Sunday, May 18, 2008

Support Letter for India

I decided I would share my support letter for India here. I mostly covet any prayers I can get. I hope it reads well because I had to save it as a .gif file to post it. We'll see.

At this point, I am only 3 weeks away from the big trip. I've had all my shots and survived that pretty well. I had no lingering effects nor did I get sick at all. I made my list of things to take, but I keep adding to it. I hope I can fit everything in the bag I am taking. I've had Indian food a few times now. While its not my favorite, I can honestly say I liked everything I've tried. Who knew? I also learned my first Hindi word. Namaste, which means "hello." I need to work on my pronunciation, but it's not too hard. I'll try it out on one of my co-workers tomorrow (he's Indian and speaks Hindi). We'll see what he says back. I probably won't know what it means. Anyway, the preparations are in motion and I am pumped and nervous at the same time. I am sure it will be great, but I also think I will see a lot of things very different from my normal life. It will be overwhelming, I am sure.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Going to India!

I can hardly believe this. I am going to India. In June. That's just a little over 2 months away. It happened all of a sudden and so recently that I am still trying to process this. One of our pastors called me up a week ago and asked me to consider going on the church mission trip to India. I had been planning on going on one of the mission trips this year. However, that one was NOT on my list. Funny how that is. I assumed I would be going on one of the trips to a Spanish-speaking country. I figured God would want me to go where I could be *most utilized.* Little did I know. So, here we go. I've never been to Asia. I don't know a lick of ?. I don't even know what they speak in India! I need a crash course in everything India. I am sure I'll learn in the next couple months. I am excited about what we'll be doing there and getting to visit the Taj Mahal. It will be an experience like none other!

It's Spring in Houston

I just have to take note of the beautiful weather we've been having in Houston. It is the short period of the year when you are actually comfortable being outside. The sun is shining, the humidity absent, the mosquitoes hiding (but ready to get out), and the flowers blooming. I love this time of year. And we've had the most beautiful Easter Sunday. The temps were mild and the wind blew gently all day. Perfect. I took the opportunity to take some pics of our azaleas. They will only be blooming for a few more days so I wanted to capture their beautiful color. Enjoy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hooter Hider

I suppose it's never a dull weekend when you decide to travel. This past weekend my destination was El Paso, TX. I went there for my cousin's baby shower. While I did hope to have a good time, I wasn't expecting the idiosyncrasies I encountered. Where to begin? How about on the small prop plane that teetered us over the big state of Texas to the brown city of El Paso. In case you're 6" or taller, I would not recommend you getting on one of these planes. In fact, I dare say it impossible. My hair practically touched the ceiling of the plane when I stood up in there. And no, my hair is not that big. We landed by the grace of God and perused through the airport terminal. We had not gotten out the door when we had passed THREE Mexican restaurants. Clue #1, they eat a lot of Mexican here. We hopped in our rental car and followed our beloved Google map. The map was right, but the street names were not. I should clarify. Apparently this city uses the same name for multiple streets. This is very confusing to a newcomer who wants to BELIEVE Google, but is torn by the street names in front of them. After several u-turns and consulting another map, we determined we should head for the NEXT Mesa St. Actually, it turns out that this ONE street winds around some how and crosses the same highway TWICE. Another thing we noticed is that all of the street names either start with 'El' or end in a vowel as in 'El Dorado' or 'Escondido.' And yes, you will need to work on your Spanish accent to properly pronounce these streets. What a way to get things started. We were thankful to make it to our 1-star hotel. There was a big Wal-Mart just across the street and since it is one of my favorite places to shop (sarcasm at its best), we made a quick trip over there. It looked the same as the one across the street from my house, except for the colorful pinatas hanging from the ceilings, that is.

The shower was Saturday evening at a local country club. The place was set on a hill, so it had a beautiful view. The sun was setting when we arrived which made for some beautiful pictures. The room was colorfully decorated as was the life-size stork on the gift table. We enjoyed an authentic Mexican dinner and I even won a prize for guessing the right number of safety pins in the jar! Hard to believe I could do so well at this game. I've only played it 100 times at all the other baby showers I've attended. If I ever get to have one of my own, we'll be sure to play this game too. It's just tradition at this point. My favorite hour of the night was gift time. My cousin received many beautiful gifts, but there was one that remains imprinted in my mind. As she was pulling out what appeared to be a colorful cloth of some sort, she holds up the cloth and then says, "wait, let me practice" and she proceeds to drape the cloth on her chest. She next exclaims, "it's a hooter hider!" A what?! I had never heard of such a thing. Apparently, she wasn't making this up. The cloth that nursing women drape over themselves so as not to show off their milk-bearing appendages is called a hooter hider. I had no idea. I learned a new vocab word. I love just saying it as my tongue gets twisted. I enjoyed many giggles out of that one.

Needless to say the weekend was filled with quite a few surprises and a lot of fun. I am not sure that I am ready to run back to the dry, brown hills of El Paso, but I definitely made some lasting memories there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Fifth Marathon

A short five weeks ago, I shared my trying story of running a marathon while having the flu. In retrospect, yes, that was a bit crazy. At the time, it seemed very logical. About two weeks after that fiasco, I decided I would do another one. I really wanted to find out how well I could do under healthy conditions. This proved to be a bit tricky as I didn't want to travel far and wanted to do one relatively soon. I hose the Mardi Gras marathon in New Orleans. Though it is a small race, it boasted a flat, fast course. My plan was to do one long ~20 mile run before the race and just try to maintain my speed as much as possible. One week out, I felt strong and ready.
I was monitoring the weather by the hour almost starting 7 days out. I could sign up the day before, so I decided I would only run if it was a good weather day. For a marathon, this means, temps in the 50s or below, no rain, and no wind. This is pretty much what they were forecasting, so by Wednesday I decided I would run for sure. The plan was to leave early on Saturday to get to New Orleans by early afternoon. I took my fan club with me (like they would stay home) and we made it to New Orleans a short 6 hours later. I'll spare you the details of the road construction, accidents, and standstill traffic conditions along the way. We went straight to the expo, signed up for the race, and then headed to our hotel. We ended up eating at the Hard Rock Cafe, an unlikely choice in the French Quarter. The grilled chicken salad was great, but I would have much preferred the scrumptious hamburger my parents ate. I figured I could have one after the race. Our hotel was conveniently located near the Superdome, which is where the race began and ended. However I didn't realize that it was also right next to an all-night dance club. Little did we know. Apparently there was loud music just outside our window all night. I don't know because I managed to sleep through all of that. I did hear voices of people laughing and talking when I awakened at 5:15 the next morning. They were just leaving the night club at that point. Nice.

I felt good that morning. The weather was perfect and I was excited to race again. There were about 1500 marathoners, so I was able to get a good spot near the front for the start. We lunged forward as a group when the gun went off. I sailed through the first few miles at a fast clip. A bit too fast, I admit. I was caught up with the crowd and feeling good and seeing all the sights of the French Quarter. By mile 5, I realized that I was keeping at 8 minute/mile pace. That is just a bit too fast for me. My goal was to average an 8:24 pace in order to qualify for Boston. Really, I just wanted to improve my time from last year, which was a 3:52. So, at that point I tried slowing down a bit. But every time I looked down at my watch (a Garmin that gives me sort of accurate pace information as well as distance via GPS), I was still holding close to 8 min/mile. Well, I thought I'll just hold on for as long as I can keep this up. The sights were beautiful. We ran through two parks. There were plenty of spectators for the first 16 miles. Every one from the all-nighters on Bourbon Street to grandpa in his pajamas came out to cheer us on. It was quite entertaining. I started to wane around mile 16. I climbed a mountain at mile 17 (really just an overpass). I almost twisted my ankle at mile 18. I took a last swig of Gatorade and downed some jelly beans at mile 19. I was starting to think that maybe I could hit the 3:40 goal. My calculations indicated that I just needed to hold a 9 min/mile pace in order to make that. Easier said than done. My energy quickly left me and I had to fight for every step in the remaining 6 miles. I was just done and wanted to stop badly. I kept telling my self that stopping was not an option! Unfortunately, I got slower with every mile. I wasn't able to pick it up until the very end when I finally saw the Superdome again. I turned the last corner to run the last ~200 yards in. I looked up and saw 3:41 on the board. I took a deep breath and charged to the finish line. Every thing in my body hurt and I felt like I could pass out at any moment. But alas, I crossed the finish line, arms in the air, victorious once again. I was overcome at finishing in 3:41:48. While I just missed the qualifying time of 3:40 I was ecstatic at shattering my previous best by 11 minutes. Praise the Lord! It was awesome.

In the after glow of such a race, I am sore and content. I know now that I have 3:40 within my reach. I don't know when I'll attempt it again, but for now I am okay with taking a week off and enjoying the sweet victory.

Stretching before the race.

My loyal fan club.

A very happy finish.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Toys that make you laugh

I don't often go out with my dog. I should more often. It brings much adventure and laughter. Let me explain. I have a small, white bichon frise. In case you're not familiar, that's him in the picture. Cute, right? Well, he thinks so. His name is Snow. So, we took him to get some ice cream. Okay, let me re-phrase, we went to get some ice cream, he came with us and ended up eating some too. While we were sitting outside with Snow, a woman and small girl walked up to us. The little girl was about 5. Her mom (I presume) said, ask the lady if you can pet the puppy. Snow is beyong puppy stage, btw. So, the little girl starts petting Snow. He behaves very well and even blesses her with a couple of doggy licks. The little girl seems to be enjoying all of this. And then out of nowhere, poses the question. "What is that on his belly?" At this point, I freeze, thinking "surely she doesn't mean his male-piece, does she?" But what else is on his belly? I stay silent as she asks the question again. At this point I am fearful that my mom is going to explain to the little girl just what is on his belly. Thankfully, the mother jumps in and says, "Honey, that's just a toy. Come on now, it's time to go." Well, as soon as they walked off, my mother and I bust out laughing! A toy! Yep, I suppose it is a toy. I never quite thought of it that way. What's worse is that poor little Snow never got to use his toy (was that a TMI?). But at least the mom didn't lie to her daughter, she just didn't tell her the whole story. Not sure what I would have said. Maybe I will use that line one day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Houston Marathon

I learned a lesson this week. Your first goal when running a marathon should always be to finish. It is too big of a physical endeavor for anything less. I spent the 3 days before the marathon sick in bed. I came down with the flu on Wednesday at work. While I tried my best with lots of rest, it apparently took a lot out of me. Even yesterday I was still plagued with serious congestion. I couldn't breathe out of my nose at all! Thanks to my friend Rhonda, who suggested I try Claritin-D. It worked liked magic and I realized around 1:30 this morning that I would be able to breathe normally again. I awakened feeling refreshed and energized (lots of adrenaline was pumping). As I began the race, I felt fine. But by mile 3 I knew I was in trouble. I was trying to keep my original goal pace, but it was just too fast. I was already tired. Too keep this short ( :-) ), I'll tell you things came to a head at mile 13. I thought I was going to pass out if I had to run up this overpass, so I walked it. A blessing in disguise! I felt much better and decided I would just take it slow the rest of the race. So, I finished the race at a nice trot. It was a struggle every step of the way. It's too bad I was not able to enjoy the run as much this year. But I am extremely thankful for my 4 hour finish. I couldn't have done it without the Lord's strength as I had none of my own. Thanks for all your prayers and support.

I'll let you know when my next one will be as I haven't decided that yet. :-)