Sunday, August 31, 2008

My First 10K

This morning when I woke up I had the day all planned out. My big plan, of course, was to run my first 10K (the Nike+ Human Race) in the morning before going to church. 10K, or 6.2 miles. That was the plan.

I definitely wasn't planning on running twice that distance. But sometimes things don't go according to plan, and in the end, that is exactly what I did.

I set out on my morning run in good spirits, despite the fact that I haven't been feeling great in the past week, and my muscles and joints were giving me some grief. I paced myself well.

I ran past another runner with a familiar Nike+ sensor packet on her shoe, and then another, and a third with a Nike+ wristband. (See, hundreds of thousands of runners were running this race today all over the world right in their own neighborhoods. It's the coolest thing.) I ran past a smoker and tried not to breathe in his puffs. I ran past a picket fence ablaze in gorgeous blue morning glories, and thought that it was indeed a glorious morning. I ran past a skunk odor... most unpleasant. I ran by the house of one of my piano students, Ysabelle. I ran by two churches, four cyclists, and a woman walking her dog. I was running a loop and was well on my way home, somewhere between 7K and 8K, when suddenly my iPod, which records my run distances and times (and then sends that information to Nike+ as evidence that I participated in The Human Race), froze. I held my breath, said a prayer along the lines of "Oh no no no no please no," and pressed a button. Nothing happened. I pressed multiple buttons frantically. Still nothing.

I walked towards home for a while, dejected. A few tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought of a summer-long goal that, through technical problems, I had failed to meet. I was so ready to run that 10K. I had run 6 miles last Sunday and felt great; I knew I could do 6.2 today. Somehow my frozen, useless iPod whispered to me, "You can't finish what you start. You'll never meet your goals. You're just not an athletic person. This is the final proof." (Who me, dramatic?)

I walked past two more runners outfitted in Nike+ gear, and I felt even more dejected. I got bored of walking and started running again - not because it counted in the race, but because I just wanted to get home. I ran past a man being arrested. (He looked even more dejected than I.)

I got home and called Nathan (already at church), who promised to make every attempt to fix the iPod when he got home, and even offered to walk, jog, or drive part of the way with me if I wanted to try the run again in the evening. (My hero.)

I called my Mom and Dad, who also made me feel better, as parents have a way of doing. I dragged myself, soggy eyes and all, to church, where we sang the words,

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

After church I read some help files online and found out how to reboot a frozen iPod. It was successfull, but of course my morning run was lost.

Naturally, I had to start over and do the run again.

Around 6:30 in the evening I set out: sore shins, achy hips, and all. I didn't worry about my time too much. In the end it took me over an hour, and that's okay with me, although my morning time would have been better.

I ran past families having barbecues on their lawns, children roller blading on the sidewalk, and the remnants of a yard sale winding down. A woman smiled at me from her porch rocking chair, and I smiled back. A group of children shrieked happily from a yard decorated with "Happy Birthday" banners. Cars zoomed past me, and cyclists glided along the roadsides.

My legs stopped protesting soon enough, and settled into a dull ache that was almost numbness. When I wanted to stop running and walk for even the briefest of moments, I told myself, "Keep running. If you stop, it will only hurt more to start again." So I ran the 10K all over again, without stopping. It hurt, but I had a wonderful and eclectic playlist on my restored iPod that kept me going, including:

"I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan
"Deliver Us" from Prince of Egypt
Frank Sinatra favorites
Pieces that FavoriteBoy and I had in our wedding (lovelovelove)
Bebo Norman
Casting Crowns
John Denver and Placido Domingo (Yes, the two of them together in a duet!)
A tango that reminds me of friendship and shared musical experiences
Oldies like "Brown Eyed Girl"

And as I was somewhere in the ninth kilometer, the soothing voice of Tommy Dorsey came on in an introduction to a piece I love, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand."

"I am tired, I am weak, I am worn."

I was exactly that.

Well, I finished my run. My first 10K. Surprisingly, I had enough energy left to sprint the last 100 meters in a last attempt to improve my time.

And when I stopped running, I found that I could barely walk, and then, could barely climb the stairs to our apartment.

Like I said, I wasn't planning on running about 12 miles today.

During the run, I found myself thinking about a childhood school reward system. When I was a kid, my Mom (who was also my teacher, as I was homeschooled) had charts featuring categories like "Creativity," "Diligence," "Respectfulness," and "Concentration." When one of us displayed a certain desirable trait in the course of our studies, we got a sticker in that column. One such column was labeled "Perseverance," which my Mom defined to my young ears as "Stick-to-it-ive-ness."

I may not have the longest, strongest, fastest legs, but you know what?

I'd give myself a sticker for stick-to-it-ive-ness.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Old Timer

In rehearsal:

Conductor: What's that game everybody's playing these days? (Referring to the Wii...)

Old Man Violinist With Aviators, clearly poking fun at himself: Parcheesi?

Sunday, August 24, 2008


My friend Melissa is a real encourager to those around her. This recently made my day:

"Sarah, you're such an athlete... you're a jock!"

Monday, August 18, 2008

10.78 Seconds

In case you missed it, Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser ran the women's 100-meter in 10.78 seconds yesterday. This 21-year-old's enthusiasm, braces-clad grin, and joie de vivre totally made my day.

88 Years

The 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was ratified on August 18, 1920 - 88 years ago today. When I cast my vote in the presidential primaries in February, I exercised a constitutional right that women a hundred years ago couldn't even imagine. Isn't it incredible to think that just 88 years ago, women were unable to participate in the political conversation in a meaningful way?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

With One Shoe Untied

If you're one of probably many Americans who doesn't rank running among your favorite Olympic sports to watch, you might not know that Usain Bolt is now the fastest man in the world to run the 100-meter. He did it in 9.69 seconds, fueled only by meals of chicken nuggets, and with one shoe untied.

When asked what the day of the race had looked like for him, Bolt replied,

"I never had breakfast. I woke up at like 11 o'clock, sat around and watched some TV, had lunch, some [chicken] nuggets, then I pretty much went back to my room, slept again, then went back and got some more nuggets. Then I came to the track."

Needless to say, this guy is Nathan's new hero, since they have everything in common except for the running thing.

I'm headed outside to run five miles this evening, which will probably take me about 55 minutes, which suddenly seems so incredibly... lame.


This morning in church a guest speaker preached a sermon entitled "Have You Been Overwhelmed Lately?" on the text of Psalm 121. It was a good sermon, the kind where I actually wanted to listen to every word.

(Maybe in part because I have been really overwhelmed lately by a lot of things that feel outside of my control.)

Maybe that Psalm will be encouraging to you, today, too. Life, after all, can get pretty overwhelming for anyone at times.

Psalm 121
A Song of Ascents.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Nathan and I are enjoying watching the Olympics. Each time an American wins an event, Nathan spontaneously bursts into song: "And I'm proud to be an American...!" When we're not watching the Olympics, he enjoys playing the John Williams Olympic Theme on the piano as loudly and patriotically as possible. Who doesn't like to live vicariously through those whose accomplishments are more impressive than his own? I know I do...

Friday, August 8, 2008


Tonight's Opening Ceremonies were the most impressive and inspiring I've ever seen - or probably ever will see. SO COOL. I'm really looking forward to watching the events in the coming days.

On a far less impressive - and decidedly un-Olympian - note, I'm running a 10K on the 31st of this month: The Nike+ Human Race. It's a great first 10K for me; un-intimidating because I can run it right in my own neighborhood while people all over the world are running in their own neighborhoods, too. Here's how it works: I paid $30 for the Nike+ sensor chip, which goes on my shoe while I run. I plug a wireless receiver into my iPod nano (technically my friend Holly's nano; she's generously lending it to me), and I run. The sensor on my shoe works like a high-tech pedometer, and the iPod tells me my time, pace, and distance as I run. It also keeps a history of my runs, displaying best distances and times so I can track my progress. It's a really neat gadget, and it's motivated me to double my running distances over the past month. Monday I ran four miles, and today I did it again (a little bit faster), so I'm feeling confident about being able to do six by the end of the month.

If you like to run, or want to like to run, join The Human Race. It's for a good cause (Nike donates money to charity for the miles you run), and it's also good for you.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Sarah Marie: Oh Nathan, you are the best, and in my whole life no one loved me until you loved me.

FavoriteBoy: I wonder why that is, dear? Hmm... perhaps this bears investigating.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Odd Sights

1) A sign at a construction site: "Comming Soon!"

2) A cyclist - a legitimate one in racing cyclist gear - riding along with a cigarette dangling from his lips. (How can one be at once concerned with fitness and health and be a smoker?)

3) While in slow-moving traffic due to road construction, I passed a fellow on the side of the road in a motorized wheelchair. Traffic slowed further and he tootled along - and passed me. By the time traffic moved again, he had ridden off into the sunset.