Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When did my world get so small?

Lots of interesting things get jostled around in my head while I'm running, I've found. Today I was thinking about a painting I was working on last night. I studied painting in undergraduate school. Back then I made huge canvasses, one so large that I had to take the door off my apartment to get it into school for a grade (probably should have thought that through before building the frame INSIDE the house).

The painting I was working on last night is the second that I've done this year and both have been tiny, 5 X 8 pieces. I can't remember when I stopped painting, I guess it's like a lot of things, they just peter off gradually until you can't remember a time when you did them.

I realized, while I was running, that in my unhappy marriage I was getting smaller and smaller. Not literally of course, in fact before the divorce I was huge. I guess I made up in my body weight what I was losing in my soul. But I had become unsure, hesitant, dependent and cautious.

So, back to running, accomplishing this goal is like starting on the tiny canvasses. A few months ago I would never have imagined I could even run a complete mile. Today's 2.25 is no marathon, and the paintings are no mural, but I think they're the doorway back to my big, wonderful world.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The difference between 24 and 44

I learned a lot of valuable lessons this weekend. The most painful, literally, is that I can no longer stay out drinking until 3 AM and expect to enjoy a run at 7:30 in the morning. Still, I learned I CAN do it. I did complete a 2.5 run but have come to understand that it's a lot more enjoyable when you've had sleep and proper food before hand. I ran today with other people. I ran faster which is good, but I struggled more with my own thoughts of stopping than I seem to when I can zone out to the music. Next time I can tell people I'm running with what to say to me to keep me going when I want to quit.

Yesterday in yoga I met an amazing woman. First, she was the most beautiful woman I've ever seen and she was so strong! She was demonstrating how to "fall back" into a backbend from standing. As I watched her I thought, she must be a couple years older than me and look how incredibly fit she is. After class she told me she was 60 years old. It was amazing. She said she started yoga when she was 50 - more evidence that it's not too late for me to spend the second half of my life as a fit and healthy person. THere is time enough in this life for everything I want to accomplish. Amazing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 12!

In highschool I set a record for running the mile: 45 minutes.
The route went past a mall that had an ice cream shop in it. That seemed as good a place as any to spend my time taking the Presidential Fitness Test. To say I wasn't into fitness would be an understatement.

Today I did 2 miles in 2o minutes, what would that gym teacher say now? There are 3 weeks left until the race. I had been holding a time of 45 minutes in my head for the 5K (sort of a tribute to high school) but it looks like I could get in under that by then. I'm really more focused on finishing and not dying but there's always room for another goal.

Yesterday, as I was getting out of my car, a woman drove up to me and leaned out her window. "I'm not gay or anything, but those are some damn pretty legs!". Not too shabby a way to start the morning, I'd say!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

patience, patience

Well the good news is that I've been able to be consistent in working out. The runs are getting easier and I actually look forward to them. Today the 30 minutes on the stationary bike was doable, if not boring as hell. God awful boring. Did I mention dull? The cute little virtual bike tour of Washington State did nothing to convince me that I was enjoying a trip through Seattle.

I drink tons of water and think I've been eating very well but the weight just stays the same, up or down a pound. I've been doing this my whole life and I know all about water weight, muscle mass, blah blah blah focus more on the level of fitness but dammit the numbers will always mean something to me. I got a little lazy about counting calories, guess it's time to get out the old food scale again. Where is my magic wand???

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Well Crap!

It wasn't enough that I found I could make the entire 2 miles without stopping. Now my 15 minute morning run is a little too easy. I was thinking it was great that I could complete it without wanting to die or kill someone else. Then I checked my heart rate.

It seems I know have built up enough of a fitness level that I actually have to run a little faster to get my heart rate up there. Guess I'd better change the tunes on the phone - those Kate Wolf ballads just don't get me racing.

It is a little sad that I am old enough that ibuprofen is now a breakfast food.

This weekend's plan calls for a 2.5 mile run. I'm feeling pretty good about it. Trying not to pay attention to the fact that it's 7:00 AM and already warmer and more humid then I'd like. Can't imagine what that's going to feel like in mid-July at 8:30 when the race starts. They have EMTs at races, right??

Sunday, June 21, 2009

2 miles!! Amazing

So today's plan called for a 2 mile run. Let me be perfectly clear about this. That is longer and farther than I have ever run continuously in all my life. Ever. The day was looming at the end of my weekly calendar. I tried not to indulge too many moments of doubt but I really wasn't sure I'd make it.

My shoes are too small and not comfortable. - Got new shoes on Weds.
I have to take care of my son - dropped kid off with dad.
I need music to distract me - figured out how to load music onto my phone.
My running bra is dirty - did laundry
My knee hurts...it's too muggy..... I'll look old and sweaty......I'll just run a little bit and then let myself walk it out.....who's going to know if I don't finish anyway....this one run won't make a difference, I'm really just not the fitness type.....GOOD GOD GET OUT THE DOOR!!!

Well I'll be damned. I did it. The whole thing. And I didn't die. The music was a huge help. I picked things I could sing along too (in my head of course, I was way too busy panting to get any words out) and that kept me from thinking about how tired I was.

I used Mapmyrun.com to plot a 2 mile run through my neighborhood so I knew exactly where I was and how far it was back to my house. That let me set lots of little goals like "I won't think about walking again until I get to Garfield".

When I felt like my breathing was getting too heavy and I should stop I reminded myself that I was strengthening my heart and the longer I went the easier the next run or bike would be. I kept picturing what I would look and feel like when I crossed the finish line at the end of the race and how proud my son and friends would be. That is the woman that I wish I was.

And now I'm back from the run, completely cooled down. I didn't die. I feel great. I will be able to get up tomorrow and face my strength training routine easily because I made it through today's run. Unbelievable. I actually think I could get hooked on this.

Next Sunday's run is 2.5 miles. Well, I know I can do the 2, how hard could an extra half mile be???

Where we are so far

So some specifics to ground this story:

I decided to blog my journey through this challenge because I've done so many things in the past few years that I never thought I could and never really told the story. I'm hoping that, when I'm successful with this latest goal of running a 5K, some other woman who thinks she's too old, too fat, too busy, too whatever to do whatever thing SHE thinks better women do -she'll get up off the couch and Seize the Fish!

I should probably explain that. Carpe Diem sounds like it really should mean Seize the Fish and really, seizing a fish seems much more obtainable a goal than seizing an entire day, doesn't it?

So here are some painful but true confessions to make so that others who might find themselves in similar situations can see that I'm no ex high-school jock who's sad because she can only do a 15 minute mile. At one point I was a certified couch potato.

Six years ago I carried 210 pounds on my 5'3" frame. Wow. And that was before getting pregnant! My own father didn't recognize me at my sister's wedding. After my son was born and after a divorce I got that whittled down to about 185 where I stayed for a good many years. Last year, I took part in a weight-loss study and dropped another 20 pounds (without the use of drugs mind you - just good old fashioned eating less and moving more). I've kept that weight off for almost a year and have been practicing yoga for over a year now, feeling pretty great about my strength.

When I started talking about this race though, I had to face the fact that I have not really done much cardio training and have always given up when I started to pant or got too sweaty. There were a million reasons I could find for not being able to be a runner but I started to ask myself "What if I'm the only thing standing in the way of this goal? What would happen if I could really get fit, for good?"

Again, guided by some really sound advice: "If you half-ass your hour of working out, you'll have just wasted an hour" and "Your body tends to be conservative and overly dramatic. You are not likely going to die while training", I took on the challenge of a more vigorous workout routine with 4-5 days of cardio activity and 2-3 days of strength training a week. It's that journey I'm going to record here.

Oh by the way, I'll be 45 in January and it would really kick ass if I could get there in better shape then I ever was in my 20s.

If I can do it...

June 14, 2009

It occurred to me that, for a long time, I've been telling all my friends, and frankly anyone else who would listen, that they were capable of much more than they ever thought. "What would the person you wish you were do in this situation?" was my standard advice.

I have faced plenty of my own doubts and fears in the past few years - meeting some pretty dark times with successes like performing stand-up comedy, sky-diving, singing in front of an audience. Generally, if I thought it was something I'd like to do, I would find a way to give it a try.

It was in the midst of helping a certain bold Sicilian face her own fears of singing karaoke in a bar, that I started wondering what challenge I could take on next for myself. I'd already put in insulation under the porch, figured out how to cut trim for windows and laid sub-flooring by myself. What else did I truly think I couldn't accomplish?

A few weeks before I had gone to see a friend complete a triathalon. Now it should be stated here so there is no confusion - I am not an athlete. This will become very important later on in this story if you're still reading. I come from a long line of not-athletes. My parents held a certain disdain for anyone pursuing fitness or exercise, and we carry the physiques to prove it.

Anyway, back to the triathalon. As I watched women nearly twice my age and some with a good many pounds on me move from water to road to run I found it harder and harder to say with any conviction "Oh that's crazy, I could never do that."

Now I'm not contemplating a triathalon anytime in the near future - it seems like I should probably learn to swim before that happens, and perhaps not be terrified to bike in a group of other bikers, but I do know how to put one foot in front of the other. How hard could a running race be?

Once I've said an idea out loud to myself, I find it hard to put it down. I contacted the triathalon friend for some advice on training and finding a race, got myself signed up for a 5K in July and began the challenge of getting fit.