afc half marathon

Running a half marathon was never on my bucket list. I've never really even considered myself a runner, per se, since my routes don't typically exceed 2-3 miles. I simply never pushed myself beyond that distance--maybe because deep down I didn't really believe I could do it. Now I know it's not that I couldn't run long distances, it's that I wanted to avoid the discomfort of running long distances. I also now know running is never without discomfort. It doesn't matter if it's a 15 minute run or a two hour run, at some point you will probably want to stop. But when you don't stop, you will feel like a champion. 

Shortly after moving to San Diego, I decided to train for this race, mostly so I would have something to do. Running helped get me out of the house after work each day and into the wonderful sun. Every time I achieved a new high distance, it felt like a miracle. "Did I really just run 6 miles? 7 miles? Seriously, 12 miles?!?" It definitely wasn't without pain, and I let my training go for a couple weeks and worried myself towards the end, but I had committed to running 13.1 on August 18th. So, just a week before it sold out, I finally registered to run America's Finest City Half Marathon along with 8,000 other runners!  

Runners getting ready to begin.

Runners getting ready to begin.

Although the race consumed most of my thoughts on Friday and Saturday, by that time I wasn't nervous. I've been training since April!  I felt ready and even excited to finally do it. I read articles online about what to do and what to eat the days leading up to a race. Hydrating was a no brainer, but I found good information like this about eating lots of carbohydrates so my muscles would store up extra glycogen as an energy source during the race (this is obvious to many of you athletes, but it was all new to me). Then I enjoyed every second of getting to eat extra bread, muffins, pancakes and pasta starting two days before my race (okay, maybe I took proper carbo-loading a TINY bit too far). On Saturday I went for a 15 minute run that felt like 45. It didn't do a lot to boost my confidence, but still I held out hope that I could conquer my race the next day.

On Sunday I woke up at 4am to eat breakfast: dry granola, a cup of blueberries and lots of water (I took two mini LARA bars for later on). I put on my running clothes and made sure my hair was in a bun that wouldn't fall out while running (the worst). I have a tiny pocket in my running shorts where I kept a small bag of sport beans, which I was told help give you energy during a race. I also put two dollars in my pocket in case I needed to buy a water bottle before the race. It felt cool to pin on my bib and attach a cool contraption onto my shoe that would keep my official race time.

So overcast. Perfect running weather!

So overcast. Perfect running weather!

One of my favorite parts of the experience was, interestingly, the playing of the national anthem just before the race began. It still surprises me to feel the sense of reverence as hats are removed and hands are placed over hearts in a huge crowd like that as our country's anthem plays. We were at a national monument site that sits basically on a military base, so I was feeling very patriotic and truly grateful for the opportunity to do what I was about to do. After that, we all lined up for the start. I heard the gun go off, and slowly people began walking, then trotting, then we all settled into our individual paces.

To be honest, the race as a whole is kind of a blur in my memory. I don't wear headphones while I run and often my mind wanders, but I don't remember a single thing except for little moments and decisions I was making throughout. The first 4 miles were basically all downhill so I had to be very intentional about running at a pace that felt natural and not faster than normal. I was feeling really good. Then, at mile 4, I realized I was going to have to stop at the next port-o-potty. Stupid! I had drank a final cup of water about an hour before the start, and looking back, I really should have skipped it. Now I was uncomfortable and knew I couldn't run 9 more miles feeling like I had to pee! So I made a quick stop and was back at it in no time (feeling much better). :)

I started looking for Luke around mile 7.5 since he had given me a general idea of where he would wait to see me mid-race. I was still feeling strong at this point, and I decided to get my first drink of water at an aid station. At about mile 8, I began to have some pain in my right knee. This knee has given me trouble for awhile now and is the reason I took a little time off from my training program, but I thought that rest and foam rolling had really helped it, so the amount of pain I was suddenly in really took me off guard. I decided to eat my sport beans to take my mind off of it. When I retrieved them from my pocket, my two dollars fell out! Looking back, I feel like I was a little delirious at this point because it seemed totally not worth it to stop and pick up my two dollars, so I let them fall to the ground and kept running! What?! So, two dollars in the hole, I ate a few sport beans and tried to focus on the sight of Luke from the side cheering me on. Finally I spotted him at mile 9, and I was in so much pain I was almost limping. My pace had drastically slowed down--from 8:36 in mile 5 to to 9:47 in mile 9. I ran over to Luke and asked him to pray for me because I didn't know if I could finish. He did. He cheered as I ran off again, and I really think he prayed and cheered me right to the finish line. After that, there are stretches of the route that I honestly have zero recollection of. I was focused so hard on getting to the end. I yelled out "YES!" when my RunKeeper app talked to me to say I'd run 10 miles. Only 3 to go. 

By now we had run from the tip of Point Loma (a peninsula) all the way into downtown San Diego. At mile 11, the course began a steady uphill that would continue nearly to the end. SO. CRUEL. I had to keep reminding myself that I was fine, I could still go faster, I could push myself harder. When someone would pass me, I tried to match their pace for as long as I could. The crowd support was unbelievable--spectators lined the sides of the road holding signs and yelling encouragement. At mile 12, I was saying weird things out loud to myself. I tried to share my excitement with the girl next to me when I exceeded my longest distance ever. She didn't seem impressed. Oh well. I had to do everything possible to keep going! It felt like we climbed that hill FOREVER. My body was so tired.

Finally, the road leveled out and someone yelled to us "The finish is right around the corner! For real this time." He was right, people had been telling us that for the last mile! Not helpful. We entered the final stretch and I scanned the crowd for Luke. I spotted him along with our friends Emilee, Kyle, Olivia and Cathi.  They were cheering like crazy and I especially remember Cathi jumping up and down with the hugest smile on her face! I ran across the finish line with a final time of 2:03:22.  

At the finish!

At the finish!

I know you've heard this a million times before, but if you think you can't run a half marathon, YOU CAN. Your mind is your only obstacle. When I started training, I couldn't wrap my brain around the possibility of running 13.1 miles. I honestly don't even really enjoy running! But it's incredible to set a goal and watch yourself achieve it--just give yourself lots of time and patience, and don't give up. I was lucky to have a lot of support from family and friends, too. Thanks especially to this awesome crew (& Cathi who took the pic) for being there for me at the end of the race! 

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current living space

Hello! It's been awhile! We've been settling into our day-to-day routine here in San Diego. We've met some kind people, been attending a church downtown, spent a fair share of time eating fish tacos. I'm training for a half marathon! We are learning to trust God more and more every day. And, of course, we've had more than a couple beach days. :)

Today I cleaned our apartment because our landlord asked to show a couple people the floor plan, and then later I thought to snap a few photos so we remember where we spent our first several months in San Diego. We're looking for a new place to live with 2 bedrooms--however, if we don't find anything affordable, we might stay in this current tiny place! It's month-to-month until August so we have a bit of time to decide. 

Enjoy a few snapshots. There's not much to see! We sold or donated most of our possessions and I'm enjoying this massive simplification of our belongings. Turns out we really don't need much to live at all. 

 

 

Here's one of the two of us from last night after a mini-date of craft beers from a cool place down the street. Oh yeah, did I mention that THE BEST taco shop, bagel shop, donut shop and happy hour joint are within walking distance of us? We're in trouble!

 

hello california!

 

 

We're here! Just over a week has flown by since our Subaru first rolled into San Diego. It has been a really good week of exploring, settling in and enjoying the sunshine.

San Diego is beautiful. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such brilliant scenes as the blue skies and seas that make Point Loma so beautiful. In the mornings, Luke and I have been going for walks around our new area, and the other day we grabbed coffee and then found ourselves down by the Point Loma marina. We passed a lot of dogs and their owners and we got jealous (we really really want a dog). It was sunny and lovely.

 

 

I feel a little foolish and even mad at myself for all the energy I spent stressing and feeling fearful of our move. I was doing all that worrying when I could have been getting excited! Yes, I miss my family and friends terribly and I wish that we could all live close together, but this is something pretty cool that Luke and I are getting to do for a couple years. I should have trusted that God was going to take care of my heart and let go of all the worry from the beginning. Because here we are in California, and I'm not sad or lonely or hating life here or any of those things I was fearful of before we arrived! Thank you, anyone who has been praying for me!!

One thing we have definitely been enjoying is the local fare. There are "taco shops" all over the place, and we were tipped off that Ortiz' is one of the best places to get a burrito--luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) for us, it's just around the corner from our apartment! Apparently, the "california" is a popular burrito variety here and it is a burrito with FRENCH FRIES on it. How have I never heard of this before? When the guy in the shop said "french fries", I had him repeat himself because I didn't think I was hearing him right! Needless to say, it was amazing. 

 

 

Luke has been absolutely loving his new job. I am so happy that he is doing what he loves. I'm also incredibly proud of him for doing something that few people actually do--realize your passion, pursue it wholeheartedly, work hard to earn knowledge & qualifications, and then enjoy doing it every day! He is an amazing coach and I know he'll come out of our time here even better. 

I have been getting back into my work routine too--workdays last week found me at many different coffee shops as we waited for our internet to get set up at home. Now that we're all set up (after countless hours on the phone with service providers), I'm spending way too much time scouring Craigslist for a desk and shelving and other workspace items so that I can get my little home office corner set up! Paperfinger: San Diego Edition is underway! 

Oh! Lastly: we had a GREAT drive out here. I took thousands of pictures and I will post here once I've gotten a chance to go through & compile them. For now, enjoy this amazing Pacific coast sunset I watched last week! 

 

 

breathing the breath

Moving to San Diego scares me. It's hard to write about because I'm usually jumping at the opportunity to go somewhere new. New places excite me, and I've never been one to stay put for long. But this feels different. Is it because I'm getting older? Is it because it's SO VERY far away? Maybe because San Diego feels like a different world? Expansive, bare, brown. I grew up in lush woods, tree canopies, rolling hills.

I have never been against the decision we made to move there. I know in my heart that it's the right decision. I'm so proud of Luke for pursuing his coaching career and I know he has never once put that above what's best for our relationship. Together we prayed and struggled with the decision of what to do next with our life, and this is where God led us. I'm not about to doubt that it is right, but it is so hard.

I'm going to miss being close to my entire family and my sweet little nieces. Every single member of my immediate family lives in my hometown. We've been able to visit them for a weekend anytime we wanted. Now what will it entail? Saving for months and a cross country flight. My nieces will get bigger without seeing me for long stretches of time. It hurts my heart to think of all the little phases of their ages I will miss.

I'm going to miss our friends here in Nyack. I remember when we first moved here, how lonely I was, and then how we gradually became part of a wonderful community. Friends who host breakfast every single Saturday. Friends who checked in on me and invited me for dinner when Luke had to go away for a month. Friends who play music together, make food together, drink together, laugh and cry together, go camping together, play games together, throw parties together.

Friends who go to church together. Here in Nyack we are a part of the most wonderful little church we've ever been to. I have cried in church every Sunday since we made the decision to move because it hurts to know we can't be a part of such a beautiful community anymore. In the past, church has hurt and damaged my heart at times. Now at SaviorCC we are refreshed and inspired every week and throughout the week by teaching and fellowship with people who don't pretend to have it all together and who love Luke and I for who we are. God's love is represented well there.

I don't want to be afraid anymore. I am comfortable here and surrounded by love and friends and community, but we're leaving and we have to find new friends, a new community, a new church and a new life. I want to be filled with excitement. I want to focus on the wonderful things about our new city and surroundings. I want to kick fear out for good so that I can be filled with God's peace and know that he would never steer me wrong. This morning Matt Redman's song "Breathing the Breath" came on as I was washing dishes and I thought, that is my job. That's all I have to do. I'm merely breathing the breath that God gave me to breathe, and he will take care of the rest. My life is an act of worship no matter where I am. I don't have to be afraid.

"From him and through him and to him are ALL THINGS. To him be the glory forever, amen." Romans 11:36