The Story of the Marathon—Finishing

Mile 23 marker laughed at me. I could hear that dumb sign laughing at me, so I turned my music up louder. Stayin’ Alive met I will Survive and I chuckled and breathed in deep. The Play List saves and then it doesn’t. The day I trained for 20 miles was the longest run of my life. I planned out the hours. First, I’ll listen to music. Then I’ll listen to a podcast. Then I’ll go back to music, and so on and so on. I remember getting to 15 miles in that training run, and I was just plain tired of listening to anything. Just as I was yanking out my ear buds, I saw a guy on a bike getting close to me. I didn’t pay much attention until he slowed down and rode right with my running pace. It was my friend Dave from the runners club. I laughed as I breathed out and told him how much further. He asked me about my nutrition and reminded me to eat a gel at that point. I got one out and started to chew on it. He kept talking and talking. I released him from having to ride with me, but I think he knew that I was struggling. He encouraged me to do some stride outs to fix my gait, and I did and it helped. I hadn’t realized how tight I was. I finished that 20 miles feeling pretty good thanks to help from a fellow runner. Sometimes you just need some help.

I shook my head and was blinking back to the present. I was passing a medical tent, and there were two runners inside injured with medical people helping them. The agony on their faces was tough to take and not at all about a foot or a calf of which each was holding. I felt their agony of being so close, and it sunk down deep into me that their race was over. And then I saw mile marker 24 and I realized… race was not over. I glanced down at my watch; adrenaline shot through me. My tired legs began to find some rhythm; I began to feel everything and nothing all at the same time.

The race path turned left and then left and then we were back in the city; the side lines began to crowd up and the race path began to narrow. I became aware of how soaked I was from four hours of sweating and working and rubbing and struggling and chafing. I had to shake that off….just a little further. The crowds cheered and the words they produced collectively invigorates.

And there it was—mile 25. My heart jumped….one more mile! The sobered, pain aware part of me reminded me of the .2 miles that I had left off in my excited heart-jump. The inside mind conversations that I have are one of my favorite parts about running long distances. Suddenly I knew, I had a lot left in this body. I could go farther. Farther than 1.2 more miles. But how far? I didn’t know….but I knew at that point I conserve a lot on the unknown possibility of running out.

I began to stretch out my stride. I ripped out my ear buds and shoved them in my little pouch. I breathed in and out. My arms stretched out. My feet and legs hesitated at first, but then they too found their rhythm in my breathing. My feet pounded the ground. I couldn’t feel them. I just ran. It felt so good to run. What a funny thing to think on that last mile! It feels good to run!

And then it was there and I could see it and I couldn’t believe it and then I was through that finish line and trying to wrap my head around it.

But my feet were slowing down, and tears were running down my face. And everyone was telling me great job, you did it! A race worker held my arm gently to stop me and put my medal around my neck. I was holding it and crying and grinning like a fool. And we all were ushered inside and someone took my photo. I called my family who were at a rodeo in Uvalde and cried and yelled that I did it. They were all so excited. And then someone handed me an ice cream sandwich and I ate it. I went in the T-shirt line and received my finisher shirt. Someone handed me a chocolate milk and I drank it. I felt happy and stiff and automatic and unreal all at once.

I kept moving until I found my sister in law. She had been in the medical tent. She had not had a good race, but she was dealing with it. She was happy for me. I had exceeded my own expectations for my time. We hugged and cried together. And then we picked up her shirt. After cleaning up, we had a big meal together before heading home. It was a great end to a long training and a long race.

When’s your next one? I hear a lot and I even heard it that day. But I wouldn’t even think about it. I let myself just bask in that finish line. I mean, you know what it meant to cross it, right?

But you also know it wasn’t really about the finish line.

All the way on the drive home, I squinted hard into all that training, all that sweating, and all that planning….trying to find the moment I learned the most, or I accomplished the most or I was humbled the most. And its like I couldn’t describe a piece of this experience without all the other pieces, and I wouldn’t trade one for the other. I learned so much…about me, about limits, from the road, from podcasts, about running, about life, from other runners, about breathing, and so many more things.

The first marathoner (in the history books) died at the end of his race having delivered the message he needed to give. So, let’s go on a race, shall we? A race to give the message we are meant to give. I assure you…every piece will be worth something in the end.


The Story of the Marathon Part 2

So, I guess I’m still at the 10K mark right? You’ll have to forgive the delay. Blame it on rodeo. Seriously. We are in the State Finals right now. Serious business. Here’s the map so you can get my drift.


The 10K sign was welcomed, and I found myself in rhythm with the road. I was watching my running watch pretty close, and I was happy with my pace. I relaxed into the run, and I began to observe first the surroundings and the atmosphere. It was a nice view as we ran out of the downtown area and into the city. It was humid and the coolness was dissipating.

At this point I started to notice the other runners around me. There was a younger lady a little in front of me who was keeping a nice pace. There was a purple haired gal to the left of me. I saw the packages of nutrition gels on the ground in front of me. I noticed the middle aged guy who was keeping my pace with me. I smiled. We were all in this together.

Suddenly there were signs and workers pointing to the signs of the course separation between the half-marathoners and the wholes. “We are the Champions” began playing in my ear buds from my carefully crafted race list. I waved to the halves and turned right with the wholes. I felt a little pride that I was moving on from that race distance to this new goal. I felt strong as I pulled out an energy gel to take in. I was glad for the advice my new friends in the Runner’s Club had given me about nutrition. I didn’t want to become depleted of electrolytes, and gels and water seem to work well for me.

When I reached the half marathon distance, I remembered my very first Half-Marathon Race a few years ago and how accomplished I had felt when I ran the Tyler Rose Half Marathon in memory of my mom. I thought about the year I ran the half marathon in Dallas and how sick I was that day and how my ankle was badly bruised and taped up. I had a good time that day even though I had to use my inhaler to get through.

Half way there rang through my mind, and I was excited and energized by how my muscles were performing. Then I reached the 14 mile mark, and I remembered my 14 mile training run. I had started in the park and run 7 miles with the runner’s club, grateful for the conversation with new friends. The last 7 I had looped around the park and our downtown in the cold wet, and I was slow and sluggish and feeling like I didn’t fit in marathon training. And yet, somehow I had continued to train through the sluggish, through sickness, through rain and ice, through kids’ schedules, and on and on.

I heard my name, “C’mon Katie! Let’s go Katie! You’re doing great!” a crowd member cheered to me. I looked down and saw my name on my bib. I looked back up grinning like a fool and found tears coming to my eyes. Wow. Encouragement. Never underestimate the power. Or the power of the moment you need it and don’t even know.

And then I was beside them. I had seen her earlier, the runner with the jogging stroller. But, I hadn’t looked on or really seen her. And all of a sudden, we were running together. She kept one hand on the stroller and reached down to adjust the sunshade on the man in the stroller. He looked like he had maybe cerebral palsy or something similar. At this point we are at the 15 mile marker, and I marveled at her strength. He looked tired too, and he pushed his neck over to look at me. His eyes met mine, and he smiled big. It was the biggest smile I’ve ever seen and the most encouragement I’ve ever received. Tears fell down my cheeks and it took me a moment to feel them. I was overwhelmed by gratefulness. I was still running, and I said thank you to the lady pushing my new friend. She gave me a thumbs up and said, “We are all going to cross that finish line, right?” I nodded.

I flashed back at my attempt 15 years ago to run a mile with a jogging stroller with a baby in it. How weak I was. How easily I gave up. How lazy I was.

I wondered but I knew in my heart how she was doing it. Determination, commitment, discipline, love. It’s all you need.

To be continued….

Down the Road

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I haven’t quite abandoned my list of things that I am grateful for, but I’ve been a pretty big slacker in writing about them. As I have jumped into several new life adventures recently, my blogging time has become limited. I’m figuring out how to juggle it all, and this place of writing continues to be a great outlet for me. I am thankful for all of you who take your time to read this little blog. It’s been a fun journey down the road, and no worries! It will continue. Thank you so much for your faithful readership as we begin the third year of alwayssimplybegin.

The list continues to grow:

688. You….thanks for reading. Love ya!

689. This precious girl who goes horseback with her silly mom for the afternoon. She has a future as a comedian, I think, especially when she says things like “Mom, you don’t have to tell us not to squeeze the Caprisuns anymore when you give them to us. Cause we’ve been hearing that for years.”

690. Ponies in training by Claire. (Sounds like a business, doesn’t it? Maybe someday.)

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691. New saddle pads

692. figuring out rodeo standings with my mother-in-law….we can work the numbers baby! Well, until we realized someone got a penalty which threw our placings off and made all the ten minutes we spent working the numbers a big waste. E for Effort!

693. Finding my way through in a new job.

694. Downton Abbey….sorry for this one, but I really can’t help myself. Plus, I wish I was the Dowager Countess because she gets all the good lines.

695. Taco soup

696. Brains. I’m learning about brains for my graduate class. It’s hurting my brain to learn about brains. Just thought you should know.

697. Epiphanies. Did you know it was Epiphany Sunday this week? We really shouldn’t sing “We Three Kings” until January, but no one wants to sing Christmas songs in January. I’m against it myself. But, the story of Christmas keeps going, and we all need that reminder. Hey, speaking of that, tomorrow, I’m posting a Christmas story that Maile (our ten-year-old) wrote. It’s time for Kid’s Writing Corner to make a comeback, people.

698. Guinea pig double chin. They jiggle in a furry sort of way. I’m not kidding.

699. Blue skies and bright sun on a winter’s day.

Join me in giving thanks!

Resolving…this year

Oh, 2013, I’ve really been waiting for you, but I don’t know how to resolve after this year.

I really don’t. Do you?

Have you ever had a year that pulled the rug out from under you?

Last year, it was More or Less.

And now, I just don’t know. But, the more I’ve thought about it, 2012 did teach me some pretty important things. I think I am going to resolve to remember them.

Oh, you know I’m going to share with you. Here we go:

Who needs a rug anyways?

Good questions are better than answers.

God is always present.

There can be bright joy in sorrow.

The worst moment can be the best moment.

That sun does rise in the morning, Thanks be to God.

Sometimes dreams come true. Oh, and I mean the good ones. 🙂

I will always miss my Mother. I’m okay with it. Today.

My sister-in-law has the same birthday as the Gangnum style guy.

Dying is methodical and mysterious.

I love the Grand Tetons.

And contributions from the family:

From Matt: A family with a strong foundation will blah blah blah cheeseball poop on a plate. (Mr. Smarty-pants)

From Anna: I truly appreciate everything we have.

From Maile: Sometimes it’s hard to let people go.

From Lydia: I’m gonna write a book.

From Claire: I’m in bed with a fever so I cannot comment.

PS. I went to get donuts in my pajamas this morning. No, I didn’t go inside. Drive-through PJs only. I just thought you should know.

Happy New Year!


Yes, it’s the day after tomorrow. I already know what you were working on today. Don’t scoff. I know your list. It goes something like this:

Step 1. Do something with the extra trash and recycling filling up everywhere.

Step 2. Clean out, clean up, clean something. Observe what was under the couch. Take bets on what it is. Watch the dog eat your observation. Ew.

Step 3. Sit for a minute. Christmas is over. Breathe out. You made it.

Step 4. Look at work. See what missing Monday and Tuesday did to you.

Step 5. While surveying the work scene, finally hear the tenth whine that there is no milk for breakfast and the guinea pigs crying, “Hey Lady, we ain’t got no more dry food.”  Blink, nod, take off your slippers and stumble to Target.

Step 6. Observe others looking just like you in your sexy unbrushed pony tail and baggy jeans shuffling through Target. Pass just a little judgment on the lady in front of you for filling her cart with Christmas decorations.

Step 7. For just a second,start thinking about the New Year’s resolution you should have. And…shut it down. We are not ready for that yet.

Step 8. Gather the exchanges. Ugh. You can never find jeans that fit people in this house.

Step 9. Yell at the after-Christmas-grouchy children to quit yelling at each other. Separate people. Threaten little people. Make sisters say one nice thing to each other.

Step 10. Regret electronic purchases and mention something about mushy brains and people needing Vitamin D.

Step 11. Go to work. Do some work. Feel better. Make some lists. Get distracted.

Step 12. Burn some fish sticks. Tell your kids, “Your mom burns fish sticks.” (Hey, they laughed, too.)

Step 13. Go to bed early. Tomorrow is coming.


Sunday Confession

1. My children might be entrepreneurs. Lydia (6 years old) told me on the way home this afternoon that she thinks we should open a Pop-Tart store. We would only sell Pop-Tarts. Oh, and toys. I said, “Yes, but I don’t think anyone would come because you can get Pop-Tarts at any old store.” She said, “Yes, but ours would be only  Pop-Tarts and there would be millions of them. Kids like Pop-Tarts, Mom. A lot. It would work. I’m telling you–a dozen people would come!” I just smiled. She has big ideas. They are adorable.

2. My baby nephew (3 months) seemed to be paying a lot of attention to the sermon this morning. He wasn’t making a peep, and my sister-in-law kept taking him out. Turns out, he was being creative during the sermon too.

3. Tomorrow we embark on an adventure called Horse Camp. It will be filled with fun, dirt, horses, manure, sweaty kids, and dirt. We would appreciate your prayers.

4. We went on a date last night. It was lovely. I recommend it.

5. My eyebrows grow together.

6. I love to get up for church on Sundays.

7. We talk to guinea pigs around here. Sometimes. A lot of times. Okay, I say, “Good Morning, Piggies!” everyday.

8. Most issues or problems usually stem from a deeper issue. Instead of saying, “I’m bad for wanting this or doing this” we should ask, “What is the real issue here? What void am I trying to fill?” For example: Daily Humiliations.

9. Our Yoga challenged deflated. June is not the month for this apparently. We have done yoga more than normal, but not every day. Sorry to disappoint. I feel better now that you know.

10. From our dinner table behavior tonight, I have concluded that we could use a Manners Trainer here. I guess I’ll have to do a better job.Also, reading the Bible together does not equate good manners either. Sometimes it’s fun and meaningful. Sometimes it’s not. Toss-up. Still good though.

11. When people in this house do someone I don’t like, I have been saying firmly, “You’re fired.” Everyone is confused about this except me. It makes me feel better.