Monday, February 20, 2012

What's your nard?

First of all, nard? Great word.

Second of all, I'm grabbing that word from the book of John in which Jesus visits Mary and Martha and Mary breaks a jar of her most expensive nard {can't not giggle} to wash Jesus' feet. {full verses here for inquiring minds}

That verse was taught in my church yesterday in a way that I hadn't totally considered it before. Not just focusing on sacrificing wealth or even sacrificing anything, but focusing on the fact that Mary held nothing, not even her most prized possession, above Jesus. If I'm going to sit here and list the things that I regularly place above Jesus - that I'm not fully confident I'd be able to sacrifice completely for Him - I'd be sitting here all day.

What if all, like all, of my friends abandoned me? If my family was lost in a car crash? If I could never run again? If I developed a fatal allergy to avocados? Would I be able to carry on, knowing only that I had the love of God?

There's a part of me that says, "of course, after a period of mourning or struggle, I would eventually be able to carry on." But there would be a period of serious darkness. And I've endured that before. It's not a pleasant place, and it can be easy to lose sight of all that you do have. Thinking to yourself, "well, at least I have God," can, to the truly miserable individual, be akin to having your mom still think you're cool even though you didn't get invited to the popular boy's Bar Mitzvah. Like, thanks, but really, no thanks.

So this teaching was a powerful reminder to me to stop acting like a 12 year old girl, literally, and be sure that my priorities are in line. Like anything of true worth or difficulty, that's not an easy, one-stop endeavor. That's an ongoing, daily practice that will continue throughout my life to re-assess, to pray, to ask myself, "Would I be willing and able to break my bottle of nard today?"

It's an important lesson, because all that we have here is temporary. Our loved ones will pass away. You can't take your shoe collection with you. But “The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop.  They are new every morning.  Lamentations 3:22-23” - and that's pretty cool.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Addicted to technology and the day I almost died

Marathon training (for the Go! St. Louis Marathon) is in full swing and I ran 20 miles on this past beautiful Saturday morning. Following that successful run, I went to Mardi Gras and almost died.

St. Louis' Mardi Gras celebration is the second largest in the nation, behind - you guessed it! - New Orleans. The last time I was in St. Louis during this time of year I was 17 and for some reason that I can't even imagine my parents wouldn't have found it appropriate for me to attend an all-out rager, so this was my first time checking out the scene. And what a scene it was. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it was certainly a wild ride, packed with thousands of people, and frankly, overwhelming. {I get overwhelmed very easily, but whatever}

Since I got a bit of a slower start to my morning and had to toss in a quick almost 3 hour run, I didn't head down to Soulard until about 3, so I was thrust into the craziness when everyone else had already been downing their body weight in beer since about 8 a.m. YIKES doesn't even begin to describe my feelings!

I met up with one of my close guy friends, his girlfriend and some other friends at one random street corner and had made plans to meet up with another friend in the muy exclusivo (not actually) Bud Light tent, for which you need a ticket in order to enter. Despite my friend's warnings about creepy men and reminders of my ability to get lost on the way from my bedroom to the bathroom, I meandered off solo to meet my friend. En route....MY PHONE DIED. I put that in all caps to express my anguish. What did people do before cell phones? I'm fairly certain they spent the vast majority of their life lost and looking for their friends. At this point in time, my life sort of flashed before my eyes as I realized that I was most likely going to die in Soulard and never see anyone I love again. I'm so casual and non-dramatic.

I knew I would never be able to find the first group of friends I was with again, and I couldn't let my other friends in the tent know that I was there to bring me a ticket for entry. The cab situation was dire at best. Essentially, I was stuck.

Thankfully, sort of, I ran into a high school classmate of mine, a guy who I would classify as a friend but also as one of the sketchiest characters in the book. His phone died too, so we were two phoneless souls, and he was also really weird. One time in 10th grade he passed me a note in Mr. McKone's math class that was essentially a five paragraph essay on why he wanted me to be his girlfriend. I politely declined. Anyway. There was a good thirty minute period during which we were alone together, it was uncomfortable, he's not much of one for personal space.

We ultimately ran into some other high school friends, he ran away muttering something about being in trouble with his ladyfriend {I can only imagine} and I skipped off into the distance with my friends, eventually to warm up in another friend's apartment where I could charge my phone. I made it. I survived Mardi Gras. How? I'm still not sure. A lot of luck and some very large beers definitely played a part. I can't help but think about how narrow of an escape I made! What if I had never run into a friend? Cabs were nearly impossible to hail, I couldn't call one, I couldn't call my dad to come save me, I felt so very helpless! And yet, even ten years ago, most people attending Mardi Gras likely did not have cell phones. And, as I haven't read statistics suggesting otherwise, they all survived. Or if they died it was not because they lost their friends. But really - can you imagine that?!

So the lesson here is to always charge your cell phone, and if your well-meaning friend advises you not to wander off by yourself at a crazy outdoor drinking event, maybe you should listen.

How was your weekend? Did you celebrate Mardi Gras?
Do you have a scary cell phone fail story?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Everybody's out on the run tonight

Anyone who runs, bikes, ellipticizes, or engages in similar exercises, knows the power of a good playlist - unless you are one of those zen people who go on 20 mile runs with no music, in which case, I am proud of you, but I don't understand you.

I am constantly searching for new bumpin' tracks as nothing zaps my motivation quite like an old, tired playlist. I am so thankful for iTunes song of the week and cancion de la semana (over on iTunes latino - I highly recommend) as they have some truly great offerings for free - I think we all know iTunes purchases seem cheap but add up pretty quickly so being introduced to a new artist and saving 99 cents is a double victory over here in my wild and exciting life. And don't even get me started on my reaction on the weeks I see that the theme is "Country Music" - remember the holiday commercials with the over-excited Target 2-day sale lady? Like that.


In addition to some great free songs, I also have a few standbys that never ever get old and boring for me. My cousin has just picked up running and asked for motivational music I took it upon myself to make her an entire Spotify playlist. Some tracks that I always love to hear on a run?

Paul Simon, Obvious Child
Dire Straits, Walk of Life
The Spinners, Rubber Band Man
Cody Chestnutt, Look Good in Leather
Michael Jackson, PYT

And of course....

Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run (no one else can pull off the plaid cut off shirt quite like The I right or am I right?)

What are some of your favorite, throwback, never-get-old, running tunes?
Any new hot jams I should add to my list?
Do you run without music??

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Second City, Third Marathon

Last week I made what, at the time, seemed like a brilliant idea. I signed up for the 2012 Chicago Marathon. I have a wonderful group of running friends I met in New York, one of whom actually came to run the St. Louis Marathon with me last year. She is also a huge fan of the Chicago marathon and has run the race every year since starting to run marathons - maybe 2006 or 2007? Every year she coerces various members of our running crew to join her in "the second city" and race Chicago - some years it's awesome, and some years, like apparently in 2010, it is a boiling sauna of misery.

At any rate, now that I am back in the Midwest, I thought to myself, "self, you're not that far away from Chicago and you never get to see your old East Coast friends, let's run Chicago and reconnect and check out this amazing marathon." So I registered.

And then, a day or so later, it hit me like a dang mac truck. The race is in I will have to start training in July/August. In Saint Louis. Remember running in the heat? I try not to. But it's too late now, non-refundable purchase, it's too late now.

Do you prefer running in the heat or the cold?
Any racing buyer's remorse out there?
Will you be running Chicago?!??