Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jumpin' July

Our blog has suffered from a busy month of summer fun. Let me catch you up on what our family has been doing in July.

The month started with a visit from our friend Joe Coker, his son Layton, and his new wife Amy and stepson Conner. It was so fun to have them here, to celebrate the Fourth of July with them (a nearly annual tradition), and to honor them with a small dinner gathering of our Carson-Newman friends. They are moving at the end of the summer to Texas, where Joe will begin teaching at Baylor University. We're so excited for them!

Soon after their visit, the boys and I headed to Nashville for a few days with my sister, Beth, and her husband, Barry. You can see photos of the highlight of the trip below: rock climbing at an indoor climbing center. The boys were just amazing, as they both climbed with determination and focus for several hours. We also enjoyed a very hot day at the Nashville Zoo.

We returned from Nashville to welcome our dear friends, the Teichmillers, for a few days at our home. Jinda, Will, Sara, and Jack's visit was great fun, as the boys LOVE playing together, and I enjoyed the "girl time" with Jinda and Sara. Thanks to them, I was able to see the American Girl movie, which my boys would never have agreed to!

The next week Seth and Reed attended soccer camp at Christian Academy of Knoxville. The boys will be attending school there starting this fall, so we were excited to have them on campus and connecting with other kids who attend CAK (hopefully minimized their anxiety a bit). They had a good time and were real troopers spending four hours in the hot July sun each day.

Ahhhh...isn't July over yet? Not hardly. After soccer camp, the boys headed to Chattanooga for their annual visit with Tim's mom, Ann. They spend nearly a week with her every summer, and they love it! Chuck E. Cheese, the aquarium, movies, and time with their cousins ... it's no wonder we have to detox them after such a week!

Yet, they have gone from a busy week in Chattanooga to a busy one at home, as our church is having our version of vacation Bible school this week -- Kamp Kidstuf. Each night from 6-9, the boys are participating in the "Danger Zone" track of KK: dodgeball, zip line, marshmallow guns, a mud pit, slip 'n slide, and more! They, along with about 170 other kids, are gathering at Providence each night for lots of fun in the various tracks but more importantly to learn about God and His amazing love. It's such a great week!

So the month comes to a close. It has been a memorable and meaningful one, full of friends and family! Now, we're so thankful to have another week and a half of summer break left. We intend to savor every minute until the new school year begins!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fireball Fun

Backstory: In 2006, I decided that I was going to start running. I don't really know why. I've NEVER been a runner or an athlete of any form or fashion. But I'd recently lost quite a bit of weight and was feeling healthier than I had in long time, so I felt inspired to push my body and see what I could do.

At first, I could only run a few feet. In fact, I set my goal to run from one light pole to the next; then, past two light poles. Eventually I increased my goal to run from my neighborhood to the neighborhood just up the street. I thought I'd never get there. After I achieved this goal, I wondered, "Could I run a mile?" I'd clock it on my car's odometer over and over -- the firestation. I had to run to the firestation.

Well, after much training with my friend Jennifer, we ran to the firestation. Then we set a new goal: to run a 5K. We trained for four months last year for our first race, the Turkey Trot, and last November we ran every step of the 3.2 miles. I just can't tell you how amazing this was for me -- to accomplish something so athletic, to push my body, and to reach my goal.

Last Thursday (7/03) I ran in my second 5K -- the Fireball -- with Tim. It was a 9 p.m. race, thank goodness! The July heat and humidity was tough enough, even at that late hour. Tim ran the Turkey Trot with me too, but since I had my running buddy Jennifer then, he went to the front of the pack to make good time. This time he committed to run with me the whole distance.

One thing I love about these races is the start: the huddled crowd waiting for the start, full of adrenaline and nervous chatter, and then the view of the runners slowly spreading out along the race route, a constant stream of people moving in unison. However, I quickly try to block out the other runners so I can establish my own pace and stick with it. And for the first mile, I do well. I love having Tim right by my side, matching my steps.

Then, a side cramp hits. Ugh. This didn't happen at the Turkey Trot. I try to push through and keep running but I can't. I have to slow down and walk. And I'm upset. I feel like a failure. I urge Tim to keep running, but he won't. He stays by my side and encourages me every step of the way. "You're amazing," he says, over and over again, whether I am walking or running (I do more of both). And my heart swells because I know that he believes this to his core. I may not be running a glorious race, but I feel glorious because of Tim's words.

In the end, we ran more than we walked, and we completed the race by running across the finish line (only 3 minutes slower than my Turkey Trot time). I find that I learn a lot about myself in my running, but on this night, chief among the lessons I learned was how blessed I am to have my biggest fan beside my side every day and every night -- keeping pace with me, urging me on, and inspiring me to keep running.

We're not sure when our next race will be, but we do intend to run the Knoxville 1/2 marathon in the Spring of '09. I can assure you that Tim and I will not keep the same pace in this race, so if anyone wants to be my running buddy, I'd love to have you join me! And if you've never run before, begin in the morning by running from one light pole to the next -- it's a start!