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

Posts tagged ‘christianity’

Ενθρανστο.

At this moment, we are waiting in a hotel lobby for a taxi to the airport. I just got off of a video call with my parents, who were happy to see me. It seemed as though we hadn’t been video calling all along through the last two weeks that Adonis and I have been in Greece. In fact, they seemed a bit nervous, and I believe it’s for the same reason that I have butterflies in my stomach.

Ζωή είναι ένψρανστη. Life is fragile.

As terrible as my reading of Greek is, I have much more control over that than I have over much else, from whether our cab makes it on time to the safety of our 31 hours of travel time back to our blessed home. I was both taken aback and appreciative yesterday as we went on our last ferry ride to see one of the crew members do a sign of the cross as we left the port. I assume that he makes that journey several times a week, but it didn’t appear that he took his lack of control for granted. The blue waters of the Aegean offer life for many but can pose a great threat as well. The brilliant minds who have made it possible for us to travel 5,764 miles within 31 hours cannot offer us a guarantee of a safe return.

If you are reading this, I ask that you pray for a safe journey for Adonis and I, who happens to be handling his nervousness by pacing around the lobby. Yes, I understand air travel is statistically very safe, and I expect to be in my bed tomorrow evening, but life is fragile. I thank God for this amazing trip, which I will be writing about more in a days (yes, I did find a race here), and ask for His continued protection on our journey home. Also, for some self-control at duty free. Amen.

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The Happiest Place on Earth: Race Report

Yesterday rocked.

I was accompanied by Mom and Dad. Mom was racing too and cussing me the whole way to the start line. “Why am I up? It’s cold. I should be sleeping. This is crazy.” It was actually a bit colder than I was expecting, but it was supposed to be ideal by the time the race started. We got our packets, used the lovely portable toilets, I ate my pre-race navel and lined up at the starting line.

My playlist was set. 31:30. Too ambitious? Maybe. I was just feeling so optimistic! Garmin was on, but I didn’t want to stress myself out by staring at my watch, so I told myself I would turn it on but I would not look at it during the race. I wanted to see where my training had put me in my natural state – pushing, yes, but not killing myself. The hype man started the countdown from 10, and then the horn sounded. Tears came to my eyes once more. What is more beautiful than a chance to start again? I swallowed and made my way to the timing mat.

Two songs into my playlist, I saw the 1st mile marker. My body was feeling good. I pointed to the sky and asked for help for the next 2.1. I made another turn on this familiar Orlando course and saw a sign on a church. “Jesus Loves You,” it read in neon lights. I smiled as I continued running past the first water stop. I hadn’t been drinking water during any of my training runs and didn’t want to lose any momentum. Three more songs pass, as does the 2nd mile marker. I had done an amazing job on my playlist – the words and beat were helping me push forward. I saw a lady from Venezuela whose shirt read “God is with you” on its back – incidentally, near another water stop. Living Water, heh. “Gracias por tu camisa!” I yelled, thanking her for her shirt.

Two songs to go. Two turns to go. I am doing it. I was so happy to be running and feeling strong. One song to go. One turn to go. Final turn made. Finish line in sight. Aaaaand the first song comes on again. Blast you, point 1. I chuckled and found another gear as I crossed the finish line.

Mom had told me to come back for her, which I did, after I brought a snack to Dad, of course. I caught her on the home stretch. “Ready to run to the finish?!” “I will – at the stop sign.” That’s my Mom, ever the rebel. Gonna hit the gas at the stop sign. We went for it as I ducked to the left of the timing mats. I met with her on the other side of the chute. “Where are the race results?” said the woman who had been complaining to me all morning.

I had shaved 00:02:10 off my 5k time from November and Mom was a minute faster than a month ago! I was most pleased because my pace had been incredibly steady – each of my miles was within 20 seconds of the other. Boom. Mom commented that I looked like I just had had a facial. Nope. This is the glow that can only come from the happiest place on earth. A place of sweat, faith, strength, and growth. I want to stay here as long as I can. ❤️

Faith on the Run: Pre-Race Report

I have a 5k tomorrow! While I am confident I can complete the distance, I don’t know how I will feel while doing it or how my time will be.

This feeling is absolutely exhilarating.

2018 has been a year to reset thus far. I am humbled to have been able to find a rhythm with work and working out by using a meal planning service. I am finally making visible progress with my trainer and working out on my own in the mornings again. I know that this could change at any time, but while I have this I know it is something to be cherished. I started Couch to 5k again and completed 7 of the 8 weeks, and have only ‘come up short’ because my trainer suggested that I rest my ankle this week because I will not really progress prior to the race.

I am most happy because this year feels very much like the beginning of my running journey in 2013. At the time, I started with a pair of old sneakers in my closet and nothing but my app – no Garmin, no fancy shoes fitted for my running gait – I was just a girl who only ran after ice cream trucks and away from large dogs trying to lose weight. I have worked hard to simply do my best and not obsess over beating previous times and/or intervals, and am blessed to report that upon looking at the data, I appear to be improving without driving myself nuts.

I love that the anticipation of each training run has inspired both excitement and apprehension. The ability to put one foot in front of the other is a gift to be celebrated. Only the Lord knows how much longer I will have not just the ability to run, but to improve. I want so much to be a good steward of my blessings.

God built us to move forward, both literally and spiritually toward Him. The last 32.5 years have been a bit of a zig zag pattern for me, but tomorrow, I get to lace up and enjoy another new beginning, and Lord willing, another triumphant finish.

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

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. ❤️

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