Boobs, Pods and a Road Race. THAT got your attention. Or at the very least you’re curious how this is going to end up. Me too….

A little about me – I’m an American model competing in the (HIGHLY) competitive European modeling scene for a bit. More importantly, I run. I run for fitness, I run for mental clarity. I run for Parkinson’s Disease which has sidelined my awesome, athletic father. I haven’t run a road race in a while. I’ve been doing a lot more high intensity (HIIT) workouts because I like the results. I highly recommend lifting heavy weights, often. You’ll thank me.

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I’m 40 years old. I’ve been modeling on and off for close to a decade and here’s what I’ve learned – this business is fickle, highly competitive, hard on the body and self-esteem. It’s also a LOT of fun. At my age, I’ve got one shot left before I get long in the tooth, the face and the boobs. Belting them is not fashion forward. 

I’ve had to cut weight to compete with the younger models, especially the Russians and the French. (An average casting call for a job is like an international gathering of United Nations for Anorexia and Adderall. (UNAA). I snapped this pic of a Russian model on the metro home from an open call in Berlin. I have no idea who got the job but it wasn’t either of us.

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While I get a text from my agency daily reminding me to “think thin!” or “tone and tighten!” or “starve for svelte!” (kidding. kind of…) We all get lectured regularly about eating disorders and the negative effects of low body weight. “Your hormones will shut down and you won’t be able to have children EVER!” (I have a kid. All good.) “Your hair will fall out and you’ll be BALD!” (Our hair is professionally done for every shoot. I’m covered.) “You’ll experience anal LEAKAGE!”

Um, what? Excuse me say that again? Anal WHAT? WTF is that?! Everyone is looking around the room with mixed expressions of fear and doubt and then some more fear. Bald can be beautiful but there’s nothing sexy about any leakage.

Ok, Edna, you win. I’ll eat the steak.

Thankfully, I have access to great resources, nutritionists and this week I discovered….the BOD POD.

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According to my Google search, “The BOD POD is an Air Displacement Plethysmograph (ADP) that uses whole body densitometry to determine body composition (fat vs. lean). Similar in principle to underwater weighing, the BOD POD measures bodymass (weight) using a very precise scale, and volume by sitting inside the BOD POD.”

A significant part of my job is keeping in shape – or being whatever shape they need me to be to land a campaign. I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading nutrition blogs, books and podcasts. I get blood work done at regular intervals to make sure I’m not deficient in anything and I know what foods work for me. The information ascertained from the Bod Pod would be another level of info gathering for my personal nutritional science project.

I had to wear a bathing suit or running bra and underwear and a swim cap. I also had to show up in a fasted state.

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My appointment was at 9am and I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since 8pm the previous evening. I get up around 5am so by 9am I would have traded my left breast for an espresso. Thankfully, the paperwork took longer than the actual test. I was out of there in less than 15 minutes and raced immediately to the nearest Cup-O-Caffeine and ordered two of everything.

“Would you like that iced or hot?”

“Yes. Just yes.”

What did I learn? I learned I have 12% body fat and that’s just not enough for a functional female. I also learned that my fat-free mass – meaning my bones, internal organs, muscle – weights 113 lbs. BEST NEWS EVER! Why? Because when my 5’2″ friend is complaining about being 120 when she was 98 in high school or when Edna from the agency shakes her head at my weight I can tell her to SUCK IT because MY DUTCH AMAZONIAN SKELETON IS GIGANTIC AND HEAVY AND WEIGHS MORE THAN AT LEAST ONE OLSEN TWIN.

Suck it, Edna.

Then I ran a road race.

It was the Oktoberfest Dirndl 5k. Do you know what makes dirndls so awesome? Boobs. Those tiny white blouses, cinched in the middle so the cups overfloweth… hold a beer, throw in an apron and you’re instantly the star of every male fantasy.

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I, however, have seemingly sacrificed mine on the altar of Haute Couture modeling.

A moment of silence for my dirndl modeling career.

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The race itself was super fun. My tiny, 98 lb friend ran with me. We encouraged some people along the way and had a great chat about nutrition and exercise (and boobs. We also talked about boobs. When this modeling career reaches its finish line I’m going to want to get a set of those…)

We’re going to the actual Oktoberfest in Germany together this weekend to celebrate all things German. Stay tuned. Or post bail. Both.

Prost.

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Oktoberfest celebrates a new season.  I’m trying to celebrate something every single day. It’s a conscious exercise in thanksgiving that doesn’t involve the bird or a pilgrim. It takes work. Maybe you’re not where you want to be physically. Maybe you’re not where you want to be emotionally or spiritually. There are times I want to hop a plane to Florida, times I want to put down the weights and take a day off, eat the egg AND the yolk. But I’m going to celebrate the season I’m in right now – because every day is a gift. The leaves and the wind are changing but God doesn’t change and that’s something to celebrate too.

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The trees are celebrating with their fragrant fruit and jewel toned leaves. The Germans are celebrating with their pints of Pilsner. Army football fans everywhere are celebrating our team. LL Bean is celebrating sweater season. France is celebrating – actually the French tend to be pissed off quite a lot of the time. Don’t wait for a holiday or a Saturday to choose joy. Find something to celebrate in your life today.  Pumpkin and Pilsner? espresso and Prosecco? Soccer mom lattes and yoga pants? Dirndls and pods and boobs?

YES, just yes.

Celebrate where you are in your journey right now.

 

And Run to Win.

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Do you ever wake up and think,

ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?

6pm on a Friday.

Somewhere in Germany.

I found a gem – a Friday night 5k. Cream of the crop – you get it over with before the weekend, don’t have to wake up at 4am on a Saturday and there’s usually a beer reward at the end. Trifecta. 

Wifi, spotty. Cell range, murky. My 5’10” co-Amazon friend came with me. (Intimidation factor.) We arrived at the GPS coordinated location 30 minutes before race time.

No one was there.

Seriously. This was it.

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Let me tell you something about Germans in Bavaria. They don’t work out. They do, of course, but they don’t advertise it. They don’t walk around in yoga pants or running shoes. You won’t see a Nike symbol for miles.

Insert 2 giant women in head to toe spandex walking through the streets at 5pm on a Friday. We might as well had blinking lights surrounding us saying, “AMERICANS HERE.”

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Despite the fact that my friend was ready to cut and run, we stayed, walking around the block like two Draconian Drag Queens.

A kindly (or curious) bar keeper, leaning on his stoop puffing on his menthol, nodded his head in either approval or disgust. “Lost?” he asked. We showed him the web listing for the event and he pointed us to the city center 400 meters ahead.

We passed teenagers sneering at us in our lycra and headed to the center square. There, we were approached by a lady in lederhosen and a man… with a bagpipe. “Here for the hike?” he said. I showed him the advert for the 5k. “Right-O!” he said.

5k Bagpipe tour of the city. Party of 4.

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The tour was lovely. The history, thorough. The music, plentiful.

It was a good lesson in expectation vs. reality.

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Afterwards, we stopped in the local (and only) Irish pub for a celebratory (or mockery) beer. I abstained, both because I was the driver and because I don’t drink beer. The owner of the bar, a nice enough chap, was a Romanian born half Palestinian Jew with an Irish grandmother and a propensity for flaming whiskey shots.

Take a moment to let that settle in.

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Things are rarely what they seem.

I’ve always struggled with the expectations of being a Pastor’s kid. Does that mean I CAN rebel? Or I’m expected to? Or I shouldn’t because of my father’s chosen line of work?

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My five year old looks up to her father who is a Military Officer. Does that mean she’s not allowed to protest the National Anthem? Or does that mean she has more right to? Do any of us have it all figured out?

Thankfully, God isn’t through with me yet. I’m reminded every day that I’m not in charge. I can’t see what’s around the corner, the storm and/or rainbow on the horizon. None of us know what’s next. That’s where our spiritual muscle comes in to play – so we’re ready for whatever is ahead.

Bonus points if it’s a bagpipe.

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.

 

 

It’s been a while, race fans. Pour yourself a cold glass of Chardonnay and let’s recap.

I’m a hiker, skier, drinker, runner, ENFP on the Myers-Briggs Personality Test.  I’m running road races around the world – All 50 states (for me) and Europe (for EU Parkinsons) to raise awareness for the disease which has sidelined my awesome, athletic father. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/08/21/daughter-honors-former-west-point-chaplain-father-after-parkinsons.html

I’ve been in Europe now for exactly 8 weeks today. They were rough weeks. Hotels, laundry at friends houses, walking in a jet-lagged induced haze from scary-as-hell German playground to Biergartens featuring… scary-as-hell German playgrounds. Here are a few unique things I’ve learned about Germany (and most of southern Europe in general.)

German Fact #1: Everyone drinks. Want to give your 9 year old their first taste of beer? The waiter will bring you a sippy cup. Want to take your glass of Hefeweisen for a walk downtown? Go for it! And pass some around to others. Just don’t try to drink water – it’s all bubbly and sometimes so packed with magnesium it takes your colon a week to adjust.

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German Fact #2: Everyone smokes. Non-smoking section? There isn’t such a thing. From the kids sand pit to the ladies bathroom someone is smoking. And there are cigarette vending machines all around to enable your desire to smoke with every breath. Everywhere. From the gates of an 11th century castle to the edge of the black forrest – a dozen kilometers from civilization – you will find a cigarette vending machine.

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Germany Fact #3: Sunday is a day of rest. You can not shop – everything is closed. You can not go out to eat – they’re resting too. You can not mow the lawn, paint the house, wash your car or blink. And the old folks around you will call the cops if you do. So best you get your food the day before, hunker down and light up a pack of Marlboros. Because it’s Sunday. It took me a few weeks to adjust. I’m an all-american consumer and I can’t comprehend not being able to buy milk or eggs or zip ties anytime I want. But it’s a good discipline. We should go to church! Read, rest, stop and smell the roses.

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It’s hard to slow down. Hard to switch gears. This adventure has forced me to completely change course. I’ve felt depressed a few times in my life. First, during those awkward teenage years when your hormones are raging and you feel like THE SKY IS FALLING EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE SOMEBODY HUG ME! The second time was right after my daughter was born and suddenly I was responsible for keeping another human being alive. None of that prepared me for putting my entire DC life on hold and uprooting myself and my 4 year old sidekick to another part of the world where we didn’t speak the language and hadn’t prepared our colons for the perpetual onslaught of sparkling beverages. But we survived. How? Because part of this journey is about building spiritual muscle so when the hard times come – and they always come – we can not just handle it but conquer it. I spent a lot of time in prayer. I highly encourage it, whatever you believe. Have a conversation with your creator. Tell him you love him, you believe him, you’re mad at him – doubting him – tell him you feel abandoned or lost or scared. Just like in our everyday relationships, communication is key. And He will respond. It’s not always with the answer we want or when we want. He’s not into instant gratification and he’s not our cosmic cash machine. But prayer works. Try it. God is good, even when the sky is falling.

I’ve run two races here. The first run is always the hardest. I haven’t been training much and the hills are are no joke.  The first one was at the tip of the black forrest with magnificent mountain views. I didn’t do well. It was hard and I wasn’t motivated. But I did it.

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Lesson from Germany: Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump. For some of us, especially perfectionists, people who never fail or people who are afraid of failing, that fear will keep us from doing it. DO IT. Engage that muscle of faith and go. Jump. Run. Failing sucks but character is developed in the struggle.

The second run was a lot more fun. A dirndl 5k. I learned two things about dirndls. First, they are hot as balls. Second, only touristing Americans wear them. My German neighbors thought I had been sniffing schnitzel when I walked out the door.  I didn’t win but my time improved. I came in 3rd place… of the women wearing outfits… had there been such a category…

I’ve referenced before one of my favorite sermons my father would preach at the Academy, around graduation time, about life’s mountain peaks and valleys. The mountain peaks are joyful, celebrations of accomplishments. Life’s BIG DEALS. Graduations, weddings, births, reunions, promotions. But we don’t live on the mountain top. We live in the valley. And to get to the top we have to climb, fall back, get up and keep going. The struggle makes the top more gratifying; the view more satisfying. These first few months represented my climb up and having two races and one country down is my mountain top. It’s all down here from here.

Until the next mountain: France.

Good news, that mountain has wine.

Run to win.

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