May the Fourth be with you

There’s no reason for that title. Except it’s May 4th and I raided my husband’s side of the closet to wear a shirt with the Millennium Falcon on it.

I was thinking about my “Book of 2017” the other day. 124 pages have been written and more of those have been “high points” than not. We spent a week in Seattle with friends and family. We relaxed and visited. We did some touristy things. We went to a concert and then hung out in a tiny little pizza parlor with delicious local sodas and laughed…a lot. We got a break from the OMG BRUTAL winter. My doctor put me on a once a day insulin shot and it did WONDERS for managing my blood sugar. I’m even racing again this year and have started training. I went ball room dancing with a friend while Jon was out with his friends. We spent a Saturday exploring parts of Idaho I had never seen…and saw a herd of elk. We’ve had an abundance of comfortable, enjoyable evenings at home. We’ve watched movies, been to concerts, survived a week of multiple not-small injuries to family members, spent quite a bit of time with friends. I’ve started reading some fascinating text books. Oh…and I accepted a job with Mission Aviation Fellowship that starts on the 15th. Yep. MAF. Where my husband works (and TheKid for now) (But we only overlap for 5 days.) (And that’s good considering he’s also moved home).

We’re about a third of the way through the second quarter of this year. (How convoluted can I make that?) In many ways it’s slipped past quickly, almost without notice.  But my goal is to be more intentional with both my relationships and my time the rest of this quarter. Hopefully my hubby and I will be carpooling pretty often (ie, I will be chauffeured…my life is rough) and we joined the same gym. I’m kinda excited to see how the extra time together and the new commonalities affect our relationship and how we can use that. I’m very excited for the environment I’ll be operating within now although it does mean being firmly inside a Christian “bubble”. I’ll have to be very aware of becoming insulated against the world.  But it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside so I’m naturally more optimistic….and I’m kinda excited for the next 56 days…and beyond.

Let it Go! Let it Go!

Last year “on this day” (such a fun feature!) I posted on Facebook: NineTEEN days from now I’ll be on a plane to the Philippines! We’re in the teens people!

After that last trip, I finally admitted that my heart and passion is really with the people and ministries in Navotas. I still LOVE my sisters in the Wipe Every Tear safe houses and the ones that haven’t made that choice. My thoughts, feelings and opinion of the Wipe Every Tear organization has not changed. But I’ve always been drawn to hungry/homeless ministries. Drop that in the middle of Manila (figuratively speaking) and I’m smitten.

Tomorrow, at 5:00am, a team from World Family Missions start their first flight to Manila. The leader, a wonderful woman by the name of Sarah, mentioned the possibility of this trip to me back in March. And I was certain – CERTAIN – I would be on that plane. No doubt in my mind. I was SO sure of this that I basically informed my husband instead of asking his input and I didn’t even really pray about it…unless you count telling God all about my plans.

Obviously there was a different future in store for me and I will NOT be on that plane tomorrow. I’ve cried…buckets. I’ve been mad. But in the end, God always puts together the perfect team. As much as the “Mama Rhoni” side on me wanted to be on the plane to help a pregnant leader with her toddler, God had other people – the perfect people – in mind for support. As much as I wanted to snuggle a particular little girl and her sisters in Navotas, there are other people that God wants there. I will be praying for this group, but they are not “my” team. (But I’ll probably still cry when I see updates and pictures or even when I just think about them. So apologies to everyone who crosses my soggy path over the next week or so.)

I am reading a book by Shauna Niequist titled “Present over Perfect”. Early in the book it asked the question I’ve often seen in various forms- if you had a bottomless bank account and empty calendar, what would you do. The answer is supposed to highlight your passion. My answer rang through my mind almost before I finished reading the line. Travel. Duh. But a few pages later, she asks “What are you unwilling to let go of?” That answer rang clearly and just as immediately…Nothing! But as I tried to read on, my eyes kept drifting back to that question. It continued to nag at me until I stopped to mull over it for awhile. Quietly the real answer rose to the surface….travel. And my health.

I’m not sure if I can fully explain this recognition but I’ll try. I still cling with an iron grip to the idea of being my version of healthy. In the depths of my being, I have this notion that if I just check all the boxes and follow all the rules, I can control how my body will respond. That theory has been debunked more than once and yet, still I clutch that belief. Letting go does not equal a disregard for all healthy practices. It simply means doing what I’m supposed to do, what I can do without an expectation of results.

The travel piece is easier. As soon as I realized I really was NOT going to be able to go on this trip, I immediately started thinking about and saving for the NEXT possibility. I never asked God if that is an option. I just assumed I would return. I’ve always had the intense desire to travel. That’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember. But once upon a time, I was in a place where I balanced that desire with the desire to be obedient to where God called me. And as I told Sarah the other day “I think that the desire to go back <to the Philippines> is starting to supplant the desire to be obedient.” My first step was donating money I planned to save for my own trip. That’s not a humble brag on generosity. My heart was not fully happy with the decision and I most certainly did not feel generous. I needed a physical action to go along with the emotional response. I could not mentally “let go” without mirroring that physically.

This whole “letting go” thing is not a one and done act. I don’t know exactly what that process will look like but I have a sneaking suspicion it involves re-learning how to truly “be still”. That, however, is another post in itself. Because “still” is not the most accurate descriptor for me. And neither is laconic.

Ground Zero

I’ve debated writing about this. On one hand, it’s not a big deal. On the other hand, it kinda is.

Earlier this year I felt fantastic. I was playing softball and training for a triathlon. Weight was finally dropping, I was getting faster, my energy levels were great.

Then I had blood work done to check my chronically low Vitamin D levels and was diagnosed as severely diabetic.

This year. It’s been a journey of meds and lifestyle changes. Of feeling terrible to feeling normal to feeling terrible again. Of finding out I could “do everything right” and my body still would not respond.

For the record – it is really difficult to stick with the whole strict lifestyle when you feel worse AND your body doesn’t respond.

My mental/emotional journey has not been linear. I have been mad. I checked all the right boxes and my body betrayed me anyway. I have been ashamed. Obviously I *DIDN’T* take care of myself and made myself sick. I have been discouraged and sad. What I do doesn’t matter; all my goals are out of reach and my life is now defined by this. I have been hyper focused and determined. I can eat perfect and work out harder than before; I can reverse this. It changes from week to week – sometimes from day to day. And I’ve found that how I feel physically greatly impacts my mental state. Since I have spent the past couple of months dealing with fatigue and nausea (yay supplemental meds), the mental battle has been the main one I’ve fought. Discouragement stalks me on a regular basis. I’m not ready to succumb completely.

I spend a lot of time on the couch right now (see above: fatigue). I have been forced to slow down (stop) and re-evaluate. I’m finally accepting that the goals, plans and priorities I had for this year, and the foreseeable future, are irrelevant. That leaves a void. I don’t know that I’ve ever stared in the future with absolutely NO idea of how I was going to proceed, with a complete absence of an objective.

Right now the only thing I am ready to commit to is getting my brain back in this whole fighting for my health thing. I haven’t given up. Not completely. But I haven’t been as focused and strict as I could be. Maybe I’ll up my reading and writing game again too. We’ll see.

Y Not Tri 2016 – Preamble, set up and swim report

I honestly did not intend to sign up for any races this year at all. Nope. Wasn’t in my game plan. I had my year planned out and it consisted of relaxed, low key, workouts that vaguely focused on strength training and yoga. But for some indecipherable reason, if something sounds scary or hard, my usual reaction is “I need to do that.” I’m going back to school this fall and was told I didn’t need to take micro-biology for this particular degree path. My immediate reaction “But I WANTED to take it!” I’m uncoordinated and nonathletic and yet I signed up for softball last spring. And after talking to a friend in April, I signed up for the middle distance of the Y Not Tri (400 meter swim, 6 mi bike, 2 mi run). Also – I am quite susceptible to peer pressure. 😛

I did this race two years ago (except I did the version half the distance of what I did this year). I was pretty confident about it. I actually trained somewhat and while I knew I would not be taking any podium spots, I knew I would finish. The Pulse Running and Fitness shop puts together a FANTASTIC training group each year. (Seriously, these people are phenomenal) I managed to make it to some sessions with them, including a run through of the full race the Tuesday before. On my own I spent a lot of time in the pool. My run is stronger than ever. My bike….well…I know how to ride a bike….My goal was just to finish strong and feel like I had given what I had to give that day.

Part One – Set up

I wish I could say my confidence remained strong. However, I didn’t sleep well the night before and woke that morning slightly terrified.  We got to the race site just over an hour early so I could have plenty of time to set up and get ready. I met up with the training group, found a couple of other women were as nervous as I was and promptly calmed down. It’s not that I WANTED them to be nervous. I sincerely wanted each and every one of them to have an amazing morning. But misery loves company and knowing they were nervous normalized my anxiety. We talked, we joked, we had our numbers written on us, we walked down to check out the swim course. Standing on the shore, looking out at the buoys marking the course, I smiled at someone next to me and said “Oh we’ve GOT this.”

Part Two – Swim, 400 meters, 13:04

I got in the water about 5 minutes early to adjust, along with the women from the training group. We positioned ourselves towards the back of the pack – exactly where I wanted to be. I looked out over the crowd in front of us, to the buoys that suddenly looked very VERY far away. I had a flash back to the open water swim on Tuesday night. Someone yells “Are you ready?!!?” and I whimpered “No, no I’m not.” Someone from our group said “Yes you are. You’ve got this.” And then we were off. Kinda. I swear the first quarter of the swim felt like I was pulling just as  hard as I could…and going backwards. After what felt like forever, I glanced over and noticed someone who is a MUCH stronger swimmer than me was on her back. It was with great relief that I switched from the hybrid front crawl/dog paddle I was attempting to the side stroke. My breathing evened out, I started feeling like I might be making SOME progress and suddenly we were at the first buoy. I decided to try and actually swim again when suddenly I was incredibly hemmed in. There was a guy practically on top of my right side and someone kept smacking my feet. We were at the back of the pack, there should have been plenty of room but I couldn’t seem to get away from the woman on my left (sorry Amber). The guy on my right would move away, I would try to pull away from Amber and a few strokes later, we would be on top of each other again. And still, right behind me…”smack….smack….smack….” Dude. Back off or go around. I’m not moving fast enough for you to get ANY advantage being behind me. I couldn’t breath and resigned myself to side stroking the entire distance. At some point I gave a firm kick and whoever was behind me backed off. FINALLY somewhere between the 3rd and 4th buoy space started opening up and I felt like I was getting a rhythm.  I still had to be super aware or I would drift to the left and start to crowd Kim (Sorry Kim) (Amber had pulled ahead somewhere in the chaos). Dude on my right was doing the same thing to me so the last hundred meters or so was punctuated by calls of “Sorry!” as we tried not to swim over each other.  FINALLY I touched bottom and stood up. I was woozy but managed to high five a friend without falling over and jog most of the way up to transition until the rocks were too painful and I had to do the weird prancing, tip toe thing to the bike rack. I decided if the swim had taken less than 20 minutes, I would be happy. I felt like we had been out there at LEAST half an hour. So I was surprised to see under 15 minutes.

 

 

Tri 2016 Training – weeks 2 & 3

Well. The house we’re renting is being sold so we’re preparing to move. We don’t have a “drop dead date” to be out. We also aren’t 100% certain where we’re going yet although we have several leads. We considered buying but have pretty compelling personal reasons why that’s not the best idea right now…the least of which is financial surprisingly enough. Our landlords are great and I totally understand why they’re selling. Please don’t think I’m in any way upset. However, adding the fun of packing and keeping a house “show ready” while we’re still living here does create a bit of a hiccup in training. I’m training for a triathlon. And I am also playing softball. That’s four sports worth of equipment and clothing that I’m using which means my laundry room and bathroom often have more of a locker room aura than one might particularly enjoy. Not only that but packing is time consuming and, depending on what is being packed/purged/cleaned, tiring.

All that to say, my training the past couple of weeks has taken a bit of a hit. I started packing in earnest this last week so I only trained once. It was a quality session though. I met with a training group that a local running store puts together every year. We met at the pool and I was able to get some critique on my swim form! I was so excited. The coach corrected my head position and my breathing technique. I don’t rotate fully and she said I “frog legged” when I turned to breathe. She demonstrated on the deck and I can only HOPE she was as amused watching me as it was to watch her imitate me. She had several of us work with a swim buoy and I ended the first lap laughing. At the time I described it as “fantastically awkward”. Just focusing on correcting those small things was exhausting! And difficult. I felt like I was learning to swim all over again! We ran a (very painful) mile afterwards. I was the last one in but didn’t even care. I was so happy to get home, shower and sleep but thoroughly enjoyed meeting with them. I’m looking forward to the next one.

The rest of the week consisted of packing, softball and friends. However, I’m in a good spot with the whole packing thing so my focus will be much more on swim/bike/run this week.

The gift of giving gifts

My husband ranks at Jedi Master level in the art of gift giving. He finds the perfect gifts, usually at a screaming deal. And often, it will not have even crossed your mind to want the item but you open the package to find something that fits your personality/lifestyle/hobbies/interests so precisely that you wonder how you could have ever overlooked it.

For example – my Christmas gift last year was a set of posters depicting the main characters from “Firefly“. It’s one of my favorite shows. I watch the one, lonely season that was produced at least once a year. So he found these posters, had the frames made and hung them in our room. I had never considered using Firefly decor in our room. But it’s so cool. I just stare at that wall sometimes in full fangirl geekdom.

He loves to give gifts. And he’s AMAZINGLY gifted at giving gifts. He also loves to receive gifts.

On the other hand….there’s me. Getting gifts stresses me out because I don’t want to disappoint the giver if I don’t love it enough…and I kinda wear my emotions/thoughts openly in my expressions so if they know me at ALL, they would know if I didn’t love it. (I should note that I have always been extremely happy that someone would take the time and energy to get me a gift.) (I should ALSO note that only once in my lifetime have I received a “bad” gift. But that’s another story. All that to say I don’t know why it’s still an issue for me.) And as far as giving gifts? I stink at it. Like – I’m really REALLY bad at it. My poor husband has endured seven years of lackluster gifts. Although, to be fair, I’ve never bought him a tie. Or socks. There was the year I got him slippers but he asked for those.

This year he finally gave up, made an Amazon wish list and emailed it to me. Part of me is sad that I seem to lack the ability to come up with the perfect creative, unexpected gift. But mostly? I’m just relieved. He won’t be totally surprised. But he’s guaranteed to like whatever I choose for him. And the list? Maybe one of the best gifts he’s ever given me.

 

Y Not Tri?

Today we take a brief break from the Filipino discussion:

I’ve wanted to do a triathlon for awhile now. The only problem(s)? My swim form is UGLY (and I’m slow…). I’m not totally comfortable on a bike (and slow). I keep trying to fall in love with running but so far it’s, at best, a tumultuous relationship (and I’m slow…). Oh…and the idea of figuring out logistics of transitions? Terrified me. But despite all that, the idea of putting all those difficult elements together seemed, dare I say, fun! So in a move that made absolutely no logical sense, I signed up for the Y Not Tri back in early May. I mentioned it on social media and then never spoke of it (or really thought about it) again. I finished up the semester, I went to the Philippines, I came home &  moved across town. Then the first week of this month I started feeling normal and human again…and realized the tri was the second week of July.

Originally I signed up for the 400m swim/6 mile bike/2 mile running. I figured I could do that with no additional training. And back in May, I COULD have. But two months, a couple of major events, and zero training later, I emailed the race director in a panic and asked to be moved to the shorter distance (exactly half the original). And then I began preparing…which consisted of a grand total of a ten minute open water swim at the race location 6 days before, a run through of the whole distance with a training group three days before and numerous panicked posts to the training group’s Facebook page throughout the entire week.

Surprisingly I slept just fine the night before. I think the run through on Tuesday helped make Saturday almost a non-issue…until I got there. Once I arrived at the race site, the nerves started to kick in a little bit. I met up with some of the people from the training group and promptly became BFFs with another woman doing the race for the first time. We set up our transitions together, we checked out the swim course together, we got marked up together, & listened to the race briefing & met up with other trainees together. Suddenly race morning went from intimidating to FUN.  Some other friends from my life were doing the longest distance and they were out there to encourage and boost me as well. Bianca gave me a huge hug and helped get the swim cap on my head. Lynette (my Ironman friend!) took pictures and reassured & encouraged me. And as I was scurrying down the path to the start (because I got distracted by last minute “good lucks”, hugs & high fives), I heard my name and turned to find a former co-worker (Drew) standing in the spectators. He would normally be out there racing but is currently injured. He heard I was doing it though and headed down to offer support. Seeing him was the biggest surprise of the day and gave me a huge boost of energy right before jumping in the water.

The swim start was surprisingly calm. We all chatted & joked around on the dock. Most of us jumped in a few minutes before the start to splash around, the race director yelled “GO!”…and we went. There was no chaos. It was a very polite, calm affair. We were pretty spread out but I found a good spot right between two people maintaining a pace I could match pretty easily until I couldn’t and then I side stroked for a few yards, rounding the first buoy and I wasn’t sure if I had been in the water forever or just a few minutes but my shoulders had quit muttering quite so intensely so I switched back to the front crawl and found people to match again. I don’t really remember rounding the last buoy. I do remember thinking I would not side stroke into the finish so I didn’t. I probably stopped a few strokes early and had to wade through chest deep water but on the other hand, I’m not sure that pond ever gets any more shallow. A volunteer helped pull me onto the crazy high step and then I was jogging down the lane, hearing my name here and there and all I could think was “I’m not dizzy!” and “Don’t put your helmet on backwards!” (Swim time: 9:28)

Transition went…as well as could be expected. I didn’t rush. I stayed standing to put on my socks & shoes and I’m not sure if that slowed me down or gave me a few extra seconds. Ultimately I don’t care. (T1 – 3:10) I jogged my bike to the mount line, stopped & got on. I haven’t even started to try & master the running mount. Given my level of grace and coordination, that will be a feat unto itself. I waved to Lynette and Drew who were already out on the course cheering for me, gave them thumbs up for pictures and headed out on the first lap. What is there to say about the bike course? It was flat. It was also the loneliest stage. There were stretches where no one was around to cheer and no one was nearby to cheer FOR (which I did whenever I saw a member of the training group or someone passed me.) I found a groove and decided to hold it but ended up with the beginnings of a cramp in my right quad and an extremely dry mouth. Lynette was waiting for me next to T2 and asked how I was feeling. All I could say was “I’m really thirsty.” Lessons learned on the bike: Learn to get to my water bottle while pedaling and work on evening out my pedaling. (Bike time: 21: 31 – Also, I need more strength.)

I don’t have a time for T2. It couldn’t have been too long. I switched my helmet for a hat, gulped way too much water,  grabbed my music, high fived Lynette and headed out. I jogged for a little bit, realized I was still horribly thirsty…and then both sides simultaneously cramped into the worst side stitches I’ve ever had. I slowed to a walk/limp and maintained that pretty much the whole course. I had one ear bud in but it was hot, my sides hurt, I was still more thirsty than I could remember ever being in my entire life and music was irritating me, not motivating. After the turn around (and more water), I tried to run a little bit but reverted back to my walk/limp when I started getting nauseous. I decided I WOULD cross the finish line running though. I glanced at the time as I came around the last bend and thought I was pushing the sixty minute mark for my total time. I had spent the past week saying I didn’t care about time but in truth, I wanted to come in under an hour – even without training that seemed reasonable – and I was going to be UPSET if I missed that by a few seconds. So I picked up the pace and tried to sprint my way across the line. (Tried being the key word). Lynette was on the other side of the fence, ready for her wave to start but waiting to cheer my finish. I remember touching her hand through the fence and hearing her say “You did it! You’re finished!” I don’t remember what I answered but I think she told me to go get water which sounded like the most brilliant plan in the world. I think I wished her good luck. I hope I did because she was amazing out there for me. I walked to the refreshments tent, gratefully took a bottle of water and a handful of grapes and realized that if I tried to eat anything else I WOULD throw up. I spotted Bianca and received a HUGE hug from her. I wandered a few minutes until I saw my BFF from that morning standing near some chairs in the shade. She didn’t know who they belonged to but I sank into one anyway. Coach Beth (from the training group) came by to check on me & offer congrats.  Within a few minutes Drew found me and commandeered the chair next to me. I was already feeling fine but we sat and chatted for a while until the owners’ of the chairs came back and nicely reclaimed them so they could leave. He said he thought my time was close to 50 minutes. I thought he was crazy but didn’t argue. Turns out my total time was 52:58 so in the future I should probably trust my people out on the course who are more aware of those details.

All in all it was as much fun and a little harder than I expected. (95+ degrees probably didn’t help either.) I’m already eyeing a sprint in the fall and have started considering what time I’m aiming for next year.  The activity itself is fun. But really it’s the community that elevates triathlon to such a great level. I had friends there and I can’t imagine doing this without them. People out on the course that I didn’t know encouraged and cheered me as I did them. Spectators I didn’t know, there for other participants, cheered for me. Sharing the details of the day and the giddiness of finishing with friends and training partners was not the icing on the cake, it was the cake. Getting to swim, ride & r…walk…that was the icing.