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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Today is Global Running Day. I don’t know what that means. Is this another Hallmark card day? Is there an appropriate flower or edible that is assigned to this? Does Nike give out free shoe laces?

For me, every day is Global Running Day. If you’re just tuning in, I’m a New Yorker living part time in Europe running for Parkinson’s Disease which has sidelined my awesome, athletic father. I started running later in life and haven’t stopped. There are three reasons I’ve continued to make running a part of my (almost) daily life.

  1. It keeps me fit. I’m a professional model and that means having to stay slim enough that someone wants to photograph me in their clothes. A good playlist, a pair of sneakers and a supportive sports bra is all the equipment I need. I can run in any city, any country, and part of the world I happen to be in.AirBrush_20180606134946
  2. I run to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease. My father taught me to run competitively at a young age, although I resisted for 2 decades. He would have me run a lamp post, walk a lamp post or run a mailbox, walk a mailbox. When I’m recovering from an injury or getting back after a break, I still do this to get my stride back. Before Parkinson’s took away his balance, he taught my daughter.img_5008.jpg
  3. Running has balanced my hormones, forced me to eat cleaner for energy, helped my emotional and mental health. It clears my mind. I can forget whatever problems I have. For 20 or 30 minutes nothing else matters. It keeps the dark clouds from taking over.

Someone close to me asked me how I maintain this transatlantic lifestyle without losing myself. It takes a lot of work to stay connected to myself when my personality is to be all things to all people. I feel darkness. No matter where I am, the person I love – the people I love – are somewhere else. Have you felt that intense darkness? Fear and doubt and heartache? Do question if you’re doing enough – if you’re good enough – if it’s all enough? It’s a dark, lonely place to be and I’ve been there. I suspect you’ve been there too.

In the early 1980’s my parents brought home a tall, thin, awkward high school kid from the midwest. He was going to be my family – he didn’t have parents and Aunt Rosa, who raised him, was too old to be involved in his life anymore. So he joined our family.

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He entered the Academy and graduated four years later. He went into the “real” Army and the darkness set in. The clouds were too much for him to take and on the 9th of July 1990 he took his life. He didn’t leave a note. He left a voicemail message. I can still hear it in my head. I was 12 years old.

He left me all his music – he was a prolific composer. I still can’t bring myself to open the box.

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There are three things I want you to know:

  1. Some of us are more prone to the “darkness” than others. I don’t know why and it really doesn’t matter. I’ve heard artistic types like actors and designers are the most prone. Maybe. Maybe their deaths just make the evening news. The soldiers death, the one who just couldn’t get the wounds of war out of his head, certainly doesn’t trend on twitter. Be aware of those around you. Maybe your greatest contribution is to come alongside someone else.
  2. We need to identify the darkness when it comes and engage our spiritual muscle. Your prayer life needs to hit an all time high – the kind that brings you to your emotional knees. God made you to be in a relationship with Him and He doesn’t make mistakes.
  3. You need to call on your tribe – the people in your life that regardless of location or time or circumstance will step up every single time. Maybe its a family member or an old roommate or teammate. Maybe it’s someone you served with once or met on an airplane over Topeka, Kansas. Whatever, whoever, find your people. 

Or call me. Message me.

I’ll be your tribe.

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Whatever you do, don’t stop. Brush off the clouds and keep going.

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There doesn’t need to be a special day to exercise. We need to move our bodies every day. There doesn’t need to be a special day to be a friend. We need to connect with people every day. There doesn’t need to be a special day for mental health awareness. We need to keep the dark clouds away every single day. There doesn’t need to be a special day for presenting our best selves before God – we should be bringing our best every day. Our families deserve our best. Our friends and coworkers and children and parents and partners deserve our best. WE deserve our best. So lace up and get out there.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep running.

Around the lamp post, from mail box to mail box, around the block or around the world, wherever you are,

Run to Win.

 

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“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

 

 

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Having been raised in a military environment, I’ve learned the importance of punctuality. Five minutes early is on time, on time is late, late is unacceptable. With very few exceptions (motherhood being one of them) I’ve kept to that rule. Having modeled for years I understand the complexity of a good winged eyeliner but it’s never worth being late. 

I ran a road race Saturday. It’s been a while – and I needed to get back out there. I run for Parkinson’s Disease – which has sidelined my awesome, athletic father and several other people I know. I run so they know – at least for a moment – they’re not alone. And usually around the half way point of long runs, we’re suffering together.

The race began at 7:30am and it was 3 miles away from my house. I woke up at 6:30 am, made a cup of coffee, got dressed and prepared to head out when my tiny tot woke up super early and despite a house full of visitors to watch her, she needed me. So I snuggled with her until the very last moment. I arrived at the parking lot at 7:20am and It Was PACKED. I had to park in the overflow lot and jog to the start line. I turned the corner and saw maybe a dozen people and another dozen children playing around.

Where was everyone? I went to the packet pick up table to grab my prepaid bib. “I’m here for my race packet for the 5k.”

“Ok! But the 5k started at 7am……”

I was late to the party.

“Good news”, said the peppy volunteer. “We have a 2k fun run at 7:30.”

Deal.

To the dozen or so parents I passed who were trotting along with their kids teaching them about pacing and breathing,

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Suckers.

The lesson was I was given a second chance to run, despite my being late to the main event.

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This weekend was significant for me for another reason – I was Baptized.

Let me back up. My father is a minister. However, he believed that we should make the choice as adults when we’re able to internalize what it means to make the commitment to follow Jesus. I decided, despite his struggles with mobility, my dad had one last baptism in him and I was going to be it! Even though I was late to the party at 40, now was as good a time as any.

First, I needed to build a village to make it happen. I was inspired by a photo of Marc Kapsalis, (West Point class of ’85). He was a big, strong, tough hockey player from Chicago who was baptized by dad as a cadet and he was coming to visit for the weekend. My daughter is about the same age I was when I first met Cadet Kapsalis and how amazing for her to see it all come full circle.

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Next, I asked Chaplain Funk if he and his wife Kathy Ann, (both WP ’80), would make the long drive from the east coast of Florida to help with the ceremony. Rick and Marc are on an advisory board with me and we’ve grown quite close over the past years. (Hence the shirts. Product placement at it’s best.)

We all gathered, with other close friends, around my parents pool and I was fully submerged into the Kingdom of God.

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There are so many times we’ve been late to things. Late to learning life lessons. Late to forgiving people. Late to dealing with the chip on our shoulders. Late to making peace with things. Late to healing past pain. Late to telling people how we feel about them. Late to love. Late to making our health a priority. Late to saying yes to God.

It’s not too late. It’s not too late to start working out. It’s not too late to make good food choices. It’s not too late to find your faith. It’s not too late to forgive, love, learn, grow, change. It’s not! Isn’t that the best thing you’ve heard all day??? IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO BE WHO YOU WERE MEANT TO BE. 

Surround yourself with your people – people who make you better. Find your support system. Plug in to your community. Join a church. A running club. A health club. A spa. Say yes to dinner invitations, to reunions, to old friends, to new possibilities.

and Run to Win.

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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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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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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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