My first triathlon.

Almost 2 years ago, I signed up for my first swimming class. I couldn’t make it one pool length. I couldn’t put my face in the water. And I’m pretty sure those sharing a lane with me wanted to throw themselves off a bridge. I swayed in my lane from side to side; I was the last one to finish and I looked like a fucking mess. Up until this class; I had never swam before. I had an experience in the water when I was 8 that created a fear of water so deep; I made my mother obtain a doctor’s note for me so I wouldn’t have to swim in high school. As an adult, I learned to surf and I loved it. I could prevent myself from drowning but that’s about it. Truly, it’s a miracle I’m alive. I had no business being out there. However, knowing I was strapped to a giant floaty board, did offer a lot of peace. I have always gravitated towards the spiritual qualities of water. I’ve said this a million times but our relationship is like a giant metaphor. If you fight it; it fights back twice as hard. You need to embrace the energy and synergy of each wave; each movement and marry yourself to it. And respect is paramount. Always respect the force of water and it won’t do you wrong.

The reason I even entertained the idea of swimming was watching those around me complete triathlons. While in the midst of a serious running/life funk; it seemed like the perfect anecdote. Three sports as a opposed to one sort of guarantees you’ll never get bored. But it took too more years of banging my head against a wall with running. A handful of shitty, horrible, no good races, two bad falls on my knee, a cracked patella and a doctor saying “try a new sport,” to finally decide to pull the trigger. (Oh and some encouragement from a friend, of course) So I signed up for the Olympic distance in September and the Sebago Lake Triathlon (just the sprint distance) which I completed Sunday with like 3 weeks of training behind me.

3 weeks of training. Not the best idea. But when do I ever do things in a sensible manner?? PSSSHHHHH. Come on now.

I knew I could cover all the distances. I knew I could handle the open water. I had done the distance twice on my bike up the hardest hills I could find in Windham. And 3.3 miles of running, I mean, come on. No bigs. Even still, come Sunday, I was nervous as all fuck. SO NERVOUS. Because it was new and fresh and unexpected. But you know what, once it started, I just made my way through the motions and something really glorious happened…..I smiled at everything around me. Every single solitary step of the way. I had a fucking smile on my face.

After the swim (which was a little horrifying by the way with all the people and one very lost swimmer next to me), I ran out of the water, smiling. I got on my bike, a little confused, but smiling. I huffed my way along the bike course, while primarily alone, smiling. It was hot. It was hard. The hills were unforgiving and unrelenting. But can I tell you, while coasting down a few of the downhills, I was just so enamored with how things looked on the bike, breeze blowing through me like a gift. It was spectacular. The run, was super challenging because I’ve never experienced that kind of fatigue at the start of a run but after walk/running the first mile; I caught my groove. I even managed to pull out a sprint at the finish. Still, smiling.

I haven’t felt this way after a race since early 2014.

I know some people have doubts about my ability to stick to things but these people also haven’t been privy to the demons I’ve been working through from 2014-2016. Yes, I may talk a lot but I’m quiet about the real struggles. And I have struggled, badly, the last two years. It’s easy to say that running is the thing that pulled me under but running really has nothing to do with it. I’ve suffered losses that are inconceivable, overwhelmed myself with a giant pile of things to do and continued to try and fake it for two years. Little did I realize, everything was spilling out everywhere. When you break down and cry hysterically after each race; it’s just easier to lie to people and tell them it’s because I missed my time goal. No, I don’t really give that much of a shit about time. It was mental exhaustion and emotional turmoil emerging from each broken seam as I struggled to just hide everything.

2017 is different. I feel like my old self. I feel mentally tough again. I’ve worked through the layers of grief. I understand what I need from myself and others. And, I have a new vice. A new outlet. I loved Sunday and I plan on continuing with swimming, biking and running. With no expectations. With no time goals. I just want to be out there, smiling as I coast down a hill and emerge from the water. I want to enjoy. That’s what life is all about isn’t it? Finding happiness, in whatever form works for you specifically.

 

The hustle.

I’m an obsessive person (surprise, surprise); which means that you could say one single thing to me that I don’t necessarily appreciate and I will feast and fawn over it for like, an ungodly amount of time. Until I have dissected it into nothing and talked about it at nausea with eighteen people. If I wasn’t married, I would be doomed. No one would want to date me with this behavior. It would immediately signal stage five clinger warnings and the men would flee. All the men. In the world. No, I wasn’t always like this. I never before had the urge to make sure people knew systematically that they are wrong. My feelings get hurt easier now that I’m older and just, weathered. It feels lately like I’ve come under fire and my response is to defend each criticism vigorously. Try and prove it’s not true, that there’s no merit behind it. And perhaps its the whole thing I’m throwing out there to the universe. The car, the tude, the fucking $100 yoga pants. Some people choose to have the same chair for 20 years, I want something, I buy it. I choose to do a triathlon and a week later; I have the best wet-suit, new headphones, a bike, you name it, I’ve purchased it. Yea, I get how that looks and I understand the comedy of watching someone buying up a sport but even still; I’m not sure where the toxicity comes from. Last time I checked, not one single person knows about my hustle. And guess what,  I’m never going to let you see me sweat. I may say I’m overwhelmed. I might say I’m busy. I might blow off plans and reschedule a million times but world, seriously, you have no fucking idea. My ass is hustling every single day. This shit doesn’t come without sacrifices, lack of sleep, enormous amounts of stress, time away from my kids, crippling anxiety–it doesn’t come for free. My job isn’t glamorous. It never has been. Did I think that in a previous life I would be living the glam dream? Sure. But I diverted from the original plan and here I am. I pick up trash. I pick up broken tile. I beg, plead and bribe people to get shit done. I agonize over each detail and I pray, I mean I pray that in the end, things will work out the way I imagined. I go to bed every night with a list in my head of things to do. All while being a full time student, having two kids, a husband, two dogs, a giant house to take care of and family I basically never see. I don’t whine to Josh to get the things I want. I participate and work hard just as much as he does. We have built something really special together as a team. I want for nothing because I have worked for it. And at the end of the day, guess what, I’m not a lazy person. Making it look easy doesn’t equate to it being easy. It just means I’m really good at pretending.

I’ve always been a pile on person but I can count on one hand the things in life I walked away from without finishing. The list is short. I finish 95% of what I start. And if by some miracle, I choose not to do something, not to race a distance I signed up for, not to train the way I originally planned, whatever, it doesn’t come without days and weeks of sorting through the pro’s and con’s. There isn’t one thing in life I am nonchalant about. Everyone has a vice; mine-making things extremely difficult on myself. I take everything seriously. The people who have know me best, will tell you that without hesitation. They will also tell you the enormous weight I carry on my shoulders from a life time of self induced expectations and guilt. I have sacrificed a lot for the things I have.

So don’t sweat my hustle and I won’t sweat yours. Everyone has different priorities and a different approach. I have a vagina which means 60%, maybe 70% of the time things come twice as hard in my industry. How about we just support one another? Lift each other up? Applaud success and nurture the broken moments? Is that possible? Because I’m over the condescension. I only want people at my table who get what this is all about. And in return, I’ll sit at your table with nothing but support and adoration for your hard work.

Changing up expectations.

Life has changed a lot since I last took the time to write a post. I’m professionally buried; which is actually really wonderful because the experience of doing certain things on my own; has been priceless. I haven’t run in 2 weeks because of my knee which months ago would have devastated me but now I feel strangely liberated. I have SIX MONTHS, yes, a mere six months left of school and I am making plans for a bad ass graduation adventure. (like scaling a mountain in Patagonia, okay, maybe not that big but something really grand). I have less friendships to rely on than I used to (turns out some people can’t handle when you get messy) but the ones remaining feel really strong. I’m going to Iceland in September with my brother; where I am convinced, I will find my father (his soul, not actually his physical being). I get these STUPID braces off my bottom teeth in 8 weeks!! AND…..I signed up for an Olympic triathlon; which I swore I would not advertise until I was actually immersed in the training but fuck it, I’m really excited and I wanna tell someone. So now I’m telling everyone.

I’ve been battling my knee since 2013 but I’ve been very quiet about it. I mean, with my heart condition, the knee sort of always felt secondary and until recently; I could wiggle my way through any run. Well, two giant falls later, one in October and one just a few weeks ago equates to I’m officially done with distance running. (for awhile, hopefully not forever). Initially, this was hard to swallow. I tried over and over again to get over the 6 mile hump but the pain became really unbearable. I finally had some really hard conversations with myself. I realized I was holding into running for the wrong reasons. I built a lot of friendships running. Unfortunately, a lot of those sort of fizzled when I stopped pushing myself in a way that met the expectations of those around me. I thought that if I could get back to where I was; people would let me back in but I’m done operating like that. If it’s real, you ride the wave together, even when you both make mistakes. It really is, that simple.

The Olympic triathlon is nothing to sneeze at. I’m at day 3 of the training and I’m already like holy bananas but if I’m really being honest; I will always need something that feels hard in my life. I am just wired that way. The difference being, biking and swimming are SO FUN to me right now. I look forward to the workouts, the soreness, the hills, the laps, seeing faster times, smiling while outside or in the pool. I look forward to it all. The running is kind of secondary in this training plan which couldn’t be more perfect. Right now, I need things that make me happy. I don’t need things I dread. And the idea of conquering this distance on September 10th; feels really amazing to me. I’m super excited about it. So much so, I have butterflies when I consider my next workout. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

I’m not going to say that everything is shits and gigs over here because believe me; I have my days. Yesterday, while watching “This is Us” I started bawling over Randall and his Dad. What can I say, it made me think of my father; who looked as sad and unfortunate towards the end. There are days that I feel very emotional. There are days when I would give anything to change the dynamics of my life. I guess I convinced myself my father wasn’t a thing but I miss him immensely and I wish he was here so we could talk about my life. The universe can be cruel in that way. There’s a lot of good, I mean there is a ton of good but there is also the grim shit that can weigh you down. Right now, I’m just trying to refocus, re-calibrate and reconsider my expectations.

The horizon looks pretty sweet; just gotta keep looking ahead.

The Quest for the Perfect House

84f8f03a48dc80f096e2a576cc780e5aI mean, is this kitchen too much to ask for??? Champagne taste on a beer budget: I think so.

Very suddenly and out of no where that required any sort of planning, Josh and I decided that we wanted to move. CORRECTION: Josh decided he wanted to move. That’s right, I just said that out loud for the whole internet to hear. I completely understand where he’s coming from. Our house is lovely but it’s situated on Route 302, next to a Jehovah Witness church (which means frequent visits, lots of traffic and lots of people for our dog to constantly bark at) and my “dining room” (which is snuggly located in my kitchen) can only seat 6 max and not really that comfortably either. After a series of failed attempts to host Holidays and parties, I think he finally just decided one day, enough is enough. And I get it because I struggle with these things too. I am an absolute lover of elaborate dinner parties but I can’t seem to have them in my house. I dream and I mean dream of a 120″ dining room table, topped with planted herbs where I spread out my guests and feed them beautifully roasted chicken. Can’t you just imagine the clinking of silverware, stemware and laughter? I can. However, there is a paradox to that which is recently, I have really started to make our house, our home. We have lived there for over four years and the progression of our home has been slow but finally, it is coming together. I’m starting to have the adult furniture I want. Family photos are framed and hung artistically on the wall. I have beautiful photographs of my children in Italy displayed above my wine bar. Our bedroom, actually has adult bed linens. They are even Belgian linen. (It’s not as fancy as it sounds, trust me) And I love that while not everything matches, it feels right. Stacks of books. Candles that smell like driftwood. Bowls of fruit on the counter. Bees. Chickens. My garden.

What I have tried to explain to Josh is that truly, I just started reconciling the fact that I now, permanently reside in Maine. That has been a bit of a hard pill to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here but I’m not from here. I’m never going to be from here. I think I have definitely assimilated to the culture but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes, I get very very home sick. But then Josh will ask me what exactly am I home sick for? It’s tough to explain. While I no longer have many friends left in Massachusetts, as many of them have moved on to various locations, the ones I do have I really love. And yes, my family is small, but my mother is a large part of my life and I enjoy my time with her. I wish she was closer so I could hear her outrageousness more often. Really though, it’s the little things: Marylou’s coffee and it’s skanky barrage of women who work there, runs on the Charles that end with glorious people watching, taking lunch into Harvard Yard and just sitting, feeling the intelligence and reveling in it, the Coop, my favorite bookstore in the whole world, which I could get lost in for endless amounts of time and of course, the shopping, there is nothing like Boston shopping. So the fact that I have just settled in to a place and now I have to re-locate, even though it’s not far, just kills me slightly in the emotional sense. (Ok, maybe that’s a tad dramatic)

With every new venture, comes a new opportunity. That’s what I keep trying to tell myself.

I will say this: I don’t think we will be moving any time soon. Our standards are maybe just a little too high. If I am going to throw my hands in the air and pack my shit and move, it better be for a damn good kitchen. So far, it seems as though those do not exist. What is it with people and their nasty wood cabinets? With terrible hardware and white appliances???? I mean, these are nice, houses, and then you open up the picture of the kitchen and it’s as if someone shoved a hot poker in my butt. I just can’t handle it. Also, do people not own furniture? Where is all your stuff? Why do you own drapery from the 1980’s and why is that said drapery matching your comforter? Did you have that custom made? You should have it un-custom made. I don’t have endless money, we are limited in what we can buy but I try to make the better choices when I can. Wood is out. White is in. And under no circumstances should you ever place a blue toilet in your house! Where does one even purchase something of that caliber!!??!! We have looked at what feels like countless homes on the internet and about half a dozen homes in real life. I have hated them all except for one. Which we put an offer on and then never heard a single thing back. Jerks. It wasn’t an insulting offer, it was a realistic offer. They too, had a gross kitchen but the house was cheap enough that we could rip it out and start over.

Anyways, we are certainly learning a lot about ourselves and each other during this process. If it wasn’t for our able bodied real estate agent, we most likely would have killed each other by now. Apparently, we have dramatically different taste in…well…everything to do with a home. More specifically, décor choices. But as far as I am concerned, that’s for the woman to figure out.

Today we look at two houses in Portland, they look promising. Keeping my fingers crossed.

On other fronts, I finally got around to purchasing a new desk for our office which is classic with a dash of contemporary. Only problem: they shipped it with all the drawers locked and no key. But, I’m hoping that it will inspire the writing to pour out of me for my new project. I feel like environment is key when crafting a story. I intend to create a positive space in which to begin my venture.

Running has not been as good. I’ve been doing it. But begrudgingly. I think that’s what happens when you sign up for too many races.

Lesson learned.

Happy Friday everyone. We made it.

 

The Last Post

It’s been a grand coupe of weeks, to say the least. And, as Spring finally appears here in Maine, many good things have unfolded in my life. I feel like I have finally let it all out. Breathe. Release. After running the Boston Marathon, I was, relieved to have the experience behind me, however, due to my performance, or lack there of, I found myself needing redemption. I signed up for the Maine Coast Marathon on a whim, after obtaining a bib through a participant who could no long use it and completed that marathon Sunday 43 minutes faster than Boston. This marathon had it’s tough parts too, it being 74 degrees out and all, but there was more good than bad. The good: all the friendly faces along the way (Alan, Meg, Cynthia & Dave), the lack of spectators which eased the pressure a bit and the beautiful landscape which surrounded me. Also, the experience of running Allison’s first marathon with her, for at least half of it. And of course, the fun car ride to the race with Betsy, Monica, Allison & David. (Jim missed the boat due to a series of unfortunate instances) The bad was just heat and sweat and of course, the 26.2 miles you have to run to get to the finish. But I was proud at the end. Really proud. Proud of Allison, who absolutely killed it and proud of myself, for coming back 3 weeks later for a do over.

I had a lot of time to think over the course. I thought about running. I thought about this blog. I thought about the person I thought I would be at 30 years of age. And although I love my life, I’m not at my personal finish line yet. I have lofty goals that I have shelved for some time. I think right about now, it’s time to get to them. In order to do that, I need to streamline my life a bit. Focus on one project instead of seven. Since running takes up so much of my schedule, I need to have that and one other singular item I am giving my attention to. Therefore, I will be shelving this blog permanently so that I may tend to my other creative outlet. I will be deleting this blog as of this afternoon and will be working on my other project, exclusively from this point forward. Eventually, I will show the world but for awhile, till I get some work done, it will be private.

Thank you all for always reading and your continued support.

xoxo, Jenny