Full Heart.

There are rare moments with your dreams and deep joy meet. When that happens: stop everything. Wrap your mind and heart around the moment. Be in it.

img_4851

The same moment I had as I crossed the California International Marathon was one of the moments, but also similar to one I had on a run 3 months back. I set out to run an hour easy after a few weeks of feeling not-too-great, but instead, decided to run the full lake loop. Deep in thought and prayer, completing my favorite 12 mile loop ending up being a refreshing start to a new season.

I was contemplating if I could get through another marathon build-up on my own, with quiet mornings like these. I was tired. Tired from really wonderful and good things like being in an endless wedding season, beautiful weekend trips, wine a little too often, but also mentally tired of rising early to go into work, solo efforts on big workouts, and not sleeping great from a full mind. My fiancé was kindly supportive of either decision I would make. After missing my first workout back due to exhaustion, I called my coach and we decided I should give the season some thought. I took my first race back off the calendar and decided I really needed to think and pray through setting out on a build-up as I was planning a wedding among lots of other life changes. I knew I had to make some changes if CIM was going to happen.

CIM is really special to me. It’s my hometown marathon and I had not raced it yet. Lining up to race CIM has always been more than racing another marathon. My home: El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Sacramento–this is where I’ve built and dug my roots in as a runner. I’ve had my best workouts here, my aha! moments here, my deep realizations that God has created me to be a runner here—around that lake loop. Sacramento Running Association, SRA, welcomed me home from Mammoth Lakes, after the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials 10 months ago. They’ve supported me, encouraged me: financially, physically, and mentally. Danielle Domenichelli was this years Elite Athlete Coordinator, but to me, she is a friend since high school, someone who has met me for early runs, workouts, even if it’s just to warm up. I watched her college career and journey to become a professional and now giving back to the sport in a different light. Scott Abbott is the mind behind SRA, but to me, he is a running mentor, friend, sounding board. I could list too many people for this post, but to put it simply, this marathon to me, was more than a marathon; it holds my roots and I needed to run it with a full heart.

img_4882

fullsizerender-2

On the lake loop run, God spoke to me so clearly. I’m not superhuman, capable of doing all things all well. But, I’m all heart. And, when I give something all my heart, in the best sense, I can surpass and reach my goals, my dreams, my passions. So, on that lake loop, I decided instead of calling my marathon build up, I would conquer it. I would give it my heart. That lake loop, as it has been all my life, a run that God has used to speak to on who He has created me to be.

My favorite author, Shauna Niequist, in her recent book Present Over Perfect, wrote a chapter called “On Disappointing People” and this concept that it’s okay to disappoint people.

“Some people are very uncomfortable with the idea of disappointing anyone. They think if you are kind, you’ll never disappoint anyone. They think that if you try hard enough, if you manage your time well enough, if you’re selfless enough, prayerful enough, godly enough, you’ll never disappoint anyone.”

On this run, I realized it was okay to disappoint people, but, if I didn’t race CIM, I would be disappointing myself and that fact, was life-changing. I realized, I could make the decision whether I put my whole heart into this season. I believe God calls us to different seasons. This season, He called me to plan a wedding and race CIM. That meant, mentally, focusing in, saying no to the over achiever in myself wanting to do 100+ things, and investing my whole heart. And, that’s what I did.

My marathon build up had no sickness, no major hiccups, but I also didn’t have any major break through workouts. Until…Big Sur Half Marathon. It wasn’t a PR race, but running 1:13 felt easy, especially after jogging the first 4-5 miles. Andrew Kastor, my coach, told me not to run much quicker than 5:30, and at one point, I glanced at a 5:17 split feeling like we were running 5:45 pace. Big Sur was a carefully planned, but also last minute decision. It fit in my build up and a few weeks out, we decided it would be a good test of fitness. I felt like myself and like my work was paying off.

Fast forward to the day before CIM, we talked about race pace, where Seth would be pacing through 16–going through the half at 1:15.30, a good pace and one that would set me up for a PR day. Though, I was nervously excited. I trust my coach. I trust Seth. But, as Seth and Andrew both told me: I had to trust myself. I had to trust I could run a PR and that I was ready. It was the same talk Seth and my mom gave me before Big Sur. I believed at Big Sur. Now, I had to believe at CIM.

I was really thankful to be preparing at home. I slept in my own bed the night before, ate breakfast at my kitchen table, and my mom kindly rose extra early and drove us to the elite tent. It almost didn’t feel real when I woke up and told myself: today is the day. Today is CIM. Today is my hometown marathon. I made it. Oh my goodness, I made it.

img_4855

I got on the start line and I believed.

The course was rolling and took more of a toll on my quads towards the end. And, I will spare you details, but due to little swelling of my feet and cold temperatures, my foot slid in my really faithful flats and gave me a terrible blister (hence for those of you that saw Seth carrying me post-race). I took 6 bottles, missing one. (THANK YOU SKRATCH LABS!) And, because I’m me, my first marathon pee break. (oops)

img_4841

But, the best part? Seth being a pacer. I had his company through 16. He was professional, but spoke life and encouragement, and sent me off with a prayer as I finished a little more of a painful 10 miles towards the end. When I crossed the line, I felt so much joy, that I had done what God called me to do. Would I have loved to be under 2:33? Yes. If it weren’t for the pee break? Yes. (I told Seth it’s the most expensive pee I’ve ever taken)

And, I felt so much love from family, friends, co-workers. I truly felt “home” in the marathon.

At mile 7, I saw my parents for the first time, and I almost couldn’t look at my mom. My best friend and soon-to-be matron of honor. She was yelling and cheering and holding her camera. She couldn’t contain her joy or excitement. For the first time in a marathon, I teared up seeing her. It was a joyful moment for me.

As my foot burned and my legs wore, my heart grew stronger and more full. And, when I crossed the line, I realized: these moments you don’t get back. My heart is full. I’m still embracing the moment and this season. And, while this was a long blog, I’m still processing the race itself and the details. One thing I can tell you: my dreams and deep joy met at that finish line.

img_4862

img_4879

img_4870

To my love, you have my heart and soon WE GET MARRIED! Thanks for carrying me through this build up and literally carrying me post-race to the podium. I couldn’t have done this without you!

 

 

OOPS.

To all who have been following me and commenting on my posts–I am so sorry to just now be catching up! My blog has been linked to a different email I no longer use, so I didn’t know of all of you who were commenting. I’ll be easier to get ahold of now!

Keep reading and following as I prepare for my next race: CIM, plan a February wedding, and try my best to eat good sandwiches and drink too much coffee.

Kindly and Love,

Lauren

LS86.jpg

Whole Lot of Heart.

LS1.jpg

I’ve always been an all-in person. No gray areas. I put in my whole heart–all of me.

I’m learning a lot in this season of life. Much of it feels like growing pains, but that’s how you grow. I’m in the sweetest season: preparing to get married, living my last bit at home, soaking in time with family, cooking dinner for my parents, seeing long time friends in my hometown –the things that really fill my heart. But, there have been the growing pains. Long distance doesn’t get easier and training on my own, while a choice–has some ups and downs.

I’ve always had this vision of running full-time, working a successful job, becoming a loving wife and mom. And, I’ve always had the vision of them all together..in the same season…you know, like superwoman status. I have quite a few close friends that are full-time moms and runners or that work full-time and run professionally…and I have this secret envy. HEY! I WANT TO DO BOTH TOO!! OVER HERE! PICK ME! I CAN DO IT!

I continually try to fill my plate with more than I can do. While relying on God’s grace and peace, I’m also really good at saying, “I can do this.” I give myself pep talks like I do on hard tempo runs or long runs. I put my head down and work hard and put my heart all in.

Until…just recently, when I decided I was really tired. Like, really tired. Tears too often and asking, “why am I so tired?!” Well, I’m working, running, planning, traveling, doing big girl things. {who wouldn’t be tired?!} I went into the doctor to run blood tests and see what was wrong. The result? Nothing. I’m 100% healthy—but I’ve unconsciously  decided to live daily in a state of stress or needing to make big life decisions and accomplish all I can accomplish every day. The result? Tiredness.

So, I’ve started off by resting more, sleeping more, taking a step back. Taking time for slower mornings again. Taking time to be in the Word, to journal, to eat breakfast, to take a deep breath before heading out the door and running. The result? I feel more like me and I can breathe again. I took a race off the calendar and asked myself what was important to me this season. And, I realized: preparing for my Wedding and running the marathon I’ve said YES to, that I have my heart set on. It wasn’t until a run recently where I heard God’s voice loud and clear. God speaks to me when I’m not expecting it…but also, when I’m listening. And, after neglecting quiet time in the mornings, except for worship on my runs–my heart has had a harder time hearing His voice daily. And, I need to hear His voice. As I ran, I felt his peace and heard His voice. He spoke into who He has created me to be. I’m an all-in person, not someone that can do 50 things all at once. I put my heart all in—like the song, “Whole Lot of Heart” by Ingrid Michaelson.

My goodness. It was such a relief to hear His voice and say, okay–I can do this season and finish it well, but with taking some things off my plate, with clearing my mind, and choosing what to say “YES” to, but more, what to say “NO” to. And, I’m admitting for the first time in my life that I can’t do everything all at once and do it well. That’s just not me. I’m an all-in, all-heart person.

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”–Thomas Merton

Amen. I’m so thankful to slow and to hear God’s voice. He is helping me realize who I am at the deepest level. I’m all heart, all-in…passionately driven to do what God has created me to do. Right now, it’s planning a wedding and running.

So, if you’re tired. Slow down. Take a deep breathe. Look at who you are and who you believe God has created you to be. Are you that person?

Job 37:5-6, “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a might downpour.'”

“God’s asking me to the thing he’s already created me to be. And he’s asking you to be the things he’s already created for you to be.

He doesn’t tell the snow to thaw and become rain, or the rain to freeze itself into snow. He says, essentially: do your thing. Do the thing that you love to do, that you’ve been created to do.”-S. Niequist, Present Over Perfect

ls77ls9

 

 

 

A Rich Inheritance: Race Recap.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”-Brene Brown

And so, for me, at the place of vulnerability– I moved back home–I made changes–I took a job–I started running at 6am–I started running solo–I started to mindfully use running as time to worship.

But, this wasn’t a chance or a hope or a maybe or a chance in the dark:

I trust in a faithful God. He has proven faithful over and over and over again. Despite many tears, fears, and “what ifs,” deep in my heart–I know and trust in my faithful King.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuinenessof your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

This was my first marathon build up in my hometown. It was also my first build up without sickness, without missing a run, without missing a workout. For the first time–multiple times–in this build up, I finally conquered progression runs. God was speaking something special over this build up.

I went back to Minnesota to run Grandma’s Marathon for the second time, since it was my debut and a place that holds a special memory in my running career. It’s where I qualified for the Olympic Trials and where I truly felt God speak life into who He has created me to be.

With multiple tough marathons after Grandma’s Marathon, including 2 really hot marathons, I decided to go back to the place I first really enjoyed the marathon.

{I also wanted cool weather}

Fast forward to a few days before the race, my travel day was a little on the side of crazy as I raced through the Phoenix airport to make my connecting flight. Then, up until the race, my stomach was in knots despite bringing food for a sensitive stomach and planning the best I could. {I refuse to buy airport food}– I thought, well, this is either great because I’m so nervous that I’ll execute well, or this could be a little disastrous. Still, I prayed God would calm my nerves and help me to trust His faithfulness.

Once I got into Duluth, I was excited to see my roommate and close friend, Sarah Cummings. We chatted away and relished time together catching up and talking about post-race wine and life and how we wanted to experience a marathon that would bring a smile and joy at the finish line.

Race morning, I visited with other friends on the elite bus to the start line, but then slipped in my earplugs to listen to worship music by Jesus Culture that had helped me power through some of my toughest solo workouts…and also re-read 1 Peter 1 –reading about God’s rich inheritance. The passage sat truer than true for this season. I’ve had some tough patches with sickness and setbacks in the past few years, but I know that hard work does not go to waste and that God would bring something beautiful out of this race.

I tried to ignore the humidity and heat, until I got on the starting line and really realized: it’s HOT and sunny…the opposite of the conditions I hoped for and had raced in a few years prior. I mean, it’s LA hot…record heat in Minnesota. Since my coach, Andrew Kastor, was in France– we had chatted days before the race, and I hadn’t talked to him the night before or morning of like I normally would. So, I channeled what advice Andrew would have given me and what he had given me thus far, I trusted my training and the hard work, and, most importantly, I trusted God’s faithfulness.

While a cluster of women took off a little faster–I hung back with Esther Erb and Sarah Cummings, running a good 10+ seconds a mile slower than the conservative pace I had in my mind to run, bringing us through the half at 1:19 (woah slow). I knew a pack was better. I also knew the affects of the heat. I knew I needed to be conservative and that patience was key (just like a progression run). With 7 miles to go, I felt the peace and desire to progress–and then, I went, feeling faster than I expected–and I started passing women. I crossed the line running 3 minutes faster than the first half and surprisingly, running 2:35.30. I’ve never felt so good and so full of God’s joy finishing a race…especially a marathon. While it was not a day to run a PR, with the heat and humidity, I couldn’t have been happier with how I raced. I spent the last part of the race in prayer–and remembering all of the hard work I put in over the season; I also had a new confidence from successful progressive runs. I didn’t know that it was how I would need to finish this marathon, but God did. All of my finish line photos are of me not in pain, but smiling. It was such a special day.

The hours after were spent walking around Duluth, drinking too much coffee, time in a sweet local antique shop, hanging out with friends, awards, and drinks with friends.

Now I’m with my love celebrating each other’s victories: both 4th place, him the first American, I the second…{He raced the ITU World Duathlon Championships about 1 1/2 weeks prior in Spain}

What a faithful God we serve.

IMG_3813

IMG_3771

IMG_3775

IMG_3811

IMG_3815

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

IMG_3110

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.

FullSizeRender.jpg

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!!!)

IMG_3077

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

FullSizeRender

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.

FullSizeRender_1

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.

IMG_2371

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.

IMG_2377

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

buy-online_right

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!

images