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

Posts tagged ‘Hope’

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! 

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Unclenched: A Marriage Lesson

I don’t like to brag, but I’m pretty sure I learned everything I need to know about marriage on the flight home from our honeymoon. 
It’s not exactly news that flying is not my favorite. Early in our relationship, I shared with Adonis that I looked forward to flying with him because I would be able to hold his hand when I got scared. Would you believe that he didn’t commit that to memory for use a year and a half later? Ugh, maybe I made a mistake…

I kid. I know it’s unreasonable to expect someone to remember everything that I find to be important, even as attentive as he is. And thus we come to –

Lesson One:  You will have to repeat yourself. 

Before I become frustrated, I need to remember the “plank in my own eye.” How often must I be reminded of things by colleagues, friends, and parents? And I GUESS I don’t have a 💯 track record of remembering everything Adonis tells me. I guess. 

Would you believe that all it took for Adonis to be supportive was saying “Hey, I don’t like this!” Just like that, he was working to distract me on our journey to our new life together. 

Our pilot had warned us from the beginning of the flight that the weather as we approached our destination would worsen. Read: that means I won’t have to say anything to Adonis and he will just know that I am frightened when I give the look. Right? 

Lesson Two: Don’t expect him to read your mind. 

Evidently, my looking at him and holding his hand doesn’t mean “I’m freaking out!” in every context. Who. Knew. The first time I felt any turbulence, I reached for his hand and looked at him. He smiled and looked out of the window.  “Babe. It’s bumpy,” I said. “If I take your hand in flight it’s not about love, but fear.” He laughed and reassured me that we were fine. 

There were few moments where our flight was perfectly smooth. It made it difficult for me to – well, unclench. You know what I mean. Each time I would take a full breath, I realized exactly how tense I was. We never experienced the scary drop or anything, but there were too many bumps for me to relax. I looked over at my husband, who was perfectly chill, watching Creed. How could he not feel what I’m feeling?  I thought.

Lesson Three: You did not marry your carbon copy. He’s not going to see things the way you do. 

I tried to be brave; to not reach for his hand as often as I felt compelled to do so. 

Lesson Four: You’re married now. You can’t pretend that you don’t need anyone anymore – the jig is up. Really. Up.

As the plane was landing, I saw that it was quite cloudy. I grimaced. “Okay. This is going to be bad,” said Adonis. He grabbed my hand. 

Lesson Five: You are likely to see eye to eye where it really counts.

We were finally below the clouds. I kissed my husband and looked down, where I saw the city of Orlando below. I finally felt comfortable enough to smile – the last 5 minutes of the flight. I spent an hour and 45 minutes fairly miserable because I dislike the bumps. 

Lesson Six: If you unclench just long enough, perhaps you will find the beauty – maybe even humor – in life’s turbulent moments. 

Here’s to a long life of enjoying the ride, no matter what it brings. 

  
 

Hurts So Good

I aggravated an injury today. And I’m thrilled to death about it. 

You see, today marks my 2nd bloggerversary, which means it is my 3rd raceaversary! You know how important writing and racing are to me? My phone doesn’t even autocorrect fake words like raceaversary anymore. I find it incredible that I am still going. If you are a reader of my blog, you might find it incredible that I find it incredible, because I write with (what I feel is) great passion. I just didn’t think that I would stick with it based on my previous history. 

You know what the best part of my raceaversary is? The fact that not everything has been wonderful. I jacked up my ankle on my little 2 mile run today. I can’t say that I would have run if not for my raceaversary. I was, and am, quite tired. I feel huge from my honeymoon. I returned to work today. There is much to be done in our new home. I know that in order to be strong for my new life, I have to bear some things that I don’t want to, like hot runs or angry ankles. 

While I didn’t particularly enjoy the run today, I love that I did it. It means that I am a runner under any circumstance. I am able to get through (even seemingly) unpleasant things and see the good in them. If I hadn’t run today – if I hadn’t ever started running – who knows if I would have ever discovered that? 

Lord willing, I have many more steps to take. I am not sure how any of them will go. I know He is with me and because of that, I can move forward with great hope.

Happy Raceaversary to MEEEEE! 

  

Okay – The Honeymoon’s Over. 

The good old days.
2014, y’all.  PRs just seemed to drop from the freaking sky. I was cut and loving life, doing things I never had thought were possible. Maintaining weight loss. Running. Triathlon. Not dying doing any of those things. And then it happened. 
I grew.

Apparently, if you keep doing something, you don’t stay a beginner. This is where it gets tricky. I had anticipated my “fall from grace” in the year of my great accomplishment and wondered if I would enjoy racing anymore once it stopped being “easy.” I am thrilled – and relieved – to report that running and racing still make me very happy. Red Rocket and I are taking a break so I do not anticipate returning to triathlon in the near future, but it is NOT because I am scared of not accomplishing what I once did. I just don’t get enough pleasure for me to go through all the business at this present time. 

In 2015, the only races in which I achieved PRs were freebies – you know, a distance or event you’ve yet to do. Remember that time Adonis made me run a trail? Or that other time he made me climb over and crawl under stuff? That MUST mean the party is over, right? 

Don’t be silly. I am incredibly thankful that I have gotten some important lessons from racing that I have been able to apply to both my musical life (you don’t have to be the best to have a damned good time) and will apply to my married life (it’s not always going to be easy but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun). 

Thank God the honeymoon is over. I now have the privilege of discovering how to be at peace, regardless of my circumstances. I STILL get to run and learn what my best is, now without the fear of what happens when I “fail.” Been there, run that! 

  

Who am I? Race Report

E Major

That’s the key of my alarm that went off in its futile attempt to wake me at 4:30 this morning. 

E Major, but louder. 

I groaned. 4:39. ‘I’m not ready for this race…’ I shut off the alarm. 

My thoughts.

Decidedly louder and less harmonious than my alarm, my thoughts of potential regret are what finally got me out of bed at 4:45. Well, that and Adonis pounding on my door. My fabulous future hubs made me breakfast as I prepared for the half-marathon ahead of me. 

Though I was armed with my bib holder and best running lipstick, I was plagued with doubt. My longest continuous run in my current training cycle was 8.5 miles. I was worried about both my mental and physical stamina. In my previous post I wrote regarding my grand expectations for this race. Knowing how far I have fallen from my 2014 peak kinda bums me out. I hadn’t run a half-marathon since the last leg of my half-ironman. My piano teacher always told me that the reason for practicing is not just for skill building but for building confidence. The guilt that comes with not practicing is enough to sap the most talented of confidence. 

As I walked to get my bib, I stared at the finish line. My eyes started to tear. The half-marathon distance has always moved me. I know that I cannot take any of the approximately 30,000 steps that are between me and a finisher’s medal alone. Though on my feet, I am forced to my proverbial knees in a way that I don’t so tangibly feel for shorter distances. 

I took in the crowd. I overheard conversations between other runners. “I’m running with the 1:40 pacer!” Heh. I was trying to decide what a reasonable goal was for me. “Beat the balloon lady?” I thought to myself. I had been thinking this week that considering how underprepared I am I should be happy with 3 hours or less. I searched for the 3 hour pacer. “13:43 min mile,” his sign read. I figured I would be safe but I was not sure if I would be bored. I saw the 2:45 pacer. “12:35.” I walked over to him and told him I wanted to run with him. He smiled and recommended that I keep him in my “rearview mirror” to ensure that I finish in a time I wanted. 

I took a selfie at the starting line and made a face in an attempt to reflect my emotions… 

 I think that captured my Jessie Spano-like state of split emotions. I mean, I did have the morbid curiosity to show up today. Could be fun. 

The horn went off, and off I went. It was good to be moving in the cold weather. I checked my watch. “11:30.” I turned to see if Billy the Pacer was in my rearview mirror. BTP was sho ’nuff in my blind spot! What the hell?! Forever the good student, I sped up. I wasn’t feeling as drained as I thought I might. Yes, I know I still had 13 of 13.1 miles to go. I smiled as we made our first turn. I felt my calves greet me hello. It is here that I am making a public service announcement for all pensive runners – do NOT reflect on the meaning of life before a race instead of warming up. Do them at the same time. I shrugged and kept going. 

I observed the people around me. BTP was talking to a chick who was running her first half. A man was running in memory of a 15 year old who died last month. Some old dude left me in the dust. I grinned. I was moving forward. 

I greeted new people I would encounter. “Good morning!” “You seem happy,” one man responded. “I am!” I said. “I’m alive.” And it was true. Had I had the breath, I would have elaborated that I was alive and could run. My brain had clicked into performance mode and I was freely running without analyzing my preparation or thinking of what would come after the finish. Not even second breakfast was on my mind as I made my way through 13.1 miles. All I was thinking of was the moment, of my current journey, of the blessing of this particular experience. 

I reached mile 7. I thought to myself, “Great! I can do that again.” My knees were angry. At the perfect time, I read a sign that read, “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” Race volunteers are a big deal. I thanked God and I thanked the volunteers as I passed them. I checked for BTP. I lost him. Whoops. I shrugged. I ran some more. 

By mile 10, I was starting to warm up. I removed my hat. 10.5 – removed my gloves. 11.5 – damn. I really don’t feel like removing my jacket but it’s hot now. I removed my watch and phone from my sleeve, grabbed both by my teeth, and tried to simultaneously run and disrobe. Almost landed on my face. My youthful lack of wisdom was compensated by my youthful balance. Winning. 

Once I looked at my watch again, I thought to myself, heh. Positive splits. Who cares. I’m a positive girl. This finish line is happening today. No Monday morning quarterbacking until tomorrow. I smiled and waved for the race paparazzi. I turned the final corner and saw Mom, who ran with me to the finish line. 

  
I want to say that I don’t think I could be more proud of myself than I am. I am not worried about anyone who would shudder at the thought of being proud of a 2:41:01 finish time. I fear that someone could read about my concrete goal for the day and think, “Shut up! I would be lucky to finish with the balloon lady. Or finish at all.” I think it is important to note that awesome is relative. I gave 100% today. My goal, in time, is to make MY 100% better. I can’t do anyone else’s 100% because I am Joan. I can’t be anyone else, and it is good to have a day where I am thankful that I am no one else. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 

That’s who I am. 

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! 

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