8 Life Lessons From a Marathon

1782088_10203288694641122_1539101949_nA marathon is one of the best metaphors for so many things in life.  Now that I’ve crossed the finish line, I can’t help but share some of them with you.  If you follow my blog in any way, you’ll know I’ve got a few months left to share of my entire journey of reaching 26.2.  But before its conclusion, I have to share these life lessons while it’s still fresh on my mind:

1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  A marathon, like so many good things in life, isn’t easy.  Sometimes, you gotta just deal.

2. Listen to your coach when he tells you to sandbag your energy early on in the race.  It will make all the difference when you face the hardest miles.

3.  Everybody needs a Korista Lewis in their life.  I was supposed to have run the Dallas Marathon with her and our friend, Amy Farley.  However, it was cancelled due to a freak ice storm.  She found another race that same weekend and got her finisher’s medal.  Amy, who’s already completed 2 marathons, had to go back to Africa where she lives.  So Korista came to cheer me on.  And did she ever!  Picture this: hundreds of runners plowing through neighborhood streets with just a handful of spectators.  It was pretty quiet.  Until Korista saw me.  That girl made an absolute fool out of herself jumping up and down and screaming, “Amy Van Pay!!!  Woohoo!!  You’ve got this!!! You’re looking great!!”  Of course, I shamelessly threw my hands in the air letting everyone know I was the one getting those cheers!   It was like getting gas put in my tank.  Yes, EVERYONE needs a Korista Lewis.

4.  Speaking of cheerleaders…nothing trumps family cheering you on and telling you how proud they are of you.  Nothing.  It’s an added bonus when your parents, your in-laws, and your husband all take turns running alongside you.  My race would’ve been so much harder without my family!securedownload

5.  “The Wall” might not jump up around the corner at mile 20 like everyone says.  Instead, she might ruthlessly taunt you from miles 11 to 21.  So at mile 18 you might have to start singing out loud with your iPod, “Settle down.  It’ll all be clear.  Don’t pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear.” (Phillip Phillips ‘Home’)

6.  Your ability to endure is directly related to how sure you are of finishing.  The burden of being 100% unsure of crossing that line, can mess up your pace, breathing, ability to take in nourishment, pretty much everything you need to complete this thing.  Conversely, 100% certainty is like putting wings on your heels.  It gives strength to your stride and pep to your pace.

7.  Maybe you can.  Maybe you can’t.  You won’t know until your foot steps over the starting line.

8.  As proud as I am of getting it, I know that medals gather dust.  But the memories of what I just accomplished are planted seeds that will grow.  My kids saw me finish, my parents saw me finish, my in-laws saw me finish, my husband saw me finish, I saw myself finish.  Only God knows all that will spring up from there.



The Lolligagger

8601840582_39680d1cd3_zYou know who you are.  You moved mountains in your schedule to finally get to the gym.  You’ve got your sneaks laced up.  Water bottle in tow.  You’re workin’ your workout swag.  Tunes ready to rock on your iPod.  You march up to the indoor track like you’re about to take on the world.

And then you just lolligag.  You poke along, checking your Facebook, tweeting your selfie, changing Pandora stations.  Next thing you know, an hour’s gone by.  All done!  And you go grab a donut, because you earned it.

The next morning, you’ve got high hopes of what that scale will say.  And you’re horrified to see that you gained another 2 pounds.  Disappointment has you calling to cancel your gym membership once again.

Now, hear me out.  Yes, I’m making light of very real situation, but I hope it’s enough to create the change many people need.  Take a second to re-read all of this.  Talk about a daily emotional roller coaster that ends in shame and defeat!

May I offer some advice?  Let’s start from the top.

  • We often get so caught up in the “stuff” of working out, that we forget to think about the actual workout.  Before you plan your outfit, plan how you’ll spend that 30 minutes or an hour at the gym.
  • Throw out all the distractions.  Don’t use your phone for an iPod.  Have your playlist ready before you get there.  Press “play” when you arrive and don’t touch it again until you’re done.
  • Take that plan you made and WORK IT!  I mean it!  Get that heart rate pumping.  Break a sweat.  Don’t spend your time telling the world you made this workout count, tell yourself!!  Find your inner Rocky and go all “Yo, Adrian” on the thing!
  • Do you really want this whole thing to be in vain?  It will be if you get that donut!  You earned a lower number on that scale.  Don’t rob yourself of it by eating badly.  Skip the soda, drink the water, eat well-balanced meals, and show your body the love it deserves.

Health can’t be confined to a one hour time slot at the gym.  Let it permeate your whole life!  Shame and defeat are no longer welcome here.  YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

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Marathon: The Journey of 26.2, Part 4

20140121-064107.jpgContinuing where I left off on my story.  Look here for the previous post.

My lowest point in all of my training, hands down, was the half marathon at the end of August.  It was unusually hot here in CO.  The race I chose was known for its tough terrain (would’ve been nice to know when I signed up for the thing!).  I had one goal in mind: beat my time from 5 years ago–2:53.  For all you non-runners, that ain’t fast!

The first several miles, I couldn’t keep my heart rate down.  I was giving it too much too soon.  After mile 8 or so, I just didn’t have much left.  I gave it all I had at the end just to hit my goal.  My official time was 2:52.  One minute faster.  It was so disappointing.  Surely, I was capable of more.

This is where my training partners, Korista and Amy, were so invaluable to me.  You see, this marathon was so much more than putting in miles and faster race times.  Although we weren’t very close at all before this began, those two women became strong arms for me to lean on.  I don’t know how I would’ve made it this past year without them in my life.  And that goes way beyond training for a marathon.  And it should be noted, that I never once physically ran with either of them.  Korista lives in Washington and Amy lives in Africa!

Setting out to do something as daunting as running 26.2 miles might’ve been my original idea, but little did I know the treasures in store for me.  It’s been a beautifully, unforgettable year.

And I had bigger hurdles to face.

Namely, the long run.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You just did a half marathon!  But when staring at the full distance, you’re gonna have to come face-to-face with miles well beyond 13.1.  Getting to mile 19 for the first time was by far the most insane training day I ever had.

The plan was 2 loops straight out my front door.  I took off feeling great.  Then, around mile 6, that 10% chance of precipitation became 120% in the blink of an eye.  The wind kicked up, rain started blow, and then I found myself getting pelted by hail.  HAIL.  I was thinking to myself, “I’m doing this.  No storm is going to stop me!”

And, cue the lightening.  I started counting, “1 Mississippi…” between strikes.  I wasn’t getting to 2 Mississippi!!!  The strikes were loud and close.

Change of plans.

Thank you, Lord, for having me a block away from my Rec Center!!!  I hustled in, called my husband (who was already out looking for me!), and headed up to the treadmills.  I had to run at least 10 more miles there, then run home.  By that time, the storm was long gone.

I was so incredibly proud of myself.  I don’t have that kind of tenacious, bulldog personality, so not quitting was a really big deal for me.  That night my husband said, “See, now you KNOW you can run that far, because you just did.”  I think that may be why I signed up for this in the first place.

Marathon: The Journey of 26.2, Part 3


Summer hit. Colorado’s sunshine finally gave way (it snowed May 1st!). We had some traveling to do in lower elevations and I was eager to feel that advantage.

Our first trip was in June to the San Antonio, TX, area. I was going to run 5-6 miles and my father-in-law joined me for the first one (before blazing his own trail, of course).  Holy humidity, Batman. I needed gills. Or scuba gear. I think I managed to do 4.5 miles. Pretty sure I’ve been swimming and gotten less wet.

A few weeks later, we were in my hometown of Claremore, OK. My dad joined me for a ‘little’ 3 miler. I should’ve done 6. Again, I was no match for the pouring sweat glands and saturated air.  Then, in July, I was back in OK. I did some better planning nutritionally (read: drank a boat-load of water). I needed to get in about 9 miles. My dad ran 6 of it with me! Folks, this guy is 59 years old. It was a big deal for him to run 3 with me last month. For him to pull out 6? You bet I finished my 9!

In August, my husband’s brother and his wife came for a visit. So us girls decided to take off for an ‘easy’ 3 mile jog. Surely I’d have the upper hand since I’m acclimated to 5,000 feet. Nope. She ran my legs off and I almost puked!

So while my summer was full of its challenges, I realized the gift running gave me that I never would’ve expected: time with people I love. From my father-in-law, to sister-in-law, to my Dad, I treasured every painful step.

5 Reasons Why I’m Coaching For Fit Pastors


January 8, 2014, FitPastors.com is officially launching and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited. (Read all about what it is here). Here’s why:
1. I want to help women in ministry get healthy. They face their own set of challenges that often contribute to poor eating habits and no time for exercise or self care.
2. I want to help ministry families. I have one of my own and understand how important it is to get easy, inexpensive, and nutritious meals on the table. Keeping health a priority in the home will benefit our families in every area.
3. I’ve dealt with my own set of soda and fast food addictions. However, most people would say I shouldn’t worry about it because it never caused me to become overweight. This is where godly character steps in and makes changes. While my waistline wasn’t affected immediately, my long-term health would’ve definitely taken the hit.
4. I bring a woman’s perspective. The Fit Pastors team recognizes the importance of having a well-rounded approach to coaching men and women in their fitness. We believe both genders should be present to accomplish this.
5. I believe, passionately, in a good splurge. Yeah, you read that right! Just like in the Bible, there is a time and place to feast. The trouble is, our over-indulgent society has misconstrued this entire concept. I want to teach ministers how to indulge appropriately without letting the sin of gluttony raise its ugly head.
This is going to be a life-changing experience for so many. I love that I get to be in on it!!! Click here to enroll in the academy! Do it today for an early bird 10% discount using EARLYBIRD for the code! While you’re at it, share this post on Facebook or Twitter!

Reasons You Should Reconsider the Daniel Fast


The new year is fast approaching and, if the trend continues, churches all over the nation will kick off a Daniel Fast. For those of you who are less familiar with this idea, it’s basically cutting out everything from your diet except for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Typically, it lasts 21 days.
Now, before I go into why you shouldn’t participate in one of these, let me tell you my personal experience. In 2007, my husband and I were desperately searching for God’s direction for our lives. We had an idea of what He wanted us to do, but we needed clarity in so many ways. So we decided to do a Daniel Fast.
Whoa, Nelly. It was tough. This girl loves her some coffee, bread, and beef. And this girl went 3 weeks without it! It seemed like forever!!! But by day 20, I found myself not wanting it to end in a way. I have never felt more “clear” in all my life. Clear in my mind and clear in my soul. It was beautiful.
So why wouldn’t I want anyone not to experience this? Because real fasting hinges on motives. Here are reasons you shouldn’t fast:
1. Because your Pastor says to. This certainly isn’t the worst reason ever, but it needs to go far deeper.
2. Because this is just the detox you need to kick start your weight loss goals. No, no, and NO!!! My friends, we are sorely mistaken if we believe it’s okay to put dieting and fasting together. From a fitness standpoint, it’s a miserable way to lose 10 pounds just to gain 15 back!! From a spiritual standpoint, you’re missing the purpose of a fast. This isn’t a time to start tacking on all the little perks from your 21 days of sacrifice.
3. So you can show all of Facebook how deliciously indulgent a Daniel Fast can be. I will just say this: “deliciously indulgent” are words that shouldn’t be in the same sentence as a “fast”. See also, Matthew 6:16: “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do…so people will admire them for their fasting.” Perhaps posting about your fast at all on social media isn’t the best idea.
4. So you can get God to do what you want Him to do for you. I want to be very careful here. It’s important to understand the difference between coming to God in need of His hand to move on our behalf, and trying to make God owe us back for what we’re giving up. One can neither obligate, nor manipulate the hand God. He doesn’t work that way. Read Isaiah 58:2-3: “They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ ‘I will tell you why!’ I respond. ‘It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.'”
Those are heavy words right there. I encourage you to really check the motive of your heart before entering into a fast of any kind. It should be a holy time of sacred deprivation. If you’re not there, don’t do it. And don’t feel badly that you’re not.

The Skinny On Skinny


As I wrap up studies for my personal training certification, I’ve come to realize my soapbox in health/fitness/weight loss/all that.
Skinny is overrated. You might say, “Amy, I think you’re skinny. Who are you to talk?!” And I get that. However, I’ve been this same size before while being completely unhealthy. Seriously, I think I was on my way to diabetes, cancer, or who knows what. You cannot fuel your body with the junk I was and expect anything less.
Not too long ago, I met a man who appeared to be quite fit. He worked in construction which allowed him to burn off the calories he consumed. Yet, he suffered a major heart attack! It’s the lesson of garbage in, garbage out. And it’s taken me a long time to get this.
Are you struggling with your weight? For crying out loud, stop pinning those Pinterest blogs about sexy abs with the girl sporting a photoshopped six-pack!! Even if it’s real, do you know what it takes to get that? I’ll tell you it’s way more than the sit-ups she’s saying to do.
Here’s my point. If your goal is “skinny”, you’re probably more likely to fail or develop some kind of eating disorder, than to look like the picture on that blog. Instead, make your goal healthy. Not only will you succeed, but you’ll do more for yourself in the way of long term health than anything else.
And while we’re at it, stay tuned with me here. I’ve got way more to say on this subject!