So what do I do??

I imagined this scene the other day where I was at a dinner party and someone asked me ” So what do you do?”

In my somewhat twisted mind that is a bit of a loaded question. I could answer everything from “well I walk my dog everyday”  to “I’m a nurse” to  ( if I really feel like being a smart ass)  “I “do” lots of things like sleep, eat, drink, laundry, dishes……”  Yet I know in reality and in my imagined scene they were asking what I do for work and I reply “I am a writer”and this person says:

“Oh really?  And would I be familiar with any of your works?”  “What have you written?” Not that ANY of my friends talk like that and it was recently suggested to me that if they do I need to get new friends but lets move on.

Of course they are expecting me to name a book  they can find on Amazon or in their local Barnes & Noble, or a magazine article or some newspaper byline  but in reality my answer would be ( again with a touch of smart ass)  ” Well lets see I’ve written tons of grocery and to-do lists, papers for school, permission slips for kids and nurses notes but I doubt you would find any of those on Amazon

“Oh and I blog.”

Finally a somewhat plausible answer to that question. In reality the real answer is “I am a writer other because I write.” I write for pleasure, for the joy of it,for personal soothing,as a release and because I love creating sentences out of words. Just because you can’t find me in Barnes & Noble doesn’t mean I am not a writer. I am a writer because I write. End of story….pun intended just so I can entertain myself!

It is the same with running (or whatever you favorite activity is). I am a runner because I run. When people ask me about a race as in “How did you do”  I use to think they were asking for my race results and I would hesitate and stumble over my answer and the words “slow” and “not very good” often punctuated the sentences I managed to form.

I quit doing that awhile back when I realized that my finishing time did NOT matter. What mattered was I did the race or the daily run and I was out there running. So the answer I always give now to “How was the race?” is “It was great! ” “I had a blast and I’m so glad I did it!” Sometimes people will clarify their question. “No I mean what was your finishing time?” And I say truthfully “I have no idea!” “I started, I finished and I had fun!” If they keep talking I keep walking!

So claim your answer to whatever it is you do! If you bike you are a cyclist, if you write you are a writer. Whatever it is you do that brings… Click To Tweet

Do fill your paper with the “breathings of your heart” or your belly if it is a grocery list..or fill the air with your beautiful music, or your soul with poetry…as Nike says “Just do it”

And don’t forget to have fun while you are doing it and above all else you have my permission to channel your inner smart ass when answering that question “What do you do?”

Now go out and tri!

 

 

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Trying to overcome my swimming anxiety…

Yes I have swimming anxiety.  Not the kind that makes me fearful to go into the water.  As a matter of fact I’ll be the first one to jump in the deep end with my grandkids and the last one to get out.

I love the water.

I hate the water.

Wait..what??  It’s true.  If you ask me to go swimming, go to the ocean or the lake I am there before you can finish inviting me.

Yet last year when it came to doing the one and only sprint triathlon I had signed up for I chickened out.  The anxiety about the swim part grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

I had done this tri before so I knew the drill.  It was an outside pool swim and you were seeded according to your swim time.  The last time I did it I was the next to last to get in and  out of the pool and I barely made it.  I promised myself it would never happen again.

I have no problem being the last out of the pool. That’s okay but what I didn’t like was how I struggled with the swim.  I thought I had trained enough but obviously not.  I knew what I had to do.

So last year I signed up for it again knowing that I REALLY needed to practice, train and train some more.  And guess what I did?

I got a PhD in swim procrastination.  I did some training but by the time the triathlon was 10 days away I started to panic so I rationalized as to why it wasn’t a good idea to participate.  My lame reasons amuse me now but I remember waking up the morning of the tri and thinking “Wow that was such a good decision” and then a week later beating myself up for not at least giving it a go.

One of my main reasons ( aside from the lack of training) was the waiting by the pool for a good 2 hours before it was my turn.  Not only was it in the blazing sun but there were women  (it was a women’s only tri)  already crossing the finish line by the time I got in the pool.

An embarrassing, anxiety inducing, heat exhausting wait.  Nope wasn’t going to do it.

The joke was on me.  They used two pools this past year to avoid the wait.   Beat myself up some more upon hearing that.

So here it is January 2017.  There is 8 inches of snow on the ground and I am thinking about  wiggling and contorting my post Christmas, post birthday celebration body into a swimsuit and going for a swim.

Snow and swimsuits  brrrrr

Of course the main problem ( which I always blame my lack of training on) is there is no close by indoor pool   I have been patiently waiting for the one to be finished that is about 25 minutes away but it’s taking forever.

Wouldn’t you know as I was online checking on the pool construction status I find one on our local military base that is not only what I need but can use right now.  It’s a little farther away but doable for once or twice a week.

And my anxiety started simultaneously with the excuses as to why I couldn’t manage this. Everything from:

  • there will probably be all these fit young military people swimming there..how embarrassing to be the slow poke
  • to the old standby “I don’t have the time for this”

I got myself into such a state of anxiety I was starting to think about the leftover birthday cake downstairs that would taste so good with a hershey kiss chaser.  So far I am resisting…barely.

After a couple of deep breaths I made a decision!

I WILL swim this week Thursday* because despite all my reservations, all the silly excuses I make up,  all my anxiety over doing it, and not really wanting to put on my suit I KNOW that I will be so disappointed in myself it I don’t at least try..or should that be tri.

What will you Tri this week???

 

P.S. Its Thursday because it fits into my schedule but most of all the roads in my community won’t be iced over by then!

 

 

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How I “became” a “real” runner on Saturday!

I recently read a comment from a fellow runner on another blog that said despite the fact she had run 20 marathons ( yes 20!) she still didn’t consider herself a “real” runner.

WHAT???    20 marathons is 524 miles….whoa.

It got me to thinking what makes someone feel like a “real” runner.  Obviously completing 20 marathons wasn’t enough for this woman.

OMG

I have never done a marathon.  I might never do one and yet I felt more like a “real” runner this past week-end than I ever have.   Before I tell you what happened I have to share a passage from a favorite book that has the best description of what it is to be “real”.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

So for runners I would change that last line to:

“But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be slow, or last or not a good enough runner, except to people who don’t understand”

You are a real runner because you run nothing more, nothing less! Click To Tweet

As promised here is why I now feel like a “real” runner.

This past Saturday I ran an 8k (5 miles).  It was suppose to be a half marathon (13.1 miles) but my training went poorly so I changed to the 8k and wasn’t even sure I could that.

A couple of days before the race I decided that no matter how I felt I was going and I would run with joy and to have fun.  I was a little nervous especially since on Wednesday I had barely eeked out a mile, but I went.

It helped that the day was chilly but gorgeous.  I put a big grin on my face and just trusted that this would be okay.The first two miles were stop and go.  I had to stop and tie my shoe, then I had to stop to get a pebble out of my  other shoe.  As we approached Mile 2 it became evident that I needed a porta potty quick.  I gotta tell you seeing those line of porta potties at Mile 2 was a beautiful site.  I ran in, ran out and joined the race again.

It was all okay.  Never had to stop that many times in the first two miles but I didn’t stress about it.

I looked around at all the runners.

It reminded me of the old Oscar Meyer Weiner Commercial:

“Fat kids, skinny kids, kids that climb on rocks. Tall kids, short kids, kids that have the chicken pox”

Hopefully there was nobody there with the chicken pox!

The variety of ages and sizes was beautiful and we were all encouraging one another.

And I ran with joy and gratitude to just be out there.

That’s when it happened.  I became “real”  and I was surrounded by “real” runners because we were out there and we were doing it and we all had smiles on our faces and we were triumphant in the “doing”.

Wait there was one more “real” moment after I crossed the finish line when I turned to another woman runner around my age and said “Wow, what an awesome day and great race!”  and she asked “What was your time?”

My reply: ” I have absolutely no idea”

That is what sealed the deal and made me a “real” runner.  I ran with joy and because I could. IMG_2458

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Are you really being grateful?

I love November.  I love Thanksgiving!  I also love that people focus on gratitude intensely this month.

The “attitude of gratitude” is rampant and that’s a problem.  It sounds nice, it has good intentions but often that is where it stops.  I never even thought about it until I heard author and social worker Brene Brown speak about yoga.

She said she loves everything about yoga:

  • the mindfulness
  • the peace it brings people
  • the comfy clothes
  • the music

She loves it and thinks it is awesome and has tons of yoga clothes that she loves but then she said …..

She has never done yoga.

Not even once.  Never on the mat.  No downward dog.

She had an “attitude of yoga” but not a “practice of yoga”.

Makes sense, right?  We can have all the “tudes” we want but until we get out there and actually do it, it remains an attitude with no action.

Every time I post about Thougthful Thursday I always end it with “Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One”!

And today I will challenge you to take your “attitude of gratitude” and make it a “practice of gratitude”

What does that look like?  It will probably be different for everyone but it can be as simple as saying “thank-you” for something somebody does for you everyday but never gets noticed … as in thanking your spouse for remembering to put the garbage out or always changing light bulbs.

It wasn’t until I was almost in the dark after Paul had been gone for awhile that I realized he ALWAYS replaced the burnt out light bulbs.  I thank him when he is home for doing the “Bub” patrol as we call it!!

A speaker that I know, Connie Podesta, put this saying on her facebook page and I stole it ( the saying not the photo) and I also adopted it into my daily gratitude practice.  It doesn’t get any simpler than this:Image-1

So today and for the rest of the month ( and hopefully forever) have a “practice” of gratitude.  It will do your heart good.

Now go out and make it a “Thoughtful One” !  I KNOW you will!

 

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Finding joy in starting over…

I just went for a run.  The first in a very very long time.  The list of reasons is unbelievably long.  Everything from traveling, to bad weather, to hating the “dreadmill” to the simple “I don’t wanna do it”

Of course, when I decided enough was enough and it was time to get out there again I caught a nasty respiratory infection that sapped my energy.  I could barely walk the dog let alone run.

I was smart enough to take care of myself as I watched some glorious perfect running days ( 70’s, no humidiy, light breeze) pass me by and I proceeded to beat myself up for NOT running all the times I had the chance to run when I wasn’t coughing up a lung.

So today was the day to start over.  I knew I would pretty much be starting from scratch.  I set my Garmin to run 3 minutes, walk 1 and decided to do a whole mile.

HOWEVER  I also gave myself permission to let go of what could have been, all those missed running days, and all the running stamina I used to possess.  And most importantly I let go of my ego and gave myself permission to do what felt good.

I made it 2 minutes and decided I needed to walk.  I enjoyed the beautiful day.  I walked 2 minutes and then decided to try the run 3  walk 1 again.  It was amazing.  When my watch signaled it was time to walk I was surprised.

I did my mile ( well .95 of it according to Miss Garmin)  Makes no matter.  I did it.  You can too! It doesn’t have to be running.  Do what makes you feel good, walking, zumba, yoga, or biking.

Let go of the past and what could have been. Let go of what others think is a the “best” exercise, an impressive amount of miles, or time, or the best yoga poses or the hills you “have” to do to be considered a cyclist.

I have lots of running medals and yet today I feel more victorious than ever because I listened to myself and I did it just for me!

Find the joy in whatever you choose to do. It makes all the difference!

The courage to start

Keep Triing,

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It’s a Thoughtful Thursday Riddle: What do we ALL have that can be one of the most loving and generous gifts ever?

This is not my usual Thoughtful Thursday post but keep reading.  I guarantee it’s worth it.

What can be some of the most loving things in the world?

We all possess them.  We create them, we change them, they can be loud or soft and they have the ability to love endlessly.

A toddler has them.  Even some animals.

Give up?

The most loving things in the world can be our words.

I have always been a lover of words. Written, read, spoken, and sung. I remember the first word I learned to read: “jump”. Suddenly all those letters put together made sense.  I couldn’t get enough and devoured those wonderful  Dick and Jane Books with their dog Spot and their cat Puff.

When you hand write an encouraging or loving  note to someone your words become personalized with your distinctive handwriting and thoughtfulness.  You took the time to jot down a note and either mailed it or gave it to them.  The pharmacy time and thought you spent is honored and treasured by the recipient (at least it is by me).

Recently while cleaning out some forgotten boxes I discovered some old letters written by my grandmother. Her distinctive handwriting immediately brought a smile to my face. Her words created a picture in my mind of a time long ago and I could hear her words,smell her fried chicken and picture the long harvest table where we all gathered for family dinners.
???????????????????????????????????????????????????????
As I embraced her words that made pictures in my mind I am reminded of other loving words that were given to me over the years.  Some I have in written form and some are written on my heart forever.

Whose heart can you write on today? Guess what? It can even be your own! Embrace and cherish your words today and go make it a thoughtful  one!

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See Jenn Tri to write and eat pancakes!

I love to write.  I love pancakes.  If I could write all day with a big stack of pancakes beside me I would be a happy camper.  I would be a HUGE happy camper but happy doing what I love and eating what I love.

But I don’t do it…often enough.   Truth is I eat more pancakes than I write.

I get why I don’t indulge in pancakes more often but the writing is something I love to do.  Just to do it.  That’s it.  Not to be published or write the best seller but because it  brings me joy.

Just writing that seems like I am confessing to a secret passion.  WHAT?  I don’t do it to get paid, for recognition or some huge goal?  Nope.  Just because.

Problem is I don’t indulge myself often enough.

It may be written at the top of my “to do” list but it often falls under the unwritten category of  “today, maybe if I get the time”

I think sleeping aids there are a lot of musicians, painters, gardeners, inventors, bakers and candlestick makers that are just like me.

Maybe you are one of them.  I had a dear friend who had an incredible story to tell of her life.  She was a wonderful writer.  Notice the past tense.  She left us yesterday and so did her story.  Never written.

That wasn’t her plan.  That is not anyones plan.

So today in honor of Gwen I made pancakes.  Homemade pancakes from scratch.  They were the BEST ( recipe is below) And I am writing.  Not just this but other writing that brings me joy.

My plan is to do it everyday.  Even if I only get 10 minutes to write.  I deserve it.  So do you.

The pancakes…well..they have to stay at twice a month. Just the anticipation of them makes me happy.
"Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".Serge Bertasius Photography

Go do your own version of writing and eating pancakes.  Do it everyday !
image courtesy of kortamember@freedigitalimages.net
Keep Triing!

Jenn

PS.  Here is the link to a delicious pancake recipe! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/fluffy-pancakes-2/

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Let’s play “Where is Jenn?” on her Virtual Tri to Florida aka the UNamazing Race

I think it might be easier to find Waldo than to find me.  Trying to keep all my plates spinning in the air has been quite a challenge.  This virtual tri is quite the opposite of the Amazing Race.  The only amazing thing about it is that I am still determined to do it.

Hit a few roadblocks but I decided to declare this a “no whining, no excuse zone” so will just leave it at roadblocks.

Okay I will whine about one thing.  I usually love “springing forward” and daylight savings time but my body does not!  I should have been adjusted to the time change by the end of that week.   Instead there were a couple of times I would have paid big bucks to have that hour back.

Then, of course, we have the arrival of spring more winter.  We’ve had more snow in March than in any other month.  Ugh.

Guess that makes two whines!

I even did the treadmill and experienced bad treadmill karma.  You’ll have to wait on that story or perhaps see it on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

So my total mileage so far is 74.58   which means I am almost to the North Carolina border, somewhere on  US 301 S near Sussex Dr.

I truly thought I would be halfway there by now.  Maybe I need a new travel agent.

Swimming will be coming in April…indoors..where there is no snow, it’s warm and hopefully no mirrors 🙂

Who knows..I may find Waldo on my journey…wonder if he tri’s??
bldg

I guess he does!!

Keep Triing!!

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Owning my own story of Marathon Madness

blowup_pam_0001Registration opened today for the Marine Corps Marathon to be held on Oct. 28th.   The marathon hadn’t crossed my mind much this year.  I registered for the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon and then ended up bowing out and registering for physical therapy instead 🙁

I really wanted to run it and have it be my very first ( and possibly my one and only) marathon.

I was tempted to register for it again today especially when I saw it was  98% full  about an hour and 15 minutes after registration opened.

I knew it would fill up fast but this must be some kind of record!

Turned out it was.  The 30,000 online registration spots were spoken for in 2 hrs and 41 minutes.  Wow.

Even though I know it was the right decision I still am a little sad that I am not one of those 30,000 runners who registered today.

And I am a little relieved.  I still want to run a marathon but I am happy to not have the pressure of training for it right now.  I am slowly increasing my running mileage and getting back into a regular running routine.  My first official race will be a 10k at the end of the month and if I am smart I will listen to my body and run/walk it.

Not only will I need to listen to my body but I will also need to swallow my pride as well.  Something I was not willing to do last year for the marathon.

Yes I didn’t run it because I needed to rehab my back.  That was a smart decision.  BUT the rest of the story is the part I need to own.   I realized early on in my training that I would need to run/walk the marathon.  I read a couple of books and decided it was my best option.

If my back hadn’t gotten in my way  and prevented me from running the marathon then truthfully I believe my head ( my stinking thinking) my pride and my fear of being judged would have done me in.

Even though I was doing fair in the run/walk training despite my back I couldn’t get the picture out of my mind of how it would look to run/walk the marathon.  I saw myself running for a set number of minutes and then walking for one or two minutes and being embarrassed ( esp at the beginning of the race) as everyone passed me by.

Now I am embarrassed that I actually let this limiting belief get in my way.

I have been a spectator at this race two or three times when my husband ran it.  I saw the beginning, middle and end and I NEVER saw anyone walking in the beginning.

There probably were people walking I just didn’t see them.  And even if  nobody did, there is a first for everything.  After all my whole goal was to finish.  Actually my goal was to make it over the bridge in the time alloted so I could finish the race and not be picked up by the “stragglers” van.

So I often wonder if I hadn’t had to bow out because of my back would I have been able to step up to the starting line and run my own race, my way??

It wasn’t until recently that I was willing to own the “head” part of my story.   My whole being minus the negative thinking  is now ready to run a marathon however I choose to run it…run, walk, skip, moon walk..its all good .

And I still want to do a marathon but no pressure.  We have the Richmond Marathon here in Nov.  The beauty of this race is that its also a half marathon and an 8k.  It is local and little less crowded. I can opt for the shorter distances if  I am not ready for the whole 26.2 miles.  ( FYI, I have to opt in for the shorter distances a couple of days before the race)

No pressure here..not even with the registration, although I will register soon.

I will keep you posted periodically on my progress as well as a couple of triathlons I am hoping to do.

Honestly I already feel victorious. Owning my true marathon story is more than half the battle.

It is also in keeping with my favorite quote :

“The miracle isn’t that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start”  John Bingham

You know me..I have to tri!

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Victory in the tri-ing!

I am back..finally.   Turns out I am not good at keeping all my plates in the air and I let this one drop.  Now that I have a few less plates spinning and a little more time I can finally catch up on those items that I put on the back burner.

I did complete one triathlon this season.  Wanted to do more but it wasn’t meant to be.

It wasn’t my best triathlon but it was the one where I learned the most about myself.   So my favorite part worst sport of the three is swimming.  Its a wonder I don’t drown every time.  I even took a swim class this winter.  It helped…sort of.

Even though I was close to being the last one out of the water I am going to give myself credit for a couple of things:

  • I didn’t have to be  rescued by the kayakers
  • I kept my sense of humor
  • My slow swim made it easy to find my bike since almost everybody had already left!

Off on the bike. Surely I would make up time here.  It was not to be.  Here is the short version of what happened in the middle of the killer hill ( of course)!

  • my chain came off
  • get off bike fix chain
  • get back on bike and try to make it up this hill ( did I mention how insanely steep it is?)
  • chain comes off again
  • get off bike
  • swear
  • fix chain
  • cross fingers

Once I got back on the bike for try #2 I can’t get my momentum back to get the hill

  • Momentarily think about quitting
  • more swearing
  • walk bike up hill
  • get back on and pedal like mad.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful.  I found my sense of humor and even scolded the cop who was busy taking up the safety cones before I even passed his checkpoint.

By the time I started the run I knew I was dead last.  So I spent time making peace with that during the run only to discover at the turnaround there was someone behind me.

Seriously??   I just made peace with it and now ..mmm… no time to think just run.

One of the nice things of coming in at the tail end is that there are lots of people to cheer you in.  They are truly happy for you and you know the clapping and cheers are sincere.

After some water and a banana I got into the crowd to cheer the last person in.  While standing there I found out it was her first tri, she beat breast cancer and also lost over 100 lbs.

WOW!!

Suddenly my woes during the race seemed trivial compared to the real life challenges of this triumphant participant.

She may have been last in the race but she was first in facing real life challenges.

It’s people like her who inspire me to keep “triing” no matter what the outcome because there are victories to be had just in the triing!

Be inspired!

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