Walking Down Memory Lane

June 10th was the Get Outdoors Day 6K.  This race benefited the Watkins Mill Association.  This one was close to heart and home.  I grew up two miles from the lake that we would soon run around.  It holds a lot of memories.

As has been our practice with previous races, we ran the course a couple of times before the race so we knew what we were getting ourselves into.  This race was on a paved trail that circles the lake.  Originally, the trail was about 4.1 miles, but it has been modified on the north end so that it is now only 3.8 miles.

Technically, the trail was much shorter in the beginning.  It started at the north end of the park where there was a picnic and playground area.  You could park there and then ride your bike or walk along the west side of the lake and across the dam where the trail came to an abrupt halt.

In what seemed to be 100 years to this little girl, the trail was finally completed so that it circled the lake.  At that time, it was about 4.1 miles and still began and ended at the picnic/playground area.

As a teenager, several of us would ride our bikes up and down a few enormous hills, past the old church and octagon schoolhouse, and then down the gravel road and across the wooden bridge to the beginning of the trail.  We would then race around the trail four times and then ride home for a total of about 20 miles.  If it was extremely hot, we came prepared, and often did, take a dip in the lake.

As a younger child, I remember the church and schoolhouse being restored.  One day while out garage saling with my mother, we went by the church to find that it was open and there were men working on it.  We stopped and asked if we could take a look inside, and they obliged.

I rode across that wooden bridge every day on the school bus.  We would hang on tight to the back of the seat in front of us in hopes that the driver would fly across the bridge at just the right speed and angle as to send us bouncing up out of our seats.  There were many picnics at the picnic area with church, 4-H, and other groups.  This always involved playing in the creek and under the bridge itself.  We also found the creek to be a great place to work on our rock-skipping skills.

The forecast for race time was sunny and 72 degrees, so I did not wear the heavy t-shirt we were given.  Instead, I wore a tech-shirt that I received at Tortoise and the Hare 5K.  The race started near the parking lot for the swim beach–something else that has changed over the years.  We ran in a counter-clockwise direction, which to me is the “right” direction after spending years riding my bike mostly in that direction.

We ran up and down a few shady hills and then out into the sun and across the dam.  The same dam that I spent many hours fishing, but never really catching anything, with my dad.  I remember one night going fishing with my dad and a neighbor.  I couldn’t have been more than 8 years old.  A thunderstorm suddenly rolled in and we had to quickly pack up our things and head to the truck.  We packed our things up and walked across the dam as fast as we could with me in the middle, my dad holding one hand, the neighbor the other.  It was so windy, that I thought I was going to blow away.  There were times that I would take a step and I knew that neither one of my feet were touching the ground.

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Turkey vultures making breakfast out of what last night’s fishermen left behind.

This race was not chip timed and it was 3.8 miles.  I hadn’t done any 4 mile runs for a while, so I wasn’t feeling real confident about it–especially with it being as warm as it was.  Also, my friend Velma was there who I hadn’t seen for a few weeks, so we spent a good part of the race walking and talking.  It was all good.  We had a great time, and I got to take a walk (literally) down memory lane.

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“Good morning,” says the cardinal to the owl.

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

Heart and Sole 5k

On Saturday, May 6, my oldest daughter and I (and a few other friends) ran the Tri County Heart and Sole 5K.  This race benefits local children with mental health issues.

Last year, this race was my first race of 2016 and the second race of my life.  I had taken the winter off and was just starting to get back into running again.  Not only was it wet and rainy the morning of the race, we had had torrential downpours a few days before.  There were patches where the trail was covered in one inch deep mud.  I had never ran the race route before, so I had no idea what to expect.

This year was completely different.  It was sunny and warm the morning of race day.  We had not had a lot of rain beforehand, so the trail was dry and clean.  My daughter and I had gone out a few times before the race and ran the course, so we knew what to expect.  Also, we did not take the winter off.  In essence, we were much more prepared this year.

This was not just a race, it was an event!  Before the race, there was a Zumba warm up by my favorite Zumba instructor, Shertoine.

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After singing the Star Spangled Banner, it was off to the race where we had great trail support!  This is the stuff that makes you smile and run a little harder.  Thank you to whoever got up early to do all of this!

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Then it was time for the kids fun dash.  My granddaughter ran her first race and got her first finisher’s medal!

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After that, we got to test drive this awesome vehicle!  (Wishful thinking.)

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Vroom, vroom!

 This was a fun morning with family and friends.  Like I said, this was not just a race, but an event–all for a great cause.

Indeed, may you see your children’s children.  Psalm 128:6a

First Place Runner!

One evening during a meeting, I received a phone call.  I recognized the number as coming from the family that I grew up next door to.  My first thought was that something horrible had happened.  Instead, I was asked if I wanted to run a 5K–in two weeks.  A business had purchased bibs and had two that were unclaimed.  My daughter and I could have them for free if we wanted.  No runner is going to turn that offer down!

April 22 was my second 5K for April, and one that was not planned.  The money for this 5K went to support a local Christian school.  This school is attached to a church that many, many years ago my two older kids took co op classes at.  So, I was familiar with the church and school and felt like it was a worthwhile cause.

At packet pick up we got some cool swag.  Lots of local coupons including $5 off at a local grocery store.  We also got red t-shirts and glittery headbands that aren’t supposed to slide on your head.

The race itself was at a local park with a trail.  We were somewhat familiar with the park but not the trail in particular.  We had to drive by it to get to packet pick up, so we took a drive through the park and looked over the trail the best we could.  Upon leaving we noticed a big hill with a monstrous grade.  The only question was, were we going to be running up it or down it tomorrow?

The forecast for the race was 45 degrees and a light rain.  The only race I’ve had to run in the rain was warm enough that it wasn’t cold.  I didn’t know how I would handle this one.  I’ve been told by veteran runners that the secret is to stay dry.  How to do that, I wasn’t sure.

As Friday progressed, I kept checking the weather forecast for Saturday morning at race time.  The temperature kept going up and the chance of rain kept going down.  By the time I went to bed, the forecast was 53 degrees, windy and cloudy, but no rain.  I was thankful and dressed for the forecasted weather.

Saturday morning arrived and it was 53 degrees, very windy, and the sun was shining.  I was thankful not to be running in the rain, but I was also a bit overdressed since I was expecting it to be cloudy.

The race course was interesting.  We were told that last year the course was a bit short, so we had a little out and back we had to do before running on the paved trail.  We had to do two laps around the trail.  It didn’t take long to realize that we had to go up that gnarly hill twice!

Other than the hill, it was a nice course.  I mostly ran up the hill the first time around and did more walking up the hill the second time around.  I knew it wasn’t worth it to wear myself out running up this hill.

I crossed the finish line huffing and puffing.  Then, when I saw my time I was very disappointed.  It was the worst I had done in a very long time.  Once I caught up with my daughter (literally), she told me that she was also disappointed with her time.  We blamed the wind, we blamed the hill, we blamed everything except ourselves!  Then, I looked at the stats on my Fitbit.  We had actually run 3.3 miles–nearly a quarter of a mile further.

I’ve been telling people that I’d get first place as soon as I found a race small enough.  As far as participants go, this was probably the smallest race I’ve ever run.  In fact, it was small enough that I was probably the only runner in my age group.  Which, of course, put me in first place!  Yah, check out that white ribbon around my neck that says “1st Place.”

305 lbs. Hitting the Century Mark

This week I am re-posting a post from May 11, 2016.  It fits into the timeline of my current posts.  At the time, I was very hurt and my head was still swirling, so I did not want to go into to detail as to why the evening before was dark and stormy and why I could not share this goal with my corner coach, Mr. G.

Looking back, I think I’ve made more progress this past year in the fitness department than I have the weight loss department.  Last year was a rough year all around.

He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psa 62:2


I took this screenshot Saturday morning, May 7, 2016.  I am excited to say that I have passed the century mark on my weight loss.  It is an exciting goal that I’ve been trying to reach for quite some time.  I’ve been very close the last month with my weight tottering up and down.

I was not expecting to hit it that day.  The evening before was very dark and stormy personally.  Seeing these numbers Saturday morning was like a rainbow after a destructive and devastating storm.  Yet, I am saddened that I cannot share this exciting news with the one person that has been my biggest cheerleader this past year.

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By Lori Camper

Cinderella Runs Her First 5K

Well, official 5K, anyway.  Last year I signed Cinderella up for a one mile fun run.  The only problem was that instead of turning around at the one mile point, she kept going and ended up running the entire 5K.

On April 1, I ran the Tortoise and Hare 5K with both of my daughters!  My youngest has been asking me to sign her up for a 5K.  I didn’t think she was ready for it and told her that she needed to do some running beforehand.  This race had a reduced price for children, so I didn’t mind signing her up.

I was only able to get her to run with me one time before the race, and it wasn’t pretty.  Two days before the race, she realized the race was around the corner and it was too late for training.  She was starting to feel like she had a mountain to climb and was not at all prepared for it.

The morning started out as many days have this past winter and spring–cloudy and overcast.  This was one of the more casual races we’ve run.  We had bibs and prizes were given out for the best in each age group, but this race was not timed.

When the gun went off, I wasn’t quite ready and everyone took off like it was the Kentucky Derby.  I knew I couldn’t sustain that pace, so I backed off a little.  I was concerned about Cinderella not knowing where to go, so I decided I would stay with her no matter what.  Before we got to the one mile mark, she was complaining.

During mile two, she said she was never running another 5K again.  After that, we went into run/walk mode.  We would run until she tired out, then we would walk until she caught her breath and we could run again.

We were nearing mile three when Cinderella told me to go on and that she would walk the rest of the way.  By now, we had gotten to the point that the people that were participating in the two mile walk were close behind us.  We were close to the finish line, but she didn’t know it because there was a curve in the road right before the finish line.

We couldn’t see the finish line, but I could see part of the building that we had started in front of.  I said, “We’re almost there.  Do you see that building?  That’s where we started.”

We continued to walk, until we made it around the curve and could see the finish line.  I told Cinderella that we were going to sprint across.  I found a landmark and said, “When we get to that sign, we’re going to run as fast as we can.”  A few seconds later, I grabbed her hand, and I drug her across the finish line. Finishing with her was a great feeling!

Time, Energy, Hate, and Anger

As I get older, my time becomes more and more valuable.  I know my days, and therefore my time, on this earth are numbered.  I know that the time I have left on this earth is limited, limiting the time I have for accomplishments and spending time with my family.  I also know that at this point I am on the downhill slope, meaning that most likely more than half my time on this earth is behind me.

I also know that the amount of energy I have is limited.  I have been able to boost my energy level by changing my diet and exercising, but it’s still finite.  Most days my energy bank is full, and I can make it through without any problems.  Some days my energy bank is running on empty, and I have to make adjustments to make it through the day.

My energy has also become a valuable commodity and something that I have decided to spend carefully.  Continuing to eat a healthy diet and to exercise almost daily is something I continue because it’s like earning interest on your investment.  I might be spending some energy to do it, but it’s going to pay me back with more energy.

Just like the money I have in my pocket, I decided a long time ago that there are things I refuse to spend my energy on.  I refuse to spend my energy on hate and anger directed at other people.  Sometimes it’s a difficult thing to do, but I remind myself that it’s not worth it and what other people do is out of my control.  It’s natural to want to defend ourselves when we’re being attacked.  Often, the better course of action is to remove ourself from the situation than to spend our time and energy yelling back at someone that’s not even listening to us anyway.

Hate.  It’s just an ugly word all the way around.  Spending time and energy hating people is not a wise expenditure.  I’d much rather spend my time on actions that are going to make a difference than on inaction that is just going to wear me out.  The one thing we don’t hate enough is sin.  We would be different people and live in a completely different world if we hated sin enough to steer clear of it.

With the idea of reaping what we sow; hate, and you most likely will receive hate in return.  Love, and you most likely will receive love in return.

“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”  Rom 12:20 NASB

I refuse to listen to nay sayers, no matter how many letters are after their name

Last week I had a trip to the emergency room for chest pains.  Thankfully, the ticker is doing fine.  However, it seems that my esophagus is having spasms.  In going over my “risk factors” with me, the doctor said the ‘O’ word.  Yes, I’m still in the “obese” category.  That stung.

What amazed me was the questions I was never asked.  I was never asked whether or not I exercised on a regular basis.  I was never asked what my diet consisted of.  I got the feeling that it was assumed that I was a junk-food-eating couch potato and that was what landed me there.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, I had just drank a green smoothie; and that is what brought on the chest pains.  I also missed my Tuesday night run with my running buddies because I was at the hospital.

This doctor, a woman, had no idea who I was or where I have been.  I am proud of what I’ve accomplished the last few years.  I’m not where I want to be yet; but I know that, so I’m going to keep working on it.  I refuse to listen to nay sayers, no matter how many letters are after their name.

Instead I will listen to the encouraging words I have heard this week.  At a conference this past weekend, I saw someone on Friday that I only see once a year or so.  She referred to me as “tiny.”  Saturday morning, I had breakfast with a former co-worker that I haven’t seen in probably 20 years.  She was flabbergasted that I’m still in the obese category.  This evening, a woman in the grocery store recognized me from the Couch to 5K program.  She stopped me and told me that I looked “great.”

This is why I never criticize anyone on their appearance.  Unless it is someone you know, you don’t know where they’ve been or what they’re thinking.  Perhaps that very large person that you just poked fun at is in the middle of a weight loss journey and has already lost a substantial amount of weight.  Or, maybe she just started her weight loss journey, is having a hard time, and really needs some encouragement right now.  Or maybe that skinny lady that you’ve been envying is on the other end of the spectrum and is desperately trying to gain a few pounds so she, too, can be at a healthy weight.

I realize this doctor was doing her job, and the majority of her patients probably are obese, junk-food-eating couch potatoes.  Still, those people need encouragement too.  Most people listen to their doctor.  Perhaps with the proper encouragement instead of negativity, they would make the changes needed in their lives.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.  I Thessalonians 5:11

Do You Have a Corner Coach?

There is nothing like having at least one person to support you and cheer you along. Alexis Rose talks about being a corner coach and then having and needing a corner coach. She has no problem telling her friends she needs them to be her corner coach for the moment. Surrounding yourself with more than one person willing to step in and be your corner coach for the moment is a smart move. Great post.

Untangled

“You’re a hard stick.” I hear those words each time I have blood drawn. Yesterday, after four sticks, for five tubes of blood, and a very upset phlebotomist, I found myself cheering her on, telling her she can do it, she’ll have a great day once she’s found a vein, all you need is confidence. I was determined to have her shake it off and find a vein because she was the only one working yesterday; she couldn’t pass me on to a co-worker and I was not going to come back another day, to hear the same words, “You’re a hard stick.” That’s the kind of stress I prefer to only have once a year if possible, not two days in a row. She finally found a blood-giving vein and off I went, hoping to never lay eyes on her again!

I love the term corner coach. I used it…

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305 lbs. The End of a Relationship

April was jam packed with activities, so it went by very quickly.  It wasn’t long before May was here and it was time to start working again.  I looked forward to seeing and being in contact with the people I worked with.  In some ways I knew what to expect, but I didn’t know what might’ve changed while I was absent.

My first day of work went by quickly.  I was offered a cell-phone to use for work.  I decided that I wanted to keep business life and personal life separate, so I accepted.  I was told it had been Mr. G.’s phone, but that didn’t matter to me.  Charles got the phone reactivated, made a call on it to verify that it was working, and then handed it over to me.

I spent the day doing safety courses on the computer.  It was a long, tiring day; but I was glad to be done with them and know that I wouldn’t have any to do for another year.  Things were slow that night, so I was able to go home about an hour early.

I went home and decided to examine the phone I had been given.  I used my personal phone to call it to see what the ringtone was and how to answer calls.  The phone itself would never ring, but on my personal phone I would hear a ringing sound and then a message saying that the voicemail hadn’t been set up.

I was perplexed.  What was wrong with this phone?  Over the course of an hour I made several calls between the two phones with the same response.  I had come to the conclusion that I would have to take it into work the next day and let Charles know that it wasn’t working.  I decided to try one more time.  This time a woman answered, “Hello?”  Surprised and confused, I said, “I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number.”

I thought I had heard that voice before.   I checked the settings on the phone and sure enough, Mr. G. had the phone forwarded to his personal cell phone number.  I was horrified to realize that all of the calls I had been making had been going to him.  I decided at that point that I would send him an email and apologize as soon as I was in front of my computer.

However, Mr. G. beat me to the punch.  I had a phone call from him within 30 minutes, and he was hopping mad that I had called him repeatedly.  He was coaching his son’s baseball game and finally threw his phone across the field.

I apologized and explained that it was an accident.  Once he heard that I was working for the company that he walked away from, the volcano of hate and anger erupted.  Once I explained that taking this job was what I wanted to talk to him about a few weeks prior, I went into listening mode.   Just like the people of Pompeii, there was nothing I could say or do to keep this volcano from erupting and destroying everything in its path.

In the end, I was told to never contact Mr. G. again in any way, whether it be by telephone, text, or email.  I told Mr. G. that I was not upset with him and that he knew where to find me if he ever needed anything.  It was clear that this was the end of our relationship.

Shortly thereafter, I received a long text from Mr. G. explaining why I was now the enemy and how he never wanted to hear from any of “us” again.  I was hurt, but did not want to fight fire with fire so to speak.  Instead, I sent a short text back letting him know that I would always be grateful for the support he had given me the past year.

I was deeply hurt.  Not so much by the fact that our relationship had ended, but by the way it had ended.  Later, I became fearful.  I had come a long way in the past year, but I still had considerable ground to cover.  I was not convinced that I could get to my destination without Mr. G.’s support.  I was so thankful that God had brought the right people into my life at the right time.  He had done it before, so I continued to pray that He would do it again.

Some Days are Just Dark

One Saturday morning, my family was to attend a funeral. It was for an elderly woman that I had never met. My husband knew her because he had done some work for her. My young daughter knew her because she would often tag along so she could play with her kitty. I had never met her but had answered the phone a time or two when she called.

I had felt the darkness of that black cloud hovering overhead in the previous week. The cloud was getting bigger, darker, lower, and heavier. When Saturday morning arrived I told my husband that I’d like to stay home if he didn’t mind. A funeral was not something I thought I could do that day.

I believe funerals are for the living, and I believe it is important to support those that are grieving. I practice this belief enough that I have a friend that refers to it as my “ministry.” However, I knew in this case that my absence or presence would not have any significant meaning since I did not know the deceased or any of the survivors.

During the time that I would’ve been at the funeral with my phone turned off, I received a phone call from Mr. G. An actual phone call was a rarity. “I just pulled into my garage and am sitting in my car and felt like I should call you,” I heard a friendly, understanding voice say.

I explained what was going on and why my family was at a funeral and I was not. I commented that for no reason that I could explain, darkness had blotted out the light and it was getting darker with each passing day. Then I heard, “Some days are just dark.”

It was a simple statement that probably didn’t mean much to many people, but it was profound for me that day. Just like some days the weather might be sunny, cloudy, or rainy; some days can be down right dark. Just like the weather, I didn’t do anything to cause it (that I knew of), and it didn’t mean that there was something “wrong” with me. It just was. Somehow that gave me great comfort. That day was very dark and cloudy, but I knew I could look forward to bright, sunny days ahead.