Chase Fireflies


Training: 10 Key Things I’ve Learned about Running

This picture of me cracks me up.  You can’t really tell that I’m running, but I swear that I am.  This 5K was killer – high 80s, crazy Pittsburgh hills, and moving before I typically get out of bed.  I hadn’t stretched out prior to the race and hitting it cold was not the smartest thing I ever did. 

After running this puppy, I didn’t run again for 7 months.  I saw an orthopedic and complained about the price of physical therapy.  For someone who had fallen in love with running, not running did me in.  I leave my sweat and tears and pride on the track.  Hauling them around with me was pretty miserable.  I got to thinking I was too old. 

Silly me.

I am running again;  free of pain this time.  Whoohooo!!!!  The physical therapy must have worked – and I learned a lot while in it.  I will keep at this thing, albeit still awkward form and painstakingly slow.  But this time I’m going at it wisely.  I’m still new at this, but here is what I’m learning:

1.  Cross Training is Key:  Swimming, biking, elliptical, walking, yoga, kickboxing, playing monster tag with the kids at the park, whatever. 

2.  Core Strength Really Matters:  I had no idea that most running injuries occur because your core is weak.  My core was a disaster zone (hardly registered on the strength tests:).  Crunches, weight machines,core strength classes, and the exercise ball are (slowly) helping me with mine.  Let’s be honest here though – I would still much rather run 4 miles than do 50 crunches.

3. Watch Your Form:  Have someone take a picture of you running.  It helps you see what you need to work on (posture, foot strike, arms).  A bad form will eventually lead to injury.  I’ve got a pretty balanced foot strike, but when I’m tired, I tend to slump my shoulders.  My weakest core ever also contributes to my horrible hunchback run. 

4.  Keep Learning:  Chi Running has some great principles, seminars are everywhere, Runner’s World, etc.  I have found that following a program also helps.  I really like Hal Higdon’s training programs and adapt the 10K one to fit our schedule. 

5.  It’s Not Supposed to be Easy:  Running can be excruciating.  Run anyway:)  Reluctant Runners is a pretty funny site devoted to people like me.  Their tagline is, “We love running… just not while we’re doing it.”

6.  Eat Right:  Yeah.  This one is also hard for me.  I tend to overindulge when I am running, so not caving in to the Tabasco Cheez-Its at midnight is really tough.  I also don’t always make time to eat well.  But I know that I’ve got to set a right example for the kids, so I’m eating the spinach, drinking the smoothies, fending off some carbs, and trying to balance the diet out with healthy proteins. 

7.   Go Easy:  You would never know it by looking at me, but I am a fierce competitor.  I can get pretty fired up about stuff under this calm exterior.  Last year, I monitored every single run and charted it.  It drove me nuts.  I am always pressed for time and running was no exception.  This year, I’m running for distance or time, but not both.  I love my runs so much more now that I’m not competing against myself anymore!

8.  Listen to Your Body:  My physical therapist helped me a ton by just telling me to listen to my body.  She guessed that my running injury was a long time coming and not the product of one race.  I am so not wincing around the track anymore!  If I feel knee pain (only twice thus far in 2 months of training), I cut out, take it easy, or substitute another form of exercise. 

9.  Keep Accountable:  Whether it’s to a chart, a friend, facebook, a blog – go it together with someone else.  I am accountable to the chart on my kitchen fridge and our kids.  I really like giving myself happy faces for my training and our Little Man really indulges me with stickers.  (I am that mom in the grocery store who has a big sticker on her bottom and in her hair.)

10.  Enjoy:  I used to run for exercise.  Now I just run because I can’t get enough.  There’s nothing better than setting a goal and reaching it.  I am a better mom and wife when I run.  I have more energy and determination.  I am more at peace with life.  I am more in tune with God.  It’s never easy the second mile in, but by the end – it’s worth every step.

Are any of you runners out there?  I beg of you – tell me what you know!  It has been so helpful to get my sister in law’s tips.  (She is the speedster in our family!)  But what else you got?  I’ve still got a ways to go!


How we Met Court (Marathon Relay 2012) Part II


This is the second post in a series about our marathon relay this year (Part I is here.)  Because I have issues with being concise and I have Ellsworth in my blood, this has nothing to do with running and everything to do with a little camp in New Hampshire and a friend I met there.  This year, our run is raising money for this friend.  (That’s her on the left.)  I call her Court and this is how we met….

It was here where I really got the love of God for me. 

In a rec hall, with voices maxed out, foot stomping, guitar strings breaking, hands clapping and “I Saw the Light.”  Sitting in pajama pants and a t-shirt, cross legged on our cabin’s roof, hearing of an authentic love. 

And I came to life here;  laughing and running around that lake and getting ruined by a Savior’s deep love for the mess that was me. 

It was what I dreamed about from the moment I unpacked my bags as a ten year old. Going back and becoming a counselor one day and living my summers on that very lake.  And doing so with my closest friends.  And so we did. 

But counselor jobs were hard to come by.  Getting paid to take care of kids and have the time of your life?  So we scooped ice cream and fried onion rings in a snack shack for a year and grueled in the kitchen for another year. 

We served up wicked Baked Alaskas and washed a million dishes and hauled massive food orders and cooked for hundreds and got locked in the walk-in freezer. 

But we earned our keep in that rickety cabin, screendoor slamming and a couple feet away from the lake. 

We became counselors the next year.  Had our own cabins in the woods.  Jumped off of buildings, dressed up in camo for Persecution, led devotions, played greased watermelon, chased kids, made pyramids, wrote letters home, and found friendship. 

It was here on the docks of the lake where we got to know Courtney.  Every day, in the sun, whistles around our necks, canoe wars, and backstroke and freestyle.  Staying up all night and weekend trips to LL Bean and driving around in the black hearse, which was (for real) our camp vehicle.

And it was impossible not to love this girl. 

Fiery.  Courageous.  Passionate.  Real.  Fiercely devoted.  Beautiful. 

But this is just the story of how we met.  That’s not even the half of it.


Tuesday’s Riches: Friendship

31 years after we met on the playground in 1st grade

they play together;  our kids, almost 1st graders themselves

and as we talk, women now; our dreams at 11 and 17 and 25 have come true;
we catch our girls talking and they could have been there for hours. 

and we have said goodbye for israel, turkey, korea, china, thailand, brazil, india;  miles between
and now only a  car drive apart

and who would have known about so much good but our God of good; 
  the unexpected, undeserved, unrelenting riches of God.

Love you, H


How it All Started (Marathon Relay 2012) Part I

It all started.  And I am embarrassed to say it went this way. 

No part of me wanted to run this year.  I was scared to aggravate a knee injury.  I didn’t want to organize anything.  I had so little compassion, drive, or care.  There was deadness in me. 

But there were friends who said we were running, like it wasn’t an option (ahem – Michelle).  And there were students who asked if we were, pleadingly.  And there was this dream.

And I am a practical kinda girl, hesitant to believe in weird stuff like dreams.  And I don’t dream much, but when I do – I am usually some covert military officer on a submarine fighting the North Koreans and feeding my children macaroni and cheese.  Suffice to say, I don’t really put much stock in dreams. 

But there was this other dream.  And in the dream there were children.  Laughing, like my own;  giggling because they looked beautiful.  They were wearing white and they laughed and laughed.  They were so happy.  And then this door opened and their expressions changed.  It was dark beyond the door. 

In my heart I knew I had to do something.  But I was paralyzed with shock and terror and I couldn’t speak up.  And noone heard me because I never raised my voice.  And before I knew it, the children were gone.  

And with them went the laughter. 

I woke up in tears to silence.  Their silence and mine.  I couldn’t hear them laughing.  It was dark outside.  I couldn’t hear my own voice doing anything about it.  We shared the silence of those who had died. 

God met me that early morning in this black of night.  In the death, He brought life again and He covered my shame.  He has always covered my every shame. 

There are these words of God that I love in Psalm 34:15.  “Those who look to Him are radiant;  their faces are never covered with shame.”  I can think of so many who fit this description.  I see their faces now as I type and I am better for having known each of these sisters, brothers, parents, friends. 

But there are children, for whom this radiance is being withheld.  It is my prayer that these children would also one day be able to look to God. 

That they would be rescued from a present darkness, that they would be found by the One who heals, that the radiance of childhood would return, and that they would receive ALL freedom from the shame that others have imposed.   

UNICEF estimates that there are over 2 million children trafficked into this darkness.  Would you pray with me for their rescue, healing, and care?  That these children who look to Him will be radiant;  that their faces will no longer be covered with shame. 

This is how 2012’s run started – Part I of the story that God is writing.  My team of five registered for our relay in the Pittsburgh Marathon two days after the dream.  And within two months, fifteen other runners had registered as well. 

Wait till I tell you about Part II.  (It’s about this girl who jumps off cliffs and sprints towards life and who is very much a hero to me and I am proud to call her my friend:) 

Till then, please check out this page to learn more about our run. 

Thank you friends.  Because of Jesus,

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Tuesday’s Riches


Come with this day.  The waking up alive to coffee and a giggling child.  There is overcoming fear in the pool today and it  is no small victory.  The tears are huddled in the eyes but the torrents are not. 

Running a couple of miles without pain – just the joy of one step after another and worshipping in sweat and tears around a track. 

Hearing a good prognosis; my mom’s laughter; a child’s questions.  Getting a haircut for the one who giggles and looking in the mirror thinking BEAUTIFUL.  A fluffernutter in the park. 

Feeding animals, so gently, palm out flat.  Sliding into laughter in what shouldn’t be spring air yet.  Celebrating with rainbow sherbet. 

Studying and learning, reading and growing.  How do we solve the problems and sound out the words.  Cleaning and taking care of what has been gifted to us from a Gracious Hand.  Folding warm clothes out of the drier. 

An NBA basketball game starring a 4 year old in a worn Celtics jersey and mesh shorts right there in our living room. 

There is so much beauty in Tuesday for the taking.  He has gifted us with glory here.   

May we I have eyes to see it all, respond with joy, and lift up the dripping child – the ice cream – the biopsy reports – the clean towel – to the One who deserves every praise.

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Hodgepodge Love


“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship.”  -Sarah Ban Breathnach

There are no real accomplishments apart from relationship:  Ann Voskamp 

“I don’t want to know about trafficking, but I do know about it and as a Christian, I feel like I have to respond to that” :  The New Christian Abolition Movement

Stare up at the sky and let yourself be:  Making the Most of Creative Time

Paul is going to LOVE these:  Frosted Cookie Cups

Life giving Words:  Why I Tell My Girls They are Beautiful Often…

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What Love Looked Like

This Valentine’s Day, love looked like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in lunchboxes and cheering in the stands for a certain 6 foot red headed coach and the team that he loves.  Love was being together; on the bleachers, with a court in the middle of us, in the loudest gym. 

Love looked like Amoxicillin, boxes of tissues, curled up under fleece blankets, an all night allergic reaction, and a call to Children’s. Love looked like a hand to hold because two are better than one. 

Love looked like the Word taking on richer meaning.   Becoming flesh and bones and sensitive beating heart and beautiful scarred hands.  Love is always God walking through our every darkness and making it as bright as day. 

Love looked like life in Him.  Dwelling with Him, seeing glory where I wasn’t looking.  Those are the best kinds of glory sightings, after all.   

I think this may rank up there as one of my  favorite Valentine’s Days, when all is said and done.  Or maybe, just the most unique:) 


Fun Girl Hair – That’s All

I’m still learning how to fix a little girl’s hair.  I am a ponytail kinda girl when I do my hair.  When I don’t do my hair, it’s the old Red Sox hat.  Alas, the little one has been been pouring over hairstyles in books and magazines. 

So this is one of our most recent favorites.  We split Selah’s hair into random segments and created little braids.  Once her hair was completely braided, we bobby pinned it all up and all over the place in every direction.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the back.  It was super cute and fun! 

In any event, we got to take in an awesome college basketball game that day as a family.  Great seats.  Great atmosphere.  Great win.  But what mattered most to Selah was her hair:)  It helps me to remember that it’s the little things.  Always, the little things.

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Hodge Podge Love

Lest there be any question!  Let’s go Pats!

One of the BEST articles I’ve ever read.   The Ancient Solution for Future Generations

 Teaching Adden this, especially:  Choose Your Heroes Carefully 

Try this queso blanc dip (so goooood!), among other delish stuff:  Superbowl Ideas

And the laundry waited, happily:  What’s Happened to Play

Great for a long car ride:  Books Should Be Free