The Baconrunner guide to gear

OK..I have been thinking about this post for a while now.  You hear a lot about running being an inexpensive sport…and it certainly CAN be less expensive that some.  I believe however, that there are some essentials that you simply MUST have to make your life easier and keep your parts in place ( more on that later).  I have been running now for almost 3 years and I have figured out what works well for me.  I thought I might pass along my gear philosophy.  Having said that, we are all individuals, and running is an individual sport more than most, so you must find what works for you and go with it.  Here are a few things I have figured out along the way…

ESSENTIALS:

1. Running outfit:  Unless you want to make a SERIOUS impression upon your community and become acquainted with your local police force, you must wear running clothes.  While you do not need to spend a mint from an outdoor outfitter, you DO need a good running shirt and a pair of shorts or capris, or a running skirt.  Please please please stay away from anything cotton.  You need fabric that wicks and breathes. Your pores will thank you.

  • Running top: My preference is for a tank top here in Florida…you can find short sleeve tops, tank tops, etc in any sports store.  The important thing here I think, is something that makes you feel good when you put it on.  Looks aren’t everything, but lets face it, when you are a beginning runner you feel self conscious enough just getting out there.  You need a top that makes you want to wear it so you can go running!  Once you run a 5K race or two you will start filling your closets with plenty of shirts to run in, but for now, pick something fun.
  • Bottoms: Many women like to run in shorts.  I wanted to be one of these women, I really did.  My thighs however, got in the way.  You see shorts are fine, but if you happen to have womanly thighs like I do, then there is friction, and with friction comes the dreaded CHAFFING.  Chaffing is NOT FUN.  Chafing makes you curse like a sailor and walk like a duck. I decided I could either stand at the starting line of a race, lubing up my thighs with Glide ( oh such a pretty sight)…or simply find a cute pair of running capris.  I opted for the capris.  Capris, or a running skirt with long compression shorts underneath solve the friction issue nicely.  Capris may be a bit warm to run in, however I have found an awesome pair that has ventilation at the knees. I love these pants…you have my permission to bury me in them. Love. Them.
  • Sports Bra: for the love of the tatas, find yourself at least two really really good sports bras!  This is an area you really can’t skimp on.  I went through several cheaper brands til I found my perfect sports bra.  I wish I had saved my money and went right for the better made versions.  I personally love the Moving Comfort series..there are tons of really good brands out there, but that has worked for me. My favorite version is a racerback with a back clasp, because who wants to fighting bra straps on a run?!
  • Undies: Yes there are special undies for running…who knew? Some women prefer to wear undies, some wear shorts with a liner, some even go commando.  Ahem..bottom line here..snicker…is that you need to find what works for you.  The only thing I would warn, is stay away from cotton.  Again, your parts need to breathe and move.  Cotton is just not the fabric for that.  Most sports stores sell athletic panties and you could try those…they are usually seamless and light.  They are NOT however inexpensive.  I went into sticker shock at the idea of spending 20.00 on a pair of functional panties that didn’t have lace or leopard spots on them…BUT they do their job.  I didn’t really think much about undies until I ran my first 10 miler.  Lets just say that while my THIGHS didn’t chafe, other things did. After that incident, $20.00 seemed a very wise investment.
  • Socks: Again, cotton is your enemy.  You need a good pair of synthetic running socks. Your blister less feet will thank you.
  • Shoes: Here is a topic that I know very little about.  I happen to be a barefoot runner: I run in those funny monkey toe Vibram Five finger shoes.  I run til they wear a hole somewhere, and then I replace them, simple as that.  Now for most people, you WILL need a good pair of shoes.  This is probably the most expensive but important piece of running gear you will buy.  You really should have a pair of RUNNING shoes, not sneakers or such from a department store, but an actual pair of running shoes from a running store.  Do yourself a favor and go to an actually running store where they will look at your foot, your arch, your gait, and help fit you for a shoe.

2. Important accessories: Here are some of what I consider to be “essential accessories”.  There’s a ton of gear out there that you can live with or without, but these are, in my opinion the most useful.

  • Fuel: if you are running long distances, you need to fuel up.  For me, the line is at 6 miles.  Anything over 6 miles, and I eat a shot block every 3 miles.  This is really really individual.  You must figure this one out for yourself, but please don’t deny your body fuel on a long run.  Some runners eat jelly beans, sports beans, GU, pretzels with peanut butter, gummy bears, or shot blocks.  The list is endless.  Your stomach will dictate to you what works.  Try out several options on your training runs, so that on race day you have a fueling strategy down.  Do NOT try anything new on race day, or risk the wrath of your colon and risk spending the race in a porta potty…NOT FUN.
  • Water holder/belt: You need to hydrate. Period.  Even if you are out for a 2-3 mile run, you really should have water.  Anything longer than that and you MUST have water.  Some people can carry a water bottle and run and that is great.  I wish I were one of them, but I am just not that coordinated.  There are also water bottle carriers that strap to your hand.  What worked best for me was to break down and buy a water belt.  They are clunky looking and not so pretty, but they WORK.  My belt is by Nathan, but there are lots of them out there. I have space for 2-4 wear holders, a key stash, and a pocket to put my shot blocks in for the long haul.  I thought it would bouncy, heavy, etc…but it does its job beautifully.
  • ID Band: this is a band that carries your important medical and personal information.  Generally you will have your name, any medical conditions or allergies, and the phone number of 1 or two people to contact in case of emergency.  Think of it as a medical alert bracelet for runners.  Your loved ones will feel much better when you go for a run knowing you have ID.  I rarely carry ID with me on a run except for this bracelet.  Its just the responsible thing to do.  They are inexpensive and practically indestructible. I use a company called road ID ( roadID.com)  but there are several companies who make them.
  • GPS watch/app, etc: You will want to know how far and how fast you ran that work out.  There are many options.  There are tons of free apps for your phone.  Many of these are fairly accurate and work well.  I found for me, I needed a GPS watch.  I like to be able to glance at my watch and adjust pace, or know that I only have to run 0.3 more miles.   There are several brands and cost brackets out there.  I will say my lowest end Garmin has lasted years and been a perfect match for me.

3. Other stuff: Here are some extra bells and whistles that I have added to my running arsenal.  They are certainly not essential, but helpful and some are just plain fun.

  • Glide: Ok, this should probably be on the essential list for me. As we have discussed, friction is not your friend as a runner.  I’m a girl, and things jiggle and bounce. Friction happens, and it can be ugly, but we have weapons in our arsenal  to combat the dreaded chafe monster.  Glide is a stick of chapstick like stuff that you can apply to any friction spots.  My frequent offenders are underarms, bra line, shirt collar, etc.  This stuff works like magic.  I generally apply before a race and take a small travel sized jar of aquaphor with me to spot treat on the run.  I have heard of others using vaselline, and actual chapstick as quick fixes while on a run.
  • Arm band and headphones: If you want to bring your phone and listen to tunes,you will need an armband.  There are fifty thousand options out there and it takes trial and error to see what works for you.  I had one brand that I adored that suddenly started chafing after 13 miles and I had to retire.  This really is trial and error here.  For headphones, I would suggest the kind that actually wrap around your ear.  These seem to stay put so much better than the ear bud type- for me anyway.  I would also suggest a sports type set of headphones…these are generally water and sweat resistant.
  • Tracking app: I run with a road ID tracker app.  This app allows me to signal  my SuperHusband’s phone when I am running and gives him a GPS readout of where I am on the run.  It will send an alert if I am stationary for more than the allotted time, and will send him an alert when I have completed my run.  This app was free but is priceless in the peace of mind that it offers to both myself and my SuperHusband!
  • Cold weather gear:  Living in Florida, I don’t need much in the way of cold weather gear.  It is important though to have a few essentials to run through the winter.  I have one pair of cold weather tights, and one long sleeved shirt that is a nice, vented running shirt.  I have a pair of gloves that convert from mittens to fingerless gloves, and a hat. I have used them all of twice this winter, but were very glad to have had them!
  • A water bottle with Bling: When you run you must hydrate. You will find yourself drinking more water in general throughout your day.  Find a really cute or blinged out water bottle that makes you feel like a runner…carry it with you throughout the day, and smile when you think of your kick butt morning run!
  • Clip on light: I am not much of a pre dawn or dusk runner, but if you are, you really should invest in a clip on light to wear.  Once again, safety first!
  • Compression socks: These have changed my world.  They are oh so ugly and I couldn’t care less!  I had a tough time with shin splints leading up to my first and second half marathon.  Compression calf sleeves/socks have completely eliminated  the pain.  In addition, I truly believe they have helped speed my long run recovery.  I have 2 pair, one for the run and a clean pair to wear all through the day after my run.
  • Bling Catcher: You need somewhere to hang those medals! You usually get a medal for just finishing any race that is 10K and higher…find a medal holder and hang that bling up! There are many web sites that sell race bib holders, medal hangers, as well as other cool race stuff.  Invest in something to remind you of all the hard work you have done! I save all of my race bibs and write my finish time and date on the backs…its really fun to flip through them and see how far you’ve come.
  • Money for race entry: You’ve put in the time, you really should put your toes to the starting line and see what you can do! Yes, races can be costly, but they are great motivators, and also just plain FUN!  5 K races are generally in the 20-30 dollar range, and 10 K’s, halfs, and marathons go up from there.  Its a great idea to start a fun fund to put aside money for race entries.

A cheap sport? Not so much!  However, many of these are things I have gathered a little at a time, over the years.  I have found it to be worth the high cost of investing in one or two good items from a premium running store.  For example, I have two pair of running capris from the Athleta store.  They are the only running bottoms I have and I run in them 3 days a week.  They have lasted almost 3 years and show no signs of wear and tear. They were an investment, but have lasted so well and are so very perfect for me to run in.  I bought the first pair at full price and loved them so much that I stalked the website until they went on sale and snagged the second pair.  Running gear is expensive, but if you are thrifty you can wait for sales and find great deals.  Generally around the holidays or at the end of season is when I start lurking and looking for sales!

Once again, this is what works for me.  Everyone is different, from clothing choice to fuel options.  Just go to any race and look around.  You won’t find two runners dressed alike or using the same gear combination, and yet they will all run the same race and pass the same finish line.  This is just an outline of some things to consider when gearing up.

This has been my 2 cents on gear, Baconrunner style!

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A is for Ambivalence

I’ve reached an interesting point here in my marathon training.  I’m at the cusp of really ramping things up in the mileage department.  I have come so very very far, but here is where the rubber ( and my complaining butt) will start to hit the road.  Last friday was a long run of 15 miles.  That was a great milestone to be sure, but from here out to taperville, I will basically be running a half marathon or more every week.

Now that just starts to make me a bit cranky when I think about it.  All those long runs with no bling to show for it.  2.5 to 4 hours of running running running.  Sunday I will be racing in a half marathon (at least I will get some bling there).  As soon as I cross the finish line and get my medal tho, I will have to turn around and hoof it back over the causeway and then back again to the tune of 3 more miles…ugh!

Here’s a peek at my training for the next few weeks:

9 miles,18 miles,4 miles

6 miles, 6 miles,13.1 miles

9 miles,13.1 miles, 8 miles

10 miles, 20miles, 5 miles

7 miles, 14 miles, 7 miles

9 miles,  23 miles,  7 miles

8 miles, 8 miles,6miles

9 miles,  20 miles, 6 miles

6 miles, 12 miles, 6 miles

4 miles, 8 miles, 5 miles

MARATHON

Keeping in mind, this is a bare bones program.  I’m trying to add in some cross training and such too, but this is the minimum I will need to get me over that finish line period.  Proper training, for those who actually have a time goal is MUCH more intense!  I will be running a total  of 39 miles in a week at my maximum, and that is still the minimum I will need to cross that finish line!

So as you can see, I’m a bit ambivalent as I look forward.  Gotta start hacking away at it one mile at a time, but its getting tiresome I admit.  I’m getting whiny.  Its harder to get up and put on those shoes and go for those long runs.

I will say though that I have a new found joy in running the short runs.  Those 3-6 mile runs feel almost like I am skipping out on a long run…like I am getting away with something ( how crazy is that?).  I went for a 3.1 miler this morning.    I didn’t pay much attention to my GPS pace for once, and just ran.  I had so much fun.  It felt so good to forget about pace and timing and just run my happy pace for an easy 3 miles.  Two years ago I would have thought anyone who said such a thing was certifiably nuts! But it felt GOOD!:)  And happy dance of surprise and joy, I found at the end of my 3.1 miles, I had managed an easy 9:50 pace and completed the run in 30 minutes!

One year ago, a 30 minute finish was my dream time for a RACE and here I was running that pace for fun.  I was grinning like an idiot for about an hour this morning.  My happy pace is getting faster.  It is nice in the midst of all the ambivalence, to see that all of those long runs are indeed making difference. It felt like a warm hug from the Almighty himself.   So I will run on.   Yes, A is for  Ambivalence, but  D is for Determined and that’s good enough for me!

This little piggy ran 15 miles…

Ok people, I have reached a milestone! Today I set out for the Longest Run Of My Life.   Today was the day to go beyond 13.1 for the first time ever.  Drum roll…….I DID IT! Happy Dance Happy Dance…well happy limp anyway…I’m not much for dancing this afternoon.

It took me just under 3 hours, but I did it. I ran without stopping ( except for two essential potty breaks and short walks while I sipped water and refueled).  I have not yet mastered the drink and eat on the run bit…and it’s likely I never will.  I tried it a few times,  and the seizure like fits that ensued while I hacked water out of my trachea were not pretty and alarmed passing motorists.  But I digress.  I. DID. IT.

It was gnarly, and tough, and I am beat- I won’t lie.  It took me  4 miles to untangle my legs and get out of my own way and run.  That has become my standard lately.  I think it takes 4 miles for my legs to accept that we are NOT running just a 5 K and to shift gears appropriately ( my legs are stubborn like that).  From mile 4-10, I found my happy pace and cruised along nicely, feeling all runner-like and content.  At mile 10 I started to get a bit tired. I managed to run through a fire ant hill and pick up a lone, angry little hitchhiker.  He managed to nail me on my ankle just before I made him hit the road.  I gritted it out and promised my legs a quick rest at mile 12 ( my scheduled potty stop).  From mile 12-13 my legs were cranky but still agreeing to work.  At mile 13 I was elated.  I had finally passed into uncharted running waters!  My legs however, had their heart set on 13 miles and were NOT HAPPY when I kept going.  In fact, they convinced my feet to join the rebellion too and tried to make life miserable for the final 2 miles.  It seemed like everything hurt for the last stretch: my quads, my calves, my glutes, even my back started barking.  In spite of it all, I dug down and got stubborn and made it home.  Mind over creaky matter and all that.

I made the run in just under 3 hours.  That’s NOT a fast pace people…but did I mention that I ran for 3 hours? 3 Years ago I remember looking at my couch to 5 K program and stressing because I couldn’t run the 5 MINUTES it called for.  I am so very greatful for the journey that has brought me this far.  God has been ever so good!

As elated as I am about finishing 15 miles, it does scare me to look ahead.  My training plan calls for two long runs of 20 miles and one of 23 before marathon day.  Right now I can’t imagine running one more step than I did today.  That will be 8 miles more than today….and race day will be a full 11.1 more than I ran today. That is no joke! I can’t imagine running that far right now!

For now, I am aiming for around a 5 hour marathon finish time. Its slow ( Oprah made it in 4 hours 30 minutes…Oprah people), but I have to keep reminding myself that 26.2 miles at 3 hours or 7 is still 26.2 miles.  I have come farther than I thought I could, and God willing I will go farther still. Next week calls for a long run of 16 miles, so I will run a half marathon and then run 3 more miles once I cross the finish line..how crazy is that?!  The following week is a 17 miler, then 18 and so on to the starting line.  I am so far from where I started that I can barely see where I was, and yet the miles ahead are uncertain and foggy.  Going to have to trust God yet again, and venture forward into even more uncharted waters.

For today however, 15 MILES…and Bacon for lunch 🙂 Now that’s a good day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks.

Running confessional time today.  I did not run all of my scheduled miles this week.  This is a big, giant, in your face no no when you are training for a Big Race.  I’m feeling a smidge conflicted about this fact.  On the one hand I feel a bit sad that I didn’t measure up, on the other I am quite proud of little old me for what I DID manage to do.

Quite honestly I knew this week was going to be a stretch.   My long run called for a 13 miler yet again(ugh).  I generally run my longest run on Fridays.  This Friday I had an appointment in Orlando smack dab in the middle of the morning and then every last hour of the day was scheduled with one thing or another.  Saturday was pretty packed as well.  That would leave Sunday for my long run, and hopefully time to squeeze in a 4  miler on Friday or Saturday. Yeah, you can see where this was just not ideal.

Well I never found time to squeeze in that 4 miler.  However, Sunday rolled around and I DID manage to drag my hiney out of bed fairly early ( point for me).  Unfortunately is was both chilly AND wet this morning ( oh joy).  In addition to the oh so helpful weather, I literally woke up with a pounding headache ( oh Joy squared).

In spite of all this, I suited up and hit the pavement.  I had a little chat with God, asked for help, and headed out for no less than 6 miles.  At about mile 4 my,  headache receded and I decided in for a penny, in for a pound and turned my feet towards the BIG LOOP that would log 13 miles long miles.  I made the commitment to do this long run after  all.

It had been drizzling since I first headed out, but somewhere between mile 4 and 6 it really started to rain.  It was that fine, drenching rain that makes everything foggy and removes visibility 5 feet in front of you.  Wishing I had brought my hat, I splashed on.  I got completely, thoroughly, soaked. My vibrams are not even close to water resistant, and every step was squishy and sloshy.  But squish, squish, squish, I flopped my way along.  I would also like to add that I was COMPLETELY alone. No New Years Resolutionists out for a run or walk.  Not one other soul was out braving the elements.  I’m sure every driver that passed me thought I was insane.

I lost my happy pace somewhere around mile 9.  I was just plain tired.  My legs hurt, my joints ached, I was wet and getting chilled.  I dug down and got gritty.  The last 4 miles of the run seemed to take forever!  At the end of the day though, I didn’t do to badly…I came in at the same time I had run the Wine and Dine half.  I was a whole minute per mile slower than last week though…and man were my legs tired and sore!

I was puzzled at first at how tough this run had seemed.   Just one week ago I had run this very same course, faster and feeling relatively fresh.  This week I felt like I was barely able to shuffle home.   Yeah, just last week….oh….right…LAST WEEK.  Just ONE SHORT WEEK AGO I had run a half marathon… then TWO DAYS LATER, I ran 7 tough causeway miles…AND just 5 SHORT DAYS after that here I was, running another HALF MARATHON distance! No wonder this run was hard! In the past I would have taken at least a whole week off from running  before easing back into a 3-4 mile run schedule…This was a significant change in routine.  And I hadn’t even realized what I was asking myself to do.

Yet again I will say,’ Oh how I have changed”.

So I end this week with 20 total miles in the bank rather than the hoped for 24.  I  wish I’d made time to squeeze in that 4 miler, but I’m really proud of the miles I did run.  I’m seeing big changes in my stamina and my grit-ability.  I’m getting stronger and tougher week by week.  Thankfully next week is a slightly lower mileage week, and then I bump up to a scary 15 miler.  In two weeks I will be asking myself to run farther than I have ever ran before.  All the while, I am becoming, I am becoming, I am becoming a new creation in Christ. Trying to stay gritty, commit to the miles, and remember how far I have come rather than worry about the mileage in front of me or the few miles I may miss along the way.

A case of “the bad runs” ;)

After all the talk about my long run last Friday, I decided its only fair to give you the other end of the spectrum.  Lets talk about something I really don’t like to admit to… “the BAD runs”.  You know, those days when your legs conveniently forget that they have ever ran a mile much less 4 or 5.  Those mornings when you start out with good intentions and can’t get in a groove, everything aches, your mind just won’t focus and you are huffing like a steam engine. Nothing clicks, the gears grind, and you just feel all wrong. Yeah, THOSE days.

Full disclosure: I had one of THOSE runs just a short while ago.  I had just gotten back from a week in Tennessee.  I was feeling pumped.  I’d actually managed to drag myself out of bed and run for 3 mornings while on VACATION!!!  That was unheard of discipline for this gal.  Not only that, but this Florida girl had braved temps as low as 27 degrees and some pretty steep hills to complete those runs.  I gamely tackled the cold and the steep inclines. I felt like a running beast! I felt strong!

Fast forward a week to when we got home.  I was truly looking forward to getting out there and pounding some flat pavement and not freezing my rear off.  I felt sure that the hill work and cold would pay off now that I was home in the land of no hills.  Well I struck out with good intentions but by the first footfall I knew I was in trouble.  My legs were whiny, I just couldn’t get my breath like I was used to, and everything just felt wrong and very very hard.  I stuck with it for 4 herky jerky miles, stopping frequently to walk intervals.  I put in the distance but man I didn’t feel good about it AT all. What the heck?

I’ve been thinking about that run a good bit.  I have come to the conclusion that it is important to embrace those bad runs just as much as I do the good ones.  Yes, the good runs build my confidence and show me just how far or how fast I can go.   Those bad runs however, they can be even more valuable when I realize just what they can do.

Its those bad, nasty, gritty runs that teach me to hang in there.  Those are the runs that make me dig deep and force myself to push on when my body wants to stop.  Its in the midst of a tough run, that I find just how to wage the battle between mind, body and spirit.  Iron sharpens Iron, and gritty runs make for gritty tough runners my friends.

In the midst of a long race I surely will feel exhilarated at the start, I will fly for a while on the energy of the race.  If I run far enough though,  I know I will reach that place where the gears grind, nothing clicks, and I just want to give up or give in.  That my friend is where all those tough gnarly runs will step in and lift you up.  You’ll reach deep and tell yourself you’ve been in this dark place before and powered through.  That is where we will find the grit and determination to pull ourselves up and continue on.  THAT is how distance races are truly won.

Sure, there are those God blessed runs that make me feel strong and powerful, but there are also those quietly blessed runs where He gives me the opportunity to grit it out and become stronger than I thought I could be.  I may not LIKE those gnarly runs, but I have at least, started to appreciate them and realize they are valuable.  They shape me and strengthen me and bless me with the stubbornness to endure even when my body has other ideas.  I am thankful for the days I am lifted, and will try to give thanks for the days I am tested, for I am always becoming stronger.

So ya want a medal or something?

Today I ran my unofficial 3rd half marathon of my life and of this year.  I say unofficial because there was no start or finish line, no cheering people, no photographer, no water stops, no race bib or timing chip, and more importantly no medal.  That’s right people…NO BLING!

There were none of these things because you see, today I ran 13.1 grueling miles ( well 13.2 if you get fussy and I do) just for the sheer PRACTICE of it.  Today was a training run for my Marathon, plain and simple.  Holy crap…I just said that. Oh how times have changed.

Up until today I have never ever run that far, unless there was bling and a cheering crowd at the other end.  For my previous half marathons I would run up to 12miles and then save it for the race.  Now I am chewing on the knowledge that for the next 4 months…16 long weeks…I will be trotting out the door for a long run of AT LEAST a half marathon and usually a heck of a lot more.  There will be no medals for any of these runs either…no crowds…you know…just for fun…for training. There will be weeks that I log up to 37 miles.  I will run a long run of 20 miles at least 3 times between now and then.  That’s a big bite, and a lot to swallow indeed.

I have to admit I’m at a bit of a mental precipice.  I am standing on the edge of a very big leap that will take me farther than I have ever ran before.  For the last year, each run that I took was finite.  I ran in charted waters.  I never went past the drop off of that half marathon distance. Once or twice I pushed myself up to the half marathon distance, and then BACKED THAT TRAIN UP!  Each week from here on out, I will push just a bit farther into the unknown.  I will be moving ever closer to a distance that I once thought was not just impossible for me, but inconceivable.

Now I know that all sounds like I am seriously daunted…and I I won’t lie to you, I am.  I will share with you though, that I am also excited to see where this will go.

You see I surprised myself today.  I was only scheduled to run 12 miles.  It was a rough start, and it took me the typical 4 miles to untangle my legs and get my brain to commit to a long run.  After that however, I found my happy pace and just ran.  It felt good.  I felt the exertion, but also felt in gear.  At about mile 8, I decided to go ahead and run 13.1 miles today instead of 12.  In for a penny and in for a pound.

At mile 10 I still felt pretty good, and found I was able to step on the gas for my final 3.1 miles.  I tacked on an extra 0.1 miles to the 13.1 just to make a point and checked my time.  To my surprise and delight, I had a new personal record for the 10 K distance today AND had beaten my Disney WINE and DINE half marathon time by 3 whole minutes! I had ALSO managed the entire distance with no music what so ever!  Well hallelujah, happy dance, happy dance!

Apparently my ‘happy pace’ has increased a bit since the last time I checked.  My brain may be conflicted, but my legs-so far- are not.

I say all of this not to boast about my faster times, or longer endurance, but to make the point that God is taking me ever farther out of the kiddie pool of my own hopes and into the deep, wide ocean of his possibilities.  I am already beyond the realm of what I had ever hoped for when I started running, beyond what I thought possible, and yes beyond what I was able to even conceive of at the time.  Part of me wants to stay here just at the edge of the drop off, where I have come so far but can still see shore.  But mostly I want to see where God will take me if I am willing to go…

I don’t think is just coincidence that my favorite poem is Sir Francis Drake’s:

Disturb us, Lord,

when we are too well pleased with ourselves,

when our dreams have come true

because we have dreamed too little;

when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord,

to dare more boldly-

to venture on wider seas where storms

will show your mastery;

where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes,

and to push us in the future

with strength, courage, hope, and love.

So that’s where I am today, standing on the edge of what is next, leaning out just a bit into the future.  I am daunted by what lies ahead, but encouraged by how far I have come. Wherever this goes, I plan on grabbing God’s hand and running full speed ahead at whatever finish line he has planned.

Oh, and for those of you who know me well, I am planning to MAKE my own darned medal for today’s run.  I shall call it the Half-for-the-heck of it medal and will display it as a reminder of the first day that I ran a half marathon because it was PRACTICE and not because it was a race 😉 I do like the bling y’all, I really do.