Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Monumental Marathon Re-cap

I've had a few days to process the marathon. If running bores you to tears, this isn't the post for you. I usually write out what happened, what I learned, and what I could improve upon. I just went back and read it all and it dawned on me that I never really cheer myself on. Every time I attempt this distance, I lament how I could have done better. I'm constantly disappointed for a time after the race which I think is just bananas. When I PR'd on the hilliest course in my hometown, I was really proud of myself, but I'm beginning to understand it might be because I know I'm not alone there. I knew teachers, coaches, familiar faces, and friends were all along the route. I knew my Loudon Lacers were nearby running, too. My family was waiting for me at that finish line. My body was in constant motion toward them.
Something broke in me at Indianapolis. It was my slowest marathon out of the five I've attempted. Admittedly, my plan was not thought out. I had a lot of other stressors on my mind and when I showed up to race this flat course, I thought, "I'll just hold around a 9'06 pace for as long as I can". In order to PR, I just needed to be under 9'45. I kinda thought I had that in the bag. My training had consisted of a half (13.1 miles) at marathon pace and I was able to hold that at 8'54 at 9,000 ft of elevation! Then later, my 20 miler was done at a slower pace of 10'15 but I felt totally fine. Although I cut corners for sure due to travel and laziness, I thought I was ready to race. The marathon is a beast, though and I was definitely unprepared.
I stayed on task miles 1-14 with my pace at or well below the mark to PR. I had planned to dedicate all my miles to my children. The first five miles I talked to God about Ari Jo. I felt in control of my body. I felt good. I ate my first Gu at mile 5-6 at the completion of that segment and moved on to praying for sweet Saylor girl. Those miles also felt good. I was well ahead of the 4 hour pace group and feeling on track to PR. Around mile 7 or 8 I decided to throw off my top layer so I took my shirt off and tossed it. Unbeknownst to me, I also took off the headphones that were around my neck. One hundred and sixty dollars just thrown away. When I started to slow around mile 11, I noticed they were gone and just felt sick that I had done that. There was nothing I could do about it, though and so I ran on.

In the past, I've made the mistake of starting off too fast in marathons so I wanted to back off a bit even though I felt pretty good so I hovered around 9'40 for miles 11-14. I had moved on to praying for Merit and slipping a few desperate prayers in there for me, too. At this point, I had crossed the half way point just under two hours which was perfect for what I wanted to do for the rest of the race....
But my wheels fell off. Mile 15 is when I started to pray for Abel. The crowds were starting to trigger me for some reason. When I would run up and see a big group of people looking for their people, I was reminded how alone I was in this race. In NYC, I knew my family was around these miles, looking for me and when I saw them, it literally gave me strength to go on. Not in Indy. I saw these crowds and started struggling to breathe. The pressure I put on myself to do well was crushing me. I didn't have any strength to draw on from anyone else. I was gasping for air and not the way I might if I was physically tired. No, I was having a panic attack. Afraid to stop, I dizzily kept on making deep, loud gasps for air. Multiple times, the medical tents tried to help me, but I knew if I stopped, I wouldn't start back again and I had to keep moving. Miles 15-19 were around 10-11 min paces. At mile 20, I took my fourth and final Gu and started whispering prayers for Kinley. The prayers allowed me to focus on something other than myself for a bit, but I'll be honest in saying I felt absolutely terrible and while my mind was breaking down, so was my body. I couldn't seem to propel myself. My legs weren't going. I wanted to sprint and I could hardly walk. I had completely fallen off and watched sadly as the 4 and 4:15 pace group passed me. As always, I reached out to the running group from back home and tried to put a smile on my face as I checked in with them. They told me they were proud of me and to keep going and so I did. I was run/walking the rest of the race and it was truly difficult for me to even finish. As I hit mile 26, I ran as hard as my legs would carry me which happened to be a 10 min pace and crossed the finish line, nearly passing out. I found my friends, sat down, and was so relieved it was over.
Days later, I'm still not sure where the disconnect was, but I'm sure several things went wrong. I learned that:
- I can't cut corners on training
- Sleep and nutrition the day before is way more important than I knew
- Stress is a factor and I can't treat the marathon like it's no big deal- not ever
I truly never wanted to do this again. As the days have passed, though, I know I can't let this performance be my last. I will keep running and I will try again to reach my goal. I will simply be more prepared next time. 
I felt so sad after the race but then I read the words my Papaw sent that said, 
You may not have met your expectations but you have exceeded ours your entire life! 
 on completing another marathon!
Love Papaw

And I truly started to remember that what I had accomplished was no small feat and I needed to remember how grateful I am that I can even run. I love this sport for all it teaches me. Grit, grace, gumption, gratitude...
Thank you all for your texts, calls, messages, and love on race day. I felt them all!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us-

Where is my brain on this third day of November? It's in a minefield. 

I've managed to squish two major life events into this month and I thought one would help the other and I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Well, I definitely did, but I'm hoping the Lord will just keep moving me in the right direction. In three days, I'll be running another marathon out of state. Nevermind I haven't properly trained. Nevermind my knees are feeling wonky after a two mile walk. I have to run 26.2 miles very soon. Mentally, I am elsewhere.

I spent the day-- no, literally all day-- filling out paperwork so that we could get our emergency visas to India to go pick up our daughter who is officially ours on paper! The process was tedious and time consuming and very involved. It was hard to focus with the children running around, tending to piano lessons, meal prep, and trying to do school in some way today. I have no idea if I did it properly, but I turned it in and now I wait.

It feels like that time I signed up to take the GRE on the very weekend that my other half deployed to Iraq. Spoiler alert: Not the best decision.

Tomorrow we'll have a call with our agency regarding travel and timelines and all of this would be so much easier if we miraculously got her birth certificate, passport, and our visas in the meantime. These are our last obstacles in being with our fifth child.

When I close my eyes to sleep at night, I picture holding her for the first time. Will she be scared? Indifferent? Will I feel like home to her eventually? 

I've never seen her smile. In all the videos and pictures we've been sent of her life, there have never been visibly happy ones. We have a lot of firsts ahead of us. Tomorrow is her birthday. She will be two years old. Obviously, I wanted to be with her before this day. I want to know her. I want to be the one who meets her needs. The only reason this is all possible is because of a whisper that I heard from God back in college that got stronger and stronger until the message was loud and clear and I could hear nothing else. It has been two years since that day. It's almost as if on the day of her birth that God was letting me know she was out there and I better get started trying to find her. That's what this girl means to me. She is a good and perfect gift that James 1:17 references. I know we're embarking on hard, messy times but we're walking with the God of the Universe and there's nowhere else I'd want to be.

My race. Our adoption. Let's go finish what was started!

"...Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus..." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Honor to Wait: Adoption Tales

I'm reviewing the files in my head and coming up with very little that's working. How to stay sane in 2021? I don't know. From the devastation in Afghanistan, Cuba, Haiti, and our own backyard to the fights over the vaccine to the lack of word from India about our daughter, this week feels heavy. For me, upping my water intake, lessening caffeine, working out, turning off social media, and writing always seem to help.

And so here I am.

I wanted to give you a peak into the adoption process as I see it now. I have no update. Weeks go by without a word from India or my agency. I reach out for bread crumbs and there are none. How many times should I check the court app? Maybe if I refresh my email one more time, I'll see her face or read good news. I was warned that hardships were coming when we started this process, but I knew it was where God was leading. Right now, it feels like it will never end or never begin, I should say. I see people bringing their Indian babies home and while I'm happy to see another orphan find a loving family, it feels so foreign to me- like how did you do that? It's impossible. You can jump through the hoop, you can hop on one leg while juggling, you can get three hundred papers notarized, certified, and apostilled and it's still not enough. You can raise up four awesome kids and still have to prove that you can parent. You have to get one person, a stranger, to determine whether you can care for a child better than a group home housing many, many of God's little image bearers. And that one person can take as much time as they want. I get it, but it's maddening.

I want to help her learn to walk, to communicate, to take her to appointments to check on her heart, to have her know what it's like to be loved-

Children belong in loving families. That's the answer to much of our problems around the world today yet it is so hard to do financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

This past weekend, we finally told many of J's coworkers about our plans to adopt Ari Jo. I could talk about her forever. The words just spill out and my excitement over another precious child is evident. I can't shut up. It has cost me "friends" but maybe that's what is meant to happen. Perhaps we're called to sing the praises of this little girl we don't even know, to notice her, to love her because He first loved us.

It is so hard in every way, but it's our honor to wait.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Ode to the small town-

Happy 4th of July, friends. I'm writing tonight with many thoughts floating through my head. I knew I'd feel a certain longing when the this date rolled around. It happens that way with most holidays. Most of my adult life, I've lived away from those I love. And as I approached this day, I tried to place a bandage on the wound, like perhaps it wouldn't hurt as bad because I'm surrounded with 14ers and beautiful views. Just this morning, I ran a 5k through the mountains of Colorado. Anyone would be lucky to live the life I have. Still, my roots are strong and when we moved back to Tennessee, I hoped it would be forever. I love adventure, but I love deep connection, too. 
It doesn't make sense to some and that's okay. Who would know that my great grandfather sat on the same porch for years and viewed the fourth of July parade in the exact same pants every year? Who would know that after traveling around with my Army brats that one day we would return and gather candy thrown out by a hometown police force or fire squad? I certainly couldn't have guessed that my deaf child would hear fireworks for the first time in the place that I call home. Every year at this very time, I snap a photo with my best friend. It's made extra special that the last three of my children have maternity/one year photos with her. It's even more so when you see the progression of battle photos- last year fighting cancer. This year, beating it. 
I feel disconnected and a part of something great all at the same time. Here's to the small towns, the families that make them, and the people who have made them possible by defending our nation's wars and ideals. Onward and upward! To a more perfect union-
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