Monday, March 31, 2014

A New Challenge

I may have told you all earlier that I have buyer's remorse. It doesn't matter what I purchase I usually second guess my purchase. That's all fine and dandy if it's a pair of shoes or a shirt but I have had it buying a car, house and registering for a race. Thoughts run through my head.  "Did I make the right choice? What if something is better that I didn't see? Can I really commit and do this?" That happened yesterday afternoon and I panicked most of the night. Yesterday morning I pulled myself out of bed- my back was hurting a lot and my shoulder is pinched so I'm a little sideways and I went downstairs and signed up for my marathon. I needed to get the discount price (I like a bargain). And by paying my money I'm committing to the training. And I run so I can be healthier and maybe loose some weight. Great plan. One small catch.

It's my first marathon and I'm slow- really slow like my last half I averaged 16:12 minute miles and the half before that was 15:29 minute miles (with a leg cramp that made me almost fall down and finish with a shuffle- hop- drag-my-leg-look-like-I-may-fall step the last .1 mile of the race. So what in the the name of Jesus and all that is holy did I think I could do a full? That's another half to run after running the first. I think I need to be evaluated by professionals. But I do want to do something challenging and big this year before I turn 40. And I turn 40 the second week of November. There's a great race outside of San Antonio  TX called The Chosen that raises money for families adopting. My wonderful friend Val, who has been one of my encouraging friends on my running journey, has done it. She suggested it to me and it works perfect in my schedule and why not travel someplace fun to run- I've done it for 3 of my six halves.

To top it off my wonderful non-running friend Christi said she would come and run the half in honor of my birthday. So the plan was set. Christi has even ran 2-5k's and taken a running group class and is now a really fast runner. After registering on Sunday, I posted it to Facebook and I think I may have a another friend run it as well. But as the day progressed and I started to read more about the race to be prepared. I panicked! Not paper bag type of panic but buyer's remorse. I realized the time limit is 6.5 hours instead of 7 and the course is out and back instead of a loop or point to point. That means the first 3 miles of hills are also the last 3 miles of hills. But as I laid in bed last night slightly freaking out. I realized that in order to finish in the 6.5 hours I need to run 14.52 minute miles and because of potentially needed to use a porta-potty along the way I thought I might need to say I need to run it in 6 hours and 15 minutes to give myself 15 minutes for the bathroom  That means I really need to run a 14.19 minute mile. That's a good two minutes faster than my normal time.

I did find some encouragement yesterday. I was reading my April addition of Runner's World  and there was a great story about last year's Boston Marathon and two runners who were running it for the first time. One was working on becoming a PA because she was told she couldn't be a nurse. She had been on her schools cross country and track team and had been a runner most of her life. Her friend had started running when he needed to lose weight (like me) and was run/walking the race (like me). The article talked about them both overcoming struggles and even mentioned working through running in public (like me). The only different between me and them- besides they were running Boston was they are little people. So it encouraged me that everyone has their struggles and obstacles to overcome and there are always going to be people who say you can't do something but if you keep at it you can do something incredible.

I'm not going to quit before I start and I may not finish in 6.5 hours but I'm going to try. So this morning I woke up and decided I need to give my running and training over to God and not worry every detail of it. But I'm also going to let you in on the journey of it. So I'll be posting about my progress here and through twitter and Facebook.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Extra Ordinary Should Just Be Ordinary

I've been thinking of this post for a week, just mulling it over in my mind. I'm still not sure I have it all worked out but I wanted to share it before too much time had passed.

I know and work for some extraordinary people. We in agriculture and sometimes small towns know these types of people and sad to say it seems there used to be more of these people- people who stop what they are doing to help someone in need. Maybe it's not that there are less of them but maybe there are just more people who are just more self-involved.

Last Saturday I went to a funeral. She was an amazing lady and her family is in my top 5 favorite families that I work with. They haven't done anything special except they are good friends who really care about people. They volunteer their time with many groups in the community and state. They encourage people and believe in them so that you want to do your best for them. On the way home I was recalling the last year of this family and their battle with cancer and all that entails.What got me thinking about how special our farmers and ranchers are is the group of farmers that stepped in and helped them.

They went above and beyond what most people may have done. They planted fields for them. When this all started last year, it was time to plant the cotton but the family was so far behind  because of the time spent at the doctors or traveling to appointments so they were going to scale back the acreage. This means their entire farm income was going to be less (read entire year's business income is reduced).  I even offered to help- I've never planted cotton before but it can't be that much different from most hay or alfalfa crops and it had been a decade or so since I'd really spent anytime in a tractor. It was my way to help since I don't live close to bring meals or pop in and check on them. They didn't need my help because some of the local young farmers (25-30ish) stepped in. In the middle of planting their own cotton they pulled into this family's fields and started planting their cotton. They really didn't have to do it and they were all so busy.  It's not like it would only be an hour or so commitment. It can take several hours to plant a field depending on the size. They only had a few weeks to get their cotton seeds planted before it was too late and this is their crop for their entire year- their whole farm income is protected based on what gets planted in those weeks. These fields aren't just the size of your yard but rather the size of your subdivision. They also are planting different varieties (trying to see what will work best) so it's not like they can keep planting. They sometimes have to clean out the planter and replace the seed if they are moving fields. And the planters aren't that small.  For these guys they usually try and start the first ten days in April and then try and finish in the first 10-15 days in May. It can change depending on  temperature, rain and even elevation (sometimes it can be a little longer or smaller based on where you might live geographically). The window is narrow and yet they stopped what they were doing to help a fellow farmer in need. Not because they had to but because they wanted to. They didn't do it for the pats on the back or the warm fuzzy feelings they did it because they love and respect them as friends. They did this extraordinary act because they are humble and if the roles were reversed this family would be right there planting their cotton. And to top it off- they are far to humble to tell anyone about it so I'm sharing because it was a lesson that reminded me of the community I grew up in as a kid.

I've experienced this in my own community growing up and it left an impression on me.  My dad helped a neighbor feed their cows when their mother had passed away. He actually cracked his hip on of the days and missed the funeral. He was so upset because he didn't get to pay his respects but he had helped the family meet a need. I really experienced it when Dad had his first open hear surgery. People stepped up to warm the house, help with gas bills to cover trips to Portland, even some of his medical procedures were covered to the point that I am eternally grateful for those who helped me because I was so overwhelmed and was just trying to put one foot in front of the other and manage to get done what I thought I could handle. Dad wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for them.

Even today, there are a few diamonds among the lumps of coal. My dad's now retired and spends a few months with me but there are a few friends who help him drain his house and another who usually goes over to the house and starts a fire so the long winter chill is off the house by the time Dad has made it from the airport to the house.  Not everyone does this anymore as I think we as society are becoming more self absorbed or afraid to stop and help a person because we don't have time or we are afraid of doing it wrong, being sued, or we don't even realize there is a person in need.

This whole past year, those young men helped this family through prayer, words of encouragement, planting a crop but also just being there for them as friends, confidants and anything else they may need. It was a lesson that God used to remind me that we are to love our brothers as we love ourselves. It was a great testament to the respect of the family but also the respect and love these young men have for their neighbors. But why are we so surprised by someone does something so extra ordinary when in reality it should be just an every day ordinary event?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We all have a Sheldon Cooper

Big Bang Theory is one of my favorite shows. Not because it’s about a bunch of scientist who think religion is crazy (just ask one of the characters) but because it’s about a group of friends and their how they hang out. It was my replacement for Friends. And instead of NYC it’s LA and instead of a coffee shop it’s a comic book store or the college cafeteria. They made being a nerd cool.

I was thinking of Sheldon Cooper today and usually every time I come back from Pinal County’s meeting. I pass a sign for the Arizona Train Museum and every time I think Sheldon should come for a visit. He might like it; and we have a Cheesecake factory too. But today I started thinking about the other characters and then friends in real life. If you watch the show at all you know the characters- they are all PhD’s in science except for Walowitz, who only has a Masters and Penny- the girl who moved from small town Nebraska to become an actress. They use big terms when talking about science and Sheldon’s character is a know-it all that is also a control freak. I have one of those in my life. And God used him to reveal a lesson to me today.  The lesson was not to categorize someone until you really know them.

I have a Sheldon Cooper in my life and I've decided to keep him. I named him that because he goes to the same WW class as me and he was an expert of everything (or at least appeared to be). He drove my friends and I crazy till we gave him that nickname. But just like the character has grown on his roommate and the other friends, my Sheldon has grown on me. And I didn't realize it till today. My Sheldon always has to be in line first, it doesn't matter how early you get there, he’s there first waiting for the door to open. He still tells us what we should do or not do but here’s the kicker- I like him and it’s fun chatting with him because he volunteered to tell another group of ladies that they couldn't have our seats. WW is like church, you sit in the same spot and when new people take your spot (which normally doesn't happen if you sit in the front- they are just special) it can be disrupting and throw off your entire week. So each week for my friend S and I it has become a race to beat these three ladies to those chairs. And each week Sheldon and his wife (I dubbed her Amy Farrah Fowler because you just have to) are there to give us insight and advice even if we haven’t asked for it but just like the saved spot on the couch, I've come to accept him and all his quirks because he doesn't judge or do anything but invite you in. And I’m sure if we weren't at the WW meeting and trying to lose weight he would offer you a warm beverage.

We all have Sheldons, Leonards, Walowitzes and Koothrappalis in our lives and collectively they make us better. We have those who drive us crazy and know facts and are control freaks. We have friends who bring groups together and are the cool ones. We have the creepy-kind that say inappropriate things but make us laugh and we have the ones that are so shy but are all kinds of funny when they open up. And in reality I can see a little bit of all the characters in me based on what group of friends I am with. Because we are all on a journey together and we support, drive each other crazy and encourage each other but we have each other’s backs and we are honest with each other so next Saturday, I’m looking forward to my morning greeting with my friend Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler!