Sunday, November 5, 2017

Journey to Hope Race 26.2

I just completed my 4th full marathon, on November 4, 2017! It was my 2nd slowest time, coming in at 5:53. The cut off time was 6 hours. But I made it!

My 1st marathon I ran the L.A. Marathon to raise money for melanoma research, in memory of my brother Paul and his wife Ruth. I finished in 5:59. That story is here: 3/9/14 26.2 done!

My 2nd marathon I ran the Richmond VA Marathon, and got my fastest time at 5:07. I ran for #megsmiles in support of a grieving family.  That story is here: Meg Smiles in VA #megsmiles

My 3rd full was the same race as my first, the L.A. marathon. I ran it wearing my LIFE Runner shirt, to support pregnancy crisis centers and to promote pro-life, and pro-love. I ran with my SoCal Meg's Miles friend, Doris. We ran the whole way together, coming in at 5:25. It was my "redemption run," after struggling through the first time. Here is the story of that full: Last Minute Marathoner


The 4th had a similarity to the 3rd one, I ran the whole way with a friend. This time it was with my MRTT friend Miranda. And she stuck it out with me the whole way, even though she could have easily ran ahead (she was feeling pretty amazing, and me... not so much.) But we agreed when we signed up to run the whole way together, no matter who was feeling good or who had to stop or what. Every step would be together. We figured it wasn't worth it to separate for a few minutes of time difference (we tend to be within minutes of each other at races we have run together before). And she had a full marathon to complete the next week that has a 5 hour cut off. She was willing to take it slower with me, if I needed to go slower. (And I did.)

This time I ran to support the grieving. Miranda lost her Mom earlier this year, and I lost my Mom in 2009. We both dedicated our run to our Moms, top left is my bib and bottom is her Journey to Hope bib.

Journey to Hope is a walk event I put on earlier this year in April, to show love and support to people in their journey of grief, and to raise money for Grief Share.  I still had some walk/5k bibs from the virtual portion left, as well as some 5k medals, and I didn't want them to go to waste.  So I decided to ask people to make a donation to Grief Share, and in exchange I would run a 5k for their loved one and give them the medal, or they could have me run for a friend who lost someone, and I would send them a medal as a gift. Below is a photo of the medals/bibs I had left:

While I was training for my 4th marathon I would write the name of a loved one, and the person's name that lost that loved one, on a bib and then I would run 3 plus miles for them. Sometimes running for multiple people if my run was longer. One day I ran in honor of 4 husbands and 1 son that had passed away during a 16 mile run, for example. After I ran out of dedications from and donations from other people, I started to run for friends that I saw struggling after a loss of a loved one. And then I gave them a medal as a reminder that they are not alone. The medal says, "You are Not Alone!" on them, the theme of my event.

Often we journey through grief alone. It is a process that is as unique as each individual and each relationship. However, I wanted to create a way for people to feel loved and supported in that journey. And that what this is all about. Showing love and support to people who are at their bottom emotionally. I have been there.

I lost my Mom in 2009 to a heart attack, I lost my brother Paul in 2011 to metastatic melanoma and his wife Ruth in 2012 also from melanoma! To say the grief and loss was thick, is an understatement. There were many times the waves of grief pulled me under, and I felt like I would never be able to come back up for air! Then I came across Grief Share, a program that has daily devotionals and a 12 week course you can attend at churches. It took me a while to get to the church meetings. So, the daily devotional you get in your email in-box is a great place to start. So often we just aren't ready to weep openly in front of a group of strangers. But I will attest to the fact, when I started attending the classes, it helped immensely. Even more so than just getting those daily emails... and those emails were a life saver!

I wrote about what I call going from "clouds of sorrow to clouds of hope" before. Its how God has spoken to me in my own journey through grief. And is why my event, Journey to Hope, has a cloud/ sky theme to it. God has really been there for me, comforting me. Drawing me near to Him. And as the scriptures say,  "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Here are photos of the Journey to Hope bibs that I wore on race day


     


I attached a bib in honor of my Mom to the front of my shirt. And put the other bibs on O-rings, and hung them off my water pack. They were at my back, and motivating me, pushing me along those 26.2 miles.




Mile 1 was dedicated to my Mom, plus the whole marathon. From the top of the mountain, to the bottom. This one's for you, Mom. Love you! #NeverForgotten #AlwaysLoved










Mile 2, dedicated to my #megsmiles friend Dee Renn, in honor of her Mom. Her Mom died from a heart attack, like my Mom. 

During my miles I prayed for each person and their loss. Asking the Lord to comfort them and bring them peace. 



Mile 3, dedicated to my #megsmiles friend Kelly J. Anderson, in honor of her Mom.  She has recently done the "Out of Darkness" walk to bring suicide awareness in her memory. There is also the Project Semi Colon that I am referencing with the ";" and #KeepGoing.  Depression and suicide has affected my family, and me personally as well. It was a honor to run to honor her Mother's life and help raise some awareness myself along the way.

Mile 4 and 5, dedicated to my #megsmiles friend Mary Barney. She lost her Dad recently, and suddenly, to a heart attack. I had dedicated a 5k to her Mom, whom she calls "Marmee," during training. Her Mom fought a brave battle against cancer, and eventually lost that battle. And then after I ran that 5k, dedicated to her Mom, she told me about her father. Broke my heart. She has gone through so much. But I know God is able to bring her through this grief journey, as He has brought me through mine.  #youarenotalone




Mile 6, dedicated to my friend, Betsy Nickless' Mom, Sue. We used to meet with a group called RunningFriends4Life. I prayed for her family as they cope with this loss of a dear loved one.











Mile 7, dedicated to a friend I met through my fitness boot camp, Toni Gavello, for her Mom Lynn. It's never easy losing a parent, no matter what circumstance or what age.










Mile 8, dedicated to another dear #megsmiles friend, Gloria Sisneros, for her Dad. She still posts memories on his birthday, and during Father's Day. I know that even after many years, those special days can be difficult.  I also do the same with memories of my Mom and my oldest brother. I think of them literally every day.




Mile 9, dedicated to Michelle Laizure's Dad, and Mile 10 Dale Laizure's brother.  A wife and a husband, facing grief. Life can be rough. But they have handled their losses with faith, and with love towards her Mom, as her Mom navigates being a widow. 

As I was praying for them my left foot started to feel something rubbing on my big toe. And my legs were already feeling the fatigue of taking the brunt of the constant downhill slope. But I knew my struggles in this full can not compare to the loss of a loved one. So I pressed on.

Mile 11, dedicated to another #megsmiles friend, Kristi Allen. For her step-Dad-Ray. Her posts about her loss of her loving step-dad on Facebook were very moving. I felt her sorrow, and felt compelled to reach out to her and run for Ray. I have never met her in person, but she is still a part of the running community that I love so dearly. And I feel its important to reach out to the hurting, and show encouragement when its in our ability to do so.


Mile 12 was dedicated the the victims and family of those in the Las Vegas shooting. I have friends in my MRTT (Mom's Run This Town) group that have personally been affected by this horrible event. And 50 plus more families are out there that are dealing with their grief. So I prayed during this mile for all of these people. That the hope we have in Christ, and the goodness of God is not overshadowed by the evil that exists in this world. I prayed that each family would draw closer to God, in their time of need for comfort and peace. 

Mile 13. I wore this bib on a training run on 6/6/17. Chelsea's husband, Gio, made a donation to Grief Share and asked me to run for his wife, in honor of her Dad, Frank. I gladly did so. And during my marathon I wanted to carry her in prayer once again. I know Chelsea and Gio from church.

At this point in the marathon my buddy and I stopped to help a fellow runner who was having foot/ shoe problems and hip pain. I love how fellow runners are willing to stop and help each other. My legs were also getting very stiff at this point, and the hills were just about to start. Still, no turning back at this point. Just as in life, you 

have to keep going. Life doesn't stop and wait for us to grieve. All you can do sometimes is do the next thing. Get out of bed. Take a shower. Eat. Go to work. One step, one foot in front of the other. Just like I had to do to finish this marathon.

Mile 14, dedicated to a friend I met through church, Leslie Paulsen. This is also an original bib I wore in training. Leslie made a donation and requested I wear this bib for her and her siblings, as they still were dealing with the loss of their parents. 



Mile 15, dedicated to a stranger. I saw a post by my friend Lashell on #megsmiles. And I had Rebekah and her kids on my prayer list. As I was dedicating miles I decided to run in honor of Rebekah's husband. He got into an accident while running, and later passed away. Our running community was praying for him to pull through. Once he passed, our prayers turned to Rebekah and her kids, that the Lord would comfort them during this time of loss and sorrow. 


Mile 16, dedicated to another stranger, Becky. She lost her husband to an illness. He was on our prayer chain at church, posted by my dear friend Melissa Murphy. Melissa is her Sister-in-law.  She has also undergone loss, her Father passed away. And many family emergencies have put this family through so much. But Melissa and Bob continue to show firm faith in Christ. I prayed for this family, for their comfort and peace.  If anyone can help them through these trials, it is our loving Heavenly Father. 

Mile 17, dedicated to a friend from my church. When I met her she had just lost her husband about 6 months earlier. And I met her precious boy Carson, and her daughter Lilian. Carson died a few months later in an accident. I won't post the details, they aren't needed. But I sang at Carson's funeral, and one year later I ran for him and his Dad during a training run on the anniversary of his passing from this life into Heaven. I have no doubt he is there, an angel looking down on his Momma. And he will forever be in her heart. 

Mile 18. As I dedicated a mile to Jaime I thought of so many friends that have told me about the loss of a child, or a baby. And it is heart breaking, each and every story. I prayed for the Moms and Dads of these babies, lost in utero, after being born, or at a very young age. I can't imagine the depth of their loss. Except to say, I know grief is as deep as our love for the one we lost. And I know that the love for these children is deep, and they are missed every single day. #NeverForgotten #AlwaysLoved 

Grief=Love
Mile 19, dedicated to a friend through #megsmiles as well, Courtney. I dedicated a 5k during my training on Gray's birthday in Heaven.  Gray was a baby, and her 3rd son. And she loves him and misses him every day. I love her heart, and her strength. She does so much to support programs that help children deal with grief, for her boys. And has done runs in Gray's name to help raise funds. And so many other things. Her love is big, her grief is big, and out of this grief God has done some beautiful things. That's how God works! Romans 8:28

During mile 19 I was REALLY feeling the pain in my legs, and I was struggling and fighting for each mile. 

Mile 20 was dedicated to a gentleman at my church, for his adult son Caleb. I sang at Caleb's funeral, which was more a celebration of life and a way for Neil to share Caleb's faith in Christ. It was a beautiful ceremony. Very uplifting, if you can believe it. But Neil still misses his son deeply. As I struggled to reach the end of mile 20, I knew I couldn't give up. Just as Neil can't give up. There is hope! God will get him through!

Mile 21 approached, still struggling. I dedicated this mile to my friend from my Bible Study group, Run for God. We have walked and run together many times. And recently her son was taken by suicide. I attended his funeral, and was struck by the phrase, "Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary feelings." So true. And now here Steph and her family is, dealing with their pain of loss. 

I may have been struggling with a race, but it paled in comparison to this loss. It kept me pushing on.

Mile 22 dedicated to the friends and family of those taken by suicide. Many people have suffered due to mental illness. And there is a project called, "22 too many" that many of my running friends have started to run for. People run in honor of vets that have lost their battle to depression, because of PTS and other problems. 

The families and friends left behind in these cases are hurting, and this project brings hope. They were in my prayers during this mile.


Mile 23, dedicated to my brother Paul and my sister-in-law Ruth. I have a virtual run that I do every year in July, on my birthday, that raises money for melanoma research in their honor. I have run many miles for Paul and Ruth. But that doesn't mean I miss them any less. Every day I think about them. And most of all, Paul. I see him in my kids. I remember who he was and what he meant to me, as my big brother. I cherish the years I had with him, and I miss him. I wish my kids would have gotten the chance to know him. 

Mile 24, my brother and Ruth died from Melanoma cancer. And there are so many people that I know that have suffered a loss because of cancer. So I wanted to make a dedication to them. 

As I was coming to the end of the race, the hill ended and the road flattened out. I had been waddling/ running and walking off and on. As I thought about Paul and Ruth, and the people that have suffered loss from Cancer, I felt a burst of energy. (Or maybe it was the 1/4 piece of donut I got at the water station at mile 24... lol)

I thought about my #megsmiles friend, Jorge, as mile 25 approached. He lost his Dad to cancer. And I thought about Papa Coria, and how he was in Heaven with my brother Paul 

Mile 25, For Jorge, in honor of his Papa. As I prayed for Jorge, thought of his Papa and thought of my brother Paul I felt energized again. I started running, not waddling anymore! (It may have been a slow run, but I felt good!) Then a song came on my iPod, "Feel It," that even got me dancing! I was waving my hands in the air, and my buddy had a good song playing on her headphones, she was dancing and skipping along too!

There were cars on the side of the road stuck in traffic. I am sure they thought we were crazy! 

We stopped briefly again at mile 25, and then we stepped it up again. Mile 26 came, and it was dedicated to a very special family, Pam and Wirt Cross, for their daughter Meg of #megsmiles. 

As I reached mile 26 I looked down at my #megsmiles blue silicone bracelet, and I thought about all my running buddies cheering me on throughout the country, virtually.
I ran strong, to make them proud. To finish strong. #MegStrong And to make my Mom proud.

I ran for those we have loved and lost. All 26 PLUS point 2, for those in their journey of grief. 
#JourneytoHope #YouareNotAlone #GriefShare
#NeverForgotten #AlwaysLoved


May you be led from clouds of sorrow, to clouds of hope! I pray this in Jesus name, Amen!




Speaking of clouds, the views were amazing on that mountain. 



For my Mom, Lois Humphrey.

Revel Canyon City Marathon, Azusa CA. 
Nov 4, 2017

My Journey to Hope Race

A special thank you to Miranda. As we crossed the finish line the announcer said both our names and said, "Friends that do things together. Have fun together. And smile together." Ain't that the truth! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Counting My Blessings

On 4/22/17 I put on a walk for people going through grief. I called it the "Journey to Hope" walk. It was held at Yorba Regional Park in Anaheim, CA. And we walked around the paths that wound around the lakes there. It was just under 2 miles long.
The money raised from the walk, and a virtual 5k, will be used to support Grief Share programs. Either to supply books to churches that already have a program, or to start a new Grief Share class at a church that wants to purchase the program. (To find out how your church can receive these donations please email: journeytohoperace@gmail.com)
NOTE: I will have virtual 5k medals available until the end of 2017, or until I sell out... whichever comes first. This is the reg link: Journey to Hope Virtual 5k

This blog entry is to record all the amazing things God planned for this date, 4/22/17. Even though I made some of the plans, God had some of His own. And I was blown away by the outcome!
Proverbs 16:9 "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps."
There were many decisions to make. Some of the hardest were the location, the date, and the time. I looked at several places and priced out the venues. I checked out one location, and it seemed perfect, until I found out it would cost $5000 to rent! Then I found another seemingly perfect location, it had a USATF certified 5k course all planned out, and I could do the 5k and the walk there! But that was $500. Better, yes. But also a bit farther from where I live. I was concerned that the people that I know, and would want to attend, may be turned off by the distance they had to travel to get there. 
One day I was talking to a running buddy of mine during a run, and I told her about my trouble finding a course location. She puts on a lot of 5k fundraisers for charities, so I was also using her as my guru for all things event planning. She said very casually, "Why don't you just do it at Yorba Linda Regional?" And I was like, hmmmm.... maybe I should check it out. And then she said I should do it in Spring, around the time when Easter was just ending. Good thinking.
By this point I had dropped the timed 5k race idea, #1 because the cost of the timing company didn't make sense. And #2 the ideas I had for the signs along the course really didn't fit with a timed race. #3 I knew that I needed to focus on those that NEEDED this walk. Those in grief. And not the runners trying to run as fast as possible through it. So I made the 5k option "virtual" instead. Which means people could buy a bib and a medal and run wherever and whenever they wanted (and as fast as they wanted). Even if they lived in another state!
So I looked up the cost of renting a shelter, and it was $200 for a 150 person shelter. They had a 300 person shelter, but it was already rented all the days in April. But Shelter #1 was available, a 150 person shelter. And I thought, "It's doubtful I will have 300 people at my first event. But 150 seems reasonable."  I went to the park to scope the location of the shelter out, and walked around. It just felt right in my bones. It was peaceful and beautiful.

Before renting the date for 4/22/17 I talked to a gal at work about my struggle to pick a date. She opened up the calendar and talked it out with me. We figured out when Spring breaks were, and when Easter was, and decided that the 22nd sounded good. And once we she said that date she said, "That's actually the anniversary of my Mom's passing." I got chills. And I said, "I think that should be the date then." And $200 was doable! So I went ahead and rented the space.
Another big decision was the time. I settled on an evening walk. I thought, "Sad people don't want to get up at 6am for a walk on a Saturday!" And then I thought, "A sunset ceremony at the end of the day would be pretty!" So I chose 4pm to sunset.
After the location, date, and time were set it was time to get the registration page going and to get the word out. This was difficult. I work full time, and this was just a side gig for charity. I was alone in the planning, even though I had some great ears to bend when I had to think things through. But all the calls, the plans, and the decisions I had to make on my own. And by relying on God to direct my paths. (I prayed and asked for prayer over everything!)
As the date for the walk approached I had only 20 people signed up. So many things were happening that same day! Person after person told me about events, and school obligations, and sports obligations, and parties etc... I was getting frustrated! I had to cut some ideas out because of costs (like t-shirts for the walkers). And I had no idea how I would pay for the signs I wanted to post along the walk ways. And then there was food! And the closing ceremony! How was that going to be taken care of with only 20 people registered?! I freaked out. I was going to cancel altogether. And then one of my prayer warriors asked how many I had signed up. I said 20 and she said, "That's great!" I guess its all about perspective ;)
I also talked to my boot camp instructor about getting people signed up for the virtual 5k. And NO ONE had signed up. I was frustrated. And he told me, "Every one signs up last minute. Don't give up." And then he said, "If only one person's life is changed by your event, then it was worth it." He was RIGHT! I was floored that this wisdom was being given by my BOOT CAMP instructor! I mean, he's great and all, but that was amazing that he saw the event as something that could change a life! And if he could see that, then I needed to act like that was the case as well. This was too important to give up on. This was God's plan, I was just following His calling. Two ladies I spoke to also had told me, "This is a meant to be kind of event. It will all work out." I just needed to keep the faith! They were right. Even if I broke even and didn't have any money left to donate to Grief Share, if I helped others, that is all that mattered.
Next I had to come up with an idea for the signs, it cost around $13 to make a sign. I wanted 50, but didn't have any money to spend on them. Then I thought about putting a "Sponsored by" sign underneath and asking for sponsors to make a $15 donation per sign to get their logo/ business name on it. I told another gal at work about needing sponsors and she said she would sponsor a sign! I was like, "Interesting. I guess I could put the name of a loved one that has passed under the sign instead of a business name." And she loved the idea. And then another three gals at worked also loved the idea, and before I knew it I had 5 signs that day! I started to share this sign dedication idea on social media and at church, and people were hopping on that faster than any other idea I had! So amazing! I decided that no sign would be paid out of my pocket or the reg fees. Whatever the Lord provided, that's how many I would put up. And in the end I had 33! And 33 ended up being plenty. Here is an example of what the signs looked like. This one was for my Mom.
I also got a few sponsors that I would like to thank for their donations: Blessed Seasons Photography (who also gave me images to use), as well as Ryan Luna Photography (who provided images and sponsored signs), Succulents are for Sharing, College Works Painting, and John Luciano (a non-professional photographer who donated images).

Then for food I decided to drop the food truck plan ($1500 for a food truck was not in the budget). And I asked the head Deaconess at my church for help. She hopped right on it and got some pasta salad, fruit, and pizza handled, as well as offering $100 from the Deaconess fund. I decided I would have my husband Bar-b-cue some hot dogs, and get some waters and juice boxes, and that would be enough. We planned for 35 people. Done!
Lastly I had to come up with a closing ceremony. I couldn't do candles, like I had wanted. That wasn't allowed at the park without additional insurance. So I wanted to do something else. Another gal at work brainstormed with me and came up with a flower ceremony. And I loved it! So I decided to ask my neighbor, who has a flower shop locally, The Flowery in Villa Park, to donate 35 to 50 white carnations. She agreed. Done!
Location, date, time, signs, food, ceremony... it was enough to put the Journey to Hope walk on. Not fancy. But good enough! A few items purchased at the dollar store to cover the tables etc. And I was done.
As the date approached my pilot husband started to wonder if he would have to work that weekend. To take the stress off him and myself I decided to skip the hot dogs. Actually, I was at work and we got a couple trays of tacos for the office to have lunch, delivered for a guest visiting from corporate. I looked at the spread and thought, "This could feed 35 people! I wonder how much this cost?" I asked the receptionist and it was all around $165. And due to having those other sides provided by the Deaconess at church I decided I didn't need the rice and beans on the side, just a pile of tacos would be great! So I placed the order and for $100 I had 48 tacos and delivery was $12!
So those were MY plans. And my worries over money, and location, food and number of participants. By the time the walk started I had about 35 people signed up. Including my family.  What happened the day of the event is going to blow you away!
First, let me share this. I was looking for a vase for the flowers I would be getting. And then decided to go pick them up, and figure it out later. When I picked up the flowers from the florist, she told me she had 70 in a vase for me! I was blessed that I no longer had to worry about a vase, and then I said, "I only have 35 people and not 50, so I guess everyone will just get 2. Thank you!" Little did I know...!
Then it was time to set up the shelter. See the photo below? I am in blue and a white baseball cap. The people I am with are the Byrd family. They were setting up at the shelter at 1pm when I pulled into the parking lot. I was with a lady from church, my friend Melissa, that came to help me set up the course and decorate the shelter. We walked up to them and told them I had rented the shelter for an event. They apologized and started to gather their belongings to move. I told them there wasn't a hurry, my event didn't start for a few hours. But at 4pm I would have people coming to participate. And they were very polite, "We will get out of your way. No problem."

And as they were starting to pick up their lawn chairs and gather their things I asked one lady, "So what are you gathering for? To celebrate a birthday, or...?" And she said, "We are here because two Aunties died recently. And we just wanted to meet for a time of comforting and to be together." And I said, "Wait! That is why I am here!" I looked at my friend Melissa, and we both had goose bumps. My voice cracked as I explained the event, and that it was open to the public. I told her to stop her family from leaving, that I wanted them to stay. The woman said, "I don't want to intrude on your event. That is okay." And I insisted they must ALL stay. 

Soon people from her family were walking up one by one telling me they would be leaving soon, and I told them what I was doing and how they MUST STAY. I wanted them to. They were blown away, and accepted my invitation. We agreed this was a God ordained thing. A Divine appointment. I said they could just do what they were doing, it wasn't starting for a few hours. I was just arriving early to set up the course.  
Here is a crazy thing too, once they started carrying their stuff back to the shelter one gentleman asked, "Are you using the bar-b-cue?" And I smiled, "No, no I am not." They set up on the side of the shelter by the BBQ and the rest of the tables were left open. 
Also, there were about 35 of them, at least. And I thought to myself, "Now I know why I got 70 flowers today!" God knew this family would be there! April 22nd, at Yorba Regional Park, at 1pm. As they arrived, I arrived. A walk for grief, and a family grieving. God is AMAZING! 
Once the walk started about 15 or so of them came over and accepted a bib, no charge, and did the walk with us. I guided a few of them personally with the music playing from a Bluetooth speaker, playing songs I had selected for the walk. Here is the playlist link: Journey to Hope 2017 Spotify Play list  And they followed along. 
Here are some of the signs along the paths that day, and the walk participants:

One of the women told me they were her Aunties that passed. And we walked and talked along the paths. She was so sweet and we were so abundantly blessed to be there together. We both agreed God had ordained that day, that shelter, that time etc... for them to be there to meet me and to be a part of this walk for grief. The woman in Pink (center photo above) was the one that I was talking with, I think she said her name was Shirley, I am bad at remembering names, but I will never forget her. 
At the end of the walk I held the flower ceremony with music. Melissa sang "I am not alone" by Kari Jobe, accompanied by another friend from church, Jodi Spangler, on her guitar and with harmonies. I added a few vocal harmonies here and there. The family joined us for this part as well, and they took the flowers and we placed them in a vase to show how we are not alone. We are in this journey together. We have God, and we have the community of others that grieve. We understand each other. 
We who grieve need a space where we have the freedom to remember and honor our loved ones. And that is what the "Journey to Hope" walk provided. A calm and serene space in which to remember, to talk, and to grieve. But there was a feeling of joy and peace that day. Not one of gloom! People were smiling. We had joy in our hearts, and were comforted. 
I was in awe by what God had done. After all my fretting over how many were coming, or not coming, or the cost of things etc. None of it mattered at this point. God had a plan! 
On that day alone, $200 was raised for the charity, Grief Share. www.griefshare.org. I am truly blessed by everyone's generosity. Such a beautiful day! And thus far total I have raised $350 to donate to local churches, to support Grief Share programs. I hope that through the virtual 5k we can raise another $500 to $600! 
I may have not raised thousands, but it was a good start. The most important part was accomplished. God used it for the purpose that He had intended it for. To encourage others and bring glory to Himself. I am glad I didn't give up, when so many times I was tempted to.Many that attended said they want to do this again next year. And many that were not able to attend, due to other things going on that same weekend, also would like to attend the next one. I am going to move it over one week to see if that helps. I definitely plan to do this again! And I look forward to what God does with it, as the event grows over the years.
Many people told me they loved the peaceful setting at the park, and the non-rushed atmosphere. Unlike most 5k races, this was peaceful and quiet, not a lot of loud pumped up music, sponsors, vendors, and noise. We just had a wonderful time fellowshipping and remembering our loved ones together.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Biology 101

There are topics that I write on once in a while, that are non-running related. And I don't do it that often. But when I do, it's something that I passionately believe in. Something I feel needs to be said! Some times we have to speak up. Sometimes, it is required of us, as believers in Christ.

“Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?” Matthew 10:32-33 The Message Bible

I have been on a political posting fast on Facebook, and my blog, since February. And life has been peaceful. And if I do post something, I tend to regret it due to the little Facebook arguments that break out underneath my post. Often, the arguments are not worth my time. Nor do I want them happening on my wall or under my posts. So, I delete the post! Problem solved.

Well, this is a topic that I feel needs to be talked about. Californians need to let their voices be heard. We can't stand on the sidelines with our mouths agape, in shock at the scene unfolding before us. And then go ranting over it, after all is done and we have no more say about it. The time is NOW to act! The time is NOW to show our indignation.

There is a bill that is being voted on in California. I am a Californian. I do not support this bill. I wrote my Senator, and those heading the committee voting on this bill. I am not a political activist. This is not something I typically do. But I feel this bill is taking things too far. It's called SB179. The bill lets anyone change their gender on a driver's license or a birth certificate to male, female, or non-binary. No questions asked. No physical proof necessary. Check this article out: cfc-testifies-against-gender-change-bill

This was the first article that told me about the bill being voted on: bill-to-make-gender-a-personal-choice-in-hearing-tomorrow  In this article they state, "Under current California law, individuals can change their sex on their birth certificate, but they must make the request in person before a judge. Additionally, a doctor has to verify an individual is receiving gender transitioning medical treatment before making the change. SB 179 would remove both of these requirements. Choosing a new sex on a driver’s license will only require a person to check one of three boxes: male, female, or the new third gender option “non-binary” for those who do not want to identify as either sex."

Okay, so right now someone can change their sex on their birth certificate, but they have to talk to a judge first. I think this is a hair better than the new proposed law. At least someone is there to check your mental stability and rationalization behind the choice to do this. I suppose some people have gone through sex changes and appear like they are a woman, or a man, and would like their driver's license and birth certificate to reflect that. Now, I may not be "stoked" about this. But if someone really wants to do this, they already can. They just have to go see a judge, and make their case.

I would think the argument for changing the description on your driver's license makes the most sense. Because you now look like a man, or vice versa. But changing it on your birth certificate? Really? ...Why? For some sort of validation that how you feel is also reality? It's not reality. You want it to be your reality, you feel conflicted, and you don't want to feel that way anymore. And you think this will be the thing that sets things right in your life. Well, I will talk more on that later. But that is not the resolution to your conflicting feelings. (And yes, I do feel for you. I really do. I am not an insensitive person. But I am talking about laws here. Not feelings.)

This new law would let people choose what sex they want to be, based on how they feel. No questions asked. Sounds like a dream come true to a person going through "the change." Or transitioning. But to me it sounds ludicrous! Why? Because you can't change your biology!

A friend of mine even went to check out a biology book, just to see what kids are being taught in school these days. Perhaps times have changed! So she went to get the facts. She sent this image and said, "It's biology! Your chromosomes determine your sex." That is factual truth. The non-changing truth.


She posted this image and it's something we have all seen.  It's Biology 101 stuff here. If your chromosomes are an "XX" you are a woman, and if they are an "XY" you are a man.

Now, I know some people do not feel they are in the correct body. And as I said, I do have sympathy. I really do! People that have this internal struggle about their gender identity have a struggle that no human being wants to have. No one WANTS to feel like a man in a woman's body, or a woman trapped inside a man's body. I am sure this is torturous to them! I am not doubting that it creates anxiety. And there may be plenty to testify how a sex change operation helped them to feel more at ease with themselves, taking away the anxiety. And I am sure there are others that this did little to help (I have read on the topic, and there are studies that have shown this,)

If you have a personal story to share, I am sure you have been convinced that this was the best solution for you or someone you love. Because they seem to feel better! Or you seem to feel better! But the fact is, no matter what you wear or what you do to your genitalia, your chromosomes will not change. You can't change your biology based on how you feel! And we can't make laws based on a person's FEELINGS.

The law is not here to validate your feelings. It's not. We have been using laws to do this, and to justify our actions for too long. When is this going to stop?

This is akin to allowing a white woman to say she is a black woman! Remember that lady? Her name is Rachel Dolezal. Do you think that is insanity? "Come on," you think. "That's just ridiculous," you say. Does this comparison make you upset? Well, she headed up the NAACP for a while so I guess some people took her seriously at one point! If you don't know what I am talking about here is one article about  Rachel Dolezal here. There are plenty more you can find, if you Google her name. She is trying to claim that race is as fluid as some people claim gender is. And the transgender society doesn't like that at all. No? Really? Because her argument is very similar to yours! She is trying to say that her BIOLOGY does not match how she FEELS about who she is.  This is the SAME argument as the transgender argument, or the argument of "gender fluidity."

Doesn't it sound so open minded and wonderful to say that we can love whom we want, and have sex with whomever we want, and that our sexuality is fluid? And that gender is fluid? Well... then everything else about our biology is FLUID! Right? Where does the argument stop? Where does the line get drawn? Where you FEEL it should be drawn? When your gut doesn't FEEL right about it anymore? Then it's no longer right? That kind of logic is absurd! How can we make laws based on our feelings? And what if I feel you are wrong? How does that make me wrong and you right, and not the other way around? I am simply sharing my FEELings, after all!


The voice of reason, from the article I posted:
"While sympathetic to the difficulties of those experiencing gender dysphoria, California Family Council CEO Jonathan Keller has grave concerns about this bill’s impact."
“We believe government documents need to reflect biological facts for identification and medical purposes,” Keller said. “Secondly, the bill advances a falsehood; that being male or female, or no gender at all is a choice each person must make, not a fact to celebrate and accept. Laws like this will simply erase any meaningful gender definitions, if being male or female is completely divorced from biological facts.”       - Keller
Well said, Johnathan Keller.

This blog post is a call to action. Come on, Californians! Come on Christians! We need to speak the truth! We need to call our Senators! We need to stand for what is true, and right, and holy! The ONLY person that spoke out against this is a man named Greg Burt, the Director of Capitol Engagement for the California Family Council. And I thank the Lord this man was there speaking. But we need to let the committee know if we agree with him! Otherwise our silence shows we approve of this new law.
My name is Greg Burt and I’m speaking on behalf of the California Family Council.
The bill before you today marks a profound change in the way human beings have defined themselves since the beginning of recorded history. Previously, human beings by their very nature have been thought of as binary, either physically male or physically female.  This bill attempts to completely change this understanding. 
Today you are being asked to make a momentous decision regarding how our government will define sex and gender. There are only two real choices. Either one’s sexual identity or gender is a based on self identification or feelings, as the proponents of this bill believe, or it is based on biological facts. What is a male? What is a female? That is the question before you. 
It is our contention that the words  “male” and “female” describe biological reality and this reality should be listed on state identification documents.  “Male and female, He created them,” as the Scriptures say. But to be male or female is not simply a religious belief, it is a description of the human race that has been integrated in to the very definitions of the words. 
Look up the words “male” and “female” in the Dictionary and ALL you will find are physical descriptions. Our state driver’s licenses have always recognized this truth. Pull out your driver’s license and you will see that all the identification characteristics listed are physical descriptions. 
Eye color, hair color, height, weight, and Sex: These are all listed on a driver’s license because these physical characteristics can be independently verified by physical evidence, even if a person is unconscious. 
If you allow someone who is physically male to list themselves on a government document as a female, or vice a versa, then the government will be legalizing a lie. That’s assuming we are still using the dictionary to define what a male and a female is. 
As state senators, I know you think you are powerful, but you do not have the authority to simply change the meaning of words just because you want to. 
If you are trying to resolve the identity document difficulties of those who identify as transsexual, you would be better off removing sex as part of a person’s physical description on a driver’s license or a birth certificate. Otherwise you are knowingly letting citizens put false information on these documents. 
Senators, think about your own children. What did you tell them about their gender after they were born? Did you base what you told them on their physical characteristics or did you encourage your children to choose their gender based on how they felt? This is a rhetorical question, because I know what most, if not all of you, did. You exclaimed to the whole world with joy the moment your child was born, that you had a “boy” or a “girl.” And you did this completely and without hesitation based on the child’s physical characteristics. 
In closing, the California Family Council believes government documents need to reflect biological facts for identification and medical purposes. Secondly, we believe this bill advances a falsehood; that being male or female, or no gender at all is a choice each person must make, not a fact to celebrate and accept. Laws like this will simply erase any meaningful gender definitions, if being male or female is completely divorced from biological facts.
We respectfully ask you vote no on SB 179. Thank you.

Perhaps you want to live in a genderless society. Perhaps when your child is born you will say, 'I have a non-binary human!" And will wait until they are old enough to talk, so they can tell you if they are a boy or a girl, and then you will treat them accordingly. But that is not the world I want to live in. Nor is it the world I want to pass onto my children.

I want my children to be raised to be compassionate. To not bully others that look different than them.  To treat people with disabilities like people. Just people, differently abled then them. I want my daughter to be proud to be a woman, and to fight for her rights. And I want my son to be a leader in his home, but also a man that unapologetically loves his wife to his core, and would lay his life down for her. That is the world I want them to live in. A place filled with respectful, compassionate, kind individuals. But also a world that does not discard the truth, simply based on how one feels.

You know what you need? You know what we ALL need? A new identity in Christ Jesus! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, the new has come!" Yes, you can have a new identity! Jesus wants to give you that identity!

There is also an interesting verse that says, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, NOR IS THERE MALE AND FEMALE, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Wow. God gets it. Maybe we are all just longing for something that only HE has to offer us! But has also been there for the taking all along! A new identity. Neither male or female! If you are in Christ your identity is not found in your biology. It's not found in your race. It's not found in your status in society either. You are a child of God. Period. Once you decide to follow Jesus, and believe in him, that is where your identity is and where your freedom will be found!

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!
John 8:36  





Sunday, February 5, 2017

I think I just PR'd a little!

I have been chasing down a half marathon PR (personal record) of mine for the past couple years. In 2013 I ran a half in Long Beach and finished in 2:11:23 (2 hours, 11 min, 23 seconds). I was training at the time for my first full marathon, so that day the half felt effortless and the finish time came easily. Besides that race, my average half times were typically about 2:28 (2 hours, 28 min). But the past couple years I have slowly been increasing my speed and have averaged 2:15! The last two races before the Surf City half 2017, I got 2:13's! I was working hard, doing speed work, doing my longer runs at a faster pace... and I saw that 2:11 PR slip away those past two races.

I had one more half planned for 2017, then I had decided it was time for a break (this is because of the stress of the race weekend, like getting a sitter for the kids if I didn't have my husband home. My husband's work schedule being unpredictable, and the in-laws availability iffy on race days make the whole weekend a HUGE hassle. I am pretty much over it for now).  My point being, I had one more shot to beat that PR, before my race break. And I really wanted to beat it! I just recently have been struggling once I hit that 9 mile mark to keep the pace up fast enough.  It's one thing to run 4 or 5 miles at a 9:45 minute pace, or even 6 to 8 miles, but a whole other thing to do that for 13.1 miles!

I decided to focus on this race for that PR, and to dedicate it to LIFE Runners. Through this group I support my local pregnancy crisis center, and hope to raise awareness that the life of the unborn is as important as the mother's. I believe women need us in these crisis moments, to support and love them, to be there for them, so they can feel empowered to choose life for their unborn child. Often decisions are made to abort based on their emotions in that moment, and it only takes ONE person to tell them that they will be there for the for a woman to choose life. By being a LIFE Runner, I am saying I choose to be that ONE!
The back of my Meg's Miles shirt, and the back of my LIFE Runner's shirt. 

When I woke up race day I wasn't feeling 100%. Earlier in the week I was fighting dehydration, and I still was feeling off. I wasn't sure I wanted to try for a PR anymore. But I got up, and went to the race anyways. One of the MRTT gals I car pooled with, Andrea, was going to be my pacer, and she had a migraine and threw up when we got to the race. Things were looking bleak. But she said she was going to stick it out and stay with me. We both felt pretty horrible, but sometimes once you start running you start to feel good. I can't really explain that one very well. Seems counter intuitive, but I have often felt better DURING a run than I felt before or once I sat back down after an invigorating run. Kinda weird. But the truth. So we both resolved to give this PR thing a shot. She felt I could do it, and I needed the mental push. So I accepted her offer of sticking it out with me.

Some of the MRTT Mommas that came out to race! 

During the race I felt pretty good. Mile 3 a hill came along, but I was able to keep up the sub 10 min pace that I wanted (sub 10 meaning, anything faster than 10 minute per mile pace, for you non-runners). Then we rounded the corner to the long out and back section along the Pacific Coast Highway, at Huntington Beach CA. This section can get monotonous. Even though you are running alongside this amazing ocean, you just feel like this section is never ending! There is a lot of mental work to be done at this point. However, one mental boost came from seeing a friend, Renee, on her bike rolling by... it was awesome! She came out to cheer the MRTT Mommas out there. Many of us were on the course that day. And each time I saw one they cheered me on to meet my goal! They all knew I was working hard to get that PR. So that was amazing too. Can't beat having an amazing group of supportive women around you!

Another mental boost came from this app called "Motigo." Friends can record cheers for you, these are played along the route as you run. So you get your own personal cheering section while you run! It's awesome! At mile 9 these cheers really became needed! My music app stopped playing, but the Motigo app was still working. So here I was, on this long stretch of highway, in silence, only the sound of people's feet around me hitting the ground and my mental chatter. I focused on my friend's shoes in front of me, and kept chasing them down. I would catch up, then fall back, then catch up. I was fighting to not give up! And she wasn't slowing down enough to let me lose the pace I asked her to help me keep (a mark of a good pacer). The first part of the race I had remembered to pray for many people. But at this point my prayers turned to God for His help! Mental chatter can be very negative when you run. But I had to keep it positive. Besides mantras like, "Fight for it," "Beat that 10 minute pace," I also prayed for God's strength to take over. My body was fading, and I needed His supernatural help.

As I slowed down, right past the mile 9 marker, first I saw Renee on her bike again, which was an awesome boost. Then a gentleman was running by me and he said he loved the back of my shirt. He said he supported that his whole life (he was referring to the words, "Remember the Unborn. Jer 1:5 Liferunners.org" on my back). I said thank you and God bless you. Then another guy came by and gave me kudos as well. These little affirmations came at just the right time. It was time to pick the pace up and fight for that PR! Then on my Motigo app a Meg's Miles friend Missy came on and said "Jeremiah 1:5! Get that PR!" YESSSS!!

Then she came back on and spoke the words back to me from a post I had put on my Facebook wall earlier in the week. "The God on the mountain is still the God in the valley."



That's all I needed to hear! Yes! Let's finish this race, for the unborn, for women in crisis, to show that God is still the same God in the valley, and he will get me through these final miles! I was struggling, but the fight was not over!

I kept struggling to catch up with Andrea. But I kept her close. Chasing down those shoes.... left, right, left, right... repeat. I kept focused on my PR goal. She turned her head back after mile 12 and said, "We hit 2 hours! You can do this!" I dug deep, prayed for more strength, and pushed through that final mile! Once I saw the finish line ahead, I stepped on the gas (what little was left in the tank). Right before we crossed that line I grabbed Andrea's hand for a strong victorious finish! We did it! According to her Garmin she said we got 2:11:04! I said that was a PR! But still had to wait to check on my chip time. But I knew, no matter that final time, I had PR'd. Maybe by the skin of my teeth, but I did it! Thank you, Lord!

As I walked over to grab my medal I almost felt like I was going to fall over. My legs were ready to just SIT down already! LOL I guess that is what happens when you lay it all out there. Nothing left to give! (Funny side story: I went to pick up my "beach cities challenge" medal, the HUGE starfish medal, and they asked me what my first name was. I blanked. My buddy, Andrea, had to tell them and spelled it out for them. LOL. Yup. I ran pretty hard that day!)

This funny meme came to mind after I finished, so I put my finish time on it. 


Some more of my running peeps! (Andrea is in front taking the photo. Renee is on the far left.)
With this race, my last half marathon of 2017, I completed the "Beach Cities Challenge." Interesting fact, I started my racing career with the same challenge in 2012/2013! After my first half I found out it was a part of this challenge, you do the OC half, the Long Beach half, and the Surf City half and get this HUGE medal to celebrate your accomplishment. 5 years later and I did it again. Back then I did those races in about 2:28, but this time I did it in 2:11! In the running community that is a big deal! Shaving off minutes, even seconds, is considered an accomplishment!

What I have learned from running these past 5 years, is that dedicating my runs to God always equals success. Through running I have been able to raise money and awareness for melanoma cancer, and a few various other charities, as well as run for the LIFE runners and the unborn (supporting my local pregnancy crisis center), and run for Meg's Miles (supporting a grieving family, and an amazing loving online community of runners). But most of all I have learned that God first, is always the best move to make in my life.

If you would like to help me support Living Well, my local pregnancy crisis center, go here to this link: https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Oc-Life-Runners-Fundraiser-For-Living-Well

Thank you for reading my story! And thank you for your support!
-the Annagizer

And remember... #ChooseJoy #ChooseLove #ChoosePeace