Race Report, Father’s Day 10K: Jeff Galloway Rocks

I’m sold on the Galloway Method.

My friend Marilyn, the leader of the DC/Beltway chapter of LIFE Runners, invited members to run the Father’s Day 10K on June 20 in Mason Neck State Park.  As it turned out, she and her husband Chris and I were the only ones who could make it.  The race was starting at 9 am, which is a bit late for a June race, and I was a little worried it would be hot.  Fortunately it was cloudy that morning, which kept the temperatures down; although it was quite humid.  I made sure I kept my morning coffee to a minimum (which also reduces the need for bathroom breaks–very important if you’re a runner), and brought my sports drink and plenty of water.

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Ready to run for the unborn.  All in Christ for Pro Life!

When I decided to sign up for the Richmond Marathon, I chose Jeff Galloway’s training plan, mostly because it will (hopefully) allow me to get my long training runs in without taking over my life.  And since I’ve started running, I’ve always been intrigued by his run/walk method of training and racing.  The idea is to run for a given period of time, say 3 minutes, depending on your pace and fitness level; and then walk for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and repeat that pattern throughout the run.  It’s supposed to reduce fatigue, lower your injury risk, and make recovery much quicker and easier.  As I’ve been mulling over all the reasons I should or shouldn’t run a marathon, injury risk has been pretty high on the list of things that would stop me from doing it.  Recently on my long runs I’ve been trying a roughly 4 minute run/1 minute walk interval.  Sometimes I use a timer, and sometimes it’s a decade of the Rosary while running–which takes a little more than four minutes, I think–and walking while counting off sixty seconds.  (A decade of the Rosary is one recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, ten Hail Mary’s, and one Glory Be.  It takes longer when you’re running than when you’re sitting or kneeling!  You can learn more about how to pray the Rosary here.) When I ran the Star 10K in April, I did my “Rosary method” for part of the race (and as I got closer to the top of Mill Mountain and was getting tired, I would run for just half a decade before walking), and ended up finishing sixth in my age group.

For this race, I decided to try my 4-ish minute decade/count-to-sixty Rosary method for the entire 6.2 miles.  I figured with the humidity it might not be a good idea to push myself too hard, and this would be a good practice run for longer races.  I turned on my MapMyRun app–with the voice feedback turned off so it wouldn’t distract me–and off we went.

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(Belmont Bay, where the Occoquan River meets the Potomac.  This was the view not far from the starting line.)

On my first walk break, I tried not to think about all those people running past me, telling myself that I would probably pass them once I started running again.  Sure enough, I did, and decided to play a game with myself:  Could I pass more people on my running segments than passed me during my walk breaks?  With the exception of one or two younger men who ran past me at the beginning and never looked back, I pretty much was able to do that.  I didn’t keep an exact count, but on each running segment, I would look at the person in front of me and try to catch up with them, and if I passed them I would then focus on the next one.  (I’ve heard people compare racing to playing a video game–let’s try and see how many people we can pick off as we run.)  I found that when I was running, I was able to go a little bit faster than I would if I hadn’t been taking walk breaks.  Here’s the breakdown of my race according to my phone app:

Mile 1:  Pace 9:41

Mile 2:  Pace 10:07

Mile 3:  Pace 10:03

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(Right around the halfway mark.  I wanted to show you my fancy-schmancy water bottle that hooks to the back of my running belt that I take to every race and bring on almost every run.  It’s fabulous.)

Mile 4:  Pace 10:10

Mile 5:  Pace 10:24

Mile 6:  Pace 10:10

As I approached the finish line, I could barely see the clock through the trees, and at first I thought it said 1:09-something (which was my finish time at the Star 10K) but as I got closer I realized it was 1:03 and I would get a PR!  Since it was such a small race (50 competitors–24 women and 26 men) I wondered if there was a chance I might win an award.  To my surprise and delight, I did!  My official time was 1:03:45, my fastest 10K, and I placed first in my age group–not including the 43-year old who was the third overall women’s finisher, of course!

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(A sweet medal and a cool shirt!)

I was getting pretty tired toward the end of the race, despite the walk breaks.  Last week I learned, after listening to an interview with Jeff Galloway and looking at his website for the gajillionth time, that he’s revised his run/walk interval recommendations.  Now he suggests shorter run segments with shorter walk breaks; so instead of a 4/1 interval, you would do a 2 min run/30 second walk.  This past weekend my friend and I tried that and it worked well, because she hadn’t run in a while and didn’t think she could do more than 3 miles.  As we approached the 3-mile mark, she said she wanted to go another mile; and when we finished our 4-mile run, she told me she felt like she could run more but didn’t want to push it.  Next weekend we plan to run 5 miles together with the 2/30 interval, and I can’t wait!  (I’m supposed to run 11 miles.  For the 6 miles I’ll do on my own, I might try a 3 minute/45 second interval just for kicks.)

I don’t know if I’ll do any more races before the Hokie Half in September, but I’m definitely using the Galloway method!

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7 Quick Takes: Adventures in Geocacing, the June 2015 Edition

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A bit of nerdiness…

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about my geocaching adventures, mostly because during the school year I don’t have much time for either blogging or geocaching.  I thought I could use this week’s “7 Quick Takes” to tell you about some of the more interesting caches I’ve found in the month of June.  Since July of 2013 when I cranked up my geocaching habit to a new high–interestingly, around the same time I decided to become a runner–I’ve found an average of 12-13 caches per month.  Of course, it’s higher during the summer and much lower the rest of the year. Now that school is out I have a bit of an excuse to indulge in this little guilty pleasure of mine.

–1–

Instead I Bought Some… (GC5B910)

When our boys used to attend their annual summer day camp, the last day of camp always culminated in a program for the parents that highlighted some of the fun activities that the kids got to do that week.  They also performed some camp songs that they had learned, and since all three of them went to this particular day camp every year from first grade to sixth grade, we all became quite familiar with them.  One of the songs went like this:

“My mom gave me a penny, she told me to buy a henny.  I did not buy a henny, but instead I bought some… My mom gave me a dime, she told me to buy a lime…” and it goes on like camps songs do. I won’t tell you what was bought instead because it might be a major spoiler; but if you’re curious, take a look at this link.

–2–

You Mad, Bro? (GC3FVP5)

I dropped Nick off at school for not quite the last time, and went by a local park where there are several geocaches that I have yet to look for.  This one was my 400th geocache find, a typical Tupperware in the woods.  Finding caches like this is what got me hooked on geocaching in the first place.

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–3–

Cranford (GC46QHF)

Last Saturday morning I got up and took a drive to Mason Neck State Park, to meet my friend and fellow LIFE Runner Marilyn and her husband, and run a 10K race there.  (I’m eager to tell you all about that one, stay tuned).  The race started late enough that I had time to stop for a couple of geocaches on the way.  They were just off the road and they looked like they would be fairly easy to find (I didn’t want to spend a half hour wandering around looking for them).  This one was so easy I spotted it as soon as I pulled into the parking lot of the little white church where it was located.  I guess it helped that the cache page had pictures and descriptions detailing exactly what to look for.

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(Can you spot the geocache?)

–4–

Meadowood Pollinator Garden (GC2P9YA)

On the way to Mason Neck I pulled over to the entrance to a lovely recreation area that features hiking and horseback riding trails, and several geocaches.  In the parking lot there is a lovely little butterfly garden with a geocache hiding underneath a great big fake rock.  I’ve added Meadowood to my ever-growing list of places to explore and geocache.

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–5–

Famous Last Words (GC123C)

I’m fortunate enough to live in an area rich in history.  We are surrounded by historic homes, famous birthplaces, and civil war battle sites.  These are great places for “virtual” caches, where instead of finding a physical container, you might see something interesting and maybe learn something new.  Virtual caches are fairly rare, and you can’t put out new ones anymore.  Apparently some folks were placing virtuals in decidedly uninteresting places (if you ever go to Ocean Isle Beach, I recommend you skip this one) and leaving no room for physical ones.  Anyhow, if you want to find a virtual cache, you have to answer a question–sometimes several–that you would only know if you visited the site.

This particular virtual is located at the site of the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, on the spot where the commander of the Union VI Corps, Major General John Sedgwick, was killed.  If you want to know what he said just before he was shot by a sniper, click here.

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I would have explored more of this area, but I didn’t have much time, and it was getting hot.

–6–

A Side Note…

Every summer Groundspeak (the company in charge of Geocaching.com) gives geocachers a challenge to help you earn “souvenirs,” which are nothing more than cute little badges on your profile page.  Last year during August–National Geocaching Month–you could earn souvenirs for finding certain types of geocaches.  This year it’s the “Geocaching Road Trip,” it lasts the whole summer, and they’ll release souvenirs at different times between now and September.  Right now cachers have a chance to earn the “Fun With Favorites” souvenir for finding a cache with ten or more “favorite” points.  If you have a premium membership, you can award points to caches you really like.  I decided to visit the “Famous Last Words” virtual cache because it currently has 22 favorite points.  Boom, souvenir earned!

On July 3 Groundspeak will release the next souvenir, “Meet Your Road Trip Crew,” which requires you to attend a geocaching event and meet up with other geocachers.

 –7–

Smiley in the Gazebo (GC5H946)

The great thing about geocaching is that it’s free.  All you need is an app on your smartphone (I use this one).  If you’re really into it (or you don’t have a smartphone; I know not everyone does) you can buy a fancy handheld GPS, which we did when we first started and, well, didn’t have smartphones. When you sign up at Geocaching.com, it won’t cost you a thing.  Last year I decided to cough up the $30 annual fee to Groundspeak for a premium membership, which has a lot more features including access to even more geocaches.

Just a little ways off in the woods beside a commuter lot, there are a couple of premium-only geocaches.  On the last day of May (OK, not quite June, but close), I decided to grab them after a local 5K race.  (Of course, when you”grab” a geocache, it means that you open it up, sign the log sheet, and put it back as you found it.  Please don’t take it with you.  Some people do that, and it’s annoying.)  When I found the one called “Smiley in the Gazebo,” it really did make me smile.

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(Instead of spoiling the surprise, here’s a photo of me and my friend Laura just before the Owen Lea 5K that we ran that day.  If you’re REALLY curious and want to see what the cache looks like, I posted a photo of it on Instagram.)

Thank you for letting me share some of my nerdiness with you!  If you want more 7 Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.  Have a great weekend!

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7 Quick Takes Volume 19

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–1–

This morning when I looked at the scripture readings for today, this verse jumped out at me:

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” –2 Corinthians 11:30

OK, here goes:

I’m an introvert who has learned to pretend I’m not, although sometimes I just don’t feel like socializing and then I feel bad because what if they think I’m just being a snob?  Usually I love being with people but sometimes I don’t.  I’m also afraid to leave my comfort zone because of what it might look like if I mess up.  I’m learning to trust God but sometimes it’s REALLY HARD.

–2–

Last night I played softball again with Ray’s team.  I struck out at least once, and when I did hit the ball it wasn’t far enough for me to make it to first base.  I walked once, and then almost got picked off third because I tried to run for home when I should have stayed put.  When the ball came at me I couldn’t get it fast enough, threw it like a wimpy girl, and fell sprawling onto the grass trying to make a catch.  I found myself having flashbacks of middle school phys ed class when I couldn’t play worth a hoot (still can’t) and the perception–whether real or imagined, I’m not sure which–that my teammates were mad at me every time I screwed up.

Now it’s different.  Some of us play well, some of us aren’t as good, but everyone is having a great time.  All I hear are words of encouragement.  It was hot and humid but I felt great.  There is one more game left, and I can’t wait to play again.

–3–

My nephews and my niece are adorable, aren’t they?

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I wish I could see them more often.

–4–

Over Easter break I finally joined Instagram.  I’m hooked.

Here’s my page; follow me!

–5–

Cari Donaldson used to feature a weekly linkup on her blog called “Theme Thursday,” where you were given a word or phrase and you’d post a photo on your blog related to that theme and link it to hers. (OH, Speaking of Cari, her book is great.  I could hardly put it down.  I’ll tell you about it in another post.) She hasn’t had Theme Thursday on her blog for a while, and I miss it; but a couple of weeks ago I started noticing the hashtag #projectblessed on Instagram.  After a little digging I found the Blessed is She blog.  On their Instagram page, they post prompts for every day of the week.  Take a photo related to that theme, boom.  Every day.  I love it.  Kinda feels like I’m sharing a little blog post every day.

(They also have a great daily devotion.  Check it out.)

–6–

I’ve recently started listening to podcasts, something I almost never did before.  It makes daily chores and long runs more enjoyable.  Here’s a rundown of some of my favorites:

Catholic Connection

The Break and The Walk, two of Father Roderick’s podcasts

Another Mother Runner

The Running Lifestyle Podcast

The Catholics Next Door

PodCacher (for my geocaching fix)

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My newest friend Tamara and I got to meet Dimity McDowell from the “Another Mother Runner” podcast.

–7–

I can’t leave without telling you about my half marathon “fail” that wasn’t really a fail because even though it made me feel like crap I finished and it was awesome.

My goal for this year’s Marine Corps Historic Half was to try and run it faster than Sean Astin.  Two years ago the Lord of the Rings actor ran the race in 2:11:58 and I thought it would be cool to know that I was faster than a fat Hobbit, as my friend Janel likes to put it (she and my friend Sue both beat him the day he ran it).  I finished the Air Force Half in 2:19:12 last September, and I felt it was doable, especially since I had run a 9:55 pace in the J. Brian’s Taproom 15K the month before.  In order to beat Sam Gamgee I needed to maintain a pace of 10:07.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I was up for the challenge.

To make a long story short, the day was hot and humid.  I took advantage of most of the water stops and even indulged in some Gatorade at some of them.  The first 6 or 7 miles felt good, but pretty soon I was beginning to wonder why on earth I had signed up for this $#%& race.  I had my GPS tracker turned off (I normally run with MapMyRun but when I race I don’t use it because it’s a distraction) so I had no idea what my pace was.  At the top of the notorious “Hospital Hill,” one of the many Marines stationed along the course shouted that the time was 2:03-something, and that’s when I knew I wouldn’t make my goal time because there was no way I could run the last two miles in eight minutes.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t PR, either.

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Nearing the top of Cowan Hill, just over a mile from the finish, I spotted my new friend Katie with her little boy, and she snapped this photo.  I was feeling miserable and was very happy to see them.  (I don’t know who the lady on my left is.  Her face pretty much sums up how I felt.)

Ray met me near the finish line and ran the last half mile or so with me, and when he asked me how I was doing I growled at him.  At the finish line there were people handing out goody bags with all kinds of yummy post-race snacks and I muttered a “no thanks” when they offered me one.  All I wanted was some water and a soda and a shower and a nap.

My official time was 2:24:07, faster than last year’s race (and only two seconds faster than my time in the Hokie Half last fall, which I thought was pretty funny).  But I got a pretty cool race T-shirt and a sweet medal.  Maybe I can beat Sean next year.

Have a great weekend, and be sure to visit This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes!

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Blessed Am I

Monday, 7 pm

I changed into shorts and a tech shirt an hour or so ago while I waited for Joe to come home from work.  (I’m about ready to drop the Three Stooges act and call my family by their real names.  My husband goes by Ray.)  He’s started playing softball with some of his co-workers, and they had a game scheduled for tonight.  They don’t have enough women on the team, so I’m happy to join him from time to time as an honorary member.  (Truth be told, I’ve only done so once, and it was the first time I’d played softball since high school.)  As soon as he walked in the door the thunder and rain started.  No softball tonight, needless to say, so I guess this is a good time for a blog update.

Larry (His real name is Matthew.  He likes to be called Matt) has officially graduated from high school.  This past weekend our house was full of the sounds of laughter, people bounding up and down the stairs, doors opening and closing, music, and “Curious George” running continuously on Netflix.  Moe (aka Nicholas, or Nick, as he prefers) graduated from eighth grade, and is starting high school in the fall.

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Nick, Matt, Ray, Chris–aka Curly–and their cousin “Bopper.”  (I got a new camera which is slightly different from my old one.  I’m still figuring it out.)

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Nick and some of his pals, all heading to different high schools.

Tuesday, 5:00 am

I signed up for the Richmond Marathon.  I’m following a training plan based on Jeff Galloway‘s method.   I have a coach, Sarah, who is helping me with it.  She helped me train for the Star 10K, the smallest of the races in the Blue Ridge Marathon series.  (That may well be my favorite race I’ve done since I’ve started running.  People ask me all the time which races are on my bucket list, and I’ve never had a specific one.  Now I can say it has to be the Blue Ridge Marathon.  After I run Richmond I’ll let you know if I still want to do it.)

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Mile 1, a view of Mill Mountain.  The 10K is flat for the first mile, then 2 miles to the top, 2 miles to the bottom, and a flat mile to the finish.  Next year I hope to do the half, and eventually–maybe–the full.

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Lots of people stopped to take photos here.

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Roanoke, VA, as seen from the top.

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One of the official photos from the race.  As you can tell, I had a great time and I can hardly wait to run the half next year.

Tuesday, 8:45 am

Already this has the potential to become a very long post.  If I don’t stop now I’ll be here all day, and it will seem to you like I’m rambling.  I’ll check in here again in the next few days and tell you more about the wonderful things we’re celebrating here, starting with more photos from our graduation celebration; pictures of my nephews and my niece (who grow cuter every time I see them), my new love for Instagram and listening to podcasts, TV shows we’re watching and books I’m reading, and of course more of my running adventures.

Blessed am I.  I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

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Blogging and Busyness

But first, What I’ve Been Up To Since My Last Post:

Curly turned sixteen and landed a part-time job at a soft-serve ice cream joint.

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Larry decided to go to Virginia Tech this fall.  For now we prepare for graduation, and he’ll be working at Home Depot this spring and summer.

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We celebrated my dad’s 80th birthday.

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Moe received the Sacrament of Confirmation,

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and played the lead in his school’s production of Aladdin, Jr.

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————————————————————————————————-

It seems that the longer I go between blog posts, the harder it is to write one. Lately I haven’t even taken the time to read many of my favorite blogs, much less post anything on mine.  (I don’t remember the last time I looked at Ginny’s Small Things, one of my all-time favorites.)  I guess working full time, plus my love for running these last (almost) two years have forced me to change the way I spend what little free time I have.  Living in a house with three teenage boys keeps me pretty busy as well.

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My boys, their cousins, and their grandpa

I don’t like that word, “busy.”  I read something maybe a year or so ago–I wish I could remember where–about how people use that word as an excuse.  I don’t have time to pray because I’m too busy.  I can’t find the time to work out because I’m too busy.  It said that people use that word to make themselves feel important and to justify not doing what they ought.  Most of the time, the things we’re busy with are frivolous nonsense and not the things we really need to spend our time doing.  Last year during Lent I tried not to use that word, and let me tell you it wasn’t easy.  I tried to substitute things like, “I’ve been spending so much time on such-and-such” or “I’ve had to focus on thus-and-so”  but I found that it all came back to busyness.

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It takes me a couple of hours to publish one blog post, sometimes more.  By the time I’ve gotten my thoughts together, inserted photos and links, and edited myself (sometimes reading it over and over to make sure it’s exactly right), I’ve spent a pretty big chunk of time in front of my computer.  And for what?  I’m certainly not getting paid.  Meanwhile there is laundry to be folded and errands to be run and work for preschool to be done.  I used to do a lot of blogging late at night, which was okay since I would have time to take a nap the next day.  Not so much anymore (although I will admit that I do allow myself a catnap now and then).

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My handsome hubby at the Formula 1 race in Austin, TX last November.  The ultimate birthday present from his family, and a fun getaway for both of us.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t in any way feel like blogging has been a waste of time.  It’s a good way for me to express my thoughts, celebrate the wonderful gifts God has given me, share my faith, even given me a reason to try new recipes.  Every time I publish a new post, I get compliments from friends.  It’s nice to know people do read it and enjoy it.  I know people who are even more busy than I (there’s that dreadful word again) who manage to find the time to write great posts on a pretty regular basis.  I’ve run across quite a number of running and fitness blogs lately by people (mostly moms–take Katie and Cortney, for example) who have full time jobs, families, responsibilities, who train for marathons and triathlons, AND blog about all those things.  I even tried inserting “blog” into my weekly schedule, but you can see how that’s worked out.

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I take random photos when I run…

School is out this week for Easter break.  We have a smattering of appointments and activities do attend, but mostly I plan to spend a lot of time relaxing and catching up on things I’ve been putting off.  I’ll do some running, too; I’m signed up for a local 15K race this coming Saturday and the Blue Ridge 10K the following weekend.  (I ran with a new running group on Saturday; when I started running little did I realize that not only would I be in better shape, I would make new friends, too!)  I’m using just my phone for pictures these days because my fancy camera that I love so much isn’t in good working order at the moment.  Perhaps I’ll break down and get a new and even better one, and maybe that will inspire me to take more photos; which believe it or not inspires me to blog.

Have a wonderful Easter Week!  I hope I see you here again sooner rather than later! That is, if I’m not too busy…

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And Now It’s Lent…

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–1–

…and once again I’m blogging after a longish hiatus.  One of the things I’m trying to do this Lent is to double down on my New Years’ resolutions, one of which (believe it or not) is to blog more–assuming I have enough interesting things to blog about.  I’ve set aside Mondays as my blogging day, and we’ll see how it goes.  I started this post on Thursday because my regular Thursday night Bible study (which I hope to tell you about sometime) was cancelled because of Ash Wednesday, and the study leader didn’t want to ask us come to church two nights in a row.  (I didn’t make it to Mass on Wednesday anyway so it wouldn’t matter in my case).  Plus we haven’t had school most of this week because of cold and snow and I’ve had a little bit more time.  Perhaps I’ll be back again on Monday.

–2–

LIFE Runners News:  On Wednesday the National LIFE Runners Team kicked off their third(?) annual A-Cross America Relay, running and walking 5,564 miles over the next 40 days.  (The relay coincides with the Spring 40 Days for Life campaign, which are always held between Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday.)   Some people raise money for LIFE Runners’ national beneficiary, the Vitae Foundation and/or their local pregnancy center.  Others put on their LIFE Runners gear and run purely for joy and to raise awareness for the preciousness of all human life.  If you want to see if there is a relay leg near you, or you’d like to sign up to participate, click here!

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(With some LIFE Runners peeps during last year’s relay.  We ran a 5K leg from the U.S. Supreme Court down the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial.  I don’t run with that ugly fanny pack anymore, by the way!)

–3–

Speaking of 40 Days for Life, I’m hoping to take one afternoon this Lent and spend an hour in prayer in front of the Planned Parenthood in Richmond.  It will take some planning on my part, but I did manage to get down there once last fall, so it’s doable.  With the many events on our schedule this spring I only have a few days that I could do it.  Does anyone want to participate with me?

–4–

The March for Life this year was amazing as always.  It’s always energizing to gather with so many thousands of pro-lifers in support of the unborn!  This year I took the bus to the March with a group from my parish church.  On the way I talked to several people about LIFE Runners (yes, I’m shamelessly trying to recruit as many members as I can!), and the gentleman next to me on the bus seemed quite interested.  He and I ended up spending the entire day together.  When we arrived at the Mall and I started looking around for the big blue LIFE Runners banner he helped me find it, and then he seemed quite happy to march with the LIFE Runners most of the way.  When the group stopped to do an interview with EWTN we continued on our way to the Supreme Court.  It’s wonderful to be a part of such an amazing pro-life team!

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–5–

So, what am I doing this Lent?  Well, for one thing, I’m training for the Anthem Star 10K in April (sometimes referred to as the Blue Ridge 10K).  I applaud and admire everyone who runs the marathon (they call it “America’s toughest road marathon”), and even the half marathon–which I was thinking of trying but I decided to start small and run up and down one mountain instead of two.  Thursday was hill training day, and I spent an hour walking about four miles, back and forth up and over the same longish hill.  It was freezing cold, but it was a beautiful walk.  (And I listened to Greg Willits’ new Way of the Cross audio recording, which is very moving and a wonderful Lenten meditation.)

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(My view from the bottom of the hill)

I’m also trying to separate myself from my smartphone, which so far hasn’t gone as well as I hoped.  My plan is to keep it put away between 6 and 9 pm every night, and really limit my use of social media.  And I’m restricting my almost-nightly glass of wine to Fridays and Saturdays.  I might even skip it on those days too.

–6–

We’re celebrating two events in our family this Lent–Moe’s confirmation and my dad’s 80th birthday!  All right, I’ll admit it–this is one reason I’m reluctant to give up wine altogether.  So sue me.  My dad’s birthday celebration will probably be alcohol-free, but Moe’s confirmation party most definitely will not.

–7–

And meanwhile, Christians are getting beheaded and burned alive by Islamic terrorists.  This article puts all that in perspective.  Let’s all pray for peace.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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7 Quick Takes, the What I Haven’t Told You Because I Haven’t Blogged In Months Edition

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–1–

Long time no see, and Merry Christmas!  I’m so out of it that I didn’t even know that “7 Quick Takes” has a brand-new hostess, Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.  I guess it was time for Jenn Fulwiler to pass the baton now that she’s a radio talk show host and a famous author and all (I’m reading her book Something Other Than God now, as a matter of fact).  But she still has a fabulous blog.  And I’m looking forward to delving into Kelly’s blog too, and getting to know her a little better.  (Of course, she’s taking this week off for Christmas, so I have no place to link this up until New Years.  Oh well, it will be a miracle if I get another blog post written by then, anyway.)

–2–

August 21.

That was the last time I posted anything here.  That day, I told you about how my friends and I were planning to run the Hokie Half Marathon in October in memory of our friend, Mary.

Well, we did.  To be specific, two of us ran the half marathon, and another friend ran the 5K with her daughter.  It was truly an amazing weekend, and even though the weather was cold and rainy, it was wonderful to run 13 miles along roads and trails I had grown up exploring, through the neighborhood where Mary and I both lived.  We hope to make it an annual event!

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–3–

Back in May (in yet another post that was my first in several months), I told you I had run my first half marathon.  Every year our city hosts the annual Marine Corps Historic Half, and every year I’ve wondered who on earth would be crazy enough to run a thirteen-mile race.  And people come from all over the place to do it, too.  Now I get it.

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(some prerace silliness)

–4–

The Hokie Half was actually my third half marathon; my second was the Air Force Half in September.

Shortly after I started running and had decided I wanted to try to stick with it, I learned about the Life Runners, an organization dedicated to running for the unborn.  Last year I told you about a 5K I ran with a group from the local chapter I had joined.  Every year the Life Runners hosts several events: a relay across America during Lent, a 5K on the morning of the March for Life, and participates in a national race.  Last fall, over 200 members ran in the Air Force Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K.  Back in January I signed up for the half (which was before registration even opened for the Historic Half.  Needless to say I was a little nervous about registering for my second half marathon before I’d even registered for my first).  Fast forward to September, when I left work early one Thursday and made the eight-hour drive to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  Friday morning I headed to the expo to pick up my packet (and I arrived early enough to hunt for some geocaches nearby), meet up with my friend Marilyn and her husband Chris, take a yoga class, and to purchase a few fun bits of running gear. We made a quick visit to the Air Force museum, and Friday night was the Life Runners pre-race dinner, where I got to meet a lot of fellow Life Runners from all over the country.

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(On the left is Dr. Pat Castle, the president and co-founder of Life Runners.  On the right is the Life Runners banner that the team carries to every event, made by the fabulous Beaner family of South Dakota.)

Race day was amazing; I loved the run (I’m starting to actually like running half marathons!!)  My finish time was 2:19:12, which was 16 minutes and 4 seconds quicker than my Historic Half time.  (Granted, I didn’t have to wait in a 5-minute portapotty line this time, which definitely helped.)  After a shower and a nap at the hotel, I met up with some of the Life Runners for a tour of Elizabeth’s New Life Center, a pregnancy help center right across the street from Dr. Martin Haskell’s late-term abortion clinic.  (He’s the one who invented partial-birth abortion.)  Afterward we headed over to St. Helen’s in Riverside, Ohio for the Saturday vigil Mass (and a group photo), and one final dinner together at the Golden Corral before we all headed our separate ways on Sunday.

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(Marilyn and I after finishing the race.  I want you to know that I’ve ditched that ugly fanny pack for a real running belt–in fact, I think I ran with my new belt that day and switched them out afterward.)

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 What a fantastic weekend, and I hope to reconnect with some of my fellow Life Runners at the March for Life Jan. 22!

–5–

When I visit new churches, I like to take photos of them in hopes of posting some of them here.  For me it’s kind of like a pilgrimage to attend Mass while I’m traveling.  So here are my photos of St. Helen’s,

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St. Luke’s in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania (Fourth of July weekend, when we went to the Indy Car race at Pocono Speedway),

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and St. Stephen’s in Boston, on the last evening of our trip to New England. (Happy Feast of St. Stephen, by the way!)

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–6–

Over the summer I had planned on posting more vacation photos and blogging more about our adventures last June in New England. (If you want you can check out what we did in Vermont here and here.)   In Maine, we rented a house on Moosehead Lake, where it poured for the first two days.  We went on a hike in the pouring rain–and I’m pretty sure Joe sent me the photos he took that day on his phone but for the life of me I can’t find them on my computer.  The rain did let up enough that we could paddle around a little bit in the canoe we had rented.

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Once the sun finally came out we took a pleasant pontoon boat ride to look for moose–we didn’t see any, but it was a LOVELY ride nonetheless!

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We then headed for Boston with a quick stopover in Portland.  We took a tour of Fenway Park, walked all over Boston on the Freedom Trail, went to Mass at St. Stephen’s, and the next morning we headed home.  Where will our next annual summer adventure take us?  Hmmm…..

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(at the Portland Observatory, above)

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–7–

My blogging came to a screeching halt once school started, and I can’t guarantee that won’t happen again.  I’m hoping to carve out some time during the second half of the school year for a little bit of blogging, though; wish me luck!  We’ll be preparing for Moe’s confirmation and Larry’s high school graduation (right now is crunch time for him getting his college applications in–another reason I haven’t blogged much I suppose; he’s constantly hogging the computer.  A small price to pay.).  All three boys are involved in their schools’ musical productions (Larry and Curly have small parts in Shrek, and Moe landed the LEAD in Aladdin!), and I’ll be immersed in my teaching job.  I’ll be training for more races, too;  I hope to run at least one half marathon this spring (maybe two), AND…MAYBE…a full marathon in June.  I’ll keep you posted.  Regardless, I’m going to have to learn to tackle hills–I mean REAL hills.  Like, mountains. (People complain about the Historic Half being hilly, but it’s nothing compared to the races I’m contemplating.  It’s not the Pike’s Peak Ascent or the Mount Washington road race or anything like that, but let’s just say they would probably be good training races for those.)  Wish me luck and pray that my legs don’t fall off–and that I can train properly so as to not get injured.  And that I’ll actually be brave enough to sign up for them.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!  (For now I’ll link you to Kelly’s post from last week; hopefully next Friday she’ll have a new one up.  Starting Monday I’ll be concentrating on preparing for the second half of the school year and getting the house cleaned, so I most likely won’t…)

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