Monday, November 28, 2011

After Glowing ... Still

I checked the race results online today to assure myself of a few things:
1.  I really did win my age group
2.  I wasn't the only one in my age group

Yes, there were fifteen women in my group.  The second and third place finishers came in within two minutes (after me).  When the awards ceremony was held, I was the only female who came up to the stage.  See:

Yes, that's Olympian Johnny Gray in the hat.  Note the difference in my body and the male top finisher.  He's fit and fast.  Seeing this picture has inspired me to get my ass back to running daily.   I do want you to know that I did not run in that skirt.  I changed after the race because ... well, let's get personal here ... running makes you sweat.  I hate the smell of any bodily secretion.  Knowing that I'd have to stay after the race, I grabbed this skirt and granny panties on the way out of the house.  It was windy.  I am sure my hanes her ways were seen by those downwind of me.  Hate it for ya, especially since it blew up several times when I was in the food line.  Trying to balance a plate whilst pouring shrimp goodness over my grits of course brought on a massive burst of wind, thus forcing the skirt to fly.  At that moment, shirmp and grits outranked pride.

But here's the thing.  I always watch the beginning of seach season of Biggest Loser.  Because of this, I know what most people look like nearly naked.  The lyrca that holds their parts in place can't disguise the years of bad decisions that landed them on those scales.  Everytime I see an overweight person, I imagine them on those scales.  Their arms can't lay flat at their sides.  They waddle up the stairs.  Their bellies covering their fun parts.  Also, I live in a beach town.  So if my cotton skirt flew up, exposing my panties, so be it.  I'm sure we've all seen much worse on the shore and television.

I do want to thank my (only non-work) friend, Dianne, for taking this picture:
I saw her on the sidelines as we were waiting for the race - once I noticed the camera, I posed like I was some deseperate reality star.  Apparently so did #1130.  I think I pulled it off better, thanks to the hip pop.

I received a call from a publisher today, one day after I decided to write my book.  God's clearly got me on his "been nice" list.  I'll be getting in touch with them tomorrow to see what they have to say.  I guess this paragraph should really be the lead story, but the other stuff was so much more fun.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Let's Get Serious Here

It's Sunday.  It's rainy.  If rainy days and Sundays get you down, you're royally screwed today.  Judging by the chatter on Facebook, it's a rainy day across the state.  At my beach place, the dogs are napping and I'm eaten up with cabin fever.  I just finished Mindy Kaling's book and have been approached by a publisher (or someone who claims to have connections).  Perhaps it's time for me to get serious.

Should I really be writing all this in a blog and then turn the blog into a book?  Why pay for what you can get for free?  But then again, this cow loves giving away her milk.  I can't quit it.  Writing is who I am.  It defines me.  I am such a writer that I love loathing it. 

I need to find the bridge that's going to take me from the infrequent blogger to paid, published, internationally-hailed writer.  The problem has nothing to do with finding the bridge, it has to do with me believing I can actually cross it.  I can.  I think.  I mean, if I had help.  A lot of help.  And not the kind that comes in 1.25 ounce shot glasses.

Why do I let my fears hold me back?  Do I not deserve what my heart desires?  Do I not have the talent?  The dedication?  The ability?  I do - I have it all.  So.  Let's get serious about this writing thing.  I'll be gainfully unemployed in a year's time.  This I can pretty much promise you.  Our jobs here are temporary, we were told this from the onset.  How are you going to afford that new car?  The house?  The dog food?  The race entry fees? 

What should I write about?  Eccentric characters with limps or accents?  Blah.  My dogs?  No.  No one finds this amusing, only eccentric characters, and since we ruled them idea.  A girl follows her dream and moves to the beach only to realize she misses her native town?  Seriously?  No.  Again - no one can empathize with a life on the beach accompanied by a fat-ass paycheck, especially eccentric dog owners.  I love to write about my life experiences, my trials, accomplishments and growth.  It's rewarding, and fulfills my narcissistic, obsessive personality.  I know they ring true to a broad audience.  This is not because I am fabulous.  It's because I'm honest and raw.  I don't sugarcoat life, nor do I glorify it's filth.  I take each step and learn and share.  At the heart of my (eccentric, non-limping) character is a girl who truly empathizes with others, who loves to point out the irrational rationale, who wants to make this world a better place - one word at a time.

God chose me to be a writer.  He equipped me with the heart that feels other's pain.  He gave me the keen observation skills needed to translate action to words and vice versa.  He allowed me the fear of the gift.  Now it's time to step onto the bridge.  (I did just barf a little when that came out of me.)

So, stay tuned - it's about to get a little exciting up in here.  Thanks for coming along on the ride.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Don't be a Goon

A little more than four years ago, I wrote this column. Please take five minutes to give it a read. The depth of this blog will be missed on you if you don't. I promise it's quick and easy. I'll be waiting for you.


Now that you're back, we can continue.

The words of Deena's coach said have stuck with me. I don't have a strong belief system in much, but those words are my mantra. Ever since moving to a new city, running has saved my sanity.

Before we go any further, there's a few things you need to know:

1. The company for whom I work sponsors the US Olympic Track and Field Team. As part of our sponsorship, we have the opportunity to bring Olympians to the area for events.
2. I love the Olympics.
3. I luuuuuvvvvvvvvv the summer Olympics.
4. I wrote a column about Deena Kastor about four years ago (in which I misspelled her name).
5. I have no filter and very little tact.

Again, back to our story.
Picture it: Gulf Shores, BP offices, a quiet Friday afternoon. My colleague, who was working on a half marathon in which we were going to bring Olympians, turned to me and said, "We have Deena Kastor coming..." I squealed (insert teenage girl/Justin Bieber image). It echoed throughout the office. Deena KASTOR? "SHUT THE ((DIRTY WORD)) UP!" Deena and Johnny Gray would be coming to talk at packet pickup, kick off the half marathon (and 5k) and participate in the awards ceremony. I was (insert curse word) pumped.

"I take it you know her," he said with a smile.

"Yeah, I wrote this column....She inspires me every day. Let me read you the column." That was mid October. She'd be in Orange Beach the weekend of Thanksgiving. I tucked this nugget into my heart and waited. I thought about how I'd mention the column. Would she want to read it? Would she care? Should I tell her how those words spoke to me as if they were from God Himself? Would she think I was just an overgrown stalker?

The weeks passed and the day came. I kept glancing at the time until I saw her tiny frame enter the over sized convention center room where packet pickup was being held. I whispered, "There she is." I had very little knowledge of what she looked like, but I knew she'd be fit. She effortlessly wore an autumn flavored sweater dress and cozy boots. Her straight, blond hair hung to her chin. She was natural and simple. I immediately wanted to be her friend. "Play it cool, you goon!" I said in my inner voice. "Cool, filter!"

Deena and Johnny spoke to the crowd, signed autographs. When time and space permitted, I introduced myself to her. My words made sense, they were slow and paced. I discussed the column and thanked her for sharing her coach's words. We talked more. I wanted to pull up a chair and sop her up with a biscuit. She was preaching and I was the desperate congregation. I say those two words every run, "define yourself". They've changed my life. I had to convey my appreciation, tactfully.

The afternoon quickly wrapped up, making way for dinner plans for the group. I arrived late and edged my co-worker out of his seat so I could sit next to her. I made a mental list of things not to mention:
1. Yes, Jake Ryan Gregg, the dog that "likes" you on Facebook is my dog. I didn't realize I was logged in as him when I liked your page.
2. My dog has a Facebook page so my friends and I can have one more neighbor on Zombie Lane.
3. Chafing
4. Dying grandmother
5. Indigestion associated with running

I was well behaved, mature and not stalker-esque. Since I had no preconceived notion, I was overly thrilled to spend time with Deena. She is deep, methodical and an inspiration. Knowing that the inspiring words came to me through such a delightful person makes me speechlessly happy.

The next morning came and I resolved to remain cool, run the 5k and help as needed. Cool, you goon. Cool. Throughout the race, I kept my eye on the competition. The field was small and maybe, just maybe I could place in the top three of my age group. When it came time for the awards ceremony, I took a seat in the lush grass. As the announcers weaved through the brackets, my heart rate increased with the ages. They called the men in my age group. The guy that won the male division was fit. I've seen him at other races. He wins a lot. Three male names were read. "And in the female division... in first place: Allison Gregg."

I threw myself to my feet and whooo-hoooed. I whoo-hooed from the bottom of my lungs. I whoo-hooed as I waved my arms about while running to the stage. I whoo-hoooooooed as I climbed on the first place block. I whhhhooooooo-hooooooed as I got my prizes, FROM NONE OTHER THAN DEENA KASTOR! I whoooooooooooo-hoooooooo-hoooo-ed as my running friend took my picture. I whooo-hooed as I made my way back to my plot of grass. I also apologized to the crowd for said whoo-hooing.

All my inner coercing to not be a goon flew out the window. I won. I WON! I celebrated. I deserved it. In the past, I'd downplay this accomplishment. But no more. I won. I have the prizes and pictures to prove it.

What meeting Deena taught me is deep and wordless. Allowing myself to celebrate my win is a milestone in my growth. The fact that these two occurrences came at the same time is surely no coincidence. Be who you are. Believe what you do. Work hard and celebrate. More often than not, throw in a whoo-hoo. You're worth it.