Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Year, New Word

Finally 2016 has arrived.  Apparently I was very eager for the new year as I kept writing 2016 on things in December.  I have written in the past about my lack of goal writing at the beginning of a new year.  I am a reformed Type A, so I have an on-going list of goals and to-do’s, but I have adopted the practice of choosing a word of the year.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I enjoy reading blogs and listening to podcasts.  And, a few years ago, a favorite author of mine introduced the idea of choosing a word at the beginning of each year to guide the goals and decisions of the year.

Embarrassingly I had forgotten my “word” from two years ago, but my friend Megan remembered it for me.  “Steady” was my word for 2014.  I knew we were facing ChinaBean’s third open-heart surgery and I wanted to roll with the stresses of that and the other challenges that come with living overseas.

Last year I settled on “rest”.  I was staying up too late, racing around Suzhou, working, volunteering and trying to soak up what was supposed to be our last 6 months in China.  I knew that I would have to be intentional and protective of my time.  I don’t know that I came out of 2015 more rested, but I was certainly more aware of what I felt like when I had margin in our schedule and the implications of me not being rested.  Our surprising move to Xi’an has changed our schedule drastically and increased the “margin” in our schedule greatly.  Coincidence, I think not.
I seriously considered the word “sleep” for 2016, but a wise friend suggested that linking my word to scripture might be beneficial.  Hmmm, “He makes me lie down in green pastures…”  Instead, I have chosen the word “peace.”  It still allows me to build off of last year’s word by reinforcing that when I am rested, I am certainly more peaceful!

Life, whether overseas or in your home country, isn’t always peaceful.  But when those tough times come, I want to choose peace rather than always being reactive to a stressful or intense situation.  Like jello, I will absorb whatever life throws at me.  Right?!

It seems that 2016 might have several chances for me to practice my word.  We returned to Xi’an after Christmas holiday with an un-repaired apartment.  Tiles ripped up, dust everywhere, furniture in random places…peace.  Jamie returned to the US for a week after only being in Xi’an for barely 7 days…peace.  Jet lag with three kids in a hotel…peace. Peace, peace, peace.  Let’s hope that I don’t have too many opportunities to practice.

“Seek peace & pursue it”  ~ Psalm 34:14

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Great Wall Fun Run

I might be behind on posting this, but as the calendar flips to 2016, I reflect on the highlights of the last year.  The Great Wall Marathon was at the top of my list.  I didn't run the full marathon, or even the half marathon, but the "fun run" provided me with just enough challenge. 

The "fun run" was an 8.5 km race.  The first 5 km was a run up the side of a hill (but let's pretend it was a mountain) to the entrance of the Great Wall where racers climbed up and down a series of 5,100+ uneven steps.  It was amazing! 

I trained on a treadmill on our patio, facing a wall, and trying not to aggravate my plantar fascitis.  Race day was the longest that I have ever run.  Really. Ever in my life.  

The three of us lived in the same apartment compound in Suzhou.
My Italian friend on the right ran the 1/2 marathon, again.
At the Suzhou train station and headed to Beijing!
This gentleman started chatting with us on the Beijing subway.
He had visited one of the US facilities for the company my husband
works for, and his mother was born in Suzhou.
Nike, inspiring us to run our best.
The day before the race, my two friends and I took our rented car (with driving in China for us), to the small village where the start and finish of the race was located.  We walked to the beginning of the course and then down the road we would be running in the morning.  The "hotel" we were staying in had a little restaurant and we dined on some fine Chinese food the night before the race.
The closest I will ever get to running 34 km.

Sporting some national pride before the race.

All smiles before the race.
I took a few pictures during the race.  I am terribly stubborn and competitive (even with myself) and that makes up for my lack of athleticism.  Before I started the race I had decided I would just play it by ear and take it easy.  But, then the race started and the adrenaline began pumping and I decided that, sure, I could run the 5 km up the side of the hill/mountain without stopping.

Some people ahead of me.
And, some people behind me.
And, I did the whole way.  It was awesome! I did pause for a quick photo at the entrance of the Wall.

And, here we go...the 5,100+ steps.

Going down...

What goes down, must come up and up and up.
They call this part the "Goat Pass" for a
very good reason!

I can see the finish line, but can I get there?

We finished!
I wasn't the first and I wasn't the last.  Somewhere right in the middle.

We made it back to the hostel in Beijing
and we found more steps.  Ahhh!

The train ride home was one of the most fun rides I have had.  It's a 5-hour trip from Beijing to Suzhou and we laughed approximately 4.5 hours of the ride.  We were still laughing coming down the escalator at the Suzhou rail station and it echoed through the hall.  I am fairly certain that the driver who picked us up thought that we were inebriated, but I solemnly swear that we were not.  Not even a bit. 

The race was a great moment in 2015 and I'm looking forward to what 2016 will bring.