Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A change of pace

My latest column for The Times-Gazette:

The annual Festival of the Bells Firecracker 5K is this Saturday and I challenge every runner and walker to come on out for some lighthearted competition through the streets of beautiful uptown Hillsboro.

In case you hadn't heard, the race is being moved from the cross country course at Liberty Park to Hillsboro's uptown streets, and I am really looking forward to the change. I enjoyed running at the park when I competed in the Firecracker two years ago, but a lot of the half-marathons and triathlons in which I compete typically take place on the road. It's what I prefer.

According to Pat Reinholz, the coordinates the Firecracker, I must not have been alone.

Click here to read the rest of my column.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The name I won't let them call me

Me, right, as an unhappy teen.
The slicing, cruel words that formed the blueprint for the first batch of self-esteem that underpinned my teenage and young adult years are unforgettable.

"Stupid! Ugly! Loser! Dumb!"

Whether hurled by the boys or by the girls, to my face or behind my back, I would try for the next several years to shiver, shake and squeeze out of their mold.

Like millions of pieces of gum stuck to my body forming that mold, I would spend time each day, slowly peeling off one sticky little piece of embarrassment and untruth at a time.

Maybe someday I'd be able to see what I really looked like underneath the world's casting and coloring of me.

The great news is that I did. That journey is another blog post, but a new lease on life in college, some maturity that comes through experience and, most importantly, the saving grace of Jesus gave me a much-improved, second batch of self-esteem.

Even with a house full of self-confidence these days, on occasion I hear those words in the air, caught in the breeze between two nearby trees, usually on a cloudy day.

I don't hear them for long.

Me, front center, with friends in Slovakia after college.
It is, however, the word that was never used by the kids that lingers with me most days; like a soft ghost sitting in the corner of my room, her legs crossed, her elbow on the back of the chair and her hand gently resting on the side of her face. "Are you sure?" her gaze seems to ask of me.

That one word they could never cast my way, an arrow of such outrageous fortune that I do everything I can to this day to avoid it being thrown my way by a new cast of characters.

One less word with which to hurt me.

They could never call me fat. If I could at least control that, I would feel ahead of the game ... at least until the next insult.

I was always a skinny kid and young adult. At my heaviest I weighed 140 pounds for about a year in college. I found a way to get motivated and I soon dropped 20 pounds putting me back at Lora size, which is approximately where I remain currently.

You see, if I could stay skinny, that would be one less weapon in their arsenal.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, everyone makes stupid or dumb mistakes, comments, decisions. Loser is a nice general term which covers everything negative you believe to be true about yourself. If you're a bully, it's really a nice catch-all term that I would personally recommend.

Though when someone is thin, fact certainly must reign over opinion. It's rarely in dispute, at least in Flyover Country.

Toyota Olympic Tri on 9/27/09.
It's no secret that I train for triathlons because the workouts are so intense that weight loss/maintenance is nearly inevitable. I also enjoy eating, so I choose to alter my physical activity more than my diet.

I've been able to move past from the things that were said about me in so many ways. I just hadn't realized until recently, upon thinking about graduation during this graduation season, and about my school years, how I'm still living my life because of that one thing unsaid.

I've been able to forgive those kids (they were kids, after all) and I find myself grateful (not happy) at times for those experiences. They've made me tougher.

I'm not proud that I still allow this part of the past to affect my present, especially when considering how much I've been able to leave behind, and care even less what people say about me (90% of the time), but there does exist a silver lining with the cloud.

Though the name they didn't call me might be the underlying compelling for training and racing, it has brought me in to a sport that I have come to love as a big part of my life. I love to run, I enjoy the challenge of swimming for a couple miles and I enjoy the courage cycling for long miles pulls out of your soul.

Now, if I could just find out what that lady ghost wants, I'll have good material for another blog post.


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