Another blissfully busy weekend! Nate and I ran in the Run for the Trees 5K race in Winter Park, Florida early this morning. It was a harder run than I anticipated and I finished three minutes later than my last run, but it was a great experience nonetheless. The race path wound through beautiful Winter Park, around lakes, and eventually led to an off road wilderness path through private land that is only open to the public once a year during this race. We ran beneath a canopy of ancient trees and through orange groves as brilliantly colored wild peacocks eyed us from a few yards off. We received the traditional race shirt and goody bag, but we also were presented with two lovely Magnolia tree saplings at the end of the race. Nate has already scoped out the yard and found where he wants to plant his.
Signing up for my second race has kept me motivated to put my running shoes on several times each week and hit the pavement. You see, I'm not a runner, but I am trying! You would be surprised by the spectrum of ages and shapes of people who participate in these runs. While there's the traditional gazelle types who mark their places at the starting line, no one raises an eyebrow when I make my way into the middle of the sea of runners and wait for the starting horn. At one point in today's race, a speed walker actually passed us and Nate and I had to laugh at the humbling episode. We caught and passed him later, but I'm sure there's a spiritual application there somewhere! And I am reaping the benefits of the exercise. I've lost 7 pounds thus far and I feel great. We've decided to sign up for the US Secret Service 5K Road Race later next month, so that's where our focus will be in the coming weeks.
Sam and Nate have been running with me throughout the week and that has afforded us unique bonding time. Have I mentioned how much I love having teenagers? I keep waiting for this horrible phase known as the "Teenage Years" and it has yet to show it's ugly face. Listen, I work with teenagers for a living, I know that phase first hand. Yet the boys and I continue to grow closer and closer. Every relationship has its ups and downs, but I am loving this time with my guys.
Private First Class Sam had a JROTC competition this morning or he would have participated in our run. He has really found his niche in this group and loves every minute of it. His Exhibition Rifle Drill team took first place today and he will be receiving a special commendation for his participation.
Hannah is our resident artist. When she was a little girl, she would sit at the kitchen table with blank paper and colored pencils and draw to her heart's content. She signed up for an acrylic art class at Leu Gardens a few weeks ago to learn the medium. The melodies of Billie Holiday floated down the hallway where I found her in class today, chatting away with an artist in her 60's, and working on this piece of a Camellia she had plucked from the gardens earlier this morning. She is the only youth in a group of older, more experienced artists, but the instructor makes a point of telling me what a wonderful student Hannah is and how much they've enjoyed having her youthful energy in class.
Kristina joined a friend and her youth group for a camp out at the beach last night. They awoke early this morning and participated in a clean up project along the shoreline. I'd give you more information, but she collapsed into bed shortly after returning home this afternoon and I have yet to hear the details other than, "fun, it was fun," murmured as I kissed her forehead as she pulled the covers up under her chin.