Day 125: “Yo Adrian!”

I had a great run this morning. So great it should be in capitals, I think. Part of it was that I kept going, very few walk breaks. Part was that I was running with a friend, no music, just conversation. Part was that it was mostly flat; my kinda course. (Kelly Drive) And part of it was because it’s a beautiful day in Philadelphia. Nine miles of wondering what I did to deserve to be so blessed.

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I came home and made a fantastic brunch. I’d been craving homemade waffles for a while, and for a long moment I looked at the frying pan. I haven’t had eggs since Friday because I had to get up early for the Color Run yesterday and the Sunday Funday Runday run today. Though I do miss the eggs, I opted for the waffles and they were awesome, and I can eat them guilt-free  after burning 1200 calories on the Drive.

Now that I’m home and clean and relaxing, I went looking for something to watch on TV, and I tripped on a “Rocky” marathon. Of all the things! I was just at the Art Museum, and I just took my photo in front of the Rocky statue.

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Timing being what it is, I turned on the movie right at the start of the fight scene, and I cried all over again. I’ve seen this movie at least 100 times and I cry nearly every time. In my head I started making a list of the reasons why:

1. It’s a true Philadelphia movie, and I love this city. I was born and raised in NYC but I call Philadelphia my home. Somehow I knew I always belonged here.

2. The music at the end inspires me. If you haven’t had the Rocky Theme come on your iPod while you’re out running, you haven’t really lived.

3. When I was in middle school (or to NYers, intermediate school) I was in the band. It started in 4th grade and kept on through 8th grade. Because of that, I took typing 3 years in a row rather than any of the other electives, because it was the only class that fit the band practice schedule. Because of that, I can type 100 words a minute, which has led to paying jobs and a lot of finished manuscripts. But when we were in band, we played music from the Rocky soundtrack at concerts, and we were good. We were damn good. Hearing the music in the movie brings me back to being 14 with my whole life ahead, and the friends I had then.

4. The story of Stallone rewriting the entire script in 3 days. To a writer that’s Herculean. When you analyze the story and plot, it’s really well written. I don’t know if Stallone knew the Writer’s Journey formula but he did a great job, and like Rocky, he never gave up on the story he believed in.

5. The underdog story theme in it. He busts his ass through that last fight. No one believes he can do it. He’s on the mat and even his manager is telling him, “Stay down!” but he gets up anyway. It goes to a draw but essentially it’s a win. A win of the heart.

6. The romance of it. Aside from the part where Rocky and Adrian realize they were brought up different but the same, this is my favorite piece of dialog:

Paulie: [talking about Adrian] You like her?

Rocky: Sure, I like her.

Paulie: What’s the attraction?

Rocky: I dunno… she fills gaps.

Paulie: What’s ‘gaps’?

Rocky: I dunno, she’s got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.

That’s what I want in a relationship, and I won’t settle for less.

7. Oh, and did I mention my cat’s name is Mickey? 🙂

Today I ran the Museum steps just like Rocky; I even took two at a time on that top level. (I reminded my running buddy Jack that even Rocky couldn’t run the steps at the beginning of the movie.)

At the moment, “Rocky II” is on and Rocky just proposed. You know, I think in their hearts, every guy who asks a woman to marry him reacts like Rocky did; like he’s thinking, “She really wants to marry a big dumb jerk like me? Holy crap, how did I get so lucky?” 🙂

I was wondering earlier what I should use as the starting line song when I run the Philly Marathon. I was thinking “Let It Go” but maybe it’ll be Rocky’s Theme. As I’ve been telling people, training starts August 4th. Nerves start August 3rd. 🙂

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Day 133: Deutschland Uber Alles

I’m just a little psyched, and also a little melancholy. Most of my genetic history comes from Germany, including my father who came here in the 1950’s with $2 in his pocket. Germany just won the World Cup, and aside from all the controversy about Brazil’s social priorities during the games, I’m really very happy.

See, my dad is in his 70’s. He’s seen Germany win the Cup before, but he’s in his 70’s now and there’s a possibility this is his last chance to see his birth country win the World Cup. (Oh, and did I mention he ‘s a big soccer fan? He doesn’t go to the games but he used to coach soccer, he put my brother through soccer, you name it. He lives and breathes soccer. I visited when Germany was playing one of the first round games and the world essentially came to a stop so we could watch the game. I didn’t mind; I watched right along with him. Well, until I conked out during intermission.)

That being said, more than anything else, I wanted Dad to see his team win just one more time. He could very well be kicking harder than ever in four years, but who knows for sure? He and Mom have already laid out their wills, named their executor, set out their last plans. I hate that they did that but it’s practical and I get it. I have to do it too. It is what it is. We’re humans, and we don’t live forever. I’ve had lots of friends lose a parent or both parents, and I don’t want to have to imagine how I’ll feel to be in their shoes. The day will come, but today is not that day, and I’m grateful for that.

So seeing Germany win today, and seeing on Facebook where my mom said in regard to that lone OT goal, “About time. Dad is going nuts here.” I wish I could see the grin on his face now, but I know he’s happy. Life will go on, and one day life will end, but today, Deutschland Uber Alles, and my Dad was here to see it, and I couldn’t be happier for both of them.

Great game, Argentina. You deserved this trip to the finals and you played a very tough game. I don’t know how Messi stood on unshaking knees with that last free kick; I was breathing shallow and I’m not even there.

World Cup 14

 

Day 139: My Bully, Myself

I have an odd reputation among my Facebook friends as something of a “grammar Nazi”. I don’t know where it comes from because I don’t correct other people’s posts gratuitously, but I occasionally get things posted on my timeline, teasing me about picking on other people’s grammar and spelling. In reality, grammar isn’t my strong suit and I know that. I wish it were. In high school I *seriously* wanted the award in senior year for best in English. No idea where I placed in the standing, but I didn’t get it. (I know who it was and I still haven’t forgiven her.) I couldn’t point out a gerund with a gun to my head, and every so often I’ll write something that looks so wrong, but I can’t figure out why, that I’ll just re-write it to say something I know isn’t wrong. It’s been mentioned to me that I sprinkle commas across the page like they came out of a pepper shaker. My AP English teacher accused me of having a love affair with a semicolon. But yes, I do like the crispness of a well-written sentence, and I can spot the bad ones pretty quickly. (Just ask my mom. She let me read a complaint letter she sent to a certain manufacturer and I spotted an error on the first line. She was mortified.)

Not long after my first trip to a yarn festival, I became a yarn snob. Until that point I didn’t really know what the good stuff was (baby alpaca, I’m looking at YOU). I thought good yarn was whatever I could grab on sale in the mill ends bags at AC Moore. My stash was so loaded with acrylic, it stood a good chance of surviving the next apocalypse. Then I found out about merino and superwash wool and alpaca and cashmere and yak down and qivuit. I stroked and fondled and cuddled some excellent yarns. I held something that made me tell everyone around me, “I want to make this into underwear and then never leave the house.” Somewhere around here I have a pic of a good friend all but having a mini-climax over some Dream in Color Smooshy, and I get that. From then on, my love of acrylic was limited to putting the right colors together for afghans and slippers, and then washing them with dryer sheets to make them softer. I use (one particular mass-marketed brand) for scrap afghans just to get it off my shelves. The stuff could still withstand nuclear war, but next to my skin, I want The Good Stuff.

Which brings me to last night, when I posted on Facebook what I thought was a useful chart showing what natural remedies could be used to combat cravings for unhealthy foods. I really liked it because my therapist once pointed out that you can erase a chocolate craving by eating macadamias. The reasoning is that a craving is the body’s way of telling you you’re missing something in your diet, and it’s recalling where it got that element last. The crave-able element in chocolate, for instance, can also be found in macadamia nuts, at fewer calories and with more nutritional value.

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However, after I posted the chart, a writer friend of mine good-heartedly informed me that you can’t replace chocolate with nuts, and that chocolate “feeds the soul.”

I blew a gasket. I’m getting health advice from someone who wears much bigger pants sizes? The last time I saw her, she was sporting a couple of extra chins. Honestly, I saw her across the room and, since she hadn’t shown up to a group get-together in a while, all I could think was, “Holy cow, how much weight did she gain?” Yes, I’m being judgmental and I hate myself for that. I learned months ago that it’s wrong to judge someone on their size alone. That large lady at the gym later complimented me on my workout, and we’ve since talked a few times and she’s one of the nicest, hardest-working people I’ve ever met. I should know not to be a weight snob, to live and let live, right? Well, live and let live right up until someone who wears size 24 pants is telling me after I ran 10 miles that she believes chocolate is a better choice than macadamia nuts? No. Just no. Or, in this case, just say no. I worked my tail off to lose 40 pounds, and now I’m signed up to run a marathon and committed to the training to finish that race. I’m going run a few hundred miles just prepping for that last 26.2. I’m sure as shit not going to jeopardize it by “feeding my soul” with chocolate. The issue at hand is, solving the problem of unhealthy cravings with healthy choices. Leave my soul out of it; I’m feeding my body what it needs. Up yours, comfort food. If I wanted to be comfortable, I’d keep my butt firmly affixed to the couch until the EMTs need to widen my doorway to get me out. (At this point I think, “When did I become a weight bully?”)

What I found funny was when I pointed out my current success to her and I had the numbers to back it up (BP, cholesterol, etc.), she responded with, “Then I’m happy it worked for you.” My reply: “It will work for anyone if they want it bad enough.” Her reply: silence.

The real world, and real success, is just outside your comfort zone. She extolled the benefits of comfort foods, but she can’t walk to the bathroom without getting winded. I ran ten miles and then spent an hour getting groceries. (And not a single piece of junk food hit my cart!) My legs are stiff today but I love how they feel. I have muscles where I had fat. Where once were Thunder Thighs is a hell of a lot of strength and competence. Chocolate can’t make you feel that good.

Sweetie, you know who you are: I hope you figure it out before it’s too late.

So yes, in addition to being a yarn snob and a grammar Nazi, let’s add weight bully to my growing list of judgmental side jobs. My theory is that if I can’t be a good example, let me be a horrible warning. J But I think I’m doing pretty good at being a good example. If I live to be 95 and I’m still running, and I’m cancer-free and not taking a bucket full of meds every day, I won. Too bad the folks who didn’t listen to me won’t be around to see it.

When I had some down time yesterday, I caught the movie “Without Limits”, a bio-pic about Steve Prefontaine. I’d already read the biography, but it re-inspired me to go find the poster with his quote: To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. Well, life is a gift. Don’t waste it on chocolate. Once in a while is fine, but don’t use it as a crutch. You know who I’m talking to.

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Day 144: Tapering

No, I’m not tapering back in my training yet. I haven’t even started, so I’m a long way from tapering. Scared spitless of it, too. By the time I start to taper my training, I’ll be 2 weeks from The Big Day, but to earn that medal, I have to train. A marathon is just the party celebrating the end of all my training. I’m going to run a lot more miles in training than I will on November 23rd.

June was a crazy month in my house. We ramped up to the end-of-quarter at work, to the point where I was at the computer for most of my waking hours. Not solely for work, either, since I had to revise and send back my Sheila contest finalist entry, which I needed to send back before the June 30th deadline because we were going to Ocean City for the weekend, and on the 30th I’d be nose-to-grindstone for work. I also needed to figure out the changes to the ending/Big Black Moment, because the original one just wasn’t making my heart bleed enough.

So now it’s July and I have to taper my life back to normal speed, and I’m not sure I remember how. Yesterday I was restless, trying to find something I could grab onto and work on fast and hard, the way I’ve been doing for the last two weeks in June. There was stuff to make up for, like the things I didn’t get done in time, or the things I made mistakes on that needed correction, but come the afternoon when I needed a few minutes to lie down and relax, I couldn’t get my mind to stop whirling. It takes effort to remind myself to just pay attention to my breathing, but it can be done, and it’s a little easier than it had been.

The afternoon was pretty busy, too, but I got things done. Unfortunately I got them done to the point that I still hadn’t taken the time to catch up on home stuff like food. I posted on Facebook, “We’re so out of groceries that I have two choices for snacking: an avocado and water.” I ate the avocado but it wasn’t satisfying. Since we got back from OC, I’ve been madly jonesing for fruit but I didn’t want it going bad while we were gone so I didn’t restock. Now that it’s payday and I have time again, I was keeping myself so busy that again, I wasn’t going and doing the other things that needed doing. The real world stuff like dinner.

Alex dragged me out to Impact because it was his treat for getting all A’s on his 4th quarter report card, and when that was done we went to get a few groceries. It was satisfying to see food in the fridge again but it wasn’t all we needed. I know I can get better food prices at Aldi or Bottom Dollar, but I didn’t plan on going to 3 stores for groceries, so I grabbed what I could at Mega-Lo-Mart (I hate Wally World for so many reasons, but sometimes I just don’t have a choice; no other stores carry bird seed in 40 pound bags–I have a lot of hungry birds to feed–and Mickey’s favorite cat food) and left the rest for today. We grabbed Panera bagels on the way home and that was dinner.

By 6 I was feeling guilty that it appeared I wasn’t making time to work out again. I hadn’t exercised since Saturday morning, when I went for a run before our trip to OC. My plan had been to up my run frequency to 3 or 4 a week for July, since starting next month I’ll be running 5 days a week. I need to get used to the boost in volume. I felt like a slug until 7 when I decided I’d had it; I needed to drop whatever was in front of me, lace up and go. I was going to go to the gym and do 3 miles on the dreadmill, just because it was ridiculously hot/humid, but I remembered I also didn’t have time to refill the gas tank since NJ, so Farm Park, here I come.

Maybe another part of the problem with being crazy busy for so long was how tired I was. More than once I started feeling like hey, it’d be nice to have someone give me a hand once in a while, but I’m a single mom. This is what I got. It wasn’t my choice, but it’s my situation now, so I have to pull up my big girl panties and get on with it, right? As the song in Evita goes, “But all the same, I hate it.” I can do what I need to do but it gets lonely. Even if I still have all this work to do, it’d be nice to have someone to come back to, someone to tell me “It’s all right” or “Hey, nice job.” But In the last nearly 3 years, I’ve had to learn to do that for myself. Maybe even longer than that, considering that may have been part of the beginning of the end, when I stopped needing John’s reassurance that I was someone; I learned to be that for myself. (The end of codependency.)

I was about on mile 3 or 4 when it suddenly hit me, I like being alone. I do value that time of solitude, and I haven’t had it in a while. I’m at work where people can look over my shoulder the entire time; or I’m home, where the boys are ever-present (not to mention Mickey); or I’m at the gym with at least a dozen other people; or I’m driving somewhere on a public road. For a little while last night at the park, I was alone and it was beautiful. I smiled. It felt great. I had music playing, my form was good, my feet didn’t hurt, my knee wasn’t tweaking (the way it did when I tried to fast-walk; suck it, 90 degrees in the shade). I felt healthy and happy, and I was still alone. At the end of my run, the only thing waiting for me was more email; no smiling face, no happy eyes, no gentle hands.

Okay, so THAT’s depressing me again, but you know what I mean. 🙂 In the grand scheme, it was okay. Sure, I hate having to be the only one to get things done. I hate having to make a conscious effort to relax. I hate the pressure and the loneliness, but I like the solitude. Sometimes I do like the solitude. Isn’t it interesting how English has three words—alone, solitude, and lonely—and they mean the same and yet entirely different things?

We have a three day weekend ahead, and after the last couple of weeks, it feels like a vacation. I may be running the July 4th 5k in the rain but after doing a half in the rain, I don’t care. It might even give me a chance to rain-wash my Timex hat, and at last get the mud from my Love Run sneaks. I can do whatever I have to do, because no one’s going to do it for me.

As for those edits…uh, yeah; the same still applies. 🙂

Something else on my mind was positive affirmations. I’ve been working on thinking positive and seeing great things ahead in my future. (Bradley Cooper, I’m still looking at you, babe.) The odd thing was that some of the things I see ahead are so fantastic, so amazing, so wonderful, so joyful, that for a moment I was afraid. I mean, seriously, do I deserve all that? It’d be great to get it all but it’s scary too, because at some point I see myself thinking, “This can’t be real. This has to be a fantasy or a dream, and at some point I’ll wake up and go back to the real Orwellian world I live in.” Again, it takes effort to stop and say, “Hell yes I deserve to live in all that wonderful, not just because of the crap I’ve been through already—because in the grand scheme, bad as anything was, I know I’m really and truly blessed—but because I am who I am and I do deserve to have a wonderful life in which every one of my wonderful dreams comes true.”

So yeah, bring it. I got this.