Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

“…I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

-Psalm 61:2

I went for a run at the trails as I often do several mornings out of the week. I run the same path, the same direction, and usually the same distance. But not this time.

As I was headed back on the final stretch of my run, there was a fork in the trail. I always go to the left as that way leads back to where my car is parked. But as I was jogging, I felt a tug in my heart. “Turn right and go up the hill.” Um, ok. I argued in my mind…I have a schedule, I have things to do. But…maybe I should welcome this quick break? Honestly sounded kind of nice…

You see, as the due date approaches quickly for our adoption and literally he could arrive at any time, we have been quite anxious and on pins & needles here. My stomach has literally been in knots as we wait for what’s to come…the next part of our story. So, in this moment at the trails, I felt like the Spirit was leading me to take a minute to just breathe before heading home and back to reality. I decided to listen. I stopped running and went right instead of continuing left. I walked up the hill and felt like I should just take a moment to pray over our adoption in the peaceful, quiet stillness surrounded by trees. Pray for the birth mom. Pray for Levi.  So, I walked up the hill and saw a big rock and thought it would make for a a perfect spot to just sit for a few minutes.

Tears started to stream down my face and join with the sweat that was already dripping.

I prayed for this brave birth mom who has been through so much. I prayed for her heart. For her pain. For her grief. For her future.

I prayed for this baby boy who is growing inside of her womb. Who we anticipate to be our Levi. I prayed for his arrival into this world. I thanked God for his life and prayed that Ryan & I would be the parents to him we need to be.

I prayed for our other kiddos who have walked this journey of adoption with us. They have endured broken hearts, God protect them. Help them to see the gospel through this process and love You more.

I cried.

As I sat on the rock, I felt this warm peace come over me and all I kept hearing inside my heart and mind was God gently reminding me that He’s got everything in his hands. The trees around me, the rock I sat on, the sun in the sky, Levi, Addi, Kam, Miles, Ryan and me…we are His creation and loved. “I’ve got you. Trust.”

As I walked away, I turned and snapped a pic to remember this sweet moment and share with Ryan about my experience. And THIS is the pic I got!

Sunshine beautifully circling the rock I just sat on. Tears flowed down my face as I stood in awe. God just gave me a warm hug. One that I didn’t even realize I needed in that moment, but goodness, I certainly did. I needed time with the Lord. I needed His peace and assurance. He wanted to comfort his stubborn child who tends to think she has to do everything on her own. I walked away knowing that whatever unfolds next in our story, God already knows. He writes the better story and my job is to stay the course and trust.

Friend, I would like to encourage you to today…when God interrupts your life and suggests you go in a different direction for a moment, DO IT. You just never know what He has waiting for you there.

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#focused15

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I have a friend who read a book called One Word That Will Change Your Life and told me all about it! In a nutshell it encourages you to pick just one word and let it guide you the entire year to help you simplify and go after your goals in all areas of your life. I decided to do this. I am all about setting goals and love the start of a fresh new year to go after brand new ones. Instead of making overwhelming resolutions I could potentially fail at, I decided to choose a word and let that push me to succeed in several areas and goals! I prayed about it and decided Traci’s word would be FOCUSED. Past tense because the end goal is to be more focused. That’s my destination (and my new hashtag). Let me explain…

#focused15

  • I wanted to be more focused as a mom. I want to have time with my children where I fully focus on them and relish each moment with them as they are kids. Because as time has already proven, it speeds by. How are they already 7 & 8? I mean, really. Life is crazy and I love crazy. BUT. I want to slow down enough each day to have intentional focused time with my munchkins. It’s in those sweet moments where memories are made and hopefully impacts their hearts. I don’t want to miss it…at bedtime, reading a book, cuddling, playing a game of basketball, looking them in the eyes, holding their hand.
  • I want to be more focused as a wife. With Ryan & I both having our own businesses, we tend to be in “work mode” often. And we both enjoy working. However, I want to have even more time with my husband that is fully focused on us. Not our kids. Not our businesses. Not our long list of to do’s. Just us. Our friendship and our love. Date nights need to be just that. A night together to laugh, talk, look into each others eyes, and just be. Ryan deserves that from me. Our marriage deserves that. We do fairly well in this area but there is always room for improvement! I am blessed to have an amazing man who not only is my best friend but also business partner. I want to be able to fully focus on the most important part of our relationship as husband and wife first!
  • I want to be more focused in my business. Working from home is a total blessing of which I’ve dreamed about my whole life! I love what I do and the freedom it allows me. Wouldn’t trade it for anything! However, something I have learned about myself is that in order for me to truly focus and get more done, I have to do a few things. Which is my goal in this area for the year! That is to utilize my planner to help me plan out my weeks and months better. To make my list of things I need/want to accomplish and mark them off each day. If I don’t write it down, chances are, it’s not happening. I also have decided in order to focus fully on getting stuff done in my business, I work so much better from a coffee shop! When I’m at home, I sometimes get distracted by “home stuff”…i.e. laundry, dishes, my dog, the piles of toys, etc. But when I take my computer to the local coffee shop, I get a ton done and can intently focus on building my business. I love it. Plus the coffee is amazing and that’s always a perk! I have a big goals for my business in 2015, so being & staying FOCUSED is key.
  • I want to be more focused with my running. Last year, I ran. But honestly it was half-heartedly. I didn’t give it my all. I didn’t do it as much as I would have liked or pushed myself as hard as I could. The races I did were hard and I didn’t even really try. As I ran across the finish line of the Dallas Half in December, I determined then & there that I wouldn’t let another year pass like that. I know there will be a day when I’m older where running is a thing of the past….hopefully that day will be when I’m like 90! I want to relish in my runs all that I can. So this year, I am focused. Focused on getting better. Getting faster. Doing more. Running with purpose. It clears my mind, I get my best ideas while running, and have some of my best worship experiences. It’s my “Traci time.” I need this and it’s good for me! Dedicated to being more focused and the runner I know I can be.
  • Finally, but most importantly, I want to be more focused in my relationship with the Lord this year. I have started getting up early & I was not an early morning person! But slowly I’m becoming one. And loving it! I need to have more focused quiet times in the mornings to get my heart and focus where it needs to be each day. JESUS. When He is my focus, everything else falls as it should. I don’t let as many things affect me in a negative way, I’m a nicer and more patient momma when my girls wake up, I’m a better friend. I have determined that I can’t do this life thing by myself (duh) and God doesn’t expect me to. He’s there always and is continuously faithful. I need to let him guide my days instead of bringing him in on occasion when it’s convenient. He is bigger and greater than all things….I need him in ALL areas, not just a few.

My prayer at the end of 2015, as we are celebrating another year with our amazing friends & dancing the night away at our annual New Year’s Eve party, is that I’ll look back over the past 12 months and know that I FOCUSED on what’s most important. In each moment of each day of each month of the whole year. I want to make it count and live it to the fullest.

I challenge you to pick a word and join me in striving to be the best version of YOU that you can be this year! And I would LOVE to hear about it if you would be willing to share!

Much love,

Traci

Bundle up & get out there!

This morning as I sat in the warmth of my home under a blanket, I really didn’t feel like getting out to go run. It’s a cold day here in East Texas, the morning started out in the early 30’s! But I kept thinking to myself, I have a half marathon coming up in just a few short weeks – I have got to go run. I have a goal. So finally after much head debate, I got up and put my running clothes on. Long pants, a headband to cover my ears, gloves, a scarf. I bundled up and headed out the door grabbing my ear buds and a water. After getting to the trails and beginning my run, I was immediately glad I was there. It felt good. The sun was shining down on me and the beautiful colors of Fall just made it that much sweeter. I thought to myself as I was finishing up…how often do we allow the circumstances in life prohibit us from going after our goals? How often do we allow distractions, schedules, negativity, obligations, etc. hinder us from accomplishing action steps that get us closer to that goal? If you have something you are shooting for, I encourage you to keep going after it. Make time for it. Figure out how to make it work. Whether that goal is in regards to running, your career, your family, your walk with the Lord, whatever the case may be. Don’t give up on your goal! Whatever each day brings, don’t let the cold & wind get in your way. Bundle up & get out there! It will be well worth it. And remember, the journey to your goal is the most important part.  Much love, Traci

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Cowtown 10k

I know, I know. I’ve been MIA from blogging for a while & for that I apologize. Hello, my name is Traci, in case you forgot. Life has been utter insanity lately! Between our normal jobs, the girls’ school, my new It Works biz, running, happenings at True Vine…whew, it’s been crazy. AWESOME…but crazy!

Anyways…

A couple of weeks ago, Ryan & I drove up to Fort Worth for the Cowtown 10k. It was a fun weekend! The night before the race, we went to a quaint little Italian restaurant, Taverna by Lombardi, in downtown Fort Worth that was recommended to me by my boss who lives there. The food was absolutely delicious! Brick oven pizza ranks high on our list of favorite foods. And that risotto was killer. Cheers to a fun date night with my love!

We met up with some old friends Saturday morning at Will Rogers Memorial Center for the 10k and had a blast! Sure makes a race go by quickly when you get to run along side friends you haven’t seen in a while and catch up. One friend I hadn’t seen in over ten years! This is one reason I love running so much. Gives you a chance to travel to different places and share the experience with friends!

That’s all I got for now! I hope to get back to a more consistent blogging schedule soon. Until then…have a great week, friends!

Houston Marathon 2012. Traci’s Story.

There is only one word to describe running in a marathon, in my opinion.

WOW.

Seriously. It really was such an awesome experience and one that I will never forget. (My muscles rudely reminded me everyday for about a week after!) Huge memory maker that ranks up high on the list. And yes, I’m already wondering when we will do it again one day!!! Maybe Disney next time? Napa Valley? NYC?

It was neat to run a marathon, yes. But it was even neater (or more neat?) because of these two reasons…

First, running with a team of friends was absolutely what made this event more special. Ryan and I LOVED that we were able to do this with people we love. Christy, Mike, Jordan, Tim – we were honored and so proud to do this with you all. Christy & I ran the entire thing together and knowing she was right beside me pushed me on when I was struggling. We encouraged each other, reminded each other it was time for Gu, etc. There is definitely strength in numbers! She’s been a great running buddy & I have truly enjoyed all the miles we’ve logged together. And as usual, I adore knowing my handsome hubby was a few miles ahead of me and would be awaiting my arrival at the finish line with a proud smile on his face. Knowing this always motivates me. When we slugglishly found each other after the race, we both looked at each other with tear-filled eyes and hugged…we did it. We did it together.

The second reason this weekend was made so special was having family and friends that traveled to Houston to cheer us on as well as those that supported us from afar as we tackled this goal. It was overwhelming the love we felt. To know my mom, brother, and babies were waiting for me at the finish line kept me going. Thoughts of my dad motivated me. I hoped and prayed that God would give him a window that morning. To spot friends along the course holding signs brought tears to my eyes. I can’t thank you enough – seeing your faces at mile 4, 11, and especially 22 made all the difference.  Thank you to everyone that sent emails, texts, and FB message encouraging us throughout the weekend – you guys are so great! The whole experience was made complete because of you.

The run itself was a good one overall. I felt good, no weird pains or breathing issues. I felt hydrated and full of energy. We were maintaining a good pace. My iPod was playing a good playlist that Ryan had made for us. I was jamming, enjoying the route, chatting with Christy, and soaking in the experience. Up until about mile 22. Uncharted territory. The longest we ran during our training was 21 and that was HARD. As we entered into the last four miles- this unknown, I was getting a little nervous. With only 4.2 miles left, I was really starting to feel the exhaustion and “wall” that everyone refers to. I tried to shift my focus to other things besides the fact that we had been running for nearly 4 hours, that toenail that was about to fall off, and my chest muscles that were tightening. I prayed a lot more during these last few miles. God, give me strength. I was almost there. Nothing was standing in my way of the finish line now…I was tired, my feet were burning and going numb, but I still was moving one foot in front of the other with a fairly decent pace. It almost felt like my body was doing its own thing at this point and I was just watching it. We came to the “1 Mile left!” sign and my heart started to pump even faster with excitement and adrenaline. This was it….the last stretch. Then, finally in the distance I could see it. Surreal. The place that has been a huge unfathomable goal for many years…the finish line of a marathon. There were a ton of people lining both sides of the street as we turned the corner and headed to the end. I turned down my iPod to listen to the cheers and to see if I could hear my family. Everything was a blur & I couldn’t really focus on anything around me…maybe because of the tears in my eyes. Just a few more steps…DONE! 26.2, complete. My goal was to finish at 4:30. I finished in 4:28. What an amazing, indescribable feeling and one that ranks high on the list of greatest moments of my life. I thank God for this special day. High five to the sky!

Houston Marathon 2012. Ryan’s Story.

We did it!

About 10 months ago my beautiful wife talked me into signing up for our first marathon. We have been distance runners for a long time but stuck with what was comfortable, half-marathons and shorter. So for us this 26.2 was a daunting challenge. Seemed ludicrous. Every time I  thought about running for nearly 4 hours to make this distance, my joints yelled obscenities. We made the commitment, registered, talked some friends and family into doing it with us, were chosen in the lottery to run it and started training.

[Mike, Jordan, Ryan, Traci, Tim, Christy]

Fast forward months of time and plenty of weekend milage and here we are in downtown Houston. 6:45 in the morning, corralled by steal barricades and packed in like cows before slaughter. The weather was perfect for running. Light air, a hint of chill and a slight breeze on occasion. The sun is beginning it’s accent as the atmosphere glows dark blue. I have two dear friends by my side. Two other men with valor only hours to be stricken by our decision to compete here.

Announcements begin from the starting line in front of us as the sound for the speakers bounces down the chutes welcoming the herds of runners to the day’s big event. Minute Maid field to our right, an entrapping 6 foot tall chain-link fence to our left and thousands of other runners ahead and behind. Some encouraging tips were shared by guests of honor along with an inspiring prayer fit for the King. Adrenaline, check.

7:00 am. ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO!

We begin the usual shuffle as only one can packed in to a crowd like this, we approach the official starting line and kick it into an actual jog. Our goal, to stay with the 3:30 pace team.

Breathe in, breathe out. Step left, step right. The sounds from a foreign made running shoes on the Houston pavement drowning out the faint chatter around us. The first miles took us up and and down an off ramp into the neighboring industrial area of downtown.

The amount of crowd support is crazy! People are cheering on the curbs and from the porches of their houses throughout the race route. Signs everywhere cheering on specific and non-specific runners. As we run through the streets, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride for all involved. Proud of those running, my family and friends and encouraged by those there in support. Motivation. I take it in and store excess for later. Many miles to go. I’m sure I’ll need it.

Mile 4 we are greeted by some familiar voices cheering our names. Smiles are contagious. My stride feels great. The shoes I choose for today’s event, which I debated wearing till the hours prior to the race, felt great. The sun was in full force and the welcomed breeze felt great. Conversations were happy. Time was flying and at this pace, so were we.

At the banner for 13.1 I couldn’t help but think both the positive and negative aspects of that being the half way point. Amazed that it is already half over, amazed that it was only half over. My joints heckling at the latter. I can see exhaustion begin to creep in. The pack is thinning. It was time to turn on my iPod for some distraction.

Mile 19, trouble begins brewing in my calves, as they begin displaying a rare feeling for me. One of tightness that typically ends in a cramp. Mind over matter I step cautiously and with a slightly exaggerated stretching in my stride to offset the onset. I’ve hydrated more than ever for the race and begin to question these pains and who invited them to the party. My peripheral vision begins to pickup on runners to my left and right dropping off in fatigue. The tide is changing.

Mile 20, now at the mercy of my tight beyond experience calves, quads and hamstrings, I walk. Defeated I continue to question “How?” as I take in more water from the water bottle I carry every time I set out for more than 7 miles. I cautiously begin to break out of the walk and into a slight shuffle/jog only to be stricken again with the seizing and intensified cramps. I stop instantly in place and don’t know what to do. I can’t move without something tightening. BLAST! The crowds around me call out my name saying, “Good job Ryan!”, “Hang in there!” and the likes. I hold my head in shame as I wish with all my beating heart I could run. Right now though, my legs are boss. My muscles are displaying their power in my life, and they are mad.

Finally after 2 miles of stop and go defeat I regain my stride, a bit clumsier and broken than preferred but momentum none-the-less. This section of the course feels very different from the first. This one reeks of disgust. The air is filled with some sort of negative and invisible vibe that quiets everyone in my proximity. This thinned out crowd seem to be running with similar shuffles just begging for the finish line.

At this point I see one of the guys I began and ran the first 15 side by side with, my cousin of sorts, Jordan. My rejuvinated pace allows me to catch up and continue at his side. I’ve heard that there is power in numbers and right now I need all the power I can get. I’m ready to check this one off my list. From the looks of those around me, they are too.

Mile 25, with only 1.2 miles ahead my chest joins the list of exhausted body parts with a restriction on my breaths that flowed so smoothly 3 hours before. The focus begins to change. The clouds of exhaustion begin to break up. My leg muscles and connecting joints officially stiff and numb, my mind much of the same.

We turn the corner to see a short distance of only a few hundred yards to the finish line banner. Temporary bleachers filled with cheering spectators flanking each side of this last corridor. I hear noise, people cheering, announcers yelling names but can’t be bothered to listen. To me it’s just white noise now. At this point I am so focused. Focused, yet not sure on what, as dizziness and emotion confuse my thoughts.

At 3 hours and 54 minutes, the 26.2 mile journey comes to a close as we pass over the last chip tracking mat. I press stop on my watch and immediately begin to well up with tears. Tears of exhaustion, determination and success. Flooded with a rush of confusing emotions I walk further from the finish to the group of volunteers placing finisher metals.

The course was great and the day’s conditions were perfect. The experience of the race is hard to explain. As the moments continued to tick, all of our crew made it across safely. Traci and her buddy Christy achieved their goal and finished with smiles. Me, my buddy Mike and my cousin Tim all suffered cramps at some point today that none of us expected. Each of us have our own story to tell and are different, more driven and deeper people because of it.

It was over.

I love half-marathons.

 

It’s here.

OK, friends. It’s here. The marathon is in THREE DAYS. Final confirmations received, bib #’s assigned. Oh my word. I am getting super excited and super nervous all at the same time!!! I have been so busy this week, I honestly haven’t thought much about it until today…and right now my stomach is in knots! We have one more run on our training schedule for 2 whole miles tomorrow and then that’s it. All that’s left to do is load up the iPods, charge up the Garmins and head to Houston! I can’t believe this is really gonna happen. This dream will become reality. That item on the bucket list can officially be checked off.

I am pumped to be able to participate in this adventure with some awesome teammates! I seriously could not do this alone and appreciate the encouragement each one of them gives me. There is no way I could have completed those long training runs by myself! I am thankful for Ryan and my running buddy Christy who has spent many hours on the road with me. We have had good runs and hard runs. We have struggled and laughed. We have sweated and froze our tails off. She too lost her father suddenly a few years back. I can’t speak for her, but I feel like running together these last few months has been therapeutic for the both of us. A blessing for sure. Everyone on our team has different reasons for registering for this marathon. It’s so neat and so inspiring how running means something different to everyone. In fact, a few days ago, Ryan’s cousin Tim wrote this note on FB. I LOVED reading this and just had to share….

Houston Marathon

by Tim Ivey on Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 5:32pm

I used to find it silly when someone dedicates something to someone, whether it be a work of art or a book, or even a personal accomplishment.  However I realize now that dedicating something to someone is not just a nicety or obligatory notion, but it’s an acknowledgement that the thing that has been achieved could not have been achieved without this person(s); whether it be by simple motivation or greater forces.  A week from today I’ll be running the Houston Marathon with my cousin Ryan, his wife Traci, and a small team of others along with thousands through downtown Houston, near where I grew up.  I wholeheartedly understand and realize that I am not the first person to run a marathon, and I am not the first person to attempt, nor will I be even close to the fastest person.  However, not many people have run a marathon after being morbidly obese for most of their lives.  Just 8 years ago I weighed 396 pounds, and could never have dreamed up training for something for 6 months and being psychically able to finish such a feat. Weight loss + the subsequent complete life reversal was not achieved on my own, and for that I am eternally grateful.  So I dedicate this half of a year of training, and the 4 (or so) hours next Sunday on the Houston asphalt to a couple who helped to revolutionize my physical life, and subsequently by emotional, spiritual and so on.  I would like to publicly dedicate next week to Dick and Teresa Young.  Aside from my immediate family members, I have never in my life had two people who believed in my more than the Youngs have.  Before, during, and after my weight loss journey, they were a constant motivation, encouragement, and hard love giver.  I know beyond a doubt that I would not be where I am today if not for their relentless love and patience.  Even though we now are half a country apart, they will always be a part of my family.  Thank you to both of you, and just know that I will be thinking of you during every one of those grueling….I mean fabulous 26.2 miles. 

I’m so proud of Tim, my other teammates, and of course my wonderful husband and am stoked to be there with them as we finish those 26.2! It’s gonna be a great & special weekend. My goal is to soak up every minute of it. Houston Marathon 2012, here we come. HIGH FIVE TO THE SKY!

P.S. If you have any interest in tracking Ryan or I as we run on Sunday morning, you can register here to get status updates via email or texts. My bib # is 7912 and Ryan’s is 5698.

Christmas, New Years & 21 Miles.

I love the holidays and all they entail. Starting with Thanksgiving through the New Year, I love all of it so much! Celebrating all we have to be thankful for to celebrating our Savior’s birth to celebrating a brand spanking new year, what’s not to love?! The holidays are much fun. Family traditions, no school, hot chocolate, parties, Christmas music, feasts, gifts, memories, lights, pie, movies, late nights, game nights, naps, and the list goes on and on. It has been a great two weeks.

And then…today arrives. The day that seemed so far away a couple of weeks ago but has somehow snuck up on us. School day. Oh boy, you would have thought we were causing Addi physical pain this morning as we drug her out the door and took her to school. The girl was not at all excited. She didn’t like getting up out of bed early. She didn’t like not being able to watch an entire movie while eating her breakfast slowly. She didn’t want to actually put on clothes and fix her hair. She didn’t want to go to computer lab. Poor baby was not a happy camper! But, I feel pretty certain that come 3 o’clock when I pick her up, she will be all smiles and in love with school again. But it is hard getting back in the groove of our normal routine!

A quick update on running. We are less than 2 weeks out from our marathon. We ran our last long training run this past Friday – 21 miles. TWENTY ONE MILES. Oh my word, it was tough. So hard. 16 wasn’t bad. 18 was even manageable. But 21 was very challenging. We did have some factors going into it that worked against us though. Lack of sleep the night before, lots of excess holiday eating, and running the same route as the previous long runs but adding in an extra mile here & there to meet our distance goal was a mental roadblock. This was honestly the first run during our training that I really wasn’t sure if I was going to make it the entire way. But we did it! I’m thankful for Ryan & our friend Christy – I couldn’t have done it without them. But here’s the good news. We have two weeks of easy running (a.k.a. tapering). We gladly welcome that and hope to be reminded during these 3 & 5 milers of the reasons why we love to run. Also, Houston is FLAT while Tyler is NOT. Training here hopefully has better prepared us to run 26.2 with a bit more ease. All in all, I feel ready.

I’ll leave you with some random shots from the holidays. Happy 2012 friends! I’m excited about another great year together. Much love!

Traci

Marathon in ONE MONTH!

One month from today, we will run 26.2 miles in Houston. ONE MONTH!!! 26.2 MILES!!! I may have lost my ever loving mind.

Crazy that we received this email back in June and the marathon seemed so far away then. Time, as usual, has flown by and we here we are just a few short weeks away!

Training has been going well. Life is busy and it’s been hard to stick to the schedule completely. We’ve made adjustments here and there to do what we could. But overall, I think we are right on track. Last weekend we ran 16, which has been our furthest run yet!

Here’s what we have left pre-race:

  • Week of Dec 12 (this week): 5 on Tues, 9 today (on the treadmill since it’s raining, ugh), 18 on Sun
  • Week of Dec 19: 5 on Mon, 10 on Wed, 4 on Fri, and 21 on Sat (this will be our longest pre-race)
  • Week of Dec 26: 5 on Mon, 10 on Wed, 4 on Fri, and 10 on Sat (tapering begins – YAY!)
  • Week of Jan 2: 3 on Mon, 5 on Wed, 3 on Fri, and 5 on Sat
  • Week of Jan 9: 3 on Mon, 3 on Wed, 2 on Fri (this will be my favorite week)
  • January 15: RACE DAY!
Headed out now to take Kam to school and shocker…run! Please pray for us & the rest of our team that we can complete these last few weeks of training injury-free & can complete this marathon feat successfully. Thanks friends. Can’t wait to mark this off the bucket list and get that 26.2 sticker for my minivan. High 5 to the sky!
Run for Sight 5K, Dec. 3rd

News Story.

A few weeks ago, a sports reporter from the Dallas Morning News emailed me and asked if we could set up a time for her to interview me regarding our Turkey Trot family tradition. She had read the story I submitted in the “Why we Trot” contest (which you can read about here) and said it intrigued her. I love that she wrote this article for 3 reasons:

1. My Dad’s legacy remains and he still continues to impact others with his valuable influence.

2. Dad loved reading the newspaper, collecting memorable days’ papers, and being in the paper. He would have thought this was just too neat!

3. I love my family and I love our memory makers. I love sharing our experiences with others.

You can read the story here.

Our Trip to New England

We had a great time in New Hampshire & Boston last week. It’s beautiful there in the Fall – the display of oranges, reds, and yellows on the trees, snow on the ground, the hills and mountains, the coast, the history…it’s amazing. If you are new to reading this blog & don’t know the history of why this trip began, you can read all about last year’s special trip here and here.

The vacation was filled with much laughter, some sweet reminiscent tears, and good memory making. It’s always great to see my family that lives there. My Aunt & Uncle are great hosts and we always have a blast with them and my cousins. We did a lot of different things this time around, which was cool. And my brother Jeff and Ryan’s brother Ross (from Minnesota) came this year too, which was awesome! We ate a ton of food, tried some tasty New England brews, toured Fenway Park & Sam Adams, drove down the coast, walked on the beach (even stuck our feet in the ocean, even though it was frigid!), shopped a bit, ran the Manchester Half, and just enjoyed all being together.

The race was truly great experience for me. My little brother, Jeff, decided months back that he wanted to run his first half marathon in Manchester. In honor of Dad. So we put together a training schedule & he prepped for months. I decided that I would pace myself to run with him for this race. I wanted to absorb and enjoy the experience together as we trotted through the streets of this beautiful town in a race that my Dad did. Special. Jeff did great, tackled the tough hills, and finished. Quite the accomplishment & I was a proud big sis! Ryan and Ross together too, which was neat for them. Ross & my cousin Mary achieved their best time ever for a half. High five to the sky!

Run for Sight 5K

Our friends, Josh & Maggie Ghrist, are missionaries in Mombasa, Kenya. Right now they are in the states on furlough while also raising funds to support their ministry, Lighthouse for Christ.

Lighthouse for Christ is a non-profit ministry in Kenya dedicated to healing the physical and spiritual sight of the people along the coast of Kenya. They provide free eyecare and treat 30,000 people yearly, who could not otherwise afford to fix minor or major eye problems. Awesome.

To help raise money for this great cause, we are helping the Ghrists plan a 5K event. If you live in or around Tyler, you should come & run for sight! Saturday, December 3rd at Faulkner Park in Tyler. Runners, walkers, kids, strollers, doggies – all are welcome!

Click here for more details.

Click here to print registration form.

Running for my heart’s sake.

Yesterday, I set out for a run. Dropped Kam off at her pajama/pizza party day at school and headed to the trails. It was chilly out (yay!) and windy. I was really looking forward to running. This hasn’t happened in a while, honestly. For those of you who run and have endured this blazing summer – you know what I mean. Now that it’s Fall, you actually want to run again. So I hit play on my iPod filled with the new Coldplay album (again, yay!), started my Garmin, and took off. The wind felt good against my face and the chill bumps on my arms made me smile. I’ve been waiting for this. From the moment my feet hit the pavement, I was reminded. I LOVE TO RUN.

Running is so much more than just exercise to me. I realize it is beneficial to my heart physically, but for me, it’s beneficial to my heart emotionally and spiritually as well. Running allows me time to be quiet and listen. To process and pray. To think without interruptions or obligations. This is my “me” time. I can be stressed, angry, sad, or worried, then go out for a run & come back with a new perspective, a new attitude. I talk to God a lot during this time  as I admire the beautiful backdrop of nature He has provided for me to enjoy. I also listen a lot as He penetrates my thoughts and guides my steps. Running is almost a time of rest for me as well as restoration. It’s good for my soul.

What do you do that you do just for you? It obviously doesn’t have to be running. It could be walking, having coffee on your porch, going camping, hiking, painting, etc. It’s not selfish to find something that you can do that benefits you in this way. Everyone needs this time. A time to draw close to the Lord and allow him to work in your heart. A time to think, reflect, and get clarity. A time to escape the craziness of life, even for a few moments. Jesus did this while he was here on earth. We should too. I have no doubt, I’m a better wife & mom because of it. The state of my heart affects everything in my life. I run for the sake of my heart.

Why we trot.

A few weeks ago, the YMCA Dallas Turkey Trot posted this contest on their Facebook page…

So, I entered. I sent in this story on the day of the deadline (which was my Dad’s birthday)…

Hello, my name is Traci. My family participates in the Turkey Trot each year. Why you ask? Well here goes.

My dad, my sister, my brother, my husband and I have ran it for many years. It’s truly a family affair! We live in East Texas about 2 hours from Dallas. We have made it a tradition to wake up very early on Thanksgiving morning, pack up the car with Gu packets, water bottles, iPods, etc. and head to the Big D in anticipation of the big race! This was initially my Dad’s idea and he LOVED it. His excitement was contagious. Anytime he could plan something for his kids to do with him to make a memory, he was all over it. We would go and run the 8 miler and then head back to feast on the awesome Thanksgiving meal my mom had stayed home to prepare. The 8 miles at the Trot always feels great with such awesome views of the city and an overall holiday joyfulness in the air. Plus, running that far leaves you guilt-free to pig out the rest of the day!

This race has become even more special since my Dad passed away suddenly in June of last year at the age of 62, after a run ironically. He inspired us in so many ways- to live life to the fullest, making the most of every opportunity, cherishing time with family and friends, and making memories. This race was a “memory maker” for our family, as he used to call it. So, my siblings, husband and myself continue to run this race every year in his honor. The tradition will continue for years to come, no doubt. We end each race now with a high five to the sky. We are thankful for the memories we have with my Dad at the Turkey Trot.

And this is why we trot.

And I won!!! Got an email this morning letting me know & they posted this on FB today…

WOOHOO! High five to the sky!

Yo Gabba Gabba says it best.

Yesterday morning, I went out for an 8 miler. My last long run before the Tyler Half Marathon coming up this next Sunday. {Yay for Fall race season!} The weather was awesome – a fresh, long awaited crispness was in the air. I  was also well rested having slept nearly 10 hours the night before – that never happens! However when my feet hit the pavement, those first few miles were tough as always. These initial miles on a long run are usually the hardest for me. In fact, I’ve written a whole post on here before about the middle miles.

It seriously takes me a good few miles to find my groove and start to feel “into it”. This day was no exception. As I was approaching mile 3, I reached this level of happiness that running brings me. My steps and breathing have found a rhythm, my legs have worked out the soreness, my thoughts are becoming less clouded and more positive. Then it occurred to me…what if I gave up before then? What if I never allowed myself to get past the first few tough miles to get to these precious middle miles that I long for and that strengthen me in many ways on many levels? I would miss out on a lot. I would never be able to run a half marathon, much less a full! It’s because I push through the first few miles that are challenging mentally and physically that I’m able to enjoy the benefits and joy of running longer distances. And trust me, I’m not saying I have it down by any means. I’ve had my fair share of days of giving up, whether it be with running or other things.

But why do people generally give up on a goal or a dream? Because it gets tough, right? Whatever it might be – losing weight, working out, paying off debt, starting a business, bettering a relationship, traveling the world, walking a tight rope {anyone watch Modern Family last week?} And typically it’s at the very beginning stages of this attempt that giving up happens. What if we pushed through those hard times and with the Lord’s help & strength we pressed on? How much more often would goals be accomplished & dreams be reached if that were the case? If God impresses something on your heart to achieve, then He will give you exactly what you need to accomplish it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. What is your goal? What do you dream of? What’s holding you back from taking the first step? Here’s my encouragement to you….start running towards that goal! The first few miles will most likely be tough and you will want to give up, but press on. Keep running. Don’t get discouraged. When you reach the middle miles, you will be glad you did & realize you are that much closer to reaching the finish line of accomplishing that dream. It’s within reach. Don’t just dream about it, DO IT.

In the words of the great & wise philosopher, Yo Gabba Gabba, “Keep trying, keep trying. Don’t give up, never give up.” ;)

Upcoming.

I love Fall for many, many reasons. You may remember…I’ve posted many a blog about why Fall is dear to my heart. But mainly in a nutshell it’s this: cooler temps, pumpkin spice candles, additional coffee, scarves, races we run, camping, holidays, and all the time off Ryan has which equals more memory making for our family!

Here are some things that are upcoming that I am super excited about.

  • In a week & a half, we’ll be running in the Tyler Rose Half Marathon. The starting line is about a mile from our house. I always love doing races right here in our beautiful city.
  • In two & a half weeks, Ryan, Jeff & I will be heading to Longview to see Switchfoot AND Anberlin in concert. What?!!! Seriously, two of our all time favorite bands. Together. On the SAME NIGHT. We are stoked!
  • Five weeks from tonight, we’ll be packing to leave for New Hampshire & Boston! We are registered to run in the Manchester Half Marathon. I can not wait for this trip. We had such a great time last year. You can read all about it here and here.
  • In eight weeks and a day, it will be Thanksgiving. In 12 & a half weeks, Christmas. Wow! Another year, flown by. Also, Ryan’s parents are coming in from Virginia for Christmas, we are looking forward to seeing them!
  • In eleven & a half weeks, my baby girl Kam turns FOUR! We will celebrate with a “hot chocolate” party as per her request.
  • In fifteen & half weeks, Ryan & I will be running our very first FULL marathon in Houston.

Marathon Training

Our official marathon training is in full swing. It’s going well thus far! Really, the last few weeks haven’t been all that different than normal with about the same mileage as any other week. I did go 10 last weekend & 13.1 this weekend in preparation for the upcoming Tyler Half on October 9th. That’s the farthest I’ve run in months. Felt great! OK, so the first 10 felt great…the last 3, not so much. Ryan went 13 the weekend before last w/his buddy Mike. They were only planning for 10, but decided to throw in the extra 3 to make for a half marathon. Their pace is quite a bit faster than mine. Like over two minutes per mile faster. Punks!

I feel pretty ready for the Tyler Half and mostly ready for the Manchester Half. The Tyler one is hilly, yes. But the Manchester one is ridiculous! The elevation is a lot higher and the hills are steeper. It’s a tough course. But I’m pumped to go back and conquer it again! Plus, the trip as a whole makes the race part totally worth it. After we get through those 2 half marathons, our mileage will start to ramp up quite a bit in late November and December. Gonna get interesting! Working a 9-10 miler into an already busy week day will be a challenge, but it must be done. Thankfully the temperature will be cooler by then, so running during the day is possible again. We won’t even talk about the 18 plus milers that are on the schedule…ugh!

This morning, I came across this quote from Ryan Hall, Olympic marathoner. I know I’ve shared this quote on this blog before, but I reread it again this morning and love it. Worthy to share again and timely while training for a marathon. Maybe I’ll post this on our bathroom mirror to read every morning over the next few months.

“I don’t think about the miles that are coming down the road, I don’t think about the mile I’m on right now, I don’t think about the miles I’ve already covered. I think about what I’m doing right now, just being lost in the moment.” Ryan Hall

This will be my goal during the marathon and while running these long runs during training. To not focus on the distance I have to go, but relish in the moment. Breathe in the fresh air, thank God for the ability to run, enjoy the tunes blaring in my iPod, appreciate the “me” time, cherish the beauty of the surrounding nature.

Heck, that’s really my goal in life as well! Don’t think about the past or worry about the future (this is incredibly hard for me and against my nature), but truly dwell in the moment. Be fully present in whatever you are doing, wherever you are. If you are looking back or look forward all the time, you miss out what God has right in front of you. Today. Now. THIS moment. I for one, don’t want to miss that!

Us at the finish of the High 5 to the Sky 5K

Sporadic Updates

  • We went to White Rock Lake on Labor Day and intended to run 3 miles while pushing the girls, then head on to do a little shopping & eat some lunch in the big D. Due to the beautiful day that we were given with cool temps & nice breeze, Ryan says, right after we took off, “I say we just go all the way around.” So…9 miles later, we did just that. All the way around the lake & it was great! It was a good run. The girls enjoyed the relaxing ride. We followed it up with a trip to Central Market, World Market, the Gap Outlet & In & Out Burger. Fun family day! Thank goodness Ryan can push this 100 pound beast…

  • Kam started back to Pre-K this week. She moved up to the 3 year old class, even though she’s closer to 4. Easy to forget she’s still only 3 years old since she keeps up with her big sis and is SO tall! Since she has a late birthday, she will always be one of the oldest in her class. Unlike Addi who will always be one of the youngest (but still bossing everyone around, I’m sure!). We feel blessed to have such great teachers for both our girls this year. Here’s Kam’s first day of school pic…she was so excited. I think she was getting a bit bored since Addi’s been at school & was so ready to go! “Mommy, what can I do?” was becoming a frequent question over the past couple of weeks.

  • Official marathon training has begun for us. We are closing in on the 4 month count down. Yikes! January 15th is the big day! Training won’t be too bad or different for the first couple of months…about the same as what we typically do. Just trying to watch what we eat a bit more. November & December will be cuh-razy though! Here’s an example of what one week in December looks like this….

Mon: 5 miles, Tues: speed work at track, Wed: 10 miles, Thurs: rest, Fri: 4 miles, Sat: 20 miles (WHAT?!)

  • We LOVE to cook. One of our favorite ways to spend the weekend evenings is whipping up a good meal together. We have some great friends who also share this passion for food. So we plan cooking nights with them and have such a great time! We pick a style of food (Italian, Mexican, etc) and then each pick a recipe or two to fix together. This past weekend, we decided to do an Asian night. Ryan & I brought the ingredients & recipes for pork & spinach pot stickers & napa cabbage fried rice. Jen & Stephen prepared beef with broccoli & veggie egg rolls. Um yes, it was AMAZING! Makes my mouth water just thinking about how good it was. Our kids play, while we cook, enjoy a glass of wine & loads of laughter. Awesome way to fellowship with sweet friends!

  • Things here in East Texas are finally cooling off a bit and becoming bearable to be outside again. Yay! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I love Fall. I couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming season and all it brings. We took the girls to ride their bikes for the first time in months at the trails. Very enjoyable. Summer has been tough…super hot, humid, and down right miserable outside. I’m pumped to get out of the house more and enjoy the great outdoors over the next several months. So good to be able to breathe again!

  • Hypothetically speaking…if Kam was an outstanding singer & guitar player & recording her debut hit album & designing artwork for the album cover, I would insist she use this photo. What do you think? I mean really.

  • Ryan & I will begin teaching a marriage study at our Community Group this Fall. We are using a compilation of books & material from conferences we’ve attended. We’re calling it “Pink & Blue.” We are excited about it & pray that God will do great things in our group…beginning with our marriages!

Katy Trail

While we were in Dallas for our Girls Weekend, I had determined I would take advantage of the close proximity from our hotel to the Katy Trail and go run! Although my friends thought I was crazy, I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. – even though it was close to 1 a.m. before we got to sleep! I strategically put my running clothes, Garmin watch, & iPod all in the bathroom close to my keys the night before so that I could quietly get ready and head out the door without waking up my friends whose main goal was to sleep in as much as possible while away! I grabbed a cup of coffee and a bar and headed out. Making a customary stop on the closest gas station to go potty one more time before heading out for a long run. I drove right to the trail, parked behind Lamps Plus and was all set. Returning to the beautiful Katy Trail was bittersweet. The last time I was there was at the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon of 2009 – my Dad’s final half marathon. That year, the last 3 miles of the race finished on the trail. I remember standing w/Ryan at the finish line waiting anxiously for Dad to cross over & as always, feeling my heart swell with pride as he did. So, as I stepped out of my car, memories began to flood my mind. I turned on my watch and waited for the satellites to find me and sync. Hit start and was off – my goal was to run the entirety of the trail, down & back a total of 7 miles. I was feeling good which was honestly surprising after a late dinner and gorge fest at Simply Fondue and a late night of talking with friends. I thought about running with Dad, my sister Jen and Ryan on this trail. Thought about the time, I slowed down a bit just so I could run side by side with Dad and chat. Thought about how much he loved this place. Thought about the time Ryan and I went there just to walk & talk while away on his surprise birthday getaway while I was pregnant with Kamryn. I thought about how I am so thankful to share the love of running with family.Thought about how thankful I am to have so many good, cherished memories because of this love. Before I knew it, I was approaching the American Airlines Center – halfway done. I turned around and turned up my music. The final 3 miles continued to be a reflective and reminiscent time. I prayed and thanked God for the blessing of family, friends, and running. 7 miles complete and I had actually run faster than normal. It was a good run. Good for me on many levels. As Kristen Armstrong puts it, I felt like it was my “reset run.” As if someone had pushed the reset button – to start over fresh and renewed, inspired & motivated. Now, I could go back to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the day with sweet friends. Return home later that evening to my amazing husband and beautiful daughters and continue to strive to make sweet new memories with them.