Surprising News At The Doctor

Last weekend I ran my fastest half marathon race ever,and was (and still am) feeling like I’m in better physical shape than I’ve ever been in my entire life. During pregnancy I worried it would take years to regain a high level fitness, but in just 9 months I’ve become faster and stronger than I ever was before I had a baby. For this reason, among many others, I got news at the doctor last Monday that seems strange.

I had made an appointment with my doctor because I had a period that lasted longer than usual. She thought the issue might be my birth control, but ordered an ultrasound to check everything out. In her words, the results were “surprising.”

My doctor discovered a mass on my right ovary, which was not there when I was pregnant with Han. It has to come out, which means I’m having surgery for the first time in my life on December 5. Though the plan is to remove the mass, my doctor said she is 90% sure she’ll have to remove the entire right ovary.

When my doctor started telling me this, tears started rolling down my cheeks.

I asked my first question. “Will it be hard to get pregnant again with just one ovary?” Rick and I want four children, so we hope to adopt once more and get pregnant once more.

My doctor assured me that having one ovary removed will not hinder the possibility of reproduction.

Then I asked my second question. “Can I still run a marathon in March?” My first race ever was the 2010 ING Georgia Marathon in Atlanta (Publix is now the title sponsor). The 2015 event is me and my favorite running buddy’s five year “runiversary.” We have been planning to do the full marathon together to celebrate.

My doctor laughed and said, “Yes, Maggie. You’ll be fine to run your marathon.”

I had originally planned to take the rest of the month of November off from any kind of training, but because of recovery time, I’m starting my 16 week marathon plan this week. Three weeks in, I will be taking a 2 to 3 week break to recover from the procedure.

This week’s training looks like 3 x 1600 on Tuesday, 30 minute spin on Wednesday, 6 mile tempo on Thursday, and 8 miles at goal marathon pace on Saturday.

I’m also making an effort to relax and rest in God’s peace these next three weeks. My natural tendency is to make lots of to-do lists of things I should get done before surgery and stress about my self-inflicted work load. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to read and meditate on the Gospel of John. I’m going to enjoy my birthday by shopping and seeing Mockingjay with Rick. I’m singing new songs of love and adoration to my heavenly Father. Sing with me. God is good. He’s got this.

You chased me when I was running.

You walked with me when I was walking.

You catch me when I am falling.

You’re faithful. You’re faithful.

There will be a song that’s on my lips, and I will sing it every day.

You are power, Protector, you are Father.

There will be a song that’s on my lips, and I will sing it every day.

You are mercy, Comforter, you are Mother.

There will be a song that’s on my lips, and I will sing it everyday.

You are triumphant, Savior, you are Jesus.

You chased me when I was running.

You walked with me when I was walking.

You catch me when I am falling.

You’re faithful. You’re faithful.

You are the living God.

You are the Great I Am.

You are the loving Savior.

You are the precious Lamb.

We Run So We Can Be Together

My family and college buddies recently traveled to Savannah for the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series.

My training leading up to the race was somewhat sporadic. I had high hopes of finishing under 2 hours, something I had never accomplished before. I was very faithful with my mid-week millage, which typically looked like a 3 mile trail run on Tuesdays, a 10k tempo effort at 9:09 pace on Wednesdays, and an easy 3 miles on Thursdays. I did not do so hot with my weekend long runs. I did manage to do a 9 mile and 11 mile run at 5 and 4 weeks out, but most weekends I only did I 6 miles, or did not run at all. What can I say? Weekends are crazy for pastors!

Two weeks prior to the half marathon, I ran the Spinx Run Fest 10k sponsored by the Greenville Track Club, one of my favorite running events. Last year, I ran the race at 27 weeks pregnant in 1:10:06. This year, at 9 months postpartum, I ran in 53:27. It felt pretty crazy to see such progress in one year.

Spinx 10k 2014Spinx 10k 2013

Here I am after the 2014 (left) and 2013 (right) Spinx Run Fest 10k sponsored by the GTC.

For our long weekend in Savannah, we rented a BEAUTIFUL house instead of staying in a hotel so that we could all enjoy common space, cook meals together, and maximize our time together.

sav amberly and me

My college roommate and dear friend Amberly and I exploring River Street. We’ve been friends 10 years now, and the fun continues!

Race day was great. I really was not sure what I would be capable of at the onset. I told myself I needed to maintain a 9:09 pace until mile 9, and then I could reassess if need be. At mile 9 I told myself I would take a walking break at mile 10, but at mile 10 I was still holding onto 9:09 so I decided if I finished the mile strong, I would let myself take a quick port-a-potty break at mile 11, because I had need to pee since the start. I paused my Garmin for this quick pee break and then continued on. I knew I needed to speed up in the last two miles to make up for the break, but as much as I tried, my legs felt stuck in 9:09 gear. On the last mile I knew I had to kick it up a notch, but I started feeling like my tank was completely empty. With less than a quarter mile to go, I thought I might vomit. I slowed down and took deep breaths out of my nose. When I crossed the finish line, my Garmin said 1:59:16, and I could not have been happier. It actually felt really good not to be able to speed up in the final mile, because I knew I had paced myself correctly, giving it everything I had from the start. I hoped my pee break had taken less than 44 seconds, but unfortunately it took longer, making my official time 2:00:51.

When Rick finished, we took some photos and went back to the house. I took a hot shower and made myself a sizable turkey sandwich before heading back to the finish line to see my sister finish the FULL MARATHON! It was awesome to see her accomplish that amazing, bucket-list feat.

sav rick and maggie

My partner in all adventures.

Later that night we went to River Street and enjoyed the final evening of our run-vacation. The best part of distance running is not setting new personal records, it is the fun community that accompanies the sport. We run so we can be together, and I have a lot of awesome people to run with.

sav group

We are a very serious bunch, as you can see.

Labor Day Funk Run 5k Race Report

funk start

Three weeks ago, I was privileged to be a part of a really special opportunity to serve my community by putting on the Labor Day Funk Run 5k. This was the 4th annual event, and my third consecutive year as race director. We had our largest, most competitive crowd yet. High energy, strategic organization, and our awesome volunteers made for a smooth and successful day.

bryan funk finish

In the 1980 Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell proclaims, “I feel God’s pleasure when I run.” That really resonates with me. I love to run for a lot of reasons. Fitness, competition, and fun are just some of the reasons I lace up my sneakers and pin on running bibs. But running for me is also spiritual. It is a chance for me to get away from the chaos of real life, and get in touch with the divine. The main goal of any race I put on is that space is created for runners to have a safe and fun time, and even feel the love and peace our soul’s often crave.

funk awards

Of course we also want to leave our community better than we found it. I’m proud to say we are certainly doing that! We work with non-profits like United Way to get shoes for those without proper footwear. Last week, we got our first request for shoes. A family with several children lost all they had, and we were able to buy them each two pairs- one for every day wear, and one for gym and athletic activities. Our rep at United Way told us these children had never owned name brand, new shoes. I believe God loves all of us from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes. On days when I deliver shoes, someone’s feet just get a little extra love. We raised just over $2,000 so we will be able to buy approximately 50 more pairs of shoes this year. I have this crazy dream of tripling our proceeds in 2015, and you can help make that dream a reality!

shoes

Now is the part where I thank a whole lot of people.

First, I want to thank United Assembly, our biggest supporter and sponsor. They make the race happen by proving generous funding and a wonderful volunteer base. We could not do this event without them, and I’m so blessed by the out-of-the-box ministry they encourage.

I want to thank Southern Wesleyan University for their substantial sponsorship, and their commitment to provide a quality education for so many.

I want to thank Issaqueena Pediatric Dentistry. They have partnered with us from the very beginning, and their loyal and generous support has helped us get to year four with the race.

I want to thank Pace Running Magazine for their partnership. I attribute our growing field to their outstanding publication. They are connecting runners with quality running events, and building community and comradery in the process.

I want to thank Randi Owen’s and Red Art Photography for allowing all the runners the option to download ALL the event photos for free!

I want to also thank Life Springs Media, Advanced Electrical Services, The Mordecai Project, Blue Ridge Pediatrics, Gotta Run Clemson, and Sole Grill and Sushi Bar for their impactful support.

I want to thank the City of Seneca, our city police, Go Green Events, and T&R Graphics for helping all the important details come together.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank all the runners who participated. I hope you enjoyed your running experience, and that you will run with us again on September 7, 2015 for the fifth annual Labor Day Funk Run 5k. 

Grady funk finish

Until then, may the funk be with you.

Book It 5k Race Report

Last Friday night at 11 PM, I decided to do a 5k that took place the following morning. I know, I know. How unlike me to impulsively add an event to my carefully planned out racing calendar. I had not run a 5k race since giving birth, and I thought it would be a fun way to test my post-partum fitness. Before pregnancy and childbirth, I ran a 26:24 5k on Furman University’s fantastically flat course. I did not have hopes of setting a new PR, but I did want to run at an 8:40ish pace.

The race benefitted the Oconee County Library System and began in downtown Walhalla, just 15 minutes from my house. The local 5k is an ideal race for me currently, as I am still breastfeeding Han. I was able to feed Han immediately before leaving for the race, and made it back in time for his next meal.

My Garmin is out of commission right now, so I did not have my favorite running gadget telling me if I ran too fast or too slow. I decided to just push hard from the start. If I crashed, so what? In the second half of the race I actually started passing people. I played this game in my mind where I was a super-running member of the Tarahumara tribe, and every person in front of me was Ann Trason at the ‘95 Leadville Trail 100 Ultramarathon.  The field was small, so I kept my eyes on the women in front of me thinking, “If I can pass her, I might win an age division award. If I can keep this pace, I might be pleasantly surprised with my finish time and my overall effort.”

As I climbed uphill to the finish, I saw the clock. I was the third woman to cross the finish line with a time of 26:44. I would have grinned, but the gasping for more oxygen prevented a smile.

When running hurts, that’s when it feels the best.

The Beauty of Being

I’m very achievement driven. I always want to be working toward a new level of success. I want to hear God more clearly. I want to lead more effectively. I want love my kids more dearly. I want to be a more supportive friend. I want to run faster and further. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to bring the Kingdom here, until I’m in the Kingdom there.

And quite frankly, that is exhausting.

Yesterday I got home after a busy day at work, which including creating benchmarking reports, helping students apply for financial aid grants, and doing 400s on my lunch break (for those of you keeping up with the summer scorcher workouts, this week just do 400s…lots of 400s). I made Grady and I grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, while helping Han finish his homemade sweet potato and apple mush, then bathed both boys, read Grady his favorite book and then put him to bed. Han had spit up on me when I first got home, so I decided a quick shower was in order. On the way to the bathroom I thought about what I should do with the remaining hours before bed.

Should I clean the living room?

Should I do some more crunches?

Should I work on the article I’m writing?

Should I pack up the diaper bag for tomorrow?

And then I heard from the divine, “You can relax.”

I laughed, but then felt a very deep sense of relief. This might not sound spiritual, but sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is relax and just be with the Lord in a hot shower. I know God loves me just the way I am. He made me ambitious and motivated and full of energy. But he also loves lifting the weight from my shoulders, letting me know He wants me to enjoy the beauty in just being, when all I could previously think about is doing, doing, doing.

Last week the ultra-distance runner stud, Krissy Moehl, set out to run the John Muir Trail, a 210 mile trek from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney (yes, that is a very long, tough trail, and yes, she is that awesome to set such a goal). While she aspired to break the fastest known women’s record of 3 days and 20 hours, Moehl stopped at mile 136 with major GI issues. She later posted on her Facebook page this excerpt from the Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko:

“But what if the idea of setting a record was ancillary, maybe even irrelevant, to the true goal? What if the summit on which you had set your crosshairs had absolutely nothing to do with trying to elevate yourself above another man’s achievements, and everything to do with forging a connection inside yourself — in this case a connection with the river and the canyon that might deepen the intimacy that bound you to both. What if the reward you were chasing lay not in the result which you were ostensibly striving, but in the simple doing of this thing?”

Wow. What beautiful words. And this message has been a theme in my life for a while now.

My good friend Chris Maxwell always tells me to not become so focused on the destination, that I forget to pause and enjoy the journey. All who heed this advice show great wisdom.

And the achiever in me still wants to quantify and justify. I think maybe it’s okay if my 28-year-old self has not yet earned a Ph.D, or written a best-seller, or made enough money to travel the world running races on my bucket list. Maybe I should have small goals for each month or week, to work towards the bigger picture. But that misses the point entirely.

I am going to pause. I’ll never stop dreaming, striving, planning, or playing. But I will remember the Author and Perfecter of my faith invites me to a life full of meaning, not characterized by never ending to-do lists, but by deep and intimate connection with my Savior. The relief of rest, the beauty of just being, that is the gift of life with the Holy Spirit.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10

Fall Racing Calendar

Last week’s summer scorcher workout was pretty tough, so this week I’m keeping my speed session simple. Run 4 miles and include somewhere between six and eight 30 second surges. The surges should feel fast, but not as quick as all out sprints.

Summer might be full of 5k racing, but it is also time to start training for the longer fall events. Next week I begin a 16 week half marathon plan! My husband, sister, brother-in-law, and friends from college are running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah race. Most of us are doing the half, but my sister is tackling her first full marathon ever. We’re staying in a stellar Victorian mansion that is just a few blocks from the finish line, and I’m taking off work the Thursday and Friday before the race to make a mini-vacation out of the weekend. My college roommate and I hope to help each other break the two hour barrier for the first time. We’ve both done 2:06 on hilly courses, so with some hard work, I think it is a realistic goal.

I’m looking forward to my fall races, but I’m enjoying summer training. If we could have daylight till almost 9 PM year round, that would make this mother runner very happy.

 

 

Apple Festival 5k – Westminster, SC – September 6                     

Spinx Run Fest Downtown 10k – Greenville, SC – October 25                          

Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Savannah, GA – November 8               

 

Run-Dates and Racing Bibs

Week three of the Summer Scorcher Workouts continue with a simple but challenging training run that I call The Sweaty Third Wheel.

Slowly jog for 1 mile to warm up.
Run a mile 10 seconds slower than 5k race pace.
Walk or slowly jog 400 meters.
Run a mile 5 seconds slower than 5k race pace.
Walk or slowly jog 400 meters.
Run a mile at 5k race pace.
Slowly jog for 1 mile to cool down.

I hope these workouts are fun and effective in helping you speed up this summer.

Other than these scorcher workouts, my training is pretty relaxed in July and early August. I’m currently running about 15 to 20 miles a week while also trying to make time for a few other recreational activities like reading for pleasure and sleeping.

The family and I traveled to the beautiful St. Simon’s Island to visit with my husband’s mom and step-dad for the Fourth of July holiday this past weekend. My plan to run a 5k unraveled quickly as my two year old son Grady got so hyped up upon our 11 PM arrival at Nana’s house, he was up till after 2 AM. Instead of getting up to race the next morning, I slept in. My husband offered to run the 5 mile trek from Nana’s house to the island pier with me, and I jumped at the chance. Rick is awesome. He’s not a running enthusiast like I am, even though he is a good runner. His half marathon PR of 1:49:13 puts mine to shame. But he did not offer to run with me because he enjoys steamy runs (it was 89 degrees and 85% humidity with NO BREEZE when we ran). He suggested it because he loves me and supports my obsession…I mean hobby. Our run made for a great workout and some enjoyable time without the kiddos (Thank you, Nana for babysitting!). I was able to run mile 5 at goal half marathon pace, which satisfied my need to be progressing toward my goal of running a sub-2 hour half this Fall.

So I got a run-date instead of a racing bib. I also married the best guy in the whole wide world. End of mushy rant :)

family vaca st. simons
Me, Rick, Grady, Han, and Nana enjoying time at the pier.