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

Posts tagged ‘christianity’

The Little Piano Girl

“That’s me!” says the 31 year old woman.

When I feel miserable, it’s typically a result of one thing – my chronic feeling of inadequacy. It is frustrating to feel as though no matter what I do, no matter how much education or experience I attain, the target of success moves continually. Life is a seemingly endless race and death is the finish line.

How is that for an inspirational message for the Christmas season?


All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
    or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
    and have given us over to[b] our sins.

Isaiah 64:6-7 (NIV)

I suppose what needs changing is not so much that I am feeling like the filthy rags the prophet Isaiah describes, but rather why I do. Feeling badly because I feel inadequate can only be the result of a misplaced idea of what adequacy truly is. I am more than adequate, not because of the reality of what I may or may not accomplish, but because of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. As I played piano once more this Christmas season, I realized that the song that resonated most with me was “The Little Drummer Boy.” There truly is nothing I can do that measures up to what God has done for me, this year, in past years, and in all the years to come. I play my little piano in the hopes of serving Him. May the Prince of Peace grant me the peace of finally coming to grips with the Source of my adequacy, and may I do so before my finish line.

prince-of-peace

Advertisements

God, Garmin, and Good Judgment. Race Report

Perfume. 

Lipstick. 

Earrings. 

Go to the bathroom as much as possible. 

Thank God for all He has provided me, also think of sins for which I need forgiveness so earthly payment doesn’t come due during the race. 

The last one in that checklist (perhaps the last two, tee hee) especially should indicate my level of anxiety. I try, imperfectly of course, to be thankful regularly, and I don’t think of God as my “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of partner, but if there’s any day that I need a solid from the Lord, it’s today. The fabulous 3M had just texted me an excerpt from Hebrews 12, something I had reminded myself before my 70.3 and was trying to keep in mind –

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

Yes, Joan. While there is joy at the finish line set before me, the marathon is not the cross. Remember this today. Any pain I experience, while important to God, likely won’t approach crucifixion levels. 

I found the 5:45 pacer and asked him what his plan was. Murray said he was going to run for 2 minutes at about 12 min mile pace and do a brisk walk for 1 minute. He said that while he’s not an official Galloway pacer, running steadily at a 13:10 pace seemed too slow. Fair enough! I figured I wouldn’t get in trouble and go out too fast if I chilled with Murray, so I lined up with him in the corral after hugging my amazing family and saying a prayer with them. 


The horn for which I’ve trained for months finally sounded. I wiped away tears of excitement and awe that this day is really here and walked toward the timing mat. The French horn opening of the first movement of Brahms 1st piano concerto set the mood in my ears for this part of my journey – grand, expansive, RUBATO! Not. Too. Fast. I stayed close to Murray* at the very beginning, but something didn’t feel right about it. I let him go and just paid attention to my Garmin. Mile 1 passes and I look down at my watch. 12:43. And Mr. 5:45 is AHEAD of me. Nope. 

A lady sidled up to me and asked what my plan was. “2/1, stay alive, finish under 6!” I replied. “Me too!” she answered. 

I need you to understand this. I had imagined that I might make a friend or two on the way to the finish line. It had been immensely helpful to me during my 70.3 to do the run with someone, and I will never forget her. So when I say that I was open to running the race with someone else despite preferring to train alone, you must know that I really meant it. 

This was not that someone. 

Roz* from New Jersey was running this marathon on her journey to join the 50 states marathon club. This marked marathon number 15 for this running coach who would NOT. STOP. TALKING. She asked me about my training, and I judged her as I answered her stupid questions politely. I say her questions were stupid because they were questions for which I could presumably have wrong answers. If I did something wrong in my training, what the hell am I supposed to do about it now in mile 2 of the marathon? Turn around? Heffa, please. Performance day is just that. Make it work now, ask questions later. 

Still, I thought the Christian thing to do was to deal with her neediness. Some people need people to boss around to feel useful. I turned up my music and nodded and smiled as she went on about herself. I asked cogent questions. Everyone runs differently and if I can help someone run the best race she can, I can handle a bit of annoyance. 

Jim* rolled up on us around the 5k point. He was talking with Roz and it turned out he was already in the 50 states club. I was thankful for Jim because he took some of the pressure off of me. He wasn’t with us for very long, to which Roz said, “some people just need to show off and talk about themselves to new people!” I burst out laughing at the irony of her observation. “Don’t laugh too hard, Joan. 23.1 to go – save your breath!” I thought. 

At mile 5, I decided to use the toilet. JUST in case. I wasn’t feeling a pressing need to go, but my colleague at work who just completed her first marathon said that it’s better to go in the beginning rather than later. What could it hurt? Plus, I was hoping Roz would go ahead of me. Well, she did, but not for long. A mile or so later, she stopped to refill her water and said she would be behind me. “Okay!” It took a LOT of willpower to stay at my current pace and not purposely speed up to put distance between us. I suppose I have more faith in my patience than I do my legs. 

The marathon and half-marathon courses were concurrent for about the first 7 miles. Then it got REAL lonely out there, man. It looked like I was going into the wilderness. I was actually thankful for Roz’s yelling behind me because I didn’t see a single soul ahead of me. Disconcerting, y’all. It wasn’t too long before I saw some more cones, cops, and the winner headed in the opposite direction toward the finish line. Confirmation of the correct path was comforting, indeed. 

As the race continued, I felt pains that worried me. My left hamstring in mile 8. My right calf in mile 13. I prayed for them and pressed forward. I stayed focused on my 2/1 intervals and the miles just came to me, one by one. I smiled as I enjoyed the music of the clearly brilliant person who created this playlist. I shrugged and sighed as I caught up to and passed Murray, who told me he didn’t think he was going to make it in 5:45. 

Speaking of the aforementioned brilliance, I had tried to time the gospel music around mile 19 – when I projected I might be questioning my life choices most. “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” “My Tribute.” “How Great Thou Art.” Naturally, I chose really powerful arrangements that evoked great emotion. Too much emotion. I started to think about how amazing God is and tears came to my eyes. I felt tingles all over. I glanced down to look at my heart rate. 

TWO.

O.

BLOODY.

FIVE. 

OKAY GOD PLEASE HELP MY HEART RATE COME DOWN BECAUSE I HAVE NEARLY TWO HOURS OF RACE LEFT IN JESUS’ NAME AMEN

Not the most artful prayer, admittedly. I slowed my walking and that helped. I drank more water from my trusty CamelBak. Every sip tasted heavenly, so I can assume by this point I was likely dehydrated. I didn’t want to have my stomach sloshing around with water and honey stingers, but I suppose my trying not to drink too much didn’t help my tingly euphoria. 

By mile 22, my heart rate was still sky high on my run intervals. I didn’t like it. I am confident God brought me Roz for this one piece of advice – “if you get tired, switch your run time to your walk time. That way you don’t lose hope or momentum.” I went from 2/1 to 1:30/1:30. I checked the clock. I had an hour to meet my time goal. I could do that with a speedy walk if I needed to. I stayed in the shade as much as possible. 

I saw some volunteers by the stadium where the race had begun. “This way to glory?” I asked. “Yes ma’am!” 

Then the most beautiful thing happened. 

As I caught sight of the finish line, the recap of the Brahms concerto with which I had begun the race was starting. I don’t know that I can properly describe how fitting this was – to hear that moment in the music at just that time, but it brought the biggest smile to my face. To be back where I started but in a completely different way – just like the music! was nothing short of perfection. I turned on to the track and saw my awesome Mommy. “Hi Mom!” “Hey Jo!” as she whipped out her camera. “You’re almost there!” The clock read 5:55:26 as I crossed the timing mat. I. Win. 

I serve a God that allows for so much more than finishing the race. I finished the marathon with BOTH arms in the air, a bright smile, and Brahms in my ears. He is a cherry on top kind of God. My prayer is that I can keep this moment close to me forever as I continue running with Him and toward Him. 


*- I don’t change names to protect anyone who annoys me. 

War is Hell: Race Report

N.B. – Before I begin writing, I want where I stand to be clear. I actually do believe in a real hell, and eternal separation from the Lord is no joke. However, it’s difficult for me to resist such an amusing metaphor. He’s still working on me. Give me a break. 

It has been quite some time since I’ve posted. Whenever I take any kind of hiatus, it’s not because I don’t have anything to say; rather, it’s because I’m not sure how to say it OR I am unsure if saying it is in my best interest. 

Well, I still run. 

I am proud of the fact that I committed to a training plan over the summer. 2016 has been a tad busy, what with getting married and moving in with Adonis. I’m thankful that my relationship with running is as solid as a rock! It makes me sad to miss runs, even when I struggle through them. There is nothing in the world like running and racing, but prioritizing it is a struggle. If I want to do big things, like run a marathon before the end of the year, I probably should be able to commit to a training plan for a 5k this very hot summer. 

I woke up this morning, ecstatic to run the race that will determine what the next 18 weeks of my life will look like. It is difficult for me to manage my expectations, as I tend to be disappointed that I am not the fittest I have ever been. My constant battle is to be pleased with whatever my best happens to be in any given moment. 

War paint.


My goal pace was 11:25, but I wanted to go faster. “How fast can I go? Should I put on a pace alert? Maybe when I’m going 9 minute miles, that’s too fast.” Okay Joan. Calm down. I chose to dispense with the pace alert and just run the fastest I could. 

This race was PACKED, which didn’t help the already blazing temperature. Moreover, the course itself wasn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing. Aaaaand there’s a brick road, let’s finish this without twisting your ankle! Then I saw a chick running alongside me with one leg. I stopped my mental whining.

The telltale signs of my running my fastest were all there – cursing during the 3rd mile, feeling tempted to slow down, questioning why I do this, barely being able to smile when I saw any camera. I crossed the finish line with nothing remaining in the tank. A look at my watch later showed that each mile was slightly faster, but not just that! 

Who beat her goal pace? This girl.


I worked hard for this 34:32, y’all. I’ll tell anyone about it with pride, and I say this as I watch my colleagues running in Rio this morning. I am proud to be the kind of person that curses her way to a 5k finish line, only to hand in a sweaty registration form for a half-marathon moments later. 

Perhaps one day I will stop putting myself through my mental hell, my mental separation from God’s unchanging love and acceptance, because it’s awful not being able to really appreciate what a gift that running truly is. Every step I take brings me closer! 

Rest of the Year: Thermometer.

I had resolved to set the so-called temperature with my attitude rather than respond to what is going around me. If I have succeeded this year, I honestly cannot recall. I do remember several times feeling like I should just walk in front of the oncoming semi and put myself out of my misery. 

Writing that upsets me because I know how blessed I am. When I come upon such strong emotions, feeling like I cannot do anything correct, like I am a mediocre waste of space, I do my best to shield others from my self-loathing. In a sense, that effort in and of itself is a win; I never want to bring anyone “down” where I am. 

Of course, these emotions are most likely to arise when I am premenstrual, which makes the situation all the more frustrating. I’ve had my period for damn near 20 years now and I STILL can’t seem to figure out why I live in a fog for a few days a month. I thank God that I tend not to act rashly (wait until the truck passes, Joan, it might turn out okay), but I need to be able to combat these hormonal forces better. I want to be a person people want to be around because of my sharing the truth with them, the truth being that they have something to offer, that they are worthy of love. Hard to do when I feel like this guy: 

  
Am I ugly? Am I talented? Am I athletic? Am I going to be a good wife? 

Even when I cannot bring myself to answer those questions, I always can say God loves me and others so I should continue doing the best I can and trying to get better. Maybe the answers to the other questions don’t really matter as much as being a loving person. Perhaps the key to being a thermostat is to stop asking and to start doing. Dammit. ❤️

Human: Race Report 

This is the one race I would feel incomplete without running each year. Of course, that means it is also the one with the most logistical trouble, which is especially ironic because it’s only 30 miles or so away from our house. Each year, I hope we will make it to the race site with plenty of time to warm up and breathe before the race start. Maybe next year… 

I wrote two days ago that I was feeling quite nervous about this race. My knee was hurting, though it usually doesn’t. I feared I wouldn’t be able to keep a steady pace. My jitters were evident to all as we (parents, Adonis, and Lil One) drove to the race site. 2 minutes after we left the house, Lil One realized she forgot her race bib so we had to go back, and it was the closest I’ve been thus far to saying a cross word to her. I was thankful that Mom thanked her for remembering when we weren’t far from the house because I was too caught up in my own emotions to respond properly. 

We made it in just enough time to park, walk, and find a place for Daddy to sit and cheer. This year was going to be very different than last – I was tapering for my half-ironman vs this being my longest race so far this year. I had committed to allowing myself to walk, as that is how I’ve been doing my long runs (with intervals), but I didn’t really want to. I set my watch to do 4/2 and the goal was to finish in 1:16 or less – 12 minute miles. I was prepared with my 76 minute long playlist. 

The horn sounded. As I crossed the timing mat, I started my watch and my music. “American Woman” was how I decided to start my race. Almost immediately, I felt the incomparable runner’s high that I crave, which, of course, concerned me. “Gah! How fast am I going? I don’t want to burn out before mile 1!” I checked my watch and it turned out my pace was a cool 11:30. Sweet. I smiled as we turned right and I started to make my way through the pack. I am not exactly sure why, but I love turning. I think it is because it is a very tangible reminder that the finish is that much closer. 

I started to think about what I was doing. Tee hee, know what I mean? Of course, as I was running I was thinking about what I was doing, in terms of monitoring my heart rate, pace, and breathing. Then I started to think about what I was doing. What an incredible blessing it is to be able to run. I felt very connected to the hundreds of strangers around me, striving for whatever was most important to them that day. I prayed for them. I prayed for my family as they ran. I felt a tap on my hand. Lil One and her handsome father had caught up to me. I grinned as we ran together for about a quarter mile. I must be honest – I would have been bitter if they had kept up for too long – I’ve been training and they have not, hah! I resisted the temptation to run faster. They slowed for a walk break, and I smiled again. 

Though my watch had been going off to remind me to walk, I chose not to. I felt surprisingly okay maintaining a 12 minute pace and decided to go with it. I only walked when I stopped for water. I noticed a woman beside me soon after mile 1 and it seemed we were going the same pace. I wondered if she would be my buddy. As I came to the second water stop, I was walking a bit when she said, “Let’s go! We’re running together!” Buddy = confirmed. We ran together without saying anything else, but I was thankful for her presence. I’d always heard of God sending people into our lives for reasons, seasons, and lifetimes, and I am now convinced sometimes He sends us people for an hour and change. 

I reflected upon my desire to progress. Running is a way for me to set goals and meet them and feel great. I thought it strange that I could be happy with setting a goal that was 10 minutes slower than I was able to do a year ago. I suppose that depending on where we are in our lives, success can take on different definitions. As tempting as it is to think of that as a copout, it really is not. I am very slowly coming to terms with the fact that life does not progress in a linear manner, as much as I would like it to do so. 

All this thinking got me to mile 5. It was here where my self-talk started to drift from holy to heathen. I’ve noticed the direct correlation between my HR being above 180 and my use of expletives. I knew I could not slow down if I wanted to meet my goal; plus, I had my Buddy! I lingered on the thought of my Aunt, who not only would be appalled by my language but who persevered until God finally called her to stop fighting against ovarian cancer. I had to keep going.

We were on the last straightaway and could see the final turn toward the finish. Then these VOLUNTEERS (I am writing volunteers but I was definitely thinking less kind words at the time) tell us to run a bit past the last turn and make a circle around a cone before turning. That bloody .2, man. Thanks for bringing me that much closer to vomiting, USATF. I heard Adonis and Lil One cheering for me as Buddy and I crossed the finish line together. We exchanged a high five as Lil One ran to give me a hug and Mom took a picture. 

  
I really like this picture. It’s not particularly flattering. I think I look as exhausted as I felt. My fantastic stepdaughter-to-be was supporting me. It’s a picture of how human I am. I cannot be close to God unless I am dealing with my humanity – my brokenness as a runner, daughter, and future wife and mother. It is only in Him that I am strong and have the hope of being stronger. 

1:13:36. Praise God. I would like to come back next year and do it in under an hour. Here’s to not busting my face or losing track of what is most important in the process. 

  

In Garmin We Trust? 

Look at this. 

  
Apparently, my watch has a lot of faith in me. I have not achieved anything close to ANY of the above times. I’ve done a significant amount of running with the watch, so I’d say it knows me pretty well. Yet it says I am capable of so much more than I have done. 

What does this mean? Am I not working hard enough? If I were to get any of those times I would be beside myself with glee. I worry that after only 2.5 years of running that I have peaked, but Garmin seems to think otherwise – that I have a long way to go. 

Tomorrow, I have a 10k and I am NERVOUS. It is the longest race I have attempted in 2015. Since starting my HR training, I would be ecstatic to get 1:15 or less. Hah. 56:24. Why doesn’t Garmin tell me exactly what I need to do in order to achieve this? Moreover, why doesn’t it tell me when this could be possible? 

  
I love how God can even speak to me through my watch. I may never see any of those times, but I may see some even faster! I must be thankful for every day that I am able to run. Maybe strength and speed are like money – God blesses us with that which He knows we can handle. How will I be a good steward of the strength and speed I have? 

Race report tomorrow! 

Ignorance Was Bliss

“Agree to one husband, get two children to mentor without your getting (additional) stretch marks FREE!” 

How could I not take the deal. 

19 and 10. Girls. Both smart and beautiful enough for me to claim them. In public. It may shock you to know that it took me several months after becoming engaged to have my first panic attack about being a stepmother. What brought it on, you ask?

Lil One’s dance recital. 

It was the second dance recital I’d ever been to – the first was my own in 1990. A lot changes in 25 years, the most obvious being showing up to the recital hall and suddenly realizing you play for Team Mom now. Holy crap. I sat in my chair and had to partake of my purse booze that I keep for bumpy flights to help keep it together. One, I immediately had empathy for all my music parents who ask me, “How long will your program be?” because we were there for over three hours. No more self-righteous thoughts – not that I’ve ever been stupid enough to program anything that long! Okay, for real now – no more self-righteous thoughts. Lil One danced twice in three hours. I’m all about supporting kids I don’t know on stage, even when they are literally picking their noses, but combined with the realization that I have signed up for the nightshift of child rearing was too much for me at the time. 

I began to reflect on all the sacrifices that have been made for me. Hell, that are STILL being made for me. How many evenings did my parents give up so that I could remind other parents to support other people’s children? How many weekend mornings do they still give up to watch me cross a finish line? I felt incredibly guilty for being such a leech. I resolved then not to tell them about any other races I’m doing because I didn’t want to take their time. Pretty selfish of me, huh? 

In the past, I’ve told my parents that I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t have me because I’m a lot of work. They usually would first stare at me like I have two heads and then tell me how they couldn’t imagine life without me. Then Daddy would get on his soapbox about how wrongheaded people are who don’t want to have children because it’s hard. Lather, rinse, repeat, boom, I’m 30 and at a dance recital, not able to imagine life without girls I didn’t know a year ago. 

Being sarcastic and scared about child-rearing was fun, I admit. It was ignorance, and the worst kind. The type that is self-absorbed and seeking its own ends. I no longer have that privilege. Instead, I am becoming part of an insta-family who will consistently and lovingly challenge me to be a better, stronger wife, daughter, stepmother, and hopefully mother of Jamerigreeks someday. That growth will not be easy, but truth, especially with love, beats ignorance every time.  

 

Tag Cloud