Believe the Hype

I got up for a long run this morning. Outside, I heard rain. Great. Not a fan of running in the rain. But what if it rains all morning of race day? Gotta do it.

It was only a light drip when I started, the temperature at 57 degrees. I found my pace quickly and got into a groove. I tried to convince myself, due to the humidity and relative warmth, that I was running on Maui.


It didn’t work. With only evergreens for company, I moved on.

The day was just starting to dawn as I hit mile 3. Down past the hospital, I came across two deer grazing in a swale. They froze when they saw me. Then they darted into the woods. I never would have seen them if I slept in.

Around mile 4, my hip got a little cranky. I walked a bit, figuring I was already wet and a few more minutes wouldn’t matter. I dodged puddles but eventually hit one. My shoes soaked up water. At mile 6ish, the rain started coming down with a purpose. I smiled. Water oozed out of my shoes with every footfall. Squish, squish.

As I entered the 9th mile, I realized I felt pretty good. Sure, my clothes all together probably weighed 5 extra pounds due to water absorption, but I realized something.

I’m doing something right. For years, dear readers, I’ve been kind of rebellious when it comes to running training. True confession time: I wanted to do it *my* way. I didn’t want to have rest days. I didn’t want to carb load. It made me lethargic and bloated. Plus, it seemed dumb.

Ahem. I stand corrected.

I ate breakfast on mornings when I ran more than 6 miles. But when I finally started taking rest days and eating bread and pizza the day before long runs, something magical happened. I had stamina. I could do long runs without turning into a slug for the rest of the day. Yes, I get tired. I’ll probably need a nap later today, plus I’ll be rather ravenous.

Setbacks happen. I’ve experienced several injuries over the last few years. Yet something is working. Having a teachable spirit can reap great benefits. Old dogs can learn new tricks. I’m starting to get excited about the race next month.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Stranger Pacer


I went for a four-mile run in the very early morning. I didn’t want to. Our kettlebells instructor had to miss last night and I guided the class in alternating circuits and bikes. It wasn’t the challenge, but I was sore this morning.

The temperature hovered around 55 degrees. The air sat still as if posing for a picture. I scared bugs as I ran by fences and streetlights. They flew into the sky. This was supposed to be a pacer run, as in, race pace. Right, I thought as I churned up the hill. Tell my legs that.

As I rounded a loop, I spied movement. A couple of young men were camped out around a bench. I watched them. One with a white baseball cap packed up their stuff. The other one, a bearded guy, stared at me. His mouth curled up into a smile, eyes glittering. I ran faster. He got up and staggered towards his bicycle. No way would he be able to ride that, drunk or high as he was. I listened to see if anyone was following me. Then I shrugged it off. They couldn’t run a straight line, let alone catch anyone. Protect me, Lord, I prayed.

Somehow, I found a rhythm and kept going. I ran up past McDonald’s and to the highway interchange. I thought, Surely those guys will be gone by the time I run past again. See, there’s only one way back into town once you’ve taken this road. I would have to go far out of my way to get to another inland route, and in the dark, I doubt I’d find it.

I chugged down hill, passing my gym and somebody cooking bacon. Really? You’re killing me, I thought. Nobody should be making bacon at 5 a.m. Or at the very least, give out free samples.

Then I saw them again, the two men, moving into the woods. They held their backpacks and pushed the bike in front of them. But weakened by chemicals, they stopped just off the paved path. The bearded man stared at me again while propped on his elbow in the grass. This time, he said something, his face a snarl. My music drowned out his words. I kept mum and ran on. His companion walked farther into the woods.

I pushed for home. Then I checked my Garmin. Just over nine minute miles. I guess I hit race pace after all.




Lost in Wisconsin

Views from the front of the cabin

I only planned to run four miles. I should mention that up front. I wanted to round up to 20 miles for the week.

I woke up early and stepped out around 5:40 a.m. Last night’s fog lingered, obscuring the sunrise. I hit the gravel road and turned right, then right again. The other day while driving back and forth from Duluth, I spied a side road, unpaved, that paralleled the highway. I figured I could run on those shady lanes and perhaps stay a bit safer than running on the shoulder of an interstate.

The air felt fresh and cool, if damp, on my skin. The ends of my hair started to drip. Rabbits ran for cover as I pounded by. I found a rhythm as I entered scene after scene of what could have been a Bob Ross painting.

bob ross woods

Like this, only no ramshackle cabin anywhere.

All was well. I found a good turnaround point and headed back. Out of curiosity, I switched on my Garmin’s GPS. I wanted to check out how far I went. Strangely, it found me right away. I’m in the middle of nowhere, and the satellite tracked me. Alrighty. I’ve gotten faster over theses consecutive days of running. Guess I ran a little further than I planned on the front end.

I passed back through the idyllic, tree-lined road. I passed a couple of stop signs where cross streets intersected the path. Suddenly, it didn’t look familiar anymore. Wait, I thought. Where’s the highway? I can’t see it. I ran a little more. Hmm. That hill. I don’t remember it from the out trip. And this curve? Not feeling it. I ran to the end of the street. Lackson Road. Did I run too far? Did I pass the intersection for Twenty-Two Road? Ah, hubris, thy name is Susan. I gazed up the highway,hands on my hips, feeling like the biggest idiot. All was shrouded in the fine mesh of fog. The sign across the street said Wentworth. I don’t remember passing that before.

I gazed down the highway, the way I’d come. A bit risky, running on the shoulder, with traffic, in the fog. I threw up a quick prayer. This way? OK. I ran down the highway. Wisconsin DOT had built up a fine shoulder for me. I breathed a prayer of thanksgiving, because looming in the shadowy veil I saw the welcoming green rectangle announcing Twenty Two Road. Yay!

By this time, I’d run over 5 miles. When I reached the mailbox at the top of our driveway, I calculated I’d run about 5.6 miles, adding what I’d run before the magical Garmin moment and what it said now. I ran further down the red dirt road to a clump of bushes to even it up to 6 miles. Go hard or go home, right?

I had to chuckle. I got caught up in the beauty of the run and stopped paying attention to the signs. I haven’t gotten lost in a new place in awhile. But every time we’ve moved, getting lost is how I’ve learned to navigate the unfamiliar surroundings. Getting lost happens. But we don’t have to stay lost. Signs abound, if we only look.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. -Matthew 7:7-8




Bug Swallowing

I stepped outside this morning. The air felt cool yet soupy. A storm brews. The cool breeze smells wet. I turned right on the county road this time, past all the garbage out for pickup, leftover revels in a can. The sun rose on my left as birds dipped around me. Clouds crept in from the west, over the lake. It looked like God was tucking us into bed with a thick gray blanket.

I ran past Sunset Beach. I spotted a couple of dead raccoons. What I didn’t figure on was the gnats. They have been here all along, swarming up from the lake in the afternoon. They get so thick you can barely see. Last night after fireworks, it seemed like all the bugs in the universe wanted in the house, or at least as close to the outdoor lights as possible. They stuck to the windows and doors, crawling and creeping. I could almost hear them crying out, “Let me in! I belong inside! Pleeeaaase!”

moody lake

The gnats like the standing water of the lake and its boggy surroundings. I closed my eyes and exhaled as I pushed through clouds of whirring wings. I blew as much air out as I could to keep from sucking any bugs in. I tried not to think of Old Testament plagues and their order of increasing magnitude.

But, inevitably, I did suck some bugs down. Some tried to get into my eyes. Some flew into my hair or tried to lodge in my nose. I kept swatting and I kept moving. One stuck to my lips. Thanks, Burt’s Bees, for making lip balm irresistible to insects. I appreciate it.

The gnats of doubt like to dive-bomb my spirit. They don’t totally go away, though I swat at them and keep my mouth closed.  I ingest a few, sometimes, along the way. Do I even have any miles in me today? Did we hear from God about fixing up our house? Why hasn’t our house sold yet? The thoughts swirl and the emotions surge, like a moody lake in our spirits.

Today should mark the end of my running streak. Actually, yesterday. It’s more than a month since I started running at least a mile every day. Originally, I signed on to do Memorial Day to Independence Day. I have no idea how many miles I’ve logged overall. I did 17 last week. I’d like to get 19 in this week. I’ve put in 37 days so far. What’s 9 more?

We can keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other. You get up and just do it. Noah built the ark over 80 years. He must have felt mighty foolish at times. Abraham had second thoughts placing Isaac on the rock as a sacrifice. We can’t see the end or the outcome. Yet God has the answers. I just need to put in the faith..

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. – Hebrews 11:1


Run Through

I ran 4 miles this morning. Probably not a big deal to most people, but it is to me. I haven’t run that distance in a long time. At least, not continuously. I’m trying to get my base miles up. This streak is supposed to help with that. Theoretically.

I got to bed late last night and I wondered if I could even get up to do four miles. But I decided to do it. I talk a lot about the power of the mind. I need to preach to myself more! I hold myself back more than I should. I cringe at the thought of getting hurt again. I don’t believe in myself like I should. I find it easier to believe in other people and encourage them than to apply it to myself.

So while on the run, I started doing it. I remembered funny things the kids did and I smiled. I reminded myself I’ve run this same route dozens of times and that it was in me to do it again. I watched the marvelous mackerel sky, clouds lit with silver tips as the sun rose. I thought back to last night’s kettlebell class. We did the 10-10-10 series 3 times, after we did the cycle of two-handed swings and figure 8s three times for 45 seconds each. The 10-10-10 series consists of 10 one-armed swings, 10 cleans and 10 high pulls all on one side. Then you switch to the other side. Somewhere in there, my grip started to go. My forearm felt like one long numb lump. One of the calluses on my right hand broke open and oozed clear fluid. Kinda icky, yet better than blood. But I kept on. I’m an athletic girl, er…woman. I need to push myself or most of the time workouts feels worthless. I know this and I’m learning to work with it instead of pushing it down. I finished the run in good time, sweaty and satisfied that I gave my all.

This week has been a continuous battle with discouragement in several areas. I know where it’s coming from, and why, so I stayed the course. I got into my Bible. I prayed more and sang more. Because God stays the same. Every day. Every minute. Every hour. Circumstances in this life don’t change His goodness or His mercy. Not even a little bit. I’m learning to say the right words, even as the Lord said them over me ages ago.

Three Mile Morning


I ran today. The sun hadn’t stepped onstage yet, the eastern sky a pale blue. Candy-colored clouds dotted the skyline. The air was still.

I headed up the hill, separated from the traffic by a concrete median. Good thing, too, because my pants kept falling down. I even had them on right side out. Thanks for asking. But somehow I’d forgotten to tie them. Even then, they didn’t want to stay up, drifting down as if pulled by some super gravity. Had to tuck my shirt in. The adjustments delayed but didn’t stop me.

Funny, I kept waiting for the pain to kick in. Come on, I thought. Where are you, my old enemy? I’m waiting. I’m hunting you. A slight ache in my right shoulder remained, the only remnant from last night’s weighted squat with presses as well as the cleans of kettlebell class. My footfalls mounted the incline. I walked a little and admired the sweet morning, daisy faces shining at me from the roadside. I felt a slight twinge in my left foot. Nope. Keep moving.

The pain never found me. Somehow, by the grace of God, I’d outrun it. I couldn’t stop smiling. Now, my endurance is another story. But I can work on that. I know the drill. I will put in the time.

But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland…” – Isaiah 43:18-19

Frosty February

All clear now?

All clear now?

After Tuesday’s abysmal run on the treadmill, I needed to take action.  I managed to eke out 6 miles by sheer will power.  My hips locked up over and over.  I stretched  – a lot .  My fabulous chiropractor, sympathetic to the cause, sent me an email link to a special exercise. I ignored it for weeks, thinking I had it under control.  Alas, no.  I tried that, too.  Because what I realized is that I had it in the tank, the stamina to go longer.  The message simply never reached my legs.

It was 20 degrees outside when I got up this morning.  It was still 20 degrees when I ran. It seems as if our weather here is trying to mimic the polar vortex gripping the other side of the nation.  I did a quick 3 miles around the neighborhood after breakfast, rounded Ruby up for school (Put the hoodie down and wear the heavy coat. Got your money for the Sock Hop?  Hat?) and ran 4 more.  I stretched well in between the two sets and got another sip of water before hitting the deep freeze again.

The cold took my breath away.

Here, ala thedancingrunner, were my thoughts:

I could just run 3 miles and call it a day.  Nobody would blame me.

Nah.  You have to press through if you want to race again.  Hey, why not you?

I am literally the only pedestrian out here.  Now I know why.

At least I’m not tired.  Too cold to stop.  Gotta crest this hill.

My torso is frozen, even though my shirt is tucked in and I’m wearing a fleece coat.  Brr!  I can’t feel my stomach.  Kind of a good thing.  Is this the beginnings of frostbite?

I’m barely sweating.  Am I off the pace?

Finally my legs are warm, now that I’m in mile 5.

The man wearing the long-sleeved shirt, red puffy down vest and aqua shorts (!) somehow neglected socks with sandals.

Hmm.  The drive-thru car wash is closed.  Guess nobody wants instant icicles forming on their clean car.

Whoa!  Another dog barking at me from inside a moving car?!  Am I that threatening?

Welcome to Shelton, Antarctica.  No need for a refrigerator, folks.

Do I *have* to food shop after this? Where’s the maid?

Somehow, I ended up with negative splits on the second half of the four-mile portion.  It’s pretty much all downhill and with the wind blowing straight off the Olympics, I had a tailwind besides.  Sometimes good things come in frosty packages.  Like ice cream.