Thursday, November 14, 2013

Run with Perseverance!

The evening of October 26th I laid out my very important outfit for the next morning...my black & pink ensemble for my very first marathon! 



My alarm woke me up at 6:00 am on the morning of the 27th.  Ok not really I was awake way before my alarm went off, laying there thinking about the day ahead.  I had 3 hours before my race began... a race of 26.2 miles to complete with over 2200 feet of elevation.  Not necessarily the best choice for a first marathon but getting to experience this race with my dear friend Rachel (and the breathtaking scenery) was worth it!!  I had quinoa with bananas, blueberries, almond milk, and brown sugar for breakfast!  Then another banana and a bar in the time leading up to the race.  I drank coconut water too!! 


at the starting line!
 
As we gathered at the starting line I had this moment of fear..."can I really do this?"  I reminded myself of how hard I had trained and prepared for this moment and that everything was going to be fine.  So much about getting to the finish line is being mentally strong.  I had a strategy to go out at a 12 min/mile pace for the first 5 miles, then increase to 11:30 pace up to mile 13, 11:00 pace to mile 20, and then 10:30 pace for the last 6.2 miles.  This would give me an overall average pace of around 11:00 minutes per mile and a finish time of around 4 hours and 48 minutes.


Waving to my husband!


My supportive friends cheering me on and holding up signs!


A photo at the turnaround point (mile 11.8)

I was so blessed to have several friends, my parents, my girls, and my husband all there to cheer me on.  It was so beautiful out but after the turn around the wind started to pick up, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and it started to rain.  I just kept pressing on and on but as I approached the 18 mile marker I was beginning to feel tired.  I also knew once I passed the 18 mile marker I would be going further than I had in my training.  I passed my group of friends cheering me on and asked them to pray.  It was an uphill climb for several miles and I knew it was going to be tough.  Later they shared with me that they gathered and prayed immediately, then looked up and saw me running up towards the top of that portion of the hill. 

Between miles 18 and 23.5 I was on a paved trail with no through traffic, so I was without any support from my family or friends.  It was raining rather hard at this point, I was running uphill, and my phone died so I had no music to help motivate me.  I had forgotten to grab more fuel/food from my friends the last time I had seen them and was out of my electrolyte drink.  Basically everything I relied on to help sustain me, motivate me, encourage me and keep me going was taken away from me. 

I remember calling out to the Lord, "You are the only one I have to sustain me and get me through this Lord.  Help me to stay strong and keep moving forward.  Give me the endurance, perseverance, and right mindset to make it to the finish line." As I continued running I was feeling like I needed to get some carbs in me quickly and suddenly I saw a wrapper on the ground that caught my attention.  I picked it up and discovered it was an unopened packet of gummies.  I couldn't help but smile..."Manna from heaven" is what I thought of in that moment.

I prayed for someone to be up at the top of the hill (mile 23.5) so that I could get more food/electrolytes.  Sure enough my husband and girls were there to greet me and give me what I needed.  Now it was the downhill and final miles to the finish line!!  As I came down the winding road around mile 24.5 I suddenly heard clapping, cheering, shouting...and saw my entire group of supporters cheering me on.  I was filled with such emotion and began to cry.  It really gave me that boost to keep going and finish the race.

My biggest fans!!

What an amazing feeling it was to cross that finish line!!  Victory!!  Success!!  Perseverance!!  Relief!!  Joy!!  I was overwhelmed by so many emotions and so so so thankful to be done!  I crossed the finish at 5 hours, 13 minutes, and 27 seconds.  A little slower than I had hoped but taking into consideration all the hills I was very proud of my accomplishment!



And Rachel did amazing...finishing in 3 hours and 51 minutes!  I am so very proud of her and how well she did!! 



A few photos after crossing the finish line!



My amazing husband

Every gal in this photo is a homeschooling mom!! 
 
 
I am so thankful to have had this experience.  It. Was. Hard....but so worth it!  Running has so many comparisons to our Christian walk.  I didn't just go out and run a marathon.  I had to train & prepare my body, mind, and spirit.  I had to be disciplined.  I had to push through even when it was hard.  As a Christian, it's a growing process and requires discipline.  We train ourselves to trust God, to lean on Him, to walk in our spirit and not in the flesh, to be humble, to forgive, and so much more.  In our life we experience hills, obstacles, rainy seasons, fatigue, and hard times.  But there is purpose in every step we take.  We can not give up...we must keep moving forward...we must press on and run with perseverance the race set out before us!
 
 
 
 
I am so thankful for everyone who has supported me, encouraged me, and prayed for me during the past few months of training and on race day!  A very special thanks to Rachel, Sarah, Anna, Sandi, Mary, Bob, Gracie, Sam, and my girls!!
 
 

 


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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Solid Ground

 
Today I dropped my girls off at a friends house so I could go for a run.  I started at her house and ran through neighborhoods and on roads that I am not super familiar with.  I found myself running downhill for a very long time and ended up on one of the busiest roads in our area.  I am not a fan of running with lots of cars and traffic but decided to just keep running.  The sidewalk I was running on suddenly stopped and as far as I could see there was construction going on.  By this point I couldn't really turn around and the 4 lane highway was not something I was going to attempt to cross.  So I ran through the chaos, the mud, the rocks, the dirt, the puddles, the tree limbs, the construction crew, and the cones. 
 
As I ran today on the unstable and muddy ground I thought about people in my life whose lives are so full of chaos, pain, hardship, challenges, addictions, sadness, depression, guilt, anger, brokenness, struggle...they've made a few wrong turns, as we all have, but they haven't found their way to solid & firm ground. 
 
Sometimes we make wrong turns in life and find ourselves in a place we never thought or wanted to be.  Sometimes hardships and difficulties come, not by our own doing, but as a result of living in a fallen world.   Whatever the reason, it can be messy, hard, challenging, and feel like it's never going to end. 
 
 Thankfully for me on my run today the construction finally ceased and I returned to solid ground and found my way back to where I needed to be!  The only way we can recover, the ONLY way we an recover...is by turning to Jesus and clinging to Him through the mess.  He will set your feet on solid ground and He will make your path straight!
 
 
God doesn't want us remaining stuck in chaos...He is all about seeing people through those difficult circumstances, bringing freedom, healing, redemption, and recovery.  A friend, Jeremy, from Bible college shared this quote on his Facebook page and it blessed me tremendously to read it:
 
"Jesus helped the woman at the well recover love, the woman caught in adultery recover dignity, the blind man recover sight, the tax collector recover purpose, the religious people recover relationship, the sick recover health, the lonely recover friendship, the world recover life and hope. Jesus is in the business of Recovery!!"
 
 
 
"Lord I lift up anyone reading this who needed to hear these words, whose life resembles the chaos and mess of a construction zone.  May you direct their steps and lead them through the chaos and to a place of peace, safety, wholeness, strength, freedom, healing, joy, and a strong & firm foundation in you.  Thank you that nothing is too difficult for you.  Thank you that you are in the business of recovery. Thank you that you make all things new.  Guide and direct them back to solid ground.  In Jesus name I pray. Amen"
 

 


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Sunday, September 29, 2013

At my side for 18 miles!

When you are preparing for a marathon and you are down to the wire with only weeks left in your training...you hope and pray nothing gets in the way of your plan and your training.   But as we all know life doesn't always go as planned.  Life happens!  After my 16 mile run on August 31st I began to have some pain in my left knee.  Nothing real serious but some tenderness that made me step back and evaluate my running plans.  Do I keep moving forward?  Do I bring this whole thing to a halt and drop out of the race?  I did the only thing I knew to do...I asked the Lord for wisdom, guidance, and of course healing. 
 
I am not an expert runner, there is still much I have to learn, but I do try to always listen to my body and back off when needed.  So I decided not to make any final decisions but to just take it one day at a time.  I iced my knee and took it very easy for a few weeks.  This caused me to get very behind in my training.  I only had one shot to run my 20 mile run....this big magical number that you are suppose to run before a marathon...and now I knew it would be next to impossible to gain lost time. 
Then another situation occurred to make running even more of a challenge....my husband had to go out of town for several weeks for work.  When he is the one I rely on to watch the girls for my runs...well that really puts a damper on things.
 
Thankfully family & friends are coming to my rescue to help and my knee has improved!!
Yesterday I ran 18 miles.  It is my last long run before the big day.  I will not get to 20 but that's OK.  My knee did great the entire run.  I was also extremely blessed to have my mom watching my girls and my dad riding alongside me the entire time.

 
Sometimes he was at my side, other times in front of me or behind me.  I had total peace knowing he was with me from start to finish!  And that was important as I ran a somewhat secluded trail with some sketchy looking men along the way.  He carried a backpack and had extra fluids and food I needed during my run.  He was there each time I needed his assistance.  At one point we were approaching some gals walking and he said, "Serious runner coming through"...and they made way for me to pass and cheered for me!  During a moment of silence I thought about how this is such a great picture of how the Lord is in our lives.  He is always with us, He goes before us, behind us, and is constantly at our sides.  He is our protector, our friend, and he cheers us on and believes in us!  Jesus is our bread of life and He quenches our thirst...he provides us with all we need on our spiritual race!
 
 
 
I thought too about how God is a father to the fatherless....because my real dad actually passed away when I was 12 years old and I feel so blessed to have such an amazing step-dad in my life.  He has stepped in and taken that role of a father in my life.  Thank you Bob for all the many ways you bless my life...and a huge thank you for riding alongside me yesterday!
 
 
 
Sometimes it can feel that God is a million miles away and doesn't see us or our circumstances...but the reality is He is with you, every step of the way!  He loves you!  He is always working on your behalf!  He is proud of you!  He will never leave you nor forsake you! 

Looking forward to running 26.2 miles in a month with my Heavenly Father at my side the entire way! 

 


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I've come a long ways from my Top Ramen Days!

I have a confession to make...I am a former Top Ramen, Cheese Whiz & Chicken in a Bisket, Taco Bell, frozen burrito, Oreo cookie, and Rice-A-Roni consumer.    

I can tell you I am now a changed woman who over the past 5 years has been on a mission of health for my family!  And one of the greatest ways to accomplish health is through the foods we put in our bodies. 

I honestly didn't think too much about the foods I was eating and feeding my family until my oldest daughter began to battle severe coughing issues at the age of 2.  She endured weeks and weeks of coughing that would escalate to the point of affecting her breathing.  By age 4, doctors diagnosed her with cough induced asthma as well as dust mite & outdoor allergies.  The recommendation?  Allergy shots, 2 daily inhalers, and allergy medications. 

We live in a day in age where it's all about convenience, fast, quick-fix, and easy.   I didn't just want to address the surface issues.   I didn't want the quick remedy.  I wanted answers.  I wanted to get to the root cause.   Thankfully a wonderful naturopathic doctor, Dr. O'Leary, made that possible.  She wanted to do food allergy testing on my daughter but I couldn't make the connection between food allergies and her coughing issues.  So Dr. O'Leary explained to me that 70% of our immunity comes from our GI tract (the gut).  If your gut isn't healthy you won't be healthy.  After running some tests, her recommendations?  Gluten free diet, probiotics, fish oil, and a multivitamin to name a few things.  This wasn't going to provide a quick fix but a slow improvement to my daughters overall health. 

Fast forward to present day and my almost 10 year old girl is a very healthy kid.  She isn't reliant on pills, shots, or inhalers either.  She still gets colds/coughs here and there but those severe coughing fits are a thing of the past.  I use to battle regular headaches and those are a thing of the past too!   

What you will find in my kitchen is vastly different than years past and I know that has made the difference for all of my families health.  I also will insert here there are more changes I'd love to make but it's a process....baby steps, small changes, one step at a time!  I have begun to make more things from scratch rather than in a pre-boxed package (though I do have on hand some pre-mixes).  I wanted to give you a sneak peek into my kitchen, with the goal to help encourage anyone reading this that wants to make changes, that it is possible.  So come along as I give you the tour....

Let's start with my fridge, I just went shopping so it's full!
 
 


 
My fridge is full of fruits and vegetables.  I just invested in a Vitamix so we have been making lots of delicious smoothies!  Our eggs come from our own chickens.  The Green Pasture Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil is something I highly recommend for all it's health benefits!
 

What you will find in my freezer/deep freezer:

 
 

During the summer months pick or buy fresh, local organic fruit in bulk.  You can freeze them for smoothies and baking!  I paid $1.50 per pound for Organic blueberries....and 35 pounds total came to $52.50.  The grocery store was selling organic blueberries for $4.99 for less than a pound.  My mom and a friend gave me several zucchini so I shredded them up and froze for zucchini bread and soups!  That didn't cost me a thing! 

My pantry: 


 
 
If there is one item for your pantry I highly recommend it's organic Quinoa!  This is a very versatile item that can be made into a breakfast porridge, a side dish, salad, or main entrĂ©e.   Quinoa is a seed not a grain and has all 9 essential amino acids.  Want to know all the health benefits? Read here and here.  Know someone with apple trees and the apples are going to waste? Ask if you can pick them and spend a day or two making applesauce.  Canning is a very new thing to me but I chose applesauce to start with as it is pretty simple! 
 

 
Spices/Baking staples:


 
You will notice my salt up above is Real Salt.  I've always thought salt was bad for us and have avoided it, however, Real Salt is full of natural trace minerals and is actually very important for health.  I also recommend Safflower oil for cooking and heating at high temperatures.  You do NOT want to heat olive oil (I just recently realized this!)

Beverages:
 
 
 Coconut Water is another thing I recommend to have on hand.  It's a great drink when you are sick as it is high in electrolytes and potassium!!   Yes I do treat myself to soda sometimes but ones without high fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or other harmful ingredients!
 
I do believe in the saying, "Pay now or pay later."  Changing the way you eat may mean increasing your food budget....but it's a worthy investment and it doesn't have to break the bank.  For a family of 5 I have budgeted $185/week for food and household supplies.  That is $26.43 per day.  Per person that is $5.29 a day.  I think this is the first time that I have ever broken down what I am spending...I am quite impressed!!  $5.29 per person for whole foods, healthy, organic snacks & meals!! 
 
Here are a few suggestions to help you budget :
  • A lot of the photos you saw above are things I purchased in bulk at Costco.  The savings is huge compared to going to the local grocery store and making the same purchases.  So although you may be paying out more at once, you are paying less per ounce, box, can, package, etc...
  • Get some chickens!!  We live in the city with no property at all.  My husband built a chicken coop and we have more eggs then I can keep up with!  We also did raise some chickens for meat but really don't have the space for that where we live.  Buying whole organic chickens at the store is not cheap.  Hoping we can raise our own again in the future! 
  • If you eat beef, find a local rancher and fill your freezer for the year.  You can buy 1/4, 1/2 or a whole cow.  If you have never purchased beef this way, it is a big upfront expense but overall a huge savings...especially if you want organic, grass fed!  Beef is typically sold based on hanging weight, but your actual bring home amount that you put in your freezer is going to be less than the hanging weight.  So for example if you pay $3.50 per pound (including butcher fees) for 1/4 a cow and the hanging weight is 250 pounds.  Your cost will be $875 but you will probably end up with 150 pounds in your freezer.  $875/150=$5.83 per pound.   If you were to go to the store and individually purchase organic, grass fed steaks, ground beef, roasts that equaled 150 pounds you'd be spending a tremendous amount more!!!
  • Buy fruits and vegetables from local farmers markets, CSA programs, or produce stands.  Most are going to have local organic or minimally sprayed produce at great prices!
  • When things are marked down that is your time to stock up and purchase several at once!
  • It's amazing how much you save when you stop buying pre-packaged, processed, and junk food.
  • Limit those spendy Starbucks/specialty drinks and eating out!  Our family could go out to dinner and easily it would cost $25-$50 for one meal, depending on the kind of restaurant. 
  • Use cloth dinner napkins instead of paper napkins.  Hey every little savings matters!
  • You will also discover that you stay fuller longer when you are eating whole foods!!
 
The best advice I can give when it comes to what to eat and not eat....stick to whole foods as much as possible.  A whole food has only one ingredient - itself!  If the ingredients list is a mile long and most things you can't even pronounce and have no idea what is means....set it back down on the shelf and then turn and run! 
 
Cheers to your health!


 


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