Monday, March 20, 2017

No Luck Run 2017 (Plainfield, IN)

One of the best reasons to run races is because they represent so much-- a culmination of a long period of training, a celebration of a particular moment in time, a memorial or tribute to something greater than yourself. I had no idea that this little race would leave such a giant impression on my heart.

The No Luck Irish Run is organized by RaceMaker Productions. A portion of every entry was delegated to help pack over 10,000 meals for the homeless. A kids' race, a 5k, and a half marathon were all part of the day's festivities. The race was well- organized and volunteers were friendly and helpful. What made this race unique and will have me coming back in the future was that runners were encouraged to come on the day of packet pickup and help pack meals. So, it was more than just asking runners to give a few bucks, it was challenging them to DO something to make a change in their community. 

This South Florida girl was absolutely freezing on race morning, although temps would reach above 40 by the time I finished the half, it was by far the coldest race I've run. The course was flat and scenic as we ran through a paved trail for the middle miles. But what made this race so memorable to me was that it was the first event I've done with my mom. She has always been active and fit, running for leisure and exercise for as long as I remember. I twisted her arm a bit to convince her that returning to the 5k was possible and would be a blast. She bought tall socks and matching green sweatshirts and I bought us some silly leprechaun tights, and we were ready to run. 

The half started before the 5k, so I didn't get a chance to see Mom start or finish. It's been a long time since I've done a half, so I wasn't quite sure how fast I would go... 9:30ish, I figured. After the second mile, I was surprised to learn I had run about an 8:15 mile, and I didn't feel too bad. I ran by feel and surprised myself by maintaining a pace well under 9 minute miles. It wasn't until the last mile that the race began to catch up with me. I tried to find the higher gear, but my legs were done, and I found  myself slowing despite feeling like I was giving more effort. 

I finished in 1:50:17:59. A PR by 2 minutes and enough for 3rd place in my age group. And I was happy to learn that my Mom also finished 3rd in her age group. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Drinking In and Pouring out

Although this post is based on biblical teaching, the truth is universal, whether you're a Jesus follower or not. We all need a mentor, and we all need to be a mentor... not just professionally, but to make it through this life.

Who is that person who is pouring into you? Who is the person that you’re pouring into?

Every year I come back from the Bahamas trip with a souvenir. But it’s not quite what you might think—it’s a little trinket of wisdom that someone has spoken, that the Holy Spirit uses to have an impact. This year, it was just a casual conversation some of us leaders were having as we watched the students and student leaders share God's love outside the straw market. We were talking about the power of mentoring, the importance of leading. I’m sure that my colleague stated it better, but the power of those two questions struck me: Who is mentoring you, and who are you mentoring?

Most Christians have heard it before—everyone needs both a Paul and a Timothy. The problem I find that I have is that I’m sitting around waiting for my Paul to show up. And frankly, I don’t put enough effort into being intentional with a Timothy. Sometimes those relationships happen naturally, but more often we need to be intentional about seeking out those relationships.

Matthew 28:19-20—the “missionary passage“ tells us that we need to “Go and make disciples.” Somehow for many years I missed it—I read it as go and make converts. Go and preach the gospel, evangelize. But the Word says that we should be intentionally making disciples. We should be looking for specific people we can share life wisdom with. 

Making disciples seems to carry a lot of pressure. But God perfectly prepares us for it. All of those struggles and challenges and temptations we face are real life training for discipleship making. The hard things we face are the hard things that someone else will face. 

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Paul praises God for the comfort God has given to him. He states that during our times of deepest pain, God brings us comfort. We then are able to take those lessons we learn in the storm to comfort someone He will place in our path. The beauty that comes from our ashes is not just our victory—it’s the glory of our being able to pour comfort and healing and hope into the lives of the people who struggle in similar ways.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 that we are letters of recommendation for those people who have spent time mentoring us. We are letters, written by the Holy Spirit, telling everyone about His glory alive in us. We are walking testimonies of God’s redemption and grace poured into us by those who have gone before us. 

Finally, in 2 Timothy 3:10-17, Paul is reminding Timothy (and describing for us) that Timothy has followed Paul in his teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance and persecution. Paul didn’t just do a weekly Bible study or pray with Timothy. Paul did life with Timothy. God created us for community—to intentionally share our God journey with someone younger who can thrive from the wisdom we have gained. The life experience we've gained, we were meant to use to encourage and teach someone else. 

So, here’s your homework:

1.     Write a physical letter, a note of thanks to the person who has mentored and influenced your life.
2.     Write a note of encouragement to the person who you are mentoring and influencing.

And if you don’t have a mentor and someone you're mentoring…  well then, it’s time to get busy finding them.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

Doing Something Different

Every once in awhile, I think it's mandatory to do something different. This may sound odd to you, if you're not a Planner, like me. I'm the polar opposite of Spontaneous, so every now and again I have to plan something Spontaneous. (I know.)

More rarely, I actually do something spontaneously. I'm trying to get better at this. Because my husband is kind of Captain Spontaneous. So, lately I am trying very hard to not insist on knowing which restaurant we're going to, what's on the menu, and what I'm going to order. 

My Spontaneous Thing for January was to join an ultramarathon relay team less than a week before the event. And 2 weeks before running the Miami Marathon. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience! 

I had seen the Vista View 360 Ultramarathon advertised for months before the race. I wanted to do it solo, but figured doing my first ultra as marathon training, 2 weeks before the actual marathon would be a bad plan. So, I needed to skip it. But I still had a bad case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). And to make matters worse, they kept sending out those "YOU MUST register for this amazing event!" emails to remind me of what I was going to miss. So. Much. FOMO. Until... Cindy, my BRF (Best Running Friend-- also it's probably a better description to say BPD or Best Partner in Discomfort) came to my rescue:

Wednesday night before the Sunday ultra, she sends me a text-- "Any chance you'd be interested in joining us on Sunday for the Vista View 360 relay?" A teammate was injured and had to sit out. They needed a 4th runner. I needed an excuse to DO THIS.

I was in. In for one of the best race experiences ever. It was like a short Ragnar, minus the van and the long miles of scenery. We had a hill, a 1.2 mile lap and a tent. And a fabulous team.

We all took turns running a lap and then commiserating about and celebrating the challenge of the race and the heaviness of the legs (1.2 miles of fast hills, then 25 minutes or so of rest makes for some interesting conversations).

It was fun, exhausting, and very different. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

How to Run a Marathon

On January 29, 2017, I once again did something that I thought was impossible. 

I. ran. a. marathon.

The Miami Marathon, to be exact. And it was my SIXth. (I still can't believe it.) As I approached the finish line this time, I found myself beyond excited again... I'm actually going to do it. I'm actually going to FINISH a MARATHON. (In case you're not quite sure a marathon is 26.2 miles. All marathons are 26.2 miles. A half marathon, then, is 13.1.)

I'm being completely honest here when I say it: If I can run a marathon, anyone can run a marathon. 


Here's how:
  1. Decide on a race. This one is HUGE. Look around. Do some research. Read some race reports. Check out those top 5 (fill-in-the-blank) lists. Do you want to stay local? (easier logistically and financially) Or do you want to make it a destination event? (way more fun and expensive) Pay attention: some races are "hilly" (and if you live in a flat as a pancake place, this could mean mountainous), some "flat and fast," trail races vs. road races, early-early morning vs. later, colder vs. warmer races, great big giant city races vs. smaller races... marathons come in all shapes and sizes (except they are all 26.2 miles long). And then of course, you should for sure check out what kind of swag you get-- giant medal? hot chocolate or arroz con pollo at the end? tech shirt or long sleeve? I would recommend choosing a race close to your training conditions. 
  2. Commit to a training plan. Training plans can be about as varied as the marathons themselves. Do you want to run-walk (these will have you alternating running and walking the whole race) or run the entire time? How many times a week can you faithfully run? Do you like to run by time or by distance? How new to running are you? Most marathon plans will have you begin about 16 weeks before the race. Some are specifically designed for beginners and just include the basics-- running. Some are for more experienced and include hill and speed work. All plans will have you building milage slowly and safely so that you get to race day uninjured and completely competent to go the distance. 
  3. Involve friends. Maybe your friends will commit to training and running the race with you. Maybe they will cheer you on from the sidelines. Regardless, they will ask you how your training is going and how you're feeling as race day approaches. Warning: do not talk about running all the time. Ok, that's impossible. So, I highly recommend that you find some running friends. Check your local running store for groups that meet-up and run together. If you don't have a local running store, join a running Facebook group. We're everywhere. When it comes time for race day, if you're not running with a friends or a group, join a pace group. Most large marathons offer free pace groups-- find them at the expo. There's no commitment, if you change your mind you can leave the pace group. But they will help you stay on track on race day by reminding you to drink water, take in fuel, and encourage you in the later miles. 
  4. Enjoy the journey. And it is a journey. You might begin a little unsure (or a lot unsure). And as you cover the miles, when you do that first 16 miler (and you don't die), you'll realize that you're so much stronger than you ever thought. You'll know that if your legs can carry your body 16 miles, it can go 26(.2). You have some exceptional runs. And you crash and burn on some. You'll learn that you really do need to eat something during a long run. And you'll learn that you really don't need a whole buffet during a long run. You'll know where every hill, water stop and restroom is in a 6 mile radius of your house. You'll think, dream, cry, pray, and listen more than you've ever done in your life. 
  5. Believe in yourself. You can do this. Follow the plan. Trust your training.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ONE Word

I'm a huge fan of goals. Not a huge fan of resolutions for the New Year. I heard Dave Ramsey explain this recently... most people fail at new year's resolutions because they approach it as a dream or a hope instead of a goal. Goals need to be SMART-- so do resolutions. I've written some specifics about being intentional about achieving your resolution-- find that post here.

After doing some thinking and planning, I decided to return to "One Word" as a focus for 2017. The concept is that you choose a word to set the direction for your life. It's not that complicated of a concept, but clever person has figured out how to profit off the concept. There are even step-by-step directions. You can also buy your word on a bracelet.

I really like this one word concept because it's much easier to hold onto than "lose 30 pounds" or "get in shape." Your word transcends an event, and there's not a finite end. (And maybe that's antithetical to The New Year"s Resolution, but stay with me.) Your one word is a focus. A touchstone. A reminder to help you return to the focus on making you a better you.

My word this year is PEACE. Which is a little funny because I chose this word before I knew I was going to choose a "one word": A few weeks before Christmas, my administrative team was gathered to take our annual Christmas card. We were standing in front of a massive tree and decided to hold decorative signs-- each had a word written in script. My word was peace. My conscious mind didn't make the connection of the sign to my selected word of the year until this week when I looked at the printed Christmas card (still posted in my office) and saw the sign.

To me the choice of the word peace is about finding peace in the midst of chaos. Finding calm in the storm. It's learning to stay centered in challenging situations. Being balanced and steady instead of rocking with circumstances.

It's Jesus sleeping in a boat in the middle of a storm so horrendous that his buddies woke him up yelling, "Don't you care that we're about to die?!" That's me in most stressful situations. I get frantic. Nervous. Stressed. Angry. And that's a fairly normal human response. But just because the circumstances are out of my control doesn't mean that my response needs to rise to that level.

This year I will be still more often. I will respond in love. I will enjoy peace.