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Because Sweat is Weakness Leaving the Body…

In exactly a week from right now I should be done with my third and final run in the Ragnar FL Keys 2014 race and my van will be in Key West waiting for our second half to finish.  A month ago I was doubting I’d be able to run in this race, but I went out for my first long run in two months this morning, and I feel awesome.  I still feel like I didn’t get in as much training as I would have liked, but I’m proud not to have given up.

When I couldn’t run, I rode my bike or worked out on the elliptical, which I hate because it’s so boring.  I attempted comeback runs a couple times before I succeeded without crying because of the pain in my leg.  In caring for my leg and combating the pain, I knew it would be hard.  But I’m running again, and sweating out the weakness.

The other part that makes this great is that I have an amazing support team of local runners, and of course, my Ragnarrhea teammates.  Thanks to everyone who has helped encourage me to get back out there.  This Ragnar was supposed to be my most challenging because I was originally going to take on more miles.  But now it’s the most challenging because I’ve had to get my head straight.  Running isn’t just physical, but mental as well.  And I’ve got my mantra now:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

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Final Countdown Update

There are fourteen days between today and the day I begin running my fourth Ragnar Relay. I have now been able to run successfully three times, and will run this afternoon after I get home from impersonating a history teacher. I’ve been taking it easy on my newly healed leg (possible tibial stress fracture or torn tendon or ligament) in order to make sure it is healed and I do not overwork it too fast and re-injure. But it’s frustrating.  So I have been integrating riding my bike and the use of our elliptical machine, along with some pilates and yoga in hopes of these helping me to prepare.  But there is no cardio like running, and running is the best training for running.  *Sigh*  It’s going to have to be enough. Time is running out.

I may have put on a few pounds and inches while I was unable to run between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in part because I wasn’t active, and also because I was eating my fill of yummy unhealthy candy in hopes of coating my sadness in chocolate since I could not run.  Oh, the evil cycle.  Anyway, I cut both those pounds and the inches in about a week, and I’m active again, so this is a good thing.

Some have asked how I did that so quickly, so I’ll share here.  Every January, and sometimes in June, my husband and I do a fat flush/cleanse diet for two or three weeks.  It works, it’s healthy, I feel awesome, and my skin looks good too.  The dogs love it because they get more bits of apples and such “treats.” The hitch?  I have to eat about a gazillion tons of vegetables, and I’m not a fan of vegetables.  I’d rather eat chocolate covered bacon, or either of those things individually…or fried foods, like pickles.  But I digress. My point?  It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline, time to prepare and eat the food, and determination on my part to succeed, which is why the flush calls for three weeks, but my husband and I tend to negotiate until we agree on two weeks.  He enjoys the meals while I chew, and chew, and chew my onions and greens.  But if you’re interested, the book is called The Formula, and it brings amazing results.

More updates on my progress and preparation to come.

Runner’s High

I’ve been called a pessimist before; however, if that were true, would I be sitting at my computer, writing a blog post about how much I love running while I’m icing my knee because I went running? No.  I have found the positive in a sometimes painful personal sport.

The personal part is what I first learned to appreciate about running. When I run, I think, clear my head, and concentrate on the beauty I am generally surrounded by when I run (I saw a dolphin last weekend as I ran over a bridge over the intracoastal waterway).  I was never a team sport kind of girl.  In fact, I was never a girl who did anything resembling a sport when I grew up, and I despised running…with a passion.

A challenge was thrown out that I run in a crazy 200 mile race (Ragnar Relay) as a fundraiser for my favorite organization that works to fight human trafficking (Love 146).  I weighed that option for a good while before I agreed to rise to the impossible challenge.

At 32, I began running, for the first time in my life.  I worked out already and thought, “How hard could this be?”  I set out one morning to run a mile down our road (which meant another mile back).  I seriously thought it would be do-able.

It was not.

I made it about a quarter of a mile and thought I would die right there on the road behind my house.  I walked then with spurts of running in between.  Pathetically limited and short spurts.  I made it to the end of the road and realized I had to get back.  Grr!  More of the same walking with short running intervals, an encounter with a weird bug that would not leave me alone (I’m not generally an outdoor girl), and the Florida heat and humidity of a June morning all but discouraged me.  Had I not already invested money into the Nikes I found on sale for $20 (I’m cheap), I would have called it off right away.

But I didn’t.

I continued almost every day in a similar manner for the next two weeks until I made it the mile to the end of the road without stopping.  Then I stopped and walked for a reward.  When I began to run again that day, my knee began to hurt in a way I had never felt before.  Research told me it was my IT band.  I had just started and would already have to take some time off.  I just knew I was not meant to be a runner.

I researched how to “fix” the injury and found I needed to do good stretches and work all my leg muscles through cross-training in order to strengthen what doesn’t get used in running.  Ice also helps.

At that time, I felt it was my chance to give up.  Who would have blamed me, right?  I just wasn’t meant to be a runner and it was something better left for those more equipped.  But then I remembered why I had agreed to run in the first place, and I decided to go back out there, into the hot Florida summer’s oppressive humidity, for the kids that could be rescued and protected by my fundraising and awareness efforts.  So in the moment I made that decision, two passions began in my life.

Running got better for me, and though I often get discouraged still, I keep doing it.  Even after I had to take off a few months because I was having issues with my ITB again.  I think about those kids, my health, and now I also get support from our fantastic local running community.  I’ve gotten faster and my endurance has increased.

Now, it isn’t just a personal sport for me anymore.  I try to mix it up by running a few times a week on my own, doing speed work with a group one evening, and then putting in miles with a group early on Sunday mornings.

I feel I’m becoming a more well-rounded runner, and other than the pain I occasionally feel in my ITB, which I’ve learned how to take care of (as long as I put in the time), I love the way I feel when I’m done.  If I run in the morning I feel amazing all day.

I’m learning to give myself personal challenges and not to compare myself to other runners.  I can do the running in community, but it is still a personal endeavor as I am the only one in my head and body.  I can do it physically, if I can just get my brain to believe it too.

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Another cool thing about running is the excitement of races.  I’ve earned medals for just finishing, and even a few prizes for placing in my age group at a few races (1st in my age group at the last race I ran).

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Stop it BEFORE it Happens

This is the time of year I really kick up my running training for a crazy 200 mile relay race called Ragnar, which has me reminiscing on the past few years:

In November of 2010, my team of twelve ran from Tampa to Daytona Beach and we raised, united with another team of twelve, $2040 for Love 146, an amazing organization that fights human trafficking.

Half my team (6 travel together by van)

January of this year, my team of twelve (some repeats and some newbies) ran from Miami to Key West for the same cause and raised $1020.

Team This is STILL My AWESOME Back

No worries.  I’m not fundraising.  My point here is that now I’m in training mode for my third Ragnar (Miami to Key West again), and it’s weird NOT to be fundraising.  We decided that this time we just wanted to run for fun because the fundraising for a cause  can get stressful, and we just wanted to be ridiculous without worrying about who we are representing this time.  After all, this year our team name is Ragnarrhea, and we are each assuming poop related names for the fun of it (I’m Exrecia).  Classy, I know.

Terrinator after the completion of my last run

The point I’m attempting to make, though I have now beaten around the bush so many times all the branches have been demolished, is that though I am not running for the cause this year, I do not want to forget to remind others of the importance of the cause.

I’ve always been one who cares about justice, and I’ve gotten in trouble on a few occasions for speaking up in a moment of passion, but until a few years ago I really didn’t have a particular cause I believed in, but now I do.  I’ve mentioned it here before, so you may have read about this already and are now yawning.  That’s fine, but I may have some newcomers, and I cannot chance missing the opportunity to create awareness whenever possible.  After all, I am “The Terrinator.”

In June, I wrote what turned out to be my most read blog post, “Human Beings are NOT Commodities.”   For further information on human trafficking, please give it a read.  The long story short is that human trafficking is modern day slavery.

I’ve been reading about and watching videos posted  indicating that our government is recognizing the issue and taking steps to combat this horrible act of inhumanity, which makes me happy.  But the true and basic concept of this is that it is already unconstitutional because of Amendment XIII, and it has been unconstitutional since that amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865!  Slavery is not new, it just wears a new face.

Robert and I recently decided that since abolitionism is a huge passion of ours we wanted to give regularly to the cause.  (It’s no great amount, but if many people gave even a small portion, a large impact could be made.)  When I went to Love 146.org to sign up, I was given the choice for which part of the process we wanted to impact.  My heart really lies with the recovery and rehabilitation of these survivors; however, I instead decided to give regularly to the prevention aspect.  I am both logical and optimistic.  If we can reach out and prevent this from happening, there will be no more need for recovery…eventually.  That’s my goal.

You don’t need to share my passion.  But you should find one of your own then.  It is healthy and human to care, and when you can see even a glimpse of your impact, you will feel fulfilled.  Touching lives is why we exist.

Love 146 is only one of many organizations out there set on extirpating human trafficking.  If you are interested in learning about more, you need do little more than just Google (I love that this is a recognized verb now) human trafficking and research the many organizations on your own.

A Human Trafficking Jam

Christmas is my favorite time of year (cliche, I know); the reasons for this joy have changed over the years as I’ve grown up and come to realize what is really important in this life I’ve been blessed to live. It was once about getting gifts.  Then it was about getting the perfect gifts for others.  Last year my husband was unemployed and we opted out of gifts altogether, a choice which opened my eyes and heart in a new way.  Perhaps I’d lost sight, or never had it in the first place, of the TRUE meaning of Christmas.  A savior was born with the full intention of dying as the ultimate sacrifice for a lost world that continually turns its back on Him.

Now that is LOVE!

So it is with this in mind that I go forward.  Christmas is about salvation… for everyone.

Some time back I prayed that God would “break my heart for what breaks [His],” and he’s been doing it over and over again.  The further I research human trafficking as I get ready to run another 200 mile relay with some friends to help fight this atrocity, the more my heart breaks, and the angrier I become that more people aren’t doing anything to stop it.  Doesn’t anyone care?  There are 27 million people around the world right now who need SALVATION from slavery.  Many are children, and for them my heart breaks the most.  We are to stand up for the orphans, the widows, the poverty-stricken…and those who cannot stand up for themselves.

I’ve recently become frustrated.  As our race comes closer (Ragnar Relay FL Keys, Jan 6-7), our fundraising meter continues to stay at about 12-13% of our goal.  I guess it’s a bad time of year to ask for donations.  Money is tight for many these days and their families are the priority for Christmas spending.  I get that, but just wish everyone could set aside just a tiny bit to give these children the gift of freedom, even donating in the name of a loved one perhaps.  I think the problem is that Christmas has become so commercialized that many have forgotten that SALVATION and SACRIFICE are the true meaning of this beautiful holiday.  It’s sad.

I have little money to give (right now anyway), so I understand that side of the issue.  But there is hope.  Though little money has come in yet for our cause (Love 146), we’ve managed to get the word out about human trafficking, and creating awareness is the first step.  When people find out about this race and why I’m running it, I get a chance to answer a lot of questions.  Maybe when people do have money again, they will remember the 27 million slaves and help us free them, just as Jesus came to free us from our bondage. I’d love to do more… like hold each of those little children suffering at the hands of sick child molesters, and tell them that no matter what has happened in their lives, God loves them, and so do I.  But until then, I will continue to spread awareness and work towards a human trafficking jam (abolishing slavery) in the only ways I can.

Several years ago, Jewel put out a Christmas album, and her song “Hands” was on it.  It isn’t a traditional Christmas song, but it seems to capture what I believe God wants us to understand about Christmas.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk0bKfC8XSE

If you are interested in giving to our cause:

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/robert-harper/love146rr