Why I (Try) to Love Mondays

The great thing about all my long runs landing on Sundays? Getting the opportunity to run into a new week with a smile! 
Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away.  Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:10 and 12 
Our pastor referenced this verse yesterday and it really spoke to me. How many times do we "number our days" only to try to make them pass more quickly?! Only three more days until Friday, or T-14 days until vacation! The days in between are just a big hurdle we have to survive until we get to LIVE OUR BEST LIVES. 
The above Psalm cautions against exactly this. We read these words, and say of course we know life is short!? After all, isn't carpe diem the unofficial American motto?
But so often we don’t truly process it to the point that we live that truth. We use the uncertainty of life as an excuse to make b…

My Other Expensive Hobby...

Because triathlon isn't bad enough, right?! 
Even as a kid, I can remember having a camera in hand. You know, back when I had to take my rolls of film to the processing center, then wait impatiently for a week to see if any of them had actually turned out!

In 2014, I decided to take that a step further and purchase a used DSLR camera before our family trip to Alaska. It was Nikon’s entry level camera, the D3100. Oh the adventures that me and that hefty dinosaur have gone on! It really should have had its own Garmin to map the miles and elevation changes.From Alaska to the BVI, up mountains and across oceans, it’s been my trusty go-to.
In the past year or so have I been really interested in learning and researching how to take a good photograph. Over the past three years I have learned the kind of pictures I want to take, and also the limitations this camera has (I won’t bore you with all of those details). I post a lot of these photos on my travel/photography IG page: ashmariea…

When It Rains

When it rains, it has a tendency to pour. But, like rivers, we have the opportunity to become stronger than ever during these downpours. We can adapt and create.
If you’ve been following my posts, you know that my 2018 ended less than stellar. In sum- I’ve been out of work, unable to run, and we lost our dear pet a few days after Christmas. I didn’t get off the couch for two weeks. I allowed myself time to be sad, because I think you have to embrace all of your emotions. The danger is dwelling in them. However, I reminded myself to trust that God had a plan and things would get better. 
And they are. I am so encouraged to say that I have been running without pain for a couple of weeks now!! I’m still only at five miles, but I am almost certain that my injury was nothing more serious than muscle tightness and lack of flexibility in my lower legs and ankles. 
Yesterday, I ran with my husband along the river for 3 of the most comfortable miles I’ve had in months. If you live in the southeas…

Shuckstack Fire Tower and Fontana Dam

The last weekend of October 2018, Jason and I made last minute reservations for a 4-day camping trip at Fontana Village and Resort to see the fall foliage in one of our favorite places, the majestic Smoky Mountains.Fontana borders the southwestern edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP), and importantly, is 30 minutes from the nearest cell service or grocery store. A bit of trivia: Fontana Village Resort, established in the 1970s, traces its origins to the early 1940s.The town of Fontana sprung up overnight to accommodate thousands of workers and their families who were hired to construct Fontana Dam as part of the war effort. However, just as quickly as it was built, the town was abandoned several years later as the families moved along to build more dams for the TVA.

The resort took advantage of the town structure, and created a beautiful haven, tucked away just south of the infamous winding highway nicknamed Dragon’s Tail. The campground area is about a mile from th…

Create a Legacy

If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader. – Dolly Parton Can I get an ‘amen?!” Seriously, if I can’t convince just one person to chase a crazy DREAM, to TRY something new, to find SELF CONFIDENCE, then all of my accomplishments are in vain. Next time you are at the gym, at a race, or running at your local park, make a conscious effort to think words of encouragement to those around you until you get into that HABIT of uplifting others. It seriously takes zero effort to be kind.  
At my sprint tri last weekend, a girl racked near me wearing a kit from a large, local tri group was joking to her friend about how rude she is on the race course. When another athlete nearby asked the race official a “newbie” question, this girl said to her friend that if she had been asked, she would have given her the wrong answer because she is “THAT athlete.” It made me SO sad to hear that, and it’s still bo…

Keeping up with the Joneses: Ironman Edition

This weekend I got a bit down on myself. I’ve had a lot of stress since Texas surrounding what my next goals should be, mixed with a desire to be FAST like so many other amazing (superhuman?) athletes that saturate our sport. I guess I’ve gotten to that point where I’m faced with the question “who am I as a triathlete?” 
I read one of my first blogs after starting triathlon the other day. It was filled with wonder, excitement, and just a complete acceptance of whatever race day may bring. I didn’t recognize that voice whatsoever. Not that it’s completely a bad thing. Ironman distance forces you to take training seriously in order to be successful, and I’ve gained so much confidence over the years. But at the same time, I found myself missing that joy, the complete disbelief of what my body might accomplish, and the total gratitude that came with the entire experience.
The last few years that I’ve lined up at the start of a race (I have only raced long distance courses since mid-2015), …

Ironman Texas Feels

I have lots of feelings about this race. Mostly a mix of overwhelming relief that it’s over, but yet gratitude for a strong finish on one of my toughest race days. I don't feel I have any natural, athletic talent. However, I do pride myself on being mentally strong. I think that’s something that’s been instilled in me from an early age- a drive to never quit, even when everything is breaking down and nothing seems to be going the right way.  My brain just says "Just one more step. Just one more. One day or mile you might not be able to, but right now you CAN." I've found that the point where the body actually fails rarely actually comes. That’s what I love about this sport, and also why it’s so addictive. That’s also the part of me that was tested more than ever at Ironman Texas.

It's not that I had a bad race, or that anything major went wrong. It was more like a series of tiny disappointments mixed with a complete inability to get my head where it needed to be i…