London, England.

2am on a Sunday.

Thanks to my awesome modeling agency, I was given the opportunity to attend London Fashion Week this year, culminating in a community fashion festival weekend. I had gone to Milan Fashion Week last year and it was pretty fun. This was an entirely new level. First of all, I was excited to sit between Anna Wintour and the Queen at the Prada show until I remembered I’m a “D” list 40 year old model with cellulite so I’ll actually be waiting in line at the Gin bar in the back of a warehouse filled with size 0 sample clothes that cost more than Oprah’s house hoping I’d be lucky enough to sit on a chair stuck with gum that had once been chewed by Yasmin Le Bon.

 

 

My amazing friend and travel buddy came with me, as did her lovely daughter. As a perk, she did my makeup. Without her, I’d either look like a drag queen or homeless. I’m not skilled enough for anything in between.

We were living in London, feigning my greatest Patsy and Edina moments from the morally questionable British show AbFab. It was glorious. We lunched at Harvey Nich’s and took big black taxi’s whenever possible. “I thought a little mosey down Bond Street, a little sniff around Gucci, sidle up to Ralph Lauren, pass through Browns and on to Quags for a light lunch.” (Patsy on her kind of day out.)

 

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After being fabulous with all our fabulous clothes, fabulous friends and fabulous fake eyelashes, we headed home. Our plane was scheduled to leave Gatwick Airport at 5pm. We had read on our way in that there was going to be train track work and we’d need to give extra time to get to the airport. We gave ourselves 3 hours to go 26 miles.

WE WERE WRONG.

We took the subway half way with no problems. Then we were dumped at a tube station and told busses would shuttle everyone the rest of the way to Gatwick. 1 bus every 5 minutes. For about 5,000 people. In a parking lot. In sub freezing weather. With no taxi service.

 

MASS CHAOS.

Four hours later, we arrived at the airport and joined the line of all the other disgruntled travelers sidelined by the transit tragedy. Once we made it to the help desk, we were told there were no more flights to anywhere in Germany. We researched every option from renting a car and driving to Paris to taking a 30 hour bus. We settled on new tickets to Munich at 6am the following morning, the first flight off the island.

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Feeling Absolutely Fabulous and with no where to go, we found the airport bar.

Thankfully they decided to stay open all night to accommodate the hoard of displaced voyagers.

And so, being that our fake eyelashes weren’t yet between our toes (they soon would be…) we decided to drink. A bottle of wine and a few gin’s later (who knew Londoners loved gin?) We crashed for a long winters nap… err… 3 hours in a booth under electric glowing lights and insanely loud club music.

9 PM

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10 PM

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10:07 PM

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10:08 PM

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2 AM

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3:30 AM

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At day break we flew to Munich, then bought train tickets to Bavaria.

But first we had to ride the train for an hour from the airport to the Munich central city train station.

Half way there, our train broke down.

One more time for the Peanut Gallery –

THE TRAIN BROKE DOWN.

Short of riding a donkey out of the city, we were pretty desperate. When the conductor came on the PA system, I leaned to the well dressed business man next to me and, in an effort to learn more about the delay, asked, “sprechen sie englisch?” He said “I do speak English but I do not speak German.” We voted him our travel guide anyway and followed him through the city from metro to metro until we all arrived at the main train station for our varied trips home.

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We had missed our train but another soon followed and we had a few hours of respite on the final stretch home. We arrived home 24 hours after our initial return flight tired, puffy and poor.

We ran out of money days ago (have you seen the exchange rate lately?) and we hadn’t eaten in weeks preparing to compete with the anorexic tree branches walking down the catwalk. But all in all, it was a GREAT trip.

It was meant to be fun and frivolous and it was.

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While in London, after the fashion and before the travel catastrophe, I ran a race. I didn’t want to. I was hungry from perpetual starvation and it was very, very cold. However I had a plan to honor someone I cared for very much and keeping that commitment was a priority. He was a 4 year letterman on the Army Football Team, the coolest guy I knew, yet always kind to this awkward teenager. He was someone who never missed my birthday or a milestone. He called me just enough to keep us connected and we always tried to be at one football game a year together. He made the effort for me. And then he died. He was 46 years old.

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When I read all the posts and notes from people around the world after his death, I realized he made the effort with everyone he knew. Family, friends, classmates, colleagues of all walks of life. He led with kindness and commitment. He was cool AND kind. (Read more about him Here.) I couldn’t make it all the way to Southern California for the funeral but I could run, where I was, to show MY commitment to him and to our friendship. So I ran London, over the bridge, for James.

 

 

When you know someone who lives and loves big, their loss takes your breath away.

Be the kind of lover and friend that take people’s breath away.

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Like Patsy and Edina in my fictional London or my friend James in his commitment to kindness,

GO BIG.

BE BOLD.

LIVE HARD.

and Run to Win.

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Nussdorf, Germany

2pm on a Sunday.

The last race before I turn 40 years old.

It’s cold here in Europe. Road races still happen but they are few and far between this time of year. (Far-between in Europe means I may have to run in Germany or France or Italy. First world problems, I realize. Thankfully France is as far from southern Germany as NYC is from northern New Jersey.)

I have had a chest cold for a solid month so the thought of running far or fast spooked my lethargic lungs. Luckily I found a 5k “nordic walk” which seems like a cop out until you meet the competitors. Get in their way and they will stab you with their poles.

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It was a beautiful winter day. The bright sun made the air feel much warmer then its 35 degrees. The race was in a beautiful sprawling field in a gorgeous nordic-bavarian village miles and miles away from big cities or the horrific traffic I’ve become all to familiar with.

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There was an enormous crowd of both competitors and spectators, multiple teams, age ranges and abilities represented. So I was surprised when, upon registering, I learned the walking portion wasn’t available – the reason for which I couldn’t discern with my limited German – and my only option was to run the very competitive 10k field.

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Crap.

The runners were lined up in their compression pants and competitive weather-wicking shirts. I was in yoga pants, a windbreaker and an old Bruins hat from college.

I did not fit in.

Everyone goes through times when they feel they don’t fit in. For most of us it’s the early years – braces, acne, big plastic glasses, frizzy hair. We experience it again and again when we move to new towns, start new jobs, try new things that take us out of our comfort zones. The important part is to face it and push through. (Just not with fashion. Overalls weren’t a good look back in 1990, either.)

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I’m turning 40 in two weeks. If you woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me how old I am I’d probably say 28. It’s how I feel. However when I spend any significant time with someone in their twenties I quickly realize I am indeed middle aged.

My body felt good on the run, though by the end of the first few kilometers I felt the aches and pains that come from relentless physical exertion. I feel pretty good overall but be clear – my body knows I’m approaching 40. If I smell pizza, I gain a pants size by dinner. If I stay up past 9pm, I wake up looking like I’ve been at an all-night rave doing jello shots when actually I had just run downstairs realizing the laundry had been in the washer for two straight days.

I used to be the life of the party with my sharp wit and stellar conversation skills. Now my stories lead with, “you know… that guy… from the thing… with the girl…”

People say exercise is the fountain of youth. My lower back didn’t get the memo. Nor did my high-heel induced bunions, cellulite, that one chin hair that won’t die….

I slowed down a bit on the run and allowed the reflection that comes from solitude. To those in my peer group or those looking to us to ease the fear of transition from youth to middle age, grab your wine and settle in.

5 Reflections on 40

#1: Love where your body is now.

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Don’t wish you were 20. You can’t turn back time. Don’t pin hopes on the future “I’ll buy it in a size 4 for motivation…” We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow so be present in your thoughts and actions, even if that means the granny bra when you realize you can belt your boobs. Gravity is not our friend. Embrace it. Love yourself as you are right now. That doesn’t mean we can get lazy. If you listen to the world’s top athletes discuss what drives them, it’s not beating the competition – it’s beating themselves. Be your best for yourself. 

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#2:  The only opinion that ultimately matters is your own.

Not his. Not hers. Not the guy you like, not the girl you admire, not the parent who never said “good job” or your celebrity hero. The only opinion that ultimately matters is the opinion you have of yourself.

Sit with that for a moment while I return to the road race.

I get in the chute and off we go for a six mile run up and down rolling hills – big hills – where the only spectators where the local sheep who came to the edge, cheering on each runner passing by.

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It was a three lap loop up and down hills. I was behind the lead group but in front of the casual joggers – a spot that was lonely but I can’t understand what anyone is saying anyway. Being behind the fast group gave me someone to chase (and the opportunity to see these incredible vistas on my way up the hill.)

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5 Reflections on 40 #3:

#3:  We’re all encouraged to be leaders. Be a leader. But also “practice playing second fiddle.”

 “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” Romans 12:10 the Message

After the second lap, while heading up the hill to begin my third and final, the clouds rolled in, the piercing cold followed, culminating in rain. Then, as punishment for lying to my friend in the 5th grade, the hail came. Even the sheep said screw it and headed for an abandoned train car.

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(Runners are perpetual observers of #NoMakeupSelfie.)

5 Reflections on 40 #4:

#4:  Learn Resilience.

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Like this little band that played along the run route. They packed in their instruments during the most extreme moments of the hail storm but they were resilient in their dedication to cheer us on.

 

The difference between the people I choose to hang out with and those I don’t is their capacity for resilience. Successful people don’t stay down for too long. Happy people don’t dwell on what didn’t work or live a life of regret and remorse. Learn. Grow. Adapt. Evolve. Then we can be friends.

I finished the race, got my cup of carbonated water (the least refreshing post run drink ever) and headed to the farm fields that were now mud fields to dig my car out and head home.

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5 Reflections on 40 #5:

#5:  Find your Joy.

“Awesome things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow.” This is true even on the eve of your 30th or 40th or 80th birthday.

Choose Happiness. It spreads. It’s addictive. It makes people like you. It makes you like yourself.

And didn’t we learn our opinion of ourselves is the most important? 

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There you go. Now go be sparkly unicorns.

And Run to Win.

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I’ve spent a significant amount of time in airports lately.

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I’m now in Europe but I imagine I’ll have to freak out my credit card and head home to check on my Irma-beaten home. For now, I’m refreshing a web cam hourly and drowning my anxieties in wine. In the midst of it all, I ran a race.

Stuttgart, Germany.

3pm on a Saturday.

The main event (I think. I don’t read, speak or understand German) was a 10k that started and ended on a stadium track. There was a 5k for losers-that-couldn’t-do-the-10k that started about ten minutes before. I was in that group.

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There were only a few dozen runners, mostly high school aged kids and some very fast adults. My favorite travel companion ran with me. She was yelling err motivating me like a tiny angry drill sergeant but it didn’t matter. I was pacing myself.

Was I? Or was I just being lazy?

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We ran at the back of the pack. I jogged a comfortable pace that allowed me a consistent jog without the need to walk or rest or breathe too hard. I had plenty in the tank and could even sprint around the track at the end. Pacing is important. Knowing your limits, knowing whats ahead of you, saving for the future. Economists will tell you pacing yourself financially is how you prepare for the un for seen future and keep yourself financially fit. But when is pacing detrimental?

At my home church in Sarasota, Florida (whats left of it after Irma) our pastor has been doing a sermon series on prayer. He talked about exercising your prayer life by extending the time you spend in prayer, increase the velocity and intention of the prayer. In other words,

don’t pace your spiritual life.

Amp it up. Don’t say, “God bless them”. Say, “God fill them with your Joy!” Don’t say, “God do something about my shitty co worker.” Instead, say, “God turn my heart to show them your Grace!” If you’re conservative, pray for Democrats. If you’re liberal, pray for the Congress. We all should be praying for our President – there’s a lot at stake. It’s not easy. It’s time consuming. It’s humbling to pray for people we don’t like. It’s uncomfortable to work those seldom used muscles. It’s exercising spiritual muscle.

Jillian Michaels, in a yoga dvd I do when i’m being lazy err pacing myself, she says, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” You win, big J. You win.

At this week’s race, we jogged the first mile with a nice German lady who was keeping our pace. Then, around the half way mark, she excelled. She picked up the pace and continued accelerating with each kilometer and finished quite near the front. I don’t know if she was able to sprint around the track but I know she ran to win.

My friend Amy was so frustrated with my “pacing” she almost left me for the biergarten. Seriously. The race had a biergarten.

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She stayed with me, encouraging me and shouting random German phrases in her thick Texas accent. She ran to win.

“Runners train, they don’t practice.  Your workouts are designed to work different phases. Often this means running at controlled levels to maximize the time spent working in those zones. By going all out you don’t spend much time in that zone in the beginning and then cannot go fast enough to get in the zone at the end. However pushing your limits is where your gain your speed and strength. You need to incorporate sprints and high levels of anaerobic workouts to exhaust your muscles, break them down and build them back up. Run the correct paces.” – random Reddit dude. He runs to win.

We need to be picking up the pace – doing our wind sprints so when we need the extra oomphf to pass the pack, our bodies respond. Likewise, we need to keep doing our spiritual sprints so when we need to spring to action – like rebuilding whats left of a hurricane ravaged home – we’ve got enough strength to climb that mountain.

My spiritual muscles are exhausted from praying this week.

Next time, let’s go all out on a run. And then vomit. It’ll be great!

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Run to win!

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My name is Kathy.

It has been three months since my last road race.

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I have a million excuses. Three months of excessive transatlantic travel. Three months of reunions and events and work all with my tiny tot in tow. I’m tired. I’m not motivated. It’s hot in Florida. Blah Blah Blah rough life just do it already!

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Florida. 8am on a Saturday.

The night before a race, I start to wake up every hour after about 3am. I get anxious about little things like missing my alarm, forgetting to pick up the race packet, is my Ipod charged? Will these panties chafe? Is my GOOD sports bra clean? Do my shorts have a pocket for my keys? Where are my keys? How much wine did I really drink last night? Then I do the countdown: “if I wake up at 5am I can have 2 cups of coffee, a glass of water and be able to flush it all out before I get in the car.”  Then an hour later, “if I use the Keurig, bring a travel mug, drive 20mph over the speed limit and tinkle in the bushes, I can sleep until 7:15am….

When I look in the mirror to pull my hair into my very unglamorous pony tail I focus on the giant bags under my eyes and the trail of yesterdays wine err mascara down my face and think,

“this is ridiculous.”

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Today was no exception.

The race itself was at a popular park for road races. I’d completed several there before and was familiar with the out-and-back along a man-made lake. Very pretty. Mostly flat. Paved road. No cars. Chip timed, actual bathrooms and two water stations. All necessary for a very fast, easy and enjoyable race. And it was.

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My time was horrible. I’m not sure what I expected considering my daily runs had turned into thrice weekly jogs, the occasional paddle board and a power walk through the mall. Did I think I was suddenly going to set a state park record?

In the time before the start, I stretched. I don’t do it often or enough but I know as I approach 40 like a Mercedes on the autoban, my body needs more and more prep work. I found a quiet spot away from the crowd on a little hill to bend and twist. I noticed a few ladies make their way down to my grassy knoll and join me. Before I knew it, I was leading some sort of dysfuntional tutu wearing “i run for wine” cheering soccer mom yoga class. Kill me.

A group of very ripped cross fit ladies passed by and looked me up and down like I was loosening up for a 5k hostel takeover. Little did they know I was legitimatly afraid my thighs would cramp up at the sound of the gun and last night’s sushi would make a guest appearance by mile 2.

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Road Race Rule #1:

Don’t judge others. Don’t worry about what people think of you. Don’t do crossfit. (ok, kidding. but really don’t.)

A few hundred people lined up, the gun went off and before I knew it we were at the half way turn around point. I was in the middle of the running pack, a comfortable place for me to be. But then things got interesting. First, as we made the U-turn, we now faced the sun. A blaring hot Florida in August sun. The kind of sun that makes you question your life choices. The kind of sun that will horrify your dermatologist and change your makeup base from “creamy beige” to “Punishment For Past Sins.”

Race Rule #2:

Wear sunscreen. Pack aloe. Lips can burn, too.

Thankfully I was preoccupied with the 9 year old kid that kept passing me like Buzz Lightyear then WALKING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

Road Race Rule #3:

WALKERS TO THE RIGHT!

None of that ultimately matters. What matters is doing it.

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I need to reestablish my commitment to running road races at least once a month. I need to reestablish my commitment to pushing my body farther, harder, faster. I need to reestablish my commitment to encouraging YOU to join me in our endeavor to be the best versions of ourselves. (That’s way too new-agey-touchy-feely for me but Oprah said it and I can’t get it out of my head.)

I’m out of excuses. I need to get back to running consistently and with conviction. I can’t talk about physical muscle if i’ve gone soft or spiritual muscle if I’m not putting in the time to pray and reflect. We’re running to win! There’s no time to over think it, over analyze it. There are plenty of reasons NOT to do something but when has that made you better, healthier, happier?

I kept the sushi down. So can you.

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Until next week.

Run to win.

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Sarasota, Florida.

8am on a Saturday.

I CAN’T STOP SWEATING. The only thing worse than Florida at the cusp of May is running a road race in Florida in May. However, I needed to get my butt in gear and get back to racing. April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month. In our family, every day is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month. I run for Parkinson’s, for my super athletic father who has been sidelined with it and for people struggling who need to feel lifted up.

But I wasn’t feeling it this morning. It was hot. So hot. 90 degrees in the shade hot. Running in a sports bra hot. Pouring pit stop water on your head hot. (Or artificially colored orange Gatorade if you didn’t bother to check the contents of said cup.)  I’ve been injury free thus far but this morning my sciatic nerve decided to punish me for every sin all the way back to the sticker I stole from my friend when I was 7 years old.

On the early morning drive, I decided I would phone it in today. I don’t need to run fast. I don’t have anything to prove. It’s a big race at a big state park so I’ll hide myself towards the back of the pack and jog it in. Upon arriving, I questioned if I had found the correct park. There were 12 people there. I CAN’T HIDE BEHIND TWELVE PEOPLE!

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More eventually came, but I quickly realized there’s no place to hide in this race.

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It’s OK to hit cruise control from time to time. It’s OK to hang in someone’s draft for a bit. But we can’t stay there. Character is formed and honed in the struggle to keep up with and pass the pack. The race was about to start. I had to decide to either be a leader or a follower.

Is it possible to be both? Can you lead from behind?

At West Point in the early 1990s, there was a cadet named Chris. Stellar athlete. In fact, he was the #1 athlete in his class. A few months before graduation of his senior year he had to take his last physical fitness test. Unlike the rest of us mere mortals, Chris didn’t have to worry about the run portion of the test. He could cruise through without any effort and not only pass but win the event. The cadets lined up for their run and the instructor said, “Go!” About half way through the race, with more than a comfortable lead, Chris noticed a classmate struggling. Perhaps he was unwell. Perhaps he was hurt. Perhaps running was just not his premiere event. Instead of finishing his race as the leader, Chris fell back. He stayed side by side, step by step with his struggling classmate for the duration of the run. They both crossed the finish line together. And they both failed.

Chris was able to retake the test and graduate but the event had a profound effect on this young kid. Being a leader doesn’t mean coming in first. It doesn’t mean being the best, the fastest, the strongest, the wealthiest, the most successful. Sometimes, being a leader is about encouraging others. Motivating those around you. Sometimes it’s about coming along side someone and encouraging them to Run to Win.

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I needed someone to come along side me today. I got on the 5k trail and CRAP. It’s all SAND! I can’t run on SAND!

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And then insert the Gatorade incident here.

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And whats this? ALLIGATORS? WTF is that?!

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JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL!

At my lowest point I saw a lady on the sideline with the now iconic red RWB shirt and her PTSD service dog. In a random 5k in a random city in Southwest Florida. She was the reminder I needed to step it up. Get over myself. Stop feeling sorry because I left my size 6 for an 8, because I’ve eaten too many home made blueberry muffins and washed them down with too much Chardonnay. Stop wishing I hustled my business more, called my friends more, worked harder on my relationships, said “I’m sorry” and “I LOVE YOU” more.

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My race time was horrific. But after the race, a woman came up for a high five and said, “Great run – because of you I had my best time ever.”

Be a leader – even if from behind. There’s always someone watching – a child, a neighbor, a partner, a colleague, the lady in the RWB shirt.

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You can make a difference from any position in the race. Just don’t give up. Run to win.

 

 

 

“Maybe you don’t realize the dangers of being by yourself out here in this wilderness. There are loonies and crazies running around all over the place…. and we’re all on a first – name basis.” Erma Bombeck

I just returned from a few days in the swamps of Georgia where the water tastes like sulfur, teeth are optional and Cracker Barrel is fine dining. I came away with a renewed sense of service, friendship and appreciation for good dental care.(I’ve already run Georgia. Stay tuned for my “chase the turtles” or something 5k this weekend in Sarasota. It’s hot and i’m still on European time aka perpetual happy hour.)

The event, the impetus for my early return from Europe, was to support my dear friends of over 17 years who are at the pinnacle of their careers – he is taking command of a nuclear submarine.

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It was a marvelous occasion and people came from all over the country to support this fine officer and his family, culminating in a back yard BBQ with a hundred of their dearest friends and family, an emergency plummer and a backhoe. God Bless the Georgia Burbs.

The best part of family reunions, weddings, funerals, Change of Command’s… is gathering together everyone you love in one place. For me, the chance to break bread with my closest girlfriends was worth the effort of the journey – 36 hours, 2 airports and an international plane ride with my five year old and 100 service members returning from a year in Kuwait who smelled like Axe body spray and day old lamb curry.

These friends are worth it. These are the friends that loved me when I was my most un-lovable. You know what I mean – we’ve all been there. The friends that stand by your side when a parent dies, a spouse leaves, when we lose a job, lose a fortune, when we do the ugly cry. Friends that are there to strengthen us when our spiritual muscle is weak, that encourage us to get back up, put on our big-girl spanx err panties and grow up. The friends that stand by you at the happy times, cry with you in the dark times and hold your hair in the basement bathroom of a New York City dive bar at 2am on a Thursday.

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The best of friends aren’t the ones who give the good gifts, throw the best parties or always say the right things. The best of friends are the ones who show up – in the celebrations, in the darkness and when the septic tank overflows.

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My favorite author, Erma Bombeck, wrote about friendship, “Friends are ‘annuals’ that need seasonal nurturing to bear blossoms. Family is a ‘perennial’ that comes up year after year, enduring the droughts of absence and neglect. There’s a place in the garden for both of them.”

Keep watering, pruning and nurturing the seeds of friendship planted years ago. Keep showing up for those most important to you – backhoe optional.

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While running the European Union (what’s left of it) for EU Parkinsons Foundation, I’ve been based out of a small village in southern Germany. My little town is great for a lot of things like bakeries, wine stores and biergartens. I’ve consumed so much beer and brats I’ll need a large, Hungarian electrolysis to keep me from turning into a middle aged man. We have farms, horses and goats. (So many goats.)

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Eight months later, it’s time to go home. I need to check on my little Florida flop house, replenish my resources, (working remotely is not for the weak) hug my friends and eat my mother’s casseroles. I’m thankful for my little village and the good Germans who have embraced me. It’s been an amazing but often difficult few months. There is only so much planning you can do before the kid gets sick, the plane gets canceled and you find yourself, out of cash, on a city bus in the middle of Italy with a box of bread sticks and day old fake eyelashes.

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I haven’t stopped running! I’ll share my race experiences in the States over the next few months. Keep running with me. We’re in this together. Exercise isn’t just necessary for my physical well being, it’s important for my emotional and spiritual self. It’s where I emote, process the day, lament that I don’t work hard enough, try hard enough, don’t measure up to who I want to be. By the end of the run, with my well empty, I talk to my creator. You may not hear God but I do. It’s the gentle nudge that says, “you’ve got this.”

Today, during a brief respite from the rain, I grabbed the dog, launched my kid in the jogger and we went for a 5 mile run up through rocky trails and over pine needle strewn paths.

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At the top of an intense hill was an incredible vista – the sweet reward for the upward climb.

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Then I had the satisfaction of the downward slope, reveling in the exhausted joy of having completed a long, tough run.

At the bottom of the steep hill, I came to a sign:

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DANGER! I couldn’t continue into town. There was construction or an accident or I was being punished for past sins.

I had to turn around AND GO BACK UP the mountain and down the OTHER SIDE.

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I had just climbed the hill. I hadn’t prepared for having to climb it again. I didn’t have the motivation. I didn’t have the physical muscle to do it all over.

I’ve talked a lot about spiritual muscle. It’s how we deal with peaks and valleys of rugged terrain in life and in sport – how we engage our muscles of hope and faith to get up the hill when we’re stuck in a rut. But what happens when you don’t reach the top? Or when you crest the hill only to find another, bigger climb? We’ve all felt that depression. Sometimes, even when we do all the right things, we don’t reach the summit. Or if we do, it’s not what we’d hoped. The promotion you didn’t get. The job that isn’t fulfilling. A crumbling marriage, a troubled teen, sickness, adversity, hopelessness. That’s when spiritual muscle becomes crucial. We need help from friends, neighbors, family, church, music, reading, respite, running…  to start the climb back up the hill. Running Europe has been amazing. We’ve seen so much. But my tiny tot and I need to plant our feet on American soil. We need Green Tea Smoothies and Whole Foods. And Target! Oh how I’ve missed one-stop shopping for needless things, endless waste and American’s propensity for hoarding consumable goods.

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I need a break from the constant math of converting kilometers to miles. I need a break from all the speeding tickets because I suck at math. This story isn’t over. We’re just on to the next chapter – Run South America! Kidding, kidding. My Spanish is worse than my math.

Keep running with me. Keep running to win. God’s not through with us yet.

I offer up my favorite poem, abbreviated, by Annie J. Flint. I memorized it at a young age before I really understood what it meant. The language is dated but the message is clear – we’re not alone. There’s water in the well – an eternal supply! Read it, then read it again. Print it out. Put it in your desk drawer at work and your sock drawer at home. We all have “multiplied trials,” and we all need His “multiplied peace”.

He gives more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sends more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He adds His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun!

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

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And Run to Win.