Tuesday, November 09, 2010

TEAM GILMORE runs Two Cities Half Marathon

(Top Left to right: Julie Rurik, Nancy Willey, Debbie Loewen, Lisa Gould, Forest Benedict, Cori Schmidt, Anne Brant. Second row: Marcy Pusey, Adriana Vilanova, Katrina Jimenez, Jill Janzen, Stacie Benedict, Dave VanderMeulen. Bottom row: Jeremy Willey, Dorina & Ericlee Gilmore, Chris Schultz)
 On November 7, we ran the Two Cities Half Marathon in Fresno with 17 of our friends. This was more than a one-day event; it was a 3-month journey as our group trained together, raised money for our family's move to Haiti and pushed our bodies to new challenges.

The journey began August 16 when started our training as a group. We never dreamed this many friends would join us. In fact, Ericlee and I planned to run the race just the two of us to raise funds like a jog-a-thon but our friends Stacie and Forest got word and decided to join us. Then more friends asked to join the fun. And the rest is history.

Ericlee enjoyed his role as coach of his new "cross country team." He prepared workouts for 3 months, which were emailed to the team weekly. We also met at least twice a week for track speed workouts and long runs. We frequently met at Fresno's Woodward Park to run the Eaton Trail and enjoy the magnificent sunrise over the Sierra Mountains. Ericlee also had us running on the Fresno State track and through the vineyards at the university. This was an amazing time of bonding and prayer for Haiti and our coming mission there. Each person also got sponsors for the race and shared our heart for Haiti with more than 170 new people.

Our personal goal was to run the half marathon (13.1 miles) in less than 2 hours and raise $5,000. (Of course, Ericlee can run much faster than that but he committed to seeing me through my personal record.) Last time I ran an half marathon I ran 2:01:40.

 We were blessed by so many friends joining us on this journey, including Dave VanderMeulen, the husband of my college roommate Jen. Dave signed on and trained in his home town of Escalon, which is 2 hours north of Fresno. Pastor Dave was able to share our mission to Haiti with a new group of family and friends and he raised more than $100/mile he was running. His wife and girls came to cheer us on for the big race and even made encouraging signs to help us on our way. Meilani and Giada especially enjoyed having a larger cheering section for this race. We are so grateful and humbled!
 Cori Schmidt was the superstar of our team. She had never run a long distance race before but tackled this physical feat with enthusiasm. Not only did she destroy her personal records and goals (and lose 25+ pounds in the process) but she also raised the most money of anyone on our team. Cori was so inspiring and I am truly thrilled to have a new mama running partner. (We were thankful for the commitment of her hubby Darrel too, who watched their son and encouraged his wife on the journey.)
 We put in many training miles with old and new friends. Jeremy Willey (center) has been a close friend for years and even one of Ericlee's roommates in the past. His mom, Nancy Willey, traveled to Haiti with us this summer for our short-term trip to do a Vacation Bible School at the orphanage. She was our oldest Team Gilmore member and completed the 13.1 miles walking - always smiling, always encouraging and offering up her sweet prayers on everyone's behalf. Adriana is Jeremy's girlfriend and this race gave us the fun opportunity to get to know her better. She blessed us by finding corporate sponsors for the race T-shirts.

We had a crew of people who were "wogging" or walking/jogging the race. At our final team dinner, we heard their crazy stories of walking and chatting together. As Marcy shared, this race was a time to overcome physical obstacles and grow spiritually as well. Running affords one time to think and pray and many of us were challenged to think about how running is a metaphor for the race of life.

Our team verse was: However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifiying to the gospel of God's grace.

We each clung to this verse along the miles as God helped us through. I'm happy to report I made my goal of running the race in under 2 hours, coming in at 1:57 (under 9 minute per mile pace) with my love by my side. Even more importantly, we give God the glory for raising more than $9,000 and bonding together this community of friends. Everyone crossed the finish line. We are going to make runners out of them all!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy Harvest: Always time for a good costume party

Our friends the Toslands invited us to a costume party. With a little urging from Meilani girl, our family dressed as ballet dancers from the Nutcracker Ballet. Meilani was dressed as Clara (carrying her nutcracker). Giada was our sweet Sugar Plum Fairy. Mama was a Chinese Dancer. And Daddy even bravely donned some tights and dressed as a male dancer.

Giada had big fun in the Toslands' bounce house. She thought it was so fun to jump and twirl in her fairy princess dress. She looked positively royal!

This party was a fun chance to reconnect with some friends we haven't seen in a long time. It's amazing how quickly all the kids have grown when you haven't seen each other for a while.

They may have been dressed to impress in princess wear but these girls were all Tom boy! They sped around the Toslands' race track, batted down the pinata and crawled through the tunnels and spider-webbed forest. So much fun!

Amy (Miss Baker Extraordinaire) had a cupcake and cookie decorating station. These boo-tiful cakes were moist pumpkin with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles. Spook-tacular! Meilani & Giada came home with a bag full of candy to trade Daddy for pennies and a trip to the craft store.