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.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Best Family Photo

Pictures are powerful.  Countless times I have flipped through my children's albums to find when I've closed the book I have a smile as wide as Texas plastered on my face.  I can easily list the pictures that bring tears to my eyes as well as the ones that make my heart swell with pride.

However, The World Through My Shoes is a blog about running (well, mostly) and today I came across one of the best running photos I could possibly own.  Every single time I see it, I find that silly grin on my face, a tear in my eye and a throat coming dangerously close to swelling shut.  You can feel the joy in the picture.

While pictures are worth a thousand words, I do feel I need to give you the story behind this particular picture.  Lucky for you, it shouldn't take a thousand words.  Or it may.  We'll just have to wait and see what my word count says.

Though the picture is from last year, the story starts a couple years prior.  In 2010, after running by myself for 6 years I decided to join a running group.  Our local USA Fit  Bellingham chapter included an Advanced Training Program (ATP) designed to take your marathon running to the next level and increase your speed regardless of where you were currently at.  As nervous as I was - and despite how inadequate I felt - I signed up and quickly realized it was one of the best athletic decisions I could make as an adult. 

I found myself surrounded with authentic people living busy lives and all with focused determination to improve. Encouragement is plentiful and slacking is not tolerated. Logging miles together I had found a kinship with these runners, I had found a family.

June 2011 several of us decided to run the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon.  A majority of us running the half marathon, while some running the full.  This course is not an easy course with it's urban setting and rolling hills, yet we were all there to give it our best shot and leave it all out on the course.

Personally it was a strong race for me with my time being 2 minutes 8 seconds off of my half marathon personal best.  Karen had hurt herself out on the course and despite the pain, we waited for Kathy to complete the 26.2 mile course; both Karen and Kathy being fellow ATP members.  Kathy crossed the finish line and we all made plans to meet in downtown Seattle after showers and changing of clothes.

I'm getting to the good part.  I promise.

With so many of us gathering together for a celebration dinner, a barrage of text messages went back and forth while we all tried to pin point where each of us were in downtown.  While we were parking our car, Kathy calls my phone.

"Where you at?"  Kathy quizzes me.

"We are parking the car and then heading into Nordstrom to pick something up.  Where are you?"

"Karen and I will meet you there."

"What's going on?  I can see your smile through the phone..."

Kathy promptly hung up on me. What. The. Heck.

I am now standing outside of the happiest place on earth - Nordstrom's shoe department - when Kathy and Karen come around the corner.  Before I complete the sentence, "What is going on?" Kathy smiles and blurts out "I qualified for Boston".

Instant tears were in the eyes of Kathy, Karen and myself.  Security guards with guns drawn sprint their way over to verify what the screaming could mean.  (That may be stretching the truth just a tad).  While still hugging and crying and squealing, my husband says, "Let's get a picture." 

And the best family photo in the world's history was taken.

Myself, Kathy & Karen.
You can feel the joy in this picture can't you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Soldier

It's Memorial Day and the sun feels good on my face.  The top is down on my car and I am taking the back roads to home; enjoying my mid-morning drive through quiet city streets.

My friends and I met at the town's college track for an intense speed workout early in the morning.  After some warm up miles, we hit the track for 4 miles of 60 second sprints followed by 60 seconds of slow.  Hitting my correct pace grew more difficult with each sprint, which intesified the feeling of happiness after nailing each one.  As we ran our cool down miles our conversations centered on who was going to do what the remainder of the holiday.  We had no problem keeping the pace easy.

The light was red and I sit in my car enjoying not only the sun's rays, but also the tremendous feeling of accomplishment that comes from such a hard workout.  In a few short hours our yard would be filled with friends and family, the smell of burgers on the barbeque and a campfire in the fire pit.  The burger and beer I'd have was definitely earned this morning.

Once the light changes to green, I turn making my way past the cemetary nestled in the hillside.   Something catches my eye.  I slow my car down and watch.  Standing at attention, a lone soldier stood saluting a tombstone.  His dress blues are a stark contrast to the grey of the tombstones and the green of the grass.  The white of his hair peeked from underneath the brim of his hat.

Who was this aged soldier and to whom was he saluting?  A fellow combat warrior in which they had shared battles?  A father showing his son respect or his daughter honor?  Or was this a son saluting his fallen father in which time had aged him but not the memory? 

I will never know, but what I was watching from afar changed me.  A brief moment ago, my day was about friends, family, and barbeques; now I felt a twinge of shame.  The day was set aside to honor the protectors and fighters of freedom and I had forgotten.  I had made the day about me and not the memory of the those who sacrificed their very lives.

Tears well up in my eyes as I witness this most sacred moment of a soldier and a tombstome.  Gratitude fills my heart; I pray for those serving, those who have served and those who died while serving.  For it is now reminded me, it is me who they serve. 

The sun is shining, the top is down on my car and I can now feel the freedom in the air; a freedom that was never free and in which I have always known.

Thank you soldier.