Wednesday, October 24, 2012
There is this hill outside our house. I say "hill" very loosely, because for me, when I'm attempting to go up it, walking even, it feels like a MOUNTAIN! It is long and steep, and IT HURTS. Sometimes it takes everything I have to put one foot in front of the other just to get up it. But I know I have to because my house is on this hill, and there’s no way around it. The mountain must fall before I do… I've tried running it - and so far, NOPE. I've ridden my bike up it, but that was a couple years ago when I was in much better shape than I am now. lol This hill is my mountain, and before I compete in my first Ironman, I will conquer that mountain! It will move. It will fall. It’s only a mountain…
Wait a minute?! Ironman? Did she just say Ironman? As in swim (2.4 miles), bike (112 miles), run (26.2 miles)? 140.6 miles?? THAT Ironman? Oh yes! It’s on. It's become very personal, this hill, and my desire to conquer it. Because I know that when I can run up, yes I did say RUN UP, this hill/mountain 20 times, that I will be ready to complete an Ironman. (For those of you who don't know, my dream, my goal, my heart's desire is to complete an Ironman before my 40th birthday. I turn 39 in April 2013, so I better get moving on this mountain.)
Step back in time 4 years ago, and I had never even thought about doing a triathlon, much less an Ironman. I was happy going about my business and doing my thing. Just going through the motions of life and not really knowing what I was missing. Then life changed. And then I changed. And then, my goals changed. And one fateful day I heard about this thing called a “Sprint Triathlon” and I thought to myself, “I can do that!” Mind you, I hadn’t been physically active in a real sense since high school (at that time, 16 years ago). Sure I had played on the church softball team a couple years, but that didn’t require training like training for a triathlon. A triathlon? Who was I kidding? I was overweight, inactive, and hadn’t swum or ran since high school! And what about a bike? My bike was a mountain bike from Wal-Mart that I hadn’t ridden since I got it.
Well, none of those things stopped me. None of those potential “mountains” stopped me. They only made me more determined to sign up and participate in a triathlon – because I could and because I wanted to. I had something to prove – to myself. While I was training, a friend of mine asked me if I knew about the Sprint at Moraine State Park and suggested that it might be a good “warm-up” for the Sprint I had signed up to do in Pittsburgh. Sure, why not, I thought. It fit into my schedule and it was affordable.
My first Sprint turned out to be a rude awakening and more of a mountain than I expected. It also began my triathlon journey and I will forever be grateful that I did it. The swim was an easy 300 yards. What I wasn’t expecting was the mosh pit in the water! lol All those bodies and arms & legs thrashing everywhere! YIKES!!! Then the bike. Oh the bike... I thought that the 7 miles would be easy, and perhaps on the paved trails I had been training on. I couldn’t have been more wrong! It was 7 miles of nothing but hills – steep hills (mountains)… Brutal hills that took everything I had to stay on my (Wal-Mart mountain) bike and not get off and walk (which I did, even though I didn't want to and tried with everything I had in me not to). I finished the bike and somehow found my legs (and the strength) to tackle the 3.2 miles to finish my first Sprint, and I wasn’t even last! I was hooked. Exhausted, and hooked. My life had changed again. I had just moved a mountain. A big one.
Fast forward 4 years and I have moved several more mountains. I have completed 6 Sprint triathlons and an Olympic triathlon. And now I’m ready to begin training for my Ironman - my biggest (physical) mountain yet. I still ride the same bike from Wal-Mart that I used 4 years ago. I don’t know how to use energy drinks/gels/packs, but I will. I don’t have bike shoes or special grips on my pedals, and I won’t. I wear a Speedo swimsuit, cheap Saucony sneakers, and I still ride my mountain bike. The only difference is now I have road tires instead of mountain bike tires.
Oh yeah, and I have something much bigger and better than anything else – I have faith and desire, and I have family and friends that support me. A husband that tells me I CAN and not only encourages me, but is also my coach and personal trainer. He pushes me harder than anyone else, and when I have reached my limit, he pushes me some more. He knows that I work harder when I’m angry, and that’s usually when I’m chasing after him on the bike. lol
This Ironman of mine is only a mountain. It will move. It will fall. It will be harder than I ever thought, but it’s still only a mountain. And mountains are meant to be conquered… TRI ME.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
So this wasn't the song I had in mind when I thought about writing again, but it is the one I needed to write about. Funny how things work that way, you know? I guess it wasn't really up to me to begin with (not that many times it ever is...)
Along my life's journey (38 years and counting), I've encountered any number of people. Some have stayed. Some have left. Some I never got a chance to know, and wish I would have. Some I know intimately, and am blessed to share their deepest secrets, desires and dreams. Some have stuck it out with me since the beginning and don't look like they're leaving anytime soon (crazy, crazy people - lol). But through it all, there has always been one right beside me that knows more about me than anyone, including my parents or my husband. I don't think I need to spell it out for you, so I won't.
When I look back, He has always been there. Good/bad. Ups/downs. Funny/sad. You name it. His voice is almost always quiet and His presence doesn't always make itself known, but I know He is there. I don't always talk to Him, but He is always listening. I don't always acknowledge Him, but He is always there. He doesn't care how stubborn I am. Or even how smart (or dumb) I am. He doesn't care about my social status, my hair (frizzy brown), my weight (a work in progress), how tall (5' 9") or short I am. He doesn't care about my occupation (Exec. Asst.) or what kind of car (minivan) I drive. He doesn't care about any of those things. He just cares about ME. Tiffany Anne Updegrove. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. He has seen my darkest days, and He has seen my best days. He has watched me fail, and He has watched me succeed. He has picked me up, and He has even carried me on those occasions when I was just to weak to do it on my own. His love is real and pure. The most unconditional love there is. And I am blessed to have it, even though I don't always appreciate it or understand why it's been given to me...
I'm so thankful to have this relationship with Him and wish that all my relationships were so unconditional. Constant, often quiet, sometimes funny, sometimes bold, but always there. Never critical, but supportive and uplifting. No matter what I look like on any given day, or how many mistakes I make, He is there, right beside me. Usually, His presence is unassuming, but sometimes it's like getting punched in the gut! Without judgement or criticism. Just pure, unconditional love. How humbling is it to think that even though He knows everything there is to know about me, and all the mistakes I have made in my life, He loves me just the way I am and is always right beside me. He hasn't given up on me. He won't. He hasn't quit on me. He can't. I am a work in progress. I am me, and he is right beside me. Peace.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
The past 3 years have been full of ups and downs for me. I got divorced. I got married. I have 2 amazing daughters, and gained 2 amazing “daughters”. I lost 40 lbs and did 7 Triathlons, from Sprints to an Olympic, individual and team. I found true friends, true strength, and also true love. I found out that people aren’t always what they seem, and as I was reminded tonight (Thank you Superman), that you never really know a person until they become your enemy. Sad, but true.
I also found out that no matter how strong I think I am, I’m not strong enough to do it on my own. There are many things I can do, but even I need help now and then. I’m stubborn as a mule, but I’m also soft as a feather pillow. And underneath it all, I’m not nearly as strong as I lead people to believe, and my faith gets tested. And tested hard! So much so that even I wonder “why?”
I get upset! I hurt! I want to yell and scream! I want to run… and run… and run… I don’t even know where - just away. Thinking that if I run far enough, or long enough, or hard enough, that I will run away from the pain. Run away from my problems. But I can’t. I can’t run away from any of those things. Because running doesn’t take care of any of it! It may help for a brief period while I’m out there, but ultimately, I have to run back – home. Home.
For Christmas this year, our daughter gave us a plaque that said “HOME is where you unpack your heart not your stuff. My gosh, if that didn’t hit the nail on the head! My heart is home and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I have never felt as much at “home” as I have in the past 2 ½ years. I have also never felt as scared. I’m scared I’m going to lose it all because there is just so much going on in the background. And every day it’s something new. Something else. How much more can I take? How much more can we take? How much more? How much more God!?!? I can’t take much more! I’m not strong enough! I can’t do this on my own…
Now more than I ever, I need to find my faith. I need to find my strength, and His. I know He’s there. I know He’s always been there. I know that my life is easy compared to others and I don’t understand. How can I not be strong enough? Because I’m not! I’m not strong enough to deal with my children being hurt and used as a tug-of-war rope. I’m not strong enough to deal with the repeated hits over and over again. I’m not strong enough to deal with everything all the time. “No matter how numb your body gets, your mind still feels the pain.” I have reached rock bottom and I am looking up. There are clouds and there is snow. But still, I am looking up… and reaching out. I’m strong enough to do that.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I don't know about you, but there is something incredibly special about holding hands with a child - especially when it's your own! When you're walking along talking about the groceries you need to buy, or the things that need done at your house, or at work, or or or... and your child just reaches up and grabs your hand with theirs. Ahhhh. Peace. What a FEELING! What an INCREDIBLE feeling... Everything else fades away for the time being and no matter what else is going on in your world, it is not nearly as important as that moment when your child's hand is holding onto yours. The initial contact. The warmth. The trust. The love. The trust in that small hand that is holding yours. There is truly something to be said about the emotions that are evoked when a child reaches up and holds your hand. It is in that moment that you know that there is someone depending on you, loving you, trusting you and giving you THEIR love - unconditionally. No strings attached. Sometimes there are no words that can express how it feels when your child grabs your hand. Especially when you are having a bad day and nothing in it seems to have gone "your" way. Just that small gesture can make all the pain of the day go away, if only for a short time...
I wonder if that's how God must feel when we reach out to Him and grab His hand? We come to Him often broken with the many burdens of our life. And we reach out to hold His hand because in it we find what we most often need - peace, comfort, love, trust, STRENGTH. We reach out to hold HIS hand because, like children, we like to feel the hands of someone we love, we trust, we NEED. We want to find that security and comfort, too. We want to be a child and hold our Father's hand...
But how many hands can He hold at one time? How many hands does He hold? Does He know which hand is mine? Is there room for one more? Is there room for me??? All those questions. But what you really need to know is... There is room for you. There is always room for you. There will always be room for you. When you are hurting, alone, lost, happy, content, reach out your hand. He wants to hold your hand as much as you want to hold His. Don't be afraid to reach up and hold your Father's hand...
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I absolutely LOVE this song! I heard it first a few months ago on KLove radio while driving to work. As a new listener to the station, (Thanks Tammy again for introducing me to it), I was anxious to hear what kind of music they were going to play and was NOT DISAPPOINTED!!! I was bored of “mainstream” radio and wasn’t getting anything from it. It didn’t inspire me. Or motivate me. It just didn’t DO anything for me. Don’t get me wrong, there are some songs out there that have that something, but overall, I would much rather listen to music that has substance. Something you can sink your teeth into, if you know what I mean. I am in my car for an hour every morning and an hour every evening. Time is something I have lots of -- then! Lol So I try to use it wisely – well, as wisely as you can while in a car driving in rush hour traffic and always in a hurry to pick up my girls. I pray. I sing. I laugh. I cry. Yes, I even talk on the phone. Sometimes, I just drive… Mostly, I listen to music and reflect on my life and what God has in store for me. I think about the choices I have made, and the choices yet to come. I think about why and why not. I think about how I’m going to get through the night, what to make for dinner, how much laundry there is, and what work needs done around the house. I think about money and my girls. About love and the future. I just think way too much sometimes!
Anyway, when I heard this song, it was one of THOSE mornings. You know them. We all have them. The first set of lyrics just struck me right in the heart. It was like I had just been hit smack center with a wrecking ball and I knew right then and there, that no matter what was going on in my life, how hard I THOUGHT it was, that I would be able to get through it. I have had one heck of a year since my last writing. Life has changed dramatically, to say the least. From a 40 lb. weight loss, to participating in 3 Sprint Triathlons last summer and now training for a regular Triathlon. To losing someone who I thought was my best friend, to finding someone that is so much more than that, and more than I could EVER have dreamed of or hoped for - the love of my life and the love of a lifetime…
I don’t know what I expected last year when I got down on my knees and prayed for “something”. I surely didn’t expect God to do what He did and to change my life the way He has. I guess I should have known better… Believe me, there have and continue to be HUGE potholes in the road and have been for the past year and will be for the rest of my life. That IS life. However, it’s so much easier knowing that there is ALWAYS a bright side to ANY situation and that the strength you need to carry on comes from within… YOU. Isn't that what faith can do...
Peace and love my friends. I've missed you...
Saturday, June 20, 2009
So often it seems we are running FROM something, not AFTER anything. We run from things we're afraid of. We run from adversity, from temptation, from each other. It's easy to run away. It's not that easy to run to. It seems like all I've done this past year is run. There have been times I feel as if I've been running FOR my life. Do you know how scary that is? How long can I run? How fast do I have to go? When will I reach the finish line? I don't think I have the strength to make it... Those have just been some of the thoughts in my head. The one thing that has kept me running, though, towards something, is the knowledge I carry with me that He is at the end of every run I've ever been on, or ever will be. Now, instead of wondering how long, or how fast, I think, just another step, just another step. Take your time, there's no hurry, He's waiting for You. No matter how long it takes me to get there. He is waiting and HE CAN WAIT. He knows that I'm running after Him and He can't wait until I get there!
When you're running the race of life, don't think about the finish line, think about who's waiting on the other side... And run to Him. For He is calling your name.