What I Learn

Friendships Born in Houston: Celebrating Mandy

Oh my goodness. I move in 6 days. The “lasts” are coming and going quick – last Saturday group long run, last Sunday at church, last Monday at work. I’m all sentimental.

I first met Mandy at Bethel circa 2015 and immediately was drawn to her down to earth nature. She’s cool and athletic and from Arizona and things I am not, but somehow, she makes me feel comfy in my own skin. Mandy is authentic and kind. Her words are persuasive and always encouraging those around her. I love that she is dedicated to teaching and discipline teenage girls, and most of all, that she is so clearly devoted to Jesus. Alex and I were so privileged to attend Mandy and Earnie’s wedding in February, and it’s just so clear that those two are the best for each other. They have humor and joy and wit and all the things that make up super fun couple friends.

My heart is filled with gratitude for this girl and her friendship! Now go on and read what Mandy thinks about Houston (couldn’t agree more with her Houston pet peeve) and add her recent reads to your list!

Occupation: Electrical Engineer

Years in Houston: 3

Favorite thing about living in Houston: The food! I love that you can go eat the best of any kind of ethnic food. My current favorites are Indian, Thai, and Chinese.

Biggest Houston pet peeve: Big surprise, the traffic and road system. It is like a constant fight to even drive down the street to the grocery store.

Reading lately: I am in the middle of reading Alexander Hamilton (the book not the play) and I just ordered a book about Christian productivity by Tim Challies.

How she recharges: I embrace the extrovert title, so with people and out doing things. After sitting in front of a computer all day, I love getting off work and going home to work out with my husband or going to meet a group of friends.

3 things she’s loving:
1. My husband Earnie (we got married 3 months ago; I think I’m required to include him on this list) and living the married life.
2. My new too-expensive road bike, its been a fun new way to explore the city
3. The warmer weather and all the outdoor opportunities it brings!

 

What I See

Friendships Born in Houston: Celebrating Ashley

As moving day inches closer, I’ve been thinking more and more about the friends God has placed in my life since moving to Houston. I asked some of them a few fun questions, partly because I want the world to know more about how awesome they are and partly because I just want to commemorate their friendship.

Ashley and I met November 11, 2012, and our friendship has become one of my life’s greatest treasures. She recently moved to Illinois, and I miss her deeply, but we are in no danger of losing touch.

This girl is strong, honest, and just so so beautiful inside and out. Her heart for the nations and for refugees is infectious. I wish you all had the chance to know her like I do. She came all the way to Arkansas for my wedding just 6 months after we met. I got to hold both of her boys on their birthdays in the hospital. And for three and a half years, Starbucks meant Ashley. We shared many joys and pains and prayers at Starbucks on Fridays at 7:30 am (usually I was several minutes late and she gave me grace every single time). Now, we share them on the phone.

You’ll see in Ashley’s answers how she builds me up, and that is so her. Ashley is constantly encouraging me. What a gift from God she is! I am so grateful for her life and for the hard, wonderful work she is doing as a mom to two of the cutest boys on the planet. Without further ado, meet Ashley!

Occupation: ESL (English as a second language) instructor

Favorite thing about living in Houston: The diversity!! I love how you can meet people from early every country in the world! I also love how the diversity translates to food and the restaurant scene! I am such a fan of all the ethnic food choices: Lebanese, Indian, Turkish, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Bosnian and the list could go on! I felt like I could travel the world with my palate!

Biggest Houston pet peeve: Well as a northern girl raised in Illinois, I’d have to say the heat. The summers are so brutal. I was not a fan of twice a day showers and having to stay inside most of my summers. I was however a fan of sunny warm Januarys. So it was a trade off I guess!

Currently reading: Right now I’m reading a book I just happened to pick up at the library called Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. So far so good! I also just finished reading She Reads Truth by Amanda Bible Williams and Raechel Myers. I cannot stop recommending it enough. I love how those girls shared their stories of struggle but led me right back to the source of all comfort- Jesus and his Word. Such an encouraging read!

How she recharges: Hmm I would say travel or a trip to the beach but with 2 little boys 2 and under and a recent move back to Illinois, I won’t be recharging like that for a long while. So as a substitute, I love coffee!! Lots and lots of coffee! I also enjoy a short distance run/walk nothing compared to my amazing friend Sarah here, but just a little bit of exercise helps me feel better about life!

3 things she’s loving:
1) Podcasts!! Last fall I discovered podcasts thanks to Sarah Bearden and now I just love them! My favorite by far is the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. I also am enjoying the Liturgists podcast, Java with Juli and The Sorta Awesome Show.
2) Coconut Oil! I’m loving it for all things cooking but most especially in my coffee! Throw a tablespoon of coconut oil and a fresh hot cup of coffee in the blender add a drop of honey and a dash of cinnamon and I’m in heaven.
3) The CBS TV show Life in Pieces. I was looking for a random comedy to watch on Netflix and came across this show. It is absolutely hilarious. It follows a family with three adult children and their own families. They all have their own drama and bring their own crazy to the table but all in all they are one big loving family. It’s a fun feel good way to wrap up some stressful days.

What I Learn

A New Texas Adventure


It’s graduation weekend for Alex(!!) and our last month in Houston. In just a couple of weeks, we’ll load up the U-Haul. After some time in Arkansas, we plan to make our new home in Tyler, Texas, where Alex recently accepted a job.

While Alex and I are really excited about this next chapter, leaving Houston will be hard. It’s been 56 months since I moved my carload of belongings into my Aunt Tammy’s house. I was 23 years old and about to begin my first “real” job. Since then, I became a wife, an editor, and I hope, a better friend and more faithful and passionate follower of Jesus.

Houston is where I became an adult. It’s where I realized that a 9 to 5 job can pay the bills but can’t fill my soul. It’s where I really learned that deep community can be built across a little wobbly table at Starbucks every Friday morning and in the Maresh’s living room on Thursday nights. I experienced that.

So when I think of what I’ll miss, it comes down not my apartment or stores or restaurants or traffic (duh) but people. God has graciously provided many sweet friendships here. He has placed along my path beautiful, wise, gracious women as mentors. He has put a deep love and affection in my heart for a 2 year olds and middle schoolers.

Thank you for all who have helped patch together our Houston quilt of memories and experiences during these years. They have been pivotal to my life and to our first four years of marriage.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be spotlighting several beloved Houston friends who have brightened my life with their friendship. These ladies are stellar, I’m so grateful to know them, and I will miss them deeply. I can’t wait for you to meet them! Stay tuned.

xoxo,

Sar

What I Make

30 by 30

Dear friends and family, thank you for the kind birthday wishes today! I’m feeling incredibly blessed and grateful to be 28!

I am a list lover through and through. Whether it’s a grocery list, to-do list, book reading list or wish list, they all have their place in my life. I use them to remember, to strive, to improve. And one list I’m excited about as I officially move into my “upper 20s” and creep toward 30 is my very own 30 by 30 bucket list.

I started this list on January 1st and have been adding items since. I’ve been thinking lately about how easy it is to get used to doing or seeing certain things every week to the point where I no longer do or see them with wonder or delight or thanksgiving. What if instead of becoming “used to” the everyday things in life – the 9 to 5 job, the drive to church on Sunday mornings, warm showers, my mom’s texts, Alex’s whistling, cooking dinner with fresh ingredients, you name it – we open our eyes a little bit wider each morning and seek to live with open hands and more intention? That’s what I want for this year and every one I have left. My hope is that some of the items on this list help me do that.

In no particular order, here are 30 things I hope to do by the time I turn 30:

1. Participate in a marriage retreat
2. Do the Whole30 again
3. Go back to Mornington, Australia
4. PR in the mile
5. Get good at the side braid
6. Cook through Run Fast. Eat Slow.
7. Learn hand lettering
8. Run an exotic/special/themed 1/2 marathon
9. Leave online reviews for 10 of my most and least favorite places
10. Reread the Harry Potter books
11. Visit New England
12. Visit the Pacific Northwest
13. Build a gallery wall I love using photos & art
14. Interview my parents on their childhood memories
15. Start writing a book
16. Pay for the person behind me in a drive thru
17. Make a T-shirt quilt
18. Host a dinner party
19. Attend a Happy Hour Live
20. Cook through Date Night In with Alex
21. Study Russian again
22. Throw Alex an awesome birthday party
23. Go on a hike in Northwest Arkansas
24. Visit OBU
25. See Cami Jones
26. Mail a friend a package of favorite goodies just because
27. Join a book club
28. Pitch a children’s book
29. Memorize Matthew 5-7
30. Research my genealogy

Now on to being 28!

What’s on your bucket list?? I’d love to hear.

What I Learn

Come to the Table

I feel like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning {GASP} on Easter. I hesitate saying this out loud for fear of being classified as ungrateful. The truth is I’ve been ungrateful at times today too.

Easter is a day I yearn to be with family, so maybe missing them today has something to do with it. Last year, I went to Arkansas and met my precious new niece Landry, who wore a sparkly pink Easter onesie and lace socks and made my heart leap with joy and love.

Today, I gathered in the park with sweet friends from church who also don’t have family in Houston and enjoyed a fabulous meal and Easter egg hunt even though there were no kids. It was a reminder of the rich gifts of community God has provided Alex and me in this city that has become home for us over the last five years. It was truly a lovely afternoon, so no complaints there. No, I am just broken.

From the bouts of deep frustration that have spilled out from my heart into my actions even today – on Easter – when I feel like I should be immune to things like anger and shame and have it all together, I need rescuing. We need a rescuer.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

We have a Rescuer, One who is not surprised by our failures, and His promises are always true. He conquered sin and death! Through Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, there is hope. This hope is greater than our doubts. This hope overcomes fears. This hope restores the tired, broken parts of our souls. Everything we are looking for is found in Jesus Christ. It’s really true, and I’m remembering that now.

On the other side of the empty tomb is a table where the King sits. Come to the table. Come that He might give you life. Happy Easter, dear ones.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you . . .

What I See

My 10 Favorite Recipes for Whole30 Success

Since my last post on Whole30, some friends have asked about recipes I used and loved. I love to cook but am not really one to create my own recipes – sometimes just tweak others’ a bit – so I rounded up 10 favorites I was so thankful to come across during my Whole30. Most of them came from The Whole30 book, which I highly recommend, as the first half describes the program and the second half is full of cooking methods and recipes.

But First . . . 

Even though it may feel like there are a lot of foods that are not allowed during Whole30, just remember there are a ton of foods that are! And in many of these recipes, substitutions work great because it’s just a matter of substituting a starch, meat or veggie. So, if you have white potatoes but not sweet or prefer green beans instead of asparagus, feel free to sub.

One more tip: Adding eggs was my favorite way to round out a meal, and I surprised myself by not tiring of them.

The Recipes

1. Banger Sausage Patties with Sweet Potato Mash & Carmelized Onions 

2. Pulled Tandoori Chicken  – Make this in the crock pot! I served it with kale sautéed in coconut oil and minced garlic and a roasted sweet potato also cooked in the crock pot. Love that thing.

3. Chicken Cacciatore

4. Ratatouille – This is a good one to top with fried eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

5. Chicken Hash

6. Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken – This recipe opens up a whole new world of ease and thriftiness in the kitchen. I sometimes find organic whole chickens half off at Aldi, and If you want to feel like a dollar stretching rock star, make bone broth using the carcass.

7. Scrambled, Over Easy or Poached Eggs with Sautéed Plantains and Sweet Potato Rounds – Ok, there’s no recipe for this one. Scramble 2 eggs; sautée a thinly sliced plantain in coconut oil over medium-high heat, and repeat with sliced sweet potato rounds. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. This meal is simple and incredible!

8. Chili – I used the first one in this link and didn’t miss beans or shredded cheese one bit. I’m sure they are all delicious! {In my photo below, it’s topped with a dollop of Whole30 Ranch, which didn’t really dollop because it was really runny. That is one recipe I didn’t ace.}

9. Pulled Pork Carnitas – This is my new favorite way to prepare pork AND it’s a crock pot recipe. Serve with sweet potato rounds, sautéed spinach and top with sliced jalapeños for a kick!

10. Banana Chews – This recipe is from Run Fast. Eat Slow. and is incredibly simple:

(1) Thinly slice a banana and place on Silpat or greased baking pan

(2) Melt 2 teaspoons coconut oil in microwave and stir together with 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. cinnamon and a dash of sea salt

(3) brush 1/2 of the mixture evenly over slices

(4) Bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees, flipping halfway through and brushing the second half of mixture on the other side.

Wrap a handful in Saran wrap for the PERFECT long run fuel instead of Gu or Gatorade.

BONUS:
Roasted Veggies – The possibilities are wide ranging. Pair with a grilled burger patty or other protein for a complete and delicious meal. Some of my favorites: Brussels sprouts, potatoes, asparagus, carrots, green beans, mushrooms, red, orange or yellow peppers, onions, kale.

Wishing you the best for your Whole30 success!

xoxo,

Sar

What I Learn

My Whole30 Experience

One night in January 2016, I was talking on the phone with my dad and stepmom and learned they were in the middle of doing the Whole30, which I had never heard of at the time. I learned that the basic rules were to go 30 days eating meat, seafood, eggs, fruits and veggies, natural fats AND NOTHING ELSE. I was extremely impressed that they made it through 30 days without grains, dairy and sugar.

Why Whole30?

I am NOT a dieter. I don’t need to lose weight. I believe in eating healthy and generally enjoy it, mostly because I feel better mentally and physically that way. Nine times out of 10, I will choose a bed of spinach topped with grilled shrimp, goat cheese, walnuts and asparagus over a cheeseburger and fries. (After a marathon is a different story.)

However, I also have a sweet tooth. I was in the habit of consistently saying yes to a treat just because I could – a handful of dark chocolate chips after dinner, a big piece of cake at a wedding, ice cream at community group. And I’m not saying these treats are bad or wrong when balanced with a nourishing breakfast, lunch and dinner. But for me, it was not good to feel like I “needed” a sweet after dinner every night. I also totally saw myself finding comfort in food – especially sweets. Enter the Whole30.

The Whole30 is a challenge to give up certain foods for 30 days that could be negatively impacting you – a health “reset” of sorts – that is also aimed at changing the way you think about food. It is not a diet. Everything you eat is real food. And it is legit.


 

What I Learned and Loved

When January 2017 rolled around, Dad and Dana told me they had hopped on board the Whole30 again. I decided to buy The Whole30 Book to figure out if what seemed like a crazy challenge last year might be the way to kick my sweets habit. And after completing Day 30 on Monday, I think it did that and a whole lot more. Here are 5 things I loved about the Whole30:

1. Saying no made me feel stronger. I forwent things like a Margarita and chips and salsa on National Margarita Day and pizza and several pieces of celebratory cake, but I saw that sugar habit – what the Whole30 calls “feeding your Sugar Dragon” – diminish. And it was empowering!

2. I became much more intentional about what I ate. Never before did I know how many items have often added sugar in them (sausage!) and therefore are Whole30 no-nos. During those 30 days, I thought more about what I put in my mouth than ever before. Planning all 3 meals each day and scouring labels at the grocery store was totally enlightening.

3. I learned I don’t need grains. As a runner, I thought whole grains were necessary. I was afraid that I wouldn’t get enough carbs during the Whole30. But potatoes and squash were my good friend, and I even ran a personal best in the 10K on Day 28.

4. My body image improved. There is definitely a connection between what I eat and how I feel about my body. So, 30 days of putting only good whole foods into my body made me feel really good about it. And while I wasn’t trying to lose weight, a flatter tummy was a welcome benefit.

5. I learned I can drink black coffee! One cool morning on the way to church, I took a sip of my hot, black coffee and actually thought, “This is soooo good.” That’s something my milk and honey loving self would not have said before the Whole 30.

Ultimately, the Whole30 is not hard. As Whole30 founder Melissa Hartwig says, “Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” But for us latte lovers, it seems kinda hard. Can I get an amen??

If you’re interested in reading more about the Whole30, I’d love to lend you my book or send you some of the recipes I used during the 30 days. Would I do it again? Yep. Let’s see if I can get Alex on board . . .

xoxo,
Sar

What I See

5 Great Books to Read Now

When I spent a year in Australia, Casie and I became BFFs with the local library and soooooaked up reading time. On my last day there, I expressed my thanks to the front desk for the refuge they provided to a bookless foreigner like me – and all for free! But once I moved to Texas and began working full time, reading books other than the Bible or articles for the sake of proofing became much less of a priority. Between 2012 and 2015, leisurely reading became almost non-existent for me.

So at the beginning of 2016, I resolved to read two books a month, which sounded like a totally realistic goal, right? 24. I could do that.

I read 13 books last year. I’m glad I read those 13 books. It meant I spent less time scrolling Instagram (when will I understand that Instagram is actually not very fulfilling?) and more time getting lost in the words others wrote to be shared and loved.

But this year, I want to read more. So here’s to carrying over that 2016 goal to 2017. Do you want to read more this year too? Here are 5 recent reads that I absolutely loved:

1. Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon • Ed Caesar
This is about long distance running, elite marathoners, and the possibility of someone someday breaking two hours in the marathon. This book is well researched and a good, easy read. And, it provides a great backdrop for the SUB2 project Nike is now working on with 3 elite runners. (The current marathon WR is 2:02:57.)

2. Bird by Bird • Anne Lamott
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.”

I adore this book filled with practical tips and wisdom on writing. Now, Lamott sprinkles in some language that I wouldn’t use and theology that I don’t agree with, but that doesn’t stop me from loving the gift she gives me a the reader of her insight on the craft of writing.
3. Hinds’ Feet on High Places • Hannah Hurnard
In this allegory of the Christian faith, the loving Shepherd invites crippled, trembling Much Afraid on a journey to the High Places, where she is promised swift hinds’ feet and restoration. He helps her through the journey as she overcomes fears and the temptation to quit. I first read this in college, and the reminder for me both times of reading was this: The Christian’s journey is not easy. Life is hard, but God is faithful. He will never leave us or forsake us.

4. Hope Heals • Katherine and Jay Wolf
Have a box of tissues near for this one. At the age of 26, Katherine had a massive stroke, changing the trajectory of her, her husband and her baby boy’s lives drastically. The thread that weaves through this memoir of sorts is hope – an overwhelming, anchoring hope in Christ in the midst of what truly seems like one of the most tragic circumstance imaginable. I am grateful Katherine and Jay were brave enough to share their very hard story. It made me – and three months later still makes me – stop and remember Jesus truly is the one who brings hope and healing to our broken souls.

5. The Kite Runner • Khalid Hosseini
This novel captured my attention from the start. It features themes of guilt and redemption and explores the relationship between and father and son with lots of twists in the plot. I didn’t want to put it down.

What’s on your to-read list?
xoxo, Sar

What I Learn

Circle Time and Freedom Through Forgiveness

Remember circle time as a kid when you were invited to the big carpet to listen to a story?

I remember 1st grade circle time most poignantly. As a six-year-old, one of my favorite times of the day was when my teacher, Mrs. Harter, would call our class over to the carpet as she found her place in her rocking chair next to the easel that held up the book of the day. Once we were gathered at her feet, eyes wide and ready, she would begin the story.

Once, Mrs. Harter even allowed me to even conduct circle time:

Best Day Ever.

Last weekend was a very special one to me, as 60 or so women from my church and I gathered around as our speaker, Laura Seifert, pointed to Jesus and The Story. It felt like the best kind of circle time. After each session, we’d break out into small groups to discuss.

Laura talked about the process of forgiveness and helped us work through “The List” of people who have hurt us either directly or we’ve perceived that they’ve hurt us, often including ourselves and God. We talked through canceling the debt and clearing The List. I walked in thinking I had no list, but when Laura sent us out on our own for 30 minutes to talk with God about who might be on our list, I found I totally had one. Who was I kidding?

God impacted me deeply through this simple weekend away through Laura and circle time. In fact, it took 2 days of me being away from work and dishes and bills and decisions to remember that nothing is sweeter than intimacy with the Lord. I loved getting to be honest with Him about my hopes and fears and maybe even stuff I’d been holding against Him. Of course we can be honest at home too, but I’d started to forget that.

No one can breathe fresh life into dry bones except God. He is the One who can uproot the nasty, growing root of bitterness toward another person. He is Healer. And He is the One who forgives.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6.12 – part of the Lord’s Prayer

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4.32

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3.13

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36.26

xoxo,
Sar

What I Learn

My Journey Through 26.2

“We are 27,000 people all reaching for the same goal. This is incredible!!”

“This doesn’t actually seem that fun anymore. What happened to those thousands of die-hard spectators at the start?”

“I feel awesome! Unstoppable! Thank you Lord! This is incredible!”

“My left knee hurts. Bad. It feels like my body is deteriorating. Why am I doing this to myself again??”

“Just a 5K left. Just. A. 5K. I love 5Ks!”

“I’m gonna make it. Don’t stop. Actually don’t even slow down, or it will just take longer to finish and that’s just dumb.”

“Splashing my way through the puddles isn’t how I pictured this last mile, but BY GOLLY THERE’S THE FINISH LINE!”

These are just a smattering of thoughts that trickled through my brain during the 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon. What a day. My goal was to break four hours after running 4:01 in 2015, and I did it – 3:58:40.

A marathon is something you can train for of course, but when race day arrives, you aren’t guaranteed success. I had trained consistently since early September, building up my mileage and long runs, but on the morning of January 15th, I just didn’t know what would happen. So, I started and tried to take it the best way I knew how – one step at a time.

With so many people cheering and with fresh legs, it was easy to start, but even as early as mile 3, I began to doubt that I was up for this long journey. In that moment, I had the option of whether to be discouraged and anxious or to push aside that doubt and instead keep running. I tried to do the latter and actually enjoyed the next few miles.

At mile 11, one of the 4 hour pacers started talking about how humid it was – something that was already on all of our minds – and how bad she felt. It made me anxious. She kept running ahead and then walking for a few seconds to catch a break (which makes her a pretty bad pacer but girl had to do what she had to do). I shut out thoughts of “If pacer girl can’t do this, how am I supposed to??” and instead just. kept. running. My race mantra became, “He alone is my rock. I will not be shaken,” from Psalm 62.2.

When I ran through the half marathon point, I was feeling good but knew I wanted to run a negative split the second half. Before long, I was getting close to the place I knew my mom and stepdad would be spectating. I was fueling faithfully every 4 or so miles but began to feel  a stiffness in my legs. Between miles 19 and 20, I spotted my mom’s smiling face. She handed me a banana, bottle of water and a Gu, and I felt like I’d been given new life just by seeing them. Pure bliss!

Soon after mile 20, aka “the wall,” I approached one of the members of my track group who was walking – and hurting. He ran beside me for a couple of minutes and we talked about how hard it was getting but how close we were to the finish. Each of the three times I’ve run this marathon, this point along Memorial Park in the race is always the most dismal mentally and physically, as many people stop to stretch cramped hamstrings or are limping along. I knew I had to keep going. “I will NOT be shaken.”

At mile 25, I heard my name and turned to see my former neighbors and good friends, which was so unexpected and encouraging. At that point I knew I’d really actually finish. And after being humid and overcast all morning, it started raining, then pouring, and it was an almost comical (but not really) splish splash to the finish line. Before I knew it, I was guzzling a water and being rewarded with a lovely medal.

A couple of takeaways:
– There are a lot of opportunities to be brave or wimpy during a marathon. And brave doesn’t always mean to push through no matter the pain. It means to pay attention to your body and do what you believe is best.

– Feed the brain. One thing I think helped me run a better race than my last marathon was fueling earlier and more often – every 4 miles or so. It not only helped me physically have more energy, but it prevented my mind from feeling fuzzy and out of it.

– Volunteers rock. God bless those race volunteers, who hand out water and gatorade and spend all morning watching sweaty people and sweeping cups off the ground when they could be in bed eating pastries and drinking coffee. They are heroes and deserve a million thank-yous.

What’s next? For now, I’m happy to be running consistently still but less miles. I hope to get back into speed work next week. Alex and I plan to run a 10K in March and also do something I’ve never done before at a race – volunteer.

We can do more than our minds would have us believe. Go get your goals!

xoxo, Sar

Meeting runners Adam and Kara Goucher at the race expo: A dream come true!