Unlocking the truths of anxiety

If you have been reading this blog long enough or know me well enough, you know I struggle with anxiety.  I will never be cured from it.  It will always as my husband says, “be my crutch.”  We all have some sort of crutch we walk through life with.  If anxiety is yours, then you understand the racing thoughts, the sweaty hands, the jumpiness, the extreme emotions, going through your day in fight or flight mode etc.  You may experience deep fear that might even paralyze you.

Many of us will still fall into pits of anxiety from time to time even if we have fought for our mental health through counseling, medication, natural treatments, exercise, etc. We are broken, but God loves us anyway.  He cares for us. These are some of my favorite Scripture verses I read through whenever I feel like I am in one of those pits.

God’s plan for our lives is not one that will harm us or destroy us.  His PROMISES are to give us life so we can honor and glorify Him.

1-Recently Updated1

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20

The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life.  The Lord will watch over you coming and going both now and forevermore.  – Psalm 121:7&8

We all go through difficult times.  It is inevitable.  If you claim to know Christ you will endure suffering.  But God’s plan is PERFECT and it’s good.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

Everyone quotes this verse when they think about anxiety, but don’t forget that key little phrase “with thanksgiving.”

“You thank God before you make the request because you’re saying, “Lord, whatever you do in response to this request is GOOD.” – Tim Keller

Seeking the Lord is a day by day sometimes hour by hour process.  

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,…- 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

“Peace comes from the same thing that joy comes from–the assurance of your salvation.” – Tim Keller

Nothing or no one can overpower you.  God is ALWAYS on your side.  He is NEVER against you.

 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?

– from Our God by Chris Tomlin

God is ALWAYS with you.  You need not walk alone.

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you – Isaiah 43:2

God offers help.  Seek him for direction in your anxiety.

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. – Psalm 40:1 & 2

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1&2

Your faith in Jesus Christ is worth more than gold.  It is WHO YOU ARE.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 1: 7 & 8

You are a CHILD OF GOD and it’s not because of all the nice things you do or the ladder of success you are trying to climb.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.…- Ephesians 2:8


End of Summer: Will Fall be better, worse or stay the same?

We are fans of The Office...big fans actually.  We still watch reruns on a somewhat regular basis and do not get tired of them.  One of the ongoing catch phrases is from Michael Scott when he asks “Do you want your life to get better or worse or stay the same?”  He expects his employees to answer “Get better” but instead they say “stay the same.”


A small part of me wishes my “summer life” could stay the same.  I love having all my kids home all day.  I savor the freedom of being able to do fun activities with them.  I enjoy being outside whether it be biking, running, swimming, playing hockey or sitting outside on my patio.  I also know Labor Day equals the conclusion of summer and all good things must come to an end.


In the spirit of Michael Scott, here are some of the things that are going to get better, worse (I am going to change that to challenging), and stay the same.

As for better, I have three kids in school this year instead of two.  This is not better because I am sick of being home with them all day–not the case.  We have had our “off days” and there have been fights to break up, of course.  They ARE kids.  I will miss the extra time with them.

I am excited for the opportunities that await them in kindergarten, second grade, and fifth grade.  I am looking forward to “doing kindergarten” one more time especially because the youngest has the same teacher that my other two children had.

I was told there are two types of moms–the one who cries sending her children off to school and the one who prods them along saying, “Go learn.  Go take on the world.”  I tend to be a bit of both leaning more towards the “Go learn and take on the world” mom.  School gives them new opportunities, friendships, and activities they may not get at home.  I love sharing the educational responsibilities with the teachers at our school I have grown to know and appreciate.


As for worse…I mean challenging…it will always be an ongoing challenge for me to maintain a schedule where we are engaging in a good mix of home, school, church & community activities while not wearing ourselves out.  Reaching that point of “too much on the plate” or a frazzled schedule is exhausting.  As I have personally studied “being busy” and looked at it spiritually, I feel like I have done much better. But it will always be tempting for me to seize new opportunities without thinking through the commitment level and not planning for rest…which is essential and I daresay we don’t do enough of.

I feel like I really learned to rest this summer.  Not resting because you are utterly exhausted and have nothing left to give (OK maybe that was me after middle school camp back in July) and not resting and feeling guilty because you should be doing something else.  Rest because you NEED it.  We cannot be at our best without a good mix of rest and activity.


As for stay the same…jobs, school, and housing are all the same and not changing anytime soon.  Most of my child care kids are from last year.  We are even going to Virginia again like we did last year (although in December instead of October).  The younger two are running with me this fall in hopes to do the Thanksgiving Turkey Dash as a family again (the oldest is doing soccer so I guess that is not the same). I am still exercising 5-6 days a week on my own though I have only been running once a week since I had issues with my IT band after the marathon.  I honestly have not minded the break and have a new appreciation for biking as well as weight lifting.

We will do the familiar fall events like Family Fun Night at the kid’s school, the Fall Harvest Carnival, and a trip to the apple orchard.  It is a blessing to have traditions and routines to look forward to…and that no one seems to get tired of it either.

So here’s to fall which is practically here.  I am wearing jeans and a sweatshirt today and thick socks because my feet were cold.  I am ready for it whatever it may bring–better things, worse things, or the same things.

The Duggars: The Cost of Being On TV

I remember watching the Duggars before they even had a show.  They were a large conservative family with kids dressed in red and white outfits (most of which looked handmade) traveling the country in a motor home.  Their lives looked happy and simple.  They had TV specials on once in awhile highlighting what life is like with 14 to 15 kids (not sure how many they actually had at that time).  It was feel-good TV and better than some of the reality garbage on the other networks.  Who can argue with living debt free, frugal living, shopping at thrift stores, good wholesome family values?  Apart from homeschooling and strict fundamentalist Christian principles, I find myself adhering to many of the Duggar’s lifestyle choices.

Then the Duggars became TV stars. I was watching an episode years ago from Season Three:  Duggars New Addition where the Duggars layed concrete on their basketball court and the younger kids were forced to play inside.  They were struggling to find things to occupy their time.  I remember thinking, “This is so boring.  There is no depth or meaning to this.  But why am I still watching it? And why do I want to watch the episode that follows it?”

In a later episode from Season 5, Duggar In Danger, young Jason Duggar falls twelve feet into an orchestra pit and an ambulance is called.  In a later interview Michelle Duggar says, “Now we have so many adult children that they have a phone with a camera on it.  So everyone was getting this on their cameras.”  I asked myself, “Is this normal to pull out your camera and start videotaping when your little brother gets hurt?”  Of course it is if you are a reality star.  This makes for great TV!  You cross that line from living your life as a simple family to being a performer or TV star basking in the perks TLC has to offer.

What family of 21 can realistically travel the world?  Jill Duggar had 1,000 people at her wedding including media reporters–this is not normal!  Jessa Duggar took a honeymoon to France. Josiah Duggar invited 400 guests to his graduation party. The Duggars have a barred fence around their home to keep fans out–this is not normal living either.

Now they have followed the demise of the reality stars who have gone before them.  Since Josh Duggar’s struggle with sexual molestation and most recently addiction to pornography and infidelity was made public. Should we even be all that surprised?  There is a cost of being on TV.  Allowing cameramen into your home documenting your daily life shrinking your privacy is exhausting.  The Duggars chose this, but unfortunately their young children did not.  They will have to deal with the consequences of these scandals the rest of their lives.  Even though it may not be ethical to conduct a witch hunt delving into police records violating somebody’s privacy etc., it is a dire consequence to choosing the reality star route.  Nothing is hidden anymore.

The Duggars feel they are different from other reality families.  They don’t watch TV and limit all their exposure to music, the Internet, movies etc.  They see their reason for being on TV as a family ministry.  Being a person in the ministry, I see “ministry” as sharing the gospel message of the saving grace God freely gives through Jesus Christ.  It really can all be summed up into that.

The Duggar’s share family moral values and living.  There is nothing wrong with that, but that’s not the heart of what ministry is.  If we have this attitude of “Look at the Duggars!  We want our family like the Duggars!” we are setting ourselves up to feel insecure, ashamed, and now severely disappointed.  They are not a perfect family and have their hidden sins (that have become not so hidden) and I don’t even think they are the best Christian example.  Psalm 146:3 says, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save.”

Fame was not something Jesus Christ actively pursued.  He walked humbly on earth and lived His life with His ministry pointing to the one true God.  His sacrifice was not fame and fortune but rather his death which paid for our sins.  So let this Duggar scandal be a gentle reminder that even the perfect looking are far from perfect.

How do you stay motivated?

“How do you stay motivated?”

amy half marathon

When it comes to exercise, I get asked this a lot.  If I had “a A + B = C” answer, it may only work for a certain few and not pertain to your situation.  Honestly my motivation waxes and wanes.  Since I have been running off and on for fifteen years and dabbling in triathlon for three, I feel like I am at liberty to share a few things.

1) I need rewards:  I was reading this spring that we make our decisions based on rewards.  We may do something that is not always pleasant and maybe not fun because we reap the reward it provides.  For instance I hate cleaning but I love looking at my sparkly organized kitchen.  Running is the same.  In the very beginning and for many years afterwards it was unpleasant and I didn’t enjoy it.  But I loved the accomplishment afterward.  That reward motivated me for many years and still does during tougher weeks.

2)  I need more tangible rewards:  I was trying to incorporate track runs into my marathon training and I hated the anticipation of doing them.  Often I would skip them all together.  Because Jamba Juice and Dutch Brothers coffee are both close to the track, I would reward myself with a juice or coffee after a track run.

3)  I need to be running with others:  It took many years to find people to run with mostly because of my unpredictable schedule with babies and toddlers.  Now I love the fact I have to get up and meet my friend for a run.  It is a waste of her time to leave her on a street corner waiting for me.  I’m a bit of a people pleaser and in this situation it works in my favor.

4)  I believe our bodies were made to move:  Our ancestors had to endure physical labor or they would starve or freeze to death.  No one had to go for a run because they worked their bodies all day long.  Now with many desk jobs and work from home positions, we spend a lot of time sitting.  I don’t believe God created everyone of us to be an athlete, but I do believe we are to honor Him with our physical bodies.  Part of taking care of our bodies is getting out and moving.

5)  I need activities too…not just my kids:  The kids sporting world is overwhelming to me this day in age.  There are many options and so much pressure to be a star.  I honestly think some moms should have their children take a season off from sports and they as moms should pursue their own activity or sport.  Many moms I have spoken to share how running or going to the gym helps them be better moms because they are getting their exercise time in.

6)  I want to set an example for my kids:  My kids see me run and do triathlons and support me in my endeavors.  I don’t know if any of them will be runners or triathletes, but I am exposing them to it.  As a kid I remember my dad going to the gym or taking me on bikes.  If exercise is part of our normal lives, it makes it much easier for them to incorporate it in their lives as adults.

7)  I believe it is more than image and weight loss: I do not agree with weight loss companies that heavily focus on image and pounds lost.  That rarely motivates me.  I do not weigh myself on a regular basis.  I have found that when I do, I get too obsessed with the scale.  I get overly discouraged and I am more likely to quit and start eating whatever I want.

8)  I need healthier ways to cope with my anxiety:  I’ve struggled with anxiety pretty much my whole life.  Soon after I picked up running, I was working for a church as a youth director.  I was on the phone with someone I was trying to plan an event with and we were not seeing eye to eye on an issue.  I told this person he/she was not treating others fairly.  I have a difficult time standing up for myself.  I also tend to communicate with too much emotion.  I managed to hold it together but it was exhausting.  I hung up the phone fuming with anger.  I went for a run and pounded out four miles at a fast pace.  I felt amazing afterwards.  I remember telling my friend, “I had no idea running could do that.”  It really clears your mind and in some ways brings you back to reality.  So often anxiety clogs our brains making us only see anxious thoughts.

9)  I need to be outside:  I have appreciated the seasons, God’s creation, my own neighborhood, weather in general, and quiet mornings since I took up running.

10)  I am out there and trying and sometimes that is enough:  I’ve heard some moms don’t want to run outside or go to the gym because they fear everyone is watching them.  You may not believe me, but people aren’t watching you. Even if they are–who cares?  You’re out there and you are trying.  Some moms don’t want to enter races because they don’t want to be dead last.  Even if you are dead last, you are still faster than the person who is sitting on the couch doing nothing.  Focus on your own goals and don’t worry so much about what others are doing.  Really they aren’t watching you!  If anything they are cheering for you.  The running community is a pretty friendly one.

So there you go.  10 motivators.  Go tackle that run!


On being an adult at a middle school camp

We have this ongoing “When I was at summer camp” (said in a whiny voice) joke in our family.  It means whenever you come home from an event in which you were the only one who participated, nobody in the family wants to hear every single detail about what you did.

This has been an interesting summer because I went to Camp Calvin as an adult counselor & leader last week.  This week the oldest is at Lutheran Camp.  We’re covering the main areas of the Reformation with Calvin & Luther.  The husband went to Synod (annual meeting of our denomination) in early June which might as well be a camp for pastors.

Rather than share every single detail of Camp Calvin I’ve narrowed it down to 10 observations about being an adult at middle school camp.

1)  Getting middle schoolers to go to bed is just as difficult if not MORE challenging than putting babies and toddlers to bed.

2)  Middle school boys and girls are starting to like one another.  However it comes out in strange ways such as whacking one another on the head with pool noodles.


3)  I swear my five year old grew an inch while I was away.  I keep looking at her and she seems much older.


4)  I may be a marathon runner and triathlete but I cannot for the life of me run up a 2 mile trail on a mountain and run 2 miles back down.


5)  I may be 38 years old but I can still go down a natural water slide.


6)  Middle schoolers have no idea how old adults are.  Some thought I was right out of college (really!?), in my 20’s, in my young 30’s, and for a minute someone thought I was a camper!

7)  Sleeping on a camp bed in a lodge with eighteen middle school girls and sharing a bathroom can be exhausting for introverts.  Thankfully I’m an extrovert but I still had to get my space once in awhile.

8)  I friended all my new camp friends over 25 on Facebook and all my middle school campers on Instagram.


9)  A camp diet that includes gooey cinnamon buns, peanut butter cups, and regular Mountain Dew is hard to break once returning home.  I should have eaten a salad for lunch but all I am craving right now is potato chips and chocolate.

10)  There is nothing as beautiful as 63 middle schoolers singing praise to the Lord and engaging in sweet fellowship.  Their rock hard faith in Jesus Christ is one that can inspire us.


Marathon Mom Part 1: My First Marathon in October of 2006–Lessons Learned.

This was posted on my former blog in October of 2006…(the text in italics was written in 2015)

On Saturday we left Zillah, Washington and drove to Portland, Oregon. We stayed in a suite in a motel with my parents and Rob’s parents stayed next to us. I was really nervous–the marathon was constantly on my mind. My mom kept saying to just walk if I got too exhausted–there was no shame in doing so. Rob kept reminding me I was not competing to win–just go out there and have fun.

Lesson #1:  If you want a halfway decent night’s sleep don’t sleep on a hide-a-bed sharing it with your husband and also sharing a room with your parents and your almost one year old.  Granted we had just got done with seminary and living for a year with minimal income and we had to live extremely frugal.  

Lesson #2:  I did not blog about dinner, but don’t eat pizza as your pre-race meal. There are better choices.

I slept better Saturday night, but still woke up too many times. I almost woke up Rob at midnight and told him I didn’t want to run it anymore. It was not worth all the nerves. Somehow I got over those feelings of wanting to drop out. We left around 6:00AM and got lost. I almost missed the beginning of the race. I got to the starting line with only about nine minutes to spare. Thankfully Rob and Hailey got to see me start. I kissed Hailey before I crossed the starting line.

Lesson #3:  KNOW how to get your starting line.  Have a GPS (granted we didn’t have them back then and had cheapie cell phones), back up directions, and a map.  Study your map and know exactly where you are going.  Even if someone is driving you and assures you they know how to get there–you need to be responsible and have a good idea on how to get there too.  Leave super early and allow time to hit traffic or make a wrong turn.  You will not regret getting there early!

What actually happened…I think I still had PSTD from it and didn’t want to blog about it.  We had just moved to Oregon and did not know the area at all.  I had a map I did not really study and was way too reliant on Rob.  He said he knew where he was going, but we got mixed up with the freeways.  We thought the 205 went immediately into downtown when it goes around downtown.  We were staying right by the airport and got on the I 205 and just kept going.  We were supposed to merge on to the I 84 and then the I 5.  We ended up in Oregon City and my best guess was we were 17 miles out of the way of where we were supposed to be.

We stopped at a gas station and I am literally an emotional mess.  A gentlemen at the gas station guardian angel read our panic and let us follow him all the way to the starting line. He told us we had to push it and keep up with him.  My husband was trying to assure me by telling me I could run the Seattle marathon a few weeks later.  But I just wanted to be done with training and both our sets of parents were here from out of town…how often does that happen?

We made it but barely and it was AWFUL.  I learned from this incident that I really need to learn how to read maps and be more confident in navigating.  I don’t blame Rob.  We both were pretty dumb.

It was very challenging–much more difficult than I thought it would be! I was pretty nervous and that might have affected my performance a little bit. I also found it difficult to find a good pace. I felt really good starting around mile five until around mile seventeen. I enjoyed the scenery, performers (there are many musical groups that perform along the race course–my favorite was a harpist), and chatted with runners around me. By mile seventeen we had to run up this huge hill to the Saint John’s bridge. Most of the people around me started walking. I didn’t want to walk at all, but was advised I should. I would conserve energy that way. So I walked up half of it. Running across the bridge was beautiful.

Lesson #4:  Have a good idea beforehand what pace you want to go.  In training I was doing about 10 minute miles.  However I did not use Map My Run back then and I had no GPS watch.  Again our money was extremely tight and I only had the bare minimum. I carried an old fashioned stopwatch and I ran to the clock not the distance.  I should have run with the 10 minute mile pacing group, but my pace was all over the pace.  I was constantly going fast, slow, fast, slow until I hit the wall around Mile #17.  It is helpful to run with a pacing group or at least know which pacing groups you are running between.  

I started to freak out a little bit by mile 20 because I was feeling really exhausted and I still had six miles to go. I ran a little and then walked a little by that point. Many people were walking by that point. I walked quite the bit the last two miles. I was able to run the last half mile and crossed the finish line! My time was 4:38:00.

Lesson #5:  Lower your expectations for your first marathon and don’t beat yourself up if you cannot maintain a pace.  I was upset by Mile #20 because I had nothing left.  Even though my parents and in-laws cheered for me as I crossed the finish line, I was ticked off at myself.  I really thought I failed.  I never relished in the idea I completed a marathon and was “a marathoner” until a few days later.  I said I never wanted to do it again and “marathons” were not something I could do.  If you sometimes have a self defeating personality like me, you need to prepare yourself if things don’t go according to your plans.

There were so many choices on what to have at the aid station–two kinds of sports drinks, water, goo, bananas, bagels, Red Bull, gummi bears, and beer. I think the sports drink might have made me a little queasy at some points because when I just had took the water I felt better. The beer (just a small cup) was nice and I also liked the bananas.

Lesson #6:  Figure out what sports drink your marathon is offering and train with it.  This goes the same for what food they offer.  Or bring your own sports drink and food if you don’t mind wearing it.  BTW–this was the only marathon I ran where they offered a variety of food.  All the other runs I have run have just been water, sports drink, and gels.

I am really excited that I completed it and experienced it! It was awesome to have both my parents and Rob’s parents greeting me at the finish line. It was wonderful to see them cheering me on.

I was very sore afterwards. I was limping around (my right knee hurt really bad–I could feel it coming on around mile 24) and trying to keep my legs from tightening up. I need to keep doing some walking and elevating my legs. Surprisingly I am not nearly as sore today as I thought I would be.

I will post pics of the whole weekend when both parents come out to Salem later in the week. Both my dad and Rob’s dad took some great pictures of Rob’s examination, the marathon, and some cute ones of Hailey.

After this marathon I did not run much afterwards.  I think I felt like I accomplished a goal and was not sure what to do after that. So I did nothing.  I did not love the marathon as much as I thought I would and still felt self defeated.  I did some running here and there and maybe a 5K.  I also had my son about a year later.  I did not start training for anything until January of 2009, but by March of ’09 I found out I was pregnant.  So I postponed training for anything major until September of 2010 when I trained for my second marathon.

Lesson #7:  Just because your first marathon might have been disappointing, don’t assume they will all be that way.
I also raised around $200.00 so far for CRWRC. I am so excited to share these donations and help a family in need in Africa.

Race Report: Minneapolis Marathon 2015

I started running in 2001 at the age of 24.  I ran my first marathon in October of 2006 at the age of 29.  No one in my family ran back then and some thought I was crazy.  Why would I want to fork over one hundred dollars to enter a race not to mention the countless hours of training? It took my older sister many years until she finally “got it.”  I never held it against anyone. I knew what I was gaining from running and it was enough to keep me tackling marathons.

So my sister and I had talked about doing the same marathon at some point in 2015.  We live on opposite sides of the country.  I loved the idea of doing “a destination” marathon and traveling somewhere.  I wanted to do a spring marathon because I have found it much easier to train all winter  and run in the spring versus training all summer for a fall marathon.  I don’t work in the summer so you would think I have more time.  However, our summer weekly routine is not consistent. It is hard to train when you are home for a week, go out of town, home another week, and then go someplace else.  Not to mention the heat!

We looked at a marathon calendar and narrowed it down to a few options.  We chose the Minneapolis Marathon because the timing was the best.  It was the only weekend in the spring I had nothing going on.  The course looked great running through parks and along the Mississippi River.  I wanted to do a run in a larger sized city versus a small community marathon.  I had no idea I was signing up for a marathon that had only 700 runners.  Then I remember the large marathon is Minneapolis is the Twin Cities marathon which is in the fall.  However, my sister and I found some advantages of running “a medium sized marathon” versus one with 10,000 runners.

I awoke at 2:00 AM on Saturday, May 30th. I slept without waking up from 10 PM to 2:00 AM and felt pretty rested.  I think when it comes to this whole marathon experience I am grateful for all the solid sleep.  When it comes to travel and racing, I never seem to sleep well.  I had to catch a shuttle bus at 3:15 AM.  My husband did not appreciate the shower going followed by my hair dryer–but hey I was not about to travel all day without doing my hair.  I made it to the shuttle bus on time.  Everyone on the bus was curled up on the seats and trying to sleep but I was wide awake.

4:30 AM seemed way too early to eat breakfast so I waited until around 5:15.  I get up this early to workout so it didn’t feel excessively early to me.  I did enjoy a breakfast burrito at one of the new restaurants in Portland International Airport.  I boarded my flight and had a three hour layover in Kansas City…which by the way is one of my least favorite airports.  It is claustrophobic, not enough food choices, and the bathrooms were not very clean.  I got to Minneapolis in the late afternoon and my parents picked me up.  We enjoyed a pasta dinner at Olive Garden with my sister and her husband.

My sister, her husband and I all shared a motel room.  It felt a little bit like a slumber party.  It reminded when we all went to Texas together on a mission trip when I was in high school and they were in college.  We went to bed pretty early.  Again I slept amazing right to the alarm when my brother-in-law said, “Ladies it’s time to get going.”

Marathon 1

Another great thing about this marathon is I felt like I got the nutrition right.  I ate everything I trained with.  I had a Honey Stinger organic vanilla waffle bar and a few homemade mini zucchini muffins while in the motel rooms and a half wattle bottle full of Ultima sports drink.  I ate a banana in the car.  I had a Hammer gel while at the starting line.  I felt like I ate enough and everything was sitting well.

We drove to the starting line from our motel and had a little bit of a scare.  As my brother-in-law drove on a major highway, a “wrong way driver” was coming at us.  She was on the wrong side of the median.  There was not very much traffic on the road so my brother-in-law easily pulled off to the shoulder while slamming on the horn.  We did not want to turn around in fears we were about to witness a head on collision.  I think I saw her get off the highway, but our hearts were pounding.  Our guess she was a drunk driver coming home from a party in the early morning hours.

Thankfully we got to the starting line in one piece.  We had to walk about a half mile to it.  After a stop at the port-a-potties and snapping a few pictures, I lined up with the 4 hour pacing group.

Marathon 2

This was my first marathon with my little ipod shuffle.  I also wear my iphone on my arm band. This was for the purpose of texting my brother-in-law and parents following the race if I could not find them. A small race advantage is finding your family right away.  I don’t listen to music through my iphone because we don’t get much date per month with our plan.  So I am the dorky runner that wears a iphone on my arm and a shuffle clipped to my shorts, but I am OK with that.   I have not run my previous marathons listening to music.  The jury is still out on whether I would run with music or without should I run another marathon.

On one hand I loved having music at the very beginning.  This is when my nerves are at their worst.  Having the music calmed my anxiety level and “pumped me up.”  I focused more on running and less on trying to keep up with the pacing group.  However, I really got tired of the music by around Mile #21 and looking back I could have turned it off.  By that point I did not care about anything but finishing strong.

Marathon 3

The run started through many scenic parks and we could not have asked for better weather.  It was in the 50’s and sunny.  My brother-in-law cheered for us at Mile #4 and then a few miles later. Again another small race advantage is he did not have to deal with a lot of traffic and weaving through crowds. This was very motivating.  I was able to stay between the 4 hour pacing group and the 3:45 group most of the first half.  As we get further into the city we ran through the University of Minnesota.  At around Mile #12 the half marathons turn off and go to the finish line.  Us full marathoners keep going and then turn around at Mile #17.  We were going down some massive hills and my only thought was “Oh no we are going to have to go up these on the way back.”  I trained on big hills (there is no way around them in Oregon) but I still hate them.

At the turn around around Mile #17 (or it could have been closer to #19) I felt like I was dragging.  My brother-in-law yelled to try to stay on the 4 hour group’s tail.  I really tried, but it was extremely hard.  I hated having them pass me, but I could not keep up with them.  Once I stopped to walk through an aid station, they were almost out of sight.  I was a little disappointed because I wanted to break four hours.   I knew if the 4:15 group caught up to me, I would not PR at all.

I tried to think positive thoughts.  It is a beautiful day.  I am running in a marathon–my fourth!  How many people can do that?  I worked hard in my training.  I gave it my best.  I am not walking but running mostly–how can I ask for more than that at this point?

The big hills that came at Mile #22 and #24 plain stunk.  They were terrible and I had to stop and walk up most of them as were many others.  My right knee often starts to give out around this point on marathons and my form falls apart.  It is almost harder to run downhill so I did not appreciate reaching the top and going back down.

Marathon 5

Once I saw the Mile #25 sign I put in my last surge of energy and I ran most of the way.  It was a blessing to see my dad at Mile #26 and I pushed as hard as I could to the finish line.  I was excited to see 4:04 as I crossed the finish line.  I did not break 4 hours, but I did PR.  The 4:15 group never caught up to me!

My sister had suffered an IT band injury while training.  I was not sure she would be able to finish let alone run the marathon.  So I had a twinge of anxiety as I saw the 4:15 group finish followed the 4:30.  Her husband said she was strong until Mile #20 maintaining a 4:15ish pace.  While watching her I was shivering. I had my cell phone out of its case so I could snap a photo of my sister as she crossed the finish line. I left my jacket in the car and they did not give out space blankets.  My dad lent me his sweater, but as I put it on I clumsily dropped my phone on the asphalt.  The phone still works but has a nice scratch going across it.  I tried to not let it ruin my mood.

My dad somehow found himself in a conversation with a homeless person. My brother-in-law and I stepped away in fear we would be too distracted and miss my sister coming in.  My sister crossed at 4:55 and she looked strong.  It was amazing to share this moment with her.  My first ever marathon with a family member and I could share it with my sweet sister.

Marathon 6

We left the marathon soon after.  Honestly walking to the car was almost worse than the last few miles of the marathon.  This might be TMI but if you are thinking of running a marathon, your bladder can do weird things post run.  I intentionally went to the bathroom right before getting in the car so we would not have to stop.  It was only about a 15 minute drive back to the motel so I assumed I would be OK.  A few minutes into the drive I had to GO…BAD!  There was nowhere to stop…we were downtown and there were no discreet bushes or trees.  My brother-in-law graciously dropped me off in front of a hotel where I went as fast as my sore legs could carry me to the lobby bathroom.  Then I waited on a street corner until he could come back from me.

The rest of the weekend was relaxing and a time of celebrating family togetherness.  We had a lunch at the motel and said good-bye to my brother-in-law who was flying home that afternoon.  My sister, parents, and I went out for a nice dinner.  The following morning we had breakfast together and I met an old friend who lives in the area for coffee.  My sister and I did not have a firm plan for the rest of the day.  We just wanted to explore Minneapolis.

Marathon 9

We started out an outdoor sculpture park my husband and I had gone to about fourteen years ago.  There was a mini golf course with actual art you golfed around.  I had never see anything like that and we had fun playing mini golf.  Who won you might ask?  We tied of course. Then we went to the Minnehaha Falls which my husband and I had also gone to in November of 2001 and it was COLD! I loved having more time to sit and view the falls.  No major hiking for us–we were SORE!  We had dinner at a Lebanese restaurant we found on the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives website.  Then my sister wanted to go shopping.  I felt a little dead by that point but I did go to a few stores with her and bought presents for the kids.

Marathon 11

I wanted to be home in time for children’s school musical.  When I booked the trip the musical was scheduled for before I left.  Because of auditorium rental schedule changes, they had to move it to the last week of school.  Because my bus was running fifteen minutes behind I missed the oldest child’s piano solo, but my husband recorded it on his phone (LOVE technology!).  I saw the rest of the program.  By the time I got home I was exhausted and jumped right into a crazy week of wrapping up work, 8th grade graduation, Education meeting, end of the school year picnic, street hockey, strawberry picking, husband’s Open House, husband’s karate test, and more Open Houses.  Let’s just say I am glad our pace slowed down this week!!

I am blessed to have completed Marathon #4.  I have not made any firm decision on future races or triathlons this summer or fall.  Let’s just say I am already back to running, swimming, biking, weights, and street hockey–I just can’t seem to slow down.