Thank You for a Great Year, Huntsville Running/Tri Community.

OR…

Why My Running Community Is Better Than Yours

Disclaimer: I actually have no idea if my running community is better than yours. I just am high on love for the running peeps in my city and I want to spotlight them and their awesomeness. If your peeps are this awesome, please tell me so that I can add your city to my list of cities to which we are allowed to relocate if need be.

All of my Finisher's Awards for 2013. It's been a good year.

All of my Finisher’s Awards for 2013. It’s been a good year.

It is no secret that I come to running as a giant dorky clumsy newbie. I have earned my athleticism as an adult and was born with no natural abilities to enhance that. I make no apologies for my lack of grace or speed. I am proud of who I am as a runner and for how far I’ve come, regardless of how I compare to others.

All of that said? I’m super-intimidated by the other runners in my community. Especially the fast ones. Like my husband. Now, I’m not intimidated by HIM because I wash his sweaty underwear, but all of his friends and the members of our local racing teams and the winners at the races? I’m TOTALLY intimidated by all of those people and I sometimes convince myself that they don’t really like people like me – COMPLETERS, not COMPETERS – being in their way.

But let me tell you – my 50K today shoved that in my face as a big ole fat lie of my own insecurities that has no truth in reality whatsoever.

This was my second year doing this 50K which consists of 10 laps at our local cross-country park for a total of 31 miles. The winner last year was there today, and after he lapped me 5 times last year, I learned quite easily what he sounded like coming up from behind me. The first time I heard him today I jumped off the trail to get out of his way and HE APOLOGIZED to me. He ended up setting the course record today but HE apologized to ME. Like his record-setting speedy self needed to apologize to me and my hobble. It was such a humble and polite (and terribly unnecessary) gesture that proved how kind even our fastest runners are.

And then there’s the group of elite/race team guys cutting up and cheering me on when we passed each other in opposite directions. And later some of them commented on how much of a “badass” I am. These fast guys who KILL my race times even on their bad days were calling ME A badass. And then there’s the elite girls, kicking ass and telling me, “You got this, girl…” as they run past me. They take the time out of their own prize-winning race to cheer ME on.

And it’s not just because they know me. One guy today introduced himself to me as he passed me and we spent the rest of the day cheering each other on. Then there were the girls I didn’t know close to me on the course, and after you do 10 loops you see those people around you many times, and by the time the day was over? We were cheering each other on.

Then there’s my friends. So many friends I’ve made in the few short years I’ve been running in this city. Friends that give me the boost I need exactly when I need it because they can tell by my face I’m not doing well. Friends that see I’m doing awesome and call me beastly. Friends that offer to help me with my mints and my ibuprofen because my hands are frozen.

Some of these people I met last week at a Christmas party for the first time, yet they cheered for me each time I made another loop today. Some I’ve known since my first half-marathon. Some are Donnie’s friends but they act like they’ve known me as long as they’ve known him. And then there are the dozens and dozens who I don’t know at all but who take the time out after the race to tell me I did great and to congratulate me. And then – THEN – we have this amazing athlete/photographer who donates his time and talents to our races to give us AMAZING photos to document our achievements.

And let’s not forget the Tri community here who blends with the running community seamlessly. They helped me into my first multi-sport season even though I was a basketcase who couldn’t swim or bike. They encouraged me and hugged me and taught me and cheered for me. There is no way I could have made it through Tri season without the supportive friends and strangers at every race.

Maybe runners are like this everywhere and every city has pockets of amazing people supporting each other on these monumental challenges. To be honest? I guess I kinda hope every city offers that, it would make me feel proud to be a runner.

But today I’m just overcome by the love and support in MY city. With MY running community. From the winner of the trophy to the last person to cross the finish line. We are surrounded by support and encouragement and I owe every accomplishment I achieve to these people in this city. They’ll never know how much the pats on the back give me strength and the “You go, girl!”s push me forward. I hope I do a little bit to return the favor with my “WOOOOO!”s every time I see a familiar face.

It’s the least I can do to pay back the supportive runners around me.

Thank you We Run Huntsville and your Facebook community. Thank you Fleet Feet and your training programs. Thank you Team Rocket Tri. Thank You Huntsville Track Club for providing so many excellent and well-supported races that I’ve become spoiled and am always disappointed when I run elsewhere. Thank you runners who show up at races and save the tiniest bit of your energy to share with others on the course in the form of smiles and cheers. I’m proud to be surrounded by you and I’m honored to be running with you. Maybe every city has a community like this because runners are inately awesome people. Regardless, today I love my running community here in Huntsville and I thank them for helping me set new PRs in 5 races this year with their training and their support.

Here’s to an even better 2014.

4999 Posts. 100K+ Comments. Ten Years.

I started my blog some time in January of 2004 on Typepad. The specifics are unclear, but I know I immediately connected with Amy and we formed a small little tribe of bloggers early on that did weirdo projects to get traffic to our blogs. Although I’m not sure that was the point of the projects…but it was a side effect. During those first few months, because of those projects, I actually became quite addicted to blogging with a decent level of traffic for a beginner. Around April of that year I gave up on Typepad and moved here…to misszoot.com…and my own self-hosted blog. The problem was that I was smart enough to set up my own blog, but too dumb to understand I could import entries from the Typepad one. I copied and pasted some of my favorite entries and the rest went the way of the virtual dump.

So, for ALMOST ten years I’ve been at misszoot.com, but I don’t like to discount that first 4 months so I always celebrate my blogiversary in January. And tomorrow it will be TEN DAMN YEARS. I will write my 5,000th post tomorrow on the beginning of my second decade of blogging. AND THIS BLOWS MY MIND.

Those early blogging friendships really helped solidify this blog because – simply – they gave me enough traffic to make me feel like it was worth the effort. I also started writing a lot about my reproductive issues which gave me the years of my highest traffic. It’s weird how blogging about miscarriages increases the pageviews. I like it because it means people are finding their communities, but it feels weird to think, Oh…I don’t get as much traffic as I did when I used to write about pregnancy loss.

I also used to open this blog up for guest posting, and I thought that was the majority of the reason why I had hit 5000 entries in 10 years, because some days I’d have 30 posts in one day. However, when I went to look up authorships it’s all just me. So, either those posts are gone and I wrote all of these 5000 entries, or there a couple hundred entries with my authorship that I didn’t write. So if you ever stumble upon a post that doesn’t seem like it was written by me? Let me know.

Either way – today is 4,999. That’s a hell of a lot of posting.

I really do love this place. It’s so weird to imagine life without blogging. I’ve seen bloggers come and go. I’ve seen people retire and return. I’ve seen people blog for pay successfully and not-so-successfully. I’ve seen people fade away, with a 3-year-old entry still hanging out on their front page.

And while my topics have changed a lot over the years, I’ve not really ever changed my rhythm. When I had tons of traffic I would not post another entry until the last entry had at least 10 comments, but that’s a rule from long past. I don’t think about that any more. I actually don’t even look at my traffic anymore. I keep the social tools up so I can catch something if it goes viral which has only happened ONCE, but otherwise I just ignore it because – in 10 years – I’ve learned that it’s harder to write when I’m thinking about stats. And I’ve written pretty consistently, obviously, over the 10 years. My typical rhythm is one post ever weekday, but obviously I’ve done more than that to hit this number in 10 years. But still – that’s the basic rhythm I’ve kept over 10 years and I’m quite proud of that consistency. I can promise you that if I started thinking about page views or advertising that would drop substantially, which is why I’ve avoided that like the plague.

I just can’t believe all of the wonderful things this little place on the web has given me in life. Friends, community, adventures, and confidence. But mainly? This place is my safe place. I only self-censor in the way I want to self-censor. I don’t ever want to hurt anyone with my words, no matter what form they take, but other than that? This place is all me. And sometimes I come in here and I just hide and I feel safe buried under a decade of words…of my words. And I’ve never been disappointed when I unload here, there are always voices to raise me up even just to say, “Me too.”

So, thank you. If this is the first thing you’ve ever read…or if you’ve been here since I was pregnant with Nikki (that’s when most people found me)…or if you’re Amy and remember the days of the Typepad haikus – I’m just so grateful for everyone. Every voice I’ve met along the way. Whether a comment on a blog post, or a feed in my feed reader. Whether an email of support or a Tweet of sympathy. All of the voices have given me such joy and I really can’t imagine any other option but to keep going for another 10 years. This is my morning coffee. My therapy. My support group. My life would be a lot more out of control without it.

The Most Vague List Of Resolutions Ever In The History Of The World

coffee

I’ll be honest. I like New Year’s way better than Christmas. Christmas is fun – but I’m never sure the good balances out the bad. We had a rough month of repeated unexpected expenses and since we have a budget we really try to stick to (that also gives us a savings for REAL emergencies) we had to tighten our belt at the time we needed it the loosest of all. I’m currently out of paper towels and stevia but we only have $2 left in the grocery budget for the month and since we’ve gone over in SO MANY other places, I’m really trying to hold out until Wednesday for a grocery store trip. So…the downside of the money and stress of Christmas in my mind (especially when you had other last-minute things pop up this month) tends to over shadow the fun of play/family.

But New Year’s? Free of stress! As a matter of fact, because of it’s “First Day Of The Year/Month” status – it’s almost a stress eliminator. You can start on THAT day to get your weight in check and your budget in line. That day is clean! You’ve done no wrong (yet) on New Year’s! BRING ON THE PAPER TOWELS!

I am going to be a bit more aggressive this year with my resolutions. Now that I have such a handle tool in my life for organization (ALL HAIL THE BULLET JOURNAL!) I feel like I can set my sites a little grander. Maybe do some of those annoying “30 Day Challenges” everyone posts on Facebook. Maybe write that book after all. Maybe hit my goal weight and stay there. Maybe run my 50-Miler.

Wait. No “Maybe” about that one. In March I’m doing the same 12-hour run I did last year but this year my goal is 50 (last year it was 40 and I probably could have done 50 but mentally, once I hit that goal, I was out.) during the race this year.

And this blog? This blog has some goals too. I’ve really enjoyed the increased posting I’ve been doing. It started with Nablopopmo, which got me in the habit of posting every morning. And then the goal to have my 5,000th entry be on 1/1/2014 seemed to remove the weird block I had to posting more than once in a day, so I’d really like to figure out a way to keep the activity here increased. I’ll definitely try to keep up the daily posting because I’ve just really enjoyed it. I also want to try to gradually work my way backwards through my content to make sure A) posts have featured images and B) make sure the entries back when I used FLICKR have photos in them hosted here. That’s going to be a giant P.I.T.A. but it needs to be done so that I’ll have everything stored locally. I’d also like to work on my categories list. Several of them were created for specific ideas and now they just need to be condense. I think I have 6 variations of “A Better Me” to monitor self-improvement projects. I’m sure that says something about me right there.

I’m also hoping to work on my healthy eating habits. I have cut back on Diet Coke SUBSTANTIALLY in the last few months, but I’d like to really try to keep it to a “treat” type of status. I like the periodic Diet Coke after a good long run. Or when we go out to eat and I can get it from the FOUNTAIN. Holy cow! I’d like to try to cut back on salting foods as much as I do. (Anyone have a good tip for a salt substitute?) I’d like to eat less processed foods, but also not have to increase our grocery budget our or food prep/shopping time to do so.

I’d like to go back to being a better Mom. I had let go of the Yelling instinct for awhile but it has creeped back into my parenting style and I super-duper hate it. I’d like to laugh more with the kids. I may actually put that on my daily To Do list: LAUGH WITH THE KIDS. I get so wrapped up in work and because I work from home sometimes my home/work brain gets confused and I’m just having a tough time with not switching COMPLETELY into Mom mode when I’m done working. When I’m in Mom mode I have a lot more patience, but it’s weird because home is now work and there’s always a part of me that is still in WORK MODE so that part has no patience for loud or messy. I need to switch ALL of that off when I’m done working so my patience increases along with my capacity for FUN.

I’d like to take my real camera around more. I’ve actually been doing that this last week or two, getting it out to just play, and I’d like to keep that up. The iPhone camera is SO GOOD and I even print pictures I’ve taken with it, that it because easy to leave the real camera at home. But the real camera is still SO MUCH BETTER and I need to make sure I’m using it because I want to have GREAT pictures sometimes too, not just GOOD ones. Also? I have a niece who will be here soon and I need to get in the habit so I can take a million pictures of her.

I’d like to come up with some domestic order to my life. I don’t want to ever be someone who cares a lot about baseboards and windows and the dust on picture frames. I like that we don’t care about those details. But – I’d like to just be better about the quick scan-before-bedtime to make sure the general mayhem is avoided. Towels not on the floors, legos not being eaten by dogs, markers not left without tops…just the chaos that when ignored creates BIGGER problems down the road. Maybe on my daily list after “LAUGH WITH THE KIDS” it will say “WALK AROUND THE HOUSE AND MANAGE MAYHEM”.

I’m sure before Wednesday I’ll have formulated a more concrete version of this list, something that I can monitor progress with. But for now? This vague guide will get me started.

The trick is –

The “Hmm” of My Social Anxieties

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We went to a party last night and I’m having the same day-after reaction as I do after every social event. It’s a characteristic of my social anxieties that has become so predictable that I’m surprised it still gives me pause when it happens.

Here it is: I’m doing a lot of Hmmm-ing today.

Parties are tough on anyone with social anxieties. It takes a lot out of you from the moment you agree to go, to the moment you walk through the door. We’ve had two parties recently and I’ve gotten severe headaches before both of them simply from the stress of going.

But the aftermath for me? Is almost worse.

Because I spend at least 24 hours, sometimes more, replaying every moment from the night before in my head. And as I replay them, I find myself humiliated by many of those moments all over again. Maybe I spilled something, maybe I tripped over something, maybe I said something dumb, maybe I did ALL of those things REPEATEDLY. This is usually the case because I’m just a mess in social situations.

And with each moment that I replay in my head that I find embarrassing, I have to do SOMETHING to stop that reliving that moment so that I don’t have to feel that embarrassment again. And for me? It’s an audible, “Hmmmm…”

For example, I was making Wes breakfast and I remembered something embarrassing I said (Which is as common of an occurrence as breathing for me because I’m just a moron) and to try to stop myself from reliving the embarrassment so I said, out loud, “Hmmmm…” Wesley heard me and said, “What? Why did you say, ‘Hmmm…'”

It’s a game I’m playing with myself, Wes, to see if I can stop reliving embarrassing moments over and over again.

My embarrassing moments rank on a scale of 1-10. If it’s a “1” then that vivid feeling of humiliation that comes from reliving the moment will fade after 24-72 hours and I’ll no longer need the vocal tick to stop me from feeling the original embarrassment all over again. If it’s a “10” then I’ll still be feeling that same level of embarrassment a decade later. I have a few 10s that still produce an involuntary, “Hmmmm…” out of me when I feel my brain revisiting them.

I don’t think I had any 10s last night, thank GOD. But I had 3-5 moments that probably all rank as a 1 or a 2, so for the next few days my family will just randomly hear me say, “Hmmm…” as my brain revisits something embarrassing from last night and I try to stop myself from feeling the humiliation all over again.

And this is why I don’t like to go to social gatherings. Because they haunt me for days/decades after. Now, maybe if I wasn’t such a basketcase, I could leave a party and not have these moments trigger humiliation and verbal ticks later. But – as it is – I’m a total train wreck that leaves embarrassing moment debris wherever I go.

How about you? Do you have any social anxiety verbal ticks in your arsenal?