Closing Out November

As we come to the end of November (how is this even possible!), I finally have a chance to catch my breath and reflect on this crazy month. It was very busy month to say the least. To recap…

  • Monthly running mileage: Over 130 miles (including a 18 and 19 mile training run). Dopey challenge (48.6 miles in 4 days) training is in full swing!
  • I went to Orlando to officiate a wedding for a former student of mine the first weekend of November. It was a lovely ceremony/reception with 2 wonderful people. IMG_2960
  • I returned Sunday from Orlando and left Tuesday morning to head out to California for 5 days. (Rachel had been at a work conference for the last week). We spent the next 5 days driving the coast of California from San Francisco to Anaheim.
  • Crazy busy work week in between California and Thanksgiving week with several night meetings and a Sunday morning meeting. (got to love working in the church world)

  • Finally, we left Tuesday to head to Crystal Beach in Tarpon Springs, Florida for 4 days with my family for Thanksgiving. My Dad rented a beach house for all my siblings and their families for a total of 17 people (8 nieces and nephews included)! I will blog more about that trip later this week.
  • And yesterday we finally got around to decorating for Christmas (our favorite holiday)!IMG_3374

All in all…it’s been a busy but amazing month! I don’t usually travel quite this much but it was a great time with family, friends and, of course, Rachel. Looking forward to a “little” less crazy December with only 1 quick (36 hour) trip to New Orleans plus two 20 mile training runs…in addition to my birthday and Christmas! Should be fun!

Christmas Tree!

I love the Christmas season! It’s my favorite time of the year. And this year will be our first Christmas in our house (we moved in last February). Today, in addition to putting up the tree, we had several other things on the schedule. We started off the morning with a 12 mile training run, then decorated the tree, went out and bought some more Christmas decorations for the house, saw The Good Dinosaur (so good…love Pixar), went grocery shopping, and have just finished making/eating dinner.

As we head into December and the holiday season, I’m so thankful for days like these when we can get several things checked off the list. Anyways…thought I would share a picture of our tree!


What I’m Thankful For (Part 4)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving yesterday! I’ve enjoyed blogging this week about some of the things I’m most thankful for.

For my final day, I want to talk about my family. I love my family! I feel so amazingly blessed to be a part of a family that loves, supports and encourages each other in everything they do.

I am the second of four children. My brother Warren is the oldest by  3 1/2 years. Will is the third child. He is one grade (or 17 months) younger than I am. My sister (Julie) is the baby of the family and is over 5 years younger than me.


My mom passed away in April of 2013. It was a very difficult time for our family obviously. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. She was and still is one of the biggest influences in my life.


My dad is the biggest role model in my life. He is the most generous, humble and gracious man I’ve ever known.


Most of my grandparents have since passed on. My grandmother on my mom’s side is my only living grandparent. She is amazing!


I have 8 nieces and nephews: Trey (15) and Ansley (13) from Warren and his wife (Melissa), Jon Thomas and Tyler (11) and Andrew (7) from Will and his wife (Deanna), and Sarah (6), Caroline (4) and Emma (almost 2) from Julie and her husband (PJ). I love being an uncle!

And finally there is Rachel’s family (my second family), which includes my Father-in-Law (David) and Mother-in-Law (Lisa) along with her brother (Travis) and his wife (Erin). I am so blessed to have them in my life. We all get along beautifully.


As I wrap up this week of Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for all of my family. And feel so lucky that we all live within driving distance of each other. This allows for us to see each other at least a few times a year.

As we enter in this Christmas season, I hope we will all remember to count our blessings each and every day. Life is short so enjoy every minute of it. And make sure to surround yourself with friends and family that love, encourage and push you to be the best person you can be!

Things I’m Thankful For (Part 3)

Today’s post will be a little shorter. Rachel and I just got down to Florida for the next several days with my family for the Thanksgiving holidays.

So today I am thankful for my friends. I love the people I have met over the course of my life. I love that I still have contact with several people from my childhood/high school days. Several of my closest friends today, I met in college. From doing Student Ministry for 17 years, I have had the opportunity to meet and “hopefully” influence thousands of young men and women. And the best part of that…is so many of these former students have become great friends in my life.

I love the people I have met in my life. They are all so important to me. Below are pictures of just a few friends/people. (There are so many more I could share but didn’t want to over do it) Until my next post…Happy Thanksgiving!



Things I’m Thankful For (Part 2)

I love to run. There’s no question that if you told me I would say this 10 years ago, I would have laughed right in your face. But over the past several years I have turned into that person who loves to run.

So today I am thankful for running and the running community. Over the past few years, I have gone from running 3-4 miles to half marathons to (this past January) a full marathon. I never thought I would be able to say the words “Marathoner.” In fact, my first full marathon was a part of the Goofy Challenge at WDW, which is a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday for a total of 39.3 miles.

One of my favorite parts of running is that Rachel started to run with me a few years ago. I even got her up to a half marathon distance with me (I think taking her to Disney did the trick!). She even got into different kinds of running gear (Pro Compression socks, Raw Threads clothing and Brooks running shoes for instance).

And finally, I’m thankful for the amazing running community. I’ve met so many people through running different races and social media. The movement #WeRunSocial began this Spring among a bunch of runners who love to “run all the miles and then kill it on social media.” My new friend Pavement Runner (Brian) blogged about the movement here (

Whether it’s #WeRunSocial meet ups at races or twitter chats on Sunday Nights (#RunChat) or Tuesday nights (#BibChat), I love how supportive and encouraging the running community is.

Below are just a few running blogs I love to read and social media friends I have made over the past few years. These are just a small sample of the amazing runners and blogs that are out there. Feel free to give them a follow. They are all awesome!

Brian KelleyAshley Lynn / Carlee McDot Linzie Starr / Team #runDisney

Things I’m Thankful For (Day 1)

I want to take this week to talk about a few things I’m thankful for. Today I’ll start with my amazing wife Rachel. We started dating the Fall of 2003 during her freshman year of college (and yes I was a “few” years older). I was working at a Methodist church as a Student Minister in Lawrenceville, GA, while she was attending the University of Georgia in Athens about 45 minutes away.
She graduated from UGA in December 2006 and we got married January 27, 2007.

Over the last (almost) 9 years of marriage and 12 years of dating, we have been through quite a bit together. From several moves (Lawrenceville, Auburn, Atlanta, Buford and now Brookhaven) to several jobs (me specifically) to watching movies and sports, to hanging out with friends, to the loss of my mother in 2013, to countless trips (including a few to Disney…) to running with or watching me run numerous races, it’s been an amazing journey.

Rachel has the best heart of anyone I’ve ever known. She is kind, generous, smart, loving, sweet, beautiful and most importantly my best friend. I am so thankful to be her husband. I am truly a blessed man.

Marathon Training Run (19 Miles)

This morning Rachel and I headed over to the Cochran Shoals Trail, which runs alongside the Chattahoochee River. We had 19 miles on the schedule, which would be the longest run Rachel had ever done. We are both running the marathon at Walt Disney World Resort in January. I actually am attempting the Dopey Challenge (4 races over 4 days: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon), which comes to a grand total of 48.6 miles.


I had been mimicking Dopey this week, so Wednesday I did 3 miles, Thursday 5 miles and Friday 7 miles. The weather this morning called for mid 40’s when we began and warming up to around 55 throughout the morning. Cochran Shoal Trail can run a little colder since it’s right next to the river. Rachel ended up wearing her pullover the entire run. I shed mine after about 4 miles.

We had no true goal in mind except to take it easy and finish 19 miles with smiles on our faces (which is a good philosophy that my friend Carlee likes to use during her races). The terrain at Cochran Shoals is ideal for most runners as it’s flat, not paved and there is a lot of beautiful scenery to look at.


We spent the first 12 or so miles just talking, with a few walk breaks in between. Here we are at mile 14. Just rocking along with a nice steady pace. Not used to taking a selfie while running (we started listening to music around mile 12 to give us an extra boost!).


Another selfie as we raced past 17 miles. Only two more miles to go. Still smiling and feeling good!


We ending up finishing at 19.3 miles, which was a little more than what we were aiming for, but we both felt great and definitely like we could have gone a little further. I was so proud of Rachel as she is hitting this higher mileage like a champ!

Now on to 20 miles!


California Road Trip Day 4

(Rachel is taking over the blog this morning to talk about our last full day, which was at the Disneyland Resort)

Day 4 was our big Disney day. Although we had visited the Disneyland Resort (DLR) in September for the Disneyland Half Marathon, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit again while on the West Coast. Especially since the Diamond Celebration (Disneyland’s 60th anniversary) was still going on – not to mention the Christmas decorations would be in full swing.

One thing we did not have to discuss beforehand was buying a park hopper ticket – we of course needed to visit Disney California Adventure (DCA), as Cars Land is a highlight among all of DLR. Speaking of Cars Land, the Christmas decorations were on point – I counted upwards of nine Christmas trees, among other great decor. Radiator Springs Racers (after securing a Fast Pass, duh) also did not disappoint, as per usual. After seeing everything we needed to see at DCA (including Soarin’, Monsters Inc., and California Screamin’, to name a few), we headed to Disneyland.

Something I must point out is that, this being the first official day of the Christmas celebration in the parks, we found some truly wonderful holiday merchandise. One bright spot for me was the unveiling of some new ornaments; namely, tiny versions of the Starbucks You Are Here mugs. I deftly avoided buying even one, as I knew I’d need to collect them all.


Upon arriving at Disneyland, our first stop was Haunted Mansion Holiday. We had narrowly missed this attraction back in September, so I was pumped to see and ride it. The decorations were, as expected, amazing! The Nightmare Before Christmas is not my most favorite movie, to be honest, but seeing it paired with the Haunted Mansion theme was very cool.

We rode some more rides throughout the day, specifically Pirates (totally better at DLR), the Jingle Cruise, and the classics: Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Pinocchio. Sadly, Space Mountain (also better at DLR) was closed to prepare for Hyperspace Mountain (a new, Star Wars-themed version). We really spent most of the day just enjoying being in the park and taking in the festive feel.

In our penultimate stop of the night, we reached the pinnacle of the trip for me: It’s a Small World Holiday. The modicum of research I did before our trip told me that for the holidays, the outside of the attraction was covered in twinkly lights and the actual ride had some modifications related to various holidays around the world. However, I was not prepared for the actual changes in the ride – it was an entirely new experience. And the outside was, as expected, unbelievable. I was completely jazzed.

Our last (unexpected) stop of the night was the Paint the Night parade. We had seen the parade on our trip two months prior, but it’s truly the best Disney parade I’ve ever seen. It puts the Main Street Electrical Parade to shame, but in the best way possible. I cannot overhype it enough.

I call our pit stop at the parade unexpected, as we were planning to head back over to DCA just before the parade got going. Earlier in the day, I had seen a fellow Disney-goer wearing a button reading, “Race you to the castle.” After deciding I needed said button in my life, we stopped by City Hall on our way out of Disneyland to grab one, only to discover Disney doesn’t give out those particular buttons. Evidently some Instagrammers (?) make the buttons themselves (??) and hand them out to fellow Instagrammers (???). Needless to say, I was bummed, but I acquired a couple of Citizen of Disneyland buttons to heal my pain.

(This particular story is getting long, but) upon showing Allen our awesome new buttons, I found him chatting with a cast member, who said we could watch the impending parade from the steps of City Hall. Now, I am an unashamed believer in Disney magic, and what’s more magical than securing a prime parade-watching spot without having to wait two hours?!

Basically, the day was a perfect ending to a truly magical trip. Till next time, California!

California Road Trip Day 3

Day 3:

I woke up a little later this morning (my body clock was starting to adjust to the Pacific Time Zone). I knew Rachel wanted to sleep in, so I thought I would go for a quick run. And wow…the run was one of the best parts of the day. When we got to our hotel the night before it was too dark to see how beautiful the scenery was right in front of us. I ended up getting in a nice and steady 3 mile run overlooking the ocean and rocks below me. It was so peaceful listening to the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks. And with a nice chill in the air…I felt I could have run for much longer.

Once I got back Rachel was already up and showered. So I got cleaned up and we packed up before grabbing a quick breakfast at the hotel. The plan for the day was to stop along the way as we made our way down to Anaheim from Cambria, where we stayed the night before.

The trip today was a little different from the day before. We knew we wanted to hit up a few places along the way, but at the same time we wanted to try to get through LA before rush hour as well.

Our first stop was Morro Bay, which one of my friends (Chris Coleman) had suggested to me. As we were driving toward Morro Bay, we saw a huge rock in the distance (Morro Rock). We both kept saying how cool it looked. But as we got even closer…it was breathtaking. We drove right up to the rock and took several pictures of it and the surfers in the ocean over to the right side. There had to be 50 surfers out that morning.

Next, we started to make the trek down to Santa Barbara. We found a Starbucks along the way (surprise surprise). Once we got to Santa Barbara, we walked over to one of the piers to look around and take in all of the beautiful scenery. We knew at this point we had reached Southern California due to the presence of palm trees (plus it was definitely a bit warmer). Some of the best photos from our trip came from walking out onto this pier. We found a nice Mexican restaurant for a late lunch before heading on our way.

We started the final leg of our drive, which was probably the longest stretch we had without stopping. We truly experienced LA traffic in all of its glory. Needless to say, it took several hours to get down to Anaheim.

Once we arrived (late afternoon), we checked in to our hotel before heading over to Downtown Disney for a few hours to shop and eat dinner. Then we headed back to the hotel to rest up for Disney the following day.

Tomorrow’s blog finishes up our California trip with Rachel taking over the reins to blog about our time at the Disneyland Resort.