Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 28...

Well, friends, I have big news. I am officially withdrawing from the Boston Marathon. :) It was a tough decision, but it was definitely prayed about, and I fully believe it's the Lord's plan.

There's a lot to it, and maybe someday I'll see how all the pieces fit together, but one of the main reasons has to do with what's all going on in my life right now.

I've mentioned that I've been writing a devotion book called "Sharing the Victory: Being Your Best for God." Well, I'm in the middle of crunch-time with that project, and it's taking most of my focus. And, as I've been writing and working, I've been evaluating just how close I am to being MY best for God. Right now, I'm not, and that's the honest truth. There is just too much vying for my attention.

One thing I learned through yesterday's run is just how many little injuries crop up during marathon training. It's just the way it goes for me. And that's totally fine! If I have the mental capacity and time to deal with them. Like last year, marathon training was IT. So, when I got hurt, I actually was able to process those and use the blog to even minister through them.

But this time, I've got way too much going on to be distracted by injuries and the nagging anxiety that comes with them. Whenever I'm hurt, I have to be prepared to engage the enemy on spiritual warfare about training, and right now, I've got spiritual battles of other kinds going on that need my full attention. :) Not that God isn't big enough to handle them all, but this is not a battle I'm called to at the moment. Boston is not my fight this year.

Do I want to return someday? Absolutely! When I have time to throw my entire self into it and do it well, I will run Boston again. (If I'm blessed to qualify again.) But right now, I'm going to focus on being my best for God and not letting myself be pulled in too many directions. I believe He wants me to focus in other areas right now, and marathon training is just not one of them.

So. . . There you have it! :) Four weeks of training was a blast! And I did enjoy the speed work enough to continue that. It doesn't prove too distracting, and my body didn't seem to mind it. In fact, I'll probably still run a half marathon in the spring just for fun, but that won't require extra training.

Friends, thanks for reading! :) I'm sure that I'll keep blogging, it just won't be about Boston 2011. Totally okay. Someday I'll be back. For now, it's time to focus and be my best for God. :)

Ciao! :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 27...

Unbelievable. Totally God at work. . .

So, last night, in preparation for this long run, I did the normal things of making sure I had Sport Beans, looking at the hourly weather predictions to see what was the best time to go out, and, of course, checking to see if the Garmin was charged. Everything was a go, and it looked like by 10:00 a.m. it would be above freezing.

So, I went to bed planning to run around 10, but I was totally nervous about the sidewalks not being cleared and whether or not the temperatures would actually rise enough for it not to be icy. But by the time I had fought that mental battle for about an hour, the Lord finally got ahold of my heart and helped me to surrender it all to Him and just trust Him. It took a while, but He finally broke through my stubborn, questioning heart. I went to bed at peace with what today would bring.

My alarm went off at 8, but I, of course, slept until 8:45. haha! :) That meant I wouldn't hit the road until 11 with breakfast and all. But no biggie. More time for the weather to warm up. But when I stepped outside at get my paper at 9, I noticed that it was already thawing again! I checked the temperature, and it was already 37!!! Hallelujah!!! :) :) :) I just about flipped!

So, I ate and read the paper and drank tons of coffee, then I got started prepping for the run. First thing? Turn on the Garmin and let it sync up with the satellites. But when I hit the power button nothing happened. What?? I did it again. Nothing. Garmin = dead. :( hahaha!

Well, here's the funny thing. I had just finished writing the intro for my upcoming book "Sharing the Victory: Being Your Best for God" and I had JUST written about how God had allowed me to be consumed by the idol of running and the Boston qualification in order to get my attention about how concerned I was with pleasing the world instead of Him. One way was through running performance. I had JUST written about how I had been freed from that. Now, God was seeming to say, "For real? Let's find out."

So, no Garmin, huh? No pace. No time. No mileage. What on earth would I do?

Enjoy the run, that's what!

I tell you what. . . This was one of the most amazing long runs I've had. No time ticking away. No checking my watch every 30 seconds to see if I was on pace. I just ran because it felt good and because I could. It was so peaceful! It was like God was confirming in my heart that He had, in fact, brought me a long way from where I'd been.

Though, the tough part of the run came with about 6 miles left. I think it was the fact that I was returning to outdoor running and hills, but I am pretty sure I strained a muscle in my left quad. It was a pretty painful last few miles, and I'm sitting with ice bags on now. :( If you read this and have time to pray for me, that would be awesome!

Anyway, good lesson today. This was one of those days when you know that the Lord is moving in your heart and life. Thank You, Father. I've got a long way to go, but I've come a long way.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 26...

It's funny how days can start off one way and manifest into something completely different. Today started off so slow and easy. Had a great time casually getting ready for my run. Did a nice, slow, easy recovery run (I was SORE after yesterday's workout! That hasn't happened in a while!). Then I got home in enough time to do some extended time with God while I casually sipped on some coffee and iced my knees.

But...I started to realize as it was getting closer to the time when I needed to leave the apartment, that my "casual" nature was going to cause me to be late if I wasn't careful. And, of course, I realized this at the point where I actually WAS already a little behind. Then, wouldn't you know it, nothing came together right after that. haha! I put on the wrong shirt for the wrong pants. Then, when I found a shirt that worked, I had to try on three different necklaces--none of which worked--before deciding just not to wear one at all.

From there it was just one of those busy/hustled mornings. I fumbled with the coffee on accident, got stuck behind a slow driver once I finally made it out the door, and once I got to work it was non-stop meetings and e-mails from the word "go."

Quite the anthesis of my slow, fun, easy Friday run. :)

But it's interesting. The last athlete I interviewed talked about being able to find God's stillness in the middle of the busyness. How important is that? Our world is busy. That's just not going to change. WE have to be the ones who decide NOT to be busy. Even when we're in meetings and the e-mails are pouring in, we can remain peaceful in our hearts and refuse to let anxiety take over.

It's just like running long distances. There's no point in getting anxious or in a hurry. You just have to find your rhythm, plug in and roll with it. It's all about keeping His peace alive in our hearts and minds. He offers it to us through faith and trust. It's our responsibility to own it.

Well, lunch is over, so I better get back to those e-mails. But I'm praying as I type that the Lord infuses me with His peace as I do.

Another prayer request? That the snow melts enough for the outdoor run tomorrow. They're doing maintenance on our apartment treadmills, anyway, so I have to be outside for the 17-miler. I'd just love to not have to run down the middle of the road for it. haha! :) It's warm enough that it should. But I have no control over that, so I'm just going to ask God and rest in His answer and provision. :)

Ciao, friends!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 25...

Man, what a cool run this morning. God is so good!

Last night was another restless night. Okay, so I'm writing a book, and it's due this week. I don't know if that's been weighing on my mind to the point of not being able to sleep or what, but I just couldn't shut my brain off last night. And THEN, my German neighbor was "uber" loud again! Double-whammy on the sleep cycle.

But, get this! I eventually did fall asleep (probably around midnight), and woke up completely full of energy at 5 a.m.! That is only divine. Thank You, God. There's no way I should feel this good. But it showed up on the treadmill. I clocked in the 10-miler at 71:36 for a 7:09 average pace.

The first mile was a warm-up, then, since it was a tempo run, I just found about three paces and settled in. I did the next mile at around 7:25, then upped it to 7:09-7:00 until I hit 5 miles. Then I turned it up one notch to 6:56 for the next four. Then, the last one I did a speed ladder from 9.1-10mph. I think that winds up at a 6-flat average. Felt stellar! :)

So, here's a little growth step for me. My training plan said that I was supposed to do 11 miles today. Um, no. That's ridiculous. I had basically just copied my training plan from last year and was following it this spring. But that's stupid. There's no reason for me to start doing 11-milers already when we're only in the middle of week 4. I can start those mid-Feb. Instead of getting insane with this training round, I'm going to play this one a little more casual. Still put in the work, but not go crazy.

No major spiritual revelations from the treadmill other than the fact that God is capable of supplying divine energy even when we don't deserve it. :) I guess it falls in line with the devotion I read last night, which talked about not expecting a problem-free life. Duh! Why do we expect every day to be problem-free and get mad when it's not? Life is FULL of problems. Every day! Hello!? What kind of world do I live in that I wake up and expect the day to go just as I want? That does NOT happen. So, we just need to relax, trust God and respond to each challenge in a way that pleases Him. When we do that, He takes care of the results. Case in point: Problem = no sleep. Solution = God's grace and provision cover me. Rock on. :) No reason to worry!

Okay...Lunch break = over. (I'm loving the = sign today!) I have to work now. :)

Happy Thursday, friends!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 24...

Um...54 degrees on Friday??? YES!!!!!! Melt, snow, melt!! haha! That is awesome.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope you guys are having a great week so far. I've had better, but it's nothing absurdely terrible.

Last night was a little rough. I happen to live next door to a marvelously loud old German guy who likes to talk (and sing) really loudly every once in a while. Unfortunately, that means that I get ZERO sleep when he does, unless I'm somehow able to convince my subconscious to incorporate his songs into my dreams. Usually doesn't happen. Last night was one of his loud evenings. I don't think he was singing, but he likes to have loud phone coversations. I think he's calling Germany and believes he needs to raise his decibal level in order to make up for the extra distance. So, I didn't sleep much. By the time he was done talking, my heartrate and nerves were so on edge that there was no recovering.

At least it was an easy run day. I managed to enjoy the recovery run and listen to another great message from Robert Morris. He was talking about salvation and he broke it down into past, present and future tenses. One great point he made when he was talking about salvation in the past tense was about the justice of God. Yes, we know that Christ's death pays for our sins, but do we know why? Because God operates in a justice system. Every sin has a penalty that has to be paid. Jesus paid our death penalty for us when He died on the cross. Why does that make us saved? Because in God's justice system, two people can't pay for the same sin. It's just like in our human justice system. Two criminals can't be convicted for the same exact crime.

When Jesus died for us, our sins were paid for. If we've received His payment and surrendered to Him as Lord, we can NOT go to Hell. It would go against God's justice system. How cool is that? I've known this for a long time, but I don't think I ever thought about it in such legal terms. That was a great lesson for the day, and I really feel like I understand the "why's" of salvation a little better.

Again, the blessings of running. :) Time for great podcasts. :)

Tomorrow will be a great 10-mile tempo run. I'm pumped! I love those workouts. If you're out there tonight and feel like praying for me, though, would you ask God to grant me sleep tonight? It's much easier to make it through the day when well-slept. Not that life has to be easy, but it can't hurt to ask. :) Either way, I know God is good and that I'll survive.

Have a great evening, friends!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 23...

Wa hoo!! Let's hear it for a great 9-mile speed workout! Clocked in at 63:41 for a 7:04 average. Here's the breakdown:

1-mile warm-up
2-mile speed (8.5mph-8.6)
.5-mile recovery (8.0)
2-mile speed (8.6-8.7)
.5-mile recovery (8.1)
2-mile speed (8.7-8.8)
1-mile sprint ladder (9.0-10.0)

Sweet!! :) It felt fantastic! I have to tell you, there are very few things that feel as amazing as running at a high speed, completely focused on the body's ability to maintain the pace over a long distance. It's the most alive I've ever felt! :) I just love it! :) :)

To be honest, I have so much on my plate work-wise that I haven't even realized that I'm training for a marathon. haha! :) The only times I really focus on it are when I wake up in the morning and hit the treadmill. But I think that's going to pay off in the long run. By the time my load lightens, I'll be halfway through training, and it will be that much closer to marathon time. haha! :)

I'm already looking forward to the trip to Boston. More than that, I'm looking forward to my time with my mom. We're going to have a great time together, which is rare! I see her often, but the mom/daughter alone time is less frequent. And I can't wait to have her all to myself. :)

BTW...I just heard the weatherman say that Friday's high will be 54...Perhaps this weekend's 17-miler will be outside?? I'm thinking so!! Thank You, Lord!

Okay, friends, I gotta call it a day. Have a fantastic Tuesday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 22...

The hardest part of today's run was getting to the gym. Once I was there and on the treadmill, it was awesome! :) The fact that I didn't sleep very well last night made for a tough wake-up call, but it all worked out once the legs started moving and realized that it was worth it. :)

Nice easy run today! I just LOVE Monday runs. They are always just such a refreshing way to ease into the tough week of training. No speed work, no distance. Just a nice little, "Hello, running schedule. Nice to be back on track after rest," kind of situation.

I did listen to a great message on my iPod today, though. My aunt turned me on to a pastor named Robert Morris, and I listened to a message from him about joy this morning. It was great! He talked about three A's that keep us from experiencing God's joy: Actions, Attitudes and Attacks. Actions being our own sins and struggles. Attitudes being when our hearts aren't in line with God's Truth. Attacks being just what they are: assaults from the enemy.

It was a great message for a Monday, that's for sure! As usual, I have a full plate, and that sometimes makes it hard to look forward to the day. But if I really trusted God (and I do) with everything He's called me to, then I don't have to stress. I can let everything stay in His hands, do my best, and relax in that freedom.

Pray that for me? :) haha! It's a great truth, but it's hard to maintain. Especially when 5:00 on Thursday and Friday roll around. haha! :) But it will be SO worth it.

God is awesome. Life is good. Monday is going to keep getting better and better. :)

Love to you all!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 21...

Hello, rest day! :) Sundays rock, don't they? But sometimes they're so hard, too.

I don't know about you all, but I LOVE being productive. I love being useful and doing things all the time. It's SO hard to be still. But God calls us to rest for a day every week, and I'm trying to be obedient to Him.

I think taking a Sabbath is an act of obedience. Certainly it is! If we really wanted to, we could be DOING things all the time. But God knows we need to stop and rest. That's why He COMMANDS a Sabbath; He doesn't suggest it.

When Sunday rolls around, I always have these great ideas of how I will rest that day. But then, inevitably, I wind up "doing" little things all day and, before I know it, the day is completely gone and I have no idea where it went.

Today, I am going against my entire being and just resting. I have work that needs to be done, but I am not my own boss. God is. And God commands rest. So, in an act of submission, I am going to rest. He is my Lord. I realize that His ways are better than my own. He will take care of the work that needs to be done. I am first to trust and obey Him.

Running DOES fit into this, not just regular work. I fight this battle when it comes to running, too, just not as often as I used to. Back when I started running seriously I wouldn't take a day off at all. Now, I actually look forward to it. My legs do get a little restless from not being taxed, but I can always tell the positive difference on Monday. :) Rest is SO key. It's just hard. :)

But you know what? That's okay! It's okay that I struggle with rest. I don't think I'd be human if I didn't. God knows it's hard. The bottom line is that I do it. That's it! He just calls me to obedience. He'll take care of the blessings on the other side. :)

Now, I gotta get off this computer before I'm tempted to work. :) haha! :)

Ciao, friends! Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 20...

YEE HAW!!!! :) :) :) Long run on the treadmill = done!! :) If any of you prayed for me, THANK YOU! :) It was certainly answered with a capital amount of focus, patience and energy. :)

It was interesting. There were such great moments on there, even when it was tough. I'd find myself looking down at the distance and seeing how far I had yet to go, and I wouldn't let my mind go to a bad place. Instead, I'd just say, "Lord, it's tough right now. That's okay. Thanks for being here with me. Help me have the patience to get through this rough patch." He totally would!

Long runs aren't supposed to be easy. They are supposed to challenge you so that you will grow in mental and physical strength, which you will need for the marathon. Part of training is learning how to handle those tough moments. Today's response was certainly one of the best. Just own the moment. Allow myself to admit that it's hard. Call on the Lord. Let Him answer.

Great training for life right there. That can stinkin' apply to anything! I heart running. :)

So, I have no idea what my time was. The treadmill shut itself off when I wasn't paying attention to the numbers. haha! :) That was a funny moment. I know I was around mile 9.4, but I hadn't looked at the time in a while. What I do know is that, after my warm-up, I stayed at a 7:30 pace for the first five miles and then upped it to 7:24. For the last mile, I increased my speed from there up to an eventual 6:30, which is where I ended. :)

My ultimate prize for the day? Body salt!! :) :) haha! Am I the only runner who loves that? When you finish a long run and the sweat dries on your skin, you get salt residue. It's a great medal of honor. :) And I got body salt today! :)

Well, friends, thanks for the prayers if you prayed. HUGE answer in a great way. :) Survived the run inside and lived to tell about it. Now...On with the Saturday! :)

Ciao, friends!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 19...

Oh, dear. I just had one of those experiences where I wrote a great blog and then hit the publish button only to get an error message. :) "We are sorry for the inconvenience," says Blogger. haha! :) Good thing I hadn't just written the next great American novel on here. :)

Nope! All I was talking about was Fridays, how I hate them when the alarm goes off and I'm waking up after a week of 5 a.m.s. But how I love them for the rest of the day because of the weekend ahead!

OH! And I also requested prayer for tomorrow. It will definitely be a 15-mile run on the treadmill, which will require a tremendous amount of patience and focus. Marathon training is certainly effective at developing character, that's for sure! haha! :) I will be a better woman after the run than I was before. But prayer support would be much appreciated. :) I know I can't do it on Jill's strength!

Well, that's about it for the second try. Let's see if this sends...:)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 18...

I must give a huge shout-out to my apartment complex workers. When I went to the gym this morning at 6:00 they were already out there slugging away at the snow on the sidewalks. Thanks so much, guys! You helped this little marathon trainer get in her 10-mile tempo run this morning without having to wade through 9 inches of snow.

Yesssssss! 10-mile tempo run for the week is in the books. A great finishing time of 1:11:40, which averaged out to 7:10/mile. Because I wanted to best myself from last week, I kicked it up super fast on the last mile, which was awesome. Felt great all the way around! Thank You, Lord! :)

This past week I've really been thinking about the lyrics of the music I run to. One of my absolute FAVORITE running songs is Lenny Kravitz's (Kravitz'?) "Why Are We Running?" That song has one of the best running beats in the history of the planet, and it asks a very good question over and over: "Why are we running?" Fun for us who are literally running at the moment.

I have zero clue about Lenny Kravitz's (Kravitz'?) faith or spiritual belief, but he has a line in that song about the road being narrow and hoping we all get home, which I believe is a reference to Heaven and Christ. Again, I am not touting that Lenny's a Christian, but I've heard him talk about Jesus before, so I know he puts Him in some of his songs.

How interesting is it that Lenny Kravitz would have a more spiritually sound lyric than a Christian band who tells us to mail-order our love from a cloud in the sky? Just an interesting thought. But, I guess I should also mention that in this same song, Lenny talks about keeping our "booty" in the air. hahaha! :) That probably cancels this out for play on K-LOVE. :)

Hey, I hope you're all having a great week and staying safe if you're in the snow like we are. If you think about it, be in prayer for me as the weekend approaches and I look for a place to run 15 miles. I'm really pretty sure it's going to be on the treadmill, and that's going to be super hard. But if there is prayer support going in, I know I'll be better equipped with the patience to slug it out! :)

Thanks, friends. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 17...

Totally random. I just noticed the times listed below my blog posts, and they are TOTALLY incorrect. haha! Just in case anyone I work with reads them, I never post at 10:30 a.m. haha! That's a little scary. I wonder if my boss has ever read my blog and thought, "Um...Jill needs to stop blogging on work time." TOTALLY not the case! At least I haven't been fired or anything. :)

Today's run was a chillax recovery run. Super awesome! Loved it, of course. And as much as I enjoy running outside, I must admit that I'm enjoying the extra SportsCenter time I get now. haha! :) I have to say that I'm a lot more "in the know" on my job when I am forced to run inside. I can tell you that Venus Williams advanced in the Australian Open, some kid I should have already heard of who plays at BYU hit a reeeeeeally deep 3-pointer in their win last night, and that Al Davis is starting to show his age a little. :) I'm not sure the last bullet helps me at work, but it was just something I noticed this morning.

Right now, the snow is coming down super heavy. And with the temperatures being so low for the projected future, I have NO idea when I'll be able to return to the roads. Starting to wonder about my long run this weekend and where that will take place. Oh, well. Whatever happens, I'm sure it will get done, be it inside or out.

As you can tell, I don't have much to report from today. Was just a good solid day. A patient day of watching the miles trickle slowly away as I restrained myself from picking up the speed when I should be "resting." It was good. Always good to be patient and take one step at THE time. :)

Until tomorrow,
-Jill :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 16...

Memo to me: bring a copy of my training plan home with me instead of leaving it in my planner at the office. haha! This morning I put in an extra mile of speedwork because I thought I had 9 instead of 8. :) Oh well. It certainly can't hurt! And with the great pace, I'm sure it will prove beneficial. I finished at 64:10, which averages out to 7:07/mile. But the bigger part of that was the paces that I was able to sustain.

I did a one-mile warm-up, followed by two 2-mile repeats with 1/2 mile recoveries. Then, I did a final 3-mile stretch that went from 6:54/mile to 6-flat. (The 6-flat pace was only for the last quarter mile, so don't get too excited. haha!) Either way, it was a great run! Tough to get started, as usual, but well worth the effort.

The temperature wasn't too bad when I got up, so I had hoped to get outside, but my discernment said that the roads would probably be too slick. Um, correct. Thank You, Lord, for wisdom. As I headed out to my car to drive to the workout room, I almost bit it on the slick pavement. haha! :) I would have DIED trying to run on that! :)

So, just another note about the lesson on love from yesterday. I listened to the same artist on the iPod today and found a song that actually had some great truth in it. "Love is love when it's love in His name. Love is love when you give it away." Those were totally true and awesome lyrics! I was so excited when I heard them. But...then they used the same cheeseball line later in the song. "Love is only love when it comes from above." hahaha! :) Again, where exactly is God in space? Does Heaven have an address on Pluto that I'm not aware of? Oh, well. I guess I'll just take the concept and roll with it. Love is only real love when it is cultivated by the Holy Spirit. I think that's what they might have been driving at. :) And their way does hit beats a little better than mine. :)

Okay, that's it for today. May you all experience the "love from above" in a great and real way! :)

Ciao, friends!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 15...

Happy Monday, everyone!! :) And happy MLK Day! What a stinkin' stud. I pray that the Lord raises up more like him to continue setting examples of courage, integrity and faith.

So...Slight disappointment this morning, but nothing major. It was an AMAZING 34 degrees outside, and I couldn't use it! (*sigh*) Part of the January package includes snow-packed sidewalks that don't get cleared unless the warm weather melts them naturally. So, even though it was an unbelievably balmy morning, I had to hit the treadmill. There was just no place to run outside. Oh, well. No biggie! At least I was able to run at all! And it was a great, easy run.

Man, I love Monday runs. They're easy runs, PLUS I'm usually a little more stocked up on sleep from the weekend. That makes for fresh legs and energy! :) Today was no exception. The entire thing was just awesome! It felt so great!

haha! I did have one random thought this morning, though, as I was listening to my iPod. I'd recently invested in some new workout music, and one of the albums I'd purchased was a Christian group that sounded SO similar to the Black Eyed Peas. It really, musically, is pretty awesome! But--and here's the quirk--the lyrics are, um, a little...well, cheesy? cliche? Um, yes. All of the above.

Is anyone else kind of tired of the "shining down Your love from above" line from Christian artists? Is God a bank teller who puts His love in a plastic tube and sends it down to us to open when we pull up to His drive-through? This might be the biggest misconception and most incorrect word picture of the century.

God, in His very nature, is the DEFINITION of love. There's no love outside of Him if it's actual love. And, He perfects it in us if we let Him. Because He is always with us in the presence of His Holy Spirit, there's no need for Him to "shine down His love from above." Who stinkin' said that Heaven was in the stratosphere anyway? Is it on the 97th floor on the third star from the left? Where is this love shining down from?

We have such a limited view of God. It's sad. He's beyond our comprehension, and in an effort to put it in human terms, we size Him down into cliches. Why can't we just be okay with letting Him be bigger than we understand? He's not within our comprehension? I'd rather any Christian lyricist just spit out a phrase that says, "I don't get Your love, but I'm glad You love me," (or, something similar in a catchy rhyme) instead of dumbing Him down to fit into their iambic pentameter.

haha! Oh, well. At least the beat was good and the words were wholesome. It's just something I was thinking about. . . And that's what this training is all about. Today I learned a little more about God's love through time spent on the run. Thanks, Lord. :) Can't wait to see what You have tomorrow.

Ciao, friends!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 14...

Cool that we're two weeks in already. :) Very cool. Only 14 to go! Seems like a lot, but these weeks seem to tick off steadily without my noticing--just like the miles of a marathon. Before you know it, you're almost done!

The peaceful wake-up of the non-running day is something I look forward to every week. It's a HUGE highlight, actually. :) Just being able to lay there and roll around until I feel like getting up is the most wonderful feeling. (FYI: I'm not a late enough sleeper to ever have to worry about sleeping through church. My late mornings rarely go past 9.) Today, waking up in the comfort of my parents' house just made it all that much better. I had the most wonderful weekend with them celebrating my mom's birthday, and it was so full of priceless moments. I'm so thankful for my family. :)

I just finished up a devotion this morning that had to do with peace and worry. Both things I, like many others, battle on a daily basis. Okay, I don't BATTLE peace itself, but I have to fight for it. Seems odd to have to fight for peace, doesn't it? But I think you know what I mean.

Anyway, it talked about how we tend to rehearse our troubles over and over before we actually have to go through them. The difficulties of the day are only meant to be lived once, but when we don't surrender them to the Lord and trust Him to take care of them, we experience them multiple times before we actually have to deal with them. When, if we would simply give up our challenging moments to the Lord--the ones we know we will have to go through--we wouldn't waste all of our peaceful moments on needless worry.

Personally, that's certainly something I'm going to really pray gets worked into my heart and mind. That I can put that into practice. It relates to me on so many levels, but specifically running. I generally start "worrying" about the next day's run the night before, or even days before, when there's absolutely NO reason for it. God only intends me to go through it once, and He promises to be with me every time. No need to wrestle with it beforehand.

So, that's one thing I'm asking for regarding prayer. If you read this and can pause 5 seconds to pray and ask God to work His peace into my mind in a greater way, I would SO appreciate it.

You guys are Hope you enjoy a great day with Him today! :)


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 13...

"Swe-eet hooome, Cennntral Kansas..." haha! :) BIG fun today out in the sticks. :) First long run of the season is in the books! Logged a nice 16-miler this morning out on the country highway, and, in the process, overcame the anxiety about the higher mileage.

It was a tough morning, but I just chalk it up to the training process. I got up and ate a small bowl of oatmeal to give me some fuel. Well, I lingered around a little too long before getting out the door, and by the time I was ready to go, my stomach was growling again. haha! I "blame" my parents for being so awesome. :) haha! I couldn't pull myself away from the coffee/newspaper/FOX News time with them. That's just priceless.

So, I did it all again! haha! This time, I dumped some peanut butter in the oatmeal so that it would stick to my guts a little better. Ate more oatmeal, waited around another hour, THEN finally headed out.

The whole thing was really a comedy of errors for a while. Right before I left, I realized I'd forgotten to pack my iPod. Thankfully, my sister lent me hers. This actually turned out to be a fun blessing as I got to explore her music selection to pass the time. She has a big affinity for 80s and 90s music, so it was really a lot of fun. She even had a little Debbie Gibson on there! haha! :) :) Right when I was hitting a mental wall, "Electric Youth" totally came up. haha! Totally made me smile. :)

Well, I also underestimated the temperature and wind chill a little bit. I went out without my face mask on initially. Exactly .5 miles in, I decided that was NOT going to work. Thankfully I'd brought it with me just in case. I stopped, pulled off my ski gloves (a process), took off my ear warmers, and pulled the mask on. Well, I accidentally dropped one of my gloves, and it rolled down a snowy embankment. Had to trudge through snow and get my shoes wet to get it. THEN, I realized I'd put on the smaller ear warmer, which doesn't fit over my ski mask. Oh...It did today. But it took a little extra effort and frustration to make it happen. haha! :)

So, I finally get everything assembled again and start running, but the face mask and ear warmers didn't play well together for the rest of the first mile. That was fun. I just had to keep tugging things around until it finally settled in. Mind you, this is all on a local highway, so I'm also having to dodge the country traffic. It isn't ANYTHING to speak of, but since there's no shoulder on the road, it makes even two cars passing each other a bit of a problem.

You can see how my mindset was going. By 1.5 miles I'm just hacked off. Nothing is going right, and I just want to go home. That's when I shut off the iPod. It was time to pray. :)

Thank the LORD! :) With everything I'd been learning about praising God, I just started thanking Him for things. Thanking Him for the place to run, for the ability to run, for the beauty of the country, and for my family. And that did the trick. No, I didn't automatically love the rest of the run, but I totally settled down and began to release the anger and frustration. I was able to focus more on the run itself and the gift that He'd given me in a country road. :)

Really, where else would I have been able to run today? Back home, the sidewalks would still have been ice/snow-packed. Can't run down the middle of the road there because it's the city and cars actually are a factor there. :) Wouldn't have really wanted to do a 16-miler on a treadmill. So, the country was such a blessing! And the great weather with the calm wind and sunshine was just icing on the cake.

So, there you have it. Training continues, now two weeks in. We're in the game and on the move--quirks, hang-ups, blessings and all! :) And if I learned anything today, it's that God provides. He covered everything, and the run was great. It was hard, but that's part of it--part of the growing process with Him as much as the physical part of it. So, thank You, Lord. Thank You for challenging me and providing for me. I'm a stronger daughter of the KING for it. :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 12...

Hey, y'all! Just a quick post today. Normally I write on my lunch break, but today we started a new Bible study here at the FCA office over the noon hour. It's gonna be great! It's on effective prayer. Um, yes please!! :) I know I'll be able to put that to good use out on the running paths in the next couple of months.

Recovery run this morning, and it was pretty tough! I'm a little tired, so getting out of bed was no picnic. But the Lord blessed me so much by putting a new girl on the elliptical machine beside the treadmill. She talked me all the way through 3.75 miles, and the rest was pretty easy after that. It's amazing how time flies when you're having a good conversation. Makes me kind of nervous about tomorrow's 16.

Pray for me? haha! It will be my first run of more than 15 since last Boston training, so it will be an adventure, I'm sure! But I know the Lord will be with me. I can never outrun His presence. Thankfully. :) See Psalm 139:7-10! :)

Anyway, gotta scoot. Hope you all have a great Friday!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 11...

Can I get a high-five??

Today was a tough 10-mile tempo run on the treadmill, and it was awesome! Being Thursday and already living a week's worth of 5:00 wake-up calls, I was predictably a little sluggish getting started, but that's what warm-ups are for, right?

We got right after it today. I think I worked things up to a sub-7 for the last two miles, which was awesome. I ended up with a time of 1:12:31, which equalled out to a 7:15 average. Rock on!! :)

It was funny. I usually do this. I will play games with myself mentally while I'm doing treadmill runs, and I'll tempt myself to make it easier. "It's just the second week of training, you don't have to push it that hard." "You've already done three inclined intervals, you don't have to do more than that." "This pace is good enough. Just put it in cruise control and finish it out."

It's so funny the little temptations that come in while I'm on there. And the buttons are right there. So easy to knock it down a notch.

But that's not why I'm on there. And if I'm going to run a 10-mile tempo run, I'm going to give it my best. Not because I have anything to prove, but because I am doing this for a God who has given me the strength to be able to do it. There's no WAY I'm going to waste the endurance and speed He's given me.

So, I finish doing all 8 planned inclines. I push the tempo up as the miles go up, just like I'd planned. And you know what? I didn't die. haha! It wasn't even miserable. It was fun! :) And when I stepped off, I rested in knowing that I didn't cut any corners. THAT is a good feeling.

I don't know about you, but I have a real tough time mentally when I cut corners in any area of life. I know it's a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can REALLY help me in areas of excellence and integrity. On the other hand, it really challenges me regarding grace. Failing is SO hard for me, and it's something I'm trying to learn with the Lord. How to fail in a manner that receives His love and grace best. Because it's something I'm going to have to continue to deal with for life. Everyone messes up every day. We have to learn how to handle it in a manner that allows us to receive the forgiveness offered to us, learn from it, and move on.

Now, where I don't want to learn to fail is with willful slacking. That's the key I was working on this morning. When it's just laziness. There's no reason for learning how to fail well there. That's just disrespect to a generous God.

Thankfully, I don't have to deal with failure from a cheated effort today because, in His strength, I powered through for an awesome run. :) Thank You, Lord!! :) I pray that we all can power through areas of temptation today when we're thinking of cutting corners. DON'T do it! Think about how you'll feel afterward and consider how awesome it will be once you're on the other side of it. :)

Have a great Thursday, friends!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 10...

Happy Wednesday, team! :) I wish I was sitting down with you all right now with a good cup of coffee and catching up on your lives. :) Or, better yet, that we were all in Florida (the only state without snow on the ground right now) chatting it up as we ran on a boardwalk in the sunshine. haha! Sounds like heaven to me!

I'm really enjoying the treadmill time this week. (You probably get that by now, having heard me rave about it for several days in a row.) Honestly, it's been nice not to have to run with a layer of nylon covering my face. haha! But I've also enjoyed the company I get in the workout room. There's a nice lady in my apartment complex who gets up early to come in and use the elliptical machine. We've had nice conversations the last couple of mornings, and it's been great having someone there with me to pass the time.

Today, though, I tried something I don't do very often: shut off the iPod.
(*gasp!*) haha! Yes, I ran one whole mile without music! :) Instead, I just took time to pray, and really, to praise God. There's a lot going on in my life right now--just like I'm sure there's a lot going on in your lives, too--and at times it gets easy to turn pessimistic. But God isn't a God of discouragement. Through our hope and trust in Him we have the ability and blessing of being joyful at all times. And thankful! I mean, holy cow, life is really SO good! I am one heckuva blessed woman, and I let myself forget that way too often.

My sister told me last night a great quote she'd heard about making sure you lead your heart instead of letting it lead you. I'd love to get better at leading my heart to joy instead of discouragement. It's certainly God's will that I do so, but it takes discipline and effort. It takes mental focus and deliberate choices. Your mind can go a billion different places, so it's important to help it go in the right direction.

So...Today's run was a good "exercise" in praising God. And I'm THANKFUL that I did! :) haha! It's helped this day be a million times brighter than yesterday. Hopefully this can become a habit! :)

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" - Philippians 4:4

Have a GREAT day, friends!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 9...

Hey, gang! Happy Tuesday to you from the North Pole--wait. haha! :) Certainly looks like it. But it's gorgeous! Great day for a treadmill run!

Today was the first speed workout on the treadmill. It was fantastic! Did an 8-miler this morning in 57:58, and that might be the fastest 8 I've ever done. It turned out to be a 7:14 average. Not sure how I did at the 8-milers last season, but either way, it was great! And, more importantly, it FELT great. I forgot how awesome it feels to get on there and just focus in on the workout.

One great thing about treadmills is that you can put it on auto-pilot. The belt keeps you on pace so you don't have to focus on that. You are free to let your thoughts roam, your spirit soar, your body move, whatever! I'm all over the place, usually, bouncing back and forth between prayer and focus. Sometimes the two coinscide--often when I'm praising Him for being able to run.

It's seriously fun to push yourself to new speeds and enjoy the physical gifts He provides. He's given us such amazing bodies!

I was thinking about that yesterday as I sat all day in my apartment, snowed in. It was nice to experience working from home through a snow storm, and I got a lot done, but all I did was sit. haha! :) I had to get up periodically and run up and down my stairs. My poor neighbors. :)

It's sad how little we really use our bodies. I think about what life must have been like before technology descended on our world. To actually have to walk to a well for water instead of two feet to my tap. To actually have to work fields or hunt for food. To have to walk down to a river to wash clothes. To lift and pound things. Man... Who needed exercise? They lived it!

But that's the cool thing about our world, I guess. We GET to put exercise into the fun category. And that's what it is. It's a fun blessing to MOVE, and I count it a privilege. Now...Ask me on day 97 if I still count it a blessing and we'll just see. haha! :) JK. Praise God in all things!

Well, back to work! Lunch break over.

Ciao, friends!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 8...

Greetings from Winter Wonderland!! :) haha! :) It's a most beautiful, snowy day here, and there's no sign of it stopping for a while. SO gorgeous! And you know what makes it even more gorgeous? Treadmills! haha! :) :) Yes, praise God! Because of those marvelous machines, even on days like today, we can still get in our training. Hallelujah! This is one day I'm thankful for technology. :)

Today was a nice-n-easy run to start the week. Wound up going a little over 6 at a slow pace. I think that's going to be the biggest challenge this week--going slowly when I need to. I think I mentioned this earlier that I have a tough time running easy on treadmills. I tend to get bored toward the end, and I really just want to kick up the pace to get done. But that's not good for the ol' body. This will take some self-control! Good thing that's one of the attributes that comes from the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence.

It's definitely going to be a week of treadmill sessions, at least until what looks like Saturday. The snow is supposed to keep up through tomorrow, and then the temperatures are supposed to dip below zero. Now, I'm all about cold-weather running, but it gets dangerous after a while, and I have a personal policy against running in sub-zero temperatures. I don't have the gear for that. haha! And I don't reeeeeally want to experience frostbite. I came way too close two years ago, and that was not fun--or worth it when there's a perfectly good mechanical belt that will help me run in a climate-controlled environment. haha! :)

So, today, I'm celebrating the treadmill and the power of electricity. Thank You, Lord! :) And here's also to the start of week 2. Only 15 to go! :)

Have a great Monday, friends! :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 7...

haha! Most random breakfast this morning. . . I discovered almond milk yesterday and just about died with how yummy it turned out to be. :) So, I put it in some Special K red berries cereal this morning and microwaved it. Weird, I know, but it was to flippin' cold to even THINK about eating unheated food.

It was SO good! haha! :) If you ever feel like something random and different, this is it: almond milk and Special K zapped for about a minute in the microwave. :)

Okay, I've totally just lost some of your respect, haven't I? haha! Hey, don't knock it until you try it. :)

Man, I have a feeling that Sundays are going to be my favorite days of the week for the next four months. :) For two reasons. 1 - Because they're my much-needed rest days from the road. (Here's to sleeping in!) 2 - Because of church. Man, I had the BEST church experience this morning. I'd been passing these little road signs for a little church plant down the street from my apartment, and so I decided to visit there this morning. It was awesome! Totally small group of the friendliest believers. Totally awesome and engaging and biblically sound message on prayer. And just the presence of the Holy Spirit among a group of people who seemed so full of the love and joy of Christ. I really want to go back.

Community is something that has been challenging for me, so visiting a smaller church was really refreshing. I'd enjoyed the church I'd been going to, but with it being so big, it just felt like I would get a little lost. You can sneak in and sneak out without anyone ever knowing you were there. But with smaller groups, it's impossible. And that's a GOOD thing. You can't avoid people or hide anything. And for me, that's important. Because if I can hide it and not confront it, I generally will. So...We'll see what happens here! Either way, I'm pumped.

Well, friends, I'm gonna shut 'er down. Gotta focus on those awesome Chiefs! :) 7-3 right now. We'll see how long that lasts before we bury them! haha!

Ciao, friends!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 6...

Hello, friends! :) :) Happy Saturday! :) Man, what a great day! Long run days are always just a little extra special. All day long you get to reflect on the super accomplishment of the morning. It's just like the cherry on top of the sundae. (Except that I don't like marachino cherries, so maybe it's more like the scoop of chopped pecans. Mmmmm.) :)

Today's funny from the run...Because I was covered up like a ninja due to the 17-degree temperature, I had THREE cars honk and wave real big at me thinking they knew me. haha! :) They'll probably go tell their friends, "Hey, I honked and waved at you while you were running, and you didn't wave back. What gives?" haha! :)

I tried a new system this morning before my run. I ate a bigger breakfast earlier, let it settle and THEN went on my run. Normally I eat something small and head out early in the morning. Today, I opted for the bigger meal so that I could let the temperature rise outside a little before I went out.

The results were actually really good performance-wise. I turned in a 7:32 average 14-miler. But, I really didn't like being out there so late. It was afternoon by the time I got back, and I just felt like I was missing out on the day. I am DEFINITELY a morning runner. There's just something special about getting up early and getting in a good run before the day even starts. No matter what happens the rest of the day, you've already got it under your belt. And, of course there are the other BILLION reasons why I love the morning runs. The peace, the prayer, the precious time of worship. It all goes so great with a beautiful dawn. :)

Spiritually, I read a devotion yesterday about thanking God continually and about how He actually inhabits the praises of His people. Can you imagine? God actually is manifested when we praise Him. That's SO awesome. And it's a great opportunity for us to connect with Him and experience His presence. Great reasons why Scripture tells us to praise Him continually. So, today, I really tried to focus on that during the tough points of the run. Did I always succeed? Nope. But there were some significant moments when the thanks did make a wonderful difference. And when I would remember to do it, I would always be drawn back to the presence of the Lord and remember just how amazing of a blessing it is to run. Gosh, He's good! I just love it! :) :)

Okay, I gotta jet. But I hope you all are having a great weekend! btw...GO CHIEFS!! :) :)

Ciao, friends!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 5...

Praise God for treadmills!! :) :) haha! Man, it was SO stinkin' nice this morning not to have to put on 18 billion layers in order to go for the run. Since the hotel is in an urban setting (along a highway without sidewalks), I opted to run indoors, and it was awesome! Totally casual and fun. I even enjoyed watching my little distance tracker inch along this funny little graphic of a dirt track through what looked like the Australian Outback. haha! :) A little different than KC suburbia, that's for sure. :)

Treadmills are great for regulating pace. While it's fun to unplug and go for "naked" runs outside without watches or iPods, it's also fun to hit the treadmill and have something regulate your pace for you. Sure, it makes you work, but it is a great personal trainer. Sometimes when I'm out there, my mind will wonder and I'll slip off pace easily. Then I'll have to refocus and get back into the groove. When I'm on the treadmill, I can set the pace and just fly! Well, today being an easy run, I didn't fly, but you know what I mean. And that was actually a good thing, too. I was able to keep my pace LOW for the recovery run. Thank you, treadmill! :)

Well, friends, I need to go do some quiet time with the Lord before we get this day started. It was fun to praise Him through physical exercise and music this morning, but I need me some WORD! Especially if I'm going to travel with peace today. Um...Airports require extra patience and grace. :)

Hope you all have a great day! :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 4...

I heart tempo runs when there's a busy day ahead. Why? Because it makes me move fast!! haha!

This morning was a 10-miler, and I had a flight to catch, so I knew I couldn't mess around. But the beauty of it is that my mind is so full of what the day holds that the miles just FLY by. It's kind of like cheating in a way, I think. Cheating because I'm not REALLY focusing on the experience of the run. I'm focusing on the day ahead. But whatever it is, it works! Turned in a 7:39 average in a pretty cold environment. Maybe I should schedule a business trip for the afternoon of the marathon, too. haha! Um, DEFINITELY not! That's one experience I want to savor! Now, after the 22 and 23-milers? Maybe. . . :)

It was interesting today. During the interview with Kara Lawson (an awesome lady who plays in the WNBA), we talked about pain being a good thing in the eyes of the Lord. While the world tells you that pain is bad, it's actually a tool that the Lord uses to keep us close to Him. Think about it...When are we most likely to come to Him? When we're in pain, right? When life is going along without problems, we (at least I) tend to think we can make it without His help. But then pain comes and reminds us that we are only human in a fallen and crazy world. We NEED the Lord. And He knows that. That's one reason He allows pain--so that we'll stay tuned into His power and love for us.

One of the best ways to experience pain? Run a long way. hahaha! :) Signing up for marathon training is signing up for spiritual education classes. Pain? Check. Exhaustion? Check. Temptation to quit? Check. Motivation to pray? Check. :) The list goes on and on! And I think that's one of the reasons why I love it so much. It just propells you deeper into your relationship with the Lord. Thank You, Father, for the gifts of edurance through pain and for reaching us in the midst of it. You are good.

Well, I'm winding down after a long day of travel and interviews. It was a great day, but I am tuckered out and am going to head to bed. Got an easy run, probably on the hotel treadmill, in the morning that I'm gonna get ready for with a good night's rest.

Hope you all had an amazing Thursday!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 3. . .

The ellipses in the title are a little more spaced out this morning as an indicator of how I feel. haha! Holy moly! I won't lie. Getting back into the swing of things is a little harder the second day than it was the first. I almost couldn't believe it when the radio alarm started playing this morning. My sleeping self was a little confused as to why there was music interrupting its 8 hours of sleep. haha! Eight hours? Really? Ah, the days. . . Maybe we'll see them again sometime. :)

So, the run was--well, who knows how well it went performance-wise. All I know is that it was a peaceful, low-stress trip through the pre-dawn, street-lit streets. Good think time. Good prayer time.

This morning I was thinking about last time I trained for Boston and how I timed even my recovery runs. There's no reason for that this go-round. In the past year, I've come to look forward to the days when I can relax and enjoy the run as a time of prayer and pleasure. A time of fellowship with the Lord like I don't get during the times when I pace a run. Now, that is NOT to say that the timed runs are in any way less beneficial. Those are the times when the Lord teaches me different lessons about physical and mental strength and challenges my limits. But the slower, easy runs and just more refreshing. They help fuel me for the next day's challenging workouts, just like the challenging workouts make me ready for the easier ones. It's a beautiful cycle.

So, tired or not, today's run was a good one. Every run is a great run if for no other reason than I'm blessed to have legs that move and can endure the miles. God is so good. He gives us passions and then fulfills them. :) May we all reflect today on how marvelous of a Lord we serve.

Ciao, friends!

P.S. This blog is probably not going to be as consistent as it was last training period. Part of that more laid-back approach to it. In fact, I have a business trip that I'm taking tomorrow and Friday that will most likely pull me away from the posting. So, just FYI. I'm doubting that will cause any of you to lose sleep, but just in case you were curious. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 2...

Mother of Mercy!! hahaha! I tell you what...That 5:00 a.m. wake-up call this morning was definitely not something my legs were happy about. haha! After a FANTASTIC vacation back home with the family--one that included many lazy mornings of relaxed cups of coffee and 10 a.m. runs--my body was NOT ready for the return to the everyday routine. I'm currently sitting here on my lunch break with my, um, fourth cup of coffee for the day. haha! :) Hey, you do what you gotta do, right? :) At least it tastes good. :)

With the change in wake-up time, my 8-mile run this morning wasn't easy. Endurance-wise it felt totally fine, but it was one in which I felt like I was running with sandbags for legs. They just did NOT want to move. But about 2/3 of the way through, they finally got the picture and warmed up to the normal pace. It wasn't in time enough to get a stellar average pace, but that will come.

At least the weather was nice. It was pretty frigid, but there was very little wind. No complaints there!

Tell ya what, though. It feels good to be training again! It's fun to do runs like this morning when there's a goal in mind. But I can definitely feel a difference in my mentality toward it. I want to do well, but I don't care as much whether or not I actually do. I know that the Lord doesn't care what happens as far as results. His love and acceptance are offered regardless. Now, does He have a plan for me in whatever happens? For sure! It's just that the finish time isn't in any way an indication of how much He loves me. Or, how much I love Him.

I'm finding that out slowly, too. That my performance does NOT equal how much I love Him. We get so caught up in doing things with "excellence" that we sometimes think that if things don't turn out as "excellent" as we planned, that we didn't do as well as we could for God. That we didn't prove our love for Him. That we didn't do our task with enough excellence. That's just bologna. It's a flat-out lie from Satan.

God is not performance-oriented. He is grace-based. He died for us and offers us the FREE gift of His love regardless of whether or not we are high-powered, worldy successful achievers or laid-back, 9-to-5ers. All that matters is that we're living in His will and seeking to be who He wants us to be. That we're living out the love of His Son. That we're loving Him and others. That we're engaging in relationship with Him. It's such a beautiful thing. :) When we're aware of that, we are free to do everything with the understanding that we're loved and accepted by our heavenly Father who will use whatever results transpire for His good purpose.

What that means is that I can run the best that I can and do the training with excellence and then relax in the knowledge that God is pleased. Whether that excellence turns out to be an 8-minute mile or a sub-7, as long as I'm running in the strength He's given me, I'm good to go. :) Hallelujah!! :) :)

Truth is a wonderful thing. So is grace. :) Now, if I can just operate in this wonderful mindset throughout all 16 weeks...That will be a win. :)

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 1!

Hey, everyone! Happy New Year!

To anyone who tried to access my blog in the last few weeks, I apologize. There had been some "unusual activity" on it, so Google blocked it. All's good, though. I contacted them and they fixed it. God bless you, Google. :) Thanks for the quick work!

Well, guess what? It's the first day of Boston Marathon training! :) :) I can't believe it's here again! That's so flippin cool. It's going to be a great 16 weeks, and I'm already looking forward to crossing the finish line and hugging my mom again. :) Last year was certainly one of my life's highlights, and I know this one will be special again in a new and different way according to the Lord's plan for it.

A few things will be different this year.

1. I'm not raising money for any cause, I'm just running it because the Lord has gifted me with the opportunity to do so again. So, I plan to focus on Him throughout the training and just enjoy the miles and the process. I know it will be hard, but I'm in the Lord's plan, and He will be with me at all times. This training is going to be spiritually educational, just like all the rest.

2. I'm not going to go crazy. I still plan to train hard, but I'm not going to go insane. I think last year, being my first Boston, I had the most insane inner drive to make a great showing and prove something. Not this year. I have a bit of a different take on it...i.e. that this isn't the point of living. haha! I'm no better or worse of a person having run a sub-3:30 at Boston than if I hadn't. It's a great blessing, but doesn't affect my worth or value. God created me to be His beloved daughter regardless of the time on the clock and the location of the marathon. Yes, He gave me the most amazing blessing last year at Boston, but the truth is that He'd love me just the same if I hadn't done it.

What does that all mean for this year? That I'm not going to lose my mind. At least, I'm going to try not to. I have a feeling it will be a bit of a battle, but I honestly don't have anything to prove here. I just want to do it because I've been given the opportunity. The Lord opened the door, and I'm going to run through as best as I can and enjoy the process. :)

This past year has been a very interesting one. I've learned so much about personal worth and value and being driven to perform. It's a process, but the Lord is slowly teaching me about His unending love for me. About unconditional love. About His Lordship. About giving Him (*gasp*) total control of my life and heart. (Keep praying for that one.) But I have a very good feeling that He will use this marathon training process to teach me valuable lessons about any and all of those.

If any of you are in close contact with Dan Britton, you know about the "One Word Theme" for the year. Every year, you pray about one word that will mark the coming year and ask the Lord to work it into you. The Lord reveals this word in many different ways. In my life, He'll usually start working it into me through repetition around early December. The word will just start appearing places and will resonate in my spirit. This year's word is Freedom. :) I have no idea what that means as far as life goes, but I am excited.

Because I have such a tendency to control everything, freedom is a scary thing to me. But I know it's good. In Galatians 5:1, Paul says that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. And that is something that I've always wanted, yet never let myself fully experience outside of random moments. To live daily in the freedom that Christ bought for me on the cross would be, I think, marvelous. :)

So, all that to say...Boston, bring it on! 16 weeks starts now. :) I look forward to the miles on the road, each one unique in its own way. And, as I will have plenty of time, I totally would love it if any of you would e-mail me things to pray about for you. I'd be happy to lift them up to the Lord on the quiet morning runs.

Just finishing up a small bit of oatmeal and coffee, then I'm heading out the door for training run #1. And, wouldn't you know it? It's just an easy run. I don't even have to time myself today. :) That starts tomorrow.

Ciao, friends!