Life Is A Race

Life is a race. Not a competitive race. Everyone's life is just a different race.

Our race may change course, there may be obstacles we must overcome, but if we keep our eyes on the Lord, we will reach our finish line and receive our prize. It is not always about the finish line, though. The journey is just as important. We need to make sure we don't miss something along the way while keeping our eyes on the prize.

Because I am a Christian and an athlete, this analogy is easy for me to see. Why do I race? Not to win (otherwise I would have given up long ago), but because it is a personal challenge. I'm a woman wearing so many hats -- wife, mother, Sunday School teacher, school volunteer, soccer mom -- juggling life's joys and frustrations. Talk about personal challenges! I hope to use this blog as an outlet for my frustrations and a proclamation of my joys as I tackle all the challenges I face in life.

One of my favorite Bible verses that helps me get through the hard times and relates to racing is also imprinted on my Road ID:

But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Monday, March 5, 2012

Imperfect Beauty

The beauty of an imperfect mother of pearl on my "mother" pendant

This weekend, I attended our church's women's retreat along with 80 other amazing women from my church ranging in age from 18 to 80.  It was a fantastic weekend of relaxation, laughter, and inner reflection.  The theme of this year's retreat was "Honoring the Everyday You".  We participated in several activities to get to know others and to get to know ourselves better.  A couple times we did a writing loop after hearing a poem.  We even did a listening exercise and came to realize we all have to work on our listening skills.  So, what did I gain from this weekend?

First, the obvious was that I really learned to appreciate the women that surround me.  I appreciate them not just because they are fun to be with and are so supportive, but also because they are all so uniquely themselves.

I came to realize my own unique qualities, even the ones I don't like, are part of who I am.  That is who God created me to be.  I am beautifully and wonderfully made.  Right?  Um...well, o.k.

I began to realize how critical I am of myself sometimes.  I demand perfectionism more often than not, and I don't always feel content with who I am or what I'm doing.  This weekend taught me that there is no perfect (OK, I already knew that, but I always need reminders).

I started thinking about the things I am passing to my children, such as values and the way they see themselves.  I do not want them to see the imperfections, but I know like all of us, they will.  My hope is that I can help them to see the beauty and not compare themselves to others as I have always done.

I also learned a hard lesson in giving up control.  So, the week leading up to this weekend, I got a sinus infection on Monday, went to the doctor and got an antibiotic.  Then, I got a migraine Tuesday night so bad I vomited and didn't get much sleep.  Wednesday afternoon, my son came home from school, played with his friends for about and hour, then he came home and said he didn't feel good and threw up in the entryway.  Ugh.  He was throwing up for 8 hours (until midnight), so again, I got very little sleep.  My son stayed home from school on Thursday.  I finally got a decent night's sleep, though.  I was leaving Friday for the retreat, and was finally feeling better from everything.  Saturday night of the retreat, I started feeling bad and ended up throwing up as well.  Ugh.  My body ached all over, so I didn't sleep well at all.  When I finally got home Sunday, I went to my room and took a 4 hour nap.  I was so exhausted.  I'm thankful my kids were able to play at the neighbor's house.

I wanted so much for it to be the perfect weekend.  Instead, I get a stomach bug.  That was completely out of my control.  You know what, though?  It did not ruin the whole weekend.  I still had a great time and got a lot from the retreat.  I was even able to go on a bike ride with a couple friends on Saturday afternoon during our free time.

I surrendered control, and I really didn't miss anything at the retreat.  I felt well enough to go to the Sunday morning session and worship service.  So many people asked how I was feeling on Sunday.  I felt so loved.

God knew just what I needed.  He knew I needed to feel loved because I had started to doubt myself while doing some of the activities.  I was realizing I am unique, but I also felt in some ways I did not measure up.  I was feeling inadequate.  Not worthy.  I was comparing myself to others, and I knew that was not what I was supposed to be doing.

You see, I'm a very competitive person.  I think that's something my kids have also inherited from me, unfortunately.  I always made straight As, never got in trouble, strived to be the BEST in everything (from band to sports).  It was hard for me to accept that I was not good at something.  I've gotten better in that area, but it still comes out.  So, when we started a project at the retreat where we traced our body on a large piece of paper then decorated it, I had to remind myself that it was NOT a competition!  LOL!

My "Me Paper"

As I looked around the room at all the "Me Papers," I really started to see how very unique everyone is.  Not only were the body shapes different, but everyone went about decorating in a very different way.  Some got really artistic using fabric and paints to clothe their body shape and others like me just cut out words from a magazine and did a collage.  Some covered the entire paper and others had only a few things on theirs.  Some were excited about the project and others were apprehensive and overwhelmed by it.  And one woman, who was actually our speaker last year, had nothing on hers because she couldn't find any glue!!  LOL!  She decided hers was blank because she was open to new opportunities.  :)

I asked God to show me what I needed to learn from the weekend, and He did.  He showed His mercy and grace through all those around me.  He allowed me to give up control and be taken care of by others.  He helped me realize my unique qualities, good and bad, and how those qualities make me who I am.

He also helped me to realize I am worthy, and that worth is not measured by earthly measurements or comparisons.  It doesn't matter if my kids are well-behaved, or if I don't work outside the home, or if my house is not perfectly clean, or if I don't have a flat stomach, or if I talk too much, or if I'm not as funny as the woman next to me, or if I don't feel as smart, or if I sometimes forget God.

I will always be worthy to Him.  He will always offer me His love, mercy, and grace.  I just need to be ready to accept it.

Linking up with Jen and Soli Deo Gloria at Finding Heaven Today:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Austin Livestrong Marathon Race Report

Shirt and Finisher's Medal

Well, I did it. I completed my second marathon, along with my good friend and running partner, Jen. If you aren't a runner, you may think doing a second one isn't as big a deal as the first (or you may just think I'm completely crazy for actually doing that again!). Well, the first marathon is pretty sweet, but if you are a competitive person like I am, the second one is even sweeter. The reason is that you run your first marathon just to finish. Well, o.k. I still had a goal time for the first one, but I still just wanted to finish. The second marathon (or any other distance) is all about getting a PR (personal record). There are lots of factors that go into getting that PR. First, the training, which is something we can totally control. We trained harder this time than last time, running faster overall, and running many more weekly miles and lots more long runs. The training was 6 months long. We knew we were better prepared and at a much higher fitness level than we were 2 years ago. Second, staying healthy and not getting injured. We train smart, but things can happen, so we have some control, but not total control. I actually ended up with a slight ankle injury about 3-4 weeks ago. I stayed off the ankle some but eventually started running on it, and it was touch and go. Then, I had a week at Disney World walking all day everyday, and that really helped. Praise God! Third, the last thing that can actually make or break a race -- weather. That is something we CANNOT control. We ended up with the most perfect weather! So, we were set up for a great race.


We went together to pick up our packets downtown on Saturday. It had been raining all night. It was a bit chilly and still cloudy with scattered thunderstorms. We drove around trying to find a parking spot so we wouldn't have to pay to park. We finally found one and walked in for our packets. We got our packets, exchanged our shirt sizes, and walked around the expo a little while looking at running apparel and tasting free samples of energy food and drinks. The race shirt is probably the best one I've ever gotten. It has the map of the course on the front with all these cute labels. VERY cool!

The shirt


So, I'm sure you now want to know how I did and all the grueling details about the race. Well, my time at my first marathon was 4:27:44. Since I really wanted to stay under 4:30, I was happy, BUT I wasn't happy that I slowed down so much the second half of the race and that I wasn't able to stay with Jen. We really thought we could run it in 4:15. So, this time I wanted to make sure I didn't go out too fast so that I could maintain the pace for the whole race. I knew we had a LONG uphill climb starting at mile 9-10 and going to mile 19, then we'd get to go downhill to the finish. So, I knew we had to be careful not to push too hard on the uphill. We set our goal time at 4:15, but we thought 4:10 was in reach. So, we set out at a pace that would have us finish in 4:10. Our plan was to run with the pacers, but we couldn't find them at the start, so we just ran the pace we thought was right, according to my Garmin.


We got downtown about 1 hour before race time and got the BEST parking spot -- very close to the finish line. We had to walk a few blocks to the start, so we starting walking and found the port-o-potties before the lines got too long. Then, we found where we were supposed to start and got out of the wind. It was pretty chilly. While we were standing around, a guy that I used to work with 10 years ago was standing right next to us. What are the chances? I talked to him for a while, then it was finally time to actually line up. The National Anthem was sung, then they started us. It took us over 8 minutes to actually get to the start line, as there were 18,000 runners (most were running the half marathon). Only 1427 females ran the full marathon!

MILES 1-18 (the uphill climb):

We started out great, not too fast, considering there was some downhill. Then, we had a bit of a climb for 3 miles and slowed down just a tad. Then, we had 3 miles downhill where we made up some time. At that point, we came back toward downtown, and there were SO many spectators screaming and yelling and cheering. It was so awesome! The Livestrong Team was so great! Once we left the crowds, though, we were headed to the dreadful 10 mile climb. We had just reached the 1/3 mark (2/3 to go!), though, so that felt good! Shortly after our climb started, the half marathoners broke off. I was thinking, "Wow, they have less than 2.5 miles to go! Sure would be nice!" At that point, I still felt pretty good, as we were almost to mile 12 (almost halfway). I knew our families would be camped out around mile 18 or so. I also knew the downhill started at mile 19. That kept me going. I did pray several times because I'd feel a twinge in my ankle or my hip that I've been having issues with. It felt like it took forever to get to our families because it was all uphill. I thought we'd never get there! Jen was pulling ahead of me just slightly, but she is a tad stronger than me on the uphills, and I usually speed up on the downhills. I knew if I kept her in sight, I'd be able to catch her once we headed downhill.

Our Families Waiting to Cheer for Us!

We finally reached our families. We smiled for pictures as we ran by and gave high fives to the kids. Jen was probably 15 seconds in front of me. I thought I was never going to get to a downhill. We had literally been running uphill for 10 miles with very few flats or downhills. Finally, just past mile 19, I saw the downhill grade. It wasn't much, but it wasn't uphill!!! That was huge for me mentally. I knew from running my first marathon that the last 10K was the hardest part of the entire race. Not only are you physically tired and your legs are burning, but you are mentally tired, and it's really hard to stay in the race mentally.

Jen at Mile 18

Me at Mile 18

MILES 18-20 (seeing our family and starting downhill):

I have to be honest here. The marathon distance is not my best best distance. It is not my favorite race. For me, it is mostly mental. I knew I had to stay in the race mentally. At mile 18 or so, right before I got to the downhill, I was thinking, "Why am I doing this? This is NOT fun!" I knew that was not the right thing to be thinking. I knew if I caught up to Jen, we could lift each other up, and I'd just gain a little confidence. I felt like she wasn't slowing at all and I was. I walked at a water station and watched her run through it, so she gained on me even more. When I crossed the 20 mile timing mat, I was about 30 seconds behind her, which was the farthest I had fallen behind. So, I was determined not to let that gap get any bigger. I just tried to get into a groove and keep an even pace. I had to tell myself to stick to my heart rate and not listen to how much my legs hurt. I got into my music and just kept on going. One of my Christian songs came on, and I just let it take me through the next few minutes of running.

MILES 21-23 (the downhill, but very hard part):

Just before mile 21, I was gaining on Jen (because it was now downhill). Then, she started walking. I was in a groove, so I actually ran right past her! I didn't even turn to her because I knew she'd see me and start running. I knew my passing her would give her some motivation. I also knew she'd catch me and probably pass me. Good thing we are both competitive. I kept thinking, we've trained together and we started this thing together, so we're going to finish this thing together. Well, she did catch me pretty quickly, and we ran together for a bit. Then, I ended up having to walk, and she gained on me again. Then, we were both running about the same pace for a while, walking a bit at water stations, when she walked again when I didn't. This time, I ran up to her, and she looked back, and I said, "I'll walk with you." Believe me, I was ready to walk. She said, "Do you want to just run together to the end?" I nodded. That's all I had the energy to do.

MILES 23-26.1:

I don't remember at what point that was, but I'm pretty sure it was right around mile 22-23. Up to that point, the miles seemed to pass slowly. At mile 21, I remember thinking 5 miles seemed like a lot more. At mile 23.5, the pacers we planned to run with passed us. We both looked at each other and shrugged. That was our super fast goal time, and they had just passed us with only 2.7 miles to go. I actually felt good about our race at that point. I knew we had slowed a bit, but not that much. We ran side by side, walking when we needed to for the next mile. When we got to the University of Texas campus, it was pretty flat. Jen seemed to be pushing hard, and I was really struggling. I couldn't catch my breath, but my HR monitor wasn't working right, so I couldn't tell what my HR was. I knew it was HIGH, though. She looked over at me and was worried. I told her I was o.k., but I really needed to walk. We only had 2 miles to go, and I hated to walk, but I really needed to! We walked a bit, then we started running again at a decent pace. I knew there was an uphill right before the finish line, so I was preparing for it. Once we hit mile 25, I kept telling myself, "just another 10 minutes of running--1 more mile". That was the longest mile ever!

Jen and me running up the last hill 500m before the finish line
(Can you see the forced smiles?)


We started up the hill, but we finally decided to walk. Our legs were just not going to take it. Then, we saw our families near the top of the hill. We decided to start running because they would be taking pictures of us. We smiled, but that's NOT how we felt (except that we knew we were almost to the end). They were 500m from the finish line. There were signs every 100m from there to the finish. That was the longest 500m I have ever run in my life. Jen pulled ahead slightly, and I just couldn't catch her, but I was SO happy with my race. I was so happy I didn't let the marathon distance beat me mentally like it did the first time. I didn't run even splits, but they were much more even than at my first marathon.

My final finish time was 4:11:40, 16 minutes and 4 seconds faster than my first marathon. Jen beat me by 6 seconds and picked up a 9 minute PR herself.

The finisher's medal


We were both SO happy with our time, but we were SO tired! We staggered through the finish chute picking up Gatorade, chips, bananas, and other stuff people handed to us. We were both so done mentally we couldn't think. I literally staggered over to get my medal. I kind of stared at the woman at first, wondering what she wanted with that medal she was holding. LOL! We went over and got our official finisher photo taken. We tried to stretch a bit, but we really just wanted to keep walking. We had to walk a LONG way to meet back up with our families, but we eventually made it and just collapsed on the grass to rest for a while.

Sitting on the Capitol Lawn

Now we're standing

Doing the Supergirl pose (and that's all the energy we had left)


All in all, it was an incredible race! After training for so long, it is nice to have a happy ending. I have to thank God for getting me through. There were times throughout the race where I just asked Him to carry me through, and He did. I knew I could not do it without Him. I have several verses I think of that get me through. I could also not do it without all the spectators who came out to cheer everyone on. Austin is such a great city like that. It was cold, but they were still out there cheering. One guy was doing back flips on a trampoline in his front yard, others were passing out Kleenex and Vaseline, others held clever funny signs and would move along the course so you'd see them multiple times, and others just called out your name (our names are on our race bibs). It is so cool to hear your name called out by someone you don't even know. I could also not do it without the support of my husband (thanks for taking the great pictures, honey) and my best running friend ever -- Jen!!!

Oh, and you're probably asking, "Are you going to run another marathon?" You'll have to ask me again once I can walk normally. ;) Right now, I don't think I ever want to do that again!

Linking up with Jen:

Finding Heaven

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Resolutions Begin with a Shiny Sink

Yes, that's a picture of my sink. Why, you ask? Well, first, did you notice how shiny it is? That's a photo right after I shined my sink because a shinysink is the beginning to a clean house, according to Flylady. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, visit Basically, Flylady has a system for de-cluttering your home and your life and blessing your family in the process. It is really a great website, and will help simplify your life. I have been "flying" sporadically for 10 years. Honestly, I haven't put forth much effort since I moved into my current house 6 1/2 years ago. How could I? I was expecting my 3rd child and had 4 1/2 year old twin daughters to also care for. Even as they've grown older, my priority has been my children...not my house...not my husband...not me. I decided now that my kids are in school, 2012 is the year to REALLY try to stick to the routines so that we will all be blessed. This came to me when I was thinking about how I dread "housework" and don't think about it being a blessing. Instead, I think of it as a burden. I need to change my thinking and simplify my life. After all, I chose to be a stay at home mom. So, I'm doing what I want to do. Why is it so hard?

You see, I have always wanted my life to be simple. Not easy, but simple. Well, then I had kids! I should have known that wasn't going to simplify my life! LOL! I am a fairly organized person, but you wouldn't believe me if you saw my house most days. I get lazy, I don't prioritize, things pile up, then it just gets out of control and overwhelms me! I felt very organized and stress-free this holiday season. I didn't stress about not having everything done just right. I just rolled with the punches and enjoyed it. That's what I want all the time.

I feel I have been very blessed in 2011. I gained a niece and 3 of my cousins had babies (one on Dec. 30!!), our family stayed healthy (except for one case of strep the week before Christmas), we came out ahead on our finances (which is goodbecause the list is long for 2012), I have enjoyed lots of great running and races, I had an opportunity to try out coaching and made the decision to go ahead with it (more about that in my next blog), and I have truly enjoyed my family and being a mom and wife.

God has taught me some important lessons as well. I learned to be patient and wait on the Lord to show me what direction to go, then to obey Him. I learned to listen to God a little more carefully and not allow Satan (other people's opinions) to take me off the path. I have also learned that I need to work on not judging others and being more humble at times.

This is a piece of art my friend Jen drew/composed. It is in my family room right now. I love the colors, the mixed media, and the message. Obey the Lord and follow His path. That's what I've learned from 2011. I feel like I've walked the path I'm supposed to, but I picture myself up at the top of that drawing about to go into the scary forest. I'm standing there staring not knowing where to go just yet because I can't see the way and wondering if I'm really supposed to go in there. But I know I am going to a good land. :)

So, along with my resolution to stick to some routines, I have a few that go along with that. I'm just going to list a few things:

- Stick to Flylady's routines so that my house stays relatively clean with much less effort
- At least 20 minutes of God time everyday
- Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier (this is a hard one for me)
- Spend more time with my family everyday (less time on the computer)
- Catch up on unfinished projects
- Complete my triathlon coach certification and start coaching!

I think last year, God was having me focus on waiting/patience and listening and obeying. This year is going to be all about trust and overcoming fear (and more listening and obeying, of course). I know He will be faithful, and I need to do the same.

I hope you all have had a great start to your year and I wish you a blessed 2012!

I'm linking up with Jen: