3 races, 3 states, 40 hours. MS/AL/LA

Louisiana — 8:30am on a Sunday

My flight left New Orleans Sunday at 10:45 AM. The race was 20 minutes away and started at 8:30am. I knew three things. First, I needed to RUN LIKE THE WIND. Second, a photograph was going to be the only proof I would have since my New Orleans tour lasted 7 seconds and third I was confident i’d make it since my weekend partner in crime said,

“I’ll keep the car running. You can launch yourself in.”

While trying to figure out the perfect proof-of-life err race photograph, I was captivated by two boys warming up for the run. They were laughing. Playing. Skipping. They were buds.

20160306_081739-1-1.jpg

The highlights of the race for me was experiencing – albeit briefly – the magnificent blending of cultures that makes New Orleans unique. French architecture adorned with graceful southern porches, the smell of cajun cooking wafting from cuban cafes, bodegas selling fried catfish and African masks. And these kids. During a disconcerting time when we’re hearing so much hate and negativity being spewed from pundits as well as pulpits, my time in the deep south defied stereotypes and provided a nice reprieve from the man-made discontent in the news.

Screenshot_2016-03-06-22-25-02-1.png

On the plane home I sat next to my new bud Raj. (he took the amazing photos above and below this weekend in New Orleans. @4cefed). We come from different backgrounds and have taken different paths that crossed on this day in this city adding to the uniqueness of the New Orleans experience. I loved my deep south adventure. I managed to avoid injury and alligators. I met really interesting people and heard incredible stories of triumph through adversity. And I ran some races.

Screenshot_2016-03-06-22-25-56-1.png

Revive. Rebuild. Renew. Run to win.

Screenshot_2016-03-07-08-22-50-1.png

3 races, 3 states, 40 hours. Folks, don’t try this at home. I’m propelled to run and raise awareness about Parkinsons disease. I’m a little narcissistic, a little masochistic and now I’m a professional insomniac with an addiction to aspercreme and 80s theme runs. But I’m running to win.

AirBrush_20160306224654.jpg

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Philippians 3:12-14

Advertisements

3 races, 3 states, 40 hours. MS/AL/LA

Alabama — 6pm on a Saturday

Holly and I left Mississippi and drove a few hours to Orange Beach, Alabama. A few hours in the car after a road race running OVER A BRIDGE means sore, aching hips. (I was equipped with sturdy birthing hips which feel neither particularly sturdy nor benefitted me much during childbirth – an experience I will never blog about because there are some mental images you can’t unsee.) Anyway, running/driving/running/driving is not a good combo.

I needed a night race to fit 3 races in my tight schedule so it was a theme race – a party race – a glow-in-the-dark-80’s-themed race. The kind of race where they give prizes for the best vintage Bananarama t-shirt and hose you down with hot pink fabric softener. gag.

AirBrush_20160306190811.jpg

But it was fun. Everyone had fun. EXERCISE CAN BE FUN! And even when it isn’t, it helps you feel better about yourself and that’s fun.

IMG_0500.jpg

I recently had the incredible privilege of speaking to a group of women about the need and benefits of self care. Self care isn’t just taking time to read and reflect or taking a girls trip to Vegas. (though those things are important.) Self care is making time every day to break a sweat – to better your physical self so you can be better for those around you. It’s especially important for moms with school aged kids. Moms are so busy taking care of everyone else we forget to care for ourselves. Breaking a sweat every single day is crucial to self care and do you know what the byproduct of self care is? SELF WORTH. And we can all use a little more of that. So go for a walk. Do some squats. I challenged my ladies to do 10 sit ups, 10 push ups and 10 squats every day for 90 days. You don’t need equipment or much time but the benefits are more than physical because you’re investing in your physical well being.

images.jpg

Find things you enjoy doing. Break out that old Jane Fonda tape. Or do my favorite Carmen Electra Fit to Strip. Walk the dog twice. Grab a friend who makes you laugh and go for a hike with them.

f0c1f86a50f6b22372018c00abb5d002.jpg

Life is meant to be FUN! It’s too short to be perpetually pissed off all the time. So go ahead and have the second bottle err glass of wine. (as I will after Lent. by the way – i think i’m still in detox…) Eat the second or third square of dark chocolate.  Dance in your underwear. Laugh. And run to win.  Tomorrow – New Orleans.

Screenshot_2016-03-06-23-10-23-1.png

 

 

3 races across 3 states in 40 hours. MS/AL/LA. The DEEP south.(check back for. Alabama and Louisiana.)

Mississippi — 8am on a Saturday

AirBrush_20160306190443.jpg

My alarm went off at 5am. My dear hostess Holly PONIED UP and drove me 20 miles along the Gulf Coast to my first race in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It was a beautiful drive along the ocean. The landscape is flat so you can see miles and miles of shoreline, waterfront and ocean. But the view is tainted by the profusion of vacant lots and for sale signs – leftover plots where grand houses stood before hurricane Katrina.

I completely forgot about the storm.

I was living in California at the time, far from the devastation and destruction. But now I’m face to face with the aftermath over 10 years later. Once I realized what I was looking at, you see it everywhere. Shells of former resorts, fire stations that resemble fall out shelters. Cement slab after cement slab after cement slab where homes were built and families were raised. We walked down a peninsula along the water where only weeds reside. It was haunting.

20160305_115607.jpg

The race itself  – Bring it to the Bay 5k and half marathon – was out and back over a bridge that has been rebuilt since the storm. Rebuilding is still in its infancy in parts of the coast. There are beautiful and jarring reminders everywhere. A chainsaw artist carved trees damaged by the storm – carved from the strongest trees that survived.

20160305_063718-1-1.jpg

We all have to rebuild at some point in our lives. Divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of identity, altered purpose or perspective – major changes that we didn’t see coming or we resisted out of fear. We need to have strong, toned spiritual muscle to help us weather the changes – to stay strong when the storms come and to rebuild. Just last week I was presented with a major change that will alter the entire course of my next few years which I will share in the coming weeks.

“Circumstances that weigh you down and obstacles that block your path are God’s way of building spiritual muscle. Shortcuts and escape routes won’t build the stamina you’ll need to complete the course.” -D. Brammer

Do you know what muscles do when they’re torn? They grow back stronger.

Athletes know the importance of building muscle. I hate lifting but I have added it to my weekly routine. Light weight with many reps or a few lifts of a heavy weight, good form, rest, creatine, whey protein, lean meats, nuts, seeds, healthy fats. Everyone has their recipe for building muscle. Building spiritual muscle is no different. A quick prayer before meals or bed, quite moments of meditation and reflection, conversations with nature, with our Creator, practicing thankfulness are all methods of building spiritual muscle. Or do some heavy lifting – read scripture. Study theology. Join a small group or a church that builds you up. Start now. Don’t wait. When the storms come – AND THEY WILL COME – you won’t get swept out to sea. And when the waters recede, you’ll have the inner strength to rebuild.

24 “Whoever hears these words of Mine and does them, will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain came down. The water came up. The wind blew and hit the house. The house did not fall because it was built on rock.” Matthew 7:24-25

AirBrush_20160306212947.jpg

Valdosta, Georgia.

8am on a Saturday.

I drove 5 hours into the night so I didn’t get to fully appreciate the Florida to Georgia highway. In the morning I was able to view it in all its glory. Here’s the highlight:

Billboards. So many billboards. In a 5 mile stretch you can buy a gun, sell a gun, buy another gun, buy a rack for your gun, a holster for your gun and a gun for your gun. You can buy a bible, borrow a bible, share a bible or read a bible with someone who will also sell you a gun. And you can do it all over brunch at the Cracker Barrel – home to a manufactured nostalgia of a South that none of us ever knew.

The race itself was held at Valdosta State University. A few notes about the race: It was one of the first races where there was free coffee BEFORE the race when you’re standing around cold and anxious wondering if you’ve left enough time to flush it all out. Brilliant.

The course meandered down neighborhood streets lined with magnificent, towering pine trees and graceful ranch homes with large porches for sipping iced tea on a cool southern evening. Or shoot a gun. Toss up.

Around mile 2 a woman came up next to me and just stayed by my side. I’m not sure if she saw me change pace a little in the warming southern sun or if she just needed someone to run with. We ran together the last mile, matching each others pace until we sprinted through the finish line. I was thankful for her camaraderie. I welcomed her companionship. It made me wonder if I was doing enough to be welcoming to those around me.

On the ride home I went 9 miles out of the way to go to the Georgia Welcome Center. (I wanted a picture with a peach.)

It was closed. The Welcome Center was CLOSED.

It made me think about my actions during this season of Lent. Am I welcoming or am I closed? Do I come along people and be an encourager like my running partner? Am I leading a life thats all about me or includes service to others, open 24 hours a day? How can I encourage YOU to run to win?

Back on highway 75 I started seeing huge billboards advertising Florida:images-1.jpg

This is Florida.

ALL ARE WELCOME!

Open 24 hours a day.

Free Orange Juice!

Everybody is included. Always welcome, always open. 

Be like Florida.

georgia race.jpg

 

Sarasota, Florida.

10am on a Saturday.

I wasn’t suppose to run in Sarasota. I was supposed to run in Melbourne. But life happens. I was supposed drive my parents across the state. We had a lunch date with one of our favorite cadets from the class of ’89, spend the night with one of our favorite Army Chaplains, brunch with one of my high school heroines… But life happens. Dad wasn’t well enough to travel, my toddler had the flu, yada yada yada.

Screenshot_2016-02-18-21-08-07.png

I had to adjust.

I went immediately to my go-to race websites and started my search for a local race. I have a schedule to run all 50 states and every deviation poses a domino threat of epic proportions.

As luck would have it, theres a new state park a mile from my little house down here that was hosting a race. I put on my new Run 50 tshirt and headed out. As soon as I pulled up I realized I was in trouble.

It was an ultra marathon 50k race.

50k. Once again for the cheap seats – 50k.

There are 3 reasons I won’t run a 50k:

  1. I am not a masochist.
  2. I have not trained nor do I have the time to train for that distance.
  3. See #1.

I walked up to the race table and they immediately bibbed me up and sent me on the trail. About 2 miles into the run I realized the irony:   I was wearing a Run 50 tshirt.

WHAT DO I DO NOW? I CAN’T RUN ALL DAY! THERES A SALE AT MACYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I ran another 2 miles to the water station that crossed the main road, ripped off my bib number, waved a “thank you!” to the volunteers and hauled ass in the other direction.

Classy.

Change is hard but necessary. There have been plenty of times I’ve had to make major life changes. I’ve changed colleges, majors, jobs, marriages, parts of the country. I wear more sunscreen and eat less meat. I play harder with my kid and less with my phone. I canceled the cable and bought more books. Change is hard. My dad developed Parkinsons and everything changed. It can take a while to adjust to your new circumstances. It can lead to depression, anxiety and fear. I see the fear most in my friends transitioning out of the military. Don’t lose hope! With a few turns of the wheel the boat rights itself. And if it doesn’t, there are people out there who can help you sail in the right direction. Ask for help. Reach out to people around you. I’ve found incredible support during these past years of running for my Dad through our giant West Point family. (stay tuned for my blog post about me and my Long Gray Line.) Churches provide supportive communities as well as Veterans groups like IAVA and my favorite running group, Team RWB.

Life happens. Change sucks. Get up and Run to Win.

Just make sure you’re not wearing the band’s tshirt to the concert. (or the ultra marathon.)         Wear THIS shirt instead!

Up next – New Orleans.

Stay classy, Florida.

 

2016-02-20 18.35.06.jpgScreenshot_2016-02-20-14-09-00-1.png

 

 

Alexandria, Virginia.  9 am on a Sunday.

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. 2pm on a Sunday.

Today I ran 2 races and checked off 2 states. I started with a 5k in VA. It was fine. I went home, downed a cup of coffee and half a loaf of gluten-free-sugar-free-flavor-free zucchini carrot bread, grabbed my little family and headed 2 hours north to PA.

The trip was beautiful. It snowed. So Much Snow. The fields and barns and cows had a light dusting of snow as we proceeded north. So Many Cows. The race was fine.

2 races in a day across 2 states is a feat. But today was tough. There was no fanfare. No balloon arches that said, “WAY TO GO KATHY!” In my head I’m fighting Khloe Kardashian for the cover of Shape magazine. Reality is a lot less glamorous. I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t share my mission or my mistakes or encourage anyone. I wasn’t a cheerleader for anyone today – least of all myself.

And thats ok. The first lesson I learned today was, you won’t always get what you think you deserve. Promotion, raise, accolade – recognition of a job well done. It can’t change the big picture.

The second thing I was reminded of is that we are never alone. My friend Matt, a Navy Officer that i’ve known for 18 years who isn’t just a runner but an ultra-marathon runner, posted on social media for me:

“Just because I didn’t run at the same time and place doesn’t mean I’m not running with you! #runtowin.”

My stomach was in my throat and not because I was ready to vomit from the run (though that was certainly true about half way up the 90th f’in Amish hill). It was a perfect gift of grace.

My father used in a sermon on Grace:

“Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.”

I will try to live life more gracefully.

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” Philippians 3:12-14

 

Baltimore.

2pm on a Friday.

I’ve lived in Maryland for 2.5 years.

When choosing a place to live, I looked at a map and decided I wanted to live half way between DC and Baltimore. I’m about 11 miles outside of DC. Do you know how long it takes me to get into the city? 400 hours. But it’s fun to be near the epicenter of power. DC is the Mother Ship. The Home Base. And depending on your side of the aisle, The Death Star.

The best local races are in DC along the National Mall. The Army Ten Miler of course is my favorite – running with Vets from all over the world, running with family, friends, former cadet crushes, with wounded warriors.

The Cherry Blossom 10 miler is another to put on your list. It is a magnificent run under pink canopies of flowering trees.

Today it’s 40 degrees. The race is full of middle aged house wives who have blamed their waistline on “baby weight” but the baby is 28 years old. The race was at 2pm which means I had 9 waking hours to think about my time, eat the wrong things and get bloated, get tackled by a hyper yellow lab, bruised by a rambunctious toddler, burn myself cooking bacon. (stay tuned for the blog post about bacon. All Hail the Pig.)

I prefer 8am runs. GET IT OVER WITH.

Leaves the rest of the day for wine. and rest. and wine.

49 bottles er states to go……