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Always smiling!

Always smiling!

The morning of Thanksgiving 2016, I participated in the Wild Turkey Chase 13.1 in Pickrell, 40 miles south of Lincoln even most Nebraskans have never heard of. Before Nebraska became unbearably cold for me to even consider running another race in the state until winter has passed, I felt a desire to squeeze in one more in spite of having completed a technical trail half marathon only a few weeks ago. The Wild Turkey Chase 13.1 took place on an entirely flat trail, boosting my confidence in no part of the race should I struggle; however, I did slightly worry I may have been recently overrunning for my legs’ liking. In light of Thanksgiving, I spent much of running in the wilderness reflecting on my privileged life and giving thanks to my Father. Due to the freezing and windy weather, my iPhone acted up and shut down towards the end of the course, forcing me to run the final 2.5 miles without music, which I am not accustomed to; nevertheless, I refused to complain but rather tried to maintain the grateful mindset. I finished in 2:02:48, not my best but irrelevant because I did not take part for the purpose of setting a new personal record.

Badlands National Park!

Badlands National Park!

Early next morning, only hours following feasting on several rounds of turkey, stuffing, mashed and sweet potatoes, apple and chocolate pies, ice cream, and apple cider and sparkling water, I finally drove to South Dakota after repeatedly saying I would for an entire year. Each time I thought about going, I realized South Dakota to be quite a distance away for a neighboring state of where I work. In one day, I spent ten hours in the car from Kearney, driving to Badlands National Park, to Mount Rushmore, and then back towards Badlands to my hotel; I originally planned to divide visiting these two monumental tourist attractions into two days until I found out about the one-hour time difference between western South Dakota and Nebraska. I spontaneously climbed brutally steep trails at Badlands, which had me giggling internally as I had just run a half marathon and my body was probably saying to me, “What do you think you’re doing?”

Locate my shadow!

Locate my shadow!

Mount Rushmore!

Mount Rushmore!

I had never imagined the drive up to South Dakota through western Nebraska to be so full of awe-inspiring nature and unending hills. Seeing hardly any cars or buildings on various lengthy routes, I felt bored at times, but watching more of His beautiful creations only encouraged me to be thankful and pray passionately, my main motivation to visit South Dakota. In the past four days of driving close to 1,300 miles since leaving work for Thanksgiving break, I four times came verging on car accidents due to careless and reckless drivers on the road, which reinforced the God of angel armies always shields me. Perhaps I should not be surprised, but my body finally caught up and told me in a more direct way to rest by giving me a cold and severe right shoulder-ache the day I returned to Kearney. Regardless, I appreciate the nature-driven lone time I shared with my Father in Heaven and wish to maintain the thanksgiving mentality everyday.

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