Cycling Thoughts Cycling

So yesterday, I did a thing.  I finished what I started, and I’m proud of myself.  I don’t say that often, but I accomplished what I set out to do in spite of my doubts, and that’s worth something.


40 miles.  On a bike.  Yep, I did that.

It was pretty dang cool.

A few months ago after I got the bike, I spied this cycling event and at first was hesitant to thing about it because I still had Salinas Valley Half Marathon (last month) and my upcoming half marathon at the Ventura Marathon in two weeks that I am training for, but I wanted something too that would help me start to integrate cycling into my training schedule as well.  So, I started looking at Goldilocks Vegas.  They had mileage categories ranging from 20-100 miles.  Since I had just got the bike and don’t have group cycling experience, I figured, okay…20 miles.  But I wasn’t really sure about the course.  I went to three people that I trust their “expert” opinion.  One, had a vested interest, and said, “20 miles–yes, do it.”  A friend that knew the area looked at the course and said, “Yeah, you could do the 20 mile.  But you should go for the 40.”  The third, this person exists to educate and push me, and often forgets that while training makes my ministry more effective, I don’t live to train, and told me to go for 80 miles.  And after I finished laughing at #3, I did think about it for a bit, got the schematics for what the training plan would look like for running and cycling for this couple months for the 20 and 40 mile…40 looked doable…and the rest is history.

Could I have trained better? Sure.  I’m not going to make excuses for life, it happens.  But even in my doubts, I made the decision that I was going to show up, finish if it killed me, and have some fun along the way.  Mission accomplished.

Actually, in the four hours (well, four hours of riding/almost five hours it took with stops), I learned way more than I think I expected to, and not just about riding a bike.  So bear with me here…

  • Open starts are awesome.  I am so happy that it was not required you take off with your mileage wave.  I took off 45 minutes before the start time of mine, which was perfect, because I was able to finish around the same time as everyone else, I didn’t have to start in a tight pack of other cyclists, and there weren’t big packs of riders to navigate.
  • Scenery is a great distraction–stunning course is a great distraction from the fact that you’re still climbing.  Still.
  • I wavered on the idea of an all-women’s event for a few reasons, some of those reasons were completely confirmed, others went to the wayside, but overall, I’m glad I chose it
  • Open course in an area popular with cyclists was pretty awesome, while some of the women weren’t the most sociable and a bit catty on the course (but were awesome at the start/finish…hence my hesitations above proven), other cyclists out for their rides were awesome.  I had one guy slow down to my speed for a couple miles on a downhill/flat-ish section and we had a good chat, mostly about his bike–he was riding a pretty slick tri bike.  I was grilling him on his shifting system…down the line when I’m in the market for N+1, I’m quite curious about the ultegra or di2 shifting systems.  Good times.
  • I got to exercise the full range of the cassette…every gear on my bike got a workout yesterday with the up and down.  And then I ran out of gears…about 1/3 of the way up the 2nd to last climb.  I was really happy here for a few reasons: I didn’t die.  I didn’t refer to the old mantras–not once did I pull out, “shut up legs!” but employed some other different techniques to keep moving forward that I’ve learned recently.  And my worst nightmare did NOT come true–having to walk my bike up a hill, not once–I kept moving and rode the entire course.  That’s huge to me.
  • Fuel and hydration on the course, nailed.  That was a finely honed plan that’s been worked on for awhile.  I’m used to being hungry after a long run or race, but I was not quite prepared for the desire to consume everything not nailed down in the aftermath at that level…I consumed a fair amount of food yesterday, and even so, I still went to bed with a calorie deficit that almost outweighed what I would have normally consumed in an average day.  It seemed like I would eat a meal or snack and then be hungry again soon.
  • I left it all out on the course.  I don’t think I could have pushed myself any harder. The last 45 minutes were brutal.  The gal and I that were leapfrogging each other over the last few climbs looked at each other and practically cried when we passed the sign that it was five miles (literally downhill) to the finish.  No matter what happened out there, I was going to finish or die trying.  But as soon as I rolled over the finish, got off the bike, and pounded down a cold water–I was fine.  Immediately ran errands and went shopping post-race.  Completely fine.  Even today, other than slightly stiff arms and shoulders, I’m fine.  I fully expected to be completely wrecked.  So my head got the better of me, and I started thinking, well, did I really push myself as hard as I could have?  Did I really do my best?  Yes.  Yes, I did.  There’s several quantifiable factors that prove that.  And that’s why I need to listen to the people smarter than me that I have in my life.  I was reminded that the goal isn’t to wreck myself–but look at the potential (and look at the facts that I did my best).  I’ve been cycling for just a few months, and managed to pull this in the midst of my life lately and feel great–so I was asked to put it into context of some of the greater goals.  What can I do?

Well…I can comfortably swim the half iron distance.  So I’m 50% of the way to Ironman.  I feel pretty good after throwing down 40 miles on the bike.  I’m 33% of the way to Ironman.  I can run 13.1 miles. I’m 50% of the way to Ironman.  I can do all of these things (independently of each other) without feeling wrecked.  Once I put it into that context in conversation, it was pointed out that maybe–just maybe–should I give myself some credit?  There’s so much physical training that goes into this journey, but there’s just as much mental training and emotional retraining too.  I may not yet look like a “typical” athlete on the outside, and I may never will, but time and time again as things like fuel, hydration, training, and all sorts of things are tweaked, it keeps coming back to the same idea–I may not be fast (yet), but I am definitely built for endurance.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around that one, but others believe it, and I’m okay faking it until I can truly believe it too.  And speed, that will come.

Cycling?  Yeah.  I can see the addiction.  Very different but equally as consuming as running–different outlet for different purposes.  I’m all in.  Next up?  Not for sure as far as racing, 2018 goals are set but the calendar is still a touch fluid…but there’s some new goals to work on as far as improving strength/climbing, consistent cadence, and speed.  It’s good stuff.

Race report to come on Race Everywhere.  Will post some event pictures when they come in.  I did post a few pictures from the day on my instagram feed that you can access from this site as well.

Doing Hard Things

There’s that mythical statement that gets tossed around that people try to use to comfort folks and say, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” False.  God puts us in situations and gives us more than we can handle constantly! Not as some cruel trick or to play puppet master, but to strengthen our reliance on Him.  And I think too, that extra reminder we need sometimes to put and keep Him first in our lives.

There is absolutely nothing normal about my life anymore, in fact, it’s not even a setting on the dryer in our new home because you’ve got to be a computer genius to even figure out how that silly newfangled machine works!  It’s well established fact that I don’t do change gracefully, but when you take a number my lesser-loved responsibilities, toss on some new ones, and heap on a whole new world of challenges, well, life is going to get a little bit rocky as we navigate back to center.  We have had to make difficult decisions, stand firm, and it’s just no fun being the new guys.  I’m not used to spending all day in the office, but that’s life right now until things get a grip—I’m much more used to being out and about in the community.  It will happen.

And that’s just our professional life!

Then let’s throw in this whole idea of actually giving a rip about myself for once in my life.  Now we’re just juggling chainsaws.  I made the conscious choice that in this transition and moving process I wasn’t going to allow myself the compromise of priorities, and over the last few years, I’ve learned that this pursuit of holistic health is a priority.  It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.  I don’t run circles of effectiveness and efficiency around my former self for fits and giggles, it’s the byproduct of obedience to God’s will for me, and I don’t take a second of it for granted.

There’s been a few wrenches thrown into that mix too…some may or may not be excuses on some level, but they are what they are at this point.  One-weather.  While temperatures don’t vary between Laughlin and Lake Havasu, wind is a different story.  Being a baby cyclist, my level of stupidity really only goes so far, and I’ve tested my limits.  Last weekend on a 30-mile ride, I broke free from my familiar zone and took to the highway—was cruising downhill at over 30MPH in gusting winds that were throwing me around like a pinball.  Let’s just say I decidedly don’t like riding alone (which I find interesting because I only like running alone), but I was grateful I had no one with me to witness the full-on panic attack I was having for that couple mile stretch until I hit flat road again and could safely pull out of traffic and off the road and stop shaking and recover from all of the other panic symptoms I was experiencing.  Needless to say, that trick only happens once.  And I didn’t become roadkill.  Running has been good, all I can say is….hills, hills, hills! I’m going to have some rockin’ legs!  Swimming…well…my wetsuit for open water swimming just arrived yesterday!  Now my husband just needs to come kayak with me as I swim or I need to find another equally as mentally unstable swim partner to go hit the river.  Open water swim, here I come!

Things have been hard on me a bit because I’m playing a really good body vs mind game right now, and it seems like a moment by moment nail biter on who’s winning.  My body has reached critical action time on an issue that I’ve dealt with for many years and have been toying with getting taken care of the last couple, but just haven’t found the right surgeon that I’m comfortable with in their surgical plans.  There’s one more in Lake Havasu I’m going to meet with and I am also going to have a consultation at Mayo Clinic, but it’s time to stop this ferritin storage disorder once and for all, suck it up, and get the hysterectomy to correct the source of the problem.  I’ve had ups and downs over the last couple years with some of my different iron and ferritin panels that I get pulled often, but I’ve never been as far in the tank as I am now, and even the doctor is only using some mega-dosing of some iron treatments vs transfusion right now as a stop-gap to see how quickly I might get in for consultation and surgery.  It’s bad enough I can barely keep my eyes open the moment I wake up in the morning and some other issues…the doctor isn’t quite sure how I am functioning to work and train, and if I keep going, it can have dire effects on not only my training, but my overall health.  But her and I both know the answer to how I’m still going as she’s supported me on this journey too—it’s God.

It would be really easy to take this physical weakness right now and use it as an excuse, but here’s the thing, it’s almost doing the opposite for me and that’s where the big mind game comes in.  I feel terrible all the time right now—I am doing my best not to be a whiner about it, but exhausted doesn’t even seem the appropriate term.  It doesn’t even scratch the surface.  However, when I’m working out, I feel invincible.  I feel strong.  I feel like I could go on forever, and I don’t necessarily want to stop…most of the time it’s dictated by the clock these days, not my want to quit.  My last two bike rides of 20 and 30 miles? They felt like nothing at all…like bafflingly bizarre.  The sore factor just wasn’t there.  Sure, I can see building “some” strength and improving, bbbuuuttttt not like that.  Runs?  I’m not really setting land speed records or anything, but the stamina is there to just keep going.

It’s fascinating to me…I’m not sure how that is playing out for me right now, but it is teaching me something.  I am capable.  I have big dreams.  I have lofty goals.  I want to accomplish a lot athletically and I think (I know) I sell my abilities short more often than not.  I don’t really know where that fear comes from, but it’s there, so I’ll own it.  While I still have some doubts and some well-placed fears for my upcoming cycling event next weekend, I know I’ll finish and it will be a great experience.  I know I’ll have some fun, and I know that I’ll learn a lot.  My upcoming half marathon, I’m actually pretty confident there—the course and training, I’m set up for a decent PR I believe.  It should be good.

We all know I’m good at the mental games, and I would love to say that it stops at endurance sports, but unfortunately, we all know that Satan is a master at kicking us when we’re down and he’s got me right where he wants me.  In the midst of my struggling right now, he’s hit a few targets of mine I’m fighting hard to reinforce the defenses.  Again, in keeping those priorities, is time with my husband.  It’s been non-existent, unless you count conversations regarding the business of our ministry, which isn’t really edifying to one’s marriage in the long run alone.  I was doing the math as I was getting on the interstate back to Laughlin yesterday and realized it had been weeks prior to even moving that we had a night out to ourselves that was just “ours,” a date night, if you will.  I just decided in the moment that I wasn’t cooking dinner and called my husband and told him to pick a restaurant and we were going out to spend time together when I got home.  Our relationship, our marriage, is and always will be a priority.

Another is loneliness.  I was so grateful yesterday to have the opportunity just to send a few messages and receive good advice and have a couple conversations with friends face-to-face.  I won’t even cop to how many times I got back in my car running around town that I burst into tears of gratitude (…and probably exhaustion).  Ministry is not for the faint of heart, and since I’ve been chained to my office, I’ve only had limited chances to get out and meet people and try to make some new friends here—other than my service club membership, which thankfully I get to see those folks twice a week, I just have not had a chance to even take a deep breath of fresh air yet.  For being an introverted person, I never realized how much I value that consistent human contact with so many people that I have come to know in community until I didn’t have it every day.  It’s lonely, and I feel a little lost without it until I get it built up again.  It will happen.

The moral of the story…other than just a giant vent is this: we can do hard things.  God has given me far beyond what I can handle right now, but I am at peace in it, because I know that it is handled.  I am human and can be and am frustrated in different parts of it, but as I continue to look to Him, He continues to show me each next step, each next right action to take.  One at a time.  Just as He’s done all along on this journey so far.  And I’ve got nothing to fear…except maybe a 40-mile bike ride, lol.


Balancing Being The New Kid

You’d assume for someone who is entering their fifth appointment in nine years (remember, one being five years long, another being three…the math on the others, that’s the joy of getting married in ministry!) that this would be old hat by now…well, you know what happens when you assume.

To say this move has been like any other would be a complete farce on any account.  We were blindsided by it, there were more moving parts involved in the transition, and so much more background than I’m willing to wear on my sleeve.  That doesn’t make it a bad thing, it just makes it different.

There have been a lot of emotions the last two months in this transition–good, bad, and indifferent.  I’ve had to reconcile, once again, being bumped from my comfort zone and facing a new adventure in being stretched even more than before.  I’ve spent three years in a place that has grown me as a leader in ways that I didn’t expect, but even greater, it broke me in the best way possible.  It shook me out of status quo and allowed the Holy Spirit to work in and through me in ways that I could have never possibly imagined that has just set the stage for even more insane and amazing dreams in the future.  Yeah, yeah…Mike Reilly’s going to yell my name someday, and I’m undecided at this point as to whether or not I’m emblazon my body with the Mdot.  (Because how do you know if someone has completed an Ironman?  Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.  *Knee slap* I love that joke!)

The last few years have provided me not only with great achievement in the different areas of holistic health, but learning the importance of striving to find balance in them.  I can’t say I’ve handled every day or moment of the last two months with perfect grace and composure, but I’m human.  However, I’ve learned the importance of taking care of myself and where that needs to fall on the priority list–and it’s not at the complete bottom after everything else is done, because guess what? The work is never done.

I could have gone full throttle in immersing myself in the “poor me’s” over the situation at hand, everything that needed to be done, and looking at the insurmountable big picture…that if you look at even in this moment at the end of day one, is even a bigger mountain than when we started when the floor was pulled out from under us at the outset of this adventure.  Instead…knowledge is power.  I’m amazed that I haven’t worn it out yet, but I continually employ my favorite mantra that I use probably a thousand times daily, “what is the next right action?”

Things don’t have to be solved right now.  Not everything will be done in this moment.  But some action needs to be taken, even if it’s just closing your eyes and taking a deep breath, and that’s where this mantra suits well.  It helps to bring me back to center, to bring it back to God, and continue to look to Him for what’s next on this adventure.

Honestly, in the midst of the chaos, I’m really proud of myself and how things have played out.  Other than the understandable difficult emotions in transition, I’ve handled this move better than any other.  I have been able to stay consistent in life and to the best of my (imperfect) ability be there for others and myself.  I have eaten well, I have kept up on my training schedule (other than the stupid sexy, sexy boot….please God let me get it off tomorrow!), I have engaged in those intellectual, emotional, and spiritual activities that feed into my goals.  I have shown up for me.  I’m not used to doing that.  It’s kinda cool.

So, this morning instead of having a literal panic attack on my way to the office to start this new adventure….it looked a lot different than the past.  Woke up, took a short bike ride and watched the sunrise, came home to shower and pack my lunch, and went on with my day.  No anxiety.  Just getting the job done.  Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I’m sold on the importance of making your healthy habits a level of priority in your life because I see the ripple effect…the couple hours I spend in the wee hours of the morning taking care of me have had such a profound effect–not just weight loss and physical ability, but in efficiency and capability too.  I run circles around my former self.  I have more stamina for the day, I am more productive, I get more done, I take more chances, I dream big.  I shock myself most days too…believe me, you’re not the only ones!

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined God would have brought me to this place so far simply from a cry out in utter frustration and true willingness to obedience…now if only I can stop doubting my capability on those God-sized goals.  More on that later.


Just Breathe

Welcome to the week of “should,” “have to,” and all the lasts…Been through this before, this my fifth/husband’s fourth set of marching orders; it never gets easier.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it gets harder, because the harder you work and love the community you are working in, it makes it that much harder to separate.  I’ve said it before, that the saving grace for me at this point in time with this move is that we aren’t disconnecting completely from this amazing community that we live in right now, we still get to be a part of many things, it just looks different.  There’s a lot still to be done here.  It hurts to be leaving.  A lot.  For more reasons than I care to even count, professionally and personally.

That said, it doesn’t detract from the excitement of a new adventure too.  There’s some pretty cool things about this new appointment straight off the bat that we haven’t had the privilege of in any of our other appointments yet, which is a blessing and crazy overwhelming wrapped all in one too.  Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of things that need to be addressed too that have been dropped at our feet quickly that we’re already up to our elbows in and we’re not even officially in the office yet…that’s life, but it’s also an indicator to us that while we’re still in a state of overwhelm, this is exactly where we’re supposed to be, and we just need to be content in standing firm and consistent and we’ll ride out the first wave of testing.

This last week is going to fly by whether I want it to or not.  Parts of me want to savor moments of it, and parts of me wants to climb into bed and hide from it.  There’s so much to be done…I have so much to do, there’s so much that others are depending on us to get done, and the “shoulds” and “have tos” are stacking up to the ceiling.  It’s not a matter of delegation or asking others to help…I just can’t hand someone my job, there’s little others can really step in and do for us right now, that’s one of the frustrating things too.  Thankfully, where we can ask for help, we have, so for example, when we go to load up our moving truck next week, it’s not just husband and I–we’ve got a few folks to help us.  Up to this point, we’ve done a really good job at balancing to keep ourselves sane, but as we approach zero hour, “no” can’t always be an option anymore–things just have to get done.  That’s life.

Like this morning, I “should” be out on a bike ride, but thanks to circumstances I woke up with, leaning on my handlebars for ninety minutes isn’t going to help that situation very much.  I’m tired, I’ve got a lot to do, so I’ll probably just get ready and go to the office early and get started on the tasks at hand.  I’m completely emotionally spent.  I have spent the last six weeks tiptoeing around everyone else’s feelings around this transition and trying to be the cheerleader.  I have defended other people’s actions/positions/feelings, I have kept a mostly positive attitude to the best of my ability, I have not commented when other people have spoken hurtful comments to me in passing (including family and even my own staff that I love very much and I know didn’t mean it to be hurtful, but we all say things without thinking), and I have felt like I’m drowning in this sea of complete guilt falling short of everyone’s needs and expectations trying to get everything squared away in this transition.  I’m human too…and I’m just empty.

This week is going to pass whether I’m successful at keeping pace or not.  Hopefully there’s some grace in there somewhere, but I’m not going to bank on it.  I will be very grateful for after Labor Day once we’re “officially” installed and things calm down and we can get down to business and get the routine going, there’s a lot of work to be done–and that’s an understatement, as we’ve brought to the surface in just a short time just some of what needs to see the light of day.  One foot in front of the other.  Take a deep breath.  God’s got it all under control, I need only to worry about the single next thing in front of me.  As my favorite mantra goes, “what’s the next right action?”  Hopefully with a positive memory or end or two in there this week…I would really prefer not to spend the week answering 5000 questions until I can address it in my timing or crying (yeah, right, lemme know how that works for you).

…and yes, there still is a blow-by-blow post of Salinas Valley Half Marathon coming, it’s in my drafts, just haven’t had time to finish it.  You know, life.



I Hate Exercise. Honest.

A lovely friend posed a question on a Facebook post of mine earlier today, and it really threw me for a loop.  I don’t think I’ve been earnestly asked this question before, and I had to think about this one for a bit…

How long did it take you to WANT or LOVE to workout?

So, here’s the honest truth–I don’t. *GASP*

Pick up your jaw.  I’ll explain.

When that alarm goes off every morning at 4am, my first prayer before I open my eyes and my feet hit the floor is simply this, “God, I submit myself wholly to you today.  I desire to be obedient to Your great will for me–guide my steps, my choices, and my thoughts in alignment with Your plans.  Help me to be a reflection of You in all I do.”

Sounds great, right?  Probably the most formal and eloquent prayer I ever pray each day.  I know I fall short of it often, but it’s also the most sincere prayer that I ever pray as well.  But once these words are uttered, it’s game on–it’s not my show anymore, the day is an act of obedience.

This is no different than that day when I submitted this whole journey to God, when I came to my breaking point and begged Him to show me what was going to change in my life–but I knew something was.  I never anticipated weight loss, endurance sports, healing of my mind and heart, and spiritual growth and stretching beyond my own human comprehension….kind of like God’s version of, “Here, hold my beer.”  (groan…terrible joke)

My life right now is made up of goals–minuscule and momentous, every single moment is dedicated to taking the next right action–putting one foot in front of the other.  When I started down this path of healthier habits, it started with better eating habits–exercise didn’t even enter the picture at first.  Remember, when I started to exercise, I couldn’t even walk to the end of the street and back without wanting to die.  It was just obedient actions…they just happened.  I can’t explain it.  They just did.

Now fast forward a couple years to the point where I’ve reached a point of questionable sanity (HA!) in my endurance goals…I can honestly tell you, I still don’t like to workout, but I love it.  I realize that makes absolutely zero sense at all.

I’m a lazy person by nature.  I’m not a morning person–like, even a little bit, yet, I willingly, without complaint (most of the time), get up at 4am and engage in whatever is assigned on the calendar for the day that is preparing me for the next event or goal that I’m aiming for.  Why?  Well, obedience as outlined, but also–I’ve found a passion I’ve never experienced before outside of music when I was in high school/college.  I have a drive and a love for running/triathlon disciplines and to go further and farther that I can’t really put words to.

I have come to believe that the passion I’ve found in running/triathlon disciplines is the blessing of my obedience on this journey.  I’ve been faithful every single day.  Some days better than others, but I submitted myself to God in a very raw way that I never have before.  I asked Him to work in and through me because I was at the end of my knowledge and strength in so many different areas of my life, and at the risk continuing to go overly spiritual here, I had a very real encounter with the Holy Spirit in which I haven’t often experienced in my faith walk but a few other times of extreme certainty–mostly around my calling to full time ministry and my relationship with my husband.  This passion is my reward.

Working out–exercising–is an act of worship.  Some days it’s fun, some days it’s a learning experience, some days it’s painful, some days it’s therapy, some days it’s anger management, some days it’s communion with God, and some days it’s my opportunity to express my frustration with God and hammer things out.  But at the end of the day, none of it is about me–I asked God to take over a long time ago.  He has, and I’m just enjoying the ride.  And it is pretty darn cool, I’m excited to see where it goes next!

(…and I still don’t think I’ve made a lick of sense, LOL)



I Am The Storm

I already told the story on how my bike named itself Storm, short for “I am the storm,” the moment I made contact with it…but there’s more to the story than that.  This whole process of change since I sat in this very chair on January 23, 2015, and cried out to God in desperation that something had to change in my life has been a whirlwind–I feel like some days I can’t even catch my breath.  I didn’t know at that point what those changes were going to be, what it was going to look like, but I was going to do was give up control (something I DO NOT DO) and go with it, because I was out of answers.

I have learned beyond volumes in the individual areas of my life physically, spiritually, and emotionally the last couple years, and obviously, there’s been YUGE document-able change there (‘cuz, #igotgoals), but what’s even more fascinating to me is watching the these three distinct areas of health intermingle together and how they play with each other.  This is where the further identifiable growth keeps spurring me on to greater goals.  It’s also pretty amazing to see the ripple effect of how working on all of these very deeply personal areas of my holistic health have had great impact on I would safely venture to say every single other area of my life–in relationships, professionally, etc.

I understand that people only see the public snapshots and what I choose to share, because in our line of work, I just can’t lay my day-to-day dealings and feelings out on the line.  So, pretty much y’all get to see the insanity that is my physical goals (and honestly, the breadth of it–you don’t even know what I’ve got in my head and on paper.  I am capable of more than I think I’m capable of) and a few other bumblings here and there that I throw in as I can.  And that’s okay.  More shall be revealed.

Life is life right now.  All I can sit back and say is that God has a really good sense of humor to find even more mind blowing situations to continually bring me back on my face before Him.  And that’s cool.  I need it.  I need Him.  He knows I’m going to fight Him, I’m going to wrestle Him, I’m going to get angry at Him, I’m going to get knock-down-drag-out-royally-pissed-off-even-though-there’s-not-a-darn-thing-I’m-going-to-do-differently-but-submit-and-obey-anyway-two-year-old-tantrum-upset at God…and it’s all going to be okay.  Could I handle life with a little more grace right now?  Sure I could!  These are all emotional reactions to life…they don’t change my spiritual relationship with God.  God is still God.  But these emotional reactions are having an effect on my physical self–and this is where I need to check myself.

My last couple long runs haven’t just been a representation of lousy summer weather, but especially this last week, getting my head and heart into focus wasn’t even a minute possibility–an activity that brings me such sheer joy and bliss even when it’s hard and requires work was basically sucking my will to live with every step I took.  I was physically fine (except for a pulled muscle in my torso…genius here forgets to stretch when swimming), but I hurt from head to toe and there was not one thought in my head that could connect in a way to propel myself forward–not even the fact that I’ve got a race coming up and I gotta get my rear in gear.

I suffered through longer than I expected to this last week, I think I got 7 of the 12 miles I was scheduled for, but I don’t find anything acceptable in that place of defeat where I’m fighting myself constantly not to quit.  And then the other key in this crazy puzzle too, is when I get into this place in my mind, it can also be a grey area for me to start justifying emotional eating choices that aren’t necessary or beneficial to my body.  That’s a disturbing head space for me to be, because it starts to feel like (feel, not actually be…let’s make that distinction right off the bat) my former self–the one stuck on the diet cycle, that would always quit, start again Monday/tomorrow/New Years/etc and then it would never come.  That scares me a lot.  I’m totally okay with the fact that the path is not straight and we take curves along the way–let’s put it this way: bikes don’t go in reverse.

Thankfully, it’s not a me-game anymore.  I’ve got other people to pull me out of my head too. Hooray for accountability on all fronts!  By the end of the day, I had other scenarios go on that got my head out of my rear, and I had been reassured that regardless of my interpretation of the numbers, a couple bad runs aren’t going to bomb my next race and into my hands (well, kindle), was placed a phenomenal book, “The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion” (Marshall/Paterson).  First of all, where was this book when I took psych 101 during my undergrad?  I might have passed it the first go ’round then, LOL.  Amazing stuff.  I’m re-reading several sections of this book, and I’m positive will do so many times.

Part of this growing and changing stuff is relying on other people.  I’ve talked a little bit before on some of my emotional goals in the area of developing confidence/self-confidence, and I’m coming to realize, I can’t do that in a vacuum…this one isn’t really just a God and me issue, this one takes a village.  I have people, I just don’t always use them well.  Trust is hard for me.  Better than it used to be, but it’s hard.  I can place my confidence and faith in others, but I very much still have the cognitive disconnect in place when it comes to myself.  I intellectually realize this fact, but it doesn’t change the issue at hand.  Prime example, I asked someone last night about my ability to tackle a cycling event I was interested in–they countered with asking why not bump up to the next category.  Asked another person the same question this morning and they told me an out of the park answer, but that individual forgets I have responsibilities beyond my health and wellness goals and can’t spend my life training.  I underestimate myself constantly.  I’m not sure what the answer is yet…but it will come.  I do know in that finding whatever this confidence is, it comes with a voice–something I’ve never had or used before.  I can’t say I’m always using it the best as I’m learning along the way right now, but I’m using that voice, and that’s a new experience.

For now, I rest in that it will be okay in just where I’m at right now, in the chaos of it all and savoring the time I have in the moments for the next several weeks.  Looking forward to the adventure of race day, the excitement that it brings, and also a little bit of a break from reality if just for a few days.  It will be good.

Retraining the Brain

I repeat, once again, the most complex part of this holistic wellness journey and the goals that I am working towards is the emotional/mind health…specifically, rewriting those negative lies in my head that I have believed as truth for so long that have gotten me nowhere.

On several occasions this week, both in small groups that I’ve led and in situations of accountability, the discussion has turned to the ways in which we speak to ourselves, negative self-talk, our perception of ourselves, how we treat ourselves, lies we tell ourselves, and self-fulfilling prophecy.

All I’ve got to say is: Ouch.

This is a hard one for me.  I’m in an interesting place where I am aware of the negativity in my head–I have the awareness of the (let’s be honest here) crap I’m telling myself, yet I’m not always consistently putting in the intentional effort to change it.

Did you catch that?  The intentional effort to change it.  It takes work.  I know what needs to be done.  It’s not a magical prayer to God to remove this thorn–believe me, I’ve asked.  I know this is an area of my life that requires discipline, practice, and intentional effort to transform my thoughts and renew my mind.

I am a person that’s very hard on myself by nature.  I have higher expectations of myself than I do of those around me, and I don’t offer myself the same level of grace that I would offer anyone else.  Messed up, right?  Thank God that He’s got the grace for me in spite of myself!  I also have the propensity to speak to myself and about myself in extremely negative ways and tear myself down at every opportunity.  I would never speak about another person the way I speak about myself in my mind, yet I do it anyway.  It’s rather disgusting.

It’s not as bad as it sounds though–remember, I’ve got a couple years under my belt now chipping away at my goals.  I’m a work in progress–always will be in this area.  I’m certainly not as bad as I used to be, but there’s still light-years worth of room for improvement to really embrace that level of healthy self-worth and true confidence without faking it (and boy, I fake it well some days, because if you think I’m sure of myself in many areas, you’ve got another thing coming!).

Today was a day of forward momentum in this area.  As I was out on my long run, I noticed I was really starting to rag on myself, things like “shut up legs” being probably the only family-friendly phrase I’d be willing to admit on this public forum…but my head can get pretty dark and inappropriate, and rather un-Christlike, trust me.  I became aware that I was doing this, and it annoyed me, which only perpetuated the negative messages in my head.  Then I got to thinking (always scary) and starting to try to dissect this, and questioned why am I really saying these things to myself.  Well, I’m frustrated.  Since I had my surgery and haven’t been strength training as hard due to restrictions, my running times have suffered.  It’s also hot–and it’s scientific fact, studies show that running speeds suffer in summer heat.  I know these things are both out of my control, and I’m not a super competitive person in the first place…I haven’t really come to the conclusion why the timing is bugging me, but it is.  I’m also experimenting with some different changes with my running that while I can see there are improvements in performance, feel, and recovery, it is not yet reflecting in the numbers…I “know” to trust the training, but it gets frustrating.

So, I get to the point a couple miles into this internal dialogue to where I need to figure out what action am I going to take…am I going to spend the next 60-90 minutes ticked off and ready to throat punch the first person that I happen to come up on, or am I going to do something to work on remedying the situation?  Well, luckily I chose the latter…and I didn’t come up upon anyone until less then a mile from home when I encountered the back of the back of a cycling group that didn’t see which way the rest went and I directed traffic with a smile (except the one rogue cyclist of the group who thought I was full of it and whizzed past me…whatever).

Practice.  Transforming negative self-talk into something constructive.  We’re not talking fluffy-glittery unicorn affirmations, because that’s just not my style, and it’s not authentic or believable.  But what I can do is take the specific negative statements, identify the lie in it, and state the truth.  So, “shut up legs,”  translates to, “1…2…3…4…1…2…3…4…the top of this incline is coming.  One foot in front of the other.  Keep going.”  Because you know what comes at the crest of a hill in Havasu?  The victory dance.  (Yeah, it’s a good thing that I run in the wee hours of the morning and there’s no one around. No one needs to see all that goodness, LOL)  And then after the victory dance–comes the downhill, where you feel like you’re flying, like nothing else in the world matters, and where you’re completely invincible.

It’s not impossible to transform my negative self-talk and my perspective of myself–it takes awareness, intentional effort, and consistent practice.  God will honor the effort.  It’s not my work in vain, and I’m not alone.