Thursday, December 19, 2013

When you are uncertain you can finish

24 days. . .

Yep, that's it.  That's how many days I have until I run my first (and quite possibly only) marathon.

It's been a struggle.  And that is putting it mildly.  Do I know if I'll make it?  Not really.

I've trained.  I've run one 20-mile practice run and have another soon.  According to experts, whoever they are, if a person can do 20 miles, they can do 26.2.  I'll believe that in 24 days.

If I calculate correctly, that's just a little over 3 weeks from now.  I've done everything humanly I think I can do.  I've read literature, gotten the right shoes, trained hard, found the right clothes, used Body Glide.  I've booked my flight, my room, my dining reservations, planned exactly how much time I'm spending off of my feet on the day before.  I run on days that I don't feel like it.  When my knee hurts, I take time off of running to let it heal.

The fact of the matter, though, is I'm uncertain.  I'm uncertain that I'm going to finish that marathon.

But aren't we all uncertain at some point?

My favorite scripture verse is "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you.  Plans for hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11)

It sounds simplistic, but it is not.  I can plan and hope and dream, but the fact of the matter is this--everything, and I mean everything is in God's hands.  And is God even concerned about whether or not I finish this race?

I think so:  "Why even the hairs on your head are all numbered."  (Luke 12:7)

It's hard not to worry when faced with the uncertainty of all that life puts in our paths.  But I am convinced that "in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."  (Romans 8:28)

If it's for my good, I will finish.  If it isn't, I will not.

So, for now, I just can't worry about that.

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear'?  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  (Matthew 6:31-33)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What Does That Make Me?

"You make everything glorious and I am Yours,
What does that make me?"
~~David Crowder Band, Everything Glorious

One thing can be said about women that is almost always true. . .we tend to compare ourselves with others way too much.  And no matter what, we never seem to be good enough.  The song sung by David Crowder Band tells us differently. . .if God made the creation glorious, then that means we are also glorious.

It's time for all of us to stop looking at ourselves as persons who didn't look good enough, lose enough weight this week, and (ouch, this steps on my toes) run fast enough.  We are God's creation and we are therefore glorious in His eyes. . .

"And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good."  ~~Genesis 1:31

My prayer this week is that we all see the beauty of the creation that we are in God's eyes, and that we who trust in Him use that beauty to show Him to the world which needs Jesus greatly.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained that we should walk in them."  ~~Ephesians 2:10 (KJV)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Aches and Pains. . .Listen to Your Body!

I'm stubborn.

There, I admitted it.

My name is Amanda, and stubborn-ness is my problem.  I try not to be, but I still find myself there.

And what is the problem with that?

"I will break down your stubborn pride."  ~~Leviticus 26:19

Oh.  Wow.  Stubborn and proud.  Way to step on my toes.

The theme of today's post involves the aches and pains involved with training for long runs.  See, for two weeks, I did something I know not to do.  I've done it before, with the same disastrous results.

I did leg extensions with 100+ pounds of weight, leg presses with 90+ pounds of weight, and 10 sets of squats.  There's really not a problem with that unless you plan to run seven miles soon after.  Me, in my stubborn pridefulness, thought that it would be okay.

It wasn't.

And it hasn't ever been before.  I thought I could be she-man, and lift way too heavy with my legs and my knees not pay the price.  I was prideful and therefore lost it all there.

Yes, I still ran 7 miles.  Yes, I was really slow.  I did not listen to my training.  I knew better than the books I've read, podcasts I've listened to, even Jeff Galloway.  I knew in my mind better what the temple God gave me had already shown me.  I was prideful.  I was going to do be the big gal on the block.

Guess what?  I'm almost 40 years old.  I am still overweight.  Old knees aren't meant to withstand all of that work.  And it does not pay to forget all of that.

Last night, I ate some humble pie, took it slowly, and forgot all of that extra too much.

That two miles was much better.

"Before his downfall, a man's heart is proud; but humility comes before honor."  ~~Proverbs 18:12

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Feelin' HOT, HOT, HOT!!! What's your commitment?

Temperatures go up.  And your speed goes down.  It's discouraging.  I know.  I dealt with it this morning.  It can be discouraging going from a race where your average was less than a 12 minute mile to a training run with a 15 minute mile.  Very discouraging, indeed.  Some days, it can be enough to make you pack up your running shoes, Gu Chomps, and Sparkle skirts and put them in the attic.

Here's the truth of the matter:  according to Jeff Galloway, you should add 30 seconds to your time for every 5 degrees above 60 degrees.  The day I ran that 12 minute mile, it was around 60 degrees.  Today's temperature was 85 degrees.  So I could expect a 2.5 minute per mile increase--around 14.5 minutes per mile.  I started faster than I should have this morning, so I can understand the 15 minute mile.  That doesn't keep it from being discouraging when you see the average speed going down on the Nike+ Sport Watch.  It doesn't keep the irritating voice in your head from stealing your thunder.

I've long talked about my playlists that I listen to when running.  At about 3 miles today, I hit a wall.  The song that the iPhone shuffled to was Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns:

          "And I will Praise You in this storm
           And I will lift my hands
           For You are Who You are,
           No matter where I am
           And every tear I've cried
           You hold in Your hand
           You never left my side. . ."

Wow.  I've also seen on Pinterest two quotes that I relate well to:

"Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you"

"I rather say 'I did it' than 'I gave up'"

There is no reason to turn your back on a commitment.  I liken my running to signing a contract for a job or taking a vow.  I've committed to that job, whether I like it all the time or not.  Seventeen years ago, I took a vow.  There are times that he makes me mad, frustrated, tired.  In other words, sometimes the mood in which I was in on August 3, 1996 has completely left me.  But I made a commitment.  Here's the thing--is running as serious as a commitment to run a marathon?

I think every commitment, if worth taking, is as important as the others.

Regardless of how hot, tired, sore, cold I feel, I intend to keep my commitment.

Even if it means that I go way too slow.

A welcome sight from yesterday's run:  My finish line.

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  ~~Joshua 1:9

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Be Safe, My Friends

It was quite a shock when I saw that a young father who went running was missing.  You usually see a female running alone ending up missing.  Very rarely it's a man.  After being missing four days, it was not really a shock, but disappointment in the fact that this father of a young child and husband to a wife would not be coming to his earthly home.  

Because he was called Home.

While we don't know the circumstances, one thing is for certain:  this father and husband won't be returning to his family.  By all information, this man knew and loved the Lord.  

And while we certainly want to go home to our Father someday, we also have a responsibility to our loved ones to prevent it from happening to us.

Well, while nothing will completely keep us from something happening, we can be proactive.

At one can purchase identification for themselves for under $20:

Road ID also has an app:

You can let contacts know you are running and how long you will be gone:
It will also alert your contacts if you are stationary for 5 minutes.

And there is a HORRIBLE alert sound you can make the phone make

Also, a lot has to be said for the FindMyFriends app.  A little bit stalker-type, but useful. 

Unfortunately, that won't change what happened to Chad Rogers.  Whatever it was, he is now running with his Father.  Which is awesome for him.

But tough for his family.

"Through death into life everlasting
He passed and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion,
For more than conquerors we are!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace."
~Helen Limmel, 1922, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"

Friday, July 19, 2013

Run Like a Diva

After months and months and months (or at least it felt like it) of racing, I was finally at my last race before the summer started. . .the Divas Half Marathon in North Myrtle Beach.

Going up to this particular race, my friend Jessica and I had walked the path.  People were touting how flat the race was.  I have to gracefully disagree with that assessment.  The day before the race, I dropped by the Expo, which made the Princess Half Marathon expo look like there was no one present.  I then went to Jessica's house.  Same process as the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon.  I had learned from experience to get ready the night before by laying everything out:

This particular race was not too long after the Boston Marathon bombings.  It was evident that security was ramped up:

Thank you for being there, unknown South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agent.

I was feeling pretty good that morning, with the exception of a small amount of tendonitis (that would subsequently put me out of commission after this race for over a month)

It was about this point that I heard nearby:  "Amanda?"  Manisha, a fellow buddy from the Princess Posse Facebook group showed up at my side:

This is a race where I did not take pictures in the middle of it.  As I said earlier, I had a weird tendinitis thing going on that seemed to get worse.  Although I would not typically do this, I actually took some Advil mid-run.

Which, I need to tell you who are not runners and want to do it. . .that is absolutely the WRONG thing to do for your kidneys.  Do as I say, not as I do.  I would have been better off carrying Biofreeze or Icy Hot on the run rather than popping that Advil.

Now, as I've said before, this is a pretty hilly course.  Near the last hill, I spotted Jessica's husband, who was working one of the medical tents, and then in the last three miles, another Athletic trainer friend of mine, Andrea.  

BTW, Andrea, so, so, so, sorry for trying to knock you down with my sweaty self!

In the back of my mind all along, I wanted to run a sub 3-hour half marathon.  It was my goal for the Princess, and Jessica herself knows how disappointed I was that I didn't for that race.  

But for the Divas?  With a hurt knee?

And the bling?
Even Nike knew what it was all about:

Unlike Myrtle Beach Mini, I stayed right on target.

After I watched Jessica and her neighbor cross the finish line, we went over for celebratory cheeseburgers.  

In the aftermath of that race, I had such pain that I was out of commission from running for a month.  First for the pain, then for the flu.  

It was not until today I was able to reward myself for such a great PR: 
The original plan was a Disney Dooney, but I think this matches me.  And I see the Dooney possibly coming into play for finishing a marathon the year of my 40th birthday.

But my reward is much more than a bag.  Or a PR.  Every day, I am finding I can do more than I imagined.  I couldn't run a quarter of a mile, much less a half marathon.  Tomorrow, I'll finish my third week of Galloway training for a full marathon.  It's taking a commitment to finish something--something I never thought I could do.

"Whatever you do; do well."  ~Ecclesiates 9:10

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Just Get Over It!

Ah.  Charleston, South Carolina.  The place of my birth.  A city that seems to step back in time and run slower and more deliberate than others.  The only city in the world I love more than Charleston is Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

You get that?  In the top five cities I love list, they are as follows:

1.  Lake Buena Vista, Florida
2.  Charleston, South Carolina
3.  Asheville, North Carolina
4.  St. Augustine, Florida
5.  North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Notice something about all of them?

One race I've wanted to run for a long time is one of the oldest races in the United States:  The Cooper River Bridge Run.

So when I signed up for this one, I was met with a great deal of excitement.

Followed by terror.

Even though I had proven myself by running a half marathon, and was training for the Princess Half at the time, I was extremely nervous about the Cooper River Bridge Run.

This is one race I thought the family would finally see, but within a week or so of going, my husband's friend let us know he was going to be coming through that same weekend.  Although the plan would possibly have us home in time to see them, it was cutting it too close as far as I was concerned.  Part of the thrill of a race is the after stuff.

So I ditched the family.

And the terror increased by 10,000 fold.

I was going to be in Charleston by myself.

Early the day before the race, I got up and headed into Charleston.  First stop:  the Expo.

Now the last Expo I had been to was for the Disney Princess.  I was expecting a mob here.

I was wrong.

After picking up my bib, I headed into the city of Charleston to walk around:

And then I headed through the Market.  I was hungry, and it was starting to mist rain.

Pasta for lunch at Bubba Gump's.

Soon after lunch, I headed to the hotel to check in.  A friend of mine from college and I arranged dinner together, and I got in a much needed nap.  I was catching cold, and I knew rest was necessary.

After dinner with my friend, I headed back to the room and put together my race outfit for the next day

What they don't tell you about running is that it takes forever to be ready.

The next morning, I got up, and drove to park in a garage.  I was so afraid I'd forget where I parked, I took a picture of the ticket.


I walked to the school buses and ate my oatmeal on the way.  

Now when I say school buses, I mean school buses.  Gone were the Disney Cruise Line buses to take me to a race, lulling me to sleep.

These buses took us what seemed to be halfway to the race start while we had to trek a good 2 miles to the corrals.  On the way, I passed a Dunkin Donuts that was open.  I bypassed it, but stopped at the Starbucks that didn't have too much of a line.

I know those places made a killing that morning!

It wasn't too long until it was time to start.  And honestly, I took no pictures during the race.

The race was pretty, yet at the same time, no doubt the 2nd toughest course I've done (after one runs any half marathon in Disney World, you understand).  Had I not been sick, I'm pretty sure I would have PR'd this race.

Nearing the finish line

A very welcome sight.

The key to this run is that miles 2-4ish are over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston.  It crosses the Cooper River, and it is a pretty steep climb.  42,000 people run this race, but to me, it was less crowded than the Princess Half, which had about half the number of participants.

And what does it look like?

Yeah, that's a whole bunch of ants there starting their way up the bridge.

One of my best races ever, and a comeback for me:

After the race, I found my truck, put some miscellaneous items in, and walked over to have lunch near the Market.  My typical post race lunch is a cheeseburger.

But not in Charleston.

That'll be Shrimp and Grits, y'all.  With sweet tea.

I learned a lot about myself and racing after this race:
  1. After a disastrous 10K  in Florence, this one was highly successful
  2. I got over my terror and conquered it
  3. This is almost my favorite race I've ever done
So, I got over it.  I got over the failure of a previous race.  I got over a head cold.  I got over terror of an unknown.

Anyone can. 

Just take the first step out the door.

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still."  ~Exodus 14:4 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Her Irish Eyes weren't Smilin

Ah.  The race that started it all.  The one that convinced me I could actually finish a race.  In 2011, for that particular race (the 5K, not the 10K), I had a difficult time convincing myself I could actually complete 3 miles.

3 Piddlely Miles.  That was it.  Today, three miles is nothing.  Then, in 2011, 3 miles was forever.  And to be honest, I almost didn't make it.  At the end, I was woosy, had a headache, and just wanted to go home.

But the morning of the McLeod Sports Medicine Challenge on March 16, 2013, I knew 6.22 miles was nothing.

After all, I had already done 13.1.  Twice.

When it was time to start the race, I noticed one thing, though.  There were only about 50 of us running the 10K and most of them looked like elite runners.  As the race started, all of them ran past me.  I was left in the dust.  And that was with me running a 9.42 minute mile.

There are races that are great successes.  Those that the runners feel were perfect in every way.

Although I had high hopes for this one, it was definitely NOT one of those successful races.

As a matter of fact, it was as far from a successful race as possible.

First of all, during the 10K, the first 3.1 miles is with the 5K runners.  Although I don't have a particular problem with that, planning is that the 10K runners are BEHIND the 5K.  I thought I was going to knock over some 5K walkers.  As I finished the first 3.1 miles and started the second half of the 10K, I realized something.  I was no longer surrounded by runners.

I was by myself.

All by myself.

Except for at the mile 4 mark.

Where 50% of the 10K runners met me on their way to the finish line.

Talk about discouraging.

For 90% of the rest of the race, I clearly felt I was in last place.  I was running as hard as I could, pushing myself, mostly because I didn't want people to be waiting for me too long.  And to top it off, between miles 2 and 5, there were no water stops.  I didn't carry water, because I expected since there were 2 water stops on the first half, there would be 2 on the second half.  I was so totally wrong.

It was also, however, at that point that I realized that there were either 2 or 3 people behind me.  Which made me feel better, but not much.

At about 1 hour 15 minutes later, I was coming in for the finish:

And let me say, I really love how my triceps look in that particular picture.
A few notes about this particular race:
  1. This is the fastest race I've ever run
  2. Races planned by the Carolina Running Company look like rat races.  Take a look at that map.
  3. Even the worst race is a success when you don't give up.
 To date, those were my race bibs.  6 Races since 2011.  Before the end of April, I would have run 5 races in 2013.  That, by itself, is a success.
"It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure."  ~Psalm 18:32

Sunday, June 30, 2013

So how many PRINCEsses are here, anyway? AND Somewhere over the MOUNTAIN!

"Keep your kicks laced, get your grips straight before you quit, you kick, this is the big race"
~~LeCrae, Run

When I last left all of you in the blogosphere, I mentioned the title.  Just what, pray tell, is a PRINCEss?

I'll give you all some hints:


Okay, at least he is dressed like a prince.

This dude had a skirt on:
But I think he gets the prize:

Dude, did you seriously lose a bet?

Anyway, backing up to the dude in the skirt at mile 10. . .just a picture up.  Do you see how we are at the bottom and there are people on the bridge up there.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, between miles 10 and 12, there is an up ramp.  It's a killer.  At first I did great, but I ended up fizzling out:

I promise you, when I saw this sign, I started praying hard. . .

I was sure I'd walk it, but when I started up, the easiest thing to do was simply run it.

It was still wall to wall people.

But when I got to the top, I could see the people coming into Epcot to start their park touring for the day

Is that a golf ball I see!  

Why, yes it is, meaning I'm in the home stretch!!!!

About this time, I want to hug every single one of the volunteers passing out water.

We round about the corner past Spaceship Earth through what is typically only a castmember alley, and I see these people:

You all know what that means. . .

And you all want to know the truth?

I cried harder when I went through this than I did when I went through the castle.

"The Holy Spirit got the breath you breathe,
So if the cramps kick in it's all the breath you need,
Wait on the Lord to renew you man,
Don't stop, keep going, you can do this, man"
~~LeCrae, Run

It's a little thing, running a race.  You get up in the early morning hours, fight the fog and and caffeine withdrawals.  You constantly look for the next mile marker, the next piece of entertainment, the finish line.  But the fact of the matter is, you are never finished.  You start the morning wondering what on earth you were thinking only at the end to want to do it all over again.  You run for the prize that is yours to obtain.

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives a prize?  So run that you may obtain it."  ~~1 Corinthians 9:24

In my case, is the prize this?


Your winning prize can be the first place medal, or it can be the feeling that you and only you have when you finish.  That was part of my prize, but not all of it.

I've said this many, many times.  Most of these big races are on Sunday morning.  Starting with the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon, I determined what my races were going to accomplish.  While I feel great after them and love how my body is doing things I never thought possible, in the end, these races are in fact 3 hour times alone with God.  I pray every step I take.  I encourage others along the path.  I listen to worship music.  And above all, even with all of the entertainment, I look at the creation around me that God made.  The rising sun over the horizon, the birds flying, and the trees in the breeze and I realize something:  He made this earth so that we can enjoy it, while at the same time worshiping Him.  Every step I take in a long run or a race is one that He determined would happen in His divine providence.

And I'm thankful for every one.

Leaving the race, I was ready for an ice bath.  Nicole carried buckets of ice back to the room and I settled in.  I had a paper to write, because I had not used time wisely throughout the week in order to not have to do this on a Sunday afternoon.

I finished it, and then headed over to the Magic Kingdom, where I indulged in my post race treat of choice:

A bacon cheeseburger.

Man, I could go for one of these right now.

And you know what?!?  I scarfed that bad boy right down!

I have lots of memories of that day, but I remember most going through the castle, taking that massive hill, and the finish line.  Unlike the Isrealites who walked for forty years, my feet DID hurt.  But I am thankful that I had the feet to put one in front of the other in order to hurt.

"Run this is your race, boy, run, don't stop"  ~~LeCrae, Run

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith."  ~~2 Timothy 4:7

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Walking Right Down the Middle of Main Street, USA

Run so hard, don't ya want yer reward
Now run now run now run some more
~~LeCrae, Run

When I last left you all, I was on my way to the Magic Kingdom.

This, my friends, is why many people run the Disney races.  Just a chance to bypass the ticket stiles and run, as the song goes, "right down the middle of Main Street, USA."  

The fuzzy picture of Space Mountain in sight, I felt my blood starting to pump a little harder.

I kept looking for a sign that we were on the right path.  They brought us through an area typically seen only by cast members shuffling through their work day.  And then. . .

Oh, town hall, what a lovely sight you are.

Now, for those of you who frequent Disney as much as I do, you know what is at the next right turn.

I'm told that many women get to this point and completely bawl. 

I'm not afraid to tell you all.

I was one of those women.
Now in my post after the Boston Marathon bombing, I allude to the spectators.  On the left of the rope is the group of spectators and by this time I know I am close to halfway through the race.  I was bawling because I made it this far, because I was running towards the castle, because my body was doing things I never thought it could.

LOL, first time I've noticed the Grumpy Cat poster:  "I ran once, it was horrible"

I found an unsuspecting cast member who was kind enough to take my picture:

When I rant through the castle, I waited in line for a picture.  Which was stupid.  It ruined my time, and the picture never showed up.  But I got my own pretty good picture:

And just like that, the castle was through.  And I still had a little over 7 miles left!

I'm assuming I missed mile 5, as well

Well, my feet were certainly on fire!

Remember in Exodus how the Israelites wandered for 40 years and their feet never hurt?  Yeah, I'm pretty sure I would have given anything for that kind of divine intervention at this point.  What you don't see is this is known as cone alley.  It's the stretch of road between the Magic Kingdom and the Grand Floridian.  I'm pretty sure this is Grand Floridian Way.  There is only one lane of traffic here for people to run--and remember there were 26,000 of us there.  I ended up mainly on the grass here because it really just bottlenecked so that I felt like I was on I-95 rush hour DC traffic.

Yeah, it was really that bad.

By now, I know the odds of me finishing a sub-three-hour half marathon were squashed.  :(

And I sure don't know what happened to Mile 8.

I did get in another photo stop

By now, I'm feeling good.  I know my toenail that was hanging on by a thread at the beginning of the race has probably met its demise.  But I also know I'm going to finish.

Coming up. . .So how many PRINCEsses are here, anyway?

"Yeah, we still in it, dawg, we can't quit it dawg,
all my cousins who runnin stick with it y'all
Jezebel is jumpin' your path, you best run
They tempting you puff,
Puff past, just run"
~~LeCrae, Run

"But the one who endures to the end will be saved."  ~~Matthew 24:13