Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I recieved an email from Anna with www.runreviews.com a while back, asking me to check out their website to see if it's something I'd be interested in sharing with all of ya'll via my blog.  I finally had a chance to skim through it, and wanted to share a quick-post with everyone.

Run Reviews is a website full of treadmill reviews and other treadmill specific articles and information.  It's pretty ad-heavy, but there are some interested tid bits along the way.  For those who are in the market for a treadmill, it seems like a good place to start to familiarize yourself with the different options available to you.

I especially appreciated this article, "How to Buy the Best Treadmill For Your Budget" which helps first timers answer some quick questions to help narrow down your search.  I'd love to own my own treadmill someday when we have the space for it, and will be saving this article for future use. :)

Ooooh... and I really liked this short article, "Don't Buy a Treadmill If..." which has a list of "deal breakers" to help you know which treadmills are NOT for you.

Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think!


Jesus as King of a Runner's Slump

I've been oddly quiet since my return from the half marathon trip, and I don't know if anyone noticed and wondered what happened.  I've been walking through what I've heard other runners describe as a post-race "slump" or "crash."  After all of the excitement and planning for a first half marathon - and an epic Disney vacation to boot! - our homecoming was rather intense.

My husband and I are deeply invested in our church - Core Life Church in Gresham, Oregon.  Daniel has served on the worship band for the last 4ish years we've attended, and has done tons of work with their graphic design and production support.  I've had the privelage of teaching in the Core Life Training program, which are our discipleship classes.  I teach a class called "Life Work" - which focuses on helping people connect the truth of the gospel and the truth of their real life experiences.  For most of us, our view of God has been shaped by our experiences with our parents and other authority figures.  Sadly, a lot of those experiences leave people thinking God is mainly concerned with our obedience and is usually bent out of shape because we can't seem to "get it right."  The "Life Work" class seeks to help people identify big life experiences that shaped their view of God, in order to process those experiences for what they are and to allow God to speak for Himself.  The God of the Bible created us for a love relationship with Him and longs for nothing more than that our hearts would be consumed with love for Him.  If He has our hearts, all of life flows happily to Him; our obedience, our service, etc.

As we returned home from our trip we've been walking through some really tough conflict between our two head pastors.  Both men we know personally as mentors and friends, and both men we love and highly respect.  Things had gotten so heated that a professional mediator was called in to help them sort things out.  Somewhere along the line in the process, one of our pastors - and one of our dearest friends - decided to resign his elder and staff position so he and his wife (one of my best friends) can seek a new season of healing and begin a family.  The issues between the two of them are still unresolved, though they are both committed to working things out and eventually being at peace with one another.  Through this whole thing, both my husband and I have been heartbroken.  To see two men that you deeply love and respect, and whom you know truly love one another, in such sharp conflict is unsettling.

But it's real life.  And as messy and confusing as it has been, we are comforted and reassured by the fact that we know both of these men truly love Jesus.  Things haven't ended in the way most of us would have hoped, but we trust that Jesus is still King of this whole thing and that He does have a plan.  Our preaching pastor gave a great sermon on Palm Sunday (yesterday) before the resignation letter was read.  The topic was Jesus as King, even as He gave up His life.  It was a timely and much-needed truth for our church, which has a season of grieving to do now, and a "new normal" to find as we say goodbye to a leader we dearly love.

Check out the audio here and let me know what you think;

Now - what does that have to do with a runner's slump?

Well it just so happens that while all of this difficulty has been unfolding, I've run... 6 miles total.  6 miles since my half marathon.  Ouch.

Sometimes real life gets in the way of running.  It made me realize how much my body has come to depend on running as a way to process and to release tension.  It has also made me realize that as much as my body is aching and crying out for a good run, my spirit is aching and crying out for a good cry.

What I need most deeply at this time, is to experience the comfort of knowing that Jesus is still King.  The Bible calls us to cast all of our anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us.  Believe me, I've been taking God up on that one these past few weeks.  None of this is a surprise to Him, and He knows exactly how He is going to work everything out for our good.  I don't see it now, but I know from past experience that I can trust Him.  One step at a time.

As I head back into a training season this week (did my first two miles today!), I do so with a renewed commitment to run hard after Jesus.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Official

I'm officially registered for the Portland Marathon!  
I'm also doing the Marathon Training Clinic with Team Oregon.  Should be quite the adventure!

The event also has a half marathon, a kid's run, a mayor's walk, a race walk and a wheel chair division.  
Anyone else want to play?

Race Report: 5k/10k with Becca Sue & Friends

Last Saturday I had the awesome privilege of being the guest of honor at a race that was organized  in my honor.  My friends Melody and Teagen got the sweet idea to put together a race celebrating my accomplishment in training for and finishing my first half marathon.  It was such a special day!

We all met at the Gresham Main City Park and ran a course marked out by the lovely Teagen.  The 5k route was an out-and-back course marked at the halfway point with this lovely sign;

Look! It's "Muffins & Love!"

Then the 10k course was a repeat of the first 5k.  There was a great crowd!  15 people in all, if my count is right.  Mostly people from my church, Core Life Church, and a couple people even used the opportunity to bring some of their run-loving friends along!  We were also joined by two doggies and a toddler... mine. :)

We all lined up together and took off when Teagen announced the start of the race.  My hubby surprised me by bolting off right at the start.  It took me a while to catch up with him, and I still didn't even catch up with him except for when he was doing the "walking" portion of his Couch-to-5k routine.  Apparently he's a super-stud runner in hiding.  
My son humored me by riding along in his stroller for quite a while.  At one point he looked up at me and said, "running!... DOWN! running!"  I asked if he wanted to run with me and he said, "YEAH!"  So I unbuckled him and we kept going.  As you can see from this picture, he was really plowing along. 

And then he fell hard on his hands.  After a little snuggling and a couple kisses from Mommy he was ready to keep going.  Daddy had heard Ethan crying and came running back to us so we could all finish together.  Ethan ended up riding Daddy's shoulders for the rest of the race.

So my stud of a husband finished his first 5k while running and walking with a toddler on his shoulders.  What a champ!  While we were slowly making our way along the course, I got some great pictures of our friends having a fun time.

Kaylee & Janelle - PUMPED!!

Kelly and her awesome pony-tail hat!

New friend, Nina - friends with the Yeagers

Charity, fresh after her first 5k race the week before!

Daniel and I took quite a while to finish, but eventually we did!  We ended up catching our friend Jonie who had gone past the turn-a-round point quite a ways, and she finished with us.  Everyone was at the finish to cheer us in, and even used an extra dog leash to put up a "finish tape" for us.  So much fun!
Finishing strong!

After all that fun, we all went and had a nice big breakfast at McCrae's.  And then us Congdons went straight home and took a family nap!  The proceeds from the race were given to me in support of my running journey.  Having that many people show up because they've been inspired by my story or just want to cheer me on was a huge blessing in itself.  But then to see all those people fork over dough to show their support was pretty humbling.  After covering the costs of the race (ie, awesome post-race yummies, water, and some sweet customized race-bibs!) they gave me nearly $100.  

So what's a girl to do with $100? 

I've been sitting on that one for almost a week.  Should I use it to pay for the Marathon training clinic? For a race fee? To cover the hours my husband lost (he has no vacation pay) for taking us to Florida?  Hmm...

Then I had a fabulous idea!  The whole point of this journey has been - and will be - because I want every aspect of my life to bring glory to Jesus.  Thanks to the solid teaching I've experienced at Core Life Church, I've been really impacted by the urgency of spreading the truth of the gospel to those who don't have access to it, and to the mission of training up people who can go take that message.  Right now our church has a college student who is away studying at Capernwray Bible School in Europe.  As part of their training, they are spending part of the summer in Africa.  The main goal of short-term trips is to get people exposed to the fact that God can use them in HUGE ways if they are just willing to take a risk.  I'm stoked for my friend Becca Norman and the journey she's taking, and thought "what better way for my journey to bring glory to God, than to pass along this money - God's money - to be used for His kingdom?"

So, there ya'  have it.  I'm beyond thrilled to be able to pass that money along, and can't wait to hear about the ways the Lord works in her and through her while she's following Him one step at a time.

You might even consider checking out her story and throwing some money her way to help her and her classmates get to Africa.  I promise your gift will have eternal impact for the glory of God. :)

I had to close with this awesome picture of me, Kaylee, and Janelle.
Yes, that's me in a tutu
Yes, Kaylee looks grumpy... my fault.  :) haha.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Athleta Giveaway

One of the gals from my CafeMom RunningMoms group also happens to write an inspiring blog.  She also happens to have an AWESOME giveaway going on through her blog right now, and I wanted to send you all her way so you can check it out.  Just click on the link to learn more.  While you're there, you should definitely read through some of her other entries. She uses her blog as a way to share her weekly goals for the various roles she has in her life.  She may even inspire you to start writing out your own weekly goals!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The long awaited Disney post is here, friends!  I hope that it will be everything you hoped!

We left for Florida on Thursday around lunchtime.  Our trip started out with a nice adventure - my friend Ashley met us at our place and drove us to the airport.  Upon reaching our drop-off point and unloading our bags, we discovered that I'd left my wallet - with my photo ID - at home.  OOPS!  Daniel took our bags and got us checked in while Ashley and I drove back to the house to get my wallet.  When we reached the house we discovered that Daniel had kept the house keys with him and just left Ashley with the van keys... OOPS!  I raced up to Daniel's parent's house in hopes of telling Great Grandma that we needed her copy of our house key (we live next door).  By the time GG got me the key, I turned to find Ashley standing in our open doorway.  Apparently I'd left the windows unlocked, and it took her less than 10 seconds to break in to my house.  OOPS... but WOOHOO!  We grabbed my wallet, locked the windows, and headed back to the airport.  Fortunately, I'd checked us in (for our tickets) the night before and already printed our boarding passes.  We actually made our way to the gate and had time to spare.  Yay! 

Ethan was a champ on both of our flights.  He actually slept through most of them, and watched Blues Clues and ate Goldfish crackers while he wasn't sleeping.  We arrived in Florida a little after midnight Friday morning, and took the Disney Magical Express bus from the airport to the Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort.  I had checked us in online the day before, so all we had to do was go up to the desk and ask for our folder.  They pointed out where our room was, and Daniel and I carried four bags and a toddler to our room.  We'd purchased one of those Kelty kid-carrying-backpack-thingies to make our trip a little easier, and Ethan seemed to enjoy his bird's eye view of things while our hands were free to manage luggage. 

The Port Orlean's Riverside is a great hotel.  Our building was on the opposite side of a waterway/river/marina, and we crossed a footbridge, walked around the swimming pool island (it had it's own island) and crossed another footbridge that took us right up to our building.  We did happen to be three floors up - but at 2am... being at Disneyworld makes all of that make sense somehow.  We actually spent an hour unpacking, getting settled in, and just enjoying the fact that we were finally there!


Friday was our day to attend the Fitness Expo, pick up our race packets, and meet up with Daniel's family.  I am not a big fan of expos, but I pulled myself together long enough to get my packet and check out all the cool gear offered by the vendors.

Me waiting for my packet (yellow shirt)

I survived a fitness expo - and got my baby these Mickey Ears!

After grabbing my packet, Ethan's packet, and ChEAR Squad packets for Daniel and his parents, we headed out.  We did stop to take some pictures of the outside to commemorate our visit to the Wide World of Sports.

Ethan was tired of the expo by that point.

After visiting the expo, we went back to our hotel and enjoyed the pool.  Ethan had a blast swimming with Daddy.  Eventually we had to drag him, kicking and screaming and shivering and dripping wet, back to the hotel so we could get changed and meet Daniel's parents at Downtown Disney.  We were able to ride a boat from our hotel straight to Downtown Disney!  We ended up having dinner with Daniel's parents and his Uncle Chuck and Aunt Pat and cousins Austin and Payton - at an Irish Pub.  We rode the boat back to our hotel and tried to get some sleep in anticipation of Ethan's big race the next morning.

Ethan enjoys the last of the bread pudding


 Daddy helping Ethan with his bib
The Royal Family Kid's Races were a blast.  They were held on the track complex at the Wide World of Sports.  Papa got to run with Ethan.  There must have been at least 100 kiddos in the 100m dash.  All of the kids recieved finisher medals and lots of cheers!

A very serious finish

The back of his Race Shirt - so cute!

I took videos of the actual race, so I don't have photos of my little man in action.  As soon as I figure out how to load videos, I'll share those gems with ya'll.

After the Kids' Races, we had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and spent the afternoon in the Animal Kingdom Park.  Ethan especially liked the dance party in the street near closing time.  We also saw the Lion King Festival, which had animatronics, life performers, acrobats and a fire juggler.  Too. Much. Fun.

We returned to our hotel and hoped for a quiet evening of relaxation before our early wake up call for my race.  That is not what happened.  In the course of throwing a fit, Ethan flopped himself down onto the tile flooring in our hotel.  Daniel was trying to keep him from hurting his head, and was holding on to his hand... which popped.  We're not sure exactly what happened - did it sprain? Break? Dislocate?  Ethan screamed and cried and held his arm for a good hour while we snuggled him and tried to figure out what to do.  We ended up calling the advice line through our doctor's office and they told us as long as it wasn't discolored, and he could still move his fingers, then it wasn't broken and there wasn't really anything they could do to help him.  We kept an eye on him all night, and gave him some Children's Motrin when he woke up next.  After more crying and screaming and arm-holding, he fell asleep again for about an hour, and we joined him.  Around 1am, he popped awake as his normal happy, whole, energetic self and asked for something to eat.  He then fell asleep sprawled across me with a pizza crust in his hand.  We never heard another peep from him about his arm and still haven't solved the mystery.  

Sunday - Race Day!
We got up at 3:30am and I got dressed.  In this;

My mom made me this rad tutu and mailed it to me just in time for our trip.  For the race, I chose to wear my old faithful Target brand running pants and long sleeve tech shirt, with my Running on Muffins & Love tank top over that.  I topped it all off with my fleece long-sleeve shirt because I knew we'd be doing lots of standing in the cold waiting for things to get started.  Daniel and I headed out to our bus stop around 4am, and watched 3 buses pass us by while our stop filled with more and more race participants.  Eventually we did get on a bus that took us to the race start.  I have never seen such a HUGE crowd of people in my life... seriously.  The organizers had things laid out pretty well, though.  I gave Daniel a nice big hug and headed out on that 20 minute walk to the starting gates that they promised us.  They weren't joking!  It was a long walk, but the huge crowd kept moving along and made it a little more bearable.  As we got closer I could hear a huge sound system pumping Miley Cyrus.  They had a stage set up and were running some sort of camera with pictures of the crowd and the speakers so we could all see.  I also wonder if it was broadcast somewhere.  I was assigned to Corral B... for some reason?... and so I headed there and tried to get to the back of the crowd so none of the fast kids would trip on me... lol.  My tutu drew lots of compliments and attention.  We all waited as the countdown to the starting gun kept ticking.  Some announcer taught us the Cupid Shuffle - which was a nice way to stay warm and get our bodies moving before the race.  

Eventually it was time to start and the Fairy Godmoter wished us luckormagicorsomething and they lit fireworks to signal the start for each corral - that was pretty special.  We started in one of the backlots near Epcot and found our way out onto the freeway - which they'd blocked off for all 14,000 of us.  Along the course there was something fun during each mile.  There was either a water/powerade station, or a set of Disney characters, or someone with a big sound system and music in each mile.  Each mile was marked with a large sign with Disney Princess pictures along with the clock time of the race.  We ran along the highway towards the Magic Kingdom, through the Transit station, through the gates of the park, and then through some backlot into the actual park.  Running through Magical Kingdom was one of my favorite parts because I knew it meant we were halfway.   I ran by Daniel right before I ran through the castle and he got these great shots;

This is my race face... apparently... I'm not sure if there's a way around it

This was almost cute - as you can see, the sun was on the rise at this point

Running towards the castle!

After making it through the castle, the rest of the race was a little foggy for me.  We went back the way we came, but on the other side of the freeway.  There were some onramps and bridges and some green army men and more pirates and princes.  I had noticed on the Garmin that I was maintaining under a 12min/mile pace, and I was STOKED!!!  I felt like I was really running comfortably and not pushing myself hard, so I was shocked to see how fast I was running according to the Garmin.  I did end up stopping to use a porto-potty somewhere after the castle which is HORRIFIC when you are wearing a tutu.  I also ended up stopping by the side of the road to stretch out my hamstrings and lower back at miles 4, 7, 9, 10 and 11.  For some reason my back kept tweaking and I'm not sure why... probably the faster than normal pace?  Somewhere in mile 9 (or was it 10) I approached a medical tent, thinking it was an aid station.  They wrote down my number and handed me water and a tylenol.  I wasn't in search of them, but I figured if they were handing it out it wouldn't hurt to take one.  I also scored some Biofreeze from some gal who was just plopping it into peoples' hands.  I've never seen it or heard of it before but it smells all minty and medicinal.  I looked around and saw ladies wiping it all over their legs and assumed it was to help with sore legs so I rubbed it into my calves.  Up to that point I'd been feeling tight in my achilles and calves and was a little nervous that they might freak out on me.  As soon as the biofreeze sunk in - which took less than a minute - my legs felt perfect.  It made me wish I'd put some on my entire legs... lol.  

I did finally move on from the medical tent and finished my last three miles with renewed vigor.  The last little bit of our race took us through a side entrance to Epcot and we ran through Tomorrowland (? or something?) and up the walkway towards the World Showcase.  We looped around a great flower scultpure of Mickey and Minnie and headed back out another side entrance to the finish line.  

Throughout the whole race I kept finding myself wrestling with wanting to embrace the magic of the moment, but also feeling silly about how emotional and "big" it all was supposed to seem.  I spent the last three miles reflecting on the journey I've been on this past year, and just talking the the Lord and asking Him to help this whole thing really count for His glory somehow.  It was a little weird to be approaching the finish line with so many mixed emotions.  I was really excited to be DONE (I was tired by that point), but I also wanted to make the magic and excitement last for a lot longer.  And I was questioning whether this whole year of training and planning was really worth it... all of that time for just this moment?  As I was pondering those thoughts I rounded the corner to the last 100m of the race and was shocked by what I saw and heard.  To the left of the course was a PRAISE CHOIR.  And they were singing praise songs... to Jesus... at a Disney race.  I broke down sobbing at this demonstration of worship and hoped it was a sign that God was confirming that He was - in fact - going to use this whole journey to benefit more than just me.

Crying when you're trying to sprint to the finish line of a 13.1 mile race is NOT conducive to finishing that race while breathing.  My throat and chest started to close off and I had to say, "PULL IT TOGETHER CONGDON - YOU'VE GOT A RACE TO FINISH!" and push myself that last little bit.

I did it!
The finish was a blur.  I know I saw my Aunt Salli and Uncle Greg cheering for me.  I made my way through the finishing area and claimed my medal, then worked my way through the food line and snagged a bagel and a banana.  I also managed to get a powerade and a water before finally figuring out where the exit to the family reunion area was.  Greg and Salli found me first, and soon after that Daniel and his parents (with Ethan in tow) found me as well. 
My first real medal!

After it was all said and done, I rode the bus back to the hotel ahead of the family so I could take a nice luxurious ice bath and shower.  Ice baths are my new favorite thing... I would actually take one right now if I had enough ice (which I don't).

We actually spent the rest of the day in Epcot after my race and ate dinner at this rocking Japanese restaurant.  I'm sad to say that after capturing the race photos, we kept leaving our camera in the room.  We had TONS of fun in Disneyworld after the race, but the memories will have to be kept alive in our hearts rather than on photo-form.  

On Monday we enjoyed Magic Kingdom.  We road Space Mountain and spent about two hours riding the train around the park so that Ethan could nap in my arms.  I think that might have been one of my favorite parts.  Ethan got to spend time playing in Mickey's Toontown Country Fair, and then in Winnie the Pooh's Happy Place.  We rode the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with Ethan, and he recognized Pooh and Tigger from our story books at home.  Nana and Papa even surprised him with his own Pooh bear "for keeps" when he got off of that ride.   It was a truly special day.

Tuesday morning came too early.  We were up at 4:30am to get dressed, pack up the last of our stuff, and meet the bus that would take us to the airport for our flight.  The great news about our trip back is that I was able to get us first class tickets using our airline miles.  A six hour plane ride with a toddler is WAY more tolerable when you're in first class.  After that we had a short little hop from Seattle to Portland and we arrived home around 3:30pm.  We promptly went to bed and slept until about noon the next day.  

And that, my friends, is the end of that story.