Friday, January 28, 2011

Watch me run... in Heels?

It is official!  I have signed up to run a half marathon.  I'm not sure if excitement or anxiety is the right word to describe my emotional state as I type these words.  Growing up, I was never a runner but I have been attempting to become one over the past three years.  Now, in just three short months, I will be running 13.1 miles!  The race that I am have chosen to run is the Heels and Hills Half Marathon in Irving, TX.   

One of the main reasons I chose this race is because it is focused on empowering and motivating women to change their lives.  Wow, that is really cool!  The organization is dedicated to promoting and increasing involvement in women's fitness whether they are first timers or seasoned fitness competitors.  That is why this race includes all distances - Half Marathon (13.1 miles), 10K (6.2 miles), 5K (3.1 miles) and a 1 mile fun run.  Of course, I also like the cute hot pink logo with the high heel shoe.  Don't worry, they don't leave the men out.  Anyone is allowed to race in May, regardless of gender.  He or she just has to be willing to wear hot pink race t-shirt for the race.  Just kidding! (sort of).  To encourage a little more male participation, a second race is held in September called... Heels and Hills and HIM!  This logo is blue with a cowboy boot, you know, so the guys don't feel left out. 

Another reason I am running this race is because it is close to home, and I want my family to be there when I cross the finish line.  More importantly, I want my daughter to see me cross that finish line.  I want her to watch me reach my goal, be there to give me a hug and realize that her mommy is STRONG.  

As I mentioned earlier, running has not always been a part of my life.  However, after I had my first baby (Sophia is 4 1/2 now but she was my first baby), things changed.  Going through 9 months of pregnancy, giving birth and becoming a mom made me realize that I was much stronger than I ever thought.  To prove this, in April 2007 I decided to start training for my first 5K.  After looking online for some training programs, I found the Couch to 5K nine week plan and started running in my neighborhood. It was HARD.  I probably repeated the first four weeks about three times before I could run a mile without stopping.  In October 2007, I ran my first 5K at our church (Irving Bible Church, Water is Basic 5K).  Although it took me five months of training, I was able to complete the race.  My only disappointment was the fact that I had to stop and catch my breath by walking at the 2.7 mile point.  I wanted to RUN the entire race.

Work got busy, life got in the way, and a year later I got pregnant with Tallen.  I did not run another race until September 2009, when Tallen was three months old.  I was in West Virginia visiting my family with the kids and decided to run the "Good Samaritan 5K" race with my sister.  It was Jenny's first 5K and she did great, finishing in under thirty minutes while I was very happy to complete my first run/walk race while pushing Tallen in the jog stroller. 

In November of 2009, Trey, the kids and I went to Louisiana for Thanksgiving.  Trey and I were training together at this time and we ran our very first 5K (Camellia Crossing) together the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving in Lafayette, LA.  Again, we completed the race as a run/walk in under 35 minutes.  Trey's cousin Trisha ran with us and we are look forward to making this a family tradition each year that we visit. 

2010 was the year that I was finally finished with being pregnant or nursing, and I even began sleeping through the night again.  I felt it was time to reclaim my body as my own, so I began to focus on exercise and running.  Trey and I started running together again and we made exercise a priority even when we traveled, which is why we have ran on the beach in Destin, FL and around the park at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France! 

History has proven that I will not stick to a running plan unless I have a goal in place, so I signed us up for a 5K in September 2010.  Trey ended up tearing a calf muscle and had to drop out of the race so I ran the "Race for the Children" in Lewisville, TX by myself.  After more than three years of training, I am proud to say that I accomplished my goal that day and RAN my very first 5K from start to finish.  I have found that running is more of a mental challenge to me than a physical one and while I was running, I kept thinking about Sophia who was there for the very first time to watch me race.  I have always told her that her daddy is "strong", which is a way of describing his masculine role in our family.  Now I wanted prove to her that her mommy is STRONG too.  This thought is what kept me pushing through, to finish what I had started, to keep running.  I placed third in my age division in the race and received a medal.  Later that day I enjoyed watching Sophia run around the house with my medal around her neck shouting, "I'm going to win the race"! 

The next month, Trey and I ran the IBC Water is Basic 5K in Dallas, TX.  It was where my running journey offically began and I was excited to finally be running this race again.  Trey and I started out together but he dropped back to walk about a mile into the race because his calf was still healing.  For once, Trey was not able to keep up with me and I finished with a time of 29:30 - my best time ever for a 5K! 

Around December, I started contemplating a half marathon.  Since running long distances is not my husband's goal, I knew that I would be in this alone.  But training on my own seemed so... lonely.  My track record proves that I can abandon a training schedule for months at a time  - and a race this length needs total commitment!  So, I signed up for Team In Training (TNT).  In order to run with TNT, I have to raise $1400 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  In turn, TNT provides coaches, mentors, teammates, and encouragement along the way.  They also pay my registration fee, hotel and dinner the night before the race, while Team in Training members will cheer us along the way on race day.  In the end, we both benefit from our partnership and make a difference in someone's life. 

So check out my Team in Training website and Heels and Hills website.  If you are going to be in the Dallas area on May 1st - come out and cheer me on or even better sign up to participate in the race!  Don't worry, there are not any hills on this course.  And no, you don't have to run the race in heels either!

Check back next week for an update - we get our training schedules and training officially begins!  I will be posting weekly updates right up until race day!  Then I get to post results and race pictures. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Musing on Cancer, Recovery and my Blogging Hiatus

It is pretty apparent from my lack of posts that I have decided to take a (semi-permanent?) break from blogging. However I did receive this email from my pastor, Andy McQuitty, and wanted to pass on the miraculous news of his recovery. Yes, after 16 months he has been declared CANCER FREE! Thanks to all of you who have inquired about his health, prayed for his recovery and read about his journey. He will be sharing stories of his journey over the next two weeks at Irving Bible Church (IBC).
Andy's cancer diagnosis hit me hard and I struggled with anger and fear for many months afterwards. I had some heated one-way discussions with the Lord, not stopping my tirades long enough to let him get a word in. Nine months later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Anger was not the first emotion I felt, now it was more concern about how my mom felt and if she had the support she needed to get through this time of her life. I was 1,000 miles away and felt helpless, not hurt. I was not afraid -this time I was hopeful. I think the months I spend in conversation with God about Andy better prepared me for the news about my mom. I am happy to say that a few months after my mom's diagnosis, (and after she also endured a couple of surgeries) she is also CANCER FREE!
So this year I am starting out with more gratitude, prayer, and faith in God. I guess I can leave the big stuff in his hands while I handle the little things in my life. Like the four year old and one year old who keep my life too busy to blog! Yeah, I think I am going to keep focusing on them for awhile. Most of my downtime will be spent with my husband and training to run a 10K this spring. I hope to get back to blogging again in a few months but now I am going to enjoy some much needed time with my family.
January 6, 2011
My Dear Friends,

In July of 2009 I turned up with stage IV colon cancer. The prognosis was, according to the expressions on my doctors’ faces, grim. In the ensuing few weeks I had the first of two major surgeries, acquired the nickname “Semicolon”, began what would stretch into 16 months of chemotherapy, and wrote you all the following words:

“I’ve had the privilege of traveling to some pretty strange places in this old world, but now I’ve embarked to a new country which I’d heard about but heretofore never seen—the land of the valley of the shadow of death. I’m not (obviously) dead yet, and I entertain high hopes that, like Hezekiah of old, I might be granted an extra span of years to ride motorcycles upon the earth (big H had chariots, but same difference, he was “in the wind” all the same). Realistically, all of us this side of Heaven are traveling the valley of mortality. We know that death and taxes are inevitable, and that even with cryogenics “immortal mortality” is a silly oxymoron. But I’ve learned there’s an international divide between “the valley” and the “shadow”. When you go to the land of the shadow, you’re closer to the celestial gateway and you behold a different scenery in the shade cast by encroaching valley walls. It’s a new land. It feels like a different country. . .So, since I’m here, I thought I would adopt . . . a new role, the role of “travel writer”. Don’t worry. I have no illusions about supplanting Rick Steves as he clues the world in about where to swill authentic Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier or how many socks to pack for a mule ride through the foothills of the Himalayas. Instead, I propose to send a travel report to all my compadres who live back in my old homeland of “know I’m going to die someday but still insist on living like I’m immortal”, otherwise known in this transmission as “Myopia”. (I think the Post Office will know just where to send these missives).”

It’s been quite an interesting journey over the intervening 16 months since I wrote those and many other lines on my travels. I’ve meandered around The Valley and reached a somewhat surprising but most welcome destination: home. Back from the “trip”. Healed. Cancer free. Not on the undertaker’s list of shortly expected clientele. Not an imminent threat to my life insurance company. Back buying green banana’s. You get the idea. It’s just very good to be back.

Over the next two weekends, I propose to pull out my Travel Writer’s notes and launch the adventure of this new year at IBC by sharing the two most profound lessons God taught me over the last 17 months. I’m thinking of calling the series, “Stuff I Learned on My Trip”.
I know, I know. . . hearing other people’s vacation stories is a creative form of water-boarding. I wouldn’t impose these memoirs on you if God hadn’t already undertaken to teach them to us in Ephesians 3:14-21 and 4:1-16 (Hint: now you can pre-read the sermon texts!) I hope I see you at IBC. I promise not to throw family video’s up on the screens.
I believe God has some extraordinary things in store for all God’s people at IBC in 2011. I’m so glad He pulled a Hezekiah on me so that I can be with you on the journey!
Your former Travel Writer now home-body,
Pastor Andy