RUNNING on borrowed time….

James 4:14 "…whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

Well, we shall see…

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When you lose everything…

A month ago, my life abruptly changed forever. Feeling utterly helpless and incredulous…we watched as our home of fourteen years was engulfed in flames and completely destroyed.

It began as a normal summer day… I cleaned house and did laundry in the morning, as we waited for the cable/internet guy to arrive and leave. (I’m a wee bit bitter now about that time wasted cleaning…) He left, and my 13 year old son and I spent the afternoon in the pool. I had just gotten out of the shower, with hair in a towel, barely and inadequately clothed, when my husband rushed in and shouted for the fire extinguisher. His car was on fire in the garage! Smoke began billowing, and the alarms went crazy, so I grabbed my son, and we ran outside to call 911 on his phone. I took NOTHING else. My son and I weren’t even wearing shoes! I just couldn’t fathom that my house would burn down… but it did. The entire roof was totally aflame before help arrived. It happened so incredibly quickly! The smoke was horrific, and we couldn’t re-enter to collect “things.” However, only one of our dogs ran out with us! My husband went back in for our other 13 year old darling one, who was deaf and had hidden… but couldn’t get him. Firefighters later brought him out, but he didn’t make it through the night.

Crystal had brought shorts for me, and I left with her, cradling my suffering pup, while teams of amazing and brave firefighters battled in the intense heat to squelch the flames. She, her husband Tony, and their kids, ministered to us tenderly and well.

I had to call my older children, hundreds of miles from me right then, and inform them… over the phone, in the midst of my broken confusion, that their home was gone… because social media can be evil, and people were photographing, videoing, and posting as my castle of memories melted into an ashy heap… because in the name of “news” our home was burning practically live on Facebook… I had to WAKE my Marine son overseas- to tell him not only that was I not coming to visit, as we had hoped, but that his “permanent mailing address” was in cinders…

Our house and both cars, with contents, were gone… just gone, in a couple of fiercely awful hours.

…and then…

Crystal and I returned to the scene. Our guys were already there with friends. It was dark… and the smoke hadn’t cleared…and the ashes weren’t cooled… and the site wasn’t safe… but, my beautiful friends were like ants on a hill, busily rescuing my photos and whatever treasures they could possibly unearth! We linked hands and prayed on that spot of horror, lifting our voices in PRAISE to a BIG, GOOD GOD. They then worked into the wee hours in classrooms, separating scrapbook pages and hanging photos and love notes to dry! They returned later to pack and store those priceless scraps until I have another home for them… I did not have the presence of mind, energy, strength, or will to do any of that then, and later would’ve been too late. How do you thank someone for such a precious service? There aren’t words…

A hotel room was booked and paid for to lodge us as we stumbled mourning through the next steps…

Tina brought her car to us to use until insurance provided a rental…

Clothes and food and gift cards were delivered…

Presents and prayers and texts and calls and messages flooded over us…

Family showed up to love on us and support us in every way possible…

An amiga, who has also sufferd through a fire, GAVE us a van! She, and another cherished housefire survivor, provided valuable wisdom and sweet empathy…

My endlessly generous friends brought peanut M&M’s, Diet Coke, LOTS of brownies, wheat & egg-free groceries, running gear, granny gowns (my fave), and pieces of luggage/totes… so we wouldn’t leave the hotel with our donated possessions in Walmart bags!

A local landscaping company refused to allow us to pay for the rose bush we chose to mark our Oscar’s grave…

A dear comadre opened her furnished home on the mountain, my favorite little mountain, as a healing place to pause…

Colleagues donated clothes, money, and more gift cards….

Monica helped us dig through the nasty rubbish of our life, unearthing treasures… and adding a necessary note of humor!

(So, guess what DIDN’T burn!?)

My husband and sons were doted on and provided for…

A fellow Marine mom sought and found replacement memorabilia from my Marine’s USMC boot camp graduation!

Another friend salvaged my wedding album and some of the scattered, charred pages from my cherished Bible for a new scrapbook…

Yet another friend bought a brand new Bible for me, and is still seeking one like I had…

Runner girlfriends picked up tubs (donated by band moms) of charred, smelly, disgusting scavenged items, and returned tubs of clean, restored surprise souvenirs of our former life…

Our insurance company (Farm Bureau) provided us with the best possible outcome from our agony…

Our neighbors offered us shelter and donations that night, and then diligently guarded our hideous heap of rubble throughout these weeks…

Our brothers and sisters sent messages, gifts and love…

We received meals and visits and prayers… One blessing after another… on and on…

From the seemingly tiny acts and gifts, to the huge ones, we were completely overwhelmed by the outpouring. I was sick with grief, but not dead to the delight of how greatly God has loved us through His people! We are abundantly, undeservedly well loved!

Although furious about the insensitive “coverage” at the time of my tragedy, I was grateful to read the article about it a few days later. There were details I didn’t even know. I had no idea that the fire reignited during the night! I am thankful to know which, and how many, departments full of fire personnel responded, and valiantly worked the scene each time.

I am so grateful for ALL those who have assisted us and encouraged us through this chapter in our story of God’s limitless power to redeem and restore.

*photo cred: river valley now

Noah loved God, and God loved him… but He still sent the flood. He gave Noah protection through it. And it must have been miserably hard. But, God loved him through it. I’m no Noah, but I love God, and He loves me. He still allowed the fire. But, I don’t have to live in the ashes! Because God is so FAITHFUL.

Just over four weeks post fire, we made an offer on a very small house. It was accepted! When we close, we will OWN it! No mortgage! (ROMANS 8:28!)

Crystal sent photos of my journal pages from earlier this year. The journal was destroyed in the fire, but we are accountable to one another, and often send pics from our journeys. She still had these! This is ALL GOD!

…and so I have been magnificently PRUNED!

This pruning has been excruciating, and I would NOT have chosen this method… but I have not for one second of the process doubted GOD’S GREAT BIG LOVE.

He is SO FAITHFUL, and the devil does NOT win.

What happens when you lose everything?

You find out that you have nothing to lose!

…even with a pile of ashes as my address, I was never HOMEless!

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Chicken Fried 10K Recap

Saturday, August 11, desperately clinging to hope that I could regain my training for the Marine Corps Marathon, I incorporated the Chicken Fried 10K into a long run. This 10K takes place in Dardanelle, Arkansas and finishes UP the side of Mt. Nebo.

I invited Tina to join me, and she did! Thankfully!

I left the lovely mountaintop rental at dark a.m. Saturday morning, after another relatively sleepless night,  and trotted down Mt. Nebo… in the dark. It was dark… with scurrying animal sounds. As I ran down, in the dark, a 10K volunteer numbering the switchbacks caught up to me in his truck. (Did I mention it was dark?) As he paused in each “meet yo’self” curve, I would run past, and thus he would light the way for a bit. It was helpful…

From the base of Nebo, in the dawn of a gorgeous day, I ran on toward Dardanelle to meet Tina for the return trip. The scenery was marvelous, sun rising and all things green and growing. I had to walk up a few hills. It was humid. My temperature was high, and my heart rate was rapid… still feeling the effects of our recent “tragedy” on my body. But, I ran on…. and on.

As I reached the race starting line, I saw many local runners revving their engines, prepared for another Arkansas adventure on their own paws. Marvelous! Tina met me there. I registered at the cheerful volunteer table… (One of my faves was working it!)

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…and then allowed Tina to take good care of me, as usual. I’ve been abundantly blessed with great friends.

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There is an actual cannon to start the CHICKEN FRIED 10K FESTIVITIES! We watched them prep it and practice… and I still jumped a foot when it shot off to initiate the race!

The first 3.5 miles are rolling hills from Dardanelle back to the base of Nebo. It was a nice visit with my amiga as we glided along, ticking off the miles. The hydration stops were plentiful. Plus there was a cute hydration duo monitoring the course, who provided icy cold water bottles along the way.

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We reached my favorite little mountain and began the climb. It felt so good. It was brutally hard… but, I just love it so much. I needed it. I craved that catharsis of sweat and effort and words with my friend… Praise the Lord for Mt Nebo. I praise Him.

We eventually reached the point of counting down the switchbacks… I guess the lower sharp curves don’t count. At nine we numbered them backwards toward victory.

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It was a grind. I’m so thankful that Tina was there to pull me up the final stretch. Trees and earth and green and gold and all the colors… birds and creatures, and a conquerable challenge! It was awesome!

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Apparently there is fried chicken at the top! We didnt’ hang around for the festivities. Tina and I both had a bunch of busy ahead of us, so we celebrated briefly and wandered on… But, what a magnificent way to start the day!

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Cute medals and shirts for everyone! AND the mountaintop was crusted with fun stuff that day… wish I could’ve stayed up there for it. NEXT YEAR!

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Hot Trot 5k for ARC Recap

Hot Trot Mug

I just reeeeally don’t love a 5k…. especially a HOT, humid 5K. However, this race was for a great cause with a super cute tank top option! PLUS, I needed a race mid vacation to ensure that I actually RUN a minute or two during this break from real life.
We drove to Ft Morgan, Alabama on June 9th. My husband had a two week vacation, and since we couldn’t afford to take the family to Okinawa to see our oldest son, the Marine, we decided to do something crazy and book TWO WEEKS AT THE BEACH!

The LuLu’s Hot Trot for ARC 5K Run/Walk is a fundraising event conducted by the Robertsdale Rotary Club. The race venue is LuLu’s in Gulf Shores. Jimmy Buffet’s sister is responsible for the crazy fun available there! I woke up and drove to Gulf Shores on Saturday, June 16th in plenty of time to pick up my packet, drop it off in my car, and take advantage of the pleasant restaurant rest room, with no lines! There were a couple hundred walkers and runners, and plenty of volunteers.

It was already HOT before we began to run. HUMID…. Alabama coast humid… People who live and run there regularly have my utmost respect!

I was trying to decide where to line up in the crowd, when a lady asked if I was ready to run. She was also from Arkansas! We chatted, took a quick photo, and then it was time to start moving!

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Did I mention that it was HOT? It was HOT.

The course was a flat out and back. It would have been PR worthy, if the beautiful sun weren’t so brutal. I made it my goal to finish without walking, regardless of pace. I had run twice near our rental in the week before, so I knew my body wasn’t going to speed through the soggy air. But, I did not want to give in and walk in the first 5K I’d run in so long…

I found a pacer for the first half, but passed her as the sun beat down and we all dripped along. I ran next to a friendly talkative guy for a few minutes, but left him too… found a new pacer, and she passed a ponytailed lady, who I recognized as my new Arkansan friend by her water bottle. It was Sandra! She walked a couple of times in the last half mile, but her running pace was still so fast that I didn’t catch her on my muggy slog to the finish line.

I crossed the finish line, without walking, thereby meeting my goal. I grabbed an icy washcloth and a cold bottle of water. The gnats were RIDICULOUSLY annoying. I walked around to cool off. Sandra met me and we visited while waiting for the results to be posted. If she hadn’t been there, I would’ve left. I didn’t expect an award. There was a serious delay in awarding prizes. However, they provided drinks and fruit, and red beans and rice. Lulu’s was very generous to host the race and post race party. We sat in the restaurant, with ceiling fans whirling, and beat gnats from our sweaty, smelly bodies… as we impatiently waited. When the preliminary results were posted, we learned that we had both placed (although the prelim paces were off in our favor). I was thankful Sandra had encouraged me to wait for the results! There was no chip timing, but based upon my Garmin, the updated final results posted online were remarkably accurate.

As waiters began readying the restaurant for lunch, the awards were finally distributed. I won a first place age group award, which was a delightful mug. Sandra also placed first in her age group! We took a couple more photos and were on the road at 10:00…

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…and then I was on the beach by noon!

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It was a lovely, lovely day! 5K victory, a new runner friend, and beach recovery with the family = AH-AMAZING!

While in the area, we visited the Pensacola Lighthouse and the Ft Morgan Historic Site. We lived deeply for those two weeks, sleeping in a rustic beach house with our dogs. It was a glorious vacation filled with salty waves, sandy walks, sunsets, and good books on the beach! I am undeniably, overwhelmingly blessed, and I am thankful to my very depths for this precious pause.

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Buffalo River Biathlon

Capture

The BIATHLON was a 6.8 mile trail run on the Buffalo River Trail from Dillard’s Ferry to Spring Creek, followed by a 4.6 mile kayak race from Spring Creek back to Dillard’s Ferry. It took place on Sunday, April 29, 2018. My curly-headed middle son and I registered for the biathlon relay. He is not supposed to run over a couple of miles in order to preserve his hip for as long as possible… but he is a prize-winning rower! He and his teammates have won multiple canoe races. Although I handicapped him as an older runner, and he would have to solo pilot a kayak instead of a canoe, we thought we would make a pretty awesome team. We did!

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We arrived at Dillard’s Ferry in plenty of time. I lined up to run the trail portion of the biathlon, and he prepared to board the big green bus to the relay exchange to wait on me to make it there on foot over the mountains and through the woods.

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Forecast of the day…

I started at a healthy pace. We ran downhill briefly and then started a steep climb… for nearly a mile.

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We got to run downhill after we hit the summit of that first climb, but the trail was technical and the single track prevented passing very easily. The race became a leapfrog event as we walked and jogged steeply downhill for a mile. At some point along the route, I almost ran off a cliff where the trail seemed to keep going straight, but actually turned left. THANKFULLY, I caught myself just in time. I heard that others did the same. Otherwise, the trail was very easy to follow and clearly marked for the whole journey. We began to climb again for mile three, followed by another brief, steep descent as I begged a man to allow me to pass on the technical one–runner-wide track. After many minutes, and three polite requests, I made a final demand to pass, as I practically strode on his heels, and he finally gave me clearance! This was the only episode of poor sportsmanship I encountered. Generally, the runners, including myself, stepped aside cheerfully for those who needed to pass. Everyone was cheerful and encouraging, and working hard. From mile 3.5 to 4.5 runners were walking, bent at the waist, working up the steepest ascent…. My mind settled on the analogy in the book I am currently re-reading, Hinds’ Feet on High Places… The climb was a real battle… hard… hot… relentless… and it was making me stronger while wearing me down… building me up, and teaching me endurance through the strain and struggle… Life is like that.

Finally, exhausted from the prolonged heart-straining ascent, we reached the crown and relished running down the sixth mile to the road. My heart was singing the water’s song from Hinds’ Feet on High Places as I crossed a little creek and enjoyed the tinkling of a lovely brook…

Come, oh come! let us away–
Lower, lower every day,
Oh, what joy it is to race
Down to find the lowest place.
This the dearest law we know–
“It is happy to go low.”
Sweetest urge and sweetest will,
“Let us go down lower still.”
Hear the summons night and day
Calling us to come away.
From the heights we leap and flow
To the valleys down below.
Always answering to the call,
To the lowest place of all.
Sweetest urge and sweetest pain,
To go low and rise again.

The woods were splendidly beautiful.

Back uphill briefly, and then finally I reached the road. We ran that gravel lane downhill for less than a mile… and I saw my son waiting. He gave me a hug, took the timing chip, and was off to lug his kayak down to the river. My sweet son is a considerate soul, and he did not rush or skip around others getting into the water, but when he got in, he took off at a furious rate! He did an EXCELLENT job!

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I then waited… and waited… and waited for the shuttle to return us to the start/finish. We, all of the runners in the relay, missed everything… standing around and waiting. The road was closed to the relay point, so we had to simply wait for the shuttle. So, we waited… and waited… and waited. An hour after finishing the trail, we loaded the van… and waited…

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Long after my son had finished, we were finally delivered to the finish line. My son and I came in 6th place in the relay… mostly because the uphill, single-track trail run beat me up! It was so much tougher than I had expected! I collected my medal, and we left to go play in the river and sunshine with my youngest son. It was a happy, glorious, sunshiny day in the great outdoors!

Biathlon relay

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“The High Places,” answered the Shepherd, “are the starting places for the journey down to the lowest place in the world. When you have hinds’ feet and can go ‘leaping on the mountains and skipping on the hills,’ you will be able, as I am, to run down from the heights in the gladdest self-giving and then go up to the mountains again. You will be able to mount to the High Places swifter than eagles, for it is only up on the High Places of Love that anyone can receive the power to pour themselves down in an utter abandonment of self-giving.”
― Hannah Hurnard, Hinds’ Feet on High Places

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Yale to Oark 10K Recap

God bless America

Saturday we revisited one of our favorite races, the Yale to Oark 10K! It is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL run!

There were 76 signed up, but numbers dropped to 63 actual participants. The race director, Tina South, commented, “I think the weather had a bit to do with that.  We also had some things going on in our community that affected some of the locals.  We will be sure to plan around the Hogeye Race next year and are shooting for 100!”  There were some serious scary storms across the state the night before the race… and the temps dropped drastically as a result. I showed up in my running skirt, but changed into my capris before the bus ride to the starting line.

When those of us from “the woods” drive our roads, we do so with muscle memory and “the force”… We know where to be the most cautious, and where to just run the machine. That said, we survived the bus ride to the start line… with white knuckled confidence in the driver. It was a lovely trip out on the course. I tried to note landmarks that would help break up my return journey on foot.  The world was so MAGNIFICENT.

We spilled off the bus onto the highway and gathered behind the start line. Those of us behind the front row of runners couldn’t hear any instructions, but we ran when everyone else ran. The course started off downhill, and I may have shot off a bit passionately. The prior Sunday I ran 14 miles, for which I was under prepared… so there was lingering muscle fatigue… and EVERYTHING in Arkansas had turned a fantastic shade of green, including my lungs. I gobbled Zyrtec and benadryl all week, but these conditions affected my body on the trek to the finish line.

Miles one and two were good, but I felt the struggle coming… I prayed for my precious friends in their various marathons and on the course with me… and then after mile three, scuffling up a long hill, I finally prayed for myself. I praised the LORD that we were there and physically able to stomp down six miles of pavement, but I asked for strength and endurance and help…

yale to oark elevation

I had heavy legs and burdened lungs… so I walked in mile 4. I was surrounded by flamboyantly lovely scenery. God’s fingerprints are ALL OVER that course! I breathed deeply and LOVED it. AND then, God answered my selfish prayer in the form of a sweaty, bossy woman. She ran up from behind and told me to get myself in gear and keep running! She informed me that I was her pacer, and I needed to GO. Wow! No one has ever said that to me. I have delivered that very same message to others… but, that’s the first time I’ve been admonished with it. It was PERFECT. I picked up my heavy feet and ran on… and on… and on. It was hard. It was so hard. But, it was stunning. We journeyed alongside a rushing river, baby waterfalls, rugged cliff faces, rolling green vistas, happy cows, flowers, trees, and SUNSHINE.

Miles passed beneath tree canopies and open sky, and finally we turned into the final stint to the school. I stopped just over the finish line and high fived my cheerleader as she stormed in almost on my heels. She did a fantastic job, and I’m so thankful she was there!

I ran this race a couple of years ago… after my son was seriously injured and I broke my collarbone. It was a “return to running” race. I was intensely grateful simply to be able to run and finish that year. This year, I wanted to finish in under one hour… and I DID!

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After sucking down a bunch of water, I returned to the course to meet my amigas. I cheered Helen as she steamed into the final stretch, and then Tina as she powered up a hill with a grin. I found Brittany, conquering this delightful 10K with little preparation… because, why not? She had made a new friend, and they were working together to knock off the miles.

Everyone in our vehicle placed in her age group! Bonus! We won unique, handmade, enchanting little wooden medallions.

bunch of winners

group of winners

We headed directly over to the Oark General Store/Oark Cafe for the world’s greatest cheeseburgers. Seriously. The very best. Ever. AND they have yummy pie!

cafe collage

Completely, utterly, fully stuffed, we rambled over to the Wolf Pen to check out a little more of the Natural State…

 

…and then meandered down the scenic pigtrail, stopping at Turner Bend for trail mix (not me!) before returning home.

It was a fun, challenging, rewarding morning. The race was well organized and cheerfully supported. The shirts were soft, attractive and comfortable. The course was indescribably lovely, and on good pavement. The funds support Oark students in various pursuits, which speaks to this teacher’s heart. I definitely look forward to running this race again and again!

“God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice
And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I”
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I said NEVER AGAIN, but…

Here I go again! #runwithpurpose

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Run the Line Half Marathon Recap

On my 23rd wedding anniversary, Sunday, February 18, I ran the line in Texarkana between Arkansas and Texas with some lovely friends and strangers! Terri, Tina, Helen, Desirae and I gathered for our journey on Saturday. Terri drove, and the first stop was, of course, for TACOS!

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We ate at the Tacos 4 Life in Benton, Arkansas. Not only were we treated with GREAT service, the food was. so. yummy.

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Packet pickup was located at the Raquet and Jog sporting goods store in Texarkana, Texas. It was quick, easy, and well organized. Sales associates were very welcoming and helpful. Tina ordered new shoes while there, and Raquet and Jog will work with her all the way back here at home if the shoes don’t meet her needs. That’s excellent!
We checked into our hotel, which was packed to the seams with runners. We had booked with the race discount at the Hampton Inn, and we were not disappointed. The hotel provided a late check out of 1:00 p.m., and the ladies working the desk were friendly, funny, and helpful. Our rooms were just as promised, and very comfortable.
After unpacking the car, we headed out to drive as much of the route as possible to investigate the mixed reviews we had heard of hills… Hills really don’t seem tough when you are touring them from the comfort of a 4 wheel drive vehicle. We run hills at home on almost every route, hills that easily rival the Texarkana race route hills… but we don’t generally race pace them for 13.1 miles… It was going to be challenging, but we agreed that there was a very pleasant amount of DOWNHILL!
After a nice dinner at LongHorn Steakhouse, we turned in for a decent bedtime.
Race morning we parked next to the finish line. There were no problems finding a space. It was an easy, peasy, low-stress experience all morning. We walked to the start line and saw a “Trust Jesus” pole along the way. Had to hug it! “Trust” was my 2016 word, and that lesson took, my friends! …and I’ll just keep on trusting HIM all the way HOME.

trust Jesus

Tina and I ran into the Ice House building to potty just before the start. NO LINES! I headed to my “corral” and located Terri. We huddled for prayer, and she spoke sweet, positive, encouraging words over me. God has blessed me indeed with these runner girl amigas. I love them intensely.

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As the gun sounded, runners crossed the mat in waves. We sped off behind a pacer garbed in lots of facial hair and a tuxedo. Yes, a tuxedo. I passed him after a minute or so, and my strategy was to stay IN FRONT of him for as long as absolutely possible.

We were well bundled against the damp chill when we began… but I shed my jacket and tied it around me before a mile had ended. I handed it to a volunteer as we turned into the first trail of the race route. It was a “disposable” jacket, but I was very happy to find it in the collection box at the end of the race when I had cooled back down. I love a race with a first mile clothing drop!

Run… run… run…

The first trail was quite nice. We had been concerned about crowding on the Nix Creek Trail, but we had plenty of room. There were a few wet, slimy spots along the way, but it was generally clean and pleasant running. I adored running through the blow-up Razorback tunnel near the Texarkana, Arkansas high school! We were on the trail for about 2.5 miles before we exited to the streets. At mile four we turned, and the real hills began. There was one little hill after another, with a couple of personally challenging ones. (Hello, Miles 5 and 10!)

run the line elevation with mileage

Elevation over Distance

Miles 5-7 were highway miles. Each completed mile was creatively and clearly identified with metal markers in the shape of the state we were currently running! There were plenty of volunteers and law enforcement personnel to keep us safe and on track. In the end of mile seven, we ran like true superstar athletes through another blow-up mascot tunnel and enjoyed miles 8 and 9 in Spring Lake Park, which seemed like a fantastic place for families to gather and play. There were portions of the trail where I could see other runners far ahead or behind on the route. When I looked back, I could see a decent distance between myself and the 2:00 tux. I praised the Lord, and kept working. Exiting the park, my left shoe and sock got soaked. Mile ten involved numerous little twists and turns in quiet damp neighborhoods. It just wore. me. out. My feet got truly wet. In the course of the race I shed ALL the sheddable clothes… even my hat! I never do that! There was no sunshine, and there were delightful cool breezes exactly when necessary. So, it was basically perfect running weather to labor hard and push toward a tough goal!

run the line last few miles 2018

Mile 10.5 – 11 punched me in the face… the tuxedo-ed pacer suddenly approached, and I begged him, “please don’t pass me in the last 3 miles.” (I couldn’t even do math!) He did. He passed me… without a single word of encouragement. Lord, bless him. However, his ONE running partner (Wow, the 2:00 crowd dwindled drastically in the last few miles!) was very nice and encouraged me. He told me I was in good shape, running a great pace, and that there was downhill ahead… which was a bit true… after every uphill there WAS sweet downhill! AND the final sprint to the finish line would be downhill! I struggled to KEEP THEM IN SIGHT! But, they lost me completely in the last mile. Relay runners were dashing past like it was easy! I liked it! (OH, yes, I checked ALL the fly-bys for ankle straps!)
I finished with a few tears of frustration (and pain), knowing that I had JUST MISSED my goal. But, then I got happy… I haven’t been that close to 2:00 in years! My chip time was 2:00:37, and that was good enough for the top ten in my age group! I walked all the water stations, because I can not drink and run… I struggled in the last two miles… I EARNED that 2:00:37, so I’m not going to cry over the 37 seconds! It was a great race, and I am extremely grateful to have been able to run it!
Terri finished soon after me, and earned fourth in her age group! Desirae RAN the entire race, which was her heart goal! Tina and Helen finished together with smiles! We all really enjoyed the course, the support stations, the fellowship with one another, and the victory of doing once again what we were once unable to do! We celebrated not quitting when we reeeeally wanted to just. stop. running. We won!

run the line 2018 garmin stats

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Photos on the line!

we run the line

This was Desirae’s first runner girl trip, and we broke her in well.

Thanks to the late check out, we were able to shower before eating at the Olive Garden (BEST lemon cake in the world!), and making our long, sore trek home. Another pavement adventure in the books!run the line half 2018

Happy anniversary to my donut-eating Champ (legit award he won twice!), who always lets me be me. Because you’re mine… I ran the line!

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(photo from 2014)

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Bench Trail 4-miler 2017

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Monica, Tina, Crystal and I ran the Bench Trail 4-miler on December 16th, 2017. I love this race because it happens on my favorite little mountain! This was not Crystal’s birthday, but it was her “birthday race,” and I was coming off of the St. Jude Half marathon. We leapt into pace together and did quite well encouraging one another. We finished together and each won first place in our age divisions! Monica won first female overall! Tina also placed! It was a great morning on the mountain. Crystal and I had to take off right after the race due to prior commitments, so Tina collected our prizes. We each won a commemorative tumbler. Results here. The trail was delicious. Organization was wonderful. All runners received adorable wooden ornaments and fantastic long-sleeve tech tees. So, the swag is great for a tiny trail race, but the jaunt through the woods is the greatest!

…and that was the LAST RACE of 2017! What a fantabulous way to run out of one year and into another!

I ended this year with just over 1,000 miles. I’m quite excited about that. It was a FULL and RUNderful year!

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St Jude Memphis Half Marathon 2017

 

the medal

This race is SO MUCH FUN! I love it! Awesome cause, organization, support, and shirts!

Tina, Ashley and I took off at lunchtime to head to Memphis for the expo. First stop = TACOS 4 LIFE in Conway! Tacos are my love language! YUM!

tacos4life

We three rolled through Arkansas into Memphis and parked in Mud Island to visit the expo. Bib and shirt pickup was pretty painless. The line for dropping off donations and picking up singlets was the longest wait of the night for us. It was definitely worth it however! Several of my lovely friends had responded to an email I sent out in a marvelous way. They donated to St. Jude in appreciation of the fact that NO FAMILY RECEIVES A BILL! That is more wonderful than anyone who has never had a pile of medical bills and a sick, hurting child can ever truly comprehend. It’s amazing! Please donate! We walked around all the booths and checked out the blinking, spinning Russvegas medal for 2018. Tina bought new shoes, and then we headed out of the expo. Ashley had signed up as a water stop volunteer, so we found her details, and had a photo op with a random Elvis, because… well, MEMPHIS!

with Elvis

We traveled to Tina and Ashley’s hotel and then to meet Terri at the Cracker Barrel. This is my favorite pre-race meal venue. I order a LOT of potatoes (hashbrown casserole and mashed) and roast beef. Everyone was well stuffed when we left.

Terri and I returned to the expo to pick up her bib and shirt. I tried to pick up a shirt for our friend who couldn’t make it to the race due to illness. This is my only criticism for the St. Jude Memphis marathon. The policy of tying bibs to shirts makes it impossible to get someone else’s shirt on his or her behalf. I did not want to pick up her bib, but she paid the entry fee and should have been entitled to receive the shirt. However, since she was unable to be there in person to pick up the bib, she forfeited the shirt. There should be a method of shirt pickup for those who opt not to run. However, that is my ONLY complaint. I love this race.

Terrie and Leslie at the expo

Terri and I had a room at the Peabody. She had reserved a room with two beds, but the hotel staff had given away all of the rooms with two beds when we arrived. They did not give us a discount or any concession other than an offer for champagne and strawberries… which we did NOT need or want. As much as we love one another, we didn’t want to share a bed OR champagne and strawberries before running a half marathon! (or ever, really…) However, we made the best of it. We strew our belongings around our little room and its tiniest-ever-first-world bathroom, then set out to explore our historic lodging! We adored the ornate, elegant fixtures and details in all of the public areas of the hotel. The nostalgic touches scattered around, and the gigantic gingerbread house, and the massive Christmas trees made me feel like I’d walked through the wardrobe and gone back in time to another place… but the very modern fiesta thumping and bumping on the mezzanine kept me rooted. Terri may have  turned (DID) a few cartwheels in the course of our adventures down corridors and into interesting nooks…

Gingerbread house

We finally went to bed (together) and snoozed pretty well until way too soon to arise… but too late to regain deep sleep. So, we got up unnecessarily early, since we were lodged basically next to our corral, and prepared for our journey. Tina arrived, and we hung out until about 30 minutes before the race began. The hotel was crawling with people. We prayed, exited, and easily found our way into our crowded corrals. Yay!

We were IN the corral this year, not stuck on the sidewalk pushing in as the race began… there were athletes of every size, shape and age as far as the eyes could see in every direction! I got a last minute hug from Monica‘s sister as she passed through our corral on the way to hers. What a blessed meeting in that throng of strangers!

Terri and I had an unspoken plan to stick together. We pace well together and enjoy running together in a companionable silence.  After the race began, we had to occasionally hit the sidewalks to maintain our pace in the congested mass of runners. It was going well, but I had to stop at a mile and a half to use the porta potty. Sigh.

So, I waved Terri on…

As I exited, I reminded myself that I had promised within my heart to run this race with joy. I’m not going to WIN a half or full marathon at that level! Running those distances for this aging MoM is simply a triumph! I want to have fun! I want it to be a fiesta on my feet! I know how much pleasure and pride I stole from myself by setting a time goal for the Marine Corps Marathon, when originally I had just wanted to run it as a celebration! I didn’t want to repeat that mistake. So, I resolved at that moment to simply run the course and rejoice in the fact that I was there and able to do so. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! It was WORK, but it was good, hard work. I did my best, and it was enough. The crowds, and the costumes, and the music, and the palpable enthusiasm were infectious and joyous and WONDERFUL! It felt like Christmas to me on the Memphis pavement Saturday!

Miles flew by…

Running st jude

My heart soared and pounded as I entered the hospital campus… I took advantage of all free hugs and high fives. It was truly a celebration of HOPE and an atmosphere of VICTORY. The faces lining that path were precious and full of EXPECTATION…

I LOVE THIS RACE.

A couple of miles out of the campus my left knee began to really bother me. When I walked for water, it was agony to start running again… but, I did. I decided at mile eight that I would make no more water stops… If I just kept going the knee ached harshly, but didn’t threaten to lock up. I was pretty sure it was my IT band.

I saw Terri running in front of me! It was about mile 10? We were approaching another hill in the near distance when I caught her. We ran together again for a bit, then she stopped for water, and I kept going to maintain my rhythm and not test the knee further… This is the third time I’ve run this race, and the first time I decided that it is HILLY. There are so many hills. The road itself is slanted for all the miles… In my mind, I’d never acknowledged that… I’m distracted by the people and the signs, etc. Now I will remember that tidbit! Hills! Slanted, rough pavement! Excitement and struggle, and sweat, and striving, and celebration everywhere!

The final mile is DOWNHILL! It’s a fabulous finish! You pound down hill into the Autozone Park to receive a lovely, well-earned, heavy medal… and you can choose to exit to the food, or lay around on the grass of the ball-field in the sunshine. This year’s method of funneling the runners out of the ball-field and up the steps was less well orchestrated than in years past. Sweaty, sore runners were at a packed standstill for long  minutes, and then crawled up the steps en masse. It still went relatively well considering the sheer number of bodies exiting at the same time. AND, there were COKE PRODUCTS at one of the food tables! I was ecstatic! I’d much rather have a post-race soda than a beer (gross)!

I quickly and easily retrieved a sticker with my results while exiting the Autozone Park stadium. Outside the gates, I was just steps away from our hotel. We all made it there in time to watch the famous Peabody ducks march! It was a fantastic culmination to the celebration!

st jude 2017

A bunch of aspirin, a good lunch, and a long companionable trip down the interstate later,  I made it home in time to decorate the live tree my son and husband had cut down while I was running. It was a magnificent experience, and splendid memories in the vault!

Merry Christmas!

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”    Luke 2:13-14

 

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