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

Posts tagged ‘introvert’

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. 

One to Remember, One to Forget: Race ReportĀ 

As soon as I got engaged, I knew that a race would be involved in my wedding celebrations in one way or another. So far, this bridal business has been much like real life – I’m just a girl who loves to run and spend time with her loved ones and am happiest when I can combine them. 

I pride myself in having a diverse set of friends, in that some of them do not run. šŸ˜Ž I must admit that while I enjoy walking, it feels weird to completely walk a race that is not for some sort of cause. I decided that bonding was a good enough cause but in order to have the best of both worlds I registered for a 10k to run and a 5k to walk. I had figured I would run the 10k by myself so I wouldn’t slow anyone down who feels similarly. 

I arrived at the start line and saw Social. 

Social is this cool chick whom I know via Blonde Oprah. We’ve done all the important things that women do together – running, triathlon, Starbucks – it’s pretty solid. She plays it pretty close to the vest – enough to the point where I feel like I am the extroverted one when we are together. Wanting to respect Social’s wishes, I told her what my approximate pace was going to be and told her she did not have to be Social. She said she hadn’t been running lately so it would be good.

With that, we were off. Aside from my asking her one more time if she wanted to lose me, we didn’t talk too much except to observe random awesomeness along the course, like a guy who outran us though he had sandals, a cane, and a skirt. 

I am unsure that Social knows how much I appreciated her next to me. I am convinced I must spend most of my waking hours pretending that the presence of others doesn’t make things any easier. I did much better than I expected to do that day. Had I been running by myself, I am sure my pace would have been slower. I can’t be a punk with Social by my side. 

Hopefully I’ll remember not to forget…

   
PS: 3132 was my 70.3 bib number! It had to be a great day! 

A.w. Really? An Introvert’s Tale

Am I an attention whore? 

As though push-ups and burpees are not enough torture before I’ve had coffee, Blonde Oprah said something to me that got me thinking. 

“You hate attention, but you love attention.” 

I don’t remember my facial expression, but I am sure it registered exactly what I was feeling. I know I didn’t respond because it is the kind of comment that is meant to stand by itself. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to say anything. I made a mental note to write about it later and I am thus here, wondering if what she said was true and/or okay. 

1. True? 

I don’t think I have a love/hate relationship with attention. I think I actually really enjoy it, just within certain contexts. It takes a certain personality to be on a stage, or to be in front of a classroom, or even publish a blog. I love to share, and more importantly, be understood. If I don’t think I will be understood, it’s not worth it to me to share. What is often mistaken for shyness is actually my belief in economy of words – I don’t like to waste them. 

2. Okay? 

Should I love attention? I believe it depends on the type of attention. If, for example, I am seeking your attention by clicking “post” and you decide to click “like,” should I care? I suppose I would like to know that I do not write in an echo chamber; that I am not alone in how I experience the world. 

I suppose the underlying question is the intention behind the attention for both seeker and giver. I do not feel competitive when I am sharing, I don’t think. I feel privileged when people share with me – but only when it is genuine. No pretense or shallowness. It is just hard to communicate with people because some of you suck really terribly. 

Ergo I return to my observer’s original statement, but I wish to modify a word to make it even more accurate: 

“You hate people but you love people.” 

Preferably one at a time. 

  

The Temptation of Festivus

This girl has been a diehard Seinfeld fanatic for 2/3 of her life. When the episode about Festivus premiered, I was in 8th grade. Jerry Stiller’s Frank Costanza describes his epiphany/creation as such: 

  
I remember hysterically laughing when I first saw this 18 years ago. Part of the brilliance of Seinfeld is that it grows with you; while I still get thigh-slapping laughs from watching this, I now watch this and find myself sympathetic with Frank. Though I’ve not reached the point of raining blows upon someone, I am in total agreement with him – there HAS to be another way to celebrate Christmas. 

As a child, I used to love this time of year. The gifts! The music! The Jesus! I remember caring for them all, and as I’ve grown, my priorities have simply shifted. Sadly, so has my attitude. It is not because I learned Santa isn’t real (although I did just finish watching Miracle on 34th Street), or that I have to buy presents for other people. My Lord, do I wish that was all that Christmas called for – shelling out some cash and calling it a day. Why did Frank rain blows upon the man? He wanted to do right for his family. Who can be mad at those intentions? 

Thus we find ourselves wanting to get into the ‘little c’ christmas spirit, saying things like “It’s not about the presents!” or “Spend time with your loved ones!” These are, indeed, good things all year long. Suddenly, it gets to be after Thanksgiving and everyone remembers how they should have been acting the previous 11 months? Can’t we space out the cheer? Whether it’s preparing a program for work, attending a stupid ass party, or preparing our home for all the family that’s going to converge upon it today, I find myself thinking that this is now my least favorite holiday. 

Don’t get it twisted. I am a Christ-follower. I believe in observing this time of year with special reverence. However, like Frank, I find myself without the peace and reflection that anticipated his coming. I, too, seek another way, but sadly, I have found my heart becoming too much like the Festivus pole…

  
Cold and impenetrable. I, here and now in this post, am airing my grievances! I am sick of all of the things that get in the way of truly observing the miracle of Christmas. It’s not the commercialism; it’s all y’all. Sorry. Running around like a crazy person for four weeks is costly as well. 

As I was putting ornaments on our Christmas tree a few hours ago (just in time!), I noticed that the leaves were starting to shed. I paused and smiled to myself. I hope my heart is always more like a live Christmas tree than a Festivus pole, with evidence of His presents? Presence. Heh. There should be light. The ornaments are like all of the people who make my life better. Yes, sometimes their presence makes some of my leaves shed. I may even feel weighed down at times. Like the tree, I am more beautiful for having them. 

Thank you for being on my tree! Enough with the parties though, okay? Merry Christmas!

  

Party Politics, Part 1Ā 

I did something a little crazy on Friday night. 

Per usual, I was talking to Adonis throughout the day when he drops this bombshell on me: 

We’re invited to a dinner party. Tonight.

  
If you know me, you know that 1) I am the type of person who plans her spontaneity and 2) I am not one for large, non-family gatherings. Make no mistake – this is not because I am uncomfortable around a lot of people, as someone recently surmised as I turned down a different invitation. It’s that I like real, intimate, BS free conversations with individuals and it’s difficult to get past small talk at these parties. I get that it is an important way to show love to people, but it burns me out. Moreover – what’s with the 6 hours notice? Clearly we can’t be that important to these people. That being said, Adonis rarely asks me to do anything like this, and he accompanies me to fun things like races and concerts, so I didn’t put up a fight. Though we’ve been together quite some time, I haven’t met too many of his people because of his crazy chef schedule, and I knew this was a golden opportunity.

Because the party was located in between us geographically, we met there. I also figured that I would be able to leave when I needed to in order to sleep on time; I hate being held party hostage! Basically, nothing was of note until the after-dinner conversation, which turned to politics. “Finally!” I thought. “Some action.” Greeks are like Jamaicans, in that every conversation eventually turns to politics, so I was very comfortable. 

For the next hour and a half, I think I spoke maybe – 5 times? 10? I sat mostly in silence. I am one not to speak unless I feel it will be productive, and it was the type of conversation where I knew it would not be. It’s quite normal for people discussing politics to have an agenda and not really listen to what the other persons are saying. Basically, it seemed like a d*** measuring contest. I smiled to myself as I earned good fiancee points and listened to his friends talk about everything wrong with Greece and all the people they blame. 

My favorite part of the evening was when the conversation turned to “good people.” They were talking about “real” Greeks and how people on certain islands are no good and how their not being “truly” Greek explained it. I laughed inwardly. People everywhere are the same – everyone thinks they are the best and everyone else is second class. 

As bedtime approached, I excused myself for the night. Adonis said he would follow soon after. Not gonna lie, another reason racing is one of the best things to happen to me is that I have a legitimate excuse to escape social foolishness. However, I can’t say it was a wasted evening; in fact, it was quite interesting as sociological experiment – the way I believe a dinner party should be enjoyed. 

Warning: Triathlon can make it go soft.

Your heart, that is. What else would I be talking about?

All right, kids. It’s been a week since I registered for this madness, and I am quickly realizing that my life is very different than it was just a year ago.

“But Lady J,” you retort. “You were sexy as hell last October, even before you did your first triathlon. What are you talking about?” Well. Who am I to fight an argument like that? *blushes* I’ve got to tell y’all, though – the eyes through which I admire myself in the mirror see life in a new way.

Life can be more than a bit torturous for an introverted perfectionist. Already, my tendency is to share myself fairly selectively. Add to that my feeling that the more people know me the less they’ll want to do with me – quite frankly, it’s a wonder that I open up to anyone. Probably because all humans need connection with one another. Whatevs.

Since triathlon has come into my life, I am finding that I resent that need less and less. What is training but dealing with imperfection? Race day is simply imperfection management. I have learned that excellence and imperfection are not mutually exclusive. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that because my definition of success is changing, I am slowly becoming more comfortable sharing with others.

As I think of just how intense my training will have to be as I approach my first Ironman, I find myself looking forward not to race day itself but to the path that will take me there. I am excited to dig deep and see more of what I am made. The real shocking part is that I am also excited to get to know people who are currently in my life even better. Not only that, it doesn’t scare me to ask for help as it once did. I know I am going to meet a lot of new people and it doesn’t even make me roll my eyes to think about it. What’s that about?!

I think my favorite part of my mellowing is what I see happening in my professional life. I find that a kinder, gentler Lady J is more sensitive to the needs of my students. It is easier for me to see the good in their efforts to make music, even when it sounds absolutely horrific. The words that it takes to convince someone to try something new are coming more naturally to me. My babies are becoming less tense because I am starting to recognize that it is normal for them not to understand something right away, to stumble, and then get it if they keep showing up.

“Lady J,” you say in disbelief. “You teach music. Shouldn’t you know better than anyone that practice is needed to become proficient at anything?” Dammit. You’re right again. And I have always maintained with my students that I don’t expect them to be perfect – only to try their best. I am realizing I have secretly been hoping that they would get it right on the first try because their imperfection is a reflection of my imperfection. The more they play imperfectly, the more I have to deal with my own inadequacies as musician and teacher. Twisted, I know. Now, I am able to celebrate their progress with much more than a sigh of relief. “Thank God I don’t completely suck,” I would think. No, no, NO! “Thank God you stuck with it and can reap the rewards of your hard work.”

So, um, yeah. Lord willing, becoming an Ironman is gonna be pretty sweet. The road and relationships I build along the way are going to be even sweeter. Hugs for everyone!

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Shoutout Series: Blonde Oprah

Here’s the thing – I’m a bit of a snob. If a lot of people like something or someone, I’m more likely to look upon it with suspicion than I am to check it out. Generally, I am of the opinion that people en masse aren’t too bright. “Popular opinion.” Gross.

Good thing God knows His cynical child Lady J and worked to order the events of the last two years of my life so I wouldn’t immediately balk and run in the other direction. The services of Blonde Oprah weren’t recommended to me by anyone; I just happened to stumble upon a Groupon for a 3 week belly blast. “Well.” I thought to myself. “It’s more than I’m doing now. How bad can it be? I can do something for 21 days.”

In January of 2013, my mother and I started this boot camp business. When we showed up at 6 in the morning, Blonde Oprah greeted us cheerily as we each stepped on the scale, then proceeded to take us through an hour of foolishness. Her smile, encouragement, and high-pitched voice unfailing, I noted how she seemed equally committed to everyone in the room. I lost 11 pounds in 3 weeks. Friggin sweet.

Of course, I left.

*insert facepalm*

No regrets. This was the time I tried Couch to 5k and fell in love with running. However, I get a call from Blonde Oprah in March, checking in. What is this about? What kind of gym owner checks in on clients? Unless it’s to get money, of course. She actually asked real questions that made it seem like she’s genuinely invested in Lady J. Personally. Whatever, she just wants money, but I can’t deny the progress I made with her. Plus, it’s the only time in my life I haven’t been bored with strength training. I returned to Blonde Oprah after a three month hiatus.

My 50 pound weight loss isn’t really the point here, even though that’s pretty neat. In the 20 months that I’ve known her, I’ve been more moved watching Blonde Oprah interact with others than her interaction with me. This is not to say that her impact on me personally hasn’t been significant. It’s simply that I’ve never seen ONE person do so much for so many people in such a personal way. I call her Blonde Oprah because this group damn near idolizes her. I even saw a cardboard cut-out of her on a trip she could not attend. Her support is kind of a big deal to a lot of people. She often says that she is assured that there is no point in time that she I’d not in at least one person’s thoughts, either cursing her for soreness or inspired by her words. You know what? I think she’s right.

Of all the shout outs I will write, Blonde Oprah’s is definitely the hardest. Not because I feel the least passionate about her, but because I feel like everyone is already on the “Praise Blonde Oprah” bandwagon and I. Loathe. Bandwagons. But that’s the thing about Blonde Oprah. She will read this without offense, shake her head and smile, and say something like, “That’s my Joan.” Stubborn as hell. Hard-headed. She knows me probably much better than she lets on because she is both disturbingly intuitive and knows that if she let me know how well she knows me, I might balk. Blonde Oprah meets people where they are – no matter where they are – and helps them to be brave. Sometimes without the person even realizing it until afterward. That’s something truly remarkable.

Dammit, Blonde Oprah. Thanks for helping Lady J do it.

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NB – bitstrip above stolen from some chick on Facebook. I don’t know you but clearly Blonde Oprah has touched your life as well. Thanks!

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