January 15, 2014

Running my butt off

There is a literal component to my title, but it also reflects how much running I am doing to prepare for the Marathon.  In fact, considering how much I have hated running up until 2 years ago, when I realized how quick and easy it is to get ready to run, my mileage is getting pretty impressive.

There have been set backs.  I started to develop a Bermuda Triangle of pain--right foot, left knee and right hip which sent me to get an abbreviated consult with a physical trainer who gave me some exercises to help me with it.  While I was trying to run the plan for the experienced runners, for which I qualified because I have run a 10K, I started experiencing exhaustion that left once I humbled myself and moved to the running plan for inexperienced runners.  It also reduced the amount pain in my foot/hip/knee.  I have have yet to run any of my long distance without having to walk part of the distance.

The last long run involved long stretches of uphill and equal amounts of downhill. The uphill portions were so hard and I ran the first set way too fast for my legs because they gave out on me at mile 10 when I was supposed to run 17 miles.  I cut it short and walked 14 miles.  At the beginning, however, one runner gave me some great advice as I was struggling:  "Don't focus on the uphill portions, focus on how it will feel going downhill."  And isn't that what the Bible tells us to do?
"Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame..."  (Hebrews 12:2)
"So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison..."  (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

And so, I have taken joy in considering every run a learning experience, not a failure to meet goal X.  For instance, I have learned never listen to a comedy-based podcast while trying to run--you can't run and laugh simultaneously.  When your body is telling to to make a potty stop, walk until you can reach a potty because you cannot run and "hold it."  Plan your route on long runs to include potty stops because you WILL hear the call of the potty at some point.  Carry money with you to buy something from the gas station/coffee shop/grocery store when you use their facilities to thank them.  Or just leave them some extra money.  Don't eat Gu on an empty stomach, thinking that it will give you energy for the run because all of that sugar will give you the runs.  My personal preference for pre-run food is a banana and half  a cliff bar if I am running a long distance.  I save the other half for when I am done.  Marzipan is a great running food--much better than Gu because it has sugar and a bit of protein and melts in your mouth without the need to chew it and tastes SO much better. Walking is okay because it allows you to exercise different muscles. Running with people is better than running alone.   Polar heart beat monitors cause really bad welts on my chest.  Chafing can happen in the bosom area (sorry for the TMI).  Anytime you run father than you ever have run, even if it is not the distance you should run is a successful run.

I have learned that I can do more than I think I can do, that running without music is a great time to experience God and running can be a wonderful date with your husband, especially when he is as encouraging and supportive as my husband.  He slowed down and stayed with me during the St. Paul Turkey Trot even when I was having a bad attitude because it was SO incredibly cold.  So many of the runners I have met through the East Valley Runners club have been uplifting during the run and helped me become mentally stronger as I persevere during the long distances.  In fact, we came up with a motivational song:
"Hit the road (name).  I know you can run some more, some more, some more, some more.  Hit the road (name).  I know you can run some more.  Yes we can!" (to the tune of "Hit the Road, Jack).

I will end with a new song by Jonathon Thulin that has been playing in my head.  I love the imagery in this song, which is matched by his song "Dead Come to Life"

January 10, 2014

Lost Dutchman Inspiration

We hiked at Lost Dutchman State Park on New Year's Day with MANY other people.  We got there too late for the guided tour, but apparently well before the rest of the parking lots filled up.  There is one part of the mountain which is called "praying hands" because the rocks look like two hands together in prayer.  However, a different formation caught my attention.  I call it, the "praising hands" feature because it looks like a series of hands raised up giving praise to God.

This started a couple songs plying in my head,which I will share via videos.  The first song is called "Open Skies" by the David Crowder Band

The second song was from the "Passion:  Waiting Here For You" album and sung by Christy Nockels.

I also had some verses playing in my head that I tracked down to Psalm 19.

So basically, I felt as if I was joining the mountain in worshipping God for the amazing complexity and beauty of His creation, of which I am a infinitesimally small part.  Even without that amazing experience, it was a great day because it was January, I was with my family soaking up the sun and getting some exercise and fresh air.  And I waited until after the polar vortex headed back north to post this to avoid hate mail, to which I would reply, "Just wait until summer."

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year with a new focus

So the year is done and I have less than a month to prepare for my older son's 11th birthday.  Last year, inspired by oneword365.com I focused on joy with moderate success.  This year as I have been praying to figure out what God wants me to focus my efforts for the coming year, many words have come to me.  In Bridgetender Academy this year, the focus has been to help my kids become kinder and more respectful to each other because those are life skills that God values. God has been working powerfully in me to help me become kinder and more respectful, though, as all Christians, I stumble and need His grace, forgiveness and restoration.  I am seeing some response in the kids, but have gone through a rough period of backlash that reminds me that progress is never a straight path, but a series of loops that go through mountains and ditches.

But kindness is not what God wants me to focus on this year.  The word I kept getting from Him while running this week is "presence."  With my iPhone and other things, it is so easy to check out of pretty much everything and even easier to take a 2 second "check out" when in a group of people to see what is going on in some application or other.  We have instant video through Amazon and Netflix and then there are blogs to read which "need" comments.  None of these things individually are bad.  In fact, I can say that I have made new friends with Ken and Christie Hagermann, missionaries in Asuncion,Paraguay because I made comments on their blog and comments led to email and email led to a Skype conversation to help them celebrate the New Year at 8pm our time last night.  However, obsessively checking Facebook or other interactive applications on our phones and putting priority on them rather than people is exactly the opposite of the overall job God has given us of loving Him with everything we have and loving our neighbors as ourselves.  It is distracted living, which is far more dangerous than distracted driving, because we can miss so many blessings, so many treasured moments, so many opportunities to show the love of Jesus and have really NOTHING to show for it.  So my goal this year is to be fully present with God, fully present with my family, fully present with friends and fully present with neighbors and whoever He throws in my path.  And this is what it will look like:

  • Less Facebook presence--feel free to call me out on FB when I start backsliding (because backsliding is part of persevering)
  • Less comments on blogs, though I will still keep reading the blogs that I am reading because I REALLY enjoy reading them. 
  • More phone calls to keep in touch.  Be forwarned!
  • More face-to-face time for AZ folks
Happy New Year.  May God bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)