Friday, November 17, 2017


Believe In Yourself.

 Three little words that hold far more weight than one would imagine possible.

 Over the last month, I have sat in front of my screen here several times and begun blogs that have been left mid-sentence. That is sometimes for lack of time, and other times for a lack of words for what was in my heart. My most read blogs or, I should say, the blogs I most enjoy writing, are the ones that pour from my soul. But I've been a little dry the last few weeks. So, today I sit here and share with the risk of vulnerability what this fall season has been for me on some days.

 When people ask me about my blog, I tell them it's really a hodge podge of thoughts, usually about what I am learning. Today will really be a hodge-podge, but it will boil down to three words: Believe in Yourself.

 Learning to believe in myself has been a theme I have had to constantly work on in the last few years, and God has allowed me to make significant progress in this area. Like a tree that gets chopped down one axe throw at a time, He's been chipping away the negativity and allowing it to come crashing down, using some beautiful relationships He's given me and new experiences He's put in my path. But along the way come doubts or old fears and sometimes even wounds I thought were healed that get opened back up, threatening to shift the progress I have made in growing into me more and more. Today, I want to take a moment to share some of these thoughts and the quiet battle I fight to rage against them so that I can keep on growing into the Lion that roars and not a little kitten, afraid of my own shadow.

 - Grief.

 Losing someone is not an easy road to walk down. When I lost my mom, I began this blog in 2011 because I needed an outlet. The Lord has allowed that to heal over time and be used a little bit to deepen my understanding of death, life, and the different paths people need to walk in the midst of all that.  For the first time since mom died in 2011, I have been walking the path of grief again.
 It has opened wounds all over that I thought had healed. Memories have surrounded me not only of the loved one I am saying goodbye to at this Thanksgiving season, but also of my mom. Grief is funny like that. Losing my aunt should not be about losing my mom, and very few people have understood why it looks that way for me. But in remembering my aunt, laughing about times with her, and gently letting go, I also have been remembering mom, walking down her last days and letting go of that a little bit again.
   And that's ok. I have had to tell myself that, as it felt sort of strange and even selfish. But grief is different for every person. It has its seasons and its lessons. I believe grief is still teaching me about life.

 - Dreams.

 I am a dreamer, but I have learned many times over the last few years how to begin putting my dreams into practice. Little by little. Some dreams I have to let go, or put on hold. (Like my dream of running a race in every state has slowed way down due to finances and life)  But in the wake of that, God lights up other dreams and brings them to reality. I remind myself that every day as I continue working on my school degree. This fall has been HARD. I have a looney math professor, who is so very kind I feel bad to say that, but it has made that class a challenge.  And yet in the wake of that challenge, I have made 2 sweet new friends, Monica and Ashleh. These 2 ladies are in very different seasons of life, both single moms, both working towards their goals and dreams and the 3 of us have connected to help each other along. I love when this happens.
  My sociology class has been really tough, too. Not for lack of enjoying what I'm learning there, but it's so much reading and with so little quiet, I find that difficult to do. But, again, when I stare this difficulty in the face, I also get excited and tell myself, I'm one step closer to the goal I really want to achieve: my degree. These dreams stretch me and some moments exhaust me and when there are some days lack of cheerleaders behind me, the fight to keep going is one I have to wage war against on my own. But it's worth every step, and I have to keep telling myself along the journey- believe in yourself.

- The body

 Ya'll know fitness is a huge part of my life. I love to run. I enjoy TRX very much and my health matters to me.I wrote a post a few months ago about the scale which was a lesson I was drinking in at that time. Since that post, I am having to re-read what I wrote because I need to remember those words, that lesson. I really struggle with this. I believe many of us do. There is so much pressure to be or look a certain way. And especially, sometimes I feel, as a runner. Perhaps that pressure comes from media or perhaps I put it on myself. But it's one thing to be healthy, and another to dislike myself because I don't fit into a certain size pants.
 The last couple of months, this has admittedly been a struggle for me. I'm not as fast (I've lost a lot of ground) and I probably .. no, i know, I am not as strong physically as maybe I was a year ago. I've gained weight.
 But... I've gained a lot of other things in the process. And this is a conversation I have had to have with myself many times over the last few weeks. I may not love the size clothing I'm wearing but I love who I am becoming, and this is the most important way to view myself. This topic deserves an entire blog, so... perhaps I will elaborate on this soon. The point is... I am reminding myself daily to believe in myself, regardless of my weight or size. There really is sooooo much more to life than this. Again, daily conversation... and balancing this with still working to be healthy.

- Holidays

 I really enjoy the holiday season. But let me confess a struggle I have this year: commercialism and gifts. I love to buy for others, do for others. But this year, our family has had a lot of financial changes and this year, I just can't do much. The pressure has a tendency to rise when people ask me "oh, what are you buying for your kids this year??" and I have to hesitate and say "oh, I'm not not really sure yet..." 
 Let me just tell you a few things about this. First of all, I have wonderful kids who are not the "giveme" type of children. My son had a lawn job all summer and has worked hard learning to buy for himself his "wants" and in the process has had a generous heart in his giving as well. Elizabeth is simple and she enjoys the handmade gifts as much as - really more than- the store bought ones. And I have become close enough with my Colombian family to know that it's not the things that matter. So, why do I still feel this pressure? This is another lesson I am drinking in right now.
 Life is not about the things. It's about the people, and it's about the love. And as much as I want to give all kinds of fun things to everyone around me this year because I truly enjoy that, I am finding creative ways to express my love. Ways that may take a little bit more time, but much less pennies and a lot more of my heart.

  This has been the hodge-podge of what's been in my heart and mind the recent weeks. I have had a little bit of brain cloggage, muddling my way through its messy moments, but every day, learning to believe in myself more. Regardless of all the obstacles along the way. I am a goal setter, so sometimes my setbacks frustrate me, but when I take time to work out the kinks I learn those setbacks are really just pushing me forward with Jesus as my every day strength and stronghold. I will walk as a lion, not a kitten.
 Here is a song that is my anthem in this season of needing to remind myself these truths:

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Columbus Half Marathon

It was a busy weekend, working at the Columbus expo, leading up to the race day. I enjoyed being in the city, as it had been a while since I've enjoyed the good capitol city of Ohio. I always enjoy talking to the different runners, whether it's about our race or about what they are wanting to do and accomplish at that particular event. The talk of the weekend was the unusual warm weather for October that the race was going to have.

 It was a little unusual for October. The start temps were set for 68. I decided to change my original idea of what I'd be wearing for race day.

 I got up at 3:15 so I could be on the road at 4 am. I admit, it was a little strange going to the event by myself, but the quiet ride gave me some good mental preparation time. As much as I didn't want to make this race about a finish time, it is very hard to knock the goal setter out of me. So I had a rough goal in mind.

 Parking was easy, so once I got there and beat the closing roads, I kicked my seat back and chilled out for a minute before going to the start line, which was roughly a mile from the garage.

 The temperature was warm and the air was humid, with rain on the brink of coming in. But the 68 degree temperature did not bother me. It was fairly windy, though.

 I have nothing but good things to say about this event. The organizers do a wonderful job. The corrals were well labeled, there were plenty of port o pots in each corral, and the morning emcee was great. Because I am not an elite runner, I was a few corrals back, so that may have been the only downside, which is not to fault any one or the race. It just is a full event, so when the start actually happened, it was nearly 20 minutes before I got to cross the start line.

 They had fireworks to start the event, which was really cool. And the ACDC song Thunderstruck opened up the event. When our group finally reached the start line, I set off with a decent pace, but I knew even then it was not going to be one I could maintain the entire event. But I decided to maintain it as long as I could and slow it down as need be. I know that is a backwards way to race, trust me... I know.  But I wanted to push for as long as I could and then just give it all I had for the rest of the event.

 That pace lasted me to about mile 6. I don't typically consume too much water when I run. I consume what I need to, but I am not one to stop at every mile for the water. But... it was warm and I know what I need to do (or not do) when it comes to this, so I utilized the water stops a few more times than normal. I kept pushing forward.

 At mile 8, I began to run with my heart, as the legs were tired. Around mile 10, as I took a short walk break, there was a lady doing this same and we chatted just for a minute. Her goal was "to finish" . Through the next couple of miles, she and I would take turns passing one another, evidence that we were probably feeling about the same and the fluctuation of our pace was similar.

 At mile 12.5, I came up on her walking, tapped her, and said "let's go." And so the last half mile, we didn't talk, we didn't cheer, but we finished that last leg out strong. I knew I wasn't going to make my (semi-loose) goal, so I adjusted it and just sat in to enjoy what was a finish. She had a final push a little stronger than I did, but when we got our medals, she high fives me, and we went out ways. I don't know what her name was, but that's the cool thing about the running community. There is a sense of camaraderie that is rare. Different goals, different stories, different lives, different journeys, but a similar experience had by all of us.

 I didn't finish with a giant smile, but I didn't have tears. My body was tired, it was a struggle, I admit.  but I was happy inside. I walked it out and called my family.
  It was not my worst finish time, but it was not my best. It was not even as good as my event a year ago on a course with lots of hills, but a year is a long time between the long distance events.

 Here's a little recap:
   1. I loved the race. It didn't have anything spectacular to look at through the course, but it was so well done. There was live music all over the entire course, water stops were well done, signage was good, and the volunteers were great. The course was flat (which I think led some people to assume I should just fly through it... but I knew my body and what I could do for this event.) Many people PR there. I did not.

 2. Yes, I had a little goal in my head. But the truth is, I knew going into the event right about the time I would finish, and I hit that pretty close. I am 10 lbs heavier with a life full of different obstacles at this point than this time last year, and I know those have played a role in my training and my body. So for me, this finish was another victory, another step in the direction of knowing I can do what I put my mind to, even when it is exhaustingly tough.

 3. I will spare the details, but my ride home was interesting as my stomach decided to settle down from the race, which means it actually decided to let loose all it had been juggling up. The body is a strange thing, how it responds to pounding the pavement, juggled nerves, and other minor physical components playing a role. I wouldn't change it though. I'd do it all over again.

  So, I can't say I love the question of "what was your finish time?"  because I don't like that we focus so much on that. But I can say that I finished well, with all my heart and all I had in me and I am so glad I did the race. To some it would be that four letter word I no longer use (slow), but it's my story, and for me, there are more reasons than one that this finish was a victory. I have some new goals in mind now, and the aim of not going so long between long-distance races.

Friday, October 13, 2017


T Minus 2 days until my race. I am very excited. Here is what is on the brain today... just a quick rundown of it because I am short on time (Besides, I should probably learn to be less wordy anyway....)

 I am super excited for this race. A year has passed since my last half marathon.

 I am 10 lbs heavier, have faced some crazy life obstacles, have gained mental and inner strength I didn't know existed even if maybe I've lost a little of the body strength. I have a new perspective on who I am, what I want, where I'm going and the One who carries me through it all.

 A year does a whole lot.

Sunday my toes will touch the start line.

 I do not know what my time will be, but all that matters is how good of a time I have doing it and what I've learned and gained along the way.

 I am competitive by nature, so of course a part of me will be striving for perfection. And yet, I know I am perfectly imperfect in so many ways and that is what makes me me. And I will run with grace with that knowledge.

 I will finish, in spite of the little odds stacked against me.

 I will fight the negative thoughts probably sometimes, but that is when my heart will carry me through. I love running not because I am world class at it, but because through it I learn more about who I am and more about the One who created me. I find the fighter spirit in me when I run and that pushes through to other areas of my life.

 When I am told I can't, it makes me push harder to prove I can. When I fear failure, I fight the thoughts to grow stronger. When I am completely exhausted, I did deep to encounter the passion to push me. When my legs hit a wall, my heart reminds me to keep going.

 I am not going to win any awards this weekend. But I've already won...
 Perhaps that sounds cheesy to so many others, but I know that I have gained so much along this way, and running helps me have the miles and the quiet to reflect on that.

 I have a few cheerleaders strongly behind me this weekend who don't even know how much their words and support mean to me as I head out Sunday. And I will run with all I have and I can't wait to see how it goes and to share all about it.

 I am a fighter. yes, I am quiet. But I am strong. And I am not going to let heat, exhaustion, words, weather or any other thing or person strip that away.
   Here I come, Columbus :)
inspirational cross country running quotes - Bing Images

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Blessings for Brisas

If you haven't learned this about me yet, let me just tell you I am a passionate person. When an event, a person, an activity, a place or a cause grow dear to my heart, I am all in. I have been criticized before for being too passionate and there are times I have to learn to tone it down, but it is just part of what makes me me. And so I can't apologize for that.

 I write out about some of the topics about which I'm passionate. And I try not to talk about them unless asked because that passion flows and can be overwhelming (I am told).  Nonetheless, I'm about to overflow one of my passionate moments here.

 If you have followed my blogs for any time, You know what Colombia means to me. They have become my family, a part of my my life journey. And dare I say, perhaps I am becoming part of theirs, too.

 Today I want to pour my heart out about the clinic in Brisas del Mar. I wrote about them here in 2017 and when I first went there, I wrote about it in this blog post. If you bear with me in reading my heart, you will learn why today this is what I am sharing.

 I am not a medic or a nurse, nor do I have any background in that way of life except for the simple fact of how much I took care of my mom when she was dying that I feel I got a taste of the medical world. So I would not say that medical life is my passion. But.... helping people is. And that is exactly what the clinic in Brisas del Mar does.

 On my first trip to the village, one of my jobs as a team member was to help collect medical supplies for us to take to the clinic. This little clinic sees 20-30 patients a day and they answer emergency calls in the middle of the night - not by phone, mind you, but by the people coming in, often times wailing or yelling for the doctor. The people who visit the clinic have no money. They can't afford to pay for doctor visits, let alone get themselves to the nearest hospital, which is a 45 min drive, which most of them do not have a means of transportation, so they then have to find a way to get there, let alone figure out how to pay for their care. Often times they can even be turned away by those hospitals (which, mind you, are not clean.)

 When I was "tasked" with helping get medical supplies, I was not sure what to do, so I began praying for guidance on it. I did some emails and made some calls and God did the coolest thing.... he led me to Kettering Health Network. They have a warehouse full of medical supplies that are overstock and they use these to give to groups going on trips such as ours. you guys... we filled 8 suitcases I believe with supplies!! And every time a team has gone since, KHN allows us to come in and do the very same thing. But that began my tie to this little clinic.
  When I am there, I don't do medical work (I would not know how). I don't really spend time in the clinic except to maybe help translate for a team member (Cindy)  or spend time with Yuleida (clinic administrator) listening to what they have done, and what their dreams are to continue doing.

 This clinic runs as a ministry of the church. They don't charge their patients... the patients could not pay! You guys, we have no idea here in the states what it is like to not have health care. Even those of us without insurance or good resources do not get turned away from being seen. These people don't have that!

 I want to share a story with you about a man I met on my trip in June. We went as a team (about 5 of us went) to visit a man who was unable to walk, and I saw firsthand how much this community needs this clinic. The man was around my age, in his early 30s, and he can't walk. He doesn't have crutches, he doesn't have a wheelchair, but nonetheless, he had a smile and he was so happy when we came to say hello.

 15 years ago, this man got sick. So, when he was roughly 14-15. No one knew what was wrong with him and at that time, there was no clinic there to treat him. He could not get medical help. And whatever the illness was, it took over his body so much with having no healthcare to treat him, that he became paralyzed.  Today, he is physically healthy, minus the inability to walk. He crawls like a baby. He was unable to finish school because he could not get there. And no one ever was able to diagnose his illness. He doesn't go to church... imagine trying to crawl across a dirt road to get where you need to go. So he stays in his home all the time. Now, the church there learned of this man's condition and has now established regular visits with him and has helped gap a bridge that was there. But for 15 years this man has lived his life that way.
 Because he did not have health care, he is now limited in what he can do, where he can go and how he can live. It's absolutely eye opening and heartbreaking. And if you don't see this, you probably have a hard time believing it.

 I know there are many villages out there in this same state. I know that there are people here who need help (hurricane victims, wildfires, the Las Vegas shootings.) It just happens to be that Colombia and the village of Brisas del Mar is the place that has captured my heart. It has become a second home to me. The people there have taught me to love.  The hugs, the kisses, the greetings, the joy they possess when they have so little in their lives.... it's incredible.

 I may need to do another post about this, just for the sake of sharing more facts about the clinic an the medical conditions. But here is my point to this blog...

 That clinic is in danger of closing down. The funds have dried up. And if they close down, those people will have no place to get medical care. They can't afford to pay for medication or for transportation to the next nearest facility, and no doctor would travel to them. They don't have knowledge of how to take care of medical needs... that is what the clinic helps them do. While the nurses have done some "seminars" to help the women in the village have an understanding so they can help sick people in transit to the clinic, if they don't have supplies or a means to get to another facility, that knowledge won't carry them very far.

 And so our Mission to Colombia group is planning a benefit event to help the clinic stay open. We may not make a dent in it, but then again... we may very well be able to help sustain them a little longer as they work hard on their end to make connections to keep running through other resources.

On November 4, we are going to have the first Blessings for Brisas 5K.
This is the logo for the event and the shirts (please excuse the fact it was a screen shot) 

This post is a place for me to pour out my heart about how much I love that clinic. and it's not really to promote our event, but that being said... if you know a runner or a walker, if you are one, or if you just want to donate to this cause, you can do so by going to our registration site here

 We have no idea what we are going to raise, but we are prayerful that through this, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus, as we are called to do and be. As I said, I know how many causes and needs exist.... but this one is near and dear to my heart.

 You'll likely find me talking about the 5K and the clinic in the next few weeks. The clinic administrator, Yuleida, has become one very dear friend to me. So many times, their needs put mine into a whole new perspective... one day at a time.
Doctora, Nurse and Pastor outside the clinic

Yuleida and Doctors with the new ultrasound machine, provided by GE and fundraising efforts.... a much needed item for the use of helping the young women in the village 

The staff unloading the supplies we bring

Women and children waiting outside the clinic for their turn inside 

The dental room in the clinic 

This is the room where all the information is taken on a patient and recorded 

One of the exam rooms. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Just a Sunday Run

2 weeks to go until my next race. I'm counting down and looking forward to it with anticipation, simply for reaching towards another goal. I love the process of how goals stretch me and what I learn.

 This weekend was supposed to be a 10-11 mile run for me. But life interrupted that, and sometimes I just have to make the best out of what I can do with the time I have and life circumstances. Which is part of what makes the journey for me all the more accomplishing.
 I know there are countless runners out there who also have the same obstacles (and more) that I have, but each person's story and journey is different.

 Since I did not get that run in on my typical Saturday morning long distance morning run, I had to make time this morning. Sundays are typically my day of rest all around. I like to "sleep in " (which means 7 am) and relax with early morning quiet reading and coffee and move at a little slower pace, as we prepare for church. So I really try to avoid Sunday training runs. However, I knew if I did not get myself out the door this morning, it was not going to happen.

 So when my alarm went off at 5, I groaned a little, but I got up. I made my coffee and had a few minutes of quiet before preparing to head out the door. It seems fall has stepped in, which is appropriate for October 1. The temperatures are perfect for running, quite honestly. It's time for me to switch out my seasonal running gear.

 I was tired and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to fit in the 10-11 I wanted, but I decided that 8 was better than none. And so I set out.

 There was nothing spectacular about this morning's run. It even feels sort of silly to be writing an entire post about this, except this is what I do, how I process, how I share.

 Here is what I took out of my run today, the parts of growth I am experiencing:

1. I only fit in 7.5 miles today, but the point is, I could have not done it at all, so I pushed myself and did it anyway. For me, this is success, regardless of the distance. Especially when no one is saying behind me "You can do it!"  I believe in myself... and as prideful as that sounds, God has brought me a very long way from where I once was in this area, so it's glory to Him, not to highlight me.

2. I ran slowly today. For a split second, I considered not saving the workout on my running app because of what my average pace/time were. But that lasted for only a split second. I'm not worried about my time. It doesn't matter to me if I run an 8 min mile or a 15 min mile. For me, during this season, all life considered, I am very excited to be getting to do another half marathon again. And that is what matters.

3. I don't always put a spiritual verse with my runs. but I could not get this idea out of my head this morning. So, along with my "Run with your heart when your legs get tired" mantra, I want to apply this verse, too. Not just to my runs, but to my every day life in the course of the next 2 weeks specifically.
 Message version
 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
"You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs. one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes nd fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping , telling everyone else about it and then missing out myself. "

 I am not just training myself physically and mentally to run this race, but I am training spiritually every day to be a better me. And running just happens to be a part of that.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Running Thoughts

Today I take you on a trail through my brain of my running thoughts... literally.

 I wrote back in July that I would be setting out to train for a fall race, although I was uncertain during that time which race it would be. I had to get through putting our own event on before I could determine what the schedule would allow. Well, this week, I signed up for the Columbus Nationwide Children's Half Marathon, October 15, and I am super excited!

 Which leads me to my trail of thoughts for today.

 I have been running now for 9 years. Of those 9 years, I was accumulating 2-3 half marathons a year. However, last year, I was only able to complete 1. So as I enter into this event, just 3 weeks away, it has been a year for me since having completed a half marathon. For me, that is significant. A year is a long time to "pause" something I so enjoy. I have filled it with plenty of other activities, and I have never quit running, but I am really looking forward to completing this event.

 I am a goal setter. I always have been. I can't help it. and when one goal finishes, I am generally launching into the next one. I try hard to balance this, but it is just who I am. Goals help me grow, help me evaluate and help me dig deeper into the inner strengths I have that only pushing myself brings out to the fullest. And running races does that for me. I have said it multiple times, but while the accomplishment of finishing a race is always an amazing feeling, it's truly the journey of the training that is what teaches me, what reshapes me. And this time is no different. I am sure as I approach the race, I will share more, but while this summer/fall has been full of busy events, this training journey plays a role. Only now it's finally coming into play.

 When the form is signed and I "check out" of registration, the training gets all the more real. I don't run to win, I run to have fun. I don't win to compete against the others, I compete against myself. I have abandoned the term "slow" because who defines that anyway? And I have learned to embrace every step for what the journey is. And every step sheds a little more of the past and draws me into the future forward.

 So, this morning as I was out on my 9 mile run, my thoughts were all over then place. I spent time praying for my Colombian friends. I thought about how much I learned over this last year in the marathon world. I tossed some ideas for some upcoming 5K events I am involved with. and I process all that I'm learning. But my friend Danielle gave me a bondi band (seriously, these things are awesome! simple headband but with inspirational or funny sayings on them. And you know me, I can't pass up these inspirational sayings. Plus they hold the hair out of the face and cover the ears even on cooler mornings!) Anyway. the point is, I discovered my mantra for my upcoming race. That tends to happen randomly, too.

 But she got me one that says "run with your heart when your legs get tired."

 I know that this upcoming half will not be a PR for me. But I am definitely running with my heart. And especially I will be doing that when my legs get tired. So, therein lies my mantra for the  next few weeks. After all, running is just as much heart as it is muscles and legs. If it were not, many of us would not be doing it.

 I'm coming out of a season of being in the world of planning the marathon. Now it's my turn to run one again. I have listened to inspiring stories the last week, have met people who have become friends and have seen some wonderful accomplishments for other runners. The heart was there. And now it's my turn again.

 In 3 weeks.

 And I can't wait to see what the rest of the 3 weeks will bring in this journey.

 Run with your heart...
    I do.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The 21st Air Force Marathon

Last Saturday the 21st Air Force Marathon took place. To be a part of it each year gives me a lot of pride. To put it into words for me is sometimes a challenge. Colombia plays a huge role in my life. But each year, so does the Air Force Marathon. It reshapes me, teaches me, challenges me, pushes me, grows me and strengthens me in ways I never expect and often times don't understand until I watch it all unfold.
 I cannot always divulge the details or even express all that stirs my soul through the year of planning, but I want to share a little bit here today. Because as much as running is a part of me, as much as I am a mom and a wife and a friend and a daughter, the Air Force Marathon is a part of me, too.
It does not define me, nor does it offer my identity. Nor will it be my life forever. But it is a part of me, a part of my growth and a part of my story. And so I must share.
 Last Saturday we watched it unfold in a few hours what we planned for months (literally.) The blood (that might be a little dramatic), the sweat (there's truth to that one), and the tears (I admit this is not a metaphor, but for me, they happen.) all played out in 12 hours' time. Or 3 days if you count the expo, which is just as much a part of the experience for me as race day is.

 For me, at the expo, my role is to help the runners, to solve the problems they need fixed. Most people, when I tell them that, say sarcastically 'lucky you.' But honestly, I do count it a privilege to be in that role. For me, I love to help others. It's not about recognition. It's about truly making a difference. That probably seems dramatic and even silly; after all, we are talking about a race... how dramatic can it be?! But honestly, there was this one guy I helped out and he walked away saying "Thanks for being so nice!" And I thought to myself, we live in a strange world that people say thanks for being nice. I'm simply being me.
 I'm not wanting to promote myself here. I'm simply wanting to share some little glimpses into the stories of the weekend for me.
 I love getting to meet the runners with whom I have talked all year long.
 I enjoy seeing the first timers' faces full of excitement and awe and nervousness. I remember being there myself once. It's overwhelming and exciting all at once.
 I am in my element and it is in these moments I find new strength in who I am. I learn more about myself, what pushes me and how to stand up to those things or people or how much I can handle or new ways to navigate challenging moments. I grow.
  I love when return runners come once year and I get to see them again the next and it's like a little family reuniting for a few moments.
 I laugh with Lisa and take selfies with Danielle when we can catch a second.

 When race day comes I get butterflies. (If I have butterflies, imagine how my boss, the director, feels.)  We work so hard as a team all year long to see this one day unfold and want to see it go smoothly and perfectly. My role on race day has been different every year I have been there. My first year, I was mostly in the information tent, and a little in the food tent. My second year, I had learned more and oversaw the MAJCOM Challenge, so I spent time moving between their tent and the food tent and the timing tent and the information tent, doing a little bit of what everyone needed. Last year, my third race, I drove the lead vehicle, which allowed me to see the course in a different way, still also overseeing the MAJCOM Challenge. And then this year, I was on the lift, as a spotter for the lead runners, announcing their approach to the finish line, as well as also overseeing the MAJCOM Challenge again.  Each year, I've been given the opportunity to learn new aspects of the race, how things work. I have a pretty unique role, one that allows me to be mentored in just about every aspect of what takes place in our event.
 The point isn't to bore you with the details of what I do in my job. The point is that life is about learning and growing and my job provides me a lot of joy but also a lot of growth. I have a great mentor, who has taught me more than one blog could begin to sum up, who has become my friend along the way. he's cheered me on, pushed me, been lovingly honest with me and taught me so much about the industry and about life. I have met countless people who have touched me and inspired me and spurred me forward in my journey. I've encountered some who have challenged me through their personality and stretched me to speak my voice in new ways and learn aspects of myself I have struggled to know how to express (meaning, the side of confrontation).

 And this year's event was no different. I met new friends (Krystal and Emily), saw old ones (Ed, Annelise, Nick, Paul, Liz), worked with people who somehow have become a little family to me even though I only see them once a year (Josh, David, Glen, Alex, Amanda.) and got to experience new race-day roles.

 I am thankful for my job. Being in event planning is a challenge at times, and never ceases to amaze me every single year how we spend months putting it all together, planning, preparing, designing, meeting, etc... and in a few hours time watch all of that play out and then tear it all down to start over again for another year. It's thrilling and somehow heartbreaking all at once.

 Each year it makes me a better, stronger me in new ways, compiled with my other life experiences. Running does that for me, my Colombian family does that for me, and my Air Force family (even though I'm civilian) does that for me. And I am thankful for this beautiful experience.
 Here are some photos to show you some of my favorite moments of the weekend.

So Proud of these ladies, my new friends, who both took home awards! They inspire me

Team ANG, defending MAJCOM Challenge 2016 champions

The Full marathons of the ANG team

My new friend, Krystal

Prepping for the 2017 Expo to open

Old friends, Ed and Annelise

Me and Liz

The Expo

The finish line shoot, before the gun went off, as the sun rises


The flyover