Thursday, July 31, 2008

Last minute

At the last minute, my friend Anett asked me to do a presentation on pop-culture and self-image and another workshop on the USA. She just told me yesterday and we leave on Saturday morning. I'm just now hearing that I need to bring a sleeping bag (which I don't have) and some other things I am going to need. I figured she would let me know sooner than this, but that's what I get for not asking. Feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment and having to put together one power point on the USA from scratch. I'll get to talk about how I ended up in Hungary for these last two years. Looking forward to most of this camp, but also a little overwhelmed.

Excited to see what the camp is like. Not looking forward to not understanding half of it. Interested to see how translation will go in the meetings when I talk. Excited to see about their ropes course that apparently is a big hit. Excited to look for running trails in an unknown and new part of Hungary.

Have a great week everyone, whatever you find yourself doing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I absolutely love this and if I could paint it, I would.

The ocean background reminds me of the vast amount of things I don't understand or know about myself, the world, my God. Yet every time I choose to trust and believe in God's goodness and His promises, I find myself sailing out on those waters. And I guess that's the point.

Once Jesus told some men to drop their nets and follow Him. He took them to places that were most likely uncomfortable. But these men were stellar. They believed without knowing all the details, without knowing how it would turn out.

And I find myself in that same place. I have to believe. Where else can I go? Who else has the words of life? No one I know but Jesus.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Youth Camp and other happenings

A Hungarian friend of mine, Anett, asked if I would help her at her annual Christeens youth camp next week. I found out we'll travel near Pecs, a city in Southern Hungary and just west of it is a city called Kaposvar. We will be there for a week and I get to lead a Bible study small group for girls who are advanced in their English. They also asked if I would do a workshop on Pop-culture and Self-image. I'm excited about it.
I was so glad to read that the Red Sox atleast won the last game in the three game series with the Yanks. It's showtime! Red Sox are the epitome of baseball, I think. They are the true blue American team. They are all passion, heart and soul. Love 'em. Those are my peeps.
My creative juices have been flowing recently as I've had a little more time to write, practice guitar, and even came close to bringing out paints yesterday. This week things are slow. I'm an active person so that's not good. The next few days I have a few meetings with girls and then I'll need to pack for the trip but other than that, things are a bit ho-hum, which makes me think of home.
I miss family terribly but my phone bills were so high from April through June that I can't afford to call as much and that's just a bummer. Thank God for Skype, which is free but even after two years of living here my family at best only minimally understands how to sms or talk through the FREE skype. Instead, I set up a Las Vegas area code skype number (I still am amazed at how these things work) and they can call my skype, but it charges me. Even though it's minimal compared to using cell phones (I've done that too and ouch), it still costs to stay in touch.
The weather in Budapest has been quite irregular I guess compared to other summers. But I don't mind it at all! The cooler breeze, the rain, the clouds are fine for me. Really hot weather can be unbearable sometimes.
Thinking a lot about the future these days and I'm in a really good place. Although once in awhile fears try and creep in, for the most part, I'm confident that things will unfold this next year in a great way. There's nothing to fear but fear itself.

Monday, July 28, 2008

1/2 marathon training plan in effect

Last week I started a 6 week training plan for a 1/2 in September.

Although I really don't like running, I decided I want to plan to have different events to focus on throughout the year. Maybe a few sprint tris, a few 1/2's and Noel and I talked about the duathlon, where you just focus on two events. So maybe. I really want this to be a lifetime habit and design for me and in order for that to happen, I have to have a goal to work towards. That's just the way I operate. So, I think a 1/2 is something doable and helps me get better at what has now become my real love - the Sprint Tri. I had so much fun in London I can hardly believe its over.

Yesterday I ran 5 miles, my long run. This plan is great and will effectively land me at 10 miles for the long run the week before the 1/2. I'm excited about it.

I want to make exercising a part of my life until I die. I like feeling healthy and I don't want to go backwards. But I'm the type of person that if I don't make a plan and if I don't have people around encouraging me, it's tough. There was a time after college -- a long time -- where I just sort of let myself slip and I was up and down, struggling alot. I think it will always be a constant battle because of my body type. I found out, while taking this online course I'm in, that I'm an Endomorph. And our distinguishing characteristics include the following:
Short neck
Round face
Wide waist girth
More fat in the body
People belonging to this body type have a tendency to put on body fat at a fast rate. So, basically I'm not the type of body that can get away with much. And that's just really unfortunate because I love good food and a nice glass of wine. I have to always be thinking about healthy exercising and even what I eat. That's probably harder for me because I love eating all the stuff that is fatty. But apparently, a balanced diet is important to keep my body type -- the Endomorph in shape.

Lisa and I went to the International School's weight room over the weekend. It was great to talk about weights with her and learn from her. She's going to come up with some sort of a 3 day a week weight training plan that I can do in my flat. Since I don't have a gym membership or access to weights, this has been the toughest for me. But I realize that to get rid of overall problem areas its time to genuinely and consistently introduce the weights. :D I'm excited about it. I work well with goals and plans. I'm glad to say this one's in effect.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A quote to help this heart trust....

Right now I'm thankful for God's unfailing love and desperate to see it working more fully throughout my life and world.
"The one thing you can trust God to do in your life is to love you every minute you are a live. God may not bring you a perfect job, a perfect person, a perfect fortune or perfect success every day you are alive. You may trust God to do all these things for you but you will be disappointed because of all the 'jobs' God does for you -- loving you unconditionally is His main 'job' in your life. What is it we must trust God to do or not do? What we must trust God to do is love us. In all the tough and sometimes terrible circumstances of our life, the one thing we need the most is to be loved. We can have our worries, doubts, and fears, but if we are loved, we can deal with our worries, doubts, and fears. We all have our limitations, but if we are loved, we can work around our limitations if we are honest about them. When you turn away from your sinful distrust of God and trust Him to always love you, He comes to be with you and He pours His love over your life."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This weekend

Sometimes I think that one of the best ways God shows His kindness is through like-minded friends.

I just met Lisa at the beginning of the summer because she teaches at the International School in Budapest. My pastor's wife suggested I hang out with her because she's done triathlons and loves running. It's been great to get to know Lisa and find that she truly is such a like-minded and like-spirited friend.

Friday night Lisa and I had a chance to go to Spinning class near her house. I've been excited to try it for quite some time now as my previous experience with spin class is that it's an all out butt-whoopin. The guy who led the class was pro and did a great job. I was sweating like crazy! He had the perfect music to go with the perfect sets -- almost. His 2 splits were KILLING me. Cycle two rounds standing/cycle two rounds sitting -- on and on for who knows how long. Brutal! One funny thing -- he lit tealight candles and placed them around the room. Then he turned off all the lights. I've never been in a spin class in the dark. That was kind of ---odd. Of course the entire class was in Hungarian so we had to just keep our eyes on the instructor and do what he did. Lisa and I both agreed it was a great workout!

That night we went back to her place and watched a movie called "My Date With Drew". If you haven't seen it, it's hilarious. It's based on a true story of a guy in LA who has had a crush on Drew Barrymore since he was 6 years old and it's basically a documentary about how an ordinary average guy gets a date with drew in 30 days (more like 85 or something, but yeah). It's a pretty great story and the guy is endearing.

Saturday morning we got up leisurely and had coffee while reading our Bibles together. Then we started talking about our lives and all the things we've been learning recently. It was great. We had talked about going for a run or working out at the school gym and we opted to workout in the weight room at the International School. Lisa has keys and has access all year long! She was teaching me some things and is going to send me a weight training plan. She used to be a personal trainer in the states and I wanted to know more about that. It was interesting to hear her perspective that it can get frustrating and overwhelming when people either depend on you or want you to kick their butts but they aren't willing to do the little things that really matter. I've been taking an online personal trainers course for my own benefit and my plan is to finish and take the test by the end of the year. I am debating actually going further with it because I really do love all this stuff and it keeps me accountable. It was good to talk to her about all of this.

We came back from the weight room and had the healthiest lunch that I've had in a long time! I was so impressed but she told me it wasn't common for her. Salmon, delicious salad and toast. It was great. We had a great time. All I have to say is I'm thankful for like-minded people in my life that serve as anchors. She encouraged me and I think I encouraged her too. She wants me to come and maybe talk in one of her classes this Fall and go with her to a Science exhibition on the body in September as a class chaperone. I hope that works out. It would be great.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Spin class tonight and question

So this weekend I'm going to hang out with Lisa just outside of Budapest. We'll go to spin class tonight and make it a girls movie night. Looking forward to it! I love our conversations too so I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun.


If you have a good strength training program that you follow religiously, would you mind sending it my way? I am good at following a plan. The Sprint Tri plan worked great and I'm on track with the 1/2 marathon. Unfortunately I've realized that I have completely neglected strength training not because I don't want to (OK, it isn't my favorite) but because I don't go to a gym or have a gym membership so I just have free weights, a mat and a balance ball at home. I need some type of (M/W/F) plan of some sort to follow because otherwise I will never reach my goal of getting toned and losing some of the extra love handle areas.

Thanks guys.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Spin class postponed

Last night I was going to meet Lisa for a spin class she's been telling me about. It's every Monday, Wednesday, Friday night at 8 pm and she loves it. I haven't been for a long time and I was ready to feel the burn!

It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get to where I was going to meet Lisa. She picked me up at a bus stop and from there we traveled another 15 minutes. When we got to the little gym the lady said in Hungarian,
"Sorry ladies. No class tonight. The lady who does it just had her baby."

Hate it when the spin class instructor has her baby! (just kidding.)
I was surprised she was teaching the class all the way up until her final term! Good for her. Apparently she was a really good instructor too. So I asked

"When will be the next class?" (in Hungarian)

"Penteken" (on friday) and that a new lady would be teaching it.

Lisa and I were so ready, so prepared for spin class but since we were there we decided to work out anyways. I haven't worked out in a gym in a very long time. All my training has been outdoors except for swimming. I jumped on the bike for 30 minutes and did stair/stepper thingys for 15 minutes. We talked for a lot of that time and on the car ride back to the bus stop. The conversation was soooo good (all about guys and how do we live our lives as single woman who choose to trust God and not be the modern day "pursuers" that are out there. Lots of good nuggets exchanged and mutual encouragement) We both agreed it's tougher to be the woman. The fact that we both are women didn't seem to sway our biased sentiments. :D) It was such a good conversation that she ended up giving me a ride all the way home. Awesome!

I'm sure there's a spin class that's closer to me but the problem is finding it with the language barrier. Even looking online doesn't help because most sites are in Hungarian. I may have found one but then there is the problem that you hope you read things right and when you get down there you hope it's easy to communicate. The company of the familiar is often most enjoyable. And then again, the company of the familiar can also deliver their child and cause rescheduling to occur. :D So it's sort of a win-win situation as I look at

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A lil' somethin'

Have you ever listened to a song over and over again when you first hear it because you love it so much? That would be me with a song I blogged about a few weeks ago by Simon Webbe called "Coming Around Again." LOVE it. I kept hitting replay while running to it today. It's a great running song!

The weather looked bleak outside this morning but I determined to get something in and the training plan only called for 2.5 miles. Yes, I REALLY started the training plan today. Yesterday I called everything off - took a sick day. I don't like the feeling of being held back because I'm sick. I would never make a good hypochondriac. On the other hand, when you feel crummy it makes you realize how valuable health is in life. I'm so thankful for my health. When all systems are down, I don't do well with that. Thankfully I think this thing passed rather quickly.

The training plan I'm using for the 1/2 marathon has three levels - for beginner, intermediate and advanced. I'm using the beginners level because I'm a beginner. :D I cut out the first week on the plan as I only have 7 weeks to go before race day. I think it will be just right for me. I can continue to cross train with spinning class and some swimming.

I think I mentioned that just before leaving for London, I gave Chris his bike back. What a sad day that was! Now, I walk around my flat feeling as though a part of me is gone. Chris's bike was good to me. Yes, Chris was glad to see his bike but I think I love it more than he does. I definitely used it much more than he did! He keeps his bike chained outside while I brought her in and gave her lots of love and a place in my livingroom. When guests came over, I moved her to my bedroom. Now that she's gone, I'm feeling a bit of separation anxiety. I can't just take her out for a spin whenever I want. And it's a real shame. I decided to wait until I get back to the States to get a bike of my own. I'm not going to get a bike here in BP right now especially as fundage is also at an all time low. In the meantime, spinning class and perhaps a date with Chris's bike once in awhile will have to do. But I am excited about spinning class! I love to feel the burn.

I'm surprised at how quickly and easily it is to get in and out of routine. While running today, I thought to myself..... I really love this but you give yourself an inch and there goes the proverbial mile. It feels good to be back at it -- even if it's just a lil' somethin' :D

Well, I'm off to meet Nori. Immigration office hours are interesting. They open tonight from 5 pm on and then they're closed tomorrow. So, we decided to go tonight. While we wait it will be good to catch up with my dear friend. Gotta love the visa process.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Worth the Wait

I just got an invitation to be a "fan" on facebook for the "Worth The Wait" group based out of Reno. I can't tell you how excited I am at what a success "Worth The Wait" has become this past year in Reno. It's so great to see Reno taxi cab ads and buses with these promos instead of for men's night clubs. I hope it continues.

It's counter cultural but I hope it continues!
I love seeing young people make good decisions, even against the odds of peer pressure!

Olympic happenings in Hungary

You may or may not have heard about Gyorgy Kolonics -- an Olympic medalist who died this last week while training on the Danube River near Margaret Island. He was a two-time gold medalist and set to go to Beijing in a few weeks. His death was sudden and the cause of death was heart failure.

I've only been kayaking once and it was tough so I can only imagine how difficult it must be to canoe. :D This doesn't seem like a sport for wussies. You have to have a lot of upper body strength to compete in this, I would think. And I would think you would be ......healthy...

The only thing I can link his heart failure to might be his diet. Hungarian foods are rich in fat. Darn it all, I wish it didn't matter what foods you eat. I love all the stuff that clogs the heart....atleast initially until I start thinking about how its clogging my heart. Then I crave fruit and veggies.

Lots of people are mourning his death. Hungarians hold a lot of Olympic pride, especially with water sports. Their historic water polo match of 1956 will be forever ingrained in every Hungarian's mind. If you're not familiar with it, I'm sure you can google it. Basically in the middle of the Russians invading Hungary, there was a water polo match between them. It's called the bloodiest match in history. It's sad to see Gyorgy go so suddenly and just before the Olympics.

Another thing about Hungarian Olympics that I just recently heard or read is that Hungary's financial situation is pretty bad and they can't afford to pay their coaches to go with the Olympic team to Beijing. They are looking for sponsors to fund the coaches.

On a less serious note, this Olympians first name was the name of about 8 boys I taught last year. Unfortunately, I pronounced it just as you probably did as you read his name. But the real pronunciation is "Your-e" actually more like "Yur-e". It's not Gyorg-e. The G is silent. Do you know how embarrassing it is to be a highschool teacher and absolutely botch the first name of half your kids in class? Yep. That was my life. Those good humored boys still loved me even after all that!

Cinderella Man

Based on a true story, Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger star in this film about the life of Jim Braddock. It's one of my all time favorite films. It came out about three years ago and I've seen it over and over again.

As Americans, most of us only know of the Great Depression as a bleak moment in our country's history. This story puts the struggles of one family into perspective and gives a reminder of what times were like back then through the eyes of one man who was actually given an opportunity to rise above the poverty because he was a boxer.

I think I love the way his wife loves him through the ups and downs of life. I love their relationship, their friendship, their love for their family. I love what a GOOD man Jim Braddock is as he has to figure out a way to provide for his family in the middle of the great depression.

If you haven't seen this film, I recommend it.
My eyes well up with tears every time she says to him "You're a good man...."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Enough already!

Earlier in the summer I moved my bed down from the loft so it could be next to the window. It gets so hot in the loft that I can't sleep. It's been a perfect summer move. I usually keep the windows wide open at night for fresh air circulation. Being right next to the window helps a lot. Well, I went to bed around 8:30 pm but just woke up to the sound of pouring rain a few minutes ago. I love the sound of pouring rain. I love the frightening sound of thunder and rain, the kind of thunder that is so close you think you might get struck. It makes me wonder, What's God doing up there? Is He moving furniture around upstairs? The thunder and lightning are incredible to me. It would be difficult to live in a place that rained 24/7 though. I need sunshine.
Since I'm up, I thought I'd blog about the reality I've been living in this past week. After 8 consecutive days of absolutely not even ONE workout, I'm happy to finally say, Enough already! I think the real Jen is beginning to resurface. While all workouts came to a complete halt after Saturday's Sprint Tri, it wasn't because I was sore or I needed a break. Honestly, I felt great after the race, which says a lot about the training plan I followed. I must have done something right. So, I'm thankful for that.

Instead I said to myself, "You did it, Jen. Good job. Now just relax...." Even though my body wasn't in pain and could have kept working out. Well, that's fine, for a day or two. But I'm a habitual person and if I don't stay in one routine, I'll trade it for another.

What's my routine been this week? Pretty much eating a magnum bar every night and lots of Tibi chocolate. For those of you in the States, unfortunately I don't think you can get either. Maybe that's a good thing. They are both quite delicious and in my case they've quickly become my new habit. Time to break it though.

Enough Magnum bars and Tibi chocolates. I have a new goal and I better get it together! I find if I don't have a goal in front of me, I'll just sit around reading, writing and eating bon-bons. I'd rather do that but also pursue goals. Then while I'm out accomplishing them, I have something to come home to and look forward to. :D Seriously. No more!

I'm excited to say that I startay 1/2 marathon training plan tomorrow. I've got a 3 mile run and I'm going to add a spinning class with a new friend tomorrow night (errrr, tonight). I honestly can't wait.

So am I really doing this 1/2 marathon?

Why? I hate to run.

I'd rather go eat Magnum bars and read all my books. But, that only lasts for a few days (8 to be exact!)
Then I realize I need action. Oh well, I guess it's much more rewarding to eat a Magnum and read something interesting after a good workout right?

Enough already! The rain and thunder stopped outside....and my brother, unaware of the time difference, just called....Maybe I'm going to start my day after this call? Gotta give him my full attention...

I' hope to get back to the Zzzzs where I'm sure I'll be dreaming about Magnum bars and Spinning class.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Heavy Duty Shoes

On many a morning, I stumble into the kitchen for a cup of java and head to the laptop to read a short but strengthening devotional. The combination is often just what I need to get my feet going in the right direction for the day. One of my favorite authors is Charles Spurgeon, whose sermons and teachings have been compiled into a few online devotionals. Although written in older English, I like the insights he gleans.

Today one that particularly stood out was something he wrote from Deuteronomy 33:25 which he called "Heavy Duty Shoes".
Spurgeon talks about what a traveler (pilgrim, believer, journeyman) needs - and he boils it down to two things: shoes and strength. Immediately it caught my interest for two reasons. First, I've always seen my life in terms of a journey but never really thought about the shoes. Sometimes my "spiritual" shoes get worn out from pounding the hard rocky pavement of doubts, unbelief, thoughts of settling. Sometimes weariness sets in and one needs strength for the journey. And second, for a not so spiritual reason, I've been thinking alot about shoes since the Sprint Tri last Saturday. My New Balance running shoes finally get to retire to the land of old and worn out shoes. They served me well competing but it's been a year and they have seen their last days!!

Spurgeon's point about needing "heavy duty shoes" comes from a promise God makes to a man named Asher and his sons, a promise to anyone who believes. Basically God promises these warriors that He will care for their feet -- He'll be sure the men's feet are bathed in oil (sounds good after a nice run), strengthened, softened, soaked in nurturing creams/oils so as to be ready and rested for service. He also promises that His shoes will be made of iron and bronze. Not the best for running but when it comes to walking thousands of miles over rocky terrain, you need something that is going to outlast the rough and rugged roads beneath your feet.

I hope I didn't lose you on this analogy. Because here's where personal devotion comes in. "Oh God, my feet are weary. Bring on the oils....And I put in one order of shoes made of iron and bronze. You know I need and want these shoes So I can make it for the long haul! You know I need your strength."

I'm not sure where you are in life but here's where I am at. It's been said that it's not how well you start something but how well you finish. God started a work in me and He will be faithful to do His part to complete it. Will I? I want to make it to the end -- with a clear and strong vision and purpose still in tact, not going backward but constantly moving forward on the road. And this is where the scripture resonates in me. There's strength and training involved. Something inside has to take place and this is where God promises even more! This chapter goes on to promise that these men will have strength given in proportion to the stresses of life and the burdens they bear each day -- as long as they have breath!

Wow! What an encouragement. When I require fresh energy to stay on the road ahead, God will supply strength equal to the need. This word given to Asher is given to me (and you) today as you put on your shoes -- Are they the heavy duty ones made out of the steel of faith in Him? What about your confidence in God to see you through to the end? Rise up with a believing heart and realize that there is no one like Him to perfect the things that concern you today!

My favorite part of Deuteronomy 33:26-29

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in His majesty. The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.....(you) will live in safety...; (your) spring is secure in a land of grain and new wine where the heavens drop dew. Blessed are you....He is your shield and helper ...."

Because He is strong, I have strength.

Because He will provide shoes that won't wear out, I can make it to the finish line.

When I think about my life journey, I'm in desperate need of those "heavy duty" walking shoes and an infusion of strength. And I thank God that He's waiting for me. He will do it. And this brings joy in the journey....

PS - You too can post pictures of yourself from photo booth with Mac. Ha ha..did you like that Well Bell??? :D

Jack Sparrow....revisited

This afternoon I re-read something I wrote awhile ago.

It was good to be inspired by my own blog.

I make myself laugh. :D he he.
Jack Sparrow...revisited

Friday, July 18, 2008

Secondhand Lions

If you haven't seen Secondhand Lions with Robert Duvall, Michael Cane and Haley Osment, I highly recommend it. I'm not sure why, but I just love it. Maybe because I love old people and the stories locked away that often never get told because we're all too busy to listen.
A deadbeat Southern mom leaves her son, Walter, with two great uncles in a run down house in the wilderness with dogs, pigs, a lion, giraffe, a huge lake and no TV or telephone.

The two Uncles are known for being a bit crazy. They are mean old bachelors who have a huge amount of wealth. When salesmen come to the property, the two bachelors shoot -- not directly so as to kill them but more to chase them away.

Although initially the men object to having a teenage boy on their property "We're old, damn it. Leave us alone!" they give in and allow Walter to live with them until she finishes schooling.

Story after story the two old men give Walter courage to be a man. Not only that, they provide unending entertainment. You're never quite sure if the stories are true or not, but you want to believe these old men.

"Honor, courage and virtue mean everything....Money and power mean virtually nothing, good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this...that love, true love never dies...A man should believe in those things because those are things worth believing in....You got that??"

These men had stories and morals but they were also pretty rough. When Walter asked them to not do any more crazy stunts (like beat up teenagers and fly planes) so that he could be sure they lived through his college years they said,
"What do you expect us to die of, old age??" And then they conceded, "Alright damn it. You win. I'll stick around and be your damn uncle but don't expect me to be happy about it."

During the course of the months that follow, the men order a lion. They were hoping for a dangerous lion, but apparently, she's old and has no more fight inside. The lion becomes Walter's pet but at a key moment near the end of the movie, the lion comes out and attacks someone who is trying to hurt Walter. In the middle of the attack, the Lion (affectionately named Jasmine) dies and Walter asks the old men what happened.

"Her heart gave out in all the excitement." But Walter wanted to be sure she was a real lion, a real jungle lion there at the end, a real Africa lion.

At the end of the movie, Walter is a comic artist who has a comic strip called "Walter and Jasmine" and gets the call that his uncles died flying a plane upside down through the old barn on the property. In the will, the uncles wrote:
"The kid gets it all. Just plant us in the damn garden with the stupid lion."

I guess it's a reminder for me to take the time and talk to older people. They have experienced so much of life that we often take for granted. I think when I return to the US I'm going to visit a few old folks homes. All of my grandparents have passed away and I miss them. I miss their lives, their old hands, their stories. We can learn so much from "Secondhand Lions."

Reflecting on Change

This isn't a new place.

I've been here before.

I'm familiar with the caterpillar whose wanting to find a place to mulch, knowing that wings and butterfly beauty are on the other side. There's a cocoon to spin which will not only transform my being but serve to protect and shield me even insulate me as the new formation takes place.

Change is a weathering element in life and not everyone handles it well. It's affect on me often brings about an internal metamorphosis and I always look back with great pleasure. It's looking forward that can be difficult. Adjustments, refining, alterations, reshaping, exchange, reorganization, rearrangement -- all words that perfectly fit the description as I reflect on what exactly change does in my life. Most of these themes are familiar. The landscape is well-known as life throws all sorts of changes our way and how will we adapt?

It is the element of the unknown that often brings the most fear. But it also brings to light the things that are in my heart and the things that are most important.

I've been here before. I'm sure I'll be here again and again over my lifetime. For this isn't a new place.

"Don't throw away your confidence; It will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done God's will you'll receive what was promised." Hebrews 10:35

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God through Christ - if we ask anything, He hears us....whatever we ask....." 1 John 5:14

"If the love of Christ is in your heart you..will find that you will have the courage to do whatever He directs you to do." Henrietta Mears

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back in the saddle

The last few days back in Budapest have been really low key. Not much going on here. I've barely stepped out of the apartment. I actually don't mind these low key moments. But workouts have been slim to nil since Saturdays race. Lots of reflection, lots of thoughts and plans for the future not only with physical fitness but with what lies ahead in the months to come regarding my future. Just held in a place of confidence and trust that God orders and directs steps.

When it comes to working out, I am ready for a new goal and a new plan to begin working towards and it looks like the 1/2 marathon in September is going to be my next event. Although I'm sure I could swing the Sprint Triathlon next weekend in Northern Hungary, I'm still reveling in the glory of London and I'm just not sure I want to push it for next weekend's event.

Thankful for my own bed. Thankful for this place that I call home at the moment. Thankful for family and friends. Looking forward to what is coming! With anticipation and a bit of nervous joy, I am trusting that God is going to direct my every step. I may not know what the future holds, but I KNOW WHO holds the future! :D

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

London Race Report

This is going to be a very, very long race report with lots of random pictures and since this is my blog and it's about my first triathlon, there will be lots of pictures of me! (just realized that before posting but yeah:D) You may want to come back when you have a few minutes or get your cup of coffee and settle in. Here goes my first race report :D

Friday morning, my good friend Lara and I met and traveled together on the tube (underground metro) and train to Windsor's Holiday Inn. I thought we'd never get there! Traveling to Windsor from East London (with Tosin's rockin' bike and our luggage) was quite an ordeal! You should have seen the two of us! We were definitely in our own world!

Can I just say NO THANKS to living in London!? Underground, trains, buses, on foot.....Even with a car, no thanks.

Although I like big city, this was a little much, even for my standards. We actually asked 18 people for directions once we arrived in Windsor before we finally found the hotel!

Bad directions, no maps, things spread out quite a bit more than I expected, and two tired girls made for a long journey -- almost 3 hours. But you know, Lara and I hardly even noticed! We had our treasured $6 grande Starbucks (something not found in Eastern Europe), lots of time to catch up and we were good!

Quick history: Lara and I were roommates in Los Angeles for six months and became great friends, roomed together for lots of national college conferences, had lots of heart to hearts, made lots of great memories and inside jokes over the years. The last time I saw Lara was two years ago in Latvia when I joined her at her Straight Up Beautiful conference for girls. So this vacation together was long overdue!

After checking into the hotel, my plan was to bike over to Downey Lake at Eton College just to give myself a feel for the event site. But I looked outside our hotel window and it was pouring rain outside. I decided I wasn't going to worry about seeing and getting to the event site the night before and would just trust God to work it all out for me.

Later in the lobby, we met three British women who were also doing the Triathlon and gave me a map on how to get there. That was actually a God-send and I was thankful for the help. With their help, I realized it would be too far to ride over in the morning so at the front desk we ordered a morning taxi that could fit the bike. The British girls were really encouraging when they found out it was my first Tri. These ladies were doing the relay distances together. After talking with them for awhile, we were both hungry for dinner. Since we were in what looked like the ghetto of Windsor/Slough, we ate a light chicken and salad dinner in the hotel and then found a little store where we bought some chocolate and water. I had been telling Lara about the Magnum Ice Cream bars! We took our goodies back to the hotel room where I started to get organized for race day.

I pulled out all the bike gear in Tosin's bike bag and we had a few laughs as I was wondering what everything was for! I'm such a novice. I figured out how to adjust the seat! Then, I was being goofy and showing Lara what I would do in transitions!

I almost fell over on the bike! We had a lot of fun!

I started to get a little nervous, but those thoughts passed quickly as I thought of why I was doing this and how thankful I was to God for His strength and for this opportunity to even have a healthy body to use in an event like this. So many people don't have their health in life and I was reminded of this. I felt excitement as I thought of friends and family and all their encouragement the past year. Soon those nervous feelings passed. That night we stayed up talking, talking, talking. I think I fell asleep while Lara was still talking.....oops. Slept great though and woke with lots of energy and excitement.


Breakfast was at 7:30 am and man what a spread! We had an incredible breakfast in the hotel. I went back for seconds! I fueled up because my race time wasn't until the afternoon. After breakfast I realized I still hadn't actually given the bike a spin so I went to the parking lot and tried it out -- a few laps around the hotel to get used to the gears and pedaling. Tosin's bike ROCKS! Our taxi was late, but we finally made it to the event with plenty of time to spare.

It was a great feeling to walk around the site with thousands of people excited about Triathlon. They actually had another event before the Women's Tri so lots of kids were on the track as we arrived. Both Lara and I commented on how awesome it was to be at this one which was so family friendly and to see the men in these women's lives supporting and encouraging them. There were husbands, fathers caring for little kids while mom did the tri, boyfriends, brothers and sons. So inspiring to see that!

Lara watched the bike as I figured everything out with registration. Can I just say that everyone needs a support system like Lara? She was amazing and we had so much fun together! So thankful for this friend!! I got my packet, my t-shirt, free goodie bag from Timex and my timing chip. Then we had to wait in a line (a cue as the Brits call it) until the transition area opened for my wave.

It finally opened up and I got everything ready in transition. I still had literally three hours to go but it was actually good since this was my first race. I could watch how things were done and what to expect! I could figure out where the swim, bike and run exits in and out were and where I was positioned and imagine how it would go.....

So, I was LOVING the fact we were there so early to take it all in.

Lara and I walked around some of the booths. I felt prepared except for one thing. I was still trying to figure out, since I didn't have a wetsuit, if I should pin my number on my tri suit and swim with it (which I was very apprehensive about) or pin it on in transition (which would take up lots of time.) At that point, I started noticing most people have the belt thing. And I really wanted a number belt thing.

We came to one booth called "Trilife" and met Liz, talking to her about how this was my first tri and right now I was just worried about my number, wishing I had a tri belt. And she said, "Oh, I've got one. I'll let you use mine if you bring it back after the race." I was SOO excited! And definitely realized I'm getting one of these for future races. We also saw the ladies from the hotel. Apparently, the swim didn't go as well for them, but the bike and run were great. One of the ladies offered me a new gel she just got and said I should take it during the bike or run, that it's light like jello. I knew my legs would be feeling like jello, but OK. That was awesome! People were so helpful, so great.

As the time drew closer for me, the weather was getting windier and colder. It was FREEZING!!! I stayed bundled the entire time......But I kept telling myself, I could do this. How many times had I trained in windy or rainy conditions in Budapest? I just told myself, "No complaints". I must admit I was really cold but I would survive. I did ask God for sunshine though and was hoping the winds would die down. Sure enough, the sun started breaking through the clouds and the wind didn't seem as strong.

There was a handicapped woman competing with us too and she was such an inspiration to me! She had no use of her legs and feet. She competed in all three events and while biking and running, her hands worked overtime using a contraption they built for her to pedal and run with her hands. Wow! The power of the human will to overcome adversity. No complaints. And then the time finally came to do this thing! No more watching and wondering. It was my time!


Although I was the only one without a wetsuit, it definitely had it's benefits when I came out of the water. I must admit though, Downey Lake was incredibly cold!! I think I only survived because I had practiced in Lake Balaton in April.

After some brief directions on the three events, the whistle blew and we were off. I found myself in the middle of the group and tried to stay there the entire time. I kept thinking about how the swim was going to set me up for the bike and the run. I had to swim on my side for some of it and I kept finding myself out of sync with the group because of the strong windy current. Luckily the sun was beaming and I felt that on my back....Ah, it's the little things in life. I came out of the swim time in the middle.

I ran to the bike, gaining my land legs somewhere along the way. I quickly slipped off swim cap and goggles, put on helmet and glasses, powdered/rolled socks and shoes, my number, took a gu gel, downed some water, grabbed the bike and I was off. No wet suit to bother with, which was definitely a benefit.

My bike was positioned almost directly next to the bike out area, so it was great to get a head start on that. As I started the bike, I pushed myself and realized the winds weren't that bad but it was a little windy.

I noticed others finishing up their last laps from previous waves of competitors. Something came over me and I got excited for them and started yelling "Come on, you can do it!" I couldn't believe how excited I was getting even for them. I definitely found out that I LOVE to encourage those around me. There were a few people struggling as I passed, so I would shout out a word of encouragement to keep going. It actually made my legs go faster too.....OMG! Awesome!

As I did the last lap, I kept telling myself, "OK, Jen. This is it. When you start the run it is going to feel like jello legs for a minute. Just push through it. You're gaining energy now on the bike and you're going to do great." I kept thanking God for a seemingly great bike ride and asked for strength for the next event. Four laps seemed to end just in time and as I jumped off and parked the bike, I had a ways to run through transition before starting the run time at the opposite end.


Initially, there was some confusion as to where to start running but I found it fairly quickly and I was off. I started to feel a bit of a side ache come on but this happened a few times in training, and I knew I had to focus on breathing and just keep going. It worked itself out in my body and I started to gain strength. Once again, I found myself encouraging others and people really appreciated it actually. I got lots of smiles and "OK, lets do it" which helped.

It felt so great to finally finish! And my final time was better than I expected!

I want to THANK everyone who has continually encouraged me that I could do it-- all my supporters out there (seriously=:D) for your constant love and help to a novice like me.

Well, I'm officially hooked. Hopefully I'll see some of you Tri-friends at Tri events in the states in years to come! Until then, we will keep on "try-in". Yes, that was cheese. But just go with it, OK? I live for inspiration and I'm easily inspired. :D

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Checking in.....

It's hard to believe I'm checking in with a post-London blog here on the first day I've been able to get online since last week. (Actually what a beautiful break it has been not to have access to internet!).

I'll give the full race report soon with pictures but at the moment, I'm going to crash in my own bed! It was a great vacation/first Sprint Triathlon and ahhh, how wonderful it is to be back in Budapest. After sleeping on a mattress for two nights, a hotel room bed for two nights and on the floor for two nights, there's nothing like the comfort of your own bed.

Real quick though....
Not only did I survive, I did better than expected! I actually surprised my friend Lara with the energy I had left over when I crossed the finish line saying "Bring it on!" for the next Sprint Triathlon and made resolution after resolution to train better, eat better and be at the top of my game next time around! But none of that now -- I'm going to revel in the glory of being a first timer.

How fun it was to get out there in the middle of the action. I was nervous, but I felt God encourage me and I remembered all the training sessions that have helped build my stamina this past year.


No turning back for me now.


My times were as follows:
Swim 10:51
Bike 47:47
Run 26:56

With a total tri time of> 01:29:08.
My times in between transitions from Swim to Bike (47:47 seconds)
and from Bike to Run (26:56 seconds.)

More later!

I love having goals and reaching them!
.....I can do all things through Christ's living, active power which strengthens me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

1 Degree or 0 Degrees of Separation

Tonight Lara and I were briefly on skype to discuss the transportation situation in London. OMG can I just say the price for public transportation is ridiculous!? I think I'll be fishing in the Thames for dinner. Forget eating anything at all in London, I'll be spending all my money on the "tube." Not to mention that the pound is basically double the dollar. It's a hefty price to pay for what my British friend Javed says to visit (or for him to live) in "the best city in the world." How can people afford living there? Unbelievable!

Anyways, I was telling Lara about how nervous I am for the race. I asked her if her roommate Austra gets nervous and what she does for her competitions and for the upcoming Olympics in China. Austra was there (Is that 1 or 0 degrees of separation from an Olympic athlete? :D love it) and they were laughing at me. Austra said she gets nervous too and there's not much you can do to get past it. She said the worst day is the day before the competition and that the trick is to hang out with other people because then you're distracted and talk about other things. I can do that. I'll be with Lara and maybe a few others, maybe walk around Windsor Castle or something. I'm sure all you pro's can relate. All I have to say is I will not give into these nerves. I'm going to have fun and not look back. Whatever happens, happens.


My last few workouts have been OK but at this point, they are what they are and there's no turning back. I definitely felt stronger than I have in a long time running yesterday. My first two miles were under 9 minutes - 8:10 and 8:38 but then I got a side cramp but I continued running and focused on my breathing. My last two miles were pathetic. Oh well. On Friday my biking times were awesome! I think I'll be able to make good time on the bike. What I'm most worried about is this swim. Yikes!! I just hope I don't get overly distracted by flailing arms and kicking legs. Thanks for all the advice. I'll definitely be looking for a pair of feet that don't kick a lot, try and stay in the middle and go from there. As far as what to eat, since it's an afternoon race, I'm thinking they will have stuff at the event that I can grab and I'm thinking protein shake type meal.

So, according to my trianing plan -- most likely just to keep me moving and limber, I have a 15 minute run, bike and swim this week but I also want to make up a 20 minute swim I skipped from last weeks plan. So, the goal is 15 minute all out run today, a 35 minute swim tomorrow and, when I get to London and get the bike, I'm going to take it out and get used to riding it for 15 minutes. It's sort of like going on a blind date that your friend set up or something. You have absolutely no idea what to expect, just that your friend recommended this person (bike) to you and you trust them. I have no idea if it's my size, what type of bike or anything about it. So, yes. I'm a bit nervous about that too actually when I think about it.

Oh my gosh! I really didn't think I'd get this nervous about it. But, what I've heard over and over again is HAVE FUN. So, that's the plan. I have NOTHING to lose and everything to gain. I'll give it my best.

I doubt I'll have much access to internet while in London and since I haven't seen my friend Lara in 2 years, we will no doubt be having a good time with the extra few days we planned for vacation.

Leo's music

Being a Christ follower over the years has placed me in a variety of different communities of faith. I've experienced really large churches (over 1000 members), medium sized churchs (300), really small churches (50 plus) and even went to an African-American church for about a year during college. Sometimes I honestly wonder why Jesus said He loves the church and then I remember. It's all about the people. It's not about a building, traditions, forms, but the people.

Since our large American team arrived in Budapest in 2006, our plan has always been to build up the community of faith for people in Hungary. Of course, the purpose in this is not to do it our way but to look for what resonates as Biblical culture for Hungarians and to see God raise up Hungarians. So we work with a handful of different Christian organizations and churches in Budapest, and our goal has also been to bring together people we connect with and who connect with us -- encouraging them to faith in Christ.

Leo is one of those guys who started to come around six months ago. He's an actor and an artist. I first met him at my polish friend Ela's flat when we had coffee together one Sunday afternoon. He told Ela he'd like to come to church with us the following weekend and he's been coming ever since.

Yesterday we met in my flat (since almost everyone is gone for the summer) and Blake and Laura led our small group. I enjoyed the encouraging thoughts - basically that we need to be thoughtful about how we live our lives in the world, remember to always continue learning and growing and finally to laugh often. This is pretty much my life theme anyways "Live well, Laugh Often, Love Much" so it only served to affirm things that are very important to me.

After we were done, I brought out the guitar and we talked about music and how I'm trying to re-learn a few chords. I played the Jennifer Knapp song "Refine Me". Then I asked if Leo knew how to play, just to keep conversation going and keep things FUN.

He sheepishly said, "Well, I do but the song I know best I'm not sure you guys would want to hear. But it has a really great beat and its in Hungarian." We were like, "Of course we want to hear it!!" Then he said, "Well, I just don't know if it's appropriate for's called "I miss my marijuana." Blake, Laura and I were like...."Play it! Play it Leo! Come on!"

Finally, we convinced him.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


I just found this article on "Adultescence" describing a certain type of individual who is prolonging his adolescence as a "Peter Pan who shaves.". This is a major trend in Europe. In fact, in Austria it's not uncommon for students to be living with their parents and finishing their degree when they are 28, 29 and 30. It's no wonder people are swarming into parts of Europe from Africa and the Middle East and repopulating the continent. These people are looking for work to provide for their families that they started earlier in life whereas for most Europeans there's a lot of "Adultescence" going on.

After reading the article, I proceeded to read other articles on this website called Boundless and I found some great stuff on relationships. I think I'm going to start downloading "The Boundless Show" podcasts. I like their style.

Although I scheduled a run for this afternoon, I'm not going to do it. It sounds like world war III outside my house and this has been going on since 3 pm (it's now 7 pm). Police sirens, ambulance sirens, and helicopters have been circling about for hours. HOURS. It's quite loud actually and it's been literally non-stop. I imagine this must be what it would be like to find yourself in a war zone.

And then I remembered. The US Embassy sent a notice this past week that the Gay and Lesbian community would be doing demonstrations down the famous Andrassy street and conclude their rally at Heroes Square. In addition, there would be people protesting their demonstrations. Heroes Square is just across the street next to the park where I usually train.

Normally I'd get out for a run anyways, just so I could take pictures and jump into the middle of the action for the sake of the story. But honestly tonight I'm just not up for that. Needless to say it sounds like a war zone out there and it is. It's a cultural war zone.

While looking for a picture to post to go with this blog, I came across an interesting website called World War Pictures that has lots of war memorabilia if you want to check out old posters and pictures.

All I have to say is I'm glad it's not a war but it sure sounds like it and although I'm curious to see just what's going down on the streets, I'm vying for the safer option. I'll read about it and catch on the news.

Dodgem Auto Iskola

Getting your drivers license in Hungary is a complex, frustrating and hairy ordeal, or so I've been told. Honestly, I'm surprised that some people actually have their licenses. There are some CRAZY drivers here. Let me remind you that this is coming from someone whose lived in Los Angeles, the land of crazy drivers.

Last Fall I feared for my life while driving with Andras in a small car through Budapest. He thought he was racing in the Indy 500 or something. It's another story for another time, but I say that to say that for whatever reason, the process of getting your license here is brutal but probably for a good reason! I'm serious. Both car and motorcycle drivers are down right scary!

So, apparently when taking your drivers test in Budapest you are guaranteed to fail the first time (I'm told it's because it's for the money), among other reasons. Sounds sort of strange to me but when Peter found out we only pay $50 to get a license and that yes, if you're a good driver, you usually pass the first time, he was consumed with driver jealousy. His wife Nori has a license and a small car and so these conversations came up as Nori, Peter, Eszter and I were driving around Budapest.

While walking to our offices recently, I noticed a sign that made me laugh..The name of a business advertising their driving school hung on the building.

"Dodgem Auto Iskola..."

Iskola is school in Hungarian. It's a drivers school. And I thought to myself with a chuckle and a smirk....."Dodge 'em".....teaching Hungarians how to dodge their fellow bad drivers is probably a great idea.

Outside my window....

Outside my window...
I hear laughter and Hungarian conversations as people relax on their terrace.
I am thinking...
about being home with my family on the West Coast.
I am thankful for...
the little moments when God breaks into my daily routine and reminds me that He is real, in control and loves me.
From the kitchen...
comes the smell of banana and peanut butter and hot coffee.
I am listening to....
Grits, Jerseys and Fitteds
I am wearing...
a tank top and sweats rolled up.
I am creating...
a clean house for tomorrow when everyone gathers in my livingroom for church at 11 am.
I am going...
to work out before the end of the day.
I am reading...
"The Dying of the Light" by James Tunstead Burtchaell
I am hoping...
to survive the sprint-triathlon in July, for more and more light on this path for the future and that the dollar goes up in value. (Lots of hopes and dreams!)
One of my favorite things...
is being outside, especially near the ocean in the sunshine.
A few plans for the next week...
meet with a few teachers and Nori, get my hair cut, buy a few last things for sprint tri and fly to London on Wednesday.
I'd like to share this picture because.....

It reminds me that every day and every place is hand painted by the hands of an amazing God who knows me intimately and personally.

Undone but Take Your Time

I'm going to bare my soul for a moment. If you'd rather not be a part of this, move on my dear friend, just move on. :D

Just before transition takes place in my life, I usually sense that something is about to change. Normally, I can't put my finger on it, but it begins to happen about a year before the actual changes take place.

Most of the time in these transitional moments, I go through an internal dichotomy. The reason for this is because I like where I'm at but I realize something more awaits me in the future change and I love the excitement of a new adventure, new heights, new things. Wondering how it will all come together, I'm curious to know exactly where this next "roller coaster ride" will ultimately take me. Although I'm quite excitable about life in general, I'm not flighty. I like to have a plan and I like to organize things. All these things mixed together make for interesting times and I'm in one of those times right now.

It's best for me to view life as a book and there are chapters. I want the read to be a good one for all involved but I'm more concerned that at the end of my life, when I look back and read it, that I have no regrets. It's a struggle but I do try hard to fully embrace each moment.

On one side of the internal struggle I feel as though I'm a kid at the top of the most exciting roller coaster holding my breath as I look down into literally God knows what. I'm nervous but excited, even putting my hands in the air while letting out a throttling shriek as the take off begins. I can let go and embrace it all because I have full confidence that God, who is known as both the author and the finisher of my faith and my life, will guide, lead and direct this coaster to a very desirable place. I can fully trust as I wait to see what lies beneath the clouds of uncertainty that I'm about to blow through.

On the other side of the internal struggle there is doubt and a sense of tragic, impending doom that is surely awaiting me. It's as though that same kid at the top of the coaster realizes...."Wait a minute. I'm up WAY too high, there's NO turning back, and God only knows but this thing could run off track, flip over, and I'd be crushed, dying a premature death." Of course, I don't want that. So, can I get off this roller coaster?

I begin to re-evaluate. Things don't need to change. All is fine. I'm doing just fine right here. Why make waves? Who needs a fulfilled soul anyways? But I'm caught in the dichotomy because I know that change is coming. Yet, surely this will be my end as I come tumbling down to a frightening death and today is NOT a good day to die.

Back and forth, I sway beneath two opinions. And for whatever reason, this time moving into this next "chapter" of life has been one of the toughest. The weight of making decisions about the future while living in the present has left me with both extremes, excitement and a sense of impending death.

So where does my help come from?
I'm at the top of the roller coaster. Do I get off or stay on?

This week two friends out of the blue sent me encouraging notes. This is something absolutely sure about me. I need voices of truth in my life. Not only that, I need tons of encouragement. As much as I love to hand it out to others, it can get depleted quite easily and often. So I'm well aware that I've got to find genuine sources of encouragement for this soul.

One friend gave me a scripture to read and in being undone, I realize it's not the final chapter.
Isaiah 42:16 where God says,
"I will lead the blind by a way they don't know, in paths they don't know, I will guide them. I will make darkness into light, rugged places smooth. These are the things I will do. I won't leave them undone."

Undone: incomplete, half-done, unfulfilled, neglected, on the back burner, destroyed, doomed, washed up, toast.

And once again, I reach up, hands in the air, clinging tightly to the only One I know who can guide me in every season of my life as the wind lightly presses against my back and the roller coaster starts to gain speed.

God, thank you for being so real. Thank you for completing me, fulfilling me and helping me walk into everything my life was created for when you designed me.

More inspiration comes from the newest artist I've downloaded from I-tunes.
Simon Webbe, called "Take Your Time".

I know exactly what I'm talking about,
cos I've been there, I've been scared
So many deals that I've been in & then out,
turned dreams into nightmares
I realized my wants only criticized my needs
(I didn't make enough cheese)
I couldn't figure out my wrongs & I found it hard to breathe

Have a right to cry (sometimes)
When I'm under the weather
Feels like my world is coming down
And my job could be better
That's yesterday's news, maybe tomorrow this is what we can do

Seize the day, change your life
Find all of your limits in the sky
Take a moment, clear your mind
Believe that your angels never lie
Change is good, just keep it movin'
Uncover new colours that are kind
Different ways. Brand new heights
Don't worry just take your time and you'll be fine

Too many people get frightened of lightning
(Always strikes them in the same place twice)
Never seeking true guidance it might be,
They need a little direction in life

Have a right to cry (sometimes)
When I'm under the weather
Feels like my world is coming down
And my job could be better
That's yesterday's news, maybe tomorrow this is what we can do


You don't have to be fed-up each & everyday of your life
(Stop complaining just stop all the hating open your eyes)
And the world will be better if you believe & you try
(Stop complaining about what you can't get)
You won't know till you try

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fellow Triathloners -- Questions

Leaving on Wednesday morning for London has me reviewing clips and thinking about race day quite a bit. As I prepare for next Saturday, I have a few questions and was hoping some of you fellow blogging tri's could help me out.

1) I'll only be using one pair of shoes for the bike and the run. I don't have the fancy shoes and bike to go with it. So my question is this. Should I wear socks coming out of T1 or just run with shoes? I saw one clip about rolling up your socks and having them ready in transition. I like that idea better just because I don't think I'd do as well running sockless. Biking would probably be fine but I'm not sure about running. Thoughts?

2) My race time starts in the afternoon. How do you prepare yourself eating wise? I was thinking my race time would be in the morning. Usually I'm on my game in the morning after freshly squeezed OJ especially. Now, I'm just not sure how to prepare my body for the under 2 hr. Sprint Tri. I know I'm gonna be hungry come lunch time. Any suggestions?

3) Realizing I won't have my i-pod and won't be listening to tunes or podcasts as I do in training, I'm curious. What are some of the things that you focus on to pull yourself through? For example do you have something you focus on when you swim, something else when you bike and something different when you run? Favorite quotes, songs, what?

4) What should I be looking for, avoiding, etc, in the swim?

5) Does everyones legs feel like jello coming off the bike and going into the run? If yes, what do you do about it? It usually goes away after the first mile or so of the run.....but any other good tips?

4) I guess those are my main questions right now. I'm nervous and excited all in one. This is where I wish I would have been a healthier eater. I'm sure it would make a big difference. But shoulda, woulda, coulda isn't going to help me now!! So, here goes....


Before heading to the US Embassy this morning near the Parlaiment building, I opened an email from the Embassy that read:
"Spontaneous demonstrations take place in Budapest from time to time in response to world events or local developments. We remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possible escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. American citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Upcoming demonstration information follows: On July 4 from 8:00-11:00 The Humanist Movement will protest the planned U.S. missile defense system installation in the Czech Republic. Approximately 50-75 persons may participate. Police will be present. Please note that the Embassy is closed on July 4."

Looks like I'll be getting those voting papers on Monday or Tuesday.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Refine me, Jennifer Knapp

I'm enjoying this process of getting calloused fingers from guitar playing. My first song (and it may be the only song) I can do without looking at the guitar is by Jennifer Knapp called "Refine Me". It's an oldie and used to be one of my favorites. I found it and have been practicing because it involves such simple chords - D,A,G,Em,Bm. Wish I could play and sing a ton more that easily! I love being able to sing my heart out and actually play it "live".

The call at 2 a.m.

It's currently 3:45 a.m. in the morning and I'm about to heat up some water and make a cup of coffee. I guess I'm going to start my day. I was in the middle of a dream--saying "good-bye"-- when my friend from the West Coast called to say HI. The skype call rang to my cell phone and before I realized it, I was picking up in a groggy 2 a.m. voice, not knowing who was on the other end. When I realized it was Dre, I was so excited that she finally figured out how to use skype that I wasn't ABOUT to hang up with her.

I've known this friend since I was 16 years old. (She's the one in glasses). She has been like a sister to me and my two sisters. Last summer we all made a great memory at the India Arie concert in Lake Tahoe. Not only was the concert incredible, I wouldn't have wanted to spend it with any other ladies on the face of the planet. Each one of these ladies is so beautiful to me, so strong, so awesome, such great mamas and wives! I'm proud of each one of them! Anyways, we had so much fun.

Well, she has always been a good friend who speaks the truth and encourages. Man does she have the gift of encouragement. And she's a voice I can listen to and know that when she speaks it's with a unique perspective of wisdom. I say all that to say that the bottom line of her encouragement to me this morning was this:
"Don't go backwards. Move forward. Get over it. Move on. Don't complicate things -- What is Jen ready to do next?" So there you go. My pearls of wisdom that came at a timely moment. I'm polishing off those pearls at this glorious time in the morning and I'll be cracking open la Biblia looking for more.

Dre called because she just moved from Nevada to Oregon and this move has been a long time coming! We've talked about it, prayed about it, dreamed about it and now she is in Oregon getting settled. She's even made it to the Ocean already. I'm really so happy for them. I have to be honest and say I'm holding onto some serious Ocean jealousy, but she reminded me that she felt this same way when I was living in Los Angeles only 10 minutes from the Ocean. Well, two years of being landlocked and I think I will only fully get over my bitterness when I finally move back to the West Coast and plant myself on the beach somewhere in California, Oregon or Washington. You might not hear from me for weeks as I doubt there will be internet access wherever I'll be camping out. But you'll be sure to find me taking in the Ocean waves and sipping coffee as I write, read, swim, reflect, bike the coast, write and try and run the sandy beach. Work, whats that? Only in my dreams I guess will I live this life, but it sure does sound good. :D

Well, she didn't call to make me jealous. She called so we could swap stories of living life in this crazy world. There is a myth that has been circulated for some time now that women use 20,000 words a day while men only use 7,000, but there actually may not be that wide of a gap. One study says differently, with just a minimal difference of about 500 words. Anyways, when we get to chatting, there's no stopping us.

So, an hour and forty-five minutes later, I am writing this blog and no longer tired but inspired. Self-revelation: I live to be inspired. I'm so inspired I might even get in a bike ride this early in the a.m. Hm, we'll see about that. Sounds good but that coffee and some early morning reading sound much better at the moment.

Simon Webbe

Last night I sat in the newly decorated KFC near my bus stop for home eating the faved "twister" chicken sandwich and watching music videos on the new screens they've installed in this beautiful KFC. Ah, a taste of home. I know, I know. I need to watch it with the crap food. But sometimes a taste of the USA is the best remedy for homesickness.

Simon Webbe's "Coming Around Again" came on and the fact that it was not Rihanna with her hoochy mama ways, I was rejoicing with joy!! It's nice to watch a music video without boobies and buttocks and all that jazz. He sort of sounds like Seal to me. I like him. Then I started swaying -- not really but I absolutely loved his song. I just added it to my playlist and my i-tunes collection.

The Olympics & A Swim Gone Bad

I'm not sure why I love following the Olympics but for several years now I've loved learning about the games, the athletes, their countries. It's interesting to me. I don't know a lot about it but I guess when it comes down to it, I'm a sucker for Olympic inspiration, a sucker for the story. How do these people get to this place? Most athletes were once just simple people living somewhere in the world but with determination, discipline, talent and strength of will they are now competing with the best around the world in that sport. Although I'll obviously never be in the Olympics, I love watching it and reading about it while I eat a nice bowl of chicken pasta pesto or some other delicious food, chocolate and a glass of wine. Maybe I'm living vicariously through these stellar athletes but it's interesting and I'm inspired by the day in and day out training of the body, making it your slave for a higher purpose. It motivates me to continue.

Yesterday I learned a bit of history while following the Olympics. Did you know there is a small provincial country situated between France and Spain called Andorra? Yep. There is and there is a 22 year old swimmer who will represent Andorra at the Olympics for the second time. I can't imagine being 18 years old and going to the Olympics. So awesome! That was Hocine Haciane four years ago when he competed in the 200 meter Swim. He'll be there again, this time doing the 400 meter.

Speaking of Olympic athletes, my friend Lara's roommate is Austra Skujyte. Austra won the silver medal in Heptathlon in 2004 and she'll be competing again! She went to school at Kansas University with Lara but is from Lithuania and lives there now again. Lara was showing me pictures of her first training facility and wow. Can we just say you can train anywhere and somehow press on and through it to be an Olympic athlete? It's not about your conditions.

Now for my non-stellar, not so Olympic 20 minute swim report. Actually let me tell you about the day at Margaret Island. The overcast weather didn't keep me from making my way to the lap pool outside. As I looked for open lanes, I realized I wasn't in a rush to get in the pool because I had the entire afternoon to read, soak in the sun, and people watch -- so I found a place to lay my stuff down and start soaking in the rays. After a few minutes, I checked on lanes and all the lanes were full so I decided to read for awhile.

I noticed a swim coach on deck shouting out drills to two guys who had all their gear -- flippers, snorkel stuff, floaties, hand paddles and even a tank thing that I watched them swim with later. I watch them in between reads. These guys were definitely swimmers. I used to go to swim practice with the girls swim team on campus at UNR in Reno to encourage them during their workouts. You could say it was part of my job at the time but it always inspired me to get to the gym..... So, when I say these men were swimmers I say that with all reverence-- the broad shoulders and muscular back, tiny waist, buttocks, lean muscular legs. This is the body type of most swimmers. I remember two girls I was closest to -- Jackie and Terina from Reno had no fat on the back or waist -- no muffin top as they call it. Just ripped to the core in a swimmer sort of way. And can I just say that is not my address, that is not where I live!???!!!

Well, back to the swimmers at hand. They were on their game. Lap after lap. Drill after drill. I got inspired. Maybe something would rub off. Well, 1.5 hours later, they were finished. They didn't even look breathless. One of the guys was still smiling when it was over and did some major stretching which must have felt great after all that arm work. Can I just say that at this point in my life, I cannot imagine, for the life of me, swimming for 2 hours in the pool? Someday I want to join a Masters but I'd have to work up to that for sure.

Still inspired, I waited for the guys to leave before jumping in. I warmed up and used the flippers. Then hand paddles. Why have I been so unable to keep the stamina I felt I was gaining in the pool? Taking two weeks off has really got me nervous. I just didn't have access to a lap pool and I pushed myself instead with running and biking. I'm a bit nervous about the swim on race day. That, and if a tire goes flat.

Well, I was slow to warm up in the pool but I did finish my 20 minutes and felt I had a few more laps inside so I went for it, deciding to go as fast as I could for a few more laps. Then all of a sudden I'm hitting the lane dividers and I'm like, what? Am I THAT OFF my game and all over the place?? When I looked up, I found they had released the lane dividers to reel them in and the lane dividers were doing the snake and weave all over the pool.

Um yeah. I felt like a big dork. Oh well. I had a great day with a few hours poolside and a 20 minute swim.