Saturday, February 25, 2012

Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

John 21 ...     Lead the way!

When I found out I would be traveling for work to Fort Benning, Georgia, for two weeks in February, I felt like it was most certainly a gift. Firstly, Ohio is COLD in February. Secondly, I was excited about the work we would be doing. It was a multiday experiment, and I love experiments.  It also helped a great deal that I have great coworkers. It also didn't hurt that I was staying in an awesome hotel near the 15 mile Chattahoochee Riverwalk.  The weekend I would be in the South also happened to be the same weekend I needed a long run. After a quick search, I found the 26.2 with Donna Race to Finish Breast Cancer and signed up. 2.5 miles of the event were actually on the beach! Does it get any better?  Yup. I dropped an email to college bud, Major Mary, who happened to be stationed in Georgia and told her about my plan to spend the weekend in Jacksonville, Florida. She had a free weekend and met me in Jacksonville. I had enough frequent traveler points that I wound up paying very little for a nice place close to the beach. Bonus! A gift? Oh yeah.

I picked the run because the timing and location were right. When I signed up, it didn't really dawn on me that there was a lot more to the event.  On the bus to the start, I spoke with a woman who was a cancer survivor. She told me her husband was a retired Navy pastor, and it was her third time doing the event. She was running the half with her son. The first few miles of the race I was surprised that my thoughts were of my granny who passed away from cancer when I was 10. Running and crying aren't so easy to do since it makes it hard to breathe so I choked back some tears. One of my favorite parts of the course was running 2.5 miles along the beach. It wasn't long before I was grinning from ear to ear.

Seeing the survivors was inspiring. Seeing all the people who care about others who have lost the battle and those who are enduring the cancer struggle really made me think about how wonderful people can be. Many of the runners had the names of others on the backs of their shirts. Mary joined me at mile 20 for the last 10K of the run so we both managed to get in a great training day.

It was a beautiful course, and the entire thing was really a gift. I didn't know that I would get to run this, and I am thankful. God had a better plan than I.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Glass by Malinda

This year for mom's birthday, I had a little help from Groupon. When I saw the offer for a "hot glass" class with artist James Michael, I thought that sounded like a great birthday idea. Mom has a big background in art, and it used to be her day job as well as a passion. I knew she had never worked with molten glass, and I remembered her watching a few shows about glass making. I called to confirm that she would in fact like to go and then signed us up. I don't think it could have been any better. We had a great day and tried something new. She's been talking about it ever since.  Here are a few shots of the day...

Some beautiful pieces in the studio.

Jim giving us a demonstration.

 Mom working on her first piece. Here she is adding the color to molten glass.

Forming the piece with instruction from the artist.

  One of mom's and one of mine. I put it on a lit stand with rotating colors to see how it would look. 

Three of our pieces

Mom bought a beautiful piece by James Michael that now sits in the living room. 

We learned a lot. We had a lot of fun. We were around some great folks. We made pretty things. What a great day! There are so many things to learn and do in life. It just takes a little imagination, an open mind, curiosity, and help from those around you. 

Happy birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thawed at the Frostbite 5 Continued

This past Sunday at 1:45 I was prepping for a four mile walk through a Centerville neighborhood. I was sitting on a bench stretching when a man walking by paused and addressed me. “You’re going to need to replace a lot of fluids,” he warned, “not just beforehand, but throughout the race.” The concerned man proceeded to describe his experiences with another bird like me: a severely dehydrated, overheated dancing turkey. I didn’t exactly heed his warning. I should have.

Now, not even a mile into the course,  I stood before the course marshall as he questioned me  “Chicken, you’re not going as fast as you usually do. Are you okay?” I didn’t think I could make it. I felt beyond miserable. I so wanted to make it. That was the plan. That was success. Quitting now would be failure and I hadn’t worked so hard for weeks to get to this point and fail.

I also hadn’t worked so hard to get to this point, pass out, and be carted off to the hospital. I turned and left the course. The surprising warmth of that day was just making it too dangerous for this chicken.

So, I stumbled along the west side of the high school toward the finish line. I meandered like a drunken rooster towards the part of the parking lot where I left my car. Inside I had stowed an emergency cooling pack and an extra bottled water. Only problem was the heat truly was affecting me. I can’t tell you how long I roamed about before I found my car (it was pathetically long). I was at the point of hitting the car alarm button on my key chain when I finally spotted it in the distance. Clearly the weather was not jiving with me. I flung myself into the car, promptly guzzled water, deposited my Yoda backpack, and grabbed the cooling pack. I then plodded to the finish line and decided to perch on the concrete base of a light pole. I slumped back against the pole, activated and smacked the cooling pack against my neck and wrists, all the while gulping water feverishly.

I reflected on the past fifteen minutes. Yes I had planned to complete a four mile course and had failed to do so, but maybe there was still success to be had. I could have just jumped into my car and gone home to roost but that wouldn’t have been any fun. Here at the finish line I could be a part of the success of so many different people; I didn’t have my own success but I would help to celebrate theirs!

That is how I passed the afternoon, cheering on those runners who did complete the course. I felt better about my decision after one of the faster runners went out of his way to seek me out for a post-race high five and after a mother and child walked past and the boy smiled at me, not knowing or caring whether I had finished, just because he was glad to see me. :)

This over-baked chicken didn’t crawl into the nest at the end of that day with sore leg muscles, but since I clapped so hard for so long I ended up with sore arm muscles. In the end, I bore witness to so many different kinds of inspiring finishes that I’ll have plenty of motivating memories to drive me to be better prepared for the conditions of my next event.

Follow Dayton’s Charity Chicken on Twitter @CharityChicken

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guest Blog: Thawed at the Frostbite 5

Cluck! Hi, I’m Dayton’s Charity Chicken, and I’m acting as a guest blogger on Enjoy the Journey. I’m a walker: strictly short distances. Hey, I’m a chicken. Chickens aren’t exacly known for embarking on long distance journeys. Crossing roads? Pecking the ground? Sure. Ultramarathons? Migrating to the equator? Not so much.

I normally walk for health charities, but this past Sunday I was going to walk strictly for my own health, and for fun, at the Ohio River Road Runners’ Club’s Frostbite 5 at Centerville H.S. It’s your choice of a 5 mile run or 4 mile walk. I’ve completed the 4 mile walk twice before and that was my goal this year: complete the four mile course. Nothing fancy, but a big step after struggling through back and lower leg difficulties at the Jingle Bell 5k for Arthritis in December. I trained seriously for the Frostbite since it is my longest event. As the day approached, my confidence was high.

The Frostbite is always on Super Bowl Sunday. Aptly named, it’s always frigidly cold, well below freezing. But not this year. Sunday it was a balmy 44 degrees Farenheit. The sky was perfectly clear and the sun was strong.

I joined the throng of racegoers entering the high school’s gym and proceeded to engage in my typical pre-race routine of registering, posing for some photos, waving at lots of people who call out to me, drinking lots of fluids, holding up my sign so people could read it easily, stretching, socializing, and accepting compliments for my accessories (this time it was my stylish Yoda backpack that caught everyone’s attention). I tried to hang out in the gym for a while, since I do enjoy hanging with my peeps, but it was getting too hot for me.

I had been worried about the warm temperature before I arrived, but I was feeling okay when I was lining up at the starting line. There was a cool breeze.

There were a number of dogs also lining up at the starting line, but one particular one stood out. I heard this doberman pinscher vocalizing to my left. It wasn’t barking, it was whining, moaning, and declaring “Ahr ahr AHRRRRR!” I should have heeded that doggy’s words of warning!

The gun fired, the runners burst forth, and I started clucking along okay, but by the time of the first big left turn something wasn’t right. As I continued up the east side of the high school I was hyperventilating, wheezing something awful, and fighting to push ahead. I was getting passed by all the other walkers. I fell to last place. I was struggling to keep up and was failing miserably as the last of the walkers pulled further and further away. I was circling around the front of the school and the gaping hole between me and the walkers ahead had grown considerably. The hole was big enough for me to know I would end up on the course with no one in sight and only a vague idea of how to get to the finish line.

As I was about to leave the high school grounds, the very nice course marshall at the high school’s entrance was starting to move the cones from the start of race position to the end of race position (the course is a big loop through residential streets that returns everyone to the high school). He looked up as I approached and said “Chicken, you’re not going as fast as you usually do. Are you okay?” I slowed down to a stop and said “I don’t think I’m used to this heat and I don’t think I can make it.”

To be continued …

Will the chicken dance its way to glory, collapse in feathery despair, or be abducted by a horde of chicken wing loving Super Bowl fans? Come back tomorrow for the dramatic conclusion!