Tag Archives: Marathon

Hello. It’s me again.

 

On May 7, 2017 I ran my 10th full marathon in the Steel City of Pittsburgh. It was the most difficult course I have ever run, and my third best marathon finish time. I feel the need to let the world know my chip finish time of 4:18 included  a pit stop, but I’m assuming approximately .67% of you even care about that. The few who would care are also most likely runners and understand how every second/minute on your chip time is a self imposed reflection on your self worth and perceived success. The rest of the world is thinking the very fact that I have run 10 Full Marathons (26.2 miles) since September of 2012 puts me in a league of my own. Yes indeed, you read that correctly. The Akron Full Marathon (another challenging, but simply amazing course) in 2012 was my first foray into full marathons and by May of 2017, only 4 and 1/2 years later, I crossed the finish line of my 10th.

Let me encourage you by reiterating a part of my story that now seems so distant. In January of 2010 I was 60 pounds heavier than I am now and couldn’t run 1 straight mile. I was knocking on the door of turning 30 and making a decision for who I wanted to be when “I grew up.” Embracing a theology of the body, meaning the revelation that God cares about how my physical human body feels, runs, and looks not because it matters in eternity but because it determines how I live and feel on this earth and the ability to which I’m able to discover and live out my purpose, was one of the single greatest things that has ever happened to me. I’ve also run  6 half marathons and countless 5K, 8K, and 5 mile charity races.

I am currently signed up to do Full marathon #11 in November and then reassess my situation. I’d like to do an ultra marathon, perhaps a 50K before or during the year of my 40th birthday. I’d like to ride my bike and participate in  a “century” (100 miles) event. I’d like to get fitter and stronger than I ever thought was possible. I’d like to actually develop my writing voice and consistently blog. I’d like to scratch as much off my bucket list as possible. But for now, for this sacred space between 10th marathon’s finish and 11th marathon’s training plan, I do what my body wants me to do.

Week 1 Post Marathon: More walking and elliptical time than running, although I did run 6 whole miles that week. My lowest mileage week since I started the run streak I was on from 2011-2014.

Week 2 Post marathon: Running 16 miles, including the Cleveland Marathon 8K with my work charity fundraising team. Cycling 20 miles. Lots of walking. Some stair mastering. Strength training/weights.

Week 3 Post Marathon: Running 21 miles. Cycling 30 miles. Lots of walking. No stair mastering. Strength training/weights.

Week 4 Post Marathon: Here we are! So far (Wednesday) I’ve run 13 miles with plans for 12 more and I have plans for a 25-30 mile bike ride.

I just wanted to check in and let you know I’m alive. I have many things germinating in my mind and heart to write about and feel like I needed a blog that was a soft launch back into all things Jessica, Jesus, Family, World Changing, and running.

Remember, the world will tell you you’re “TOO MUCH”. Don’t believe me, try running as much as I do. They will tell you they don’t have time and therefore you shouldn’t have time. Don’t believe them. These same people are not the ones getting up at 5 AM to prioritize the one body God gave them. IN prioritizing physical self care, you also end up with excellent spirit and mind care as well. Try communing with nature on a run, walk, or bike every day and then tell me if you feel closer to God, more tuned into yourself, more awakened to wonder. This might not work if you stay confined to a stuffy gym. You need to breath in the perfection of creation around you.

This same world will then turn the narrative on you and tell you that you are “NEVER ENOUGH”. You still haven’t gotten that Sub-4 marathon finish. You don’t grow your own Kale in your background organic garden.  You ate ice cream. You didn’t widdle your own furniture from a pocket knife.

Have no worries though fellow travelers. You can walk wildly into what God created you to be. We aren’t free just for freedoms sake alone, but we are free to sing this song of hope over the world, just as God sings it over us. Go on. Be brave. Put one foot in front of the other and start checking off those bucket list items. I know I did. Marathon #10, bucket dumped. The end.

My ode to fitness as a lifestyle:

Running. Fitness. Meditation. Contemplation. “I don’t have time for that.” I won’t prioritize soul care. Self care. Personal health care. I’ll sleep when I die. Your mind. Your body. Your spirit are on a budget. You can’t spend what you don’t have. Stay in the red and you’re lethargic anxious sick, and worse, nearly dead. Without a strategic investment, physical, emotional, and spiritual bankruptcy will soon follow. Start small. Start doable. Find scalable, sustainable. Prioritize your family and career by filling your proverbial cup so you have something to pour out. An empty well never hydrated anyone.

My Facebook Reflection from that day:

10 full marathons completed! There are moments in life that change you. These moments are rarely found in your comfort zone. A constant stream of “nothing is given, everything is earned”, “you put in the work, the results are yours to own” and “train your mind…your body will follow” flooded through my mind, pulsates through my veins. Pittsburgh, your marathon was amazing. The hospitality of your city, the vibrant crowd support, and the scenic route were what make it amazing. Your course was grueling and the most challenging, life changing, epic marathon I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t have wanted number 10 to have been any other way. I felt like I was equal parts mountain climbing and running. It never let up. There was no reprieve, but I ran strong. I had my 3rd fastest finish ever and even out ran my husband. I waited for him at the finish. Sweet sweet victory!!! #crossover #runnergirl #runnerofsteel #gameonpgh

 

 

 

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A marathon is much more than 26.2 miles

If you ask a person how long a marathon is, you will get an extremely wide variety of answers. Of those answers, it is absolutely maddening to a full marathoner when someone tells you that they themselves have run a marathon, or their cousin has run a marathon, only to find out that they were referring to a random 5K that they did once. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but a 5K is only 3.1 miles. The “marathon” that these people supposedly ran can range anywhere from a friendly 1 mile charity run to an actual full marathon. I wish that when co-workers, family, friends, and strangers shared with me the tales of their tragedy and triumph, knee pain, and shin splints which resulted from their “marathon” that I could just smile and celebrate with them, but, in fact, I seethe inside. I arrogantly wonder how your 3 mile walk can compare to the 1700 miles I logged in the past 12 months, as if the marathon was my lover and you offended him.

You see, a true full marathon is 26.2 miles in distance, but it is, in fact, much more than that. The marathon is the story of a full season of dedication and preparation, discipline and dedication, fun and labor.

A marathon tells a deeply personal story.

I feel sorry for the people who have signed up for a marathon on a whim, and are just lucky enough to have youth on their side, so they finish this majestic event without giving it the proper training and respect that it deserves. Sure, if you are youthful and you haven’t let your muscles atrophy with disuse, you can stumble your way through this event. You might not be able to walk the next day, and you might curse the moment you were born, but you will receive a medal nonetheless.

To truly appreciate the marathon though, one should get a training plan, set a goal, and persevere through the entire season. The marathon won’t change you unless you fully invite it in. I would venture to assume finishing a marathon without embracing its essence is like the difference between a one night stand and a monogamous blissful marriage. They are incomparable.

As I train this season for my 10th full marathon, I am reminded to respect the distance, lean into process, and know that this journey to the finish line has very little to do with the actual event and everything to do with putting the work in day in and day out. This year, at least for the Pittsburgh Marathon, I am freeing myself from a time goal at the actual event and attempting  to run each training run with the respect that it deserves. My daily and weekly mileage exists for more than an arbitrarily set time by my ego and my comparisons of myself to others, it exists to make me stronger. I have no control over many of the conditions that I will face on race day, but I can determine the degree to which I allow myself to celebrate my trip to the starting line. Even a bad run for me is a good run because I am becoming the person I never dreamed I could be and yet always wanted to be.

I am alive. I am healthy. I am strong. I am fit. I am fierce. I am free.

The marathon, with all of its agony and beauty, has made me a better leader and person, but most importantly it gave birth to my identity as an athlete.

Marathon, you might be 26.2 miles on race day, but my journey has no finish line.

I get asked a lot about my training plans, nutrition, weight loss and maintenance, and running journey. I look forward to sharing with you about this and encouraging you on your path.

 

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Here is Jessica, with her amazing cousin Paul, before she and running hooked up. This photo was taken exactly 1 week before I began my nutrition and fitness journey, and about 4 months before I started run/walking to speed up my fitness journey. The rest is a beautiful love story because running spoke to my soul and no long was about weight.

Step by Step

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. (3 John 1:2 NLT)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA picture I stumbled across yesterday of myself with my cousin Paul 2 weeks before I started my mind, body, spirit transformational journey.
 

iPhone Fall 2012 to Fall 2013 Jess 607

Versus a picture of me this past summer (2013) with my beautiful aunt (You caught me looking at family photos yesterday!)

Today I had a reminder of how powerful habit is in our life. Besides celebrating Day 807 of my runstreak (which means for that length of time I’ve run everyday with no breaks), I had an interesting conversation with my husband. I don’t like to talk about our fasting a lot on the blog because I feel like that is a personal decision that we make to honor God in our lives, however, I feel that in the interest of exposing how I achieve my mind, body, spirit balance and how I am going about my “one word” for 2014, alignment, I thought I could let you in a little bit.

We begin each year with a 21 day Daniel Fast. I have spoken about it before in previous blogs, but you can also google it if you are unfamiliar with what it entails. We also fast at least one day a week, and in addition, kick off each month by fasting 3 days at the start of said month. The purpose of our fast is multi faceted, but one of the benefits of it is increased health and vitality.  It is not a magical spiritual, mental, or physical bullet, but step by step you grow in every area of your life and start to see God’s blessing increase with each new season of fasting and prayer.

Physically, there is no doubt that when you eliminate grains and animal products, your body isn’t using as much energy in the food/digestion area which releases it to execute more exciting uses of energy. I will be dabbling more into different food choices and detox strategies later this year that I will write about and keep you informed on, but for now, I just want to encourage you on the power of habit. The Daniel Fast is much more spiritual for us than it is physical, but you can’t separate the two. Some of my food detox journeys and research undertakings have little spiritual focus. They are just me pursuing the best physical and mental me I can be, but without a doubt, every time I’m my best physically and mentally, I’m also my best spiritually. It is a circle.

We ended our 21 days at the end of last week, and yet when faced with what to eat for lunch today, my mind only gave me the options that were “Daniel” approved. It was like I had forgotten that my typical egg sandwich was even an option or that pretzels weren’t “forbidden” foods. Am I cured from my cravings? I doubt it. When my mileage amps up the closer to the marathon we get, you better believe I’ll be elbow deep in all natural ice cream and other treats, but for now my new and reset habit system will allow me to further my health goals with little to no effort on my part.

Because I’ve been making good choices, good choices have become automatic. One decision for a cheeseburger won’t derail my life, because my habits are set. One busy day will not keep me from a life of bible reading and devotions because my  habits are set. There will be occasional steps out of the healthy habit train and that is fine with me. I’m in this for life. I’m not an ethical vegan or vegetarian and I have no known food allergies, therefore I have no real deep and meaningful reason to “deprive” myself.

The cool thing about habits is that once the correct ones are cemented, you don’t feel deprived, ever. Habit makes the automatic wise choice for you 96% of the time and that makes it possible to be “bad” the other times. See, there is no black and white. Gray is where the party is at, but your brain and body won’t let you “party” too much because it will desire to return to its setpoint or habit structure.

God created us for far more than we give ourselves credit for. We are generally so busy fighting our human nature with its impulses and temptations that we forget to lean into the momentum that God has stored up for us. God created our brains and bodies to embrace habit and instead of utilizing this amazing computer program he downloaded into us, we are constantly trying to uninstall the very thing that could take us to the next level.  We stop celebrating how far we’ve come and start seeing how far we have to go.

We label segments of our life into categories:

  • Black and white. Good and bad. Wrong and right. Cold and hot. Pessimism and optimism.

Could it be that many things we weigh ourselves down with mentally, physically, and spiritually were never meant to be categorized? Could it be that we have never embraced gray areas?

We stunt ourselves by not embracing the gray areas. There really is no good or bad. Something is better than nothing. Take it step by step. The reason this lifestyle change has stuck is because I approached it with the lens of legacy and the long journey.

Never stop celebrating how far you’ve come. Always build an altar of memories poised for praise (photos in this blog are to jog my memory and celebrate the journey). Sure there is still a long way to go. Sure there are still mental, emotional, spiritual and physical demons to slay, but what if instead of worrying about the unseen, we just baby step our way to the legacy we want to leave.

One day at a time your habits will change to match your dreams and decisions that once stressed you out will become automatic no brain choices. How would it feel to  use your willpower for greater things than survival mode? What if instead of fighting food cravings and a lack of desire to exercise you could use your energy and will power to fight for social justice? Seem like a leap? It isn’t. You can do it. I did it.

My brain and my body were created for more than considering what to eat and what to wear. God put greatness in me and I’m going to live a long healthy life pursuing his promises, living out my purpose, and declaring hope.

When negative thoughts bombard your mind, say, “I am strong. I am well able. I have what it takes. I can do this.”-Joel Osteen

Endurance: A 4 letter word.

Through endurance ……. we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another… that together you may with one voice glorify ……Jesus Christ.  (Romans 15:4-7 ESV)

Endurance is a dirty word. Endurance conjures up images that we don’t want to see and emotions that we would rather not feel. We get images, or perhaps flashbacks of personal experiences and traumatic events. Pictures of the sweat soaked, dehydrated athlete, the parents of a newborn child who enjoys frequent 2 AM parties, the years of loneliness and betrayal at the hands of an abuser, or the sleepless nights finishing up a PhD dissertation fill our mind when that cursed word is uttered.  Everyone wants a gold medal, but few want it bad enough to sell out for it.

This week we paused to remember and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have had the privilege and simultaneous horror to visit many stops in Alabama that played an epic role in the civil rights struggle of this nation. The truth is, anything worth fighting for is going to leave with it a long trail of tears. Whether the tears are  temper tantrums (because we don’t want to push ourselves, make difficult choices, and get our hands dirty) or legitimate gut wrenching productions doesn’t matter. Ultimately the key to enduring anything is to exercise your “No” muscle (self-denial) and to experience frequent paradigm shifts (perception and thoughts). Dr. King’s dream fueled his passion and was greater to him than momentary discomfort.His bend was to focus on the greater long-term cause than the immediate injustices.

Most people who achieve greatness have done so not in spite of adversity, but because of it. Take the marathon for example. Perhaps if you were in great shape, ate totally clean, had all the stars aligned for you, and were 21 years old you could wake up one day and decide to run a marathon and finish it. You, in fact, would not be able to move the next day, but it would be possible to finish under such circumstances, especially if you didn’t care how long it took you. For the rest of us though, it is the daily discipline of fighting through struggle that prepares us mentally and physically to get the starting line and then subsequently to finish strong.

This is why I love running. It is the ultimate metaphor for life. As a student of the Holy Bible I find so many spiritual and philosophical parallels to life on this earth and physical fitness. Building physical endurance makes mental, emotional, and spiritual endurance easier.

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If I can run 9 miles in -4 degrees outside (which I did yesterday), then certainly I can let someones snide comments roll off my back. Running helps teach you when and how to react. Your stride matters.

I love how the Bible links endurance and encouragement. The fact of the matter is that if you learn to stretch yourself and push beyond, the encouragement that fills you will be overwhelming and it doesn’t require anybody else. I encourage myself. If you congratulate and encourage me, great and awesome and I love you and I need it. However, if you don’t, it doesn’t ultimately matter because I have proven to myself that I can do anything if I learn to endure.

Perhaps it seems simplistic to link running with the civil rights movement or to great spiritual accomplishments, but the physiology and the psychology are the same.  Endurance brings success which brings encouragement which builds more endurance and that generous helping of encouragement and endurance fuel hope. It’s hard to feel hopeless or stay down for the count when you know that greatness lies within you and the only way to be assured of greatness is to have proven to yourself that you CAN and you WILL. I’ve changed my mind. Endurance is not a dirty word, but it is in fact a 4 letter word: HOPE.

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It’s fun to go exploring!

“A pioneer extends the boundaries of the possible and violates the laws of the impossible.”-  Brian Houston

“Every expedition requires a first step.”- Me

This week is the  first official week of my 18 week Cleveland Marathon Training Plan. I am once again following Hal Higdon’s plans, with some slight modifications made to accommodate my runstreak and my current schedule. You don’t have to run the designated miles exactly on the designated days. Like anything in life that you will stick to, you take the plan as a template and then become flexible to actually make it happen. I’ve learned that to successfully be a Marathon runner you must embrace the entire training season as an organic organism that needs proper attention, nourishment, and dedication, but that also needs to find a way to exist in the reality of my world.

My personal modifications, as of now,  are to run a 5K warm up for strength training on the cross training day (I may even up my bicycling this summer because running high mileage weeks at the peak of marathon training takes its toll on my hips and just do 1 mile run/_____mile bike ride on cross training day just to satisfy the streak.), and I run 2 miles every Sunday at 5AM on my “off” running day.

Running is a way for me to explore not just nature, but the depths of my brain and the heart of God. I think many of us just get stuck in ruts because life is hectic, we get very little fresh air, and we are always dreaming and never doing. Running is the marriage of dreams and actions and endorphins.

Children don’t have the rut problem. They are full of life, zest, zeal, energy, and all of the confidence in the world.  However, at a certain point, around 2nd grade they start believing the scripts that other people try to write for them. They start thinking that maybe their dreams are too great or that they are too fat or that they are too slow. They start asking questions about money and worrying about how they line up with their peers. Essentially, they learn to start living in safety and using others a gauge for their happiness and success instead of exploring every whimsy that comes along. Each year brings a new opportunity to encounter a negative word from a bully and the inevitable experience of a crushing life circumstance starts reinforcing to them that the world is perhaps not the personal oyster that they thought it was.

Fear starts to take  over.

Average starts to set in.

The call of mediocrity and the siren song of “fitting in” beckons.

The child that use to peek under the public bathroom stall out of simple curiosity of what is on the other side, becomes a citizen of polite society.  What starts as good parenting (obviously you don’t want your 12-year-old watching people use public bathrooms. That will get them arrested.) and protective guidance, can quickly turn a pioneer into a cog in life’s machine. Parents inadvertently choke out their child’s inner Christopher Columbus.

If you have felt the call of the wild. If you have felt the urge to do something beyond what you think is in the realm of possibility for you, just do it. It only takes one step. One small decision today will snowball into an action tomorrow that will catapult you into becoming the person you always dreamed you could be but that life had convinced you was no longer possible.

Maybe I am just crazy, but I believe that you can reinvent yourself continuously. Pursuing passions and dreams and finding yourself again through exploration will put you in the driver’s seat of your life and reduce that feeling of being a victim in your personal storyline. You are the author. You decide your trajectory.

If you can find a way to forge into the unknown and bring others along with you, you will find contentment. Safe is boring. If you don’t explore your dreams, feelings, and goals because of a fear of failure, your life in 9 years will look exactly as it does today, perhaps even less adjusted. A lack of exploration and a lack of trying new things will keep you exactly how you are right now or send you into decline with unrequited ambition.

So, today, revert back to toddler hood, peek under the bathroom stall (not literally……….please) and see what new people there are to meet and what new adventures there are to be had. You won’t regret it!

Good luck using this. Our buddy Hal has some beginners plans too that are free.
Good luck using this. Our buddy Hal has some beginners plans too that are free.

Decisions

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”-Socrates

Everyday we are faced with hundreds of decisions. In fact there are around 612 choices that we make everyday whether we are fully cognizant of each one of them or not. Oftentimes our decision is actually posing as indecision because refusing to decide is in and of itself, a choice. The last couple of years I have been working on honing my disciplines by learning that a “No” to one thing is actually a “Yes” to another. That being said, today, when faced with a choice that you would really rather not make, reframe it. There is no getting out of choices and decisions, so you just might as well lean into them and choose the one that has the best long term outcome for your life.

The most extreme example of applying this method of thinking in my life would be my #runstreak. Today I ran day 787. My choice this morning was not IF I was going to run, rather WHEN, HOW, and  HOW FAR. Unless you have been living in the bottom of the ocean, you know the whole country has been under a Polar Vortex this week. (I think we just like drama. Let’s call it what it is……..WINTER)

For some people, they may have been faced with the decision to ditch their New Year’s Resolutions and goals in the infancy of 2014. After all, who wants to workout when nature has given you a -40 degree windchill excuse. (Forget the fact that you can in fact work out in a heated home or gym. Your home doesn’t even need equipment for you to get a work out in. You can do a YouTube fitness routine. How’s that for robbing you of your excuse?)

For me, however, facing a PR year of running  (I’ve never run 2 full (26.2 mile) marathons in 1 calendar year back to back before, so regardless of pace, I will acheive a personal record.), working on year 3 of the #runstreak, and at the start of my Cleveland Marathon Hal Higdon training plan, running wasn’t an option, it was a mandate. You must have steely resolve in your goals, but also be flexible. Do what you gotta do to make things work, but also don’t excersize your self-discipline muscle too much too soon, or it will cause you so much pain that you will quit before you’ve gotten a new habit or routine. Ease into it and you will amaze yourself with your newfound capacity for snap and efficient decisions.

Disclaimer: You might have difficulty saying no to ice cream no matter how large your self-discipline muscle is. The cure for this is to just keep signing up for marathons. The means justify the ends!

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The polar vortex made it unsafe to be outside longer than 20 minutes, so we took the run to the YMCA. (You know the weather was bad for me to opt for a treadmill.) However, because child watch was closed and clearly, from the picture below, no one else was putting fitness first, I was able to run with my BFF’s by my side.

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20140108-193029.jpgJonathan tried to force me to choose which cover model I wanted him to look/be like. I chose both. We can be smoking hot and be like Jesus all at the same time! (Mind, body, spirit)

20140108-193043.jpgGentry made a very adult (he’s 6) decision to change his hairdo. I basically wept because he looks like he’s 25, but he’s a man that knows what he wants.

 

20140109-103357.jpgI made a decision to take my runs back outside this AM. 6.3 miles in 12 degrees.

“THAT” Girl

Look in the mirror, that’s your competition.

Today marathon Jessica was officially back. After taking the month of May to not think about training schedules and to focus on falling in love with running again, running and I moved our courtship back to engagement levels today. I ran my first 10 miler since May 4 (the day I ran the Capital City 13.1). I’m not going to lie, being engaged again feels nice and mother nature smiled on me hugely with some amazing running weather. My marathon training plan for June is to run one 10 miler, one 8 miler, one 6 miler, three 5K’s, and my 2 mile “rest” day every week. For me, this is a reasonable way to stay in medium to long distance shape without the risk of overuse or injury. My official training plan is 16 weeks long, but it is much much easier to train for a Marathon with a super solid base than it is to jump from 4-5 mile days to 18-20 mile days too quickly. Therefore, these first 3-4 weeks are just going to be base building beast mode. Wish me luck!

This lady is my competition. (Pic from 2011)

This lady is my competition. (Pic from 2011)

I’m starting to become “THAT” girl. Recently I noticed a phenomena of all of my random neighbors, which includes people who live up to 6 miles away from me because I frequently run past their homes, to start commenting to me and staring at me. I think this is funny because my husband runs nearly (notice I say nearly because clearly my mileage this year is blowing his out of the water. I’m several hundred miles further than him this year) as much as I do and nobody ever looks at or says anything to him. A couple of weeks ago a neighbor commented that I make him dizzy and tired because he sees me out all the time at random and nocturnal hours of the morning just running in circles. He said just watching me makes him feel exhausted. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that except to say to myself that he needs to up his fitness routine. In addition to that exchange, people will ask how many miles I’m going today or say they see me all over town and it blows their mind because I’m so far from home. My neighbors landscaper told me that I “get around”. Thankfully there was good context for a comment like that :)

Anyway, today a man I have never seen stopped me on the sidewalk and just asked me why in the world I’m always running. He said, “You must really want to be in shape. I just saw you an hour ago running and here you are still going.” I explained to him I was on my long run (I guess the super stylish fanny pack like fuel belt and hair saturated in sweat didn’t give me away) and that I enjoy training for and running marathons for the stress relief, the solitude, and the mental health benefits I feel. He was pleased with the answer, which is good because if he wasn’t I think he might have broken my legs to get me to quit running.

So, my question for the blog is, do random strangers ever comment on your running?

I can’t believe I’ve become “THAT” girl. What I mean by that is there was man where we used to live that everyone in the town talked about all the town because he would speed walk for hours on end, miles and miles everyday. People speculated that he must have HIV/AIDS or some other horrible ailment and that he was trying to stave it off with fitness. People would regularly refer to the man in conversation, even though nobody had even met him. He seemed to have endless energy. I used to giggle when I would see him zooming by. He was a MEGA fitness walker. He was probably speed walking as fast as a lot of people run miles. I think of him when people comment on my running and take it as a compliment. Hopefully I’m inspiring people in my community, but if not, at least I’m meeting a lot of people and having an open door of conversation to let them into my life. Jesus modeled relationships and neighboring, and although he didn’t use running as his method, I’m sure he’d be glad I exchanged dusty sandals for springy Brooks tennis shoes and bring people together.

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Speaking of relationships, the sounds of my boys using their imaginations, creating, playing, and jumping outside with neighborhood kids makes my heart glad. I’m thankful that they are living childhood the way it should be, and not in front of a TV screen, a computer, or a video game. Don’t get me wrong, they spend plenty of time on iPhone apps and in the company of angry birds, but as adventurous boys, the call of the wild is strong for them and I am more than happy to appease that drive to get dirty, loud, and sweaty and let them be kids. I am so thankful for the nicer weather. In the winter sometimes you have to resort to Wii Sports games for any semblance of exercise for your kids, but when it’s nice out, forget all these expensive childhood obesity campaigns and just help encourage people to get their kids outside. Imaginations don’t cost money and they teach everything from fitness to team work to what it truly takes to succeed in life.

20130604-142501.jpgVolunteering at Reese’s school for field day. Keeping that giant ball up in the air and chasing it down for several hours and getting several hundred students to do team work games was both fun and exhausting. I probably added at least a couple miles to my run total for yesterday at this event.

20130604-142515.jpgField Day Potato Sack Races

Come back later and we will talk about food and other equally exciting things like how people like to tell you running will cause arthritis or that with all the running you do you should be skinnier or that they just can’t fathom how you have so much time to train for a marathon. ( Preview: Everyone has the SAME 24 hours in a day, some just choose to set a ridiculously insane alarm, or stay up when every else is snoozing so they can fit all of the work, dreams, and desires into their life. Also, most marathon runners I know are the busiest people I know. Presidents have run marathons. Medical Students have run marathons. CEO’s, actors, lawyers, and moms with full-time jobs plus a husband and 4 kids. The secret is simple, remove obstacles and excuses.)