I Love Racing. I Hate Racing.

Death affects us all in different ways, doesn’t it?  Shock, anger, and sadness are what come to mind today.  Yesterday when I learned of the horrific murder of the two journalists on live TV, I was shocked.  WDBJ7 was the station where I got all my news, from childhood through college, until my early twenties when I moved out of state.  I could well have been watching when the shooting took place. My heart breaks for their families.  Why do people kill other people?  I just don’t understand it.

We were watching when Dan Wheldon was killed in Las Vegas.  Granted, we had recorded the last race of the season, in October 2011, and had stayed off social media all afternoon to avoid spoilers.  We stayed up late that night watching what was supposed to be an exciting race but turned out to be a solemn vigil, waiting to learn the fate of one of the most popular drivers in the series.  Part of me wanted to run and check Twitter for a live update, but I wanted to hang on to the hope that Dan would be OK, and to pray.

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(Dan in Richmond, June 2005.  He had won the Indy 500 a month earlier.  Everyone wanted to talk to him.)

There was plenty of blame to go around: There were too many cars in the field, the track was too fast for those cars, the cars weren’t safe enough, etc. etc. etc.  Some positive changes were made, and the next season found us watching the races as usual, and keeping our tradition of attending at least one race every year.  This year was no different.

We almost didn’t go to Pocono last weekend.  Chris was scheduled to work on Saturday evening, and had been calling and texting coworkers to try and find someone to take his shift.  We had a Plan B, which was to go to Mass on Saturday night after Chris got off work and drive to Virginia International Raceway on Sunday for a sports car race there.  Chris found someone to work for him, though, and off we went.  (I would have gone to the Planned Parenthood rally in Richmond on Saturday.  Instead I was driving north toward Pennsylvania, looking forward to gawking at race car drivers later that day.)

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(Scott Dixon.  I wonder if he was looking at me?!?)

Why do we go to races?  They’re fun, that’s why.  They’re exhilarating.  (After Dan Wheldon died I wrote about how I became a racing fan in a blog post, which you can find here).  We’ve made some great memories over the past ten years:  Chris having his picture taken with Tony Kanaan; spending a weekend with good friends in the Finger Lakes in 2009 and going to the race at Watkins Glen (Justin Wilson won that race); staying with my dear friend from high school in 2010 for the weekend when we attended the race at Mid-Ohio; going to the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 and getting to see Tony Kanaan take the checkered flag and drink the milk.  We were making good memories at this race, too, even though it’s the first time we’ve been to a race without Matt, who is off to college.

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(Biggest grin I’ve ever seen on that kid.)

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(Justin Wilson wins at Watkins Glen)

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(The Mother of all races, 2013)

After the crash near the end of Sunday’s race, the one that would take Justin Wilson’s life, it wasn’t fun anymore.  We weren’t particularly interested in who would win, or who was going to win the championship.  Thankfully we couldn’t see the crash scene very well from where we were sitting, but the mood of the crowd turned somber very quickly.  All I could pray in that moment was, “Please, Lord, no more deaths.”  We watched as the helicopter took off toward the hospital with Justin inside, hoping and praying that he would be all right.  Ray speculated that maybe he just had a concussion and they wanted to take him to the hospital for closer observation.  I hoped that was the case as well, but of course it wasn’t.  On the ride home, all I could think about was Justin and his wife and kids and his mom and dad and brother.  As Ray drove, I obsessively checked Twitter for updates.  And prayed.  On Monday when we learned that Justin had passed, we asked each other why we go to races.  We said maybe we should start going to smaller, less popular race events instead, like sports car races or American Le Mans.  I learned to love Indy Car racing, and could learn to love those as well.  We’ll see.  It’s too soon.

Sometimes death comes before our time, and rarely does it happen on live TV.  We’ve seen too much of that this week.  Please, no more deaths.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

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Another Boy!

When I was pregnant with Matt, our oldest, we decided not to find out if he was a boy or a girl until his birth.  We kind of suspected that he was a boy because at one of our ultrasound appointments, the technician remarked to the doctor, “They don’t want to find out the sex. But WE know, don’t we??” Ha ha.  Needless to say, we weren’t all that surprised when after a difficult labor (I. Don’t. Even.) the doctor said, “You have a boy!”  The next thing she asked me was, “What’s the baby’s name?”  We already had a boy’s name picked out: “Matthew.”

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With Chris and Nick, we found out they were boys at their 20-week ultrasounds, and had even named them by the time they were born.  “It’s a boy!” were joyful words we were blessed to hear, before and after their births.

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On Friday I heard about the latest video from The Center for Medical Progress that reveals more barbarism from that despicable organization called Planned Parenthood.  Listening to clips on the radio, my blood ran cold when I heard the voice of a medical assistant who was dissecting little babies gleefully announce, “Another boy!”  I heard that voice echoing in my head as I tried to go to sleep and I could still hear it when I woke up.  Yesterday I finally was able to bring myself to watch, and it made my stomach turn.  She’s poking at the mangled remains of a baby in a petri dish, for God’s sake.  (This takes place after a discussion with the medical director of a large Planned Parenthood clinic about how they can sell baby body parts for profit and make it look like they’re not.  Tell me that isn’t human trafficking.)

Watch this video and then tell me that Planned Parenthood is doing good work, that they’re helping women.  Tell me that those of us who are sickened by people casually discussing the prices of baby body parts over wine and salad–and those who were brave enough to go undercover to expose Planned Parenthood’s sick agenda–are anti-choice extremists.  Tell me you aren’t sickened by what you see and hear.  Watch this, this, and this.  If you still stand by Planned Parenthood, if you believe Cecile Richards when she says they don’t profit from the sale of body parts, if you believe those who say Planned Parenthood is a good and necessary entity for the health and well-being of women, then God help you.

Enough is enough. On Monday there will be a vote in the Senate to de-fund Planned Parenthood and support legitimate health providers.  Contact your senators and urge them to support S.1881.  And most important of all, pray.

Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, thrust into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

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LIFE Runners Creed:  We believe in the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. We run as a Prayer, to defend children in the womb, so that they may be born and united with our Christian community. We run to build Endurance, for the race is long and we must keep our eyes fixed on You Lord. We run for Awareness, so our culture will view all human life as a reflection of Your glory Lord. We run for Charity, to provide support for mothers and fathers tempted to abort their child, and healing support for post-abortion  women, men and families.  We run to End abortion, for Christ died so that all may live.  Guard us all, born and unborn, with Your PEACE, Lord.  For in You, life is victorious. We pray and run in Your name, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Jesus, Mary, and Scott Jurek

I’d never heard of him until recently.  I’ve only been familiar with a handful of legendary runners over the course of my life, and paid attention to some of them during the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.  I remember watching Joan Benoit crush her opponents in the first ever Olympic Women’s marathon, amazed that anyone could run that far.  I’d say she was the first runner to inspire me–but not enough to get me actually running.  (Remember the drama between Mary Decker and Zola Budd?  Jackie Joyner and her fingernails?  And if you don’t know who Bruce Jenner is you’ve been living under a rock.)

This morning I ran six and a half miles with my friend who has never run more than a 10K until today.  She’s had some issues with her knees, and even though we stopped a few times for her to stretch them, she insisted on completing the 6 miles we had planned and then some.  To me that’s inspiring.

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(From our run this morning, on a path I hadn’t explored until today.)

So earlier this summer I learned of Scott Jurek’s attempt to break the speed record on the Appalachian Trail.  Since then I’ve been following on Instagram and Facebook, and reading updates from Runner’s World.  Just the other day I learned that he was on track to finish his epic journey today on Katahdin in Maine, and if he did break the record it wouldn’t be by much.  Since I got home from my run, I’ve been obsessively checking his progress via Twitter and Delorme (good thing we already decided to wait until 5pm to go to Mass), and sending up prayers:  St. Peter and St. John, go with him. St. Padre Pio, go with him. (Padre Pio helped Pat Castle, the founder of LIFE Runners, finish the Pikes Peak ascent a few years ago.)  St. Francis, lover of the outdoors, go with him.  St. John Paul II, go with him.  Joseph and Mary, go with him.  And I can’t help but offer up prayers for him as I pray the Rosary.

I have an app called “Simple Rosary Companion,” and each mystery comes with ten little reflections that form a narrative of that particular event in Jesus’ life.  As Jesus ascends the Mount of Olives with Mary and the apostles, I think of Scott ascending the last few miles to the top of Mt. Katahdin, with his wife and support team and who knows who else by his side.  “What jubilation there must be amid the angels of heaven at the triumphant entry of Jesus.”  The celebration that will follow Scott’s epic finish today will pale in comparison to that party in Heaven!  I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen Scott on the last part of his journey.  And this:  “As Mary enters heaven, the entire court of heaven greets with joy this masterpiece of God’s creation.  Mary is crowned by her divine Son as Queen of Heaven and Earth.”  Scott never saved anyone from their sins or bore the Son of God, but he did work long and hard for this.  Being crowned King of the Appalachian Trail is a pretty cool feat, I’d have to say!  Earlier I was having a conversation on Twitter with someone about how great it would be for someone to capture the last moments of Scott’s journey on video, but for Scott it’s probably the last thing he wants.

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(Chris and Nick and I walked a tiny section of the AT last week.  We’re hoping to hike another, hopefully less tiny, section tomorrow.)

On Friday, members of LIFE Runners learned of the death of Ed Heigl.  Ed was voted LIFE Runner of the Year award a couple of years ago.  I was always amazed and inspired by his perseverance, how he kept on running despite being in the advanced stages of cancer.  He offered up his suffering for the unborn, for the mothers and fathers who were considering abortion, and for healing for those who are affected by abortion.  I had hoped to meet him last September when the LIFE Runners converged on the Air Force Marathon in Ohio, but health issues prevented him from traveling.  Recently he went to Lourdes, and I looked in awe of the photos of Ed praying, smiling, and laughing with the people he loved.  Talk about inspiring!

Scott is only a couple of miles from the top of Mt. Katahdin, and he’ll probably finish before I’m done with this post.  My heart is pounding, and my stomach is in knots.  And I really secretly do hope someone captures it on video.

Ed Heigl, go with him.

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7 Quick Takes Volume 21: Sports Photographer In Da House

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Last Sunday we enjoyed a game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.  I brought my new camera with the telephoto lens, and Chris asked if he could take some photos.  While I sat and chatted with my friend who was visiting from Pittsburgh for the weekend about the food selection and Bryce Harper’s naked photo shoot, Chris had a field day with the camera.  I commented at one point that he sure was taking a lot of pictures, and when we got home I discovered he had taken over 450 photos.  Since I haven’t posted here in a couple of weeks (Father Roderick says if you only post to your blog every two weeks, people won’t read it), I thought it would be fun to share some of those photos here.  He wants to be a computer engineer, but sports photography could be a calling.

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“Throw it here, Bryce!”

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Yikes, Danny, don’t get picked off first!

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–4–

As I was going through the hundreds of photos and editing them, Chris insisted that cropping them was unnecessary and it ruined the photos.  He started explaining something about the “rule of thirds,” which I’ve never heard of.  I know nothing about photography, apparently.

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–5–

I did, however, crop this one.  I think it looks pretty good.  I’m sure Chris would disagree.

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–6–

He hates this one.  I think it’s great.  It’s art.

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–7–

And, of course, the Presidential Race.  Teddy won.  He’s not in the photo because, well, I guess he was so far ahead.

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Tomorrow Chris and Ray plan to spend the day on the ham radio.  There’s a contest of some sort, and they can be quite competitive.  I’ll do a little running and visit the farmers’ market, but other than that I have nothing on my agenda.  Except Mass on Sunday of course!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.  Kelly is in Charleston this week for the Edel gathering for Catholic women, but you can take a look at her and others’ posts from last week.  Have a great weekend!

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UPDATE!!  This week’s 7 Quick Takes is hosted by Bonnie at her blog, A Knotted Life.  Check it out here!

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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.

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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.

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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?)

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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

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I wish I could see them more often.

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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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