New Seasons + Chapters.

“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” -S. Niequist

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The quote has never seemed truer or more real, but for me, there’s so much joy in finding what you truly care about, what makes up you, what God has gifted you, what makes you thrive, what propels you forward.

For me, it has always been to be with my family or with my “home team.”

Home, for me, is not only about location (where I’m from), but also where the ones I love the most are…the ones that help make up “me,” who help me thrive, who push me forward or hold me back.

Almost 3 years ago, I left moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA, and joined ASICS Mammoth Track Club. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. God opened a door and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities, experiences, and life that happened in my time there. Tears are rolling down my face trying to put words to the deep gratitude for my teammates, my coach, my agent, the town of Mammoth Lakes, and friends in Mammoth. (most importantly–I met the love of my life in Mammoth—I never thought that would happen)

From debuting in the marathon, to learning competitive road racing, to PRs, to ups and downs, to the Olympic Marathon Trials (and too much to put into words)–a chapter of growth and strength is now turning a new page. It was a really full chapter. It almost feels surreal that I pursued something I declared back in high school…”if I ever have the opportunity to train in Mammoth, I will.” 

I am deeply thankful for all I’ve experienced in Mammoth. Even some difficult ups and downs can’t be trumped by the life lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve spent time with, the experiences I’ve had–like conquering long tempos and long runs to brunches with my teammates to team meetings. Those can’t be replaced. But, as I turn the page to a new chapter, I have so much peace and so much joy.

Following my heart and the passions God has given me and instilled in me, I’ve moved home and relocated to El Dorado Hills, CA (near Sacramento) to my hometown–where I discovered my love for running, where I’ve experienced some of the most joy, where I’ve cried and laughed and grown, where I’ve chased dreams (ones that led me to Mammoth and back home), where I’ve landed as a home base and one that I’ve kept coming back to, because here is home. Here is where my family is. Here is where I am the most me, where I thrive, where I feel the most peace.

Home is also where I have the opportunities to work and run, something I am truly passionate about and motivated by. For many, professional running is the dream. For me, my dream is to pursue a career alongside professional running. So, I’m giving up a truly wonderful gift that was given to me of living and training in Mammoth to pursue the other gifts and abilities God has put in me.

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Don’t worry–I’m not giving up on running. I’m passionate about becoming the best marathoner I can be and toeing the line in 4 years again to make an Olympic team. (And, I’ve got many other goals along the way) But, in order to reach that goal, I’ve decided to make some changes. So, I’m starting a new chapter–and it will be full of new adventures, ups and downs, and pursuing God’s heart for me. (Eeeek i’m just so excited!!!)

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Planting Seeds.

I was reading “Savor” by Shauna Niequist this morning. Today was on “Planting Seeds.” I’ve been waking up the past few mornings excited to run, happy to be healthy again, and excited that this season build up is now towards the Olympic Trials in February.

“Right now it’s autumn, harvest season. But in my life, it’s planting season—a time to plant seeds and sow my imagination with images and themes and ideas, trusting that harvest will bring everything I need to write Bread & Wine.”-S. Niequist

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The past few months have been challenging. A missed marathon and my first DNF ever in a half marathon…both from a stomach virus and sickness. Despite my efforts to take care of myself and stay healthy, my body needed true rest, even though I felt like all I was doing was resting. I wanted these past two months to be a time of harvest–to race well and fast. But, instead, I look back on these past few months, and even now, realize that it’s planting season. While things didn’t go quite as planned, the miles and the rest and the workouts are all seeds. And, as I start training again, finally feeling healthy and building strength, I am watering the seeds I’ve planted the past few months and believing that a time of harvest will come. I believe God has given me a specific task in this marathon build up: be joyful daily, rest in His grace, and BE…be here present in my training, in what God has called me to.

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Daily, I want to truly seek God’s plans for today and choose to see that He is full of grace for seasons that seem stormy and also those that are sunny. I am finding, if I take a deep breath and smile, I’m more apt to see through the season I’m in and see God’s grace and purpose instead. Over and over again, I have to remind myself that while God has asked me to be present now, He has also told me: I will be present with YOU.

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So, when you feel like you should be in a harvest, take a step back and a deep breath. Maybe God has put you in a season of planting. That harvest will come, but only once the seeds are planted, watered, and given time to grow.

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ORTHOLITE.

ASICS has kept me healthy and powering along. What’s one of the keys to their comfort? OrthoLite. OrthoLite inserts are super comfortable. They are the foam insert in many of the ASICS shoes that provide lots of cushion and they are long lasting and breathable (that’s important in stinky running shoes). How are they durable? They don’t change the inside of the shoes, so they can last lots of long runs, workouts and normal wear from running. They are breathable because of the foam that they have, which also helps keep the foot cooler. OrthoLite even adds an antimicrobial agent to fight gross fungi that could build up (gross!). You can also wash OrthoLite inserts to keep them extra clean.

As a team, ASICS Mammoth Track Club, is sponsored by ASICS and OrthoLite; they have been gracious to our team and helping support not only our feet but also in helping us reach goals and stride on towards US and Olympic Teams. And, I strongly believe in what they are doing because they have created something to help keep us healthy. As a marathoner, your feet carry you a long way. So, you’ve got to keep them healthy! And, for us, OrthoLite has been a big part of that!

So, if you’re looking for the best inserts, look into OrthoLite. You can research shoes that have OrthoLite, or, you can easily order them online here: http://www.ortholite.com/footwear-consumers/buy-online

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You could, of course, invest in both of my favs and buy ASICS with OrthoLite, like the Gel-Kayanos or Gel-Excels. That’s the way to go!! Either way, OrthoLite does an incredible job. Thanks, OrthoLite for keeping our feet fast and healthy!

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“Be Kind to Yourself”

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”-Galations 6:9

If you’ve truly trained for a marathon, the time and mental investment into the race is large. And, if you don’t make it to the start line, it leaves a cavity where you let it burrow a hole into the deepest part of you. When you invest yourself into something you love, it finds a way to make a home in your heart. Thankfully, God holds my heart in the palm of His hand. And, He repairs it over and over again, reminding me that pain is okay and disappointment is okay, but that He has created me as a whole person–one that is shaped by His grace rather than by the things I love to do, like run. So, I don’t let running define me or races that I do or don’t do define me.

It started with feeling under the weather and battling sickness on and off until I found out I had a bad stomach virus that took it’s toll and took me out of training and being prepared for Twin Cities Marathon. Discouraged and sad, I drove home to rest and recover. As usual, the questions swirl in my mind of “why?”…”training was going great…” …” i did everything i could” etc.  But, I took a deep breathe, and let God’s grace pour over my mind and heart that could easily grow weary from worrying and questioning. And, as I gained back strength, I decided to run for simple enjoyment; it’s healing for my soul to run long and discover new trails.

I was on a run with my sweet friend, Alexi, a month or so ago, and she said, “Be kind to yourself.” That’s pretty much the best advice anyone could ever give another human like me (one that can’t measure up to her own expectations). On my “comeback” to health and putting in good workouts again, I’ve settled my heart on being kind to myself. In church, we’ve been talking about our image being made in God’s image. What an incredible truth. I think about that on good days and hard days: You are created in God’s image. You must be kind to yourself. My goodness, does it help.

And, in not racing, I got to spend time with my Dad on his birthday, a birthday I would have missed if I was gone. There is always a silver lining. Always.

So, today, be kind to yourself. You are created in God’s image. And, you were created for a purpose. Your worth is not settled in what you do or don’t do: God has created you with great worth.

Also, the love of my life raced yesterday for us both and did fantastic: He got his pro card!!!

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A Tasting: Good Sense Coffee.

GOOD SENSE COFFEE.

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Good Sense Coffee is a Micro Roasting Company in South Lyon, Michigan. But, the cool thing about them? They work hard at not only making great coffee, but giving back to those that source their beans, but also to those right in their backyard. They roast on a small scale so that they can give back globally and locally. GSC is about serving others. (AND, there coffee is fantastic). Their profits don’t just benefit them, but others too.

Who knew it would take me this long to review an awesome coffee company? Glad its a company that presents a clear vision:

serve coffee. serve people.

This doesn’t mean they skimp on good beans or quality of product. Instead, they work hard to source the best beans: Organic and Fair Trade.

So far, I’ve brewed the Burundi: chocolate, burnt sugar, floral aroma, intense acidity.

And, Java: sweet, clean, raw sugar black tea, fig, raisin.

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Both were equally delicious.

I couldn’t encourage you more to order their beans here. This is a company worth getting behind from a taste standpoint, but more than that, a vision standpoint.

Go check them out!

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I’ve written many blog reviews, but never on coffee. Surprising, for me, since I enjoy coffee every morning…and post-run…and sometimes before a second run.

Good Sense Coffee is a Micro Roasting Company in South Lyon, Michigan. But, the unique part about it? They aren’t just

Deeply Loved.

I went home this past weekend for my birthday. Birthdays, for me, can’t be spent without family. THEY are my birthday present. I’m deeply thankful for the memories I make with them each time I visit home. They bring me more joy than words can describe. It was such a sweet and packed weekend. From a long run to my favorite coffee shop with my mom biking, to a trip to Petaluma (near Napa) to eating a dream meal at Central Market and an espresso macaroon at Bouchon’s to running near home and being so thankful.

This was my birthday dream meal: Duck. Farm-to-Fork at Central Market. All sourced from local farms in Petaluma and Napa.

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I came back to Mammoth full of love and thankfulness and joy.

My sweet parents wanted to make me feel so special on my birthday and they let me crash their anniversary trip to Napa. It’s the only weekend they could book and originally didn’t know I could make it home for my birthday. But, I did. And, they invited me to come. What seemed like a sweet birthday present is actually one of the most special birthdays I’ve had yet. My parents live selflessly. It’s one of the reasons they have a wonderful marriage.

My parents will celebrate their true anniversary on July 25. 28th Anniversary…right mom and dad?

So, as I wrote their Anniversary card, I tried to put into words how their marriage has deeply impacted me..and how I couldn’t ever ask for better parents. They, I came across this quote,

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”-S. Niequist

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And, as I wrote their card, I became emotional which doesn’t typically happen when I write, but it was emotions of a deep sense of gratitude. The older I grow, the more I realize how blessed I am. Mom and Dad, I know we are still a week away, but thank you for loving me, for always welcoming me home, for nourishing my spirit and soul…HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. God gave me the best parents for ME. And, I couldn’t be more thankful to spend my 25th with you. I love you both so much!

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So, do not worry.

Often times, after a race, my mind is scattered, trying to collect memories, rejoice freely, learn mistakes.

And, it’s usually not for a week or a few weeks that I start to think about all that just happened, a blur of competing and all that comes with it.

Sometimes I feel relief. Sometimes I feel joyful, like I’m on a high from racing and putting my hard work into a race. And, many times, I feel disappointed, too.

As I was reading “Savor” by Shauna Niequist this morning she wrote in simple and meaningful words, her journey to completing a marathon. And, she asked at the end,

Have you ever run a marathon, or fulfilled some other physical goal that pushed you beyond what you had thought you could do? What did you learn from the process?

And, my pen met the paper as I wrote out simple thoughts, but ones that hold the weight of me.

God really lit a fire in my spirit. But, it has come with many ups and downs since then.

Racing a marathon lit a fire in me that can’t be burned out. But, the marathon is something I hold close to my heart. And, when races don’t go as I hoped or my training points to break throughs, but none happen, I feel a little bruised and disappointed.

Often times after races, I look forward to blogging, but hold off, until I can rap my head around things. It would never be my heart for my thoughts on my race to sound negative or disheartened, so in my disappointment post-races, I often think about how I can convey my thoughts in a graceful way. The ups and downs of racing and training aren’t negative. They are like growing pains. The process can be painful but the results, someday, will show all the hard work and all the grinding of marathon training, of focus, of dedication. God calls us to different seasons, and sometimes I feel like it should be different or it should make more sense. In my own hopes, hard work should pay off sooner. I hope for things that I don’t speak, trying to trust in God’s process, and not my own. But, the disappointments still come and the bumps in the road some days seem like mountains.

What I hold true on all days is God’s vision and purpose. It’s not one I can always see clearly or understand, but it’s what drives me forward on the disappointing days and on the successful days, too. God creates us with unique desires and purposes and I believe, He has a vision for each of us.

The planner in me strategizes endlessly, critiques continuously, and worries often. While I trust in God’s vision and plan, many days my prayers are: “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.” I am dedicated in training, courageous when I race, and bold in my beliefs, both in my faith and in God’s plans for my running career. But, often times, I need to read:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 5:25-34

So, do not worry. 

Do not worry about a less than ideal race.

Do not worry about the college you will choose.

Do not worry about approval of people.

Do not worry about other’s criticisms.

Do not worry about your future career.

Do not worry about finances or retirement.

So, do not worry.

We have a Savior to save us from worries. Whether it’s worries wrapped up in your career, or about your kids, or (for other professional runner’s reading this) less than ideal races.

Do not worry and trust. Trust God’s plan. Trust His Vision. (Words I repeatedly pray and have a hard time living out.)

My favorite poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver plays in my mind often,

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

What will you do with the life God has given you?

I’m going to do my best to race with joy, embrace the challenges, and worship my Savior. God gave me (and you) a precious life to not spend worrying and critiquing. Instead, see His vision and His plan for you which is nothing less than precious and wild.

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