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…..my 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.

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The story of 30 Days-

Yes, we are playing the Oregon Trail. Three of the girls are still alive. Also I just died in the game so now I can blog. Hey so instead of being perfectionist and all that I’m just going to post every day for 30 days. Cool, huh? Probably not but I’m inspired by a podcast about this 30 Days of New Things. And I’m in. But with writing. Oh no, there’s only two girls left on the Oregon Trail. At least they’re splitting their supplies to survive. With teamwork evidenced, I’m going to sleep!

P.S. You should play board games with your kids. It teaches patience. Also you laugh a lot. Then you wonder about the level of competition that has been passed on. 

The Year of the Story

The Story of the Blog

You want to know why I started this whole blog thing? I really just needed a place to write creatively. Without a template. Without word counts. Without anyone directing my writing. And it worked.

I wrote. And I read other people’s blogs. And I was sincere. And I began to tell you my story. And I worked on it. It was fun. It wasn’t easy. I tried advertising on it. I tried lots of ways to tag and categorize and link. It grew. and lots of people read it. My best years for the blog traffic were 2012 and 2013.

And then I acquired a book contract. And I went back to school. And I started working more. And my family became busier and older and busier. And my capacity to blog decreased. And the years went on. My book was published in 2015, and I was so very grateful for my time here that helped that project to be a success.

This will be my 8th year to blog here. My many other responsibilities and ventures get me thinking of shutting it down, but I haven’t been able to close the book on it. So, here we are again. You, me, the internet. My thoughts and abilities and words and ideas connecting somehow to you out there.

One of the connections I make with you is that you know from my stories that parenting can be very fun and that I’m a real person with struggles and heartache. Also, my faith is real, but I’m not interested in shouting about anything. I’ve never taken a political stance on here, but I’m not saying I never will. It’s been important to me to keep the connection open and not distract with shock or awe or anger. Another thing you need to know about me is that I write from inward, and it’s been right lately to keep things close.

The story of the blog goes on in 2017. For, I’m going to do a little exploring with my writing in some different ways. You get to be part of this experiment. Little by little we’ll see if we can make this thing work as part of the ongoing forward path of my life now. Be prepared for more intensity. Or less. Know that I may tell some other folk’s stories. Maybe I’ll tell yours.

I’ll do my best to keep things concise and interesting. And you do your best to read it. I don’t just want to tell you stories though. I want to connect in a way to assist, to inspire, to show the possibility of greatness that is in all of us.

In two weeks, I will be running a marathon instead of writing at this very moment and it will be hard. But, I have trained and built slowly up to this point. I have discovered my body can be stretched and pained and pushed to perform but not without rest, planning, and fuel. Writing is the same, and I am ready to move towards greatness…so are you.

Happy Blog Anniversary!

Guess what!

Alwayssimplybegin is 5 years old!!! Happy Anniversary everybody! 

For those of you who have been reading since the beginning, thanks for sticking with me through posts of thick and thin, many and none, funny and sad, weird and sane. You’re real pals. For those of you who just started reading. Hi! Thanks for wasting a little time with me! This blog led me to lots of ideas, character building moments, and took my writing to a new place.

Five is pretty independent. Plus, when you’re five you have to go to school. Here’s your first book for school. 🙂

Yep, this is my book, Place Value. Have you read it yet? Go buy it and read it already. Then we can have a chat about it. Just go. Buy it.

To celebrate my blogiversary, I’m sharing this photo from my first book signing. I love this photo. I’m pretty excited in the pic…if you didn’t notice. Also, there’s another author next to me. I think he had done the book signing thing before. Pretty sure. I think I was annoying him. I had a lot of little fans around me.

Isn’t it fun to think of where we could go in five years? Oh, the places!!! Let’s go!

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Mount Washburn, Yellowstone National Park

Pets, Pork and Book Signings


  

So, I have a question: sometimes you have to go to an unexpected funeral at the end of a heavy work week in the middle of writing curriculum at the end of summer while you are on day 63 of P90x3 with your oldest daughter (working out every single day) in the midst of the week of your local book signing. So, you’re distracted a lot. Your kids are soaking up their last bit of lazy at your house’s expense, your bathroom needs a good AJAX scrubbing, and you have callousy-flip-flop feet. I’ll bet you don’t know what AJAX is. Go ask your mom.

You call your big kids from work and ask them to take out the ribs from the freezer feeling good about remembering the dinner plan. But, you have church first and your last appointment at work goes well but longer than you thought. You rush in to get the kids for church and see the meat on the counter they pulled out for you. It ain’t ribs. And you forgot about this mystery meat wrapped in white paper. So, you turn it over, and it’s a pork shoulder from a wild pig your neighbor shot last year and generously shared. I love that neighbor. Except I didn’t receive any bounty from the hunting this year, so I don’t know what that means. And your feet hurt. But you have a book out, so that’s something.

What do you do?

It sounds like a bad riddle. Not clever at all. Here’s the answer:

Deep breaths help. Dude. Just take that pork shoulder, slap in it the oven with some olive oil and garlic salt, and go to church. You need to go to church anyways. Then when you get home, eat it with your kids (the ones who don’t know what ribs are, apparently). Then just sit and enjoy your family. That’s where it is anyways. Sit on the floor. All your pets will come see you. Then you’ll realize you’ve been so busy to even notice them much. And it’s fun because your kids will decide to do a photo shoot with you and the pets and then everyone is smiling even the oldest dog. If you’re lucky, you might have a little dance party with the kids before cleaning the kitchen.

And then there’s the book signing (Yay!), so maybe you should paint your toes, maybe, probably, definitely. And get some sleep because there is yet another workout tomorrow. Also, you can have ribs tomorrow.

What I Need to Write

1. Memories…and not just in the corners of my mind…not that my mind has corners…my head is round, isn’t yours?
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2. Good memories that might be happy and sad all at the same time. Happy Birthday Mama!
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3. Inspiration and wishes. This was her last birthday with us. Hope she is celebrating today. We are. So glad she was born.
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4. A good candle.

5. A cup of tea, of course. Perhaps a biscuit. But there aren’t any account of our healthy eating right now.

6. A sense of adventure.
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7. Support.
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On Quoting and Blogs (A Repost from the Archives)

So, I’m doing a little revamping around here since the old book is fin. Anna and I found this post I wrote a few months ago, and we laughed a lot. So, I decided to repost it for you while you are waiting not so patiently for me to finish my not so presto change-o. Enjoy!

Quoting on WordPress is weird. You can quote me on that. It looks like this.

But then you have to stop the quote. It’s like stopping the press. I’m picking up more quotes this week than the junk laying around my house. It’s been fun. Did you ever stop and think bloggers have it together? I think there are a million jillion killian blogs out there in the world. Lots. Heaps and heaps. I went to Australia once. They said heaps  a lot. They don’t say bunches. They say heaps and other words like yonks. I liked it there. Anyways, sometimes I feel like we (bloggers) are all trying to offer you advice. Maybe not. Many are just offering assistance or pleasantries or lists or their two bits. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of advice. We can sound like we have it all together. I’d like to break the barrier between us and tell you something. Nope. No. We don’t. We do not have it all together.

I’ll start by telling you about the hair balls under my bed. I dropped my work name tag somewhere in my room and got down on the floor to look. You could weave a rug with all the dust and hair and dog hair under there. Yep. It’s nasty. I commented on it. Then, I put my coat on and went to work and left that hairball to gather more bulk. Also, I don’t bathe my dogs enough. And last night was one of the worst dinners I ever made. I was dishing it out and everyone was asking me what smells so bad. I was talking up this bean soup that Mattea gave me and all I had to do was warm up and couldn’t understand all the fussing until I took my first bite. Ugh. It was so gross. I had burned the tar out of it. Burned kale all in that bean soup. Close your eyes and picture how my hairball house smelled. Maile went outside. I had a loaf of wheat French bread I had warmed too, and the girls watched me amused trying to wipe the burnt nasty off my tongue with a big piece of bread. I kept eating it. I wanted to be a good example which brings me to my first quote. They were yelling at me to stop eating it. I was cringing with every bite.

Waste not, want not.

I chimed this and Maile said:

Well, I want not any of that soup, so I’m good. And please don’t eat any more of it Mom!

We’ve been doing a lot of math homework around here lately. It’s been a little painful. I just want you to know I win the prize for the best in long-division in our family. 🙂 I was thanking everyone for my accomplishment, and then I told the girls that I wasn’t great at math in school but I loved division. I also had a great relationship with algebra. I got along great with fractions and decimals, but geometry and I just didn’t work out. I told them I didn’t find trigonometry attractive, but I did connect with elementary analysis. And then one of my daughters stopped me and said:

Whoa, whoa. What is trigonometry…is that like shapes?

And then I had a little doubt moment with our public school system. And then I remembered homeschooling Anna. And then I remembered how much I love public school. But, sometimes we still teach at home. Tonight we had a political science lesson. We watched the STOU address with the kids tonight. Lydia came in and asked me to tell her who the men were behind the President. She ran out of the room and came back with the Wii microphone and kept getting in front of the television. We were fussing at her and then I realized she was holding the microphone out for John Boehner. “What are you doing?” I asked.

She giggled all sparkly and said:

Well, you said he is the Speaker, but he won’t speak!

We all laughed. I still can’t believe she’s so funny because she didn’t talk much her first few years of life. Before bouncing back out of the room she said:

I want to be the President! Hey! I’m going to be the first girl President everybody!

You go, girl. Go on now.

We always have clothing issues. I can’t keep up with all these little bodies growing. Claire doesn’t like to give up the clothes she likes even if they are too little, and Maile’s legs keep growing. We were talking about their jeans this week, and Maile said:

I guess we all wear high-waters now. You like my high-waters? I’m waitin’ for a flood, Mom!

I appreciate her comedic responses more than I can tell you. And don’t worry we are getting new jeans. Anna couldn’t find the right socks the other day and this is what she prefaced her groan with:

I know this is like…a first-world problem and all that…but I can’t find the right socks for my Converse.

Um, make that my Converse that she stole. Hmph. I love her. If she’s going to have a global perspective, she can have all my shoes. Well, that’s going a bit too far because I really like some of my shoes. But, you know what I mean; she is growing up. We went to the high school tonight for her 8th grade preview. High School. It was interesting. Her response:

It’s hard to think about the future. It’s so unknown and I don’t like it.

I said: Yes, but the unknown is more real than the known.

And then I paused to take in my own words. She stared at me. I mentioned something about taking hold of the unknown and braving the adventure, but it’s hard. We all hate to acknowledge our lack of control. I’ve been reflecting a lot on this little blog and the point of it and all that mumbo-jumbo. So, let’s be straight with each other. I’m not really here to give you advice. Maybe sometimes, but I’m a little broken just like you. I don’t always scrub my bathtubs as much as I should. I don’t always like doing my kid’s hair. I’m not always content, and I have days just like you where I doubt my faith and I kinda wish I was somewhere else. This is honest space here. We have to laugh. I want to be real. And I want you to know that there are dark spaces that everyone goes through. There is light there too.

And God is here with us in the real unknown.

And not just in quotes.