I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Call me George

Remember when I was saying 2017 was gonna be about fitness and halves? Here’s the update as of the close of July: 

Weight lost: -1.5 lbs

Half-marathons completed: 0.5 

Pretty underwhelming, wouldn’t you say? Especially the pound of weight GAIN! Ugh. I get so tired of myself, to be frank. I suppose half of a half isn’t too bad, considering I have been running shorter distances, but as much as I enjoy the epic feeling of that distance, my brain and body are not allowing me to focus. I am not saying that as a cop-out, because Lord knows I hate that, but I am simply not there right now. Not only did I underestimate how long a 15k is, but I believe I did not take into account that I would want some time before really digging deep again after finishing my marathon in December. I always have a tough time with my health after life transitions. Who could have anticipated that it would be taxing to 

  1. Get married
  2. Move in with my husband
  3. Become a stepmom 

Tell me WHO could have seen that coming? 

I am at the point again where I need help and accountability to get fit again and it makes me so sad. Embarrassed. I should know better. I definitely didn’t spend my summer doing that and I could and should have. How many times can tomorrow be another day? Until there are no more tomorrows? It’s tiring. That being said, if I am to be obedient, I am to love myself, which means taking care of my body. THAT being said, it is difficult for me to be hopeful for the future. How can I get excited about going up when I’m just going to come down again? 

Four More Years! 

Happy Raceaversary to me, from me! 

That’s right. I’m the one (via God’s grace, naturalmente) who is the cause for the celebration! I have been running for FOUR years, like the consummate politician! So, since I’m the one who decides every day whether I am a runner, I shall outline here why I believe I should continue to support my racing and thus my overall well-being. 

1. There are fewer more glorious feelings than crossing a finish line. 

It doesn’t matter if I see a finish line and feel relief or triumph. I have never been disappointed when I reach it, even if I think I could have had a better day on the course. Every one means that I started something, committed to it, and saw it to fruition. 

2. I know how I can improve. 

While I am not at my peak of fitness currently, I know there is hope for me to become a better runner than I ever have been. I may not be a beginner, but I pray that I have just seen the beginning of my running career. I can learn to be both more disciplined in some areas and more forgiving in others. Let’s be real – there’s nothing else that motivates me to be physically healthy. 

3. It has made me a more open person. 

I have run (rimshot!) into people who have changed my life. Granted, I knew The Mentor before I started running, but I likely wouldn’t have started without her. I’ve gotten to know countless amazing people, like Blonde Oprah and 3M. Because of running, I am open to meeting more people and both learning from them and giving to them. 

Every step I take in a race is a gift from God. May He grant me at least another 4 more years! A vote for running is a vote for Joanie! 

I don’t think I’ve seen a truer race sign.

Evidently, training for a marathon has made me a stronger runner – who could have anticipated that, right? According to the same plan I used to train, I am now within striking distance of setting a half marathon PR. Obviously, that means I have to put in the time to make that happen. The training gods have set out a 9 mile long run for me on my 15 week path to glory. Me: “Let’s find a 15K! Free PR!” 
Having run a quarter marathon 3 weeks earlier and a full marathon 2 months ago, I thought to myself, ‘9 miles isn’t really that much! I’ll have a big bowl of oatmeal and I’ll hydrate along the course. I don’t need to take any gel with me!’ Sigh. I know you’re already shaking your head at me if you are an endurance athlete of any kind. Don’t get ahead of me, although I’ll be the first to admit that with insufficient fuel before and during the race that not getting ahead of me is no small feat. See what I did there? 

I showed up at the starting line feeling confident, nonetheless. The plan: an 11 minute mile pace. Approximately an hour and forty minutes of my life. No big deal. Within the first two miles of the race, I heard someone call my name. “Joanie?” I turned to see Sweetness, this cool chick who also comes to boot camp. I smiled as we caught and kept up with another (I did it again, see?). I told her I was trying to do an 11 minute mile, and she said that was cool. I groaned inwardly, not because running with Sweetness was lame but because I saw the 2 mile marker and was thinking, “Damn. It’s only been 2 miles?” Not a good sign. Hah! I wish I were as good at racing as I am at making witty puns. I digress. 

After about mile 4, I was tasting Sweetness’s candied dust. If only it had been caloric, because that was sure what I needed! As the race continued, my pace continued to slow. I had to switch to run/walk intervals, which I personally don’t frown upon as a matter of course, but I sure don’t like it when it’s a matter of poor planning! I am quite sure I looked like death because a man along the course saw me and said, “Keep going! You look great!” I needed it, though. I wasn’t actually dying, and let’s be real – I wasn’t getting back to my car unless I finished the race. 

I looked to my right and saw Tampa General Hospital. ‘I should check myself into the psych ward.’ I may be out of glycogen but dammit the wit is still here. I pressed on until I crossed the finish line, where Sweetness had been for God only knows how long. She thanked me for pacing her and I had to laugh. 

Finishing is always sweet.

Today’s lesson? 9.3 miles is not short, and it sure isn’t long enough to shed any weight. Eat up. 

Still booty-ful.

Fat and Happy? 

It’s February and I’m afraid to weigh myself. 

I hate to say that I’m one of those people, but I started the year really well on a detox. I lost my marathon weight and was feeling better. I won’t post all the details here, but I went to the doctor one day and left feeling fat and frustrated, so I’ve been slowly but surely returning to my habits. 

I am seeing that it isn’t so much the taste of unhealthy food that I crave, but I have allowed my life to become so busy that I prefer the “liberation” of not planning workouts or meals. Of course, the word of the Lord proves true for me – I am not at peace when I do not keep the law, or healthy living, in this case. 
I must say, however, that there is much hope in my most recent race performances. Shortly after the marathon, I was concerned that I was permanently slower than I have been. I see now that this is not the case. I am coming close to some of my best times – and I am fat. That is AWESOME. That means if I get it together and get my vision back, the best shape of my life could still be ahead of me. 

Some dilemma, no? I could be healthier and faster but I don’t feel like planning my meals and doing tough workouts right now. Joan. Seriously? What if Baby J comes on the scene in 2018 and it’s game over for the time being? What if life just happens and I get an injury that sets me back? I am happy that my body seems to have bounced back from my marathon, but Lord knows I will be truly happy only when I place some restraint on myself and work toward the best body I can. He gave it to me! Can’t have all the cupcakes! 

Girl Power: Race Report 

It’s a nice feeling to go to bed the night before a race, having eaten without a goal in mind aside from surviving. I had a nice, leisurely dinner with Adonis, excited about sharing a 5k with several girls from school who would be running their first. My colleague, Running for Two, and I have been training the Girl Power Running Club since August, helping them with their stamina and pacing. In the beginning, I ran with the slower ones and she with the faster; as she became more pregnant and my marathon training ended, we switched roles. At our last practice, our first finishers came in between 33 and 36 minutes, so I was expecting a relatively chill morning. As I walked to the starting line with RFT, 14 girls, and their parents, I was feeling nervous, but it wasn’t for me. I just wanted my girls to pace themselves and be happy. 

That changed. Quickly. Literally! 

My speedy girls took off and I ran with them, slightly behind. I checked my watch. I saw an 8 – and it wasn’t in the seconds place. Blast you, youthful adrenaline! I found myself hoping that the girls actually couldn’t maintain their pace because I knew that I couldn’t. Thankfully, that 8 became a 9 within a reasonable amount of time. I saw that the two girls ahead of me were using me as motivation to keep going. Each time they slowed to a walk, one would look for me. “Don’t let me catch you!” I shouted, knowing that I probably couldn’t, heh. 

After about half the race, I did end up catching up, but only because as I had thought (and hoped, for my sake!), they started too fast. I was still running with a girl, who went a bit ahead of me. I don’t know if she knew she was pacing me. She would walk sometimes and I yelled at her to keep going. By the last mile, I remembered why I don’t enjoy short races as much. I had to make the choice between swallowing and slowing down. I checked my heart rate. 145. Lies. I was hauling, but it’s good to know that I can smile like I’m enjoying every moment. 

We made the last turn for the finish line. I looked at my watch – under 30 minutes. I knew she was on track to probably get a prize for her age group. “RUN!” I screamed. Whoa. Was I going to finish under 30 minutes too? Aaaaaaaand no. But she did! I crossed the timing mat at 30:06, feeling pleased at my best 5k performance in a long time and thankful that I wasn’t left in the dust. 

I reminded Speedy to keep walking to bring her heart rate down, then we walked over to cheer in the rest of our runners. Most of the girls looked really strong as they crossed. I ran in with several of them, as did Speedy. They all were really excited to get their medals. RFT crossed with the last of the girls. We took a group picture, looking notably more fatigued than we had an hour earlier, but surely the bling made up for it! 

We stuck around for the awards ceremony. I was chatting with some parents when I heard the most insane thing. 

My name. Whaaaaaaaaat?! 

I squealed and ran up to dj’s booth. “Where do I go?!” I got another medal and met Berry! 


I thanked Speedy, who had placed 2nd in her AG (!) profusely. I knew I couldn’t have done it without her motivating me. It’s amazing how by doing your best, you can help people without your knowing it, no matter how old you are. Most of the girls said that they couldn’t wait to run again next year! Winning! 

Girl Power Is Legit. 

Over the Humps: Race Report

By humps, I mean bridges. Literal and metaphorical. 

Fewer things make me happier than a family field trip to a new racing destination. EXCEPT! This time Adonis is running too! Whee! The night before the race, I asked if anyone objected to us driving over the bridge I knew would be part of the course. “Bridge?!” exclaimed Adonis. “You NEVER said there was going to a bridge.” Lies. “Well, then you get the bridge!” Both legs have a bridge, dear. “You should have told me.” I did, sweetheart. 

On race day, we carefully navigated our way to the relay point, where I would be dropped off. Adonis was going to run the first leg – the one with the cooler weather, and I got to be the one to cross the finish line. Fair enough. I kissed everyone goodbye and waited with a set of second leg runners for the shuttle. 

I looked out of the windows of the bus in vain for Adonis as we drove the first leg of the course. Over his bridge we went before we had to get out to walk to the exchange. As we waited, I checked and double checked my perfect playlist. “Personal Record.” That’s right, y’all. That’s the level of confidence I was feeling that day. I’ve only run one other quarter marathon and I had a feeling that based on my race from 2 weeks ago, I could beat my time. 

Cold air, warm feelings about running.


After 70 minutes, I started looking over the bridge for Adonis. I saw him 10 minutes later, still looking very strong, handsome, even. I hopped over to the timing mat, where we exchanged his relay chip for my sweater. “Hey!” I shouted as he turned to get his medal. We hugged and kissed, I turned on my music, and I was off. 

Aretha Franklin accompanied my first steps. My steady feet were rocking to her steady beat. I looked to my right, where I saw the bridge that was waiting for me. “I’m coming!” I smiled. I felt strong. There were some really fun musicians along the course supporting us. May I say that music has helped me through many a race but not ONCE has an athlete helped me once I am on stage! Just saying…

11:03. 11:01. 10:58. Ridiculously evenly paced. Until…


11:55, lol. I was running and running and running – and then I wasn’t. But when that downhill came I started running like a champ for the finish. The best Mom ever was waiting for me. Seeing her made me go even faster. I sprinted and felt like I was going to vomit. Perfect, especially since I didn’t. 

Lil One and Adonis started cheering as I went through the chute. I felt great. Team Salt and Pepper was a great success! Adonis was strutting around looking for snacks, so I know he was pleased with himself. He has even committed to doing a half-marathon with me in June!!!!

Three minute PR!!!!!! 

!!!!!!! 

“I wanna be Pepper,” says Adonis.

Pay to Play: Race Report

I don’t know about y’all, but there are times when I simply cannot persuade myself to make time to run. I make all sorts of excuses – fatigue won’t allow me to do my best, or I could be spending time with those family people or working, etc. So I did what any girl on a Friday would do to get my feet back on the pavement. Registered for a 5k scheduled for Saturday. 

I prepared myself quickly and quietly so as not to wake Lil One or Adonis. The race site was a nearby familiar one – I did most of my marathon training around this particular lake. Knowing that my race registration would help to benefit victims of human trafficking was even more motivating to me. It is funny how we get wrapped up in these questions about our value and self-worth, taking for granted the freedom we have to be able to spend even one moment to reflect, when there are so many who lack just that – freedom. I told myself that when the horn went off, I was going to run for anyone who can’t. No time for self-pity OR self-flaggelation! 

I really was not sure what it meant to pace myself when it started; rather, I didn’t know what it would look like today. My marathon pace was 13:26 and I have a tough time with perspective – sometimes a 13 minute pace feels like a 9 minute pace and I’m just slow no matter what, you know? Gahhhh! Focus! Just. Run. 

And so I did. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t look at my Garmin, but it WAS a race and I did want to do my best by maintaining whatever pace I could. When I got tired, I thought of the freedom I had to be there that morning. As I turned toward the finish, I lamented that the course appeared to be .1m short, but no matter. I went and I did it AND my pace was 10:14! 

Who. Is. This. 

The only explanation I have for such a speedy performance is the fact that I’ve been getting sufficient sleep and eating very cleanly, because the only runs I’ve been doing have been with the girls training for their first 5k or with Adonis, running and walking for our half-marathon relay. Lesson: problems can be solved by clean eating, sleep, and money! 

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