Thursday, May 26, 2011

Goal #2 48 states, biggest to smallest

I had two goals to accomplish before my 30th birthday in October, and randomly, I found that they could both be completed in May. While not usually one to get things done so far ahead of time, I have accomplished my goals over 4 months ahead of schedule!

Goal #1: Run a marathon. I won't write any more about that. Mission accomplished.

Goal #2: Visit all 48 contiguous United States.

This second goal was not something I have been trying to do on purpose. It wasn't planned in any way, and it didn't really become a goal until I realized that it was actually possible to accomplish it with a little bit of fanangling.

Thanks to my two years with Youth Encounter and two years with Feed My Starving Children, both of which have allowed me to travel throughout the United States, I was up to 42 states for quite some time. What I lacked was the 6 New England states and Hawaii and Alaska. When I got my May schedule and saw that I was scheduled to work in New Hampshire, I knew that I needed to extend my stay and find a way to get to those New England states. I ended up spending two days driving around, seeing the beauty of my country's northeastern states.

Another interesting fact I realized was that my first state was the biggest in the 48 (I was born in Texas, and although Alaska is bigger it doesn't count as part of the 48) and my last state was the smallest (Rhode Island marked the last of the 48).

At this time, although I do hope to keep running marathons, I do not have plans to extend these goals to doing the Boston Marathon or to get to Hawaii or Alaska any time soon. :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Final Count

I wanted to take a minute to update everyone on the generous donations. My ChipIn meter says that $403.20 (80% of the goal) was raised. However, I need to add that I received some donations directly as well, and the total raised was $533.68, which is enough to donate 2223 meals to Feed My Starving Children.

I was so thankful for the donations, the support as I trained, and the opportunity to write again and share my experiences.

I have no set plans for the future in regards to my running or fundraising, but I do hope to run another marathon again soon.

Again, thanks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

3 days SINCE the race...

I'm almost back to normal! OK, I can walk mostly normal at least. I feel a lot better after a painfully sore weekend. The only obvious thing is the grimace I make when I stand up or sit down and I can't really do stairs yet... but I am feeling better enough to start dreaming and scheming about my next marathon! I do want to do it again, even though it was really hard and not very fun (i.e. brutally painful) for a couple of miles towards the end.

Looking back I can see how cool it was that I was able to finish, that I was able to keep running or walking even when I COULD NOT see how in the world I would be able to finish. I think the lessons that I had learned through my training helped me push through, and during the last 6 miles I saw a newer and fiercer determination in myself that I can appreciate a few days later.

I met some cool people as I ran, and in that sense I appreciate that I ran it alone instead of with a partner. I wouldn't have had the conversations that I did if I had been running with a friend. A woman in front of me had a friend join her around mile 20. She was really struggling, as we basically all were at that point, but he helped her to continue. I guess that is a common thing to do, to have someone join you and run a bit to help your mentality. While I think I would have benefitted from that, I am also glad to know that I CAN do it alone, that I did have it in me even though at that point I didn't think I did.

So for the few of you that might care, while I DO want to do another marathon, I don't know when my next race will be yet, or if the next one I do will be a marathon. The whole reason I did this marathon rather than one of the bigger and more known ones in the fall was that I will be student teaching in the fall, and I don't yet know how that will affect my schedule. So while I would like to do another one in the fall, I am not sure yet if I want to do 12 weeks or more of training only to start student teaching and find that there isn't time for a 10 mile run on a school day since teaching will involve so much prep and time at first (and always...). However, I am investigating the upcoming marathons in my area, and there is another small one that is on one of my running routes's on the list of possibilities.

I was looking at marathons online and found this quote on the Girls on the Run charity page. I think it is a great summary of some of the things I have felt during this experience.

Running makes you.

Running makes you happy, healthy, and strong. Running makes the girl inside you come out and play. Running makes you better. Sure, running makes you tired, sore and sweaty, but that’s because running makes you give it all. And when you do, running makes you unstoppable. Let’s face it: running makes you the super-duper ninja
bomb-tastic superhero you were meant to be. Running makes you all that.
Running makes you so much more!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mission Accomplished

Well, this morning was the marathon. I was excited, just ready to get started. The forecast included rain every hour, but those forecasters were wrong. The weather was absolutely perfect to run in, although the spectators were freezing. I saw the sunrise over a gorgeous Lake Michigan, and about an hour into the race, as the sun was high enough to start really heating things up, it went behind clouds and kept things cool. I even put a long sleeve shirt back on near the end of the race, something I pretty much never do. You probably don't care about that boring stuff though.

The actual race started really well for me. It felt good to be running again after tapering for awhile. I knew I was going at a faster pace than I thought I could keep up, but I just couldn't make myself slow down by more than 10 or 20 seconds per mile. The first half of the race went really well. If I had just been running a half marathon, it would have been a great one, probably a PR (personal record). At mile 12 the half marathoners turned around and finished their last 1.1 miles. That left the course very empty, which killed me because all the energy left with those guys. I found a group of runners, though, and started chatting with people, and things turned back around. The last 5 miles were really hard, but with some soul searching and a little hating all things that have to do with running, I somehow finished.

My favorite uplifters were the chants and cheers and music from the spectators and volunteers. It is amazing how hearing some cheers and cow bells could make my legs move faster. There was a guy playing a djembe (hand drum), he gets the award for best male spectator. Three sisters tie for best female spectators. They were in elementary school, and kept popping up at various points to cheer on their mom. They may be hoarse tomorrow, but they were the most supportive and always wanted high fives as I passed. If you know of a race coming up near you, please go and bring a cow bell or a drum or color a poster (best poster: "Smile if you aren't wearing underwear." Who could not smile when you read that, regardless of what you are or are not wearing?) Runners will really appreciate your enthusiasm, even if you don't know anyone who is running.

In my experience, your race time is really important to people. It's usually the first question people ask. Kind of like when you finish a soccer game, football game, etc. and people just want to know if you won. It's also often the first information that runners offer. Two of my friends decided not to tell what times they got on their marathon last fall, because they decided it wasn't about that for them. I have been thinking the same thing. I was very pleased with my time. I did much better than I expected to, and I am proud of my time. But I am not going to talk about it for now. If it is anything like my half marathons, I may forget the time within a few weeks or months anyway. If you really want to know, I am sure you will find a way to figure it out. But that's up to you, and I'd appreciate it if you don't post it on facebook :-)

As I've written before, I started this journey for the purpose of running a marathon. That was what it was all about. The end product. I wanted to do it before I turn 30. I didn't believe I could do it, but I wanted to try. I had some unexpected results. There's a cliche about things being about the journey instead of the end product. I really found the journey to be the most important thing. Parts of the race itself were a blur, and it kind of all runs together in my head already, only a few hours afterwards. But I haven't forgotten the lessons I learned about myself both today and through the training, and I hope I don't forget them. You can read more about that here and here.

Lessons today included finding more strength when I went way beyond whatever abilities I thought I had. My friend Dan told me that it isn't supposed to easy, and I had some time to think about that today. I found that comforting during the last half of the race, remembering that I have trained for this, and I can do it, but it won't be easy. I also found myself looking at people who were walking and looking kind of awful, and I saw that they were stronger than they thought they were. So I told them that. "You're stronger than you think you are right now. You can do this. You have it in you..." I said it a few times, but then I had to tell myself that same thing in the last few miles (numerous times). And it did help me to keep putting one foot in front of the other because of the lessons I had learned during training.

I am sore. I was sore before I even finished running. I look like an arthritic grandma when I walk, use stairs, or try to sit down or stand up. That will go away. But if you see me around, you can make fun of the way I walk this week. I will smile and be proud of myself for forcing those legs to keep moving so that I could finish my first marathon.

Thanks for reading these blog posts. Thanks for donating to Feed My Starving Children (for more info on that, read here.) Thanks for your support and facebook messages and text messages and emails, etc. I really appreciate it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

13 hours until the race!

The course has been driven, bib/time chip picked up. My electronic stuff is charging and I have taped my name on my shirts. My sweet mom knows right where to stand so that she can see me the most times without having to repark the car. It looks like a fun course with a lot of opportunity to see Lake Michigan, which was an incredible aqua blue today. What have I forgotten? I'm not sure yet. (Duh.)

I'm super excited and ready to start running! Thanks so much to those who have donated! (You can still donate for another week if anyone is interested.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3.5 days until the race

The marathon is almost here, and I feel at peace about it. There are many things that could go wrong, some of them actually might happen. I know it sounds a little weird, but I have been trying to think of some of these possibilities, not to worry over them, but to reassure myself that even if ______ happened, I would still be ok. Even if it rains, even if my knees bother me, even if I trip on the clothing or cups that end up all over the ground during the race, even if I catch a cold, even if my ipod breaks, even if I can't finish the race or even if I can't start the race for some reason, I will be ok.

This hasn't been the journey I thought it would be. I thought it was all about the marathon itself. I thought it was about accomplishing this thing I thought I couldn't do. It turns out that the journey has been a game changer. I want to finish strong, I want to enjoy the race, I want to do my best, but even if I don't, I can't be sad. This has changed my mentality. I went from being a person who "could never run a marathon" to being a person who can run a marathon, a person who can stretch the limits, a person who can do more than I had originally thought.

This past weekend I spoke with a man who had recently run his first two marathons. His first marathon qualified him for the Boston Marathon, and his second was the Boston Marathon itself. As he talked about his experiences, his pacing, his times, I began to feel inadequate. I won't complete my first marathon anywhere near as fast as he did. I doubt I will ever qualify to run the Boston Marathon, and that isn't even a goal of mine. Should it be? Should I be concerned about speed? About pace? Will I be the last one out on this course, since it is a small marathon that I am running? I let these thoughts marinate in my head for about an hour.

Then I realized, I need to be true to myself and the things I have learned along the way. I am not running this marathon for speed. I don't run to compete against other people or to qualify for other races. I run for health, for sanity, to learn about myself, and to push beyond barriers that I place upon myself. I run because I like to run. I won't play the comparison game, and I will not wait until I can run faster before I sign up for a race. It would not be pushing my own limitations for me to wait until it is safe to run this, to wait until I am sure I can do it, or to wait until I think my time will be comparable with more people. That is not who I am or why I am doing this.

The marathon course has a number of points where people coming "back" will be passing the people still going "out". I don't know how to say that more clearly, but I will be almost constantly aware of the people who are going faster than me. I am glad that I got this chance to remember why I am running and who I am running for before the faster runners zoom by me. They are an inspiration. But they do not make me less of a runner.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Back in it

My relationship with running has been a little weird this past week. The tapering (backing off on mileage) has been an interesting mental game. I am only running 8 miles where I once did 20, only 6 where I once did 10, only 3 where I once did 5. It's not that I'm obsessed with distance, but it is a weird mental game to have increasing mileage be the goal for 16 weeks and then all of a sudden, when the strong mentality really counts, to start feeling like 8 miles is long, like 3 is enough. I have to do 26.2 miles in a week and my brain is not in that mode right now. I think the 12 miles that seemed super long at the farm might have been part of the problem. After all, 12 is less than half, but it was one of the hardest runs that I've had mentally when I had expected it to be almost easy.

Well, I did my final long run of this training yesterday, 8 miles. I found a new path in my town a few weeks ago, so after a little investigation, I mapped a new run in a neighborhood I have never had access to before, because the roads were too busy and not sidewalked (except the one path I just found). It was fun to explore something so close to home, yet so new. About 5 miles in, I decided that I felt really good, so I was going to pick up the pace a bit. It ended up being my fastest 8 mile run by a few minutes with my fastest mile times since I got my watch that keeps track of pace. It was fun to feel like I was in the zone again after a funky week. It felt awesome to be able to go faster and not need to slow back down. And I think I do have to credit the tapering for the ability to feel so fresh. I'm hoping that the next 8 days of very little running continue to refresh these legs so that I feel that good during the marathon, too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Convoy of Hope in Japan

Here is a video from Convoy of Hope, one of Feed My Starving Children's partners who is working in Japan. The video shows some interesting and sad pictures from Japan, and shows some of our food arriving.

Pictures Remind Me of My Motivation

These are some of my favorite pictures from the Feed My Starving Children website.

Sometimes my job at FMSC is tiring or starts to feel like just another job. It's pictures like these that remind me that what I do is just a step somewhere in the middle of a large process, and the process ends with children who ordinarily wouldn't have any food being able to eat today...and tomorrow...and the next day...

The last picture always reminds me of a child I worked with in Bolivia. The two little girls look so similar, and it is a good reminder that the kids we feed come from all walks of life, but it is not their fault that they don't get the proper nutrition.

These kids are the reason I do what I do, and they are the reason for all this blogging. If you have .24 you would like to donate so that a child like these can eat for a day (or you can donate more, of course), click on my ChipIn on the right or go back to my first post in this series.

The Emerald Wizard

The Emerald Wizard is my new watch. Yes, I named it. No, I don't normally name things that aren't alive. But this one gets a name. And it is incredible.

My new watch is a Garmin Forerunner 405. It knows the time and date and the length of time I have been running, like any running watch. It also knows my pace, my average pace, it tells me how many calories I have burned (I think that is a guess, because I don't know how it would know that), my heartrate, my elevation, my pace, it can track a course and get me back to my starting point, it can tell me exactly how far I've gone (that is my favorite feature), and it keeps track of all the miles I have ever run with it. It also works for biking and other activities. It automatically speaks with my computer and inputs today's data when it is within a meter of the computer and I have the flash drive in my computer. Then it moves today's data to storage and clears the screen for the next time I want to use it. It has a touch screen of sorts and various displays so I can see the information that I want to see when I am running.

It does even more than this, but I can't remember everything and I figure you probably skimmed over the last paragraph anyway. This was a gift, and it was one of the best gifts ever. I am so thankful to have it, and it has already changed some of the ways I mentally categorized running. I love it, love it, love it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oops! I forgot to train on hills!

In the beginning of my training, I moved the week around so that when following the schedule I have my long runs on Thursday instead of Saturday. This has worked out well for me because I have had class on Thursday nights, which has meant that I have not had to work on a Thursday this whole semester. Since my work days are not your normal 9-5, and I am usually on my feet running around like a maniac for hours on end at work, I either count work days as a rest day or a cross training day. Sometimes I have been able to squeeze a run in before or after an event day, but I typically only need to once or maybe twice in a work weekend.

This past Thursday I didn't have class, so my mom and I went to my Grandpa's farm. I have gone running there numerous times in the past. However, on my past runs there, I was usually training for a half marathon rather than a full marathon. This meant that those runs were shorter, even though at the time, they may have been the longest I'd ever run. I remember they seemed long at the time.

So this week's long run of 12 miles was done at the farm on dirt and gravel roads that wind between fields and woods. It is a beautiful area. The run felt super long, which I blame on being in a different place than usual and never having run so long in this area, even though compared to my 20 miles last week, it was only a medium run. I also tend to think of the area as fairly flat, but it isn't. There are some pretty massive dips and climbs, put there by the old strip mines for coal. There were four places where all I could see was a wall of road looming up above me, which was preceded by a steep downhill. On one downhill, my shoes were sliding on the gravel and I was sure I was going to slip and fall on my rear end. Is this where "bite the dust" comes from? The uphills weren't as awful as they looked, but I was definitely aware that I have not had hills in my training runs thus far. I live in flat Chicagoland. Aside from the trash dumps, which I cannot and would not run on, I know of only one rise substantial enough to be called a hill within a 10 mile radius. If I ran there, I would be running in circles barely bigger than my basement circle. Ok, a little bigger than that, but still. The hills near the farm, though, have shown me that maybe a loop around and around this hill would be worth it so I at least know how to run hills.

The big question in my mind now is: Are there hills on my marathon loop? There shouldn't be too many and they shouldn't be too huge if they do exist, but I am a little nervous to find out!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

20 miles, reaching goals, changing me

SUPERFICIAL UPDATE: I finished my biggest week of training successfully! It was a great week. I was able to get in all of my runs, I had a fantastic 10 miler, and the 20 mile run was much better than I anticipated. I spent it mostly listening to my special long run playlist full of my favorite tunes. I also spent the time thinking about life, which I often do while running, which is one of the reasons why I like running.

A LITTLE BIT DEEPER UPDATE: I realized during my 20 mile run that only a year ago I was just beginning my masters program, felt torn between two worlds with culture shock and the adjustment back into the United States, and wasn't running or exercising much at all. A year ago I still felt new in my job and felt like I had FOREVER left to go in meeting my next goal of getting a teaching certificate...which was frustrating because I felt like I was trapped until I completed it.

Now I am almost done with my masters/teaching certificate. I have two more classes over the summer, then student teaching, then I am "free". (I don't necessarily feel so trapped anymore, but it will be nice not to be in school anymore). I have gone from being unsure if I am a runner, unsure if I can be worthy of that name anymore, unsure if I can handle running at feeling like a runner and living like a runner. I don't even know what definition I place behind that word anymore, but today I would say that I am a runner, and I am proud of that again.

However, these accomplishments over the last year, none of which have a tangible end yet, are signs of a deeper change as well. I'm not married, I don't have kids, I don't have a full time job, and I have spent my adult life doing things that I feel passionate about and led to do. I have done a lot of experiencing, but I never felt like I had done a lot of "growing up." While I still haven't taken on those large responsibilities of raising a family, (although I have taken on the large responsibility of student loans ;-), I do feel like I have come into my own a little bit more this past year and a half. I'm starting to feel like I have a better understanding of what I am capable of, and I feel like I fit into my own skin a little bit better. I don't know quite how to describe it, but as I ran 20 miles on Thursday, striving to accomplish something I've never done before, nor never thought I could do, I realized that I am stronger than I knew.

I also realized that this potential lies in everyone. While I do believe that most anyone COULD run or walk a marathon, that's not exactly what I am talking about. I mean that you have the potential to be things you only dreamed about, to do things you wanted to but never thought you could. You have this potential. So what stops us? While I do see so many people who dream their dreams, work super hard to accomplish them, and then enjoy that success, the reality is that I also encounter many people who don't believe that THEY could ever do this.

"That's good for you, but I could never do that," I have heard said.

No? Do you mean that you could never run a marathon, or you could never dream something, work really hard, make the mental switch somewhere along the way, and realize that you in fact had that potential the whole time?

I spoke to a man today who had been trying to lose weight for years, and now he needs to because he is super close to being diagnosed with diabetes. He is opting not to have stomach surgery, because he is going to try some more to do it the natural way, even though he has failed day after day in this goal.

And you know what? With my entire being I believe that he can do it. It isn't an impossible goal. The fact that he has failed to lose weight in the past does NOT mean that he cannot lose weight in the future. Meeting his goal will require committment and perseverance and a mental switch. There is a switch that takes place, when, after eating healthier foods for a period of time, greasy or fattening foods start sounding less and less appetizing. There is a switch that happens when you stop having that soda/chocolate/snack/etc every day, you stop needing it every day, and then you even stop wanting it every day. There is a switch that happens after you start a training schedule and every day you have to make the difficult choice to do today's task to the day when you just know that on these days you do this exercise, and you can do it and your body feels better when you do it and you actually end up liking it.

That switch does happen. But it takes time and you must make a lot of little choices toward your goal before that switch happens. (You have to continue making the little choices after the switch, too, but there is a different motivation behind them.)

Meeting a goal is not about one giant leap, one life-changing moment in time, getting to that impossible-to-reach light at the end of the tunnel.

Meeting goals is about the sum of many tiny choices. Goals are accomplished by making one small change, and then another, and then another, until that change becomes a habit, a lifestyle. The change becomes a little bit easier, a lit less daunting.

So yes, I ran 20 miles on Thursday. And yes, I asked myself if I had it in me to add 6.2 more miles onto that in three weeks at the marathon. (Yes, I do have it in me.) Yes, I have completed the longest long run of my training, and now I begin to taper back on mileage as I wait for the marathon.

But this run and this training have been about so much more than the race itself. My end goal of running a marathon, a lifelong dream, has kind of paled as I realized what a blessing the journey has been. I have rediscovered myself as a runner. I have reinvented myself as a person who actually can set goals, commit to them, work hard, and reach them. I have seen myself slowly turning into an adult. And I have realized that within me I house a whole bunch of potential to accomplish any dream I decide to pursue. I will not write things off as impossible anymore.

And THAT journey has been worth it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Biggest Week of the Training

Well, mileage-wise, this is the biggest week because it will be the week of my training with the most miles. I am supposed to do 5, 10, 5, then 20 miles. The day after I run 20 miles I am supposed to sit in a car for hours on my way to a work event. I'm not sure how much my legs are going to like that. Last week, the day after I ran 18 miles, I sat on a plane for hours and my legs were super unhappy. Once I got moving, though, they stretched out and calmed down a little :-)

After this week, I start pulling back and resting up for the big race. That seems a little scary as I think about how close it is getting. In some ways I am overwhelmed by the commitment of the training, but mostly I am amazed at how perfectly it fit into this semester and I am eager to continue running and training after this...although I am not sure if it will be another marathon, a half marathon, etc. I don't expect to have the time to dedicate to any marathon training this next fall as I will be student teaching, but it is possible that I will surprise myself in the fall or that the spring will once again lend itself to more serious training.

Where will your box turn hunger into hope?

This was an email recently sent out by Feed My Starving Children. In trying to get it linked here, I lost the formatting and pretty designs. However, here is a link to the brochure that is similar...

Where will your box turn hunger into hope?

Dear Friend of FMSC,

MannaPack™ meals from Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) do a lot more than keep children alive in harsh living conditions. In 67 countries, our food powerfully enables people to get ahead. It’s a hand up, not a hand out.

•Hundreds of mission schools depend on our food to nourish students so they can concentrate on getting a solid education for a brighter future.
•Thousands of orphanages count on our food to create loving, stable homes for a new generation of leaders.
•Christian and humanitarian agencies supply FMSC food to communities so families can pool limited dollars for income-producing businesses and eventually purchase their own food.
And something else is quietly happening.

When FMSC can’t meet a need, we introduce others who can—agencies that pitch in with clean water wells, agriculture, and micro-enterprises. Together, we’re building self-sufficient communities.

FMSC food gives people purpose and strength. And with God’s love packed along in the boxes you send, strong people can accomplish anything.

If you volunteered with us, it’s likely that you packed a full box of 216 meals. Will you provide a gift to cover the cost of those meals and give a community a hand up today?

Please prayerfully consider how you can help turn hunger into hope.
•Text "Manna" to 50555 - You can donate $10—enough to provide 48 meals—immediately via text message. (Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Full terms:
•Give a one-time gift - Contribute online via your credit card.
•Commit to monthly support - Become a Monthly Manna donor via your credit card or bank account.
We’re One of “10 Highly Rated Charities Relying on Private Contributions”
“…more than 95% of FMSC’s total revenue comes from private contributions, which makes the efficiency of their fundraising all the more impressive.” Charity Navigator website

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Earthquake Survivors Speak in Fort Lauderdale

The ends of events are always a bit crazy, but I love the chaos. 100 to 500 people move around carrying things. Some know where they are going, most don't. I usually stand in the middle of the chaos pointing people to different places around the room where they should deposit their ingredients, dishes, supplies, trash, etc. Then I start shoving things back into the cabinets which somehow manage to hold a room full of stuff.

That is exactly what I was doing when two people came up to me on Saturday. The woman spoke to me while the man hung back a little, waiting and smiling. She said they were survivors of the earthquake in Haiti and they would like to share a few words with the group. I asked them their names and got a general idea of what they wanted to say, and then I interrupted Joel, who was closing the event. When they began speaking, it was mesmerizing. The woman spoke first, then her husband Gary. He was blind, and he had a real gift with words.

They thanked the volunteers for the work that they had done. Then they spoke about the earthquake, what it felt like, what they saw. They told us a little bit about the conditions in Haiti. "These people have nothing," Gary said. "It may seem like you don't have very much here, but every day you wake up and you at least have a cup of water. The people of Haiti don't even have that." They were so grateful to be there, having heard about the event through a person they'd met only the day before. They were grateful to be able to serve, especially to make meals headed towards Haiti. They were grateful to be alive and to be together.

They reminded me that although I don't have a lot of money compared to people in the United States, I am so rich. I am blessed to have my family, to have friends, to be able to serve, and to have abundant food and clean water.

I am so very blessed.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

15 mile bike ride in the Everglades

Today we had a day off after our event, but we don't fly out until tomorrow. In other words, we had a whole day to explore Southern Florida. And explore we did! We drove out to Everglades National Park and took a bicycle tour of a 15 mile loop. I have never seen so many alligators. There were hundreds, and this was apparently a small number of alligators! The Everglades are very dry right now, but we still saw amazing plant life and bird life and had a great time riding bikes. We drove home taking the scenic route through Miami, Miami Beach, Hollywood (Florida), and Fort Lauderdale. Then we went to the gym and I had a great 5 mile run on the treadmill. I don't often use treadmills, and I don't often LIKE using treadmills, either. Today was good. It wasn't super fast, but I enjoy increasing the speed little by little on treadmills. That is something I don't do while street running. I usually just run to the beat of my music when I run outside. Today, though, the pace was controlled and got faster and faster. Tomorrow I will try to get out to run as soon as I get home from Florida. I'll be coming home sunburned, but hopefully not too sore!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

18 miles and a great donation!

I totally don't have time to write right now, but I wanted to update that I got a great donation from a great man who is also running the same marathon! Woohoo! (I've had it for awhile but due to some issues I needed to work out, you couldn't see it on my ChipIn. Issues are all cleared up :-)

ALSO, I ran 18 miles today. It was my longest run ever, both by time and mileage. It wasn't easy, and I began planning for how I would add 8.2 more miles come May 7th at the marathon. I think some planned walking breaks, even if just to savor the water at the water stations, will be needed. I saw a small herd of deer and scared some geese along the way. I also saw a lot of people out, a sign of spring break and the approaching end of wintery weather...I didn't even regret not running with my gloves today. I won't even be able to remember all this cold weather tomorrow when I land in Fort Lauderdale! I am so blessed to be able to go there for work. I love my job.

Favorite songs to run to today: Glitter, by Pink, and the Glee version of Bohemian Rhapsody.

OK, gotta go! I'll check back in soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Braving Nine

Nine miles. The daunting mileage that I secretly wished to avoid for...well, forever. The last time I ran exactly 9 miles it was my "Run of Death", as I refer to it. It completely sucked the life out of me, and I was convinced that there was no way I would ever be able to do more than that, or to ever run again at all. I spent more time walking on that run that I EVER walk, and I was fairly certain that I was going to freeze to death because I couldn't run or really even walk any more. At all. And I was still miles from home. I have a huge mental block in relation to the 9 mile run.

So this week my medium length run was supposed to be 9 mile. Guess who didn't want to do it? I worked this weekend, so I am physically tired. I feel it in my eyes, my knees, my body. I have the 18 mile long run looming over my head, so I should really not run this 9 mile loop as I prepare for the really long one, right? My knees are hurting, so I shouldn't even try to run 9, right? I'm tired. I have homework...What other excuses can I come up with to NOT tackle this run?

I did go out on this run today, and it was ok. Not my best run ever, not even something I really enjoyed, but I am glad I did it. There's no way I was going to do it on the same course I ran it the first time, so it involved a bit more planning and rerouting, but I did it. Tired and with hurting knees, I plodded on. I guess a better word to describe it would be plodding, rather than running or even jogging. As I switched from a podcast (2 Gomers Run a Marathon - LOVE them!) to music, I realized that when my body is feeling like I am running in a pool of molasses, music may be a good way to come out of that. Not a perfect fix, but probably something I should start the run with the next time I feel like that.

Less than a year ago I was completely anti-headphones while running. I loved listening to my own breath, the birds singing, the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. Now I couldn't run without my headphones. At least not more than a few miles. The music and podcasts help me to focus on God or my pace or relationships or ...well, lots of things. If I was just thinking about running all the time, I think I would talk myself into quitting a lot rather than enjoying tuning out, mellowing out, and breaking out of my old limitations.

Monday, March 28, 2011

ChipIn Zeros

This is my second post of the evening, just a note that I added an end goal to my fundraising (I know we can raise WAY more than this, but since no one has chipped in yet, I started low). I did this because when it said my goal was $0, that just meant that I didn't specify a goal, and the yellow bar kept looking like it was growing as 0 approached 0.

Also, I was SUPER excited to hear that someone I know from childhood is now a monthly donor to Feed My Starving Children! If anyone else donates in an alternative form, I still want to hear about it! Or if you want to know about donating online/monthly/etc., go here.

Running in North Carolina

Last week I looked up our hotel in GoogleMaps. I zoomed in with the satellite viewer, looking for trails to run on. I brought clothes I could run in outside, expecting rain, or inside on a treadmill. I was ready.

It was cold and rainy almost the whole time we were in Mooresville, so I was thankful for the treadmills. There weren't sidewalks or side roads anywhere near our hotel, so I was doubly thankful for the treadmills.

We had pockets of time in which I could run and experience a stairclimber for the first time (apparently I climbed 150 flights of stairs, but I am certain I couldn't have done that on real stairs!). I was so thankful for the treadmills and the attached televisions. CMT's music videos provided a great source of entertainment (minus the overkill on commercials). It was my first time running on a treadmill since the first week of my marathon training, and probably only the second time in over a year (?). Last January the treadmill didn't agree with me, but this time it was a real blessing to have nice equipment at our hotel. Otherwise, there was no way I was going to go out to run in the freezing rain!

Because of using the treadmill and not having a ton of time to run, I decided to re-order my running schedule for the week. I did 5 miles, then 4 miles. Tomorrow, now that I am back home, I have 9 miles, and then a new distance: 18 miles on Thursday. I have a lot of catching up on sleep and ice/rest for the knees before I am ready for the 18 miler. But I am excited to conquer a new distance!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Week In Review

This week we had rain, snow, and sunshine.

Sunday: I ran 4ish miles in my basement, round and round and round. It was a great time of reflection and I was thankful to have a place where I could run but not be caught in the downpour of rain.

Monday: I ran 8 miles, the second time I had run that route. I wasn't feeling great on Monday, and it was the same route I had run a week previous, also a day I wasn't feeling well. Somehow I managed to run the same route about 6 minutes faster this week than last week. I think last week I was much more tired, but it is still fun to see such major improvements.

Tuesday: I ran 5 or 5.1 miles, not my fastest 5 miler during this training. However, it was a good run.

Wednesday: Rest Day. I used to hate Wednesdays because they were rest days. Not that I always want to run, but there is something addicting about having a goal to meet and meeting it day by day. I was just lonely and bored on Wednesdays, so I began volunteering in a second grade class. I really enjoy the class and the kids and I am learning a lot from the teachers. This week was my second time in the classroom as a volunteer, though I spent a week observing there last fall.

Thursday: 12.0 miles. It was my second time doing 12 miles during this training. The first time was a really big deal because I hadn't run that far in probably over 5 years. This time I have three runs longer than that under my belt, so it seemed "short" in my head. Not short, I guess, but do-able. That mental switch is a cool monitor of my mental progress, if that makes sense. I did run it about 6 minutes faster than last time, I didn't feel as tired while running or as accomplished when I finished. But it was a good run and a great way to get my mind centered before my presentation tonight. Also to take my mind OFF of the presentation! Songs to run to: Glee. Glee music is great for running!

Friday: I am supposed to Cross Train tomorrow, but I will be on a plane most of the day, going to a work event. I hope to get some cross-training in, as I totally love getting that break from running to do something else physical.

Saturday: A rest day will be spent on my feet at Williamson Chapel in Mooresville, NC doing a Feed My Starving Children event. I'm excited!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meals for Japan

Click here to read more about Feed My Starving Children's recent and upcoming shipments to Japan.

I have worked with Convoy of Hope and was impressed with their ability to meet needs so quickly and so far-reaching. They don't have the bureaucratic hoops to jump through. They are "first responders", meaning they focus on the ability to get food clean water and other things they know to be necessary in the first hours/days after disasters. They have other things they do well, too. I worked at an event at their headquarters in Missouri just days before the Haiti earthquake, in which we made 100,000 meals that were available just in time that they could use those in their first response after Haiti's earthquake.

I have also recently learned more about NAFEC, and I have been impressed with their heart for Eastern Asia, their emphasis on supporting community, and their passion for this mission.

My Biggest Loser Moment

I enjoy watching The Biggest Loser on television. OK, that's not true. I enjoy watching The Biggest Loser on because there are only about 7 minutes of commercials instead of 40 minutes. I like the show because I love seeing people discover their own potential, discover greatness inside of them, and create a better, healthier lifestyle for themselves.

Since I have watched the show for many seasons, I have begun to imagine the contestant interviews in my head at certain, seemingly relevant times. For instance, yesterday it was pouring rain but I needed to run 4 miles. Since I was already feeling a bit under the weather, I decided to run circles around my basement, just like I had a number of times at the beginning of my marathon training when it was snowing or below 0 degrees outside. There is a nice path that takes me about 15 seconds to cycle through, and I just crank up the music and run on autopilot.

Yesterday, however, all I could think about was how good it felt to be running again after a few days’ rest. Putting my running shoes onto my feet, which are healing from old blisters, actually felt good. Stretching my legs out in my little circular path around the basement felt great. Cranking up the tunes again felt rejuvenating. Yet it was the Biggest Loser statements that kept my mind occupied.

Look how far I’ve come, I thought. When I first started, running circles around the basement felt hard, monotonous, and forever-long. Now this just seems like a few minutes out of my day, the circles are completed faster and more athletically, my shoes are worn in now so my feet feel great. It was like on the Biggest Loser when they repeat their first workouts near the end of the season. What used to be hard, maybe impossible, is quite easy now. They reexamine their old outlook, their old capabilities, and their old limitations. And they appreciate how far they have come.

I, too, am appreciating how far I have come right now. I had never run more than 13.1 miles, and now I have twice. Not only that, but I recognize that I can run much longer and much harder than I ever knew. I know a little bit better what my body needs as far as nutrition and rest and ice and stretching. I look forward to my runs rather than dreading the long ones. I still get nervous about the long runs, but I know I can handle them. I think back to my first long run of 6 miles, think how daunting that was, how long the run seemed. I didn’t think I could do my second long run, 7 miles, and I avoided leaving the house for fear of the run. I hadn’t run over 45 minutes in a long time before those first long runs, and I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now 45 minutes is a short run. My medium runs are longer than those first long runs were, and I have grown used to being out on the roads for over 2 hours at a time. I have found music I love listening to, found a cause I love to think about (Read about supporting Feed My Starving Children here and ChipIn on the right!), found sermons and podcasts I look forward to keeping up with. I have found new routes through old stomping grounds, landmarks I notice each time I pass, and protein drinks I will never make again.

I’ve come a long way, and I recognize that this is just a season in my life. After this marathon, I never have to be in this training mode again. I never have to push myself like this again. But I hope that I do. I hope that this is a new part of my life that I never give up. Running has given me a new sense of sanity, balance, and overall health. I will be student teaching in the fall, and I don’t expect to get much running done during student teaching or my first year of teaching. However, recognize that even in the busy times, it is worth the time to run. The mental and physical effects are worth the 30 minutes or hour out of my day. I want to come back to this place again and again in my life. Each day is an accomplishment, even if I am just checking off that I completed a rest day! (Who knew I would feel accomplished about that?) I highly recommend this running thing to all of you!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Marilyn's Progress since the Earthquake in Haiti

Check out Marilyn's story in this link. I love her little face. She reminds me of one of the orphans I played with in Bolivia. I am hoping for SOMEBODY to donate some meals for these kids. For a reminder of the amazing amount of meals your change can provide, go here or here

It costs less than a quarter to feed a starving child for a day, and the food meets a child's nutritional needs for the day and tastes good. Can you spare some change for kids like Marilyn?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What it was like for Robyn

Here is a quote from a Feed My Starving Children food recipient. I haven't been in a place where I could experience the sharing of our food, but I have seen things like this in my own experiences overseas. It is so precious and heartwrenching.

“It was touching to see the children, dressed in their finest donated clothes and barefoot, make the walk to the house where they are fed. Children 5-8 years old were carrying their infant siblings and gave them such loving care. Many fed their younger siblings—and only ate after their siblings appeared fed.”
- Robyn Moravetz, Tierra Santa orphanage, Honduras (November 2008)

Taken from:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Today I ran farther than I have ever run before, and longer than I have ever run at one time. And it was good...

I have to say I was nervous about the whole thing after my 15 mile run last week. It was hard and I was dragging. The thought of doing 11 more miles was daunting. It seemed impossible.

Today, though, I ran 16 and I ended knowing that I could keep going. I wasn't eager to run 10.2 more to complete the marathon distance, but I knew that I could run at least 2 more. My knees hurt the whole time, but not to the point that I needed to stop, and they haven't been bothering me since. I was more hungry than I have ever been during a run, and I will have to bring along more raisins next time!

I wish I could blog while running, because I have so much more to say while on a run, and things seem so much more interesting. Instead of interesting, you get this. However, I do plan to share more stories about some of the kids Feed My Starving Children feeds so that you have more reason to donate than just hearing about my runs being long or short, good or bad. So there's something you can look forward to in the near future.

My niece and sister-in-law are here visiting, so I ran my long run a day early this week, which will give me an extra day off with which to run around following a toddler. I can't wait!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Impacting 100...and counting

It costs Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) $24 to feed 100 kids for a day.
It costs FMSC $168 to feed 100 kids for a week.
It costs FMSC $744 to feed 100 kids for a month.
It costs FMSC $8760 to feed 100 kids for a year.

Last weekend I worked with the Lindemanns, founders of Lindemann Chimney. They, as a company, had gone down to Aurora to pack food for Feed My Starving Children, and wanted to host an event. Mr. Lindemann said their company's goal for this year was to impact 100 people's lives. I love that goal. It reminds me of the movie Pay It Forward, which so intrigues me. Anyway, after a lot of planning and preparation, Lindemann Chimney hosted an event in Lake Bluff last weekend. In the course of one day, they packed enough food that 293 kids could eat 1 meal a day for an entire year. These are kids who would otherwise not eat their daily servings of the nutrients they need to be healthy. These are kids who might not eat at all were it not for Feed My Starving Children food. It took some planning, some fundraising, and a lot of faith, but the Lindemanns and Lindemann Chimney joined the ranks of Feed My Starving Children Event Hosts last weekend, and impacted not just 100 people's lives, but about 293...and the lives of those around the kids who will be eating the food also will be impacted...and the lives of those people whom these kids will continue to interact with throughout their lives...exponential impact.

Oh, and one of the coolest parts for me was finding out that Mr. Lindemann will also be running the marathon on May 7th with me. I was blessed to work with the Lindemanns and I hope to see them again at the marathon!

Friday, March 11, 2011

So how has training been going?

(Read my first blog about the marathon before you read this one!

So far I have really been enjoying the marathon training. I have been following the schedule I found online for marathon beginners. It involves 4 days a week of running, one day of cross training, and two days off. I thought it was crazy to start training in the winter (training started January 1), but it has actually been super cool. I have always hated winter because it is SO cold and you have to stay inside all the time. Being on the running schedule, though, got me outdoors even when it was cold and dreary. With the right clothes and the occasional schedule adjustment or basement run due to snow, winter running has been incredible. I haven't felt cooped up, I have been getting fresh air and soaking up the sunlight (through 3 layers of clothes). Up until this week, I only ran distances I have run before as I trained for a half marathon 6 years ago.

Yesterday I had my first run over 13.1 miles (that's how long a half marathon is), so it was a new "longest run" for me. I ran 15 miles, combining 3 running routes to make a circle around our town.

It was my second bad run of the training. First, I am incredibly grateful to have had so many good runs in the last 10 weeks. Second, it was harder mentally than I expected. I woke up crabby and couldn't shake the crabbiness. I got two new CDs to listen to, and I didn't like either one. However, it is such a feeling of accomplishment to have done something I have never done before. I am not very sore today. I can check 15 off my list and look ahead to the 16 miles I am supposed to run on Wednesday. I think that is a true test for me. I have run 13 miles four times in my life, as far as I can remember, and each time I have been able to take some time off before my next run.

I will keep you updated on the running and fundraising. This week I have to adjust the schedule a bit because we are getting two special visitors at my house! I am so excited, and hope to post some pictures of their visit. They arrive on Wednesday!

Running for A Cause!

Well hello again! Guess what? I didn't disappear off the face of the earth, I merely disappeared off the face of this blog. I hope you have had a good year without hearing from me.

You may have noticed this ChipIn thing above (Does anyone know how to get that to show on the side of my blog? I couldn’t do it). That's what brings me back to the blog, and hopefully will continue to keep me writing for awhile. I have been training to run my first marathon, and so far I have completed 10 out of 18 weeks of training. My original purpose in training was to prove to myself that I could do something I didn't think I could do, and to do something that I'd always wanted to do. As I have been training, though, I wanted to use all of this time and energy to benefit someone besides myself.

So here's what I have decided: I'm raising money for Feed My Starving Children. You can check out their website at For those who haven't heard of them, this organization uses volunteers to package nutritious meals for starving people around the world. There are four ingredients in these meals, and the meals have been created by food scientists to meet the nutritional needs of a starving child for an entire day. The organization has partners in 67 countries who know who needs the food and knows how to best get it to them. You can read more about the partners at The organization is nongovernmental. They don’t partner with governments overseas and don’t receive funds from the United States.

Each meal produced costs 24 cents to make. My marathon will be 26.2 miles. So I thought I would raise money based on those numbers.

If you would like to contribute 1 cent per mile (.26 total), you will feed a child for a day.
If you would like to contribute 10 cents per mile ($2.60 total), you will provide about 10 meals.
If you would like to contribute $1.00 per mile ($26 total), you will provide 108 meals.
If you contribute $2.00 per mile, you will be donating an entire box of food, which is 216 meals for $52.
$5 per mile ($130 total) donates 541 meals, 2.5 boxes worth of food.
$10 per mile ($260 total) donates 1083 meals, about 5 boxes worth of food.

Here are some other descriptions from the Feed My Starving Children website of what certain donation amounts will provide:
$52 provides 216 MannaPack meals (1 full box)
$208 provides 864 meals for patients in a malnourishment clinic (4 boxes)
$855 will fill ½ pallet with MannaPack meals to support a mountain village (approx. 17 boxes)
$1710 provides an entire pallet of meals to be packed with His love (33 boxes)

I’ll take ANY donations, whether 1 cent, 1 dollar, or $10,000! You should know that ALL of the money donated will be given to Feed My Starving Children. I will not be taking any cut of the donations. I know a lot about this organization, so if you have any questions, just let me know!

I’ll also be keeping you posted through this blog about my training, the fundraising, and the marathon.