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

Archive for August, 2014

“If you practice, you will improve,” said the music teacher. Ride Report

In my continued effort to pretend I don’t need others, I found a ride that nobody I knew was doing. Then preceded to tell no one about it until I figured plans were already in place for rides. Sweet!

I woke up this morning at 4 am. The ride was supposed to leave at 7. I wanted to allow for an hour and a half to arrive by 6:30, but of course I 1) left a bit later than I wanted to, 2) my bike almost fell off the rack because my half-awake brain didn’t do it properly, and 3) I ended up having to stop to use the restroom before I arrived. This part of Florida, y’all – I am very much a city girl. This ain’t the city. When I ran into a Bob Evans to use the restroom, people looked at me like I could be famous! “Who is this athletic looking black woman?” You guys, I’m only that fast when I have to go REALLY badly. But I digress.

I finally arrive at 6:55, but everyone was still around! I learned that the ride start had been postponed to 7:30. I win! I had time to pick up my packet and put it in my car. Then I noticed everyone was gone. I went back inside and inquired, where I got a blank stare. They did tell me, however, that the course was well marked. I grabbed a map and off I went. The wrong way, of course. I never said I looked at the map. “Where are these markings?!”

I turned back to go to the start where I saw a few more people. This was when I learned that the turn signs were spray painted on the ground and not signs like in running races. “Oh! I can probs do this.” Off I went – by myself for about 5 miles. Then this adorable dude came from behind me. Totes. Adorbs. He smelled good, too. We rode together for maybe 5 miles and I was so bummed because I was admiring his ability to eat a banana while on the bike – and more – before he turned to do the shorter distance! *tears* I pressed on.

Rural Florida. Gorgeous. Smelly. Hot. Lonely. It’s one thing to ride with no one you know but quite another to ride with NO ONE. This is the part where people are like “told ya so!” I had my first near incident with a stupid truck that sat on the opposite side of the road and decided to cross the street just as I was passing. I had to swerve on to the other side to miss him. I was pleased that I was 1) not dead and 2) able to react that quickly. I will say that while I missed seeing humans much of the time, I did a lot more of the playing with my gears that Coachie had been talking about. It really forced me to dig deep and focus on what I was doing. I FINALLY feel like I am getting the hang of big girl pedaling and internalizing what it is supposed to feel like. I was able to focus on such things because my stupid ego wasn’t in the way. Not JUST that, but I have been known to talk to people and express genuine concern and empathy as I train along side them. However, i found myself gleeful when I saw other human cyclists in front of me. I worked to catch up to them – just to say hi! The chick was like “Nice to have someone to pass, eh?” I was too tired to reply but it really wasn’t! I was just excited they weren’t mailboxes like I had thought! People!

I stopped when I wanted. I took gel and water when I wanted – and needed. I walked/ran my bike over a super scary railroad track and a big ass intersection. Better to live to ride another day, yeah? There were rest stops with OMG INDOOR PLUMBING!!! These cyclists are really onto something – runners need to get it together. I stopped briefly when a lady looked lost. Turns out the person she was SUPPOSED to ride with decided to hammer and left her in the dust without a map! Seeeeeee what can happen when you ride with people? ๐Ÿ˜‰

After mile 50, I started hearing angry voices. “Joan. This is silly. Wiser people are chillin’ with mimosas and frittatas. Your stupid ass is out here on a bike. You have a car. WHAT THE HELL.” Alas, continuing to ride my bike was the only way back to my car. I loved how the middle of the route was flat and as I became more fatigued, the organizers gave me the hills. Thanks for that. While I think I prefer the ebb and flow of hill riding, my legs were not having it. I’m not sure how, but I made another wrong turn. By this time, I knew I was close to the finish. I decided to grab my phone and put in the address and have the GPS guide me back. Of course, I passed both my hotel and a Dunkin Donuts. “Focus.” Sigh. Moreover, I had to stop at a few lights. On one restart, I almost didn’t make it back onto the saddle because my SHORTS got caught on it. You read that right. I almost got taken out by my shorts. Thankfully, I lived to blog about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Maybe Red Rocket isn’t so bad. 29 days.

NB – re: cute guy toward the beginning? He did the 31 mile route. Do I really need someone in my life who doesn’t go long? Sigh I miss him anyway.

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Slurp: An Anniversary Story

I rode my bike today.

This should not be particularly noteworthy. I have registered for a triathlon, after all. It makes sense that I would prepare myself by regularly riding my bike, right? Especially because the second leg of the race comprises just under 80% of the miles covered. Alas – when was the last time I rode my bike before today? Uh. Some time in July. The evidence of my slackerdom was on my legs, as my triathlon tan had just about disappeared. Whoops!

Before I write about today’s ride, I’d like to reflect on the day she and I became one. On August 20, 2013, I handed a check to my fabulously patient bike shop manager. I asked my father to be a witness to the occasion (he’s an ordained minister and this union was KIND OF a big deal) and take pictures.

There she is; she likes food just like me

There she is; she likes food just like me

Money changes everything.

Money changes everything.

I had completed a duathlon on my bike from Christmas 1994 and envisioned myself getting fairly serious. I thought it prudent to purchase a road bike on which I could be more comfortable for longer distances. Just look at her. Ain’t she purty? I knew I could be proud to be seen with her. Red Rocket. That’s my girl, y’all. But, as with every relationship, nothing is perfect.

The clips.

I tried using clipless pedals and it was JUST. NOT. WORKING. I would just stare at her; say hi, and keep walking inside. I had had a goal of using them by my next race; an Olympic distance duathlon, but I wasn’t comfortable, so I rode with flat pedals. We still had a good time. I completed my first triathlon with the flat pedals as well. I started to feel better. I was clipping in successfully by my second triathlon in January of 2014. My mother even said we looked good together! It’s nice when Mom approves, amirite?!

But that wasn’t enough.

Apparently, she wanted her seat higher. Red Rocket is into legs and butts, I guess. “But then I can’t touch the ground when I stop!” I protested. What Red Rocket wants, she gets, I’ve learned. It’s the only way to peace. Still, passive aggressive partner that I am, I had her adjusted in early April and didn’t ride her again until my first Olympic distance triathlon at the end of the month. Whoops! We made it through, though. I was observed smiling many times on the bike course. We then spent a bit more time together, preparing for my next race in May. I rode her even faster and more confidently.

Then – summer. As I dealt with plantar fasciitis and Beethoven and them, I started neglecting Red Rocket again. Every time I turn around there is something else she “needs.” “Give me air.” “Get a flat kit.” “Spend time with me.” You know how it is. However, if you read my blog, you know how I am too. I’d often rather ignore a problem than deal with it.

Oh, Red Rocket. You’re so…complicated. I take you as you are, but you want me to learn how to use a pump. You want me to wash you. You want me to learn how to fix you in case something happens. You want me to KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU. And to top it all off – you want me to spend time with you at regularly scheduled intervals? I don’t know if I can handle this.

So on Wednesday of this week, when I arrived home from work, I said “Sup, happy anniversary, we’ll go out this weekend.” She looked dusty and sad. I’m living my life, man. I just ordered dinner for myself and went to spin class. That’s how I roll. Cold as ice.

This morning, I woke up, thinking it was Friday. “Gotta work out before I go to…dammit. No work. Long ride today.” As I prepared to leave the house, I didn’t smile once. I usually crack jokes to myself in the morning and laugh. Not so today. In fact, the first time I smiled was when I was on the highway and I thought I saw flashing lights behind me. Though I wasn’t speeding, I thought, “Yes! I’m gonna get pulled over and miss my group! Then I can go home and go back to bed! Points on my license > riding my bike.” Kinda sick.

Driving record unscathed, I reached my destination. I saw my dedicated Coachie about to embark on a 5710472037 mile ride. She hugged me and I confessed that my relationship was estranged. She didn’t beat me up, but she probably was just saving her energy for her own ride. I met my group. “Great, my two favorite things; being vulnerable in front of others and riding my bike. It’s gonna be a fantastic day.”

Off we went. Important takeaways:

1. Red Rocket really likes when I pump her tires properly. My last ride in July felt like hell because they were at 40 and 60 PSI. I’ve since learned (again) how to properly inflate them. All by myself! This ride just felt like hell because it was. But it was made less hellish by

2. Humans. Other humans. Other human triathletes who have real problems like I do but still are working them out. As much as I would like to not need other people, I needed them today. Some were even encouraging, and most were inspiring. Who knew? Everyone? Shut up.

3. I need proper pedicures for long rides. I just do.

36 days.

N.B. – “slurp” is the sound of my sucking it up. I’ve decided I want to survive the race.

The Future Is Now

This girl has been in panic mode, y’all. Since my recital ended, I have allowed the beginning of the school year and the worst decision I’ve made since St. Anthony’s to suck the joy from my life. As a perfectionist, if I miss any training session for any reason, I tend to let it snowball. “Why bother? I missed one. Might as well miss the next one.” I also am a big time procrastinator…”Lesson plans – they can wait, right?” I think the latter plays into the former, in that I fear falling short so much that I simply choose not to do whatever it is I’m supposed to do. Punk.

As I look in life’s rearview mirror, I see some pretty neat stuff. My first three years in the classroom have flown by. Races keep freaking me out and then boom – there’s a string of finish lines. I look forward and I see

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Oh, dear.

Past success = future pressure. While I’m still young, I’m not quite a novice teacher any longer. It may be my first 70.3 but it feels disingenuous to say I’m new to racing. I should know some things; otherwise, registering for this would be a death wish. Coachie wouldn’t let me do that, right?! If I don’t keep getting better that pretty much makes me a loser.

So I’ve been back at work, pre-planning, freaking the hell out. “OMG these people are just going to keep expecting more. More. MORE!” What if I don’t have any more? Ironically, I’ve been feeling more panicked than I had as a first-year teacher, as I logically reminded myself that it was silly to expect perfection from a beginner. It makes complete sense to demand perfection from a fourth-year teacher, of course. I should know EVERYTHING. I’ve been grumbling, wondering if I should be in education, music – adulthood! You know, all those things in which I’m inadequate.

And then – I got my class rosters. All 48257204740572 of them. #specialistlife

As I started seeing the familiar names, I began to smile. I’m excited to get and give as many hugs as I have rosters. Suddenly, I remembered what I am going to ask them to do. “Try something new. Suck at it. Believe you can get better. Keep going. If you still suck, keep going.” Not because you’ll get in trouble with mom or dad or Ms. Lady J, but because you have no idea of what you’re capable. I want them to see so much success in their rearview mirrors that they forget their missteps. Way better to have missteps than missed opportunities. I will ask them to embrace their present in order to maximize the possibilities for their future. Right. Now.

Welp. Guess I should do the same.

Running Relationships Ragged. Running, Relationships Ragged. Running Relationship’s Ragged! Dammit.

I. Running Relationships Ragged

I’m basically a 5 year old child. Don’t let the full time job and post-pubescent body fool you – you’re dealing with a kid. Anything is fun until I HAVE to do it. From cleaning to practicing music to training for triathlon, once you put a requirement on it the fun is zapped out. I have 43 days to this stupid race and I can’t help but wonder if I would enjoy time on my feet, bike, and in the water more if I didn’t have this over my head like a bloody anvil. I told Coachie that getting my training plan for the first time was like getting a ring on it and I. Am. A. Commitment. Phobe. I suppose I am making progress because while I’m not sure that I will finish, I’m sure I’ll live to see dinner time on September 28. Lord willing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wasn’t comfortable saying that just a short time ago. I will think twice about signing up for a race where the peak of my training coincides with the most stressful part of my year – the beginning of school. When do I typically find my groove? End of September. When is the race? End of September. Whoops! I find myself not wanting to teach or train and I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that’s stress talking. I – may have bitten off more than I can chew, and that’s a damn shame when it doesn’t taste good…

II. Running, Relationships Ragged

I deal with stress in what some may say is an unhealthy manner – the more help I need, the less likely I am to ask for it. I’m naturally introverted and don’t trust people easily. When I am stressed, I am liable to cut off even my close ones. If you need something from me, I’m happy to give to you, but no way in hell will I give you an opportunity to help me. 1. That would require me to be vulnerable and 2. You could mess up and why risk my kicking you out of the circle? Ignorance is bliss among friends, right? 3M has been putting up with my gloom all week. How tiring it must be to call me friend when not everything is going perfectly. I see evidence of my fallibility as soon as I get out of bed (not in the mirror though, heyyyyyy), and yet I still try to hide my imperfections from people whom I believe love me. It wears on me emotionally and I’m sure it must on them too. So – my bad. Probs not gonna change anytime soon though; let’s get drinks.

III. Running Relationship’s Ragged

Oh, running. My first love. Remember those good old days when I was a beginner and with every step I saw unicorns and rainbows? All the progress we used to make together? I guess all that is OVER because I feel as though I’m regressing. I’m not able to run as fast as I did last year (yeah yeah I’m trying to balance running with two other sports now but don’t bother me with all these facts) and it sucks. Every time I go for a run I’m like, “remember when I was young and spry? Sigh.” It is difficult to know which part of me to listen to – the part that says, “hey, don’t do that speedwork because your foot hurts,” or “you know you’re a punk and hate doing things you have to do! Suck it up!” Both of those are true and poor running is caught in the middle.

Dammit

What hasn’t changed from awaiting my first 70.3 vs my first Olympic is the fact that I’m going to show up because I know how pissed I will be if I don’t try. All this perseverance and hope is really a drain, guys.

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Just Another Day.

47 days to go.

I went to bed last night with a plan to complete both my bike and my run before I had to go to work. While I woke up on time, I felt pretty blah. Not just physically, but mentally. One of the great things about triathlon is that if I don’t feel like running today, I can do tomorrow’s swim and I often will feel up to running the next day. At the moment, the only thing I wanted to do was curl up in bed until I absolutely had to awaken. I made myself get up and do my run.

Whatever.

Yes, I’m glad I did it, but I’m not giving myself any accolades. I’m training for a race. I’m supposed to run. I’m trying to maintain/lose weight. I’m supposed to get out of bed to work out even when I don’t feel like it. As I was running, all I could think about was how I’m gonna have to keep doing this for the rest of my life and how age will bring about even less desirable results. I thought of something I’d seen recently –

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You know what I felt when I read that? Envy. I am envious of the person who can both acknowledge her progress and be pleased with where she is at the moment, despite where others may be. Just speaking of my physical progress, I am self-aware enough to recognize the place from which I’ve come. I started at 200 pounds last January, not even able to run a mile. I was bitching to myself this morning doing 400s, thinking to myself that my sprint is someone’s recovery day. I am not listing my pace only because I would hate for anyone not as fast as I am (logically, this person must exist) to read this and feel discouraged. I’ve registered for a Half-Ironman and it’s not implausible that I will complete it. That’s pretty significant progress.

Whatever.

I couldn’t help but think of the tragic death of Robin Williams yesterday. He has been making me laugh since I was a Girl J. Just last week, I was watching his special Weapons of Self-Destruction with a new appreciation for his brilliance and his willingness to put himself out there so honestly. I think of his great success, the love he seemed to have in his life from his close family, and it breaks my heart to think of how lonely and desperate he must have felt to take his own life despite his circumstance.

As the news broke last night, a recurring theme emerged quickly. “If you’re feeling depressed, talk to someone. Reach out. Know you are loved.” Sigh. When depression sets in, knowledge is NOT power. In a strange twist, the awareness of all the good in one’s life can play into feeling guilty for being depressed. Depression multiplies.

I consider:

– I come from – and have – two incredibly loving, still married parents,
– I have a full time job in the field for which I received formal training,
– I have no major health concerns,
– There are many people in my life whom I would call friend – and actually mean it, and
– There’s no reason for me to expect that any of the above will change any time soon.

Moreover, I’m Christian, which means I don’t even (read: shouldn’t even) put the most stock in the things I listed. My trust is not in Wells Fargo, y’all. And for the bonus round, I’m what many would consider physically attractive, and let’s be real, the world is kinder to prettier faces. Yet I was thinking to myself this morning that it would make sense to spend the day in bed. There’s someone who can do everything that I do better. I am never going to be everything that I can be.

THIS. This is why it’s so difficult to share these feelings with others. You see the blessings around you and you can hear the responses of your loved ones before they even open their mouths. “Don’t you realize all that you have? How many people would love to be where you are?” So you just keep your mouth shut and smile and laugh. Anything to get through the rest of the day. Just – another day.

I think I made a mistake.

Question: What’s a clear sign you aren’t having a good workout?

Answer: When you start blogging in the middle of it.

Yup. I’m a quitter. The mistake to which I refer is not today’s suckful workout. I’m talmbout this foolishness right here:

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What. Was. I. Thinking.

I barely know how my bike works. 13.1 miles on my feet wears me out by itself. The swim – eh. But for 70.3 miles I should feel better than eh. Moreover, my body is strong in relation to my mind. I am weak and this is not for the weak! You know what I found myself thinking during the workouts that I actually did this week? “I miss being 200 pounds.” I don’t think it was easier on my mind, and it definitely wasn’t easier on my body, but damn. I don’t think I’m cut out for this.

50 days.

Sooooo…why did YOUUUUU clap? Recital Report, Part III

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Among the many things for which I am thankful is a well-functioning frontal lobe. It keeps me from asking stupid ass questions such as the one posed in the title. However, as I was giving (getting?) hugs after my performance, people seemed to be answering this question though I did not ask it.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I bloody hate logistics. I CAN be an organized person, but because of my tendency toward perfectionism I usually shut down and wait until the absolute last minute to execute plans. One of the things I put off was deciding whom to invite. Of course, there were the people whom I knew love Lady J; por ejemplo, Mom and Dad had invested, say, $6920572047204 into my piano lessons. They’ll probably come check it out. Then there are the friends who are there to listen to me meltdown about the latest problems with my dead guy friends. Those were easy.

I’d like to say if I were performing popular music, inviting people would have been more of a no-brainer. Alas, I am an overthinker anyhow and likely would have operated with similar hesitancy. My program went a lil sumthin like dis:

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People like what they know. Perhaps most could pick Beethoven (his likeness, not his music) out of a lineup, but the others? I didn’t want people to be bored. I settled on inviting people whom I figured would be amused to see me doing something that they don’t normally see. How often do non-musicians attend piano recitals of people to whom they did not give birth? People do things for the sake of novelty, right?

I reach the end of the recital. I get the claps. I wouldn’t expect anything less because applause is just good manners. People hand out standing ovations like I hand out candy to bribe my students to behave. Whatever keeps society running more smoothly, right? Most of the feedback fell into one of two categories:

1. You played some of my favorite pieces.

Of course. Moonlight Sonata and Clair de Lune. I picked my program with no regard to the wishes of my audience, so I suppose I was fortunate. “While I wasn’t surprised that this was said, I was surprised to learn that people were thankful that I played something familiar. I totally hadn’t thought how that would affect how my recital was received. I, too, am ‘guilty’ of preferring what I know. “It was really
cool to hear Clair de Lune performed live!” That made me smile. I got to bring people closer to something they already knew.

2. Cool. Weird, but cool.

“Man. You were really saying something up there. I don’t know what it was! But you sure said it.”

I’m pretty sure that’s the best review I’ve ever gotten. Thanks, Uncle. It spoke to the fact that many people don’t choose to listen to Classical instrumental music. Words give us cues. I REALLY take for granted that sometimes it’s easy to feel lost without that guide. If your ear isn’t ready, Mozart can sound like Schoenberg. And that’s a DAMN shame. I was pleased that people were able to enjoy the program without having a map, so to speak.

I’ve written previously about why I think people really clap for a performance. Lady J’s got some ovaries on her. I am the most at peace I’ve ever been about a performance. I am excited to prepare another recital. While I am a competent pianist, I don’t think that’s my greatest strength. I think it’s – well, this. I’m VERY mortal and I put it out there. Usually unapologetically. Truth? I can’t stand my people. Classical musicians, I mean. We make triathletes seem gentle and humble, and that is no small feat. I had to think twice about blogging about my recital because throughout school it felt like showing weakness was not allowed. Ever. Dammit, I’ve got feelings. I believe I reach people by sharing them. We play the greatest music in the world. Let’s not make it less accessible by being jerks because we put the time in.

In Him, I am strong. Rar. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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