The Perfect Pancake + Marathons.

Post-Marathon season. A season of enjoying, resting, rebuilding.

One of my goals during Grandma’s Marathon was to enjoy it, to be motivated to train again after, and hopefully to start my career as a marathoner. At a young age, I thought the marathon would be the distance I would grow to love. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t run a marathon until I could race it. The marathon is a little bit of unknown combined with hoping that the dreams you dream of the marathon are a combination of pain + joy and not tears + panic.

With my confidence in Christ and a very healthy, exhausting, and season of focused hard work, I had the marathon debut that I hoped for. Nothing crazy. Consistent. Dedication. Focus.

And, I really loved it. I crossed the line and thought…this was what God made me for. He made me to run and to race a painful distance. The numbness that comes during the marathon was beautiful…the kind of pain I knew I would feel…that I had heard about, and when it came in the last half mile, my face had pain written all over it, but inside, I was thriving. I was at my best. God gave me strength to successfully race my first marathon, and to give me hope that I have a future of marathoning.

After taking a break, I am not slowly easing back into training, and am thrilled to say that I will be racing a fall marathon. I’m so excited for another marathon training season.

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And, this post isn’t just about marathons. It’s also about Pancakes.

Powered by Pancakes is the best! Rachel, the founder, created a protein pancake mix. And, lucky for me…she also created a wheat-free almond protein pancake mix:

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DELICIOUS to say the least. I love to make one giant pancake or a few mini pancakes then saving them for a bedtime snack. I made one for Seth after a hard workout and he really enjoyed it too!

Here are the ingredients:

Oat Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Flax Seed, Almond Meal, Whey Protein Isolate, Tapioca Flour, Stevia, Inulin, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Powder, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt.

All you have to do is mix a half cup of the protein mix with a half cup of water. So, make sure to check out this pancake mix. Currently, I even have some protein bars using this mix in the fridge. So excited to see how they turn out!

Oh, and something else I learned about the marathon:

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On Marathons and Fog.

I have been excited to write this blog for a long time. Processing through my first marathon is exciting, tiring, full of dreaming.

I joined ASICS Mammoth Track Club a year ago. Feeling like God wanted me to run full-time was a leap of faith at first, and now, in hindsight, I see His intricate way of revealing His plans. He has walked with me every step, showing me that when I say “yes” to Him, He will faithfully carry out all He has for me.

I’ve known that the marathon would be the distance I wanted to pursue for a long time. However, I never expected to race a marathon so young. At 23 years old, I feel so thrilled and excited to start my marathon career.

I picked Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, as my first marathon for many reasons. Firstly, I felt like it was the marathon that gave me peace, that made me excited. I’m all about scenic courses. I don’t really get to see much of it while I race; I’m grinding. But, I love racing new places, and in the Midwest or East Coast, despite sometimes difficult weather. Plus, I liked that it gave me a bit more time to train, versus an earlier race in the year. It also isn’t a major marathon, but it’s still competitive. Perfect combination for me. I like courses that let you have some peace and quiet. I love to focus, but also to feel the crowds at points. And, it’s the 16th oldest marathon in the US. The whole town takes it on, and it’s special. The marathon even takes over the local paper the day after the race.

My prep for my marathon and build up went perfectly, so I was fit and ready to go. The plan was to race conservatively the first 16 miles and to be patient.

I got to stay with a sweet friend when I flew into Minneapolis. We ate a trendy vegan restaurant downtown. It was the perfect way to end a long day of travel. After enjoying the next morning and running in a torrential downpour, I took a shuttle to Duluth. I was thankful I made it to Duluth safely and quickly. Many professional runners getting to the race were delayed or stuck in Duluth, due to weather.

When I got to my hotel, I found that my roommate had dropped out, giving me a quiet, peaceful, and clean room. The days leading up to the marathon went smoothly and were relaxing. More than anything, I felt like God was prepping me for a good race. However, truthfully, I was nervous about the distance and nervous I’d have to pee (sorry; TMI, but the truth is the truth). But, I also knew I was ready to go. I did all I could to prepare well, to put in more miles than I ever have. I was the fittest I’ve ever been in my entire life. So, I prayed that God would give me joy, that He would delight in me as I raced, that my confidence would be in Him alone.

Race morning, my Garmin was malfunctioning. I raced with a good friend, Brianne Nelson, from Adidas ADP, so she brought me an extra watch in the a.m. As I walked quickly to Starbucks in the a.m. for a few sips of coffee and plain oatmeal, I prayed that God would make my Garmin work. After completely reseting it, it read: “0%,” despite charging it the day before. Brianne and I got on the elite bus and I showed her my watch, continuing to beep and say, “low battery.” Then I prayed, “God…you can make my Garmin get through this marathon. I mean, even if it’s just the first few miles.”

And, as I raced, my Garmin functioning on “0%” battery made it through the entire race. And, as it beeped for every mile (and also that it was low on battery), I was reminded that God was giving me strength, that He was with me. I didn’t expect my Garmin to be God’s voice over and over, every mile, whispering to trust him, to focus on him, to praise him.

As Brianne and I raced next to each other, a few men in the race decided to act as pacers, helping us through mile 20, reading each mile split, pointing out the elite bottle table, and encouraging us. Racing the marathon with Brianne was encouraging and so helpful.  The men took pride as we passed Kenyan women that had gone out too fast. The entire race was in a fog cloud, as the lake water spewed it’s mist at us. For the majority of the race, we couldn’t see very far ahead, making it difficult to take tangents. But, just like faith, you can’t see what’s ahead. Instead, God asks us to faithfully trust him. Patiently we pushed. We rode the grind of the marathon. As we got further into the race, spectators let us know we were 4th and 5th women in the race. We then passed one more, making us 3rd and 4th.

I didn’t hit a wall, even though I started to feel the real fatigue in the last mile to half mile left. As I took the hairpin turn after mile 26, my legs decided they were done. Perfect timing with .2 to go. As I crossed the line, I felt excited and relieved, and joyful. Taking 4th with a time of 2:35.17, hitting the Olympic “A” standard, I feel confident that this is just the brim of marathons for me. A few days after the race, with tired legs and a tired body, I’m already thinking about what my racing schedule will be this next year and which marathon I’ll race next.

My sweet friend, Brittany, who I got to see before the race sent me an acoustic version of Jeremy Camp’s ‘My God’…

It played through my mind race morning.

All of who You are reaches the darkest parts
Lifting the weight and erasing the scars that had a hold on me
Here I am bearing all, tearing down every wall
So amazed by Your grace and the way You’re still holding me
Whoa whoa, whoa whoa

My God, You are the unchanging love
My God, Your heart sends hope from above
The great Creator, beautiful Savior
I’ve been redeemed
There is life now from Your victory
You are my God
You are my God

Now, it’s time to rest. rest. rest. And, repeat.

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On Creativity, Vulnerability, and Discernment.

I don’t think of myself as a highly creative person…

And, if it weren’t for Instagram and Pinterest, I would feel even less creative.

I’m one of those closet Pinterest people. I really like Pinterest. I do use some of the recipes I pin. Actually, I’ve used quite a few of them. But, besides pinning ideas and recipes, I have a secret Pinterest board (that I guess isn’t so secret anymore). I have this slight annoyance with people that pin away for their “dream house” or “dream wedding,” when a.) They aren’t buying a house anytime soon or b.) They aren’t getting married anytime soon. In fact, they aren’t even dating anyone at the moment. So, I pin my hopes and ideas for my wedding secretly like a scrapbook, holding it close like a journal. So, with pictures of lace, roses, and pearls tucked away, I feel more creative.

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(Nope, these aren’t from my secret board…then it would no longer be secret. I mean, I already gave away that I have a secret board.)

However, running makes me creative and vulnerable. God gave me a gift that I can use to praise him and to hear His voice more clearly. As my training partner, Lauren Kleppin, and I enjoyed our mid-week long run in Mammoth a few weeks ago, we talked about how running is a part of our day and always will be. Running doesn’t define me, but I love it. I love that it’s a channel for worship, creativity, joy, tears, frustration, grace. I love that God has used running to help me build some of my deepest relationships, make hard decisions, have genuine conversations, and grow in humbleness.

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You also get to decide how creative and full you want to life your life: God’s given you a gift…you have to choose if you use it. Without Pinterest, you are creative. And, without Instagram, you can still take beautiful pictures of the life God has given you. Of smiles, of laughter, of memories.

My mom has sweetly encouraged me to blog while I’m home. I’m tapering, meaning that I’m not running as much as usual, since my marathon is less than 2 weeks away. I’m resting. Eating. Sleeping. And, spending too much time at Whole Foods. I’ve told my mom, “I don’t write just to write. When something comes to mind, I’ll write.” I also told her that I choose my second runs my re-playing trails in my mind. I choose my locations by what I feel, what sounds fun, what makes sense for today. And, as I did my second run in 100 degrees today, I wrote away, ignoring the sun beating down on me. In fact, the run was a blur, as I typed away in my mind, flickering through memories and dreams, goals, conversations. I realized that I write when I run. My blog was already written by the time I finished my double.

Running has also taught me: bigger is not better. So many of my decisions have been made during runs. God has given me the gift of discernment, which I’ve known since I was young. When I visited different colleges, I had this dream of running at a Division I school, since I had gone to a small Christian college. I wanted to run fast, to grow, to be challenged. Venturing to Liberty University my junior year in HS, I was sure that’s where I’d run. But, it was far from what I wanted once I got there. So, I took a step back, prayed, waited. I would still go to a competitive Christian college, but it wouldn’t be Division I. It also wouldn’t be in Southern California, according to my plan. Then, God rocked my world. When I stepped onto APU’s campus, I knew that’s where I was supposed to go.

And, the same happened in choosing my first marathon. I was set on doing London Marathon or maybe Paris. Big. Competitive. International. Then, I took a step back, prayed, waited, listening for God’s whisper—for His voice instead of my own. And, I chose Grandma’s Marathon because God gave me peace over a smaller marathon, still competitive, and, where I know I’m supposed to race.

So, let God use your gift to make you creative, vulnerable, full of life. “There is nothing more creative than vulnerability.”-Brene Brown.

You are creative.

You may not be an artist, but you are creative. You are full of life. You are worthy of telling your story, of sharing your thoughts and voice. You don’t have to be a painter to make a creation.

And, I’ve learned, running is my art. What makes you thrive? What challenges you, makes you vulnerable? What helps you share your love for Christ? Your drive?

Also, on another note: my creativity for today in cookies: Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies with coconut oil and almond butter.

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Post Grad to Grad: Celebrate.

This morning, after I ate breakfast and sipped on coffee…after I spent time on the Word, I thought about how I should write a blog post…to what it should be on…to when it hits, and I type away.

So, I’m a Post Grad, speaking to a Grad:

You’re done with college.

You’ve finished. (Or, about to finish)

Or, maybe you’ve just realized you’re a senior and have no idea what you want to do with your life.

Two common responses to the unknown: slight panic or just plain ignoring.

I’ve always known what I wanted to do with my life, what I felt like God called me to do since I was 9 years old: to be a missionary. Yes, it’s a broad term. But, after multiple mission trips to Mexico and overseas over the last decade of my life, I have felt the most alive on the mission field, like that’s exactly where He wants me. I feel at “home” when I’m getting on a plane to go to another country, or I’m walking up to strangers to build relationships, to bridge gaps, to share Jesus’ love through talking, hugging, smiling.

And, so, I went to Azusa Pacific University to prepare for the mission field after, and to run at a competitive Christian university. I wanted to grow deeper in my faith through academics and through running. And Jesus rocked my world. I learned that Jesus’ love is deeper, greater, more compassionate, more grace filled. I learned that letting go of my “plans” meant that Jesus could step in and transform my heart. I learned that balance in running and academics meant more slowing down, more listening, more rest and less hurrying, talking, and doing. 

And, by senior year in college, my idea of missionary and mission field looked different. It is now broader, deeper, wider…filled with a greater sense of compassion, grace, love. And while I have a deep longing to be abroad someday or for a period of time, I know that right now, I’m on the mission field. I graduated with a degree in Sports Ministry and thought towards the end of my degree that it should have been Urban Ministry or something that sounded more like conventional ministry…something that sounded like what I thought I would be doing. What I had planned.

And here I am, doing Sports Ministry as a professional runner, right where God weaved my faith and running together. He knew exactly what He was doing when my mom told me she signed me up for a running camp in Mammoth Lakes, called TUFF camp with Athletes in Action. Years later, the people who I looked up to for their faith and running are now good friends: Sara Hall…Josh Cox…(and Josh’s sweet wife, Carrie).

And, the first summer after graduation came with a wave of emotions. I was excited, sad, nervous, unsure, totally sure…

So, I have some advice for you.

Post-Grad to Grad:

Celebrate.

Celebrate that you finished college or that soon you will be finishing college.

Celebrate what you learned, how you grew, how you were challenged. 

Celebrate the great years you just had (hopefully) and…

Celebrate the years to come.

But, what not to do: (That I did very well)

Worry.

Stop worrying that God doesn’t have a plan.

Stop worrying that you might not use your degree.

Stop worrying if you got the right degree.

Stop worrying about your job interview tomorrow

Or, where you’re going to live.

Or, how you’ll make friends.

Or, what people will think if you move back home.

And instead,

Celebrate, Pray, Rest, Talk.

God has a bigger and greater plan than you could write for yourself and all you have to do is say yes to him.

Pray that God would help you to trust, continue to learn, continue to be challenged.

Rest. Rest. Rest.

Talk about post- grad life with other post grads. You aren’t alone. You aren’t alone in feeling a bit of culture shock or fearing what could come next. Talk: that’s why God made us for community. 

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College was a long ride, right?

Life is longer.

But, it can be full of God’s grace, His direction, His love, if you let him take the reigns. 

There is a life after college, I promise. God also has plans for you after college.

But first,

Celebrate. 

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US 25k, Strawberry Fields, and a Full Cup.

I have so much recapping to do that I’m not sure where to start! I’ve been traveling for over 2 weeks and just got home to Mammoth. Tiredness would be a good word to describe my current state, as well as joy…and being filled. After traveling to Pasa Robles and a photo shoot for ASICS at Big Sur in Monterey Bay, I went home for a week and a half for some sea level training, the longest time I have been at sea level since moving to Mammoth and also the most time I have spent at home. It was blissful. Lots of coffee. Lots of Whole Foods. Lots of time with my sweet family; their love propels me forward. God has given me a wonderful family that I miss while I am away traveling, training, and running. I was thankful to spend time with them!  

“But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, for that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience.” -Shauna Niequist

So, I went to the US 25k filled with love from my family, by spending some time with them, laughing, talking, eating, drinking. I was ready to race!

The US 25k Fifth Third River Bank Run was a great race for me last year, but I went into it this year with a whole new perspective: fitter, faster, confident, prepared. 

To be honest, I never really love hearing a whole recap of a race, so I’ll just tell you it went really well! It was a pit stop in my marathon training, and it got me even more excited to debut at Grandma’s Marathon in June. I finished 6th, ran 2 minutes and 40 seconds faster, and was competitive up front. I was surrounded by good company and had a blast hanging out with friends like Brianne Nelson and Mattie Suver. Plus, I got to have delicious coffee at MadCap Coffee in downtown Grand Rapids post-race. Kristie Sikma, you are a blessing; God is going to continue to work in and through you!

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More than anything, I rejoice in God’s strength, in His faithfulness, in His continual provision. I told myself I would trust him, race hard, and be confident that I could be up front: that’s what I did. Mentally and Spiritually I was engaged the whole race. 

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I love the passage Isaiah 42:1-9…here’s a section of it:

“God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out.
    He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
    life to everyone who walks the earth.
And it is he who says,
“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.
    I will take you by the hand and guard you,
and I will give you to my people, Israel,
    as a symbol of my covenant with them.
And you will be a light to guide the nations…”

I am so thankful for our Savior, and that He cares about little things too…like races. He has never failed to give me strength in a race. I am not just a runner, but I do know God has called me to run for this season of my life, to glorify him with my gifts, to shine His light, to trust him with where I am right now. 

I am also thankful for Seth and his family; I got to see them on my way home!

On Mother’s Day, we went to strawberry picking. Delicious.

And, Seth pulled me in the wagon for a picture because I said plleeeassseee. Laughing I got in and said, “This is my dream come true.” Haha, thanks for pulling me in a wagon, Seth.

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His dad photo bombing…

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So, my cup is full. When I feel empty and tired, God fills me up. Our Lord hears our prayers, our cries, and our laughter. I am thankful, joyful, and excited for what is to come! 

Nothing is better than Home.

I’m most myself when I’m home, when I’m surrounded by the people I love, the people who fuel me, who fuel my running, who pour into me, who introduced me to Jesus and continue to teach me what loving others looks like. They’re honest to tell me my faults. They cry with me when I’m sad. They rejoice when I succeed. They’re my family, my best friends, part of my core, part of me. My mom is my best friend, and always will be. Spending her birthday with her filled us both with joy. United.

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Where I live is filled with beauty. I live in dream land for runners. And, I feel incredibly blessed to be there. But, nothing is better than home. Nothing is more beautiful than relationships, then spending time with who you love.

Notice the tan lines? Life of a runner. I’m here for 10 days before my race to get in some sea-level training. I’ve got a sweet spot to stay for my training camp…..HOME.

Like almost every time I get to visit home, I blog about all the things I love about home. Why it’s the best. Why it fills me with joy. I’ll include some pictures this time.

Baby Boo and I reunite. He’s a doll. And, he loves to cuddle. Charlie is pretty great too. He’s so happy when I come home that his energy level of a lazy dog goes from 10% to 110%. 

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We’ve got a special bond.

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And, then, there’s Char. Cozy as a teddy bear. Or a moose. Sometimes, I call him a moose.

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Then, there’s some pictures of my brother and I in the hallway.

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My mom’s creativeness….

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And, my dad’s creativeness for my mom….

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My brother’s talent for piano and anything else artistic or math related. Or, just the fact that he’s brilliant.

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So, family…thanks for being my best friends and support system. I wouldn’t be me without you.

And, speaking of people I love…

I get to see this guy and his family in a week after I race at the US 25k Third Fifth River Bank Run. More than excited to race, and see more of my “home” team.

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Maple Moose + Mondays.

This Monday was incredibly exciting and special: Boston Marathon. 

There were a few incredible performances, including Meb winning the men’s race and Jeptoo repeating her victory. Plus, both of my teammates had PRs and my teammate, Bria, got her qualifier for the Olympic Marathon Trials! My friend Esther Erb (who I ran my NY Half with) ran a PR as well of 2:33.17 range, and my friend Wendy Thomas also had a solid day. 

Yesterday, I spent Easter in reflection, in prayer, in thanking God for His provision. I did my favorite run and then some of 22 miles, and it was just as beautiful and fun as I imagined. I enjoyed the big climbs and some of the soaring downhills, where I could view some of the majestic mountains. When you see those views, the climbs are worth it, just like relying on Christ and on His grace: it’s worth it. His plans are greater. When I got home, I ventured to get coffee, grab a new journal, then spent time journaling my heart on paper.

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And, as for Maple Moose….

David Rio Chai has a new chai! MAPLE MOOSE. Chai + Maple= Heavenliness in your mouth.

David Rio Chai is my FAVORITE chai, and they kindly sent me one of their new flavors. I love to put a scoop in my cold brew toddy.

I first tried David Rio Chai at one of my favorite coffee shops in Glendora: Classic Coffee.

One of my best friends, Katelyn and I, at Classic. Coffee + Chai + Best Friends = Better than anything. One of the reasons I probably really like David Rio Chai is the memories that flood my mind when I have it. Memories of college. Memories of best friends. Memories of ending my early double runs there. 

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So, what makes Maple Moose my new favorite?

It’s brewed from black tea and has a mixture of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. It’s got a tough of real maple for sweetness.

You can have David Rio’s Chai hot, cold, or blended. On hand, I have the Maple Moose and Sugar-Free Orca Spice.

They also have a bunch of other flavors: Tiger Spice Chai, Elephant Vanilla, Tortoise Green Tea, Giraffe Decaf, Toucan Mango, and Flamingo Vanilla Decaf Sugar-Free. You won’t find a better chai company; I guarantee! You can get their products online here.

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