Needed a change  

Posted by Rachel

I felt inspired to find a new design for this thing. I may change it again in the near future if I decide I am unhappy with this one. We'll see.

Lots of blog posts in my head...not many making it to the keyboard. Soon I hope. It has been a crazy busy week and my computer and I haven't been spending too much time together when I get home late in the evening.

Please be praying for the Schwarz family. I went to school with Michael...he passed away Sunday. Like I said, a crazy week, full of a lot of different emotions - sadness being one of them. Perhaps more thoughts on this to come...perhaps I'll keep them to myself.

Bitten by the bug  

Posted by Rachel

Well, I finally did it. It began as a "I'd like to do that before I die" thought in May of 2007. Then, May of 2008, I decided on a September 13th date with three friends, and June 1st began the training period. And this past Saturday, September 13th, I did it - I completed my very first triathlon.

And what I never wanted to happen has happened - I've been bitten by what I like to refer to as the "tri-bug". Training consumes so much of my time, and it is so hot and tiring that I was really hoping that I'd do this one and get it out of my system. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to put up with the heat, the knees, the bunions (don't ask - I'm old), the scary lake swims with potential alligators, the early morning workouts even on Saturdays, etc. I was looking forward to settling back into my routine of just going to the gym 3 or 4 days a week with a few runs thrown in the mix and feeling the freedom to miss days here or there. But, I am no longer satisfied with only the gym - I have to mix it in with all the other craziness. The feeling of finishing my triathlon was just too good to not experience it again. And, let's face it, the motivation to stay in shape is helpful. So, my friends have to know that I can't hang out until AFTER my bike ride or I have to get home early enough to go on a run before bed. That's just how it has to be.

Saturday started early. BEcause my other friends had backed out, it was just Crystal and I. I'm so thankful for her! We got up at 5:40 in order to eat some food and leave the house by 6. Trying to guess what would be good to eat for energy but not make me sick was tricky. We made it to race site around 6:30 with our bikes in tow and began laughing. Laughing at how ridiculous we looked in spandex, laughing at how inexperienced we were compared to everyone else, laughing at how we would probably finish hours after the people surrounding us, laughing at ourselves for ever thinking up this crazy idea, and laughing with others around us who seemed as new as we were...

But, we set up our bikes and tried to get ready. We got markered up and put our numbers on our bikes and helmets. We set up our transition area, making note of what those around us were doing. I honestly wasn't that nervous. I think this was because I knew I could finish it, I knew (hoped) I could make it in my time goal of 1hr 45 min, and I knew I didn't care if people beat me. That's freeing. This was for me and I was going to feel good about finishing whether I came in first or dead last. Ok, I'll be honest - I might not have been happy with dead last.

We were the fourth wave to get started, and the treading water while waiting on the start was long. We were all getting tired and frustrated. Plus, Lake Underhill has lots of seaweed that I was ready to swim away from. Except for that never happened. Contrary to the belief that seaweed is only near the shore, Lake Underhill has seaweed about 2 feet from water surface EVERYWHERE - even out in the middle of my swim I was struggling to free my ankle from pieces that were grabbing me. The bike could not come fast enough.

That first transition was a little slow, but once on my bike, I was happy. I love my bike, and even though my legs were burning as I pedaled faster than I ever have before, at least my breathing was a little more normal than in swimming or running. Muscular guys of all ages were flying past me, but I only cared if a girl my age passed me, and in my 11.7 mile bike, only 2 did. And they were still in sight when we reached the transition to run, so I felt OK about that. As a side note here, I did see one woman TOTALLY wipe out on her bike and I felt bad that I had to circle around her without stopping. I felt a little bit like the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan. Sorry - hope someone else played the part of the Samaritan.

Transition to the run was better, until I was leaving the transition area and a guy tells me - "you'll get disqualified for that iPod (which I had been wearing since I started biking - I like my tunes!)!" What?? I never heard that! Clearly, I'm a tri newbie. So I pretty much chuck my iPod at some boy I don't know who's over the fence, near my bike and ask him if he can throw it by bike 262. Whoever he was, I'm thankful, because he actually even took time to hide it under my bag and it was still there when I returned a couple of hours later after the race. But, the damage was already done. Athlete 262: Disqualified for "endangerment". Oops. Good thing I wasn't trying to qualify for an Ironman or something! Who cares if I am in the official rankings? But, I did learn a lesson and I will read the fine print on my waivers before signing them next time. I guess that has to be where that rule was listed. Anyways, it really doesn't bother me because my times are still online for me to check, and I finished. Finished well. I finished in 11.5 minutes under my goal time to be exact.

The run wasn't super fun, but the first 2 miles are the worst - after that, it gets easier - something about "hitting your stride". My legs were feeling the biking and telling me to stop and walk those first two miles especially. But I didn't. I ran 3.9 miles at a 10 minute mile pace, and that was just fine by me. It was hot and I was tired. Again, I believe only 1 girl my age passed me during the run, and that was at the very end. And, I passed one in front of me around mile 2, so I guess I made up for it.

I had a little moment of pride as I was running down Livingston, and a man yelled out that we only had 4 more blocks once we made the turn on Orange. At that point, I knew I had done it. I think I even smiled to myself, which likely looked ridiculous to any on-lookers.

Finishing was so great. My mom, dad, sister, BFF, roommate and her friend were all there to cheer Crystal and I on. I looked at the time and realized that I finished at 1hr 33.5 minutes and was ecstatic. 11.5 minutes under my goal time. Had my time counted, I would have finished 8 in my age group (20-24), out of 23 runners. In everyone under 30, I would have been around 27 out of 61. Right in the middle is fine by me.

I took two days to let my legs recover - they were a little sore - and I was back at it all yesterday evening. The craziness continues as I think about competing in this race on Valentine's Day.

Here's a couple of pictures for you to laugh at, but you are only getting two because I don't think anyone has done anything bad enough to have to relive that spandex.

Fitted for holiness  

Posted by Rachel

Last Sunday was a good day to be refreshed and refueled in the Word. I'm really thankful for good church communities to be a part of, and feel super blessed by the leaders and the wisdom they share each week.

Sunday morning, during HS Sunday school (where I help lead a table of 10th grade girls), we were talking about being holy. A question we were prompted to ask our girls regarded being "fitted for holiness". I began thinking about when you get fitted for a dress (go with me here, guys). You go that first time and the dress doesn't fit at all. You need them to take it in, take it up, whatever. So, the seamstress pins it all up and goes to work. Next time you try it on, maybe it fits, but there's a chance that one part might still need some work. Perhaps the length is good, but the hips are too tight now. So you try again. You re-pin it, and the process continues. And then, once you get it right and wear it that first time, there's always the chance that you will either gain weight or lose weight by the next time you put the dress on, and then the process would have to start alllll over again. As I was processing through this, I realized that is exactly what it is like to be fitted with holiness. We go to Christ, asking to be fixed - to be cleaned - to be holy. And then, the very next day, we have to go to him, confessing something new, and asking for grace to be "re-fitted" for holiness. Again. It's a continual process, and it's frustrating, but, in the same way I want the dress to fit, I want holiness. I want to go through the process. I want to do whatever it takes to make myself more like Jesus, and I've realized that it is always going to seem repetitive, as I throw myself at his feet again and again, but He expects that, and He's waiting for it. Funny that in teaching those younger than me, I'm reminded of all-too-important truths for myself.

Trash cans and beach engagements  

Posted by Rachel in , , ,

I feel like I constantly have ideas for blog topics, but never get around to writing them. Oops.

I am finally home for a little while. Until October 17, to be exact. That may not seem that far away, but when you've traveled as much as I did this summer, over a month at home with no travel is a nice break. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE traveling, but it makes friendships, community, church involvement, etc. a little hard. I am sure I'll get bitten by the travel bug again very soon, but for now, it is nice to have some consistency in my life. Still...Labor day weekend was a great time. Lauren and I (high school and current BFF) went to Chicago, my second visit of the summer. Amazing weather, amazing friend time, amazing city...well, you get the picture. Speaking of picture...wanna see one?? I thought so.

This past weekend was good. Spent some time with my family since my sister, bro-in-law, and the kids were in town. Natalie and Nathan are pretty much the cutest kids EVER and so freakin' funny. Nathan and I baked a cake together Saturday night. He's three and, actually pretty good in the kitchen. Funniest moment was when Nathan wouldn't stop talking to Natalie when they were supposed to be going to sleep. Brad went in to scare them into staying in bed and being quiet, and then at 11:30, when Nathan was still babbling, Elizabeth and I went in there only to find that Nathan had pooped. In the trash can. He was too scared to leave the room after Brad talked to them about staying in bed, so his alternative was to poop in the trash can. It is always so hard to keep a straight face when kids are in trouble for doing something that was "bad" but also realllllly funny. Good thing I'm just an aunt and not the mom.

Saturday, I started the day with a mock triathlon workout of shorter distances, since my tri is next weekend. I wanted to know what it is going to feel like to do all three events in a row. My cousins did their tri this past weekend, and so I enjoyed being able to read about their experience in preparation for mine.

After the workout, I headed to the beach with some great friends in order to help Mancel and Jaclyn get engaged. We had to do the set up and then had to blend into the beach-going crowd and take pictures during the actual proposal. After shocking Jaclyn with our presence, we all had fun just hanging at the beach. I'm so excited for them!! CONGRATS!