Everybody looks good at the starting line

The title of this post is from one of my favorite artists, Paul Thorn.  If you’ve never experienced him and you like jazzy blues, you need to check him out.  Anyway, that title says a mouthful doesn’t it?  Whether it’s the starting line of a marriage, a new job, an exercise or diet program, or anything else, we all look great standing there at the beginning.  We jump in with enthusiasm, and make it look easy.  No fights with our spouse, the job is amazing, we lose weight/get fit quickly, and life is good.  But, time wears on and life intervenes.  We slow down, start to realize our spouse isn’t as perfect as we thought, or begin to dread the work week.  Inevitably, we start to stumble and fall.

We’re at the starting line of a new year.  We have a new start, a clean slate, one we can fill with whatever we feel is the most important in our lives.  Look back over the last year and think about the things you started, but didn’t finish.  Is this your year to make your health a priority?  To do something for yourself that your future self will thank you for?  I hope it is.

2011 brought the completion of some major goals for me.  I started well, and thankfully, this year, I finished well, also.  The lessons learned this year will stay with me forever.  I know that running(and walking) will be a part of my life as long as God allows it, because I feel better than I ever have.  I know that running isn’t just about the future rewards it brings, but about learning to live in and enjoy today.  It makes me smile to know that I feel better at 50 than I felt at 30, and I’m encouraged to see if I can feel even better at 60.

I did my last run of the year this morning.  It was my first long run since the marathon, since I realized this week that my next race (Seaside Half Marathon) is in 10 weeks.  YIKES!  So, I got in gear and laid out my training schedule for the upcoming months.  The run felt amazing, it was beautiful weather and a perfect day for running.  I belong to an online running group called Daily Mile which keeps me connected to other runners and keeps up with my analytics for me.  According to DM, I ran a total of 532 miles in 2011.  I hope I top that in 2012.  Since I’ve been keeping my stats on DM in December of 2009, I’ve run a total of 1,558 miles.  Yay!  I’m pretty pleased with those stats.  Some runs were better than others, obviously, but I think that’s the whole point.  That I learned to run even when I didn’t really want to.  That I make running a permanent part of my life.  That I realize that running now will make my 60 year old and 70 year old self smile.  I got a massage the other day while I was on vacation, and she commented on my knotty muscles.  I told her, “Yeah, but you should see my heart.”  I think it’s in pretty amazing shape for an old broad with a dicey gene pool.

 We’re at the starting line of a new year.  Check the mirror, fluff your hair, make sure you look good.  Then, check back in about three months and make sure you’re still on target.  I know you can do it, cause, friend, if I can, anyone can.  

Now, ready, set, go!

Run like Phoebe

I admit it.  I’m a closet Friends fanatic.  I’ve watched all the episodes at least ten times each, and I still DVR the reruns to play in the background when I’m cleaning or working at something that doesn’t require my entire concentration.  The jokes are still funny, the characters are warm and familiar, they keep me company and feel like friends.  Whew!  I feel so much better having gotten that off my chest!

One of my favorite episodes is “The One Where Phoebe Runs.”  Phoebe and Rachel have a falling out because on their run together, Phoebe didn’t run in a way that Rachel considered “normal” and it embarrassed her.  Phoebe said that she runs like she did when she was a child, because it was fun, and she liked to run so fast she thought her legs would fall off.   She ran with wild abandon, arms flailing, not worrying about form or speed, just running for the simple joy of it.

One of my RW Quotes of the Day this week said in part that while visualizing our success that we should think of a runner we want to emulate and imagine ourselves running like him/her.  I know of a lot of elite runners and non professional runners I would like to emulate, but I think I’ll be most successful running like Phoebe.  I think I probably already do.  😉

Finishing Well

As this year draws to a close, finishing things has been on my mind.  Finishing up year end work, getting caught up on projects I’ve put on the back burner, cleaning out the old to make room for the new, working on personal and professional goals for 2012.  Not finishing things has always been one of my pet peeves, I hate to have unfinished projects lying around or leave books unread.  You would think, then, that all my projects would be finished in a timely manner, wrapped up with neat bows and presented to the world.  But, life has a way of intervening.  I’m sure you know what I mean.

I always have a book on my bedside table, sometimes more than one.  I’ve been reading a lot of escapism over the last few weeks, but one nonfiction book caught my eye in the bookstore the other day and I bought it and began reading.  The name of is it “Nearing Home,” and it is written by the 93 year old Billy Graham.  It has gotten me thinking about life and death, and the legacy we all leave behind.  And, as so often happens, when God plants seeds in my mind, everything around me makes me reflect on it more.

I mentioned last week that while Gary and I were in Savannah, we walked through Bonaventure Cemetery.  Of course, “The Book” (as Savannahians refer to the “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”) was the impetus for the journey.  Even though the Bird Girl statue has been removed to a local museum in order to keep sightseers from disturbing nearby gravesites, I wanted to explore the cemetery anyway.  I said before that I’m not introspective enough to understand my fascination with old cemeteries, but I love the history, the serenity, and the reminders we find there. The knowledge that life is finite, there is a beginning and an end, and all that remains of us here when are called home is the legacy we choose to leave behind.

Gary has eagle eyes, and he discovered a treasure among the headstones that I want to share with you here.  He spotted this statue of a woman running, not a marble statue or a drawing on a headstone, but a very life-like bronzed statue mounted on a marble podium.

We made our way over to it and read this inscription: Humble. Brave. Determined. Deep in her Faith. Julie served her fellow man regardless of race, walk, or worth. Julie was her family’s rock. She’s sorely missed. Dearly cherished.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears for this woman that I never knew.  We walked to the back of the monument and learned that she was, at one time, Savannah’s fastest female marathoner, and had run several marathons, including one at age 55, two years before her death.  Now, I don’t know Julie, her family, or any of her story, but her epitaph stands as a testament to the fact that she touched many lives, while remaining true to herself and reaching for the stars.  I don’t know that it gets much better than that.

I decided a few years ago that for the next half of my life, my goal is to please God.  My desire is to leave a legacy of such faith that the future generations that I touch will be able to grab hold of it as though it were a physical thing.  I pray for the people in my life fervently, interceding for them as needed, loving them, learning to accept them as they are, and praying that they will be the men and women that God would have them to be.  I want them to be able to feel my faith when I’m long gone from this world and be reminded that faith and hope are living, breathing things.

3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.  John 17:3-5

This is the beginning of a beautiful prayer that Jesus prayed for Himself, His disciples, and for me.  We are all “nearing home”.  The time frame that we have here on earth is uncertain.  As I near home, I want to make sure that I’m finishing well, accomplishing the work that God gave me to do.  

As I reflect on that, I think about how I’m going to accomplish finishing well. I look back over this year and I think it kind of sums up how I want to spend the remainder of my years.  I want to dream big, reach for the stars, and step outside my comfort zone.  I’ve never been a huge risk taker (although I’ve been known to eat raw cookie dough and swim right after I eat), but I want to take more risks.  Life isn’t a spectator sport, it requires participation.   I intend to participate.  To reach out to others and drag them into the deep end with me.  I want to see more sunrises. I know that you know I’m NOT a morning person, but I’ve never once regretted getting up before dawn and going for a run.  NOT ONCE!  But, I’ve regretted many, many times hitting the snooze button and missing my morning run.  Not the exercise so much, as the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with the completion of a goal, and the reward I’m usually given in the form of a beautiful sunrise, the stillness of the early morning, a glimpse of a night creature , or sometimes just a venti soy au lait from Starbucks.   

2011 was a great start for me on the road to finishing well.  I read a Peanuts cartoon the other day that said, “My grandfather said that once you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.”  At least it’s all downhill from here.  Hey, maybe that will make me run faster! 😉  

The measure of a life is not in its duration, but its donation.  Corrie Ten Boom

Well, seven million calories later, our Savannah interlude is over.  The good news is I enjoyed every single bite, the bad news is, we only walked/ran off about half of what we ate.  Oh, well.  A new year is dawning, and Savannah was just the breath I needed to wrap my mind around a few life decisions.

For what it’s worth, the pedicurist didn’t run screaming into the street, and I don’t think she quit after I left. I went with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach.  The only comments she made were, “So, are you a runner?” and “You runners are really tough on your feet, huh?”  I’m thankful someone was finally able to tell by looking at me that I’m a runner.  Even if it was because of the sad state of my feet.

Happy Feet!  You can’t tell, but they’re extra happy cause they’re at Starbucks, and yes, I wore my spa shoes to keep the polish intact!

  We particularly enjoyed our anniversary meal at The Olde Pink House restaurant.  In 31 years of anniversary meals, eaten in such exotic locales as Tahiti, Maui, and Kona, I think this was the absolute best food I’ve eaten.  That’s saying a LOT.  And, the evening was complete with the horse and carriage ride back to the Gastonian.  Cindy, our guide, was full of juicy, gossipy tidbits about Savannah, and Felix, our steed, was well behaved, even though we were his last job of the evening and he was quite ready to hit the hay.  Absolutely perfect day.

Cindy and Felix outside the Gastonian

Thankful for so many things, one of which was I didn’t have to walk back to the hotel in heels after eating that HUGE meal!

We drove to Columbus, Georgia the next day to begin our journey home.  Love this artsy little town.  Great running trail built along the Chatahoochee River that stretches for about 22 miles.  This town needs my further attention on another trip.  Couldn’t do it justice in the short stay we were there.

Eagle and Phenix Mill at dawn

The Chatahoochee River trail on our pre-dawn run

Hope your Christmas is filled with family, love, and joy.  Celebrate the season with some time alone with God to thank Him for His amazing gift, and enjoy the day!

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”” Luke 2:11-14 NIV

Thanking God

I love that each passing year finds me liking my man more & more.  He’s aging very nicely.  Thirty-one years ago today, he made the best decision of his life, and I didn’t do so bad myself.  🙂  Love our anniversary trips, they always breathe new life into me, recharge me for the days ahead, and remind me what a lucky woman I am.

 Today started with a nice run in Forsyth Park, another delicious breakfast here at the Gastonian, and I’m about to head to the spa for a hot stone massage and a pedicure.  It will be my first pedicure since losing my first toenail to marathon training and I’m trying to decide how I’m going to play it.  Should I pretend my feet are completely normal & not missing 2 toenails and covered with the remains of many, many blisters?  Or, should I apologize in advance & pray she doesn’t run screaming into the street and get hit by a trolley tour bus?  Either way, there’s a nice tip in her day, so I hope she makes it through.  I figured I would get my first pedicure out of town, so at least my regular pedicurist would be spared the horror.  This lady will never see me again, although she’ll probably never  be able to forget me, and may decide to change her vocation afterward.

A couple of home tours and a dress up evening at The Olde Pink House restaurant will round out our day, so I’m really looking forward to it.  We spent yesterday walking and touring Forts Jackson and Pulaski, Tybee Island, climbing lighthouses, and exploring Bonaventure Cemetery.  Yes, I’m a little strange, had you not realized that by now?  I love old, historic cemeteries.  Without too much introspection, I think it’s because I love history and cemeteries are filled with stories and reminders.  I’ll have a post later about one of the things we found there.  It was a really nice adventure and I’m glad I took my eagle eyed husband along, as he spots things I would easily overlook.

This day always makes me think of one of my favorite verses:

 4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:4