Monday, April 30, 2012

Same, same-different, different...

It's been over a week since I ran my second London Marathon.  I have had time to reflect, relax and once again thankful for another great experience.  However, even though it was the same marathon, same distance (of course), same excitement at the starting line, same nervousness the night before-there were some big differences-but they were good ones!

Recapping last year, I left Liberia with a terrible head cold and had one of the most painful plane trips to London.  I went to Cranfield University to meet with my professors about my final months of my PhD studies.  I rested.  I tried to get better.  However, when I stood at the starting line I knew I wasn't 100% physically.  Not a good feeling to have before running 26.2 miles!  The race was great until just over the halfway mark when I was struck with a pain so intense in my hip and hip flexor that it took everything in me to finish.  I don't remember a lot of the last few miles due to the dizzying pain that left me feeling sick and disorientated.  Coupled with this-I was not able to find Joni in the crowds of people-and she was not able to find me to take some photos or give a high five.  But I finished - and I am thankful that God gave me the strength to push through the pain and finish for all of those I was running for.

Fast forward to this year...The week before I left the boys' had a cold, and Kendell and our house guest Scott Dolff had the stomach flu...I started to freak out- "It's just like last year I am going to get sick and all my hard training will be lost-and I will struggle to finish!"  The last night I slept at the girls' staff house to keep away from any germs-I started a round of Cipro to keep the stomach bug away-got lots of sleep and trying to relax and not worry. 

I also had an "Ace up my sleeve" actually I had lots of them!  Many of the SP Liberia 'girls' cam up to cheer me on-this proved to be my secret weapon!  Along with them were members of our SPUK office that were there yelling and cheering and Andy Ransberry's family (Andy was also running for SP).  Here are some 'snap' shots of the pre-marathon dinner and marathon day: (many of these were taken by Joni, Andy and Andy's wife)

The night before we all went out for some noodles-that's Andy's son 'Muggsy' in the front!
Marathon morning send off...
At the tube station with team "SP" (Alison's Dad in the middle didn't run for SP)
At the starting area-trying to stay warm and chipper!
At mile 5 very chipper and trying to stay warm!

From the balcony -can you see Andy and I?  Right in the middle..
I am the one in front...HA!  I wish-this is the second lead group-all the Kenyans were in the first group!
Andy and I spot the Liberian Flag and the SP fan club!
This is at mile 5 -obviously feeling good...
Part of the mass 37,000 people-not a lot of room that's for sure!
Seeing the SP crew at mile 15-so great to have the encouragement of SP family!
Another marathon under our belt! Thanks to Jo for all her support,  running around London picture taking and video making!
The SPUK girls Lynne (far left) and Faith (blue SP shirt) they were such a great support along with Jeremy from the SPUK office.
The best race thus far-all thanks to my SP tribe!

I have often said that the marathon is very moment you are in the depths of despair-desperately looking for the finish line-the next moment your legs feel fresh, crowd is yelling your name and you can't wipe the smile off your face.  I stuck to my plan of running for 9min and walking for 1min, the first mile was tough as people zoomed by me-however, I eventually caught up to many and passed even more after mile 14.  

I carried lots of GU and took it every 4 miles, just like I had planned-took lots of fluids and even grabbed a cookie that a little boy was handing runners nibbling it and refueling my tank.  I high fived more kids, thanked people when they encouraged me, stopped and hugged my SP peeps and just enjoyed the experience -and guess what?  No injury, no dreading every mile after 16- instead my legs felt good (some sore quads for sure but that is normal!) my last 5km was my fasted-I couldn't wait to round the corner at Buckingham Palace knowing that Taya and Joni would be in the grandstand-and sure enough they were!  You can check out the video of my finish on Joni's blog:

Words can't describe how much it meant to me to really share the marathon with my SP family.  Words can't describe how much it means to me that they know why I run. Words can't describe how grateful I am to all of those who have supported, prayed, gave and cheered.  Words can't describe how thankful I am that God has given me the opportunity to run one of the major marathons in the world through my most favorite city's in the world.  Words can't describe how blessed I am.  Maybe this picture will help me describe it...

Mile 12 heading over Tower bridge...

P.S. Still downloading a lot of pictures-may post more later!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Runner's Prayer...

I am writing this the night before my second running of the London Marathon (my third overall marathon).  I have eaten what I hope is enough food to fuel me for as long as possible.  My running 'kit' is all laid out-ready for tomorrow so I don't have to fumble around.  The girls are all here and they have discussed their 'plan' and told me at what mile markers to look for them.  So, all that is left to do is rest, eat some breakfast and run. Oh, and the most important thing-pray.

I found a really cool "Runner's Prayer" that I really like and really sums up any runner who has ran a race:

watch over me today as I run.
This is the day
and it's time for the race.

Watch over my body
keep it free from injury

Watch over my mind
May I listen to the signals from within
As I enjoy the scenes from without.

Watch over my spirit.

Watch over my competitors
Remind us that we are all struggling equally.

let me win.
Not by coming in ahead of my friends, but by beating myself.

Let it be an inner win
A battle won over me;

And may I say at the end:
"I have fought a good fight."
I have finished the race.
I have kept the FAITH."

This is my prayer-one that I will say again and again-over 26 miles and 385 yards through the streets of London.  This is the prayer that reminds me of why I am running, even in those painful times- for the projects, staff and people of Liberia.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Calm before the Storm...

Yes, that's what I feel like-the calm before the storm.  Not in a bad way, I feel calm and yet know that on Sunday morning at 9am the 'storm' starts!  All the runners on the tube heading towards the starting line-shoving granola bars and banana's in our mouths as we try and get that last bit of energy into our muscles...Tonight, of all nights, is actually the most important to get a good meal and nights rest.  As with everything,  I have planned this out!  

Just like last year, my communications/techie friend Joni has been so kind to do a video to promote the program I am running for.  This video is shorter than last years and different-but I love it-as it has some of our SP staff on it!  I hope the download works and you are able to view it here:

As the time grows closer to the marathon-I am trying to stay calm, not get to nervous about the 'what ifs...'  I read on another blog about someone who ran the Boston marathon last week-and they had a cool motto: 'All in!'  One that I have heard before but not in the context of running the marathon.  But it fits perfectly.  I am ready and on Sunday morning I am ALL IN!

I want to thank all of those who have given - I am so grateful and thankful for all of you!  To the SPUK family, to my family, my friends from all over the world, to my SP family-especially the SP Liberia girls who are came to cheer me are all amazing people and your support and encouragement push me to be better and run farther!  You can still give if you would like -check out the link below:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Master Plan...

I love to plan- I love putting plans together and watching them unfold-and for the most part they unfold how I planned them! I have my lists, spreadsheets, calendar and more lists for everything from teams that visit, the projects I oversee, my training to the boys' school work.  I have a small small panic attack if I am unprepared and have not had the chance to plan properly.  I even plan for the times I could be caught off that I am not caught off guard!  I know, a little over the top considering I live in a constant state of organized chaos! 

For our projects it is a MUST to have a plan in place.  We use special names for them like "logical framework"  with a list of 'activities', 'outputs', 'outcomes' and 'impacts'- special headings for -what is your goal-how are you going to do it-how much can you do-how will it help-and how are you going to measure it all.  I must admit-I am not a lover of the logical framework-however, I do like putting the activity plan together! 

Our CMP/HOPE program is no exception when it comes to a plan.  We can not expect communities to participate in training if they have no idea what they are being trained for or why!  However, after the training takes place the community takes over the planning process.  We often hear leaders say "We PLAN on fixing this stretch of road" or "We PLAN on doing our own latrines".  The community understands that planning is hard work-they have to mobilize their community to do the work that is needed and they have to pool their resources. They PLAN on what technical help they may need from SP-so we can then PLAN our work schedule. 

There is nothing more rewarding than when a PLAN comes together.  Wasn't the 80's t.v. show the "A-team"-that coined the phrase "I love it when a plan comes together!"  I feel the same way-an example of this was the recent spring protection CMP/HOPE project that Taya undertook with her WASH team, CMP staff and the community of Koindu-Pombor.  I have mentioned this spring before - but what you may not know is the incredible amount of time that went into planning this project.  The planning started in Jan. (maybe earlier?) with emails going back and forth between Taya and a water engineer in the UK who has assisted us in the past with technical advice.  I can't even begin to explain how long these emails were-with attachments of drawings and lots questions and answers.  Taya and her staff would take the information and go to the spring site and look, analyze, predict, question and discuss for hours-without picking up a shovel or moving one spec of dirt!  Just planning-this went on for a long time!  When the community was ready and so was Taya and her staff-they committed and started. It wasn't easy and for a full month from dawn til' dusk her team worked to get the spring done-coming everyday to the site with a PLAN for that day.  And after all that planning, preparation and prayers the spring was completed!

The end result...of a good plan!

Now, let's be honest.  Not all of our plans work perfectly.  Taya would have loved to have this spring done months ago-and there are many stories where our plans have gone awry. Many of the taxi's here in Liberia have a saying on the back of their yellow cars that reads: "God's timing is best".  It is a simple statement-and a true one-but one that I often forget as I plow through my "master plans" for all my little and big events-instead of having faith that the 'Master's plan is perfect'-it may not be mine-and I may be frustrated that it is not mine-but in the end it is always perfect.

As I head into the final days before the marathon-I am in planning high gear!  As some of you may know some of the SP Liberia 'women' are also coming-some to do fulfill some work duties at our SP UK office-but all of them to cheer me on at the marathon!  I am so 'chuffed' (as they would say in the UK!) that they are coming-and I am planning our time together with maps of the Marathon route, what hotel we are staying at and even what meals we can feast on! 

 One of the sections of the marathon-the girls will be standing near mile 13 and 22!! Hopefully...

Last year I had a great plan of running under 4:30min.  We all know that did not happen!  I had no plan in place once the pain of injury hit at mile 16-except try and not get sick in front of thousands of people!  This year I plan on running for 9 min. and walking for 1min.  I have been training with this formula and my times have been good.  I am planning on taking a vanilla GU packet every 4 miles to keep my energy up - as I try to postpone the 'hitting the wall' episode that every runner experiences.  I am also planning on being 'present' - not worrying about how many miles I have left but enjoying the one that I am running at that moment.  Even the SP cheerleaders have a plan!  They will be stationed at mile 6-7 , mile 13 and 22 -and hopefully I will be able to find them!  They will also be at the finish-I know it will be a huge lift to me seeing their friendly faces as I run.

I know that something will happen over those 26.2 miles that I have not planned for-I am not sure what it is-but I am prepared and I have faith that God knows-all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Live on Run Radio 26.2 " The Honest Hour"

**This blog entry will require you to use your imagination-as if you are listening to a radio program-so read it in your great radio "voice" and humour me...the DJ's name has to do with the history of the marathon :)**

Philip:  Good morning everyone! This is Philip .E. Deez live from Run Radio 26.2 FM hosting your favorite show "The Honest Hour". Where we get the honest answers from those runners out there pounding the pavement and burning up the trails in every corner of the World. Today our guest is straight from the jungle and beachside of Liberia, West Africa, Samaritan's Purse Field worker, mother of 2-Bev Kauffeldt---Good morning Bev...

Bev: Good morning Philp

Philip:  So Bev-let's just get down to business here-why are you running the London Marathon AGAIN...

Bev:  Well, Philip, honestly it was not my plan to run again.  However, when the SPUK office called and said that they were a runner short for 2012 and asked if I would run again-I found myself saying yes, without even thinking about it.

Philip: Ok, but WHY besides that the SPUK office needed a runner-are you running...?

Bev: Honestly-it is for our SP Liberia projects, the people we work with-and Liberia as a whole.  The funds I raise through running the marathon-go straight to our SP projects and I know first hand how those funds can make such a huge difference to people.

Philip:  So you are running for SP there a specific project you are running for or just for all of them?

Bev: Honestly, I am running for one specific program that has community projects within it.  The HOPE/CMP project is a community led project - communities can discuss the issues that are facing their community and then identify their assets that can be put towards helping the issue.

Philip: Well, if it is community led then why is SP even involved?

Bev: Great question Philip.  SP provides the training and technical advice to assist the community-if a community wants to build a spring protection box-they need to know how-that's where we come in-to help, train and encourage them through the process.

Philip: let's be honest Bev-does it always work?  Do communities really want to change?

Bev: Honestly, it can be a challenge-our staff spend months going through training on how communities can recognize their assets and how Biblically-it is important for the church to be the helping hand of the community.  Some communities catch the vision right away-others you have to work with longer-it takes time and patience for sure!

Philip: Alright Bev-honestly though-what have you seen communities do to change and is it really sustainable change?

Bev: Honestly, I have seen changes-I am not just saying this because I a on the Honest Hour...I have seen communities come together-share a piece of land-and plant crops for themselves.  I have seen communities come together and fix a piece of road near their town-and I have seen pastors digging latrines for people-all of these are their own initiative after their training.

Philip:Well ok Bev, thanks for those honest answers-now let's talk a little bit about running before our show ends...what are some of the hardest things about training in Liberia?

Bev: Obviously the heat and humidity are tough-but I have found that my body has adapted to the heat-and I have learnt how to hydrate better and the best time to run.

Philip: But, Bev, there must be some other aspects of training/running in a different culture...what are those challenges...

Bev: (Sighs)...Well Philip, honestly some days are better than others! I run on the ELWA compound which has different routes that I take- the longest is a figure 8 of just under 2 miles.  So I do get tired of running in a small loop-especially on those long 12-18 mile runs.  Running on a compound doesn't mean that I don't get harassed by a lot of people-mostly young men or teenage boys...I get called names, yelled at, many times people won't move off the road-or the motorcycles try and run me off the road the odd time.  So that can be very frustrating...

Philip: So honestly Bev have you ever yelled back or done something else?  Also-have you ever felt threatened?

Bev: Ummmm....well....ahem...I have maybe said the odd comment to a young man who has called me something very inappropriate and wanted to do something very unappropriated with me...and for that I am not proud-my patience was low and my cross-cultural stress was high...and there are only a couple of times when I have felt threatened-due to a motorcycle making a point of trying to hit me...

Philip: Wow-thanks for that Bev-now for some deeper questions-honestly what are some of your 'fears and hopes' as you head into this second marathon?

Bev:  Honestly Philip-more than anything I hope that people understand the reason why I am running to help the people of Liberia and for our projects.  I hope that people don't see me running but the faces of the people I am running for...I hope that through what I do on April 22nd will show people that with God's strength in us-we can do things much bigger than ourselves no matter what the challenges.

Philip: And your fears?...

Bev: (shifting in chair) ahem...(clearing throat) Well...I a fear...(pause) 

Philip: It's ok Bev, I am listening...

Bev:Well honestly it is strange-I am not one that has a lot of fears- but when I think of the pain that I suffered through last year-I get sorta scared. I fear that people will just see me running and not why I run.  I fear that I won't raise enough funds to make a difference...

Philip: Bev, what do you do to help your fears?

Bev: Honestly, there is only one thing I CAN God.  I remind myself that there is NO pain greater that was endured than that of Christ on the cross -with my sin on sin.  I remind myself that God has created me for His purpose so what people think about me or see in me is not for me to worry about-"Christ in me" is my motto-and my prayer is that is what people will see.  I remind myself that God is in control-regardless of how much money I raise-He can take the smallest amount and multiple it and use it for far greater things than we could ever imagine.

Philip: Well folks that ends the Honesty Hour-and I would like to thank our guest Bev for her honest answers-This is Philip. E. Deeze on Run Radio 26.2 encouraging you to run your own race-but run it well...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Break Road Trip with the boyz!!

It's Spring Break time and unlike maybe the traditional spring break trips to see family or Disney-the boys and I took a road trip to Foya!  I am sure they would have chosen seeing their cousins, aunties, grandparents and Magic mountain instead of a 8.5 hour trip on rough roads with no McDonald's for a pit stop...BUT, we still had some fun and family time together in Foya.  The boys are also saving money-so I told them they had a work day at our projects and mommy might (if they did a good job) give them something 'small', as they say here in Liberia!

With our lunch packed and the tarp over our luggage as the rain pounded down-we set off!  We had a great time-and mommy was able to see our projects and spend time with the boys-it was great!  Here are the boys in action...

Monday morning...pushing a truck to get started!

We headed off to the HOPE/CMP (project I am raising funds for through the marathon) spring protection project-there, auntie Eleanor and auntie Taya were hard at work.  Taya and her WASH staff have worked at least 28-30 straight days finishing this spring so that this community could have protected clean water.  Amazing work everyone!

Aunt Eleanor and Felix cleaning the top of the reservoir tank to get it ready for the heavy lid.

Auntie Taya and Felix cleaning out the drainage area

Boys in the tank cleaning it out with Auntie Eleanor

The end product!  A little girl with her tub of clean spring water!

Eleanor (CMP/HOPE manager) and Taya (WASH manager)-in front of a finished protected spring-well done ladies!

After working on the spring we headed to another village where Mommy could visit our community development facilitators.  In this village the community members have taken initiative to build a larger classroom for their literacy classes and a building to house their rice mill-which is part of their livelihood program. 

I couldn't find Isaac and then I realized he was over helping mix country mortar (mud) for the rice mill building (barefoot!).

He was rewarded for his efforts with a fine chicken!

Later on in the afternoon we went to see Auntie Alisa's project-Active Fellowship.  AF spends time playing games with kids and teaching them how to play fair with each other and then teaches a 'life' lesson to the kids.  Of course my boys jumped right in!

Playing "What time is it mister wolf!?"

We got back to base tired-but the work wasn't done!  Isaac along with livestock manager Jerome and aquaculture manager Ramsay-had to move the SP bull cow out so it could eat some fresh grass...

Shoo cow shoo!!!

That was just the first day!  The next day Kendell joined us-it was the first time we had been all together as a family at the Foya base.  The boys along with Auntie Taya took bossman to see the spring and later on that night we went to one of the new Men's literacy classes in Karpi!

Isaac checking out the men tracing their letters.

I am not going to lie to you it was a busy 2 days in Foya for mommy!  However, what a joy to share it with my boys and SHOW them what projects mommy is running the marathon for.  I was super proud of them for getting down and dirty and helping out with the projects-with our staff and community members.  And yes, mommy gave them something small for their efforts.  I am pretty sure though, that they would have done it for free...maybe...well, I hope so!

As the weeks and days fly by-I was reminded once again of the amazing opportunities I have to work and live where I do.  Along with this, is the opportunity to share all of these adventures with my boys.  One of the reasons I run is to be a good example to my boys on living a healthy lifestyle and working towards a goal.  Over their spring break our staff was a great example to them on how to work hard and serve others.  Now when mommy goes out for a run-Isaac and Felix know why mommy is running.  It's not just to finish the marathon-but it's for the projects that they worked on this Spring Break.  Good job boys!!!