A Call to Self-Discipline

Dear Daughter of Mine,

As your Daddy pastors our church and I learn ministry alongside him, we both hold deep convictions that discipleship must remain our core focus. As individuals, as leaders, and as a church, we must be in constant pursuit of Jesus, to know Him more and be changed into His likeness.

This morning at the gym, I was challenging my arms with some slow reps of heavy weights. The work was hard, but it felt good. I knew I was becoming stronger through the pain, being a good steward of the body I’ve been given. I want to be an example to you, my daughter, of how to respect your body, how to care for it, and how to continually make it more holy. Yes, I believe our physical body should be in pursuit of God’s holiness – the wholeness He created us for – just as our spirits ought to be.

I paused to take a breather and stretch my shoulders. And the metaphor hit me like a ton of bricks:

Christian discipleship is a mirror of physical fitness. Each individual is in charge of their own spiritual and physical health. No one can force us to read our Bibles or pray in earnest. No one can force us to develop a workout routine and stick to the challenge. We must embark on our personal journey of self-discipline. We must decide in our own hearts to pursue Jesus more deeply, to go through the dark parts of our souls, to confess sins hidden, to learn passion for the Scriptures. We must decide in our own minds to go to the gym, to lift heavier weights, to go a longer distance, to increase resistance, to love the strength we build.

And in both cases our work is never complete. We may reach a new milestone in our Christian discipleship or cross a physical limit in our workouts. We may experience “highs” when we feel like we’ve found the center of our purpose in Christ, or when we can’t imagine living life without fitness. But self-discipline comes into play when we realize that we may have achieved a goal, but our job is not finished. We cannot take a few weeks off and expect to maintain our strength. We cannot say, “I’ve done it. I’ve reached my goal. I’m finished working out (or I’m finished praying.)” It’s ludicrous in both cases. Even the healthiest person – spiritually or physically – realizes their humanity, sees how far they have to go, and knows there are many challenges ahead of them.

The process of physical fitness and the journey of Christian discipleship are never complete. We must embark on their paths with the Spirit God gave us…the Spirit that does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). We ought to anticipate the hard days, the lazy days, the pitfalls, and pursue holiness in our bodies and our spirits. Let us not give up strict training. Let us run the race marked out for us so as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:23-25; Hebrews 12:1).

Loving you,
working to be all I was created to be,
longing to be a good example for you,

Mama

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Why Yoga

As of May 8th, 2015, I have completed my 225 hour certification program to become a Registered Holy Yoga Instructor (R-HYI). The journey to this moment is many years long, winding and God-led. Allow me to share. Holy Yoga Logo

In 2009 I began exploring the blog world and happened upon the writings of a girl named Mandy {originally called shebreathesdeeply, now writing at mandyreidyoga.com}. She was about my age, married, loved Jesus, and was always talking about this Holy Yoga thing. I began corresponding with Mandy via email, asking her some questions about yoga and the Holy Yoga ministry in particular. Before long I had ordered two of their instructional DVDs, and I was hooked. As I learned the physical practice of yoga, I began discovering the Truth in this accent physical exercise. Many Christians struggle with yoga, believing it can only be rooted in Eastern Mysticism, using our bodies to worship self or earth. I believe yoga is just a tool, as money is a tool. Both can be used for good or used for evil.

In the time I began spending on my mat, I was experiencing worship and intimacy with Jesus Christ in a whole new way. Not only was I praying and centering my spirit and mind on the Holy One, I was engaging my whole body in worship. Spirit. Soul. Body. This resonated with Jesus’ words from Mark 12:30 –

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

For the next many years, I continued practicing yoga in the privacy of my living room, either with my two Holy Yoga DVDs or with my own flows and worship songs. I learned about the Instructor Training program and I thought to myself, “I would love to do that!” For the next few years, the desire stopped there. I couldn’t convince myself to spend the money, nor did I believe my community was ready for something this spiritually “edgy.”

This past January I took a risk and invited the people of our church to join me in a Saturday morning Holy Yoga practice. I used my HolyYogaTV.com subscription to guide us through a gentle flow, the whole time wondering what people were thinking of this new fangled idea. That first Saturday, we had eight people show up, age 17 to 75, of all physical abilities. And it. was. AWESOME. Everyone loved it and couldn’t wait until next time.

And just like that, God gave me a big booming, “YES!” My community needed this. They were ready. Holy Yoga would be a means of drawing our congregation and our town together. It would allow us to become physically vulnerable and honest with one another, to struggle alongside, and forge the way to be spiritually and emotionally transparent. We would learn how to experience the grace of God through physical activity (and inactivity; shout out to shavasana) and in worship. I went home and signed up for the 225 Hour Program.

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The next nine weeks were spent pouring over Scripture, reading material like Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book and spending the first half of the weekly two hour webinars in Bible Study. The leadership team at H0ly Yoga insists on our foundation in Christ and the Word. Each class must begin with a Scripture meditation and devotional (or mini-sermon). Each class must incorporate worship music, songs and lyrics to focus on praising God and relishing in His goodness.

Additionally, I spent an hour each Tuesday in a Guided Prayer small group, via a group phone call service. We were taught the practice of Lectio Divina and spent time at the end of the call sharing our personal reflections or God-inspirations from the Scripture Passage. It was deep and raw and intimate.

The second half of our nine-week training module focused on the practical aspects of yoga, teaching us the postures, along with detailed physical anatomy. For every pose we received repetitive teaching, including two books with pictures, our manual with additional directives, and then a verbal instruction from our trainer online. Repetition is the key to memorization.

Finally, all 140 of us traveled to Arizona (Lost Canyon: a Young Life Camp) for a six day retreat intensive. Here we received in-person demonstrations of poses and were given opportunities to work on the postures and teach each other step by step. The word “retreat” was slightly misleading. Our schedule started at 5:30am every morning (with a guided prayer and meditation), and was booked every subsequent hour of the day through 9:30pm. We had two full yoga classes each day, plus 4-6 hours of classroom instruction. The only time we sat in chairs (and not on the floor of the amphitheater or practicing yoga) was at meal times. I snuck in 20 minute phone calls to my husband when we were given bonus breaks between classes.

It was beautiful. It was intense. It was the most emotional I have been in a year. It broke me. It built me. It was a God-thing.

The community I formed with my small group cabin-meets was absolutely incredible. Those women spoke into my life with God-given prophecy and exhortation. We loved each other instantly, shared honestly, and prayed almost continually. Since Retreat, we have continued communication in group texting. What a gift.

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But I did it! I graduated along with these beautiful souls. I am officially a R-HYI (Registered Holy Yoga Instructor), and am teaching my second class this Saturday morning. I have dreams and plans for what the future of this ministry job might become. I am praying and struggling through doubts and disbelief in my ability and qualification. I am waiting for God’s leading. Training Group

So until I launch the full-fledged Holy Yoga Monroe, I will continue hosting classes each Saturday at 9 in the fellowship hall of Monroe Free Methodist Church ($10 suggested donation). The first Saturday of each month will be a FREE class, perfect to check it out and see if Holy Yoga is right for you. Men and women of all ages and stages are welcome. You say you’re not flexible? Then that’s the perfect reason to come to Holy Yoga. It is a practice, every day our bodies respond differently and every week we see new struggles and new improvements. Let do this together!

Running Rhythm

Dear Little One,

I have a confession to make – after 5 weeks of not being able to run due to an ankle injury, I finally just entered into an honest place of grieving. This may sound totally ridiculous. Why would anyone be sad that they’re missing their runs? But for for me running is a part of my life’s rhythm, the breath of my days. I love to run. And it comes naturally to me which reminds me what a grace it is. It’s as if God is saying

Here, Child. I know you need this. I’m going to give this time and this body and this ability. Use them well. 

Ten years ago if you would have told me I’d be calling myself a “runner,” I never would have believed you. I always classified myself as un-athletic. Looking back I realize how unfair I was being to myself. I had developed this misconception of my body as chubby and uncoordinated, and I became the girl who just wanted to stay out of the way when it came to sports. But had I known I could run, then maybe I would have been brave enough to join the cross country team. (That’s one of my few high school regrets.)

Despite the lackluster entrance into the world of running, I have come to rely on this ability. Not only is running a good workout, but it’s therapeutic. My mind starts going stir crazy when I haven’t spent some time pavement-pounding. Running refreshes my soul, connecting me to my own breath and thus the Holy Breath – the Spirit of God. I don’t need music or the chatter of a podcast, the company of a friend or even a conscious prayer. The rhythm sweeps me into a space of refreshment that soothes my deepest angst all while straining my physical body to the limit.

And I finally cried about it on Monday. The devastation sunk is as I was trying to explain to your dad how taking time off for my ankle means I’m someone who’s not getting to do what they love, what they’re good it, and what’s become an integrated part of their schedule...for well over a month. It’s a loss of sorts.

Child, I tell you all this because I want you to know a few things about me. I want you to know that running is a beautiful part of my life, and I can’t wait to use that jogging stroller I found at a yard sale 4 years ago. I want you to know that running is a talent given to me by God, and I often struggle to use it with humility. I want you to know that I might need to leave you at home with your dad because I just really need to go for a run. I hope you’ll understand.

And in the meantime, I’m praying in earnest for complete healing of my ankle and restoration of my strength. I’m praying for God to be near in my time of withdrawal, endowing me with the grace to wait.

Resting and doing lots of Holy Yoga,

Mama

More Than Just a Degree

Dear, Sweet Child of Mine,

I don’t know what plans the Lord has for you.  I do believe that, like Hannah, there will come a time when I’m going to be required to give this living, breathing, part of my heart – YOU – back to God. I can hardly fathom that moment from where I stand. The yearning, the deep desire to have you in my life makes the sacrifice seem incomprehensible. But God will give the grace when that time comes.

You might go off to a foreign land, studying abroad or serving as a missionary. You may go to a local community college or a vocational school to pursue a dream. Perhaps you’ll venture a few states away and attend a university we’ve never even heard of, convinced it’s where you’re supposed to spend the next four years of your life. Maybe you hope to be a professional editor, a graphic designer, a pediatrician, or a music teacher. Or you might be totally and completely lost, feel like you have no real hopes and aspirations, but think you ought to go to college anyways. That’s kind of what I did.

When the time came for me to graduate from high school and test my wings, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to go to college. It just seemed like the right choice. Those first three semesters at Spring Arbor University I changed my major no fewer than three times…more if you count all of the “I wonder if I should major in [insert hypothetical four year plan here]?” To be completely honest, I’m still not sure I made the “right” decision (graduating with a Philosophy/Religion degree). I certainly don’t regret the choices I made; I just don’t think there is only ONE RIGHT PATH and if you miss that exit the rest of your life is RUINED. I believe God is bigger and better than our declared major in college (or any other decision we make…big or small.)

Today I was reflecting on my years of living on a college campus. I learned so much in the classroom, studying textbooks, taking notes, meeting with professors. But here are a few lessons I learned outside of decree pursuits. 

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1) How to worship in music. I learned so much about the musicality behind instrumental worship as well as how to engage the whole body, soul, and spirit with Jesus through song. This prepared me wonderfully for the past five years of worship leading at our churches.

2) How to debate. Or, at the very least, how to disagree with someone’s opinions, share your own, and still like each other in the end. This one lesson has changed me completely. Disagreeing is a healthy process toward growth. Even if you passionately believe in your own perspective, debating can serve to strengthen your ideas and open your eyes to new (and potentially better) ways of believing. 

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3) How to share life with others. Living in close proximity to 8-28 girls from a wide array of backgrounds, lifestyles, and convictions teaches you a LOT of patience, the ability to deal with the awkwardness of confrontations, and the perspective to appreciate new ways of doing things.

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4) How to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Though I certainly was not the picture of health for those four years, it was during my college career that I learned how to incorporate running and exercise into my daily routine. I learned how how many hours of sleep I required to function fully and how to handle the teasing when I told friends, “It’s bedtime.” I learned how to refrain from eating that delicious dining commons soft serve ice cream for everysinglemeal. Looking back, I realize how much I miss having a parent to tell me what I could and could not eat and serve perfect proportions. The sky was the limit and I had to learn my limits.

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5) How to fall in love and stay in love. I got a phenomenal husband out of my college experience. I call that a major win. (disclaimer: I am in no way saying you should get a spouse out of your years on campus. It just worked out beautifully for us. Marriage can be a result of campus living, but it is not a necessity.)

I am looking forward to watching you learn your own lessons, and anticipating my own struggle with letting you go, letting you make your own choices, even letting you fail. But know this, Child:  Jesus always holds you close, even when I can’t. Look to Him to teach you when I’m not there. He will be faithful to you just as He always has been to me.

Love,

Mama

To Beat or Not to Beat [The Strawberry]

Saturday, June 8th marked my second Strawberry Festival 5k Race in Albion, New York. 

Last year, there were 150 runners in the 5k division. This year there were 207.
Last year, there were 30 Run for God participants. This year there were at least 60 or 70.
Last year, my husband was waiting at the 1 mile mark shouting out times to the races. This year, Kevin was a runner.

Yes, my husband ran a race with me, friends. Yes, I was thrilled and so so proud of him. No, I will never urge him to run again. He has given it a great effort and if he decides to run in the future it will be all him. No more pushing from the wife in the peanut gallery.

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The colorfully attired group of Run for God Racers

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Circled up for prayer.

I was anxious all week about the race, mostly because I had a really great finish last year and I wanted to PR but wasn’t sure I could. I have become a much more controlled runner since enlisting the help of my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch. I strive to keep my pace steady and mile splits negativea far cry from my last year’s race with the first mile at 7 minutes and mile two close to 9. eeek.

Oh yeah, and last year I puked 4 times as I approached the finish line. People remember this stuff. And as good of story as it is (really, I love telling it with gusto!), I was really really hoping I wouldn’t feel like barfing. Because that’s just miserable. Besides being pretty darn embarrassing.

The shot gun went off and I hit my stride easily. Thankfully I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I might be. It’s hard not to fly up to top speeds during that first 5 minutes when the Speedy Gonzaleses of the course blow by you at 5-minute-mile paces. But I controlled my tempo.

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Around the half mile mark, my friend Sheila tapped me on the shoulder and I grabbed her hand and said, “I’ll stick with you!” I was suddenly overtaken by emotion, feeling so thankful to have a friend who could run my pace and keep me sane during those miles. Tears welled in my eyes.

Last year, those last two miles were lonely and painful. This year, I had friendly competition, company, and encouragement. “To God be the glory!” Sheila said.

We stuck together at a steady 7:40 pace throughout, despite some pain and a wave or two of nausea. We told each other it would be fine if either of us felt the need to slow down or speed up, separating.

Finally at the last half mile, I felt a burst of energy and took off ahead of Sheila, finishing just 16 seconds ahead of her.

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I managed not to puke all over the place, as close as a call as it was during that final uphill climb. I couldn’t push it out with a sprint at the end, because I wasn’t willing to barf. Thankfully, and to God be the glory, I finished THREE SECONDS faster than last year’s time!! It doesn’t seem like much, but in the running world (and to me!) it’s a victory nonetheless!

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My handsome husband finished spot on his goal time of 35 minutes, and the tears flowed as I saw him coming up State St. I ran up to meet him and then let him continue to the finish line on his own. He did a great job and hasn’t suffered any serious pain or injury. He even stopped just before the end to help comfort one of the teens who had stopped to throw up. He is such a great guy.

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It was fantastic to have my Grams and Chuck along with dear friends, Lou and Jeri at the second mile marker cheering us on! I love to see familiar faces when I race.

And then there was my momma, cheering like a pro at the finish line for every single runner. Yes, mom, you deserve a medal for “Best Cheerleader.” Thanks to all three of you for coming out to support us on a rainy, chilly, early morning.

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Sheila and I both placed FIRST in our perspective age groups and were totally pumped about our wins!

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In the complete Race Results, I discovered I finished 4th overall for females and Sheila came in 5th! I am so proud of us both and still SO THANKFUL for a running partner so matched with my tempo. God is good, even in these little things.

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The Husband of a Runner

If you’ve read the updated version of the blog’s “About K & M” page, you will know two facts – 

a) I am a runner.

b) Kevin is not. Despite my greatest wishes. 

For as long as we’ve been a couple (going on nine years!), one of my biggest hopes is that Kevin would become my running partner. Typically, about once a year, I catch him on a good day and he agrees to run with me. This run normally ends after about 10 minutes me soaring with glee, and him being frustrated that he’s not in the same fitness bracket as I am. Understandable. 
I never give up asking (mostly because he’s told me it doesn’t hurt to ask, just don’t nag). Every month or two, I say, “Will you come on a run with me today?” And he inevitably responds with, “No.” If there is even the slightest hesitation on his part, I latch on with the most unreasonable amount of excitement only to be let down shortly thereafter, when he admits he was never considering it to begin with. 
Last fall he endeavored to start down the path of overall health and fitness. On his own volition we bought him a pair of minimalist New Balance shoes and my parents gifted him some UnderArmour pants for Christmas. He was faithful for a month, getting up before dawn two or three mornings a week and heading out for a mile or two all on his own. (You see, we finally figured out that he needed to work through this without my coaching or exaggerated thrill.) But then the weather changed and the runner* came to a screeching halt. 
*him not me. I have run all winter thankyouverymuch. 

And now it’s time for the new session of our church’s Run for God program to begin. (You may remember my stories from last year – Fairy Running and the Strawberry Race.) I talked with Kevin about the possibility of becoming the ambassador/coach/recruiter of teenagers for this program, hoping to grow the number of students involved. He jumped on board to my complete and utter amazement, saying that is the only way he’d want to participate–as a co-leader for the teens. He would be the newbie (“If I can do this you can do this“) leader and I would be the veteran. 
I hadn’t broached the subject with him after this initial interaction. You see, this subject is a fragile one, a tight rope walk, waiting for my own wrong move to push him off the oh-so-narrow bandwagon.
But then this happened: 
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I’m going to leave my excitement unstated. You’ll just have to imagine how I’m feeling about my husband running. 
The program starts this Sunday! Wish us luck!! 

Being a Fish Doesn’t Make Me a Swimmer

I finally got around to doing what I’ve been thinking about doing for at least a year — swimming laps
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Apparently the Lord knew it was time for a good humbling, because man ‘o man I am not good at swimming. Being in the pool is never something I crave. I don’t seek out hotels with pools nor do I wish I had a house with an fancy pants swimming pool in the back yard. Growing up, I enjoyed my share of swimming in Lake Erie and jumping in my friends’ pool on a blazing hot summer day, but unless it’s a million degrees outside and water will provide relief, I’d rather just sit poolside, dipping my feet in every now and again. 
The local middle school has a pool that they open from 5:30-7:20 every morning for adult lap swim (along with a few evenings a week for community family fun swims.) For many months I’ve been contemplating adding swimming to my morning workout rotation, but I just couldn’t get up the motivation (or perhaps the courage) to go. It costs $30 for a 6 month membership which is pretty much nothing, so money wasn’t the issue. 
I am a runner. Running has become a workout I enjoy, something I am good at. It’s not easy, but it is natural for me. I intersperse my running with one of my 12 (yes 12) different Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper workout DVDs which provide good variety and strength training. I consider myself in good shape. I am strong, I have toned arms and legs. I feel pretty good about myself. 
Which is why I DIDN’T want to swim. 
I knew that lap swimming would be terribly difficult for me. And quite frankly, I just don’t like to do things I’m not going to be good at. I don’t like being embarrassed and I don’t like trying something new if there’s all these other things over here that I’m already good at. Last summer it was biking – another sport I’m not good at. But biking 10 miles a few days a week really improved my running skills. Hence my thought process that swimming may have the same affect.
The alarm went off at 6am, and as if by magic (or more likely, the Lord’s prompting) I was awake and motivated. I threw on my suit and headed out the door for the school. (Luckily it’s 0.7 miles from my house.) The lifeguard told me I could try it out for a few days before paying the membership fee. (cool.)
What happened next was completely expected, yet shocking. I am a terrible swimmer. After watching the swim team girls compete yesterday, I have a brand new respect for their ability and an unavoidable reality of my inability. It took me about a minute and fifteen seconds to do 2 laps (whereas it took the swimmers about a quarter that.) I had to stop to catch my breath every 2 laps. Another embarrassment, especially because the older and more overweight individuals were lapping me left and right. 
My heart rate was soaring near 170 beats per minute, and I was gasping for air like a fish out of water. (Ironic if you know my maiden name and how unnatural swimming is for me.) I have no idea how many laps I swam; I didn’t want to keep track and embarrass myself further. I just wanted to get out there and try something new, something difficult. 

And so, with unbelievably sore arms and a decidedly smaller ego, I can say, “I did it!” Let’s see if this lasts. 

The One with a Personal Strawberry Race

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Albion Free Methodist Run for God Group
This morning I ran my second 5k race–the Albion Strawberry Festival 5k–alongside 30 other green-shirted Run for God runners from our church and community. It was an exhilarating experience to be a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than a race. This group had trained together, learned from each other, broken through barriers alongside  one another. This race was the culmination of 12 weeks together. 
Praying together before the race and watching each runner cross the finish line was incredibly moving. I was nearly in tears as I cheered on one runner after another, a part of our larger body. God is so good. 
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getting ready at the starting line with Brendan beside me.
In addition to the great cause of the race (CareNet crisis pregnancy center), and the Run for God victories, I had a few momentous achievements for myself. Ten years ago I never would have thought I’d one day be a runner. I was always clumsy, slow, and a tad bit chubby (just being honest.) I classified myself as “unathletic” for 25 years. I started running on my own in college–2005–but it wasn’t until this past year that I began to see myself as an athlete. I thank God for the new found abilities I’ve discovered. May He be glorified as I keep my body–His Temple–in shape and in good working order. 
Right now, I am so thrilled (and a little nauseous, to be quite honest.) I blew my previous PR (personal record) out of the water with a time of 23:49!! That’s a 7:41 mile pace (I had only ever run at an 8:12 pace in the past.)*

*If you don’t have running knowledge or experience, the average person runs 3.1 miles (a 5k) in 30 minutes or at a 10 minute/mile. 


The one mishap (or possible “badge of honor” if you’d like to see it that way), was the vomiting. Yes, I threw up. Four times. On the final stretch, with the finish line in my sights and the announcer (a church friend) calling my name in front of the cheering crowd I felt the most unavoidable reflex occurring in my throat. I tried so hard to stop it. The first time, I subtly shook it off. (Don’t ask.) The second time, just as I heard my friend, Karen, yell, “GO, MEL!!!” there it came. Gross. It was all I could do to make it to the finish line. Another friend, Diane, was eagerly waving me onward as she waited at the finish to snatch my number and clock my time. “You can do this!” her face said. And I ran to her with renewed motivation. In the nick of time, she tore off my number and I charged toward a trash can, retching again. 
Once I had time to recover from that experience and walk back to the cheering section, I was starting to feel oddly proud of my vomit experience. And apparently rightly so–I had at least 3 seasoned runners tell me that throwing up comes with the pushing-yourself-to-the-limit efforts. Alright. I’ll take that badge of honor

Here’s a few photos from the finishing area. You can vaguely see the distraught expression on my face in picture #1 and the second photo has Diane eagerly waving me forward (along with my 23:49 displayed on the clock. (I completely missed that huge digital clock as I was approaching. Totally oblivious.)

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Thanks, Diane. I seriously think I would have stopped running if it weren’t for you.
Later in the race, as finishers continued to poor in, other Run for God folks started encouraging the runners by running that last stretch with them. As I saw Sara (a friend, church goer, and piano student’s parent) coming up the road, I ran out to her and encouraged her to finish. It was exhilarating for me to be beside a first time runner. 
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Sara and Me

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A few more Run for God people with Brian–a leader–helping them cross the finish line.

As we meandered over to the Awards Ceremony, someone ran up to me and said, “Melanie! You won!” I checked out the Winners Board and there was my name and my time–in first place of the 20-29 year old Females. I’ve never been so excited!!

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Then, when I saw this Overall Finishers List, I was thrilled all over again–
19th Place out of 150 runners.
2nd Female Finisher by 39 seconds. 
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Those are stats I am so proud of and completely overwhelmed to claim as my own. This afternoon, as I was recalling the day with my husband, tears streamed down my face when I described this experience. I have never felt so proud of something I’ve done, something I’ve worked so hard for, a gift only God could have given–and that I didn’t even know I had. Running isn’t a natural inclination for me. It is something I’ve learned to love, an exercise I enjoy, time to meditate and pray, the opportunity to push to the limit and compete with my own abilities. 
Glory be to God for these gifts. 

The One with the {Running} Nerd

If you didn’t think that running could become a nerdy hobby then you’re about to become enlightened. In my opinion, a nerd is someone who is an expert on a single discipline, not because they’re supposed to but because they love that subject so much. A nerd knows he’s a nerd, and he’s ok with that. 
Got it?  
No? That’s ok. It doesn’t really matter anyways. 
All that to say I’m feeling like a running nerd, and LOVING every minute of it. This morning I donned my new Bondi headband (which I won from Sarah’s blog!), my Nathan Shadow Pak (in Royal Blue), and my desperately-needed-new Brooks Adrenaline Running Shoes. Not to mention my Under Armour running tights and long sleeve Cold Gear top. 
Needless to say, it was a great run! I love this 40 degree weather, and I can’t wait until it’s daylight outside at 6am instead of 7am. My Running Dream Come True
Wanna know what the heck all that running gear jargon is all about? I knew you’d say yes. 
The Bondi Headband is something I’ve had on my wishlist for a year or two. I’m not sure why I couldn’t just splurge for this $8 item, but I didn’t. It took me winning a giveaway to try out the Bondi. I LOVE it. I don’t have to wear a lame sweatband anymore to keep the sweat out of my eyes. Now, I can wear a stylish sweat wicking headband. (Is that a thing? “Stylish” and “sweat” in the same sentence?) 
When I visited Fleet Feet recently (my first time getting fitted for running shoes), I saw these slim little waist pouches (I refuse to think of them as fanny packs) that would carry all sorts of running accouterments. I found Nathan’s Shadow Pak on Amazon for $15 and I’ve used it twice this week. It’s great–it doesn’t bounce when I’m running (that would have been super annoying), it’s got a few light reflectors on it, it comes with an ID card tucked in the side (ya know, should anything happen to me), and it holds my phone and my ipod. Not too shabby. 
And then, of course, there are the new running shoes. This is one area of my life that my frugal sensibility isn’t a good thing. I shouldn’t take chances on my feet (and subsequently my knees, back, etc.). Running is hard work and takes a toll on your body. If I want to keep running (and keep the use of my knees for Pete’s sake), then I should get a pair of high quality shoes that are worth the money. 
I couldn’t go all out financially though. I mean, I’m Melanie, I’m cheap. Let’s be honest. To save a few bucks ($35 to be exact), I purchased the previous version of Brook’s Adrenaline. (ie. rather than version 12, I found version 11.) Works for me. It felt good to have new shoes on my feet. 
I’m thankful for this early Spring weather, for winning a giveaway, for birthday money to purchase Under Armour, for an Amazon gift card to save extra cash, and for my husband’s support in spending money on my running habit. 
Three cheers for taking care of myself. (And it only took 7 years to become a running “nerd.”) 
Are you a runner? What tips or tools do you love? 

The One with the Zumba Report

I survived Zumba, ya’ll. In fact, I was even a little bit good at it. And by “good,” I mean I could keep up with most of the moves–NOT that it was at least an ounce natural-looking. Wowzers. I am just not not made to move like that. 
First of all, I arrived WAY too early. I was convinced the class started at 8:15, and being there at 8:00 would be a good idea for my first time. I trudged through the deep snow all the way to the studio (a convenient 5 minute walk from our house) and must have looked some some sort of a lost puppy when I tramped into the front door. The women-only fitness center owner was so kind and showed me the way to the classroom. A moment later, she came back and informed me I was a half hour early. Without a moment’s hesitation, she offered to let me use a treadmill while I waited. 
So I treadmilled-it-up for the next 25 minutes. 
My girl, Miss O., showed up, and we headed upstairs to the dance studio. It was a nice class size–probably 15–and women of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels. I quickly realized that no one would be watching me–all eyes are glued to the teacher. (That’s a lot of pressure I’m not sure I could handle. *whew*)  
O. and I high-fived a few times between songs, feeling pretty awesome about ourselves, even though we knew we weren’t all that great. It was so much fun being there together. (And seriously, the fact that a TEEN wanted ME there with her was just AHmazing.) 
After the hour was up, I was happy–proud of my “performance” (because normally I can’t keep up with choreography to save my life) and so pleased to have spent time with one of my girls. 
From a fitness standpoint, I’m not completely sold. It was fun, yes, but I like to be super sweaty when I’m working out, breathing heavily, feeling like I want to quit, but knowing I’m not going to. I can imagine that if I were an actual Latin dancer, I would be sweating like that. But in this class environment, I barely broke a sweat. Hmm. Oh well. Maybe it’s not my favorite workout, but it was it still worth it. 
Have you tried Zumba? Are you a big fan? What other fitness classes do you enjoy?
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*side note: I think I may be having a harder time getting my heart rate up and working out hard because of a little bit of exciting news–my pulse was 58 bpm yesterday, and my blood pressure was 108 over 64. My heart rate has never been below 68 or 70–numbers I was proud of. In high school, my pulse was consistently 90 or 100 bpm. Now, being the runner that I’ve become, I feel like a true athlete. I think the interval running has helped too.