Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Maine 2014 - The Drive Up {Day 1}

I'm more than 2 months removed from this trip, and regret not blogging about it sooner. I hope readers will enjoy the pictures and my commentary, but I mostly want these to jog my memory about the order of the trip. Using the blog as a digital scrapbook of the vacation, better late than never right??

 I have no clue what this picture is suppose to be. So we'll also agree better soon than later, right??

Just for giggles.

The drive was just over 20 hours long, so we decided to leave immediately after I got off work on Thursday and drive until we couldn't any longer. And by we, I mean Jay. Especially on the road, I have difficulty staying awake after 9PM. We over-nighted on the other side of West Virginia then hit the road again.

Jay's magic box (aka his cell phone) worked overtime for our vacation needs. We stopped at every brewery/pub we could find along the way. Our first stop was just outside New York City, a bit out of the way, but what's a road trip without a bit of randomness?

Captain Lawrence was difficult to find, tucked back behind a warehouse. In true southern fashion, I was quick to strike up a conversation with a stranger. A member of FDNY, he was on his way to visit his grandmother and stopped in the brewery for the first time that day.

Jay bought a sampler, and I enjoyed a "Golden Delicious" beer - flavored in apple brandy barrels. Yes, it was as good as it sounds.

We got lost getting back on the interstate, and passed this guy twice - costing us double in tolls. After driving up the road a bit, we settle in for dinner. The first place we stopped was rated high on trip advisor, but we arrived 30 minutes before the fancy restaurant opened. Another would-be patron dismissed the locked door "Only in Waterbury!" I'm still not sure what that means, but Jay and I break out into giggles whenever the other randomly tosses the saying out.

We ended up at an Irish pub, a bit more our speed. I had some delicious stew and a local beer. We hit the road again, Jay determined to make it to the southern tip of Maine before calling it. Once again we used the magic box, this time securing a hotel before pulling into York after dark.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

SOC Saturday

Its been a while since I've joined Jaime for Stream of Consciousness Saturday and today I'm fixing that.

Cause you know how much I love typing it all dramatic like
  • I'm writing this a few days before Christmas. Because I've been neglectful of doing these posts, despite the fact that I really enjoy them.
  • My But Seriously post started out as a SOCS post, but then I went over my 5 minute and didn't have everything out I wanted to say.
  • I'm ready for Christmas - early as always - and now wondering why I finish so early. It seems like the longer I drag out the season the more I sit, twiddling my thumbs a few days in advance
For the new year:
I want to do all those trite "resolution" type things
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Be more organized around the house
  • Take time to date my husband
  • Find outlets to serve others
  • Put down the phone/iPad and be present and available with those I love.
Now to find a way to actually do those things, not just talk/write about them. Do you have goals for the new year? Resolutions? Sure fire tips for staying on task?
about them.

Monday, December 22, 2014

But Seriously...

I guess I just couldn't bring myself to write this blog, now that I (sorta) know the end of the story, I'm ready.

Last month, before Jay and I went to Maine I received an ominous phone call from my dad. His doctor found something suspicious and wanted him to come in for a biopsy. They performed the procedure while we were gone and got the results back the week following.

Sitting just beside my driveway, while getting the mail, my daddy told me over the phone he had cancer.

For a while, I clammed up about it. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to think about it. I told a few friends, but asked them not to mention it to me. I even told Jay I didn't want to talk about it.

During a run one Sunday, I had my breakdown. Scared and upset, I ran the first 6 miles doing all the worrying I'd pent up in my head. My daddy has cancer. I even said it aloud. All the not talking/thinking about it had left me numb. Something about the words made it real.

Along the route, I saw a dead bird on the ground. Not sure why I found that dead bird comforting, but I starting humming His Eye is on the Sparrow. Life is hard, all too often. But.

At the turn around, I abandoned my concerns to the Lord. No matter what happened, He is in charge. He has a plan. My daddy has cancer. BUT. My daddy has Jesus.

After a month of waiting, last week he had surgery to remove the disease. He'd been told radiation might be necessary afterward, depending on margins and what not.

This time, after only a week and a half of waiting, he learned his margins looked good and no further treatments are needed. He's still got some recovering to do from the surgery, but the scary part is over.

From where I'm sitting, its easy to say cancer sucks, but God is good. He wouldn't be any less good had the outcome been different. However I'd be lying if I tried to pretend I'm anything but thrilled with the news.  Praise the Lord. Not because He did what makes me happy, but because no matter the storm, no matter the damage, He is worthy of our praise.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twas a week before Christmas

What a better time to pause and give thanks? Hopefully I'll be caught up on my sharing by the new year. I have super awesome news to share, but I'm leaving that for SOC Saturday. No, I'm not preggers, moving, or getting a promotion. Its nothing to do with me, directly at least. But it truly thrills my soul.

And now, the list:

4744) Daddy's perfectly cooked burgers
4753) Extra day with the in-laws
4760) Christmas in a candle
4772) Green Bay Packers on TV
4789) Library full of options

4792) 2 parents
4793) a bike
4794) a non-leaky roof

4804) Bible study Christmas party
4819) Beautiful Star song at church
4822) Family who cares enough to visit
4839) Throwback Thursday - happy memories

4845) New running kicks
4851) FREE books!
4864) Comfy new outfit
4873) Run plans with friends

I've at least caught up to last week. For what have you been thankful for this Christmas season?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stones to Remember

When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests' feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever. Joshua 4:1-7
The perfectionist in me cringes at the thought of being so far behind posting my thankful list. However I truly do need these reminders right now. Holidays are changing for my family, partly do to family members with health issues.

While my winter blues always come for a visit when the time changes and the days get shorter, this year I have some life stress to accompany it. I am so thankful for the journal itself  - both forcing me to pause to consider my blessings and giving me an opportunity to remember them.

4554) Audiobooks from library
4562) Scruffy beard kisses
4578) Clear direction from God (at auction on our anniversary)
4581) Sleeping on the couch like an old married couple
4592) Clear, crisp view from Mt. Cammerer

4608) Money for groceries
4616) "Ain't Nothin wrong with dat!"
4622) Sense of tidiness at home
4635) Snow!
4646) C.A.R.E. card writing with ladies from Bible study class

4655) Sunset reflecting off the river
4663) Melissa - understanding what I need and acting accordingly
4677) Sharing books with family (Mama, Aunt Karen, Aunt Caroline)
4682) His eye is on the sparrow
4693) Trying something new - cooking asparagus

4701)The little man's funny story about his dad
4716) Seeing Mocking Jay Part 1, with my sister and BIL
4725) Early Christmas gifts
4731) Card/board games

For what have you been thankful this past week?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Doing the Double - Part 2

If the goal of the Farragut 13.1 was to save up enough for the next day, the goal for the Foothills Half Marathon was to slow down and enjoy the journey. Unlike the cold, snow-flurry morning of the previous day, Sunday's race was held in the afternoon and the day shaped up to be sunny and warm.

Kelly, Amy, Johnny, Judy and I lined up at the start together but as the race progressed we split off into two group.s Johnny and Judy went on ahead. The half of our Ragnar van representing at this race stuck it out together until the bitter end.

Not trying for a certain pace at all, we looked for goodies stashed along the course. I may or may not have partook a couple times along the way. I have to live up to my hipster reputation* and all.

*I've only been accused of being this by one person, and he'll admit to being a moron.

Late in the race, as with the day before, Amy started having pain. We switched to a walk run and just focused on getting it done. We were surprised by a training buddy waiting at the top of a hill to encourage us.

Step by step, mile by mile, we got it DONE. Chip time - 2:27:26.

2 days + 26.2 miles = Challenge Accepted
3 medals = BEAST MODE

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Doing the Double - Part 1, Farragut 13.1

Over a month ago, I ran 2 half marathons in one weekend. Two different race directors picked the same weekend for half marathons locally, people noticed the conflict, and a "wouldn't it be cool if" thing was born.

I haven't blogged about it - first because I was busy with real life. However in recent days I've had trouble with the idea of blogging the events because they aren't something I can go through mile-by-mile and recap.

The objective originally was a PR attempt the Farragut 13.1 (Saturday's race). Then I would "for fun" running the Foothills Half Marathon (Sunday's race). October's vacation struck and I didn't get much running in. There would be no fall half PR for me.

I made it to the starting line with adjusted goals: enjoy myself, and finish with enough left to race the next day. A group of us girls started together, but broke apart in the opening miles of the race. Sharon and Judy went after a sub 2 time. Gretchen dropped back so that she would finish the distance (she hadn't trained for) comfortably. When we hit the hills Kelly & Christal pushed on, leaving Amy and I to tackle the mileage together.

With the exception of the big hill at mile 5 (we walked much of), the first 10 miles we ran at paces between 9:30 and 9:50, varying mile to mile based off of terrain. At the aid station around the double digit mark, we got encouragement from our friend Blaik. Its always good to see a smiling face on the course.

In the last miles Amy was having knee pain, so we slowed the pace into the 10s. She encouraged me to go on, but I saw no point it in. This would be neither my slowest half marathon ever, nor my fastest, so I stuck it out with her until the end.

Chip time - 2:12:06

The best part of the race (excluding the camaraderie we brought with us, of course) was yet to come. The race director did a great job of putting together a post race feast of chocolate milk, Petros, pizza, and tons of other great goodies. I stuffed my face. After all, I was carbloading for a half marathon the next day...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

This was supposed to auto post on Thanksgiving Day. It didn't, so we're just rolling with it and going a week late.

I'm going to pick up where I left off last week sharing my thankful list. I'm trying to post 1 item from every 10 grouping. We'll see how much longer I have the patience for this before I just skip to the current. I think, however, its good for me to review from weeks ago and give myself a bit of perspective.

I'm typically susceptible to the winter blues, this year circumstances making it worst than normal, so I'll welcome the positivity that comes from gratitude.

4323) Acadia National Park passport stamp - finally!
4334) Snacks in the car (post RI Cliffwalk)
4342) Home run markers - Camden Yards
4353) Travel safety
4366) Family support and love
4375) Ragnar prep meeting
4381) Hiking with family - physical ability

4392) Feelings may lie, but knowing I am never truly alone
4400) Being known for openness of service
4413) Rainbow streak in the sunset (Ragnar team picnic)
4421) Ragnar - as life distraction for me and daddy
4433) Gorgeous scenery for my first leg

4447) Warm hoodies and blankets
4457) Leg 2 - beautiful starry sky
4467) Leg 3 - sunrise
4474) Free massages at final exchange
4483) {another} free massage at the finish line
4494) Fun idea for hiding Jay's birthday present
4504) Eric Church concert 
4519) 13.1 - snow flurries!

4523) Post race yummies
4531) Holding hands with my darling
4549) First fire of winter

Hopefully you are having a great holiday with your family. 
For what are you giving thanks today?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Secret City Half Marathon - 2014 Race Report

This past weekend I competed in the Secret City Half marathon for the 3rd time. This marked my 4th half marathon of the year, 3rd of the month. I haven't really trained for any of these races specifically but had my mileage up and went into the races with a specific purpose.

In February, I ran the Strawberry Plains Half Marathon. I was training for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, and considered it a training race. I would practice starting slow in a race situation, then kicking up the speed at the end. I did this successfully.

Earlier in November - on the 1st and 2nd - I participated in the Farragut 13.1 and the Foothills Half Marathon. The goal for Farragut was to take it easy so that I would feel okay for the half the next day. The goal for Foothills was to run with friends and enjoy myself.

My goal for Secret City wasn't so clear. I signed up thinking that I would train for this race and attempt a specific time, but that didn't happen. October vacation, time training burn out, and serious life situations shifted my running to "for fun" and "for mental health" rather than for a goal race.

I'm glad I was signed up for the race - my brain needed these miles, but would have easily talked my body out of them otherwise. If for no other reason, posting 100 miles in November makes this race an epic win!

I set a tentative goal of 2:05, but most importantly I wanted to negative split the double loop course. 

Mile 1 - 9:29
Mile 2 - 9:44
Mile 3 - 9:30
Mile 4 - 9:28

The first miles were an exercise in restraint. The weather was perfect, I felt good and found myself going faster than the 9:30-9:40 plan.  These miles consisted of fast running, followed by my chastising myself and forcing a slower pace.

Mile 5 - 9:46
Mile 6 - 9:38
Mile 7 - 9:39

The green-way section of the race is the hilliest portion, as well as having lots of curves and turns. It was hard to maintain a good solid pace for these miles. I had worn my heart rate monitor, so I started tracking effort at this point.
 I finished the first loop in approximately 1:04 - I knew I'd have to pick it up if I wanted to hit my sub 2:05 goal. However saving enough for the second loop was the goal all along, and I felt confident I'd be able to speed up in the last miles.

Mile 8 - 9:20
Mile 9 - 9:04
Mile 10 - 8:58

Once again, I felt good for the first part of the loop. Relying solely on heart rate at this point, I had no clue how fast my paces got through this section. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the Garmin data post-race. 

Mile 11 - 9:35
Mile 12 - 9:27
Mile 13 - 9:41

And once again my pace slowed through the green-way section and one final uphill jaunt. I kept my heart rate at the highest it had been all race. At the 12 mile marker, I wanted to slow to a more comfortable pace. Its a race, its suppose to be uncomfortable I heard Kelly say. Crazy how she says crap that haunt me in random moments.

Final 0.15 - 1:21{9:00 pace}

Chip Time - 2:04:34
  • met time goal
  • ran the loops in negative splits
  • completed 4th half of the year
  • completed 16th half of my running career
Not a bad day at the races, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Concert Recap Pt 2 - Thompson Square

After Thursday's Eric Church concert, Jay and I planned to hit up the Thompson Square free concert sponsored by a local moonshine distillery. I had ran a cold half marathon that morning (snow flurries for my drive to the race), and wasn't sure I wanted to go back out in the cold again. Thankfully the afternoon concert start didn't leave me too much time to back out.

The concert was held just outside the distillery's retail shop, and all the seating was taken by the time we got there. After a few songs, and walking around a bit, we decided to head inside to warm up.

We might have had a moonshine sample or two. Yep, that's a cherry soaked in the liquor. Turns out the sample bar offered one of the best views of the concert.

They sang all their well known songs, along with the classic duet Jackson (made famous by Johnny Cash and June Carter). The concert was fun, and I enjoyed their casual conversational banter between songs. I suspect they were cold as well, because the performance only lasted an hour.

Once again my photography skills are lacking, but Jay was able to get pretty close to them walking through the store on their way off of the stage. I've got to get better at pictures for my blogs!!

Ooh a spider!

Now for a random change of subject - hope you have an incredible Thanksgiving! I'll be extra thankful if spidey doesn't try to shower with me again.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Concert Recap Pt 1 - Going to Church

The last week of October and the first weekend of November, I doubled my fun - twice! November 1st and 2nd I ran a half marathon each day, earning two new 13.1 medals as well as a 3rd for "Doing the Double." That's not what this blog is about. (Be patient, its coming. Maybe.)

Jay & I took in 2 concerts in 3 day time period. The first was at Knoxville's Thompson Boling Arena to see my favorite artist in country music these days - Eric Church.

I blame the gym lighting for not getting a decent picture. I was more excited than Jay (I think) but he had the added excitement of seeing one of his besties from college.

As we were hanging out in the concourse, someone hit me on the booty as she passed. "Um, I hope you know her." Jay's friend said, as I looked up. It was one of my current besties, Kristi. She's my concert go-to chica because we have similar tastes in music. I didn't get a picture of her that night, but remember her from the Dolly concert?

I did blog that concert, right? Gosh, I must really like coral! Anyhoo the concert was amazing! Brandy Clark was the opening act, followed by Dwight Yoakam. Then Mr. Church took the stage and did not disappoint...

...even if my pictures are a giant epic fail. He sang (most of) my favorite songs and of course I sang right along with him. Jay & I disagreed on how awesome some of his new songs are - a bit more rocking/edgy.

If you're not familiar with Eric Church, I'd recommend doing a YouTube tour of his stuff. Be sure you listen to my favorites Jack Daniels (above) and Lightening (below) to get an idea of his range.

Talk to me: Have you been to any good concerts lately? For my photographer friends, what's the secret to a good concert photo?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

In the Dark

Ready for another installment of Stream of Conciousness Saturday? Hold please, while I set the timer for 5 minutes. And away we go!!

I've started and stopped this blog post too many times. First, Jay decided to discuss Christmas decor with me. Both our home, and the two rentals. We find that December does better when we have holiday pictures up for potential guests to see when they are considering ours amongst so many other options.

Then I started to go down the depressing route. Its cold and dark here at my cabin way in the winter all too often. We are built into the side of a hill and only get a couple hours of sunlight, and of course its dark by 6PM thanks to daylight saving time.

But mostly I don't want to be Debbie Downer. My heart is heavy, but I'm trying to stay positive. I'm not sure how good of a job I'm doing though. Mostly I just think I'm sticking my head in the sand, and not truly accomplishing anything.

When I feel the need to cry, I'm at work or around friends and don't feel like I can. When I'm at home, I can't muster the tears. I know that sounds weird but...

Guess I chose the depressing option after all.

Do you have an "I need a good cry" movie or song as your go-to? Are you even a cryer?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Countdown

...or is it a count up? I considered doing a thanks-a-day post on Facebook as is trendy for the month of November. Instead I have tried to commit to writing 5 things in my journal every day. I've had some good days where my list was seemingly endless, and some bad where it was a struggle to find one good thing.

These date back a few weeks months, but as Blanche Devereaux says "Better late than pregnant!"

4078) Jay's help deboning a whole chicken
4088) Papaw's 82nd birthday
4094) Good hiking weather
4107) Stranger's tools when Jay's Durango broke down
4110) Bible not damaged by water spilled on nightstand

4120) Ziplining with the girls
4135) Saturday football nap
4142) Fog in the field on a cool morning
4152) Talking to random Honor Air veterans

 "I'm the only lady, so I get the flowers!" she joked

4164) Daddy + Jay = Two peas in a pod
4172) Fog clinging to the Virginia Mountains
4184) Golden delicious brandy beer
4197) Firecracker sound @ York cliffwalk
4204) Chatting with Maine Marathon finishers
4210) Bible study at sunrise
4222) Reading while looking out the side porch into Somes Sound

4230) Oopsie gone right - Champlain Mountain hike
4242) Beech Cliff Trail (iron rung hike)
4253) Jay, looking out for me
4267) Seat warmers
4275) Glow of the full moon
4287) Red glow of the sun, just before cresting the horizon
4293) Picnic lunches
4309) Sense of humor on whale watch
4311) NACHOS!!!!

This doesn't get me any where near caught up, but I thought I'd pause there. Maybe by next week, I'll actually have listed items from this month!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shamrock Marathon - Training Tuesday

Confession: I've never properly trained for a marathon.

Sure, I've gotten long runs in on the weekend and did some mid-week runs. Its not like I just showed up on race day expecting to go the distance. However, I've never seen a training plan through start to finish.

The first obstacle is always the mid-week medium run. Straight up, I have never done one. I can't figure out how. During my winter marathon training its dark when I go into work and when I leave. I don't run in the dark solo, ever. The thought of 60-90 minutes on the treadmill, while perfectly safe, isn't appealing.

Profession: For this, my 4th marathon, I vow to follow a training plan to the best of my ability.

I'm going to keep it simple - Hal Higdon, Novice 2.  To that, I'll be adding in 2 days of Total Body weight training class as my cross trains, and we have a few hikes planned as well.  My training buddy Kelly is also signed up for the race, so she and I will be completing the midweek runs - keeping each other accountable and safe.

Hypothesis: Marathon training takes far fewer miles than anyone truly thinks.

Of course I hold this as a truth, given my history with the 26.2 distance. With each race I've significantly bettered my finishing time, while also taking training less seriously.

The opposite could also be true - what if, properly trained, I was capable of far more than I can imagine? Hence the purpose of the test. Do all the runs. Log all the miles, then sit back and compare the results.

Training starts this week. The mileage is supposed to be 3 - 5 - 3 - 6, but that's a significant cut back to what I'm currently running. So my question to you is this:

Is it cheating the marathon plan to do more than prescribed? Or is the mileage to be considered a minimum?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Livin' Part of Life

Today I'm using a blue-tooth keyboard for my iPad mini for the very first time. I tend not to blog when I'm away from my desktop, which can limit me certain times of year. A friend let me borrow the keyboard she never uses, so we'll see if I like it.

So far so good!!!

I keep thinking I should say the words  "sorry I've been a bad blogger" cause that's what everyone else says when they go for long stretches without posts. But my regret about blogging has nothing to do with my blog friends. If it did, the correct phrase would be "sorry I've not been an available friend."

Which there is some of that.

But mostly my blog regrets are to myself. I've had these epic life moments and failed to record them for memory's sake. How is that a thing? Guilt for being too busy with life to record life. Shouldn't I be happy to have made those memories?

Maybe this means I should vow when life slows down to blog them any way - even if its months after the events happen. I have pictures to jog my memory. And maybe just beginning the writing will help. If not, I suppose it wasn't much to retain any way.

Seriously, times up? That's all you get from me?

I'm linking up with Jaime - let me know if you do so I can read yours! I've definitely been a bad blog reader these days. I'd love to be lazy yet still keep up with how things are going with you.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The First Post is the Hardest.

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. I'm waaaaaaaaaaaay behind in my posts, so I thought I'd break the ice by telling you what's to come. And if I don't blog about it you pester me until I do. Please? Last year I very much regretted not blogging about my Ragnar Relay experience, but by the time I got around to it I'd forgotten the important details I wanted to savor.

  • York, ME - Cliff Walk
  • Acadia National Park
  • Southwest Harbor, ME
  • RI Cliff Walk
  • Baltimore, MD

  • Sleepover, night before
  • Signal Mountain - 5 miles
  •  Fun in the van
  • 6.7 overnight run
  • 6 mile sunrise
Other running
  • Halloween Pub Run
  • Farragut 13.1
  • Foothills Half Marathon
  • Double Half weekend
  • Upcoming half race plan
  • Upcoming 26.2 training plan
  • Eric Church concert
  • Thompson Square concert
  • 6th wedding anniversary (coming up on Saturday)
  • Prayer requests 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Time Once Again

...its Stream of Consciousness Saturday! I'm linking up with Jaime, you should too. All the cool kids are doing it!!!!

I should post a picture of me in my hipster-wanna-be glasses. Instead, I'm setting the timer for 5 minutes for a brain dump. Once of these days I might start a topic list for these posts. Let me know if there is some thing you'd like to add. For now however, buckle up and get ready to ride!

This evening I'm going to a friend's house for a t-shirt cutting party. Okay, that's not a real thing. I just made it up. But we are having dinner and cutting t-shirts.

Okay that was dumb. Stopping the timer and starting again.

While I was on vacation (Maine, by way of Maryland), I auto posted a blog about the last hike I took with my family for my grandfather's 82nd birthday. I'm excited to do another hike with them this weekend. I'm thankful that my family is healthy enough to hike, even if they go very, very slowly. After all, its not about the hike but enjoying the view and the company.

(Expecting my mother to call in 3 - 2 - 1: "Gee thanks Brooke")

Tonight I'm heading to over to Gvan's aka Pink Runner Girl to slice and dice a few PRG special shirts. We're running the Ragnar Relay next week with 10 other ladies, team name Girls Just Wanna Go Run. We're gonna deck ourselves out in 80s gear, off the shoulder t-shirts included.

Between church and the Ragnar team meeting, I need to squeeze in a long run. I've got 2 back to back (Saturday/Sunday) half marathons the following weekend and I missed my long runs on vacation.

Heck - I missed most of my runs on vacation. In a 2 week time period, I ran once - which included the day we got back. Thankfully my shorter runs haven't suffered. I'm hoping I can say the same for my long ones!

Confession: I just cheated and looked at the clock. I didn't have something in my head to say and I wanted to see how much more I needed to come up with. 11 seconds. Just about time this perfectly!!

Until next time...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wreckage on the Shore

As we go through life many of us are desperate, grasping for control. Others live their lives in a free-fall. The reality is, both types are similarly fated.

For those us seeking control, that for which we reach for may help us be less of a mess. Calendars, schedules, and plans may help to a degree, but the ONE who saves does so much more than that.

Jay and I witnessed this shipwreck while we were in Maine:  the day of the wreck, the boat was still in tact. There were a few holes here and there, but she was a recognizable ship.

photo credits for all photos: jay fradd

The crews pumped the oil out immediately, but left her there. That very night a storm came and bashed the ship to bits.

What if, however, a crane had come? And instead of doing damage control, the ship would have been lifted out of the wreck? Just a few touch ups here and there, and she would have been saved.

Instead, now she is bits and pieces. Sure she lived a good life and didn't really hurt anyone along the way. She'll probably be memorialized in pieces as wall art or some such.

But wouldn't it be far better to live on? To continue in the purpose for which it was created?

 That is why faith in THE ONE with the power to save is so important. Without it, we cannot fulfill our reason for creation - worshiping HIM now and forever more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Andrew's Bald - Trail Report

A couple of weeks ago, for my grandfather's birthday, the family got together and hiked to Andrew's Bald and back, then took a side trip up to Clingman's Dome. My grandmother says its rude to mention someone else's age, but I'll remind you that last year Papaw Delmar won first place in the 80+ division of a local race.

At the top, we chipper and ready to head off. Since the bulk of the elevation is taken care of on the drive up to the trail-head, the trail actually descends to the bald. This makes hikers experience the climb on the way back.

The views from the bald weren't that that remarkable, in comparison from those seen from the parking area, but we certainly enjoyed the hike down. Of course there were far less people at the bald, where we sat to enjoy our lunch.

While there, we encountered a park ranger and all proceeded to "Delmar" him.  To Delmar: A verb meaning to talk to anyone or anything.

My dad is constantly fussing on Jay and me about our need to get pictures of ourselves on rocks or ledges. The picture above is his imitation.

We grabbed some pictures then started the hike back up. I tried to stay towards the back of the group because I knew some of the members of our party would have a bit of difficulty making the climb. And no, I don't mean the 8X year old man.

At the trail junction sign, we could either go left and take a 0.5 mile trail to the tip top of the mountain or we could return 0.1 to the trail-head and the parking lot.  We decided a half mile would be no big deal, and it would be worth the view.

Forgetting the half mile was a part of the Appalachian Trail, and some of the steepest climbs in the park. We eventually made it to another trail junction, and realized we had yet another 0.3 miles before connecting into the Clingman's Dome path. Thankfully, this trail pretty much followed the ridge-line and didn't include much elevation gain.

At the viewing tower, we attempt to gain our bearings. Depending on the clarity of the moment (which at that elevation can change at any time), the posted/labeled pictures help.

At one point, the family started Delmaring the dude in the red shorts (above picture). He had ran the Andrew's Bald trail - passed us going down as we were traveling up. He managed to make the tower around the same time as us.

We imposed on the kindness of strangers, and managed to get a picture of the whole group together.

The paved path isn't as easy as one would think. Losing 300 feet of elevation in only a half mile makes for slow going downhill, unless one is so inclined to roll like a snowball down to the bottom.

Everything about this hike was perfect - the clouds, temperature, and most of all the company. Not a bad way for an octogenarian to spend his birthday!