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

Archive for April, 2014

Joan’sAugusta70.3TrainingPlan.docx – Protecting My Relationship from Myself

The relationship of which I speak is the new one I have with my spirit and body. It happened the way I hear many great romantic relationships occur – spontaneously and intensely, just as I was ready to give up. It has changed my life for the better in a manner that is difficult to miss if you knew me any time prior to January 2013. I have a renewed joy and confidence that once seemed out of reach. Who wouldn’t want to grow in a relationship like that? More races + more distance = more help. I’m no dummy. I asked my tri coach for a plan, and she obliged.

Regret ensues.

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Why, you ask? It’s not as though I wasn’t used to swimming, biking, and running. All I had done was meet with her, tell her what I’m doing already, and then she wrote it down with added specifics. However, the more I looked it over, the more I freaked out. I received the plan on a Saturday, the plan was to start on a Monday, and I didn’t actually work out until Wednesday. I was supposed to work out twice and I believe I only worked out once. I had said that I was listening to my tired body, but in retrospect I stressed myself out so much from overthinking the plan that I lost sleep.  I was supposed to upload my training from my Garmin with myConnect. Nope. I was supposed to check in with my coach weekly. Hell no.

I can often be heard telling my students that if they haven’t prepared themselves, I understand why they freak out prior to a performance. St. Anthony’s was looming and I had done maybe – conservatively – half of the workouts she had prescribed for me. Nobody knows better than I do, yet I chose to sabotage myself mentally.

Classic fear of failure, y’all.

Race on April 27. I had my DNF story ready to go for the 28th – “Yeah, I had a plan and a great coach, but I didn’t follow the plan. Maybe next time I’ll have learned my lesson. Damn, damn, damn.” Now I’m on the other side, having completed the race, a bit curious as to what it could have been like had I trusted my training more.

I’m happy to say that I’m not beating myself up. I did show up on race day, finished with the time goal I had hoped for, and that is to be lauded. However, I am annoyed that I allowed my fear of failure to impact my decision making. It’s not as though I get half-priced plans for half-hearted effort. What the hell is failure in this context, anyway? If I had gone as hard as I could and didn’t finish, what would it have meant? Try again next race, no? Which is exactly what I’m doing anyway.

I am happy to say that this week I have completed all my workouts so far and am on track to complete what’s in store for the weekend! I’m less scared of Red Rocket and now have seen that I am a competent swimmer – I just have to do the work to continue improving.

I can’t say that I am rid of my fear of inadequacy. The idea of my best not being enough is simply terrifying. The only thing more terrifying is giving up all I have gained.

149 days to Augusta! Tee hee 🙂 ❤

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Some People Suck But God is Good: Race Report, Part II

While that may have been the most exhilarating 3 hours, 51 minutes, and 11 seconds of my life, I feel compelled to comment on the 1% I disliked. This, too, contributed to the learning experience and is of note.

1. To the chick on the bike who passed me somewhere between miles 5 and 10 who felt the need to tell me to stay on the right. Yes, “sweetie,” as you called me so endearingly. I know I need to stay on the right, but I saw yo’ crazy ass trying to pass me on the right during a bloody turn. Me and Red Rocket are trying to stay together.

2. To the bystander dude just before mile 1 on the run, who shouted “Good Effort!” as I ran by. Good effort?! Dammit I’m a teacher and I can’t think of when those words have passed my lips. You want to know why? Because it’s what you tell someone when they are sucking. I’m straight with the babies in a way that is much less condescending and still honest. This is not a good effort, fool! Don’t you see me winning?! I look great!

3. This is going to get its own post in the coming days. You know, I like life. And I wasn’t sure I was going to have one between the horn and the finish line. So when I crossed it, I was super happy. Shoot, I am still giggling when I think about it. As I retrieved my belongings, my energy was observed by others. Apparently I didn’t leave all I had on the course – otherwise, I wouldn’t be smiling. I wasn’t aware I was supposed to be miserable when it’s all done. I suppose I should have read my training notes more closely. I am just a beginner, after all. Forgive me for racing incorrectly. I promise next time I will be more bitter at the finish line.

But for now:

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I’m Gonna Have Another Birthday! Race Report, Part I

That. Was. Freaking. Awesome.

Part I of my St. Anthony’s race report will summarize the 99% that rocked.

The Swim

All right. This was the reason that I refused to make birthday plans. When I first started meeting fellow triathletes, they all said, “Do St. A’s, it’s great!” Then I signed up and they said, “Oh, the swim is rough!” Always ask for the full story before pulling out that credit card, y’all. It didn’t help that in my first two triathlons I totally panicked in the swim and did breaststroke the vast majority of the time because I was afraid to put my head in the water.

This time I had a game plan.

In the days leading up to the race, I had been all up in Romans. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” So I decided that reminding myself that I was surrounded by His love would be good to keep repeating in my head as I was swimming. I’m thankful that He gave me some of the calmest water and gorgeous weather I’ve ever seen to boot, tee hee! 🙂 I looked out at the endless buoys and said, “Okay, self. Just swim from one buoy to the next. That’s all we’re going to do.”

The horn sounds. I start to swim. I make it to the first buoy. “Hey Joan, you dead? Nope? Still surrounded by His love? Cool, next buoy!” Stroke, stroke, repeat! Sometimes a wave would catch me off guard. One time I swam a bit off course and a lifeguard redirected me. I found myself actually having fun! I had a cramp in my left hamstring and one in my right calf, but it wasn’t enough to stop me. It was the first time I had swum that distance without stopping at all! After God knows how many orange buoys, I made a right turn and There. It. Was. Land! OMG! 3 more buoys and then I will be getting my bike! I felt great! I wanted to laugh because I was so happy but decided that not taking in water was the better call. As I get closer, I hear my Mom’s voice shouting for me. A friendly volunteer was waiting to assist me up the stairs – one thing I hadn’t planned on was not having land legs; I’m thankful she was there! Whee, part one is done! Off to T1.

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The Bike

So while I’ve not feared death via Red Rocket, I had had a couple of falls when I first got her and was trying to clip in. She and I don’t exactly have the closest relationship. I – may have only ridden her twice between Feb 1 and the race yesterday. Maybe. I was refitted about a week and a half earlier but still didn’t actually test her out until I left T1, hahahahaha! I wheeled her out to the mount line, clipped in with my right foot, a bit apprehensive because my seat is now higher than I prefer. “Dammit, we are NOT falling today!” Boom. Lefty is clipped in. Off I go! “So uh. I guess USAT says I can’t listen to music, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think about music!” I started going through some of my favorite hymns in my head. Trying to remember lyrics got me through 5 miles! 🙂 I didn’t allow my lack of practice to mess with me, as I know that I will have lots of time to beat myself up re-evaluate after the race. Each time I started to feel fatigue, I would remind myself: “Every Stroke. Every Revolution. Every Step. God is with me.” I smiled, and much to the amusement of police officers, shouted with joy.

Around mile 12, I stopped. That’s right. Dead. Stop. I’m too much of a punk to take my hands off of the handlebars as I ride. This was a tough call for me to make, as I freaking hate stopping and starting on that bloody bike, but I figured that running out of energy/hydration was a bigger risk than falling, so I’m having a damn picnic with my Bonk Breaker and water in the middle of the race, tee hee. I started again, confident that I could do so without falling over. “Every Revolution.” Whee! My friend had told me the bike course was awesome, and I did find myself loving it. There were lots of lovely smells and sights! An organizer warned me about a sharp turn. I sloooooooowed down – and made it! “I did it!” I shouted. A cop watching said, “Not quite, you still have 6 miles to go.” I shouted back, “I was talking about the turn! You can’t bring me down!” I giggled and kept pedaling. One hill and a brick road later, the dismount sign appears. “This is it, Joanie! This is happening!” I dismount, unscathed. In to T2!

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The Run

I dig running. And not just because I perceive it to be the safest of my three disciplines. By the time I got here, I knew that I was going to finish. However, while I felt the most physically prepared for the run, I was the least mentally prepared. You see, those bricks that my coach put in my plan? Whoops! My legs felt fine but who knew that running right after the bike also had a mental purpose? Like, seriously. As I was running I started to think, “Dammmmmnnnnn I’m going to be racing for another hour! Lame!” Quickly, I decided it would be a sad hour if I kept thinking like that, so I switched back to the mantra. “Every step.” I was amused to see lots of bystanders cheering us on. A dude was even playing the violin! I thanked him each way as I passed. I saw lots of people that I know running in the opposite direction (yes, EVERYONE I know is faster than I am) and cheered them along. I complimented people who had cute outfits. Some time after mile 5, some one told me that the finishing chute was just ahead of me. I was doing it! I made the final left turn, was elated to see that there was still a 3 in front of the minutes and seconds, and started beaming. I heard people cheering me on. My timing chip beeps for the last time. I did it! Someone hands me a wet towel. I screamed with glee. “I’M NOT DEAD!”

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In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more alive. God is the best.

The Ultimate Copout

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Well, Red Rocket is ready for tomorrow. Good for her. Meanwhile, I’m waiting on dinner with a new friend:

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So my bike is in transition, I’ve got my race packet, and after I eat, off to the hotel I go to study the course map a bit and watch some of the Heat game before bed. As I was hanging around those I will be racing tomorrow, everyone seemed so happy and excited. I walked along the swim course and it seems like it took For. Bloody. Ever. What if I don’t belong here? I ask myself. Ooh wait, I’ve got a better one!

“How do I know The Lord wants me here.”

Now, let me say that I loathe when people play “the God card” for lack of a better term, in a way that is manipulative or disingenuous. But hey, it’s a good question for Christ followers to ask themselves at any given moment. Are your actions going to bring glory to God? Are they going to draw you closer to Him or pull you away? Maybe I feel out of place because the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE doesn’t want me here. Maybe tomorrow I’ll meet my end and see Jesus greeting me with a heavenly face palm. “Joan. 1500m in open water. What the hell? It’s as though you were asking to meet me 50 years early.”

All right. So let’s put the question to the test since I’ve got it on the table.

1. Will this action bring glory to God?

Well, I consider my weight loss to be a story of redemption. I am merely a steward of my body – I’m a soul with a body that God has given to me to maintain. I abused it with overeating and was blessed with more days to do better. I have been doing better at a healthier weight. Because I am healthier, I can love Him and those around me better. Tomorrow is pretty much classic Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Damn. Let’s see if it passes the next test.

2. Is this action going to draw me toward God or away from Him?

Considering that I’ve signed off Facebook and have been all up in the Bible (well I can’t see what my friends are up to – what is GOD up to lol!), this one is a pretty definite yes. I’ve said before that I tend to turn to God when I am most desperate and holy crap triathlon does it for me. That’s a whole heap of water in that Gulf of Mexico. He put it there. He’s in control. Thank goodness that I’m not.

Ugh. This copout didn’t work. Maybe I’ll oversleep. 😉

I’m even smarter than I thought, except not really

About 10 years ago, when I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I said it was because I loved being a student and that learning to teach would make me a better student. One look at my résumé will reveal that indeed, I love school. Why not go to school every day and get paid for it? I’ll switch teams!

I had no idea how right I was at the time.

You see, when I said that I wanted to be a better student, my thinking was limited. The bright-eyed and bushy tailed performance major simply figured teaching music was a fantastic way to play music better. I wasn’t wrong – the studies of pedagogy and education have helped me to become a much better pianist with a greater understanding of learning and performing. I’ve frequently said that before graduate school, I knew how to play the piano but not how to play the piano. Marinate on that for a moment! 😉 I’m so thankful that while that is no longer the case, I am in a position where I am able to continue growing not just as music teacher but music student. Yay.

But there’s so much more!

My babies like to make conversation with me at work, and today was no different. In fact, because it is FCAT week, any chance to talk about anything with anyone about something not testing is welcome. I found myself talking to a 9 year old triathlete who is going to do the Kids’ Triathlon at St. Anthony’s this weekend. I listened to her story, which basically went like this:

“It’s going to be so much fun! I practice swimming – I’m not very good at it but I love doing it! I got a new bike for Christmas. Sometimes I fall off but then I get back on and go again. I like to walk and run 5ks with my Grandma. It’s no big deal.”

So, what you’re telling me is that you’re going to have fun despite knowing that you have flaws? Most. Important. Lesson. Ever. She’s put in her training – however imperfectly – and is just going to go out there tomorrow and have a freaking blast. Dammit, why haven’t I learned that lesson yet?

I guess I should stay in school.

I love how I wait ’til the last minute to try Him.

If you’ve had the “pleasure” of interacting with me this week, you may have noticed I’ve not been my usual, cheery self. I’ve been majorly flipping out about Sunday’s race, to the point where I am seeing it show up in my teaching (being short-tempered with the babies) and have temporarily disabled my Facebook account so I can avoid questions and chatter about it. My feeling had evolved from terror to resignation. “Well. Race day is coming. Nothing I can do. Woe is me.”

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Anyone who knows me well knows that I start to shut down and pull away from others when I need support the most. This applies in all of my relationships, including my vertical one. When life is awesome (which it is the vast majority of the time), I find it much easier to give thanks to God than to ask for help. I’ve found myself so desperate these last few days that even stubborn lost lamb Lady J knows that prayer is a good idea. “Hey God. Gimme a good one from the word.”

What a shock. He did.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39 NIV)

Hey, you guys! That part that I italicized – that’s GOT to include scary ass races, right? So I’m covered! I’m not alone now, I won’t be before I start on Sunday, and no matter what happens after that, He’s always with me.

So while I’m not feeling more confident, I am decidedly less panicked. Can’t nobody tell me miracles aren’t real! Victories aren’t just for finish lines, you know. 🙂

Should I Be Here? The Starting Line

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Oh, Jessie Spano. At least you were excited about going on stage. Now that there’s only a week between me and my first Olympic distance triathlon, all I feel is this:

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That’s right. Ambivalence at best, sheer terror at worst. And no one seems to understand! People keep telling me that I should have no fear, or that I’m going to have fun, but I am so hesitant about it that I won’t even commit to making birthday plans because it feels presumptuous to assume that I will see it! News of a fellow triathlete’s death at a race yesterday simply serves to justify my fear. Seriously. What. Am. I. Doing.

But this feeling is not new for me. You see, I was a music major. A music performance major. Which, is like, exactly the same as being a triathlete. From the extreme talent of some to the extreme egos of others. Hours upon hours of training for one event for which you can never be totally sure you’ve sufficiently prepared yourself. Where people, either as a result of ignorance, insecurity, or sheer jealousy, say things as you’re preparing that make you wonder why you are bothering – if you’re not grounded properly, that is. Where people watch and comment upon your performance and give feedback, solicited or not. Conversely, there are those who say how awesome it is going to be whom I tend to simply look at as though they have two heads. Or one really ugly one. I’ll give triathlon this – I am significantly less nervous going on stage now because I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I’ll make it through the performance alive, even if it goes poorly. Can’t say that when I’m on the beach.

So, I’m thinking, okay, self. Why the hell ARE you doing this? It’s not like college or graduate school where your career is depending on it. I could quit and in the grand scheme of things it wouldn’t be life-changing.

Or would it?

I have a choice before me. At 8:13 AM next Sunday, I can be quivering on the beach or comfortable in my bed. I know how I’m going to feel on that coastline. It’s not going to be nice. But the bed would be worse. I would be wondering what it would be like fighting big ass waves. I would wonder what the shore looked like as I passed the final buoy. I would wonder how tired I would be after T2 after managing not to fall off of my bike. And I would definitely wonder how awesome it would feel to cross the finish line after my longest race to date. I can’t live with that wondering, man.

So yeah. I’m scared as hell! Brave enough to show up anyway! My taper (lowering my training levels) was started a bit early due to the lovely hugs and germs of my students, but hey, life happens. Just like those fabulous college days, I’m reflecting on the past few months of my life wondering if I could have done more. The answer is the same as it was then – of course! Here’s hoping that I am on the brave side of the line between courageous athlete/complete idiot.

Last thought – you know what mess people need to stop right now? Saying that something someone else finds awful wasn’t really that bad. I forbid it in my classroom (when that kid who isn’t usually that bright comments how easy something is when someone else is struggling) and I wish I had the power to do so in real life. It serves no other purpose than to inflate the ego of the person reacting. If you see someone struggling with something, how about helping him/her change their perspective OR sharing the knowledge that you have without your personal assessment of its difficulty level? Until this happens, fellow scaredy-cats – remember that the number one cause of jackass behavior is insecurity. Surround yourself with uplifting people who will remind you why you keep signing up for all this foolishness.

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