#MyWheaton Alumni Blog

Posted October 7, 2016 by
Tags: Athletics The Liberal Arts Young Alumni

How Wheaton Prepared Me for Marathon Running, Olympic Trials, and My Life

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I started running at the age of 12. I continued to run because through running, I found success, friendships, and joy. Back then, I didn’t–I couldn’t–know that running would become the hobby/passion/pursuit that it is for me today. Even when I resolved to run collegiately and I was accepted into and chose to attend Wheaton College, I had no sense that I would be running marathons and chasing down Olympic Trial qualifying standards. 

Time passes, we do what we need to do in order to take the next step, and we move forward. We weigh our options and try to figure out what it is that we want. We pray. We trust and hope that we are headed in the right direction. And life unfolds. 

I studied political science and theology at Wheaton, a double major that I wasn’t sure how I’d use. I loved ideas–about the role of government in a democracy and how the Early Church understood the Trinity. I was energized by discussions of Barth’s doctrine of revelation and the Electoral College and the role of women in the church. Wheaton was a good fit and a safe space for me. I learned to think critically–most significantly, about myself and about God.

Competing in varsity track and cross country at Wheaton affirmed my passion for running. It gave me an opportunity to grow my talents, find my strengths, and it taught me what it means to be accepted and loved. My best friends were–and continue to be–my teammates on the cross country and track teams. Running, much like Wheaton, attracts and creates good people. 

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The stock market crashed in September of my senior year at Wheaton. I watched friends graduate and enter an “adult life” that seemed hard and tedious. I wasn’t ready to stop learning. I prayed and hoped and weighed my options. That’s more or less how I came to earn a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. 

I ran my first marathon the fall after I graduated Wheaton because my friends were doing it. I continue to run marathons because through training and competing in them, I develop friendships, experience success, and find joy. 

At its most basic level, running is about taking the next step. Basic, but not easy when, as I have often found, moving forward involves coming to terms with yourself–your limitations and false assumptions, but also your unacknowledged strengths and fundamental beliefs. 

The analogies between life, faith, and running a marathon are many and frequently drawn. No more significantly than in these pivotal moments: moments of decision, movement, and of defining strength. In the classroom and through running, Wheaton prepared me, in a myriad of intentional and accidental ways, for these moments, and in them, to be brave and tough, supported by faith, and hopeful toward life’s unfolding.

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Lisa Baumert ’09 earned a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2012, and majored in political science and theology at Wheaton. She currently works for Public Radio International in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she lives with her husband, Jaron Balgaard ’08. She attained NCAA All-American status as a member of the varsity cross country and track teams at Wheaton where she also set school records and was a multiple National Meet qualifier. Lisa qualified for and competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trial Marathons after graduation. 

Photo captions (from top): Lisa celebrates graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary; Lisa and Brandon Mull ’08 with friends at the conclusion of the Olympic Trial Marathon in Los Angeles, February 2016; Lisa running in Minneapolis, where she runs with the Twin Cities Track Club and dreams of one day owning a pug. 

To connect with alumni in various careers and vocations nationwide, join Wheaton in Network, a Vocation and Alumni Engagement program that allows alumni and parents to make themselves available to advise or mentor Wheaton students and recent grads. Students and young alumni are able to contact advisors or mentors to learn from their experiences.