Tuesday, August 31, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 15 (Aug 31) Charlottesville to Lynchburg (Leg 3)

Isaiah 40:31 For those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

Last night, with the help of the Toneys, we mapped out a new course to run into Lynchburg, thereby avoiding Rt. 29 altogether. We would start in Amherst, VA and run the back roads into Lynchburg. Donnie Toney was going to run with me, his goal to do the whole distance if he could, otherwise he would hang in there as long as possible. I was ready to run, but so tired. I knew that having Donnie run with me would be the shot in the arm I needed to make this the best run yet.

Also joining us, additional angels that God has placed in my life, were Pastor Karen and Reba. They got up really early in order to make the 3 hr trip to be with us the whole day. There was a real spirit surrounding me as we joined hands to pray - I was being renewed and lifted up by the support of others. Then we were off! I felt as though I was being pulled toward the finish line with wings of eagles guiding my feet. Donnie and I talked and ran, and I knew we were going out faster than normal. Our mile splits for the first 5 miles were: 10:39, 10:38, 11:00, 11:04, 11:39. The course was very hilly, but there were long stretches of down hill to counteract the long stretches of up. I ran aggressively on the downs and so our mile splits showed when the mile was mostly up or mostly down: Miles 6-10 were 10:21, 10:52, 10:55, 12:04, 9:33!

The countryside was beautiful! We were surrounded by mountains, and I could only imagine the glory of the autumn leaves in another month. Each stop we made, Reba would be there holding up her bright pink sign and Pastor Karen would be cheering me on. Lindsey was ever faithful with putting ice in my water, getting me sports beans or whatever else I needed.Kendra Toney also arrived to help with the rest of the run.  Miles 11-13 splits were: 11:09, 11:19, 10:53.

We ran down a couple miles to Route 130. The next 3 miles were difficult as we were running on the shoulder of a busier highway. The sun was out in full force and there was no shade. Plus with the traffic we were needing to run single file.  Still our splits from mile 14-17 were pretty good:  10:21, 10:08, 10:12, 10:08. When we were going up the hills, Donnie was stronger. In fact I think he was helping to pull me up the hills. On the down hills I was able to really take off. After several miles of this, Donnie had a cramp on one of the downhills. But he was able to persist and keep running until another cramp occured at mile 17. At this point, he decided to take a break and would join me as I went into Lynchburg.

Now I was on River Road, and the final stretch before going across the bridge into Lynchburg. The road was winding and up and down. At mile 20, I was starting to have an issue with cramping myself - mine was in my side, so I was able to keep running, but had to keep pushing the spot to keep it from cramping. At about mile 21, ABC news showed up to interview me. My crew warned me, so I tried to put on my best form and ran down to meet them at a pretty good clip. Then, as I continued on the run, they followed along filming my feet! I waiting to see what they actually show on the news. Now I looked at my watch and realized that I could have my fastest time of the entire 15 days. I tried to keep my pace up as I neared the 5th St. bridge, but it was mostly uphill and my side was really hurting. Splits from 18-22: 10:11, 10:37, 10:23, 11:05,  9:47.

Now all that was left to cross the bridge and climb the last hills to Fort Hill United Methodist Church. Donnie joined me and we started across the bridge. I was almost done. The final climb was almost done. After a mile and a half Donnie had another leg cramp. I kept going and hit the 26.2 mile mark at about 4:42. But I wasn't there yet! Boy, it was hard to keep running after that point. I kept looking for everyone who was going to walk with me to the finish, but they seemed to be nowhere in sight. Finally, there they were waiting for me - Steve and Lindsey, Pastor Karen and Reba. At 26.92 we ran into the parking lot of the church and up the steps "Rocky" style. Then big hugs and tears all around!

It has been an amazing journey. God definitely sustained me every step of the way. Instead of falling apart or having an injury, he kept me strong and protected me. I felt like the Israelites as Moses led them through the wilderness. Even though the journey was long and hard, God promised that their clothes would last and their shoes would never wear out. For 400 miles, I never got a blister. That had to be from God.

As I spoke at Fort Hill, I explained the reason for my run. In a scene from the movie, Eric Liddell was trying to explain to his sister why he wanted to run in the olympics. He said, "God made me for a purpose - for China." Well I believe that God made me for a purpose - to reach out to the poor and homeless and to inspire others to never give up, to overcome all obstacles. Then Eric said, "but he also made me fast (well, I'm not fast, but God gave me the ability to run long distances without injury - to be focused and to keep going even when the going gets tough). He then said, "when I run I feel God's pleasure." and that's how I feel. When I run on the trails in the mountains it's my chance to get away, to commune with God, to be still and hear him speak to me. And so I run where God leads me.

Never let doubt keep you from taking a step of faith. Never give up. For with God all things are possible. We can change, God can transform our lives and take us on a new journey of faith. We merely have to believe and be willing to listen. And God will be with you every step of the way.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Monday, August 30, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 14 (Aug 30) - Charlottesville to Lynchburg (Leg 2)

After a restful night's sleep at Robert and Susan Dube's house, we made the trip back to our starting point. With packing up and travel time, we got a little bit of a late start - it was sometime after 9am. We started at the railroad crossroads in Rockfish, VA. The first 4 miles were along the river and weren't too bad. It was shaded and had only a slight uphill grade. As soon as I turned the corner onto Stagebridge Rd, things change. I climbed a mile, got a 1/4 mile break, then climbed another mile. It was also starting to warm up quickly. Kendra Toney from Lynchburg came to help crew, while Steve went back to Charlottesville to take care of the truck.

Kendra was great. She was the cheerleader. She would clap and say "You're looking great! Keep going." I tried to keep focused on knocking the miles off. At one point, I had to run along Route 29. After 2 miles of that, I realized that I needed to change my route for the last day. There was no way I was doing 20+ miles on that highway.

Slowly but surely, the miles went by. Up, up, up - hot, hot, hot. We turned on Oakridge Road and there was a long two mile stretch where the sun was beating down and there was no wind blowing. I felt like I was running on a high plateau in the middle of the desert. When I came to the next stop, Steve was back to take over crew duties. I stood in the shade for a minute before running on.

When you map routes and the road is called Digges Mountain Rd, assume that you will be climbing over a mountain ridge (make that two ridges). And if the road is called Wilson Hill, that means that you have to climb Wilson Hill. I came back out on Rt. 29 and had 2.5 miles more of the dreaded highway. 1.5 miles was up, and then finally 1 mile down to the river. I turned off of 29 and had a nice .7 mile walk with my daughter to the finish. Day 14 was done!

The Toneys, who are graciously hosting us tonight, fed us a wonderful gluten-free pasta dinner and we had a great time of fellowship with Nelson United Methodist Church. Tomorrow is the last day. How do I feel about that? I don't know. It's been an amazing journey - God sent angels all along the way. As each mile ticks down tomorrow, it will bring me closer and closer to the finish line. Then I will be done. The next morning will not be spent studying maps and routes, lubing up or getting ready to run. It instead will be a time to rest and reflect. 26.2 more miles....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 13 (Aug 29) Charlottesville to Lynchburg (Leg 1)

It was the 13th day of the run, so if things were going to go wrong, then today was the day. Last night when we returned from a great time of fellowship with the members of Hinton Ave. United Methodist Church, the truck began overheating and we weren't able to get it to cool down. This was after Steve had driven to NC and back. He was hoping that if the thermostat was in an easy place to reach, he could fix it himself. But it was in the worst possible place, needing tools that we didn't have with us. So now, we had to figure out how I could get my run done. We decided that I would go ahead and start, and he would go rent a car for a day. Then tomorrow morning when repair shops were open, he could get it fix. That meant that I would be running for several miles without any crew support. I decided to wear my Nathan hydration vest because it could hold a lot more water and I could carry blocks and sports beans as well. Finally, an hour behind schedule I was ready to go.

I took off and left them looking at the steam coming off the engine. The first two miles were in the city, and then there was a nice trail that took me the rest of the way out of town. After that, the road narrowed into a winding, hilly country road. The morning was still cool, and the road was shaded so I was able to keep a good pace. Since I knew it was probably going to take at least two hours for them to get a rental car, I decided to make a game of it. My goal was to make it to 10 miles before they caught up with me. I realized how dependent I had been on having a crew to give me drink or whatever I needed every 2-3 miles. Now it was like a normal long run where I would be unsupported.

Ten miles came and went, with no crew. I had been steadily running except for a couple of walking breaks up the steeper hills. Now I was trying to get to the half-way point before they showed up. The problem was it was getting hot. 11 miles, then 12 miles went by. I came to an intersection and was pretty sure I had to go right but was starting to want to verify it against the map. I ran down the hill and saw the route number (Rt 631) of the road I was running on turn to the left. Something didn't look right, so I tried to call Steve to verify this was the road I was supposed to take. No cell phone signal. I ran up a long hill and as I started to run down the other side, I noticed grass was growing in the middle of the road. This doesn't look like a well traveled route. The road narrows further and soon a sign appears "End State Maintenance." This can't be the way! So I turn around, run back over the hill and back down to the paved road. A one mile detour. Traveling down the road a little farther, I see the road I need to take. Now it is mile 15, mile 16 and still no crew. I really needed to make a pit stop but was worried if I ducked into the woods I would miss them. But nature was calling, so I took my chance. As soon as I returned to the road, there they were! Whew! It turns out they went by me while I was on my little detour. It was nice to take the pack off and just use the smaller water bottle.

I got fueled up and told them to go on ahead a few miles. After all, if I had run 16 without support, I could run a few more. Plus, it was getting hotter and I was getting grumpy. I was getting tired of hills and hills. At about 18.5 miles I ended up at Route 29. By this time I was a little snippy with my crew. But I knew that I was meeting Robin in a mile and a half. That was what was keeping me going.

As we passed the Covesville post office, there she was! Yay! I knew that having someone to run with would chase the grumpies away and it worked. First we had to run on 29 for a little while. The shoulder got narrow and large trucks were popping over the hill at 65 miles an hour. Robin had me run in front because I had the orange vest on (so she says). Finally, we get to Rt. 632 and are able to run and talk, when we weren't huffing and puffing up hills. We were running in about 85 degree temperature but the humidity was 95% and it felt hot. We were both grateful for the crew stops where we could get ice cold water.

Knowing that I was running with Robin kept me motivated to keep moving during mile 15-20 when I was hot and grumpy, and once she was with me, the company made the last 6 miles go
by really fast. She didn't even have to say a word. When I saw her smiling face I knew it was going to be okay. Soon we were done and walking the 1/2 mile together with Lindsey.

Robin treated to a wonderful dinner of chili, let us swim in her pool, and I'm typing this blog on her computer. It again reminds me, that this is not just my journey, but it is the journey of all of you who have met me on the way or been with me in spirit. I can't believe it's almost over.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

15 in 15 - Day 12(Aug 28) - Richmond to Charlottesville (Leg 3)

Here are some scriptures my friends have given me:

Luke 21:19 - By your endurance you will win your lives.
Hebrews 10:36 - for you need endurance so that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise.
Romans 5:3-4 - suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

Endurance is an interesting thing. To get endurance you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, just a little bit more each time you run. I remember when I was so worried about finishing a half-marathon. Now, many of my midweek training runs are that distance. How did I get from zero miles to 400 miles? By pushing myself out of my comfort zone just enough to begin to cross thresholds. I've had many people say I couldn't run around the block much less 15 marathons in 15 days. I say, it's not about what you can do, but about what you can believe. So maybe running around the block is too far, today. But running to the corner isn't. And the next day, you might actually turn the corner. And the next day go to the next corner. Then, before you know it, you're running around the block. You've crossed a threshold and reached a new level of endurance. Ministry is like that too. We need to step out of our comfort zones. Get your youth together and go on a TOP trip. Get them excited about serving God. As their faith grows, God will show them new ways to minister and before long it will be the youth who turn America around, and make a difference in this world.

Last night, after an enjoyable evening spent with my sister-in-law, Susan Dube and a yummy steak dinner, I was bone-tired, so I called it a night and went to bed. I had a restless night. It seems for every good night of sleep I get a bad one. But, the run must go on, sleep or no sleep! Josh was back again to crew since Steve was going to North Carolina to give a short talk, then drive all the way back up to Charlottesville. We drove back to Palmyra and started about 7:45 am. After a pretty steep initial climb, the road turned into a series of rolling up and downs. It was a cool foggy morning, and I felt pretty good once I got going, so I was letting them go about 3 miles ahead. There were some big hills today! But there were also some nice long downhill stretches, so I never felt really wiped out. Good thing I'm not allergic to ragweed. I'm hugging the shoulder of the road because of the traffic, and my left leg is about yellow from rubbing against the ragweed.

As I crossed over Rt. 250 to continue on Rt. 616, I noticed a sign saying "Road Closed Ahead." About 1.5 miles later I caught up with my crew. "Did you guys notice the sign back there saying the road was closed due to bridge construction?" They had missed it. I didn't really want to turn around a take a different route, so Josh drove ahead to check it out. Pretty soon, I see them coming back up the road. Yep it's closed. Well, a little road closure won't stop the Warrior Princess. I keep going while they take the long way around.

I get to the bridge and I see a little dirt road through the woods, so I follow it. It takes me down to a railroad track! Unfortunately, there is no road on the other side, just a steep embankment about 10-20 feet high. I scramble over the tracks and clamber up the bank, grabbing onto branches to pull me up.The woods are really thick and I have to push through pine boughs to make it up to the road. Boy, is there a lot of trash dumped over the side of the road. Finally I climb up another little embankment and am back on the road again. Just about in time for Josh and Lindsey to show up on the other side.

The next section of road was a little rough - no shoulder and lots of traffic. I'm glad it turned out to be only 2.5 miles long. Now, I was on Route 250 and heading into Charlottesville. For some reason, I needed to add a few miles to my run to make it the official marathon length. So we had to stop a few times and work out the route on the map. I ended up running 250 bypass to Rugby Road, and then climbing up a really steep and winding road. By this time, we were trying to coordinate with the media that was going to show up in Lee Park where I was ending. I had a nice long downhill stretch before I made the final push up to the park. Since there was a photographer taking pictures of me as I hit the hill, I made a point to sprint up the hill and into the park. I had an interview with the Daily Progress newspaper, and Channel 29 TV station.One of them asked me what was next after this was done. I told them, God only shows us what we are to do now. And for now, that means running a marathon a day. After Tuesday, well, I'll leave that in God's hands.

15 in 15 Run - Day 11 - Richmond to Charlottesville (Leg 2)

We started the morning in Goochland, VA, approximately where we left off the previous day. I thought when we passed the Maidens intersection,  I saw a guy who looked like he might be waiting for me to run with him. But when we turned around to check, he was gone. Oh well, I thought - looks like I'll be running by myself today. I got maybe 1/3 of a mile down the road when all of a sudden a runner comes up beside me - "Are you the lady who's running 15 marathons?" Yes! What a welcome surprise.

Curtis is 63 and an experienced runner. He had run the Richmond marathon several times back in the eighties when it started at noon on Sunday. While he raced a lot now, he hasn't run a marathon in years. I think I might have convinced him to give it another shot. The miles clicked off pretty rapidly, in fact, we were probably did several sub 11min miles, but I felt good and we were talking "shop." It turns out that our race paces are pretty similar. What really inspired me is when he started talking about his 85 year old mother, who recently finished a 10k as a fundraiser. She is the "retired" organist for her church, the town historian, and the matriarch every one calls when they need something done, because she's the one with the energy. Curtis was feeling pretty good too, and ended up running 10.5 miles with me. He kept saying George's Tavern was just over the next hill. Liar! But it did make the miles go by faster. As we were really coming up on George's Tavern, a friend of Curtis drives by. He pulls over, just happens to have his running gear in his car, and gets out to take over.

John was an interesting character. He had met Curtis in boot camp, and had served in Vietnam. He was a wealth of stories. Once, while in Vietnam, he was in the middle of a huge explosion (I think he said something like 68,000 tons). He cried out to God, told him to get down there and do something, but felt like God was nowhere to be found. 40 years later, he discovers a letter written to his family commending him for his service - there were no casualties, no one died, everyone escaped and no one got hurt. He thought for 40 years that God hadn't been there, but found out that indeed he was. John and I had an interesting run going. I would get ahead of him going up the hills, but would stop when we came up to the crew vehicle for a drink. John took that advantage to keep going and get ahead of me.Then I would run to catch up and we would talk for a while - it was great sport. At one spot, Curtis' mom shows up, just to say hi! What a special lady. John gave me a story to read about the day the world record for the mile was broken and how a neighborhood came together through running, which just goes to show the power of running and how it can  be a tool for making good things happen. John got me to Columbia, VA which was at about 17 miles. Now I only had 9 miles to go on the day.

The rest of the run was a series of long ups and downs. Before long, I was running on  Route 15 and walking the last half mile with my daughter by my side to finish the day with 26.23 more miles behind me. I felt strong today, almost like I had crossed a threshold, and felt empowered by the support of those who ran beside me, or were with me in spirit - sending up good thoughts and prayers throughout the day. I am truly overwhelmed by it all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 10 (Aug 26) Richmond to Charlottesville - (Leg 1)

First, I have to say that we were blessed again. Lauren Holcomb lent us her apartment for two nights while we have been in Richmond. What a gift! (Lindsey liked it because she had DVDs that Lindsey wanted to watch.)

We arrived at Monroe Park shortly before 8 and realized that you couldn't park on the street until after 8. And the meter maid was there giving tickets. So we drove around looking for a legal place to park. Finally, the meter maid had moved on and it was close enough to 8 that we were sure it was okay, so we got everything ready and headed to the center of the park where I was going to start. Some homeless and unemployed people were hanging out and Steve explained what I was getting ready to do, then asked if they wanted to join in the prayer. 4 or 5 of them joined hands with us as we prayed. Well, this is what it is all about - us encouraging the homeless, and them encouraging and praying for me. I got a little emotional as Steve said the prayer. Then I was off.

I ended up running down Monument Ave. which was a really nice section of town to run in. I felt pretty good, and the morning was cool. But after about 3 miles (and I hadn't seen the crew vehicle go by) I began to wonder where they were. And I had to go to the bathroom really bad! Finally at an intersection, I saw a Kroger grocery store off to the right. Thank goodness! So I went "Krogering." By then my crew had caught up with me. They were delayed because Steve had called WPER radio station and they actually talked with one of the ladies who was in the park.

After that stop, I made my way over to Patterson St/Route 6 but as I was going up a hill, tripped and fell hard on the sidewalk. Ouch! My right hand and left knee were both scraped. I lay there a second, wondering if this was going to affect the rest of the run. Finally, I got my legs back under and started back down the road. After a few gimpy steps, the knee felt okay and I continued running.

The next time Steve and Lindsey caught up to me, I was about at mile 7 and had just passed out of the city limits. So far, I had sidewalks to run on, but from here on out it would be shoulder. The road was 4 lanes and for the most part, cars were good about moving into the left lane as they passed.

It was also very hilly. I had at least one 2 mile climb, and several that were a mile or more. Fortunately, there were also some nice long downhills as well. We were stopping about every two miles - I was trying to keep moving. I remember at one point thinking that when this was all done I was going to take up a different sport, like say, croquet!

Once the highway narrowed to two lanes, the shoulder became more difficult to maneuver and I did have to jump off into tall weeds several times. At one point the road narrowed as I crossed a bridge. We stopped right before the bridge and looked it over. I felt I could successfully negotiate it, by staying close to the guard rail, and waiting until there was no traffic to go through the one section. So I was running, and focusing on any cars that might be coming towards me, when a car behind me decides to pass another car and shoots into my lane, nearly clipping my heels as he zooms by. Steve got it all on video. That was the scariest moment.

Another long climb took us into the town of Crozier, then I went by a correctional facility. Steve decided to stop right at their entrance. I was worried someone was going to come out and ask what we were doing. But, if you're ever have to go to jail, request this one - it's out in beautiful country on a farm! I had to climb another long hill and was thinking of walking it, but there were these policemen out training their dogs, whooping and hollering. Well, I couldn't walk there, so I trudged up the hill until I passed them, then took a walk break.

Now it was just a matter of counting down the miles. With 1/2 mile to go, Lindsey gets out and walks the rest of the way in. Somewhere along the way, Steve lost one of the magnetic signs, so we retrace our steps trying to find it. No luck! We also checked out a parallel highway to see if the shoulder was better, but decided to continue on the original planned route. After we got back to the apartment, I cleaned up and then we were treated to a nice dinner at Josh and Michelle's apartment. Michelle fixed a great meal and we enjoyed the company greatly. Another blessing.

As I was running, I was thinking about my daughter and wondering what her impressions were of all this. I know that she is getting pretty tired herself. But I hope I can instill in her that some things are worth going the distance for, even when it gets hard and you want to quit. If that is the lesson she learns from this, than it will make everything  - the ups and downs, the highs and lows  all worthwhile.

The knee is a little stiff and I'm hoping as I sleep tonight it won't bother me over the next five days.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 9 (Aug25) - Richmond

We started the day running around, late as usual. It's just so hard to get up in the morning. By the time we got to our starting point in Montpelier, it was close to 8am. Meeting us was Josh Orndorff to crew while Steve went to pack up the camper and take it home. Also joining me was Jesse MacLelland, the youth leader at Hopewell UMC,  who was planning on running 5-10 miles with me. Later, Pastor Karen Adams and Reba LaFollette joined us and were able to take Jesse back to his car. I was feeling a little sore and stiff and was wondering it was going to be a slow day.

But with Jesse there, we took off and headed down the road at a good clip. The morning was cool, the road was gently rolling, and with Jesse there to talk to, the first miles went by pretty quickly. We were going two or more miles before catching up to the crew station. It is really neat to talk to so many different people of all ages and backgrounds, both my running partners and my host families. It's a chance to get to know someone on a much deeper level. Jesse has a great heart and I know that the Lord is going to do wonderful things in his life. He decided at the 6.2 mile marker that his legs were done for the day and hitched the ride back to his car.

From then on I ran alone. I was still feeling pretty good and decided to keep pushing it with longer runs before the breaks for as long as I could. Route 33 actually turned out to be a fairly decent road to run on. It had a wide enough shoulder that I didn't have to jump into the weeds.

At one point, I made a quick pit stop in a store along the road. It was a really nice country store, but I didn't have time to browse, my crew was waiting for me. There was also some construction that made the road a little rough to run on. At one point, the crew stopped right next to a Tyson processing facility. I tried not to think about what was going on in there. Apparently a truck load of dead chickens had passed by right before I came up.

We hit the outskirts of Richmond earlier than anticipated. Then I realized that I had started about 3 miles closer than the original plan. When we stopped at the UMC Conference Center, I met Steve Jones, District Superintendent of the Richmond District. He had hoped to run with me, but was going to be tied up in a meeting. He did show us an alternative route that would add the extra miles we need and take us into the city by way of Broad Street, which we hoped would be better. The side road was nice and shaded and had sidewalks. However, when I got to Broad St., all my sidewalks disappeared. I ended up running through the parking lots and on the grass. This got to be tricky because I had to jump up and down on curbs and run on the uneven grass. My legs were tiring and I felt my right thigh really start  to tighten up. But we didn't seem to get any closer! I'd run 1.5-2 miles. Are we close? No, not yet. Then run another 1.5-2miles. It still didn't look like a city! These were the hardest miles of the day.

Finally, I hit a stretch of sidewalk that would carry me into the city.  At one point, the stoplights were catching my crew so often, that I was catching up and passing them. I ran until I hit the 26.2 mark with a running time of 5:05. Then Lindsey and Reba walked with me the rest of the way to Monroe Park. The VCU students were returning to college and some of them had a cooler of Freezie Pops that they were handing out. What a nice treat for the end of the run. Another blessing. When I told them what I was doing, one of them said, "I heard you on the radio!" It made me feel like a celebrity. They said they would love to participate in ministry at Monroe Park.

I don't know why today went so well. Perhaps it was the cooler weather, a good road to run on, and the company of friends, but I felt really strong right up to the end. I know that you all have been praying for me and I could really feel it today. As long as you are praying and running with me in spirit, I know I will make it to the end.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 8 (Aug 24) - Fredericksburg to Richmond (leg 2)

Before I begin today's journey, I just have to mention what a great husband I have. When we got back to the campsite, he went out to the store, bought some groceries, came back, cooked dinner and then did the laundry. I really couldn't have started on this run without his behind the scene handling of logistics, making press contacts and arranging speaking engagements. Now that we are on the road, my job is just to run. Steve and Lindsey have been so wonderful about catering to my needs. Something like this will either draw you closer together or have you at each other's throat by the end of the 15 days. With support like that, I can only see our bond of love as husband and wife, and as a family grow. Another blessing I had last night is that while I was laying there with my legs propped up, the camper across the way was serenading me on his dulcimer. He ended by playing "How Great Thou Art." What could be more appropriate.

Sleep was harder last night, compounded by the rain that pounded on our canvas roof, and the fact that sometimes it's hard to get my legs comfortable. I've been trying to avoid OTC pain medication because I don't want to stress my internal organs, so with Emu oil, biofreeze and other creams I've been managing the aches that come after a long day's run. I woke up in the morning, thinking that someone was shaking me and saying "Get up!" but when I opened my eyes, no one was there. Must have been a dream! We were a little slow getting started but since we only had to drive to the entrance of the State Park, and since nobody was running with me today, I let myself get an extra half hour of sleep.

At the entrance, we took photos and I was ready to go! But wait! My Garmin had to locate a satelite. With all the cloud cover, it took a long time. Okay, now we were off. The run started on a nice downhill slope, for which I was grateful because it allowed me to loosen my legs up. There was a lot of traffic, including school busses taking students to their first day of school, but fortunately it was going the same direction as me (since I was running on the left facing traffic). After the first stop, Steve and Lindsey went to get things at the store, so I had an extended period of running before I met up with them again. I didn't have any person run with me, but I did have a few cows run the distance of their field as I passed by.

I was running on back roads today to try and avoid traffic. I think that is impossible. I was thinking, at least I won't have the big trucks, but that wasn't true either! There is a lot of logging going on in the area and those big logging trucks can come flying around a corner at any minute.

The first 7-8 miles went pretty well, but fatigue sat in early today. By the time I made 10 miles, I was just so tired and still had 16 miles to go. How in the world was I going to make it? I didn't feel bad, and my legs were holding up okay, but I was unmotivated to run. Lindsey was really dragging too, and we decided to let her take it easy for most of the day. Because of the cooler weather and cloud cover, being sprayed and staying hydrated was less of a concern. I decided to push to the half way point, and if I needed to walk the rest of the way, that's what I would do.

Crossing the halfway point was significant, because it was also the halfway point of the entire 15in15. It just happened to be across from a beautiful pond. I decided to take it one mile at a time, walk when needed and just keep moving forward. Again, the terrain was gently rolling hills, so I had as many long downhills as I had uphills. This kept my legs moving, and while my pace was slower, I was still running.

Today was the day for dogs. The first dog was a mutt, and he was pretty much all bark. The second dog was a large doberman pincher who was in the road when I came around the corner. I startled him and fortunately, he ran back into the yard and barked furiously until his owner called him into the house. Next, was the scariest encounter of the dogs. Two pitbulls came charging out at me from a yard where no one seemed to be home. The female dog just barked, but the larger male dog came right up to me in an aggressive maneuver. I stopped running and walked slowly past their house, talking to him the whole way. He didn't bite me but he barked and jumped on the back of my legs until I passed by. Whew! Next a large brown dog comes bounding out, but he quickly retreats when his owner calls "Rocco! Come here!"At least I knew his name. Then, a german shepherd comes barking down the driveway. I turn to him and say, "Listen buster, I've had enough of you guys for one day. I'm not in the mood for this so you just turn around and go home." He gave one last bark, and did just that.

This route had no stores or gas stations until mile 21. There the only potty option was an overused port-of-john. I think I would rather go in the woods. But just down the road was a large Baptist church. It was amazing to see such a big church stuck in the middle of nowhere. At first they thought we just wanted to get a donation, but relaxed when we said that really all we wanted was to use the bathrooms!

Now the miles were ticking down pretty steadily. It's interesting that at some point you look at how far you've run, and all the miles you still have to go and you think you'll never get done, but before you know it, if you keep pushing forward you're down to the last couple of miles.

We made one final crew stop at about 1/2 mile from the end, and Lindsey walked the rest of the way with me. We ended at a Rescue Squad Station! They had an ambulance for sale, we thought it would be neat to buy it and convert it into the crew mobile.

What really struck me as I was running, is that in front of a small house was a motor boat for sale. The price tag was $47,000! For something to entertain a few on a weekend here and there. We're trying to raise $25,000 and the effect of that money spent will be put to far greater effect - the training up of a multitude of youth, reaching into new communities, and serving the homeless and the poor. The sad thing is, someone will buy that boat, and walk past a homeless person without giving him a second glance. What would Jesus do? That's what motivates me to keep running.

Monday, August 23, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 7(Aug 23) - Fredericksburg to Lake Anna

I started out the day rummaging through my bag and realizing I had no shorts to wear! Since we were headed back to Fredericksburg anyway, I decided to go to Walmart and see what I could find. In Walmart, I looked for technical wicking shorts. The only women's shorts they had were stamped with local high school mascots and were way too short  - chafe city! The men's shorts were too big! (Although I tried on a pair of UVA shorts, which I would have bought just to irritate my VA Tech husband - hehe) Finally, in the boys section I found shorts that fit just right (well, except boys must not have hips) and they were only $4!

So day 7 started in the parking lot of the Walmart shopping center at around 10am. I ran west out of Fredericksburg on Route 3, mainly by running through parking lots of the various shopping centers. At one point, I ran by a Crab Shack. Eww! I thought I was going to puke! Rotten seafood and running don't mix. I was feeling hot and kept trying to roll up my sleeves. That didn't work, so Steve bought a pair of scissors and cut off the sleeves for me! Finally, we turn off of Route 3 and onto Old Plank Rd. This was the worst road of the whole day - but I'm starting to get used to it; lots of traffic and no shoulder. It was also in the sun and the temperature was starting to rise. Fortunately, it never did get as hot as yesterday.

When I first started running, I was feeling pretty good, so I tried to keep the pace up. I wanted to be done with 10 miles before 12:30pm. I almost made it. By that point, I had turned off of Old Plank Rd. and onto Catharpin. This was a nicer road, less travelled, but I was still pretty hot. Physically, I was starting to struggle. My stomach and bowels just didn't feel right. Fortunately, this were short waves that passed pretty quickly when I slowed down. The hardest miles were from about mile 5 to mile 16. After that, the road became more shaded, and I seemed to turn a corner on regaining my strength.

At one point, I was able to run down the length of the telephone poles where the electric company had fashioned a dirt road. I put my trail shoes on for that section and had to dodge some pretty big mudholes. I was feeling some rubbing of my toes and changed shoes at about mile 16. Now, it was a matter of counting down the miles. Fortunately, a lot of this section was shaded. I would call the terrain rolling hills. Nothing really big, but some big enough that I decided to walk up them.

My goal was to finish by 5pm and that's what I used to keep me focused. But I was a little disheartened when as I ran by the entrance station to the park, the sign said the lake closed at 4pm. So much for my after run swim. Even today, with no running partner, I never felt alone. So many people have come into my life to support me and cheer me on in whatever way they can. I never imagined the outpouring of love, friendship and prayers going up on my behalf and I am overwhelmed.

As I finished, Lindsey and I walked on a trail in the park for about 1/2 mile. Today, I felt better during the run and worst after the run. I also realized that I am on the verge of a threshold. I am about to cross the halfway mark in this run. At some point soon, there will come a time when I will have run beyond what I could possibly train for, when the physical limitations of my body are going to start to show, and the run becomes more mental than physical. That's when I covet your prayers and your support the most. When I am in a valley, I know that someone is on the mountain top praying for me, and continuing to lift me up as on wings of eagles, so that I can run and not grow weary, that I can walk and not faint.

Until tomorrow...

15 in 15 Run - Day 6 (Aug 22) - Fredericksburg

I began the day with a speaking engagement at Hopewell United Methodist Church. As I talked about how much it meant to have someone stand with you and run beside you, I couldn't help get emotional. God continues to place people with me when I need them the most. And it turns out that today was the day, I needed Sondra to be by my side. After I spoke, Pastor Mike Browder gave a sermon using Hebrews 12:1, and listed the 7 rules of running. The key phrase I got from his message was "Good habits on the outside, produce good faith on the inside." It reminded me of my own catch-phrase "Belief=action=belief" That's how I lost the weight and took the challenge of the 15in15. When I believed I could lose the weight, my actions followed (I tracked what I ate, exercised, etc.) which brought success, which boosted my belief, which led to more action! When you have the faith of a mustard seed, God will call you to action and when you see what He does in your life, your faith grows!

After the service, Steve turned the crew reins over to Josh and Michelle Orndorff, while he spoke at the late service and went home to get the camper. After the few miles on Route 1 yesterday, I didn't want to run 26.2 miles of it, so after consulting a map, we decided to head into Fredericksburg via Route 3. Not exactly a straight route from where I stopped yesterday, but the important thing was getting the miles in. Sondra followed us to the Center City Shopping Center where she left her car and we headed east. When we got 26.2 miles out of town we began the run back into Fredericksburg at mailbox 9233. This is one way in which God uses little coincidences to show us that He is in the midst of the run. 33 was Kelsey Orndorff's (Josh's sister) number. Kelsey was very active in TOP and, in fact, was the lead organizer of our intitial ministry in Fredericksburg. When Kelsey tragically died in a car accident, we were all devastated. But her spirit lives on in TOP. Our direct aid fund to help provide special needs such as help with rent or utilities is now named Kelsey Kares. And her spirit was with us today as we started the run.

While it rained when we were in the car, it seemed as soon as we started running, the sun came out and the temperature went up 10 degrees into the nineties. Because we had to travel from Hopewell, we didn't get started until almost 12:30, so we were running in the heat of the day from the start. It was hot, hot, hot! The second difficulty was the traffic. While it was 100 times better than Route 1, there was still a lot of it. You had to constantly pay attention, just in case a car or truck wasn't. There were also two sections of road where we totally lost the shoulder. We tried running in the grass next to the soybean fields, but that didn't work too well - it was like running in soft sand and took too much effort. There were also a lot of hills. Hills are okay, but hills and hot make for a long day. My back was really bothering me by mid day, and the heat was starting to take it's toll. I was grateful that we were stopping every mile or two, because I was really struggling. This was the hardest day physically for me, and that's why I was so grateful Sondra was there. At one point, I had her run in front and I just followed her footsteps. "Keep moving, just put your feet down and keep going." I felt like she was pulling me on.

At one point Sondra said she was going to start leapfrogging me. I thought she meant that she was going to run up ahead at a faster pace, and then wait up for me. Actually, the heat was getting to her too, and she wanted to stick with me until the end, so she took a couple of breaks just to cool off for a minute. She still ended up running at least 23 of the 26 miles.

It was beautiful out there in the country, but after a while it was more of the same. If you've seen one cornfield, you've seen them all. It was the first time I will admit to wanting to see some sign of civilization, because it meant the end was near.

At one point a grasshopper jumped on my thumb. Then a ladybug landed on Sondra and hung on for a while. So we became "Grasshopper" and "Ladybug."

Then, just when I was about spent, civilization came into view in the form of a Sheetz! We used the restrooms, and took our time getting through the air-conditioned store. As we began running toward town, a fellow asks us for directions. Like we know where we are! At the next stop, Lindsey gets out and we walk the last mile across the bridge and into town together. Another person asks us for direction! But then, out of the blue, we hear "SuSu!" It was Josh's dad, Pastor Randy Orndorff. What a pleasant surprise. Finally we hit the 26.2 mark and end at a cemetery! How fitting, since I am dead tired. And our running time? 5:33 - Kelsey was there at the end for us too.

We were blessed to be treated to dinner by Pastor Randy. I was blessed at Josh and Michelle's care for us which had to be for them a very long day (since they also took us out to Lake Anna before going home). And doubly blessed by Sondra who drove up all the way from NC to be by my side. It made the heat, the traffic, and the long road ahead all worth it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

15 in 15 Run - Day 5 (Aug 21) - DC to Woodbridge

We stayed at Aunt Joan Jennings' house last night and had a wonderful dinner at The Village Wharf. Again, it had been years since we had seen her, and there was a lot of catching up to do. But for some reason, I had a really restless night. My legs ached a bit and I decided to take some aspirin, so I got up and rummaged around trying to find the right bag. Then I went in the bathroom and rubbed my special emu oil and bio-freeze on them. I get back to bed and Steve who has slept through all that is breathing heavy. Normally it doesn't bother me, but last night it did. I tried the tricks of bouncing the bed to get him to turn but that didn't help, so I got up again and went into the next room where there was a couch. I snuggled down on that, thought it was real comfortable and tried to sleep. "Tick! Tock! Tick! Tock!" that was the loudest clock. I decided that heavy breathing was more bearable so I go back into the bedroom, after going into the bathroom to grab some toilet paper to shove in my ears. I'm laying there praying desperately "Please God, help me go to sleep!" and eventually I drift off.

When we drove to the Lincoln Memorial, we missed the turn that let's you take the bridge across and ended up having to go all the way to Spout Run before we could turn around. Finally, we got to the starting point and I was met by Heidi Vogelsong. The other runners, Melissa Roy, Vanessa Peterman, and her husband Jeff started from the airport and were going to meet up with us. After a few pictures we were off.

Heidi and I ran for a few miles before her phone rang, and we realized that we had somehow missed everyone else. Melissa ran hard to catch us and began running with us. We arrived at the end of the airport where there was port-o-johns and eventually the whole group got together. We realized that we were running at slightly different paces. I ended up running mostly with Melissa and we would make sure everyone was back together by the next crew stop. Everyone loved the crew! We were sprayed, given ice water and gatorade as needed. I think everyone got spoiled and wanted this to occur on all their long runs. Yay for the crew!

The heat was hard on everyone. While running, I was maintaining the goal pace, in fact from miles 10-17 we were running under goal pace, but the breaks were pretty long. Vanessa was struggling with the heat, in fact, we were concerned when she stopped sweating and was feeling shaky. She and Heidi decided to walk until Jeff, who had run back to the car, came and picked them up. I was so happy they could be a part of the journey. Melissa ran with me until Mt. Vernon. The hills were starting to get me and I ended up walking up many of the last ones. Melissa came back and tried to "pull" me up one of the hills with an imaginary rope.

After Mt. Vernon, I was on my own, but only had 9 miles to go. The trail continued on for a while, but eventually disappeared right before Route 1. When we hit Route 1, the first thing I had to do was climb a huge hill. Good thing I ate that Expresso Love gel Vanessa gave me before I attempted it! The shoulder got so narrow by the guard rail, that I ended up climbing over the railing and walking in the weeds until I could get to a better spot. This was going to be a long 5 miles. It reminded me of my Route 50 trip - at least this part was shorter. I walked the long uphills and ran the downhills. In another section where the shoulder disappeared, I had to peak around bushes, see if any traffic was coming, then sprint until I got out of the nasty zone.Finally, there was a paved trail to run on. At mile 25, Lindsey and Reba got out and walked the last 1.2 miles with me. We almost lost Reba, who told us to go ahead and have someone come get her, but after walking a little further we turned around (when we heard an icecream truck - rats no money!) and here she was trudging up the hill. So the three of us made it together. The Garmin and the car odometer obviously had different measurements because I ended up going 26.3 miles! The last 1/10th of a mile is sometimes the hardest.

We then were stuck in traffic on 95 forever, as we made our way to Hopewell where I will be speaking tomorrow. We had another enjoyable evening with our host family Pastor (and TOP board member) Mike Browder and his wife Susan. We also met the youth leader, Jesse, who might run with me on Wednesday.

Today was a beautiful but hot run by the river. Another day where the support of friends made the going easier. I was spent, but blessed, and maybe that's where we see God work the most.

15 in 15 Run - Day 4 (Aug 20) Sterling to DC

I was looking forward to this day, especially after yesterday's "on the highway" run. Today was going to be bike trail all the way in to DC. We started at the parking lot for the W&OD trail on Route 28 in Sterling. I was met there by Gwen Corley who would be giving bike support and Alan Sowards, an old high school friend, who would run with me for the first 10 miles. This was another blessing. Alan lives in North Carolina and just happened to be in the area on business. Isn't it wonderful how God plans coincidences like that?

Alan and I got caught up on the last 30 years of our lives since we graduated from Loudoun County High. We worked out a system with Gwen, who could bike ahead of us with a spray bottle, and gatorade if we needed it, then she would be ready to spray us down as we passed by. The miles went pretty quickly with someone to talk to, and no traffic to worry about (except at the street crossings). Alan finished the 10 miles and left with his wife, while Gwen and I moved on. Eventually we were met by BJ Freeman who was walking towards us from where she had parked. This was great! From beginning to end, I was going to have somebody to talk to.

Our crew was having more difficulties. While we were running a straight line down the trail, they would have to plot a course through the streets in order to catch up to us. Sometimes this meant that roads they were planning to take had construction detours. By the time they made it to the rendezvous point we had already run by. It was good that Gwen was there with the extra supplies. I was also wearing a hydration pack, which gave me more water, but it was heavy.

Gwen turned around to ride back to her car, but it wasn't very long before BJ and I met up with Jay Jacob Wind who was going to run with us into DC. I recognized him because he was the race director of the Potomac River Run marathon that I did back in May. He was a wealth of running knowledge and he also knew the trail and the city very well. We handed over the logistics to him and he communicated back and forth with Steve on where to meet up. It was another one of those blessings.By now I was hot and tired. I really did feel like they were pulling me into DC and it made the run so much easier.

At one point there was a detour sign on the trail. We decided that it was meant for bicycles only and decided to try to make it through. Not! Now we had to turn around and go back. Fortunately, it wasn't very far. When Key Bridge came into view I was very happy, we were almost there. We crossed into Georgetown and stopped at the Georgetown Running Company for some water. Then, I followed Jay and BJ down to Water St (since it wasn't the original route) which avoided the Georgetown foot traffic and gave us a nice shaded route until we ran the last 12 blocks down to McPherson Square. At the end we grabbed hands and held them high as we crossed the "finish" line.  Our crew and the TOP DC coordinator, William Daniels, were waiting for us.

I did get one leg cramp after sitting on the curb a while, but was able to work it out and it didn't bother me the rest of the day. BJ treated us to ice cream, since the store just happened to be across from the park. What a great day of friendship. It reminded me so much that I'm not doing this alone. As the song goes "I get by with a little help from my friends."

15 in 15 Run - Day 3 (Aug 19) Trinity UMC to Chantilly

The day started off with a special blessing. Dr. Jeremy Busch, a chiropractor in Front Royal, had seen my post about my run and offered for his office to give me a massage and some dynamic stretching. It was wonderful and got me motivated for the day's run. He also sent me a link with some visualizations I can practice while running which would help with the Chi running technique, plus gave me a contact for Fredericksburg and Richmond. What a blessing! In typical Jennings fashion, we got a late start and left Trinity United Methodist Church in Paris, VA about 11:40am. That meant I would be running mostly in the heat of the day.The road began with a gentle downhill slope as I came off the mountain. Today I would spend the entire day on Route 50. The first few miles of the trip weren't bad. There was good shoulder, not too much traffic, and gently rolling hills. At one point, I had to go through a construction zone. They were taking a tree down, and right as I ran by, they dropped a good sized limb.

Unlike yesterday with the pouring rain, it was sunny and heating up fast. And although I started at about 800 ft and dropped down to 300 ft, the road was more uphill than down. I would run up, up, up, down, up, up, up, down. Upperville has these fancy stone shoulders that look nice, but don't really help runners because they are too narrow. At least they had a sidewalk in the middle of town. Between Upperville and Middleburg the hills seemed to get longer and longer. Finally, at about the halfway point we reached the middle of Middleburg. My crew was doing a great job of keeping me sprayed off and my bottle full of ice water. I told Reba to make me drink even if I didn't want to. At Middleburg, she left and Steve and Lindsey became my sole crew.

The next section of the road was horrible. Now we were into the afternoon rush hour traffic, about the same time as the shoulder of the highway became almost nonexistent. And I was still going up. Traffic was whizzing by at 70 mph, and even if there were no cars in the opposite lane, they wouldn't move over one inch, zooming by so close that I almost lost my hat a couple of times. I kept having to jump in the ditch to get out of the way. I began  having a little pity party for myself "I'm hot, this is too hard, I hate this road, I want to quit" Then I gave myself a little lecture. "Listen to yourself. You're so focused on you and your misery that all you are doing is making yourself more miserable. Take your eyes off of yourself for a minute and think about why you are doing this, and the people who are supporting you. Run with endurance, the race set before you."

When I got my mental attitude in the right place I was able to focus more on getting the day done. In Aldie, we stopped at the Aldie General Store and they let me use the bathroom. Then it was the last push to the finish. The best part of the trip is when I went down by the Aldie Mill and ran across the foot bridge over the creek. Shaded, no cars -  Ah!

The next challenge was the three round-abouts. I had to figure out how to negotiate around them and the traffic that was merging in and out. Plus they didn't build shoulders, they put in curbs instead. I was so focused on avoiding getting hit by a car, that I missed where Steve and Lindsey were waiting for me. Soon I was on the four lane highway. I had good shoulder for a while, but then they decided to put curbs there too!

When I hit 25.5 miles, Steve said I was 1.7 miles from the church. I told him I would go another mile and see how I felt. This mile ended at the top of a hill and I could see where the church was. "I'm going all the way." I said, and ran down the hill and into the church parking lot, where I was greeted by Leroy Jackson who was our host for the evening. He and his wife, Jane, fed us a wonderful dinner and we had a great time catching up over the past 15 years since we had seen them.

Today was a tough day mentally. The traffic bearing down on me just made it really hard to focus. But I learned when we take our eyes off of our self and focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, he gives us the strength to keep going.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

15 in 15 - Day 2 (Aug 18) - Front Royal to Mt. Carmel

I woke up and thought, "What's that sound, someone taking a shower? It couldn't be...rain!" But it was. It was okay because I knew that in 15 days it had to rain sometime. Might as well get it out of the way early, especially since this was trail day. Steve had gone home the night before to take care of the dog, and pick up some things we forgot and didn't get back until close to 7:30. By the time we got to the Gazebo and organized the gear, it was close to 8 oclock. But I was off and running in the rain. It took me about 1/2 mile before I realized I hadn't turned my Garmin on! Oops. The first four miles were on the road going out of town and up to the trailhead. Up, and up, and up I went. My pace was pretty slow right from the start and my trail shoes were rubbing one toe the wrong way. When I caught up to my crew before I entered the trail, I changed shoes and got my pack ready.

The first part of the trail was fairly runnable, but not even a mile on the trail and I ran into a big tree down blocking the way. Crawling under, in and around fallen trees is all part of the adventure. Now I started climbing, and climbing. The rain was steady, but manageable. In fact it kept me cool, but it also slowed me down because I was being cautious on the wet rocks and roots. I really didn't want to fall down. Finally, after about 2 miles I reach the top of the ridge, and after a few technical (rocky) areas begin a nice descent. I made a pit stop at the Jim and Molly Denton shelter and after a long two hours came out on Rt. 638 where I met my crew. At this point I had gone between 9 and 10 miles and was already an hour behind schedule.

The next section of trail was a lot easier. I climbed up the ridge through the woods and emerged in a beautiful mountain meadow enshrouded in clouds. There, under a lonely apple tree, was a bench. At first, I thought wouldn't it be nice just to sit down and relax for a while. But the stronger impression was that it was pew in God's cathedral. I ran across the meadow and back into the woods to begin the descent. About 1/2 way down was a historical sign - apparently, John Mosby and his raiders roamed these trails during the Civil War. I reached Rt. 55, got re-fueled by my crew and headed up the next ridge.

I had a real blessing in the person of Colleen Snyder who came to run with me for a few miles. She arrived when I needed it most, as the next section was another long climb. It's amazing when you have someone to talk to how quickly the miles go by. That really lifted my spirits and got me over the ridge. I had to take a 1/4 mile trail up to the parking lot where my crew was stationed. By now it was 2 o'clock and I still had 10+ miles to go! On the trails I was only averaging about 3 mph.Reba, with her sense of humor, asked me if I wanted to be sprayed down! I think I'm wet enough.

As I left them, I descended down into the woods into a dark cloud. It was like entering a fairy land. I finally was able to get a good trail running thing happening and began to make up time. I was doing so well, that I beat the crew station to their next stop and had already run by. At this point I just wanted to be done, so I kept moving. I noticed that the run was going to be a little short so I took a side trail that went to a beautiful overlook, and added a couple of miles to the run. Good thing I did, else I would have beat them to the next stop.

At this point I was off the mountain and had one mile to go. I gave them my pack and took off down Route 50. I was running down the mountain on the shoulder of the highway and felt free to run, unburdened by the weight of the pack. Finally I make the last turn to my ending destination, Mt. Carmel church and my daughter and I walk the last 100 yards together. What a long day! Almost 9 hours in the rain. I was tired, but only had an hour to get showered and ready to speak at Providence Chapel, our home church. It was a wonderful evening and I feel so blessed to have them supporting me every step of the way.

Day 2 done.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

15 in 15 Day 1 - Winchester to Front Royal

After staying up late to get things ready, we were frantically running around the house in the morning, which meant that we were going to forget something. When we got to Winchester, we realized it was the water! Fortunately, Reba, my faithful crew member had brought water. Running with me was Rachel Carson who is heading off to college tomorrow and three cross country team members from James Wood High School. Also running with me was Kristin Bloodworth, from Braddock United Methodist Church. After the necessary pictures, we start running and make it a 1/4 mile before I needed to use the bathroom. So, first stop! We chatted and ran a nice easy pace. My crew had gone ahead to Sheetz to get gas and so we figured if we didn't need to stop we would just wave as we passed by, which we did. They are supposed to stop every 1 or 2 miles. Well we ran 3 miles, then 4 and the girls need to get taken back to their cars soon and no crew. Finally, they call. "We can't find you." Did I mention that all six of us were wearing bright orange safety vests? And there were five of them supposed to be looking for us running by? And they can't find us? At mile five, we finally get connected. Kristin continues on with me for another 3 miles. Once we turn off Valley Ave. and onto Springdale Lane the road is wonderful, hardly any traffic. But now we get the hills. Some of them were pretty steep. I remember passing a road to the left with no road sign and thinking - that sort of looks like the road we're supposed to turn onto. But because it isn't marked I figure it's a private lane.  Steve takes Kristin back to her car and goes to a meeting. Here is where we learn Lesson 1 - make sure you have everything you need when the crew cars get separated. I'm running and running. We're supposed to hit Stephens City at mile 10.5. Well, we've passed that  and now it's mile 11. Finally there's a turn without a road name, just a Route number. Eventually I end up on Germany Road and then hit Marlboro. I think that private lane way back there WAS our turn! So I run into Stephens City with 3 extra miles under my belt on a road that has lots of blind curves. There was a lot of jumping right into the poison ivy on the side of the road! Lesson 2 - make sure you bring the Atlas. I'm also developing some chafing issues, where my arm is rubbing against my shirt and umm, my underwear. But Steve still has the bag with the body glide. He also has the short sleeve shirt I was going to change into. Reba, bless her heart, buys some vaseline and I go into the bathroom of the Exxon station and lube up. Then I ditch the underwear (the tights were meant to be worn without them anyway) I'm feeling much better now. As I cross through the Food Lion parking lot, Reba drives ahead and buys me a t-shirt to change into. Except the first one was an XXL. She then turns around exchanges it for a medium. I just keep running. After a few miles, Steve shows up and with him the Channel 3 TV station. As they get their camera set up, I take time to stretch and rest. After a quick interview, I'm off again. Because of the extra three miles I've already run, I change plans and decide to run straight down 522 into Front Royal. Boy, was that an adventure. The shoulder isn't the greatest, but I could get down in the grass and farther away from the traffic in a lot of places. Trucks and cars whizzed by me, but for the most part pulled into the left lane if they could. On one section there was a hedge that grew out to the edge of the highway. I had  to wait for a break in the traffic, run a few feet, then jump in the hedge when a car would come by. The other interesting thing in this section is that every step I took, 10 or 20 grasshoppers would fly up. "Just call me Grasshopper," was all I could think. Finally, we're on the outskirts of town and the going gets easier. All day, my crew waits for me in such places as a cemetery, a self-storage lot, numerous gas stations, or perched precariously on the side of the road. As I cross the final bridge going into Front Royal, I had already decided that I was going to run all the way to the Gazebo. But the bridge was long and by the time I finished crossing I was at mile 26. It can't be more than a mile... I'm running and running and mile 27 shows up and I'm still not there. Then, squish, I step right into some bubble gum. Ewwy, gooey! At the shell station, Lindsey joins me, then Reba and her granddaughter, Bethany, and we walk the final 1/2 mile to the Gazebo.  27Then we run up the steps while singing the theme from Rocky. I stretch and we wait for the Northern VA Daily reporter to show up with his camera man. After the interview, the camera man wants to take pictures of me...running. So I run three short strides while he gets his pictures. After he's done, it actually felt pretty good, and loosened me up for tomorrow's run! We had a wonderful dinner at the Dodd's home and a beautiful time of worship and testimony at Marlow Heights Baptist Church. They have very generous and giving spirits there. I'm tired, but don't feel too bad. Tomorrow's a new day, and a new adventure!

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Complete Route for the 15 in 15

Here is the detailed maps for my 15 days of running! I will be leaving at approximately 7:30am each day except for August 22, when I will be leaving around 1pm after speaking in the morning. If you want to run with me for any or all of a day, please e-mail me and let me know which day and where you want to meet up. I'm estimating an average of 12 minute miles, which may be slower or faster depending on how I feel, who's running with me, and the weather! And you can run 1 mile or all 26 miles; we will have a driver who can take you back to your car.  The more the merrier!

Day 1 - Tuesday Aug 17 - Winchester to Front Royal. Winchester ministry focuses on delivering groceries in low income neighborhoods, and is a site for Impact the Valley. Front Royal is the headquarters for Impact the Valley. We have several active TOP youth groups in Front Royal. We will be leaving from the downtown walking mall, near the Court House.


Day 2 - Wednesday, Aug 18 - Front Royal to Mt. Carmel Church - Leaving from the Gazebo at 7:30am, running 522 south until we get to the Appalachian Trail, then running the trails to Route 50, and a short trip to Mt. Carmel. Mileage on this map is estimate, was hard to map the trail but I'm sure it will be at least 26 miles! This will be the most scenic route, but also the hardest!  Mt. Carmel is one of three churches on the Paris Mountain Charge. Providence Chapel, where I will be speaking Wednesday night is my home church! So I'm home this day.


Day 3 - Thursday, Aug 19 - Paris to Chantilly - Leaving from Trinity UMC and running Route 50 into Chantilly. Trinity is the third church in our charge.  Ending at Pleasant Valley Church, the church where TOP started!


Day 4 - Friday, Aug 20 - Chantilly (Sterling) to DC - Leaving from the W&OD parking lot off of Route 28(Sully Rd). I will be running the W&OD trail until it intersects with the Custis Trail, then taking the Custis Trail into Georgetown across Key Bridge. I will end up at McPherson Square, one of the main parks where we do ministry in DC. A good run without much road to worry about!


Day 5 - Saturday, Aug 21 - I will leave DC starting from the Lincoln Memorial, and running the entire Mt. Vernon Trail. The run will end on Route 1 as we head to Fredericksburg. Another scenic run (except for the last few miles), and mostly flat!


 Day 6 - Sunday, Aug 22 - After speaking in Hopewell, VA I will be shuttled back to Route 1 and will start this run in the early afternoon. We will be running entirely on Route 1 (ugh). This will be a afternoon/early evening run for those who aren't morning runners. I will be ending in Fredericksburg, one of our newer ministry sites - we are still trying to develop the most effective ways to minister in this city. This run is on the long side, we may add the miles on to Saturday's run if I'm feeling good.


Day 7 - Monday, Aug 23 - From Fredericksburg, we begin our journey to Richmond. The nice thing about this run is that it ends at Lake Anna State Park! I think a swim will be in order at the end of the day.


Day 8 - Tuesday, Aug 24 - We'll start at Lake Anna State Park and make our way towards Montpelier, passing through towns such as Beaver Dam.


Day 9 - Wednesday, Aug 25 - Starting at Montpelier, we'll be traveling down Route 33 all the way into Richmond, ending at Monroe Park, the central location for ministry in Richmond.


Day 10 - Thursday, Aug 26 - Starting at Monroe Park, we'll leave Richmond and travel towards Charlottesville on Route 6. It will take several miles just to get out of the city.


Day 11 - Friday, Aug 27 - Starting where we ended, near Goochland, VA - we will continue on Route 6 for this leg of the journey and turn north on Route 15.


Day 12 - Saturday, Aug 28 - Starting on Route 15 below Palmyra we will run north, then snake our way to Charlottesville via some back roads. We will finish the journey into Charlottesville by coming in on Route 250 and ending at Lee Park, where most of the Charlottesville ministry occurs.


Day 13 - Sunday, Aug 29 - Starting from Lee Park, we will head out of Charlottesville on Ridge St/Route 631, ending around Faber.


Day 14 - Monday, Aug 30 - We'll start where we left off and do a mix of back roads and Route 29 as we make our way to Lynchburg.


Day 15 - Tuesday, Aug 31 - Last Day!! We will spend most of the day on Route 29, taking the business route through the towns and ending at Fort Hill United Methodist in Lynchburg!! Lynchburg is the home of our UNO ministry - Urban Neighborhood Outreach.


Hope to see you along the way!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

15in15 Day 3 Route - August 19th - Paris, VA to Chantilly


Another day mapped. This starts at Trinity UMC in Paris, and ends at Pleasant Valley UMC in Chantilly, the church where Teens Opposing Poverty started!

Route for Day One of the 15in15

Check out the route for day 1 of the 15 in 15 - Starting in Winchester and ending in Front Royal. If anyone wants to run part or all of the run, let me know. We'll be leaving from the Downtown walking mall about 7:30am on August 17th. Come join the fun!