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Archive for the ‘Epiphany’ Category

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.

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

(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.

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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!

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

Marvelous

Lady J is on her way home!

In my previous post, I was in the air headed north, and I am blessed to be headed the opposite direction, returning to my family and work. Our flight was delayed three times, only to be moved forward again (take away – if they say to be at your gate at your original time, they mean it), leaving plenty of time for questions. What is the cause of the delay? Weather? Maintenance? Is this going to be the type of flight where I will be wondering if my affairs are in order?

At take off, of course, I smell something strong. “Oh my gosh this could be it.” The flight attendant had said we could anticipate a smooth flight once we were at cruising altitude and I am here to tell you WE HAVE NOT REACHED IT YET. The most important question remains –

Should I relax and enjoy it? 

I always get window seats because I have a tendency to get claustrophobic and I love marveling at creation. Right now, I see nothing but a wing jutting out into cloudy darkness. I’ve written in this space many times that while I intellectually grasp that there is not a method of travel more statistically safe than this, I do not find myself clenching on car, bus, or subway rides. And yet, being up here is still marvelous. It is incredible that in mere hours I can be in a completely different part of the country, visiting people that I love. How wondrous that people have worked and are working continuously to make this more efficient and comfortable. In moments, I am going to be able to hit the publish button from 35,000 feet in the air. Plus, someone is going to come down the aisle shortly with some excellent snacks.

I have always looked at the term “first world problems” skeptically, because it seems like a way to dismiss the emotions of others. As a woman of faith, I’ve had no problem that cannot make me look toward the Lord for guidance. Dammit if some bumps don’t remind me to make sure my priorities are right. These bumps are nothing if not “self-inflicted,” as I wouldn’t be feeling them if I hadn’t wanted to have this amazing getaway.

Update: THIS PILOT IS A LIAR HE SAID THE BUMPS WOULD END AT CRUISING ALTITUDE AND IT WAS DEFINITELY FAKE NEWS

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I ain’t ready.

I suppose even the turbulence is marvelous in its own sneaky way, as I have no choice but to surrender to His will and the crew’s expertise. What could be healthier than remembering how little control I have?

More marvelous travel, please!

S-M-R-T Ass! Race Report

The morning was cool and beautiful at 6:45 as Adonis and I left the house for the race. It was a nice change from the week, which had been rainy and/or cold. We found parking close by the race site and strolled through adorable Safety Harbor as we looked for packet pickup. It was nice being there early enough before the race not to have to rush and to have time to explore, with much love to my perpetually late parents. 🙂

3M was running the 10K, so we went to the finish line to cheer her on. She reported it being hot and I hoped foolishly that I wouldn’t feel the same way, although my race didn’t start for another 40 minutes.

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I went to the bathroom for a 2nd time since arriving – I’m terribly paranoid about needing to go during a race, especially a shorter distance one. I even have a policy to stop drinking about 30 minutes prior. Since the race was in a public park, we had the option of *gasp* indoor plumbing! Amazing! That 15 minute wait in line was totally worth it. I took the time in line to finalize my race playlist. 33 minutes and change.

Adonis and 3M walked with me to the start line. As I found an appropriate place to corral myself, it dawned on me that I had neglected to warm up. I groaned to myself and hoped I would still have a good race. As the horn sounded, I wrapped up my obligatory tears and sniffles at the start of races and started toward the timing mat. I started my Garmin and my music and off I went.

I felt incredibly determined and focused with my first steps. I was well-rested and feeling confident. Quite frankly, I felt like a badass. Then I felt silly for feeling like a badass with my moderate to slow ass pace. “Who am I to feel like a bad ass in the dead ass center of the pack?” Sigh. I laughed inwardly at my ridiculous self-talk – I was already breathing too heavily to do anything but smile outwardly. How else am I supposed to feel as I am running? There’s no pace threshold at which I should be allowed to feel confident – I have been training regularly and I deserve to feel good RIGHT. NOW, just before making my first turn.

The first mile went by more quickly than I expected. As I passed the mile marker and my watch went off, fewer than 11 minutes had gone by. I pumped my fist and pointed one finger up, my way of thanking God for each mile and asking humbly to carry my legs through the remainder. I saw a sign that read “You are NOT almost there.” I was feeling good enough to laugh until I saw that there was a looooong incline ahead. Not cool – and I don’t just mean how 3M told me it was not cool (she was right, by the way). I grimaced and just pushed forward. I regretted not stopping at the first water stop and hoped there would be one at the top, but alas, it did not come until much later. The incline marked the turn around and I tried to motivate myself by reminding myself I would have a sweet downhill in a little while.

Meanwhile, in my pocket, my amazing playlist was thrown off by the fact that I had forgotten to lock the screen on my phone, so I was now hearing my songs go back and forth and finally one just stuck on repeat. I had planned it so meticulously and it was failing, but I thought to myself, “at least it’s a long one. I hear this about 2 and a half more times and then I’m done.” My 2nd mile took me more than 11 minutes, but I was still on track for my 33 and change despite my having lost my playlist to help me track. I felt slow and tired and I was now at the point I reach every race – why am I doing this, again? I got a reprieve at a water stop and walked for a brief moment. I took the time to reorient my thinking into something positive and told myself I would start running again on the one – it’s totally normal to plan intervals based on downbeats, amirite – and did it.

I dug for a final gear that I could not seem to find. That incline and the weather had pushed me and I realized I was doing my best. Nothing left to do but just go to the finish, and thankfully, it was near. I glanced at the timing clock and I knew I couldn’t slow down if I wanted 33 and change not to become 34 and change. I saw 3M at the chute but I couldn’t shout out because I was damn near out of gas. Adonis saw me and reached out his hand and I managed to high five him. I high fived another stranger as I gave my last effort to the finish.

Boom. 33:43. Down from 35:27 four weeks ago. Goal met. I am S-M-R-T. ❤

 

Well Done, Miss

January 31. Just like that. Here are some key stats:

  • Weight lost: 0 pounds
  • Miles run: 54.2
  • Races run: 1
  • Days practiced: I don’t know, but I played well in a recital, so enough for now

This begs the question – how well am I resisting?

I. The temptation to overeat

I am breaking even. I will confess that I regret weighing myself a few days ago and seeing that, in that I was a bit less motivated to run. Naturally, everything is fitting the same way, but you know, sometimes you just hope to step on the scale and see a miracle. 🙂

II. Nonlinear progress

Although the scale is not budging, I can’t be mad because I’ve been eating whatever and it has been delicious. That being said, I am seeing my resting heart rate come down and I am getting better sleep, so the running is not a waste. I’ve got do to better in February, though, because I’ve got a 10 miler with The Mentor coming up and I already have no hope of keeping up so I’d rather not have negative hope and extra weight.

III. Comparing Myself to Others

I’m especially impressed with myself because I went to a recital and heard some really talented teachers, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. Playing the piano can be fun and I think I have a specific calling, so for today, I’m secure. I know someone else could be doing it, but I don’t see anyone else around doing it for right now, and here I am, living life, so I may as well make the best of it.

IV. Allowing the evil one to steal my joy

This past week, I have been looking for any reason to laugh. At myself, with my colleagues and friends, at anything. I’m just ready for a good time even though nothing is really different. When I am happy, the key is to allow it even though I suspect in a week or two I will feel as though the world is ending.

V. Minimizing my accomplishments

I guess 1 through 4 aren’t too bad.

VI. Not prioritizing my time. 

I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to play this past month and that I am on track to complete my 1019 km in 2019! It has been tricky but I’ve been making it work. However, I know that I have to be feeling positive to feel like it is worth it. I was extremely tempted to skip my running for the week because my weight hadn’t moved, but I reminded myself to not minimize my accomplishments, which helps me to prioritize my time.

Onto February:

  1. Weight loss: 5-7 pounds
  2. Miles run: at least 54
  3. Races run: 2
  4. Days practiced: whatever I need to be able to play through the first movement of Florence Price’s Piano Sonata.

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Can My Cycle Be Broken?

My life is fantastic. Until about 10 days ago, it was unbearable.

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I know all women experience some degree of mood swings, but I am starting to think that feeling like I have amounted to nothing and should just give up for half of the year is a problem, to say the least. It is January 27 and I am on track with my running goals and just played successfully in a recital. I just had a student at work sing with the All-State Elementary Chorus, and generally my students seem to be learning and enjoying music. However, depending on what day of the month it is, my life seems to be falling apart.

I have been getting good sleep and regular exercise. I can’t say that I remember it being quite so dramatic when I was at a lower weight. I don’t care to go on a lower carbohydrate diet, but I keep reading that it would be good for PCOS, which I was diagnosed with 15 years ago. I know I have a tendency toward anxiety and depression. I don’t want my running to slow (it’s slow enough as it is) because I’m not having so many carbs. What are my next steps? Nutritionist? Therapist? I feel like if I could have the feeling I feel on the 3rd day of my period all month long, I would be the most productive person in the world. It is difficult to enjoy being happy when I know that I am going to wish for the rapture by the 10th of each month. Like I said two weeks ago, I have no choice but to push forward.

 

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