Friday, April 17, 2015

Good Friday Homily (aka first attempt at preaching)

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.  But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.

This passage from Luke gives us the first of the last seven words of Jesus Christ. In my opinion they are his most powerful. Forgiveness is an incredibly complex thing. We see that as Jesus is being killed; the nails have been driven in, the beatings have left him bloodied and broken, the weight of his body on the cross crushing him, he uses one of his last breathes to ask for forgiveness. But, not forgiveness for himself, he asks God to forgive us: the very people who have condemned him to this violent death. And despite God having to watch as his only son crucified and the guilty run free, we are forgiven.

From the moment we are baptized we are told that we are forgiven all our sins; and we are reminded every Sunday that even though we are imperfect people we are loved and forgiven by God. But, sometimes I wonder if we have lost sight of the reason forgiveness is so stressed in our stories and liturgies. We focus on God forgiving us, so thankful that when we can’t even forgive ourselves we still know that God will forgive us and love us unconditionally. Every Sunday after the confession and forgiveness of sins I know that I breathe a sigh of relief and am grateful to know that even though I am flawed and sinful that God can offer me what no other human can – unconditional love and forgiveness.

As people we struggle to forgive. Of all the things we are asked to do in the name of God, forgiveness can sometimes be the hardest. Sometimes we even struggle to accept God’s forgiveness of us, but we are still comforted by it because it is constant. But, all of us fall desperately short in the forgiveness of others. So, the Church is constantly reminding us. In the Apostle’s Creed we say that we “Believe in the forgiveness of sins”; which I always assumed was believing in God’s ability to forgive us, but lately I have been looking at it from a different perspective, I have been trying to picture it as believing in our ability to forgive each other. Which we all promise to do in the Lord’s Prayer! “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us”. We promise to forgive our neighbors and freinds, but how successful are we at actually doing it?

In a recent article in The Lutheran, Peter Nash says, “Being Lutheran means that I know a lot more about justification than I know about human forgiveness. We are much more concerned about getting right with God than we are with living right with our neighbors as faithfully as possible.” Nash’s statement is so dead on that it is almost scary. We are recipients of God’s unrelenting grace and forgiveness on a daily basis and yet it is still so difficult for us to forgive each other.

The worst part is that we see amazing examples of humanity’s ability to forgive every day, a blueprint, if you will, for our own acts of forgiveness. Take for instance the story of Nelson Mandela. As some of you may know I lived in South Africa for a year and served through the Young Adults in Global Mission. Even before stepping foot onto South African soil I was an admirer of Nelson Mandela. But, after spending a year with the people he liberated and talking to those who remember all too well the time before democracy in South Africa and how hard it was to fight for I admired him even more. He led by example; while many people thought he would call for vengeance, to rid the country of the white minority that had oppressed the black majority for so many generations, while they waited for civil war, he surprised everyone, and said “forgive”. While in jail on Robben Island he befriended his captors, learned their language, taught them about his culture and built a mutual respect, this allowed him to walk away from that cell in 1990 and to tell the people of South Africa, now is not a time for vengeance and war, now is a time for forgiveness. Despite the very violent years leading up to the 1994 elections South Africa’s transition to democracy will go down in history as a bloodless one, one of forgiveness and reconciliation. While Mandela’s actions can be very difficult to understand what we can also focus on is the amount of time and prayer that went into his ability to forgive and then the process that came after that was needed to heal those wounds, which is where the reconciliation comes in.

Forgiveness does not mean that everything is and always will be ok. Forgiveness is merely the first of many steps to peace. To forgive doesn’t mean that you can’t be mad or hurt, those feelings are normal when you feel you have been wronged. And when we think about it even Jesus was known to flip a table or two. But, if we are to follow the example of Christ we see that the anger does not last long, the love and forgiveness follow shortly after, and once those three magical words are spoken, once you say “I forgive you”… that is when the road to reconciliation can begin.

We should never forget the power of forgiveness, it is one of the few things that can show unconditional love. Love is natural when times are easy, when everything is going right. But when we see the sin, the hate, the mistakes, and cruelness of this world, that is when the love can leave us, but it’s also the times when we need it the most, so if we can forgive, despite the mistakes and mess then we truly will understand the strength of God’s love for us, given to us because of the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. Through his death Christ paid for our forgiveness, with his words “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do” Christ saved us all. And perhaps, if we can find the room in our hearts to forgive, we may start to save each other.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Magnificat Moments

I had a great lesson in humility today, it may not sound like much of a big deal but I was asked to lead my young adults Sunday school class. Our fearless leader Karen was home sick and she asked me if I would fill in and let me know that she had planned on talking about The Magnificat. Sure! I said… The Magnificat! Awesome! I said… and then I immediately panicked because I couldn’t quite remember what the Magnificat was, I know, I’m a horrible Lutheran, and even worse pastor’s daughter. So I looked it up, The Song of Mary! Of course! Where to begin…

I went to Luke and read the story, Mary’s words, and tried to understand. While reading these words of praise and trust and amazement that Mary had for the Lord I started to think about who Mary was at the time she spoke these words, what had just been asked of her and how incredible that was. Not to mention her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John, The Baptist at the time she had this conversation with Mary. These two women were asked to birth and mother two of the most important figures in Christianity, Jesus clearly being the most crucial figure. I began to think about the women, not the symbols that they were. Mary was literally a girl, no older than most of my students and she was asked to face social judgments, ridicule, and the possibility of losing her fiancĂ© in order to give birth and raise the savior of human kind, oh, and the Son of God. No biggie, right? While Mary had doubts and was obviously afraid she accepted her task and did it faithfully. And when her cousin Elizabeth asked her, “how do you feel about your new task of mothering the savior of mankind?” and instead of admitting to her fear and anxiety she praised God and all of his might, she praised his preference of the lowly and the humble. And she and Elizabeth did as God called them to do, they had these children and protected them and those children grew up to complete their tasks, and in essence these people saved the world.

So, who are we? Where do we fit? Does God speak to us? Are we called? When I was younger I used to ask my parents all the time, “why doesn’t God talk to us anymore?” I just didn’t get it. I was surrounded by all these stories about people that God had spoken to. So I couldn’t help but wonder, where were our messenger angels? Where were the beams of light? The burning bushes? When I brought this up in Sunday school today one of the others made a great point, he said, “Well, I think it all boils down to the fact that we think to highly of ourselves to hear anything”. After we discussed this a little more we all came to the conclusion that God absolutely speaks to us. But, the world we live in is so loud and so reliant on proof that we forget to listen with our hearts and only focus on what we can see and hear. In the days of Mary and Elizabeth and even Moses the faith was held at the beginning, their was no pride or outside noise to get in the way of hearing God’s call and whole heartedly answering it. These days we usually don’t see our purpose or call until the end. How many times has it happened that way? “I didn’t realize what an impact I’d had until I left”… or “I didn’t realize what I had until it was gone”. And then we call it coincidence or divine intervention and we look up to the sky and say, “way to be tricky God, I see what you did there”… I’m sure every now and then God just looks down and says, “I tried to tell you.”

I asked the group to think of a time when they were in a situation that seemed completely ordinary or when your work seemed pointless and that it wasn’t until the end that you realized what God had in store. I asked them, “What has been a Magnificat moment in your life?” One guy shared a story of how he got involved with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and how he wasn’t quite sure how to impact this young kids life just by hanging out with him and it wasn’t until the boy’s Grandfather got sick and while sitting in the hospital with the family did he realize what an impact he had had on the entire family just by being a role model for this young kid. When he asked how he and the boy were paired up it was over a simple shared interest in wrestling, that’s it! It was then that he realized God had had a hand in that decision and he had a Magnificat moment. For me, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few Magnificat moments, but the biggest and most influential was my YAGM year. It was a year of struggle and frustration and questioning and as I went to my different farewell gatherings I was finally told by the people who I thought barely noticed my presence what an impact I had on them and their community just by getting on a plane and spending a year with them, talking, walking with them, drinking tea with them, or playing with their children. It was something I wished that I had been aware of the entire time, but I realize now that I simply wasn’t listening.

So, ultimately we came full circle. We looked at these symbolic people who sparked the religion we all hold so dear today, but we didn’t see them as images in a stained glass window, or a figurine on the alter, we looked at them as ordinary people who God asked to be extraordinary. And we admired them for their faith and their trust in God, but also their ability to so fully praise their God and the call he gave them. We shared in Mary’s Magnificat and we looked for our own. As you close this window and go about your day, think about a Magnificat moment in your life, and as we go on listen a little closer to what you might be called to do.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What kind of God....?

This world can be really shitty. Horrible, awful things happen on a daily basis: natural disasters, violence, abuse, viral epidemics… you name it. When these things happen we automatically look for someone to blame. Sometimes it’s a politician, sometimes someone that looks different than us, or a lot of the time we blame the only “person” that can’t defend themself, and that’s God. For people who don’t believe or are not tied to a certain religion a common reason is “I can’t believe in a God who would let such bad things happen to people” and for people who do believe that kind of doubt can shake our faith to the core. I mean let’s face it, we basically treat God like a punching bag… We pray when times are hard and we ask for healing and forgiveness and justice and mercy, but how often do we give thanks? How often do we simply use prayer just to praise? I know that I don’t do it enough, that’s for sure. When the unthinkable happens we rarely look inward for someone to blame or for a reason behind the tragedy, most of the time we look up and we ask “Why me?” “Why us?” “Why them?”
I sometimes think that we picture God as this guy sitting in a room full of tv screens, zoomed in on our lives, and in front of him (or her) is a control panel and as time passes they click certain buttons and good or bad things happen. Like maybe six months ago “control panel God” said to himself “you know, I think its time for Ebola to pop back up in west Africa” and poof, the button was pushed and that young boy came back to his village only to die two days later and infect his entire family in the process. So, think of God that way if you like, but I just can’t. I’m cutting God some slack, trying to control everything that happens in this world would be like trying to herd 6 billion cats and as all powerful as God might be, I’m sorry, but you try getting two cats to do what you want them to do and let me know how it goes.
I’m not saying that I don’t believe in divine intervention, I think God shows up at certain times (both good and bad) and I think there are reasons behind everything. But what I don’t believe is that my God is a vengeful God, or a God who sees horrible things happen and sits back and just watches. No, God acts, he acts through us. He puts people on this earth with knowledge and passion and abilities to get us through whatever shit storm we are currently in. I’d say his most famous addition to the human race was this crazy street preacher by the name of Jesus… I mean, am I right??

God never promised us perfection, God never tells us it will be easy. But you know what God did do? God gave us a pretty incredible planet, and we were given each other. God gave us a choice to either do the best we could or sit back and blame “him” for all the crap. We are the ones that have polluted our planet, and discriminated against each other, and allowed people to go hungry and for children to die. God did not do that, we did. So, guess who has to fix it? WE DO! It won’t be easy, it will be messy, and it will not go the way we want it to all the time. But, in my opinion we can’t look at God as someone to blame anymore. When we turn our faces upward to talk to God we can't demand answers anymore, no more "why's" what we need to do is pray for direction and guidance. Because God has put us in the drivers seat of this train, which is terrifying, but a long time ago (with the help of that crazy street preacher) he laid down the tracks for us.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The beauty in disappointment

I’m not sure what’s worse, being disappointed or being the disappointment. As someone who is constantly feeling guilty for something (whether it’s warranted or not) I would say that being a disappointment is so much worse. We all remember those times when, as a kid, you brought home a bad report or a not so stellar grade and your parents would say “I’m not mad… I’m disappointed”. I know I would much rather they had been mad at me! Anything but disappointed please!!! Disappointment is its very own kind of special emotion, it is totally one sided. When someone is angry at you, you are usually angry at them and it is over a specific kind of circumstance, one that may not happen often or on a regular basis. But, with disappointment it can be something small, something that happens all the time. There also isn’t a whole lot of communication when it comes to being disappointed, maybe it seems like such a small thing to get upset over so you don’t mention it, despite the fact that the hurt is still there, maybe you don’t want to make the other person feel bad or guilty because deep down you know they would never intend to hurt you, but it doesn’t change the fact that they let you down.  Disappointment can come in all forms, whether it’s your best friend forgetting your birthday, that cupcake not being as good as it looked (which let’s be honest, is tragic), a close friend not showing up for an important event, or even a relationship not working out, life is just overflowing with disappointment! Tiny disappointments, huge disappointments, moderate ones… they’re all there. And no matter who you are you will disappoint someone in your life and you will be disappointed by others… it’s just the way it goes.

Don’t worry, we’re in a dark place right now but this train of thought sees light at the end of the tunnel, so don’t hop off just yet…

I’m currently reading Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber and something she said in her book is what sparked this train of thought in my head this morning. She said that when she started her church she told all new members that at some point or another they would be disappointed in either the church, its members, her (as their pastor), or the entire Church body (in this case the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Now, I think for most of us, if a conversation starts off with “hey, guess what? I’m going to disappoint you at some point!” we’d go running for the hills, but that’s before we hear the second part. The second part (which Nadia touched on in her book) is that if you stick around, if you deal with the occasional disappointment, look passed people’s occasional missteps, what you’ll experience is something beautiful, you’ll experience a true relationship. You’ll realize that a lot of things that disappoint us aren’t that big of a deal when compared to the things that fulfill us. Disappointment doesn’t have to ruin relationships, it doesn’t have to ruin experiences because in the long run the good will outweigh the bad, if you let it. It will always be easier to be angry, to be disappointed and bitter, it doesn’t take a lot of energy because, let’s face it, this world we live in and even the people we love can be real shitty sometimes. But, on the other hand this world can be beautiful and the people we love are wonderful despite the occasional misstep or selfishness.

So, I guess what I was thinking is that as much as disappointment can really suck, it’s not that bad when you look at the other side of things. And you know, if something is consistently disappointing then I’d say we just don’t need it. So the next time you feel let down or disappointed, think about why you feel that way… was the situation totally out of your hands? Did you communicate what you wanted? Is it really worth the time to worry about it? In my opinion disappointment just teaches what we want and don’t want, what we expect or don’t expect, and we all just need to come to terms with the fact that disappointment is a part of life, and while it’s ok to feel let down, it’s not ok to wallow in it. Remember the beauties of life, the relationships that work, the fact that even the people we love the most have faults… love them anyway, enjoy life, enjoy the disappointment, enjoy the successes, because when the time comes the disappointments don’t matter, but the joy we felt and the love we shared always do.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Every mile is magnificent

October 15, 2014
It’s the Wednesday after the race and I’m still amazed that it happened at all. All of the training, and the stressing and the carb loading have come and gone and it was all worth it. When I hung that medal on my cork board last night when I got home from the airport I knew that I was one I’d treasure.
The race was quite the experience. I’d be lying if I said I had my best day. I was really nervous so my stomach was all twisted up, which any runner knows is serious bad news. As excited as I was my energy was low, which freaked me out. But the energy of the crowd carried me, the thought of running with 45,000 other people and in front of 2 million people who lined the course was just insane. The flatness of the course got me moving and we probably were moving a little too fast, I was sore by mile 8 and emotions were up and down. I’m so thankful that I had my friend Julie running with me and my friend Margaret who stuck with us for a few miles. It’s always better to go through something like that with other people.
The first half of the race flew by, actually up to mile 16 flew by… but those last 10 miles were rough, especially the last three. My legs hurt so bad I wanted to cut them off, I felt like no matter what mind games I played or the amount of stretching I did I never got brought back to life. But, Julie and I pushed each other through and we finished. I’m not sure what kind of emotional reaction I had at the finish. I was relieved, angry, happy, sad, but mostly just in pain. I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t say anything. I just wrapped up in my heat blanket let them put the medal over my head and focused on putting one foot in front of the other towards Jenny and a cab back to her apartment. I felt loopy to be honest, like I was drunk, haha I’m sure I made an ass out of myself, but after 26.2 miles of running, I think I’m allowed.
I was sore as hell, but bounced back. I was just happy that I didn’t seriously injure myself this time around. I’d also knocked about 15min off my time. I wanted it to be more but at least it was under 6 hours this time. And I didn’t end up on crutches, so that’s a huge bonus!
I had an awesome evening with friends at dinner and got to see people I haven’t seen in years! Between being so happy to be around those people, in my city, and with a huge accomplishment under my belt I don’t think I stopped smiling all night… It was amazing…

People think I’m pretty crazy for running as much as I do… I get a lot of crazy looks but a lot of admiration as well. I can’t exactly say why I do it, it’s just become a part of me and what I like to do. Some people think it’s silly to pay for pain and to pay to just run… but it’s so much more than that. I’ve heard it said before that if you want your faith in humanity restored, go watch a marathon. I couldn’t agree more. From the perspective of the runner you are out there, doing something that less than 1% of the population will ever do! You’re pushing your body to its extreme limits and you tap into this resiliency inside of you that you never thought existed, and that’s pretty incredible. The really special part though is the community, the community of the runners but also the community of the crowd. Those people lined the course for HOURS cheering on people they’d never met in their life. Yelling and screaming and holding signs and offering encouragement and even hugs. When a family would get united with the runner they were supporting it was just an enormous rush of emotions and excitement, it’s a hard thing to beat. As a runner when you see a family member or friend cheering for you it is probably the greatest feeling in the world, to know that you aren’t taking on this challenge alone. Yes, you are the one putting one foot in front of the other but you realize that you have so many people behind you, literally cheering you on and willing you to complete your goal, it’s an incredible feeling. Not to mention the fact that they’ve probably stood in the cold for hours waiting for you to come along, get about a 2 second sweating hug and then have to watch you run away and the waiting begins again…

Now that the Chicago Marathon adventure is over I think I’ll be sticking to half marathons from now on. I’ve done the one race that I’ve always wanted to do in the greatest city in the world and I am really happy with that. Thank you to everyone for your support!

The following posts are bits and pieces of my journey through training…. A glimpse into the crazy mind of a marathoner…

June 10, 2014
I put my name in the lottery for the Chicago Marathon the day it opened. I’m not sure what the motivation was but I have a few ideas. Either way I decided to put my marathon fate in the hands of the lottery gods. My choice was made for me and I ended up getting a spot. I had previously decided that my reaction to the decision email would tell me if I should bite the bullet and sign up or not. Well when that congratulations email came through the biggest smile ever came across my face and I knew that this was something I wanted to do. It started to feel like more than just a marathon.  This marathon could be my chance to set a goal and stick with it, my chance to do something above average, to not just finish something but to finish it well. But more than that it was important to me to do something back in Chicago, to feel like I still somehow belonged to that city and had a place there, it’s my home but I feel further and further from it every day. Sometimes I feel like I’m holding on too tight, that I should let it go and work on making a home elsewhere, but that’s harder than you’d think, especially when almost everyone you know is living in or moving to Chicago. Now, I’m not dissing or dismissing any other city (I’m talkin to you Atlanta) but, home is home and that can be hard to shake. So, come October 12, when I step up to the starting line of that 26.2, it’ll be a homecoming, and a reconnection. Nothing can bring you close to a place then pushing your body and mind to the limits down 26.2 miles of its roads.

Besides my road to redemption this marathon is a chance to follow through with a goal and to do it well. See, I always set goals, make plans, and have these big dreams. But, unfortunately my motivation tends to dwindle, my resolve fades, and while I manage to follow through on some things I never do as well as I wanted to or thought I would at the beginning. For example, when I registered for this marathon I made a goal of a certain weight that I wanted to be at the start of training, as well as a certain fitness level. And I was super motivation for about a month and a half and did great and then life got hard and the motivation faded, the workouts got less intense and the food got higher in calories. I didn’t follow through, again. I’m starting this training at the oh so familiar weight of 202.5lbs and the usual fitness level of the 10:30 mile. This sucks, I’m very rarely happy with myself and no amount of positive encouragement from friends ever seems to be enough (but it’s still appreciated). I’m taking this summer as my real chance at redemption. I NEED to prove to myself that I can excel at something, that I can set a goal and meet it, or hell, DO BETTER than I thought I would. I want to know what it feels like to not be physically and emotionally destroyed by a marathon, to finish it without halfway breaking my foot.

So, here’s the deal. I’m going to set some real goals for this process, and I’m going to write down as much as I can to document this process and to keep myself accountable. And at the end when I cross that finish line in Chicago, maybe I might actually feel fulfilled.

So here are my rules:

-          Unless sick or hurt, NEVER miss a training run
-          Weight train at least twice a week
-          Don’t walk
-          No music on runs
-          No fried food
-          Eat healthy, fuel the tank!
-          Hydrate properly
-          Go to bed before 11, every night
-          Save alcohol for Saturday nights
-          Document as much of the process as possible

Tonight’s run was a good start. 3 miles in the light rain. Never walked. Positive splits, which kinda sucks but they were all under 11 min so I’ll take it. I’m not sure why but it felt difficult to get good breath and I had a little side stitch. The last mile was the slowest but it felt the best, so that’s saying something I guess. I also think I’ll need new shoes soon, the current beauties are showing their age and my socks through a few holes.

The goal for tomorrow is to weight train in the morning and run in the evening.

I have 450 miles and 126 days to run for redemption… here’s hoping.

June 11, 2014
Damn it damn it damn it damn it damn it damn it…..
You know, if I didn’t love running so much, I’d hate it.
I was actually looking forward to today’s run. I was pretty motivated after yesterday and I made this amazing dinner which I am now eating. (quinoa/brown rice, kale, red peppers, black beans, and garlic… holy delicious) So before my run today I decided to create a new route, fun right??? So I did, and on parts of streets I’d never run before. I should have thought a little harder about my new route. One word: HILLS… this was probably the hilliest route I’ve ever run, voluntarily. At one point I was at the bottom of this incredibly large hill looking up and on the other side of this hill was the tallest skyscraper in the city, and my favorite building, the “pencil building” (named after the fact that it looks like a giant pencil, go figure). Well this hill I was about to climb was so tall that all you could see of the pencil was the sharpened end. This hill swallowed a building!!! Well, I was determined to stick to my “no walking” rule so I shuffled up this hill and at one point a man in his truck slowed down and stared at me, probably because my face was dragging on the ground and I was dying… dying! The top of the hill comes and goes and I make my turn and at that point I was literally praying for a red light I wanted to stop so bad. I’m not one of those runners that guns it for green lights so I don’t stop my stride. I’m one of those runners that prays for red lights so that I can break my stride. Call me lazy, but I call it…. Well lazy, it’s a little lazy.

The hills continued and shot my legs. I gave in and ended up walking a few times. One time I was so deep in thought while walking that my friend Tiffany passed in her car and honked at me and I almost peed my shorts. Then I was so embarrassed that I was caught walking by a very athletic friend that I almost sprinted the next half mile and killed my legs again.

I didn’t wake up to lift weights this morning. I just need to accept the fact that unless there is a running buddy or Channing Tatum waiting for me I’m never going to be a morning runner. I don’t know why I feel like it makes me feel like less of a runner than others, I mean miles are miles no matter when they’re run, right? Anyway, I went to the gym for a quick lift after my meetings and before my run. I’m hoping that that is why my legs felt like for the last two, okay two and a half miles.

My XC coach in high school always told us to pump our arms when we felt tired because our arms were closer to our heads, which made them smarter and if our arms moved our legs would follow. Because legs are stupid… well I tonight I proved Coach Albrecht wrong because my legs were in total control. Maybe tomorrow I can outsmart them.

June 13, 2014
Yesterday was a rest day and it made a huge difference. I think my legs were getting taped out with getting back into a daily routine. It’s a weird feeling being both very in shape and out of shape. It’s like I’m capable of the work but I don’t feel good doing it. It’s not fun. But, I just have to keep telling myself that I’ll get better and it’ll feel better. Another weird thing about today was my strides felt heavy, it was like I was stomping to get mud off my shoes or something with every step. It eventually evened out so it’s all good. Tonight was the perfect temp for running though, the air was a little muggy and thick with humidity, but the air was cool and the clouds kept the sun from beating the crap out of me. Overall, a very good run. Which most short runs are haha it’s funny how 3 miles is short now, 3 miles used to feel like an eternity to me. Tomorrow’s 8 mile has me a little nervous. I just haven’t felt good lately and I don’t feel like battling out 8 miles tomorrow. Hopefully it goes well!

June 14, 2014
Sick all day, no run, just studying… it was awful

June 15, 2014
Lesson learned from this run: dehydration is a bitch. I think a big part of it was being sick yesterday. I thought I had had enough to drink, I guess not. I purposefully took it slow the first few miles because my main focus on long runs is just to keep moving, keep running. I was doing a great job until around mile 3.5/ 4 I hit a section of HUGE hills! That really took the wind out of me. On the good side I found this great little hidden gem of a park that was right of the road and was big enough to have a bunch of little mini trails!! It was a great little surprise to be able to go from road running to trail running without having to leave the city. When I hit the park on my way back I was so desperate for water I considered either knocking on someones door and asking for a drink, or drinking from one of the creeks in the park (horrible idea). As I came up to the park I knew there had to be a water fountain, I was so so so so so thirsty. Well, no water fountain. But! By the grace of God there was a water pump. I didn’t care AT ALL where this water came from. Besides there was water pooled around it so I wasn’t the only desperate individual who had taken a drink. I pumped that damn thing like my life depended on it and drank like I’d never seen water before. Anyone walking by would’ve probably thought that I had just run 20 miles, not 6. I didn’t care, I gulped water put my head under it and actually started laughing out loud I was so relieved. The next half mile or so I felt amazing! Buuuuuuuut the feeling faded very quickly. I seriously struggled the last three miles. The last mile though was so awful I considered calling a cab, I ended up just walking the whole damn thing. When I did try to run I felt like I was shuffling along anyway so it almost wasn’t worth the embarrassment. Scariest part was it wasn’t even that hot yet because I was running in the morning. But, like I said, lesson learned! Anything over 6 miles from now on warrants a camelback.

June 17, 2014
I really wanted to hit either even or negative splits today. But that is really hard to do when it is so fucking hot! Holy moses! Maybe I should try a little harder to run in the morning. It’ll still be hot, but not AS hot… hopefully. My goal is to spend the shorter runs focusing on pace and my longer runs focusing on stamina (this is not a new idea when it comes to marathon training, or running in general). For me though, it is new. Usually my goal is simply survival not necessarily peak performance. But, I’ve survived one marathon I’d like to thrive through this next one.
I will say it is fun to be training for something again. I mean I literally need running, if I don’t run or workout every day or miss more than a few days I go crazy, I feel slow, fat, and guilty… a horrible combination. While, personal sanity and health are great reasons for running there is something about training for a marathon or half… every step of every run feels like it has incredible purpose. No matter how slow or fast every step forward is a step towards a better race. A step away from survive and towards thrive.

June 21, 2014
Faith in running restored! Today’s long run felt great! I wish I had made it out the door a little earlier because near the end of the run it was brutally hot. I went crazy with the hydration too, I wore a camelback and took sport beans with me. It’s pretty crazy how training in the summer is so different than training in milder weather. When I trained for the Georgia Publix I wouldn’t take my camelback until I was going like 14+ miles. I also felt rested. I did a shake out run yesterday and some light weights. Anyway! It felt good to feel good on this long run, a great reminder of why I enjoy this so much!

June 23, 2014
Cross training

The importance of cross training days cannot be overstated. You gotta give the joints a break and get some strength training in. Which is exactly what I did today!

The goal for the rest of this week is to flush out the system and start eating fresher and better things!

June 25, 2014
I pulled off a two-a-day today! It kind of murdered my run but I got a great workout in at the gym. I did see a cool thing on my run though. There was an envelope taped to a telephone pole that said “I am” on it and had a bunch of cards. So, I opened up the envelope and there was a card in it that said “tell me your story”. It was a Tumblr invite to send your story to this person and they would put it on Tumblr. I don’t think I want to put my life story on a strangers Tumblr but it did get me thinking about what I would consider “My Story”. My least favorite question in an interview is always “So, tell us about yourself”… I mean, what do they want to know? My previous jobs? My age? My relationship status? What makes up your story? Or my story? How would I start? I guess I’ll need a few more runs to think about it.

July 13, 2014
Clearly I have been slacking on recording my runs and workouts lately. I’ve kind of laid off the whole timing and pacing every mile thing because it was messing with my psyche a little bit. I mean as much as I would love to be a consistently sub 9 runner, it’s just not going to happen overnight or while I’m carrying 60 extra pounds. Being a heavy runner really really sucks, well being heavy at all really really sucks. My body has totally gotten used to doing athletic things with extra weight. My aunt Marla has a theory that I’m almost too in shape to lose weight quickly or easily. Basically to push your body out of its comfort zone it’s all about heart rate and getting it as close to your max for an extended period of time. Well I’ve gotten myself conditioned to the point that I have a very low resting heart rate (which is a good thing) but that means when I workout, unless I completely kill myself, I’m not pushing myself cardiovascularly and calories don’t get burned off. Don’t get me wrong I push during workouts, sometimes I could push harder but it can be tough to push myself when I’m alone, I do better when following direction or working out with a buddy. I just feel like even with the heartrate thing in mind the fact that I am burning such a huge amount of calories and eating well I should at least be losing something. It is incredibly frustrating! The fact that it even baffles my doctors doesn’t help either. Granted, I don’t want some crazy disease or syndrome to be the answer to why I have such a hard time but it would also be kind of comforting to know its not just me and that I’m not working hard enough. I’m willing to admit when I don’t do something well and I know food has always been my weakness but it really has gotten to the point where it makes no sense. At times I even feel like I get so much attention for my running because I’m bigger, like people see me do it and are like “wow, this girl is super overweight and she runs marathons?! I guess I really find that impressive cause a lot of skinny people don’t even do that!” I know I am probably misreading that completely and I’m being ridiculous, actually I know for a fact that that is ridiculous and I almost want to erase it from print, but I promised myself complete honesty through this process so that’s what I’ll get.
In actual running news I was really happy with how my workouts went last week. Last Saturday I had my 11 mile run while the fam was in Asheville for the 4th and it went so well! I felt great! Yesterday’s 12 miler was also great, my legs kind of died a little by the end but it was a hilly route and I tried to push my pace so I feel like that is understandable. If this headache goes away and I get my lab report turned in I’ll go for a quick and easy 3 tonight. I missed one run last week so I need to make up for it. I also want to go seven days hard this week, focus on speed and strength. I’ve been doing two-a-days on Tuesday and Thursday and its been going well! I feel stronger on my runs even when my legs are tired.
Also! I signed up for a few half marathons leading up to Chicago! I’m excited for them. One is a trail half in Chattanooga TN on August 9th, which is when my schedule says to run one. Then I’m going to DC for the Navy Half on Sept 14, I’m running with Alex while Marla and Amelia are running the 5 mile race together. We’re running in honor of Gaffer and I’m really excited! I think Alex will kick my ass time wise but hopefully we stick together and have a good time J The last one is Oct 4th and is a race I ran last year. If you run the half or full in March and the half in Oct you complete the “Atlanta Challenge”… I did it last year so I couldn’t turn down the challenge this year! It’s a week before the marathon but I won’t be trying to PR or anything so I think it’ll be a good warm up to the big race!

Sept 30, 2014
I haven’t really kept up with this whole run log thing. Training for this race has been such a crazy few months of ups and downs. Summer was good, I was able to get a lot of two a days in and build up some strength and a good endurance base. Once school started though everything went to hell. I’m lucky if I can get one or two runs in during the week and then I have to scrape up the energy for a long run on the weekends. My body feel s more achy and out of whack this time around. I feel like my legs are ticking time bombs…

BUT! The half marathons that I was able to do have gone well, I even got a PR at the one in DC J Also, the 20 mile training run I did with Julie felt really good. So, I think that with the hype of the race, the flat course and knowing that all my friends will be at the race that I will do just fine.

Its crazy because when you get to this point you really do start to wonder what in the hell you were thinking haha. I also know that crossing that finish line in the city that I love, that’s home, and celebrating with all my friends will be so so so worth it.

I have a birthday to celebrate, one more half marathon to run and then its Chicago time J

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Heavy Issue, Me

So, I’m always hesitant to post things about weight or my personal weight loss struggles and victories on social media. Frankly, it’s because I’m embarrassed… No one else in my life put unhealthy foods in my life or told me to stay on the couch when I should have worked out, I did and didn’t do those things. I’ve struggled with my weight ever since I can remember and its been a 20+ year struggle. Sometimes I’m more comfortable and confident in myself no matter what my weight, I base that on my health and fitness level, other times I see nothing positive in the way I look. I have baffled countless doctors who tell me that they have no idea how I can be so active and still struggle with weight. Blood tests, metabolism tests, nutritionists, personal trainers, therapists… I’ve done pretty much everything and have had some great success with those things, but I’ve never reached a point where I have been happy. I struggle with an up and down rollercoaster, I’ll go from incredibly motivated and focused to completely demoralized and hopeless. Well, my weight has once again taken a front row seat in my mind. I am incredibly frustrated. I’ve run one marathon and training for another and yet I feel like I’m constantly defending my athleticism because I don’t think I look like an athlete. Granted it is actually difficult to loose weight while training for a marathon, you require an insane amount of energy, and that comes from food. Now, I eat the healthy types of fuel but still, calories are calories. It is because of that that I can get away sometimes with eating more than I should, but I also train hard.
Alright, so enough of that… here’s the deal. I’m ready to make the changes I need to to finally do this thing. I’ve tried for a long time not to set weight loss goals for certain amounts of time because the disappointment was always too much when I would eventually fail. So I’ve realized that I need to start putting my goals out there because I need support, as much as I hate to admit it, I can’t do this by myself. Essentially I have to do it by myself, but I need to include the people I love in this whole plan because whether I succeed or fail I have to be held accountable and sometimes I’m way too easy on myself.

So, here’s my goal… when I was at my heaviest, at the end of my freshman year of college, I was 267 lbs. Today (7/25) I am 203 lbs. I used to say I would be happy if I could get down to 180, but not anymore… I am now aiming for 167. That would be 100lbs down from my heaviest weight and I think I would be really happy to get down to that point and stay there. I think I would finally feel like the person I’ve been the whole time. Overall that’s losing 36 pounds. For me that is a HUGE goal, it takes me forever just to lose 10 lbs. But, here we go… I’m giving myself six months. I’m starting today but I know that losing weight while marathon training is not just hard but not exactly a good idea to cut significant calories. So after I run the marathon the main focus will be weight loss, and with the support of my friends and family, I’m going to do it.  
This is me in the summer of 2006 at 267lbs
I am never going back to that again.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Power of Doubt

Easter has always been my favorite church season; the music, the story, the feelings of hope, the joy of spring, the story we hear and what it means for the Christian community. The last two weeks I have been lucky enough to hear two amazing sermons. On Easter Sunday my Mom preached about courage. The bravery that the disciples had to show over the course of the “three days” not to think they were going completely insane when all of the sudden their friend Jesus shows up in a locked house with holes in his hands and feet just days after they buried him and on top of all that, the courage to tell people about it! Well, today Pastor Seyward preached about doubt. The doubt of Thomas and how he basically called his friends crazy when they told him Jesus was resurrected, “nope,” he said! He didn’t buy it until he could see it himself, put his hands in the wounds and hear Jesus’ voice, saying “believe it, Thomas… it’s me.” Pastor Seyward continued to talk about how Thomas has a pretty bad reputation now, he’s known as the “doubter”, the “non-believer”. In fact, go google “doubt”, the fourth choice (behind “Doubt”, the movie) is Doubt Thomas, poor guy. Well, as I sat there listening to the wonderful message today I started to connect the two sermons; the courage and the doubt of the disciples, the courage and the doubt that it takes just to get through life. In the words of my very wise Pastor Mom, “courage is not for heroes, courage is for disciples.”

                I’d say, in this story we can all relate to Thomas. Who hasn’t faced an extreme amount of doubt in their lives? From small issues to big issues, that little pang in your stomach that tells you, “eh, you may want to think about this.” Everything from whether or not you should take that job across country, go back to school, break up with someone, eat that extra scoop of ice cream, fill up your tank before or after work, or if you should believe the fact that your mentor and friend apparently rose from the dead. Cleary Thomas had it a little worse than the rest of us. But, what Thomas showed us, what we can all take away, is that doubt is ok. Doubt doesn’t make us weak or indecisive, it makes us human. The next lesson is that of courage. This is where we can win or lose the battle. After doubt we must show courage, if we do not than the doubt wins and consumes us. Thomas had doubt, this is true, but he found his strength in seeing Jesus, and then he showed courage by continuing to follow him. The key is that middle piece, the strength. We all have to find what gives us strength. It is the natural step from doubt to courage. Sometimes we find that strength in our faith, sometimes in the words of our friends, or in a sign of some kind. We all have our own versions of putting our hands in the wounds.

                Life is full of doubt, as is faith. And it takes strength and courage to get through it. What we can’t do is to let doubt exhaust us, because if we let doubt tire us then we have no more strength for courage. So, let’s not judge Thomas for doubting, let’s admire him for finding the strength to believe.