  So also when we face the storms of life we may get seasick with the situation yet, with faith in Christ we can remain steady and unmoved.  This happens not because we are strong but because we are anchored into that which is unmovable.  Paul writes:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8,9 NIV 

The storm will cease.  That which has been decimated and destroyed will live again.  I have seen it in my own life…God’s words are true.

I am going to enjoy watching Colby and the front side of the mountain spring back to life.  And as I do it will remind me of God’s grace and mercy in my own life.  In Christ, there is always hope, and it is a hope that does not disappoint!


Please note, I did not take the picture at the top of the post.  It saw it floating around Facebook the day after the fire.  From what I have been told it was taken by a student from APU named Ryland Talamo.   While running on the ridge yesterday I took more pics of the aftermath of the fire.  Those can be seen at the bottom of this post.

For those who are interested here are all the lyrics to Glorious Ruins.  The song can be found on iTunes.

When the mountains fall
And the tempest roars You are with me
When creation folds
Still my soul will soar on Your mercy

I’ll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I’ll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace

Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign

And my soul will find refuge
In the shadow of Your wings
I will love You forever
And forever I’ll sing

When the world caves in
Still my hope will cling to Your promise
Where my courage ends
Let my heart find strength in Your presence

ridge burnt 3

ridge burnt 2

ridge burnt 1

Jan 19

Daniel Fast: Roasted Tomato Sauce Over Quinoa Pasta


Tomatoes roasting

Spaghetti sauce in a jar has been a staple for most of my life.  It always seemed like making sauce from scratch was a lot of work.  When I came upon this recipe I was surprised by how simple it was and I had to try it.  It has now been my go to over the last five years (especially in the summer when garden fresh Roma tomatoes abound).  This sauce tastes very fresh (quite different from a jar).   But if you like the taste of roasted tomatoes then I think you will like this.


2 1/2 lbs Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise or quartered lengthwise if they are large; no peeling or seeding is necessary :-)

3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped small

1 or 2 onions, sliced or diced

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tbl Italian herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary, etc.)

Salt and pepper

Optional: Chopped bell pepper, sliced mushrooms

Directions: Place the tomatoes in a single layer cut side up on a cookie sheet that has high sides.  Place onion and garlic (and bell pepper and mushrooms if you used them) on top of tomatoes.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle herbs and salt and pepper over the top.  See the picture at top of post for how this will look.

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  I stir it about half way through.  You can roast it longer if you want sweeter onions and a more intense tomato taste.

Tomatoes done

Since I like to keep things easy I often put the finished product from the oven (see above pic) directly on my pasta.  To turn it more into a sauce simply scoop it into a blender and blend.  The actual recipe calls for using an immersion blender which I do not own so I simply put it in my Vitamix.  You can then put it into a sauce pan to heat back up and cook until desired thickness, adjusting seasoning as needed.  I am rather simple and like the taste of fresh so I pour it right from the Vitamix onto the pasta.  For this recipe I used brown rice and quinoa pasta from Trader Joes.

pasta Here’s the finished product with a nice side of sautéed kale…yum!

Spaghetti sauce done

Jan 18

Daniel Fast: Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Split pea mug

I love split pea soup and while I am not a huge fan of pork, I usually make it with a ham hock. Of course, with the Daniel Fast pork is not part of the plan so I made it vegetarian style and it was really good!  I froze most of the left overs so I can enjoy the soup again during the next two weeks of the fast.  All the vegetables were chopped the night before making it easy to assemble before heading out for my Saturday morning run.

split pea ingredients

It was so nice to walk into my house hours later to the smell of dinner simmering!  Here is the recipe which I found on vegetarian.about.com and then modified:

2 cups split peas (next time I will add another 1/2 cup)

64 oz vegetable broth (2 of the boxes from Trader Joes)

2 celery ribs, sliced

3 small carrots, sliced

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp sage

1 tsp thyme

3 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

I cooked it on low in my crock pot for 6 hours.

Happy Daniel Fasting!




Jan 18

Daniel Fast: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

oatmeal cookies

If you are looking for something tasty to snack on during week two of the Daniel fast you might want to consider these–oatmeal raisin cookies!  I found this recipe online (ziplist.com), made one modification and have been snacking on these all week.  Since they are made with peanut butter they are a good source of protein.  Here is the recipe:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup almond meal (or flour) from Trader Joes (oat flour works too)

1 cup peanut butter (cashew or almond butter would work too)

1/2 cup applesauce

1/3 cup honey (the original recipe called for date honey but since we are doing a modified fast regular honey works)

1/2 cup raisins

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix oats, almond meal, peanut butter, applesauce and honey until well combined.  Mix in raisins, walnuts and cinnamon.  Drop by spoonfuls on to cookie sheet (I covered mine with wax paper to make clean up easy!).  Flatten and bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.


Jan 14

Daniel Fast: Eating Out Daniel Fast Style

So the Daniel Fast is under way and perhaps you are concerned about the days you find yourself rushed and you forget to take a lunch to work or are too exhausted to cook at night.  Or maybe you have a lunch meeting and are wondering what is safe to eat.  Here are some great options for eating out that will support you during these 21 Days.

If you are in a hurry to get back to the office or want something quick to take home for dinner consider Chipotle.  Below is a vegetarian bowl–the picture does justice to it.  The workers just slopped it in as they moved me along.  But then again this is for when you are in a hurry and presentation does not matter.


When ordering the vegetarian bowl you now have a choice of grilled tofu.  I have not tried it but if you are a tofu fan you might really enjoy it.  Chipotle recently stopped cooking their pinto beans with pork so you can choose between black or pinto beans.  To keep it Daniel Fast friendly stay away from the cheese and sour cream.  Everything else is good!  The one pictured above is filled with black beans, brown rice, roasted peppers and onions, lettuce, guacamole, corn salsa, tomato salsa and their green hot sauce.

If you have more time for lunch many local restaurants will have options for you.  My favorite place to eat around town is Luca Bella in Glendora.  (Fyi…my next door neighbors own it, they are great people and I think you really should go check it out!).  They have a grilled vegetable panini which you can change to a salad.  Order it without cheese and ask for their lemon dill vinaigrette which works for our modified Daniel Fast as they use honey instead of sugar to sweeten it.  This is really good!

Luca Bella

If you are anywhere near a California Pizza Kitchen they also have a roasted vegetable salad.  I have not tried this but it looks really good! Be sure to ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side for your salad dressing.   CPK

Other options are salad bars.  Simply stay away from the egg, cheese and croutons, load your plate with all types of vegetables and fruit and use olive oil and vinegar as a dressing.  If you are more hard-core you could simply use lemon.

If you are looking to order soup be sure it is a clear broth (no added cream or milk) without any added vegetable oil, sugar, msg., preservatives or additives for flavor enhancing.  Don’t feel shy about asking these questions.  Asking questions does not make you a difficult customer.  To save time you might call ahead to ask your questions.

I imagine some of you are thinking, “What about breakfast–the most important meal of the day?!”  I would recommend finding a place that had steel-cut oatmeal and asking for a banana sliced on top.  I would not get raisins as they are usually coated in sugar.  The cheapest bowl of steel-cut oats that I could find is at Classic Coffee which has it for $1 a bowl.  The is the best deal in town!

Now I also found this breakfast option yesterday but it will only work for those of you that are a little more hard-core as it is a raw food bar option.  Let me first say I did not name this bar so if the name offends you, I am sorry, but I do think the bar is really good. :-)  At Bowl of Heaven in LaVerne they sell this food bar with a banana and a cup of coffee for I think (don’t quote me on this as I need to double-check) $4.  I know the bars are $3 a piece when you buy them individually.  As I said before, I like them but I am a little more hard-core as I have been eating stuff like this for a while.


I hope this post helps for when you find yourself hungry and needing to eat out.  I would love to hear if anyone has any other options!