Sweetheart Run 5K

February’s race was the Sweetheart Run 5K.  I ran this race last year with my daughter and a few friends and had a great time.  There is also a runners’ expo after the race, so it’s a good time to get discounts on future races, running gear, etc.

This race was originally scheduled for the 10th.  Due to a forecast of incoming snow, the race was postponed to the following week.  We didn’t get the snow that was forecasted, but it was very cold on the 10th, so I was glad for the week’s delay.

As always I was watching the weather forecast so I’d know what to expect and could prepare for race day.  It was forecasted to be about 43 degrees and cloudy at the time of the race.  I would need a jacket, earmuffs, and long pants.

When I got up the morning of the race, I again checked the weather.  It was as predicted, so I got ready for the race as planned and had a small breakfast.  I was ready to walk out the door when my oldest daughter came in through the garage, “You know it’s snowing, right?”

I looked outside.  The ground and our vehicles were covered in snow and there were huge snowflakes falling from the sky.  I was not prepared for snow.

Lesson #1:  Always pop your head outdoors to see what the weather is actually doing while you still have time to make adjustments.

We went on our way.  This race was on the other side of town–further away than most of my races.  We drove through the mist and wet roads.  I remember saying, “I’m not prepared to get wet!”

Lesson #2:  Always bring a change of clothes.

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Race time came and it was cool and breezy, but at least there wasn’t anything falling from the sky.  The pavement was wet, so I was expecting to get wet from the knees down.  Then, as we walked up to the start line I got another surprise:  this year’s race would be run in reverse of last year’s race.

With running being very much a mental sport, this threw me off.  I had checked the route, and it had not been updated in the race information.  I started going through the route backwards in my mind.

In the end it was a good race.  The weather held out, and I did not end up soaking wet.  Most of all, I met my goal:  I beat the girl in the pink pants!

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Proverbs 24:17

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Running: The No-Equipment Sport

One thing that attracted me to running was that it was a low investment sport monetarily speaking.  It was nice to think that I didn’t have to go out and spend money on equipment or a gym membership, nor did I have to have a place to store said equipment.  The only thing I needed to get started, so I thought, was a good pair of shoes.  I had already discovered my pronation problem with my feet and invested in good shoes and orthodics, so I was ready to rock and roll.

My daughter came up with the idea that we should run a 5K a month.  I decided to go along with that.  Then she decided that we had to wear tutus, so that was my first investment.  Then there was the ever important armband or belt to carry your phone in, and let’s not forget earbuds for listening.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that there is an entire market out there targeted towards runners.  The first thing that I was told was that “cotton is rotton” and that I was wearing the wrong socks.  I didn’t care.  I liked my socks.  I also had old, cotton t-shirts that I wore to run in.  It was summer, it was hot, I was fine.

Then it got so hot that the sweat would run into my eyes and I couldn’t see a thing.  I got a headband for my birthday, and later ended up buying another one to help keep the sweat out of my eyes.  Then I came across these cooling towels to help keep you cool in the extreme heat.  Yip, I had to have one of those too!

Then Fall came and it started to cool off.  I needed longer pants to keep warm and a jacket.

Then Winter came along.  Not only did we have to deal with the temperatures, we also had to deal with the fact that we were running in the dark most of the time.  For warmth, I now needed long sleeved shirts to wear under my jacket, ear muffs, gloves, and a face warmer.  After tripping and falling in the dark a few times (once I fell on my phone), I decided I needed a light.  I found a very bright LED light that I love.  It was not cheap, but it was a lot cheaper than a new phone.

I invested in a reflective vest.  I was so excited when the package came.  I opened it up, adjusted the straps, and put it on.  My husband walked into the room and said, “What did you do, get a job pushing carts at Stuff Mart?”  My daughter’s friends that live across the street thought that I was a school crossing guard.

Now, I have a whole bag of running gear.  It hangs in the coat closet and I pull it out every time I go running.  The small stuff, like my earbuds and my light go in a small pencil bag so I don’t have to dig around and find them.  Everything else is just thrown in and pretty easy to find.  So much for my little sport that doesn’t require any equipment.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  Ephesians 6:11

Going Underground

Winter is only a few weeks old, and it has been a cold, cold one already.  That coupled with wind and snow has made it very uncomfortable.  The thought of going outside is torturous.  The thought of staying inside and never going outside again is a little less torturous.

So, what’s a runner girl to do?  Go underground.  Yes, you read that right, underground!

We have a local university that has a cave on campus that is not only home to some university facilities, but also local businesses.  The cave can be a welcome retreat to runners and walkers alike during times of extreme weather–hot or cold.

So, what’s it like running in a cave?

Sixty-five degrees year-round!  The temperature, of course, is the main reason for going and the advantage that I immediately noticed.  After running in the cold weather, it was hard to keep from overdressing.  Right now, I would call it a balmy sixty-five degrees.  In the summer, it would be considered a cool retreat.  My vehicle was covered in ice and snow, and even though it had warmed up some, I was still having trouble with the locks freezing up.  By the time we were done with our work out, my vehicle was clear of snow and the locks were working as they should.  It was also nice to return to a comfortable car after working out instead of getting in an ice-cold vehicle.

Clean, fresh air.  With vehicles coming and going, the air in the cave is constantly being filtered.  This makes for clean, fresh air in all places all of the time.  I can’t always say this for outdoors with people driving by, mowing their yards, or sitting on their porches smoking.

Dry!  The entrance to the cave had some wet spots, but other than that, it was dry, dry, dry!  This was a great contrast to the conditions outside.  We recently had snow and it was too cold for it to melt, so running outside was treacherous.

Flat.  Overall the course is flat with some slight and gradual inclines and declines.  This is not a place to work on hills, but it will keep you going when the weather is not conducive to running outside.

Well-lit.  I know we think of caves as dark and gloomy, but they have done a great job making it feel just the opposite.  The walls and ceilings are painted white and there are lights everywhere.  There is no need to worry about wearing reflective clothing and lights so you can see where you’re going.  It was nice not to have to put on all the extra gear for running in the dark.  It was also nice to be able to see more than just a few feet in front of you.

Little traffic.  This is not a high-volume area, so there was very little traffic.  We also went at a time that the businesses probably would be closed and not receiving shipments, so there were no big trucks coming and going.  The posted speed limit is 9.9 mph (really), so what traffic there was moved at a very slow pace.

No animals–yet.  I started carrying my mace with me on every run simply because I have often ended up with a loose dog wanting to run with me or after me.  After one big dog put his wet nose on the back of my leg, I decided that was a little too close for comfort.  I’m a dog lover, and I love animals in general, but I also realize that they can suddenly become aggressive.  I also understand the damage they can do in an instant.  I didn’t see any animals in the cave, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bat sometime.

“Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.  Jeremiah 23:24

Battle of the Bean 5K

January’s race and my first race for 2018 was the Battle of the Bean 5K.  The charity for this race was Happy Bottoms which is a diaper bank for local low income families.  Paper products are a great need for low income families as government assistance does not provide them.

Battle of the Bean does seem like an odd name for a race, but the “beans” that are “battling” here are the coffee bean and the cacao bean.  When you register for the race, you choose whether you wish to be on Team Coffee or Team Cocoa.  I never let something as vile as coffee touch me lips, so I went for Team Cocoa.  I rarely drink it due to the sugar and calories involved, but just imagining rich, creamy cocoa with marshmallows on top was enough to put me on the team!

The race itself was sponsored by a local coffee shop.  It was amazing!  Along with the usual coffee shop items, they also had gourmet chocolates and frozen custard made at the shop.  They had samples out for the runners after the race.  The chocolate looked too good to eat, and tasted fabulous.  The custard was the smoothest and creamiest I’ve ever had.

We were fortunate that we had some warmer weather move in a few days prior to the race.  It was foggy and damp, but all of the snow had melted from the roadways.  It was also about 42 degrees, which is perfect running weather.  The first thing I did when we got there was take about 10 steps and step into a pothole full of water.  So, I ran with one very soggy foot.

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As is my custom, I drove the route a few days before the race so I’d know what to expect.  With the cold weather, ice, and snow we’ve had lately, I haven’t been running much.  I knew mile one would be the easiest with a very long descent.  I expected mile two to be the toughest with a long hill to climb.  Mile three was flatter, so I thought it would be a nice break after mile two.

It didn’t take long for me to find out that two miles is about my endurance level right now.  The second mile was my fastest, but I was exhausted afterwards.  The third mile was tougher than I thought it would be, but I still made it with a time that I can live with.

Instead of a finisher’s medal, we got these really nice mugs that commemorate the race.  They are heavy duty and large enough to use for your favorite drink or soup–or maybe even a dessert!  I love that it’s something I’ll use over and over again.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 
I Corinthians 10:31

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(Cocoa not included.)

January, I Loathe Thee

In my part of the world, January is the most in-climate month of the year.  It is usually our coldest, snowiest, and windiest month.  We have been blessed the last few years that we have had mild winters where even January was bearable.  Last winter I was able to continue running outdoors in the evening with my oldest daughter.  This year, it has been a challenge and has taken some creativity to keep running.

So, what’s a girl to do in January?  Stay indoors!  For this quirky introvert, January has been my month to stay home and recharge my batteries so to speak.  It’s been a month of soups and chili, warm fires in the fireplace, and going through closets and file cabinets to lighten the load.  I tell people that it is my month to hibernate.  By the time January is through, I am usually refreshed and ready to be around people again.

Not so this year.  January has definitely delivered with the cold, snowy, wet, sloppy weather.  The complication is that we have appointments we have to go to every day of the workweek.  So much for recharging.

 

 

What’s a quirky introvert to do that needs this time to  herself?  I’m making as few trips out as possible.  All other errands, such as grocery shopping, are planned around these appointments.  I go out, conquer the world, and get back home as quickly as possible.  I’m still working on clearing out those closets and file cabinets, but at a slower pace.  For me, January needs to be a time to recharge, not discharge.

Obviously, January is not even close to one of my favorite months of the year.  However, it comes around whether I want it to or not; so I might as well make the most of it.  In my mind it’s necessary and helps me to appreciate spring that much more.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

 

Friends

Some friends are forever,
and some are not;
some friends are free,
while some are bought.

Some bring joy,
others bring pain;
some will do it,
over and over again.

Can you afford to pay the price?
Lonely days and sleepless nights.

Some friends are forever
and some are not,
but a departed friend
is never forgot.

copyright (C) Lori Camper

Could You Outrun Goliath?

At “six cubits and a span,” Goliath stood over nine feet tall, using a conservative 18-inch cubit. Scripture demonstrates his strength by cataloging the weight of his armaments, including a 5,000-shekel (125-pound) coat of mail.1 No wonder he was the champion of Gath! He was big and strong, but was he fast?

Source: Could You Outrun Goliath? | The Institute for Creation Research

As a (slow) runner, I found this interesting.  There is no doubt in my mind that I could not outrun Goliath.  Every race I run, there’s the mom pushing the double stroller that passes me somewhere along the way.

As scripture demonstrates time and time again, it’s not always speed or even the biggest, strongest army that wins the battle.  In the end, God wins.  This is what gives me hope and keeps me going day after day.

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;  1 Peter 3:15

2018: Faith, Food, and Freedom

As we often do this time of year, I have spent some time reflecting on last year in order to look ahead for 2018.  Last year, I created a list of things to work on, and went at it.  I made it a point to look at my list each month to see how I was doing.  I thought I was doing pretty well until the last quarter of the year.

When I cross off the things I was able to accomplish, one thing stands out:  I have the exercise part down.  When I look deeper, there’s one more thing that comes to the surface:  I can maintain my weight.  I ended this year at about the same weight as last year.  I spent this past year losing the same 10 pounds over and over.

So, what am I aggravated the most about?  Not getting to my goal weight.  What am I going to do about it?  I’m going to concentrate on getting my food under control.  This year’s overall theme is “freedom.”

I actually started working on this the middle of last year.  I spent the summer going through closets and drawers getting rid of things.  It has been so freeing to get rid of things.  I still have a room that has been used as a family room, office, and school room that needs a deep cleaning and decluttering.  I started using paper plates when we have people over for dinner, and I put everything I can in the dishwasher so I’m not spending time washing dishes by hand.

I’m not going to try to read everything nutrition and exercise and put myself in information overload.  Instead, I’m working on unsubscribing from groups and emails that I’m really not that interested in.  I’ll still run and exercise, but that is not going to be my main focus.

I know you’re thinking that I have to have a plan.  Yes, I do.  I know the focus this time of year is exercise, exercise, exercise.  But mine is not. I’ve found a journal that focuses on food and faith (instead of food and exercise) that I should receive in the next day or two.  My plan is to implement that using a sensible food plan.  I’ve been doing Bright Line Eating this week and that has gone well.  Jason Vale also has a Super Blend Me! program that I am looking into.  Both of these plans are simple and freeing.

So, this year I don’t have a long list of things I want to accomplish.  Instead, it’s going to be the year of not doing and getting rid of.  It’s going to be the year of freedom and freeing myself up.

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:36

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