Tag Archives: running

A Healthier Life…

There was a time in my life that I ate 2 – 3 meals a day at fast food restaurants and smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes a day. I had high cholesterol, that I was convinced couldn’t be controlled without medication, because I just knew it was genetic. If that wasn’t enough my doctor had started testing me for type II diabetes. I was certainly on a path of destruction and I didn’t even realize I could do anything different.

10 years ago this past March I quit smoking. I had smoked for over 30 years. When I laid the cigarettes down for the last time I began to eat everything in the house. Not only did I eat junk food and fattening foods, I ate till I was so stuffed it hurt to breathe.

I finally decided this simply was not going to work. And the journey began…

I started walking. Just a few months earlier I was afraid to do the one mile fun walk at the Susan G Komen 5k for fear I couldn’t make it. But I started slow….1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1 mile. Every morning I got up before the sun, went to the local park and walked my pup Freckles. My plan was, if I get him into the habit of walking he won’t let me sleep in…and it worked.

Eventually I started changing my eating habits. I was feeling so good I decided I wanted to treat myself better. I quit eating red meat. I started reading a book called The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. I learned how to eat foods and cook foods that were good for me. I learned to eat spinach!

I soon got bored with walking, it just wasn’t challenging enough. I started participating in boot camps and I started running. When I started running (despite being an athlete in school I always hated running) I couldn’t complete a 1/4 mile without stopping to walk. But eventually I started running more and more. I set a goal to run a 5k the next year at the Susan G Komen. I would run in memory of my Aunt Kathleen who I had recently lost to breast cancer.

That entire year, the thought of my aunt’s struggle to fight cancer, got me through the pain of training. If she could fight so hard and be so tough fighting against such a horrible disease, then something as minor as sore legs should not deter me.

I ran that 5k with a sign, honoring my aunt, on the back of my shirt. As I climbed the final hill, headed toward the finish line, exhausted and emotional, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Kathleen would be so proud.” I cried the rest of the way to the finish line. Tears of pain, emotion, love, excitement, memories of Kathleen all drained from my eyes. I had met my goal of running 3.1 miles and knew my life was changing for the better.

A lot has changed since I smoked that last cigarette. Over the next couple days I hope to share the rest of my journey to a healthier life. I hope you will stop back by to read the rest of the story.

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Riding on Faith

What could possibly prompt a person to ride their bike, day after day, for 10 days, from one town to the next? Is there anything important enough in your life that you would run endless miles in order to celebrate its existence?
I know these questions sound strange coming from me since I seem to be in constant search of crazy adventures and goals. But I actually have a reason for asking…

While in Yucatan Mexico I witnessed multiple groups of young people riding their bikes and other groups of young people running on the roadside, all for one reason, to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe.dsc_0931

Each group carried large banners with an image of the saint. Many of the young people fastened framed pictures of the virgin to their bikes. dsc_0990
I’m going to assume many of you are as clueless as me concerning this saint. I’ve seen her picture, I’ve seen her statue and even altars built for her praise. Honestly I never thought anything more than “There is a statue of the Virgin Mary.” The thing is Our Lady of Guadalupe is much more to the Mexican people than just being the Virgin Mary…she is their saint.

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A van full of kids waiting for their turn to run

Prior to my trip to Mexico I knew next to nothing about this saint. But the young people, enthusiastically celebrating the patron saint of Mexico, peeked my interest and since I’ve been back in the States I have been reading up on Our Lady of Guadalupe.

According to articles I’ve read the Virgin Mary appeared several times to an Aztec farmer named Juan Diego in 1521. When the farmer went to the Bishop and reported the Virgin Mary had appeared and asked for a church to be built on that specific spot the bishop did not believe him and asked for proof.
When he returned to her, The Virgin Mary filled Juan’s cloak with roses. He returned to the bishop and opened his cloak to dump out the roses when an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared where the roses had been.

This is a very condensed version of the story. But there are so many facets of this story that I find fascinating.
The thing is, Our Lady of Guadalupe is more than just the Virgin Mary. She presented herself in a way that allowed the people to feel she was one of them, not an untouchable figure. She presented herself to a farmer, she spoke their language and the image that appeared on Juan’s cloak featured many important symbols of the Aztec people.
This incident allowed the people of Mexico to meld their believes as Aztecs with Christianity resulting in one of the largest periods of conversion in human history.dsc_0534

The pilgrimage of the bike riders and runners begins each year on December 2nd and continues until December 12th, of which is the day Juan showed the bishop proof that the Virgin Mary did indeed appear. Each night of the 10 days the riders pull into a village, sounding sirens and waving to the people that have gathered to greet them. The local church typically feeds them and they are given a place to sleep. It appeared to me that the villages were quite pleased to play host to the young people riding for their saint.dsc_0264

Our hosts while in Mexico were quite gracious. I had become so intrigued by the young people, that had taken on this challenge, that each time we saw a group riding/running down the road I begged to stop and take pictures. I was also fortunate that our friends lived only a block from the main road. This allowed me to run out and witness groups enter town in the evening and exit in the morning.

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Support – following in the pick-up truck

Since I’ve ridden long distances on my bike I know how difficult it can be. The fact that these young men and women are riding bikes that are not “new”, not properly fitted and not meant to be ridden long distances makes it even more amazing to me.
Why would someone ride mile after mile, and day after day? I’m sure we all could have our reasons…but it appears for these young people…its faith.

F = Fifty Plus Years of Friendship

Chelley and I have known each other since birth. As children we told people we knew each other in the womb…and that we had telephones in our mom’s stomachs and….well you get the point…we had quite a story going!
Chelley and I played with cowboys instead of Barbies. We played for hours in the creek instead of playing house. We rode bikes, played sports and frequently checked the Most Wanted posters in the Post Office then sat on a stoop in our little downtown and watched for the criminals on the wall (yes we did!)
Our split in activities came in 8th grade when Chelley decided volleyball was painful and chose cross country (no I never understood that choice!). She always seemed a natural at running and I couldn’t stand it. During track season she ran the mile and I threw shot put.
When I finally started running (in my 40’s) I dreamed of running with Chelley. But we lived states apart so it didn’t seem like it would happen. Then our 50th birthday came around and we agreed to meet in Louisville KY and run the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon (1/2 marathon). It was a great day and the best way I could ever imagine to celebrate our 50th birthday.
Just shy of 13 miles, we saw our family and friends!

Just shy of 13 miles, we saw our family and friends!

Me and Chelley...Finisher Photo

Me and Chelley…Finisher Photo

We have another friend that we met in middle school. The three of us have remained close throughout our adult lives. All 3 of our birthdays are within a month and a half. So when we lived closer to each other we made a point to meet up and celebrate…even if we had not seen each other for the year…we always picked up right where we left off.

Even though we’ve had the opportunity to visit each other over the years, we have not been able to celebrate our birthdays since I moved to Texas 16 years ago. So it was even more special that Lyn joined us after the half marathon for dinner.
Photo on the cake was taken at our 30th class reunion

Photo on the cake was taken at our 30th class reunion

I know that no matter the distance between us….Lyn, Chelley and I will always share a bond that is impossible to break. And who knows, maybe for our 60th birthdays we’ll climb a mountain!

The A – Z Challenge will run through April. Each day is a different letter and a different photo…I hope you all enjoy!