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

Posts tagged ‘stepdaughter’

The Reason: Race Report

My Auntie Daph continues to inspire me, 6 years after stupid old ovarian cancer took her from us. It pleases me to think that seeing her family unite around beating the cause that was the source of so much pain near the end of her life in a healthy way honors her. Makes beating my 5k time from a month ago seem like a silly thing with which to concern myself, no? 

If that last sentence made you laugh out loud, then you know me well. 

Did I mention that this was the Big One’s first 5k as well? She has been sharing her running achievements with me excitedly leading up to the race. Finally, I got one that enjoys the training! Like the young person with boundless energy she is, she decided to go to Halloween Horror Nights the night before. 

Lady J, Stepmother: “I hope she isn’t too tired! I want her to enjoy her first race experience!” 

Lady J, Nervous Runner: “I hope she doesn’t bust up my sleep coming home. My ass is not 20.” 
The first thought listed WAS my first thought. Honest. 

Guess what! God is awesome, and yesterday it was reflected in the fact that both the Stepmommy and nervous runner got their wishes! I felt something incredible on the course – *gasp* – a BREEZE! I had a goal in mind to do better than a month ago, but the feeling of just seeing where my body is at the moment was liberating. If I didn’t beat it, it is what it is. It’s nice having a cause like beating ovarian cancer to fall back on just in case you run the best race ever. I often  judge my effort based on if I want to stop running or how badly I want to see the finish line. “You can run for 10 more minutes! You can run for 9 more minutes and 30 more seconds! You can run for 9 more minutes and 28 seconds! Damn. Just keep going.” 

32:55! 32 seconds faster than a month previous. It’s like, my training has been effective or something. I had enough time to beg for water, tell Daddy how my run went, and cheer for my family as each of them crossed the finish line, including my girls, who were grinning from ear to ear. 


Running is powerful. Family is powerful. God is The Power. 

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. 

  

The Death of Summer 

Well, summer has once again come to an end. Every June, I have said to myself, “I know what I’m going to do! I am going to work a little each week of summer to ensure that I have the smoothest start of the school year possible.”  

 Yeah. Didn’t happen. 

I’m your classic procrastinator. Most times, I would rather not act simply because I’m fearful that the outcome will not be what I feel it should be. I generally will not act until the fear of the consequences of not acting is greater than my fear of failure. When it comes to the beginning of the school year, I end up scrambling to prepare because I fear being an ineffective teacher more than I fear being an imperfect one. 

I frustrate myself. When am I going to live more like the Christ follower I am? I am living a life of fear until I absolutely must be faithful…or else. It frightens me to think of how many blessings I must miss, especially given that a life of procrastination does not lend itself to real, peaceful rest. There are things you just don’t plan for, like 2 family deaths within 48 hours of each other, one happening the morning you return to work. 

Regarding work – it has to work out, heh. God has been both faithful and gracious and I will do my absolute best to be the music teacher my students deserve and give them a great year. Because this: 

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭103:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I’ve squandered more time than I care to think about and received some stark reminders this week that there will come a time when there is no more time. This first world life of mine can be scarily deceptive. Every day is a fight to remember why I must continually submit my will to His. 

It may sound weird, but the two funerals I will attend in as many weeks make that fight easier. Death makes it very difficult to run from reality. I am hugging everyone around me more tightly and was able to take an important step today that I’ve been putting off for much too long. 

My relationships with the spawns of Adonis have been good, but one has made me more nervous than the other. The Big One is more like her father, who won’t tell you he needs things but when you offer, or just show up and do it, you know he needed it. Lil One, mercifully, requires a *tad* less intuition. I reached out to Big today and told her I would see her tomorrow at her godfather’s funeral, and she said something that helped me be brave, and I quote: 

“You’re da best Joan. Thanks for being a great future step-mom.”

If that doesn’t give me hope for a solid relationship with lots of room for growth, I don’t know what will. So I took a leap and told her I loved her and got the I love you return! Mind you, I had made the decision to love her as soon as I knew of her existence, and have liked her since I’ve met her, but I’ve been sitting on it because I didn’t want her to reject me, quite frankly, or see me as trying to replace her mom. I’ve simply deferred to less explicit ways of showing love by checking in with her, hugging, etc. I look forward to being there for Big One and telling her in person! 

The death of a loved one always sucks. You wonder if you told them the right things. Did the right things for them. Death, however, also brings rest for those who no longer must fight. I hope and pray that I continue to die to myself, that I conquer fears more quickly and live the life of faith that will enable me to experiences the Lord’s blessings to the fullest and help others on their journeys to do the same. 

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