WATERisLIFE Derby Marathon Fundraiser

I have made a training fundraiser!

http://www.crowdrise.com/waterislifederbymarathon/fundraiser/benjaminrubenstein

After spending the last few weeks looking around various online fundraising sites and just gathering what information I could about all the different possibilities, I chose to make my fundraiser for WATERisLIFE on crowdrise.com I am extremely excited about creating this as it is for an incredible cause and is already serving as a training motivator.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with WATERisLIFE, they are a charity organization that provide short and long term solutions to drinking water shortages in developing countries. I myself was pretty unaware of them until a friend of mine showed me this video of theirs that really hit home with me.

There is also this video, which I found after doing more research on WATERisLIFE, about a young boy from Kenya.

As someone who gets to drink and use water without a second thought to its cleanliness or where it comes from, I was immediately impacted by the message WATERisLIFE was sending. Not just about clean water but about the perspective we carry through our lives on a daily basis about everything from what restaurant we should go to eat at to why our cable bill is so expensive. Just like this message, WATERisLIFE provides a wide array of products and programs to solve the clean water crisis millions of people face everyday. Their services range everywhere from proving personal water filtration devices, known as the Straw, to installing clean water wells, to education and training courses of sanitary/healthy practices. They run the complete gambit of needs and have a high level of transparency that gives me confidence that the funds you help me to raise will go where they truly need to go. For those who want more information about WATERisLIFE, you can go to their website here.

Originally I wanted to create a per mile pledge fundraiser where my supporters could donate a certain amount for every mile of training I did. While I still think that this is a really awesome idea that would make me super motivated to train, I was unfortunately not able to find any website that would support that format. But have no fear! Even though all the donations will come in the form of lump sums (and I recognize that some people would donate like that anyways) please feel free to donate based on that per mile idea. My training has me running just over 500 miles over the 22 weeks (I am currently at 35 halfway through week 4, but things will ramp up quickly come January). I listed my fundraising goal at $2,500 which is $5/mile. That way, for every two miles that I run I will have raised enough money to purchase one of WATERisLIFE’s Straw systems that will provide clean drinking water for an individual for a year. If I reach my goal, I will be able to do that for 250 people!

Any donation small or large is an incredible help. Not only will you be helping me to train but you will be providing clean drinking water (something that I know I definitely take for granted everyday) for someone who needs it desperately. For those of you who cannot donate right now, I ask that you try to keep some of the perspective shown in the above videos in your day to day life and for your continued support as I train for the 2014 Derby Festival Marathon. I will update my per mile number and total donations through the crowdrise website and this blog periodically, probably with my bi-weekly training updates.

Thank you all so much in advance for your support and donations. You truly are incredible people.

All my love.

PS. SHARE WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

 

The Poisonwood Bible

Many of you who I have spoken with about favorite books and authors know that Barbara Kingsolver’s works are second to none. The Poisonwood Bible only solidified my love for Kingsolver and actually caused me to go out and plunder Half Priced Books for (almost) all of her books.

*Warning: minor spoilers ahead*

The Poisonwood Bible is about the Price family who travels to Africa so their father can take over a mission deep in the Congo. The village they are based in, Kilanga, serves as the setting for the majority of the book and is where the Prices explode out of their cliche “American-dream” mold into five unique, deep characters. Nathan, the Price family patriarch and Baptist minister who is the reason for the relocation to the Congo, is hellbent on converting all of Africa over to God-fearing Christians one remote village at a time. His wife (Orleanna) and his four daughters (Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May) are all dragged from Georgia to the Belgium Congo for Nathan’s mission. The book is told through the point of view of the five women with each chapter of the story alternating between characters. I really like the way Kingsolver did this because it allows the reader to see how different characters were affected by the same events. The one frustrating part is that sometimes the character you really want to know the point of view of on a certain part of the book is the one Kingsolver doesn’t give you.

The story gets off to a slow start (or maybe it is just the fact I always take forever to really get into a book) but as soon as I got a feel for the personalities of the characters I was in hook, line, and sinker. My favorite character by far was Adah. Her and Leah are twins and the connection the two of them have along with the transformation she goes through was the best subplot of the book. Of all the characters, Nathan is the most mysterious. The reader finds out precious little about how he is feeling about his mission and the backstory that made him the person he is during this time.

While the time in the Congo is interesting, I think that it is actually the last part of the book is the best. I felt as if I had been in Kilanga with the Prices and seen the girls grow up and mature in such a unique environment so to see how each of them responded once they had left was very important to the story. It completes the characters, so to speak. Kingsolver could very easily have stopped the book once the Prices were out of the Congo but she kept going and let the story come full circle. For one storyline in particular, this was extremely important. Although the way that storyline ended left something to be desired for me (kinda cheesy) it is kind of nice to have a feel good ending to a story.

The six Prices go through just about the entire book of stereotypical family feuding. The big twist is that all those feuds take place with the 1960’s Congo as the background. This setting solidifies Kingsolver as a great historical fiction writer as The Lacuna is written excellently during the Cold War. I confess that I did not know much of anything about the political events that happened in the Congo during that time so I had to use the handy-dandy Google search to understand the historical significance of some of the characters. I have always been a history buff so it was nice to learn about a new event and the context that Kingsolver’s characters gave to the historical events made it all the more interesting.

In all, I would highly recommend The Poisonwood Bible for anyone who enjoys a historical fiction written from a multiple first person point of view. Not only does Kingsolver do an excellent job of making the characters complex but the setting of the Belgium Congo made the story all the more interesting. From Kilanga to Atlanta and many places in between, Kingsolver’s settings are just as dynamic as the characters.

Let me know if you choose to pick up any of Kingsolver’s works, I would love to discuss them with you!

The First Two Weeks

Well I am officially training for a marathon, folks!

The start of training has gone really well. Two weeks in and I am feeling fresh and excited for the next twenty. My overall motivation is very high but I admit that the days where I have TRX and a run are pretty daunting. It is surprisingly difficult to switch from one workout to the next. I approach the two with a completely different mindset and it can be hard to make that switch quickly.

The first week of training was just a TRX week. I figured that my body could use some more rest from the pavement pounding and I was unsure how I would react to the TRX workouts. I knew that the workouts would be difficult, as I hadn’t lifted consistently in almost two months and TRX focuses on the core (which is far and away the weakest part of my body), so I didn’t want to jump back into running at the same time. Looking back, I probably could have. But how many times have we done stupid things simply because we could?

I was actually looking really forward to the second week. Even with it being over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was legitimately excited to start running again. A good friend of mine, Rebekah, had told me she wanted to start doing some of my runs with me so we have become Monday evening run buddies. Its a real good setup! She keeps me to a slower pace that helps me work on my breathing and form and I help to serve as some motivation for her to get out and run. So thanks, Rebekah!

As was expected, the Thanksgiving holiday in Southern Indiana was definitely a big test of my resolve to stick to the schedule I had made. It was really hard for me to pull myself away from my family to do TRX alone in the basement. I think they all understood though. AND I FINALLY GOT UP IN THE MORNING AND RAN! I have been telling myself that I will go for a run every time I have been in Spencer County for the past two years and it never.ever.happens. But I was up on that cold Friday morning and took off to run the country block. Let me tell you, it sure as hell beats running through the streets of Germantown here in Louisville. Over the roughly 3.5 mile run I managed to scare up a family of deer, get stared down by several cows, and race a few excited dogs down the side of a yard. All the while surrounded by a country landscape of rolling hills of harvested crops dotted with farm houses, barns, and woods. Incredible how long it took me to truly appreciate a place I have been going to my entire life. Absolutely beautiful.

My self control ebbed a bit over the weekend but Week 3 is off to a great start and I will be sure to keep you all updated on my progress. I am also looking into registering with a charity of some sort. I really like the idea of donors pledging a certain amount of money for every mile that I run in training but I haven’t taken the time to look at what charity or the logistics would be. Keep an eye out, though!

All my love.