Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Year on the horizon

Wow! Another month has passed and we are at the edge of a new year, new decade. This has been a sweet month of celebrations with family and friends, both near and far. Isn't that what Christmas is? A month of celebrations. For me, it culminated in our Christmas Eve birthday party for Jesus and a small candle service to show each of us how Christ's light shines in us and then lights up the world. It was powerful to watch my kids catch on!

But now as we turn the page on a new year, I am full of thoughts on what we have just encountered and what is yet to come. On Sunday, as we looked through the paper together, I had to explain to J the number one event of this decade, 9/11. It was remarkable to notice that his world is colored by an event that he wasn't here for and he will never know a world without the implications of that attack or the wars that followed. In fact, many of the top events of this decade were negative events and sometimes its hard to open a child's eyes to sin and suffering.

However, this life we live now is sweet and full of promise--the promise that comes from newly acquired skills, budding talents and dreams, and the sound of a toddler's contagious giggle. Reflecting on this past year, I have the following observations (i wanted to be cool and come up with a Letterman-like top 10, but I don't have that much time to plan)

1) I can do just about anything! Proof positive: I ran a marathon (oh yeah, next year in under 5 hours!)
2) Praise Jesus I am simply called to love (and not condemn) the broken people around me, because I am broken just like them.
3) I am rather undisciplined, but I'm working on it.
4) Marriage is pretty tough stuff, but when you are committed to your sweet husband, and he to you, you do the hard work!
5) Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart, yet I am becomming convinced that it is worth every moment of agonizingly painful hard work.
6) Somewhere in my soul, a crafty person is lurking, waiting for the moment to break free and create stuff.
7) Friends alway seem to come at just the right time with just the right word of encouragment. Thanks, friends.
8) My God, my Lord, my Saviour, my friend. It is good to be His.

May your 2010 be full of love and blessing, just as your 2009 was.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ahh, it's quiet in this house. Actually it has been quiet here for a few hours--OG is asleep and Eric took the other two to deliver Thanksgiving baskets for church. That means I have had enough time to sit and chill and think without being exhausted. . .so now I am here, to share with you (aren't you lucky!)

Wonder why there hasn't been any evidence of me in the blogging world for the past month? Well, it's because my life has been chaotic and until this past week, I didn't realize that there was anything that could be done for it. Most of it is normal chaos--a house with three young, energetic kids, a husband with an unpredictable job, toys everywhere. But some of the chaos had to do with homeschool.

I can hear it now. You think, "I knew it, it was going to be too much for her and now she's in over her head" Ha, Ha on you! No, schooling itself is good--I even really enjoy having my kids home (most days). But it is a crazy time. I have a son who loves the idea of school but when it is school time fights with everything that I have to do--like even the M&M matching game (it's too boring). I have a middle child who wants to do whatever her big brother is doing, even though it really doesn't interest her or is at her level of understanding. And a youngest who is bored--and when she is bored, it's like having Godzilla in your house. We'd be on the floor with a project and she'd jump on my back and be a monkey, or if we were at the table, she would be dumping random things all over the floor. This was not the way that I pictured homeschooling.

Because of a crazy few weeks, I had hit my explosion point. Then a few God-sends--some loving friends, a system of organization that I am working on, and a plan to pull me out of the muck and into a somewhat calmer day. And after a few days, it is working. I have more patience. OG is getting her own thing, and overall the house is a more peaceful place!

What have I done?

1) Instituted Tot School. Yep, OG has 20 minutes of dedicated time where we do things just for her. Today we read a story about roaring lions and played with some Africa animals.
2) Everyone has work during table time now. I purchased these handy little buckets at target and fill them with 3 activities for the girls and 4-5 assignments for J. So far so good. OG & K feel like they have their own school and J knows what he has to do and what is expected of him. The only complaint--not enough in J's bucket--which I'll give him, but building up activities for such takes time and energy.

3)Mandatory quiet time every day! One hour is enough to give me time to breath/sit/sleep/whatever! I am much more willing to tackle the rest of my day.

And the result? I'm not sure yet. But if I get more moments like this one, I will know it's worth it. In fact I already do! (It's J reading a book to OG--he's actually reading it! We're very proud!)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lessons from Others

I think that this may be close to the end of the marathon momma posts for a while (you know, until next year) but I felt that there were still two things left to record of this journey. One is completely humbling, the other totally pragmatic.
First we'll start with humbling. I have been humbled by the outpouring of love given to me for completing this race. I never knew--and on those days when I feel that the whole world is against me, I will do my best to remember all the people who called, sent cards, asked and listened to me repeat my experience. And even more humbling and eye opening to me has been the lessons and experiences that other people have related to me about their lives in following my marathon goal in my life. And although I may not say your names, know that I am deeply grateful to each of you for sharing your hearts about my journey.

  • A dear friend of mine spent the last three weeks of my training on her own journey--traveling to and working in an orphanage in Lesthoto, Africa. The trip was life changing and heart rending and she will never be the same for that experience. But on her return home, she told me it was my journey that brought tears to my eyes--the determination and inner strength that it took to complete a hard task. I am humbled.
  • Another friend mentioned that this was inspiring because I am "every woman" in that I honestly had to juggle home, kids, husband's job and life in general. There were days when I didn't want to run, when I had to make myself. I am not a super athlete, like my brother or sister-in-law or my dad. This kind of endurance is not natural to me. Yet, I did it. Hmm, I wonder if there is some sort of life lesson in that?
  • A homeschool mom related a lot of my marathon day experience to the Christian walk (and even talked with her kids about it). She talked with them about how hard it was for me to be alone on the journey--how much harder the effort was, but also how much burden was relieved when I traveled with others of like mind and like goal. How true that is for the Christ-following life. It really is easier to follow Christ when you are surrounded by people who are also striving towards the same goal, it is also much easier to fail if you are depended mostly on your own strength.
  • And yes, the marathon closely mirrors the pregnancy/birth experience. You wait and work and get excited for a long time leading up to the main event. And then it comes and you are excited and nervous and anxious. But your preparation has paid off, you are aware of the route, the pain, the highs and lows, even though you haven't yet experienced them . And then there is the moment you cross the finish line and all the pain and work of the previous 26.2 miles is forgotten in mind and you savor the victory. There are two places where the two experiences depart, however. First, the drugs available for childbirth are much better than those suggested for running a marathon. Second although your whole body hurts after both childbirth and a marathon, you only get a free pass to sit on the couch for more than a day with childbirth. Despite the need to recoup your muscle health and strength, you have to be up and hobbling pretty quick.
  • And finally, life is much better when I don't focus on me. God's call to service extends beyond my home and family and shows up in unexpected places--mile 25. And when I can focus on helping others succeed and manage their own feelings and pain, I am much better at dealing with my own issues, they aren't nearly as important as others. Even when I think I am in a race just for me.

Monday, October 19, 2009


So I did it! Can you believe it? Well, I can, but it is a little surreal--I worked very hard for an event that lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes for me and now it is done. I guess that I would feel differently at this moment. . .

Yesterday was a great day. Most of the time was pretty fun. I actually enjoyed myself for 22.2 out of 26.2 miles. Not bad for the first time out. The day started early as I saw a friend who "runs" with Team Triumph off for an early start at 7:30. The marathon started quite promptly at 8:00 a.m. and I decided to run with a pace team (a group led by experienced marathoners who keep a specific pace in order to allow you to reach your goal time)--The Inconvenient Pace Team whose goal was to come in ahead of Al Gore's marathon time of 4:58. It was great for me--good pace, not too fast, sometimes it felt too slow. But there was a lot of energy. At the beginning of the marathon there were 6pacers and about 30 runners with this group. Lots of chatting and fun. Encouragement from everyone along the way. I ran most of it, not needing many of my usual walking breaks. When the Half marathoners made their turn, out group was pretty demolished--suddenly there were only 3 pacers and maybe 8 runners. For part of the run, along the backside of the Millenium Park Lake, it was great--we were exchanging stories about our first marathons, how we came to this marathon, starts and stops we had along the way with our training. It felt really, really good. But I digress. . .
The day was great--and after much thought, I was dressed perfectly. I was comfortable for almost the entire race (except when it suddenly got sunny for about 20 minutes) I had my "Marathon Momma" shirt on and was proud to be out there, feeling strong and capable. Eric and the kids (and wonderful Yoli) were there to see me off at 8:00 a.m.--and then they caught me again at mile 8, they tried and barely missed me at mile 10, met me again at about mile 12 1/2 (where we finished the very meager hills--seriously!) and again at mile 17. Of course they were there to see me in at the end. But it was a long time between mile 17 and mile 26.2 and of course, a lot happened then.
I was going great for a while--I had to make a quick stop around mile 6--it set me back a few minutes, but over the next mile or two I was able to make it back and run with the pace team again. Phew. Things were good for a while. We crossed an old converted railway over the grand river and began the long stretch (at least that's what I'm calling it). And Although I wasn't super excited to see all the turn arounds on the map, I sure was glad to see all the runners on the course. We ran all the way to Wilson and back and as we were travelling those first few miles, we saw others returning. That was encouraging. I saw a friend of mine who was running his second marathon in 3 weeks (crazy, but inspired).

Then, DOOOM! I had to make a second pit stop, this time in the woods (remember people, at this point I have been running for 15 miles--just about 3 hours and drinking water--I've had three babies, I don't have super bladder anymore!) Even thought this stop was shorter, I didn't have the extra that it took to catch all the way back up. I got very, very close--by that time at about 19 miles. I managed to stay close for the next while--trying to run for 10 minutes before walking, but I started getting slower and slower and my feet started to hurt more and more and I needed to walk a little bit more than I wanted to and at about mile 22 I lost sight of the Pace team. And that really bummed me out.

The back stretch of the marathon felt like it had some long lonely miles and although I was not all the way at the end of the racers, I was pretty alone. And there was no one around to cheer me one or give me a needed boost of encouragement. Those were some pretty tough miles. Honestly, I never wanted to quit. I never stopped moving. And sometimes my walk or run did not feel like it was very fast. However, I was starting to get very tired and I just wanted to take a nap. Then I got to the point where slowing down to a walk hurt--my muscles needed to keep moving, but my motivation to keep running was waning.

As I headed back into the city, about mile 24--I knew I was almost there and my resolve picked up--there were more people around, I could see more runners (who were also struggling). Just after mile 25 I came across Michelle who started the race with me and when I had previously last seen her, was running strongly ahead of me with the pace team. She is a 42 year old woman running her first marathon. But when I saw her, she definitely wasn't running, in fact she was barely walking. Turns out around mile 22, her knee gave out on her, completely buckled, but she was absolutely determined to finish this race. She saw a volunteer who offered her help, but then she saw and recognized me--and said she wanted to finish the race with me. So I put my arm around her and she around me and we hobbled off. She jogged as she was able (with tears streaming down her face) She was so disappointed, but she wanted to make it in, so we did--she told me not to let medical pull her from the race, so that didn't happen. We walked a while and jogged the last 1/3 mile in--down winter street, from the time you turned the corner and could see the Start/Finish line. From time to time her knee would give out and we would hobble along some more.

Lest you think that I was some super great Samaritan, I later realized that I needed her too. I was feeling pretty crummy about myself--I hurt, I was not completing as strongly as I wanted to. If I was very honest I would say I really wanted to come in under 5 hours, but was prepared for a time around 5:15--ohh, but I wanted 5 hours. I was excited for the first 2/3 of the race that that was actually a possibility. Since I had figured out that wasn't going to happen, I started to be disappointed in me, in my ability to withstand the pain that comes with long miles. And then there was Michelle--something else to focus my attention on. A goal of helping her in was far more worthy than any pity party I could have for myself. So although she called me her angel, I think it was the opposite that was true.
As we neared the start finish I saw my fantastic family waiting for me, all bundled up with signs and love. Josh and Olivia started to run in with me. Olivia did a pretty good job of keeping up--but Josh crossed the Finish line with me and Michelle. I received my hug from Marathon Don and my sweet medal. And wiped away my own tears. I did it. I am a marathoner!

Last night, Eric was a sweetheart and did most everything, including making me a steak dinner. We had a ceremony to add the 26.2 magnet to the van (i am marathon momma, after all!) I drank my celebratory beer and slept soundly all night (thanks, pain meds!). Today, I walk like an old woman who has aches in her knees, feet and hips. The stairs are a beast and I cringe at the thought of walking up and down them.

But you know what? I am already planning on coming in faster than Al Gore next year. Bring it 2010!

Hmmm, could this be this year's Christmas card?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thoughts for this journey

Forgive me if I think too much, but. . .

In a couple days I will run and complete my first (of hopefully many) marathon. While I am looking forward to that moment, of finishing, of completion, I don't want to gloss over what the journey that has brought me to this point has taught me.

Even if I am not successful in finishing, I have learned so much in training for this marathon that I would consider this and valuable exercise--just the training and learning of the whole process.

So what have I learned? Glad you asked.
  • The journey has been instructive. I have learned that I can rise to the challenge of a difficult task.
  • I will no longer feel bad if my goals make someone else uncomfortable--whether they don't like it or it makes them feel bad or don't understand it. This is my goal and I can be proud of it.
  • I have a horrible time trying to decide what to wear for cool weather runs.
  • Lots of runners make pit stops in the woods. Some even carry extra toilet paper for such stops. A bathroom is not always accessible. This is called Runner's Trots--a lot of runners have them. Get used to it.
  • However, don't expect that people really can't see you in the woods if you are wearing a day-glo orange/pink/white runner shirt. They probably can.
  • There is no shame in walking during the duration of your run. Don't believe me--in a 3.5 hour run, I walked for a total of 23 minutes, which means that I "only" ran for 3 hours and 7 minutes. That still counts in my book!
  • I can run that far by myself.
  • However, I shouldn't spend too much time running without some sort of noise to think on--my own thoughts will get me into trouble. Hence, the love I have developed for NPR podcasts!
  • And after running for that long, food, Tylenol and a nap on a couch are definitely things you need.
  • I have a ton of people behind me and I am incredibly grateful and humbled by that.
  • I like to run--slowly, to be sure--but I like the feeling and the rhythm of a run, the strength that I feel in my muscles and body, and the way I feel for accomplishing something.
  • This has been hard work, but very good work. It has taken time, dedication, effort, patience, a financial commitment, and the support of many people. The work has been hard, but so worth it.
  • I can hit a stumbling block, respond rationally and take the appropriate steps, and then bounce back. Case in point--I hurt my foot, didn't quit, and am up and running again. I think I would have regretted not getting back out on the road.
  • The 9 a.m. hour is busy around Reed's Lake on a Saturday morning.
  • I can run mileage. Already I know I can travel 18 miles on my own two feet. I will never again balk at the the sound of difficulty of a distance.
  • Perspective has come to my forefront--although this marathon and all the things around it have been important to me, it is not more important than so many other worthy things, like my friend who just spent three weeks serving orphans in Africa. That is a worthy goal.
  • God has been a part of this journey. He has answered direct, specific prayers, as well as general prayers. He has given me strength and desire. I hope I have already made Him proud. I hope He is proud of me on Sunday.

I think I could go on. But I wanted to record these before I am overcome with the feelings that come with finishing this journey. The past 20 weeks have been important for me. For the first time I have set a hard goal and worked hard towards it. Have I worked hard enough? I suspect that I could have done more, been better, but although it is important, this marathon is not my whole life--I still have a fantastic husband and wonderful kids and a home to care for. For that I am truly grateful

Sunday, October 11, 2009

In one week. . .

I will be sitting on my couch
being waited on hand and foot
loaded up with tylenol and perhaps a special drink
to commemorate and celebrate

My first marathon
Run and Completed!

Sunday, October 18th at 8 a.m. is start time!
I finish with my head held high no matter my time!

Good Luck me!\

(Don't I just look like a runner with fantastic form?)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Injury, what injury?

Yep, you read right. In a glorious answer to prayers for an explicitly clear answer--all my tests came back negative and my first real run in 2 1/2 weeks was done with no pain or injury! Yipee!!

All in all, I visited my primary doc and then a sports doctor (who was fantastic and got me into the office in less than 24 hours). My x-rays came back clear, but Dr. K was still concerned about the foot. ( i think he suspected a stress fracture, for the way that he spoke and handled the foot). He ordered and MRI that happened on Sunday (another answer to a specific prayer). He called me with the results this morning, after I returned from my first real run since my foot started to hurt. It was completely clear. No marks of anything. Whatever was ailing me is gone! God is so good!

And now, in the next 10 days, its time to get ready for the Grand Rapids Marathon--I need to try and regain some shape--I lost lung capacity with my cold and fine toning with the layoff and also to start preparing mentally, to tell myself and believe that I can run 26.2 miles next week Sunday. And I think I can. Many of my running friends have encouraged me by saying if I can get to the 18 miles that I did, I absolutely have the ability to complete 26.

If you said a prayer for me in the past few weeks, thanks. I appreciate your support.

Now, I'll see you at the finish line. . .

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Running Recap

Funny title, eh?

I actually did no running this week, no actual physical activity at all for the first time in 17 weeks. Becuase I'm sick. Great week to take one off.

And I still have a bum foot.

The official diagnosis is that I have irritated a ligament on the outside of my right foot--and I have permission to run when it feels like it can. And although the pain is better today than it was at the beginning of the week, my foot aches after I have been walking on it too long and my limp becomes quite obvious. I have serious doubts as to whether I will be able to run 26 miles in 21 days. Maybe I will be able to get to 10 or 12 miles again before the race, but I don't want to ruin my foot over this--it has been hard enough to get around this past week.

I don't know what to do. Part of me says that I should keep going and try and run and then keep shooting for the marathon. Part of me wants to throw in the towel because I would rather not run the risk.

And I am not even sure what and who to trust for words of guidance. This week will be the telling week. The Dr. said that I could get on a bike anytime that I wanted to to keep my physical level up--sure, can do and that I could start running as I felt I could do it without pain, Is three weeks really enough time to allow a ligament to heal? This is question that I don't know the answer to. And honestly, it would be emotionally easier to back out now and shoot for next year instead of starting the race and having to pull out halfway through for a hurt foot.

But then again, sometimes I think too much.

And I think that this is one of those times.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So it's off to the Dr. I go tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon to get my foot checked out, perhaps even x-rays.

I fear it's a stress fracture, but will know tomorrow afternoon.

I will either be very relieved or very sad.

We'll see which one tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ACK! Four weeks and counting. . .

This post comes to you in a time of frustration.
1) I am sick enough to not want to do anything at all, but not sick enough to lay around all day.
2) I am dealing with some sort of foot injury.
And that is really, really crummy.

This past week, I had a couple nice runs and ran 18 miles on Saturday morning. That was really cool. It started quite early--6 a.m. The stars were still out. I saw Orion, the dippers and other stars I haven't seen in quite a while. I watched the sun rise over Reed's Lake. It is phenomenal to watch God paint the sky and start a new day with his creative palette. I saw the darkness turn suddenly to light when the sun crossed the horizon. That was fantastic.

The run went pretty smoothly. I took a little aspirin before my run and I felt no pain from my knee (which I now know not to do). That was fabulous.

What wasn't fabulous? Well, I didn't have enough food with me and when you run for three hours, you are in need of real food. The granola bar that I had with me was not nearly enough. I didn't have the chance to buy a super protein/calorie bar, so I had to make do with one of the kid's cheap ones. Don't be fooled, there is a definite difference in quality and ability to fuel an athlete.

I was doing pretty good until I was on the backside of Reed's lake (again) I had covered about15 miles, had less than 3 to go. And the mental game got to me--I was hungry, I needed a bathroom in a desperate way, and I didn't know what to do. I called Eric and seriously considered having him come and pick me up. I wanted to quit. For real. But I didn't, I kept going, I found a quiet woody place in a park, and found the gumption to make it home. But then found out, I was just a hair shy of 18 miles--I mis-remembered my run route.

In the end I am pretty proud of my time for my 18 miles--just over 3:30 (3:34 to be exact) and think that with the lessons that I am learning, I could make a pretty good first showing at the Grand Rapids Marathon (less than 1 month away!)

But that's if my foot heals.

Starting Sunday afternoon, I noticed it hurt to walk. By the end of the day I had a noticeable and significant limp on my right side. I can't figure out what is causing the pain--it's probably an overuse injury that requires rest to heal. I hope that it is not a stress fracture. And this is my conundrum: I don't want to quit too easily chalking it up to a bum foot, but I also don't want to injure myself in a more serious way. I am giving my foot a few-day break and am shooting for a short run on Thursday. If that goes well, I am scheduled for a 20 mile run (my longest before the marathon) with the Grand Rapids Running Club on Saturday morning.

But right now I am frustrated. I have come so far. I don't want to quit--but I am also not a big fan of persistent pain that I don't know where it comes from or how to get rid of it.

I am hoping that this is one of those bumps that turns into a turning point/motivational lesson/God's provision that propels me through to the end. We shall see. . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Running on Empty in Utah

A quick minute to tell you about running in Utah.

It SUCKED! It was really, really, really, really hard.

5,000 feet in altitude change and running in the foothills of the Wasatch mountains really makes a significant difference.

I took two runs--a 3.2 miler and a 10 miler that turned into a 6 miler. (I have never quit that early in a run before) Yeah, so first I ran up hill for a long time, then I ran across the hill for a while and then I went back down the hill. That was three miles. Add some extra ups and downs and then you have the 6 mile.

My lungs weren't working right, my heart was pumping out of my chest and my legs felt like lead. And I was so tired from the running. The change in oxygen made a real difference. I am looking forward to a run tomorrow to make me feel like Super-Runner.

Because that often happens.

For those who might wonder, the rest of the trip was fun. Josh and I hung out--with my family, in the mountains, at Toys-r-us, at the zoo, and at a working copper mine. (Guess which part was Josh's favorite?) But we are definitely both glad to be home.

Oh, and this weekend we are gearing up for 18 miles.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Running Recap

Qucik, before I run out the door to catch my flight to salt lake with Josh, I thought that I would catch up on the running stuff.

Yes, I am still running and I am heading into the final stretch. Although my run for this weekend is supposed to be 18 miles, I will soon find myself in an oxygen depleted environment (My parent's in Salt Lake live about 5,000 ft), so I don't trust my ability to do that much.

So, Saturday will find me running about 10 miles up and down the Foothills. As I map my route, I can picture most of it and find one major problem--severly limited access to public restrooms and/or heavily wooded areas. This could be a major issues, so I am continually rethinking the route in my head. Lately it's been an issue even for my 3 mile runs! Yikes.

Other than that, running is well, if just a bit undertrained. Yep, I'm averaging 2-3 runs a week, most of them short mileage--2-4 miles and the one big run. In the past week I've run

tuesday--2.75 miles (26:53)
Saturday --9.5 miles (1:45)
Wednesday--3.2 miles (34:30)

Plans are for 3-4 miles tomorrow (Friday) morning to adjust to hills and altitude, 10 miles on Sautrday and another 3-4 on Monday before coming home and prepping for 18 next Saturday (19th) and 20 the following Saturday (26th). We're almost there! These distances are mind boggling and I am slow, but I am confident that if I plod along, i can do this!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Canning, Camping & More--The end of summer edition

Wow, I can't believe that summer is over already. I think I am echoing many other sentiments when I say, it was a good one. I have so much to post, that you should get to see/know, that this is going to be largely a visual edition. So, enjoy.

Canning: been doing a bunch of that lately, some even with kids help. Here, they are helping me peel tomatoes that we can to use during winter months. In this job, they were truly helpful!

And just some of the bounty. This is tomatoes and bread n butter pickles (a first for me!). Also included in this year's bounty is peaches, pears, 4 kinds of salsa, and lots of preserves. After I finish up the pears and peaches tonight, I am on canning hiatus until apple season.

I will say that all the canning I do gives me great respect for food and food processing, specifically in how much and how hard it is to prepare like this. It makes me much less willing to take the convenience of our food systems for granted, but also to realize how "expensive" good food is. (Also, for those of you who care, all the food that has been preserved is locally grown and purchased from local farmers, except for the pears, because they were picked off someone's tree!)

School: Yep, we're three weeks in and are getting the hang of school. My house, on the other hand, isn't really in the rotation yet! Anyway, last week, we focused on a book about Japan and had a great week learning all about Japan and Japanese culture. We topped the week off with a Japanese lunch, complete with sushi, green tea, edamame beans, tofu, ichiban noodles, sticky rice and these great little chewy candies. Great fun and food was enjoyed by all!

We finished our summer off by camping with some great friends. And it was an adventure. Our pop-up was first stuck in the mud and then it wouldn't pop-up. Our first official night of camping we set up in the dark because it ws past 9 p.m. when we finally got it up and the battery on the camper had died and consequently, we also didn't have any ability to add extra heat--and it was cold that night! We suffered through 5 bee stings and a few owies here and there. But it was a great time! There were dunes to climb, a lake to play near, roads to bike on, trees to mingle with, friends to talk with and a great fire to sit around. It was a great first camping experiece--I hope we have many more in the years to come.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week #13 Recap

Last night at 2:30 a.m. OG woke up crying from her teething--I hobbled out of bed and very painfully took her down the stairs (my knees and hips were a bit surprisingly sore). As I took her back up the stairs, my body complained, loudly. And I asked myself the question: "Why in the world am I doing this? To me? To my body? Exactly what am I trying to prove? Is it fair to do this to myself or my family? Is it worth it?"

And at 2:30 in the morning, I couldn't find a reasonable answer.

Honestly, even now, I can't find a really good answer. Why am I doing this? I don't know.

But I am.

This week's runs:
Monday: 3.06 miles
Wednesday: 2.5 miles (23:00 minutes--catch that? I ran about 9 minute miles for this run! It was fast and hard and great! My first mile was in 8:51! Thanks for the idea to do speed work!)
Saturday:15.6 miles (3:06:35)
Comments on Saturday's run:
  • I prayed that it wouldn't rain. I really didn't want to run in heavy rain again. And it didn't rain, although it was chilly.
  • Instead I got to watch the sun rise over Reeds Lake. Early in the morning, that was great inspiration and a reminder of the beauty in God's hand.
  • My run was supposed to be 16 miles. I had it mapped to 16.8. It was running from my house to East GR to Cascade and back home again. About halfway, I was gauging my distance and time and decided to turn around a wee bit early. Well, after remapping my actual run, well, I came in short. Crap. I honestly feel as though I need to do it again, just to say that I accomplished the 16 mile run that I was supposed to. I know, there are bigger distances coming, but I wanted this one, to say that I did it, that I never shorted a long run. But I did.
  • I have also done well mapping my long runs to conicide with a bathroom break about every 4-6 miles. No more potty stops in the woods for me, hopefully!
  • Finally, after a long run I was tired and sore and began to wonder if everyone is this tired and sore after a long run or if I am the anomaly and not the norm. But I spent most of the rest of the day on my feet--canning (more on that later), sorting out sibling fights and not sitting. I was beat by the end of the night. I am pretty sure that I fell asleep before 10 p.m. But you know, today (which is Sunday) wasn't too bad. I actually feel like I could do a short run if I had to! Whaddya think about that?
Upcoming in the near future is the fact that my next two Saturdays are sorta messed up with camping and traveling to Utah with J. I really don't want to run 18 miles in Salt Lake with the increased altitude and not having my encourager along. I'm sure I will find a way to fit it all in, I'm just not sure how yet--I still have three runs for this week (one while camping, I'm sure).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Week #11 & 12 Recap

Psss...I've got a secret.

You may not be able to tell, when you see me running down the street. Usually I look like one of those weekend warriors, but I'm not. Really, I'm not. I may not look as cool as the triathletes I see training on my Saturday morning run. I am pretty slow, I don't look like a runner.

But as all those other people pass me running down the road, I can smile because I know, that despite every expectation, I am a running, I am more than that.

I am a Marathoner!

Yep, I am! Believe it!

And so, here's the proof: a recap from the past two weeks
Tuesday--3.2 miles
Saturday--14.4 miles (2:55)
Tuesday-3.2 miles (34:54)
Thursday--3 miles (32:00)
Saturday--8.2 miles (1:27)

Total for those two weeks: 32 miles

Now I know that I am not running nearly as many miles as many others who are also training for a marathon--but I am aiming for completing, hopefully somewhere around 5 hours, and others I know are shooting for Personal Records. My PR will be finishing.

Upcoming this week is 16 miles on Saturday and this is where I knew I would begin to struggle. I can't even begin to conceptualize what it will mean to run 16 miles--I can't picture how far that really is nor how long it will really take me. in the next six weeks I will do 16, 18 and 20 mile runs in preparation for the real thing. This will make or break me--I am hoping that what happens is that I do battle with my will and I win, I complete these runs and have cemented within myself the understanding that I am capable, that really I can run a whole marathon (i've already paid the registration money, so I'd better be able to!)

And I'll take any joiners for any of those miles. See you on the road!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So how was that first day of school?

Well, I am so glad you asked. Because the school day on Monday morning was fine. It went well, even if I was a bit under prepared for the enthusiasm of my students. OG was playing with Yoli downstairs for most of the morning, so I just had J & K with me. We read a Bible story and a verse, we read our book for the week Madeline and talked about Paris, France and what in the world it might have in common with our town. (um, a river runs through it). That was where I was most unprepared because it would have been great thinking on my part to have a picture book on France available for us to look at, to give some concrete thought to the ideas--but no, so we struggled on. Afterwards, we did some writing practice and then some reading (as in they were doing the reading). We finished with a simple craft to make our own pencil holders (you know, for our pencils and stuff). And that was about the substance of our school day. Not too bad. If anything I thought that they were ready to receive more that I didn't have prepared for them. I forget what sponges they are.

But the rest of the day was a disaster. A total and utter disaster. And I have very little good to say about the day we had, how it happened, or how I responded to it. Just know that I am already tired and a bit discouraged by it.

The schooling today was great--we made books! And I changed things around a bit to make our mornings more manageable and it included a planned snack. And they were eager to do the work I had for them. Tomorrow will be even better I know--we are going on our first nature walk tomorrow and I can't wait for all three to participate in that.

And I am hoping for good night's sleep.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

God is in this place

Tonight I put the kids to bed on my own, Eric had to be at work. The three were beat, so tired. Fun in the summer sun will do that do a kid. But my oldest doesn't like going to bed. In fact, falling asleep is difficult for him becuase he makes up fears for himself. Tonight sounded like it was going to be the same as many previous nights.

J:Mommy, I don't want to go to bed alone in my room. I'll be alone. I'll be scared.
Me: No, you won't. You're safe here in this house with me. I'm here. Your safe.

Then everything changed when a small voice spoke to me in my heart.

Me: J, you know that God is a good guy, right? Well, there is a bad guy named Satan and when you tell me that you are going to be scared I know that Satan is fighting with you. Satan is fighting with you, but God is bigger and stronger than Satan and wants to beat him up. God keeps you safe.
J: Oh. . .

Reluctantly, he turns and heads towards bed. I hold him for a while to help him know he is safe and I love him. Gently, I tuck him in bed. After a moment of quiet he asks, "Mommy, is God winning?"

Yes, my son, indeed He is winning. He has already won!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Just registered for my first marathon! The money's been paid and the financial commitment made!

October 18th, here we come!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Week # 9 & 10 recap!

Yeah, you thought I had fallen off the running wagon, didn't you? It's okay, you can admit it. Because I almost did. But now, I didn't and here are two weeks of running to prove it. As you will be able to tell, week 9 was less than stellar, but I am back on track now--Grand Rapids Marathon, Here I Come!

Week #9
Tuesday--3 miles
Friday--7.50 miles

(Couldn't give you an accurate time for either of these runs because I had misplaced my trusty timer watch--so let's just say that I ran as fast as the wind. Whoosh!)

Friday's run was great fun because it was all trails at our church camp out. The first loop was a file mile trail that was highly wooded, had some nice boardwalk, and finished by following the road back to camp. I felt good enough after the 5 that I decided to run the last 2. I was told it was a great trail and short--so I went. And discovered that for my last two miles I choose a seriously hilly trail with some really big hills. It was tough, tougher than I thought because mentally I was at the end of my run and had chosen to do something that was so difficult. I think that in the end my time was somewhere around 80/85 minutes. I really enjoyed that run. I think however, I would have enjoyed it a bit more had I either been more prepared for the hills or done them at the beginning of my run when I was fresh. Regardless, I did it. Chalk up one more run for me.

Week #10 Recap!

Back in the saddle again.
This week I managed all four runs, even though two distances were a bit, um, lacking.

Tuesday--1.8 miles (18 minutes)
Wednesday--3 miles (30.45 minutes)
Friday--2 miles (20.31 minutes)
These three runs were shorties. Obviously. Wednesday I tried to run fast and found that my knee didn't like it too much, so what started out as a 9:28 mile (1st) ended with an 11:10 mile (3rd). And my gait was very strained by the end of the three miles, it was obvious to me that I was changing my step in order to put less pressure on my knee. The limp was quite evident. After that run, I tried some weights and figured out that it was an upper body strength day, not lower body as first anticipated.
A couple observations from Friday's run:
It was too short. That's how I felt when I was done. Even though I ran tempo and I was glad to be done, I felt as though I hadn't done enough, that it didn't actually count as a run. But it did. And I did it.

Saturday--12.3 miles (at this distance, does time really matter?)
Singing in the rain a la Fred Astaire=romantic
Hiking through a light drizzle=refreshing
Playing or dancing in the rain like my kids=fun
Running through an hour of serious downpour=interesting, to say the least!

So yesterday I had the privilege of doing a great deal of my run in some serious rain--heavy, thick drops and couple inches of water running all over the road and sidewalks and even some thunder and lightening a little too nearby! I don't mind running in the rain as long as I stay warm--and I managed to stay warm yesterday, and even smile through all of it. The only downside: I got water in my earphones and one side isn't working well.
I was wet unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I am so extremely grateful for my running gear that kept me comfortable. My hat kept water off my head and out of my face; all my wicking gear kept wet clothes from rubbing uncomfortably (and despite it I got no blisters). Even though I ran through inches of rain, my feet didn't feel wet. And when it started drying out, my tank dried off enough to keep me from staying too wet for the duration of my run.
But it was slow. I think it just is what is. I have a goal of finishing the marathon in under 5 hours (like I said, slow) but am beginning to wonder if that is at all a reality. I need too many bathroom breaks, my knee needs regular breaks. I know that I shouldn't go into this with a time goal, because in the end I will want to think that I have succeeded despite whatever time I come in with.
One thing that I have noticed is that I am more able to run greater distances or with more speed and possibly even fewer breaks. I think this is progress. My body is (finally) adjusting to all this. The pain in my knee is usually just a little ache. I do take two days to recover from my long run however, and this has thrown my schedule off a little, but I adjust and I find ways to run and I keep running.

Oh and on an ending note: my running partner has been upgraded to my encourager! Eric has realized that his schedule and desire to pursue other interests is keeping him from running with me, so he is changing his official position to that of cheerleader, making sure that I am able to get out on my runs and bringing the kids to see me run the marathon. Yesterday in his first day in this role, he came out on his bike in the pouring rain, found me and biked alongside me for a couple miles--then went home and had a warm towel and hot coffee ready for me after I walked in the door! What a great guy I have!

So I am open for some miles--this Saturday I'm upping it to 14! We're heading into the home stretch! It's exciting but scary. (And I still need to commit and actually sign up for the marathon!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

About this day. . .

So I am inspired by Simple Mom. I love reading her--a recent post tried to shed light on her being someone who "does-it-all" that really she doesn't do it all. And I got to thinking, I am actually pretty hard on myself, so I thought that tonight I would list what I did do in a day, after those things that I didn't (note my attempt to be positive.) But I bet I'm going to find that I do a lot more than I think I do during the course of a day.

Today, I
*Did not finish all the tasks on my list
*Did not make a fresh loaf of bread as I had intended
*Did not make myself that nice cup of tea in the morning
*Did not watch any TV (not like I do on any other days either!)
*Did not have a break down, yelling stretch or even a bad attitude (Sometimes I even shock myself)!
*Did not waste a great deal of time toodling on the computer.

But Today, I
*Did love on my kids and husband
*Woke up at the appointed hour.
*Started my day with a huge list of things to do (at least I had a list)
*Accomplished some of the things on my list, including cleaning my room, unpacking from recent trips, filled the fish tank with water, threw out the nasty dead plant in the living room, signed K up for ballet, sorted, washed, and even put away some laundry
*Showed Love to Eric by filling his coffee cup numerous times.
*Started my day ahead of the kids including some time to meet a Dear Friend for breakfast.
*Went blueberry picking for the first time ever.
*Made a fantastic meal from scratch for my family and the in-laws.
*Wrote a long email letter to someone whom I love.
*Soothed a little boy who had his first Bee Sting.
*Spent special time with a middle child who doesn't always get special time her way.
*Managed to have 30 minutes quiet in the afternoon where the kids played and I finished my book.
*Cleaned the kitchen and put out at least some of the recycling.
*Clocked out (mostly) by 9:30.

All in all, not a bad day. And better yet, I had a good attitude to match the day. Here's praying for a better one tomorrow!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ponder this awhile

So I have come to the conclusion that since having kids I have lost the ability to think, but only recently have I missed it. Confused? Let me explain. . .

Once upon a time I was a person who thought a lot about a lot of cool and (I felt) meaningful things. I had opinions and thoughts to offer to a conversation and surprisingly, some people wanted to hear what I had to say.

Life has changed since then. I went from working in a ministry that was impacting the lives of many middle schoolers to working in a home impacting the lives of three precious gifts. Rarely do they ever ask me for a deep thought or a bit of a sermon on how Christ would handle unruly parents or relationship troubles. We're in more of the "Sit-down-and-listen-to-what-I-say-and-respond-appropriately-the-first-time" mode, along with "if-you-keep-saying words-like-that-you-may-get-to-eat-soap-for-dinner." (Don't worry, no soap has been eaten by anyone yet!) And honestly, I rarely feel like I have much of value to add to many conversations. People stop to talk and I have little to say and often I feel as if I am only bringing up the negative in my life instead of all the wonderful postive things that I am blessed with.

And then today it hit me at our church camp-out--while our Pastor was asking for observations about the weekend we had spent out in nature--that I didn't have anything to add. And that stung a little. Sure, I could have added something cute about my kids and how we discovered a spider wrapping its catch on a spider web. But honestly, I had nothing that would impart God's wisdom to another person (or so I thought). And while the time in my life where I need to be the center of attention has passed, I still know that I need to have creative thought about things that aren't necessarily related to kids and child rearing and homeschooling and keeping a home.

I want to think again. I think I am getting there. Just recently I had the whisper of a thought about God and lions and Aslan and majesty. And I tried to capture it, but it vanished. But I am pretty sure that before long, it will come back. And this time, I will be ready to catch it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Week #8 Recap

Monday--3 miles: 29.30 (ish)
Tuesday--3.0695 miles: 30.01 (exact)

These two days had great runs. Monday's was at the gym. Had some unexpected cheerleading, which was really encouraging. Even ending my run in her honor listening to a little Sasha Fierce (Beyonce, for those who weren't positive).
Tuesday, I ran outside our little three mile run and it felt pretty good. This run/walk thing has enabled me to build up some endurance that allows me to run for a bit longer than 10 minutes before a walk break. Although, my knee usually tells me when it needs a break and that often happens right around 11 minutes, but who's timing?

I was supposed to run on Thursday, but we left for a wedding on Thursday morning and I didn't pack hardly anything the night before, so . . .no run.

But really I was saving all of my extra stored energy for Saturday's 11 mile run in Canada
Saturday: who knows how far--our best guess, 12-13 miles
who knows how long--about 2 hours 15 minutes.

Why don't I know such basic information about a run that took over two hours? Well, that's because we got totally, seriously, and completely lost in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada during our run. Not just a little lost, really lost, like call up Eric's parents and tell them we don't know where we are but we have just run for over two hours and we need them to come find us and bring us back to the hotel--that's seriously lost.

Did we plan to be that lost? No, that's a silly question. Eric was the man with a plan. He spent a good hour trying to find and map a suitable run for us. But no plan can work when you leave the hotel and immediately go in the wrong direction. Oops! After a short while we came to a road that he had planned for us to run on, but not at that time--it was the road that we were essentially supposed to come out of and then finish up our run. So we decided to follow it for a while--we passed some nice parks and ran through a seriously new and huge and crammed-together subdivision before we came out near a place where we were supposed to run, so we sorta continued to follow the plan from there--ran for a while down River street to Lorraine. But then Eric was concerned that if we had turned around at that point and just run back to the hotel (which we could have done with no problems) that we wouldn't have enough mileage for the day. So we kept running. . .

Down Lorraine to Heritage (where again Eric thought we should turn around--but I am not one for turning around, it sorta sounds like a horrible idea). So we turned onto Heritage. That's where we left the semblance of anything that we knew and ventured into guessing territory. Down Heritage to a light at Ottawa (which we recognized)--I was hoping we would simply run down Ottawa until we reached another cross-street we recognized and thereby return to home. Umm, no. The man with the plan saw the name of a street that was on the original run list and opted down that street. So up Oldfield we go (at this point we have been running for 1 hour 40 minutes--I know this because we had our second Gu and a water walk break on Oldfield.) We get to a light on a major road (which we had never seen before, but would have been really nice to have known--it would have saved us a great deal) But Eric realizes that Oldfield turns into Zeller, which is again on his list--so we proceed into the Subdivision Of Doom! (insert ominous sound effects here!)

Running along, getting ready to be done, but still feeling okay--Zeller turns into Old Zeller. It was a huge subdivision, lots of houses jammed really tightly together, but lots of construction still yet to be done. Somewhere along this road a sweet lady stopped and asks us for directions to the Radisson (which is where we happen to be staying). We give her the directions that we are following--take Zeller to Projected Rd to Fairway to the hotel. Not an issue--except that Projected Road was not a street name, it was a projected road to be built by the subdivision. Um, yeah. So we send this ladies off thinking that we Americans have done such a great service.

As we run down Zeller we see the ladies turn, but never ourselves do we find Projected Road. In fact it looks like Zeller DEAD ENDS--into a river. But handily enough, there is a trail off the road--the Grand River Trail. Well, this is something we recognize, Eric looked at it when trying to find a run for us. So we think that this will get us somewhere. And on this trail we realize we have been running for enough over two hours that E's parents (who are graciously watching the kids) might start getting worried) and that we don't see where this trail gets off (although it was a beautiful trail). Oh wait, isn't that the farm that we passed way earlier on Zeller Road? Oh no!

At this point we have called for help. Eric's Dad and brother come to rescue us. But not before we manage to find our way out of the massively, huge and winding Subdivision of DOOM! (enter ominous soundtrack)

Although we were lost, it was a pretty great run. It was a cloudy and not too warm day, occasional drips of rain, a nice breeze. And my running partner was pretty great. Together we kept it from being a tense (although there were moments--like Ottawa and Oldfield) and instead we had a nice adventure. However at the end, our legs felt like they were empty, out of energy stores. Mine sorta felt like they were going to start cramping in order to find more energy stores. And now, we both feel it, my knee is very stiff and Eric (and my) legs are tired. I think tomorrow is going to be a sore morning. Oh well. We're still in Canada-there's more adventuring to do yet!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Week #7 Recap

Hmmm, what to say about this week? Well,

Tuesday--3 miles
Saturday--10.28 miles

This was a frustrating week. I couldn't seem to get the runs I needed to in. So many things foiled my efforts--the kids, Eric's job, my inability to be flexible when an opportunity to run appeared. It made me think a lot during my run today (in order to avoid thinking about the creaks and aches in my knees and ankles)--am I nuts? Who am I to think that I can juggle all these things--a young, demanding family, a strong need for plenty of sleep, a husband with an unpredictable work schedule--enough to be able to train properly for a full marathon. That, and I am slow--honestly, I am okay with my slowness, but the idea of running for almost 5 hours on marathon day is very mind-boggling to me. Even today--I woke up, fed the kids, gave instructions to Ana and started to run, was home just before 11. That's half the day gone. Is this worth my time?
I think it is, but I have to be realistic about what I can pull off in this life I lead. Can I do this, should I do this without sacrificing my family and my sanity? And my life is soon to be crazier (not simpler) as we start homeschooling in just about a month. If I were being completely honest with you, I would tell you that I keep asking God to tell me "No, don't do it", to make it clear and definite--and that's not the answer I get--instead I hear God tell me to keep going, pound out one more mile, that He will get me through this. I sorta am beginning to think that I need to prove to myself that I am capable of such a feat, especially since giving up seems a nice option.

But enough of my mental games with myself. Despite not getting to run as I should have this week, today's 10 miles by myself was remarkable pleasant. And I did it on my own--Eric was recovering from too many late nights (or mornings) at work. Of course, I'm slow, but I did it--no extra breaks and I ran exactly as I should have. My knee wasn't too bothersome and the other creaks were just complaints. GU is a wonderful invention, I think it helped a great deal! There was some nice sun at the beginning and a great breeze at the end. It was a nice run. I actually can say that I enjoyed myself. I think that statement, all on its own, marks me as a woman in need of some counseling (or a vacation retreat at a wonderful spa!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Week #6 Recap

Okay folks, I'm really in it--even seasoned runners are training for the marathon by now. I think it is fair to say "I AM A MARATHONER!"

Monday--3 miles (30.47)
No biggie, three miles on the track. Ran well. Felt great in my feet (not so great in my knee). Ran two great miles (both at 10.04) and a fairly slow last one.
What did I learn today? Well, you can't drink pop all weekend and then expect to feel well hydrated for a run on Monday morning. Oops! I guess diet and hydration really does matter (which I already knew, but am marking this because of my own stupidity). So now I am actually contemplating a diet adjustment for the duration of this challenge (which is interesting to type considering the fact that I am sipping a Coke as I type this). I think I will even more severely limit both my alcohol and pop consumption for the next 14 weeks, especially on days before I need to run. And I will up my intake of water--because that makes sense, is healthy, and really, water generally. Starting tomorrow. . . ;o

Tuesday--3 miles (34.35)
Ick! What a slow, sluggish run. If I run this slow all the time--a marathon will feel like forever. I don't even want to run another 3 miles that slowly. In fact, I'm afraid that I might just throw in the towel. I don't want to run this slowly.
On a minor note, my knee is achy today. I don't like these aches and pains. Is this going to be the way that it is? Do I just have to deal with this throughout the whole time? Am I strong enough to deal with a pain? Not to just throw in the towel because it is hard?
As Lance Armstrong told me yesterday during my workout: "Pain is temporary, Quitting is forever!" Thanks, Lance.

Thursday--0 miles
I've had a hard time working this run into my life. For some reason it never works out that I can get this run in--like this morning, I was supposed to go out at 7 a.m., but then I was up with Olivia for two hours--it's pretty hard to get up to run when you haven't got enough sleep. Then, I was going to go out later in the afternoon, but to be honest, I don't like running in the afternoon--it cuts into the rest of life and disrupts the regularly scheduled programming. So I didn't run.

But then Friday came and I ran
Friday--2.45 miles (24.21)
Oh goodie, the kids are at zoo school and I can take OG to the gym for a few minutes and get in one more run this week before the long run. I quit a bit before I should have, but I didn't want to push too hard because tomorrow I am going to run 9 Miles! Ack! Am i nuts? (and I believe that the answer should be affirmative!)

Saturday--9 miles (1:38:30)
Yikes! Today we ran 9 miles. What do I say about a run like this? Parts of it felt great, parts felt awful. There were times when my legs felt great and there were other times where they felt as though they were made of lead (which Eric so kindly pointed out is at least partially correct). Towards the end (about mile 8, heading into the finish) my legs and knees were done--they didn't want to run anymore. I kept going, but there definitely wasn't any sprinting at the end of this run.
Only complaints--still working out the knee thing, I don't want to complicate my entire life by ruining my ability to walk by hurting my knee. And, I've got a hot spot where I could very likely develop a nasty blister. But really, I was tired and very hungry after I was done but I was okay. And now I have a week left to psych myself up for a 10 mile run.
At some point I am going to have to get over the "this is the farthest that I have ever run" attitude. At some point the novelty needs to wear off (which it is, quickly).
Also, I am noting that my emotional commitment to the whole marathon race aspect is very volatile--as in one day I feel great that I am a marathoner and then next I wonder if I have it in me to complete. I think that these are normal, human emotions, but seriously, I wish that I could just know that I can do it--just look ahead in the magic ball and see myself crossing the finish line and know that the aches and pains and inconveniences and determination are all worth it, that I am better person at the end of this. There were moments during this run when I seriously thought--"well, a half marathon is respectable as well" but I don't want to give myself that out yet. There is no reason to--I still have 14 weeks to get there. And by the Strength of God, I will.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
(it's a lot easier to quote that one than live it sometimes!)