The hills are my friends

It’s been 8 years since I first ran a Race for the Cure, and 2 years since I first had a lump removed from my breast. I loved running the race again…if I have to be part of this breast cancer battle, I’d rather be the part that gets t-shirts and cheerleaders than the part that gets stitches and get well cards.

I didn’t train for the race this year.  I didn’t even charge up my Ipod.  I didn’t decide for sure about entering until the alarm went off this morning.  I’m glad I did…still, cold weather…great music…great cause…every breath reminding me how good it is to be alive and part of something.

Years ago, my running buddy told me that the hills are my friends because they want to make my legs stronger.  Metaphorically, that may be profound, but this morning it was just a mantra to keep me moving.  I didn’t run the entire 3 miles today, but I ran up all the hills, because you have to hang with your friends.  And I ran down all the hills, because I figure my friends owed me something.


Mind games while exercising

Spinning class kills me. 

Years ago, I went to spinning classes regularly with a friend.  Somehow sweating and laughing together made the whole thing easier.  Either that, or I was just younger and in better condition.  This week I tried a spinning class again and wanted to tuck my tail between my legs and sneak out to gasp for air somewhere in private.  I had to play mind games with myself to get through it.

10 minutes into the hour-long class, my thighs burned and I was panting.  Not a good sign.  I know that clock was set at super-slow mode because it just wasn’t moving!  I told myself if I could just make it to 30 minutes, then I’d leave.  Hey, a half hour workout isn’t bad.  At about 25 minutes, one of the other super-fit looking fellows called out, “This is a half hour class, right?”  He was laughing, which means he had more air than me at the time.  The whole class laughed and chuckled at what a silly idea that was and continued spinning.  Well, clearly I couldn’t leave at half an hour now!  Not with any shred of dignity at least. 

Just then, the instructor started a new round of stand-up-on-your-bike-now-sit-downs (there may be a better term for that).  So I told myself I’d stay for this series, then leave quietly.  That series lasted until 40 minutes in.  So I told myself I’d leave at 45 minutes.  Nice round figure.  At 45 minutes, I said, “You know, I’m just 5 or 10 minutes from cool down.  I can last that long…” 

Minute by minute I tricked myself into exercising a little longer.  I made it the whole hour!  Woo hoo!  Yay me!

The problem is, my brain is starting to catch on.  How do I trick myself into going back?

Coasting across the finish line

My personal record for biking 12 miles!
My personal record for biking 12 miles!

The last part of the track is uphill.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the greater flexibility of summer schedules and bicycling the 12 mile trail past Lake Wichita.  The direction I choose means that I finish with an uphill stretch.  Oh, it’s not horribly steep or anything (this is North Texas after all, and not known for steep hills), but at the end of 12 miles it’s just enough to intimidate the last dregs of my energy.  Usually as I approach the final curve, I slow down and creep across to the parking lot, peel myself off the sweaty seat, and limp to my car, nursing that inner satisfaction of having completed 12 miles. 

Today as I watched the mile markers and compared them to my stopwatch, I realized that I was positioned to beat my personal record.  I pushed it.  I ignored my complaining thighs and muscled along each slight incline.  Instead of slowing down on the last stretch, I actually sped up and rolled right up to my truck exhilerated and smiling broadly.  I bounced off the biked with surprisingly less soreness.  Endorphins are my new best friend. 🙂

I’m not usually much of a sports person, but I thought this morning about the end game in different sports.  In basketball or football, you can get a big lead and then coast across the finish line.  Just hold onto the ball and let the clock run out.  In tennis, though, you never get to coast.  To win, you have to win the last point of the game, the last game of the set, the last set of the match.  No slacking off or letting the time run out.  I don’t bike competitively, so I can choose to coast or to push across the finish line.  Pushing feels better.

I think life is like that.  You can choose to coast and limp or to push harder and finish strong.  God has given us direction for this choice.

Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenword in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 13-14

2 Peter chapter one talks about adding to your faith virtue, and adding to your virtue knowledge, and so on.  Always adding.  Always getting stronger.  Never coasting, never slacking, never letting the clock run out.  Paul says press on to the goal.  I think runners call that strategy uneven splits.  You start out slow, build momentum, and press on faster at the end finishing victorious (or at least strong and fast). 

Coasting is easy.  I need to watch out for that.

Rediscovering the fitness trail – why I love Lake Wichita

The lake never nags.  It never asks, “Why haven’t you called?  Do you know how long it’s been?  Don’t you know I was worried?”  It doesn’t berate me.  “You used to run the whole trail.  Now you have to walk parts of it.  You’re so out of shape!”

Those are the voices in my own head.  The lake sunshine burns them away.  The waves tumble to the shore to greet me.  The wind playfully ruffles my hair, like a friendly aunt.  My eyes feast on the open space.  My ears fill with the quiet sounds of birds and sudden rustles in the trees and high grass that remind me of that life teems unseen, besides the jackrabbits that hop tantalizingly close.  The intense bicyclists, the laid-back dog walkers, the graying gentlemen who talk faster than they walk…a random group of smiling, nodding strangers, and yet, somehow exactly the same as the last time I enjoyed the lake trail.

And finally…a welcome back present from the lake…an unexpected meeting with a good friend out walking her Chihuahua.  I turned and walked the extra distance to finish the path with her.

7:44 a.m.  82 degrees Fahrenheit.  Total time moving (running and walking) 1 hour.  Total distance: a little over 4 miles.

I love summer.

Why does Subway discriminate against homeschool students?

The reaction ranges from puzzled, to disappointed, to outraged.  Some families are ready to boycott.  I haven’t hit that point, but I’m confused.

The Subway restaurant chain is hosting a contest for school kids to write a story and win prizes such as gift cards to Subway.  The stories must include one of its sandwhiches and are encouraged to include “random acts of fitness.”  For the corporate gurus, it seems like a good public relations move.  They’re promoting healthy eating and exercising habits among school children.  They’re promoting goodwill among parents and educators (read: customers).  They get good publicity for their contest.

 So why the negative reaction?

They have specifically excluded homeschoolers from their contest.  I expect the reason is that one of the grand prizes is a package of fitness equipment for the winner’s school, although clearly if a homeschooler won that particular prize, it could easily be designated to a group that the particular student was a member of or some other organization the student might have access to.  I’m taking this opportunity to let Subway know how disappointed I am with their arbitrary discrimination based entirely on the location of a student’s classroom.  Perhaps I’ll even use letter writing as a language arts assignment this week.  J

Here is the link for the contest:

And here is the text of the rules:

Contest is open only to legal US residents, over the age of 18 with children in either elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted.


Here is a link for their customer service: if you want to send them your opinions. 

This is my letter, submitted this morning:

I write to express my disappointment in your Every Sandwich Tells a Story competition.  My school age children love to tell stories.  Your contest provides a creative outlet for their writing skills with the added motivation of prizes and the bonus benefit of promoting thinking about healthy eating and exercising habits. 

Unfortunately, your corporate policy specifically excludes my children from participating based entirely on the location of their schoolroom.

My children study and learn at home instead of in a government sponsored public school.  Why would discriminate against them so arbitrarily?

In the USA, more than one million students learn at home.  Put another way, there are more home school students nationwide than there are public school students in Wyoming, Vermont, Delaware, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Montana, and Hawaii — combined.  I know you wouldn’t host a contest and arbitrarily exclude kids from all these states.  Besides being unfair, you wouldn’t want to alienate millions of customers.  Why then do you exclude home schooled students? 

I understand that you may mistakenly believe that the grand prize fitness package for the recipient’s school couldn’t be useful to a home school family.  If a home schooled student won this particular prize, that portion of the prize could easily be designated to a home school group or other organization that the student belongs to/has access to. 

Home school families desire physical fitness and healthy lifestyles in the same way families with public schools or private schooled children.  A student is a student – regardless of where he receives his education.  Each child is already a part of our society.  Turning out the healthy individuals should be the goal of us all. 

As a home schooler, I do not ask for special privileges or favors, merely the same opportunities to participate in worthwhile activities as every other family.

Pizza Hut, Braum’s and other fast food chains already include home schoolers in their educational promotions.  It makes sense for you to do the same.  Changing your policy to include home schooled families in your Every Sandwich Tells a Story is a win-win decision, allowing you to reach out and include a wider customer base, inspire more students to consider healthy habits, and show yourself a friend to a community of millions.


FIAR Burners – We are Fit Mommas


Hey, I just gotta show off my cool new t-shirt.  My fabulous, creative, generous homeschooling friend RJ designed these t-shirts for our fitness email group of Fit Mommas, ladies who met on the Five in a Row message boards (see the link over to the right) and who encourage each other in exercise and healthy eating habits.  The pictures on the shirt represent many of the common exercises we do, running, bicycling, kayaking, weight lifting, walking the dogs.   You could see it better if I were sitting up straighter, but clearly POSTURE is not one of the topics address by the Fit Mommas.

Breaking boards

Jordi’s awesome front kick 

Four of us got belted yesterday.  In taekwondo, that’s a good thing.  🙂 My 3 kids and I have been studying taekwondo together this summer, a sweaty but satisfying way to get quality time together.  It’s so fun to watch them getting better, and I have to work harder knowing that the kids are watching me, too.  Last night we were awarded our new belts that we tested for a few weeks ago.  My favorite part of belt testing is breaking boards.  It’s so Hollywood. LOL When I think of martial arts, I see guys breaking boards with their bare hands (or feet or head).  So splintering that wood makes me feel official.   Check out the cool pictures of the kids getting tough.  No one was working the camera when I broke mine. Jordi (above) used a front kick to earn her gold tip, Cam (below top) smashed a elbow strike for his orange belt, and Sean (below bottom) used his hammer heel to earn his gold belt.


And these are my adorable nieces after our instructors awarded their white tips.


Biking the lake…take 2

Cooler than normal temperatures tempted me again. Since my dh replaced the flat on my bike, I thought…yeah….I’m gonna go back to the lake and enjoy the bike ride I missed last week. I parked at one end of the trail took off with the greatest confidence, anticipating a long, energizing trek. I was admiring the water and the sunflowers and counting all the little jackrabbits zipping about in the morning breeze. I should’ve known that bike had other plans.When I got to the end point of the trail, I u-turned, checked my watch, and considered all the variables. I figured I was set to finish the 12 miles in right at an hour. Excellent! Deep breaths, set for the return trip…and then a funny flapping sound from behind and the bike went wobbly. Another flat!!!!It was the tire we’d just replaced! And I was 6 miles from my truck and the air pump.

My first impulse was to kick the bike and insult its intelligence. But you’d’ve been proud. I reminded myself that trials produce patience, and as trials go, this one was minor.

After all, the sun was still shining, the scenery was still peaceful, and walking is exercise, too. I just hadn’t planned to walk 6 miles pushing a wonky bike. Sigh.

I was trying to think of scripture to meditate on to keep my mood peaceful. A friend told me he likes to meditate on theIsaiah passage about soaring on wings like eagles and not getting tired, but I didn’t think I was really soaring. I finally settled on the 23rd Psalm, since I was uniquely positioned by green meadows and still waters at the time.  🙂  While I was looking around at the birds and trying to recite the psalm, I walked too close to the bike dug my calf into the teeth on the foot pedal. Ouch!! Now I had blood dripping down my leg and still 5 miles to walk. I tried singing, “Count Your Blessings” and “Sing and Be Happy.”  That worked for awhile.

But gals, those landmarks that had zipped by in one direction sure crawled tortorously slow coming home. And the cool morning wore off into sweat city. I finally managed to position the bike so I could jog at times. Was I ever happy to see my truck at the end of the road.

Lessons learned? 1.  Park in the middle of the trail instead of the end so you don’t have to walk as far. 2.  Get an air pump that attaches to the bike because it’s useless otherwise. 3.  Or maybe I should give dh back his bike and trade it for crochet hooks.

Tell me again why I love that lake?

Inner Peace through Exercise…or not

Lake Wichita is my favorite place in the world to exercise.  Since my friends introduced me to the 2.8 miles jogging loop there, the place calls to me whenever I have the opportunity to sneak out on my own for 30 lovely minutes of sweat-induced tranquility.  I wrote this a few weeks ago after one of my many misadventures in fitness.

My kids have all left for summer camp, so I awoke this morning to an empty house and endless possibilities. I dropped dh at work at 7 a.m. and thought this would be a fabulous day to take a long bike ride around the lake. I haven’t been out there since the floods a few weeks ago. After wrestling the back seats out of the suv and wrangling the bike in (definitely the hardest part of the workout!), I drove to the starting point and was greeted by perfect sunshine with the waves lapping high on the shore, almost to the trail. I wrestled the bike out of the truck, tried to air up a flat, and ended up destroying the inner tube. Aack! Back into the truck with the stupid useless equipment.

But the lake beckoned. So I ran. I took off at a slow trot so I could inspect the trail for damage. Sure enough, the flood tore up several spots pretty badly, but nothing I couldn’t get around.

The first section of the running trail parallels the road, with flat land on one side and neighborhoods on the other. Then you follow the curve into wilderness, totally cut off from view of any civilization. That curve sends a little thrill up my spine. It’s been so long since I ran there, I’d almost forgotten how bright the sun, how refreshing the shade of occasional trees, how unexpected the cool breeze, how intrigueing that next curve of trail into the unknown.I also realized that standing water crowded both sides of the trail where normally dry land stretches. 2 weeks ago I could’ve invited my virtual exercise buddy RJ to kayak that trail with me. 🙂 Nature loves the soaking, though. Everything green was growing abundantly; the sound of crickets was twice as loud as usual, and hordes of dragonflies darted in and out of the tall grasses around the swampy areas. Thinking about the enormous amount of water that had fallen, and being overshadowed as I was by rows of 8 foot tall sunflowers, I felt very small. I like small. Small is peaceful. Being tiny and insignificant makes the weight of responsibility off my shoulders. The hassles of life seem less urgent. I know I’m in the hands of One with infinitely more power and wisdom than myself, so minor annoyances like flat tires just aren’t that big of a deal.When I finished my 3 miles jog/walk, I stepped right to the edge of the lake to stretch. Closing my eyes and feeling the wet breeze and hearing the waves, I felt like I could’ve been on any beach in the world. I had a sudden urge to do yoga…you know how yoga videos always show the person isolated in the desert or on a beach striking graceful poses under a sunny sky? So I did.LOL Don’t know what the other bikers or walkers thought of me passing on the trail. But I did the few yoga poses that I know and don’t fall down attempting. 🙂

So I drive home sweaty and hot, but filled with inner peace and energy. While I put my bike in the garage, I thought, I’ll just be efficient and get out the lawn mower to cut the grass in the back yard. Duh! Not thinking! I opened the gate and all 3 dogs ran out in separate directions. Inner peace gone in the rush of paws. I grabbed the slow dog and pitched her back in, slammed the gate, and took off running after the girl puppy. The old dog followed along like he was escorting us. Finally caught her, carried her back, but lost the third dog. No worries, he’s been escaping for 10 years and always comes back.

Now I’m covered in sweat AND dog hair. Might as well mow. 30 minutes later, I was covered in sweat, dog hair, and cut grass.

I thought, the yard still looks bad because there’s a gallimaufrey of saplings sprouting all around the fence line.

I’m already filthy. Why not? Found the trimmers. Conquered that in 30 minutes.

I officially have no more energy. I’m used up. That’s all the physical activity I need for the day!! I think I’ll curl up with the remote control and watch cheesy sci-fi.

Have a blessed day. Go move and get sweaty!