Race Recap Zion 100

First off, the Zion course was so amazingly beautiful, the hills were so long and so steep, and the volunteers and other runners were so awesome. I loved the challenge and felt like I executed my plan and strategy fairly well, all things considered. I still didn’t finish. There were things I could have done better, and things out of my control, but isn’t that life?

Wednesday night, the night before we were leaving for Utah, my pacer, my son, was out skateboarding and fell and sprained his ankle very badly. So we were up late at the ER with him. He was so upset because he wanted to pace me and felt like he had let me down. It was an emotional time for us, but we both knew there was nothing that could be done. I’m so glad he decided to come with his dad and me anyway.

We spent the night in Gallup, NM had some good New Mexican food and headed out to Hurricane, Utah the next day. Somewhere near Tuba City, AZ we got a flat tire. We put the spare on, but didn’t want to necessarily drive the rest of the way on the spare. We were in such a remote area of Arizona we didn’t have much of a choice than to keep going. The delay put us in Utah a few hours later than I expected to be in and it definitely stressed me out for a little while. I got somewhat of a good nights sleep considering I got up at 3am! Ate some food, had my coffee and drove to the start.

Before the race

The morning was perfect. Cool, but not cold, I didn’t even wear my jacket. I started just after 5am and the night was so dark and clear. I saw two shooting stars in the first hour of the race.

The course ran for about 6 miles on a dirt road and then we got on slickrock trail to Gooseberry Mesa. I ran with some people that I met right from the start. We kept a good conservative pace and all was well. The views were just glorious.

Sunrise over Zion National Park

After the Gooseberry Mesa loop we then headed down Mondo Z, a 1.5 mile 1500’ descent down rocks. Pictures don’t do this justice. It’s pretty much straight down. Eventually it winds down to another trail in the desert towards the next aid station.

You can kind of see how far down and where the trail goes.

I met D and Aaron at Virgin Dam aid station around 26 miles in. It was so good to see them. They filled up my water and resupplied my gels and foods. Derreck got me ice for my bandana which was so awesome as it was really heating up. The next section was going to be hot!

By now my watch was tracking me almost 2 miles ahead. Pretty much everyone around me was, so it was a little frustrating not getting to aid stations when we expected to, but what can you do? Just keep moving. We got to a water only aid station and almost everyone was out. I think it was about 85 degrees and we were cooking! There wasn’t a food aid station for 5 more miles and we had a giant 4 mile road to climb to get to it, Smith Mesa.

This hill is where I really slowed way down. It was just sooo long and relentless. I never stopped moving but I lost a lot of ground on this hill. The aid station was great, and I had a quesadilla and some coke. I hoped to make up time on the top of Smith Mesa, but it was pretty technical up there and the conditions of the trail were really poor. I did not make up any time.

The next section off of Smith Mesa is called the Flying Monkey Trail. That was the sketchiest trail and it freaked me out in some spots. The trail was so narrow, rocks so loose, and the drop off so steep. I was extremely careful going down this section and by now I was worried it might be dark before I got to the bottom. I had no light with me until the aid station at mile 51, Virgin BMX. Part of this trail has a rope to get down about a 10-12 foot section of rock. Thankfully a nice guy was right by me and told me how to lower myself down. It was basically repelling down. Scary!

This is right above the section where the rope is.
You can see the person down there after the rope section.

The trail finally started to become a smooth single track a little bit after that. I ran in the next aid station happy and hungry! Derreck and Aaron were there at Virgin BMX and took care of me. I decided to change my shoes and socks. My feet had large blisters from going straight down the Mondo Z hill. I stayed a little too long at that aid station but it was so good to see my family. By now it’s completely dark but I had my headlamp. I finally head out to the next section of trail and not even a mile into it I step into swampy stinky mucky water. I knew there was a river crossing here, but this was not a river. This was yucky cow pattie water. I finally got to the actual river and crossed it. That sucked. Those fresh shoes and socks were for nothing. Another rocky climb, but not too long and then up a dirt road to the top of Guacamole. I had a drop bag there with warm clothes and my Kogalla light. Good thing, it was cold up there. I stayed with a guy named Rodger. For some reason he started calling me Tanya. It was funny. Anyway, we stuck together for that section because the flagging was so hard to see. We did not want to get lost. We were already now almost 4 miles over what the course map said. This section took so long because we stopped to make sure we saw the next flag before proceeding. But it was better than going off course. I was getting tired but still felt alert. I made up some time coming down the road and then it was the river and muck again. But then I saw Derreck and Aaron again. It was around 4am by now. Here is where I broke down. My feet hurt so much. The blisters were huge. Derreck put my first pair of socks and shoes back on because the new ones were soaked again. I knew I was slow and was now worried about missing the cutoff time. I also knew I had to climb that stupid Mondo Z hill again. I wondered if I would be able to make it. Derreck and Aaron gave me hugs, fed me, made me laugh and I continued on.

Exhausted.

There were a few people around me but I was slower than they were. I lost sight of their lights after awhile. I surprisingly felt okay at this point. I ran a little when it was flat and was doing ok. Until I stopped seeing the flagging. I went a little farther thinking maybe I had just missed the last one. Still no flags in sight, it’s dark and I am all alone. I pulled out the map on my phone and saw I was about a mile off course. That sucked. I backtracked as quickly as I could and found the spot I missed my turn. Now that was on the right course I guess my emotions released and I cried. I pulled myself together quickly and approached the big hill. By now the sun was starting to come up, which was good because it would have been so hard to get good footing in the dark. That hill was so steep I needed to rest so often. I started counting 30 steps and then I would rest on my poles. 30 steps, rest. On and on, up and up.

I made it to the top, finally, Goosebump Aid. I sat in a chair and had coffee and an egg. I was calculating the time and with 25 miles to go, I had to stay under a 19 min mile to finish. That would normally be easy. But I didn’t think I could do it, mostly walking. Of course, now I wish I had tried. My feet hurt so much. I was tired. I felt bad for Derreck and Aaron being up waiting for me without getting much sleep too. If I stopped it would all be over. I had nothing to prove to anyone.

I got out of the chair and headed out of the aid station. I had a 5 mile section to get to the next aid station and see the guys. As I walked I cried, seeing my dreams disappear before me. I was sad.

I called Derreck. Told him I didn’t think I would be able to finish in the time allotted. He told me the math and we both knew unless I really picked it up I wouldn’t make it. So he came and got me. I turned my bib in and took my DNF. I made it nearly 80 miles! That is a huge accomplishment. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I learned so much. I met amazing people and did the hardest trails I have ever seen. The race was tougher than I thought it would be, and even though I didn’t finish, I am tougher than I thought as well. Had I known how hard this course was, I probably wouldn’t have even attempted it. But I would have missed out on the beauty of it all, and so much more!! Sometimes our goals should be so big we aren’t sure we can complete them. How else will we see where our limits are, where we can improve and grow? Life is full of unexpected and unwanted outcomes. Ultra running can be a way to practice dealing with hard times and disappointments in a way that really has no significance in everyday life. But the lessons learned, the willingness to suffer and continue transfers to every day life. We have to get up and keep going even when we are unhappy with our situation and try to make the best of it. And we need to celebrate all we have done and accomplished even if we didn’t meet our goal. They are all stepping stones to improving ourselves. Isn’t that really one of our purposes in life, to improve ourselves? If we do, we are in a better position to come along side others to encourage and uplift. That’s what makes the world go around.

So even with a DNF, I still call it a win. I ran longer than I have before, met amazing people and spent so much time in God’s Country.

Because I completed at least 100K, I was still able to take an award. I chose the Coffee cup!

Training for Zion Update

4 months down, 2 to go.

As I enter the last third of my training block, I am feeling pretty good about it all. I haven’t completed all the mileage as written, but overall have done really well.

A couple weeks ago I ran a solo 50K for training. I had everything I needed in my truck, parked in a spot I would pass by a few times and used it as an aid station. It was a very quiet and overcast day in the canyon, which kept the temps cool. I used it as time to practice nutrition, using my poles, and to see how my mind would hold up for several hours without anyone to talk to. Everything went perfectly except my shoes sliding around some and causing blisters. I have yet to find exactly the right trail shoe. I was actually quite surprised at how quickly the time went by until about the marathon mark. Then I was just ready to finish. It took me right at 7 hours, which was my guess, so all went really well.

I also did my first run from evening to night. I run in the dark in the morning often. But I haven’t ever done that in the canyon. Derreck came to keep an eye on Donna and I as we looped around trails to different parking lots to check in. What surprised me most was how hard it is to see right as the sun is gone, but still light enough that a headlamp doesn’t help. It’s really tricky during that time. Also, how fast the temperature dropped as soon as it was dark dark. But what was most fabulous about running in the canyon at night is the open sky without any light pollution. The stars!! It was absolutely incredible!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set into place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

And then just this week, the race director announced a course change. My first thought was dread. But after they explained it all, it’s actually all the same course, just start/finish in a different place and the order of the trails is a little different. I will need to re-think my drop bag items and placement, but still have plenty of time to get it all sorted out.

I’m also over half way to my fundraising goal for lupus. I’m so grateful to the many people who have donated. If your curious what that’s about, see my previous post. As always, thank you for reading. Happy running!

Why Zion 100?

You hear it often in the business world and the running world; “What’s your why?” You need a strong “why” because if you don’t, when it gets uncomfortable, when it gets hard, you may lose sight of your goals or quit your race.

My running Why has evolved over time. When I first started running it was to lose weight. What I didn’t realize as I was shedding pounds is that I also was shedding my depression. As I ran more and more, my whys became about race goals. 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Boston Qualifier. Then I found trail running. Running trails brought me closer to my creator. The beauty and purity connected me to God in another avenue.

After running trails I was introduced to Ultra Marathons. I never thought I would ever run farther than 26.2 miles, a marathon. I couldn’t believe people ran farther than that. But the more I ran trails, the longer I wanted to be out on them. My first 50K I just wanted to see if I could run that far. My second one was all about the location and the experience at Monument Valley . It was so incredible, beautiful, humbling, and hard. But so worth it. After that is when I got sick.

Sunrise at Monument Valley

The next 50K I ran was Cedro Peak. It was just over a year since MV and I was just so grateful to be running again. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to run far again. It was such a blessing. I was much slower. But after a few miles of feeling sorry for myself that I had this stupid disease, I realized I could still be stuck in bed. That run turned into a song of thanksgiving and praise to God that I was running at all.

Cedro Peak over my right shoulder

50 miles, could I?? I had a lot of self doubt in training. My why was to see what I was made of. I wanted to come to the end of myself. I was tired of the pain without rhyme or reason. This was a pain I could control. I could run until I decided if I wanted to stop or not. I was chasing cutoffs but I didn’t want to stop. I knew I had it in me. Thanks to my husband and son who took turns pacing me, I was able to finish strong.

Palo Duro Trail Run 50 miles

50 Miles at Antelope Canyon. Recap Why?? Location, location, location. Have you seen my pictures? They don’t do it justice. Plus I liked the training. I liked the distance. Plus my friends were doing it. So “Why not?”

Why 100 miles at Zion?

First off, I don’t know how much longer I have to run crazy long distance. I really want to at least try for 100 miles. Plus, you get a really cool buckle!! Not familiar with the belt buckle hundred milers get? Here’s an Explanation .

All the other reasons I have had for my other ultras are good. But not good enough to carry me through this kind of distance. If I make this race only about me, well, that’s not a good enough why. Because at mile 70, just before another mile long steep hill, I might say enough. I don’t want to lose sight of my goal – to finish the race set out before me. That’s not to say finish at all costs. If I am risking injury, I will stop. I’m not going to be stupid. However, I know that at some point my mind will want me to stop. My legs will hurt. My feet will hurt. I will be tired. I will think this is dumb. I will think about giving up. I need a good reason to continue, up steep hills, in the dark, through the night. And it’s got to be about more than a buckle and some yummy aid station food.

I am raising money for Lupus Foundation of America. These funds will go directly to help improve the quality of life of those with lupus. This is my why. Many others with lupus are in much worse shape than I am. The younger you are when you contract this disease the worse it attacks your body. I am fortunate that I was older. I am fortunate that I was already a runner and in good health. I am fortunate to have been diagnosed quickly compared to the countless others who’ve waited years for treatment. I have a voice that is able to bring attention to this disease through my running. I want to bring awareness and give help to my brothers and sisters who are fighting much harder than I am. This run is for all my fellow Lupus Warriors.

If you would like to donate it would mean so much to me. Thank you with all my heart. Click on the link below.

https://support.lupus.org/site/TR/MYM/TeamMakeYourMark?px=2522831&pg=personal&fr_id=1641

Training for Zion 100

The plan: run 100 miles at Zion Ultras on April 10-11. The goal: don’t DNF! The ultimate goal: under 30 hours.

I’m just starting week 12 in my training plan. I am using the plan from the book Relentless Forward Progress. So far, it’s going well. I am keeping my miles on the very conservative side, knowing my body well enough now that I have had 5 years of ultra running and 3.5 with lupus. I’m pleasantly pleased!

One of the perks of training for an ultra with your friends is the sheer amount of time you can spend together during long runs. We have some of the most amazing conversations that probably would not happen in other settings. Topics just flow, and with the 3 of us, they flow deeply. I truly believe that running can and does help people have stronger mental health!

Classy, sassy, and bad-assy.

There are days I question my sanity for deciding to run 100 miles. And certainly I have friends and family (that’s you, Dad) that don’t understand or worry about me. It’s hard to put into words, but I need it. I need to run. I know I don’t have to run so far, but I enjoy the process of running, I enjoy challenging myself and the idea is just so exciting, even if a little scary. I love the atmosphere of ultras. These are the nicest people you will ever meet.

I saw a lady’s shirt that said, “The more I run, the less I want to run away” and that just has stuck with me because I get it! Running can be an escape from the noise of the world and all its trouble, it can be the place where you get your best ideas, it can be community, it can be church! It can be where God speaks loudest, it can be just the quiet you need.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

I will continue to train so that I can be well prepared for this endeavor. Stay tuned for more updates! Read through my previous posts on other race recaps I have written about and more on why I run. Thanks for reading!

Block Party

May 16 the group Bigger Than The Trail (BTTT) held a virtual “block party” run in place of a physical location. BTTT is a 501(c)(3) organization that uses running as a platform to advocate for mental health. They team up with licensed counselors to provide free online services. Amazing.

Anyway, I don’t normally do virtual races. My race budget is limited and if I am going to spend the money, it’s more about the people and the experience than a shirt or medal. So I skip them. However, because of the mental advocacy I was going to participate in this Block Party as it is something near and dear to me. Because Hubs was without work, I wasn’t going to officially register, just run. I mentioned that on their IG page and got a DM that they had some donations and I could have the last one!

I officially registered! I have been in a lupus flare so I was not up for a very long distance so I opted for the half marathon. The idea was to make your own route around your block where you live. Hubs ran the first 10K with me and I finished the rest on my own. It was crazy going around and around the same streets. I was definitely getting bored of that. But it’s the perseverance when things get hard or tiring or boring that makes you stronger. So I kept going.

I used that time to pray. I have been in a slump. The anxiety from the news and the unknown future about Hubs getting a job and not being able to do the things that help me mentally has taken a toll on me. The stress is wreaking havoc in my body. Depression and lupus flares up. I know I am not the only one who is having a hard time.

In a blur of tears I cry out to God, I don’t feel your presence? Where are you? Why have you left me? In moments like these I must stop and repeat God’s promises.

  • I know he will never leave me.
  • I know he is for me, not against me.
  • I know I can approach the throne of grace with confidence, and I will find mercy and grace.

Our emotions will get the best of us if we let them. That’s why we need to keep God’s word in our heart and other believers pointing us back to the truth.

50 Miles in the Desert

Dark, cold, windy start

Lines of headlamps guide the way

Nervous laughter heard.

 

Climb and crawl, don’t fall

Focus on the headlamp beam

Switchbacks on slickrock.

 

Wide, sandy plateau

Running straight into the wind

Sun starting to rise.

 

Antelope Canyon

Racers slowing down in awe

Ancient spirits here.

img_6803-1

Water, wind, and sand

Echos through the canyon walls

Carving waves in time.

 

Walls turning tightly

Moving deeper in shadow

At once, wide open.

 

Run, climb, sand for miles

Wind dies down, sun brightly shines

Almost halfway done.

 

Sand turns to slickrock

Expansive sky meets the earth

Horseshoe Bend ahead.

 

Far below, water

Dark river flows without sound

Racers stop to pose.

img_6844

Follow pink ribbons

Ripples of rock continue

Try not to fall down.

 

Water Hole Canyon

Down a ladder to enter

Smooth walls, warm brown hues.

 

Sun, sand, miles to go

Switchbacks on a sandy hill

Straight up a sandy hill.

 

Page Rim Trail at last

Stunning views of Lake Powell

Keep running, though tired.

IMG_6865

Straight down sandy hill

One more mile to go, but sand!

Finish line ahead.

 

Through the chute I run

Strong legs, stronger spirit

Elation fills me.

img_6877

Antelope Canyon Ultras 50 Mile Recap

Antelope Canyon Ultras in Page AZ did not disappoint. I am still in awe of the landscape I experienced.

The 50 mile race started at 5:45 am and it was windy but not too cold, maybe about 40 degrees. The course crossed a road and began to climb slick rock within the first .15 mile. The race director let runners through in a few waves, as it bottlenecks very quickly. I was in wave two.

As it was very dark, the trail of headlamps floating along in front helped light the way. We followed pink ribbons with some reflectivity stuck in crevices and tied to scrub brush in the slick rock and climbed and scrambled over the rock. My first mile was a 20 min mile, slow because of all the people, but also because of the scrambling. Once we got to the top of the slickrock hill we came to a sandy wash and ran straight into the wind for a couple of miles. We then turned on a sandy trail and finally dropped down onto a sandy road and again ran straight into the wind toward the famous Antelope Canyon. I stopped very quickly at the aid station and grabbed a couple of orange slices and continued on, finally reaching the canyon. It was incredible! Even though it was not very light out, the carved walls and intricate shapes blew me away. I loved how you could hear other runners commenting on the beauty and in amazement. We all felt incredibly blessed to be here.

 

 

 

 

 

The course made a little lollipop back through a more open air canyon back to the road and then the aid station. I had some coke and continued on. By this time I had fallen into a steady rhythm and found myself running with another woman around my pace. We chatted and decided to run together until one of us felt like either going ahead or slowing way down. Karrie definitely helped me keep going when I felt like slowing way down or even walking, so she was a huge blessing to me.

 

The course continued up and down on either sand or slick rock. The sand was not as bad as I expected and I was able to run without much trouble on most of it. Only a few spots was it so loose there was no way of getting any kind of grip. The slickrock was more technical than I expected. There was no making up time on these sections.

img_6836

Horseshoe Bend was a 7 mile stretch of beauty! I am afraid of heights so I didn’t get too close to the edge, but wow oh wow. This section was hard – more scrambling, sliding down on my butt, climbing up over rocks, and trying to keep those darn pink ribbons in sight. It took me much longer than I expected to get through this section. But I probably could have cut at least 10 minutes off that time if I hadn’t taken so many pictures.

img_6844

 

img_6850

We finally got to Waterhole Aid Station and I refilled my bladder, stocked up on more gels, had watermelon and coke and some potato with salt. Delicious.

Waterhole Canyon was also quite amazing! Here you climb down steps to get into the canyon. The walls get really close together in some spots so it’s fun to weave in and around. You climb one big ladder to get out and then back to the sand!

img_6860

I continued on with Karrie and we had some good conversations which made the time go by faster without any trouble. She helped me keep my mind off the fact that I was getting tired. I hope I did the same for her. We are running towards Page Rim Aid Station, the final portion of the race. We are almost done! But then we really hit the sand. And a giant hill. It was truly brutal to get up that hill in the sand. She was meeting her husband here, who would pace her the final 12 miles. I met Derreck, my husband here also. But he ran the half marathon that morning and would not be pacing me!

By now I was feeling slightly nauseous and new I needed to keep eating. All I could manage was gels, I knew if I could just get them down, however slowly, I would feel better. I may have gotten behind on nutrition already, and perhaps that is why I felt sick in the first place. I am still learning.

The Page Rim Trail is the runnable part of the race. It’s about 10 miles on single track, not much elevation gain or loss and really is quite beautiful as well. Karrie was also feeling sick and started to walk, so I kept running. I averaged about 12-13 min miles along this section. I kept wanting to slow down even more or just walk, but I told myself that as long as I could run, I should run, even if it’s slow. That loop seemed to take forever, but now I was by myself. I managed to pass a few people, so that helped my mood. I also started seeing some of the hundred milers coming. That was exciting to see, and so inspiring.

I got back to Page Rim aid station, took what I needed from my drop bag and put it in the return pile and down the sandy hill I went towards the finish! I couldn’t believe I was almost done. The course takes you scrambling up a small hill right at the end, and then between two giant rock walls and into the finish line shoot. I heard my name announced as I crossed the timing mats with a huge smile on my face.

img_6877

 

Big Thanks to Vacation Races for putting on an outstanding race. Also thankful for all the volunteers to help things go smoothly and provide food at the aid stations. I am extremely grateful to the Navajo Nation for letting us run through your sacred land and sharing your culture with us. I am also so thankful to Derreck, for joining me on my crazy adventures and supporting me in my training. I know it takes time away from our family, and I appreciate you never complaining. Also thanks to Donna and Melody, for sharing the training miles and the journey in Antelope Canyon.

img_6769-1

Things I learned: I need to strengthen my core more. My low back was tired and sore after 10 hours. It’s still sore 3 days later. I also need to train my stomach more. Though I managed okay with my fuel it certainly could have been better. Also still need to get in and out of aid stations more efficiently.

My Gear: New Balance Summit Unknown Trail Shoes, XOToes socks, gaiters made by yours truly (and had no sand in my shoes!!), XOSkin mid compression 4″ shorts, The North Face BTN shirt, Brooks Uplift Crossback Bra, Nathan Vapor Airess 2.0 Hydration Pack. I used Gu and Honey Stinger gels and Skratch Labs hydration mix. I had no chafing or blisters, EXCEPT, I stepped on my own toe because I lost balance. That toenail got bruised and I will lose it. Oh well.

img_6867-1

Why I am No Longer a Pessimist

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.” ~ Ruth 1:20

Naomi means pleasant. Mara means bitter.

When I read that, I told my closest friends I felt like I should change my name to Mara and wear a scarlet B on my clothing, like in The Scarlet Letter. I didn’t need to wear a ‘B’ it was evident in my demeanor that I was bitter.

When I think back to my attitude several years ago I just want to apologize to everyone I knew at that time. I can hardly bear to remember how bitter, pessimistic and depressed I was. I would not want to be around me. I could not see anything positive at all. I was stuck. And worse, I was convinced that my life would never change, that it would never get any better. Thank you to those who stuck by me in my season of despair.

I wish I could say that I saw the light and snapped out of it quickly. I did not. My journey through bitterness lasted years. I read a few really good Christian books and went through all the old counseling material that I had from my counselor several years prior to try to make sense of my feelings. I prayed and prayed for God to take away the situation, to move me, to make it better. Nothing changed and I sank further away. My mind kept telling myself that what was in the books and even the Bible didn’t apply to me and good things were for everyone except me. I felt pretty hopeless. One day God spoke to me in his very quiet way and told me to accept it and stop fighting.

Here I am thinking why on earth would God tell me this? What kind of crap life has God destined me for? Why?? Where was my Abundant Life?? Accept it and stop fighting? I was not exactly jumping for joy. Accept it and stop fighting… At this time Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are came out. I don’t remember how I heard about it, but the title intrigued me. Her style of writing is rather poetic and I had a very hard time getting into the book. But the gist of it was to find something to be thankful for, no matter how small. I started to take this to heart. I had also started running around this time too. My story is HERE. I distinctly remember seeing a wildflower (or weed, depending on how you look at it) blooming in horse crap. This is where my slow transformation began. I saw a poor flower surrounded by thorns and crap and felt sorry for it. But friends helped me see for the first time that God wanted me to shine no matter where I was or whatever my circumstances were. He wanted more from me and for me. He wanted me to be content no matter what else was going on around me.

1002585_10202771642197910_1265315885_n

God wanted me to see that He was all around me. I started to notice little things – the sunlight catching a tree branch, birds singing. God used these little things to bring himself to the forefront of my mind. I started to focus more on him. I started to see what was true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – whatever was excellent or praiseworthy – God called me to think on these things. (Phil 4:8)

This was a long process for me. Years. I struggled with my old self and the natural tendency of my thoughts to go to the negative, and to think the worst and my new self that I was becoming, a supernatural changing of my thinking that maybe things weren’t as bad as I thought, that there was some good not only in the world, but even in my own circumstances.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

God was changing my attitude in my mind. Slowly but surely there was a change, and it is still an ongoing process. But I had to let go. I had to accept it and stop fighting. And when I finally started to really live this, that is when God changed my circumstances, that is when he moved me. I have days where I struggle and don’t want to fight for joy, but I don’t stay there anymore. God truly has changed me. Hallelujah!

If you had asked me 5 years ago if this was possible I would have said no. But here’s the crazy thing. If God had answered my prayers the way I wanted back then, to move me, change my circumstances, etc. I would have never become who I am today. I would still be fighting any uncomfortable situation and see things negatively. In His love and mercy, He patiently walked me through this process. I wish I was a faster learner.

If you are struggling to see any light, any change, any hope – please don’t give up. God does want more from you and for you too. Turn your eyes to him. Find something no matter how small to be thankful for – the sun peaking through the clouds, the smell of brewing coffee, a really hot shower, your car that gets you places even if it’s not pretty. These are good gifts. Take notice and give thanks.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows. James 1:17

Paul tells us the secret of contentment in every situation is Christ in him. Phil 4:11-13 It is not easy nor come naturally, but with Christ, we can find contentment. He loves us too much to give us everything we want because he knows exactly what we need.

 

50 Miles?!?! But First…

A year ago I had planned to run the Palo Duro Trail Run 50K Race but my mom had some serious complications from heart surgery. I skipped the race and flew to PA to be with her and my dad. She had a tough road ahead of her but she is much tougher than she thinks. I’d like to think that I get my strength and toughness from her, but we both really know that we are just plain stubborn. One thing about my mom, she is who she is. There is no pretending, no sugar coating, no beating around the bush. I used to be a little embarrassed sometimes, but now I embrace it and am glad when people say I take after her. When you are confident in who you are, your values and world view, you can truly be just you. I love that mom has shown me how to just be me without excuses or apologies. I am not intimidated by people or challenges, I just take a deep breath and press on.

thumbnail

The best thing I got from my mom is her example of her faith in Jesus Christ. She lived out Deuteronomy 6:4-9 for me as a child and continues to do so.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

No parent is perfect, but seeing my parents now, how far they have come, how God has changed them and transformed their marriage is a miracle. All glory to God!

All Glory to God for giving me my parents and family, our struggles, our growth, our character, talents and gifts. Depression and autoimmune diseases do not define me. All of these things are known by God and He is not surprised by anything. I can have confidence in Him!

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6

thumbnail-14

In my last blog post I shared how scared I was and really unsure if I could complete the 50 mile distance in the time allowed. There was a point at mile 42 where I wasn’t sure if I could, but my family came aside me and ran with me for a few of the last miles to keep me moving. My son and my husband were a tremendous help in keeping my mind off how much I hurt. Aaron made me laugh and Derreck told me he loved me but I had to keep moving. I was tired, but I never even thought about quitting.

At the last aid station I had 3.5 miles left to go. The volunteers at all of the aid stations were so encouraging and helpful. The best part of running a local race is knowing so many of the volunteers! They greet you by name and give you a hug and save you potatoes with salt because they know that’s what you like! Thank you to every single person who spent their day in the Canyon to help runners meet their crazy goals. And a huge thank you to my boss who is so inspiring and gave me wonderful yet simple advice, “Just don’t stop.”

Palo Duro Trail Run does not disappoint. It is a challenging, yet runnable course in a beautiful setting. The race directors work tirelessly to ensure a great race for every runner and make each person feel like a winner.

 

Run with Endurance

As of today, I will be attempting to run 50 miles at the Palo Duro Trail Run in 10 days. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind. But I am also excited to test the limits of my endurance. I have been increasing miles and pace over the last 6 years because it’s fun to see what I can do, it makes me happier, it makes me feel better mentally and I simply love running. In 2009 when training for my first 5K in years, I wanted to make 30 minutes. I didn’t, but that is what spurred me on to really run. The following year I knocked over 5 minutes off and ran it in 27 something. My PR is 24 something that I got 2 years ago at a turkey trot! In my first half, I wanted to break 2 hours. I trained on my own and did it! With 30 seconds to spare. In my second one, a year later, I hit 1:52, quite a difference! In my first marathon, I was shooting for 4 hours. Considering I was sick with the flu for 3 weeks prior to my race, and I did make some rookie mistakes (starting too fast, maybe?!?!) I ran it in 4:15. My second one, less than a year later I wanted to qualify for Boston. In 2016, I did, running 3:53 something! When I set my mind to run a certain distance or time, I am pretty determined and have been able to achieve my goals. When wanted to run a 50K, I thought, yes, this is harder and longer, but I can do it. I trained and have since run 3 50K’s. Everything I have challenged myself with so far, though hard and I worked for it, I knew I was capable. So here I am, 10 days out from 50 miles and this is the first time in my running that I am unsure of the outcome. I truly do not know if I can complete this distance a) at all, and b) in the 12 hours and 30 minutes allowed time. On paper I can. But this is so much further than anything I have attempted to run, so far away from any previous time on my feet that I really don’t know.

My Bible study this week has been on suffering. How appropriate, as ultra runs are often fondly called “sufferfests” among other things. The Bible has a lot to say on suffering. Most often, God does not take suffering away, but promises to be with us in it. I will definitely be holding onto this thought as I know I will be suffering. Why willingly put myself through the physical pain of running? Training and running long distances correlates to my walk of faith. …Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. I pray I will see God beside me when I am weary. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. Vaneetha Rendall Risner said in a Desiring God article “Suffering has a unique way of putting me in God’s presence, beholding his glory, because I am constantly crying out to him.”

I know non-runners do not understand this and question me. I also don’t understand at times either. But I do know that running connects me with God. There is something about the rhythmic movement of running, of feeling the breath in my lungs, and being outside that puts me in God’s presence like nothing else does. It might be its simplicity, or that there aren’t other distractions.

I am imagining myself at the start line. It’s dark, there is a buzz in the cold air. I see my breath. Headlamps are shining, people are laughing nervously. I smell someone’s coffee. I smile, praise God that I am here, wait for the bagpipes to play. It’s time! I take off, at a slow jog, it is a 50 mile race after all. I see the trail of headlamps ahead of me, adjust my pack and settle into my pace. I see myself as the sun starts to peak over the canyon walls and smile, that’s God winking at me. I run on and eat a little fruit at an aid station and take my gel, Untapped Coffee Maple Syrup and am thankful such a thing exists. Before I know it, I have completed loop 1, 20 miles. I see my husband and he refills my pack and takes care of anything I might need. He sends me off with a kiss and…

Tune in to the race recap in a couple of weeks!

thumbnail-1