Monday, December 17, 2012

I Ran My First 10K!

Here's Calvary Chapel's Running Team before the race:

We all gathered at the start line, 5Kers and 10Kers in a combined start.  I was excited when they asked the 10Kers to move to the left (the faster lane!) before the race began. And we're off! I had adrenaline helping me get up the hill and for the first 1 or 2 tenths of a mile. Then my body protested. It usually does, especially at the beginning of an actual race when my pace is determined by adrenaline and the people around me. At first it's really slow, almost a walk, then I match the people running nearby. That never lasts more than a minute, though! I soon settled into my normal pace. People began passing me, but that was okay. I wasn't trying to win. We rounded a corner and neared the bridge. The Bridge. The Huge Bridge. The huge bridge that I've run a dozen times. Before the race there was heavy fog, so much that we couldn't see the bridge from the park and it's very close. As I crested the bridge I looked out to see the water but I couldn't see it because the fog was so thick.

This isn't an actual picture of it since I didn't have my camera with me and wouldn't have stopped during an actual race to take a picture anyway. It was this thick, though.

I was a little sad about not being able to see God's creation of sky and water. He then reminded me that fog is His creation too. Oh yeah. It is! He was closer to me, enveloping me, than if I had been able to see and marvel at His other creations like I was expecting to. He reminded me that pilots learn to fly by sight and then by what their instruments tell them even when they can’t see the sky/horizon/earth. I was running by faith, not able to see much of what was around me but knowing it was still there.

Downhill was not as fun with hundreds of people around. I couldn't open up as much as I would've liked. We approached the 5K turnaround. I felt like part of an elite club when I continued on and didn’t turn around. J

I wasn't paying attention to my music as much with so many people around. People were passing me but I didn’t mind (too much). We turned north at the roundabout. The directions and map said that the 10K turnaround was a little past Bay Esplanade so I went about a block past in training. Apparently “a little” to the race organizers is about *4* blocks! That added another minute or two to my total time. Wait. If that added a minute or two to my time and if I finished 42 seconds faster than the one and only time I ran the entire distance in training, then I finished quite a bit faster than expected! I used the calculator on my phone and it said that my pace was 13:22 instead of 13:30 like it had been, but that’s incorrect. Well, not incorrect; actually I interpreted it incorrectly. First, I didn’t take into account what I just told you about the longer distance and shorter time. Second, I forgot to convert seconds (time) to tenths (distance). Or something like that. 82 minutes divided by 6.2 miles equals 13.22, which is 13 minutes and 12 seconds per mile, not 13 minutes and 22 seconds. So I went faster in addition to going longer! I like that!
Somewhere around mile 3-1/2 I felt like I could go on like this forever. That almost always happens but not always in the same place. The first few seconds I run I feel powerful. Then my body realizes what I’m requiring of it and protests. NO!!! STOP NOW!!! When I don’t stop, my body realizes it better kick it into gear. It does, in its 43-year-old obese way. Then I tend to stay in that zone for the majority of the run except for some occasional bursts of speed that last for a few seconds.
At about mile 4-1/2 a lady said she liked the back of my shirt:
Going up the bridge at mile 5 was tough, as it always is. I didn’t slow to a walk, though. It might have looked like I did, but I didn’t. J I went down the spiral thinking that this race was almost over. As I crested the last uphill the woman in front of me turned around and asked if I was Michele Ervin. She is a member of my church’s running team but we had never met. We ran the last 0.3 miles together, which was nice.

As I turned the last corner and began the downhill path to the finish line (I love that they structured the course that way!), I saw my family and friends waiting! That and the downhill slope caused me to run faster!

I even disconnected the cord from my MP3 player, raised both arms into the air, and ran that way for a few yards! Victory! My first 10K completed without injury! I'll do another post when I get some more of the pictures they took. 
I crossed the finish line at 1:21:58 according to my watch. 
The official records say 1:22:10.  I came in 56th out of 61 women in my age group in the 10K.  I didn't finish last!  I came in 613th out of 638 total runners in the 10K. 
People say that we need to get out of the way and let God work, but I think many people don't know how to do that. It can be difficult to understand what our responsibility is and what God's responsibility is and not get the two confused. In running it's a little easier than it may be in other situations. I know I have to dress appropriately, move my feet, pump my arms, make my lungs expand, practice, set goals, push myself, etc. Then when race day comes I have to take my concerns that I'm not fully prepared, set them aside, and let God do what He does best. Show Himself. He didn't show his power in making it so that I won the race or even my age group, and I didn't expect Him to. I won by running faster than this woman

That makes me a winner in my opinion no matter what the official results say.  J 



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Be Still and Know That I Am God

Since Friday’s run when I ran the entire 10K distance, the soles of my feet have been hurting.  I’ve never had this happen before; it just came on all of a sudden.  I’ve been using a wooden roller,


standing on ice packs,

and resting my feet.

I cancelled yesterday’s long run and rested instead.  I was going to run the whole course again.  This means that by the time Saturday comes I will have run the entire thing only once.  That makes me wonder if I’ll be able to do it then.  I know I said there’s no shame in walking part of it, but I really don’t want to. 
I was planning to run just 3.1 like usual with my running partner this morning and Thursday but she texted me last night and said she’s going out of town in the morning and can’t run.  I could run on my own but I took that as a sign from God that I need to rest. 

Psalms 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God. 
For a couple years God has been sending me this verse every once in a while.  Yeah, yeah, God, I’m trying to be still and know that You are God, but it’s really hard for a single, homeschooling, working mom to be still.  I’m TRYYYYYIIIIIING!!! 

This is about Me, not you, Michele.  You stand back, be still, and let Me shine. 
Okay, God.  I know You’ll be using my legs and my lungs on Saturday, but I want people to see You, not me. 

We’ll see if I run 3.1 on Thursday.  If God again tells me to rest - to be still and know that He is God - I will.  Then it’ll really be Him showing Himself when I run the race because I will have run the full distance only once and will not have run for 8 days since then.  I won’t feel prepared.  I’ll wonder if I can do it.  I’ll have to depend on God to see me through and be the strength in my legs.  And that’s what He wants.  I could run the race in my own strength.  Many people will.  But then God wouldn’t get the glory.  And He won’t share His glory with anyone.  If I could say I did this race on my own, my whole purpose for running would be lost.  I’m doing this to show what God can do with an obese, middle-aged woman who lets Him have His way. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Ran The Full 10K Distance!

I was supposed to run for 80 minutes on the 10K course this morning (Friday) and walk the rest, but I didn’t. 

I ran 82 minutes and the entire course!  The 80 minutes came during a song called Yes We Can by Me In Motion.  
How could I stop with a song like that playing?!  I decided to run until that song was over but then I was so close to the finish line I decided to just run the whole way!  One hour 22 minutes and 40 seconds. 
I’m tired now. 

But my God can do big things.  The last day or so I’ve wondered why I signed up for this 10K race and why I didn’t do the 5-mile run on Honeymoon Island next month or the 8K at Gasparilla in February first and work my up to a 10K.  I didn’t think I was ready and that I had taken too big a leap.  I was definitely feeling my humanity and my femininity.  What had I gotten myself into?  God knew, though.  And He knew that He was ready even though I didn’t think I was.  I just needed to get myself out of the way and let Him be the strength in my legs. 
I’m inviting all of you to my race next Saturday, December 15, at 8:00 a.m. at Coachman Park in Clearwater.  It would be so encouraging to have friends and family spaced out along the course in addition to at the start and finish line.  Signs are welcome!  Let me know if you can be there.  Here’s the link:
And here's a map of the course. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Why Am I Running a 10K?

At the end of our run Thursday, I was telling my running partner that my first 10K is in just over two weeks.  She said, “I don’t know why you want to do a 10K.”  That got me trying to remember my reasons for doing this.  I want to increase my distance because endurance is the part of running I do best.  I’m not fast and my form isn’t something people admire.  A famous runner said, “I don’t just go out there and run.  I like to give people watching something exciting.”  That famous runner was not me.  J  But there has to be more to it than that.  I began running to allow God to dream big within me so that He and I could do amazing things, hard things, things that I’d never be able to do on my own.  And boy have we!  I’ve done six official 5Ks and run that distance several times a week for almost 1-1/2 years.  I covered that distance with a combination of walking and running for six months before that.  A few years ago I didn’t even want to walk one mile because it was too hot or I didn’t want to take the time. 
So I want to move on from 5Ks because I endure.  And to show what God can do in a person who lets Him have His way, whatever that way is.  Hence, a 10K (which is 6.2 miles). 

On the course yesterday morning my goal was to run for 65 minutes and then walk the rest of the way.  I realized that the first 3 miles or so are easy.  Well of course they are!  I run that twice a week!  No sweat!  (I mean no problem.  Believe me, there is sweat.  J)    Even running another mile or so isn’t too difficult.  After that I start running out of my own strength and have to rely on God’s.  That’s where it gets interesting.  As I neared the bridge on the return trip, I wondered if my 65 minutes would end while I was on the bridge and I started to think of options.  One was that I could stop then and walk the rest of the way but I wouldn’t get to run downhill.  Another was that I could continue running the uphill to earn the fun downhill, even though that would put me over 65 minutes of running.  I’ve become a person who doesn’t shy away from a hard task, so I decided to keep running until I was done with the downhill.  This thought process took a few minutes and I was at 64:something and part way up before I decided I would keep running.  That trek up the bridge was HARD!  It felt like I was going so slow that I was walking sometimes.  (I wasn’t.)  I even got tears in my eyes.  Were they from the sun I was running directly into, the cold wind I was running directly into, or the figurative brick wall I was running directly into?  Whichever, there they were.  I thought of a verse I wrote on a running shirt, Psalms 34:1 – "My lungs expand with His praise!"  During all this, DC Talk’s ‘Jesus Freak’ kept me going.  So did David Crowder Band’s ‘Foreverandever, etc” because it felt like the uphill climb was taking forever. 
When I meet other runners or bicyclists going in the opposite direction sometimes we smile or say good morning and sometimes we don’t.  About this time a man was coming toward me and I could tell he wanted to say something so I continued to look at him rather than away.  He held up his hand so we could high five!  I’ve never had a stranger do that before!  It gave me the energy to keep running.  I never really noticed the leveling off at the top of the bridge, but I did begin to notice the downhill increase in speed.  I even held my arms out to my sides for a few seconds as if I could fly!  That makes it even more fun!  I ran to the end of the spiral and checked my time. 

71 minutes.  Six minutes longer than I’d planned to run.  I even ran past what was going to be next Monday’s goal – 70 minutes.  (Next Monday’s goal is now 75.) 
So I run to show what God can do when I let Him have His way and to encourage others to let Him have His way in their lives. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Come Run The Hidden Pine Trails Of The Forest

I was on vacation last week for Thanksgiving.  My family has gone camping the week of Thanksgiving since 1962.  Wait a minute.  Whoa.  That’s 50 years.  I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. 

It’s nice to sit in a camp chair and know my hips don’t exceed the sides of it.  J

It also helps that the chair has an hourglass shape built right in. I know, I know – I don’t have an hourglass shape yet, but a girl can dream, right?

Okay, back to my blog.  I wasn’t about to blow off running just because I was on vacation, so Monday morning I laced up my shoes, left camp, and ran for 55 minutes, keeping up my schedule of 5 minutes longer each time two days a week.  I ran 4.4 miles at a pace of 12:36, a minute faster per mile than I‘ve been running!  Woohoo!  Thank You, God, for giving me the ability and the desire to run that far! 

On Wednesday I did an exercise DVD with my cousin.  We exercised our bodies and entertained our teenage daughters.  J  For a  minute we were afraid they were going to put pictures or videos of us on Facebook or YouTube.  (Thank you for not doing that, Brianne and Katie!) 

On Friday it was time to run again and it was time to do 60 minutes.  A whole hour of running.  A milestone.  I also wanted to run on a trail since we were in the woods, so I went to Manatee Springs State Park, very near our camp.  I was armed with my MP3 player for music, my heart rate monitor watch,
and my phone just in case I needed it.  I walked a little bit to the first trailhead to warm up, started the music, and began running.  About 30 seconds into it I realized that instead of listening to music I needed to concentrate on not twisting my ankle and falling, so I stopped and put that away.  I started again and just ran.  The trails weren’t marked for distance so I have no idea how far I went.  I know I ran some trails twice and looking at the map now I think I may have missed some.  Oh well.  The objective was to run for 60 minutes straight and I did that.
I ran under a fallen tree. 

I ran on sand trails/roads.   
Sometimes the trail ended with no warning, but I kept running. Do you see a trail here? 

Me neither, but do you think that kept me from running?  Nope! 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

It's a little bit hard to see, but there's a trail that goes off to the left in that picture.  That's the way I went. 

Trail running is different from road running.  On the trail I can’t get the speed I have on the road, but the dirt/sand is easier on my joints.  In trail running I need to concentrate on not falling so it works my mind and body in a different way than road running.  I really enjoyed going off the trail and want to do more running like that.  I know of two parks where I can – Sawgrass Lake and Weedon Island.  Trails, here I come!
Finally I had been running for one hour straight!  I stopped my watch at exactly one hour! 

I walked to the spring and took my shoes off.  I waded up to my knees in the icy water to help any inflammation the run may have caused.  Up to my knees was all I could stand and even that was hard to get used to.  I don’t like cold water! 

So I hit a milestone a few days ago.  One whole hour of running!  I'm well on my way to running the entire 10K in a couple weeks!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting Closer to the 10K!

The other day I was driving and saw this sign:

No, thank you.  No; not thank you.  Just no.  2X is the size of clothes I used to wear (and sometimes even 3X), so I want no part of food that would very quickly get me back there.  Not that I want fake Taco Smell food anyway. 
I got up at 5:00 this morning to do my long run on the 10K course.  My goal was to run for at least 50 minutes, but I wasn’t able to do this course Monday for 45 minutes like I’d planned so I wondered if 50 minutes would be too much of a stretch for me. 

I had to put some gas in the car so I stopped to do that.  I paid $20 and look how much gas it gave me:
6.2 gallons.  A 10K is 6.2 miles!  Interesting! 
I got out and started my run up a small hill like usual and then it leveled out.  I ran almost 1 mile to the beginning of the big bridge then started to earn my downhill.  I really felt like I was in a groove this morning.  I’m still slow, but I enjoy running.  Especially this morning for some reason.  I came off the fun downhill and the long flat part wasn’t as difficult as it has been before, maybe because the cold temperature made it invigorating.  I hit the shops on Clearwater Beach chugging along and turned around about a block after Bay Esplanade.  I don’t know the exact turnaround point, but the instructions said it was just after that street so I went a block farther.  Later when I clocked it in the car the turnaround point I used was exactly 3.1 miles.  Yay me!  At the turnaround I was only at about 40 minutes so I continued running back the way I’d come.  Then I switched to walking at 50 minutes.  I made the change to more accurately run the course that the actual race will take and go back across the bridge on the opposite side from the one I’d come over on.  I didn’t know how many minutes I would walk, but I knew I would have to start running again no later than the base of the bridge.  I ended up walking for 18 minutes, probably longer than I needed to.  Live and learn and change it next time.  There was a water fountain so I got a drink and then walked a short distance to the base of the bridge.  I started running up it and saw where it looked like the railing leveled off.  Yay!  The top!  Then why does it still feel like I’m going up?  Sigh.  Whatever.  Keep running.  I finally felt the downhill and then I saw what they call the helix but I like the word spiral better.  There is a spiral down ramp on that side of the bridge instead of just a long slope on the side I’ve been running.  Fun!  There were no walkers, other runners, or cyclists so I had it all to myself! 

Round and round she goes!  Where she stops nobody knows!  Oh no; she knows where she’ll stop – the finish line!
Oh.  There’s another hill to run up. 
I finished running the spiral and ran up the hill.  I knew that it would be flat at the top and that I’d make a left turn there, run a few blocks, and then make another left turn and go downhill to the finish line!  Knowing that made it not so bad. 
I made the finish line (Well, Coachman Park.  I don’t know where the exact start and finish line will be.) in 1:23:42.  That’s a 13:30 pace, which is pretty slow, but later I remembered that I walked for 18 minutes, so when I run the whole thing (notice I said when and not if ;-)) my pace will be faster.  I need to work on getting my pace faster regardless, though. 

I’m going out of town for Thanksgiving but still plan to run two long distances at 55 and (GASP!) 60 minutes and two easy 40-minute runs.  I want to do trail running, though, so we’ll see how that affects my endurance. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm Getting There!

At the end of my last blog post I asked if you thought that next time I’d go 35 minutes in one direction before turning around. 
Raise your hand if you thought I would.  You win, because I did! 

I took the same course except for a little correction to start on the right street, on the north side of the park and not the south side.  Oops.  I think I still need to correct another part.  I run on the same side of the bridge out and back, but I think the actual course comes back on the other side.  My way takes safety into account but with vehicle traffic banned from the course they can do things a little differently on race day.  In my last post I had two pictures of the bridge that I couldn’t get side by side so you could see how big it is.  My friend Doug melded the two together for me so you can get a better idea of the length and height of this bridge I run twice two days a week.  Thanks, Doug!


I ran for 35 minutes, almost to the turnaround point for the actual race, then turned around and went back.  I ran for a total of 40 minutes, which is my usual running time, and then walked for 4 minutes.  I’m a little disappointed about that, but I started the race hungry and battled that all the way through.  I then ran some, walked a few more minutes, ran, walked, etc.  I walked for a total of probably 10 minutes.  I made sure I ran the entire bridge, though!  I have to earn the fun downhill and I do that by running the uphill. 
I traveled 2.7 miles in one direction and then back for a total of 5.4.  I’m getting there!  I know I may have to walk part of the distance on race day, and that’s okay.  I’d like to run the whole thing, but it’s okay if I don’t.  As long as I run the entire bridge both times, that is!  I finished the course in 1:13:54, which is about 13:30 per mile.  A little slower than I’d like but, again, that’s okay.  I’m running.  Period. 

I think I’m going to run the course again on Monday, so I’ll let you know how that goes.  Will I go 40 minutes in one direction?  If I continue to run the course twice a week and increase by 5 minutes each time, I can be running the entire thing by December 7.  When I think about that I get a nail-biting, I-don’t-know-about-this feeling like I probably had when I registered for my very first race without being able to run the whole thing at that time.  And that was an easy 3.1 miles!  Look how far God has brought me!  I did run the full distance about a week before race day, though, just like this will be (I hope). 
I know I need to eat a better meal the night before a long run.  I had a big lunch yesterday and a small supper, which is what I prefer in general (eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper), but which doesn’t work too well when I’m pushing my body beyond its limits.  Live and learn. 

Okay, I interrupted composing this post to actually register for the race.  Exciting!  I have an exercise jar (actually a piggy bank) into which I put a dollar each time I run or otherwise exercise. 

I took $19 out of it to pay the fee.  I’m committed now! 
One of the songs on my playlist is the Veggie Tales song about knocking down the walls of Jericho that I adapted to my running:  “Keep running…and I will knock down that wall!  Keep running…and I am not gonna fall!  It’s plain to seeeeeee my God is very big, so keep running…I will be knocking down that wall!”  I think for this race I want friends or family members stationed somewhere along the route with a paper banner of a brick wall and the words “I Can’t” on it.  As I run by I’ll break through the banner!  That sounds like fun! 

Once again, my friend Doug came through for me.  I googled pictures of brick walls but don't know how to add words to an image.  I made a brick wall texture background in Word and added "I Can't" to it but it wouldn't copy to this blog.  I asked Doug for help and he sent me this picture.  Um, that's quite a wall, there, Doug.  Thank you. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Farthest Distance Yet!

I ran 4.6 miles of a 6.2-mile (10K) course this morning.  This was in preparation for the 10K I want to do next month.  I’d gone the full 10K distance before but that was running half and walking half.  Today I ran more than half.  And that included going over the Clearwater Causeway bridge out and back! 

I took these as a panoramic shot but I don't know how to get them that way on the page.  You'll just have to imagine them side by side and imagine me running up, across, and down. 

I set a goal of running for 30 minutes, turning around, and running back.  I was only on the second song when I heard myself say, “22?  23?  How about 25?” 
“NO!”  I answered out loud.  “30!  I said 30 minutes!  Run for 30 minutes!”  While Mandisa was singing:

It's a good morning!
Wake up to a brand new day
This morning
I'm stepping, stepping on my way
Good morning
You give me strength
You give me just what I need
And I can feel the hope that's rising up in me.
It's a good morning
I was trying to tell myself to shorten the distance I was going to run.  (Sigh.  Shaking my head.)

I met my competition.  Her name is My Own Thoughts.  My competition is not against any other runner.  It’s not even against the voice in my head telling me to stop because there isn't a voice telling me to stop.  It knows I won’t do that.  It does know that there’s a very real possibility I will shorten the time or distance I’m going to run or that I’ll slow to a walk if it can catch me at the right (wrong) time.  It knows I’ll say that walking is better than doing nothing.  It knows I’ll say that the fact I’m running at all is an accomplishment and I’ve already run some so it’s okay if I walk some. 

This morning was not the right time to catch me in those thoughts!  I not only told myself (more like gasped) out loud that I would run for 30 minutes, I kept telling myself out loud, “Keep running.”  A few yards later, “Keep running.”  (Check my watch.  Only at 15 minutes, halfway to the turnaround point.)  “Keep running.  Look how far you’ve come!  You made it up the HUGE bridge, across the top, and you earned the downhill!  Wasn’t it fun?!  Yeah, the downhill was fun!  Keep running.” 

After 30 minutes I turned around and headed back.  I had maybe ¼ mile to go before I hit the bridge again.  I prayed that God would help me focus on His creation along the way to keep me going and that the sun wouldn’t blind me.  I didn’t want to focus on that!  I hit the bridge and, man, did I feel that incline!  Part way up, though, a cool breeze came from behind to keep me from getting overheated.  It was God pushing me!  No way could I slow to a walk now!  Besides, I knew I had to earn the downhill again.  On the downhill portion I even raised my arms up for a second!  (well, as much as my left arm could go without disconnecting my music) 

At some point on the run I was thanking God for giving me a body that can run.  I thought of the verse that says “You have given me a body to offer.”  Hebrews 10:5.  My running can be an act of worship.  I can offer it to God to be used to give glory and attention to Him.  Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Dear brothers and sisters…give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship Him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

By offering my body for God to use as He sees fit, He can change my thinking so that I will know His will.  He can change my thinking from wanting to get by with a shorter distance to running farther than I ever have before!

I finished this run after 1 hour and 2 minutes and then drove it to see the distance I had gone - 2.3 miles in one direction and then back for a total of 4.6, the farthest distance I’ve ever completely run. 

Will I go 35 minutes in one direction the next time I do this course?  What do you think I’ll do?
This evening I got an email from a friend who put the two pictures together so you can get a better idea of the HUGE bridge I ran.  Thanks, Doug!  :-)




Friday, October 5, 2012

I was struggling on my run yesterday morning.  I have been struggling for weeks or even months to get my time back down.  I want to move on to longer distances but I also want to get my time down and it just isn’t happening.  I’m discouraged.  Yesterday morning I was running and talking with my friend and running partner, Melisa.  We were near the end of our 3.1-mile (plus a little bit more) run and I was lagging behind.  Actually, I’d been lagging behind the entire time.  Just a few steps, but behind. 

I was struggling to remember the words to the Veggie Tales song I personalized for my runs.  I could remember the way the French peas sing it, but not my version.  It took some real brainpower and a couple false starts to finally get it, and then I sang it over and over about 10 times.  I remembered when I used to still walk part of the way on the course near my house and how I would find a focal point on each section.  It was always something God made - usually a tree - and not something man made.  I started to say, “God, give me a focal point,” but all I got out was, “God, give” and BOOM!  there was a palm tree I knew was my focal point! 
(the one just to the left of the building)  It was high and leafy and black against the sky that was just barely starting to turn pink with the rising sun.  (I took these pictures in the evening because it was still dark after our run and the pictures I took then didn't turn out.)  I stared at that palm tree until the sidewalk curved a little and something blocked my view of it. 
I didn’t purposely turn off the path or take my eyes off the tree, but something I had no control over blocked my view of it.  It was still there but I couldn’t see it.  A few seconds later it came back into view
and then shortly after that it was hidden again.  Just before we had to turn the corner I saw it once more.  After we turned I said, “Okay, God, I need another focal point.”  The trees I could see were all running together and I couldn’t pick out a specific one.  There was a pretty street light but that’s artificial.  I wanted something God made.  He said, “I know you do, but you’ll just have to pretend this time.”  I thought about how God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.  I watched the light, artificial though it was, illuminate the tree it was in front of. 
I passed that light and needed another focal point.  I saw another tree up ahead (just to the right of the pink pillar closer to the sidewalk) and focused on it. 
Then, again through no fault of mine and even though I was staying on the path (sidewalk), my view of my focal point was obstructed by a man-made object. 
I kept running.  Soon the tree came into view again. 
Now Melisa pushed me to run the last leg of our course and give it all we had.  We turned another corner and I looked for a last focal point.  I could barely see it, but straight ahead of us was a tree. 
(We were much farther away when I first saw it but it didn't show up in the picture at that point.)  It was still pretty dark and I couldn’t clearly see the leafy part, but I clearly saw the trunk.  Weird.  I would think that would be the easiest to blend into the darkness.  I kept running toward it anyway and finished our normal course plus about another 1/10 of a mile that I’d suggested we add when we started. 
It was my plan to focus on God-made objects to help me run, and it was God’s plan to give me objects He made to help me run.  Occasionally those objects were hidden from my view, but I kept on running anyway.  What’s really cool is that each object showed me a different aspect of God.  The leaves of the trees were pretty and leafy and high up and nice to look at.  The light, even though it was artificial, showed me how God lights my path.  The tree trunk was solid and stable.  All different and all helped me get to my goal, which was to glorify God with my body.  1 Corinthians 6:20.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm Baaaaaaack!!!

I hadn’t run since last Saturday’s Chick-Fil-A Fall Stampede 5K because my running partner is sick and I’ve had scheduling difficulties, plus I’ve been feeling under the weather – not quite sick but like my body is trying to get there. 

Until this morning!  I went out about 6:45, as soon as it was light, and made it my goal to run each mile in 12-1/2 minutes or less.  I’ve done that before but not in a long time and have been right at 13 minutes per mile for at least the last 6 weeks, as long as I’ve been keeping a log.  So, 1 mile at 12-1/2 minutes means I should be at the half-mile mark at 6:15.  I could tell I was starting out running faster than usual, and I got to the half-mile mark at 5:something.  Woo hoo!  At one mile I was at 11:52, more than 30 seconds ahead of pace!  Thank You, God! 

I should be at the 2-mile mark at 25:00.  I was there at 24:29.  Thank You again, God! 

I should be at the 3-mile mark at 37:30.  Actually, there isn’t a mark at 3 miles, just 3.1, and I was there at 39:15!  I haven’t been under 40 minutes in a month!  God, I don’t know how You made this getting-older, almost-sick body go faster, but You did!  Thank You! 

I did remember to move my arms forward because my running partner told me, “Where your arms go, your legs will follow.”  I was aware of someone else’s advice to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth instead of in and out through my mouth, but I just can’t do that yet.  I’ll practice it when I walk, but when I run, I need to get as much oxygen in as I can right now. 

I feel really good.  Yes, I am tired and I feel a little bit of soreness in my hip joints.  No, not soreness, just awareness that my hips connect my legs to my trunk.  But it’s a good tired and a good awareness!  Ahhhh!!!  I’m baaaaaaack!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My First Long Run (well, sort of)

I’ve been wanting to do a long run for a few weeks.  I always run 3.1 miles and have started going a little bit farther most times, but probably haven’t gotten farther than 1/10 of a mile beyond 3.1.  Nothing wrong with that.  It’s how I got to 3.1 miles.  I just felt the need to see how far I could go if I didn’t set limits.  My plan was to run as far as I could but remember that I had to go all the way back. 

This morning I drove to the closest spot to my house where I could get on the Pinellas Trail – Park Street and Bay Pines Blvd. 

I started by going up the stairs.  It’s hard to see them, but they’re under the third lit traffic light in this picture.  Nothing like a good flight of stairs to start your workout!  J  The trail then had to go down, of course, which was fun.  It continued across the water where I had a gentle breeze.  Ahhh!!!  So refreshing compared to running in what feels like 100% humidity for the last five months. 
I continued running and listening to music.  I seemed to be making slow progress because when I looked at my watch it said I had been running for about 12 minutes but I wasn’t to the song I usually hear at the 1-mile mark.  Uh oh.  Why was I running slower this morning?  Oh.  Maybe it was the Five Guys burger I had last night.  Ugh.  L  I won’t be doing that again for a long time, if ever.  And if I do, I’ll try to remember to order a little burger, which has only one patty. 

Anyway, I kept plugging along.  I had no way of really measuring distance on the trail.  They should put mile markers on the trail.  They could start at the north end and put markers every mile and start at the south end and put markers every mile in the other direction.  I should suggest that to the county. 
After a while I came to the overpass/hill at Seminole Blvd.

Whee!  Downhill is fun! 

Chugging along, enjoying my music, remembering to pick my feet up.  Almost done!  I could see another overpass/hill coming up, but 40 minutes was also coming up, which is how long it takes me to run 3.1 miles.  I couldn’t quit at the bottom of the hill, so when I hit 40 minutes I continued running.  I got to the bottom of the hill at 41:20 and then walked up it.  This was the one at 113th Street.  I walked across then down the other side, turned around, and did it again.  HA!  I WILL conquer hills even if I have start out by walking them! 
I walked back to the car, 3.1 miles away.  I ended up going 6.2 miles plus two and a half overpasses/hills in 1 hour and 47 minutes.  That’s twice as far as I’ve ever gone and I ran half the way. 

It didn’t turn out exactly like I’d envisioned with me pushing myself to run, but I just couldn’t see running up another overpass/hill at the end of my usual run.  Maybe next time. 
I definitely put $2 in my workout jar today instead of just $1.  J 

That piggy’s getting fat!  And I’m not! 

In related news, I was hungry for lunch today but everything I thought of to make sounded blah.  I know!  Little bits of ice cream on Teddy Grahams!  Um…are you kidding, Michele!  That’s ridiculous!  Then the words of a Hawk Nelson song popped into my head, “They look at us like we’re ridiculous.  Maybe it’s all because of crazy love.”  Oh, yeah.  Jesus loves me with crazy love.  And I’m about to show how much I love Him by putting ice cream on Teddy Grahams for lunch.  I rinsed the ice cream down the drain.  Ups and downs but always moving forward.