Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I Choose You.

I have been doing a study on What Happens When Women Say Yes to God with a beautiful friend of mine. I didn't really know how I'd feel about this study when we started it but, I have to say, it's been life-changing, for me anyway.

If you read my very first post here you know that I absolutely love to worship.  Something stirs up inside me and pure joy flows out.  If I could spend my life in praise and worship, I would have no worries.  I would have no cares....and that's what I'm going to do.

Lysa TerKeurst says in her book, "When we focus our minds and fix our attention on Christ, He is magnified and made bigger in our lives.  When we focus our minds and fix our attention life's obstacles, they will be wrongly magnified and made to appear larger than they really are.  Our attention is like a magnifying glass - whatever we place it on becomes larger and more consuming of our time and energy.  We desire to focus on Christ alone, but sometimes other things seem bigger, and so, without even realizing it, we shift our focus."

Wow.  Those words really spoke to me.  What could be so important that is it worth the time and energy I give it?  Only Christ.  Only Him.  Nothing else is worth it.  Because I will be let down by every single other thing and person in my life, as I will let down people in my life.

Therefore,  I choose You, God.  I choose to worship You.  I choose to praise You in the storm.  I choose to not worry because I know it is all in Your hands.  I choose You because You chose me.

Are you a worrier?  How do you move on?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What are you implying, New Year?!

It's that time of year again.  You know what I'm talking about...

brace yourself

I have never been one to make New Year's Resolutions.  It has just never occurred to me.


In all seriousness, I have always tried to make a change (resolution, if you will) when I see that said change is needed.  When faced with a challenge necessary for my overall well-being, I'm motivated right then and there to get moving on it.  As I wrote in this post, I knew I wasn't where I needed to be.  I hadn't quite made that change but I was ready.  Change was imminent.

I am very glad that I didn't wait until January 1st to pull myself together.  Enough pouting over no-running already, there are other things I can do and still get my endorphin high!  I have found that thing.  By all means, make your New Year's Resolutions if you do!  You'll be very happy you did come next year.  It's like they say, if you had started a year ago, you'd be there already...or something like that.


Are you a resolution kind of person?

Do you usually stick to them?

What's a resolution you've stuck to (New Year's or otherwise)?

Did I use "change" too many times in this post? (I searched synonyms on thesaurus.com but "revolution" and "transformation" seemed too dramatic.)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Double Dog Dare Ya!

Ok, you guys, I'm hosting my first ever challenge group!  If you're anything like me, you are going to enjoy lots of goodies over the holidays and not think anything about it.  And that's okay.  Everything in moderation is what I say.

But come January 1st, I'm sure many of you have resolutions to lead healthier lifestyles.  Instead of fighting the crowds at the gym, why not workout in your own home?  I love working out at home!  (I'm currently working on that blog post.)  Where else can you be completely comfortable and not worry about other people?  Whether you are concerned about them looking at/judging you or when they are going to get off of that machine you really want to use, you may not be in love with the idea of a traditional gym.

That's where a challenge group comes in!

Here's what you get:

-10-week pre-planned workout plan (only 25 minutes each!)

-Once-a-week group workout for those in the Tri-Cities area

-Easy, peasy nutritious meal options

-30-day supply of Shakeology (designed to help you lose weight, reduce cravings, improve digestion, increase your energy and stamina, and not to mention make your hair and nails look fabulous)

-A private Facebook group for support (No one will be able to see these posts except for those in the group)

-Daily inspiration from yours truly!

-Free coaching!

If we aren't already facebook friends, find me at www.facebook.com/overwhelmedheart or to join the group go to www.beachbodycoach.com/healthniki and click on "Challenge Pack" to get started!  (Please leave me a comment so I can find you!)

I can't wait to take this journey with you!!!

2014 best

How do you stay in control over the holidays?

What is your New Year's Resolution?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

anticipating Christ

Last week, my team and I spent time teaching our first graders about "Holidays Around the World".  We did something we don't normally do.  We rotated classes.  We passed our 4 classes around Tuesday-Friday.  By Friday, they were back in their "home"rooms.

When I learned of what we were doing I freaked out a little bit because I didn't know what holiday I was going to teach.  They had already taken Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and St. Nicholas' Day.  I did a lot of research via the internet.  Lo and behold, I found out about Las Posadas, a Mexican tradition of reenacting the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.

Las Posadas is celebrated for 9 nights, symbolic of the nine months Jesus was in Mary's womb.  Each night, there is a procession.  Participants carry candles and sing songs, traveling from house to house.  Until, at last, they are allowed inside, where a huge celebration takes place.

Can you imagine being Mary or Joseph?  I mean, for real.  How would you feel?  How would you react?  Would you be like Mary and Joseph?  All accepting and trusting?  Or like Zachariah, told of John the Baptist's soon arrival, doubting and unbelieving?

I would like to think I would be like Mary but I think that my reaction would be more like Zachariah's.  "How could that be?"  "It's not possible!"  God, teach me to trust you more fully.

john 1_14

Do you have any traditions to honor Christ during Christmas?


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Read any good books lately?

Since it's gotten colder, I have been reading a lot more and I wanted to share my favorites with you!

I have always loved to read.  I read so often when I was a kid that my parents made it a rule that I could not bring books to the dinner table.  I think I ruined my eyes by still trying to read my books by streetlights after dark on long car rides.
book hangover

I've been reading a lot more since the holidays have begun and I've compiled a list of my top ten favorite books of all time.

total money makeover

This book has completely made me realize the life of "Financial Freedom" I could be living.  I had no idea that I really had so much hidden money.  I have already started paying off debt like crazy.  I can't wait to be free of student loans.  That's the one I'm "snowballing" right now.

Bart has written an amazing memoir of his life, which began with unhealthy addictions and an is now focused on his running and being CRO (chief running officer) of Runners' World magazine.  He has run, literally, all over the world and is a vivid storyteller.  I highly recommend it, especially if you are a runner.


Stasi and John Eldredge tell the story of how God made us, women, in His image.  We have so many of His beautiful traits that we never think of when we think of Him as a man.


This book taught me what it meant to be a "follower" of Christ, rather than just a believer.

6.   Same Kind of Different as Me


True story, co-written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, captures what it was like for the most unlikely friendship  to have developed crossing over social and racial boundaries.  In the most difficult of circumstances, they were brought together, somewhat unwillingly, by Ron's angel of a wife.

5.   The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins


If you're too lazy or don't like to read, watch the movies.  I feel like they really have captured books amazingly, so far.  I like to read books because I feel like I get so much more background and history that they can give you in 2 1/2 hours.

4.   Crazy Love

crazy love

This is the first book I read when I truly came to know Christ and develop a relationship with our God.  I never knew what that meant.  I always thought that I could pray to God, but that he was just this unreachable omnipotent being in the sky.  I did not relate to Him.  I didn't know that I could.  I didn't realize that this was the most meaningful relationship I would ever have in my life, here and now.

3.   Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

order of the phoenix

I read all of the Harry Potters but this one was my absolute favorite.  *SPOILER ALERT* I remember boo-hooing when Sirius died.  Harry had just gotten a family and then he just lost him.  It was so unfair.

3.   The Giver


The Giver was required reading in school one year.  I didn't mind, because, ya know, I was a reader.  Other students may have felt differently.  The deepness of this book is something that I, as a child and teen, could not understand but I still enjoyed it's concept.  As an adult reading this book, I see so much more of what Lois Lowry was telling us.  It tells of a world that we don't live in and we can't possibly imagine.

2.   Kisses From Katie

kisses from katie

Katie's courage and fierceness is unmatchable in this world.  She has a heart for God and for these children.  She, a well-to-do high school student, went to Uganda for a short mission trip and never really came back home to Brentwood, TN because she fell so. much. in. love.  I laughed and cried all throughout this book.  If you read no other book this year, make it this one.

1.  The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that's the book for me!


The Greatest Story Ever Told.  Truth.  The Word.  No matter what you call it, you should read it.  If you had asked me in my younger years, I never would have believed that I would pick this book up and read it...for pleasure and growth, but I do.  Usually not as much as I would like, but I am working on that.

Now, do you feel like this?


What is your absolute favorite book that I should read?

Monday, December 2, 2013


I haven't run since the Haunted Half relay and very sparingly before that. I didn't even really get to train for Big Sur like I should have. I started feeling the beginning of the end in January of this year... and now it's December.

I did the majority of my marathon training by pool-running at a local gym. I spent months in that pool, rather in the great outdoors listening to my totally awesome playlists, like I should have been.

I have gone through many ups and downs wading my way through this "run-less" life. I will start running for a while and then my knee/calf/hamstring flares up again.

I don't want you to feel sorry for me.  That's not the purpose of this post.  I am just sharing my thoughts like I always do here.

I have started Focus T25 so I'm hoping that will help me gain some strength and possibly some speed (one can dream!) when I finally get back to running.  I just finished Week 1 and am feeling great.  I finally have a plan too.  As a runner, I am so used to having a training plan to follow that I just go to shambles when I have no plan.  I think I've said it before - I am a planner.

But so is our God.  Our God.  Who am I to doubt?  I know that He has a great big plan that I can't see because I am right smack dab in the middle of it.  I know that He wants more for his child than I could ever fathom for myself.  Therefore, I'm trusting Him and praising Him all along the way.

What has been your longest/worst injury?

How do you deal when you are sidelined?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I am thankful

I don't always participate in the thankful posts but when I do, I thank everyone at once...

For these things, I am thankful:

* Jesus - without Him, I am nothing.


* The most supportive friends I could ask for - these girls are my lifeline.  They never question me and always stand by me.

Oh, and we can have fun and crack up doing almost anything!


* A family that would do absolutely anything for me within their power - if they think I've earned it ;)

tbt famfam

* Amazing co-workers who always make my day a little brighter


* A career teaching little people - it can be trying and stressful but there are those moments that make it all worth it


* An able body - although my leg is still jacked up and I can't run, I can still do so much!  I'm currently rockin' Focus T25 and starting a challenge on December 2nd.  Let me know and you can rock it with me!


I am also thankful for Christmas music!  I just love it.  It's so magical.

What about you?

What are you thankful for this year?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It hurts when I pull my hamstring

Too much, too soon.

We've all heard these words murmured as runners.  Some have said it themselves, while others have not yet experienced this awful reality.

This running injury is driving me nuts!! First I was told that I had tendinitis, now I'm told that I have pulled my hamstring... (right before running a half marathon relay.)

pulled hamstring

I had been hurting since my epic 5 mile run on last Saturday but I thought it was just "long run" soreness.  It's normal.  After all, this was my longest run in a long time.

But apparently, it was "too much, too soon".  I didn't follow the running rehab rules:

I didn't build up slowly.

I didn't only add 10% to my longest run.

I didn't run at an "easy" pace.

I didn't stop when it hurt.

It's time that I start following advice that I give others.

I was leading our relay team yesterday.  I didn't run as fast as I am capable.  I actually wanted to quit before I reached the point of passing it off.  The only thing that kept me going was these girls.  I knew they were depending on me.  I was the one who invited them to run and I didn't want to let them down.  Had it not been for them, I would have had my first DNF but my team was inspiring me for 4 miles (the longest 4 miles of my life).  They pushed me through it and for that I am thankful.  (Courtney, Jess, and Keisha - Thank you for the opportunity and being wonderful and understanding!)

(See photo below - courtesy of Courtney).  Aren't those awesome shirts and lovely ladies?     relay

I fully believe that there is no sense in continuing to run on an injury.  I respect all of the ladies I have seen listen to their bodies and not finish or start races that they had been training for. So for me, it's time to refresh and reboot.  I have to learn patience and learn that that's part of determination.  I'm going to work with my CrossFit coaches on upper body strength and spin and elliptical (can that be a verb?) at the gym until I can start rebuilding.

What injuries have plagued you?

What's your best advice for injured runners or athletes?

How do you remind yourself to take it easy?

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Today I completed 5 miles for the first time in several months.


It wasn't my fastest but also wasn't my slowest either.  I started out running 4 years ago at a 12:00 min/mile pace.  I ran my first half marathon in 2:40 in 2010.  I was ecstatic with those results at that time but I have also taken nearly 50 minutes off of that time since then.  We all have to start somewhere that's what I tell everyone who is "amazed" at my running or feels like they could never run as fast or as far as me.  (Disclaimer:  I am not fast in my eyes but do have the determination to run far as far as I feel like anyway.)

I ran at ye olde alma mater today.

track I live really close to my old high school so it's convenient.  This is also where I trained for that first half, oh so many years ago.  I was na├»ve and inexperienced but I was determined.  I ran up to 12 miles on this track and around this parking lot.  I didn't realize that there were other places to run and that there was such a large running community right here.


Five miles on a track sounds reee-donkulous to anyone who isn't a track star, much less 12.  I am not anywhere near a track star, nor was I ever.  I never ran track in high school or college.  In fact, I didn't start running until 4 years ago, at the age of 26, after the end of a 4-year tumultuous relationship.  I wouldn't say that I started running to get through that.  It just kinda happened.

The freedom that I gained through running made me realize that I was so much more than I had been being.  (Not sure if that's grammatically correct, but whatever.)  I had let myself become trapped and now I was free.  That's a great feeling.  A feeling that I have been missing since my tendinitis flare up and struggle to get back to running.  I didn't realize how much I needed that feeling of me, running, pushing my body and my mind.

Today, I finished 5 miles.  Ask anyone who knows me.  Five miles is my favorite training distance.  Not too far but far enough to get to that satisfying pace and rhythm.  I wasn't sure if I would make it.  That's why I ran at the track.  I didn't want to get 2.5 miles away from my car and not have a way back.  I was safe at the track.  I could stop whenever I wanted needed to.  I won't say that there weren't hiccups, because there were a few times I thought I had hit that point of not pushing it any further.

But I finished.  When my watch hit 5.00 I threw my hands up in the air like I had just finished a marathon.  You know the move.  I am glad no one else was out there because they may have wondered what race I was running on my own.  Ha!  I walked to where I had left my stuff and stretched that hamstring like no other so that I could make it to run another day.  Then I may or may not have had a solo dance party to some Christina.


I am determined.  I am determined to run. I am determined to finish.  I will get back to where I was but it's going to take some work on my part and I'm ready.

And that's not all that made my day great!  I got home to this wonderful package!  I can't wait to run the relay next weekend wearing these shirts.  If you're interested in a shirt, let me know!  I can hook you up with Beth at runningintheword.com.  (She's awesome, btw)

ritw shirts

What are you struggling with right now?

What do you love about running?

How have you gotten over injuries?

P.S. Isn't Fall beautiful?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

the marathon

Isn't it crazy that a single word can bring feelings of joy, peace, and excitement... or feelings of fear, anxiety, and sheer panic?  There is no other race that exudes so much emotion for me.

I've been thinking recently after watching this video (see Stage 4 - Isolation) ...


...to run a marathon "successfully" you must be comfortable with yourself.  You must like your own company.

I, a single woman of 30 with no kids (this means I have a lot of alone time), have never felt so alone than around mile 22 of a marathon.  Yes, there are people all around.  Volunteers.  Other runners.  Spectators.  Walkers.  But at this point in the race it doesn't matter.  I am always inside my own head, and heart, for that matter.  Sure, you can talk to others but there is still this feeling of "I'm all alone."  It's not a bad feeling.

For me, it's...

"I did this am doing this."

"I put in this work."

"My legs and feet have gotten me this far even though they hurt like they were run over by a Mack truck."

You have to love you and you have to be proud of yourself and your accomplishment to carry yourself all the way to the end.

Heck, I am even supremely proud of my friends when they complete marathons!  I actually started writing this post when I found out that a new dear friend, Beth from Running In The Word had just completed her 2nd marathon when her first was a mere 3 weeks earlier!  I was shocked, amazed, proud, and humbled.

But I knew one thing.

I knew how Beth kept going because I know it had to be painful.  You see, Beth's body and mind are full of the Spirit.  She was praying, praising, and probably sometimes crying out to Jesus because in all reality, we couldn't do any of this without Him.  (As I do on my runs - short or long)

So what I'm saying is, I like to take credit but in the end all the glory goes to the One who has saved us from ourselves.  The One who cares for us unlike anything we could fathom.  The One who loves us unconditionally.  Therefore, I'm going to take the motto of totally awesome CrossFitter, Rich Froning - Galatians 6:14

the marathon

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Isn't this something we all want?  Control?  We spend most of our days trying to control what happens throughout said day.


We spend all of this time worrying and trying to control our circumstances so we end up missing out on life.  Don't we??

We try to control our surroundings and our circumstances.

We try to control our careers.

We try to control our relationships.

We try to control others and their actions.

We try to control our running/exercise and goals.

We try to control our health.

We try to control timing of certain events that should be happening.

We try to control our days.

We try to control our lives.  Period.

...but guess what?!  WE are not in control.  Sometimes it's time to just Let Go and see what happens...It might be better than you planned.

I have been in such a sweet spot.  I have been content with my life.  I knew that the breaking would be coming...I just didn't know when so I have been enjoying this season of my life.


Tuesday, at Girls on the Run, our lesson was on "Being Grateful" so we each went around the circle and named one thing we were grateful for.  When it got to me, I said "my health".  This is one thing that I felt like I never take for granted but I guess I was wrong because two days later - I got strep.  Boy, was I wishing I had that health back.  I was couch-bound and miserable for two days but I had a lot of time to think.  I should be more grateful for the "things" I have been given and circumstances I have.  All too often I find myself moaning and groaning about certain circumstances that I am given, rather than just giving thanks and taking it all in stride.


Today, I'm thankful for a loving, forgiving, and gracious God that doesn't hold grudges.


I'm also thankful for a week off of school for Fall Break!


What about you?  What do you try to control?  How do you fix it?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

my cup overfloweth

Remember my Strangely Dim post?  Well, God decided to hit me upside the head...like I asked.  He decided to show up in my classroom on Monday.

I had just read an email first thing that morning before the kids got to class.  The email had upset me.  I was having a hard time being present so I did what anyone would do in that scenario, I called a class meeting.  This is a time we take to say positive things to others.  We give "compliments and appreciations".  Students share what others did that they are thankful for and give out compliments.  It's usually a feel-good time for all.  Little did I know...

We got all around the circle and the last student said, "I just want to pray for "Johnny."  This "Johnny" is a student who has recently moved to our school and has had a hard time adjusting to the climate of our classroom.  You see, we love each other.  Well, my students love each other so much, sometimes I can't get a word in edgewise.  (Ha!)  Well, "Johnny" has had a history of violence and it continued at our school.  I had been extending grace to him and I'm sure glad God had allowed me to do that because as soon as the last precious boy said he wanted to pray for him, my new student said, "Pray?  What's pray?"

My jaw dropped that was a true God moment if I have ever had one.  We were sharing Jesus with someone who has never even heard of Him.  I felt His presence.  I knew that this was His doing.  He opened that door which I had been praying so hard for.  The rest of my students erupted with various comments.  "God loves you!"  "We pray when we put our heads down during the moment of silence."  "We talk to God that way"  "If we wanted to count all the times God thinks about us, we would have to count all the grains of sand in the world!"  Oh, those precious children.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I, unfortunately could lose my job if I spoke to this child...but I didn't need to.  God was reaching him through my class.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Strangely Dim...

I've had all these plans piled up sky high
A thousand dreams on hold
And I don't know why,
I got a front row seat
To the longest wait
And I just can't see
Past the things I pray                                                                                                                                                                                                         Today

I heard this song by Francesca Battistelli one morning, this past week, on my way to school and I couldn't stop it, the guilt...this is me.  I get so frustrated with life when things don't go the way that I had planned.  I have such a hard time accepting and waiting on God's timing, which is perfect, in case you haven't heard.  I feel slighted, that I don't have and I'm not where I should be according to my timetable AND society in the South.  "You're 30 and you're not married...why not?"  I wonder why I'm not worthy of someone to love, why I don't deserve it.  What am I doing wrong?

Then, I dive into the Word and I see, life isn't all about finding a "soulmate".  What if I'm meant to go somewhere to feed the hungry, the sick, or the powerless?  Could I do that if I weren't single?  Not really.  My sweet married friend reminds me all the time that I'm in such a "sweet spot".  That there is so much possibility in my life and God can do pretty much anything with me.  And me?  I kinda dig that.  How cool is it that little ol' me could go anywhere and do anything for the Lord and spreading the Gospel?!  I pray every day for our Father to lead me, to put me where he wants me.  I think I'm gonna have to be hit upside the head with it...

In the end:

But when I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don't look around
Any place I'm in
Grows strangely dim


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

All the Poor and Powerless

I just finished "Kisses from Katie" last night.  Throughout this book,  I have cried many times.  Tears of sadness for the living conditions in Jinja and Masese.  Tears of happiness as the children and people of Jinja and Masese come to know Jesus and sometimes where faith is renewed.   

Every one has said this book is a good read...but I see it as so much more than that.  It is a call to live for others.  Not for ourselves.  It is a call to give up our lifestyles of extravagance and comfort so that others may be able to eat, receive medical care, and go to school.  Now, I am not saying that we all need to pack up and go to Africa.  No, that doesn't make sense.  But, that's not saying that we can't all contribute.  People like Katie and organizations like Amazima need support, financially and prayerfully. 

Like I said in my last post, I am also reading "Follow Me" by David Platt.  I feel that these two books go hand in hand.  Katie did just that.  She, throughout her young life, has done all that God has asked her to do.  Although, at times she compared to getting her 3-year-old in the bath.  Katie, as a parent, knows best for her child.  She knows that her child must bathe for her hygiene and health but little Grace doesn't go easily.  She goes kicking and screaming...until she is in the bath.  Until she remembers...baths are fun and she actually likes them.  Which is kind of what it's like when our Father is telling us to do something that is for our own good even though, we really don't want to.  Then, after we get to the place He is asking us to go, we remember this feels good and right and it was what's best for us.  In the end, she says, it's about obedience.  Just as Grace doesn't want to obey because she thinks she should be able to make her own decisions, as are we as we think we know what's best for us and what we should do.      

I am still working on what this will look like for me.  I do feel something stirring in my Spirit right now.  I need to do something.  I am not just going to sit here when all of this stuff is going on in the world.  I believe that God will do big works through all of us...if we will just let Him.  So, I am praying right now for Him to tell me where to go and what to do.  As a new friend told me, "you just need to trust and listen and move."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

5Ks and Follow Me

If you happen to be one of the people who read my blog and can't wait to see what I've written about this time, I'm sorry I have made you wait so long. ;)  Thank you for being patient with me.  Everyone else, thanks for stopping by to check it out.

You see, this post isn't really going to be about running...I have been looking much deeper into my heart since my last post.  After BSIM, I took a break from running because my knee had been doing that weird catching thing, yet didn't seem to get better if I ran, so I took some time off.  "Gasp!" you say.  I know.  Buuuttt, you know what, it has worked.  I have ran 2 5ks in the past 6 weeks during my time "off".  No, I haven't set any PRs.  Not even close, actually, but I have ran without my knee catching.  With that being said, I still have a really tight left hip flexor and right hamstring.  Of course I'm stretching!  Who do you think I am?  Jillian Michaels?  (You'll get this if you've ever made it to the cool-down portion of her videos.  Girl has zero flexibility but I still love her workouts.) 

The first 5k I ran was the Girls on the Run Color Run with the group I had coached all semester from the school where I teach.  I buddied up with one of the girls without a parent to run.  Lily was relentless.  She told me before we started the race, "My mom said I have to run the whole thing" with worry in her eyes.  I looked into that little girl's face and I told her that we would do just that.  She didn't believe that she could but I talked about pacing.  She still wasn't sure she could do it...but I knew that she could.  And you know what?  We ran that whole 3.1 miles.  At times, I felt like she was pulling me because I'd like to think I was still recovering from the marathon.  We finished around the 34 minute mark.  GOTR races don't keep times so I don't know the exact...but, really, who cares?  Not I, not Lily (who is a 3rd grader, might I add), and not Lilly's parents who proudly watched and cheered her on from the sidelines.  Not only did Lilly run a 5k that day, but she also conquered those voices that tell girls that they aren't "good enough", "pretty enough", or "cool enough".  That's what Girls on the Run is about.  Plugging into the positive cord.  If you want to find out more about the program go to www.stronggirlsrun.com.  Molly Barker has an amazing vision.

My buddy and I getting "color splashed"!
The second 5K I ran was on Father's Day and aptly titled You Da Man 5K.  If you know me, you know I'm not a huge fan of 5Ks.  I'm just not speedy and when I expect to break a PR every time I run one, I will be sorely disappointed.  But this wasn't just any ol' 5K.  No, this one benefitted Prostate Cancer Awareness.  How often do those come around?  We hear about Susan G. Komen, and other, races for Breast Cancer all the time.  Isn't it about time we start showing the men in our lives we support them too, and want them to stay healthy and aware?  Well, someone did...and I'm glad.  This disease is a "cancer" that has affected my family in more ways that one.  Not only did we lose my papaw too early, but my dad was also diagnosed 2 years ago...but don't give him any pity.  He doesn't want it or need it.  He is a strong man and is doing well because he was proactive.  (Please, make the men in your life get regular check-ups!! It might just save their lives!)  My dad, mom, sister, and 7 year-old nephew ran this race with me.  It was first for my mom, sister, and nephew, but the second for my dad.  He had ran a 5K with me 2 years ago for my birthday.  I was so proud to see my whole immediate family cross that finish line that day!  Praise Jesus!  It was just so overwhelming and emotional for me.  I am especially proud of my mom.  She, like Lilly, didn't think that she could do it...but she did!  The whole thought of that day puts a smile on my face.
After the finish!
Thank you all for entertaining my thoughts on running.  Now we go to the book.  I have been reading Follow Me by David Platt. 
In it, he is just explaining to us, in layman's terms what God wants from each of us.  It's simple, all he asks is Follow Me.  Drop what you are doing, and Follow Me...it is a call to die to ourselves and live for Jesus.  I'm intentionally processing right now and trying to figure out what that looks like for me.  I'm in a pretty cool position that I can go anywhere and do anything that God wants me to do so I'm excited to see where he leads me.  Have you read this book?  What is it looking like for you in your lives?  Any radical changes?  I'm curious. 

More on this later...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Big Sur Int'l Marathon: The Beauty and the Beast

Anytime I think of this gorgeous place, I get tears in my eyes. Words and pictures truly cannot express its majesty. It is a place of breathtaking views that one must truly appreciate and just be in its presence.  (I know I'm cheesy!)

At the start of the race, the race director of Boston spoke, we had a moment of silence for the victims for that horrendous act, and sang the national anthem. I saw many runners with tears in their eyes, as this hits home for us as marathoners.  Therefore, the first 5 miles of the race were solemn like a quiet summer morning, full of dew, birds singing, leaves rustling, and a coolness still hanging in the air.  There was a calmness in the midst of all of the nerves and adrenaline that is the beginning of a marathon.

As we emerged from that forest we turned around and saw this:

It is no secret that I did not PR this race.  In fact I was 30 minutes slower than my first marathon....but it's all good.  I enjoyed it.  I took stopped and took pictures.  I ate "the world's best strawberries."  I took even pictures of fellow runners. 

I met one beautiful runner who ran alongside me for the hardest miles of this run.  She was with me all the way up Hurricane Point after she stopped to take a picture for me and I took one of her...

You can't make this stuff up.

She blessed me with her presence, her encouragement, and her enjoyment of the course.  We crossed Bixby Bridge together and took our pictures with the grand piano player.  Soon after that, I felt my knee beginning to snap, crackle, and pop (or whatever it was doing).  I told sweet Julie to go on.  I didn't want to hold her up in her race. 

Before we began the trek up Hurricane Point we were serenaded by the Taiko drummers.  I was lucid enough at that point to take a video.  I wish I had taken a longer one but I was still trying to run at this point ;)
As you can imagine, Hurricane Point gets it name for a reason.  We had been keeping up with the weather for race day because Big Sur is known for it's unpredictability.  The forecast had mild winds at our backs...the forecast was wrong.  Going up that 560 foot climb... 
If you look closely you can see the runners climbing that mountain.
I kept thinking this is not what was predicted.  It's not hard enough that we are going up at a 5% grade for 2 miles but we also have strong winds to face.  At times, it was hard to breathe.  The air just felt thick.  You can see the fog in my pictures.  I think one of the greatest feelings in that race was when we topped it and runners were yelling and whooping!  There was a huge sign that said "You survived Hurricane Point!"  It was an amazing feeling with the wind still whipping furiously around us and volunteers handing out water and Gatorade cheering us on.  Then...we got a downhill!  Woohoo!  Well deserved but just as hard on the legs.  As we were racing downhill we could just hear the song of the grand piano.  It was beautiful.  As we rounded a corner and saw the bridge I was so happy. 

On our way downhill, hearing the piano.

View from the bridge
Looking back at where we had just ran.

I took 40 some pictures throughout the race and they are all just as amazing as the next.  The volunteers and the other runners were so helpful and friendly.  I did not feel like I was racing all of these people.  I felt like we were all friends out sightseeing.  We just happened to be running 26.2 miles in the process. 
As we neared the finish line, we were running by the beaches of Carmel, CA.  I knew we were near when I could hear the announcer calling out the names of people finishing.  As I ran up, the song "Beautiful Day" by U2 was playing.  How fitting!  Throughout this marathon, I went from hot, sunny weather to cold, damp, windy, then, back to hot and sunny by the end.  You know what?  I loved every single minute of it!  I can honestly say that I ran most of these miles with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes.  I feel so lucky to be able to do this. 
This is most definitely a race I would do again.  I would not ever expect a PR on this course.  I would go solely for the soul-cleansing experience. 
This was just the marathon to make you stop and smell the roses.  Don't let life pass you by.  Live it to the fullest each and every day.  Don't take things for granted.  Enjoy. 
<3 Niki
My sweet friends and I after we got our race medals :)