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

The Trouble with Listening

listen and silent

I keep a poster with this saying in my classroom, among others in a similar vein, to help visually remind my students that listening is the first element in being a learning musician. We absorb and enjoy this aural art with our ears. I ask of them daily – “Is it possible to talk and truly listen at the same time?” Thankfully, I don’t teach too many smart asses who say yes, and I believe that they actually get it. Most of my students are empaths to whom I can say, “When you have something to say to me, don’t you want to know that I am paying attention to you? Doesn’t everyone deserve the same?” When we really listen to one another’s thoughts and the music we make together, it is then that we can fully experience the beauty of our work.

Even a 5 year old can grasp this. Why is it so hard to put into practice?

On the 4th of the month, I have great concern that my Fabruary may turn into Flabruary. I have not run since Saturday. I had a run planned yesterday but I chose to get a massage instead because my entire body feels tight. Even as I tell myself that I am listening to my body by not running for a few days, I feel like a loser. I fear losing the great progress that I made in Shamuary. I wonder if I am simply a weak person who cannot handle the training load I have put upon myself. You know I cannot cope with having peaked at 34.

“You know what I need to do?” I said to myself this evening. “Read my blog!” I am feeling like I have never been sore in my life and I logically know this cannot be the case. While it feels like the end of the road for my progress, I understand realistically that progress is rarely linear and it’s more likely that I simply need a bit of recovery. I put “injury” in the search box and what do you know, I have experienced the need to alter my plans more than once.

Perhaps we find listening difficult because it feels passive. We feel as though we will miss something if we don’t immediately act or speak. We feel a pressure to contribute and make our abilities known – so much so that we overlook the cost of pausing to observe and absorb. I wish my body felt like a million dollars so that I could confidently take on what is in my running plan this week, but she’s trying to tell me something and it sure ain’t “do your 11 mile run on Friday.”

I still fully intend to be fearless in 2020. My body is reminding me that sometimes bravery requires the willingness to stop, listen, and adjust.

Fabruary: Awaiting Results

Day 1 of the new month – which I am proclaiming as fabulous, by the way – with my mountain of student loan debt comes the ability to spell all of the months in English properly – has got me nervous. I know I literally JUST said it is going to be fabulous but please, hear me out. I have successfully wrapped up my workouts for the week but my legs are not happy about it. I did a good job in Shamuary of consistently getting in my miles, but if I do not start stretching and adding strength regularly, I’m not going to make it. Stretching daily and full ass yoga and strength routines twice a week, each. Periodt, as my Lil One would say.

I believe that every runner loves results, but I also think that results mean different things to different people. When I started running in 2013, I was not thinking that I would ever become addicted to entering races. I was just a girl trying to continue my habit of working out 3 times a week to lose weight and Couch to 5k was a free, structured way for me to do so. What a blessing that I was able to maintain the discipline to finish the program, enter a race, and have one of the happiest moments of my life as I crossed my first finish line. While I still care about my weight loss, the purpose has now flipped – rather than running to lose weight, I want to lose weight so I can be the most efficient runner possible.

At this point in my life, I am determined to show myself that my best still awaits me. Last night, I started updating the calendar page of my blog to fill in gaps and detail all of my awesome activities and race results. I used the site coolrunning.com, which I have been using for years to check where I’ve placed in my age groups. Would you believe that as of today, February 1, coolrunning.com is NO. MORE?! Had I waited one more day, it might have been impossible to find any of my races prior to my purchasing a Garmin. I am beyond thankful that God moved me to update my calendar and I hope I can bless others as I increase in fearlessness. If you want to do something, people, just grab life by the ovaries! You never know!

About those ovaries.

It was interesting seeing my race times in black and white, all together. There is a distinct before and after marriage line. I have been tempted to make new goals based on Mrs. J rather Ms. J but I am not that old yet! I refuse to accept that the result of getting married is to be slower. That being said, the result of being older and more experienced requires that I do not neglect things like stretching and strength training – when I was at my best I was getting regular massages and not missing boot camp. That girl was great, and this one can be too. THAT being said, I’m no longer mad at Mrs. J for being slower. I am coming to realize that life is like training and it is simply not feasible for me to be in peak condition all of the time. Garmin knows, look at this chart:

Screenshot (1)

The last year three years have frustrated me as I cannot seem to break the pattern of setting goals and missing them, but check out that calendar – I haven’t been exactly sedentary. I would argue that I have toggled between maintaining, recovery, and overreaching as a married woman. I hope that I am able to become more productive so that I can truly peak! Here’s to good decision making and not being mean to myself when I make not so good ones!

 

 

Shamuary Sunset

By God’s grace, I made it, y’all!

The first month of 2020 is already behind us – but it didn’t end before I did my best to stick to my plans. I give myself an A on my running and a B minus on my eating. I am down a few pounds since the year started and I ran 55 miles this month. Most notably, I suddenly feel comfortable sharing the ups and downs on my race times. I am not sure what clicked in me yesterday as I was updating my race calendar, but I started scrolling through my Garmin app and updating it with past race times. I felt pride over times that once shamed me. I started running in 2013 and my calendar only goes back to 2014, but over the course of the year I intend to not only fill in my race history but detail it with the good. There is no bad or ugly because I am still here.

It is incredible that I started running when I was 28 and this year I will be 35 with no intentions of slowing down. Yes, I meant to make that pun! I want to push my boundaries and peel away the fears that keep me from being open about my abilities. I’ve been fighting trim and I’ve been fighting fat but dammit, I am still fighting.

Here’s to Fabruary! May it be a great one!

Heh. May. That’s when I turn 35.

after-every-sunset-comes-a-sunrise-followed-by-breakfast-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day-funny-quotes-online-slots

I do love the sunset – and the sunrise – and breakfast! Yay!

The Lesson: Race Report

The only time I’m ever wrong is when I think I am wrong. That’s the lesson.

It was Friday night and my body was hurting. When I don’t feel like running, I feel sad about not feeling like running, and it quickly becomes a twisted spiral. I had been looking forward to both my speed repeats and my long run all week – perhaps because I was going to allow myself to have Culver’s. I work really hard to avoid going more than 2 days without a run because obviously, if you don’t do something for 3 days in a row, you just don’t do that thing. For example, I am no longer a pianist. I did the most logical thing I could think of: I whipped out my credit card and registered for a 5 miler on Sunday.

As soon as my transaction cleared, I checked the forecast. 40s! I looked at the course more closely. Big ass bridge! Twice! I had been texting my friend and I told her I needed to pay for a race because I would be less likely to skip out on a run I had paid for and boy was I regretting making that choice, even though I was right!

I spent most of Saturday on the couch, lamenting my hurting leg. Briefly got up to go to Culver’s despite not running. I went to bed with my 5 am wake up call in mind. Upon awaking, I prepared myself a delicious egg sandwich, a double espresso, and filled my carafe with a lovely brew of Ethiopian Longberry. If I drink like they do, I’ll be fast like they are, amirite?

20200126_072441

For someone filled with so much doubt, I’m pretty cute. As cold as I was, I couldn’t help but enjoy the beautiful view of the bay from Clearwater and feel God’s glory as the sun rose. There is nothing like seeing the sun rise and feeling the hope of the possibilities at the starting line. I danced, stretched, and browsed as I waited for the race to begin. My plan was to run for 1 minute and walk for 30 seconds. While I wanted to finish in under an hour, I tried not to allow myself to get too attached to that goal.

The first time I had run over this bridge, I was with my mother, who cursed the fact that there was a hill so early in the race. “That’s not fair,” she insisted. Thankfully, I not only knew to expect the unfairness, but I had been practicing hill repeats. For the first time, the Clearwater Causeway did not feel like death. I just kept doing my intervals and I was able to do so steadily. As each mile passed, I pointed to the sky, recognizing the source of my strength. I never felt tired. I made the turn to go over the bridge once more and felt like I could conquer the world before me. I made sure to run on the road where it wasn’t pitched so I didn’t have angry knees and hips later. I was crushing this bad boy.

Look! I did it!

Screenshot_20200126-090222_Connect

I am on track RIGHT NOW to meet my goal of running 10k in 1:10. If I were to do it today, I would probably be a bit uncomfortable, but that’s okay! I have to keep showing up and remember the real lesson – things are typically not as bad as I think they are. Shamuary is ending strongly!

20200126_085911

 

 

(P)Re-Epiphany: Race Report

I’ve fallen, and I’m conflicted as to whether or not to get up.

I groaned as I woke up yesterday to check the weather. Cold, cold, cold. I personally do not care to be outside when it dips below 55 in Florida, and it definitely was in the 40s. On the way to the race, I asked myself – why do I bother registering for January races? It feels this way damn near every. year. What is my compulsion?

My mood did not improve upon my arrival at the race site. I saw several people I know, and quite well, but they either didn’t recognize me or chose to ignore me. Sometimes, as a black woman, I feel like a chameleon – a change to my hair and I am a totally different person. Perhaps I simply have a forgettable face, or both! Anyhow, this introvert didn’t feel like talking anyway. I saw a student and his family and I turned the other direction and went back to my car to stay warm.

My word, January 1 was filled with such hope and here I am, the 5th, fallen from my glory. My shiny new Garmin glimmers on my wrist and I feel unworthy of the tool in which I’ve invested. It’s the same old body! Same old weakness, same imperfection, same doubts, but now with Spotify and Bluetooth. I worked to set up my playlist, which I named for my mood.

Screenshot_20200106-213305_Spotify

Sigh. Why am I here?

I exited my car about 5 minutes prior to the race start. I will admit that my music made me dance and smile, as sour as I had been feeling. Like running, it is primal; moreover, it also elicits my feelings of inadequacy, but the only performance ahead of me was this 3.1 miles, so I’m gonna jam. I hear someone shout go and I walk toward the start line, without the hope that I had had just 4 days prior.

I knew that I was capable of running the race in its entirety, but I did not know how fast I would be. I told myself I would just run comfortably. A couple – each with a stroller! – passed me, and I sighed once more. Those babies are winning in every way, I thought to myself – they don’t have student loans! My twisted sense of humor made me smile as I ran.

My watch beeped as I passed the first mile marker. Under 12 minutes?! Whose legs are these? Can I maintain this? I enjoyed my music as I took each step, thankful for what seemed to be a steady pace. This race was in a very familiar area, which – I cannot say I find positive. I know exactly what it feels like to drive on these roads and because I do so fairly often, it made me very impatient to finish the race. By the time the final turn came, I no longer regretted having registered – but I’m not doing this one again!

There was so much food at the finish line but I still just wanted to get the hell out of there. Why does it still feel like a divine revelation that I enjoy completing races, even when I start the day reluctantly? Why am I so hard-headed that it still surprises me a bit when God brings me to another finish line? What will it take for me to feel like I just want to run and not run and hide?

Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! Ecclesiastes 9:4 (NIV)

You hear that, y’all? I am better than a dead lion! Apparently, there’s hope for me, even when I am down in the dumps…20200105_080055

Shamuary Plans

From good old Merriam-Webster:

Shame (noun): A painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.

Last night (last year, heh) 3M sent me a link to a commercial she had seen. In it, a woman’s effort, or apparent lack thereof, in an intense spin class is shamed by both the instructor and the other participants. The happy ending shows the woman cycling by herself in the gym, free of the judgment of others. I told 3M that I didn’t think the premise was so bad, as much as I train alone; that perhaps the woman needed the encouragement to try harder. She did, after all, look much more at peace on the cycle at the end of the commercial.  Can peace really produce results?

I have been thinking about how much differently I train since I have been married. I moved away from my group and my training has been much less structured. While I can say the most negative emotion elicited by someone else was annoyance, I have often (irrationally) feared shame when training in groups. Yes, I intellectually understand that all sane people are focused too much on themselves to have the time to judge someone else in the moment. For me – the mere act of joining a group induces shame. To ask for help requires consciousness of shortcoming. It’s right there in the dictionary!

I have decided, for the month of Shamuary, that I am willing to sacrifice the peace of solitude for the potential to progress more. I meant it when I said in my previous post that I want to be fearless, and the only thing that haunts me more than my shortcomings is their public airing. As we speak, I am making plans to join a local running club again, where I may have to explain my two year absence, OR cope with the fact that I kept to myself so much that no one remembers me. Feeling shame for being human is one of satan’s shams. Not today, devil. Not this Shamuary!

3ea890a8ff354758af87fc396e7240ae--running-humor-running-quotes-funny

Hashtag Silver Lining: can’t feel shame if you are unconscious.

One More Time

I amuse my students in rehearsals by telling them the only time they shouldn’t take me literally is when I tell them, “One more time!” This is a “lie” that all music teachers tell, I say. They groan, but they know that doing it one more time will bring them closer to a result they can appreciate. One more time can be the difference between a confident performance and a reluctant one, or it can be the space between a solid, harmonic ending and a stumble across the finish line of our song.

As 2019 concludes, I find myself making resolutions – one more time. Like my students, I groan because I am tired. I wish I could have it all right in this moment, but I don’t. There are many who scoff at new year’s resolutions because of the natural tendency to allow ourselves to lapse, but that is not the fault of the calendar. Why would we fault each other for trying to be the best versions of ourselves? This is a difficult thing to do, all year long!

Even when my students need to play one more time, I make a conscious effort to tell them what they are doing well. I want them to know that celebrating their strengths and managing their weaknesses can happen concurrently AND that I love and appreciate them and their effort. I deserve the same for myself, do I not?

I am thankful that at the end of 2019 I am a tad less cynical than I was at the end of 2018. This is despite not meeting my goal of running 1019 KM, or running a 10 miler with the best Mentor ever, and still being fat. I definitely have to work on this healthy human thing one more time. Look at my 2018 running stats:

Screenshot_20191231-180640_Connect

Compare them to my 2019 stats:

Screenshot_20191231-180626_Connect

Look how much better I did! Yay, me! Yes, I’m still fat, but I did lose 20 pounds and managed to only gain one pound in November and December – no small feat, between a trip to Jamaica, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Garmin gave me this badge today:

Screenshot_20191231-180819_Connect

I am stoked that I have finished the year strongly. I tell my babies all the time that even if we have a rough start, we can have a strong ending and that counts for a whole lot. I love that Garmin has marked this badge as repeatable, for Lord willing, I will have another strong finish. The tricky bit, as you can tell from 2 years of training logs, is the middle. I want to approach 2020 fearlessly – unafraid to set new goals, but perhaps more importantly, unafraid to RESET old goals.

Happy New Year! One more time.

Tag Cloud