Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Obligatory Things I'm Thankful For Post

It's that time, that day, when it seems everybody everywhere is making a public declaration of what they're thankful for.  It's Thanksgiving, it's what you do.  Personally, I'm thankful for a whole lot of things every day of the year, but my thanks giving is usually silent, private, and personal - a prayer here, a thought there.  Or it may come in the form of a smile or a nod, a pat on the back, a hug, a wave.

Here's a list in no particular order of some of the things I'm thankful for this day and every day:
  • a roof over my head
  • warm fuzzy blankets to curl up on the couch under
  • a good pair of running shoes
  • books and the written word
  • a loving family
  • my husband and all the little ways he shows he loves me (McD's sweet tea in the fridge when I get home from work being just one of the many)
  • my furry four-legged "child" - my fuzzy shadow,  my constant companion
  • my best friends
  • all the people in this world who do all of the not-so-little things we often take for granted - those who grow and raise the food we eat, who make our clothes, who keep us entertained, who keep us safe from harm, who heal our hurts and calm our fears. For those who teach, and those who lead.  For those who work to keep our lights on, to keep our homes warm, to keep our roads safe.
  • And for the countless others I've forgotten

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cherishing the Memories - St. Paul Lutheran Church 1892-2013

As I sit here tonight, I have a lifetime of memories of my childhood church swirling around in my head:
  • Moving through the ranks of the Christmas program as I got older - from an angel, to a shepherd, to a wise man, and then finally, finally being old enough to be Mary.  (and there was one year when I was the star of the show. Literally - I was the star of Bethlehem)
  • Climbing the forbidden ladder to the bell tower to see if there was a bell. (Answer: No; weren't any bats either)
  • The beauty of the Christmas Eve candlelight service and the awe I felt as the candlelight spread through the sanctuary as we sang Silent Night. (and then there was year when an usher backed into the candles in the window and set his coat on fire...)
  • The older gentleman who was always a word behind during the prayers, the creed, etc.
  • Lib Slater "stepping" on my foot with her cane every Sunday.
  • Hugs from Harry Young.
  • My brother getting his finger stuck in the end of his shepherd's crook during one of the Christmas play rehearsals.
  • The way the purple choir robes clashed with the red carpet in the sanctuary
  • Emelie Knudson singing "Were You There" during lenten services.
  • Mrs. Casto's nursery school - with the yellow chair you sat in when you were bad and the old-fashioned bathtub full of pillows that you could lay in during nap-time if you were good. (and to this day, I still follow her instructions and don't stack blocks higher than I am tall)
  • Flo Williams and her magical sauce that was spaghetti sauce one day and hot dog chili the next (and sometimes it was "Sloppy joes" too)
  • Drinking orange kool-aid from the big red & yellow McDonald's coolers
  • Seeing my Dad preach one Sunday and proudly and loudly announcing "That's my Daddy" as he stepped into the pulpit.
  • The pride and wonder I felt the first time my brother presided over communion and led a service as a Pastor  (didn't make any announcements that time, but felt it just the same)
  • Brennan Dettinger, who was maybe 3 at the time, drawing a picture of a skeleton to put on the Sunday School Christmas tree. When asked why a skeleton, he responded, "that's the Holy Ghost"
  • Andrew Weirick carrying a pumpkin that was as big as he was and saying "heavy..." in a deep dramatically strained voice
  • Christine Weirick drawing me pictures on the bulletin pages (note to self - find those!)
  • Taking Christine to Mrs. Casto's nursery school and telling her I went there too. She looked at me and in four-year-old wonder asked "was she old then too?"
  • Eating cheerios and drawing my own pictures on the paper my dad kept in his suit pocket to keep me occupied throughout the service.
  • Straining to catch a glimpse of my mom as she processed (prosessed??) in and out with the choir (I may have even waved as she passed by our pew)
Until this morning, I hadn't been to church in.... well, in so long that I can't remember how long it's been. I may not have gone to services but the church, St Paul Lutheran, I knew, was always there, waiting for me to come to my senses, return to my roots, and come back home. Until today.

Today was the last service. St. Paul as a separate unique entity has officially closed. The building will be sold; the congregation merging with another. While I know I should be celebrating a new beginning and be looking forward to the church opening new doors and windows now that the old ones are closed, it's hard. It's not always easy to celebrate a new beginning when your heart is breaking from the ending.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Race report - Marshall University Half Marathon

2 years ago, in November 2011 (for those you who are math impaired, like me ;-) ) this race was my first half marathon.  Today, it was my 6th.  It was the race that started the "half madness" so I like to go back and do it again (this was the 3rd time I've run it; did it in 2012 too).  It's a nice flat little race at a beautiful time of year.

Although this morning, it didn't feel like it was going to be a beautiful race.  A 7:00am start time means an early wake-up call. 5:00 is way too early for this sleep-loving, evening running gal.  My plan was to leave the house by 6, thinking that would give me plenty of time for the drive, to park, and to get to the start line.

I seriously miscalculated that one.  The drive seemed to take forever and then to make matters worse, I couldn't find a parking place.  At 6:50, I was fighting back tears as I searched in vain for a space.  I asked a couple of race volunteer intersection watchers if they knew where I could park.  They pointed me to the Pizza Hut lot and said a lot of people seem to be parking there.  I pulled into the lot and got the last spot. It was now 6:55 and I was frantically getting ready, pinning my bib on as I walked/ran/busted my butt to get the start area.

I made it in time, but my head was not in a good place. I was frustrated and slightly panicked.  Running the first few miles I was just unhappy and not feeling good at all.  I thought about giving up at the 3 mile point.  But I didn't.  I pushed on and roughed it out.  Hit the 5 mile mark and checked my overall time, and was surprised to see where I was. I thought "hmm, I may be able to make this a decent race after all."  I was slower than I needed to be for my "ultimate OMG it would be totally awesome if I could finish in this time" goal, but I was right where I needed to be for my more realistic "this is what I know I can do" goal.

So I pulled myself together, put the rubber to the road, and got serious.  Miles 5 to 10, usually the hard part of this race for me, felt strong and almost easy.  At mile 10, I checked my time again, I was under 2 hours.  Still on track for that goal.  But miles 11, 12 and 13 were hard.  I struggled a bit, but made myself run the full run interval and only walk when the watch told me to.  I knew I wouldn't make the "OMG this is awesome" goal, but a PR could have been a possibility.   And if not a PR then a faster time than last year.  And I knew I couldn't do either if I walked more than I was scheduled to.

At PR time, I was passing my mom at the corner outside the stadium.  At least year's time, I was crossing the finish line.  Yep I finished in almost exactly the same time (almost to the second) as I did last year.  What can i say,  I'm consistent. :-) 

I did meet that "this is what I know I can do" goal, because it's what I know I can do.  It's what I trained for; what I worked so hard to achieve.  I had some doubts at the start and for the first few miles, but I put the saying "never judge a run by the first few miles" to the test and proved it right. I adjusted my attitude, got my head in the right place, and ran the race I knew I could run if I just put my mind to it, quieted the doubts, and did it.  There's a great satisfaction in that.

Race Stats:
Marshall University Half Marathon
November 10, 2013
13.1 miles
Finish time: 2:29:42 (garmin); 2:29:53 (official)
Pace: 11:24 mpm (garmin); 11:27mpm (official)
Place: 833 of 1,099 overall;422 of 624 women;76 of 110 age group