Help, I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up…

That’s how I’ve been feeling the past few weeks about my training, I’ve fallen off the wagon and despite my best efforts I can’t seem to get back on track. I’ve lost my groove.  I sit down on Sunday evening; look over my training plans, plug them into my calendar and then thud, something happens by Wednesday that throws me off schedule and I can’t seem to regroup and get back on track.

So what am I training for?  That’s an excellent question.  I have paired down my goals for 2017 and am focusing in on 3 races: 1) Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on April 30th, 2) Ironman Santa Rosa on July 29th and 3) The Chicago Marathon.  Currently I am mostly following my marathon training plan, I run with the Dallas Running Club and this year the Spring goal race just happens to be OKC so I am set there.  As far as Ironman Santa Rosa goes, I need to be in the pool right now working on technique drills and rebuilding my base, but I am acting like a scared ostrich sticking its head in the sand pretending I don’t have to swim 2.4 miles in a lake in July.  I really developed a love of swimming this past summer so I am really stumped as to where this mental block has come from,  I am struggling to get myself in to the pool. And let’s not talk about the bike…   My training plan starts in just 3 short weeks and I don’t feel like I’m ready to jump in to tri training.

So dear interweb friends, here’s my plan in an effort to get myself back into the swing of training and to satisfy an urge to start writing more; I am committing to posting weekly training recaps on Sunday night.  Understand that I do not profess to be a wealth of knowledge on tri training, I am self coached and do a lot of things that would make most tri coaches shake their heads in dismay, like planning a PR marathon smack dab in the middle of a IM training cycle. But what can you do, both races are equally important to me and I will always be a runner first and foremost.  I am just an ordinary girl struggling to balance a demanding career with an equally demanding hobby.

So here we go, here’s my plan for this week so you can come back and check in on me next Sunday:

  • Monday – Run, easy 3 mile run with Scarlett, core and strength work
  • Tuesday – Run, Intervals with the DRC
  • Wednesday – Swim, core and strength work
  • Thursday – Run, 60 minuets at easy pace plus strides
  • Friday – Swim
  • Saturday – Run, DRC Love the Lake (Time Trial)
  • Sunday – Cycle, stretch

Oh and I’ve been working on my nutrition and have for the most part eliminated refined sugar and flour from my diet and I love it!  I can really tell a difference in how I feel and in my running when I stick to my plan of clean protein, lots of veggies and some fruit.  So after a weekend of not being very mindful of my eating I am ready to get back on track.

So there it is for everyone to see.  I’ll be back next Sunday to give a full report, warts and all on how my training went this week.  Congratulations to you all on becoming my accountability partners!

PS- It was announced this past week that Mike Riley, The Voice of Ironman, will be announcing at IMSR so I have even more reason to get focused and kick butt with my IM training.  Never mind that I will not DNF again.


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This is a story…

WARNING: This is a very long post with no fancy pictures or graphics.  I’ve been asked a couple of times how did you get here, with triathlon and Ironman, so I’ve finally decided to share my story and sort of give a training and race recap.  

This is a story about a girl named Jennifer.  Growing up Jennifer was not an athletic girl even though Jennifer’s parents encouraged her to try soccer, basketball, gymnastics, drill team, and dance.  Jennifer could never finish the required 3 laps of the obstacle course in elementary school and Jennifer was always just a little “chubbier,” than the other girls, but Jennifer was always willing to try new things.  Jennifer helped lead the singing in church and even entered a pageant and was 5th runner up!  In high school Jennifer joined the marching band and was a drum major her senior year.

Eventually Jennifer grew up and decided to join Weight Watchers to lose the Freshman 15 + some that had followed her around after college.  Jennifer started walking and then one day Jennifer decided she wanted to try running, but Jennifer was afraid to tell people that she wanted to become a runner – what if people laughed at her or told her that was a bad idea and who really spends $120 on a pair of running shoes anyway?  But eventually Jennifer ran anyway and at first she only ran on a treadmill, running outside was unthinkable, what if other people saw her out running and laughed?  Jennifer wasn’t a real runner, was she?  Jennifer kept running despite the doubts in her head and one day saw an ad for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and ½ Marathon and Jennifer thought, “I’d like to run the half marathon someday.”

Jennifer eventually entered her first 5k and thought she would die at the end, surely she should nap for the rest of the day?  But Jennifer finally decided to jump in feet first and signed up for the ½ Marathon in Kansas City.  Jennifer very clearly remembers telling her friend Kristen that she couldn’t imagine ever wanting to run a full marathon, when the courses split during the race.  After that race Jennifer finally signed up for the ½ Marathon in Oklahoma City the following spring and Jennifer ran it in the rain, wow!

Jennifer kept running and decided that maybe she did want to do a marathon and so Jennifer signed up for the Kansas City Marathon and ran and ran and ran all by herself, she could never run with a group what would they think of her? Jennifer finished her first marathon and made a new friend who was also running her first marathon.  Jennifer was much slower than she had thought and it hurt, but she had so much fun, running marathons is awesome!  After the race, several people told Jennifer to sign up for a training group called Runner’s Edge. Even though Jennifer was very nervous about running with a group she showed up and they turned out to be really awesome people that our now friends.

Jennifer kept running and even ran the full marathon in Oklahoma City.  One day Jennifer moved to Dallas, but she ran the Hospital Hill Half Marathon first, and she decided to join the Dallas Running Club.  Turns out running and training with people is really cool and the only way to train.  Jennifer met more amazing people and has made lots of great friends in Dallas all through the DRC.  Jennifer’s best friend even came to visit and was converted to running in Dallas after years of mockery of Jennifer’s “Cult.”  Running really is awesome.

But what was all this talk of swimming, biking and running?  Three sports in the same race, that was just crazy and bikes were expensive and while Jennifer took swimming lessons in elementary school she hadn’t swum in years.  But then the DRC organized a talk at one of the tri shops and all of her friends were doing sprint tris and two were even doing Ironman events. Those people were awesome and answered all of Jennifer’s questions about triathlon and even told her she too could be an Ironman one day.

So then one day Jennifer had a bike and is signed up for her first sprint distance tri.  Jennifer eventually signs up for the 70.3 in Galveston and has so much fun she signs up for a full Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Jennifer trains and trains, probably not as well as she should have.  Training and working is very hard and there are lots of nights where Jennifer cries and thinks about quitting, but Jennifer is still going to give it her all.  Jennifer was fortunate to have shared her training with a group of fierce women who were also doing Coeur d’Alene and she wouldn’t let them down.

On race day Jennifer is very nervous and has a hard time believing that she really is an athlete capable of finishing this race.  Jennifer feels slow in the swim, but keeps going even when it is hard.  Jennifer finishes the swim well before the 2:20 cutoff, but knows that the math does not work in her favor for the bike cutoffs.  The bike course is hard, one hill is 2.2 miles long at a 6% grade!  Jennifer pedals and pedals and passes people on those hills.  It is hot and windy and the hills just keep coming and Jennifer keeps pedaling, but finally gets stopped just 3 minutes shy of the 70 mile cutoff.  Jennifer cries a lot as she walks her bike back to transition and the volunteers are very nice, Jennifer cries some more as she sits on the sidewalk trying to figure out what to do next.  But Jennifer had already decided that this would not be her last Ironman, Jennifer already knew that even if today wasn’t her day, she still went further and faster than a lot of people and that she was an athlete and that one day she would be an Ironman.

So here we are, 10 months out from Ironman Vineman held in the Russian River Valley.  Jennifer is setting new goals for the, “off,” season and reading everything she can about triathlon training.  Jennifer knows she has a lot of work to do, but Jennifer is ready and can’t wait to hear, “Jennifer Fox, You Are An Ironman.”

There are so many people that have been a part of this crazy journey I am on;  I can’t thank my Kansas City Running family, my DRC Family, my real family and my friends for your never ending support.  You all share the best parts of yourself with me and I am inspired and motivated by each of you.

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A Reason to Run

Tomorrow I’m making my first attempt at an ultra distance race at Whispering Pines in Tyler, Texas.  No, I’m not really ready.  No, I’ve not been training on trails.  Yes, I’ve considered dropping several times, even just a few minutes ago I was having the argument with myself yet again.   This week has been really tough at work, physically and emotionally draining; and running and I have not been on the best of terms since OKC.  But as I watched my niece at her gymnastic showcase tonight, I decided that I couldn’t back down.  My niece is 8 and has suffered from stage fright in the past.  Last year she participated in the showcase but I was not invited.  This year I was in and I watched her step up and face her fears.  How could I back down?

So as I was sorting through my gear and packing up I pulled out my hydration vest.  I last wore it at Oklahoma City and had yet to remove the “In Honor” bib a volunteer had given me at the expo with the name Blake Kennedy written on it.IMG_1244 I decided to Google his name and learned he was 18 months old when he lost his life in the bombing.  Blake Kennedy should be graduating from college, running his own races. 132KENNE-300x300 So I’m leaving the bib pinned to the back of my pack in the hopes that he might also get to experience the joys of running through the trees at Tyler State Park.

So who knows what tomorrow holds, I’m going to give it my best and if I fail, I fail; but I’m not going out without trying.

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Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

I know this is not the race report everyone has been expecting from me, but its the race report I needed to write this evening.  I promise that I am working on a post about my experience completing Ironman Texas 70.3 in Galveston, I’ll do my best to have it posted this weekend!

On Sunday I made the decision to quit running.  I had hit the wall way earlier than I should have.  My feet hurt, my quads were screaming and my heart was broken with the thought of yet another failed marathon attempt.  The train had jumped of the track and I was in a dark, dark place.  I weighed my options, but decided that a DNF was not happening.  On Friday at the race expo a volunteer had handed me a bid with the name Blake Kennedy.  I didn’t know Blake, but he was one of the 168 people who lost their life when Timothy McVey bombed the Federal building in 1995.  I couldn’t quit because I wasn’t running alone.IMG_1140

So surprise, 14 days after I completed my HIM I ran the full marathon in Oklahoma City, or I ran the first 15 miles and crawled, limped, walked and stumbled my way through the last 11.2 miles.  I love this race, I lived in Oklahoma City when the Federal building was bombed and can still remember the sound the bomb made when it went off.  I remember the chaos and sense of fear we all felt, and the endless hours spent in front of the TV watching, praying and hoping that people would be rescued from the rubble.  This race supports the privately operated Memorial and Museum.  Many, many years ago when I was first bitten by the running bug I knew that I would one day run this race, at first my sites were set on the half marathon, which I would run for the first time in 2011.  I would return to run the full in 2013, I spectated and cheered in 2014 and ran the half again in 2015.  Last year after standing at the finish line watching runners cross I decided that from that day on I would run some version of this race as long as I was physically able and as long as the race was held.  There is a group of 40 some odd people that have completed the full marathon every year since the beginning.  The way the city supports this race is amazing and running in the last few miles you see the names of the 168 victims hanging from banners, you can’t help but be inspired.

Early on, I had planned to run the half marathon; but when the day came to register I really wanted to roll the dice and go for the full.  My running had been strong, and I was planning to run the 50K at Whispering Pines in May so this seemed like a suitable long run for this race.  Some people I call friends were delighted with this plan and that was really all the encouragement I needed. So the die was cast, I decided to be conservative and leave time goals by the wayside.  I would truly treat this as a training run.  I even programmed the 4:50 pace group easy paces into my Garmin and planned to wear my hydration vest to make certain it would be comfortable for the longer distance.  I really thought I had a reasonable plan in place, I would take it easy for the days in between the 2 events and I would be fine, right?

This might be a good time to add that this weekend was also serving as a 20 year college reunion and I’d be seeing my parents and my brother and his family.  No stress at all, oh and I would be dropping my car off at the dealership the week of the race to get some minor hail damage repaired.  And I worked the weekend in between races and had my niece for a sleep over.  But I would not be deterred, I was going to run this race!  I was going to be fine…IMG_1080

So race morning came and surprisingly I felt great, excited really, which is not a normal state for me the morning of a marathon.  My sister in-law was running the relay so we rode down together.  I dutifully got my hydration vest checked for explosives by a bomb sniffing dog, I’m not making this up security is tight for this race; and made my way to the survivor tree for the sunrise service led by First Methodist Church.  Scarlett and Ken joined me at the service and it was just a lovely way to start the day, worth getting up a little early for.  Scarlett and I hung out at the porta-potty lines and then went our separate ways to the corrals.  After 168 seconds of silence, the race started and I was ready.  I set off and held my pace even with everyone zooming by me, I ran slow and steady.  True to form I needed to make a stop within the first 2 miles of the race, you can check with the 4:50 pace group and they will tell you this is par for the course with me.  After a quick stop, I was back on my way.  It was warm early on and despite my slow and steady pace I was heating up quickly, I knew my decision to wear my black Galveston finisher’s hat was a mistake and that I would need to switch it out for my Ginger Runner wrap at some point.

I popped some Enduralytes early on and made certain I drank water and or powerade at the aid stations. By mile 4 I knew something was not right today.  My feet were hurting which is a new situation for me.  I was wearing the same socks and shoes I had worn in Galveston so I was a little concerned about this development.  I’ve not had a problem with my feet in the past and I’ve never had blisters, ever.  I continued on, but as I past the first medical tent at the 10k mark I was seriously tempted to stop and check my feet, but I kept moving.  I was running within my target pace, staying on the slow end due to the heat.  After a stop for a fireball shot my feet felt better and I tried to relax and enjoy going up Gorilla Hill and stopping for a photo op with the man sitting on the side of the road in a smoking jacket and full cocktail set up, including martini glasses and shaker.IMG_1143 I kept smiling and high fived everyone that offered.  At mile 7 right before the half marathoners split from the full marathoners I gladly accepted the rosary that was being handed out by spectators from Bishop McGinnis High School, a college friend had attended high school there and he left this world way too early and this was my moment to remember him.  I tucked them in the pocket of my vest and braced to make the turn to head out for what in my head is the hardest and least supported part of the course.  By mile 10 my feet were hurting again and I knew my gait was off as I felt my right quad and IT band tighten up.  I will admit that I pondered quitting pretty early on, and if I had any sense I probably should have; but there was no way I would have a DNF by my name for this race plus I knew my niece and nephew would be watching and I would not let them see me quit.

It became obvious pretty quickly that I was not the only one hurting.  I was surrounded by other runners all doing the same shuffle.   I was actually still on point with my pace up until the course hit Lake Heffner.  I even managed to high five All of the Nichols Hills Fire Fighters standing out on Britton Road cheering for the runners. I knew my plan to run the last 10k at race pace was out the window, but I still felt like I had a shot at a respectable time.  By the time we hit the lake the 5:30 pace group had caught me.  Considering the stops I made to pee and take pictures I was okay with this.  My wonderful family was waiting for me out on the Lake Heffner Trail and that was exactly the boost I needed.  Around mile 15 I decided to tuck in with the 5:30 pace group as they were doing a steady run/walk that seemed manageable.  The pace leaders were great and did a wonderful good of keeping this rag tag group positive and moving.  The group included one of the people who has completed all 16 of the races and a runner pushing a kid in a wheelchair, there was really no way I was quitting no matter how much I hurt, with these runners as my companions.  Running at the lake was rough as we were running right into the wind and faced more of the same on the long ascent up Classen that awaited us at miles 20-23.

I eventually lost the 5:30 group as my shuffle became more of a stumble.  I would later learn that one of the pacers ended up dropping back due to cramps and would see other runners from the group fall behind me as we got closer to the finish line.  I attempted an awkward run walk pattern and felt like I was all but dragging my right leg.  By now both feet hurt, and both quads hurt.  Many, many times I questioned my sanity and why I would ever want to do this again. I even made the decision to never run another marathon again. As I made the slow climb up Classen I would settle on landmarks and make myself “run,” to those landmarks. I ended up leaping frogging with a couple from the Red Coyote running club in OKC and they helped keep me going.  I’m guessing they were suffering as much as I was, but again they were positive and helpful and made sure I didn’t stop.

Finally, I made the turn into the Mesta Park neighborhood and was grateful to see so many people still out cheering on the runners.  At one point I will confess to being worried about being swept from the course, I had given up on looking at my Garmin as I knew I was making a go at my slowest marathon ever, but was relieved to hear one of the Red Coyote runners announce that we had more than an hour to cover 3 miles.  I struggled on and found it hard to even run the downhills.  At the last turn I found myself tearing up with disappointment and relief.  I was truly disappointed with this run, I fell apart and I know I can run better.  I didn’t feel like I deserved the cheers and yells of support from the people still lining the street and I felt guilty for keeping my friends and family waiting at the finish line for so long.  As I neared the finish line I contemplated walking across for the first time ever, but when I got closer I managed a run.  Just as I was picking up my painfully slow pace my niece Addie popped out of the crowd and ran towards me.  I burst into tears as she grabbed my hand and we ran across the finish line together.  I will never forget that moment and I am so glad I pushed through the dark, painful miles to experience that finish with her.IMG_0808

Scarlett and Ken met me at the finish line and after getting my metal and my shirt I had my right legged wrapped in ice.  I managed to met up with my family and drag myself back to the car.  It would be a few hours later that I would realize I had blisters on both feet with the one on my left foot on the ball of the foot.  I had my first experience with popping a blister that afternoon.

I like to the think that every experience is an opportunity to learn and improve and I think I learned a very hard lesson.  While I’ve been running for years and have now added Triathlon to my repertoire I need to focus on strength building and lose some weight.  I don’t say this out of vanity, I say this because over the past year I’ve let 10lbs creep on and that weight makes running more challenging.  I also learned that I need to invest in thicker socks and make certain my shoes aren’t lose and maybe give myself more recovery time between major efforts like a HIM and a marathon.  But I also learned that I am tough and that I can push myself even further than I ever thought I could.

As I said earlier, I love this race and despite my swearing off marathons I will be back next year and next year my goal is to PR and not for longest run.  I will be more mindful of what I eat and drink and I will devote more time to strength training and speed work. I wish I could explain exactly why I want this so badly, but I do. So next year, April 30th 2017 look for me at the starting line ready to run the race of my life.



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“I just left the swim clinic and I don’t feel very fierce right now, in fact I cried a little bit when I got to my car.  My swimming is not good, I’m not spending enough time on the bike, and I didn’t run with my eyes closed and my hear open yesterday.”

This is the message I sent to my friend Scarlett this evening upon leaving a swim clinic that was hosted by a local tri-club.  I had just spent 2 1/2 hours in a pool feeling like I was doing every drill wrong.  At the end of the clinic I was trying my hardest not to cry in the pool, fierce women do not cry in the pool, and I was trying to be fierce.  When the very nice, and supportive coach asked if I had any up coming races I felt too doubtful to tell him that I was racing Ironman 70.3 Galveston in two months.  I mean come on what was I thinking?  I’m not an athlete; I was the kid in elementary school that couldn’t complete 3 loops of the obstacle course in the allotted time, after years of running I’ve yet to complete a sub 5 hour marathon and I just missed hitting my goal at the club 15k yesterday and the scale was up 5 lbs this morning and I’d wimped out of my bike ride yesterday because it was windy and cold.  How could I complete a 70.3? What was I thinking when I hit the registration button oh so many months ago?

Lucky for me, Scarlett was quick to pick up the phone and remind me of the many reasons why I can do this and that I will do this.  By the time I’d made it to my stop I was feeling more hopeful.  She reminded me that anything is possible, we just have to decided how badly we want to accomplish our goals and if I am going to be honest I want this.  I also want to complete a full 140.6 full Ironman.  I want to here Mike Reilly say, “Jennifer Fox, You Are an Ironman.”  As improbable as it might seem, this has been a secret goal of mine ever since I watched the first NBC Special of the World Ironman Championships from Kona a million years ago.  It was a dream I’ve had hidden so deep inside myself that it took 20 plus years to come out and only after meeting and befriending some pretty awesome people through the Dallas Running Club, who also understand the magic of Ironman.

So here I am, exactly two months away from standing at the start line in Galveston to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles.  To be honest my swim and bike training have been less than stellar; however, my running has been solid and I have a fantastic endurance base. I CAN RUN! I can run a 25k at midnight in the middle of July in Ft. Worth, TX; I can run a half marathon at altitude and follow it up with a strenuous 6 mile hike in the Rockies.  I can swim 1200 yds in the morning, work all day, and then complete a track work out in the evening.  I am strong, my heart is strong, my will is strong, and I am going to do what I need to do to accomplish this goal.  Its not going to be easy, and I know that come race day I will have struggles and I’ll wonder why I thought this was a good idea, but I will press on because I am a fierce woman; because I want to be an example to my nieces and nephew that you can go after big, crazy dreams and succeed.  12194552_10153586380401201_8028141917248701014_o

So here we go, I thought this might be a good time to dust off the old blog and take some of you along for the journey. Ironman 70.3 Galveston, I’m coming for you! IMG_2774

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Do Your Best…

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” – II Timothy 2:15

These are the words that I needed to read this morning, these are the words that one of my Assisted Living residents handed to me this morning as I was making rounds at 6:30 am through the Post Acute Dining Room in preparation for Day 2 of our Annual Survey from the Department of Aging and Disability Services.  This process is the Kona or World Series of my chosen profession.  Every 9-15 months, every “nursing home,” in the land has an unannounced ‘survey’ based on Federal and State Regulations. Ours started on Sunday morning as I was standing at the Bike Mount Line of the Ironman 70.3 Austin in Austin, TX where I had just spent the past 4 hrs as a volunteer, watching fearless athletes climb out of Lake Walter E Long after swimming 1.2 miles in impossible conditions only to jump on their bike to tackle a 56 mile bike ride followed up by a 13.1 mile run.  5 of those athletes were my friends, 4 of which where making their first attempt at this monster endeavor. I had seen courage beyond belief as these athletes struggled to clip-in, fell over, and continued on despite the odds.


Just as the last competitor was crossing the bike mount line, my cell phone rang… “Four surveyors had arrived at work, what should we do?”  Thus began a race of my own, frantic phone calls and text messages as I tried to rally my team to come into work on a beautiful Sunday morning and the scramble to get back on the shuttle and then back to the hotel to collect my things and start the excruciating 3 hr drive from Austin to Dallas.  I found myself in a position I don’t like to be in, a position where I was not in control; I had to trust my team.

So many things raced through my mind as I worked on setting a PR for fastest drive, with one bathroom stop, between Austin and Dallas.  I was upset, sad, nervous, stressed, adrenaline raced through me.  I resented my profession because it had once again upset my plans – I was letting my friends down because I wouldn’t be at the finish line cheering for them.  I was letting my team down because I had gone out of town right in the sweet spot of our survey window. How could I have miscalculated like this, I was the master of control and now I had control over nothing; but for a few phone calls asking questions about where to find this list and that file.

So here we are, Monday morning; my last survey at my previous employer had not been a good one.  Our survey team was tough and I had been suspect number 1.  I was nervous, scared I would let my team down; that I was facing a repeat of last year’s failure. I messaged two fierce women asking for their support. I needed my own personal cheering section, I had to be strong I had to be brave; I had to push through just like those athletes did yesterday, just like the man who was taking a moment at the bike mount line.  When we asked if he was okay he told us he was completing his first 70.3 at the age of 61. Like my friend who struggled through the swim, only to fall hard off her bike but got herself back up and tackled a very challenging bike route.


And then this morning, those words fell into my hands; the words I needed to read.  The words that reminded me that my job, my work is a gift.  That I owe it to my team, my residents to do my best; but I also owe it to myself.  There are times when the balance of work and life won’t be even;  but what I learned this weekend was that I can step away and my team will rise to the occasion and I need to give them the space to step up.  As I contemplate my own half Ironman in April and possibly a full Ironman, I have to learn that there will be so many things that I can’t control and that’s okay.  What I can control is how I respond and that I do my best and that just like my 5 fierce friends who finished Ironman 70.3 Austin under challenging circumstances, that I finish strong.

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Do Not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings…

And I’m back… Not certain how it has been over a year since I’ve written a post and I am not certain what finally got me to start actually writing again, but here I am.  The truth is that over the past 6 months I’ve composed many great blog posts in my head, but lacked the where with all to actually sit and write them down.

“Do not despise the day of small beginnings,” Zechariah 4:10.  I’ve come to love this verse recently.  It seems to apply to many areas of my life right now, where I know small steps will eventually lead to great things. So here is my “Small Beginning,” with this blog.  I promise a more in-depth and entertaining catch up post tomorrow.  For tonight I just wanted to get some words down and fair warning to the world that I’m posting again!

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