Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Race Day: Saturday Edition


This post is a follow-up to the post about how a small/home/weeknight race day goes. 
Races of any kind, big or small, get me hype, but Saturday races are exciting on a whole different level.  Cross country is one of those things that you just can't understand without having the experience, but I'll try to give you an inside look.

This was our first Saturday meet of the season.  It's not the biggest, but it's a fun one!  I love the course, too, at Jackson Park in Western North Carolina.

Start lines are intense.  That's my least favorite part.  It is a stampede.  It's actually rather scary, especially for those who have never run in a race of this size before, as is the case for our freshmen at this race each year.  Unless you're a speed demon like Jessica (who fell flat on her face when the gun went off), if you don't get a good start, you get stuck in with so many people way too close together, all heading for the same place!  I didn't even know this until this season, but my mom never watches the start.  Never.  It scares her, too, and she's not even running!
It gets dead silent as the starter gives instructions then tells us to take our marks.  His arm goes up.  BANG.
That gunshot is an intense noise. 

As I am not a sprinter, starts are tough for me.  I need to get out faster to get good position, but it's tough when my legs don't want to go that fast!  This race was especially bad in that.  I started the race in the back!  However, over the first half mile or so, I caught up, just focusing on passing people bit by bit.  I was surprised at how quickly I caught up to the two leaders.  Then I even passed them!  I knew that was God taking me up front so fast because if you had seen my start and all the people I had to work through, this was not an easy task.  Anna Vess, the defending NC state champion was right on my heels until mile 2 where I left her.  I was so thankful to have her there pushing me through the whole thing!
This course is two loops, and this is us coming up the "horseshoe hill" the first time.  Every hill on this course has a name like that, including "hill hill," "seizure hill," and "heart attack hill," etc.
Anna and I were really pushing each other for the first 2 miles of the race.  It always adds tension within myself when I have someone right with me, but it can be a good thing if I use it to push myself faster.  That's what happened!  I was so thankful to have her there to keep me going.
Like with my starts, I don't have that much speed going down the finish either.  I can push a little faster, but it's not a sprint like some girls can.  Everyone always has things they can improve on, and that's something I'm trying to work on!
I was super surprised as I crossed the line of just the second race of the season with a time only 10 seconds off my PR, despite that horrendous start!  I was so thankful that God carried me through that.
Not that I feel like I need recognition, but cross country meets do give awards to the top finishers and teams!
How does a team win in cross country? is a typical question.  The lowest score wins.  Whatever place a person gets is how many points they "score" for their team, runners 1-5 to finish.  (At least 5 people are required to have a full team)  For example, in this race, I placed first, so I counted 1 point.  Just making this up, but if the next 4 on my team were 8th, 11th, 14th, and 20th, we would have 54 points.

Scriptures containing "stumble" have come up a lot this season, as I often stumble during races!  It's scary, since if you fall, you just might get trampled!  Or lose your position and throw off your pace.  These are a couple verses that I really like to go with the life and running metaphor. 
"For You, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living...what shall I return to the Lord for all His goodness to me?"  Psalm 116:8-9, 12
Life now seems more fulfilling than ever; God has filled me with joy and keeps me safe; even when I stumble in my races or mess up in life, He never lets me totally fall; I have hope that no matter what happens here on earth, I have heaven to look forward to!  All this is so wonderful, I just want to make use of the blessings.  With a day like this when I started out feeling bad, got an awful start, yet still almost PRd, it leaves me asking "How can I thank God enough!?"
I try to use who I am and what I do to point to the One who made me as such.
Instagram caption:  Although I may be first, I am second.
I might get first in races sometimes, but I wouldn't be able to have this life without God.  I, as a child of God, am to put God first in my life, followed by others.  (Matthew 22:36-39, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’")
(For more "I Am Second" testimonies, there is an actual thing-for lack of better terms.)
This is Katie, and she is a hard worker!  She may not be the fastest, but she will push herself.  That's the beauty of the sport.  We have such admiration for those who work hard.
I also love that she bought two boxes of pumpkin spice granola bars for the snack bars thinking of me and my love for pumpkin!
I like to switch things up sometimes, but we usually end up going to one of the same few places after races, those being Chick-fil-a, Salsarita's, or Chili's almost every time.  The past couple years after this race, we went in Chick-fil-a!  (Although 2 years ago, we made a special trip to Tupelo Honey Cafe because I was dying to try it, and the Asheville location wasn't too far.)  My mom even got a treat by going here this time, too, because she got free samples of the frosted lemonade from the sample stand!
Races are also great opportunities to have fun and meet new people!  We helped out some guys get some social media attention with their cardboard friend, Super Trent.  Check him out on instagram!

The Sundays after races are always fun and relaxing.  I'll do some stuff to loosen up and get my blood flowing, but I spend most of the afternoon catching up on schoolwork, preparing myself for the upcoming week, and looking at race results and pictures online.
Again, as I didn't feel good before the race, it was not my strength that carried me through to a fast time, but God's. 
Jackson Park is also a pretty place, and now anyone who sees this post on Swarm will get a glimpse of the Lord!
Milesplit's twitter always posts tons of updates and articles, and this one advertised the results from our race!  They even had great videos!
This guy is the Morristown/East TN sports writer, and I must say, he is on the ball! 
It was also exciting to see myself and the team making a statement in another state!

The week's header photo for Tennessee Milesplit!
Another thing I do after race days is make collages and post pictures of course!
Every race is different, but they all have some things in common.  This is just a little bit of cross country.  I suggest you go see a big race for yourself sometime!  It really is exciting, but you'll never know until you've done it yourself.

Monday, October 5, 2015

My Last Back to High School-August is Gone Already?

I know it's not the start of school anymore, or the end of August, but October is already here!  That shows you what school does to me.  There is little free time to do this, but I upload pictures to add details to later!
Dual-enrollment is a blessing in SO many ways. I don't have to put up with the morning traffic. Our road situation around school is chaos as it is, but the beginning of school is so many times worse. This line of cars extended nearly a mile. That is not an exaggeration; I've run it with my gps watch.
Mom moved around her office to a new position, and it had her staying out super late the first couple weeks leaving Dad and me on our own for dinner. I really enjoyed cooking for myself a lot though! This meal here is sweet potato with the sweet spices, peas, beets, chia seeds, and fish on top with some seasonings.
I have also been eating tons of hamburgers this year!  Mom likes huge white buns, but I like wheat and just enough to cover the size of the patty, so I usually just use bread.  My burger trimmings: spinach, pickles, ketchup, mustard, sliced beets, red pepper flakes, jalapenos, onion, chili powder are pictured on this one, but I also use other things when we have them on hand.  Those include tomato, collard greens, tater tots when mom makes them, and many other things I can get creative with!
Back to school means I get to create binder covers and stuff!  I love having the opportunities to express myself!  These are some of my favorite pictures of quotes, thoughts, and fun times from the summer and two verses that I had recently found especially encouraging.

As seniors, we go back and forth from the typical "senioritis" outfits of tshirts and sweats when we aren't feeling it, but we get the urge to dress up sometimes, too.  We didn't plan to all three be dressy this day, but since we did, and we're seniors, we had to commemorate it.  We are determined to make this the best year yet.  In my opinion, it's a success so far.  I love this picture of my two best friends and me, but I love them and their friendship more.
I'm not a big selfie-snapper, but I have taken some lately, again to help me commemorate!  Mom also never gets to see me until I get home after cross country, so she enjoys it when I send her pictures during the day.  I also enjoy color coordination, ya know!  Especially my green and purple up there, all the way to the eye shadow.
The first couple weeks, they don't have everything together at school (But do they ever?), so peer tutors get pushed to the backburner.  I'm okay with that though; it gave me more time to work before class started!  Katlyn and I both have peer tutoring and dual enrollment, so we got to hang out in the library until our classes got assigned. 
I love how The Feed has so many deals!  Their marketing ideas really work on me.  When there is something free, it encourages me to buy something.  You don't always have to make a purchase to get their free stuff, but I usually do anyways.  Mom is also more willing to buy things online when I have special promotions.

The photo on the right features some of my recent purchases, the favorites being the waffle and wafels!   What I like about them:  taste, (obviously); fancy brands (I love exploring new things); originally from a different country? (cool); "slopeside" (skiing is my hobby); can you really go wrong with dark chocolate, maple, or a waffle?  (NO)

Everything on the right cost me $0.00.  Yep.  A Camelbak, Bonk Breaker Chews, and two bars all for zero dollars.  If I had bought these in a store somewhere, the free stuff would have been more than the items I paid for here.
I love being on the yearbook staff.  It gives me even more chances to prepare for my future, be involved with the school and community, and be around people and things that I love.
Here are some things that could fall into the #KenziesCreations category.
As the caption says, "homemade 'ice cream'" that I blend up from various combinations of protein powders, milk cubes, pudding, yogurt, fruit to pack an extra punch to my desserts
A new fresh fruit I decided to try-papaya.  I had no idea they looked like this.  Tip:  don't eat the peel.  It is disgusting!
Remember my post about my cross country girls all being beans?  Well, I love beans.  Double entendre intended.  Twice.  I also eat beans on a daily basis.
There's another bowl with some things I love to eat.  More beans!  Boiled cabbage has also been added to my list of favorites.
On the right is actually not a homemade meal, but from Akita!  Shrimp, chicken, broccoli, Sriracha, and some hot sauce that accidentally lit my mouth on fire.  If I say it's hot, you know it's hot.
I've tried many new food items during this time, but these are the only two that I had uploaded pictures for, so I'll share them!  Edy's is one of my top grocery store ice cream brands, and I recently decided to give French Silk a try!  It has a great chocolate and kinda-coffee flavor, as well as vanilla, and dark chocolate chunks!
Target is where I found the 18 Rabbits granola.  The brand is cute and healthy, and especially tasty!  Another reason I like it-they do good.  Every purchase helps feed hungry children.


Cracker Barrel is a great place to shop for holiday and unique gifts!  They got the fall stuff out just in time for my traveling to start, so luckily I'll get to browse the store more often.  Snoopy had a section on the shelves, too!
They also have lots of coffee mugs, and these caught my eye, immediately followed by my heart...and a few dollars!  I was actually super surprised that the Halloween mugs were so cheap, so I couldn't pass it up.  I also didn't have any Halloween mugs yet, so it was a great purchase in my opinion.  I got the Frankenstein monster!
We usually go to El Sazon for all of our family meals out now, but occasionally we do Cracker Barrel, too!
When we went to Waterville for our team picnic, I accidentally wore the exact same outfit that I wore a couple years ago.  I staged the picture on the right, though, so I could laugh at myself.  That's what happens when you're me!  You never grow out of your clothes!
(Yes I am aware that I am wearing half tights this year, but I was wearing the short pink spandex before I changed into drier clothes.)

My mom loves Chick-fil-a's new frosted lemonades, so I took her one to work one day!  Since she had been staying so late working hard with basically no time to even snack, I felt that was not good, and brought her a treat...and a glimpse of me to brighten her day!  Haha..I also sent her this picture one morning hoping that she would smile a little more.

What a wonderful flavor coordination for National Potato Day!  Sweet potato cranberry cookies, sweet potato cereal, sweet potato oatmeal raisin cookies, and a real sweet potato, of course!

 Simple cookies and ice cream (or frozen yogurt or pudding) are a great combination for a protein dessert after a long day!  Especially if it's a Lenny and Larry's cookie.


My Panther Creek races are now over!  I am actually sad.  Yes, it's the toughest course, but I love it.  We almost always have hot, sunny, weather, and it just feels so good to race here at "home."  I will miss this place.  This is a timehop collage from some good memories from previous years. 
Feeling free crossing that finish
Quintin and me both holding the course record
Emily and me being goofy with our new pink shirts
This post will start and end with cars!  I didn't plan it that way, but that's what happened.  DoSomething.org is a new site that I've become involved with lately, joining in some of their campaigns to share with others to make a difference in this world.  This one on the left is for no texting and driving.  If you wear thumb socks, you can't text.  And they look cute.  (I actually don't wear them, but they sit in my room as a reminder.  Practice what you preach!)

Some great window stickers! 
Some of my favorite things:  traveling, moose, Colorado, and Peanuts

This one made me smile so much!  I sent it to Katlyn because of her pet chickens.  The bottom one also brought a smile to our faces because it is such a simple and sweet reminder to chill out because God has His plan.
This is what it's all about!
Live a life that can be a light to anyone who sees you!  Like this for example.  I have no idea who these people are, besides they were parked near me.  However, they put a bright spot of encouragement in my day, and they weren't even there. 
You never know who, where, or how you may impact someone's life.