My wife has become an ultra-runner. If you’re not familiar with the term, it signifies those running races beyond the marathon (which is, itself, 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers). She runs so much these days, that I rarely even concern myself with supporting/crewing her when she does a marathon because I know she can do a marathon in her sleep. When people talk about running a marathon, I almost have a response like, “isn’t that precious (that you think that’s long).” (It’s not quite that bad since I have run two marathons myself and know the pain of doing so.) However, that’s what my wife’s very long distances (50k, 100k, 100-milers, and 126 mile staged races in the Rockies) have done to my mentality.
When I tell people about my wife’s running I’m commonly asked several questions (particularly about running 100 miles):
· Does she stop to sleep when she does a hundred miler? Answer: No. It’s straight through the day and night stopping for restroom and food breaks.
· Does she run the whole thing? Answer: It’s a combination of running and walking.
· How long does it take her: Answer: Depending on the terrain, 24 – 30 hours.· Is your wife crazy or does she have some mental issues? Answer: Yes. She runs to get rid of the crazy. ?
In order to be successful, my wife does several things. The first is she prepares well. She trains, eats well, gets sleep, has appropriate gear, learns what she can about the course she’s running, has a plan of attack for the course for both how she will run it and what she will eat during the race, etc. A second thing that she does is develop relationships with other runners. In a long race, having a friend to run with and pull you along is very helpful. Many 100-mile races do not allow you to have a pacer for the first 50 miles. So, having a friend that is running the race for the first 50 is very helpful.
Another thing that my wife does, when she can, is to engage pacers. A pacer is someone NOT running the whole race that can come alongside her and run with her, encourage her, stretch her by running at a speed that fresher legs can accomplish (and that her brain is telling her she can’t).
Today, my wife is running the Prairie Spirit 100-mile Trail Run. She started at 6 am this morning and hopes to finish it around 24 hours. As I write this, I’m sitting in the “crew” (those who support runners while they are running at various locations throughout the race) vehicle with all of her supplies, waiting for her to reach the aid station where I will trade out shoes for her, give her nutrition, take any coats that she wants to shed (or give her dry clothing), and send her on her way in as short of an amount of time as I can. I will do this all day today. This evening when she reaches the 50-mile mark, I will be her first pacer and run 10 miles with her before passing her off to another pacer who will run a stretch and pass off to another pacer. This will continue throughout the night until completion.
The term paraclete [παράκλητος (paráklētos)], often referring to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, is the role I’m playing when my wife is running. Paraclete, in the original language, refers to a legal advocate or assistant. In the same way in my wife’s running, I’m “coming alongside,” being her “advocate,” and “comforting” her as she runs (definitions of parclete in the Greek).
Like “crewing” and “pacing” in the ultra run, we at InterLearn recognize several things about our work.
· You need a plan to accomplish what’s set before you. InterLearn has a knowledge base and years of experience in the field to help you develop the plan.
· We are not the ones running the “race.” That is, we know we are not operating the college or university. We know, however, that we have some skills and strong experience in the field that allow us to come alongside the institution to help them accomplish what God has called it to do.
· Like the pacer and crew, our efforts don’t mean much if you don’t accomplish what you’re called to do. You and your institution’s calling are our reason for being. Helping the institution accomplish their goal best is what our goal is.
· While we can want it a lot because we see how important your mission and vision are, we can’t do it for you. We can only be there to support you, encourage, help you with techniques that work, help keep you accountable to the plan.
In terms of our business practice, @InterLearnEd (InterLearn, LLC) serves as a paraclete as well. We come alongside colleges and universities to help them accomplish the goals that they have. Often, we are working with higher education institutions and leaders by:
· Developing new online programming and curriculum
· Helping them consider their structure
· Updating their recruiting efforts
· Helping them with their financial aid practices
· Helping them find experienced practitioners to add to their team through executive searches
· Advising them on best practices in the field that are time- and field-tested.
We do all these services to help the institution see growth and health. Let InterLearn come alongside your team to help it accomplish its calling.