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.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lake Padden Ice Breaker - A New Athlete Emerges

Melting snow dripped from the roof of the picnic shelter nestled along the side of the lake.  Looking at the blue sky, one would find it hard to believe falling snow had replaced the pouring rain at some point in the night.    Waiting for the start of the race the snow had all but melted.  A chill in the air showed the sun's deceiving side. 

Two senior students at the high school centered their Senior Project around directing a race.  A local track club, boasting some of the brightest local talent, had several members doing strides as a warm up to the race.  Many of the rest of us were classmates, parents and school supporters.

A voice calls out to line up at the starting line, which to the passerby would look like nothing more than a line drawn in the gravel path but to us it marked a beginning.  Instructions were given concerning the trail we would be running on, as well as other race specific details.

I am slightly apprehensive about this course as the trail could prove to be a little difficult for my recovering ankle sprain.  My 10 year old son Dane is standing next to me and smiling.  He tells me he is nervous.  Only the night before had he announced to me he wanted to run the race with me.  Although very excited to share in his first race with him, I knew he had yet to ever run more than a mile.  I mentally went from 'race' to 'run' mode fully prepared to take walk breaks during the 2.6 mile course. 

I underestimated my son.

Someone yells, "GO!" and we are off.  The local track club immediately surges ahead with their race pace while the rest of us fall behind.  I look down at my Garmin and notice our 7:40 pace, I tell Dane we are going out too fast and we need to pull back.  His excitement keeps the pace strong.  Knowing the approaching hills would slow us down, I let him continue to lead us.

As expected, the hills are upon us and the pace slows.  We hit the mile mark and we are running amidst the trees on the back side of the lake.  He is doing well and I encourage him by explaining where each hill crests and he can try and catch his wind.  The mother in me silently concerned about his asthma.

We are now at the highest point of the course and I tell Dane it is all downhill from here.  We are about half way through the course and his pace is strong.  His big smile has been swallowed by determination.  I recognize the struggle in his eyes.  His focus sharpens.  Is he really only 10?  As we pass by spots where family memories have been made, I remind him of them in hopes it distracts him enough. 

My watch chirps 2 miles.  We have yet to walk.  Dane has yet to mention taking a break.  With only 0.6 miles to go I realize with excitement he is more than capable to run the entire distance for the first time in his life.  I break the course down into sections and fill Dane's ears with things like, "At that bend we...", "Once we get to...", "Right there is....".  It seems to be working.

Running now in a clearing, I notice the sun has hidden behind February's winter clouds.  Snowflakes start to fall.  Dane tells me his hands are cold.  As a mother I scold myself for not thinking of gloves for him.

I remind him Dad and his older brother are at the finish line ready to take his picture.  Dennis had promised to take Dane to Starbucks for a smoothie if he would be sure to run the last stretch into the finisher's shoot to ensure a great picture.  Wait until he finds out he has run the entire distance.

Knowing we have less than a quarter mile to go, I tell Dane we are going to pick up the pace so he can finish strong.

"I can't.  It's too hard"

"Yes you can.  Don't think. Stay right on my shoulder and just follow my lead."


Although he has proven himself capable, I ease off and follow his lead.  Not much later, I see the finish line.  In excitement I exclaim, "There it is Dane!  There is your very first finish line!!". 

The smile returned.  He has found the energy to pick up his pace.  I watch him take off and finish strong.  Parental pride is seeping from my pores.  Coming in right behind him I find him doubled over catching his breath.

"You did it buddy.  You did it! You ran the entire 2.6 miles!  How do you feel?"

"I want to puke."

I can not contain my laughter.  "Congratulations honey, that means you raced it." 

Later that day while we were alone, I asked him about his race.  As a marathoner, I knew the places he had to dig to finish strong, to finish a distance you just gained a deep respect for and I was curious as to what had driven him.

"Dane, when the run got difficult and you wanted to quit but you didn't, when every ounce of you told you to walk, what was it that kept you going?  What kept you running?"


And with that I laugh as he just proved more than he'll ever know, that he is my son. 


Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Rain

My tires cause the puddle to spray up and over the side of my car.  Several times through the night the rain fell with such intensity the sound of it hitting the skylight woke me.  Now the rain fell in a heavy mist; the mist so thick it concealed the stoplight ahead as if it were enshrouded with an early September fog.
The roads were quiet.  I was greeted by only a handful of cars as I made my way into town.  Turning down the parkway, I look for my friends as they were running more miles than I would and I knew this road was to be a  part of their route.  A short time later, I see the glow of their reflective rain jackets as my headlights illuminated them.  I honk and wave as I drive by.
Winter’s rains had swollen the creek close to overflowing.  The rushing current gave evidence to the amount of rain which had fallen.  Two deer stand huddled at the side of the creek, blending in perfectly with the naked trees and shrubs around them.  Their stance tells me they seem chilled from the rain.

I park my car up the hill and wait for my friends on a corner of downtown.  In a short time, I see them and recognize each one by their gait.  I can tell who is in the group before I can see their faces.  Brad, Pat, Arlane, Melissa and Kathy make it up the hill and meet me where I stand.  I catch their rhythm and we disappear on to the Interurban Trail.  Already running for an hour, they are wet and miserable.  I feel guilty for having dry shoes.
We wind our way to the edge of the ocean.  A large light shines in the distance out on the ocean, its source hidden in the misty rain.  Everyone assumes it is a boat, but no one can tell for certain.  The grey of the wet mist erases the line on the horizon separating ocean from sky; the two blend perfectly.  The ocean swallows the rain and slowly lulls the ducks on it’s waves.
 No one sees the puddle until its too late, the coldness taking us by surprise and we all leap, scream and splash.  I no longer have guilt or dry shoes.  I am now wholeheartedly part of the group, my initiation complete.
The canopy of trees does little to keep us dry.  The mist collects heavily on the tree’s branches and falls in big drops as we run underneath.  Each of our hats drip rain from the brim.  We pass time talking of Melissa’s incredibly warm trip to Texas the week before.   Each of us longing for summer and looking forward to spring arriving shortly.
Kathy and I turn and head back toward the city while the others forge ahead to ensure they get their mileage.  Coming off an injury, it is the first time in weeks Kathy and I run together.  We seemingly pick up right where we left off so many weeks ago.   We talk, we laugh, we make our way down the trail. 
The only others out in these weather conditions are fellow runners.  Each one is greeted with enthusiasm, as if we all belong to secret society of hard core endurance, or of crazy – one can’t be too sure.  Although we are soaked to the bone, the only thing we look forward to is a hot shower.

We maneuver our way through the alleyways as careful as we can to avoid the rivers of rains running through them.   It is futile and we splash through the moving water.  Our watches chirp the end of another mile and we walk the remainder few feet to the car.  Finally, it is over.
These are the training runs to remember.   The building of endurance comes not only in the miles but also in the conditions.  You teach your body to run further, and your mind to endure.  The sun brings heat, the clouds bring rain and we run through it all.  We may not like it, but we always appreciate it.  There are more miles to run, and we are blessed to be able to run them.  Even in the rain.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Green Stone

Walking to the mailbox on a grey and drizzly day, a round, green stone caught my eye.  I picked it up and lose myself in the touch of its smoothness.  The color was so beautiful, so vibrant and so green I had to take the stone with me back to my desk. 

After some time had passed I noticed the rock was no longer it's brilliant shade of green.  A smile came upon my face as I realized it was the rain that made the small stone such a vibrant hue.  So to is God's handiwork in me; this is the hope I received today.  Today God reminded me even though I may feel trodden under foot and rained upon, my essence is still there. 

And at times, it is in the rain that He makes me shine more brilliantly.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Cancer brought them together.  As strangers they sat a chair apart while the chemotherapy dripped slowly into their veins.  Then one spoke to the other and in an instant a friendship was born; an eternal friendship.

Their cancers were different, but the fight the same.  A fight against something unseen with very visible effects.  Mom and Trudy understood the other perfectly; words were not necessary between them.  Their silence could speak of the fears dared not to be uttered.

Laughter often rose above their conversations bringing them both feelings of peace and joy.  Positive people by nature they both knew cancer may be their battle, but it would not rob them of their life.  There isn't a coffee shop in town that hadn't lost a table for an entire afternoon when they got together, and with it their light hearted laughter would be heard.

Small gifts for the other gave tokens of encouragement.  A flower, a card, a bottle of wine were reminders they had someone who understood; a friend who thought of the other and prayed for them daily.  Mom and Trudy were never alone. 

Mom could only watch as Trudy's cancer got stronger; the fight making her weaker.  As the battle got harder, Mom visited her friend often.   She called the house this morning to ask what time she should come visit her friend.  Trudy's daughter told Mom the news you pray against but know you will one day hear.  Trudy's fight is over.

A short time later, there is a knock at the door.  Mom wipes her tears and opens the door. A bouquet of flowers is handed to her by a couple from church.  Unaware of Mom's loss, they had randomly picked up the flowers and simply thought Mom would like them.  But Mom knew.  She knew in a way that only God can do, Trudy was speaking to her again without words; the flowers a final gift from Trudy.

Cancer brought them together and cancer separates them now.  Trudy is no longer a phone call away.  While Trudy is now cancer free, Mom is left to fight her fight without her friend at her side.  Yet Mom rejoices, for she knows the next time she sees Trudy they will both be free of that which brought them together.   The streets will be gold and the flowers, well, they will be plenty.