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.

maui-rainforest

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

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Inspired Soles

new running shoes

 

For Mother’s Day, Jonathon took me shoe shopping. I needed new running shoes. I always wait to get them until this time of year. Because that’s when the 300-500 mileage limit usually kicks in. It’s also the season where the weather up here starts to turn sunny more often. Also, running outside in the sun makes the heart sing.

I have small feet. Which makes sense, because I’m a short person. Or so I’ve been told. I wear a size 5 in shoes. Guess who makes size 5 shoes? Almost no one. So I size up to 6, which seems to work after I put in an insert (child’s) and don socks. I can’t go any larger than that, though. Most stores carry very few size 6s, hence the lack of selection on popular styles.

These shoes, Asics as my favorite brand, were not my first choice. I liked the purple and green shoes best. Wish they would have had my size. I’m so glad running shoes and all workout shoes aren’t stuck as white with a colored stripe anymore. All kinds of rainbow-colored shoes stock the shelves now. It’s fabulous, like a flower garden of mesh, laces and rubber.

I took this new pair for 2016 out for a spin yesterday morning. I think Dorothy was onto something. Shoes have a magical power. These don’t have red rhinestones on them or a fancy heel, but they did inspire me. As I flew down the street, I realized I need to race again. It’s time to push the limits, to dream again. I’m done transitioning to working full-time. Now, which race? What distance? When?

Personal size should not inhibit the size of your dreams. Mercifully, dreams can be tailored to fit you and your life goals..What’s your big dream? Have you laid it down, now that we’re almost halfway through the year? Maybe it’s time to pick it back up again. Let’s do this.

 

 

2014 in Review

Photo courtesy of playbuzz.com

Photo courtesy of playbuzz.com

This is the last day of 2014.  Bring it. I’ve compiled some stats. Not the blog stats, but if you’re interested, you can look here.

In 2014, I read through two Bible devotional plans.  The daily entries had a couple of verses inspiring each lesson. Joyce Meyer did one and Billy Graham did the other. While I enjoyed Ms. Meyer’s practical application, I wish sometimes her examples were more present day.  It was always, “When I first got saved” or “In the early years of our marriage”.  How about last month?  Last year?

Jonathon got a great job with Concordia University working from home.  He’s using his doctorate now. A dream come true!

As for Mr. Graham’s devotional…I liked it.  It primarily focused on the afterlife:  learning to live for Jesus now as we grow into maturity. He emphasized young people a lot.  While I live with young people and I enjoy them, I don’t consider myself one of them.  I would say Mr. Graham’s strength remains in the evangelistic realm.

I ran 466 miles and worked out 290 times. Again, not the best year for me exercise-wise. I *won’t* be running an extra 4 miles to round it up to 470.  Not gonna do it, despite my type A personality. I continued to struggle with pain in my right leg at times, though it’s much improved. I did teach kettlebells class 8 times in 2014. Good deal.

Ruby thrilled to her first sewing lesson yesterday, on her new-used machine. 

This past year, I got back into racing shape.  I ran a 10 k, a 7-miler and a half marathon.  Not too shabby, methinks.

I published a book (see link at upper left of screen).  That, people, took a lot of right-brained activity.  I’m most proud of accomplishing that feat this year. I plan on feeding my weaker creative side more in 2015.

Zac grew his first mustache. Then he promptly shaved it off.

I finished the Mason County Shelter project. True, it took over 2 years, but I got to be on it until the end.  Yeehaw!  Always great to see the finished building and know I had a part in bringing it into existence.

And now, the goals. Drumroll, please.

Somehow, over the last year, probably due to a great influx of bridge mix and other sundry delicious foods, I gained weight.  I’d like to lose 10 lbs. Thank God nobody’s asked me if I’m pregnant.  Yet. I plan on doing a 21-day junk food fast to kick things off, starting tomorrow.  Gulp.  Wish me luck!

I’d like to do a few races.  I’m not as keen on it as I once was, so maybe a couple of halfs and other distances thrown in for variety. I did get a Garmin for Christmas (thanks, Jonathon!) so I know exactly how far I’m going while training on the road…when the satellite can find me.

I want to get back to reading through the Bible in a year. I missed having so much word to digest. I craved it but knew a little break would help me appreciate it more when I waded back into the ocean again.

Thanks so much for reading this year. I’d love to hear from you, how this year went and what your goals are for 2015.  God bless in the coming year!

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Running

According to thedancingrunner, I might have learned a few things in my years of running.  I enjoyed a lung-freezing run this morning as the temps hovered in the teens. I thought I’d share a few of my hard-earned lessons with you here…like I need running tights, stat!

  1. There will always be someone faster and/or stronger than you.  Tripping them helps.
  2. Good running shoes are supportive as well as inspirational.  Don’t skimp here.
  3. Running in high humidity conditions resembles swimming.
  4. Runners come in all shapes and sizes…and ages! Take it from someone who got lapped by a 70-year-old.
  5. At some point, you will get injured.  You can come back from it.
  6. Going out for a run can clear your head and lift your spirits.  You’ll feel renewed inside. But your outsides still need a shower.
  7. You must run your own race.
  8. Running outside beats running on a treadmill except on the most inclement weather.
  9. Runners are a breed apart, which is why most people stay far, far away.  It’s contagious.  It’s outrageous and audacious.  It’s life-changing.
  10. It’s only failure if you stay down.  Get up and try again.

What have you learned?

 

Tot Turkey Trot

This week has been packed with Thanksgiving festivities. Ruby’s school did their annual Turkey Trot.  I’ve never been able to go, because it conflicted with kettlebells class.  This year, I got to see it.

The crowd

The crowd

The 3rd grade girls starting line

The 3rd grade girls starting line

You can see Ruby in the front, in the purple coat.  She looks none too thrilled to be there.  The weather dried up for the races though clouds still milled in the sky.  First grade, second grade, then kindergarten raced down a side street and into the back parking lot of the school.  Third grade, up for a slightly longer distance, ran around the school, down three sides of the building and into the parking lot.  I should probably mention the two people – one of them the P.E. coach – dressed up in turkey costumes.  They led the racers.  I’d run too, if I looked that ridiculous. But I did love that the coach made running fun.

I found a spot on the sidelines to cheer on the racers.  A really fast blonde girl, her hair back in a French braid, led the girl runners and won the race.  Then hundreds more.  The 3rd grade boys came next.  Their race started just after the girls took off. Then I saw her.  Ruby walked next to a classmate.  When she heard me yelling for her, she picked up speed.  A little smile played on her face, though she didn’t look at me.

“Go, Ruby, go!  You’re almost there!”

I didn’t care that she walked.  I know how hard it can be to run a race, especially when you can’t see the finish.  You get bogged down in the middle.  Where is the finish?  Am I almost there?

I found her in the gathering of kids at the end.

“Hey, you did great!  It’s hard to keep going when you can’t see the end, huh?”

Ruby nodded, panting hard as I hugged her.

“But you finished.  Good for you.”

As I walked home, I thought about my past races.  Having someone to cheer me on made all the difference.  Those cheers from friends and strangers encouraged me to keep going when I couldn’t see the finish.

In this life, we don’t see the ribbon across our time’s completion.  Yet with encouragement along the way, we can keep moving forward.  Our pace doesn’t matter, only that we get up and keep going.

 

To Train Up a Child

This is not about the infamous book by Michael and Debbie Pearl. 

Have you heard of James Bonnett?  I hadn’t, until I read his story on runnersworld.com.    Diagnosed with ADD as a child, his doctor recommended medication.  His parents noticed James’ behavior didn’t improve, and in fact worsened.  The doctor also recommended physical activity.  A dreamy boy, James didn’t fit in with his older and younger brother.  He wasn’t the “easy child”.  He tried pee-wee basketball but couldn’t concentrate.  He played baseball and football and anything else they could think of.  None of them panned out.  But running…

James started running as a four-year-old. He ran his first 4-miler at 5 and his first half marathon at 8.  It only got better from there.  Amid strong criticism from outsiders, his parents kept letting him do what calmed him down. However, they never pushed him.  He set his own goals and kept on. His dad, former track runner and now ultrarunner himself, coached him.  They’d set out early and run 10-15 miles before breakfast.

“Pace yourself.  Slow, one foot in front of the other,” his dad intoned. He taught James how to take care of his body. He showed him how to fuel for best performance.  They talked and laughed together, bonding over their shared love of running and each other.

James had a natural ability.  He loved running; it made him happy.  How many of us can say that about anything we do?  He ran and ran and got faster and stronger.  But somewhere along the way, it stopped being fun.  The more sponsors he got, the more pressure he felt to win races.  He liked winning, sure.  But running only to win made him balk.  He didn’t want to wear that particular uniform.

He met a woman – the article makes her out as a modern Delilah – who lured him into taking time off.  With two kids of her own, she had a built-in family.  He decided he wanted to be a husband and father.  Not bad goals, at all.  He left running behind.  Stopped communicating with family and friends.   He took a job delivering beer to grocery stores. He completely immersed himself in his new role.  Until the morning she left him.

Shattered, he didn’t know what to do.  He dug through his possessions and found an old pair of running shoes and athletic shorts.  He put them on and ran a half mile.  Thus, he began his healing and comeback.  He remembered all his dad taught him. Start slow.  Add little by little.  Take time to recover and recoup. 

James’ story compelled me and made me think.  To be a child prodigy of running, then to simply lose interest over time as success nips your heels, intrigued me.  Running outside in the fresh air and local Phoenix hills helped him heal.  The lessons his dad took the the time to share with him helped him reconnect with his family and friends. I immediately thought of this scripture:  Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. –  Proverbs 22:6.  I memorized it in the NKJV which says “train up a child” instead, hence the title. I’d always heard this verse in the context of taking your kids to church and teaching them godly principles.  Yet I think it applies to many, many things.  When our kids are young, they’re like sponges.  They absorb what we do and what we say.  They’re open, not tabula rasas exactly, but receptive.  They don’t have preconceived ideas or prejudices about things or situations.  They do what they’re asked (most of the time).  They don’t ask a lot of questions because their life experience is limited.  They trust and they learn as they go.

James remembered his Dad’s lessons and reaped a reward from them.  James, I suppose, proved an easy target since he didn’t seem to have a strong sense of identity for some reason.  Delilah the 2nd swooped in on him, unsuspecting, and steered his rudder towards her.  The ensuing catastrophe caused a breaking of self that make him reevaluate all he knew. Not unlike the infamous prodigal son of Jesus’ parable, he bottomed out in a big way. Which isn’t a bad thing, in the end.  He found himself and continues to figure out who he is.  Those old lessons served him well, pointed him back to a path to love and safety.  He’s running home now.

 

Running Into Spring

cherry trees

This week, I’ve logged 9 miles. I am up to 3 mile runs.

Whoopee!  You might say.

But there is cause for great rejoicing.  This is the most I’ve run since January 4.  Seriously.  Oh, I’ve been able to run a couple of times a week for short periods over the last 2 weeks.  But always at least one of my legs would act up.  I would put it back down and walk instead.  I have learned the hard way not to push too hard to recover.

This is week 11 since my injury.  Yep.  And I still hurt a little, in my left hip.  But not too bad.

In the past, I would run 20ish miles per week.  And when following the peak marathon training schedule, 40ish miles.  This paltry amount of mileage feels like a drop in the bucket.  It’s nothing to brag about.  But it makes me happy.

What I’m finding is I don’t enjoy it as much anymore.  I like it.  Don’t get me wrong.  But I have found other interests that fill me more, other pastimes to edify me.  I don’t know if I need to race anymore.  Maybe these months of down time have served to get me to refocus on other goals, especially writing.  I’ve also relearned about myself as a human being instead of a human-doing.  I suppose if the desire to race comes reappears, like an exotic, mysterious  bird, then I’ll pursue it.

Spring is the season of hope and new life.  This morning, I saw cherry trees finally, finally starting to blossom.  The magnolia trees have buds on them.  Tiny, starry forget-me-nots dot the neighbor’s lawn.  Daffodils appear like miniature suns.  Is it too self-centered to feel like spring has held off so long in order for me to get strong enough to run outside regularly?  Probably.  For now, it’s enough to be able to run.  I am grateful.