Sunday, November 30, 2014


This past week was one of the best weeks I have experienced in 2014.  There is no better feeling than returning to Green Sea, SC and Elliott Road where I grew up to see family that I miss so much!  My week started with a trip to Duke University to visit my younger brother, John Mark, who is in divinity school and involved to the max as a Graduate Resident, Duke baseball/football team chaplain and interning as a youth pastor at Roxboro Baptist Church!  My mom and dad met us in Durham, and we were all able to watch the Duke men’s basketball team play Furman University—my dad’s alma mater.  After the game, we traveled back to the Green Sea area where we had family time during lunch with my dad’s family—the Elvingtons, and dinner time with the Elliott family.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year and the 2014 celebration proved to fully exceed my expectations.
This past Friday I was able to travel to Charlotte to meet up with all of our athletes and coaches who traveled from Knoxville to compete at the final event of the 2014 season for our cross-country athletes—the Footlocker South Region Championships.  This event is amazing as athletes of all ages are able to compete (including me!) with the highlight of the meet focusing on our high school athletes vying for spots at the Footlocker National Finals in two weeks.  After a shakeout at the course Friday afternoon, the team cleaned up at the hotel and had a wonderful dinner in Charlotte with all of the athletes, coaches and parents who made the trip.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve with this group.  My life has already been changed and so much joy has been added to my passion for running and coaching that I find myself already looking forward to the next opportunity to coach these athletes in January as our 2015 indoor track season ramps up! This was my first cross-country race in 4 years and I was very pleased with my win, course record and time of 14:33 over the 5k distance.  We had athletes competing in the 10 and under race, as well as 11-12 year old boys and girls, 13-14 year old boys and girls, freshman, sophomore, junior, senior and championship boys and girls high school races!!! This 6- hour event was jam packed with athletes competing at the highest level and our number one goal was accomplished as everyone that toed the line had FUN!  I had the pleasure of warming up and cheering for all of our 14/younger athletes and was so pleased to see many of our athletes have huge success at this regional level competition.
After the Footlocker competition wrapped up, I quickly drove back to Green Sea for the highlight of my weekend.  My mother is turning 60 tomorrow (December 1) and my two brothers, dad and I decided to throw her a surprise 60th birthday party on Saturday night.  We had never done anything like this before, and I cannot describe in words how much my mother was overcome with joy from having all of her closest friends and family in one place to celebrate her life!  She had no idea that we were having this party and to put it simply my mom is a “birthday person” and was bouncing around the venue the entire night taking pictures with all of her guests, laughing at the top of her lungs and crying with friends she hadn’t seen in ages.  I am so glad that my mother is my mother.  She is my rock and one who has taught me so many things and a big reason why I am able to serve the way I do and love the way I love.  My role in Knoxville Youth Athletes and with In the Arena would be impossible without her influence! I love you mom! Happy Birthday!

 Approaching 3k on a beautiful 30 degree morning in Charlotte, NC.

Post Party Fun with my Family

The Start of the 10/younger boys' and girls' race!

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