April 10, 2015

Mediterranean Cruise: Day 5 (Heraklion)

Another early morning coffee and quiet time in the cafeteria with Ted. I usually get a 3-5 hour stretch of sleep--blissful--and then wake about once an hour the rest of the night, usually because of Seanin's noises. I guess I should just wear ear plugs!

We didn't have to rush anywhere today, and to avoid the chaos of the cafeteria, we tried the sit-down, full-service restaurant. Oh, my! I don't think we will go back! SOOO nice not to be scrambling for places to sit together, then rushing all over the buffet areas to get food for everyone. It was delightful.

We had to load onto shuttle buses to get off the docking area, per the regulations of the isle of Crete, so we had a bit of a wait but not too bad. We took the bus to the Knossos Palace. At 1.50 euro per ticket (6 and under were free), it was an inexpensive and easy way to travel. Maybe the ride was about 40 minutes or so? At the site, we hired a private guide, joining with another family, also military (Army) and also on our cruise ship. The cost was only 30 euro per FAMILY. I can't believe the company I researched before leaving for our vacation quoted me a tour price of 720 euro!! Good grief!

The tour was wonderful. We got so much more out of it with having the guide. I posed the kids for some pictures with their Sonlight books. :-) The tour was about an hour long, and then we took the bus to the city square and got lunch as we were all so hungry. (It was about 2pm by this time.) The food was great, but unfortunately the museum we planned to see afterward--with all the original items from the palace we had just heard about--closed at 3pm! Our waitress told us about 6 or 7:00 was the closing time. Clearly we should have checked. That was a big disappointment, but it did give us plenty of time to wander and shop our way back to the port! Seanin was more than ready for a nap, poor baby, but he was such a trooper all day. Ted's back may be in agony, though, after carrying him in the backpack all day!

Now as I write this it's nearly dinnertime--hooray! I'm so very hungry, even though we had a late lunch. Ted and I shared a Greek salad and a chicken kebab plate...guess it's gone after all that walking! The show tonight is a Frank Sinatra tribute, so we will skip and go to bed early again, since it's not particularly something we'd be interested in.



Mediterranean Cruise: Day 4 (Katakolon)

Early morning date with my hubby! Cappuccino and quiet time in the cafeteria while everyone else slept. This time, though, Seanin came with us for breakfast! Since we were to be at our port from noon to 6pm, we decided to try to give Seanin a chance to nap in the morning. So the 3 of us had breakfast together before the craziness started. Ted took Seanin to the play room so I could help Zaden get some breakfast. Then we switched boys, and I spent awhile in our cabin bathroom so that Seanin would fall asleep for a morning nap. I T-Tapped in that tiny bathroom, then showered, then sat and prayed awhile! I'm not sure Seanin actually got a whole lot of sleep despite my efforts! Some of the kids ate a late breakfast so didn't want lunch. I think some of them may have gone swimming, too.

At any rate, we got off the ship and walked to the train station, not too far of a walk, to catch the 1:15 train to Olympia (which left late, sigh). It was about a 40-minute ride, a bit tedious with Seanin crawling on my lap, but he wasn't too bad. The village of Olympia was cute and easy to navigate. We stopped and spent about a half-hour in the Archimedes museum, where an enthusiastic curator showed us some fascinating inventions and told us about some of the mathematical and scientific principles discovered by Archimedes. Since the older boys had read about him earlier in the school year, it was really extra special to see their excitement. But we were left with little time in Ancient Olympia itself, as the train left at 3:45 and we had to allow 15 minutes to walk to it!

All told, we only had about 1.5 hours to see stuff...BUT...we saw stuff! We did kind of have to rush around, and without a guide, it was harder to really appreciate what we were looking at, but hey. Been there, done that, right?! Ancient Olympia, check! Thankfully, too, it was a beautiful, sunny day--evidence of much rain recently was obvious, and we were thankful for such nice weather.

The train ride back was uneventful, and we had a bit of time to enjoy cappuccinos and ice cream and do a bit of shopping before heading back to the ship for dinner. We were so glad Ted was feeling hungry again, since his stomach had been bothering him so badly the evening before! It was a great dinner, and we were relieved that Seanin made it with so little sleep all day. He ate and ate and ATE at dinnertime! We couldn't fill him up!

Since our following day's plan was pretty full, we opted to put everyone to bed (or quietly read) right after dinner. Ted and I sneaked out for a walk together and some uninterrupted conversation. Such a bummer to not be able to be in the same cabin! Maybe for our 25th anniversary we will take a Baltic cruise ALONE! :-)

Tobin loved the Archimedes museum!

Ted, Lucan, and Seanin by the remains of the Temple of Zeus, once one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.


I do believe my boys could have spent a lot longer in this place...

Mediterranean Cruise: Day 3 (At Sea)

Our cabins:
Grandma J, Arden, and Kenna on deck 10
Ted, Tobin, and Lucan on deck 8
Beverly, Charis, Zaden, and Seanin on deck 8 (opposite side of the ship from the boys)

It was good to have a day to finish figuring things out on the ship--it was chaos trying to coordinate everyone, running around looking for "lost" people and "lost" cruise cards (one found, one really lost).

At least the day started a bit better--Ted and I met early for cappuccinos and quiet time. I went running in the fitness center 25 minutes (until the treadmill kicked me off) and then about 15 minutes on the jogging deck. It was sunny and cool and windy--I loved it! I was the only one running up there, and it was beautiful. I helped shuffle kids around a bit before showering and breakfasting.

The kids swam, explored the ship some more, played with their new friends, and who knows what else. I was desperate for Seanin to nap, which he did very little of!

It was a formal night, so we all dressed up for dinner. Zaden managed to break a glass in our cabin while I was drying my hair. Never a dull moment...

Dinner was good, except that Ted's stomach was not doing well. I don't know if he got what we all had last week [we were hit with a stomach bug that floored me during Rhonda's arrival...thank the Lord for a friend who was able to go pick her up from their airport!] or something different, but he didn't eat much. Seanin held off his big poop until after dinner this time, ha! Zaden was manic after drinking some Sprite, running around the table and hugging on Mr. Molina, our server, who obviously adores Zaden. Zaden had recognized him earlier in the day at the cafeteria, lighting up when he saw Edwin, which I think made him feel good! My heart hurts for Edwin and his family, though, as he is away from home 9 months at a time. He has a 4-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl.

Since Ted wasn't feeling well, he rested in our cabin with the little boys, who were more than ready for bedtime, while the rest of us went to see the "Zorro" show. Great acrobatics! The kids really enjoyed it, and it was so fun to see their faces and reactions. Lucan liked the fake sword fights! I enjoyed the African pole climbing team.






Mediterranean Cruise: Day 2 (Genoa)

This day was kind of a wash. After an exhausting day, Seanin really needed to nap. It was cold, windy, and rainy in Genoa, and we weren't sure what to do in the city anyway, so we ended u wandering around and exploring the ship a bit. We let the kids swim before lunch while Seanin napped in the stroller (took awhile to get him to sleep!), and then we did lunch at the buffet. I took the little boys back to our room to nap, but Zaden is the only one who actually slept. Multiple interruptions kept our overstimulated Seanin very much awake!

Rhonda and Charis tried venturing off the ship but didn't get far and came back. The other kids swam some more with new friends Ben and Anna (Arden and Kenna's ages, roughly).

We made it for our 6:00 seating for dinner and had a lovely dining experience--IF you don't count the major poop blowout that Seanin had, resulting in both Ted and me carrying him back to the cabin for a bath and change of clothes in the middle of mealtime!! Considering his lack of sleep, Seanin did fairly well during dinner, but he was definitely ready for dinner afterward! I put him down while the other kids swam, and then Ted came to relieve me so I could go to the piano concert with Rhonda, Arden, and Charis. Unfortunately, it took me awhile to find the theater, so I was 15 minutes late and had no idea where they were sitting. But the pianist was amazing! I enjoyed the music anyway and did find the others afterward. We got gelato from a chintzy scooper and then called it a night.

Seanin FINALLY fell asleep in the stroller...for about a 45-minute nap...his only nap in two days!

Our Mediterranean Cruise Adventure--Day 1

For Christmas 2014 our family booked an eastern Mediterranean cruise, something that had been on our wish list since arriving in Italy! Grandma Rhonda J willingly obliged us by flying to Naples for her third Italian visit in order to accompany us on our cruise. A hardship, I know, but sacrifices have to be made for the family, ha! Seriously, if she hadn't come, we would not have been able to go as a family, as we needed to book 3 cabins, and there had to be an adult in each cabin.

I wrote in my journal about each day of our cruise, so even though I am posting these updates very, very late, the script was written when everything was fresh in my mind! So without further ado, here we go...traveling back in time to Monday, December 15.

We finally left the house around 10:45am. Not bad, considering! We piled all 10 of us into the Suburban and made a quick stop to drop off keys with Joyce, and then we were on our way. Our GPS wasn't terribly helpful, but following signs we made it to the port and found a parking area. Total: 110 euro for the duration--not bad.  We took a shuttle to the ship dropoff point--got off one stop too soon--and walked to the right place. No one bothered to point out the luggage drop off area, so we lugged all our bags inside the "holding area," where we were accosted by "buy a drink package" reps and were dismayed to learn that all drinks on board are not included in the cost of the cruise! When we tried to find out about checking in, we learned about the luggage, so Ted, Rhonda, and Tobin hauled our stuff back outside and got it all checked, and THEN we received our boarding group number--17--which could have been 14 or so if we had known. Grrr.

We waited 1.5 hours before we could actually go through the check-in line, by which point Seanin was frantic and Zaden and Lucan were sprawled on the floor because they were so tired. We got our cruise cards, went through security, and finally onto the ship, reaching our rooms by 5:40pm. I was hoping to get Seanin a nap before dinner, but there was no crib set up (despite our request!), so we had to get that taken care of plus find Kenna and Arden's missing suitcase (held up because we had packed an iron, a big no-no!).

We thought dinner seating was at 7pm, based on the web sites I had viewed beforehand. So we waited and then went to the dining room, where the host told us rather rudely that it started at 6:00 and we were too late. So we went up to the buffet--at that point we were just hungry and exhausted. The ship pulled out as we were eating, causing Charis to feel seasick, so she went back to our room to lie down and get her sea bands on.

It wasn't a moment too soon before we got settled in bed for the night! Mamma mia, not a wonderful way to start off our vacation!!

March 01, 2015

Thanksgiving 2014

For whenever I sit down to do our scrapbook...some day...ages and ages hence...I will continue to report on our family activities from last year!

Our last Thanksgiving in Italy was also the only one for which we were at home. After some discussion amongst friends, we decided that our family would host a big dinner. I think we counted about 39 people altogether, both Americans and Italians. It was so wonderful to share a traditional American meal with Italian friends!

The weather ended up being perfect, which was a relief, since we did have a lot of children running around, lol. The kids always enjoy piling onto the trampoline, so I for one was thankful that it did not rain! We enjoyed good food and wonderful fellowship and had a special time during which Ted spoke a little bit about the origins of the holiday, and then he prayed in English and Nello prayed in Italian. It was a beautiful, memorable Thanksgiving--probably one of my favorites ever! We are so grateful for such wonderful friends.

Charis put together fruit & veggie appetizer platters. They were a hit!

Some of the hubbies.

Titti is our Italian instructor, seated here with her husband Nello.

Titti and Nello's oldest son Vicenzo (left) speaks with a new Italian family we met through Lisa R's family.

Clay and Lauren are good friends from our church--they arrived in Italy about 18 months ago as a missionary family.

We women worked hard to put this spread together!

Thankfully we had an appreciative crowd of hungry people!

Seanin just enjoyed watching the commotion!

February 14, 2015

Athens Marathon 2014

[So much for keeping my blogging streak going, ha! Oh well, 3 months late is better than not at all...]

The night before the marathon, not surprisingly, was a rather restless night for me. Those of us staying in the hotel together had gathered to pray before dispersing for the night, and while I had hopes of getting at least some decent sleep since it was early, adrenaline and nerves kept me up long after I actually crawled into bed. And then the fear of oversleeping kept me tossing and turning through the night, along with the incredibly loud street--trash trucks at 3am?! What?!

I gave up and secluded myself in the bathroom so as to have some light without disturbing Shauna, my roommate. I read Hebrews 10-12 and wrote the names of about 40 women Mission of Light had been ministering to on my left arm so that I would be able to pray for the ladies while running.

Finally it was close enough to time to get ready to go, so I dressed, gathered the few things I wanted to have with me for the morning, and headed downstairs to the hotel breakfast room, which was soon full of marathoners fueling for the big day.

We took taxis downtown to one of the bus pick-up points rather than messing with the metro that early in the morning, and we were glad we did. Hoards of people waited and shuffled onto the buses that lined up to take us out to Marathon. The sun was breaking over the horizon as we neared the destination. I can't even begin to put words to the emotions of the day, but at this point, I'd say "excitement" and "anticipation" were at their height!

It was a chilly morning but sunny--no rain in sight, praise the Lord! And what a cacophony of sound--music (instruments as well as singing), chanting, shouting...and a feast for the eyes--people in all manner of costumes, running groups, rows and rows of porta-potties (and endless lines before them), people stretching, walking, jogging, hopping...

Our team gathered together for a time of stretching, praying, and encouraging one another. We newbies gleaned last-minute tips from the experienced racers. Finally we were herding our way toward our starting blocks. Tirzah and I had decided to try running together--run 4 minutes, walk a minute. We wanted to pray together for the ladies on the street as well as the Mission of Light ministry and whatever and whoever else God put on our hearts. But I also knew that Tirzah had been able to put a LOT more time and effort into training, and I really didn't want to hold her back! My mindset at the beginning of the race was a "let's see what happens and take it a step at a time" approach, literally!

It was warming up to the point that I decided to shed my thrift-store fleece before I began running so that I wouldn't have to deal with it later on. About 10 minutes into running, I experienced some painful shin splints. Wow, not a great start...but praise God, within a few minutes they had disappeared and I was feeling a better groove with running.

Praying out loud with Tirzah is by far the sweetest memory I have of this experience! What a Spirit-led time this was. Snippets of songs and Scriptures came out naturally along with conversation back and forth, taking in the various sights and experiences of the race itself.

The time passed...the miles passed...with Tirzah's company and the Lord's strength and power, I found myself going far beyond where I had ever gone physically before. Longer than any time I've ever run before; farther distance than I've ever run before. Kilometer after kilometer, and we were still going...and going...and going! Finally we hit the hill portion we had heard so much about. And really? It wasn't that bad! I did have a few moments of feeling like I was losing my breath, almost asthmatic symptom-like, but I quit praying out loud and just slowed down and worked on breathing. Those moments were very few and not serious enough to make me worry...just enough to let me know that I needed to be careful.

What a joy to reach the halfway point! And then to get to the 3/4 point! Tirzah was doing so great, crossing to both sides of the street anytime she saw kids so that she could give them high-fives. The people of Athens who lined the streets were so amazing! So upbeat and encouraging! Bands played in various little towns...we saw a bagpiper at one point! The cheers of the crowds went a long way toward spurring us on.

When we had about 10K to go, Tirzah and I parted company so she could press on and see how well she could do. We had nearly finished the hill section, and I knew that at that point, I WOULD be able to FINISH!! I am so grateful to have had a running partner for the majority of the race. I doubt I would have made it so far--or at least have had as much fun!--if I had been running alone, as I had originally thought would be happening. God was so gracious...it was as if I had not had a back injury at all, and my foot gave me nearly no troubles, though I did have some severe calf cramps toward the end.

After I said goodbye to Tirzah, I turned on my music for the first time! Ted had put together a playlist for me, and while I cannot at this moment tell you a single song that played, I do know that my heart soared when I heard the various songs--the timing was always perfect, whether reminding me that I have a dear, amazing husband who is so in love with me or encouraging me with words of God's amazing grace that has set me free and can do the same for the captives for whom we had been praying.

I pretty much ran that last hour without stopping to walk, because the couple of times I did stop to walk...it hurt so badly to start running again! And I just wanted to FINISH! I had to stop for a few minutes to stretch out my calf and had a nice conversation with a Greek man who had already finished the marathon and was on his bike encouraging other runners. He has run the Rome marathon once and the Athens marathon 5 times! That impressed me, but I think I impressed him by telling him I was turning 40 and had 7 kids, lol.

The home stretch was amazing! The crowds...the music...a percussion band inside the last tunnel...catching sight of that stadium is a moment I will never, ever forget. My emotions were running full blast by this point! I was laughing and crying all at the same time. I saw some of our peeps in the bleachers--so awesome to have a cheering section! I was nearly sobbing by the time the sweet lady at the end put the medal around my neck. FINISHED!! Dear Jesus, THANK YOU!!

I learned that Tirzah had arrived not too long before I had. We located the locker rooms and I made it a priority to stand in COLD water for a good 15-20 minutes to ice down my legs as much as possible before getting changed. Oh, I was already hurting! I was thankful for my friend Lisa B's tip to put flip-flops in my runner's bag, as it was wonderful to change out of my running shoes. However, I did wish that instead of flip-flops I had brought my house sandals with the sturdier soles, as it was really hard to even just walk!

We gingerly made our way back to the stadium, where we saw our last 3 teammates, Libby, Grace, and Emily, enter the stadium, looking very joyful and not nearly in as much pain as I felt, ha! They walked a lot of the time, but we were very proud to have all made it across that finish line.

I remember hobbling with the group to hail taxis to get us back to our hotel. Some of the gals wanted to go out for dinner, but all I wanted was an ice bath followed by a warm shower to get my whole body clean again. I took advantage of the empty hotel rooms to use the tub all by myself! Some of the gals brought back Indian food for dinner, and we happily scarfed down a late dinner.

I was sooooo ready for bed, but unfortunately, that night was pretty miserable for me. I just hurt SO badly. Turning over in bed was agonizing, let alone hobbling to the bathroom (I was well hydrated, let me tell you!). I used ibuprofen and the muscle relaxants I had from my back injury, gently stretching as I could, but at one point I found myself in the bathroom nearly ready to vomit because the pain was just so intense. I didn't know how I was going to function the next day!

Looking back, this was definitely the low point of the whole experience! This is where the lack of training really did hurt me. However, the next morning, after a shower and some movement, I realized that I would indeed survive, and while it wouldn't be pretty, the worst was definitely over. Within 48 hours I was beginning to contemplate the possibility of running another marathon in the spring!! Oh, how quickly we forget, lol! I guess that's why women can give birth to more than one child!

November 22, 2014

Acropolis and Corinth Tour

Saturday, November 8, on our Athens Adventure, we loaded onto a private tour bus at 8am for a full day of touring!

Let me back up a moment to say we thoroughly enjoyed our breakfasts at the hotel, and I really miss that daily spread...coffee, amazing Greek yogurt (kind of the consistency of Cool Whip but much better tasting), feta cheese, olives, breads, meats cheeses, boiled eggs...I skipped the mini hot-dogs, but everything else I had was amazing. Mmmm.

Our tour took us first to the Acropolis before the crowds hit. First stop, Mars Hill! So incredible to stand on the place where the Apostle Paul spoke to the Athenians about the "Unknown God." We read that portion of Acts 17 while looking over the city. Chill-inducing!


Next up, the Acropolis, where our tour guide gave us more info about the structure itself, the myths behind the temples, and some insight into the culture of the Golden Age of Greece. I'm so excited that our whole family will return here before we move away from Italy, as we have planned a cruise in the future!

On what would have been the ramp entryway for animals to be led up for sacrifice.

The Parthenon! I'm actually here! And yes, it was raining at this point!

To the left, in the clump of trees, is the stadium where the marathon ended.
Lower right are the remains of the temple of Zeus.

Shauna and I

Temple of Poseidon, also located in the Acropolis area
After a lovely time exploring the Acropolis, we began the drive to Corinth, stopping partway for a snack and potty break and the opportunity to see the canal.


On to Ancient Corinth! More chill-inducing moments as we saw the Bema area where Paul was dragged when the Jews were angry with him for stirring up trouble, as usual, ha! We read 2 Corinthians 4 out loud there, having seen one of the latter verses carved on a stone. So. Incredible.

You can see the difference between this temple and the structures at the Acropolis, which were built from marble hauled from a mountain we could see in the distance.

I loved the pottery!

Samples of columns. Test: Can you identify the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns?!

Standing on the Bema


We ended this beautiful day with another wonderful restaurant experience. We all ended up sampling each other's food, and I can't remember everything we tried, but it was all fabulous. Tirzah and I especially enjoyed our iced coffees!


Next blog entry: RACE DAY!! This day of touring ended with us going back to the hotel and attempting to get some sleep...after such a huge and late lunch, none of us felt like eating much for dinner, so we snacked a bit and tried to settle in for some rest. (HA!)

Marathon Trip: Enjoying Athens

From the beginning we knew the marathon trip would mostly be a "girls' getaway," as most of us wouldn't be able to bring our whole families along. Nine of us ended up sharing 3 rooms at a Best Western hotel right across the street from the National Archaeological Museum. We flew into Athens on Thursday, November 6, after driving to Rome and leaving our Suburban in a parking lot with shuttle service to the airport. So it had been a long day, but it began well--Tirzah's husband Jim prayed over us before we left Support Site, and he and their kids sent us off with the Rocky theme song. :-)

The highlight of our travel day was enjoying an amazing spread at a wonderful restaurant that didn't cater to tourists--our waiter, Theodore, commented that someone must have recommended the place to us, because they didn't get nearly as many tourists as other places. That was fine with us! We dined outside and loved sampling many different kinds of food, including the free desserts they brought us when we thought we were already stuffed!


On Friday we spent most of the morning and early afternoon puttering around the amazing museum. How cool to see our history books come to life! So much of what the kids and I have been studying recently...artifacts from ancient cultures, such as the Minoan, Mycenaean, Egyptian, and so on...oh, it was just incredible! I could have spent days going through that place. It was sad to have to rush through toward the end and know that we hadn't even seen a fraction of what was on display.

One of the very earliest pieces of artwork on the planet! Approx. 6,000 B.C.

Boars' tusk helmet

Love the octopus/squid artwork!

Chariot reconstruction

Animal mummies
 From the museum we walked toward the metro station, stopping at a fast-food place for a lunch of gyros (costing 1.50 each!) and dessert treat from a classy bakery (1.95 for my baklava!). We survived the metro maze, got on a tram, rode for 45 minutes, and finally reached the Expo Center, where the racers picked up their packets and we met up with Julia, who had come straight from the airport (at a cost of 70 euro to a sneaky taxi driver, yikes!). We also found Lisa R and her niece Erin, who joined us for a dinner escapade. We were told by several locals about a wonderful place, and after several missteps, located it only to learn it was not open. So we trooped across the street to the top floor of a hotel to try their restaurant with a view. It was more expensive than our fare from the previous night, and the main course was far less tasty, but by this point it was after 9pm and we were hungry and running out of time!

We finally found THE PLACE! Only THE PLACE was closed!!

Hotel Poseidon's restaurant on the 7th floor

Libby, Emily, and Shauna during our l-o-n-g trek back to the hotel.

Grace and I...still smiling after a very long day!
Day 1 as Athens tourists = a success!

November 15, 2014

Marathon Preparation

So in early spring 2014 we had the beginnings of our marathon team (see previous post), and I started thinking a little bit more about actually training. November seemed an awfully long way off! I literally started from the couch. After having Seanin last August, I hadn't done much exercise beyond the 15-minute T-Tapp workout (which I do love and think is quite effective). In January I started the Couch-to-5K program. Looking back, it seems unreal that I had to work up to a 5K, which I ran in April!

So we went on our massive 3-week road trip in late April; I think I ran twice during that whole time. I started running again a bit, but then we had family visit us for 3 weeks in June. I ran twice during that whole time as well. So I didn't really get serious about training until early July, just over 4 months before Race Day.

I figured 4 months was plenty of time, no problem! HA! Probably if I had been running regularly it would have been just fine.

Shortly into training I experienced a foot injury. The arch of my right foot was hurting. Actually, it started hurting on top of my foot, but then the arch began aching. I iced it and rested and eased back into running only to have it happen again. I got new shoes, thinking maybe that was the problem, and it happened again. I went to the doctor, who thought I had plantar fasciitis and referred me to ortho. I went to my chiropractor who said I didn't have plantar fasciitis and that I'd be fine. I went to my ortho appointment and was feeling great by that point, but the doctor gave me shoe inserts anyway and off I went. I learned to use a frozen water bottle to roll my foot on after running. I took Ibuprofen when pain flared up and rested, rested, rested. I bought Jeff Galloway's book and learned about the walk-run method when a couple of friends recommended it as the way to prevent injuries.

Basically, I had to swallow a lot of pride and realize that everyone is different, my body is getting older, and this experience was just not going to turn out the way I anticipated.

By late September I was feeling much better, not really dealing with foot issues anymore, and starting to look at how I could plan some long training runs to actually prepare myself for this ordeal. I finally passed 8 miles--the point where I had seemed to be stuck, as previously when I would run 8 miles (or attempt longer), I would end up waylaid and in pain. (Once Ted had to come pick me up because I couldn't make it home!) In fact, I made it to 12 miles one Sunday morning and felt great. I was careful to run 4-5 minutes and walk a minute. The next couple of days I felt fine...knees were a little sore, but I seemed to recover well, having taken an ice bath immediately afterward. I did a 4-mile run Wednesday.

Then on Thursday, I squatted down (using my knees!) to lift Seanin and something seemed to explode in my lower back. Pain radiated down my legs and I couldn't move. Thank the Lord the children were so responsive. Charis got Seanin and the boys helped me stand up, and the rest of the day passed in a blur of pain and fog.

That was October 2. I spent the next few weeks recovering. I met with an Italian physical/massage therapist several times; I visited the chiropractor; I met with a doctor to get some muscle relaxants. I got on the treadmill and walked. And walked. And walked. One of my workouts was 2 hours long and gave me hope that I would, in fact, be able to finish the marathon, even if I weren't running. By October 28, Charis and I were boarding a plane for America, where she was to compete in the National Bible Bee, and although I was moving reasonably well, the long periods of sitting still made my back ache. (I was thankful for those muscle relaxants!)

During our time in Florida, I hit the treadmill and carefully tried some slow running. Four days in a row I ran! And I had hope.

November 9, 2014, I was going to finish a marathon!