Christmas Blessings

No matter how you celebrate, I hope you had a merry Christmas.  I have tried to sit back, relax, and let things go.  One thing I did this year in order to try to make things simpler was that I bought a little four-foot artificial Christmas tree.  Cinderella has only known going out and buying a real tree every year, so this was a bit of a disappointment to her.  When I brought the tree home and pulled it out of the box, she took one look at it and proclaimed, “It looks horrible.  You ruined Christmas!”

She was right.  It did look horrible.  But, after some fluffing and decorating it didn’t look too bad.  Then I put it on top of the end table and that gave it the illusion that it was bigger than it really was.  Christmas had been salvaged!

Christmas Eve morning, we were blessed with snow.  Cinderella was also blessed with sickness, so I ended up staying home with her Sunday morning.  We did end up going out that evening for a bit of celebrating.

Christmas morning is always stocking time.  There was a bit of confusion this year as Cinderella could not find her stocking.  So, I ended up putting her stocking stuffers in her boots.  It worked.

Christmas day was family time at our house.  We still had some snow on the ground, and it was enough for it to be considered a white Christmas!  It’s been a while since we’ve had one of those.

As always, we had much more food than we needed and probably all ate more than we should.  After we were all stuffed, we exchanged some gifts.  I think everyone had a good time.

But, the most important thing of all is that we were all together.  It didn’t matter how big the tree was, whether or not the table was set perfectly, or that we used paper plates.  The important thing was that we were together.

Christmas

Grandchildren are the crown of old men, And the glory of sons is their fathers.
Proverbs 17:6

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Christmas Light 5K 2017

Last Saturday was the Christmas Light 5K. Proceeds for this race go to benefit a local YMCA and their learn to swim program. I ran this race last year, so I knew what to expect. Last year’s race was a PR and is still my best 5K time yet.

This is more than a race, it’s an event! Runners are encouraged to dress up, and there is a costume contest before the race. Winners are chosen by audience participation (cheering). In other words, you’re judged by your fellow runners. You can also get your picture taken with Santa before the race. The race begins at 5:30 pm, which is right about the time it gets dark this time of year. The idea is for you to take a look at the Christmas lights along the route. Many of the homes are actually in a Christmas lighting contest with hefty prizes involved.

I was better prepared for this race than last year. Last year I got caught up in the dressing up, and had too much garb to deal with while I ran. This year I focused on doing well during the race, and that was a help. I wore less garb, so that gave me less to deal with while trying to run. The temperature was about the same as last year, so I knew that I needed layers–two pairs of pants, a long sleeved shirt and a jacket, ear muffs, gloves, and something to cover my face. I also knew that it was very likely that most of this was going to come off during the race and that it needed to go in my pockets and that I needed to be able to zip my pockets up. I did not zip my pockets last year and ended up losing a glove.

I met up with some friends before the race. We were busy gabbing, so when it came time to line up for the race, we ended up towards the back of the pack. Once race time came, the Christmas music stopped long enough for the National Anthem. Then the gun went off. It would be a full minute and nine seconds before we actually crossed the start line.

I am still dealing with my ankle injury, and I’m convinced it will be spring or even summer before it is completely healed. My endurance was also way down after not running for nearly three weeks. I am continuing with the run/walk/run method using a 60 second run/60 second walk. I was hoping to change to a 60 second run/30 second walk for this race, but I knew I was not physically ready for that yet.

The course was the same or nearly the same as last year. It is in a part of the city that is flat as a pancake. Some people like that, some people don’t. At least with the hills, you get to go downhill at some point.

About half way through the race, I started feeling tired and fatigued. My third mile was my slowest, and there were a lot of people that left me behind. I finished right at two minutes slower than last year. I’m ok with that, because I know that’s where I am right now. It’s still far from my slowest time.

Afterwards there was hot chocolate and healthy snacks provided by Natural Grocers. But the best part of all was the time spent with friends.

Up and Over

Life can be overwhelming.  After the Grub Run, I did not run or exercise for three weeks.  On top of that, I caught a terrible cold that is still with me today.   It did not take long before I was feeling like garbage in more ways than one.  Not only did I feel horrible physically, but I could also see that my spirits were down as well.

Knowing that I had a race coming up in a few weeks gave me the motivation to get back on track again.  In fact, I went out for a run the weekend after Thanksgiving for the first time in a while.  I was thinking I had three weeks before my next race but soon realized that I only had two!

To get back on track, I have had to purposefully take the time to get some exercise in.  I’ve found that the best way to do this is to schedule it and put it on the calendar.  So, I’ve committed to run with a group that meets locally on Wednesday nights.  I’ve put out the call for a Monday night run and am running with a friend.  On Saturdays I’m running solo.

I am still nursing my injury which I am convinced will not be fully healed until spring.  Considering that and the fact that my endurance level is way down, I am still using the run/walk/run method.  I was elated to find that using this method I was able to go up and over the Flyover for a 4-mile run!  This is something I hadn’t done since my injury.

Last Saturday was unseasonably warm and sunny.  I decided to go for a run through the park while the trail was dry and clear of debris.  It felt great to be outside.  The animals were enjoying the unseasonably warm and sunny weather as well.  We haven’t had any rain for a while, so all of the leaves are very dry and crunchy.  The squirrels were having a great time playing.  I could hear them running and chasing each other through the crunchy leaves.  At one point I had to slow down and even stop to watch the squirrels play.  Oh, what a life they must have!

At this time in my life it would be very easy to say, “I don’t have time right now,” with the intention of coming back to running later.  However, the benefits of making myself get out there a few times a week are so great that I can’t pass them up.  There have been plenty of times that I didn’t want to go out there, and I spent a lot of time talking myself into going.  However, I’ve never regretted going.  There have been times that I’ve not been pleased with my performance or the way things went, but in the end the feeling of accomplishment was well worth it.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  Matthew 6:25-26

 

Grub Run 5K

November’s race was the Grub Run 5K.  This is the third year for this race which goes to benefit a food pantry at a local church.  The church also has a silent auction in conjunction with the race.  This event is about as close to home as it gets–literally less than a mile the way the crow flies.  It’s always nice to support something local, and especially nice when it’s right in your own town and/or neighborhood.

Within the last couple of weeks, the winds have turned around to the north, and it has cooled off.  This makes for perfect running weather; however, I’m not used to the cooler weather quite yet.  I’ve been drinking lots of warm drinks and trying to stay warm.

At start time, it was about 45 degrees.  Again, perfect running weather.  I always start out with gloves, a jacket, and something to cover my ears in this type of weather, but it never stays on for long.

Since I’m still recovering from my ankle sprain, I’m using the run/walk/run method.  I had decided to go with a pace of running for one minute then walking for one minute which would mean that I would run half of the race.  I use a tabata timer on my phone to tell me when to run and when to walk.  “Walk” in this instance means to walk at a swift pace, not to walk like it’s an afternoon stroll in the park.  My ankle was pretty sore Thursday and Friday after running Wednesday night.  I tried to take it easy Thursday and Friday, and I was relieved to have my ankle feeling pretty good Saturday morning.

This race had a lot of hills and wouldn’t you know that it worked out that I had to run up every one of them!  But, with the one minute walks, the hills didn’t seem bad at all.  For the first two miles, I pretty well kept pace with the same people.  Some of them I’d pass, then they’d pass me, and we kept playing the passing game.  However at mile three, I started leaving people behind.

I was expecting my time on this race to be one of my slowest.  However, once I saw the clock, I knew it wasn’t!  I was even more surprised to be first in my age group.

After the race, there was a pancake breakfast and silent auction that could be enjoyed during the award ceremony.  I did great in the award ceremony, but struck out in the silent auction.

Once I got home, I decided to compare my time with my other races.  Out of 18 races that I’ve participated in so far, my time on this race came in fourth.  When looking at my one mile splits, my pace got faster with each mile.  I am sold on the run/walk/run method!

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.  John 6:35

An Invitation

This week’s post is a thank you, to you, the reader.  Thank you for reading my posts and liking and commenting.  You don’t know how much of an ecouragement your likes and comments are to me.

The purpose of my “305 lbs.” posts was to chronicle my fitness and weight loss journey.  I wanted to back track and to catch you up to modern-day events.  That has been accomplished, but I still plan to continue to write about my journey.

The reason for chronicling my journey was to be an encouragement to you, the reader.  Unexpectedly, it has been very therapeutic to me as well.  Bottom line is, if I can do it, anyone can.  I am not anyone special.  I am not pretty.  I am not wealthy.  I am not athletic.  I am not any smarter than the average Joe.  However, I am stubborn and a hard worker.  And, believe me, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

My journey continues.  I don’t know that it will ever truly be over.  I invite you to come along.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  Hebrews 3:13

Loving It

Last week I met with a running group that meets once a week downtown.  It has an interesting format.  Communication is done via Facebook as seems common these days.  The route is published the evening before.  It’s a four mile route and is an out and back, so if you do the total route, it’s eight miles.

The group was very casual.  We met outside of a local pub and chit chatted a little before taking off.  Everyone was pretty well on their own to go their own speed and distance.  I was familiar with the area, as the route went through a neighborhood that I lived in many years ago.  I decided to run to the elementary school that was across the house I used to live in and back.  I was doing a run/walk as my ankle is still healing and went about two and a half miles.

I didn’t go far, and it wasn’t strenuous, but it felt really, really good.  It felt good to be outside again and to be moving.  I was reminded of how much I love running–that is once I got out there and got going.

Beforehand, I was dismayed.  Here it was the middle of the week, and there was a city-wide marathon on Saturday.  Most people in the group were running the marathon, some the half.  One person had run a marathon the weekend before.  All everyone talked about was how they were sick of running!  One person even commented that he was considering quitting running after the marathon.

I never had the desire to run a marathon, and I certainly don’t now.  I run for two reasons:  (1) I love it, and (2) I need the exercise.  I don’t ever want to be in a place where I don’t love running anymore.  And, if that means not training for a marathon or any other event, I’m ok with that.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever
circumstances I am.  Phil 4:11

 

4th Annual Kyleigh’s Gift 5K Run/3K Walk

Saturday, October 14, was the 4th Annual Kyleigh’s Gift 5K run/3K walk.  Proceeds from the race go to support infant wellness education and parental support.  One of the things they do is give a sleep sack to each newborn at our local hospital.

The race was set to start at 5:00, and so were severe thunderstorms for our area.  There was also a candlelight ceremony scheduled at 6:30 to recognize National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Before the race and/or before the ceremony, you could decorate a luminary.  Everything was originally planned to be held outside but got moved to indoors due to the severe weather we were expecting.

All of the events took place at the hospital with the race going through the parking lot, down a road less traveled, and then on a walking trail that goes through part of the hospital grounds.  We were told it was one lap for the 3K, and two laps for the 5K (must be that new math).  Since I’m still recovering from my ankle sprain, I registered for the 3K.  I knew I could walk that distance.  My friends, however, registered for the 5K.

Everyone was mulling around waiting for the race to begin.  So far it was dry, but it was gray and we could hear thunder, so it was evident that bad weather was approaching.  Finally, at 4:45, the race director said that they were going to go ahead and start the race since the bad weather was supposed to arrive at about 5:30.  He made it clear that only those comfortable with being outdoors with severe weather approaching should proceed.

The horn blew and we were off–runners first and walkers behind.  It soon became evident that we were running/walking right towards a thunderstorm.  Lightening was very close.  A lot of people turned around and went back after traveling less than 50 yards, especially those with children.

I set my tabata timer for 10 seconds work/running and 30 seconds rest/walking and planned to use that for at least part of the race.  However, there were times when I thought that I felt good, so I went ahead and ran a little longer.  I continued to run/walk and it soon began to rain.

Once I reached the paved trail, the wet surface was slick, so I decided I would have to walk the rest of the way.  I tried running beside the trail where the grass had been trimmed, but it was too uneven for my ankle.  It was not a risk I was willing to take.  I had to slow way down and watch my step on the trail.

After going a short distance on the trail, a race official in a golf cart pulled up beside me.  He said they were calling all the runners/walkers in due to the weather and that he wanted me to take the first entrance into the parking garage that I could.  The weather wasn’t horrible yet, but it looked like it could get that way in an instant.  I had gone 1.3 miles.

By the time I made it through the parking garage and up a few levels, the storm was here.  People were being encourage to go inside.  Within a few minutes the wind was blowing and tents and speakers were going everywhere.

Once inside, we waited.  We watched the rain come down and the wind blow.  We chatted and took a few pictures with our friends.  We gladly ate some of the snacks that were provided.  The electricity went out a few times, and the water rushed into the building under the doors.  It was good to be indoors and to be safe.

IMG_20171014_173422288

We would not realize the full extent of the damage until later.  Parts of town had utility polls snapped in half.  Many were without electricity and wouldn’t have power for a few days.

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.  The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”  Matthew 8:26-27

Why I Run

Why I Started

At first it was a challenge–a huge challenge.  I had completed a 12-week Commit to Get Fit program through my community center.  I had a personal trainer that I met with once a week.  It was tough, and he knew I wanted to leave the gym feeling like I had been through the wringer.  However, the program was long enough and I worked hard enough that I was seeing results.  My trainer convinced me that I could do anything I wanted to, so when I saw the flyer for the Couch to 5K program, I decided to give it a try.  I knew I could run for a whole minute on the treadmill, so surely I could work up to a 5K.

Why I Continued

There were some days, a lot of days, that were really tough.  My first run with my Couch to 5K group was the hardest.  We were to run for 60 seconds and then walk for 90.  It was the shortest 90 seconds of my life!  Our coach told us that the first day was the hardest.  At that moment it was hard to understand, but he was right, and I realized that as time went on.

What kept me going was the support I received from the coaches and from a friend.  There were so many times that I wanted to quit with the thought that running wasn’t for me, but the encouragement I got from those around me was incredible.  I had so many people telling me that I could do it and not to give up, that I kept going.

Why I’m a Runner for Life

It took a while, a long while, for me to fall in love with running.  I love that I can continue to challenge myself.  There’s always some way to improve whether it’s with a faster speed or a farther distance.  I can compete with others if I want, or I can compete with no one but myself.

I love being outside.  This wasn’t always the case, as I was allergic to everything, but that has also changed.  Since I started jucing and eating lots of fruits and vegetables my allergies have disipated so being outside is much more enjoyable now.  Getting some sun and fresh air almost every day feels great.

Running is a simple sport that I can take anywhere.  Running does not require a lot of equipment.  The most important thing all runners need is a good pair of shoes.  Beyond that, most things are optional.  Having the right clothing will make it more comfortable, and I do have some lights and refelctive gear that I use for running at night.  In the big scheme of things, this equipment is all very inexpensive and can be obtained a piece at a time.

In the end, it’s all about feelings.  Running makes you feel great.  There are so many days that I don’t want to run.  I make myself do it and am always glad that I did.  I end up feeling so much better afterwards.  It feels great when the air is cool and crisp to have the sun warming your skin.  When it’s hot and you think you’re going to melt, a soft, gentle breeze feels equally as wonderful.  Going out and accomplishing what you said you’d accomplish is always a satisfying feeling.  That doesn’t always happen, and some runs are better than others, but the “runners’ high” is always there no matter what.

I also run to encourage others.  It has been a life-changing experience for me, so I know it can be for other people as well.  Not only that, I know that if I can do it, anyone can.  That anyone could be YOU!

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.  1 Corinthians 9:24

 

Slowing Down

As I mentioned in my last post, it was a huge disappointment to end up with a severe ankle sprain just a few days before what is one of the most important races of the year for me.

I spent the first week after my injury wallowing in my mire and eating lots of chocolate.  I tried to continue with my 10,000 steps a day, but it soon became obvious that this was more than my ankle could tolerate right now.  The doctor kept telling me, “You’re going to have to lay off.”

The first thing I did was to cut my daily step goal in half to 5,000 steps.  This is equal to a couple of walks around the block each day, which is enough to make my ankle feel better, but also enough to make it want to swell.  I’ve also been concentrating on my eating.  No more chocolate and back to Bright Line Eating.

This time of year is always a big switch in schedules for me.  Our running group has quit meeting three days a week and it’s now back to school time, so there’s a big switch up in our daily activities anyway.  This year’s switch up has been bigger than expected.

I started a project last summer of going room by room, closet by closet, and drawer by drawer getting rid of things we no longer need or use.  We have gotten rid of so much “stuff” and have so  much more that needs to go.  I’m continuing that project as I can.

The time that I spent running in the past is now spent doing strengthening exercises for my ankle every day.  I’ve discovered that they can easily be done while sitting in the recliner with the footrest up, so that makes them more comfortable and enjoyable.  After those are done in the morning, I then spend time getting my electrodes placed and then wrapping my foot in some way to help keep them in place.  I use a TENS unit all day every day, 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off.  Yes, these are my electronic shock treatments.  At night I’m sleeping with a compression sock to help with the swelling and a brace which immobilizes my ankle and helps with the pain.

I’ve had to face one of my biggest fears:  If I stop running or exercising, I’ll never start again and go back to being a couch potato.  I’ve finally decided that this is not true.  Where I am now is temporary.  I’ll do what I can, slowly increasing my activity, until I’m back to where I was.  It will probably take months, but that’s ok.  There’s nothing like having goals to work towards!

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever
circumstances I am.  Philippians 4:11

Finished

Just as this past week was the end of summer for most, it was also the last week and big finale for our Couch to 5K group.  The last week we do a taper down, which means we back off on our running so we can run with fresh legs for our 5K.  The 5K our group was to run was the Bill James 5K/10K Classic on September 9.  This is the same run our group finished with last year.

Monday’s run was a little odd because we met two hours earlier than usual due to it being a holiday.  Tuesday night, we met at our regular time.  To show the newbies how far we’ve come, our coach had us do the running schedule from day one which was run for one minute and walk for 90 seconds.  We did this several times, and our mileage ended up being right around a mile.

I went home that evening and looked at my Fitbit to realize that I had 9,000 steps in.  I told my family that I was going to go walk around the block in an effort to break the 10,000 step barrier.  It was starting to get dark.  My daughter was concerned about my walking in the dark.

I went around the block at a quick pace.  It was getting late, and I wanted to finish and get to bed.  I was about 3/4 of the way around the block and was walking on the street on a stretch where there is no sidewalk.  I looked to my right to a group of people talking, and at that time my foot went half off the pavement and half on the curb.  I completely rolled my ankle and felt it pop.  I almost fell, but managed to recover.

My first thought was, “Oh, no.  This is really bad.”  However, I continued to walk and amazingly enough didn’t have a lot of pain.  I immediately went home and put some ice on it.

The next morning, walking around the house wasn’t too bad.  I decided to put my shoes on and try to do some walking around my neighborhood.  That was a completely different story.  It was very painful.

I decided to pay a visit to my sports injury doctor.  X-rays revealed that the tendon on my fibula has pulled some of the bone away.  The official diagnosis is that I “sprain the heck out of it.”

This, of course, was a huge disappointment.  Not only did I have a race coming up in three days, it was the big finale for our Couch to 5K group!  This was an event that I wasn’t going to miss, so I decided to focus on what I could do instead of what I couldn’t do.

I went ahead and went to the race with electrodes attached to my ankle and compression socks to help not only keep the swelling down but to also help wrangle the cords.  When I arrived, I went to the registration table and asked them to change my registration to the one mile walk.  I knew there was no way I could even walk three miles, but I was convinced I could walk one.

The race started, and everyone quickly left me in the dust.  I hobbled along the best I could.  This race was an out and back.  By the time I got to the turn around point, I was meeting 5K runners.

I did the best I could for that day.  I walked the one mile and had plenty of 5K runners pass me along the way.  I borrowed my daughter’s pompoms and spent the rest of my time cheering my fellow team members across the finish line.  For some this was their first race ever.

For now, running and anything else that requires being on my feet is on hold.  I’m finished.

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
  II Corinthians 12:10