The Feeling of Freedom

Gasping for breath in the cold morning air, I ran (as well as I could) along the 1-mile cross-country course our PE teacher had set for us.  We rarely ran for that long of distance in PE class, and I struggled to finish, my lungs burning with each breath.  I enjoyed being outdoors in the bright sunshine, but the running part?  Adamantly not.

The limited times we ran in PE class, plus the times I left late for school and had to alternate running with walking–while carrying all of my books and my clarinet–a mile to school to try and avoid being tardy for my first class, were my main experiences with running in school.  I remember neither fondly.

Yet I loved to walk.  I often walked fast, not only because I ran late most of the time, but also because my family walked a lot–to the store, the library, post office, to catch the bus, and my dad walked super fast, and I had to keep up.  I remember trying to relax and let my legs flow as fast as they would go.

In college I took several fitness classes that I enjoyed so much better than PE in highschool.  I took walking–I got credit for walking regularly! yes!!!–tennis, and aerobics.  I never learned tennis well, but I loved aerobics (it was the late 80s-early 90s, so what do you expect!?).  And after college I joined a women’s gym with my mom, and I took step aerobics there.  We also used the treadmill (for walking), the StairMaster, and weight machines.  I enjoyed it so much!

At that time, at around 24 years old, I wanted so badly to get a “flat stomach,” and I wanted to get muscles, and, thanks to Oprah finishing a marathon, I began to want to run one, too.  I slowly started running on the treadmill, mixing a little bit of running with the walking that I had been regularly doing.  But then my journey to start running came to an abrupt stop! I got pregnant, and I had read that you shouldn’t take up something new like that while pregnant, so I stopped trying to run.

I kept up exercising, though, and exercised at the gym throughout my pregnancy, walking on the treadmill, using the StairMaster, and using the weight machines.  I also did aerobics at home using a video of Denise Austin’s pregnancy workout.  I think I found it on YouTube! You’ll be so happy I shared this with you:  Denise Austin – pregnancy plus workout (1990).

I had my daughter at age 25, in 1995, and having a new baby was the hardest, and most wonderful thing, I had ever experienced.  After my baby was a little older, I went to the gym for awhile, but I decided it would better for our family for me to take a break from going to the gym, and so I stopped.

As time when by I had 3 other children, and I got busy with life, being a stay at home/unschooling mom of four, and didn’t “officially” exercise much after that.  We’ve always enjoyed keeping active as a family, though, and through the years my main exercise was chasing my kiddos and going for nature walks with my family, and we still go for nature walks each week!

But as my kids and I grew older, I thought, “I want to do more.”  So about 5 years ago, in 2013, we joined the Y, and it was a major turning point in our lives. Our lives started to be filled with activity!  One thing my kids and I did was start taking swimming lessons.  Then a couple of us started using the weight machines.  Then I thought about the goal I had, inspired by Oprah, before I became a mom to run in a marathon, and I thought now is the time to start working on that!  I told my coach, “I’d like to run, how should I start?

So, at age 43, I began working on the goal I had when I was 24.   My first step, as suggested by my coach at the Y, was to run a couple minutes and then walk a couple minutes.  I went to the park and tried to run around the lake with my kids.  They were all so much better at it than I was at the time! At first I struggled running even a minute!  And I remembered how much I hated gasping for air.  But I kept at it, and in 2016 I did my first marathon!

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Finishing my first marathon

I enjoy other fitness activities, swimming being one of the things I love, and using the weight machines is fun (by the way, I have never gotten “muscles” or a “flat stomach” yet haha!). But running is what I’m most passionate about.  Running helps me feel free! Before I took up running I used to have a nightmare where I would try and run, but I couldn’t get anywhere, my feet were like lead. But I can’t remember the last time I had one of those dreams! I feel like each time I run, I’m beating my nightmare.

Also, as shy as I am, I love the community found in running.  It’s so fun being around other runners and talking with them, hearing their stories, being inspired by them, and hopefully encouraging them as well.

And I truly love being in races, especially trail races.  I’ve found training for races helps me better focus on meeting my running goals.  I love the challenge of doing new things, whether that be going longer distances, being in a relay race, trying to beat my personal best, running on new terrain, or even participating on the volunteer side of things. I love to volunteer and encourage other racers.

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Finishing one of my first trail races

Running has been such a good thing for me. It has helped me feel more confident, more strong, more capable.  I love how the Bible talks about running, and how it’s a metaphor for life.  These verses about running are two of my favorites! Hebrews 12:1 encourages me to keep going, even when it’s hard, when it says, “.  . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” And Isaiah 40:31 provides me with hope and and courage!

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

I’ve always loved those verses, but now as a runner, I feel like I really get them, understand them, in ways that I didn’t before.   And their words touch my heart and fill me with gratefulness.

My dad says he’s seen a change in me!  And he’d love to run, but he’s had heart problems his whole life, so he can’t run, and now he’s older and walks slower than he did when I was a child trying to walk fast to keep up with him.  So I think he likes to see me run.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I’m able to run.  I want to run as long as I can, until I’m as old as possible.  But right now I’m trying to enjoy being in the moment, the beauty around me while I run, the feeling of the fresh air blowing against me, the rain pelting in my face, or the sun shining so brightly.   It makes me feel free! Freedom, that is what I most love about running–the feeling of freedom.

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We Began Teaching Our Children This Lesson on Their First Day of Life

Today I found this post in my drafts–from 12/17/2013!  I’m not sure why I never published it, but here it is.

After church this past Sunday, while sitting in our church library waiting for my two younger children as they participated in the rehearsal for children’s choir, I picked up the book “The Shaping of a Christian Family” by Elisabeth Elliot.  I had read some of it in a previous week, and I felt saddened to see some of her comments about babies.  So I picked it up again to re-read her words and decided to write about them.  I don’t have the book in front of me, but I jotted down a couple quotes. In the chapter on “Courtesy,” page 166, she says:

To parents is given the holy task of teaching their children not to yield to selfishness but to learn the mystery of charity, which means self-giving sacrificial love.  This is a profound concept, the groundwork for which is the elementary lesson that the world does not revolve around me.  It is not too soon to begin this lesson on the baby’s first day at home.

On the next page she shares that she fed her baby on-demand, as did her daughter with her first, as I recall, five children, until she learned, what she felt, was a better way. Elisabeth wrote that, “When my daughter’s babies came she had been well indoctrinated with La Leche League’s humanistic philosophy of on-demand feeding.”

I don’t understand the belief that feeding a baby when they are hungry, and nursing for comfort, is a humanistic philosophy.  Different people will define humanism differently, but keep in mind, she believes that it being a humanistic philosophy is a really bad thing.  I remember growing up being taught that being humanistic is something you absolutely want to avoid, that it’s against the Bible and what God teaches.  The first definition of “humanism” listed in The Free Dictionary  is “A system of thought that rejects religious beliefs and centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth.”  A quick Google of the phrase “secular humanism” brought up this definition:  “humanism, with regard in particular to the belief that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without belief in God.”

It honestly doesn’t make sense to me that she would correlate on-demand feeding, or what I now hear more commonly called “on-cue” feeding, as something that would be against God and what He teaches.  To feed a hungry baby, to comfort a distressed baby, these are things I believe with my whole being that God wants us to do.  These are things that point to our gracious God and Savior, not things that elevate humans to a level they do not belong. On the contrary, I believe that nursing on-cue is part of His design and desire for babies and mothers, that it helps ensure that a baby will have enough breastmilk, and that it helps nurture the bond, through building closeness and mutual trust, between a mother and her baby.

I see nothing in the Bible that would lead me to believe that nursing a baby when they want to nurse is a “humanistic philosophy.”  In I Peter 2:2 we read that we are to, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word” (KJV). Think of how much a newborn baby loves and needs to nurse and then think of how much God wants us to desire His word.  In comparing the two things in this way, can the conclusion be drawn that desiring milk that fervently must be something a baby needs to learn is not appropriate?    No way.

On one hand there is the belief that you need to make your baby wait, that you need to put them on a schedule, so that they know you are in charge and so they learn that they aren’t the center of their world.   Some believe that the sooner they realize this the better.

On the other hand is the belief that modeling for a little one sacrificial giving, listening to them and meeting their needs responsively, will help them learn, not that “the world revolves around me,” but that they are important, loved, listened to, that when we love someone we listen to them and don’t ignore them, we respond to their needs and meet them the best that we can.   Our example to them models empathy, sensitivity, caring, and concern for others, and in turn helps nurture those beautiful traits in our children.

They won’t always be so needy.  It’s a season of life they are passing through, and as such there are special needs at that age, and we can and should nurture them in a special way when they are babies.  As babies they are new to this world and helpless, and by responding to them and meeting their needs the best we can as they share those needs with us, we help them learn to communicate better and build trust and understanding in our relationship with them.

Comforting our babies at our breast, feeding them when they are hungry is good and points them to God, not away from Him.  In  Isaiah 66:11, God, comparing Jerusalem to a nursing mother, says, “For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance“ (NIV).  And in Isaiah 66:13, our Lord, our perfect example of a loving parent, goes on to say, “. . . As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (NIV).

I encourage each mother to answer your baby’s cries, to feel free to nurse as much as your little one desires, to go ahead and comfort your little one at your breast.  Psalm 22:9b says, “. . . you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast” (NIV), and we can feel confident that it points our children to, not away, from our loving and compassionate Savior, and that it’s part of His design.

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My Running Shoes (Altras!)

Last year I looked at a list of vegan athletic shoes, and I found out that the Saucony running shoes that I had been enjoying so much aren’t actually vegan.  Ugh.  So when it came time to get a new pair of shoes, I used that handy list, and I decided to look into Altra shoes, because it says that all their running shoes are vegan.  I’ve been very interested in Altra shoes since the Iron Cowboy ran in them last summer when he did 50 triathlons in 50 states in 50 days.  If someone can do that in those shoes, they must be good, right?  I was so happy to see their running shoes are vegan!  Plus, I’ve been super curious to try out zero-drop shoes.

I ended up getting a pair of Altras for a great deal on Amazon.com. . . . okay, actually I ended up buying four pairs.  After I bought one pair I liked them so much that I bought another pair for myself while it was still a good deal on Amazon.com.  But I ended up giving those to my younger daughter!  Then I bought a pair of Altra trail running shoes, but they were a little small for me, so I gave them to my other daughter.   So, that meant I still needed a pair of trail running shoes for myself, so I checked out a different pair of Altras, in a larger size, and I bought them for myself!  Woohoo!  So all the ladies in our house wear Altras now!  I guess next I should see if I can get the men in our household interested in Altras!  lol   I’ll try and post some pics of our shoes soon!  🙂  On 4/25/2016 I’m editing this to add pics of two pairs of Altras that we own.  🙂

 

 

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A Series of Races

This year I ran in a series of four races called the Resolution Series.  There were four races, each one longer than the last — 5, 10, 15, and 20, either kilometers or miles, whichever you choose.  I ran the Resolution Series last year as well, in kilometers (so a 5k, 10k, 15k, and 20k), and I wanted to see if I could run each race faster than I did last year, so I chose to run kilometers again this year.

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Here I am before the 5k  on Jan. 1st.

The first one was on January 1st, and I did better this year than last year!  This year I ran the 5k in 27:06, so at an 8:40 min/mile pace.  Last year I ran the 5k in 28:39, so at a 9:14 pace.

The second race, a 10k, took place later in January, and this year I ran the 10k in 55:55, at a 9:00 pace.  Last year I ran it in 58:18, at a 9:23 pace.

The third race, the 15k, took place in February.  This year I ran the 15k in 126:12, a 9:15 pace.  Last year I ran it in 1:36:19, a 10:21 min/mile pace.

I really did not think I was going to do very well in the fourth race, a 20k.  I felt like skipping it! I hadn’t been getting very long runs in, and I just didn’t feel ready.  I felt super happy when I did way better than I expected!  The fourth race took place on the 3rd weekend of March.  The night before the race I had looked up how fast I ran it last year, and I knew I wanted to come in before 2:15:54, which was a 10:57 min/mi pace.  When I came around the corner, so very tired and happy that it was almost over, and saw the clock, I was thrilled at the time — I ended up finishing it in 158:54, a 9:34 pace!

I ended up getting second place for the series of races for women in my age group (40-49), and I got second place for women in my age group for the 20k!  Yay!!

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Here I am before the 5k  on Jan. 1st.

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Here I am before the 5k  on Jan. 1st.

This series of races is so great because it encourages me to go longer and longer distances.  It’s such a super way to start off the year!  Maybe next year I’ll try to to run the miles instead of the kilometers!  🙂

Last year after these races were over, I kept up the trend and ran at least once race a month. I’d like to do that again this year, and my race for April will be next weekend, on April 17th.  I’m going to be in an indoor mini-triathlon.  Should be fun!

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Exercise/Training Notes for 3/10/2016

I’d like to start keeping a journal of the things I do to try and get fit and reach my racing goals.

This morning I met my mom at the Y.  She just recently started working out there, after I had been pestering her about it for years, and I’m really excited. So far she goes once a week, and it’s a great start.

While she used the weight machines I (mostly) ran on the treadmill for about 45 minutes, attempting my first progression run.  I warmed up for about 5 minutes, then I started at a slow pace, and over the next 35 or so minutes I slowly increased my pace.  Shortly before I cooled down I got up to (approximately) a 7:56 min/mi pace.  Then I cooled down, slowly lowering my speed over the next five minutes until I was walking at a relaxed pace. In the end I went 4.5 miles, and it turns out that my average pace was 10:01 minute/miles.

I did a speed workout today because I’m in my third month of doing the 12-month running challenge on the No-Meat Athlete website, and doing one was part of the challenge for this month.  The challenge has been really good for me. The first month, January, I ran at least a mile every day.  In February the goal was to add more strength work to my routine, so I began doing five of the exercises posted in The Body Shop: Know Squat? workout a couple times a week, plus planks, in addition to the strength workouts I do each week at the Y, and this month the goal is to complete 6 new speed workouts. I’ve never purposefully done any type of speed workout, so they are all new to me.

Last week I did my first fartlek run (such a funny name), and, as mentioned above, for my new workout this week I chose to do a progression run.  I chose the type called a “thirds progression run” in which you divide your run into three different parts, running easy for the first part, harder the second part, and hardest the third.  Here’s the guide I followed (from the article Start Slow – Finish Fast: How Three types of progression Runs Boost Your Fitness by Greg McMillan, M.S.):

For your first thirds progression run, choose a 45-minute easy run. Run the first 15 minutes slowly, the second 15 minutes at your normal pace and finish the last 15 minutes at a strong pace. While I break the run into thirds, your pace doesn’t radically change after each third. Instead, it is a gradual but steady increase across the run.

I didn’t divide it up into exact thirds.  I had a limited amount of time and wanted to get a warm up and cool down in there, so I didn’t run quite as long as I would have liked, but I think it was good for my first time, and I sure got super-sweaty while doing it, so it must have been good, right?

So today I ran 4.5 miles while doing a progressive run, and then afterwards I used the leg press at the Y to finish up the resistance workout I started last night. Last night at the Y the leg press was being used for a long time, and I had to leave before I was able to finish my workout.  My legs aren’t as strong as I’d like them to be (the rating the test at the Y gives me is “fair” for leg strength), and I did two sets — 15 reps at 100 pounds and 15 reps at 110 pounds.   I stopped doing leg presses for awhile when I pulled a muscle last year, and that’s one reason my legs aren’t stronger.  But I’m trying hard to get them stronger now!

Okay, that’s all for now.  Have a good night (if anyone reads this ;))!  🙂

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Random Thoughts About Not Feeling Well and About Triathlons

So much for writing every day!  I skipped two days, but I’ll pick up again today.

I’m afraid I might be getting sick.  Two of my children got sick this week, and I have hoped so much I won’t get it, but this morning I feel kind of icky with a headache and slight bit of nausea.   Maybe as the day goes by I’ll feel better.  We have a busy day planned for tomorrow, so I’d better feel better fast, right? Plus, I’m training to be in a sprint triathlon in July, and I don’t want to lose time I could be training by being sick!  Ugh!

Speaking of training for triathlons, I’m happy to say that I swam 1600 yards last night at the Y.  I didn’t swim it continuously: I took short breaks, but I did it, and I’m excited I swam that much.  My goal is to reach a mile, which is 1760 yards, because later in the summer I want to participate in an Olympic distance triathlon.

Today I’m supposed to go to cycling class, so we’ll see if I feel well enough to go to class this afternoon.  Or maybe I should trying riding outside right now before I feel worse?  No, on second thought I think I should rest.

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Me in my tri top last year!

Yesterday I ordered a new tri top. Somehow I  misplaced the top I wore in the triathlon last year.  I’ve looked and looked for it, but it seems to have disappeared, and it’s frustrating because I really liked that top.  So I ordered a new one on amazon.com, the Zoot Sports Women’s Performance Tri Racerback.  Hopefully it fits me well and is comfy.  I can’t wait to get it and try it out!

I’ve almost reached my 300 word minimum, so I’ll talk to you later.   Writing with a headache isn’t fun!  There. . . 313 words.  🙂

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Yummy Blueberry Smoothie

Trying to eat more healthily, I’ve been making more smoothies lately. My goal is to have a smoothie once a day. I still haven’t quite got into the habit yet of having one every day, but I’m working towards it. The No-Meat Athlete recommends having a smoothie and a salad every day. He says in his post The Perfect Smoothie Formula:

The smoothie and salad act as “anchors” that keep you on track, to remind you just how great it feels to put real, fresh fruits and vegetables in your body.  After you start the day with a smoothie, McDonald’s for lunch doesn’t seem so good anymore.  And when it’s time to start thinking about dinner, the salad does the same.

In this way, those two healthy meals become three or four—which doesn’t leave much time for junk.

I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s in I don’t know how long. It’s been probably at least 10 years, so I’m fine with not eating there.  I do, however, still need to work on eating more healthy foods, and the idea of a having a smoothie and a salad everyday helps me keep more focused and is making it more do-able.

So I’m always on the looked for smoothie recipes, and feeling inspired by this recipe for a blackberry smoothie, though not having any blackberries (I’ll have tons of those later in the year!) but having blueberries in my freezer, I made this yummy, wonderfully cold, blueberry smoothie this morning.  [I apologize for the Styrofoam cup.  I usually avoid Styrofoam, but bought some cups the other day in a moment of weakness because they were so cheap.]

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To make the smoothie I put two bananas and almost two cups of frozen blueberries in my blender and then poured rice milk into the blender up to the top line and blended it until smooth. I also ended up adding juice from half a lemon that I had leftover from yesterday because blueberries and lemon are so good together, and so good for you!  And I and my kiddos really enjoyed it! I’ll definitely be making this smoothie again soon.

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