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.
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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!

Venom of the Greenery Variety

Before deciding upon Venom of the Greenery Variety as a title, I was also contemplating Bitch of an Itch.  Each are accurate.

I was born and raised in Maine, and I have never lived in another state.  Other than a brief stint of city living, I’ve lived the majority of my 33 years in small towns, enjoying the quiet and beauty of country living.  I’m not so country that I own dairy cows, nor do I drive a dusty and rusty pickup truck stereotypically depicted in most cowboy-esque twangy country tunes.  However, I do live rurally, surrounded by nature and woodland creatures; it is abnormal to not see deer or turkeys in the yard, and just last night, there was a fox hanging out under one of my ancient and ginormous oak trees.

It is most surprising then, that for the first time in 33.5 years of life, I’ve recently encountered my very first bout with poison ivy or poison oak or poison sumac; whatever it is, it’s poisonous.  What began as a dot on my neck Thursday, became a line by Friday. On Monday morning, I was peppered in it: neck, chest, arms, legs, wrists, and hands.  Now, just because I live near the woods does not imply that I spend a lot of time in the boscage.  In fact, this is the summer that I have devoted to spending more time out of doors with the purpose of becoming more accustomed to the heat and humidity, and also because I find most aspects of nature to be beautiful, and I miss out on much of that allurement by spending the majority of my time inside.

Though I have spent more time outside this summer, I know for certain that I have not traipsed through the venomous greenery.  So, just how did I get the ivy of the poison variety?  Radin.  Radin gave me poison ivy; it is the only feasible explanation.  Oh, how I do wish my unfortunate tale has an exciting backstory, but alas, it does not.  I got poison ivy from my dog.  However, in all of its lackluster, the true story maintains that I’m “that person.”

I’m “that person” who, if it’s going to happen to someone, it’s going to happen to me.  Over the course of the last year or so, I have been dealt an absurd hand of cards:

  • An allergic reaction to facial cleanser that resulted in my eyes being swollen closed for the better part of a week or more.
  • A tumble on the pavement when my parents’ boxer, Gracie, caught a bout of the zoomies.
    • Q: What was in it for me?
    • A: Battered and bruised bones and scrapes and skinless patches.
  • A freak and unprecedented fainting spell whereby I hit my noggin and was left with a concussion, which I still face symptoms from to this day.
  • And now, bitchin’ itchin’.

Probably the most disappointing, other than the itch and pain and overall frustration, is that I had to opt out of the 4th of July 5K I had been so looking forward to running – I had such an awesome red, white, and blue tutu picked out for the event!  However, the rational Amy concluded that the 98 degree weather, coupled with the humidity and my streaming, salty sweat (A+ for alliteration!), would make me feel even worse and allow the rash to spread even more.  I’m almost finished with my Prednisone, and the poison laced patches are now dry so I think I can start to exercise vigorously again.

I have not had a decent run or workout since last Thursday, and while lying in bed, doped up on Benadryl, I remembered that the David Payne Memorial Run (7.2 miles) is July 23rd, and Beach to Beacon (10K) is August 4th.  I am now in full blown panic mode as it’s my modus operandi to doubt my ability, especially when I’ve been forced to slow down in my training.

It’s amazing the havoc a single week down-and-out can wreak on one’s confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

No Payne, No Gain

LETR 2.0 – FU

FU in this case can either mean eff you or follow up . . . maybe a bit of both, but more follow up than anything else, I promise.  According to my Fitbit, I ran 5.25 miles of the 6 miles that comprise our leg of the LETR.  I did take a water break, in what I have dubbed the “struggle bus,” but I don’t think I was sitting out for .75 miles.  However, even if it was only the 5.25 out of the 6 that I did run, I am extremely proud.  My main goal was simply to perform better than I did last year, and I certainly accomplished that!

My next endeavor may be the David Payne Memorial Run.

The David Payne Memorial Run is on July 23rd, annually.  The run is 7.2 miles so I figure that with a little more practice, I can do it.  There is also the comfort of the cruiser escort and the “struggle bus,” as outlined above, so, if I need a break, I can take one.  FYI, the “struggle bus” is our critical incident response unit – it’s not an actual bus.

On July 23rd, 1988, Officer David Payne was shot and killed in the line of duty.  The run begins where he died, and it ends at his grave.  I was hired July 22nd, 2013, and I remember observing several of the department’s employees returning from the run.  It was pouring that morning, and everyone came back drenched with sweat and rainwater.  In July of 2013, I was 50lbs. or so overweight and not even in the mindset to change that.  Furthermore, I wasn’t even close to starting up with running, and I could not and did not envision myself as a runner.  However, I knew then that I one day wanted to join that group, albeit  a small one, that I saw on my second day of employment.

I think 2018 is the year!  I have yet another opportunity to continue to push myself to step outside of my comfort zone.  Ironically, the discomfort at the prospect of trying something new has its own uniquely comfortable feel.  Nearly five years ago, I half-heartedly committed to “maybe one day.”  I’ve had quite a few “maybe one day” tasks on my perpetual to-do list, and I seem to have found a fondness for ticking those maybe one day to-dos from the bucket list.

In 2013, I was still two years away from beginning my weight loss journey, from finding my love for gym time and fitness, from becoming a “real” runner.  By Urban Dictionary’s standards, the appropriate ones anyways, I am indeed a real runner:

“A true runner is always in one of four states: 1. thinking about the next run 2. thinking about the last run 3. running 4. talking about running.”

Fast forward to 2018, particularly today.  As of today:

  • I’ve lost 52lbs
  • My goal, as far as my desired / goal weight, is 91% complete
  • I’ve participated in numerous 5Ks and 10Ks, improving my performance dramatically, given my very first 5K was completed in 42-45 minutes.
  • I have a gym schedule that, for the most part, I’m fastidiously abiding by
    • 30 minutes at 0900hrs Monday – Friday
    • 30-60 minutes at 1100hrs Monday – Friday

I think it’s only appropriate that I delve into new territory this upcoming July and try the David Payne Memorial Run.  In addition to honoring Payne’s life and EOW (thirty years ago this year), to tick off another one of those “maybe one day” goals, from so many years ago, feels like I’ve come full circle.  Five years ago, when from my office I saw the runners return, I never dreamed that being part of that group would ever be one of my realities.  I never dreamed the four aforementioned bullet points would be my reality, but here I am.

No Payne, no gain.

 

 

 

Fitbit Faux Pas

In looking back over my previous posts, there are a whole lot of I’ve been sucking, but I’m ready to not suck type posts.  In fact, these are the majority of writings housed in this here blog.  In keeping with my newfound mentality that I need to be kinder to myself, it’s about time I start writing about the (what I deem as) small victories, the battles I win within the war.

I was absolutely exhausted yesterday.  I am no stranger to poor sleep, but after a stretch of sleeping well, the poor sleep is hitting me with a vengeance, harder than ever before.  However, despite my complete and utter exhaustion, I worked out.  Granted, it was a short workout, but it was exercise nonetheless.  I’ve been sticking to only cardio as of late, and I know that in order to become a better runner and to get toned, I need to throw in some weights.  So, I busted out the kettlebell.  Side note: while I am fueling my rejuvenated desire to establish a fitness routine AKA working my ass off literally and figuratively, I am also mid-remodel.  So, I’m awake by 0430 hours each day, commuting approx. / more than 1.5 hours each day, I am working my FT job, exercising like a fiend, and at the end of the day, I’m doing manual labor / construction projects in the rental home on top of keeping my own household afloat.  Yeah, I’ve just blown my own mind in regards to the time I’ve wasted trying to figure out why I’m so tired these days.  Thank you, blog, for making my fatigue obvious.

As I was writing . . .

Despite being extraordinarily tired yesterday evening, I busted out the kettlebell.  The workout was difficult, and I was panting like a laboring dog, but I know it’s not supposed to be easy.  I was encouraged, motivated, and inspired when I began to feel that familiar burn.  IMO, there are some pains that are pleasurable, and the burning and aches from exercise fall into this category.  I was proud of myself just because Hey!  I did it!  However, there was a tiny piece of me that remained disappointed in myself because I did not obtain 10,000 steps yesterday.

I have realized that to gauge my success 10,000 steps at a time is a Fitbit faux pas.  I need to focus less on the numbers (Fitbit, scale, etc.) and focus more on my feels.  Right now, I feel pretty proud of myself because Hey!  I’m doing it!

*P.S. Any recommended kettlebell exercises are welcomed!