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

Posts tagged ‘courage’

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. 

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Seventy Point It’s Just Me! Why y’all trippin?

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Tee hee. Hi!

I’ve gotta say, I am a *tad* overwhelmed by the amount and intensity of support and encouragement I am receiving regarding Sunday’s race. I wrote earlier this week about how I feel eerily unterrified about it. Among the other things that creep me out are the types of words being used to describe this undertaking. “Heroic. “Beyond Mortal.”

Now. This might be where you say, “Lady J. You know you have problems accepting praise.” To which I say, you’re absolutely right. However, I don’t think that’s what this is. Unless I am discussing food (I want to marry this sandwich. Joan Medianoche),I make a concerted effort to use my words conservatively. I want to say exactly what I mean in order for those with whom I communicate not to misunderstand. I want to convey my thoughts and thought process as accurately as possible. It is also a means of defense as offense, for I know that anything I say could be potentially held against me. I am a thinker – perhaps, to a fault. I understand and respect (mostly) that not everyone is like this and doesn’t necessarily put such thought into the words they use. A lot of people just – talk to say things.

That being said, the language utilized is coming from people I kinda care about. Could they know what they are saying and what I’m hearing? Let’s see what Oxford has to say about it, shall we?

hero
Syllabification: he·ro
Pronunciation: /ˈhirō /
NOUN (plural heroes)

1 A person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

mortal
Syllabification: mor·tal
Pronunciation: /ˈmôrdl /
ADJECTIVE

1 (Of a living human being, often in contrast to a divine being) subject to death.

In the past 6 months I have been reminded just how mortal I am. I’ve battled plantar fasciitis, Ben and Jerry, and plain old laziness. Hell, I grew so frustrated at one point that I removed full Ironman, marriage, and Ph.D. from my bucket list, forever cursing all that is endurance related. Go ahead and check. Notice how 8-11 are still missing. The only reason I didn’t remove half-Ironman is because I already registered and dammit, I’m going to get my money’s worth from World Triathlon Corporation. Nope, definitely extremely mortal.

I suppose that does make this endeavor heroic, then. Swimming in open water is scary, and I’m doing it anyway. Red Rocket has all kinds of parts I don’t understand and I’m spending 56 miles with her. From there, I’ll have to take about 27,000 steps to the finish line.

Still. I protest. I feel like people typically use the word “hero” when they are referring to someone doing something they wouldn’t do. When I ran my first race, I was courageous. I loathed running when I registered for it. I weighed 30 more pounds than I do now. I remember waking up with the same nervous energy in the days leading up to the race as I have been this week. I was on top of the world after running 5k in 40:49, a time I’m fairly positive someone could power-walk if s(he) tried. I admit that I didn’t have the same relationships I do now, so I can’t positively that I would have been any less praised at the time. I narrow my eyebrows, nonetheless.

I think of my babies when I ask them to do heroic things, like share music and feelings with one another. I hope that they understand that I genuinely respect and admire them for making the effort to play the three notes that it takes to produce “Hot Cross Buns.” If risk is relative to the risk-taker, perhaps the application of the word “hero” is relative as well.

Maybe it is the cumulative heroism of this distance that makes it such a big deal. On those days where I considered quitting but chose to press on. The days where I had not so private meltdowns and lived to blog about it. I’ve had to fight my mortality quite a bit to get here. That’s noble-ish, at the very least.

*grins* Go ahead, y’all. Keep trippin’. I’ve earned it.

Shoutout Series: The Mentor

The only thing I hate more than writing with a deadline is writing about someone so grand that I don’t think my words can do my admiration, respect, and love for her justice. Here goes nothin’!

I met The Mentor during my last year of college in 2005; we are members of the same music fraternity. However, it wasn’t until we were catching up in early 2012 that it really dawned on me how much fitness is a part of her life. I just knew she was a badass. When I vented to her that I was displeased with my weight gain and that I wanted to work out in the mornings before school, she vowed to text me each morning at 5:30. “Get your ass up! Go do something!”

As sporadic as my working out was at that time, she was faithful to her word. Regardless of how committed I was to myself, The Mentor was committed to me. No matter what I told her, she always cheered me on and I knew I could expect a text early the next day. “Get your ass up!”

When I finally started getting my ass up at regular intervals in 2013, The Mentor was still there to cheer me on. After successfully completing a 21 day workout program, I was looking for something new to try. She suggested I find a Couch to 5k plan and sign up for a race that corresponded with the plan so I wouldn’t back out.

My marathon running, triathlete friend would squeal with me as I reported being able to run 5 minutes without stopping on the treadmill. Soon after, she was just as excited when I ran outside for 20 minutes without stopping. After 8 weeks, she shrieked with me as I crossed my first finish line. This was followed by “Sign your ass up for a 10k!” And I did.

She has continued to encourage me through my first duathlon, triathlon, half-marathon, and now, my first half-ironman. I will forever be grateful for her friendship. There is nothing that I could say or do that can adequately express how thankful I am for The Mentor in my life. Because she is as committed to her own training as she is to those she loves, tomorrow she is going to crush her FULL ironman in Maryland. I say with great certainty that I cannot imagine having the courage to accomplish what I have these past two years without her in my life.

To The Mentor. Thanks for helping Lady J do it.

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NB: I wish I had her butt.

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