Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thoughts from an UltraMarathon…

It has been almost two months since I ran the Lakefront 50. I have had two months to process my feelings regarding race day and the season as a whole. Please note that this might be long, but I truly hope you read it.

This season was such an incredible journey. When I stepped out in faith to set two big goals, I was scared. I was constantly second guessing my ability to train my body for 50 miles, and I often feared people would laugh or scoff when they heard I was trying to raise $20,000. As always, God put people in my life to reassure me that this was what I was supposed to be doing in 2017.

Early on in my fundraising, family friends committed to donating each month to my page. This jumpstarted my belief we could all change a lot of lives together. For my birthday in April, I had numerous people help me run and come to my birthday party fundraiser. These two events helped me believe that raising at least $10,000 was possible for the third year in a row.

A huge fear of mine didn’t have anything to do with race day. I was simply doubtful I had it in me to actually train properly for a 50 mile race. I kept looking at different race training plans, and I truly believed there was no way my body would allow me to log that many miles. Plus, how in the world would I even find that much time to train?

Thankfully I have incredible friends who also dream big and have hearts for Africa. As I watched friends train for IronMan, I slowly convinced myself I could do the same. When I read about people running the Longest Day Marathon, I was inspired to keep going.  Facebook can actually be a pretty motivating platform JAs I helped lead the Blaine Group Run, I realized that I could follow my own advice. One run at a time.

I also have friends who were willing to give up their own time to help me train. My friend Jen wasn’t even training for a race, but she ran with me almost every Sunday morning so that I could always have company on my back to back weekend runs. My friend Holly woke up bright and early many times so that I could beat the heat or the rain during my long weekday runs. I had an entire entourage when I completed my 31 mile training run.  Plus, that day alone, friends and family donated almost $1500!!! I seriously have the best people in my life.

The Twin Cities Marathon was another definite destination on my journey, and it is a day I won’t forget. Simply running to run without any goal in mind was fantastic. I loved being with Amy, and we even survived the HORRIBLE weather. My hamstring injury was there, but it wasn’t bad. The best way I can describe it is by simply saying my hamstring was saying hi. It wasn’t overly painful, it was just noticeable. When I woke up the next day with only hamstring pain and zero soreness in any other muscle, I felt confident that I could truly run a 50 mile race.

And this is where my story took a slight turn. When I woke up from the Twin Cities marathon without added soreness, I was stoked. For the first time ever, I could walk up and down stairs without a problem post marathon. To be honest, I could have used a dose of humility, as I was pretty proud of this. I should have also been smart and taken time off. Instead, I ran full out on that Tuesday. I felt great during the run and was once again a bit too proud. The next day, my hamstring wasn’t happy.
For the remaining couple of weeks, I dealt with a nagging hamstring. I never felt the need to take any time off to rest, but I did cut a few runs a couple miles short. In retrospect, I should have taken extra time right after TCM to let my body heal properly. I didn’t, so race day fell apart.

Race Day was COLD. This did not make my already angry hamstring any happier. I also had stomach issues that kept me visiting the porta potty. By mile ten, I was doubting my ability to run 50 miles. If you follow me on FB, you know that I almost quit after mile 25. Despite being on track to finish with plenty of time at the halfway point, I knew it would be rough, and I wasn’t sure I had it in me. But I kept going.  Thanks to constant crying out to God, perfectly timed prayers and donations from family and friends, and my older brother, I crossed that finish line. It was ugly, and I was a blubbering mess, but I did it.

If I am honest, I was rather angry on race day and for a couple of weeks after the fact. I trained so hard for that day, and it was disappointing to barely finish (if all had gone according to plam, I should have finished at least an hour sooner and with at least some energy). I was in so much pain that I could barely move. My hamstring was shot, my quad was super swollen, and I had blisters all over both feet. I felt stupid for even trying.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, it wasn’t about me. Unfortunately, though, it had become about me. I was so focused on accomplishing 50 miles that I forgot why I set that big goal in the first place. I was so proud of being able to cross off mile after mile on my training plan that I forgot to focus on the kiddos who needed me to advocate on their behalf. In short, I made it about me, and that was my mistake.

I don’t necessarily believe God was punishing me on race day, but I believe that race day happened the way it did for a reason. Being in pain made me cry out to God in a way that has only happened one other time in my life. Bleeding blisters made me admit that there was NO way I could do this on my own. Barely finishing made me remember that I don’t do this for my benefit. I do this so that others can have life. I do this as a way of honoring God. I do this so that kiddos in Africa can feel the love of Jesus through my running and fundraising. I choose to run so that others don’t have to.

And that my friends is the condensed (ha!) version of my 2017 journey J

I am still seeking support, so if you want to still donate, you have a few days! If we can get 23 clean water donations in the next three days, a total of 200 people will have new life this year. Let's see how many lives we can change!!!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy 35th Birthday to ME!!!

This year I turned 35 years old, and I celebrated in true TWV running lots of miles and seeking donations :)

As many know, I am training to become an #ultramom while simultaneously attempting to raise a family lifetime total of $50,000 for Team World Vision. My race isn't until October, but training is well underway. In fact, for the month of April, I ran 146.65 miles. This is actually a record for is the most amount of miles I have ever logged in one month. Ever. And that number will only keep climbing.

Training is tricky. I am already running more miles than I normally do towards the end of marathon training season, and I am technically still in Base Training. It's mind boggling to think that my numbers are simply going to keep climbing. My legs are tired, and sometimes I just want to give up. Yet, my heart is so full. My boys are seeing me train for something HARD, and my friends and family are rallying behind me to help change lives. So let's be honest, the 24 hours I spent running this month were tiring and hard but TOTALLY WORTH IT! There were 720 total hours in the month of April. Calculating this out put my running in perspective for me. Scheduling time to run is hard, but it is completely doable when you get creative. Sometimes I have to get up early; other days I have to stay up late to finish work because I ran in the middle of the day, but when I am reminded of the kiddos who walk hours and hours EVERY day to fetch water, it makes my creative planning and sacrifices worth it. I am also fortunate that my kiddos can log a couple of miles with me every now and then. Our conversations are pretty fantastic during our runs, and nothing else competes for my attention when our feet hit the pavement together. It's pretty amazing actually.

Since I am in the habit of running back to back long runs, I decided I wanted to push myself a bit for my birthday. I am not going to lie, it was a struggle to come up with what to do that matched my birthday numbers in some way. I didn't want to run 35 miles because I was afraid to mess with training too much and wind up hurt, but I also wanted to do something more than what was planned for that weekend. I wanted to get friends and family out with me to help me log miles, and I hoped that people would donate to encourage me along the way. Since my birthday is on the 23rd, I settled for a 23K...back to back. This would be ten more miles than I needed to run that weekend (according to my training plan), so it would be difficult, but I trusted it wouldn't cause in injury. So my birthday weekend was born. I threw in a taco party for good measure, and my heart was bursting just thinking about it.

The amount of cheese I ate that weekend is just not even close to being good for you, but it was so much fun hanging out at my house and stuffing my face. In the end, I actually ran 50K that weekend. I overshot the second run, so I knew I was fairly close to the 50K when I finished. Kelsey suggest I tell the world of Facebook what happened. I followed her lead and challenged my friends to donate extra. I promised to go back out if two more people gained access to clean water. Sure enough, less than 5 minutes later, I was back out because three people jumped in to donate. I seriously have the best support system (and friends who like to torture me while simultaneously saving lives!).

So many people supported me on this journey, and I am continually grateful. This is my 7th year with Team World Vision, and I am constantly amazed at the number of people who continually donate on my behalf. I get a text alert every time someone donates, and my face lights up EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It doesn't matter the amount. Donations mean that lives are changing, but they also mean that family and friends are by my side on this journey to solving the clean water crisis through World Vision.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday, Grayson!

Dear Grayson,

Today you turn 8 years old. Eight years ago, you were placed in my arms, and our family of four became complete. You are growing up so incredibly fast, but thankfully your little body is tinier than most your age. You likely want to be bigger, but I love that you still fit perfectly in my arms.

At 45 pounds, you weigh what your little brother did at 5 years old. But man, you can pack some punch into that little body of yours. Your muscles are strong, and your legs are fast. You can run an 8 minute mile, and I think one day you could give Ninja Warrior a run for their money :)

Math is still your thing. You ask Griffin and me to make up math problems for you ALL. THE. TIME. When you finish tests early at school, your teacher often finds you doubling numbers over and over and over again. You talk often about how you want to be a math teacher or an engineer when you grow up, and your Lego Building Skills are on point.

This summer you will be participating in Summer Academy, a three week learning experience for high achieving students. You are SO SO SO excited to go that you ask constantly how many more days until it starts. You decided not to go back to Trout Lake Camp this year. I think you are a homebody like your father.

You also LOVE Board Games. You love to play Monopoly, Mastermind, Sleeping Queens, and Guesturres. I am simply waiting for the day you fall in love with Pictionary :)

You still play tennis, and you were stoked to find out you moved up to the next level for the final spring session. Again, you are always the smallest one on the court, but you can hustle!!! You and Griffin talk often about being doubles partners when you grow up. I would LOVE that :) Speaking of Griffin, the two of you have an incredible bond. It is truly a blessing to watch the two of you together.

Friday, March 17, 2017

50 for 50. YES, I am crazy.

2017 is going to be different. 2017 is going to be HARD. 2017 is stretching me in ways I never anticipated. But by golly, 2017 has me joining a new church, finishing out my first year as a professor, and it WILL have me crossing the finish line of 50 miles and $50,000.

Almost seven years ago, I signed up to run my first half marathon. Almost four years ago, I signed up to run my first full marathon. Two and a half years ago I declared I would NEVER run an ultramarathon. But Here I am. I have set a goal to run 50 miles and raise a lifetime total of $50,000 for Team World Vision. So what does "Here I am" look like for me this year?

I can't lie to you. I am SCARED OUT OF MY MIND. I am a fairly confident person, and I tend to set big goals. But this one scares me. I am still in base training, and I am already running more than 100 miles a month. I am reading about stretching, fueling, shoes, etc., and these are subjects I thought I already mastered. My legs are constantly sore, and my body is tired. Declaring that the Twin Cities Marathon will be a training run makes this sound impossible. Fundraising is awkward, and it's humbling to continue to ask people to donate their time and their resources.  But my heart is full. I am continuing to spread the love of Jesus, and my boys continue to learn that we can ALL do hard things. I also have AMAZING friends and family who are rallying behind me in any way they can. I have running partners, financial supporters, people who simply encourage me with words/cards/emails, and a husband who comes alongside me in any way he can. God continues to remind me that I am NOT on this journey alone, and we go farther together. I am scared. I am tired. But Here I am.

So many people shake their head in disbelief when they find out I am training to run my first ultra marathon (50 miles). I get it. Running 50 miles can seem crazy. But that's not the point. The point is that I have legs that work and a heart for Jesus. God is continuing to remind me that I am a daughter of THE KING, and my story matters. What I do with my story matters. Running 50 miles isn't crazy. Rasing $50,000 isn't crazy. What is crazy is that there are kids in Africa who die because they don't have access to clean water.

God constantly invites us to join Him. So Here I am. Running more miles than I ever imagined I would. It's hard. Sometimes it downright sucks. But I am doing it. I serve an incredible God who gave me the ability to do big things in His name. So when I hear people tell me I am crazy, it simply fuels my fire. Because I am crazy. Crazy about Jesus. Crazy about clean water. Because Water is Life. And EVERYone deserves a chance at life.

Be crazy with me by clicking the link below :)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Happy 10th Birthday, Griffin!!!

Yes. I am a broken record. I know. But seriously. HOW IS MY CHILD TEN YEARS OLD??? How in the world is he about to enter his LAST year of elementary school?

At ten, Griffin still loves soccer, running, tennis, and more recently FOOTBALL!!! This man is in LOVE with the Packers, and I anticipate a full season of being glued to games on the tv. My hopes it to one day take him to a Packers Game, but for now we will cheer from home :)

At ten, Griffin has also set out to change the world. This year has brought us his TEN, TEN, TEN challenge, and so far it is going incredibly well. Tonight he will run a 10K on his birthday, and he gave up birthday presents in exchange for donations. His compassion for others is inspiring; I am blessed to share this TWV journey with him.

I don't want to believe it, but he is ten. He is a ten year old with an INCREDIBLE heart, a passion for all things sports, and a love for reading. He is a joy and a delight to parent, and I am incredibly lucky to be his mom.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Twin Cities Marathon 2015

I don't know if I can truly capture everything that transpired on Sunday, but I will try.

Most of you know I am a VERY competitive person. I compete against others, but I mostly compete against myself. I think this is why I like running so much. I rarely win a race, but I can continually beat myself and PR. With that being said, when I agreed to launch an EBC Team at SLP and host a group run, God made it abundantly clear that this racing season could not be about me.

And that was hard. Really hard. Who wants to train for 26.2 miles and not attempt to PR? Not me. But over and over again, God broke my competitive heart. Through prayer, He reminded me over and over again why I am part of Team World Vision, and slowly but surely, it became easier to let go of my PR and focus on my team. To be fair, I had one relapse a week ago when I contemplated a PR, but then I cam to my senses. This team means the world to me, and it was my time to give back.

All season long I ran with whoever needed me on Saturdays, and I had the time of my life meeting new people and helping new runners do something they never thought possible. Time and time again I was blessed by THEIR stories. Their successes became more important than my own, and it was truly magical. Leading Team EBC has been one of my greatest joys.

Up until race week, I hadn't been nervous. But then the reality that I wouldn't be running with my big brother set in. Could I really run without him? What if I had a bad day? What if I couldn't find a TWV runner to run with that day? Thankfully Boyd agreed to run with me, and it made my nerves settle. I owe him big time. On Saturday night, I prayed over and over again. Use me God. Use me. Keep my eyes open. Help me be aware of others and not myself.

Sunday started off spectacularly. I woke up to a donation providing two kiddos clean water for life. Dawn Flint drove Jen, Scott, and me down to the start, so I didn't have to worry about parking. THANK YOU, DAWN! It was the first year I attended the pre-race church service, and I am SO VERY glad I went. Worship and Prayer...It was the perfect start to a race.

The start line was chaos. I tried finding Kelsey and my former athlete Katie, and I couldn't. I was with Jen and Scott, but Boyd was nowhere to be found. Panic set in, but thankfully he found us. PHEW! And off we went.

I told Boyd I wanted to have a good race, but I had no trouble slowing down. My goals were to have fun, spread TWV cheer, get a few donations, hug/hi five my spectators, and help other runners. And if possible, I wanted to be able to go back out after I finished to help bring in other runners. This was my weekly tradition during group runs, and I wanted to do it at the race itself.  Off we went, and it was fairly uneventful. I rarely looked at my watch, and we just ran. I was LOVING the scenery because it was the first time I actually took the time to enjoy it. I saw friends and family along the course, and I stopped to hug or hi five every single one of them. Thank you Brandon, Christopher, Griffin, Grayson, Holly, Nikki, Anna, Missy, Isabel, Gwen, Melinda, Laura, Holly, Aaron, Linda, Catie, Kelsey, Tom, and Carol. Your presence meant the WORLD to me. I also received two donation while out on the course, and my heart was bursting. I was LOVING it. Really.

Around mile 8 or 9 we came upon Kaelyn. She did not look well. Immediately I heard God prompt me to slow down and stay. Her words told us we could take off, but her eyes said otherwise. I agreed to stay, and so did Boyd. *Side note. Boyd is a FAST runner. Slowing down to be with Kaelyn was really not that sacrificial for me (I only finished about 30 minutes slower than I did last year). But for Boyd, it was definitely a sacrifice. He is that awesome. And did I mention it was his birthday? I want to be him when I grow up :)

At mile 14ish, Steve Spear handed me the flag. I thought he would take it back, but he took off, so it was mine. I felt like I was carrying GOLD, people. My upper body was a bit sore on Monday and Tuesday, but thankfully it really wasn't that difficult to run with. But MAN, it was awesome. This team is made up of SO MANY INCREDIBLE PEOPLE, yet I got the honor of carrying that flag.

Crossing the finish line, three in a row like that, was simply incredible. There really are no words to describe how amazing it felt to cross together. It was even cooler to hear that the announcer didn't announce our names (which they typically do). Instead, he announced us as "Here comes Team World Vision." And that was it. No names. We were a team. A team of individuals serving an incredible God. A team of individuals doing what we can to solve the clean water crisis.

After we crossed, I discovered my family was at the finish. This had not been the plan, so it was a total shocker. My family didn't make it to the finish line the last two years, so I was completely emotional knowing they watched me cross for the first time.

Boyd and I quickly ate, drank some coffee, and went back out on the course. As each remaining member of our team came through, we had the honor of running them to the cathedral and almost to the finishing shoot. I got to witness person after person take the ordinary and turn it in to the extraordinary, and I will never forget it. Thank you Mike, Amber, Andy, Monique, Steph, Jamieson, Molly, Tammy, Dan, and many others I don't even know for allowing me to be a part of YOUR journey.

There is so much beauty in doing life together. And that's what we do at Team World Vision. We do life together. Here in MN and in Africa.

To those of you that have joined me in one way, shape, or form on this journey, THANK YOU! If you haven't, I encourage you to join us. You won't regret it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

God-Sized Goals

As I write this, I am listening to Griffin and his friends watch a movie during his first sleepover. I am upstairs because I can't concentrate. I am simply at a loss for words, and if you know me, you know that doesn't happen often. Words are sort of my specialty. But right now, words are not enough for the emotions bubbling inside of me.

We did it. Through faith, prayer, family, and friends, I officially reached my $10,000 goal for 2015. In fact, I went over it. As of today, my fundraising page sits at $10,315, and I don't even know what to say.

But I am going to try.

Back in February, I decided to set a $5,000 goal. At the time, $5,000 seemed IMPOSSIBLE. Last year I raised $3,475, so going for a higher amount felt unattainable. But, I publicly announced $5,000 was my goal, and I was determined to do it. Then I went to Chicago for a conference with TWV leaders from across the country. It was there that God placed it upon my heart to change my goal to $10,000.

I didn't change it at first. I was scared. What would people say? Would people continue to donate year after year? Wasn't $5,000 enough of a goal? Would I really be "that" person and continually ask people for money. When I went back to school that Monday, I talked to one of my closest friends, Holly, about it. I was totally scared about how she would react, but she simply told me I should do it. Same thing happened when I told my friend Missy. So, I listened to the nudge from God, and I set a God-Sized Goal.

Slowly but surely, I received support from people left and right. Josh and Eric agreed to put on my benefit concert, and it was a smashing success. But even when I reached numbers I had never seen before, I doubted. Just LAST week, I was frustrated because I couldn't see how I would ever get from $7,000 to $10,000. Just last week I talked with Sinead about how I felt stuck. She told me to pray. And I did. I turned to the One who created the heavens and the earth. I asked Him to provide me with more fundraising ideas. I prayed for Him to put names upon my heart to ask. I felt like I had already asked everyone, so I even prayed for names of people I could bravely ask again.

The next day, without ever even asking a single person, a friend who had already donated got his company to donate to my page. Then that evening, a different friend donated for the second time this year. Then an anonymous donor gave a hefty amount. I NEVER said a word to anyone about my prayers. God simply answered them. And in less than 24 hours, my fundraising page jumped a $1,000.

And then today happened. Today a different family donated for a second time. Their generosity alone will provide FORTY people with clean water for LIFE. And just like that, my God-Sized Dream is no longer a goal. It is a reality.

To my friends and family who have listened to me talk and talk and talk about Team World Vision, THANK YOU! To my friends and family who donated, THANK YOU! To my friends and family who have physically supported me on my runs in a variety of ways, THANK YOU! To my friends and family who have prayed for me along the way, THANK YOU! To my friends and family who simply believed in me, THANK YOU. Words will never be enough.

Jesus is alive and well my friends. He is alive and well. And with Him, all things are possible.