Breaking Two Hours

For months, I’ve been teetering just above the two hour half marathon mark, but it has continued to elude me. Until now.

Let March 31, 2012 go down in the history books as the day I broke through the 2 hour time barrier, finishing the Viking Half Marathon in 1:59:44. That averages out to a 9:08 mile, which may not sound terribly impressive, but my battered left hip and black toenails beg to differ. That’s roughly 17 minutes faster than the first half marathon I completed 3.5 years ago, and 15 seconds faster than my goal. As long as my official race time started with a 1, I didn’t care what the remaining digits were. And numbers aside, from an emotional standpoint it was one of the most meaningful races I’ve ever run.

Meaningful, because I was accompanied by a devoted pit crew. Two of my dear friends, Kim and Cristen, joined me on the trip solely to see that I accomplished this goal. It is not lost on me that these ladies essentially gave up their Friday nights, their Saturday mornings, and their own shots at a PR all to support my endeavor. They ran beside me, offering me pace updates and encouragement at regular intervals, and I absolutely could not have done it without them. I am so blessed to have friends who care enough about my goals to make them their own. What a rare act of sacrifice in a world so consumed with self.

We left town at 5am and passed the two hour drive to Greenwood, Mississippi with plentiful conversation. Upon arrival in the Delta, we gathered our race packets, stretched our tight muscles, discussed strategy, then situated ourselves at the start line. The second the gun announced go time, we hit the ground running. We ran the first half of the race a little ahead of pace, and I was feeling great. I often enjoy chatting during my long runs, but on this particular day it was all business. I was in the zone. I bounded along, admiring the overhanging canopy of trees, a lone bird sitting atop a telephone wire, the warm sunshine cut by an occasional breeze.

At mile 6, one of my pacers fell off with a piriformis ache. Kim passed me her Garmin and insisted that we press forward. And then there were two. Cristen and I continued onwards, but my spryness was fading. While the roads we ran were scenic, I no longer noticed. By mile 9, we were both hurting, and 10 and 11 seemed endless. Other than the occasional coaching tip and inspiring word, there wasn’t much room for conversation; we were more focused on staying upright and breathing at this point. At mile 12, my partner stopped for a quick walking break and sent me ahead to tackle the beast on my own.

One mile to go, and it was just me and God. I wanted nothing more than to lay down in the green grass, but that’s no way to run a sub 2 hour half, so I refrained. I ate a well-timed orange slice and hunkered down. Each step was a struggle. I prayed for wings like eagles, for God’s strength to carry me those last dreadful meters, and He showed up. Each trudging step moved me a little closer, and I eventually found myself approaching the most glorious, magical, welcome sight – the finish line. Even at this point, even with only a few steps left, I didn’t know with certainty that I would make it. It wasn’t until I literally stepped foot across the threshold that I knew my efforts had paid off.

And just like that, less than two hours later, I was done. I crossed that line with seconds to spare, fell into Kim’s congratulatory hug, and then went straight for the water jugs. It took a while to really sink in that we had accomplished what we set out to do, and oh, what a sweet, sweet victory it was.

 

Tagged

March Taught Me

  1. Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant.
  2. The Godfather is the longest freaking movie ever. But so good.
  3. Pizza crust dipped in honey is divine.
  4. I am a machine when it comes to lunchtime productivity. Four crucial errands in one hour – BAM.
  5. Yoga is not just stretching, people. It can be hardcore if you have the right instructors.
  6. The pastor of my church is leaving to pursue missions work in Ethiopia. I’m thankful for his obedience to the Lord, but so sad to see him go.
  7. Sunshine and movie days with my mom are the perfect way to close out the week.
  8. I did not win $640 million dollars this weekend.
  9. So far, the Harry Potter movies are better than I thought they’d be.
  10. I can’t wait for the Downtown Farmers Market to open this Saturday.
Tagged

Soccer: Our Goal is to Stop Yours

Aside from a brief stint playing soccer on a coed 4th grade team, I know little to nothing about the sport. I recall something about a right forward and a sweeper and the goalie wearing a brightly colored shirt, but beyond those few basic details, I’m what you would call a novice. And I’m fine with that. I have no illusions about my current abilities, or lack thereof.

Which, naturally, is why Jax and I decided to join an indoor soccer league. Always eager to try something new, no doubt. I am unquestionably one of our least impressive players (my team is stacked with talent), but that does not stifle my enthusiasm. I love it. I may spend the majority of my time running around without a clear understanding of my position’s role, but that doesn’t stop me from attempting with gusto. And every now and then, the stars align and I make a great defensive block or some unexpected steal, and I revel in that moment of glory and the encouraging words from my teammates. There may not be a lot of evident strategy there, but I’m not afraid to go at it with everything I’ve got. Even if that means bodychecking guys double my size and landing in a discombobulated heap on the ground.

And that’s not to say I’m not attempting to hone my skills. I’m eager to improve, and I’m learning new takeaways every time I don my shin guards. The wall is your friend – use it to your advantage. Cut the opposing player off from the ball. Don’t assume a timeout has been called. Tie your shoes tight enough to where you don’t run straight out of them. Take as many shots as possible. Don’t let them get between you and the goal. Bring a water bottle or you’ll surely risk dehydration. Don’t make the mistake of touching the ball with your hands or your goalie will be forced to endure a straight-on power kick from a member of the opposing team. And so on and so forth.

One thing I love about soccer is the team aspect. In both kickball and softball, both of which I played last year, the emphasis falls on the performance of the individual player. Not exactly a reassuring notion to those of us who didn’t grow up on sports. But in soccer, sweet soccer, it’s all the team, all the time. We pass the ball up and down the field, we defend each other, and we’ve got each other’s backs. We sub players in and out, laughingly rehash our minutes on the field, and loudly cheer on our teammates from the box. And let’s be honest, being on an allstar team such as mine doesn’t conceal my blunders per say, but it sure makes them a little easier to recover from.

We’ve been scrimmaging and practicing for about a month now, and tonight marks our first official game. So here’s to teamwork, happy kicking, and a hopeful victory!

Tagged ,

Let Them Eat Pi

Deliberately posted at 1:59:26 PM on March 14th in honor of the most revered mathematical constant in the known universe, I will be celebrating Pi Day with a 3.14 pi mile lunch break run.

How are you celebrating?

Tagged

Now That Moment Is Gone

The problem with concerts is that they end.

Somewhere along the string of songs, inside that lovely cloud of music, I often feel this pang of dread that the show will inevitably come to an end.

And this weekend, watching my beloved Avett Brothers in Springfield, MO was no different. They are wildly talented musicians, know how to put on a fantastic live show, and produce powerful lyrics that speak volumes. Their music is relatable and has a way of eloquently capturing emotions that can’t be voiced, and it is a downright beautiful thing.

I am giddy from the start, and Avett does not disappoint. We smoothly transition between deep ballads to acoustic duets to rocking group numbers to folky hymns and back again, and the guys nail every last one of them. It’s emotional, it’s passionate, it’s authentic, it’s raw, and it’s so good. I deliberately soak in every sensation, and I don’t want to see it go.

I sing along loudly, fully savoring the magic before me. I can feel the buzz of the bass lifting through my cowboy boots, and I want to freeze this moment and live inside of it. I want to stop time and put this experience in a box and keep it for future enjoyment. Pull it out whenever I need an Avett fix. But that’s not how life works. We are given these sweet opportunities to taste something beautiful, something that speaks directly to our hearts, but the moment cannot possibly be endless. Thankfully, however, once the encore concludes and the applause dies down, we walk away with the gift of memories, and that is a treasure in and of itself.

When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it

Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise

Tagged

These Are a Few of My Favorite Words

I like words. Words of all shapes and sizes. I like the way they look and the way they sound, their etymology, their personalities, and the way you can string them together to describe deep, seemingly unexplainable thoughts. If words were tangible objects, I would collect them in a pail to sift through later. Gather them into colorful bouquets like freshly picked tulips. I am the girl who treats the dictionary like an old friend, who sees looking up definitions not as drudgery, but as a legitimately rewarding opportunity to meet a great new word.

And so, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites. This list is by no means inclusive, not even close. It’s just a small inventory of a few that I especially like and that I actually use in my daily life. Sure, I like the word ellogofusciouhipoppokunurious (it means good), but it’s just not practical. This particular list is reserved for words that aren’t overly pretentious and are actually quite welcome in everyday conversation.

  • Conundrum – The word itself sounds like a puzzle, and all of the syllables have a consistent vowel sound. I like things like that.
  • Effervescent – It’s fun to say, and it means bubbly, lively, vivacious, and sparkling. What’s not to like about that?
  • Estivul – Pertaining or appropriate to summer. And it rhymes with festival. It just makes sense. What a great word!
  • Dapper – One of my favorite ways to complement a man’s outfit. Neat, trim, and smart.
  • Frolic – A longtime favorite meaning merry play, merriment, and fun. It takes me straight to a field of wildflowers on a sunny day.
  • Persnickety – Overparticular, fussy, and snobbish. It sounds just like it means.
  • Peculiar – Say it out loud, and try and tell me you don’t use a British accent. I don’t think it can be done. Jax and I literally spent 45 minutes one evening laughing over this one word. It’s that good.
  • Wanderlust – A strong, innate desire to rove or travel about. I love it because it sounds so dreamy, and it describes my constant state.
  • Whimsical – Excessively playful, fanciful, and capricious. It just sounds fun.

I know I’m missing some good ones here. It was, unfortunately, inevitable from the beginning. It’s nearly impossible to round up all the good words in one place (there are just so many), but it’s a valiant start. I’ve been holding on to this list for weeks for fear of leaving out a deserving candidate, but the time has come to unveil what I’m working with thus far. From here, we can add to it together.

What are some of your favorites?

Tagged

February Taught Me

  1. At long last, Grand Canyon National Park has banned disposable bottled water.
  2. I have three different kinds of peanut butter in my desk drawer. This is getting a little ridiculous.
  3. I need to learn how to play the fiddle.
  4. You should check out Marcel the Shell on YouTube if you haven’t already.
  5. Not everybody prefers crushed ice to cubed ice. This baffles me, but it seems to be so.
  6. I’m very fond of Game Flow charts.
  7. Watching a concert from a cave 333 feet underground is undoubtedly one of the coolest places ever to watch a show. 
  8. Hotel fitness centers really should open more than an hour before check out time. Duh.
  9. Leap Day is the 60th day of the year.
  10. The Civil Wars are ridiculously talented, and they do the most excellent rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”.
Tagged

Draw a Stickman

It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining brightly, and you need to draw a stick figure.

Say what?

Draw a stickman. Click here to make sense of this madness and join in on the fun.

C’mon, just do it.  

Tagged

This Little Light of Mine

I have something to confess. I’ve been avoiding my blog. It hasn’t been intentional, and I am only just now realizing it. And I think I know why.

My life is so wonderful.

That probably doesn’t sound like a good reason to avoid writing to an audience, but hear me out.

My life is so wonderful, in fact, that I feel guilty about it. Guilty to the point that I haven’t wanted to share the good stuff. I know that sounds odd, and I’m just now finding words to pinpoint this feeling. I watch people around me struggling with various deep and real hurts, both close friends and the world at large, and it makes me feel guilty for how blessed I am. One of my spiritual gifts is that of mercy – being sensitive toward those who are suffering, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, so as to feel genuine sympathy with their misery, speaking words of compassion but more so caring for them with deeds of love to help alleviate their distress. Acting in this capacity – listening, comforting, encouraging, and empathizing – is one of my greatest joys.

In this world full of pain, I can’t help but wonder why I’ve been given this bounty of blessing. But then I am reminded that I have walked through heartaches in the past, and that I’m allowed – called, even – to be thankful for the place that I am in now. We are each on our own journey, and there’s no reason to feel lacking if mine doesn’t look like yours. Life naturally ebbs and flows with both favorable and unfavorable seasons, and maybe God put me in this place of gratitude so that I can minister to the bruised and tender spots on others. I am blessed so that I might be a blessing to those around me.

God gave me this epiphany last night – he wants me to be joyful. In fact, it is a gift from Him, one of the very fruits of Christian life. I don’t have to stifle my joy. No need to minimize it for fear of disrespecting the tough circumstances around me. The same way I can use my painful experiences to relate to others, I can use my joy to point to God and His goodness. I have much to be thankful for, and I can openly thank Him for it. He doesn’t want me to dim my light, He wants me to shine it brightly for the whole world to see.

I am renewed by His words of encouragement, for this reminder to not be ashamed of the good times, but to rejoice as they occur. Amen and amen.

Tagged , ,

A Word About Valentine’s Day

Single people love to hate it. Those in relationships love to plaster it all over their chosen social media outlets. But the fact of the matter is, Valentine’s Day is a man-made “holiday” designed to increase greeting card sales during the first quarter lull. It’s a force-fed occasion that makes us all act a little crazy, and I wish everybody would just get a grip and realize that today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow, and it’s not our actions on this one specific day that define us, but our actions over a series of consecutive days that create our humanity.

Men feel they must attain some incredible showcase of undying love or else risk disappointing their woman, who has usually built up this elaborate expectation in her head and will be let down by anything less than a dozen red roses, a scavenger hunt, and a romantic (read: expensive) dinner, topped off by a surprise gift. Single ladies either drown their self-pity in 35 pieces of heart-shaped chocolates and discussion over how despicable men are, or they buff up their defense mechanisms and act as though Valentine’s Day is the most abominable day that ever existed and that it is positively liberating to be unattached for such a detestable event.

Everybody just needs to relax. Why let a day with such a synthetic, unemotional origination have the power to evoke such strong feelings, one way or the other?

Sure, February 14th is a fine day to give your sweetheart a little something special, but so is February 15th, and next Tuesday, and the last day of the month. Valentine’s Day should not be a litmus test for how happy and healthy your relationship is or an indicator of your worth as a human being, so stop putting so much expectation on it. We don’t live and die by Valentine’s Day, people. If you need society to appoint a predetermined day for you to express your love or to validate your emotional needs, then there are bigger issues at hand.

Valentine’s Day isn’t some kind of magical balm, nor is it the definition of love. Love is a good thing (the best thing), this I don’t deny. I’m just afraid Valentine’s Day, along with silly pop songs and ridiculous romantic movies that wrap into neat little packages, have distorted our perception of love into this unnatural obsession with hearts and flowers and flaunting it all for the world to see, and somehow we mistakenly get our identities all knotted up in it, and it ends up becoming a whole different thing altogether.

And that is how I feel about that.

Tagged

This is What Winning Looks Like

It’s Monday, and sometimes Mondays require a little something extra. If you are in need of a motivating spark to get you going this morning, watch this video and be amazed.

.

My pastor shared this stunning display of athleticism in church yesterday as an example of continuing to fight the good fight and not being defined by our failures. A picture of faltering, dusting oneself off, and forging ahead. A portrayal of determination, of dedication, and of a refusal to give up.

I had goosebumps during the race, and tears by the end of it.

Now go show your Monday who’s boss!

Tagged

January Taught Me

  1. We Bought a Zoo is such a sweet movie. The soundtrack isn’t too shabby either.
  2. Sometimes you just can’t do it all.
  3. The first time the word love is mentioned in the Bible, it tells of how much Abraham loves his son Isaac.
  4. I do not like chevron patterns. They just don’t do it for me.
  5. Pinterest is a black hole and has very nearly taken over my life.
  6. I officially won my NFL Pick ’em Pool. Victory is mine!
  7. There is no such thing as too many blueberries in your cereal.
  8. I greatly dislike signing my name several consecutive times in a row. I put too much thought into it, and things get sloppy.
  9. I never know the answer when people ask how tall I am. Now I do. I am 5’5.5″.
  10. Tying Figure-eight knots makes me happy.
Tagged

Maps Are Cool

I have suddenly become overtaken with an unexplainable interest in maps, specifically maps that have a creative spin to them. I’m not sure what triggered this strange behavior (this is how my zany mind operates), but I now find myself scouring the internet for unusual interpretations of maps. So I’ll share, and maybe you’ll develop an insatiable desire for more maps in your life too.

We’ll start with a typographic map of the United States:

Then there’s this one, which presents each state as the title of a famous movie that took place there:

And now one that depicts each state by its license plate:

Moving along to a wider scope, we have this gorgeous watercolor illustration of the world:

Watercolor World Map Illustration: Earth in Technicolor print

A typographical layout:

And lastly, this incredible portrayal of the leading economic and social themes in each area.

Pinned Image

Now try and tell me that wasn’t fun.

Tagged

Twitter Road Race

This Saturday, January 21, 2012, marks the first ever Twitter Road Race, and you should join in on the movement!

My awesome friend alerted me to this universal social media inspired race, and I just had to pass it along. It takes place anywhere in the world – on the treadmill at your gym, in your neighborhood, at the local park, during the 5k race you are already signed up to run (I fall into this category) – the venue is totally up to you. All you have to do is register here, run the 3.1 miles, then report back with your finishing time Saturday evening. Nothing to it. At this point, there are over 700 runners participating, and they represent countries far and wide across the globe.

Get in on the action! And don’t forget to print off your official race bib!

For more information, visit the founder’s website and dig around for a bit.

Tagged

What I’m Loving Wednesday

I love that I have finally updated the Book Lover portion of my blog. It’s been months since I added the last book I read, and, to be honest, I’m not sure that they all made the list, but that’s an oversight I’m willing to live with. It’s a new year, and I’ll try to be better about recording my book life going forward. What’s important is that The Hunger Games trilogy made the cut, because those books are incredible. The kind you absolutely can’t put down, even if it means not getting adequate sleep before work the next day or risking injury because you are walking down the stairs with your nose in a book. That kind of good. If you haven’t already, read these before the movie comes out in March!

I am loving this picture. I randomly stumbled upon it on the web and was instantly drawn to the dreamy, ethereal quality.  It makes me want to be there, laying in a field of poppies under the hazy glow of the sun, at this very moment.

Pinned Image

I love drinking hot tea. The warmth of the ceramic against my perpetually cold hands, that first sip where you can literally feel the heated liquid moving down your throat and radiating through your body. The spice, the aroma, the oversized mug, the comfort. My boss’s wife gave me the red mug below for Christmas along with some delicious Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice black tea, and the combo is a truly delightful way to begin my day.

And lastly, I’m loving these words, because they are true, and because they make all the difference in the world. They are where my identity comes from, where my confidence is found, the source of my hope, and the reason my future is secure.

Pinned Image

Tagged ,