>Clear-minded goals

>So, before the marathon, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep training and racing marathons, or just have this be a one-time thing and become a more casual runner.

Let’s just say that the thought of never running another marathon again is just craziness! Like I said, all throughout the race I never thought, Oh, I’m never doing this again. My recovery is going very well. I got a massage last night and besides a little soreness, I feel almost 100% today!

Now, post-race and during recovery, I’m already planning new goals and races. When we move, we will be less than 20 miles from New Mexico. Our location will have amazing new opportunities for hiking and seeing the country. The Southwest has to be my favorite region thus far.

We (my husband and I) are looking at a half marathon in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in December of this year. That’s 13.1 miles at 4,000 ft elevation. I have to learn to run at that altitude. I think my goal will be a sub-2:00 race, which will make my pace 9:09. Right now I can run 3 miles with a pace of 9:00, and 8 with a 9:37 pace. Maybe this new goal is slightly ambitious, but it will keep me committed to my training.

I bought a swim cap with a gift certificate from BondiBand, so hopefully that will encourage me to start swimming on a regular basis. I can swim, but I can’t guarantee that I have the correct form. Hmm.. maybe I should take lessons..?

On a slightly different note, we leave for Texas in approximately two months. I cannot believe the time is almost here! In less time than that, Aaron will be back stateside. This has been such a long journey, but I believe that everything happens for a reason and that there is a divine opportunity in all life changes.

I am continuing to pray for opportunities for friendship and ministry and peace of mind about moving so far away. This is an exciting time and I don’t want to take anything for granted.

>Marathon Training: Week 17: One week! and aspirations

>I’m updating from my mom’s computer at their permanent campsite in Galesburg. When we first started camping years and years ago, we had a tent. Then we had a small pop-up. Then we had a bigger pop-up. Then we got a trailer. Then we got a toy-box (to transport the motorcycle, and on our trip to California we used it as the girls’ room). Now they have a trailer with a pull-out, central heating, flat screen and shower big enough for me. I’m not complaining, that’s for sure.

Now. Onto business. This week was actually a good week. I ran three times, twice in Asics Gel-Frantic 5’s… awful for my overpronation. I took them back to Kohl’s and went to Running Central to get fitted yesterday. I had some birthday money to use. I got Brooks Adrenaline GTS:

They feel like heaven. I was fitted for a shoe that would correct the overpronation. In the other Asics, I had major issues with my ankles hurting, and had tightness below my calves. I ran a short three in these this morning and I had no issues at all. I also got a pair of high-quality socks to wear, too.

Monday: 4 miles at the gym
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.12 miles on Prospect and Grandview.. lovely as usual.
Thursday and Friday: rest.. Friday was my birthday and it was a great day!
Saturday: 3.1 miles on Rt. 150 outside the campground. I went without my iPod and loved listening to the birds, wind, and my breathing. I love love love running on country roads. I will miss the fields of Illinois.
Sunday: Gabi and I are slated to do 8 miles

I feel like my mileage this week made up for the crappy mileage from the first week of the taper when I went to the ER for the second time. I’m feeling really good about the marathon, and even if it rains, I don’t care. It’s gonna be a good time. I almost signed up for the I-Challenge, in which you receive three medals: one for doing the 5K Friday night, one for the half or full marathon on Saturday, and one for doing both. However, I’m going to be taking it really easy this coming week and I didn’t want to compromise anything for the race on Saturday.

In just a week we will be marathoners!!!

Speaking of, I found my next marathon. El Paso holds a marathon every year in March, and I’m sure I’ll need almost an entire year to train at 4,000 ft. I think Aaron’s going to run it, too. There’s also a half marathon in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in December. Imagine running a race in comfortable weather in December!

Here’s a pic of Las Cruces:

Um, yes please!

>On the eve of a quarter of a century


April 22, 1986, is my birthday. Tonight at 2:34 AM (yes, I know the exact time; my mom has no problem rehashing my birth story over and over again, haha) I will turn 25 years old. And guess what? My attitude is: Bring. It. On. That was my attitude for last year too and it sure was an eventful year!
I am very content with passing this milestone. Not only because there’s the prospect of lower car insurance, but because of what I’ve accomplished in my life. My life rocks. Just sayin’. The only way it could be better is if my husband were here with me, or I with him. 
I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked in my life to get where I’m at now. And three years ago, Aaron and I joined each other on that journey. I worked my tail off in school and in college to be successful at something, and I am. I love saying, “I’m a teacher”. I’m proud of all the hours I spent in class, writing papers, and in practicum. I’m proud of the two years I taught high school; I’m not sure they could have been better. I like finding a part of my identity in education because I know it’s a profession I will always have to some capacity.
While I am not a mother yet, and honestly my whole life I thought I’d be one by now, I’m content with this decision we’ve made to wait a little while longer. I’m excited to finish out our twenties as just… us. (Unless, of course, God blesses with a child anyway).
I’m proud that I’ve made good decisions the last two years while Aaron’s been away. It could have been very easy for me to slip back into old habits of depression and pity parties. Instead, I grabbed life by the horns and made some positive changes that have resulted in a more mature, more patient, more compassionate, more understanding, and more relaxed Elizabeth. And I’m sure everyone is grateful for that. 😉
Tomorrow I have the day off. Easter is hardly ever this late, but I’m not complaining. It’s not every year I get to sleep in and then go out for an awesome steak dinner on my birthday! (Thanks Mom and Daddy!) [Yes, I did mean to say Daddy. :)]
So, tomorrow I’m looking forward to:
some of this:
dreaming about this:
seeing some of this:

having some of this for dinner:
some of this after dinner:

and the best part… talking with a certain someone:

>Marathon Training: Week 8; and crossing the finish line

>I seriously can’t believe training is halfway done. Only ten more weeks until the marathon! That means only nine weeks until my birthday. The next several weeks are crucial, as there is hard-core mid-week training as well as long runs on the weekends.

Monday: I rested since I did 12 miles the day before.
Tuesday: A difficult 3 miles (30 min) on Grandview. Took my running clothes to work and changed before I left. I knew if I went home first, I wouldn’t go back out. And besides my run I planned on just getting some things done at home (cleaning, cooking, baking bread.. yum!)
Wednesday: 6.58 mi (9:49 pace) at Mt. Hawley. Got home after work and was seriously contemplating “resting” again. I had a snack, messed around on the computer, and got my butt outside. It was so nice to run in a t-shirt and capris, and to have slightly warmer air fill my lungs. It was a fabulous run!! I had never run that far with such a good pace, and I sprinted the last half mile or so. It was heaven.
Thursday and Friday: rested… and I’m glad I did. I’m not sure that running four days a week is the best thing. If I had run the 4, 7, 4, 15, that would have put me at 30 miles again for the week. Not sure my body is ready for that. Really.
Saturday: 14 mi (10:30 pace!!!!) all around the Heights. Gabi and I went with her friend who’s much more experienced than we are. I can’t believe I lobbed off a minute per mile for a longer run! Last weekend if you recall I ran 12 mi with a 11:25 pace. It definitely makes a difference to 1) eat a little something beforehand, 2) run with friends, and 3) take something to drink (I mixed one of those vitamin packets into some water). I am seriously so proud of myself.
Sunday: Did some easy yoga poses and stretching in the morning; went to the gym and did 15 min on bike, 15 on elliptical and upper body resistance machines… I feel energized and my muscles aren’t as sore.

I think I cleared a major mental hurdle this week. I am such a perfectionist, and it’s something the Lord and I have been working on for a long time. It’s even worse when I’m new to something like knitting or running. I get down on myself; even if I got off my butt and ran, it’s not good enough unless I beat my previous times.

I also get easily intimidated by other runners who I perceive are better than or more experienced than me. I have a broken record of all the things they must think of me.. and I know it’s ridiculous and probably not even true.

I have to remember that God is in control, that He gave me these long legs, this strong heart and this curvy body for a reason and my times don’t matter to Him. He did give me a brain that loves logic and numbers, and I want to enjoy watching myself improve. But ultimately what matters is that I’m treating my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and that I’m taking care to make it healthy and strong so I can fulfill His work in my life. I got a shirt made for the marathon that says “I run for His glory” with “Let us run the race of endurance, Hebrews 12:1” on the back. It will help me remember why I can even finish 26.2.

Running could so easily turn into a punishment for eating too much, or an addiction. I joke around about being addicted to running, but I assure you, I am not. I absolutely do not have to run every day, and I looooove food so much. (Yes, I know, I should just marry it!) I am, however, proud of my weight loss and maintenance, and I strive to be an inspiration to others, especially those who were never athletic before. Even in high school I couldn’t run to save my life. In fact, on our midterm running test I got a D. I only ran 14 out of 20 minutes, just to get by. And I was skinny then!

I will probably cry my eyes out when I cross the finish line in the U of I stadium in April. It’s not just an athletic achievement, but a culmination of everything I have been through spiritually, emotionally and physically in the past two years.

Two years ago I couldn’t even run a lap on the treadmill. I was fifty pounds overweight. We were $20k more in debt. I had no idea that we would be spending 26 months apart (ironic, right?). Two years later, we are both successful in our careers, I am fifty pounds lighter and more fit than I have ever been. We have paid off over $20k in debt and have no money worries because we know from experience that God will provide! My husband and I have a fabulous marriage and relationship that easily could have crumbled under all the worldly pressures. But in the eight years we’ve been together, we’ve never been more in love or more devoted to accomplishing what God has for us.

My personal goal is to break five hours, but regardless, I will be crossing the finish line for the both of us. For our growth, for our relationship, and for our future.

>Engaged to be engaged… to be engaged.

>From the start of our relationship, Aaron and I always said that if we weren’t moving in the direction of marriage, then the relationship should end. Hence the title of this post.

The story of our engagement is pretty funny. He was in Master’s Commission in Urbana for the first three years I was at Bradley. The third year, 2007, in April, he came home on a surprise visit for my birthday (with flowers in hand, too!). Because I like to see how much I can get someone to reveal about the surprise, I half expected it.

During that weekend we talked about a date for our wedding, because we had been dating for almost four years at this point (at the time it was my goal to finish school first, and Aaron needed gainful employment). We talked about various dates, the soonest one being that coming winter.

We were on the phone after he had gone back to Champaign, and I got kind of antsy. (Ladies, don’t try this at home.) Like any girl would think, right?, I kind of assumed we were engaged since we were talking about a physical date on the calendar. Silly assumptions…

I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I do remember me telling him something to the effect of “I am not getting off this phone unless I know if we’re engaged or not.” And he asked me to marry him. I still cried, haha. No ring, no big build up of events.

Six weeks later I went to go pick him up from Urbana at the end of May. We bought my ring at a department store, on sale, with my credit card. When we got in the car, he still asked me again to marry him and put the ring on my finger.

Looking back, I shake my head in mere amusement at my impatience. Ladies, it is so important to let your man take the lead! It still makes for a funny story, just like how I dated his younger brother two years before we even got together… maybe another post for another day on that one.

Here’s a picture. Forgive my total lack of photography skills.

It’s a sapphire in the middle. I did not want a diamond, and honestly we couldn’t afford a ring at all, let alone a diamond. But I love it and I will never “upgrade”.

I just had my wedding ring sized this week. I was lucky and was able to wear it out of the store since I used to be a size 7. Now it’s a 5.75. We got the wedding band at Helzberg for about $90. Helzberg soldered them together for us. My ring came back to my today looking like new! It’d been dipped (white gold rubs off eventually) and the dents buffed out. Now I don’t have to worry about losing it this winter when my hands are freezing 100% of the time!

In studying the jeweler’s work, I was reminded of our funny engagement story. And technically, we just paid for my ring with paying off that last credit card. Interesting how things come full circle. So, two lessons come from this series of events. One, never charge a piece of jewelry. Dumb dumb dumb. Two, let your man lead!

>Then and now, parte dos

>I posted a blog a few weeks ago about how the W’s got started, at least this set of W’s (Aaron has three brothers, two of whom are married). Here we go again with the history. With an eight-hour day and long run behind me, and an evening full of fall-tinged air, hot chocolate and light from my “new” lamps, let me enlighten you.

We were talking about last night how much we’ve both changed as people in the past seven years. It’s been amazing, really, that we’ve gotten through all the changes relatively unscathed. We’ve been challenged and grown in the Lord; there is no doubt in my mind about that.

But I just think about how we could have done things differently “back then”. (Let me just say first though, that I love the fact that there is a “back then” for us.) So, to continue. We made a lot of big decisions, the first being to work through distance and hardship from the get-go. We’ve made decisions in which hindsight proves inevitably to be 20/20. And if we had been the people back then that we are now, maybe we would have made different decisions. Some of them we are not proud of, but there are forgiveness and restoration.

But as Aaron pointed out last night, we made decisions based on who we were at the time and what we would have done at the time. While I say unendingly that I would have done things differently, we serve a God who uses all sorts of circumstances for our good.

Let’s talk about that for a second. Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that He works the best for what we want, but for what is best for us. It may not be all puppies and rainbows. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the hardest lessons are learned throughout circumstances that are less than desirable at the time. We have a theme of time going on here. Of course we do! God works all things in His time, for our good in the end. Not in our time for what we want.

Make no mistake that there are more circumstances in my life than not being with my husband. The situation in itself is so multi-faceted. Along with his being gone, I’ve had to really dig deep and dig out the roots of insecurity, hopelessness, selfishness, depression, and anxiety. I’m farther along on some than others, but it goes to show how God will use one big life change to really transform the person you are into something so much more trusting and hopeful than you ever thought you could be.

Now, I have the faith that our finances will be taken care of. That’s not just because we have a savings account with some numbers attached. It’s because, through our financial hardship (and like we talked about last night, fortunately we’ve never been the textbook definition of poor), God has proven Himself to provide time and time again. There is a two-way street to that, as I’ve talked about before, with tithing and being a good steward overall of our earthly possessions.

Back “in the day” of working 30+ hours a week + 16 semester hours + a long-distance boyfriend, I didn’t have the same faith. Then it was truly only a mustard seed. God was starting a work in me, and while it’s not perfect (a synonym is complete), I know that I am just along the path of completion. And of course my faith is multi-faceted as well. God used all those tough circumstances for our good in the end. Praise Him for it! Without Him I would be such an obnoxious, insecure, codependent, anxious, depressive mess!

I’m reading So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore right now and she just speaks to my heart. I see my journey from being 100% insecure to 100% trying to trusting God (I say trying because like I said, I’m not there yet). I can look back and see how both of us have grown as individuals and as a couple. I love him. A lot.