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Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

So, long story short: Two weeks ago I visited A Mother’s Place with my youngest because he still (as of a 4 week old check-up) had not regained to his birth weight. While we were there we discovered that he has mouth issues that were causing milk supply issues, that were in turn causing weight gaining issues. My poor boy was hungry and I didn’t even know it! ūüė¶

We spent 3 hours with Jane and came home overwhelmed (well I was, he probably wasn’t) but with a plan. This has become our routine since then:

5ish: nurse, both of us back to sleep

8ish: nurse, give 2oz bottle of my pumped milk, change diaper, “play”, nap (him, not me), take herbs and vitamins (me, not him), eat breakfast with older two, drink 20oz water, pump

11ish: nurse, give 2oz bottle, change diaper, “play”, nap (again him, not me), take herbs and vitamins, eat lunch with older two, drink 20oz water, pump

2ish: nurse, give 2oz bottle, change diaper, “play”, nap (him, and if I’m lucky, me)

5ish: nurse, give 2oz bottle, change diaper, “play”, nap (just him this time), take herbs and vitamins, eat dinner with older two and hubby, drink 20oz water, pump

8ish: nurse, give 2oz bottle, change diaper, “play”, in bed (just him, not me yet), take herbs, eat snack, drink 20oz water, pump

11ish: give 2-3oz bottle, in bed (us both this time. yay!)

Some days it seems to take all day just to do the things on this list. Other days I might fit in about 10 % of what’s on my other “to do” list like laundry, dishes, school with Meadow, making dinner, reminding Granite not to whine, errands, baths (or hygiene in general for that matter), answering the phone, replying to texts, etc., etc., etc……

Yes, I am overwhelmed. Yes, I am doing my best to extend grace to myself every day, sometimes many, many times a day. Yes, I am ready for a good night’s sleep, a day without physical pain/discomfort, enough strength and healing to be able to run and hike and workout and wrestle with my kids and make love with my husband. Yes, I am ready for “normal”.

But I am also savoring this short time I have to cuddle my youngest before he is too busy to be cuddled, to kiss his bald head before it is covered with hair, to enjoy his huge smiles while that is his only means of communicating how much he loves his mama, and to nurse my sweet baby while that is still his favorite way to be comforted.

Every day is a challenge for me right now. But it is also a miracle. And for that I am so very, very grateful.

His and Yours,

~Echo~

P.S. Canyon gained 1/2 a pound after one week of our new plan. His pediatrician said that is perfect, that was what she was hoping for. Thank you, Lord! And thank you friends and family for your prayers.

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Women's Half Marathon 2010

It is¬†11pm as I lay here on¬†our living room couch and stare at this computer screen, pondering the day’s event, my blistered toes throbbing, my shredded muscles aching, my tired head pounding…

13.1 miles.

1 hour and 54 minutes and 30 seconds.

An 8 minutes and 45 seconds per mile average.

The hardest I have ever run in my whole life.

I can honestly say that I gave it everything I had and more, that with each mile, as I became more and more fatigued, and as my body screamed louder and louder for me to stop, I just dug a little deeper and somehow found the willpower to keep moving forward.

I exceeded my original goal (that being to break my previous PR of 1 hour and 58 minutes and 22 seconds), by 3 minutes and 52 seconds. And for this I know I should be thrilled.

But for some reason, just in the last few weeks, I decided that it might be possible for me to accomplish an even bigger goal of mine: to finish the race with an 8 minutes and 30 seconds per mile average.

I’m not sure why I thought this would be possible. I have done no speedwork and very few “run for time” runs. I have been running 4:1 intervals (run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute) almost exclusively since April (in an effort to combat a lingering knee injury) with only a handful of “run the whole time” runs sprinkled in and the longest run I have completed at a pace faster than a 9 minute mile was 6 miles. So I’m not sure why I thought I could run more than twice that distance at an even¬†faster pace.

But I did.

Silly me.

I was wrong.

This bigger goal would have had me crossing the finish line at 1 hour and 51 minutes and 21 seconds. I missed this second goal, this bigger goal of mine, by 3 minutes and 9 seconds.

And though I have tried to be rational and positive with myself all day today, if we are being totally honest in this moment, then I have to admit- I am disappointed that I missed my bigger goal.

I realize that this probably seems crazy to all you non-runners out there (and for that matter, maybe to some of you runners too). I realize this.¬†Give me a couple days and I may just agree with you. But at this moment in time, in my current state, I cannot yet see it that way…

So one of the voices in my head¬†has¬†made a list today- a list of all of¬†the things that¬†worked against my goal, all of that¬†which¬†worked to keep me¬†3 minutes from it¬†(Besides not properly training¬†for this specific goal. I guess that’s kind of a big one…), all of the reasons that it should be understandable, even ok, that I “failed”. This is the voice that always tries to encourage me. And today I think it is trying to¬†protect me from my¬†mostly irrational feelings of defeat.

It is working.

A little bit.

So. The list.

reason 1) Not enough sleep or food. My nerves kept me awake. My nerves tied my stomach into knots, rendering me unable to eat more than a few bites for a breakfast. My fast pace kept my stomach in knots, preventing my usual mid-race consumption of calories.

reason 2) My race playlist got scrambled. Not sure how. But the songs I had in the order¬†of when¬†I anticipated I would need them were jumbled and mixed. So instead of pushing play and sliding the ipod into my pocket, I¬†kept it in my hand and fumbled with it’s buttons after¬†each song ended, my sweaty fingers sliding clumsily over¬†it’s face, searching for the melodious energy I was depending on to keep me moving.

reason 3) Hills. So many damn hills. Picture running up and down a see-saw. Up. Down. Up. Down. With no relief. For 13.1 miles. Damn hills.

reason 4) A searing sun. A blinding sun. And all of the physical reactions that come with that. Squinting eyes. Building headache. Fire to my skin. Chills covering my body, racking my body from mile 10 until 2 hours after the race ended.

reason 5)¬†¬†Negative energy from a fellow runner. I don’t think the negative energy was intentional. But nevertheless it messed with my head in the days leading up to the race. And knocked me off my feet around mile 9.

But as encouraging as this voice is trying to be, this voice is almost always accompanied by another voice. Sometimes the other voice is quieter. Today it is louder.

So here’s the list the¬†other voice has made for why I should have met my goal today:

reason 1) I have been running A LOT. Running 18 miles just last week. Consistently running 3-4 times a week for 5 months (and off and on for 13 years before that). And I have been cross training/strength training faithfully (for the first time in my life) once or twice a week for 9 months.

reason 2) I trained through the heat and humidity of the summer and race day was significantly cooler and less humid than the weather that I trained in.

reason 3) I am in the best shape of my life. (Oh, but how I underestimated what it would take to run that fast for that long!)

reason 4) I am used to setting goals and meeting them. I really thought today would just be another one of those times. That no matter what it took, no matter how hard it got, no matter how much it hurt, that I would just do what it took to meet my goal.

reason 5) I can run 5 miles at an 8:15 pace. And I can run 18 miles. So based on that I should be able to run 13.1 miles at an 8:30 pace. Right?

And as all of these thoughts are swirling through my head today, so are my memories of the race. 

Most of the race was a blur. A blur of cheering spectators and encouraging volunteers, a blur of buildings and trees, water stations and porta potties, asphalt and running shoes, men and women all headed to the finish line. The weather was cool and breezy at the start. A little warmer than I would have liked by the end.

My supportive husband and mom, sister and sister-in-law, father-in-law and one friend spent their morning watching the race. I spotted them and their sign at miles 6 and 8. And they spotted me. Their encouragement gave me a burst of energy for the minutes following. Their support means the world to me.

The winner of the race did not look like a runner. Her 6 minutes per mile pace defied her bigger build and heavy footsteps. Surprised and perplexed would be the best words to describe how I felt when I saw her leading the pack by almost half a mile.

The pacers and the women running beside them were the only other runners that stood out to me. To see the pacers, relaxed and comfortable, running 13 miles for the sake of another and to see the women who were running beside them, women who had a goal, women who leaned on the strength of another, women who pushed themselves, knowing that if they could just keep up, that they could achieve said goal, is an image I will not soon forget.

My Garmin kept track of my pace for each mile. I have looked over it several times in an attempt to see where my 3 minutes went.

Mile 1: 7:56

Mile 2: 7:55

Mile 3: 9:42

Mile 4: 7:58

Mile 5: 8:50

Mile 6: 8:40

Mile 7: 8:29

Mile 8: 8:37

Mile 9: 8:18

Mile 10: 8:22

Mile 11: 8:12

Mile 12: 8:58

Mile 13: 9:54

Mile .1: 0:59

I think it is safe to say that mile 3’s potty break, and mile 12 and 13, were what did me in. By mile 12 I had run completely out of self encouragement, run out of all of the mental games I usually play, run out of juice, out of adrenaline, out of ability and out of confidence.

So I am left with three words and three things learned.

Word number one: Demoralizing. (How it felt to watch the runners around me and in front of me continue on strong as my depleted body slowed, their bodies becoming smaller and smaller as they charged into the distance.)

Word number two: Dismaying. (The experience of reaching the bottom of that last brutal hill -cruelly placed, as it was perhaps the steepest of them all- a few tenths of a mile into mile thirteen and looking up, then fighting with myself all the way to the top, as every few steps I slowed to a walk, then took off running again only to find myself walking again, seconds later.)

And word number three: Devastating. (The word that best describes the moment when I knew my goal had slipped through my fingers, slipped right through as I stood -or technically ran- and watched powerlessly.)

And my three things learned:

1) To set more realistic goals for myself. For pete’s sake.

2) That next time, if I want to run a 1:51:21 half marathon, I am going to have to train harder. Or at least better.

3) What they mean when they say “Running is 80% mental and 20% physical.”

Today’s¬†race was harder than I was. The hills stronger. My goal better than I was.

And I am humbled. Which is probably good. We all need to humbled once in a while.

Note: At this point (mostly because I am a really slow editor but also because I don’t always know how to make time for my blog) it has been 2 1/2 weeks since the race and 2 1/2 weeks since the night that I wrote this. Just wanted you all to know that I am feeling much better now (both physically and emotionally). Thank you.

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Training for a marathon means…

…waking up early on Saturday mornings, knowing that the rest of my family will be asleep for three to four more hours…knowing that I could be sleeping three to four more hours too.

…sweating. A lot. Often.

…being best friends with my Garmin, my ipod and my shoes.

…choosing my breakfast based on how many¬†miles it will last. As in- a¬†peanut butter and jelly sandwich will last about six miles. A banana around two. A bowl of cereal three to four and a Clif bar nearly five. ¬†…I still haven’t figured out what to eat on the¬†days I run more than ten. I can’t fit enough food in my belly to last that many miles.

…not drinking that¬†third glass of wine at dinner the night before a run. Because running and alcohol DO NOT MIX.

…encouraging others to run. Because if its this good for me, it might be this good for you too.

…having an unusual awareness of the status of my knees.

…dedication.

…discipline.

…diligence.

…drinking water. Lots and lots of water.

…getting a heavy (and oh so fantastic)¬†dose of endorphins five or six times a¬†week.

…spending more time than most on weather.com. And relating all weather¬†conditions (sweltering heat, freezing temperatures, cloudy days or sunny skies, rain and snow, wind, humidity) to what¬†affect it will have on a run.

…knowing what time the sun rises each morning.

…worrying about my toes.

…having a greater awareness of¬†and appreciation for other runners.

…knowing¬†that¬†getting up when the alarm goes off, after going to bed after midnight, is not going to feel good…and¬†getting up anyway.

…fantasizing about the mornings when I wake up to¬†sunny skies, sixty degree weather,¬†low humidity and a¬†slight breeze.

…having several hours a week to think. And pray. And meditate. And “be still”.

…learning a lot about myself- like who I am and who I want to be. And also, and maybe more importantly-¬†what I am truly capable of.

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River Park

I watch as the minutes tick by…11:30…11:45…12:00- going to sleep after midnight, crap!…12:10…12:15…all too aware that each minute of talking means one less minute of sleeping. But my husband is important to me and so is this conversation. So I keep talking. And listening…

At 12:30 exhaustion envelops us both and we agree we should call it a night.

5:00 a.m. My alarm goes off for the first time. I push snooze for¬†thirty minutes before forcing myself to stand up and look out the window. Cloudy skies. “Maybe it will storm and I can go back to bed!”¬†is my first thought. (shameful, I know!) I stumble into the den to check the radar on weather.com. My sister-in-law/roomie enters moments after me.

“I’m checking it,” I say, knowing why she has come in here.

The computer decides to mess up for awhile. So I sit. And wait. And try not to freak out. It finally pulls itself together and takes me to the website. It appears as though all of the storms have passed.

“Crap”, my roomie says as she¬†turns¬†to hurry back to her room. She has ten minutes to change into her running gear, gather¬†herself and her things and get out the door. I’ve got twenty-five. I stand up and get movin.

I head straight to the laundry room, remembering that my running clothes are in the dryer. I lean down to look for my shorts and tshirt and notice a funny pain in my neck. I straighten up and stretch it, trying to pinpoint where the sensation is coming from and why. I realize it is one of those “slept on it funny and now can barely move my head in any direction” pains. Of all the mornings for this to happen!! I ignore the discomfort and lean down again.

Twentyish minutes later, dressed, face washed, hair put up, shoes laced, cooler packed and running gear gathered, I am out the door.

I jump on I-65 and turn up the music, gathering my energy for the hours ahead. I eat half of my pbj and banana and drink as much water as will comfortably fit in my belly. C calls to see if I am there yet. Two minutes away, I tell her.

At 6:26 I pull into the park parking lot. I see C walking towards me. I exit the car to greet her and scan the parking lot for B. I have no idea what kind of car B drives or what she is wearing. There are dozens of cars and hundreds of runners walking towards the pavilion. I call B.

“Where are you?” I ask her. “And what are you wearing?”

“I am in the parking lot across the street. I am walking towards the pavilion.”

I turn around.

“And I am wearing a…uh…mustard colored shirt.” she says as I see a girl in the distance look down at her shirt.

“I see you!” I tell her, then set my phone in the car and lock the doors.

She reaches my car. I greet her with a hug and a smile, so glad that she has joined me at such an early hour for a Saturday morning. The three of us join the crowd at the pavilion. I introduce my old friend, C, to my new friend, B, and we listen in as my sister-in-law, T, speaks to the crowd. She tells them about the forks in the route, the water stops, and the hills and offers her encouragement to those who will be running their seven miles today for the first time ever!

C runs to the restroom during this time and is gone when the crowd takes off. I watch the path to the bathroom and hope she will return soon. I see her moments later but we are now some of the last ones to get started so we end up behind the walkers, behind the run/walkers, behind the slowest of the pack.

We start with a brisk walk to warm up and quickly begin to pass the groups at the back of the pack. Within a quarter mile we have left the park, crossed a bridge, passed the soccer fields and entered the wooded stretch of path. When my Garmin hits 5:00 (minutes) we transition into running. Right away I notice that B is comfortable around a 9:30 minute mile, while C is leaning towards a 12:00 minute mile. This poses a bit of a problem as the plan was for the three of us to run together. We get seperated by a few feet. I end up, kind of between the two of them, not sure whether to speed up to stay with B or slow down to stay with C. We stay this spread out for four minutes, at which point we stop to walk and end up beside each other again.

(Note: I have been doing a run/walk- run four minutes, walk one minute, repeat- since May in an effort to protect my knees after battling injuries in both since last August. I got the idea from jeffgalloway.com. So far it seems to be working, as my knees have held up great these last three months!!)

I suggest meeting in the middle and ask them both if that is ok. They agree that is a good idea.

After our minute, we start running again, settling in around a 10:30 pace.

We spend most of the next few miles¬†talking, C and I catching up on our week and her sharing about some struggles she is dealing with, and both of us getting to know B (who we have both¬†met within the last¬†three weeks). Two miles pass quickly. I continually check on my friends, trying not to discourage them but gently reminding them that however far we run this way, thats how far we have to run that way. (B has never run more than three miles. C hasn’t run more than three in many months.) They continually insist that they feel great, that they want to keep going. So we keep going.

The running group that we have unofficially joined for this run has a water stop and their turn around at mile 3.5. When we get to mile 3 I ask C about her time crunch. I tell her we’ll need to turn around now if she needs to be¬†back to the car by 7:45am. She asks what mile we are at and when I check my Garmin and she realizes how close we are to water she says she wants to run the extra .5. I tell her we will have to book it to make it back in time. She says ok.

We cross a bridge and take a sharp right. With a field of grass now to our right and a road, up a steep embankment, to our left, it is the second time in the last three miles that we have exited the wooded path for a brief stretch. The skies are cloudy. The air is thick. The temperature is slightly cooler than it has been at this hour of the day.

We continue on the path beside the field. Soon it turns left and takes us up the hill to the road. We run on the road briefly before spotting the water station a few hundred feet in front of us, on the side of the road, right before we would enter the woods again. There are a dozen ladies standing, drinking and/or stretching around the water cooler. C gets to it first, leans down to fill up her cup then stands to take a sip.

“Woah, I feel dizzy,” she says after taking a few steps away from the water cooler. She¬†sits down in the middle of the road.

“You ok?” I ask her.

“I think so. Just really dizzy. Is my face red?” she replies.

“Uh, yes. Very red.¬†I will get you another cup of water to¬†drink. And¬†you probably need¬†to pour some on your wrists and neck to help cool yourself down a little.”

I fill up two more cups and walk back over to where she is sitting, squat down and hand them to her. She pours one slowly over her head and neck, gasping and letting out a yelp as the cold water hits her skin. I give her a minute to recover then slowly pour the rest on her wrists.

We stay in this position for a minute or two at which point T comes walking up. I stand and walk over to meet her.

“Is she ok? Did she fall?” she asks me. “No, just dizzy. I think she’ll be fine in a minute,” I say.

T walks over and talks to C. C stands up, ready to try again but asking if we can walk a minute first. B and I finish our cups of water and the four of us begin walking. “I was hoping to run with you for a while.” T says to me. “That’d be great!” I reply.

We walk for five minutes, the four of us together, before we begin running again. T and B run a pace they are both comfortable with, much faster than C is ready for. I stay with C. T and B disappear into the distance.

About one mile into our second half of the run we enter a tunnel. On the other side of it I can see the beginning of a fairly long, fairly steep hill. I exit the tunnel, ready for the challenge and take off up the hill. Within moments I realize I am alone. I look back (carefully, as I can still barely turn my head without pretty intense discomfort) and see my friend. She is a few feet into the climb and she has slowed to a walk. I turn around and begin running backwards.

“Come on, girl! You can do it! No walking this thing! Let’s go!”

She protests.

I yell some more encouragement.

She hesitates, seemingly torn between accepting¬†my challenge and¬†listening¬†to her body’s desire to slow the pace and hold stingily to its remaining reserve of energy.

I yell some more.

“Let’s go girl! You can do this! Let’s get up this hill! Just think of it as a metaphor for your struggles right now and let’s kick this hill’s ass! I mean, annihilate it! Find the strength to¬†climb this hill¬†and let that¬†empower you to go home and climb those hills too! You can do this!”

Some part of what I say seems to motivate her because she takes off. She catches me quickly and I turn around. We climb the hill side by side. She makes it to the top with me. I am so proud of her.

Right after our hill crests, the path turns left, then stretches straight and flat for about two tenths of a mile. The first thing I notice as we make this left and begin this straight stretch is that the sky in front of us (and stretching as far as we can see) is gray. Dark gray. A storm is coming.

C slows to a walk again, this time telling me that her i.t band is acting up. I slow and walk with her. We are almost to mile 5’s water station.

I see T standing at the cooler with B. I sprint ahead, hoping to catch¬†T before she has time to take off, and ask her if C can ride back to the park with her instead of running the last two miles(T’s car is parked a few feet from the water station). She says, “of course”,¬†and as soon as C catches up to us, the two of them walk to her car.

I ask B if she wants to  join them. She insists she wants to run the last two miles with me.

The wind picks up and the temperature drops, the gray sky is rolling in quickly. I can sense that the rain is very near. I start to worry about my Garmin.

“You wanna run fast?” I ask B.

She grins and says, “Sure!”

We take off.

It begins to sprinkle. I check my Garmin.  We are maintaining a 7:30 minute mile, about the fastest I can run for any longer period of time. The rain drops get fatter and fall faster.

I begin a steady and continuous monologue when I notice that my friend is having trouble talking and running at the same time. I encourage her to just run and breathe. Breathe and run.

“How do you have so much energy!?” B interrupts with, breathlessly, after a little while of listening to my chatter.

“Um…I don’t know! I do this a lot. I run a lot. I think I’m just used to it, I guess.” I say with a sheepish¬†smile. She smiles back, raises her eyebrows, kinda shakes her head.

We maintain our 7:30 pace¬†for several minutes before B says, “I’m sorry but I gotta slow down. You can keep going! I know you are worried about your Garmin. You don’t need to wait for me!”

“No, that’s ok. I want to stay with you.” I tell her. We slow to a 9:00 minute mile.

It begins to pour. The rain soaks my hair, my shirt, my shorts, my shoes. It runs down my face and into my eyes. I squint and wish I had thought to wear a hat. The cool drops feel refreshing on my skin. I say a prayer of thanks for this cleansing rain.

B begins to walk and gives me the same urging as before- to keep going without her. I tell her again that I want to stay with her. I walk too.

The canopy of tree branches over our path keep us slightly more protected than we would have been without them. I hug the side of¬†this tree lined path. I turn my wrist upside down in an effort to keep my Garmin out of the rain. It doesn’t really seem to help.

We run again.¬†Then walk.¬†Then run some more. B asks how much further. “Only half a mile!” I tell her. She picks up the pace.

The rain slows to a drizzle. We exit the woods. We are back at the soccer fields. The dark clouds have passed. The sky is still gray, but a much lighter gray.

We cross the wooden bridge, pass the park with its slides and swings and slow to a walk when we reach the parking lot. We use a picnic table to stretch for a few minutes. I congratulate my friend on her accomplishment- 7.33 miles!! I am so proud of her and very impressed that she has more than doubled her previous record of 3 miles. I ask her how she feels.

“Good. I can feel it in my legs and hips though.¬†I’m probably going to be sore tomorrow.”

We stand at my car for a few minutes while I¬†eat the other half of my pbj,¬†grab my¬†water bottle full of nuun and put my headphones over my ears. I¬†recommend some stretches for her to do when she gets home and give suggestions for what to eat for her “after¬†run meal”. She wishes me luck and heads to her car. I turn around and head back to the trail.

I have 4.67 miles to go to reach my planned 12. It is 8:32 a.m

I settle into my comfortable routine- walk five minutes to get started again, run four minutes, walk one minute, repeat. A variety of favorite tunes fills my ears.

At the end of the first mile I come to a fork in the path. The first 7.33 took me right. I veer left.

I am in and out of the woods. I run through several tunnels, parking lots and beside multiple soccer fields. Around mile two I exit the woods once again and am overwhelmed by what I see. The sky has begun to clear. Patches of deep blue peek out from behind the thick, white pillows scattered across the sky. A field- bright green, flat and completely empty other than a cluster of very tall, very full, very green trees smack dab in the middle of it- stretches a quarter mile to my right. A brown, wooden bench sits to the side of it. The field and the path that I am running on are completely encompassed by the thick woods that surround it. For as far as I can see in every direction there is only grass, trees, sky, the one bench, and the path I am running on. I have found a little piece of heaven on earth. I check behind me (again, carefully, with awful neck stiffness). I am alone. There is not one other person in sight. I speak prayers of thanks to my Father and Creator for the beauty and peacefulness of this moment.

Three minutes later I am in the woods again.

It is almost time for me to turn around and head back when I notice a giant hill to my left. It¬†keeps my attention and I feel a sudden, inexplicable urge to leave the running path and sprint up this hill. I veer left and begin my climb. My curiosity about the view from the top gives me the energy to push up and forward. My lungs burn. The song through my headphones is so appropriate for the moment that it gives me chills- “I made it…I made it…” says the chorus. I reach the top. A breathtaking view has awaited me.

Rolling hills, clusters of trees, an old wooden house, miles and miles of green land and blue sky. Again I can’t help but speak a prayer of thanks. What a mighty God¬†I serve. What a magnificent creation we were placed upon. I am overwhelmed.

I stand and drink it in, lost in the moment…

Eventually the urge to keep going strikes my senses. It is time to head back.

When I leave the woods again, I see that the¬†sun has come out from it’s hiding place behind the clouds.¬†The morning has brought it’s first wave of heat. My skin bakes beneath the sun’s rays.

The 2.33 miles back are the fastest of my twelve. I am energized, I am at peace, every part of me feels alive.

I reach the xterra, pull the keys from the pocket on my handheld water bottle and unlock the doors. I am drenched with sweat.

I throw a towel over the driver’s seat and unload my mp3 player, my headphones, my water bottle and my Garmin onto the seat beside me. I feel the achiness in my lower body the moment I sit down. ¬†I take a quick inventory- I’ve had 56 ounces of water,¬†consumed 500 calories and burned 1100 calories. My stomach growls.¬†I begin to fantasize about what (and how much! ūüôā ) I will eat when I get home.

My next thought, as I turn onto Franklin Road and head back to my home, my family, my life, is that today has been one of those days that reminds me why I love to run. And I thank God. Thank Him for this part of my life, for the friends that share it with me and for those moments in my day when His beauty leaves me breathless.

It was twelve amazing miles.

“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

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“You awake yet?” my husband asks, far too energetically,¬†from his workout mat¬†positioned a few feet from mine.

“………….No,” I answer begrudgingly. “It will probably be two or three more hours before I’m awake.”

He laughs at me, his “not a morning person!” wife.

It is six-thirty in the morning. We have just begun our p90x workout. I have been awake since six, giving myself enough time to change into my workout clothes, wash my face, eat a bowl of oatmeal and drink a bottle of water.

We begin our workout with a warm up and some stretching before moving on to yoga, kenpo, plyometrics, core synergistics and ab ripper x.

About fifteen minutes (into our sixty minute workout) later I am in plank position,¬† and still yawning. I do my pushup¬†into upward dog and¬†another pushup¬†into downward¬†dog…runners pose…warrior one…warrior two…reverse warrior. I am still yawning. My eyes are heavy (though I went to bed at eleven. Seven hours should be¬†enough, right?) and for a moment I think, “Why am I doing this? Why am I doing pushups in my cold den, while it is still dark outside, when I could be in my toasty warm, cozy soft bed, still asleep and¬†dreaming about flowers and butterflies and candy (cuz that’s what we always dream about, right?) Why am I wearing workout clothes when I could be wearing my pajamas? Why am I doing squats and lunges when I feel like I could literally lay down on this cold den floor and within minutes be right back asleep?…

But as quickly as these negative thoughts come, they are gone.

And I remember- I do this for me… for my health and my peace and my frame of mind. I do it so that the rest of my day can be better! I do it to make climbing our stairs easier, to make carrying around my thirty-four pound, one-year old¬†son less painful, to make running (one of my most favorite things to do) that much more effortless. I do it to age well, I do it for my quality of life, I do it for my blood pressure. I do it to be¬†a good example for my husband and my children, my family and my friends. I do it for the moment when I pull on my favorite pair of size four jeans…and they actually fit! I do it because it helps me sleep better, eat better, have better sex. I do it because it gives me more energy while somehow, also, making me more relaxed.

I workout because the five hours a week I spend doing it makes the other hundred and sixty-three so much better!

And I do it for those minutes of time when, with my blood pumping, my chest heaving and my muscles burning, I know, in every cell of my body: I am alive!

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The following is a list of ten, kind of random things that I have been thinking about and trying to do, especially since the new year. They have all been a blessing to me. I challenge you to try each of them. I hope they are a blessing to you, however big or small!

1) Start your day thirty minutes to an hour before your children wake up with some sort of quiet time with God. This is a new one for me and it has been such a blessing. Thankfully my children don’t get up until after eight so doing this is not a particularly challenging schedule, but starting my day with a quiet breakfast while I read my Bible and write in my prayer journal affects me the rest of the day. My patience is improved, my peace, my attitude. Incredible!

2) Commit to some kind of exercise program! I know not everyone is crazy like me and enjoys exercising but I am more and more convinced that being active in some form, at least a couple days a week is invaluable, no matter who you are. (If you have no idea how to go about this or where to start or why this really matters, ask me!) And eat better! Not because you have to, not because you’ll die if you don’t…because you will feel better! (I have a lot of thoughts about this one too but I’ll probably write them in another post, another time…)

3) Make lists. I am a listmaker so I like this one but I have seen it bless non-listmakers too. I suggest finding a notebook rather than random slips of paper that get lost and thrown away. Keep this notebook with you always. Write in it ideas, goals, to-do lists, contact information, etc.; all the random things that you think of and are told through out the day that you will never remember. (The one exception I suggest is your grocery list. Keep this one on the fridge and write on it every time you run out of something and need to replace it. That way you don’t have to try and remember what all you need on grocery day. The list has already been written, just grab it and run!)

4) Turn off the TV; for your sake, for your childrens sake, for peacefulness sake, for creativity sake, for motivation sake, for relationship sake. This entertainment box robs us of our time, our connection to one another, our peace and quiet, our motivation to get off the couch. So just turn it off. And hide the remote! ūüôā It will be hard at first and weird and you will be very tempted to turn it back on…but turn it off anyway and see what happens!

5) SIMPLIFY AND DECLUTTER! We are a culture that believes more is better; more stuff, more activity, more money, more more more. Well I say, be counter-cultural! There are not enough hours in the day to do everything so be committed to only doing that which is important to you, that which will be a blessing to you or someone else. If there are too many important things in your life to fit in, then you may need to reconsider what really is important! And declutter! If you don’t love it or use it…get rid of it!!! The less stuff we have the less there is to clean, to manage, to find, to maintain, etc…and the more time there is to love our families, our friends, our God and ourselves!

6) Find something that you love to do and do it! So many of us grow up and become so consumed with what we have to do that we stop doing what we want to do, what we love to do! Find a hobby, make a little time each week, and enjoy! I believe taking a little time to do the things we want to do makes the time we spend doing the things we have to do more peaceful and manageable and even enjoyable. So I encourage you to find the balance between the two.

7) Wash one load of laundry every day and set it on your bed to be folded before you get into your bed. I have tried so many methods of staying on top of the laundry, so far this one is working the best. Avoiding laundry baskets and avoiding doing seven loads at once has kept our laundry clean and put away. I have been skipping the baskets, going straight from washer to dryer to bed to folded to put away! Ideally it’s folded and put away before bedtime but worst case you spend ten minutes right before you crawl into bed and its done! Voila! (You do have to be committed to not just setting it on the floor or dresser for tomorrow if you are particularly tired that night though…)

8 ) Go to bed with a clean kitchen. Waking up to a clean kitchen helps set a more peaceful, more comfortable tone for my day. Knowing that I am starting fresh in the kitchen has helped me feel less overwhelmed with the rest of the house. The two ways this has stayed possible for me are: doing a light cleaning after each meal or snack (this includes putting away all food, throwing away all trash and putting all dishes in the sink) and doing a final, more thorough cleaning right after dinner (including putting away all food, throwing away all trash, loading and starting dishwasher, handwashing any other dishes, wiping down all counters and stove and sink, and sometimes sweeping), while daddy plays with the kids and gives them their baths. Staying committed to this has been a challenge for me but sooo worth the effort! (I am still working on figuring out how to keep the rest of the house clean. Sigh.)

9) Get enough sleep! Seven to eight hours is ideal for me, less and I feel it the next day. Sleep for your health, your mood, your energy level, your attitude, your quality of life!

10) And lastly, though I believe that one through nine matter and are life improving, always remember that people are more important than stuff, than money, than chores, than hobbies. I am confident that when we are all old and life has slowed down, we will not look back and be glad we had all our laundry done each night or that we stayed in amazing shape or that we were never late or behind or forgetful. I believe we will look back and remember the laughter, the love, the forgiveness, the intimacy that we shared with our spouses, our children, our friends and our neighbors. Let us improve who we are and how we love before we improve what we do and how we do it!

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It’s finding coins and hairbows and legos in my children’s pockets when I am doing laundry.

It’s listening to my four year old teach my one year old new words while they sit at the dining room table eating lunch. ¬†-“Granite, say airplane.” -“Ehpane.” -“Good!”

It’s opening the kitchen trash can and finding Granite’s bowl from breakfast laying in the bag of trash.

It’s walking in on a game of pretend and listening to Meadow explain, “I’m the mom. Granite is my husband. That is our baby.” and then watching her point to the baby that Granite has wrapped in a blanket and is carrying around the room.

It’s searching our house for my deodorant and make-up brush and finally finding them in the toolbox in the laundry room.

It’s telling my children to go get in the car while I gather our things and then finding them both buckled and waiting patiently in the backseat.

It’s hearing my daughter exclaim, “Mom, look at your son!” when Granite does something cute or funny or ridiculous.

It’s peeking into the den while I am making breakfast and seeing two blonde munchkins sitting with their backs to me, side by side on the couch, watching cartoons.

It’s answering Granite’s questions that he asks through out the day, every day. “Where’s Meadow? Where’s Daddy? Where’s Micah? Where’s Papa? Where’s Sky?” (and sometimes other people too, but always these five)

It’s watching my 43 pound daughter carry my 33 pound son around the house, “Because he wants me to, Mama.”

It’s hearing Meadow and Granite talking over the baby moniter when she gets him out of his crib in the morning, “It’s ok buddy, Mama’s downstairs. Let’s go find Mama.”

The little things… ūüôā

my little ones

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