Saturday, March 28, 2015

Neat & Tidy

I like my life neat and tidy. There should be a certain order to things. I attempt to follow the rules, after all they were set for a reason. Every now and again, however, I get a reminder that the ebbs and flows can't be contained within my set order.

Joining with the other ladies of my current Bible study class, I signed up for Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team. The basic concept is to commit a verse to memory twice a month. 26 verses in total for the year.

Tools include: a spiral index card booklet so that the verse can be carted with me everywhere and the other team members from whom I can draw inspiration for future verses.

The first few verses I chose had meaning to me. The first was to help me remember why scripture memory is so important, and the ones to follow had other significance in my life. 

Until this last round. 

As I've posted about previously, I'm just in a funk these days. Every scripture I considered was quickly discarded. I couldn't for the life of me find a verse I wanted to meditate on. But being the rule-following, tidy kinda girl I am, I couldn't let the deadline pass without picking something. 

Instead, I picked something random. 
And have since abandoned it.

Something to the effect of As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person. Proverbs 27:19.  



I'm trying to redeem this time, using it to revisit past verses. I also have a couple more verses picked out for the first of April. Oop! There is my timer. Time to make like a sitcom and wrap this up all neat and tidy like.

Then me and my index cards apologized to one another for missing the mark. We hugged it out and offered forgiveness.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Shamrock Marathon: Virginia Beach - Race Report

Kelly & I completed most of our training runs for this race together, and the plan was to stick together as long as possible. So much of running a marathon involves steady, slow pacing at the front end and being able to stick it out through the end. Together we each would be stronger than individually.
Me, Kelly, Amy, Gretchen

On the way to the start line, we met up with Brad and James. I'd ran with Brad for last year's Knoxville Marathon, and we had similar goals for this race. The first couple of miles were chatty and uneventful. We bypassed the first water stop - at mile 0.5 or something crazy like that - but walked through the stop at mile 2.

Mile 1 - 9:54
Mile 2 - 9:53

I had decided the week prior not to carry my hand-held, given the water stops promises at every 2 mile increments. This proved to be a good plan for me. At most of the stops through the whole race, I walked - taking one cup of water and one cup of Gatorade. Hydration was never an issue for me.

I lost track of Kelly during this water stop, and briefly worried I would be alone for the rest of the race. She caught up with me before we got over the first of two "hills" on the course. More accurately, it was a 40 foot incline/decline on the Rudee Bridge.

Mile 3 - 10:04
Mile 4 - 9:44
Mile 5 - 10:01

There are several out/back parts of this course, and I very much enjoyed seeing other runners coming and going. The first was around the 5.75 marker. We cheered for fellow Knoxville area runners as we passed.

Also, up until the 5 mile marker, our Garmins were spot-on with the mile marker flags. At mile 5, the difference jumped to over a tenth of a mile and never corrected.

Mile 6 - 9:49
Mile 7 - 9:48
Mile 8 - 9:42

One of my favorite points of the race was running through Camp Pendleton.  Soldiers lined up to cheer us on at several different points along the route. One set even got a high-five line going. Their energy could be felt on the course.

After a steady stream of "too fast" miles (goal had been to start at a 10 m/m), Kelly and I purposed to slow down a hair. I've had good success with negative splitting a marathon, and wanted to conserve enough early to do it again.

Mile 9 - 10:03
Mile 10 - 9:55
Mile 11 - 9:59

Coming back toward the beach, we hit the Rudee Bridge again. I enjoyed the view of the water, the sail boats, but also the change up of my gate that the incline/decline required.

We then hit the ocean for a mile or so. I loved the beach for view, but the wind was stronger and the "boardwalk" was actually concrete. My body very much welcomed turning back onto the road and the asphalt.

Mile 12 - 10:03
Mile 13 - 9:51
Mile 14 - 9:51
Mile 15 - 9:55

Racers who had completed the half marathon (which started an hour and a half earlier than the full marathon start time) had lined up along Atlantic Avenue to cheer us on. Amy cheered for us at the turn, and a cluster of other Knoxville runners cheered and took pictures a few blocks away.

Before a big race, I like to have a 2 poop morning - one first thing, and one right before the race. The early miles had served as a subtle reminder that only one poop had greeted me before the starting line. Unfortunately by mile 16, the urge became mission critical.

Mile 16 - 9:52
Mile 17 - {15:49+9:31pace} 13:43

Kelly said she needed to go as well, and I was thankful where we chose to stop had 2 porta-potties. I hopped in, hovered, and let 'er rip. Too late did I reach for the toilet paper, only to discover there was none. What's a runner to do but pull her pants up and go on with the race?

Instead of doing her business, Kelly decided stretching perked higher on her needs list. Because of this, and my needs-of-the-moment, we stopped at the 2nd set of porta-potties we came across. This one complete with toilet paper. I've never been so thankful to have a basic need met before. 

For pacing purposes, I hit "lap" on my watch to see just how fast we were running once our stops on this mile were complete. While this stop did a number on my finishing time (and probably kept me from my goal), the average pace pleased me. It hadn't done as much damaged as I'd feared.

Mile 18 - 9:55
Mile 19 - 9:49

Bleak. That's the best word I can use to describe the miles approaching and entering the Fort Story area. While the elevation profile showed this to be a flat course, we could see the slow incline ahead. The course turned to the right, only to provide more of the same daunting incline.

Around mile 19, Kelly started to take walk breaks to change up the muscles her body was using. I switched on my music to keep the self-doubts at bay. She would catch up with me, we would exchange quips about the never ending hill, then she would take another walk break.

Mile 20 - 9:43
Mile 21 - 9:53

Unlike earlier in the race, the only military personnel out were the police stationed along the intersections. My friend Amy, who'd done the half, said they were out in full force when she went through.

Water through this portion also seemed scarce, probably because we had emerged from the desolate, tree covered road to be greeted by warmer temperatures and sunshine as we ran closer to the beach. Best I remember, Kelly took a walk break and we split for good.

Mile 22 - 9:53
Mile 23 - 9:43

When I hit at Atlantic Avenue for the final time, I started picking up the pace. At this point, I started consistently passing all of those dead-runners-walking. Mile 23 was the final water stop I walked through, fearing I wouldn't get started back if I stopped again.

Mile 24 - 9:30

While I had my doubts around mile 20, I started doing the math and knew a PR was all but guaranteed during the final couple of miles. I'd passed the mimosa stop, the wine stop, and a couple of the beer stops. Just before mile 25, however, I decided to enjoy a luke-warm brew.

Mile 25 - 9:37

With every racer I passed, I started to pick up steam. I took no pleasure in their plight - been there done that - but rather celebrated a smart race and strong body which hadn't let me down.

Mile 26 - 9:21

Crowd support along the last mile or so was stellar. People were looking at bibs in order to cheer for people by name.  I chicked a few dudes along the way, and hammered down the boardwalk pushing with all I had left.

I heard the Knoxville crew cheer for me from the left as I approached the finish line. At this point my brain and heart had taken over and my body was a non-factor.

Final 0.2 (or 0.5) - {8:46 pace}

Until I ran across the timing mat. Then I wanted to collapse. The race crew knows their stuff and had the swag further down the boardwalk, smartly requiring racers to keep moving. After picking up my swag, I sat down to stretch. Within a couple of minutes I saw Kelly, already rocking her finisher medal.

Final time: 4:21:57
Despite all the time lost in the sh!tter, I have a new PR by almost 4 minutes!!! Of course I've poured over the splits, second guessing myself. I shoulda done this and I coulda done that.  The bottom line, however, is that I raced a smart race and earned myself a shiny new personal best (aka time to beat for 2016).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

God's Gift

Words are my thing.  I love them so much, I truly believe they are God's gift to me. When I don't have time to read them, I try to make a way to at least listen to them. Right now I'm listening to the memoir of an author I've loved since I was a teenager. The following is a quote from one of HIS mentors:
All that is not the love of God has no meaning for me. I can truthfully say that I have no interest in anything but the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. If God wants it to, my life will be useful through my words and witness. If he wants it to, it will bear fruit through my prayers and sacrifices. But the usefulness of my life is his concern, not mine. It would be indecent for me to worry about that.

 -The final journal entry of Brother Domonique of The Little Brothers of Jesus
as quoted in All is Grace by Brennan Manning
{Emphasis added by me.} Sometimes I get so caught up in making a difference for God, I lose site of Him. Under a holy banner, the god of self creeps in. I want fruit - not to show how incredible my Lord is, but to serve as proof of my worth.

Little by little the Father is showing me my gift, while also keeping me humble. This past Sunday, I co-taught Bible study with a classmate because our regular teacher was out sick. I felt like I had so much information in my head to share, but I got tripped up on my most favoritest of things - words.
Thankfully, my sister-in-Christ was able to step in and speak eloquently about the topic at hand.

Confession: I've stopped the timer twice already to give myself a break from this post. Despite the quote above, I can't stop wishing for my words to be powerful. Wanting something more from them, beyond just the freedom to put words to the page.

Okay I'll just come out with it. I've been asked to start an off-shoot Bible Study class by my current teacher. Our class is about to outgrow the size of our room.

Part of me is excited. I love reading the word and dissecting it with others. But the other part of me is sad. I've really come to love our the community my current class has cultivated. As a unite, we are living the Christian life as it ought to be lived. Those are big shoes to fill, in taking a leadership position of my own.

In addition to that, I'm afraid of the vacuum in my life that it will create. A new class will take time to get established, the relationships will take work. This whole process will take work, and reliance on God every step of the way. Those are 2 things that, quite frankly, I suck at.
Linking up with Jaime today, despite having gone over the 5 minute rule several times over.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#ForTheLove - What I'm Reading Wednesday

In prepping for this blog, I thought I had done a series of posts on reading 7: a mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker. Apparently I have one post from 3 years ago where I quoted the book, but nothing more.

excess = picture of my junk drawer. get it? 

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Hatmaker - okay who are we kidding, everyone who reads her stuff feels like they are her bestie and calls her Jen - put out an invitation on social media. Looking for plain Janes (my words, not hers) to preview her new book For the Love, and provide endorsements.

I'm sure I won't be picked. ~  Doesn't hurt to try. ~ What do I have to lose?

Then, last Monday morning I got the email. I'm in! I'm one of the 500 #chosen. Just like that, I had a link to the ebook and an invitation to the private Facebook group.

while this picture was old, i truly was asked to climb on a desk by my boss one day

Of course Monday also involved me being pulled in a billion directions. I mean they actually wanted me to work whilst at the office. #FortheLove A pile of petty little annoyances and hurts piled up in my personal life.

Don't they know?
Have they not heard?
Leave me alone - I have a book to read!!

The book and the subsequent Facebook posts have been like balm for my soul. Is that cliche? I kinda don't care - its the truth. I finished the ebook a few days ago.

Now I wait, highlighter in hand, for my hard copy to arrive. In one of the book's chapters, Jen describes life as a balance beam act. In order to successful complete the routine, a gymnast must play to her strengths and know what to let go. Rereading this book and hanging out with 499 of my newest girlfriends on Facebook? Totally #OnTheBeam

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Free-ing Writing

The past few weeks I've desired, however unsuccessfully, to do a bit of free writing in blog form. Maybe "haven't been able" is a bit dramatic. I've considered writing, but something (life, travels, laziness) has gotten into my way. Distracting me and keeping me from writing.

Also, I'm in a weird transitional season which has effected my mood. My moods dictate my writing. I strive to be genuine, heart-felt, and funny. If I can't be all of those things, all the time, I tend to shy away from sharing my heart.

This transition involves God using me as He has seen fit to gift me, in service of the Church (people of God, not a building) and for His glory. Call it demonic forces, bumps in the road, or just life happening, but I've struggled emotionally to feel worthy of my calling.

Duh, none of us are. Plenty of Bible examples to support that.


The trifecta of fear, doubt, and loneliness have crept into my brain, working against me. I'm working to take each thought captive and replace it with a truth from the scripture, but it is work.

My creative energy (what little I feel I have) is being zapped and isn't there when I want to put together that "perfect" blog. Instead, if you - my readers, my tribe - will forgive me, I want to start putting it out there. Not perfect, but real and honest.

Starting today.

on the beam (aka future posts):
  • sharing what "on the beam" means, from where i borrowed the term, and an exciting new opportunity in my social media world. 
  • my new church ministry opportunities
  • a new favorite fictional book series
  • future vacation plans 
  • marathon weekend thoughts + race report

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Chop Chop!

A couple weeks ago, a Facebook friend changed her profile picture to one of Jennifer Lawrence in a University of Louisville tee. JLaw's pixie was super cute, and inspired me. I've been feeling a bit blah in the hair department any way, so I decided to chop all my hair off.

Occasionally on the weekends I would actually fix my hair - blowing it dry then using a fat barreled curling iron. But mostly I just scrunched it curly with gel or else pulled it back into a ponytail.

Finally the magical day arrived!! I took in a picture of the cut, and told her in addition I wanted color to cover my gray. Dark, but with a few highlights. She set to work, making me beautiful.

Buh bye length. Then it was time to crawl into her rocket ship, and travel forward in time for color.

Then she did a bit more refining before I got to see the finished product.

Two weeks later I'm still loving it. I don't think I've worn it the same way twice. Its an incredibly easy cut to work with after my lunch time runs. Of course you saw in my race report that it gives me no problems whatsoever when I'm pounding the pavement.

What do you look for in a hair cut - looks, convenience, or both?
Have you ever dared a super drastic change?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Run Hard Columbia Half Marathon - Race Report

As in previous years, this race wasn't my A-race but did fall into my training plan. My Shamrock Marathon spreadsheet called for 12 easy miles as a long run for the weekend. 13.1 about 30-45 seconds faster than easy seemed to be a good compromise.

My cheering squad deposited me at the start line, then found their way to the a spot in the early miles of the race. I found the porta-potty, then the 4:15 pace group and began to mentally prepare my strategy. I wanted to keep the early miles slow and easy

I've never had luck with the pace groups for this race. I attempted a sub 2 hour half in 2013, so I joined up with the 4:00 marathon pace group. Despite being well within goal for the first few miles, they lost me.

While I managed to stay with them for most of last year, the 4:15 took the first lap of the race quicker than the 9:40 average needed to complete the marathon at goal. I suppose the strategy is to bank time in the early miles, given the elevation change on the course. However I have never had luck with positive splits, and had planned to do the first 10 miles at an easy-push effort and go from there.

Mile 1 - 9:42
Mile 2 - 9:49

I stayed with the pace group, checking myself on the down hill during the first mile. During the mile 2 climb into the residential neighborhood, I lost them. The coming miles were rolling, and I could have probably caught them but I didn't want to trash my legs early on.

Mile 3 - 9:14
Mile 4 - 9:25
Mile 5 - 9:17
Mile 6 - 9:16

I fell into a steady pace and found a group of 3 runners going my same pace. I introduced myself, and we stayed together for the next few miles.

Mile 7 - 9:36
Mile 8 - 9:34
Mile 9 - 9:48
 Mike, Sheri, and Pre were each running the full, and were trying to set a nice, easy pace for the first of their 2-loop course. Talking to them helped distract me from the steady climb up Trentham, which has kicked my booty in years past.

I also chatting with a 70+ dude who had on a "run for Christ" shirt on. His shirt prompted me to reflect on my memory verse, and I told him as much. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands. 2 Corinthians 8:12. He thanked me for the reminder of why he was out there, then told me about his racing plans. This was his 2nd half marathon, and he was hoping for a full marathon by the fall.

As we crested the top and turned onto Gervais, I said my goodbyes and pushed on ahead. They still had 16 miles to go, and weren't ready to pick it up. I flew on the downhill approach to the steep hill ahead of me, then kept the legs moving as I tackled both parts of the doozy.

Wearing my heart rate monitor helped me with a strategy on pace. I've got no shame in walking a hill like that, but on this day it wasn't needed. I kept my turnover as steady as possible to the top.

Mile 10 - 10:01

The race is, or at least feels, all downhill from there. Looking at my splits over the years and it would appear that Mile 12 has a bit more elevation gain, than 11 and 13, but only slightly affecting my pace. 
Mile 11 - 9:16
Mile 12 - 9:31

The cops at this race were catching a lot of flack from the cars (and from some runners who didn't want to stay in the cones, as reported by my cheerleaders) so I made a special point to thank them at each intersection. The closer to downtown, the more I passed. In the final mile, however, I was pushing too hard to do any more than grunt and flash a thumbs up.

Mile 13 - 9:00
Final 0.18 - 1:36 {9:02}

Chip time: 2:05:04

Age group: 97/312
Overall: 246/545

I finished this race about a minute slower than my time last year, but my last mile had more kick! I think I took it easier on the run for the most part, and am glad for it. I am in taper mode, after all.

 Because I know what  is important in racing, I posed for post race photos, grabbed a bagel and enjoyed the sunshine on the steps of the state house. While the weather felt balmy by Tennessee winter weather (traveled through sleet to get to my destination on Thursday), the 44* was still a bit cool for my cheering crowd.

The longer I sat there in my sweat, the more I agreed with them. The promise of a dry shirt in the car, and a proper breakfast got me up and moving right quick. 

Nothing like the 3 major food groups - sugar, protein, & coffee - to nicely finish up a great race!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Acadia Preview + Helicopter Ride {Maine Trip}

The following blog contains details from a trip  taken back in October. Unfortunately, I'm just now getting around to doing my write up, but as they say better late than...

For our first official day in Maine, we (Jay, his parents, and I) drove around Acadia National Park to get the lay of the land. My husband got his love of photography honestly, and both of the menfolk enjoyed snapping pictures of the gorgeous scenery.

I'm really not sure we were attempting for this photo, but we had a lot of fun just goofing around. Jay's mother had promised my dad and grandmother that she wouldn't let us do anything dangerous while we were in the park.

We took this photo just to be ornery. The location was the same as the previous picture, and every bit as safe. I was actually standing on a lower rock, crouched down. Jay worked the camera angles just-right so as to make it look like I was over a ledge. We had his mother convinced we weren't as daring as she worried.

Almost. Not completely because she knows her son too well.

One of the most popular spots in the park for photography is Jordan Pond. At the Visitors' Center, Jay had seen a gorgeous picture of the pond perfectly still, reflecting the mountains. He and I made multiple stops to the pond - the picture below taken on our first.

His mother had booked reservations at the Jordan Pond restaurant and we had outdoor seating to enjoy the view. Those who had advised us to pack in layers were dead on - I actually wished I had another layer but the chill in the air made the coffee more enjoyable.


Because I'm using this as a scrapbook of sorts, I want to fast-forward on the trip to another day we didn't take many photos. Several years ago, Jay worked with a client from Maine who has his own helicopter. We were able to meet up with him and go for a ride.

Both thoughtful planning and good fortune were on our side for the trip as a whole - we arrived just about at peak season. The helicopter ride was fun in and of itself, but the scenery was incredible.

I found the amount of undeveloped land to be incredible - professing to never want to leave. Of course just a couple weeks later temperatures plummeted and Maine got its first snow of the season. I'm definitely not made of sturdy enough stock to survive one of their winters.

On the drive home, Jay and I stopped in to the Atlantic Brewing Company for a late lunch of BBQ and to try out some of their beers. I fell in love with their Ellen's Coffee Stout. Stouts aren't typically my thing, but this one was incredible. We bought a bottle to bring home, but it just couldn't live up to the tasty draft in a chilled glass.