Thursday, June 30, 2011

Right Combinations

It seems like I cannot get it all right all at the same time. I can get my diet down and eat properly to have energy and then it seems like my sleeping patterns get all messed up! It's just crazy. There must be a way to get them both in balance at the same time!

 As I am realizing how quickly my next half marathon is approaching I feel like I am under the crunch to get my training back up going strong. But sometimes it seems that just about the time I feel the positive changes in my body it wipes out on me. And I feel like it's partly due to trying to find the right balance and combination of eating and resting. I hate to sleep - but I love to eat. That's the wrong formula for running success!

 I think this parallels life in a few ways too. It seems like we can really concentrate on one area - you know, the temper, our language, our finances or outlook...and when we get one of these areas refined and are moving along smoothly it's like Bam! Another area that needs serious change can hit us and demand our attention. The trouble is that we must maintain what we have accomplished in one area while beginning to work on another!

 What's a runner to do? You can't let go totally of one area without losing progress. Paul said in Philippians 3:16 that we should all walk by the same standard to which we have attained. That really makes it so much simpler. All we can do is the best we can with what we have today! I'm not going to worry about it. I can continue working on eating, sleeping and training... and each day do the best I can with what I have. Same thing with our Christianity. All God requires out of us is to walk in what we have learned and what we know. It's not as complicated as I thought... it's just about walking...and walking...and walking it out day by day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Am I A Runner Now?

At the race the other night I had a very unique experience. There was a lady who seemed to be competing specifically with me. As I would get close to her she would run ahead a ways and then walk until I got close again. She kept losing a little advantage on her position each time I got close. I chose to just keep my pace as it was working for me.

 I kept reminding myself that in racing I am only competing with myself so I kept it all under lock. I thought she was a little younger than me anyway so I chose to not compete but just keep running instead. Finally, I passed her for the last time and didn't really think about where she was as I got sick to my stomach because of the heat. I figured I wasn't dizzy, so I wasn't close to passing out - so I kept going. I thought that it would simply be a new experience if I threw up.. but I figured I would throw up and then finish the race!

 When I got through the lady came over to where we were standing and congratulated me on a "good race." She said she was just trying to stay ahead of me! She even said she tried to "draft" me! lol! How do you draft an old, slow lady? lol! But I took it as a compliment. Especially when I found out that I was about 4 years her senior! (I tried not to gloat as I picked up my 2nd place medal in the old people's category!)

 We exchanged phone numbers so we can race together again some time. I think she just wants revenge!! lol (Ah! motivation) But the funny thing to me was how she put my name in her phone. As a contact she put me as "Jeanie the runner" I had to smile! (It's okay - because she's "Pam @ race"!

 But it was very funny how affirming it was to have someone else recognize all my hard work that way. It's simple I know, but it was nice. I thought about how it is good to be recognized for accomplishments no matter what level they were attained on. I decided to find someone else to "affirm" today. I think it would do us all some good to just find someone today and tell them "you're doing a great job at...." And be specific... don't leave it open it's not as effective!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My 2 Year Race-i-versary 5K!

Last night I ran my 15th 5K! (it was my 17th race overall) It was a wonderful experience. Although it was so hot I thought I may get to experience what it's like to throw up during a run. I got very nauseous toward the end, but I figured since I wasn't dizzy I wasn't about to pass out so I just kept on going. I thought maybe I would throw up and add it to the unique race experience list! lol! But then I didn't...almost disappointing as it would have made such a great story later... oh well.

 I had a lot of emotions going into the race as I thought back about that first 5K. It's been such an invigorating, addictive journey! I started just to survive...and now I survive just to run! My legs just feel strong - I cannot really explain it any better than that - they just feel good under me. I thought of all the accomplishments that I've managed to do over this two years of racing... Of the 15 5K races I've placed 6 times. I don't think that's too bad! I have achieved some measurable increase in speed from the very first race I ran. And physically I just feel good...and I can't wait until next month's race!

 However, all the accomplishments have given me insight on the things that I need to work on. See, when we stop to view our accomplishments and camp there as if that's the end-all it becomes pride. But accomplishments are really meant to show us what else we need to work on so that we can continue to progress.

 I know I need to seriously work on my speed. But last night as I was running and feeling how strong my legs have become I realized how important it is to work on my core. That's my main weak area right now. I also have not eaten right lately and need to get that back in check as it's a serious energy sucker!

 So along the way - enjoy the accomplishments. Solomon even said that there is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good.(Ecclesiastes 2:24)  But it's not the end-all it's only our motivation to improve ourselves and continue on down the road. So do some re-assessment today. Give yourself credit for the accomplishments, or for the goals you've set and reached. But then let those experiences show you what needs to be changed or corrected so that there is the assurance of more success down the road.

 By the way - I brought home a second place metal in the old people's division last night!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Very Little Motivation Needed

Since I am only getting about 5 hours of sleep a night I wake up tired. Usually I go through this whole thing of how old I am and why I shouldn't run today. But yesterday as I was rehearsing my usual (miserable) excuses I happened to see a runner through my window. That's all it took. I'm so serious. I saw her head bobbing up and down as she ran along the fence and that was all it took. I put my shoes on and headed out for a nice casual run.

 The trouble was that I didn't leave early enough (I only have a two hour window to get my run in). I went out too far before I turned around and headed home. So coming back I had to kick it in high gear to get back before time for my son's aid to leave! so  simple miscalculation helped me log better than 5 and a half miles in an hour!

 The two things about yesterday's run are that it took almost nothing to motivate me and a miscalculation helped me log more miles for the week! How many times have we miscalculated something and ended up reaping its benefits? We have to come to the place where we realize two things.
1- we don't know everything
2 - we can run faster and harder than we thought
Although my intention was to do a medium, very laid back run I ended up running a pretty good clip in a short amount of time. I got a lot better workout than what I had planned. Sometimes we just have to let our mistakes teach us something about ourselves! That's really their purpose isn't it?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Enjoy the Progress - It''s part of the Journey

Well I guess we'll see if this week can go off as planned! I'm looking at possibly getting in 20 miles this week. And I am looking at a time crunch because the half marathon is coming in September. I have only run 8 miles for my long run recently. I think I'll be okay though because I can bump that up to 1 pretty easily. The terrain here is kind of hilly and the race is in Chicago which is really flat. So I think that will work to my advantage at least.

 I also signed up for a  night race this weekend. I haven't ever done that so it'll be nice. And it will be to commemorate my first 5K ever. It's the same Saturday that I ran my very first race two years ago. Boy I was so happy to run that 3.1 miles! And I was hooked on racing ever since. I never dreamed that about 3 miles would be my easy days! lol!

 It's funny sometimes how when we are going through life and we know that our struggles are shaping us somehow, we still cannot always see how far we've come...until another test comes along. But it's really good when we can do an honest assessment of ourselves and how we handle various situations and see that we have actually made progress. And it's not pride to be able to see progress in ourselves and smile! It can be pride when we think we did it all on our own...or if we think it makes us better than someone else who is still struggling in that area. But to realize we've grown and be glad of that is not a bad thing. (Unless of course you put it on a T-shirt and parade gloatingly around in it all day! lol)

 To not be able to celebrate life's victories would be like not allowing graduation ceremonies. So it's okay to celebrate your achievements. Today take time to celebrate your achievements and accomplishments.. and it's okay to smile!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Did I Mention Why I Run?

I know, I know! I could probably come up with another reason why I run everyday for at least a month before I'd think of another month's worth! But this week, I found another "why I run" spot in my life.

 First of all, last week was crazy for a lot of reasons. But one of them was on Tuesday night when a hail storm smashed in my little garden. I know, it's really not that big of a deal to most people, but it was to me okay! In the scheme of things it really is minor. But when you are already living on emotional overload even the smallest things can catapult you into depression. And that's exactly what happened on Wednesday morning when I decided to trade my run in for a quick yard and garden clean up.

 While a few of my plants survived (mostly the non-edible ones!), most were beat to a pulp by the hail. They were just blooming too. I had been so excited about finally seeing blooms and very small fruit start to appear. And now they are mangled and leafless. I pulled up a couple feeling like I was more putting them out of their misery but then my emotions crashed.

 It's only been about 2.5 years since my son had a serious automobile accident in which he sustained a TBI. (traumatic brain injury) I am now his full time caregiver. And as I was pulling up the flowers I realized we were both so on the edge of fulfilling our dreams when the wreck was like these plants I had nurtured and cared for and they were blooming - so our lives were just before that cold November day. And I couldn't handle it. So I changed my shoes and took off for a run to sort it all out.

 The town was mangled and it was like a trail run here in town! But you know what? I just climbed over fallen trees and dodged fence pieces...and just kept on running. And that is a picture of life. Sure tough things come - so what? We don't quit - we keep running! We climb over obstacles and maneuver through challenges but we don't stop! I promise the earth is not going to stop turning so that you can catch your breath! lol! Or at least it hasn't so far for me! But...we can keep running, breathing, and living...right where we are! So don't stand there and look at the obstacles - they don't deserve that much attention! Just jump over, crawl around or make a path - and keep moving!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The More I Run - The Better I Feel

I am so serious on this one! This morning when I took off up the road with no where in particular to go - my legs felt so good under me. I can actually feel the muscles now. Sometimes I try to imagine just how it is that they work together like such a well oiled machine. And sometimes I concentrate on trying to really feel that fraction of a second that both feet are off the ground at the same time!

 As I am learning my limits and pushing them properly at the same time, I really do feel stronger. I thought about that this morning while I knocked out 3 miles at about an 11 min pace. That's not too fast for others, but I've come a long ways. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says that it is not wise to measure ourselves by others. I do think we should measure ourselves to His measure - none of us are all that great if we do that! Who can match His stride?!?

 But I can measure myself up against where I came from. I have only been running a little more than two years and I've come a long ways for an old lady! I think if we want to draw a spiritual parallel here it would be to enjoy our progress - without downgrading someone else! It's okay to feel our strength - and still know how weak we really are underneath...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mix it Up!

While I am pushing my body to get ready for the big half marathon coming up this fall, I am also having to learn my limits..did I mention how I hate that? When I have a 20 mile week it seems my body gives out. I'm sure that it is due to the fact that I only have one adrenal gland...I don't know how - but I am pretty sure it's related. So I had a 20 mile week, then last week I pushed it hard (in the heat) Monday and Tuesday. That kind of forced me to take Wednesday off. I really wanted to try to get 20 miles in four days. It didn't work - I found my limit.

 Now I could have pushed myself a little harder got some miles on Wednesday and more on Thursday. I had to get groceries and stuff in that time frame on Friday so I needed to get all my miles on M-Th. But my steam ran out. This used to really frustrate me. But as I am learning that a slow week doesn't mean it's over, and it doesn't mean a failure - I'm getting to where I'm okay with giving it my best shot with what I have to work with.

 Finding our limits can really be a good thing. It can help us reevaluate, make necessary changes and do better the next time. This week I am going easy M-Wed taking Thursday off and running long on Friday. That's the plan anyway. I'm not going to worry so much about the particulars this week and I'm going to concentrate on my time rather than the mileage. By time I mean I will run for an hour and log how ever many miles I get rather than trying to get a certain amount of miles in for the day. We'll see how it goes. I'm calling it an easy week!

 I think this re-focusing is a good thing to do with our entire life every so often, even in our spiritual walk. We can get caught it ruts and certain ways of doing things and then it loses its vigor. For Christians it's too easy to slip into religion and out of relationship that way. It's really good to change up your study habits now and then just to keep them fresh. So take this week and refocus on a little ... change things up some ..don't just be religious that's really boring!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Just Because It's Fun!

Yesterday's run was very different for me. I've been pushing myself pretty hard and this half-a-century old body has been complaining a whole lot. It always does that when I work up to running about 20 miles a week. Next week, I'm shooting for 20 again (or more) but it will all be easy miles. I am not even going to think about pushing it. Why? Because of yesterday's run.

I really wanted to get a run in just to log some miles. So I decided to just run easy for about 45 minutes. I figured that should be between 3-4 miles (I was right) and a good enough workout to keep everything moving and give me some log miles. I decided to just go easy and enjoy the run again. I have been working real hard...and you know what? I loved it!

It was one of the best runs I've done. I may adopt this practice of just running because it's fun again! I ran a little less than a 12 minute mile. So my base time has improved and that's been one of my goals. But sometimes I am working so hard that I forget to run just because it's fun.

A lot of our activities are that way you know. I can remember when I was a worship leader in a church, the responsibilities could take the fun out of it sometimes. I had to sing the right songs to engage the audience and try to lead them to a worship experience...but I want to do music and ministry again - just because it's fun...not because it's required! Don't get so caught up in what you are doing that you forget to relax and have fun...I think God meant for us to enjoy the gifts He gave lighten up today - enjoy Him and just do something for fun! (but don't hurt anyone!)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How do You Fuel Your Run?

Runners know what an important role the diet plays in fueling the run. For me, it really is the pasta dinner the night before. You kind of have to experiment with a few things to find out what works for your body. And we all know how rough finding out what the no-no's are! That can mess up a really good run! (lol- runners know what I am talking about!)

But I don't think that what we eat is the guts of the matter. What really fuels the run is found when you top that huge hill that was just taken in stride, or you shave a few seconds off a PR, or you get that medal in your age group at a race...all summed up in one word: success. That's really the "stuff" behind why we continue.

Think about how discouraging it would be to run at the same pace every single day and never be able to get any faster ever - or if the same hill kicks you in the butt every day and you never conquer it...discouraging to say the least.

I think this is true in many aspects of our lives. And success doesn't have to mean getting a lot of money - you can be rich and very unsuccessful. But success in our walk with God means that the things that used to get us down, don't anymore! That the hill we have been climbing is getting easier because we are getting stronger in Him day by day. The same things don't trip us up anymore (not that we don't have a whole new set of situations to overcome...) but we get stronger and wiser because we are closer to Him...and that fuels our Christian Run.

As we see ourselves changing and being able to handle situations and people with the grace He supplies - that should fuel our Christian run - our run back to Him!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This Hill is What Life is About

I have decided this one 5 mile route is my favorite. I get some pretty level running in before I turn to go up one of the biggest hills you'll find here in Norman, OK! Then at the top of the hill I swing through a neighborhood and over past a real pretty little pond to a street named, "Horizon View." I am not sure why it's named that as you cannot see a horizon from there at all! But then I double back and it's a nice morning run.

The hill and I have something personal going on! I always look at it from the corner and point to myself and say, "I'm taking you down today!" as I head toward it! (Sometimes on the weekends I swear I can hear it calling out a challenge for me! lol!) Monday when I got to that hill, I was caught up in my thoughts and it came so easy it even surprised me. I realized I had taken the hill and never broke stride and my legs felt so good under me!

But that success came at a cost. It's taken 2 years of training to get to that place. But it sure felt good! That's when I realized that it's not the hills that are the reason to run or train, it's conquering them! That's what it is all about.

If I can draw this parallel in life, the hill are the challenges we  face - probably daily. I don't know it's a pretty big hill, maybe these are the little bit larger situations that we must learn how to take in stride. But it's not about the's about arriving at the top and  looking back at where you just came from, seeing the challenge you just  faced - and conquered! It's about the successful running.

I think we run for that feeling! That elation as we stand at the top of the hill and are consumed with  all the emotions that come from that success. And really - that''s what keeps us going, isn't it? The hill is what life is about - it's about keeping on keeping on and taking on challenge after challenge and arriving on top. That success is what keeps us going toward the next hill - and why we run it!

We train  in life too. We study the Word, pray and get acquainted with God. That is our training for the next hill we will face in life. When we meet a situation head on and make the right response or react in an appropriate manner - we conquered that hill. So keep training - there are lots of hills out there that need to be conquered. And each success will drive us to the next!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mission Accomplished!

That may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but I almost had to sacrifice my Monday run due to another obligation. It was okay, but it only gives me 4 days in a row to run and some weeks I need an off day in the middle. My goal of course is to work up to running all 5 days - with a little biking thrown in.

I have several goals right now - but I can do them all at the same time basically, so it's not too overwhelming. The heat has got to be beaten, miles have to increase, and I need to lose at least another 10 pounds. Since none of these are mutually exclusive I should be able to work out a plan!

Sometimes we give up too soon on projects or plans because it gets too complicated. That can make us feel like none of them is do-able! I am finding that if I hang in there and don't change the goals just because of a complication I can figure out a way to accomplish almost anything! Here's an example. When I am running I get all sorts of ideas. I write stuff in my head for all 7 blogs I keep up with, I think of awesome lyrics, find solutions to life's puzzling situations...solve all the world's problem including reducing our national debts.... (Have President Obama call me!) lol! I really get all sorts of ideas while I am running and can't remember any of them when I get home! How do you fix that? I can't carry pencil and paper with me and stop every little bit to write down an idea for this week's ministry newsletter! Aha! I have a small digital recorder which I can slip into my armband with my ipod! easy to use (I'll sound funny when I play it back) - Mission Accomplished!!

I am learning that many of the corners we get backed into are breeding grounds for great ideas and solutions to many of our problems. And the truth is that many times we won't change some things until we are backed up and must make a decision or a move. What needs to be changed in your life today? Don't pick all one hundred choices - pick one thing and just change that one thing today.

I don't think God expects us to look at the whole picture and do everything all at one time. He didn't equip us like that. But He did give us a brain that is better than a computer...and if we will take some time to think things through we can make some necessary changes. Add 5 minutes to your devotion time, get up  15 minutes earlier and change your whole day! Cut your caloric intake by 100 cals a day...small changes can lead to big things!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Comfortable with Discomfort

I have officially lost 5 pounds over the last week. It certainly took a lot of willpower to make the necessary dietary changes. Plus by body is sore from the extra activity. Some would say that willpower comes easily. I think something else gives strength to willpower...discomfort. As long as we are comfortable where we are we will not feel like we need to make any changes. All too often we become comfortable with our discomfort rather than making the choice to change we embrace it as the norm and do nothing about it. But discomfort is what gives us the drive to change.

I was thinking about the baby eagle and how when it is time for them to grow up she removes all the "fluff" from the nest. This causes the bird great discomfort - enough for them to find another place to stay. Would it make any sense if the little bird went out and built a nest without the cushions so they could have one "just like mom's because it was so uncomfortable? lol! Of course not!

We have to chose to allow the discomfort to give us the energy to change. I don't like the way my clothes fit. I am not going to go buy new clothes so my discomfort has more room to grow!! Instead, I'll make the choice to change what I need to so that I feel better. When I get uncomfortably hungry - I go step on the scale, or think about my last run where I felt like I had a spare tire tied around my middle, or think about how heavy my legs felt on the other run...

When I increase my miles or go for a longer run than I am accustomed to, it's a given, I'm going to be sore. Now that is a discomfort that I am willing to embrace because it is the sign of change. We have to be careful to embrace the right discomfort! Which discomfort is making you better? Which ones are making you slack off and be less productive?

I really believe that God set up life so we'd have plenty of uncomfortable places along the way. When we get in those zones our reaction to them is tells it all...reveals who we really are - and who we want to become. A Bible example - Joseph. He was attacked by Potipher's wife, and he ran away. But I am sure if you asked him he'd say that the discomfort he experienced in prison was far better than that which he'd have had if he had been displeasing to God.

So which discomfort are you embracing today? The ones that are driving you to change your life; or the ones that encourage you to stay the same? Which is more comfortable to you?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The First Mile

Okay so yesterday was supposed to be my long run. It had been over a month since I'd run over 5 miles or so. To help myself be successful in my endeavors I set two goals. Running two hours was my minimum, I would not accept less than that of myself. The second goal was I really wanted to do 10 miles. It didn't have to be in the two hours of course...

I met several obstacles that I was not expecting. For one it was already in the upper 80's and I really wasn't prepared or conditioned for that! I did wear my camelbak as I always do on my long runs. And after about 5 miles just about every joint in my body was reminding me of two things a) how old I am and b) how difficult it was to run! And my poor toes! I've lost one toenail and have two more apparently getting ready to go through the same process...And by the time I got home I was nursing two good sized blisters... how'd that make me feel? Elated!! It is sort of like a rite of passage for a runner!

So I made my two hour goal but it's gonna take some conditioning to get used to the heat again. Another thing was I have been trying to control my weight and my joint pain with my diet. I was hoping I made a bigger difference but it was pretty rough yesterday. I did get in nearly 9 miles which isn't bad for an old lady! I'm sure my toes will thank me for the weekend off!

I am making many changes in my lifestyle right now and the joint pain was to be expected. Actually, when we begin to change we can rest assured there will be pain involved! It's part of the growing process. When we begin to bring discipline back into our lives everything may hurt for awhile...but it's just gonna have to hurt. I promise making positive changes will hurt - but you're not going to die from them. Actually, after the pain subsides, you'll live a better life!

So go ahead and make those much needed changes - discipline yourself. You know what area you need. Spend time in the word, worship Him, change your finances, make a diet plan...whatever it is - just go ahead and make the changes. It will hurt...sure...but you'll never get to the finish line if you don't run the first mile.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Could Tell the Difference Already!

If you keep up with any of my other blogs (not that I expect you do ... but if you do...) you know I have changed my eating somewhat. Yeah, I just didn't feel well and the other day I stepped on the scale to see that I had gained an additional 5 pounds! So I called a halt to my eating habits and dove in! I've stated before that sometimes everything revolves around running when you are a runner. And my dietary changes are no different.

So I cut back and even though I am still heavier than I want to be I've already lost that last 5 pounds! Yeah me! I wondered as I hit the trail yesterday if I would be able to tell any difference yet. And honestly with such a cut in my daily calorie intake I wondered if I'd have the steam to make two laps...I did! Actually, I think I really felt better. Just 5 pounds made a difference. I can't wait to lose this other 10 - that's my goal anyway.

5 pounds doesn't seem like a lot. But think about the last time you bought a large bag of flour or sugar. (They used to weigh 5 pounds!) It isn't bad at first but if you keep carrying it around the store - like waiting in line forever to pay for it - it will feel like it gets heavier and heavier. Extra body weight is the same gradually slows us down more and more.

Now I don't think the writer of Hebrews was a literal runner, but maybe he (or she) understood how the weights of life can affect us. When we carry any kind of extra weight, or baggage, around for very long our whole lives will slow down to try and accommodate. It doesn't matter if it's emotional, spiritual, or a physical ailment. If we cannot effectively put it down it will weight us down. And this is why Hebrews 12:1 speaks of laying aside all encumbrances, weights - and sins that drag us down. To walk a walk of faith is like running the trail - you just cannot do it as well if you're carrying a lot of weight around! What do you need to lay down today so you can keep running this race of life?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

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It Made Sense to Him!

The first time I rode up to check out the trail I decided to ride it first. That way I could check out the terrain and length to see if I wanted to try to run it or not. As I started a runner was coming my way so I asked him a couple of questions regarding the trail, like how long it is and if it's difficult to follow or not. He assured me that it was laid out simply and that it was about a mile and a half. But there was one T where if you navigate correctly you go around the "lake" (it's barely a pond in my book...). Then he made this statement Just stay on this path and you'll be fine.  I thanked him and rode on.

About a third of the way in, I came to a T in the path. I could continue going straight or turn sharply to the right. I thought about what the young man had said stay on this path.Well, "this path" seemed like I should go straight to me! But I soon found I had been looped around some little neighborhood just before the path met the blacktop on the other side. I went back and made the, now left hand, turn. He was right - easy path!

As I thought about his instructions "this path" made sense to him because he understood that "this path" was going to take a sharp turn. It seemed to me that he was familiar with this path! And he knew exactly where it was going. But to the novice it all looked the same and "this path" could really be either direction!

How easy it is to be so familiar with the things we've done for so long that we fail to realize someone else might not understand? I had a math teacher like that once too! lol! He could do some really high level math but he could not explain to us how to get from step one to step two! Because it just made sense to him.

If we are not careful our Christian walk can become so familiar that we don't know how to help others along the way. It is too easy for us to assume (because this is a Christian blog - I won't say what you're thinking!) that others know what we know. As believers we need to take the time to carefully explain the things that we have come to see as just understood, or mundane. Everyone isn't as familiar with the simple stuff as we may be. Take time to help others find the right path - don't make assumptions about what makes sense - we are called to disciple, not just run the path!