10K + 13.1 = Algebra!

So, as I sit here reflecting on our weekend, I think that you are amazing for doing [two] races.  No normal person [would] do that.  Then I remember . . . this is not the face of a normal person.

The above is a text message, nearly verbatim, that my best friend, Callie, sent to me on the evening of Sunday, September 30th.  There was an attachment with the text . . .  basically, it is photographic evidence that I make ridiculous faces.  I have chosen to exclude this particular picture because it truly is NOT flattering, albeit hilarious.  However, I will indeed include several photos from Sunday, later in my ramblings.

So, in short . . . HOLY SHIT!  I. DID. IT!

I have not been a superstar at finding the time to update this blog as of late (SOOOO, you may be scratching your head thinking to yourself WHAT!?  WHAT DID YOU DO!?  I will loop it back around . . . as I always do!).  Essentially, I have fallen behind in life.  I have not maintained my reading goals, I am woefully behind in responding to pen-pal letters, and I barely have any traveling postcards floating around out there for Postcrossing, so on and so forth.  I also cannot seem to get caught up with the laundry and other, miscellaneous household chores, just adding that extra layer of incompetency to my stew of slackery.  However, although I have not quite been nailing it in the afore outlined areas of my life: blogging, reading, snail mailing, housework, etc., allow me to list for you where I have been slaying it:

  • I tried my hand at creating ATCs, and I have been happy with the outcome!
  • I ran in the 2018 Dempsey Challenge 10K (September 29th, 2018).
    • Not only did I run in the 2018 Dempsey Challenge 10K, I obtained my best 10k time to date.
      • With the love, support, and generosity of family, friends, and even IG and swap-bot friends I’ve never even met in person, I raised $550.99 for the Dempsey Centers.  That is $550.99 dollars that is truly going to help someone (or many someones) engaged in a battle with cancer.
  • I ran my very first half marathon (September 30th, 2018).
    • Not only did I run my first half marathon, I did so the day after I obtained by best 10k time.  I was also informed that my 10k time this day matched that of the day before.  *Shout out to Erin for tracking me and thinking to let me know that tidbit!
  • I signed up for an out-of-state race!
    • I have never run in an event outside of Maine, and though it’s on my bucket list to do so, I’m a bit anxious and nervous at the prospect, but I am also really stoked to follow through!

I found this nifty YouTube video just a few moments ago on the Maine Marathon website.  <~~ This is now a lie.  It was the truth yesterday, when I began the composition of this entry, but it is no longer ‘a few moments ago.’  But I digress!  The video shows the run route via a motor vehicle.  As I watched it, I thought I can’t believe I ran all of this!  Watching this video was an entirely different perspective, and I now brim with pride.  I was proud of myself when I crossed that finish line, but when I truly came to comprehend my accomplishment . . .

I am really freakin’ proud of myself!

Map

Pic6
Callie Stretching
Pic4
I’ve Got To Stretch Too!
Pic5
Maine Marathon Starting Line
Pic9
Callie and I at the Starting Line
Pic3
Sunrise
Pic7
Ocean View
Pic8
Callie and I Crossed the Finish Line!

I am (already) seriously considering running another half marathon . . .

However, I highly doubt that I will (ever) double up on races in one weekend again!  I also doubt that there is the possibility of emulating the feels that accompanied crossing that half marathon finish line for the first time, but it’s a high that I am willing to chase, figuratively speaking, but since I am writing about running, I mean it quite literally too!

 

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Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Whether I know you in person or not, I am proud of you, even if only for trying.  I concentrate on being supportive, motivating, and encouraging to others, as well as genuinely happy for others’ accomplishments.  I was once so very guilty of comparing myself with others, and I strive today to not do so.  This is not to suggest that I never engage in this comparative behavior, because I do, and that is clear in many of my other written ramblings, but it is something that I continually work to correct in myself.  Comparison is a damaging habit, not only to your own well-being, but it can also potentially leave a ding in the contentment of the other individual (the victim of your analogy).  Until recently, just yesterday in fact, I was unaware that I was the object of comparison; when this tidbit came to light, it irked me, and here is why . . .

(Were you on the edge of your seat with wonder, distressed that I was not going to provide further explanation?)

Yesterday, a woman with whom I work, I will call her C, had just returned from a walk outside at about the same time that I was making my way back to my office from my Monday gym session.  (Word on the street is, you should never skip a Monday.  Challenge accepted; I ran 7 miles.  BOOM!).  C happily reported that she was already at her 10,000 steps for the day, and Leola stated that she (C) and Miss Amy are putting her (Leola) to shame (I’m “Miss Amy,” btw).  C proceeded to state that I likely get 20,000 steps a day, and Leola reiterated that we are working on two different journeys and reminded her that I am training for a half marathon.  C then indicated that it is easy for me because I am 20 years younger than she is, and that is what annoyed me.

Why undermine my drive, my hard work, and my commitment?  On days that I get 20,000 steps, it’s because I push myself and then I push myself harder and then I push myself just a little bit more.  Do not diminish another’s progress in order to build yourself up.  If you are unhappy with 10,000 steps, then push yourself to take more steps.  If you feel unfulfilled with your work in the day, then do more work.  I may be 20 years younger than C, but there was once a day when running 7 miles seemed like merely a pipe dream.  Several years ago, I was still 20 years younger than C, and running even .25 miles nonstop was an immense accomplishment.  Although I was left feeling unfulfilled with that .25 after a while, I did not compare myself with someone who could run longer, nor did I encapsulate their abilities: he’s younger than I am, she has more time than I do, he has a more natural athletic ability, and so on and so forth.  The excuses for not performing as well as somebody else are endless, but it should not matter how you perform compared with another.  There is a lot of truth to the quip, “Compete with yourself, not with others.”

So, since 2015-ish, I have been counting calories, going to the gym, running, running, running, and running some more, drinking more water, working on my food related choices and behaviors, pushing myself . . . In other words, I work damn hard, so. damn. hard.  So, I do not take kindly to my weight loss or my step count being credited to my age.  I can only assume that C is not happy with where she is at, but that did not give her an appropriate cause to minimize me, more specifically, where I am at in my own journey.  For the record, there is an 80-ish year old man (that is 50+ years older than I am) who absolutely smokes me every year at the Safe Voices 5K.  So, you see, C, MY age has little to do with YOUR performance.

I am well aware that soul searching is burdensome and that it is painful to be truthful, particularly when we feel that we are falling short and have to admit to ourselves that yeah, this one is on me.  I sat on this encounter all of yesterday afternoon and evening before writing it up this morning; I thought it of the utmost importance to analyze why this bothered me so.  Why am I so sensitive to this remark?  Am I justified in my feels?  What I’ve concluded is that . . . I am justified to feel any sort of way that I want to about it.  My feelings are my own, and they are valid whether someone else “gets” them or not.  However, I usually do make sure that my perspectives aren’t fueled by hanger, and in this case, they most definitely were not.  I was (am) sensitive to her remark for exactly the reasons that I outlined: I work hard, and I did not appreciate my hard work being surmised that it is easy because I am 33.

So, I urge one and all to just . . . STOP.  Stop comparing yourself with others for any reason . . . whether it’s a number on the scale, a distance you’ve run, the size of your residence, the make and model of your car, your marital status, your parental status, the brand of your clothes, your level of education . . . just STOP.  Instead, engage in self-reflection, and keep it just that: SELF-reflection.  When I began to self-reflect as a means to counteract my nature to compare, compare, compare, I learned several key points, and here they are . . .

(Were you on the edge of your seat thinking that I was not going to share them with you?)

  • Comparison is the thief of joy.
  • I am exactly where I am meant to be, and I have two options while I am here:
    • a) be happy where I am while I work on bettering my situation and / or myself
    • b) be miserable.  *The latter will assist me in the accomplishment of . . . being miserable.
  • Sometimes, someone else just wants it more.
  • A lot of work remains ahead of me.
    • Although I fully understand that when I compare myself with others, I am allowing my joy to be thieved, I have yet to learn how to keep others from pirating my joy.

 

*Note(s):

  • I referred to C as such because her first name begins with a C; this letter selection was not to imply derogatory name calling.
  • Most days, I do not achieve 20,000 steps.  So, C’s comparison is based solely on her own assumption.
  • Larceny is a Part 1 crime.

Goals: JDD / FISHMO

WARNING: There will be naughty words; they will be in the FISHMO portion of this entry.  Where that will end up being, I do not know, but you’ve been warned!

Beach to Beacon.  Beach to mother effing Beacon.  (That’s not where it gets naughty, BTW) . . . or should I say BTB?  Haaayyyyooooooo.  So, Beach to Beacon is kind of a big deal.  (I stole some info. from one of the utmost reliable interweb resources (Wikipedia), and it’s below should you want to read about it).

The Beach to Beacon 10K is a 10-kilometer (6.2 mi) road running event that takes place along the coastline of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It begins at Crescent Beach State Park and ends at the Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park.

Starting out as mainly a local event, athletes from all over the U.S. and various parts of the world now participate in the annual event, including some world-class distance runners, including Olympic Marathon Silver medalists Catherine Ndereba and Meb Keflezighi, as well as Chicago Marathon winner Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot. It was founded by U.S. women’s marathon runner Joan Benoit Samuelson, who in 1984, won the first ever women’s Olympic marathon. 1998 was the first year that the event was held and over 3000 runners participated in the race. The event was sponsored by then People’s Heritage Bank, which changed parent companies. Now the event is formally known as the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10k. 

Beach to Beacon now draws approximately 6,000 runners from all across the nation.  Actually, runners from all around the world travel to Maine for this race.  I could be wrong, but I am fairly certain that 2018’s event sold out in approximately 45 minutes.  45 minutes to sell 4,000ish spots!  (Cape Elizabeth residents are permitted to register the day before B2B opens for all, and some of the 6,000ish spots are saved for a lottery).  You’re lucky!  You know why you’re lucky?  Because you kinda sorta know someone who got a spot.  Yeah, ME!

So, B2B, according to their official website, is in 3 days, 15 hours, and 5 minutes at the time of this writing (13:06hrs on 07/31/2018).  I am filled with various feels . . .

First, I am proud.  I am proud because I am trying something completely and utterly out of my comfort zone.  I’ve run a 10K before but not one so official.  I have to travel to a congested, touristy area that I have never been to before, and the crowd alone will be enough to send my anxiety into overdrive.  6,000+ runners, oodles volunteers, and gaggles of spectators.  That’s a lot of people, and at about an ounce of anxiety per person, yeah, that’s quite a bit of anxiousness all bottled up inside of me.

Second, I’m nervous.  It is going to be humid as humid can be on Saturday, and I am one who struggles with heat and especially humidity.  I was (somewhat) accepting of this weather factoid until the comfort of my personal hydration system was ripped from my tightly clenched phalanges.  I have no doubt that there are water stations along the 10K, but the fact remains that one of my comforts has been taken from me and is now null and void.

Third, I’m self-doubtful.  From my perspective, I see 5,999 badass runners, and then there’s me.  This is just my self-doubt kicking in, and as we know from many, many entries back, these are thoughts I entertain before any event that I do, big or small.

Fourth, I’m (already) tired.  In order to be at one of the shuttle bus stations by 0600hrs, I need to leave my house by 0400hrs.  To leave by 0400hrs, I need to wake up between 0230 and 0300hrs.  However, this is the present-time Amy who isn’t all hopped up on the day-of excitement and adrenaline.  I know when my alarm trills bright (or lack thereof) and early on Saturday, I will wake up without much effort – I always do.

Lastly, I’m determined!  When the self-doubt creeps in, when the threat of heat stroke enters my brain, when I feel pre-tired, I simply do one thing to combat it all . . . I remember.

I remember all of the years that I felt:

  • not ready
  • not good enough
  • too slow
  • too big
  • too scared
  • too nervous
  • too anxious

Most of all, I remember how I felt last year, at this time, when I watched the news and saw all of the runners at the start line.  I remember watching the piece about the twenty-three year old runner who collapsed, due to heat stroke, right before the finish line and another runner picked him up and helped him finish.  I remember how disappointed I was in myself that I didn’t even . . . TRY.

So, despite how unprepared I feel right now, how hot, sweaty, sore, and tired I will be, I am going to try.  Doing just that puts me leaps and bounds ahead of where I was at, mentally and physically, in August of 2017.  I have already given myself permission to walk a few steps if / as I need to.  I’m not in it the win it; honestly, I never do an event with the intent to place.  I have very, very basic goals:

  • just don’t die (JDD)
  • just finish
  • think FISHMO

Ahh, the FISHMO . . .

The FISHMO state of mind:

Fuck it!  Shit happens, move on.

And as long as I simply try . . . it doesn’t get much more FISHMO than that.

. . . 3 days, 18 hours, 4 minutes.

 

‘Tis Payne Day!

Those who have been following along may remember that approximately a month ago, I vowed (errr, contemplated) an attempt at the David Payne Memorial Run this year.  Well, the time between that resolution and ‘go time’ has expeditiously dissipated, and it’s now mere hours (about two) until this dream / goal of mine becomes a reality.

In addition to July 23rd being a day of remembrance of my department’s fallen officers, it is a day that I will forever remember as being especially motivating to me.  Five years ago today, I wanted to be them.  When I saw the runners return after pushing their bodies, being torrentially rained on (coincidentally, it’s raining today too), and overcoming overall miserable conditions, I knew that I wanted to join them “one day.”  Well, “one day” is today.  (More about my perspective of said runners in the linked blog entry above).

For this year’s event, the run route has been changed.  The route is now 3.5 miles instead of the usual 7 or 8.  I think the change is an attempt to attract more participants since it’s the 30th anniversary of Payne’s EOW.  I overheard a colleague telling another that, “They’re only running to the park this year.”  “Only” is still 3.5 miles.  *An (insert any distance here) mile run doesn’t sound like a lot when you’re not doing the work.*  I know the route, and it’s a tough one despite the halving of the distance.  Despite a (forced) week off from training, I feel ready to take this on.

My best friend, Callie, will be doing this event with me.  She took the day off from her job to be by my side, and I think it’s partly because she knows how important it is to me.  Five years ago, I was not quite ready to make a lifestyle change, no matter how much like “them” I longed to be.  Fast forward five years, and I’ve come full circle.  I am now fit enough to join this run.  Many of the officers and civilians with whom I work have asked me this morning if I’m running today, and I can confidently say, “I sure am!”  Evidently, my weight loss and training efforts, as well as participation in other events (LETR), have not gone unnoticed.

My eyes brim with (joyful) tears each time I am asked if I’m running today because I’m being recognized . . . as able.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look At Me, I’m Sandra B.*

*Sung to the tune of Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee, the catchy Stockard Channing ditty from 1978’s Grease.*

However, the Sandra who I know and am fond of, Sandra B., is likely not “lousy with virginity” considering that she has five adult children and several grandbabies, but I digress . . .

Sandra B., who I have now known for nearly five years, is a woman I not only respect and appreciate, but I admire her and aspire to be like her in one particular way.  Sandy is the epitome of the expression:

fountain

Sandy is a REAL runner!  <~~BTW, this is not me downplaying my abilities, but I am describing her this way to provide some insight into my perspective and image of her.  Sandy has been running for years and years and years; a “leisurely” eight-ish miles is how she begins most days, and I doubt she even breaks a sweat, tbh.  As seasoned and capable a runner as she is, from day one, Sandra B. has been one of my supporters.  When running 1/4 mile non stop was an accomplishment, when I finished my first 5k, even though I walked most of it, and when I did my first Torch Run and had to ride part of the way in the struggle bus, Sandy was supportive, encouraging, and motivating.  When I entered my first Dempsey Challenge 10K in 2016, I kept pace with Sandy and her sister for the first mile or so, and I use the term “kept pace with” loosely; when they finished long before me, they waited for me at the finish line.  When Sandy and I went running in the park together a few times last summer, during breaks, and the heat was so oppressive that I had to walk, she never once made me feel bad about myself, nor did she make me feel like I was holding her back.

Sandy is a force to be reckoned with as far as fitness and athleticism, but in addition to this, she is truly a model of empowerment.  I wish to and strive to be that person to others.  I doubt that Sandy envisions herself in the same manner that I visualize her, but I hypothesize that nobody sees themselves from the viewpoint of others.

Last week, while in my office, I overheard a colleague say that she didn’t want to go for a walk outside because it was torrentially raining.  I stuck my head out from my doorway and told her that I was going to go downstairs and use the gym if she wanted to join me.  She exclaimed, “No way!” and indicated that she can’t keep up with me; as of late, she’s been pushing herself harder and harder to get her 10k steps in before she goes home for the day, and I always give her an attaboy for her efforts.

Just this week, I received an email from my best friend, Callie, that reads, “You are the only reason I have been pushing myself.  If not for you, I would have been much lazier this summer 🙂 Glad to have you beside me :)!”

Holy shit!  I’m someone’s Sandy!

Peace Out, Termagants*

*I used a thesaurus for “bitches,” and although “termagants” is not entirely applicable to my sentiment, it certainly is the most amusing . . . and it made you read this, did it not?

If I had to create a list of things that I am bad at, quitting would be at the top of said list.  Also on that inventory: ice skating, drawing, controlling my face, and liking foods that most people deem delicious (I hate cheesecake, pie, all seafood, and a plethora of other foodstuffs).  IMAGINE . . . a Mainer that loathes seafood and cannot ice skate – talk about a black sheep!

So, I have decided to quit my ambassadorship with Just Strong Clothing.  Instead of recapping my reasons for my departure as a brand representative, I will share the email that I have drafted.


Good afternoon to you, and I hope that this message finds you well.

I’m writing because I think it is best for me to step down as a #juststrong ambassador.  It isn’t for me, and here’s why:

I’m not great at generating sales.  I’ve been an ambassador for several months now, and I know for certain that I have not assisted with any sales, and I also know that I have not exactly created a buzz.  I’ve been posting the required content, but I’m not the type that will record my workouts or post a picture (or more) daily.  I’m just … me … and that’s not what is selling, as enthusiastic and pro your clothing as I am.

A second reason I have for wanting to step down is the brand is all about encouraging and empowering women, but I find that I have had little (no) support from Just Strong.  The Just Strong IG account doesn’t even follow me (@idiosyncratic_unicorn).  You don’t follow your own ambassador – what kind of message does that send?  I know that you have a lot of ambassadors and can only promote so many of our posts, and I wasn’t expecting that my content would be chosen to be shared in a story or that I would be given a shout out, but do I expect a company that I’m promoting to at least follow me?  YES, yes I do.  Furthermore, I really put myself out there for you / your brand.  I shared a photo of the cropped hoodie, which although it’s not a straight on shot, you can see my stomach, and that’s a huge step for me to take.  So, for me to put myself out there to such a degree and not even have a follow from you, that is a blow.  I’ve chosen to unfollow you as well.  It doesn’t make much sense to not follow a company / brand that I’m representing, now does it?  The reverse is just as nonsensical.

Finally, and I’m sorry, but I don’t see how you are empowering women.  What I see is a brand of women’s clothing with various women wearing it, but I don’t see anything else to supplement the idea that women are empowered by you / your clothing.  Maybe if there was some content pertaining to workouts tailored especially for women, a woman’s fitness journey /  story were shared, or if you gave a shout out to a woman with a health / fitness journey / transformation blog, encouraging others to read it and follow, etc. – maybe then I would believe that the empowerment and encouragement components are there.  For a brand that is designed to empower women, I certainly don’t feel empowered, and a lot of that stems from fellow ambassadors.  I’ve made an effort to reach out and connect with other ambassadors, and maybe (at most) two or three have done the same for me.  The ambassadorship has seemingly become a way for most to take endless selfies with a valid reason for doing so to hide behind.  But there is very little interaction and empowerment between the women.

So, I will not remove my photos of myself wearing your products, but I have taken down, from my profile, the indicator that I’m one of your ambassadors, and I will make a post that makes it clear that I have stepped down.  I will not remove my promotional content of your brand from my blog, but I will also make a post there indicating that I have stepped down as one of your ambassadors, and I will be sure to remove your logo from my blog.  It’s really too bad because I have two runs coming up – one with 3,000 runners and the other with 6,000 – it would have been such great advertising for you.  Which brings me to my last point . . .

I purchased two items of clothing from your line, and I appreciate the discount, but the shipping is so costly on top of the price of clothing, that I couldn’t afford to buy more right now.  Your brand does not follow me, your brand does not promote me, my fellow ambassadors do not support me, but I did receive an email not long ago checking in because I had not made a recent purchase.  If you want to sell clothes, sell clothes (they’re high quality clothes, and I will never dispute that) but don’t stand behind a message of empowerment.  Your brand of clothing is undeniably high quality, but your ambassadorship program isn’t a good fit for me, and I see a lot of ways it could be improved upon.  I’m sure in the grand scheme of things, my participation will not be missed as I’m simply a drop in the bucket for you, and herein lies the problem – as an ambassador, representing your brand, your company, and your product, I SHOULD feel like I matter.

Thank you so much for the opporunity, and should anything change in the future, feel free to reach out – I may be willing to give it another go.

Amy


Ultimately, when I choose to do something, I do it with the utmost level of passion; this something can be a small endeavor, or it can be a large one.  Everything that I do is done with all of the effort that I can possibly muster, and I tend to expect to get out what I put in . . .


As of July 18th . . . 

Zero response from Just Strong Clothing.  Thank you, Just Strong, for solidifying that I have indeed made the correct correct and best choice for me.  I feel so . . . empowered!  Ironic, ‘ey?

But Am I For Really Real?

A fleeting thought as I sit at my desk . . .

If I update my blog while I’m working, am I technically being paid to blog?  If so, does this make me a “real” blogger?

I have the tendency to downplay every. single. thing. I do or am involved in, whether it’s professionally, athletically, or even pertaining to my hobbies.  I delineate a “real” blogger as an individual who is either paid to write or has a large following.  I consider and describe myself as an amateur blogger, which is accurate because:

noun

  1. a person who engages in a pursuit [ . . . ] on an unpaid basis.

adjective

  1. engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional.

 

However, does being a dilettante in a given element make the dabbler or their participation any less “real” in comparison with those who have garnered more experience?

When I am recognized for working at the police department, I am often asked if I’m an officer, and my response is typically, “I’m just a crime analyst.”  When I have spoken fondly of a colleague who is a fellow long distance runner, I have, on more than one occasion, stated, “But Sandy’s a real runner.”

I have a habit of devaluing myself; it is a behavior that I regularly exhibit, but I have recently begun to notice just how prominent this trait is.  During an afternoon stroll with Leola, a co-worker who I have befriended over the years, I discussed with her exactly what I have drafted above.  “That’s a character flaw.  You don’t have many, but that’s one of them.  You can quote me in your blog.”

So, today marks the day that I attempt to alter the impression of myself I have left on . . . ME.  I’m a real blogger.  I’m a real runner.  I’m not just anything.  I’m real because I’m present, I’m trying, I’m doing.

download

 

Soul searching is onerous.