Friday, May 26, 2017


I often complain about the weather during the summer months here in Texas. It is pretty unbearable to train in, with high temps and high humidity pretty much every morning. Throw in asthma and it is a struggle to maintain decent fitness.

I need to work on my gratitude that I can even do what I do.

I have a friend who just got a double lung transplant after spending 103 days in the hospital because she had gotten too ill to leave without the transplant. She had interstitial lung disease, and to put it simply, she just could not breathe on her own anymore. The amount of oxygen it required to move at all was unbelievable and we were all very scared for her.

Thank God there was a selfless person out there who was a donor, and a family willing to honor that request. My friend got her lungs and life is full of optimism again.

She couldn't walk down the hallway without a massive amount of oxygen, and here I am complaining about the humidity while on a 2-hour training run. Perspective, right?

Since she received her lungs, my friend has been so positive about the little things in life. Her first time outside again, taking deep breaths without the aid of oxygen, hearing the silence around her instead of the constant hum of her oxygen tanks. Things you and I never had to worry about because we could live unencumbered without disease.

She would have given anything to just be able to run one mile. And soon, she will be able to do whatever she wants.

I want to be thankful for everything I'm able to do. It might hurt to do hill repeats in 93 degree weather (hello, last night's workout), but I can do it, week after week. I might have to slow down on my long runs because it's 97% humidity out at 6am, but I can still do it all summer long.

Every time I breathe in and my lungs have been taxed to capacity, I want to think of my friend and remember that I am so lucky to be healthy, even with the bouts of asthma I encounter. And I want her to be over the moon every time she breathes in with those wonderful, incredible, amazing new lungs.

Speaking of gratitude, have you made an effort to express your gratitude for the little (and sometimes big) things that your friends and family have done for you? There is so much negativity in our world, and people are so quick to complain about such insignificant things, that it's easy to forget the little things that make our lives better. I am really trying to make every effort I can to tell people thank you and to be positive and to be sure they know how much I appreciate them. I do hope it makes them smile and feel good about themselves. I know that when someone tells me thank you, I feel like I'm on top of the world.

Kindness goes a long way!

Monday, May 22, 2017


So it's been a few days...

My mind is still blown that I would so drastically change my mind about Ironman. I'm still weirded out by it. I lost count how many times the words "NEVER" came out of my mouth....for years...and I meant it.

In my last blog post, I went into some detail about where I thought this change of mind came from. My reasoning seems to be becoming clearer, especially after our church sermon on Sunday.

The new sermon series is called "Oh the Places You'll Go" based on Dr. Seuss, and the topic of Pastor John's sermon this week was "Tests + Trust + Time = Friendship with God." To be completely honest with you, my faith has been tested dramatically in the last few years. I have dealt with so much adversity and have questioned the Christian faith so many times. I have struggled to understand my relationship with God. But I've stuck with it, I've prayed, and I have continued to have faith.

But it's not enough. My relationship with God needs a big fat tune-up. The message behind the sermon centers around three tests we go through in order to have a friendship with God (or to rediscover and strengthen our friendship).

Test #1: Comfort Test - Will I step outside of my comfort zone?
Test #2: Patience Test - Will I wait on God's timing?
Test #3: Allegiance Test - Will I let go?

As is true for so many of the sermons, this spoke right to me. It brought tears to my eyes. It was guiding me to my next journey.

Okay, so you're thinking, what in the world does Ironman have to do with God?

For those of us with faith, we know that we can't do anything without God. Physical endurance goals are one of those things. If I take on this enormous challenge, it will require that I seek God's guidance, strength, and unending love. I will have hours of time to speak with God.

Could this be how I find my friendship with God? As I analyze the three tests, I can see myself being guided to this huge endeavour. First of all, the Comfort Test is clearly in play. I will be so far outside my comfort zone, I won't even be able to see it in the distance. The Patience Test is requiring me to wait nearly two years to embark on this journey. I could so easily just sign up for the race next year, but I know in my heart it is not the right timing. I have to believe that this delay is exactly what is supposed to happen. The Allegiance Test will require me trusting in the process and turning to God to allow Him guide me, and to believe that I can do it.

I have no regret for changing my mind about this race. It still feels right to me. But I'm going to further explore the lessons I learned on Sunday. There are a few circumstances outside of racing that these tests apply to as well, and I'm also seeking understanding in those. So much to think about.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ridiculously Huge Goals

I have a new list of goals. There was something about the last six weeks that has made me see my world in a completely different light.

In the beginning of April, I was in a very dark place. Certain circumstances in my personal life that I really couldn't process beat me down. I retreated, cried everyday, reassessed, got stronger, and took a good hard look at where I was vs. where I wanted to be.

Then I watched the Boston Marathon Documentary...

And then I went to Ironman Texas...

And then it just all came together.

I'm ready to talk about it.

I confided in a couple people what I had been thinking about, and because these people are freaking awesome, they were excited for me and ready to support me in whatever final decision I made. (Side note: everyone needs people like this in their life)

I've already made it very well known that I want to qualify for Boston. But here's the thing...I'm pretty far from that ability, although it's definitely not out of the realm of possibility. I would love to run this race in 2019 and I have my first shot at qualifying at Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon. I don't want to sell myself short, but I also want to have realistic expectations. I need to run a 3:55, which is more in line with my half marathon pace. It's a stretch for me to improve to this ability by December 10...but it's still possible. 

However....we all know that merely qualifying is never enough to actually gain entry. In reality I need to shoot for a 3:52. That doesn't seem like a lot, but when you're already talking about a big drop in time, it seems like an overwhelming difference. I'm very pleased with the progress I've made in getting my body stronger and leaner so I can continue to get faster. I am going to continue to focus on all the things I can nutrition, my sleep, my workouts, my mental strength. The improvement will happen as long as I keep my eye on all these factors. It just remains to be seen how much improvement it will entail.

If for some crazy reason I actually pull off this feat of crazy, I'll run Boston in 2019.

HOWEVER....and here's where my next goal comes in.

I have another idea for April of 2019. If Boston has to wait, I am most likely (I had to put in a little "maybe") going to sign up for a different kind of race.

I am going to do Ironman Texas.

2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

An Ironman. You know, that thing I said I'd never do. Up until April 21, I absolutely positively was never going to do an Ironman. NEVER.

Something changed in the few days after volunteering at this year's race.

I honestly was totally shocked the thought even entered my mind. SHOCKED. I have never had any desire whatsoever to do this kind of race. A ridiculous entry fee, the travel costs, the training commitment....THE FREAKING TRAINING COMMITMENT OHMYGOD.

Yet, it suddenly made sense.

I was terrified of telling Greg how I felt, but after his initial "Oh F&*K" reaction, he was supportive. If I really wanted to do it, I could do it. I was so scared of telling him that I told him over text.

I've had a few weeks to process why I suddenly had this desire. Like I said, the last six weeks were bad. Things are still bad, but I think my mind is processing it all very differently. I had been feeling like a huge failure as a parent. My daughter is especially struggling and I feel like it's partly my fault, that if I had just been able to be a better parent to her she'd be so much healthier.

In the last few weeks, that mindset has started to change. I feel stronger. I feel like I really am doing everything I can for her, everything in my power to make her better, and that I'm a damn good mom.

Do you have any idea how empowering this feeling is?

I've taken stock of just how destructive my mind was being, how I wasn't giving myself the respect I deserved, and how I was letting all this bullshit eat away at my self-worth. I was letting external bullshit cloud my judgement and rob me of the positivity I desperately needed.

Screw that crap.

I'm damn worthy of this goal.

If it weren't for the incredible team I am a part of, this goal wouldn't be feasible. But I know that everyday I'm out there training, I will have phenomenal people pushing me to be better, making sure I know that I can do it.

So there you have it. Will wonders never cease?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

26.2 reasons for running a marathon

I saw a post recently on Facebook about our 26.2 reasons for running a marathon, and I thought "heck yeah, I need to list those out!"

So here we go....

Steph's 26.2 Reasons for Running a Marathon

1. My mental health
2. My heart is happy
3. For the challenge
4. To experience the outdoors
5. And get some much needed Vitamin D
6. Explore a city in a unique way...including exploring new places in your own city
7. The Runner's High is addictive
8. To honor my sister
9. Remind myself of my strength
10. Be a good example for my kids
11. Maintain a healthy weight for life
12. To defy my age
13. Stress relief for those extra tough times
14. Something to focus on
15. Spend time with like-minded friends
16. An excuse to travel
17. Those leg muscles
18. Forces me to treat my body like a temple
19. To be surrounded by inspirational people
20. For a good cry when I finish
21. To earn that post-race cheeseburger
22. Keep people guessing on the level of my sanity
23. It's a celebration of LIFE
24. To bring awareness to a cause
25. Good excuse to nap regularly
26. Because I can...
26.2 ...12 times and counting...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What's your legacy?

There's nothing like attending a funeral to put your life in perspective.

My husband and I attended our good friend's father's funeral Tuesday morning. It was a wonderful remembrance of his life, and brought about some emotional self-reflection, as funerals often do. 

The pastor challenged each of us to look at our own lives and to think about what we thought might be remembered about ourselves at our own funerals. I didn't view this in any morbid way, but actually a very real need to do some reflecting inward. It's never a bad thing to step back and look with more objectivity at our lives, and the contributions we are making to society.

Hopefully it will be many decades before my own passing, but then again tomorrow is never promised. We do not know when it will be our last day in our earthly bodies. We can only hope for a long and healthy life.

How do I want to be remembered?

Because I chose to raise a family, they are of utmost importance to me above all other things. The very first thing I want my children to feel when they think about me is that I loved them, unconditionally and without fail, that I loved them no matter what, with grace and forgiveness. If that is what stands out to them, then I have succeeded as a parent. No matter the mistakes they might make in life, I always want them to know I am there for them, arms open. I should be their refuge when they are struggling, their support system, their guide through troubled times. They are at very difficult ages, but I do hope they feel this way right now. I have so many bad parenting moments, particularly in very stressful times. I need to check myself when I feel overwhelmed.

I want people to feel that I've made a positive impact on their lives. The non-tangible things that make up a person's life are so much more important than anything material. Love, compassion, grace, humility, much more important than the size of your home or the price of your car. I am a woman with pretty strong convictions, as anyone close to me knows, and that's important to me as well, but I also like to view things with fairness. I don't always get it right, and I'm working on that. I would hope that the first things people would think when remembering me are positive things.

As I'm writing this, I'm finding it's really hard to articulate my thoughts. This is a tough subject to reflect upon. It's making me feel a little like I've failed up to this point in my life, and that I need to work harder on my relationships, both within my family and outside. Being a genuinely good person is not exactly easy, and the "genuine" part is, frankly, especially difficult nowadays. There are a lot of negatives thrown at us daily, a lot of stress we need to wade through, and it's difficult to come out on top with a positive and joyful attitude. Our good attributes can be buried under this negativity and stress, and I often allow this to happen (well, it's not always within my brain doesn't exactly work in a normal way all the time). But overall, I will continue to do my best, in any circumstance, to reflect positively upon people's lives.

If today were my last day, I'm hopeful I've done enough for the legacy I wish to achieve.

How about you?

Monday, May 1, 2017

It's working

I mentioned in yesterday's blog post that I intend on getting leaner. I'm not talking about a bunch of weight...10 pounds or so. Just enough to look "lean" and aid in my endurance running. In all my years of running I rarely discuss weight loss. But this time around I think it's so important for me to focus more on gaining lean muscle while dropping unnecessary weight. As a former trainer I do, however, realize that by gaining more lean muscle I may in fact stay at close to the same weight while dropping fat and inches from my body...and that's okay, too. I rammed that into the heads of my clients enough to know what the ultimate goal should be. As long as I help myself to become a better endurance runner, I'm good!

I actually got up the nerve to get on the scale today after months of not weighing myself. I paid attention to my weight a bit after the Louisiana Marathon and getting the flu because it had dropped, but it hasn't been a priority since then.

I stepped on the scale more than once because I couldn't believe the number it showed (and no, I'm not telling unless you ask nicely).

I've lost 7 pounds. (Don't laugh...that's a really big number to me!)

Just a few weeks of very intentional eating and more focus on strength training and my body is responding so positively. I am thrilled. I am motivated. 

This is SO SO SO GREAT. 

Caveat...I hate the idea of focusing on my weight. I've mostly just used how I look and how my clothes fit as my guide over the years because I think there is way too much focus on the scale number in our society and not nearly enough focus on body composition. Weight is secondary to our lean muscle to fat ratio, and we can in fact weigh more than it appears when we have a higher percentage of lean muscle. I do not want the number of the scale to become obsession.

However, I'll take this little win right now. It shows that I'm doing the right things for my body and it's responding in a positive way. It's the first step in meeting my next round of goals and the more I see results like this, the closer I come to those goals.