Thursday, May 29, 2008

For those who pray

If you are the praying type, I'd like you to take a moment to say one for Henry Reitzug.

My husband works for an IT company, and their parent company is owned/run by Henry. He's a former pediatrician who has done mission work abroad in numerous countries. He volunteers for Medical Teams International and has been to places like Afghanistan, several African countries, Cambodia and others. He goes and treats children, free of charge, for several weeks at a time. He feels strongly that it is something God is calling him to do and he faithfully answers that call.

He is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. His faith in God and his integrity in everything he does are so admirable. He puts his money where his mouth is in every way. He is a devout Christian who embodies so much of what those who follow Christ would aspire to be. Not to put him on too high of a pedestal (after all, he's human like you and me), but he's a special person and he does a lot of good both here at home and abroad. He's become like a grandpa to my boys and is a mentor to my husband.

A few days ago, he left for Darfur. It's arguably one of the more dangerous places in the world right now, but he felt that God was calling him to go. If it's like many of his past missions, he'll be treating anywhere from 50-100 children each day while he's gone - and I think he'll be there for about a month. He goes knowing he may not have enough to eat and he's putting his life in danger.

I'm worried for him, so putting this out there and asking all who do to pray for him. Please pray that the Lord will see to his safety while he is gone and bring him home to his family. Please pray that he brings healing to a people who suffer each and every day and that his work might show some of them that there is love in this world; there is still good here.

This isn't the first time he has gone where the Lord has asked him to go, and I pray this won't be the last. Please Lord, keep him safe.

Thank you.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

It's all about the afterglow

I don't do triathlons because I love doing them in the moment. I have to admit, I wake up nervous and wonder what possesses me to put myself through this. This morning, after a not-so-good night's sleep, I woke up feeling tense and jittery. I managed to choke down some breakfast (I did not feel like eating, but I would have seriously passed out halfway through if I didn't), got my stuff ready and headed out.

Once there, my nerves calmed down a lot. I had enough time to get checked in, have someone write a big "26" on my arm and calf with one of those huge, stinky permanent markers, and get my stuff set up. But before I knew it, they were calling for my wave to hit the pool.

I am not the greatest swimmer. I'm decent enough; I can swim pretty far without dying, but I'm so damn slow. The girl sharing my lane was ahead of me almost instantly and finished when I had several laps to go. I was last out of the pool. I'm not thrilled about that, but what can you do. At least I was in there, right?

The bike and run went better - although I was the last to finish. Whether that means I had the slowest times overall, I don't know. We started in waves, since you can only have so many people in the pool at once. I had the misfortune of being placed in the last wave, so by the time I started, some people were already finishing! I do think it's quite possible I had the slowest time though; this was a really small race, and most of them looked like pretty serious athletes. However, that part doesn't bother me as much as it might once have. I guess I'm doing a better job of embracing my slowness a little bit and just relishing the fact that I'm out there at all.

But as for enjoying the ride - what can I say, it's hard. It's hard to swim 10 laps under that kind of pressure. It's hard to bike 9-ish miles, up and down hills. It's hard to run at all after you've just biked, let alone two miles. Sure, it was a short triathlon, even for a sprint distance, but short doesn't mean easy.

I found myself wondering what on earth I was doing. Why do I do this to myself? The nerves, the breathlessness, the burn. Pumping my legs up the largest hill (for the second time, since the bike route was a 2-lap loop), I wondered what possessed me to be there. This hurt and I wanted it to be done, yet I still had to finish biking and then run. WTF!?! Who in their right mind does this to themselves?

During most of the run I chanted things to myself to keep my legs moving. "I can do this. I can finish. I am strong. I can do this," and various other things. Random songs popped into my head and the presence of even the phantom of music helped push me along; and made me wish I'd have brought along my ipod. The pounding of my feet continued even in the few moments when I really, really wanted to stop and walk. But I knew I wanted to have this one under my belt as a full run, and so despite the fact that my legs felt like they were made of lead, I kept running, kept sweating, kept burning.

And then there it was, the finish line. Not so much a line, really, but a sign made from yellow paper with big black letters printed on it - FINISH. I had to come part way into the parking lot to reach it and the obvious lack of bikes in the transition area reminded me I was probably last to come in. But, I was there. I slowed to a walk as a few staff and volunteers clapped and congratulated me.

Ah, yes - that's why I do these things. There was the feeling. A rush of euphoria, powerful and pure, as the endorphins released. I did it. I made it to the finish, not only in one piece, but on my feet and running. Whatever I might think about my post-baby body, whatever lingering frustrations I have about my lack of speed, there I was at the finish line of the race. I was suddenly so glad I had done it; so proud of myself and so happy that I'd put myself through all of it. That's where it's worth it - at the end. Not on the hill at mile 7 of the bike where you feel like your legs are going to explode; not at the half way mark of the run where you have the almost irrisistable urge to walk; but there, at the end when all is said and done and you can look back and be really proud that you did get out there and push yourself and make it through to the finish.

That's the part that rocks. Tonight, my legs ache something fierce and I'm beyond grateful that my kids go to bed early. But I'm still basking in the afterglow of my race day; relishing the fact that I went out there and pushed myself, did something hard and rough and painful; but worth it when all is said and done.

Next race: June 28th. And this one is longer - breathe, just breathe.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Taking back my inner athlete

It has been close to two years since I laced up my kicks and pinned on a race number. In 2006 I did several running races and two triathlons, culminating in the Danskin triathlon that was my "big" goal race for the year. As I've probably said before, two weeks later I got pregnant and although I did keep active during most of my pregnancy, my new found athleticism went quickly out the window.

That was harder on me than I would have anticipated. I lost quite a bit of weight in late 2005/early 2006 and for what seems now like such a brief moment, I was thin. I look back at pictures of myself that summer and I looked pretty darn good. It's been a very long time since I could say that about myself. But more than how I looked or what the scale said, I felt strong. I had accomplished a pretty hefty goal and I can honestly say in many ways it was life changing. I took things to a new level and realized that there were new things out there I could accomplish that only a few short years ago I never would have dreamed possible. Maybe for other people, but certainly not me.

But there I was, crossing the finish line of a triathlon, sweaty, a little naseaus, and gloriously triumphant. Having to feel so much of that muscle tone, that lung capacity, that power, melt away as my belly grew bigger was frustrating. Not that I wasn't grateful for the baby growing inside me; far from it. But losing what I had worked so hard for was a mental challenge that I'm still struggling with to this day.

Saturday I am taking a big step in taking back my athlete self. I wish I could say that a year after my son's birth I was back to my prepregnancy weight and ready to rock the socks off this race, but I'm not exactly there. However, I am going to go out there and do my best, finish with a smile and feel good about having come full circle. I don't want to be one of those moms who "lets herself go"; who doesn't take the time to do things for herself and take care of her body. This is my way of doing that and I'm pretty excited that despite a year of sleep deprivation, nursing and all the things that come from caring for a baby and a toddler, I'm in shape enough that I'll be crossing that finish line, still on my feet.

The fact that D has been sick all week and I haven't worked out at all since Sunday is a minor setback, but I'll make it through ok. After all, when I did my very first triathlon in April of 2006 I didn't train specifically for it at all; I signed up a couple of days before and just went for it. That's more or less what I'm doing this time.

And then I'll be doing it again at the end of June... and again in August... and possibly again in September. Because, you know, if you're going to do one triathlon, you might as well do four, right?

Yeah, I'm a little nutty.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A year ago this minute

I was in labor.

Not active, high pain labor, but early labor. That afternoon, I put D down for a nap, and DH was home for some reason (it was a Friday) and we ended up getting busy. Apparently it's true what they say about sex starting labor - at least it worked that time. I fell asleep for a while afterwards, and woke to regular, although mild, contractions. I contracted every 5 minutes from that afternoon until well into the night when things finally started to ramp up and we went to the hospital. At 7:36 the next morning, my little honey bear was born.

How is it possible that it has been a year? This year has gone by so much faster than D's first year, and yet somehow it also feels like that night/day was a lifetime ago. Babies change so much their first year, they are almost unregonizable as the same person who came out on that powerful day.

Tonight I'm filled with thoughts of what it was like to give birth for the second time; the pain, the sweat, the vomit, the blood... the glory. I don't think I've ever felt closer to God than when I was giving birth. He certainly had a had in helping me get through it; but the power of creation is rarely, if ever, so present than in the moment when a new life emerges from your body. You know he is in there, feel him kicking and squirming for so many months and then suddenly there he is, real and whole and breathing.

It takes my breath away.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Most boring birthday party, EVER

Perhaps that is an exaggeration, but man... booooooring.

We went to the birthday party for my friend's two year old today. He was recently made her middle child by the birth of her third, a daughter. Just being around them is overwhelming. She's had three children in just over 3 years and she's more or less exhausted and overwhelmed all the time. We were there for a playdate recently and I didn't even want to stay. Her kids aren't horrible out of control brats or anything, but there is a level of chaos in her house that is sort of maddening.

What could be so bad about a birthday party for a two-year-old? Strangely enough, it's hard to put my finger on. Could be that we didn't know anyone else there. This is an old friend of mine, so they aren't couple friends. In fact, this is the friend who's husband is an enormous jackass, so I don't even like seeing him. And it isn't like I was going to get to hang out and chat with my friend; she was busy with the party, her kids, her other guests, etc. And my husband really didn't have anyone to talk to.

It also could be that the food was awful. I'm sorry, but how do you screw up hot dogs and premade burger patties? Between the two of us we had a hot dog and a burger and they were both terrible. I don't know if they were just really cheap and low quality to begin with, or if my friend's husband is a terrible cook, but I took a few bites and decided I'd rather snack on some chips and call it good. D ate an entire hot dog, which is an utterly amazing amount of food for him, so apparently he thought it was fine. But my husband and I kept looking at each other with this look of "how on earth could the food be this bad?"

Basically, it was one of the more painful couple of hours I've spent in a long time. I feel bad feeling that way, but my goodness. We high tailed it out of there after giving D a sliver of cake. Luckily G was getting fussy by that point, so we needed to go anyway. I felt bad for making my husband come with us, but I had no idea it would be such a boring experience. I guess I'm glad we went; I certainly appreciate everyone who comes to my kids' birthday parties. I just hope the guests at my parties aren't itching to leave as badly as we were.

And speaking of birthday parties... G's first birthday is right around the corner and I have yet to get his invitations out. I'm resisting the urge to say screw it and just do an e-vite. I did buy the invitations, after all.

And nevermind the fact that I hand made the invitations for D's first birthday... Poor second baby. LOL!