Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Solstice 7K - Race Report

Last year I ran this (as an 8K) and hated it. I swore this year I would volunteer and skip the misery. After all, its the after party that brings everyone back year after year. Then they changed the race location, distance, and style of race. It became a 7K cross country race in a completely different neighborhood. 

How could I resist a chance to "for fun" run with these ladies? For Gretchen's birthday, we all coordinated to wear our new Pink Runner Girl tanks (okay technically I borrowed one, mine hasn't arrive yet) and would use the after part as a way to celebrate our friend!

As a Knoxville Track Club official race, I knew a lot of people there - including my team the KTC  socialites. Running in a field, in the summer, at 6PM? Yeah, so who's surprised I felt miserable during this race?

The field made my allergies go so crazy that even 3 hits off my inhaler couldn't keep my breathing in check. The cross country portion slowed down our pace, but not enough for my body to handle it all. This, of course, is more of a reflection of asthma girl and not the race itself.

The other ladies did incredible! Christal managed to finish in top 25 females! Both Amy and Gretchen felt strong through out. Kelly was kind enough to slow down and keep me from giving up on myself. 

Distance 4.3 miles - Chip Time: 47:56
Age group - 4/14
Overall - 110/183

I felt nauseous most of the race and for a while afterward, making it a good thing I missed the big ole wheel races some of the girls had! I even felt too bad to enjoy the free BBQ and beer served post race.

I finally drank a coke and ate enough to get my stomach back to brave the giant trampoline. I'm a skeerdy cat by nature, so I found myself landing on my butt before finally giving up.

As dark started to fall, we pitched our tents, lit a fire, and enjoyed hanging out acting goofy.

The early birds of the group (I'm glaring at my tent mate Christal) woke the rest of us up fairly early. Some packed up and headed home, while others decided we were up for another big adventure. This was my first trip to the top of House Mountain, but I hope to take Jay back to enjoy the view.

In summation:
Just like last year, I hated the race. 
Just like last year, I loved the after party.
Just like last year, I'm vowing to volunteer next year.

Someone smack me if I mention racing again, 'kay?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chill - I Got This

My Bible Study class is working our way through the 10 commandments and really fleshing them out. Each week, we cover a different commandment - how it looked back in the day versus how it appears for us. This week we're studying Exodus 20:8-11

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11 For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
In the pre-study material, the writer of the lesson suggested sabbath rest required trust in God to provide. Working only 6 days, much like tithing 10%, requires a belief in the Lord to make up on what we are missing. This led me to write the following:

A few years ago  my dad got called into work during an ice storm. His job included driving a snow plow and clearing the roads. This call wasn't unusual, but I'm not being melodramatic when I say the moment his foot slipped on the changed his life forever. 

My daddy went into work on Christmas 2010 because the roads were iced over and someone had to clear them. He slipped and fell - fell so hard that he tore his rotator cuff and his bicep.The first workman's comp doctor gave him ibuprofen and told him to just give it time.  After months of waiting, he finally demanded another doctor.  Surgery was in the spring.  Physical therapy,  and time off work eventually led to what he now calls "refirement" - retirement his employer chose for him.

During this time, I felt the weight of each step on my shoulders. I worried, cried, and got angry whenever he would call with an update. Looking back, I feel ashamed for my lack of trust in God. He showed up in a big way to provide for my parents through it all.

Between the manna of worker's comp checks while he was still going to doctor's appointments and physical therapy, and the mixed blessing of my mother's work schedule being upped from 3 to 5 days a week, the Lord always provided.

My dad is free to take his aging siblings and parents-in-law to their doctors appointments. He's also free to drive to my sister's house (about 2 hours away from where we live) to babysit the kiddos when my sister and BIL have school functions. 

Last summer, my dad's garden exploded with more produce than we could eat. Rather than let it spoil, my mamaw taught he and Jay how to can. My parents also made homemade salsa from their garden produce.

I may never taste manna like the Israelites, but when I eat my daddy's canned green beans, I get a pretty clear picture of what it was like for them in the wilderness hearing God speak:

Just chill. I got this.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Purging, Enough, and Serving Others in Unexpected Ways

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fear that comes when security is questioned. Full disclosure: If I could buy anything, guaranteed security would be it. Since that doesn't exist, I must question how  the goals we have in life, and how we can best achieve them.

I do not want stuff (or the quest for) to consume me. This doesn't come from a boastful heart. My struggle with anxiety coupled with claustrophobia manifests in my hatred of nick-knacks.  I don’t like tight spaces. When I see people with cluttered houses, a very real fear wells up inside me. 

Several members of my family (and friends) would disagree. These kitschy items make their home more personalized. As a child, dusting was one of my chores. My mother had (and still does) the shelves on the piano lined with little trinkets. Every week it was my job to move them, wipe the surface down, and replace them.

If I were more noble, I would have a distaste for clutter and the accumulation of stuff in an attempt to serve others. (Like Marla. Are y'all sick of me blogging about thoughts inspired by her yet?)

We live in a resort location. I want my home to be open to friends who are in town. I want my family to feel comfortable dropping in. The less stuff we have, the easier it is to clean, the more welcome people are. Or at least in my mind.

Recently, I decided I needed to get rid of bath towels. After all, how many towels can one couple use? But in my zeal for order and tidiness, do I overlook ways that keeping items would also serve others?

This weekend, I had guests galore. Friday night, a few of my girlfriends spent the night - one brought her husband along. Between the hot tub, pool, and morning showers, we went through plenty of towels.Thankfully I hadn't gotten around to the purge yet. I only have 2 beach towels, so the bath towels were in high demand!

After they left, I had about an hour to wash sheets and towels as well as clean up the kitchen before my family arrived - 6 strong. I felt bad texting them to bring their own beach towels, but I knew we'd all be headed back to the pool. The little man was sleeping over, so I was thankful for the 3rd set of king sized sheets I have, so that I could make the bed while the linens were still in the laundry room.

The point of all this rambling? Sometimes a family of 2 really does need 20 bath towels. My life is very different from Marla's. I shouldn't covet her minimalistic life any more than she should covet the square footage of my house. 


Finding joy in what I have, both possessions and life experiences, is key to reaching this seemingly illusive prize.

I am blessed, far beyond what I recognize. 
For the blessings unseen, unnamed - today I am thankful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's a Runner to Do?

Since my last race, I've felt lackluster about training. Sure I earned a nice, shiny new PR. HOWEVER I was a couple of minutes off my goal race time. I felt like all the hard work and consistency I had put in leading up to the race was for nothing.

The local race calendar is full of shorter distance runs - 10K being the longest. This translates into lots of speed work on the plan. I'm not sure what genius thought fast running in the humid/hot summer months was a good idea.




In previous years, I've trained for triathlons - but after the flat tire coming out of T1 a couple of years ago, I'm unmotivated to train for those either.


So, what's a runner to do? Right now on the schedule I'm doing weight training 3 days a week - glorious air conditioning! The plan is to run Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. And perhaps another easy run doubled up on a weights day.

Fast running is extra difficult in the humidity, but just doing easy runs all the time seems boring. There are also 2 goals for the year that would require me not giving up - PRs at every distance AND 1,000 miles logged for the year.

How do you train through it? 
When is it time to take a break from training to prevent burnout?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mouse Creek Falls - Trail Report

For Memorial Day, Jay had an epic hike planned out for us. Instead, we opted to sleep in a bit, then head into the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for an epic Jeep ride + pretty (and short and easy) hike.

The above picture is of the main road. Some of this can be cut off by traveling the interstate into North Carolina, which we did on the way home, but either way roads of this nature must be traveled.

Topless of course. (This picture was taken from the passenger side of the Jeep, looking up.) I'm relatively new to the Jeepin world, so I wasn't as prepared as I should have been. But more on that later.

Midnight Hole is a swimming hole that we were not prepared to enjoy. If I'm honest, I'm kinda glad. It was crowded with skinny, hipster college age kids smoking and drinking PBR. Call me old, but that's just not my scene.

Just a half mile up the trail sits the falls, beautiful and serene. Both the distance and elevation gain made this an easy hike, much easier than the ones we tackle on the Tennessee side. Jay regretted not bringing his fancy camera, which is usually too much effort to lug around.

 I think we did okay just using our cell phone cameras. Not to mention, when Jay gets out the big camera and tripod he can spend ages sitting in one place.

The entire trail was beautiful, and I snagged a few photos on the hike down.

While we were out and about, a short rain came. I didn't feel like much, but tell that to the Jeep sitting in the parking lot with the top down. Remember how I said I was unprepared?

Um, yeah. Apparently the Jeep seat was filthy, so when the seat (and then my butt) got wet it resembled more mud than rainfall. I rode all the way to Cataloochee with wet britches. Without a garbage bag to sit on, changing into my clean pants would just end with the same result.

 Getting lost on the way wasn't entire a waste of time. The dirt paths roads were gorgeous.The only other people we encountered were 2 dudes on dirt bikes. Yeah. That kinda road.

Shocking I'm sure (or not if anyone truly knows me), I was starting to get annoyed with Jay and the situation. My butt was soaked, I was cold, and I knew we were spending more time getting there then we would actually spend once we got there.

BUT THEN we got there, I looked to my right, and it was immediately worth it all.

The elks were re-introduced into the area by the Park Service several years ago. That's the tag in his ear. The pictures don't truly represent how massive these guys are. In my head, they are the same size as deer. In reality, they are much larger. They make me feel small, even when viewing them from my redneck's jacked up Jeep.

After a bit of riding around, a few pictures, and quite a few more elk, it was time to head home. Jay wanted to take the open Jeep on interstate, so I knew I'd need to wrap up to stay warm.

That post-race space blanket really came in handy folded up in my backpack!! Next time I know to bring garbage bags and don't forget the jacket!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Secret City Mud Run - 5K Race Report

For the first race of my last year in the 30-34 category, I have no stats to offer. I didn't track splits or even have a race plan in mind. Instead, on the anniversary of my birth, the girls and I hit the mud of Oak Ridge for some good, dirty fun.

We rocked some custom made Pink Runner Girl tanks, tiara headbands, and pink skirts. Along the back, she had personalized it with "Happy" "Muddy" "Birthday" "Brooke" and also each of our names of course since I was "Brooke" on the first string of text, "birthday girl" was printed across the bottom on my tank. Its a good thing my bottom is so wide! (Never thought I'd be caught saying that!)

We tired to position ourselves along the back, knowing we wouldn't be racing. After a brief stint on the road, racers turned right onto the Haw Ridge trail. We stepped aside a few times to let other racers pace. After all, goofy shenanigans aren't every one's cup of tea (although I fail to understand why).

Most of the "obstacles" in the beginning were waist-high lake crossings. Given the rope stretched from each bank, we had no problem covering this one. The slip and slide was my favorite obstacle (I might have done this one twice). And we finished climbing over and under a mud pit.

Goofy till the end, we held hands as we ran across the finish line.

I would have like to have seen a few more obstacles, but we had a great time. Perhaps the 10K option would be better for next year. Amy hypothesized that they were trying to keep the 5K kid friendly.

But who can complain about a race with a biscuit bar at the finish line. These girls wanted a little honey on their biscuits, but gravy and several kinds of jam were also options.

Once we cleaned up (thanks to a water hose and some baby wipes) we headed to Mimi's Cafe and enjoyed a little post-race birthday celebration out on their patio. All in all, this was a great way to get my birthday started right!

Full disclosure: That evening, I went to bed in the 9 o'clock hour. Dang I'm getting old!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The One Where I Ramble About My Goals

This past Saturday, I left the early 30s demographic and entered my mid 30s. In celebration, I made the weekend awesome and epic. I haven't decided if I'm going to put it all together in one ginormous blog post, or break it up and stretch it out all week. Given that I'm celebrating a birthday month, the prolonged approach definitely crossed my mind.

I've got a list of deep, wanna be insightful post ideas swirling around in my head (and compiled in a list via an email to myself) which I haven't taken the time to flesh out. First I was just getting back into the blogging routine. Monday, Wednesday, Friday - like clock-work, I wanted to publish something, anything in an attempt to get my mojo back.

Then May hit - the month of a race (almost) every weekend. I had reports to right. And of course who can forget the trail reports. I think my blogs are the only way Jay and I keep track of just how many miles in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we've logged.

Truth be told, I have no plans on stopping those posts. I'll throw out an occasional fluffy What I Read Wednesday and of course the Foto Friday fun.


My desire is to get back to journaling again, bloggy style. Pouring out my heart on the page, then cleaning it up enough that I'm not sharing too much with the world. Sure, the fluff is a part of me, but its only a part. I hope to get back to more thoughtful blogs soon.

But first...

Friday, June 6, 2014

KTC Scavenger Run

These days, my blogs have been a bit picture heavy. Unfortunately, I'm not all that great of a photographer. There are just some adventures words aren't adequate to cover. The annual Knoxville Track Club Scavenger Run is one such event.

Our fearless leader creates rhyming clues to lead us from point to point and numbers us off like in gym class to form teams. A certain PINK friend of mine showed up a bit late, after we'd already broken up into teams, so we were more than glad to welcome her to team Purple People Eaters.

The boys named our team because of my outfit. YES, even my shoes were purple. And YES,  I did wear the purple ones to match. Too much? I suppose it depends on who ya ask.

Our first clue, and team picture took us a block up the road to the Melting Pot. We didn't get the restaurant logo in the picture, but as you can see above, it was pretty obvious where we were. (Please tell me you get it!)

The Masonic Temple was referenced with "secret hand shake" so we all joined hands. I guess my left hand was feeling a bit left out and decided to get wild?

Our adventures took us to a graveyard...

and to a speak-easy with an off-putting painting above the fireplace. (The kid is so creepy he photographs as a glare.)

A K-town event isn't complete without a power "T" - I'm the "U" of "UT" - I thought it was pretty self explanatory, but my darling love thought I was doing the "touchdown" signal.

The World's Fair Park is another "must" on the list of Knoxville "musts." We rocked out for a moment before moving on.

Our final stop of the evening was a rental car business. Celebrating the "we'll pick you up" claim, we got a bit creative with this one. Apparently we had a creeper photo-bombing the background (notice the eyeballs peaking up over my shoulder.)

Gretchen and I have another fun run planned tomorrow. For my birthday we - along with Amy and Christal (4 out of 6 from our Ragnar team van) - are going to do a Mud Run. I'm not sure we'll be able to find a way to bring a camera along, but knowing those girls we'll find a way to make pictures happen!

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bookworm Goals - An Update

Last year, I set a goal for myself to read 75 books in the year. I fell behind late in the fall. I lost track of counting, and realized my error a couple days before December 31st. Rounding out the year with 72 books, I decided to tackle 75 for 2014.

Enter this book: 

Despite having the recommendation of my sister's 6th grade class, The Book Thief felt like wading through molasses. I liked his style of writing, but couldn't pin down why I wasn't enjoying the read. It wasn't a difficult selection, there was just nothing drawing me back.

When I finally finished it (after 2 whole months), I was put off reading for a while. While I have Divergent in my possession, I hesitate to read it. The recommendation came the same was as The Book Thief did. Everyone who reads it loves it. But what if I don't?

I'm very thankful to have access to 2 libraries - the local public library as well as my church library. While all too often "Christian" fiction is a genre made up of people who couldn't cut it in the secular world, there are a few authors I love. Terri Blackstock, Dee Henderson, and Ted Dekker each write books I devour when given the opportunity.

Recently, my mother found a couple of novels of theirs we have yet to read. Yesterday I was home sick (just the sniffles) and devoured not one, but two novels. I don't like characters and plots getting jumbled in my head, so I didn't start a third. But given that both were done before 4, I was bored the rest of the day. 

Even still, I'm a bit behind. I returned a Carl Hiassen to the library today and have Jane Green on deck next. Of course still in the pile from my last trip to the library is Sue Grafton. 

I've got plenty of vacation time built up (and a workaholic husband I can't convince to get away with me), so maybe I'll take several days off this summer to read by the pool. 

Any fast/light/enjoyable books recommendations for me?