Monday, December 14, 2009

Early Christmas

This week was a very precious one to me.  Bean arrived home on Thursday evening and A arrived home for her baby shower yesterday.  We celebrated with the baby's shower, Christmas, and her birthday last night as they were heading home today and won't be back until after the grandbaby arrives. 

It was so wonderful having everyone here, together, at the same time.  In some ways in made me sad as I realized that this will probably happen less and less as my children grow and make lives of their own.  Yet with this sadness, comes great joy as we are so elated when they come "home"!  There is great joy in knowing that they are heading into the world to live their lives and seek His will for them. 

I feel so blessed  to have had this time with the family.  I don't know if this feeling of sentiment goes hand in hand with getting older, I suppose it does.  The memories will stay with me always. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent - Finally!

Seems I've been caught up in so many things around the house, that I really haven't had to time think about Advent preparations very much.  This is evidenced in the candles in our advent wreath that we have only lit once. 

As we prayed the Rosary last night, the first time in two weeks, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me about Advent.  He said, "Prepare YE the way of the Lord!"  He didn't say, "Hurry up, get stressed, get grumpy, get it ALL done NOW!"  He said prepare YE.  So does this mean, YE...prepare everything!?  Or could it mean...prepare YE?  As in, prepare myself.  Prepare my heart.  Something so simple, but I've managed to get wrong all of these years.  As if it is only MY job to prepare the whole world for the coming of Christ.  It is not.  I am to prepare myself first.  In my personal preparations, hopefully I am a living witness to my children and others around me that stir something in them to prepare themselves. 

So I have comitted myself to not stress about all that needs to be done for His arrival.  I know I'll fail, but I am determined to arrive at Christmas morning in peace.  I am resolved to do what I can to prepare physically for His arrival, but more importantly, I will strive to prepare my heart, my mind, my soul for Christ's coming.

May you have a blessed Advent and embrace the truest meaning of this season.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Running in a Winter Wonderland!

No PR for me yesterday, which was disappointing, but nevertheless, I did not allow myself to hold back from still pushing through all the way to the end.  I knew by the end of the first 12.5 mile loop that I would not PR just because I am beginning to really comprehend what my body is saying to me.

After several weeks of illness, a bad reaction to antibiotics, resulting in an inconsistent training schedule, I am not surprised by yesterday's results.  I am also not down in the dumps about them either.

On Thanksgiving, I ran a PR at Run Thru the Woods.  My time was 7 mins faster than ever before.  I ran an 8 min mile.  The very next Saturday, I ran a 30K in Kingwood with the Fit groups.  I had a bit of a relapse with the illness so I took off all last week.  This gave me pretty fresh legs to run yesterday.

The day started with a small Trail Nerd Reunion!  Wish we could get ALL of us together more often, but such as life.  No Parts, Brown Chick and Brown Cow were running the "fun run" of 12.5 miles.  I almost choked when I heard the announcer call it that!  Fun run?  Not sure I'd call it that as once upon a time, not that long ago, 12.5 miles was an impossibility in my mind!

This run was so serene for me.  The weather from Friday provided us with cold air, frosty vegetation, the misty air hovering upon the lake and even snow upon some of the lower canopy trees on the trail.   All so much beauty to take in and really appreciate.  Huntsville hold a special place in my heart as this is where my mom loved to be so much.  I've run several races out there and hope to do my 1st 100 there.

Four of my wonderful children waiting patiently for their slow mama to get to that finish line!

Planning what to wear proved to be quite challenging.  First, I should say, that as a woman, deciding what to wear is always more complicated.  We have too many choices.  Shorts.  Tights.  Skirts.  Shorts and Tights?  Skirt and Tights?  Tights alone?  I opted for the skirt and tights understanding that the tights can be removed if it became warmer during the run.  Next up, what shirt?  Or in the case of yesterday, which shirts?  I ended up with 2 long sleeves layered on top of a short sleeve with Moebens.  I only ended up dumping one long sleeve shirt and never stripped the tights off.  I just never warmed up enough to do that.  I kept my gloves  and hat on for the entire run as well.

I had decided that this race I would go with only hand-helds and lose the camelback to see if my GI problems that have been showing up lately could be caused from the waist pack.  I am glad I decided to go ahead with this plan.  Not only did I  not have any stomach issues, I've proven to myself that I can run more than 10 miles with a hand-held. 

As good fortune would have it, I had a delivery of O.N.E coconut water show up on Thursday!  A rep had contacted me about a month ago and asked if she could send some to me to try.  I gladly accepted and I am happy to report that I think the coconut water helped to keep me feeling no real highs or, more importantly, no lows during the run. I will no longer be drinking the usual sports drinks. Thank you O.N.E!

I used the honey to replace the other gels I have been using.  I ate one every hour or so.  I also used a fruit leather and one packet of sport beans on the last loop.  Next time, I will add in almonds.

The aid stations seemed to be well-stocked, but I didn't make much use of them as I really wanted to control what I took in to determine what exactly I need to do to avoid the GI problems I've been having recently.  I did fill up the hand-held with a bit of water, diluting the coconut water, and this seemed to work out fine.  I also drank a small cup of Coke (hate the stuff) and it helped give me a little kick towards the end of the second loop.

The only issue I had yesterday was with my legs feeling very, very tight.  I stopped a few times to stretch on the last loop and though it slowed me down, I think it helped me to be able to finish the race running and not walking.

I had time goals set for each part of the race.  The first 6.7 mile loop I had plotted to come in at 1:16 mins.  I came in at 1:05.  The first 12.5 mile loop, I had planned for 2:18.  I came in at 2:20.  I knew that I would have a slow last loop because of how the legs were feeling at this point.  The last loop, planned for 2:28, I came in at 3:07.  Surprisingly, I felt better the last 7 miles of this loop than I did the last 3 miles of the first 12.5 mile loop and the first 5 miles of the last loop.

The best part of the race was seeing the kids and Mark at the finish line.  Foo brought his coconut shells so that he could make the "galloping" noise from The Holy Grail for me.  I galloped across the finish line with a big huge smile on my face!

Honestly, I'm not so fast that Mark can't get a better picture, he's just slow on the camera draw. Of course his poor fingers were probably frozen solid.

Not sure anyone else knew what we were doing, but it was quite funny in our little world.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, check this out...

I make it a point to try to learn something about myself on each race that I participate in. Some things I learned yesterday:

1. I need to carry my camera sometimes and take pictures so that my family can see some of what I get the pleasure of seeing on the run.

2. I can push myself beyond where I am comfortable, not because I am going to PR, but because I can.

3. I am not ready for the goals I have set for the next two months, Bandera and Rocky.

4. I am not 100% sure I want to be ready for those goals just yet. With my daughter leaving for Ohio again the same day as Bandera, and my oldest daughter expecting my first grandbaby around the time of Rocky, my heart repeats one of my personal mottoes "Family first!"

5. I love running trails. I love saying hello to everyone I can and encouraging them. I am blessed to do something I love with some of the best people in the world surrounding me!

6. I can run for myself. Seems silly, I know, but this was the first race that I've run for myself. Not for a cause, not for a person, not for anything other than 6 hours of alone time to listen to what He has to say to me.

So, who knows what's up next for me. I am moving forward as if I am running Bandera, but I am quite content to decide to not run it. I believe that developing a consistent weekly schedule is in order. I suppose, in some weird way, I feel like I am not yet deserving to run these races. I believe that if I can stay healthy and consistently train, I may change my mind.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Onion

I could choose to sleep in tomorrow.  After all, it is currently forecasted to be below 24 degrees, so who would blame me?  Yet, I am not going to sleep in.  Rather, I am making the decision to rise from a winter's nap, head into some icy, muddy, trails, and attempt to peel away one more layer of the onion that keeps me from Him.

Confronting my limitations.  This is where I feel closest to Him.  Bringing myself to the point where I must call on the One who gave me life keeps my faith in a state of growth.  It is not a "challenge" but rather a death of my ego, my will, and all of those occasions of self that keep me from the truth that I am nothing without Him.

I have run a 50K before.  I am not so much worried about the distance.  But I really don't enjoy the cold.  Not even a little bit.  And cold it will be when we reach that start line.  I also hope to reach a new time goal of 6 hours.  I am not as confident in reaching this tonight as I was when I first considered it.  Funny how that happens. 

One thing I know I can be assured of is that I will peel away another layer tomorrow and take one step closer to Him.