"Last Dance"

It's done!! If it weren't for the screaming pain in my thighs every time I go down stairs I wouldn't believe that it happened :)

It was pretty gray on Sunday.

Luckily, we trained in Belgium and are no strangers to rain and soggy shoes. It was actually perfect. Nice and cool.

Here we are before the race.

Oh, we're getting excited here!

In marathoning there is this thing called the 23-mile wall.

I hit it a little early... my wall began around mile 3.

“To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who’s never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind.” - Jerome Drayton, winner of the 81st Boston Marathon

I don't know what happened. It might have been all the people, the noise, the anxiety. Whatever it was, I was in a different world. A sad one. It lasted until around mile 12 or 13, I'm not sure. Clay just kept rocking it out and tried to keep me motivated. He's so great.

As you can see, I had started feeling better by this point.

We ran pretty much near the back of the pack the whole race. We were surrounded by the injured, the elderly, and those in cumbersome costumes.

I was passed by a man dressed up as a Rubik's cube.

The pace was nice at the back, but the thing that made me the most nervous was knowing that "The Bus" was somewhere behind us. There was a 5 1/2 hour time limit to the race, and if the bus caught up to people running slower than this pace the runners had no choice but to ride the bus back.

No finish line.

I was petrified by this bus. I think I asked Clay about every mile "Are we ok? Is the bus coming?" I imagined it had this giant claw that would reach out and scoop me up mid-stride.

Oh horrors.

I LOVE this picture. On the very far left you can see a man we kept pace with for most of the race. He was hunched over and had a twisted knee. His endurance and drive was incredible. After we passed him (only during the last few miles- he was pretty speedy) we kept looking back to make sure "Paw Paw" was doing alright :) This attests to the comradery one feels towards fellow race-runners.

A real smile. Things had turned around big time by this point.

We rounded the last bend and the song "Last Dance" was blaring from the speakers. It pumped us up, and we sprinted on home! :)


Some of our support crew.

A big thank you to Babette, Doug, Martha, Allie and John for all the cheering, standing in the rain, and sporadically running alongside us during the hard times. And a huge thanks to Randy for all the pictures. They are absolutely priceless.

We tore through our treat bags they gave us at the finish line.

That banana tasted so good.

Then the chills hit. Oh, it was sooo cold!!

But the deed was done and we felt awesome. We leaned on our friends and limped home, showered, and then went out for a BIG dinner.

Oh, the nostalgia. Here's the picture from our first training run in December.

And another milestone, the first pair of Spandex :)

Our first race. I remember it was a 13.3K and I had no idea how we were ever going to be able to run the 42K marathon.

And the morning of our big race. So excited and nervous.

Clay, you're the best. I couldn't and wouldn't have done this with anyone else. I remember the day I first ran for 30 minutes straight and what a victory it was. These past 9 months have held so many milestones.

26.2 in Budapest was a blast, but it was those 600 miles in Belgium that I'll cherish the most :)


We are running a marathon tomorrow!!

I can't believe this day is here.

9 months.

600 miles.

100+ hours

We are running a marathon tomorrow!!!!!!!

We've been training since last December. Tomorrow it all comes together :)

P.S. Oh and do any of you recognize these people?

Babette has been our long-distance running coach these past 9 months, and she and Randy surprised us here in Budapest to cheer us on! Sweet friends!



I am kind of surprised myself at how busy life has become. I think summer tricked me. Slow-paced and back to back visitors has quickly transitioned into a full on sprint towards some point approximately 6 months from now when will step off a plane in Houston, Tx. That thought brings with it loads of different emotions.

Let's just talk about a few highlights from our recent past.

We had a virtual birthday tea party with our sweet girls last week. They attended the event decked out as princesses while their brother donned a fireman's costume. Precious.

This is a current advertisement in a lot of the train stations these days. The metric system nightmare strikes again. Do you think they intended this lady to be so tall? Silly feet and inches.

We made it to Sheffeild, England to spend some time getting to know The Crowded House, a network of really dynamic churches in the area. Ummm. Incredible.

We spent the weekend talking and talking and talking and trying to soak up what these people are about. Turns out they're about the gospel and community. Funny thing is we actually could SEE this. Ummm. Incredible.

Still reeling.

There's a little peek into Sandoz living. We're off again tomorrow to Budapest.

Like I said, sprinting to the end!


A Belgian Wedding

Our friends Elizabeth and Bertrand got married last week! I thought I would walk you through a typical Belgian wedding :)

It starts off early afternoon when family and close friends cluster around the front of the bride's parents' home.

The groom then arrives in a car to officially greet his bride. He knocks, she answers, the men clap and the women cry. It's really special.

The groom then gets back into his car, and the bride gets into a decorated car with her dad. They all ride to the Town Hall with guests trailing behind.

A quick civil ceremony at the Town Hall makes the marriage official. They sign papers, there are witnesses, pictures are taken, and the groom gets to kiss his bride. There were so many well-wishers for this wedding that guests poured out into the hallway and down the steps outside the building.

Then, since Bertrand and Elizabeth are a part of the Protestant church here in Huy, the whole crew moves on to the church for a religious ceremony. This step also can be in the form of a Mass or can be skipped altogether depending on a family's preference. This ceremony is simply tradition. The bride and groom are officially already married by this point.

After the church ceremony there was a small reception.

Then those invited to the dinner/reception make their way to the reception hall. I enjoyed spending time with one of the younger guests in attendance. Sweet baby Lois.

Dinner is served, people relax and laugh a lot, and then the music starts. The bride and groom do their first dance and then others can join them on the dance floor. Super sweet. Bertrand and Elizabeth had been dating for years and years, so this wedding was much anticipated and very precious. What a sweet couple.

After a lot of dancing (by Belgians of ALL ages, we're talking ages 3 to 83), the cake comes out. There are always sparklers on cakes here. The cake was an ice cream cake this time. Well chosen, friends. Yum.

As usual, the cake came out well after midnight, and after tasting it, the Americans decided it was time to get home to bed. We heard they partied until about 3am. The couple left a few days later for their honeymoon in Oslo, Norway. Cool choice.

And there you have it. A Belgian wedding. Very similar to our American traditions but with definite flair that makes it there own.

We were so thankful to be included in this couple's special day, and to get to be part of a true Belgian celebration. It was a long day, but one that truly allowed us to peek inside the community here and see them love eachother and feel loved ourselves.

It was a day that warmed our hearts.

Congratulations, friends!