Category Archives: Running

Can I be a Christian and a Bada**?

Oh, I may have my church membership revoked for this.  Please let me stay, Pastor B!!  Members of foregone generations are rolling in their graves.  Former pastors and mentors are likely shaking their heads.  Friends who know me well are probably trying to pick their jaws off the ground at the audacity of the question I posed in the title of this post.  I’m sure my husband took one look at this title and thought, “What?!”  And I certainly would never ever want to hear such a word uttered from the mouths of my sweet children.

Words.  Vernacular.  Context.  Culture.

Yes, I’m in the older generation.  I guess I’m part of Gen-X…whatever that means; I’m not really sure.  I base my identity and my value system on my Christian faith which is rooted in the Bible and a personal relationship with Jesus.  Nonetheless, this term is difficult for me to say out-loud, though secretly, inwardly, I kind of like the word Bada**.

See, I can’t even type it out.  I have to disguise it with **’s.

So, why am I thinking about this term?  I joined a holiday running and fitness challenge through Train Like a Mother Club, and these #motherrunners refer to themselves as #BAMR’s (Bada** Mother Runners).  I am also planning on registering for their heart-rate training plan in preparation for my May half marathon, and I know I’ll be seeing even more of this #BAMR hashtag, and I need to decide how I really feel about joining this group and as a byproduct being considered a #BAMR myself.

I know there are those reading this who are shrugging your shoulders and wondering why I think this is a big deal.  Why would I struggle with such a cool phrase?  Allow me to explain.

As a Christian I understand that words are very powerful.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  Proverbs 18:21

God created the world with His Words, “Let there be…”.  And the very first verse in the Book of John is referring to Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

God’s identity is rooted in His Word.  Because of this, I take words and their meaning very seriously.  Another term that is used a lot in today’s culture is sexy.  I don’t like it at all.  I think it’s cheap and degrading.  I do not feel good about myself if someone says, “You look sexy,” or “You look hot.”  In contrast, if someone says to me, “You’re beautiful,” or “You’re lovely,” my heart soars.

Let’s get back to the question at hand.  Can I be a Christian and a Bada**?  And why do I secretly like the term?  I did consider changing the meaning of #BAMR to something like Brave Audacious Mother Runner, but even though I like and am empowered by words like brave, and bold, and strong, and audacious, these words don’t carry the same weight as bada**.  In studying the Bible throughout the years, I see that there were many bada** women who broke the rules and changed history.  I wrote about this in a previous post Ferociously Feminine.  

Bada** refers to a troublemaker, a renegade, a rebel.  That’s what women needed to be throughout history in order for things to change…things we take for granted, like being able to vote, go to college, have a career, raise families, and believe it or not–being able to run.  There was a time in the not too distant past (within my lifetime) when it was frowned upon for women to run, and certainly mothers with small/young children have no business taking time away from their children to spend hours on the trail in training for a race.  I wrote a brief history of women’s running here, so I won’t belabor it.

For me, what does it mean to be Bada**?  It means that I am going against the tide of culture that says that women must lose their identities for the sake of their children.  Following after your own pursuits is selfish.  Women are supposed to forsake all for the sake of their children.  Baloney Sandwich (B.S. 🙂 ). For the sake of my children, I am doing something to take care of myself and stay healthy so I can be a better mother and a more supportive wife.  I am in awe of the women who make no excuses and make time and space in their busy days to exercise.  I love the stories about mothers who run short laps around their houses holding onto a baby monitor while their little ones nap.  I’ll never forget seeing a woman out running with no less than three children flocking around her on bikes.

I also think it’s important for Christians to come out of the four walls of the church and get involved in our communities and build genuine relationships with people who may not believe the way we do…without targeting them for evangelism…and not hiding our own faith.  We need to build honest relationships by getting to know people and allowing them to know us–warts and all.  It’s healthy to socialize with people who are different–Jesus did!

So, all that to say, I decided to embrace my identity as a #BAMR.  I am committed to taking care of myself, and that includes focusing on my nutrition and exercise, not so that I get skinny.  On the contrary…41gl0srkzl-_sx342_

BTW…I could never dream of being a #BAMR without the support of my dear hubby who takes charge of the kids and encourages me every step of the way.

Unleash the SHE: 2016 Race Recap and a Brief History of Women’s Running

There are things that we take for granted that women of the past had to fight for.  I have a full time job.  I can vote.  I can run for office.  I can drive a car.  And I can run.  In the not so distant past, women who ran were frowned upon.  Women who participated in any kind of sport were considered masculine.  Femininity and strength were not synonymous.  We’ve come a long way baby!

In the summer of 1984 I remember watching events of the Los Angeles Olympics.  There were two athletes whose achievements inspired me.  Mary Lou Retton, only one year older than me, won the gold medal for the women’s all-around in gymnastics.  Her bubbly joy was a pleasure to watch.  The second event that captured my heart was watching the finish of the women’s marathon, which was won by Joan Benoit Samuelson.  I vividly remember watching Joan enter the stadium and cross the finish line earning her gold medal, and I was flabbergasted that she just kept running around the track draped in an American flag.

Fast forward to October 2012, and I was at the expo for the Mankato Marathon, and the keynote speaker just happened to be the legendary Joan Benoit Samuelson.  Just before she spoke, they showed a video montage of her 1984 Olympic Marathon finish, then as she approached the podium, someone behind me whispered, “She’s really here?!”  She really was.  It was pretty cool to hear her tell her story and the encouragement she gave to all of us.  One fact that she brought to light really surprised me though.  Until that moment I did not realize that the women’s Olympic marathon event made its debut in 1984…the event I watched as a 14 year old all those years ago was the first time women competed in the marathon at the Olympic games, and the story of how the women’s marathon was finally added to the Olympics is epic.  The person who was instrumental in making that happen was another legendary woman, Kathrine Switzer, who is credited as being the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967.  If you are interested in learning the full story, I highly recommend Kathrine Switzer’s book Marathon Woman.

Me in full fan-girl mode meeting Kathrine Switzer

Knowing this incredible history of women’s running is the reason I was excited to run the Unleash the SHE 10K this past weekend.  This race is for women only, and there is a 5K and a 10K event open to 1,200 runners, which sold out this year.  There is also a co-ed 5K walk that the men can participate in.  Unleash the SHE raises funds for MOCA (Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance) in supporting women and their families who are battling this disease and advocating for research for early detection, and they have of the prettiest SWAG—a shirt that I actually wear and the most beautiful butterfly medal.  I love the design of the wings as the soles of running shoes.  Kudos to the clever designer!


It was rather chilly at the start line.  We 10K runners lined up at 8:45 am, and the Moms on the Run group led all of us in a warm-up, then the gun went off at 9:00.  The 5K started at 9:30.  The course led out of RCTC onto Bear Creek trail and then there was a small loop around the river near the Mayo Civic Center and then back to RCTC for the finish.  My running strategy was merely to enjoy the experience.  I ran/walked the course and had a great time.  I especially enjoyed the comradery of friends who were cheering each other on.  There was an aid station at the 2 mile mark, which was also the 4 mile mark after the river loop, and then there was one more aid station just prior to the 5 mile mark, which was really for the 5K racers, so I skipped that one because at that point I was ready to be done and I headed onto the finish.

I did this race last year too, and my most vivid memory was the point when the 10K route joined with the 5K route, and there was one runner who was considerably overweight doing the 5K.  She was giving it her all…shuffling a bit, then walking, then shuffling…continuous forward motion.  It was wonderful to see her out there along with the rest of us women with different abilities and body shapes and with various reasons why we run.

I’m grateful that in this day and age we run because we can.  Because of the courage of women like Joan Benoit Samuelson and Kathrine Switzer, we can!  We can unleash our SHE, knowing that femininity is strong, and as women, our strength is our femininity.

One of My Defining Moments

defining moment

Three years ago I experienced a defining moment that altered me in profound ways.  That moment was when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.  If there was ever someone least likely to accomplish this feat, it was me, and I crossed that finish line after most people had gone home and the race organizers were tearing down the scaffolding…dead last.

A lot of people would consider finishing dead last a shameful failure, and for a long time I was embarrassed to tell people what my finishing time was.  That was until I read a blog post by another runner who had finished that same marathon.  His blog recap of the race is pretty technical…describing his pace at each mile and his strategy for making his time goal. I found it interesting that as I read his account of his experience I was re-living mine.  He crossed the finish line in about 3 hours 15 minutes.  I did a quick math problem in my head to figure out how long afterward I crossed the line, and it was 4 hours later.  My official finish time was 7 hours and 13 minutes.  I wondered if he could have kept going at his pace for another 4 hours, and then it occurred to me that I accomplished something pretty special.  I didn’t quit, and I received the exact same medal and finishers shirt as the person who “won” the race.

I use quotes around the word “won” for a purpose.  Because even though I was the last person across the line that day, I have gained so much from that experience.  There is a boldness and a confidence in me that was unleashed, and I no longer struggle with self-doubt and depression.  I no longer shrink back from conflict.  I can stand and face any challenge life throws at me.  The most valuable lesson I learned is that in a marathon, as in life, there is no such thing as “last place.”  There are only “final finishers.”  And even though I was that final finisher I still accomplished something that very few ever do.

Back in October 2014 I received a phone call from the organizers of the Mankato Marathon.  Each year they create video featuring 3 runners who they believe have an inspiring and bold story to tell.  This year I was honored that they asked for my story to be included.  The video just came out today.  It’s about 6 minutes long.