Category Archives: Health & Fitness

Throwback Thursday: A simple plan for your worst! race! ever! (I do dumb things.)

I recently began training for my second marathon, and I’m pretty pumped about it. While there’s much to do in preparation, I can largely capture what NOT to do in this little post from last year.

Happy Throwback Thursday, people. Enjoy the laughs.

Originally published on March 10, 2014.

I did something really stupid.If you’re looking for how to run your BEST RACE EVER - this is totally NOT IT. (But if you want to feel better about yourself - or just need a really good laugh - you want to read this right now.)

I ran a half marathon.

For which I had not trained.

I don’t mean I just didn’t get in any tempo runs or mile repeats or whatever. I mean my longest “long run” was 5 miles. Also, my average weekly mileage was 5 miles. So basically I’d been going for a 5-mile run once a week for the past 8 weeks. That means this half marathon was 13.1 miles of Pure Crazy, people.

Back when I registered, the plan had been to give myself something to train for and set myself up to feel like complete awesomeness on my 35th birthday.

As described above, that didn’t really pan out, but my competitive nature still kicked in and said, “Do it. You can gut this out. Get out there. This thing CAN’T HOLD YOU DOWN. YOU’RE ARUNNERDAMMIT.”

That kind of self-talk can only lead to good things, right?

Fast forward to race morning. My alarm goes off. I don’t remember why my alarm is going off so early on a Saturday morning. I hit snooze, drowsily hoping I’ll know what’s going on when it goes off again.

Alarm goes off again. I bolt upright in bed, remembering: RACE. This thought is not met with joy.

Stumbling into the bathroom, I find a note from my husband written in shaving cream across the bathroom mirror. “Good luck. Love u.” My first thought is, “Seriously, I JUST cleaned that damn mirror. I am not cleaning that up.” Then I decide it was thoughtful and I’m a jerk.

I go through an abbreviated version of my race-morning routine. The abbreviated version because, typically, hitting snooze is not included in the routine and I’m suddenly panicked because I don’t know how to get to where I need to park uptown and why did I hit snooze I NEED THOSE NINE MINUTES BAAAAACK.

I grab my race bib & a cup of coffee, and run out the door.

I get three minutes away from my house and realize I’m starving and about to run a half marathon on a glass of water and a cup of coffee.

So, naturally, I go through the McDonald’s Drive Thru. Yes, really.

I eat a Bacon, Egg, & Cheese. ON MY WAY TO THE RACE. Like a boss.

My ninja-like navigation skillz lead me successfully around the correct parking garage three times and then into a different parking garage and then straight to the (3/4-mile-long) line of women waiting to use the bathroom.

Next stop: the starting line. This race doesn’t have designated pacing groups, and the half-marathon start is combined with the 5K start. So determining similarly-paced runners can be tricky. Left to my own devices, I resort to a tried and true method: look at people and make judgements about their fitness level based on their appearance.

The man with the teeny shorts, spindly legs, and Garmin the size of his head?
Too fast for me.

The woman in the compression socks and double braids with ice in her veins?
Too fast for me.

I wisely choose to start near the big man wearing jeans.

The gun goes off. Eleven minutes later, I cross the starting line.

The next 5 miles are quite delightful. Of course they are. I run 5 miles every week.

Miles 6, 7, & 8 are less delightful, but I’m still moving, spurred along by the cheers and homemade signs of my fans the people who know the people around me.

SIDE NOTE: In the “Homemade Signs That Made Me Smile Through the Pain” Contest, an adorable pair of little boys win 1st place with:
HURRY MOMMY! DAD DIDN’T FEED US.

Second place goes to:
SMILE IF YOU’RE NOT WEARING UNDERWEAR
(Although I actually am wearing underwear, so I quickly turn my smile into a frown for the sake of accuracy.)

Third place belongs to:
RUN YOUR BUTT OFF!!! Oh wait, you don’t have one.

And honorable mention goes to:
GOOD JOB YOU’RE BEATING ALL THE PEOPLE BEHIND YOU

The reason the last one only receives an honorable mention is I can only smile for a moment before I’m paranoid that THERE IS NO ONE BEHIND ME. I am in last place, aren’t I?

But I reach mile 9, and something wonderful happens. My legs go numb.

I run the next mile or so in a zombie-like state, thinking, “Just get to 10 before you walk.”

I pass the 10-mile mark, the numbness fades, and the pain rolls in with a vengeance. My competitive side suddenly barks, “Suck it up! You DON’T WALK IN A RACE!”

My realistic side says, “Excuse me. You are not, in fact, racing. You had a Bacon, Egg, & Cheese for breakfast, and you are shuffling. You can walk faster than you are currently running.”

I walk.

Fellow competitors shuffle past (I wasn’t in last place!), and through miles 10-12, I intersperse 3-4 walk breaks amid my shuffle-running.

With one (POINT ONE) mile to go, I find new strength. (Due in small part to my strong desire for the whole thing to be over already, and in large part to the woman on the sidewalk holding the neon green sign declaring, “YOU CAN.”)

I make the last turn, and the final quarter mile lies before me. At that very moment, heaven opens and the angels start singing “Can’t Hold Us.” Okay, maybe it’s Macklemore on my playlist, but whatevs. It’s a gift from the good Lord, and I receive it.

I truck it across the finish line like the man in jeans is chasing me. (Kind of fast, but not really.) Before I even know what has happened, I’m holding a finisher’s medal and a bottle of PowerAde.

I wish I had a huge spiritual epiphany to share about this experience. But sometimes the only epiphany He gives me is, “It’s really stupid to not train for a half marathon and then run it anyway. But good job. Kind of.”

Well, amen to that. Here’s to learning lessons the hard way. And Advil. Lots and lots of Advil.

Starbucks Confessional (I am a freaking hot mess. Now, what?)

Yes, God helps in our need. It's a broken world, and bad things happen to good people. But what about the messes I get MYSELF into? What then?I’m doing something that makes me nervous. I was feeling pretty raw and low last week and it spilled onto the pages of my journal. I’m nervous because I know I’m supposed to share it.

I wanted to edit it first – but not in the way I usually edit my writing. I could tell I wanted to edit the desperation out of it. Just take it down a notch or three. I can’t have you all thinking I’m losing it over here.

But what? I don’t want people to think I’m that broken? That flawed? That needy?

So I’m not editing it. Because maybe one of you needs to know that if nothing else, you’re not the only one who is that broken. That flawed. That needy.

And maybe you’ll find that the God who is big enough for someone as broken, flawed, and needy as me, can be big enough for you too.

************************

I’m low. And I’m apparently stressed, as I have a behemoth trifecta of a cold sore eating my face. I’m in Starbucks, face unwashed, Abreva on my mouth. Wow.

I’m low. I’m sluggish. I’m blasting music through my earbuds to drown out the Starbucks crowd.

I’m not going to run the 1/2 marathon I’m registered for this Saturday. I didn’t train. And why?

Just because I chose not to.

Just like every day I choose NOT to do the right thing. To give my body the healthy food it needs. And the time in God’s Word. And the break from so much caffeine and sugar. (As I sit here with my grande quad shot two pump white mocha Americano, thankyouverymuch.)

It’s like I’m rebelling against my own freedom. I’m rebelling against my own success, health, growth, victory. What in the world for? Why?

WHY?
WHY?
WHY?
WHY?

Laziness? Addiction? Oppression? Simple rebellion? Self-loathing? Pride? Perfectionism?

I don’t know why I do this.

Does it matter why?

I wake up tired. I go to bed tired. I walk through my day looking for my next cup of coffee.

I think about doing awesome things. But I do the opposite.

It sounds like Paul’s words. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing… WHAT A WRETCHED [WOMAN] I AM! WHO WILL SAVE ME? WHO WILL RESCUE ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I only copied the part about “Thanks be to God” because I feel like I should, but it doesn’t feel real right now.

I need to write. But what!? WHAT DO I HAVE TO SAY!?

“I feel low. Blah blah blah.”

Well, I feel low BECAUSE I MAKE POOR CHOICES. I feel low because I know what my body needs, what my mind needs, and I REFUSE TO DO IT. And even do worse. No one does this TO ME.

I DO THIS TO ME.

I am rebelling against my own freedom and I am angry and ashamed and tired and fed up and sad and nothing. And low. Just low. And apparently anxious, judging by the aforementioned face-eating cold sore.

So what now? How do I even approach God with this? I’ve done it – AM DOING IT – to myself.

Adam and Eve come to mind. In the Garden. It was so beautiful. It was perfect. They could have so much, but they chose the one thing God said no to. They traded ALL THE YESes for the NO. They rebelled against their own freedom.

Were there consequences? Absolutely. Um, hello, fall of all mankind. [You can read the account in context here.] But that’s not what I’m thinking of right now.

I’m thinking of this verse:

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

He could’ve left them naked and ashamed. But He didn’t. He clothed them. He covered them. He allowed them to experience the consequences of their rebellion, but HE MADE THEM GARMENTS AND HE CLOTHED THEM.

EVEN THOUGH THEY GOT THEMSELVES INTO THIS MESS.

God called to them. He met them in their shame. In their defeat. In their utter failure. And He met their need.

And I’m trying REALLY HARD to not cry in Starbucks right now. Because I need that. I need Him. I need Him to come and get me in this pit. I can’t climb out to find Him. I need Him to hear me hiding, naked and defeated, make me a garment, and walk me back out into the light.

Please come, Jesus.

******************

Oh my goodness. A garment. Oh JESUS, YOU CAME to make garments too. Just like the Lord God did in the Garden.  You came “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)

You guys. Could you use a new garment? Or any garment? Will you answer Him from your hiding place?

Throwback Thursday: Refuel (because I’m running out of gas in more ways than one) (You, too?)

Originally published March 3, 2014.

Running on empty? Feeling anxious and on the verge of a breakdown? Discover one practice you can implement TODAY to avoid breakdowns and reduce anxiety in your life.I hate stopping for gas. I will drive as far as possible on “E” before stopping at a gas station. (Sorry, Mom & Dad – I know, you taught me better.) I hate the anxiety of wondering if I’ll make it to my destination before I run out – but I hate stopping for gas even more than that. It’s such an inconvenience – who has time to stop for gas? The whole concept of STOPPING before I can GO just frustrates me.

Today, this habit finally caught up with me. I load the kids, their snacks, and my bags in the car to go get groceries for the week. Everyone is buckled in, ready to be on our way, and I turn the key.

Nothing.

The lights and radio work fine, so I know it’s not the battery. I call Matt to complain that the stupid car won’t start AGAIN, and what can possibly be wrong THIS time.

Then I notice the gas gauge. And THEN I remember swinging into the driveway yesterday, doing a small arm-pump for making it home without running out of gas… never considering I’d just left myself a completely empty tank.

Didn’t exactly set myself up for a win today, did I?

Obviously we didn’t get to run our errands. Even though stopping for gas would’ve momentarily slowed me down, running out of gas slowed me down immeasurably more. By refusing to PAUSE to refill the tank yesterday, I forced myself into a complete HALT.

I know there’s a lesson in this — and it extends further than filling up my car (although I could stand to just learn THAT lesson). How do we practice the “Refuel Principle” in the rest of life? I believe we can implement this one practice in 3 essential places even TODAY:

Physical: The other day, I really didn’t feel like exercising. (Correction – almost every day I really don’t feel like exercising.) What made the other day DIFFERENT was that I made myself exercise for 20 minutes ANYWAY. I popped in a workout DVD while the kids were occupied with something (okay, that something was the iPad) and I JUST DID IT. And it’s like it re-booted my brain. Just from 20 minutes of sweating. Carving out those TWENTY MINUTES resulted in greater effectiveness & enjoyment throughout the REST OF MY DAY. It was a re-fueling for my body.

Mental: My brain and my body need rest. And I don’t just mean a minute to prop my feet up. I mean ACTUAL SLEEP. I very rarely get good, adequate sleep, which makes no sense because I LOVE TO SLEEP. But with a night-owl husband it’s very tempting to stay up too late too often. (He is not to blame. My love of sitting on the couch and watching TV with him is the real culprit. We are very exciting people, I tell you.) I know good, consistent sleep would really make a difference in my day. So why is it so hard to make this choice consistently?? (I hear you baby-mommas — I know you have to be up at all hours of the night to tend to your little one. So, I hereby grant you permission to TAKE A GUILT-FREE NAP while your baby naps and your non-napping toddler watches Dora. Get some sleep, woman.)

Spiritual: I often think of “stopping for gas” in the context of my spiritual life — taking time to read the Bible, sitting in God’s presence, letting Jesus fill me anew. I absolutely need that fueling, that filling up, as well. It’s so counter-intuitive… stop so I can go. There’s so much to do — and even the noblest woman could say she doesn’t have time to read about Jesus because she’s too busy going out there to actually serve Him. She doesn’t have time to pause and pray about the hurt in the world because she’s too busy getting out there and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I don’t hate that mindset. But the truth is, YOU CAN’T GIVE AWAY WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE. You want to give away love, hope, peace, joy? Then you better pause long enough to fill up at the Source.

As I write this, I’m already thinking, “This is so basic. Everyone knows you need to do that. You can’t just keep going going going, pouring out and pouring out and pouring out without being refilled yourself.”

But if it’s so basic, WHY DON’T I DO IT?

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s my deep-down denial of how this whole gas tank thing works. As long as the car is still running, I’m good, right? I’ll just stop for gas when I run out – or when the anxiety about running low finally drives me to fill up just in time.

The truth is, I falter when I fail to care for and respect how I was made. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual creations. If I’m living life on Empty – in any of those areas – I shouldn’t be surprised by the anxiety and the frequent breakdowns.

Jesus said:

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

– John 10:10b

Life wasn’t meant to be lived on Empty. Let’s encourage one another – share how you “refuel” in the comments!