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Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

August 10 at 2:47pm

Walked a little over three miles on the trails in Gatlinburg this past weekend. So gorgeous! And a little over two at Radnor today with Meadow and Granite. They were little troopers. The walk wore us all out! 5 more down…63 to go!

August 12 at 2:55pm

Just walked the neighborhood with Summer and my munchkins. 2 more down…61 to go!

August 15 at 11:48pm

Took a walk with the munchkins around three this afternoon and it was warm but not hot! Praise the Lord for this cooler weather, I love it!! All three of us walked the first mile, I pushed Gran in the stroller while Mead rode her bike for the second mile then just Gran and I did the last mile (with him still in the stroller) while Mead went across the street to our neighbor’s house. The walk was challenging but also energizing and enjoyable. So proud of my kids for being active with me. 3 more down…58 to go!

August 16 at 2:30pm

Walked a 10k (not an official one. just our own.) with M and G this morning! It was challenging but amazing! They both walked the first mile with me, M rode her bike the second and third mile while G rode in the stroller then they both rode in the stroller for miles four through six (while listening to music, eating a snack and practicing letters, numbers, shapes and animals on the magnadoodle!). The weather was glorious, their attitudes were amazing and though it took FOREVER I loved it!! So proud of my munchkins (especially Meadow, her first time to go three miles without stopping!). 6 more down…52 to go!!!

August 18 at 12:20am

‎4 more down…48 to go!

August 19 at 11:31am

Ran/walked a 5k (an official one this time! haha. not just around the neighborhood) last night in 41 minutes with Meg, Chassi, Lauren and Summer! 98 % of the crowd was under 18, under 120 pounds and/or exceptionally tall and muscular (which was hilarious to us old, pregnant people) BUT we had a great time and the trail was gorgeous (even if it did take me 2 1/2 times as long to finish as the guy who came in first place!) So glad Meg told us about it, so thankful for Summer who stuck with me the WHOLE time, really enjoyed my fun evening with good friends! I feel so blessed. 3 more down…45 to go!

August 20 at 11:52am

Had a GREAT walk at River Park with Chassi this morning!! It wasn’t easy but felt so good to start my Saturday that way. Thankful that she was willing to slow waaay down for me. And we saw Jamie and her fam and Corinne and her munchkins while we were there! 6 more down…39 to go!

August 22 at 9:32am

Had a quiet three mile walk last night after my family was in bed. Was a good, much needed hour of prayer and clearing my head. 3 more down…36 to go!

August 22 at 11:36pm

Walked 1 1/2 miles with my girl tonight (per her request to join me. such a cutie.) then another 1 1/2 listening to my ipod. I am slow as Christmas but feeling decent and LOVING this amazing weather! 3 more down…33 to go!

August 24 at 12:22am

Took a walk around the block again tonight. Walked the first mile with my two little troopers. Walked the second mile and a half pushing my two troopers in the jogging stroller while G slept and M and I played learning games for the half hourish. Then finished with another 3 1/2 after Chaz and the munchkins were in bed. Had more prayer time and calibration once I was alone and it was dark and quiet. Seem to need that more than ever these days. 6 more down…27 to go.

August 24 at 9:46pm

Walked at River Park this afternoon with M and G. Meadow rode her bike all three miles, her longest bike ride to date! Still blown away by how much walking/running/riding she is able to do. Gran sat surprisingly quiet and content in the stroller the whole time. Was a hot day for a walk but with the breeze and the shaded trail it was completely bearable. Love River Park. Love my munchkins! 3 more down…24 to go!

August 29 at 10:21pm

Well let’s see, after a three mile walk LATE Thursday night (during which I ran into Luke and Anna on their way to the store and had to admit that yes I walk at all hours of the day and night and yes, I know that makes me a little bit crazy…), another three mile walk through the neighborhood Friday evening while Chaz ran errands with the munchkins, a hot and challenging but somehow still enjoyable six mile walk on Sunday afternoon at River Park (followed by 130 oz of water), and a three mile walk tonight (with Summer and Meadow during the first mile and a half), I’ve got…15 more down…9 to go!

September 1 at 12:42am

Walked two miles last night while Chaz put the munchkins to bed. Did NOT want to…but made myself do it anyway. Then walked three more today…the first mile this afternoon with M and G, the second mile several hours later with G in the stroller while M helped the hubby fry up some farm fresh veggies for dinner, and finally the third mile after the hubs and kids were in bed for the night. (G ran A LOT of the first mile without being prompted or encouraged to and would stay just ahead of his sister and me while he was running. Super cute and impressive. He walked the rest of the mile in between us, holding our hands, which I LOVE. And though my second mile would normally occur immediately following my first mile, my Garmin died, which just enough discouragement to cause a rearrangement of our plan. Plus it was super hot at that point in the day so waiting a while to continue just sounded way too appealing. And then dinner ended up being ready after the second mile and the kids’ bedtime routine followed right after that causing the additional delay between the second and third…) So yeah, after this crazy day of walking I’ve got…5 more down…only 4 more to go!!!

September 1 at 11:45pm

Completed my 300 miles this afternoon with my two sidekicks and my one in utero! LAST 4 down…0 more to go!!!!!!

Part 3 of 300 Miles will be coming soon so stay tuned for 300 Miles: The Ups and Downs of The Final Four!

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June 27 at 10:08am

I committed to Chassi on June 2nd that my new goal was to walk/run 150 miles by the end of August and to hit 300 miles for my entire pregnancy. I’m at 193 miles so far. That leaves another 107 to cover over the next 11 1/2(ish) weeks. I walked 3 early this morning. (which felt amazing! great weather and prayer time and gorgeous rising sun!) We will see how the rest of the week goes!

June 28 at 11:14pm

Walked two miles and ran 1 mile tonight! Beautiful night, amazing hour of prayer and meditation…3 more down, 104 to go!

June 29 at 10:35pm

‎2 more down…(first 1 of 2 with Meadow on her bike beside me…then she ran a second mile with Chaz!…such a cutie!!)…102 to go.

June 30 at 2:22pm

‎”Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish which greatly trumps Did Not Start.” – saw this quote last week and loved it!

July 8 at 7:44am

6 more down…96 to go! Walked 2.5 miles around our block on Tuesday. And walked/ran 3.5 miles this morning. It rained the whole time. I must say though, rain feels much better than heat! Good times.

July 13 at 7:41pm

Walked 2 more miles Monday night…94 to go. My hubby and kiddos joined me for the first mile. Granite ran most of it! So proud of him! (and Meadow too…she is a stronger runner every month it seems) And Meadow rode her bike beside me for the second mile. I am getting pretty discouraged though. Even 2 miles feels like a lot at this point. I so much want to stay active but with this heat, frequent fatigue and my heavy belly I’m wearing down/slowing down. :/ Will keep walking (and running a mile here and there) but not confident I will hit 300! I’d even be happy with 250 at the rate I’m going…

July 17 at 9:19pm

6 more down, 88 to go! Ran 2 1/2 miles and walked 1/2 mile Wed night and walked 2 miles and ran 1 mile tonight! (Including a 1/4 mile where I carried Granite because he fell and got a pretty good scrape on his knee! Whew! THAT was a good workout!) Still struggling with motivation but not feeling as discouraged as last week. Making it my goal this week to walk or run at least 2 miles every day. We will see how it goes!

July 18 at 6:24am

Walked 1 1/2 miles, ran 1 1/2 miles this morning! Beautiful morning. Not too hot. Sweated a lot. But a good, cleansing sweat. Felt amazing. Had a much needed 45 minutes of prayer. 3 more down…85 to go!

July 19 at 8:51am

Walked 3 miles this morning. It was a bit warmer and thicker than yesterday. But not too bad. Saw Sky and Devon and Ben while I was walking! Funny how often that happens. Listened to Mumford and Sons for most of the hour…soooo good. 3 more down…82 to go!

July 22 at 1:11pm

So the commitment I made this week has been way more challenging than I expected. Because of our schedule this week, my options have been set the alarm for 5am and walk/run before Chaz leaves for work (what I did on Mon&Tues), wait till our evening plans are over and my family is in bed and walk/run after 11pm (what I did on Wed&Thurs) or go at some point during the day pushing a 100+ pound stroller when it is 8,000 degrees outside and 100% humidity (what I did today). Sunday wasn’t bad, the kids and I went right after dinner. And tomorrow should be good, I’m gonna do 3-6 miles in the morning before it gets too hot (but not at 5am!). But yeah, this walk/run everyday commitment has flat worn me out! I’m glad I did it (always am) but next week I’m thinkin will be more like a 3-4 day commitment to give me a week to recover! 6 more down…76 to go!

July 26 at 9:07pm ‎

4 more down…72 to go. Will I hit 300 or will I not hit 300…that is the question…

July 30 at 5:42pm

Ran 2, walked 2 today! Last run I did was unsuccessful so I thought I was done with running but I guess not! Today’s walk/run felt great. 4 more down…68 to go!

Stay tuned for my next 300 Miles post to find out if I reach my goal of walking/running 300 miles before giving birth to this baby!

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Dear C,

First of all, thank you for your affirmations! I appreciate your encouragement so much. As you probably know, it is my tendency to focus on where I/we are lacking/weak and because of this I too often forget to just acknowledge and celebrate that which I/we have done and are doing well. So thank you for that reminder.

I started putting together this list after our talk/your questions the other night. These were the first things that came to mind. Please let me know if you have any thoughts/questions about any of these (or if you disagree with any of them! I want to hear that too.) I will try and write again soon with more detail and some examples. I hope you are having a good week with your munchkins and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on all of this!

So, let’s see, in no particular order…

1) Remember that YOU are in charge.

2) Be calm but FIRM in your discipline. Always.

3) Consistency, consistency, consistency.

4) Follow through. If you SAY you are going to do it (or not do it) you gotta DO it (or not do it).

5) Choose your battles carefully and only start the ones you are willing to finish. Because as the parent, you need to win. Every time.

6) The birth of your first child is a good time to go ahead and accept that you will have to repeat the same words and phrases about 8,000 times before that particular lesson becomes a habit/strength of your child’s. Accepting this will save you a lot of frustration and impatience later on.

7)  There is a significant difference in attitude between a child who believes they are worthy of great things and a child who thinks they deserve all things. Instill the former. And for your child’s sake (not to mention the sake of every person who will ever know your child) avoid instilling the sense of entitlement that comes with the latter.

8 ) Have great expectations. Children really are smarter and more capable than we tend to give them credit for. Ask more of them. They will rise to the occasion.

9) Think of not completely childproofing your home (with the exception of certain safety precautions. Some of those I understand.) as one giant teaching opportunity. Allow them the opportunity to learn to yield. And to learn respect for the word “no”.

10) Your example matters. If you want your children to be kind and respectful and patient and hard working…YOU need to be kind and respectful and patient and hard working.

11) Remember that the lessons you teach them and the home you create for them in their developmental years will be their “normal” and a point of reference for them for many, many years to come. Take the time to envision what type of adult you hope they will become. Because their journey towards being that adult begins TODAY.

12) Always keep in mind that your job is to work yourself out of a job. What’s cute at 1 and 2 will NOT be cute at 7 and 10 and 14. Do the hard work of intentional training NOW. And later you WILL reap the rewards.

13) Sibling rivalry, terrible twos and the dreaded teen years, at least in the sense that we refer to them, are all cultural myths. Believing that these are myths is the first step in helping them to become so.

14) Though every child is different, the BASICS of parenting remain the same. It is the details that should be adjusted to deal with varying temperaments, personalities, strengths and weaknesses.

15) FIRM boundaries and a good schedule will go a long way in making the rest of this possible.

Ok, so that’s all for now. (This ended up being a much longer list than I thought it would be when I started it! Guess I should have known that would happen…) Though training and discipline are both important (and often challenging!) parts of parenting, also remember to take a deep breath, SLOW down and ENJOY your munchkins! This is the hardest job you will ever have but it can also be the most fascinating, fulfilling and rewarding job you will ever have. Take time for the hugs and kisses, the stories and the questions, the jokes and the laughter. You will not regret those moments. I promise. 😉

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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! 🙂 ) 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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I have joined the darkside. I have joined the community of crazies who wake up at 5:00 a.m…because they want to. I have joined a gym.

Call it peer pressure. Call it boredom (sorry, Tony Horton!), call it the desperation of a runner who currently can not run. Call it what you will. I have joined a gym.

I have heard about people like this- people who leave their house before dawn to fit in a sweat session before their real day starts. Heard about them. But never…never been one of them.

I did join a training group last spring when I was training for the Country Music Half Marathon.

This training group met every Saturday at 7:00a.m for three and a half months…once a week…seven a.m…to run three to twelve miles. Always a positive. Always worth it. But oh so painful for me! (I considered asking them to move the time back till eight or nine. But seeing as I was only one of two-hundred and fifty runners showing up for these runs- I decided that was a tad inappropriate.)

So other than my experience with that training group, the occasional Saturday morning run at the park with some friends and my recent experiments of working out in the a.m, at home, with the hubby, I cannot remember a time in my life when I chose to join a group of people…at such an hour…all in the name of…exercise. Until now.

This morning was my second time to visit said gym, Saturday mid morning being the first. My alarm went off at 5:00. I was sitting in the driver’s seat of my car (in the dark) by 5:35. (I know, I know. I am questioning my sanity too.)

When I pulled into the gym parking lot six minutes later, I parked, grabbed my bag and exited my car. I then settled my bag onto my shoulder and rounded the back of the car parked beside mine. I smiled and nodded at the sweaty guy leaving the gym (leaving the gym before six!?!) and thanked the person who held the door for me as we both entered at approximately the same time.

A short chat with Brian (the guy manning the front desk), and three elliptical machine’s later (the first I couldn’t figure out how to program, the second wouldn’t turn on and the third made this unbearable squeaking sound!), and I was settled into the “Cardio Cinema Room”, ellipticalling to my heart’s content, catching bits and pieces of “Get Smart” on the big screen in front of me, and unabashedly observing the crazies who were making their rounds in the lighted part of the gym (the lighted part is on the other side of the large opening at the front of the darkened cinema room. Or in other words- I could see them, they couldn’t see me).

After only a few minutes of this unabashed observation time, I started to notice that most of the crazies fit into one of seven categories.

The skinny mini cardio fiends are the ones that came bouncing in first. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, most of  this group wear tight black pants, sport floppy ponytails and carry gigantic bottles of water. These ladies do their rounds on the cardio machines, pushing and sweating and heaving until all of their fears and regrets and aggressions are lying in a pool of sweat on the floor. Their marathon sweat sessions are probably number one on the mile long to do list that will carry them through the rest of their day.

The body builders were the next category of crazies that I noticed. These were the guys who spent their morning pumping iron. These guys have chest circumferences that rival that of a medium sized barrel. They also have arms that are no longer able to touch their sides. And they are slow. They saunter around the gym, lifting an unbelievable amount of weight at one machine before slooowly making their way to the next one. Their motto seems to be: the heavier the weight and the bigger the muscle, the better.

Then there are the jocks. Different than the body builders, these guys are big but not huge. They also seem very preoccupied with how they look, where as the body builders seem more focused on how many pounds they are able to lift. These guys also move slowly, especially when they are passing one of the many mirrors strategically placed around the gym floor. They do their pushups in front of these mirrors and their crunches and their curls. My hunch is that these guys do the hard work for the attention it will get them later in the day. Their thoughts seem to leave the gym long before their bodies do.

The next category doesn’t really have a name. It includes the people who come in with sleep still in their eyes, sporting bedhead and wrinkled clothes. These people wander around, seemingly aimlessly, with their hands in their pockets, looking confused about how they got there in the first place and why, for goodness sake, they are up at this hour of the morn. (actually, there was only one guy who fit this description. But he was so amusing to me that I just had to include him here.) They may not do a whole lot of exercise, every time. But they do show up!

Then there are the oldies but goodies. These ladies and gentlemen of an older age seem motivated by the desire to stay healthy. And trim. And strong. They seem like the type that have accepted the realities of aging, but also chosen to age the best way possible- healthily. Kudos to all you oldies but goodies out there. I hope that when I am your age, I am an oldie but goodie too.

And lastly, we have the big boys and girls. This is the group of people that look like they woke up this morning and said, “I have got to do something about myself!” Some have trouble walking. Most have trouble exercising. But all are trying. And for that I applaud them. Keep up the good work, guys. It is worth the fight.

There are a few stragglers too. The middle aged man with hunched shoulders, wearing baggy, gray sweatpants; the girl in a bright green sports bra and tiny shorts who exhausted every single portion of her tanned, muscular body; the average sized businessman who jogged on the treadmill for half an hour, before changing into a suit and tie and hurrying out the door; and the young, slightly overweight woman who put in her time before heading back to what is probably a busy life of juggling kids and jobs and bills.

So I spent my hour and a half with these crazies. And along with being amused, I felt inspired. Inspired by their movement. Not their physical movement (although that can be inspirational too), but their movement towards…betterment. And health. And goals. And discipline. And a challenge.

Big and small, fast and slow, young and old, some tan, some hunched, some tired, some endless balls of energy- each unique in their own way. All inspirational to me.

Thank you, crazy people, for my morning inspiration.

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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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