Chutzpa! (It’s a Fun Word, and I Used It In a Sentence)

Q:  Oh, my dear, neglected blog, will you ever forgive me for temporarily abandoning you?

A: YES ’cause I don’t really give a shit that you’ve been away, but now that you’re back . . . Hey, girl!  Whatcha been up to?


I have the tendency, as a human being, to be what is best described as . . . overzealous.  I have very little free time as it is, and I choose to fill what free time I do have with . . . what is best described as . . . a lot.  In the past few months, I have gained traction at becoming even further behind with responding to pen pal letters.  In fact, I have not written a response letter since April.  I have zero traveling postcards via Postcrossing.  I have not picked up my knitting needles, flute, or guitar.  I have read less books in 2018 than in past years, and I have been writing only half-hearted (Goodreads) reviews, if I write one at all.  My gym time has dwindled, and I have not written, what I would consider a decent blog entry, in months.  Recently (recently as in just a handful of hours ago), I gave myself permission to give up some control.  Let me explain . . .

I love swap-bot; I run several groups, and I host a lot of swaps within said groups.  In addition to those swaps, I also host public swaps.  Without getting too in depth and too involved in the swap-bot jargon, being a founder and a host takes A LOT of work.  Frankly, if it doesn’t take a lot of your time and energy, then you’re probably not doing it right.  There are exceptions, I’m sure, which is why I have written “‘probably’ not doing it right” (or at the very least, not to the best of your ability).  Swap-bot, because I manage many groups and many swaps, and because I take deadlines very seriously, has been taking up the majority of my limited time.  I love devoting time to putting together quality swaps and creating happy mail, sending RAKs, etc., but the constant hosting and management responsibilities is a prime example of my overzealousness.  Note to self: just enjoy swap-bot, Amy, without taking on additional tasks.

I have missed so much all of the other things that provide me with a well-rounded and happy life.  So, I’ve reached out for assistance with hosting and founding my groups.  That is a big step in beginning to enjoy my multitude of hobbies again, albeit not the first one.  I have also decided that I will maintain X number of pen pal relationships.  I do not need 50+ pen pals to deem this a worthwhile hobby.  In fact, much like my IRL relationships, I much prefer to maintain a few very close and meaningful connections over double-digit acquaintances.  I will continue to send postcards via Postcrossing, but it is OKay to have a handful traveling at a time; I do not need to sit and send 25+ in one sitting.  I will continue to organize my favorite postcards into category specific albums, but I no longer feel the need to scan them into Flikr as well.  Overall, I am working on reigning in my overeagerness and proneness to do ev-er-y-thing full boar; moderation is key, even in regards to the undertakings I love and enjoy.

The first step I took to ensure a newfound commitment to creativity and creating . . . I cleaned my “home office” and my craft room.  My, what I also refer to as workspaces, were beyond cluttered.  I found it nearly impossible to focus on anything, let alone follow through with a hobby task (writing, knitting, reading, painting, whatever it may be), with supplies scattered on the floors, piles of stuff scattered about, half started projects stacked upon one another and set aside, etc.  So, during my much needed staycation last week, I got my spaces squared away.  Gone is the anxiety I previously felt when I would tackle these particular cleaning and organizational tasks, attempting to get the job(s) done, all at once.  Now, when I open the door to either of the me time rooms, I feel exhilarated to be in there, ready to sit at my desk to write a letter or a postcard, able to find the extras I want to include in an outgoing swap, and capable of focusing on whatever venture my heart desires.  Speaking of (errr, writing about) other ventures and my heart’s desire . . .

With the (work) gym closed, my training and efforts to workout have taken a downturn.  I am fortunate in that I have a well equipped gym in my attached garage / basement, but I certainly need to work on the discipline aspect of using it.  I have grown so accustomed to busting out an amazing workout before noon, which is ideal for me because the workout is done for the day, and I can devote my post work hours to the other adulting that must be done.  However, there was once a time when I only used my home gym; I was once willing to put myself first, before all else, and I need to tap into that energy again, guilt free.  Although I have not been logging the gym hours that I normally do as of late, snow shoveling and construction on my rental unit have at least kept my stamina on point.

As of yesterday, I am officially registered for 2019’s Maine (half) marathon.  I have also decided that when the application becomes available, I will be applying to be a 2019 race ambassador.  (Here we go with the overzealousness again!).  However, I made my decision to (definitely) apply for the ambassadorship in October, exactly a month from today, actually.  On October 28th, I ran in the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff 5-Miler in New York City!  Since I was sporting my 2018 Maine Marathon shirt, multiple people approached me and asked about the Maine Marathon.  I was considering applying for an ambassadorship before this date, mainly because I envision myself as a valuable resource in that I can put others at ease.  In anticipation of my first half marathon, I was terrified and nervous and jittery on top of excited and proud.  I’m a classic, “If I can do it, you can too!” example, and I sense that I have the ability to motivate, encourage, and calm others who may be skeptical or hard on themselves.

BUT . . . more about New York City!  For those of you who follow me on Instagram (@idiosyncratic_unicorn), you have likely already seen my gushing post, brimming with pride in myself, as well as excitement at meeting Peter Ciaccia.  Briefly, I was so so so SO very proud of myself for doing this run.  Much like my IG post reads, my delight was mainly because I ran in an out-of-state event.   When I first started entering 5Ks, I never anticipated that I would have the chutzpa to do one alone, let alone in another state.  I also never imagined that I would increase my distance from the 5K, but oh, how I have evolved as a runner!  Running has been so positive for me, not only in regards to my health and physical appearance, but in my overall confidence (not related to body image but related to my shyness).

I have gone from whether or not a friend is running with me as a determining factor for race entry, to participating in whatever the heck race I want to.  When you are as shy, introverted, and introspective as I am, it is daunting to go it alone.  I was also pleased beyond measure because I ran this particular 5-miler in under an hour, walking only to drink water (I’m not coordinated enough to run and drink without choking), and I stopped briefly for a photo with Peter Ciaccia.  Approaching (and taking a picture with) someone I have never met before – also giant strides that required a lot of prowess on my behalf.  SO, it is these experiences that solidified my decision at becoming (or trying to become) a Maine Marathon ambassador.  I think this program will not only benefit me but benefit from me.  For those of you who do not follow my IG, I’ve thrown in some pictures from the NYC Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff at the end.

Suffice it to say, I do suppose that I am on the correct path to eliminating undue stress and anxiety in my daily routine, all the while rediscovering time management and diversity in my efforts.

Cicciarun2run

 

 

 

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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!

 

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.

 

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!

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.

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.

 

 

 

LETR 2.0

Despite how many runs I go for or how many races and events I add to that notch on my belt, I may always battle anxiety, jitters, and self-doubt the day prior to an event.  The day before an event is when the Anti-Amy makes an appearance, and AA is currently in mode: full-bore with ill-intentions to wreak absolute havoc in my self-confidence.

Tomorrow is the 2018 Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), and I am as ready as I possibly can be, yet I am still riddled with self-doubt about my potential performance.  June 2017 was my first LETR, and I did not do as well as I would have liked to, and though I was not alone in that, I have carried the disappointment with me for a year now.

I have a list of reasons I did not do well, and though they have been sufficient for the last year, now that it’s the day before another LETR, I’m wondering if these are solid reasons, or have I been making excuses?

  • Last year’s LETR was on a freakishly hot day, with equally as freakish humidity; I do not cope well with heat and humidity on any level, let alone of aberrant proportions.
  • I did not carry water with me, and there are no water pit stops along the way, but the evidence van (which I have dubbed “the struggle bus”) that escorts runners is loaded with water; I chose not to drink it, however, because it’s kept very cold, and cold water, while immersed in heavy activity, gives me intolerable stomach pains.
  • I did not have my iPod with me.  Though this is seemingly so very minor in the grand scheme of things, the BPMs included in my workout playlist help me with finding a comfortable pace.  Finally, and almost certainly, listening to music must be significantly better than listening to all of my thoughts of, “I can’t do this,” “quit,” or “this sucks.”
  • I succumbed to Anti-Amy, and therefore, my self-doubt and negative thinking overshadowed and eventually overtook the version of myself that is typically dripping with positivity and affirmations.

So, in order to counteract last year’s follies, I have used the afore outlined reasons (or excuses) to devise a plan for a successful LETR 2.0, my second attempt at the Torch Run.  I have a bottle of perfectly room temperature water, in my office, just waiting to quench my thirst.  I have upgraded to AirPods, and I have groomed and perfected my running playlist.  I will not be without water or music.  The weather is entirely out of my control, but I’ve been checking up on it, and as of right now, it’s looking to be about 65 degrees Fahrenheit with a side of cloudy.

Finally, and probably what needs the most work: how to stuff Anti-Amy back down into the recesses of my brain.  AA made a brief appearance this past weekend, as I was at the midway point (1.5 miles in) during the Safe Voices 5K, a fundraiser event for victims of domestic violence.  However, amidst all of my self-deprecating thoughts, I still found a small opening for Amy to glimmer through.  AA was hard on me because I had not run for 9 consecutive days prior to the 5K, and I left the gate already discouraged, thinking I would not improve on my 5K time from my first race of the year (Dash for Dogs, April 29th).  Luckily, Amy stood her ground when faced with Anti-Amy and finished the 5K with a time improved by 1 minute and 15 seconds.  It was again a freakishly hot and humid day, for June in Maine, but I survived the heat though I was quite uncomfortable, to say the least.  So, I CAN do it.

Granted, the distance of our leg of the Torch Run is about six miles, double that of a 5K, but I’m going to keep it simple and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  If I have to climb into the struggle bus again this year, then so be it.  My goal for this year is simply to do better than I did last year.  Perhaps there truly are a plethora of reasons as to why I didn’t perform well last year, or maybe there is only one: I just didn’t have the will.  If the latter is the truth, I have plenty of will this year.  Underlying it all, the Law Enforcement Torch Run is for a good cause, and you can read about the LETR Maine here.

Wish me luck!