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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The BEST Muesli.

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Whenever I cook or bake, I cook with love and lots of good ingredients. I’m a firm believer, for one, that I need to fuel my body well. With logging lots of miles (especially at altitude), I’ve really worked hard to focus on fueling efficiently. From my breakfast, to post-run UCAN shake, to red meat and lots of veggies, I’ve grown a lot in my view of food and how to use it for fuel (but also ENJOY it).

My boyfriend, Seth, is a food-lover like me. We love cooking together. Usually it’s vegan/raw dishes with red meat once in awhile. We love good breakfasts, huge salads for lunch…and yes, huge salads for dinner too. Mainly we just pile lots of nutrients on greens (whether it’s meat, quinoa..etc).

He’s a big fan of muesli and I was inspired this morning to create my own recipe of muesli. He says the key is some fresh OJ with whatever milk you use when you soak it overnight. (I use almond milk or homemade cashew or walnut milk) Adds a little sweetness. I think I’ll try it tonight!

Like any recipe I write or create, I use ingredients I enjoy and love. Muesli is pretty easy to make. There’s no right or wrong answer to ratios, etc.

If you don’t like the below ingredients, you can sub them out for other ingredients. But, below are a few reasons I chose what I did:

Oats: One of the best breakfast foods. It’s easy to digest, great for simple carbs, and it’s a whole grain.

Mulberries: Raw, GF, Organic..etc. These are superfood! They are rich in iron and vitamin C. Mulberries have resveratrol, which is an antioxidant (it’s also found in red wine) Basically, it helps you have a healthy heart!

Golden Berries: Another superfood. These are rich in vitamin A and are also rich in fiber.

Sweet Cacao Nibs: Superfood, again. These are rich in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, fiber, as well as other vitamins. These are so so much better than eating chocolate or chocolate chips. These fuel you and taste delicious for dark chocolate lovers like me.

Chia Seeds: Rich in fatty acids and another tool for fuel, these are great to add to smoothies or cereals like this.

Raisins: While raisins are kind of sugary and sweet, they are a quick energy source!

Walnuts: Lots of good omega-3s in walnuts. And, they add such a good crunch to cereals. I love nuts and walnuts are one of my favorite kinds.

Sunflower Seeds: They are packed with vitamin E and are great for your heart. Plus, they are an anti-inflammatory!

Cinnamon: It’s an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammartory, as well as a lot of other benefits. Cinnamon might seem like an ordinary spice, but it’s packed with nutrition.

Superfood Muesli

4 Cups Whole Oats

1.5 ounces (one bag) of Dang Coconut Chips (or regular coconut)

1/4 Cup Sweet Cacao Nibs

1/2 Cup Golden Berries

1/2 Mulberries

1/2 Walnuts

1/3 Sunflower Seeds (I used TJ’s Maple Rosemary Sunflower Seeds)

1/3 Raisins

2 Tsp. Chia Seeds

2 Tsp. Cinnamon

Oh Kale YEAH: Best Bread Ever.

I’ve been meaning to write this awesome bread review on Bread SRSLY since my marathon.

Bread SRSLY is a Gluten Free Sourdough company located in San Francisco, CA, which is basically sourdough bread heaven. If you want good sourdough, go to SF.

What initially drew me to this company was this…

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What could get any better than kale in bread? KALE in sourdough bread. AND, Gluten-Free.

Mind Blown.

And, when  I received it, it was fresh like it came straight from the oven. The rolls are my favorite so far, but I have yet to try the classic sourdough that they sent me.

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Topped with Kerrygold, avocado, and a little sea salt, you’ve got the perfect meal.

If you’re not sold by my pictures of Bread SRSLY bread, check out some of theirs:

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And, start drooling…

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Typically, I give lots of background on the company, but I’d say that Sadie, Bread SRSLY’s founder, has done a pretty fantastic job herself and the start to her company is worth the read. Click here for the full story!

Here are all the places you can buy Bread SRSLY. But, if you’re not lucky to live by a location to pick up this delicious bread, like me, you can also order it online! And, just like I found out from my order: it comes 100% fresh with the packaging date etc. I was really impressed!

I wouldn’t classify myself as a bread lover (all of you that know me well know that I love a good kale salad and iced coffee) Until…I tried this bread and realized that it is the best bread I’ve ever had.  The ingredients are simple for a GF bread, which I am always looking for. Simplicity is best. I’ve now found Gluten-Free bread that I’ll always enjoy! And, my boyfriend and family love it too!

Basically, this has been one of my very favorite companies to review. From my love of the product, to their promptness in keeping in touch, Bread SRSLY has my loyalty. Thanks for making delicious GF Bread!

I Danced and Celebrated.

I was told that I was too timid of a soccer player.

I could play entire games, beat people to the ball, and excel at endurance.

But, I was terrible at headers, would shy away from being aggressive, and feared attacking the ball.

Distance running and marathon training isn’t for the timid. And, instead of believing that the heat could defeat me, or that I might not being able to finish, or even that it could be extremely mentally hard…I’m not timid. Nor, am I afraid. I still don’t believe I would be the best soccer player, but when I run, I’m fearless. I’ve learned that when I tune into the Holy Spirit and let His power lead, I can do things that even I am unsure that I can do.

While my fitness was at another level than I’ve ever been at before, and I was in shape for a great PR, conditions don’t always lend to PRs. Early warm and humid weather greeted us as the sun rose. When the gun went off, I hung with the lead pack and felt sweat drip down my neck a few miles in.

I was dressed in pink. Pretty in pink.

And, ready for battle. Really, a mental battle. I knew today could be painfully hard and if it was, I would finish with grit and and joy.

Many of my competitors were close friends. And, my family, Seth, and His family braved the crowds to cheer or watch at the finish. As the race pressed and I took my bottles and many water cups, dumping them on myself, I noticed some competitors disappear. Some had less than ideal days, and I realized this was no longer just a race…it was a mental battle to get to the end in less than ideal conditions. Looking down at my watch every so often, I knew a PR would be far from what I would get, and that finishing would be success.

So, I danced and celebrated through that race. The later miles in the race were the most painful miles I’ve run. I almost wanted to laugh…or cry. So, this is what real marathon pain feels like? My last two marathons were almost like sitting and eating homemade coffee ice cream. My goodness. Forget it. This was actual pain. But, I told myself I could do it. I told myself God has given me the tools I need: He is my strength.

When I finished in a slower time than I would ever hope for a marathon,  I smiled, greeted by people I love, teammates, family, friends. I was filled with joy and peace and a “THANK GOODNESS THAT IS DONE.”

The marathon humbles you, a lot. But, I’m just dancing and celebrating and laughing. A PR will come in the future. Post-race, I’ve been having the time of my life with the love of my life and my family. A late blog post has come due to: sorry. having. too. much. fun. For now, I’m spending time with those that fill me up, savoring slow mornings in the Word, running slow, drinking iced coffee, eating donuts, and kale (duh), and LOVING that God has given me such a beautiful gift to celebrate in.

This marathon was special. And, worth celebrating. And, a finish as 7th American is a “ohkaleyah” in my book because 7 is my favorite number.IMG_1716 IMG_1263 IMG_1244

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A Celebration.

“Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that’s when you start to learn what celebration is. When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that’s celebration.”

-Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

The marathon is a celebration. Marathon training is rarely seamless. In fact, it’s usually a bumpy road…filled with really exciting days, disappointing days, tiring days, days you feel you could run a marathon and then some. I believe, training for the marathon (and this being my 3rd in the past year and a half), God has taught me different lessons each marathon build-up.

The first, I went in nervous, excited, filled with unknowns, but also excited to see what I could do: could I race and complete a full-marathon? And, I was thrilled after. Totally filled with joy. So excited I could actually do it.

The second was filled with lots of hope, lots of confidence, and more disappointment at the end. Disappointment with a PR because I felt that I was capable of even more. But, I gave all I had when I raced Chicago. And, the end was bittersweet. Excited to finish as the 5th American. Disappointed to not run a little faster, close a little harder (the list could go on). It felt a little wrong, actually, that I didn’t run faster. And, at Houston Half, I was excited, but disappointed in 2 seconds from dipping under 1:12; I ran 1:12.01. That also felt a little wrong. The celebration was also tainted, as much as I didn’t want it to be. But, isn’t that one of the things that moves us forward? The possibility that something really good could also turn into really great.

And, so now, I meet the third. I’ve ran more mileage, become more resilient, and have chosen to see any bumps in the road as strength builders. I’ve relied more on Christ for strength than my own. I’ve turned disappointing days to rejoicing the next day with a positive step forward. I lost my grandpa a few weeks ago. He was a war veteran, stubborn, a lover of Jesus, and I believe, at the very heart, he would tell me to race with true grit, to dig deep, to embrace the pain.

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 And, I’ll chose to call this training block epic. And, LA Marathon? An epic celebration.

It will be the first marathon that my family, the love of my life: Seth, and his family will be at. It will be the first ASICS race I run, the first marathon my coach will see me race, and the first to have the support of many more friends and teammates. That’s a celebration. It’s a celebration because I’ve worked hard training and doing what God has called me to do, but I’ve grown a lot…not just as an athlete, but a follower of Christ. Marathon training teaches me often that I’m weak, but I am propelled by the ultimate strength provider: Christ. When I run in His strength, the hard days reassure me that in the race, when it’s hard, God has given me the strength to finish well.

2 Corinthians 12:10

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 A friend wrote me the other day and mentioned how it was cool that I’m pursuing my Olympic dream. The thing is, to be honest, I didn’t choose to run professionally because of an Olympic dream. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to make an Olympic team and it would be a dream come true. But, I chose running because it’s what God has given me to use to worship him, to relate to others, to love others.  It’s what He has called me to. Running has become more, bigger, and grander than pursuing the Olympics. It’s a lifestyle, for me. It’s living daily in relationship with Christ and with others. Running has taught me a lot about life, walking faithfully with my Savior, and how to handle difficult seasons.

As I’ve been in this marathon training cycle, I have been uplifted and loved and encouraged by family, friends, teammates, coaches. I value community and I value my home team, my soul sisters (Maria, Kels, Kimmy), my sweet friends a far (Katelyn, Katy, Kaela, Danielle)…those that encourage me through letters (Polina, Tynae, Christina, Sarah)…and all the great women I get to race in LA with or other professional races. I feel really supported and surrounded and fueled with joy going into this marathon. And, I couldn’t be more ready to celebrate an epic race.

Marathon training cycles aren’t completed without the love and support of those closest to my heart.

So, next Sunday, March 15, I’ll be racing LA Marathon and celebrating a great race, fueled by joy, propelled by God’s strength, and excited to add another race worth celebrating to my training log and “life” log.

The Middle.

Two marathons. Another marathon build up. Houston Half Marathon Championships. Workouts. Training. More Training. Food. Sleep. Training. Sleep. Food. Gym. More Food. More Sleep.

Mammoth has given us some gorgeous training weather. I have tons to be thankful for, like a great PR at the Houston Half Champs, running 1:12.01 and clear trails for afternoon runs. It’s like Spring. Sadly, we need snow. But, I’m silently being thankful. Thankful I can enjoy Mammoth in the winter. Thankful I can get out the door without yack-tracks or feeling like a baby deer.

Houston Half Champs '15

Houston Half Champs ’15

There’s a lot that goes into marathon training: dedication, focus, grit, patience, joy, embracing disappointment…then pushing forward.

I’ve been re-reading “Bittersweet” by Shauna Niequist, and I’m rejoicing in this season of life filled with sweet, but somehow simmering in the bittersweet, too. And, I smiled as I read a chapter titled The Middle, and I couldn’t help but let it sink in and then realize marathon training is summed up by the middle:

“There is nothing worse than the middle. At the beginning, you have a little arrogance, loads of buoyancy. The journey, whatever it is, looks beautiful and bright, and you are filled with resolve and silver strength, sure that whatever the future holds, you will face it with optimism and chutzpah. It’s like the first day of school, and you’re wearing the outfit you laid out last night, backpack full of sharpened yellow pencils.

And the end is beautiful. You are wiser, better, deeper. You know things you didn’t previously know, you’ve shed things you previously clung to. The end is revelation, resolution, a soft place to land.

But, oh, the middle. I hate the middle. The middle is the fog, the exhaustion, the loneliness, the daily battle against despair and the nagging fear that tomorrow will be just like today, only you’ll be wearier and less able to defend yourself against it. The middle is the lonely place, when you can’t find words to say how deeply empty you feel, when you try to connect but you feel like the thick glass is separating you from the rest of the world, isolating and deadening everything.

Marathon training isn’t always that isolating, but it can be. Some build-ups will be filled with seamless training, and others might be a lot more pushing through disappointments or nagging fears. But, that’s the beauty of marathon training. At the end, there is resolution, rejoicing, excitement.

So, I try to remember to be propelled forward with God’s strength, with the silver lining of His greater purpose.

I read a “Jesus Today” devotional the other day, and I’ve read it over and over in the past few days.

“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”-Zephaniah 3:17

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”-Psalm 29:11

When you’re in the middle, remember there is an end, a silver lining, and rejoicing that will happen.

The middle is where you learn, grown, prepare: it’s the sandwich to a marathon. Without miles 17-21 or 22-25 or the last 10k, it wouldn’t be marathon. So, it’s only fitting that marathon training looks like the race. If you get through that section, you’ll experience the phenomena of finishing and rejoicing.

A Poppin’ Review: Quinn Popcorn.

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Oh Quinn, I’m so happy to write this review.

Quinn Popcorn‘s Mission? To reinvent microwave popcorn. When it comes to packaging? No chemical coatings. It’s compostable. When it comes to ingredients? No GMOS. No preservatives. Nothing artificial. The cheese? rBGH-free. The maple? From Vermont. (Of course.) This company is real, authentic and honest. From their packaging to their ingredients, I can only speak highly of what they do. They’re cleaning up food, not just by what they make, but how they promote, how they give back, and how they keep integrity in the food world. We need more companies like Quinn!

There’s bags of delicious Quinn Popcorn already popped for you, like this Kale and Sea Salt.

Or, like most of us, delicious and warm popcorn is the best.

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So, once you pop the delicious popcorn, you pour on the oil, then the other topping and shake it up!

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I bought Vermont Maple & Sea Salt and Parmesan & Rosemary, but there are lots of other delicious flavors. You can buy Quinn Popcorn online or in places like Whole Foods. Our grocery store just started carrying it in Mammoth Lakes, so I am pretty excited. It’s the perfect snack, movie food, and you can feel good about eating it. It’s the best, yummiest, and cleanest popcorn you’ll find!

Plus, look at the simplicity of ingredients. Here’s the Vermont Maple & Sea Salt:

Vermont Maple & Sea Salt

And, here’s the fun microwave instructions:

Microwave Instructions

This is popcorn at it’s finest and popcorn worth popping.

Pop on over to your local store and pick some up! Thanks, Quinn Popcorn for sending me deliciousness. Thankful for companies like you!

And, on another note, this was my view for my double yesterday. It’s definitely popcorn weather.

Mammoth Lakes.

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