The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Final Run and A New Beginning

It was a brisk winter's 23* when I began my last run of 2010. The rays of the sun felt good despite the coldness in the air.  I pressed the start button on my watch and began the year's final miles.

There is excitement to be felt standing on this side of the stroke of 2010's last midnight; excitement in savoring the successes of the year.  When I began the year I had made the decision to get serious about my running.  I did many things that put me out of my comfort zone and became some of the best decisions I could have made.

One of the first decisions I made was to join a local running group dedicating themselves to improving.  This group didn't care how fast you ran, just that you wanted to get faster.  And I wanted to get faster.  We worked hard in our workouts and runs, logging countless miles together.  Well, in reality that is not true, each one of us can tell you exactly how many miles we ran as we all live and breathe by our Garmin watches; we even named ourselves Team Garmin.  If you found yourselves near us on the start of our runs, it was not uncommon to hear "Wait a minute!  I'm still locating!"  These fellow runners make me smile and have become some of my most favorite people.

I reach my turn around point and head for home.  The winter sun shines in my eyes, but I do not mind.  Sun and clear blue skies are not common in our winters and I am enjoying every moment of it.  I glance at my watch noticing my pace is faster than I expected.  I decide to keep pushing, the pace feels good.

The year brought me several firsts.  March 27 I ran a 15k placing 3rd in my age group, at 41 years old I found myself looking at my first ever race ribbon.  As the year went on, I would place in two more races and have 4 personal bests.  This brings incredible sense of accomplishment and delivers a greater determination to work towards my Boston goal.

My road lies ahead and I turn toward my home.  The final run is over finishing out my 2010 season.  One year ago I wondered what 2010 would hold for me and it gave me one of the best running years I've had.  Standing in the driveway I hit the stop button on my watch.

My next run will be with my friends in 2011, I can't wait to see what that year will bring.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Winter's Morning

The city had come alive despite the winter's pre-dawn darkness.  Christmas shoppers were hustling about in search of the season's perfect gifts.  I rub my gloves together warming my hands as I wait for the others.  The brisk breeze brought the faintest smell of snow.

Laughter announces the arrival of my friends; right on time and ready to go.  We discuss the route we will take and the button beeps heard from our watches herald the start of our run. We talk of the cold and all agree it is better than the monsoon rains we ran in the previous week.

The trail wove us through the still quiet residential neighborhoods.  Homes were starting to awake and cartoons could be seen through big picture windows.  In spite of living in the city, we run streets we've never traveled before.  One of the joys of running is seeing parts of the city you might not ever experience if you had not been on foot.  We admire the architecture of one home and enjoy the Christmas lights of another.

We veer into a city park noticing the evidence of a previous day's wind storm.  Evergreen branches liter the ground as if God had been baking and shaken His sprinkle shaker while decorating Christmas sugar cookies.  Just as quickly as we entered the park, we left and began running down the creek lined parkway toward the ocean.

The creek was swollen from the December rains earlier in the week.  Indication of how high the water had risen was found on the banks of the creek.  Trees lay toppled in its midst with water rushing around the exposed roots.  We marvel at the strength of what we know as a tiny creek.

Coming along the ocean's side the wind begins to blow harder leaving us to feel it's bite on our cheeks and noses.  Away from the city center, the ocean side sleeps with inactivity.  Boats moored in the marina gently rock in the Pacific's waves.  A few fisherman are seen stirring about; the rest of the marina, quiet.

We follow the ocean as it leads into downtown.  Here the Farmer's Market is busy as vendors begin setting up their wares and people are milling around with the leisure found only in a weekend morning.  The smell of fresh food wafts from the grills.  Despite the earliness of the day, the food smells delicious.  Greeted by the trail head we succumb to its invitation and follow its rocky path leading us back along the ocean.

Reaching the furthest point of our run, we turn and head back into the city.  Making our way down the well traveled streets, we fall in rhythmic silence broken only by the sounds of our shoes hitting pavement.  The city center is busy and we find ourselves waiting at several red lights. 

It isn't long before we make our way back to the trail where our run had begun. The familiarity of it quickens our pace and we relax knowing the run is almost over.  We follow each winding turn and as promised, the trail delivers us to our finish. 

Someone notices the time and we discover we have a few unplanned moments to enjoy a cup of coffee at the coffee shop around the corner.  We sit around the table, warming our fingers which are wrapped around the cups holding hot coffee. We talk of fall marathons and quickly approaching Christmas plans.  A hard run and a winter's morning had gifted us a few extra minutes to sit around the table and enjoy the moment, a moment dripping with friendship and laughter.  We wish each other a merry Christmas and travel our separate ways.  That is, until a winter's morning calls us again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Testing The Limits

The temperature read 23 degrees.

This is gonna be cold.

With the sun starting to crest the mountains, the golden winter rays gave sparkle to the frost which covered the ground.  Nature's diamonds glistened from the trees, the frozen grasses and roads.

And slippery.

The park was beginning to awake and wipe the sleep from its eyes.  Race directors and volunteers were filtering in bringing life to the quietness of the early morning. Evidence of people were seen in the footprints left in the frosty ground. 

Leaving the warmth of our cars, my running friends and I began an easy paced 4 mile run.  Weaving our way through the oldest part of town and down to the ocean front, I notice the only others awake and out in this cold were those from the oldest of generations.

They are tough, I can learn alot from them.

We talk amongst ourselves discussing our strategies, or lack of, for the race we will soon run.  Who wants to run what pace and the times we each hope to run the 6.2 miles in.  At the two mile mark we turn around and head back to the park.

Upon entering the park we are greeted by several people milling about waiting for the start of the race.  We make our way into the warm, heated building and sign our names on the roster.  A simple pen stroke and my name is forever attached to the 2010 Fairhaven Frosty 10k.

We take our place at the starting line.  With two divisions in this race, a 5k and a 10k, there are all different types of registrants.  Parents with children, dogs with owners, cross country students, walkers and racers.  I look around and spot two women dressed as toy soilders toeing the line.

I will not be beat by a toy soilder.

The announcer tells the 5k entrants to take their place at the first starting line and the 10k runners to line up behind the 10k line about 200 meters back from the 5k start.  Someone yells "GO!" and we are off and running.  That is until we hit the back of the 5k pack.  Here we must dodge walkers, strollers and dogs who can't get along and owners trying their best to control them.  My running buddies and I look at each other with a look understood by all.


We make our way out of the park and shortly begin the ascent up the first hill.  Not the most favorable way to start a race but knowing after the first mile there would be a long section of a gradual downhill kept me focused.

Just get through this hill.  Pump my arms, shorten my stride.

The crest of the hill gave way to a small downhill taking us to the bottom of switchbacks etched into the side of a hill.  Upon climbing them we reached the Interurban Trail and a well deserved downhill section.  I look at my watch. 

Darn it. 

The trail is now a gradual downhill and I can make up time lost on the uphill climbs. I find a runner ahead and focus on catching them.  This works for awhile.  I find a runner, catch up to them and work hard to pass them.  Then I spot her. 

She was maybe 10 and she was ahead of me.  I am now right behind her and I hear a few volunteers yell, "Go Emmy!"  This girl impresses me.  As I pass her I tell her she's doing great and to keep it up.  I look at my watch and figure she is running close to a 7:30 mile pace. 


Leaving the trail, we make our way onto the city street which will take us back to the park.  As we approach, the 5k runners turn toward their finish line and we continue straight to repeat the loop.  And the hills.  Again.

With only 10k runners now on the course the field thins out tremendously.  The cold winter sun shines brightly into our eyes as we climb up the hill.

Pump my arms.  Shorten my stride.

The short downhill serves only as a reminder the switchbacks are looming.  Too quickly they come into view and I find myself working my way up them.

Final uphill, I can do it.  I can do it.

The trail is a welcome sight.  My watch chirps and I glance at it.  4 miles done, only 2.2 to go.  Here I question the sanity of running 4 miles before the race.  I remind myself of the goal to run Boston one day.

This is a stepping stone.  A building block to Boston.

The trail feels good under foot.  The frozen, frosty leaves crunch with each step I take.  A pleasant sound of winter running.  My gaze goes upward to the trees on either side of the trail. Trees reach across the sky in a perfect canopy carving out a ceiling for the trail that winds its way through the forest. 

Although sad to leave the trail as we turn onto the city street again, I am happy with the chalk written message scrawled on the sidewalk, it reads "1 mile to go". I am tired. This is starting to hurt.

I want this over.

Up ahead I focus on a few runners and wonder if I have enough energy left to catch them.  They stay in my sights.  Cars drive by.  Some honk, some wave, most pay no attention.  I wonder the last time they pushed themselves this hard.

I round the final corner and make my way to the park.  Something catches my eye up ahead. 

Oh no.  Could it be? 

Yes, it was.  Toy soilder ladies.  As participants in the 5k race, they were on their way to the finish line.  Even though I had done twice the distance they had, I did not want them crossing the finish line before me.

Run harder.  Run faster.  I don't feel good.

The distance between us shortened.  I just had to lap these toy soilders.

Run harder.  Run faster.

With the park entrance in sight, I passed the toy soilders and told them they were doing great.  Turning into the park I sped up to the finisher shoot and crossed the finish line.  I was done.  And extremely happy about it.  My watch told me I'd finished in 49:57.

Filling up on oranges, bananas and race food goodies, my running friends and I talk about the race we'd each just run.  We ran the exact same course, the exact same distance yet each experienced much different races.  Goals were met, some were not, but all was left out on the course.  We emerged stronger than when we started and glowing with that which comes from hard work, pushing ourselves and a testing of limits. 

And a readiness to do it all again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


The town was beginning to awake.  Old men were beginning to spill out from the doorway of the local greasy spoon producing evidence the Saturday morning ritual of gathering for early morning coffee was still alive.  The men have been doing this for generations.  Sipping their coffee in between offerings of encouragement peppered with sarcasm and laughter.  I watch one of the town's gentlemen cross the street in front of me.  He waves and smiles, not because he knows who I am, but because this is what you do to offer a wordless "thanks" for stopping my car allowing him cross.  I wave back and continue my journey to my Aunt's home where we will continue our Saturday-after-Thanksgiving tradition.

Several years ago my aunt decided to part with her recipe for the Dutch treat of Almond Sticks.  The daughter of the town's baker, she had perfected the recipe handed down to her and now, she passes it down to us.  With all baking supplies in hand, I walk into the room that will transform into a baking mayhem. 

We are all there; mothers, daughters, nieces, aunts and cousins.  The women of the family learning and participating in our family's tradition, a place where the past collides with the present in a delicious moment in time.

The Recipe comes out and is set out on the table.  We never detour from The Recipe and read it ingredient by ingredient even though we know it by memory.  With precise measurement we prepare the dough for the crust.  We laugh when we miscount the cups of flour and have to start over, never passing up the opportunity to chide the person who can't count.

Once the almond filling is made, it is carefully wrapped and placed in the fridge for chilling.  There is magic in the chilling. 

I look up to see my mom teaching my niece, her granddaughter, how to handle the filling.  I watch as one generation touches a new generation.  In these moments I long for my Grandmother yet savor the moments I have with my mom.

With wonder I contemplate what this tradition will look like when granddaughter will become grandmother and pass on The Recipe.

All generations are present and begin learning The Recipe.  Each one doing important work in keeping the tradition alive. 

As the dough and almond filling chill, we clean and eat.  We kick our feet up and share our lives; the laughs I'm sure are similar to the ones heard at the old men's Saturday morning coffee time.  The encouragement is endless and so is the good-natured banter. 

The women in the room all contribute to the woman I am today.  And I am thankful.  My heart is full. 

With the food gone, we begin the final steps of The Recipe.  The rolling of the dough and the making of the Almond Sticks.  The flour is abundant and finds its way onto the table, floor and clothing.  Throughout the generations we have yet to perfect in preventing this mess.  And we love it.

Like the women before us, we roll and knead and pinch the dough.  We brag about who's didn't "leak" the year before and wager who's is good enough to be leak-proof this year.  This is the wining crown of tradition and one few of us have mastered.

One thing we never have to guess on is how long the baked Dutch treat will last.  We all know.  Upon arriving home they will be eaten quickly.  Spouses and children will greet us at the door and with sweet anticipation take the treats from us.

With the smell of Almond Sticks in the air, I am reminded of how blessed I am.  In a world where we often find ourselves too busy, this tradition keeps me grounded.  A time set aside each year for the young to learn from the old.  A time where we come together and meet history at the door with open arms.  We welcome the tradition and savor the moments it creates.

And then we wait.  Until next year.  When we do it all over again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Night of Inspiration

Some time ago, my pastor (Bob, an accomplished marathoner) approached me before the beginning of a service and stated, "You know who Ryan Hall is right?".  

Of course I knew who THE Ryan Hall was, but if he was talking about a Ryan Hall who attends our church, nope, didn't have a clue who he was referring to.  

Fortunately for all of us, he meant THE Ryan Hall and when Bob confided to me of his work on getting Ryan to talk at our church, I promptly broke out into what my husband calls my pee-pee dance.  Publicly, it's quite the embarrassing dance but one that does exude the glee I can not possibly contain on such exciting news.  (No, I will not be inserting a video of the dance here as the name itself produces enough of a vivid visual for you to get the idea and will save my children from any further embarrassment by me, their mother.)

5 months after that initial conversation between Bob and myself, on Saturday, November 20, 2010 I was privileged to meet Olympic Marathoner Ryan and his wife Sara Hall. 

It was nothing short of inspirational to hear Ryan speak on his childhood, training and his faith in God.  Ryan and Sara also spoke concerning The Hall Steps Foundation, a fantastic organization helping the poor, which I encourage everyone to be a part of by clicking here.  

The evening is one I will always remember and gave me renewed determination to work at my training to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  There were several pictures taken that evening, but this one is one of my inspirational favorites.  What better way to be inspired than to spend time with Pastor Bob, who's run Boston and Ryan Hall who's WON it?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Day Begins

What?  Oh.
The alarm.
Off. OFF!
It's so dark.
And cold.
Brush my teeth.
Get dressed.
Running shoes.
Slide open door.
No moon.
No rain!
Bazillion stars.
Start watch.
Running slowly.
So cold.
Running easy.
Heavy legs.
Last night's workout.
Feel slow.
Running slow.
Incredibly thankful.
Shooting star!
Owl screeches.
Can't see him.
More shooting stars!
Rooster crows.
No sun.
Lying rooster.
Chilly air.
Wide awake.
Senses alive.
Feels good.
Mr. Neighbor driving.
And smile.
Still running.
Cold Northeast wind.
Winter's here.
Where's fall?
Shooting star!
Run is over.
Stop watch.
Walk.  Breathe.
Gorgeous morning.
Thank you Jesus!
Back door.
Quietly open.
The day begins.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Trail

The morning was wet.  The sky was colored an endless shade of gray due to the misty rain it was releasing.  My spirits were not dampened as I looked forward to running a trail in the foothills with my friends.  Besides, my feeling was it would stop soon.

We carpooled to the trail head.  Looking at the map, we plotted the trails we would run and then we began.  The rain had stopped and the chill in the air was perfectly fall.  Our talk and laughter rose into the branches of the massive evergreen trees which were so tall the view of the sky was completely hidden.  Rocks and fallen branches were navigated with jumps and bounces.  

As the elevation rose, the silence of the woods was broken only by our breathing.  Switchbacks were tackled with determination.  My understanding of "challenging trail" was being broadened.  The top afforded no breath-taking vista, rather, a view of the woods that God created; spectacular in its own right.  The downhill produced a needed break before battling the uphill again.  It was mesmerizing and I found myself immersed in my surroundings.

Running on wet leaves, over rocks and roots through the narrow trail, I was being given a gift.  The trial was giving more to me than I imagined.  Amidst the trees, I was gifted the motivation I haven't had since my last marathon a month ago.  Perfectly wrapped in a pine scented box, I was handed the reminder of my love of running.  The run was a tough one and it broke right through the mediocre and pierced through to the joy.

We piled back into the car and headed back to the lives waiting for us off the trail.  I smile.  Welcome back Motivation, oh how I've missed you. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Curb

I'm sitting on the curb near the fork in the road mustering the courage to pick a path.  Do I stay on the path I know?  Where the journey, as of late, has been met with frustration and exhaustion?  Or do I chose the path I've never traveled before?  

This parenting thing is hard.

Every parent can attest to the feeling of perfection you feel when you first gaze at your beautiful new baby.  So much hope and so much promise bundled in your new breath of life.  You vow to make the possibilities endless and the encouragement grand so they can chase their dreams with passion unbridled.  Almost 14 years ago I looked into the eyes of my son and promised him the best of what I could give.

I look at him now and still see all the potential he holds, but I wonder, why can’t he?

Our house has always been one filled with encouragement balanced with discipline when needed.  We’ve always demanded the best of our children’s abilities and it was always good enough, no matter what the outcome, as long as the best is given. If our children came in dead last in a race, we celebrated with high fives, hugs and whoops and hollers when we could see them trying with all their might. Their best is always good enough.  Always.

Recently we’ve noticed our teenager not giving his best, and it is frustrating.  At first we questioned and coaxed.  As improvements didn’t come, we set guidelines.  When guidelines were ignored, we set up restrictions all the while encouraging him to show the world how great he is.  But he won’t.

This raises many questions in our minds, but we reduce them down to two.  Do we continue doing what we are doing or do we step back?  In 4 short years the world, by its standards, will view him as a man, a view as his mother I find cold with the sting of reality.  Continuing down the same path we are on, will lead to more frustration and more defiance.  Choosing to step back will allow him to make the decisions, with negative life-long impact, on his own.  I’ll be brutally honest here, the hardest part about stepping back is shaking the feeling that I’m giving up.  This, I suppose, is right where God wants me - giving my son and his future for God to direct, not me.  I was not prepared for letting go in such small steps to be so heart wrenching.

It’s exhausting to encourage someone who does not believe in the potential you can clearly see in them.  As a parent, exhaustion isn’t a reason we can use to stop.  It’s an excuse.  There is no room for excuses, especially when it comes to giving confidence-instilling encouragement to your child.  Exhaustion has a way of bringing me to the Edge of Hopelessness, a place I try at all costs to avoid.  I do no one any good there.

Which brings me back to the curb.  In my exhaustion, I sit down on this curb and look intrepidly down both paths. Knowing each path will bring its own trials and its own joys, it does not make the decision easier. I know I must choose.  With parental determination, I find the strength to get up and stand.  

In complete uncertainty and in hesitation, I take a step...  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moon Shadows

The door creaks open and the moonlight spills onto the floor.  I sneak out of the house quietly, shutting the door behind me.  This is my time.  There are no phones, no interruptions, no voices.  Only me.  Shaking the sleep from my mind, I begin my run.

Fall’s crisp air is warmed slightly by the breeze from the south.  Summer did it’s best to hang on, but there is no mistaking the changing seasons.  The chill gives me a brief shudder.  The moon in its glowing splendor is shining bright enough to cast shadows around me.  The clouds do their best to conceal it, but they are no match this morning for the moon’s brilliance.  It looks to be a perfect morning to run. 

My feet and breathing fall into rhythmic cadence.  This is where I am alone with my thoughts and the best time to talk with God.  My troubles become smaller and the worries loosen their grip with each step I take.  I lose myself in the beauty around me.  There is such grandeur  around me and I am momentarily a part of its landscape.   I am out in the pre-dawn silence of God’s creation relishing every step of it.  People always ask how it is possible I can crawl out of a warm bed, before the sun comes up and go run.  I look around and smile.  This is exactly why.  If they only knew how incredible this felt, there would be no need to ask.  The feeling transcends words and I fall short in trying to explain it.  So I simply tell them to try it and they’ll see why.

The run is over and I pause outside the door.  Drinking my water I look up at the big sky above and soak in my last few quiet moments.  When I open the door  there will be alarms, showers and packing school bags.  But not yet.  I am still looking at the moon and enjoying its splendor.  Most people today will have missed this and I feel incredibly blessed to have been a small part of it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Celebration Dinner

The chatter wafted only to be drowned out by the laughter.  I look around the table and smile.  These are my friends.  Like a large family eating Thanksgiving dinner, we are all talking at the same time.  Each one of us is reliving our last 26.2 mile race.  Some of us raced together, and some of us did not, but we each came to the table with our own experiences.  With understanding found only by another runner, we listen and identify with each race-day emotion felt.  And we celebrate.  Oh do we celebrate.

We worked hard the last 6 months, pushing each other, encouraging one another as we trained for our marathons.  We worked through injuries, anxieties and doubt.  We built each other up and propelled each other forward.  "I can't" was never spoken because we knew it wasn't allowed.  Can't is the easy way out.  There is nothing easy with this group.  Each week we left our jobs and families and came together to run and sweat.  And encourage.

Plans for next races are discussed.  One thing about marathoners, we are never satisfied and always have to be planning.  Always.  We determine which races we want do next and when we are going to do a weekend long run together again.  With giddy excitement we plan.  We are runners and we love to run together.  Like a family.

I look around the table and smile.  I home.

Stepping Stones and Pathways

Today the 2011 Boston Marathon registration opens and I figure what better day than today to publish the goals I've thought about over the last week.  The path I'm following leads to Boston, and along the way I'll have to use some stepping stones.  The journey begins.

Ultimate Goal: To run the Boston marathon.
I am 41 years old which in Boston Marathon language means 3:50:59.   Wish me luck as next March I renew my driver’s license and I’m not sure how I’ll convince those department of licensing people that 3:50:59 is an actual age. 

Stepping Stone Goals
  1. To run the entire 26.2 miles.
    The longest I’ve run without stopping is 22 miles.  I realize this will take not only physical stamina, but incredible amounts of mental fortitude.  Looking back at my marathons, I realize I break down mentally long before I break down physically.  This has to change.
  2. To run a 4:10 marathonThis knocks 7 minutes off my PR.  My last PR was by 7 minutes, I can do this.
  3. To run a 3:59 marathonWith improvement, I believe this stepping stone and stepping stone #1 could go hand in hand.
  4. To run a 3:50 marathonThis will cause wild celebration and tears for weeks as Ultimate Goal will then be achieved.
  5. To let my children see me succeed in my goals and if I fail at them, to have them see how to accept it, pick up the pieces and continue to move forward.  When our children witness this, they learn success can come in the shape of failure but we are never bound by them.

In a couple weeks a few Marathon Maniacs are putting on an uncertified marathon around Lake Sammamish.  It is an extremely laid back atmosphere with options to run 13.1 miles, 26.2 miles or a 50k.  The best part? It’s FREE.  Free is always good in my book.  I emailed the race director to sign up and ask some questions, and as of today, I am 90% certain I will run this race.  My goal is to work on Stepping Stone #1.  Now should any of the other goals fall into place, well, that’ll be pure icing on the cake!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Post Marathon Blues

One week ago today I couldn’t sleep. It was the eve of my 7th marathon and the anticipation and excitement were a little more than this 129 lb frame could handle. Standing at the start with 9,000 other runners in the torrential rain, the little voice inside me sighed. No matter how hard you work, nature has its own way of adding a special little twist to your race day. And there is nothing you can do to change it. Sheer determination propelled me forward despite the fact I could wring out my clothes before the race had even started.

I set a personal record that race. By 7 minutes! I feat you’d expect to find me jumping for joy and high-fiving every single person around me. Instead I find myself strangely quiet about this accomplishment. It’s a strange discerning feeling I can not quiet verbalize. I’m upset I didn’t make the sub-4 hour goal I had been training all year for. I’m upset that I feel ungrateful for my PR. I should be very grateful for my 7 minute accomplishment, but I can’t shake this blasé feeling and that makes me angry with myself. I know so many people who would be thrilled to have a marathon time of 4:17:17, so why aren’t I? I beat myself up and then get mad at myself for beating myself up. All my running friends reading this are nodding their heads in agreement as they can relate to what I’m saying and all my non-running friends, I suspect, are staring blankly at the screen now knowing that I am certifiably crazy.

Thinking long and hard about this the last week I came to a realization. My potential stays locked inside me. My intense training the last 6 months worked hard at bringing my potential out and although I was ready and willing to unleash it race day morning, it didn’t budge. It lay hidden in the recesses of myself, drowning in the rain the heaven’s poured out. The first 12 miles of that race I searched for it, prodding myself, encouraging myself, trying to coax that potential to the surface. It didn’t come. And it’s crushing.

But I know it’s there. I will find it. And when I do, I will show it to you. At that moment we will cry together. Follow me on this journey as I work hard on my goal to run the Boston Marathon. I promise you raw honesty, which is a scary step for me as I usually keep my goals and hopes locked inside of myself. If I don’t tell anyone, no one will know I didn’t achieve them therefore no one can be disappointed in me right? Isn’t that how it works? Today I stop that thinking.

I’m a wife and mom on a goal to run one of America’s greatest races. I will get there. Some day. And I’d love for you to be there with me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Me? Speed?

Speed. I don’t have it. I want it. Somewhere in the midst of my distance running I lost my desire for going faster. Training for a marathon changes the perspective of a runner. Well, it did for me anyway. No longer did I think about how fast I was running my normal 4 mile loop, but where I was in relation to my long run that week. Everything became justifiable to the long run.

“Oh, I have to take it easy today because this is my first run after my long run this weekend.”

“I can’t push it too hard today because I have my 18 miler in a couple days and I need to go the distance”.

“I think I need to figure out what my “easy pace” is…nope, don’t have a clue what that is, so I’ll just take it nice and slow so I can run good this weekend”.

Somewhere along the line I realized I stopped believing in my ability to have both. I excused myself right smack into the middle of slug-dom. And each marathon I ran left a big slimey trail of self disrespect. If you would have happened to be behind me that day, September 13, 2009, you would have found a marathon course peppered with my words of “I can’t do this”, “This weather has sucked the life right out of me”, “oh well, another lack-luster marathon” spewing from my mind.

The negative self-talk and blatant disrespect for myself and the training I had put in had to stop but what was it going to take?

Two weeks after that horrible marathon where I ended up walking more than I had ever wanted to, I found myself standing on the start line of another race. My sister had signed up for her very first half marathon and to support her through this tremendous decision, I too had signed up for the race. I expected a sense of dread after my horrible marathon just two weeks previous. What I didn’t expect was my excitement to be toeing a starting line again. At the prospect of having to run 13.1 miles instead of 26.2 miles gave me an incredible let’s-just-have-fun-with-this attitude. For the first time in a year and a half I was excited to run a race.

The excitement showed up in my pace. I had run the fastest I’d run in a long, long time. When I crossed the finish line in under 2 hours I was ecstatic. Though my final time of 1:59:58 was nowhere near my personal best of 1:52:43, it was the strongest race I’d run in almost 2 years. And the difference was my attitude.

The winter had proven to be a mild one allowing me to run through the darkest and coldest months. My weekend runs were 10 to 12 miles long consistently. In the spring I signed up to run a local 15k. As this distance was shorter than the long runs I was currently turning out, I felt a great sense of ease going into this race. Imagine my complete surprise when I crossed the finish line as 3rd in my age group! What??? ME??!?!?

An amazing thing happened after that, the negative self talk began to quiet. The results of some hard strong running I’d done was beginning to show. For the first time in my adult life I realized I wasn’t just a runner. No, I was becoming more than that. With my simple, yellow, cheesy “third in age group” ribbon, (which hangs proudly on my wall by the way), I felt like – could it be?- an athlete.

So here I sit a few weeks later and one of the newest members of a local running group. We are an eclectic bunch of people from all backgrounds of life. No matter what happens during the day, when we get together we are all runners in running shoes striving for one thing – to get faster. Some of us have the speed required to qualify for the Boston Marathon and other have the speed to break a sub-4 hour marathon. The current speed we each come to training runs with really doesn’t matter. We all recognize and respect the blood, sweat and tears we each are pouring into our training and that transcends pace.

Week one of training is behind us. Tomorrow we will leave our jobs to come together at the track of the college in town. We will laugh, we will run, we will train. And together we will become faster.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Three Weeks

Three weeks. Where will you be in three weeks? What are your plans? The future you are planning? Three weeks. It’s all they gave her. Raylene will spend the next three weeks planning her own funeral.

If given the same news, what would I do? Hug a little tighter? Kiss a little longer? Laugh harder? Does one spend the last few weeks cherishing the memories made or regret the dreams never lived? Do the tears flow in sadness or in celebration of the life given? When time is short does patience get longer? Does wonder and amazement grow or does the world become small and confining? Is there hope in the hopeless?

Three weeks. What does one do when given the news you fought for years not to receive? The fight was hard and you fought with all your might and then some more. Strength came from an unexplainable place. Determination coupled with sheer will paved the road of perseverance and yet it wasn’t enough. After climbing the Mountain of Impossibility you reach the top only to discover it is in fact, impossible. The finish line is close and clearly seen. There is victory in the fight, but not in the battle. The battle is over and you stand defeated.

But not hopeless. Raylene is a believer and will soon be able to ask Jesus the question she must’ve asked herself a 1,000 times – why. Sometimes I sure it was out of anger, at times –despair, and still other times in awe, but the question was always the same. Why. And He will tell her. For reasons we can not fathom, He will tell her how her fight was used to show other’s Hope.

Three weeks. No more springs, no more summers, no more falls. There will be no more camping trips, summer vacations or family reunions. There is only today. It is all any of us are ever given. Today. That is all she has. That is all I have. Today.

The room around me buzzes with young family chatter. My boys play and laugh and fight. Three weeks. Today. How much I take things for granted. How many times today have I forgotten to acknowledge the moment I am in? Or worse, wished for it to be over. What did I do, or how did I enjoy the day I was given today?

Three weeks. Today. Celebrate the life given. Today.