Day 110: New Normal

My 16 week training plan started yesterday…with a rest day. Kind of anticlimactic if you ask me, but I rested just like they told me to. (Who am I to disobey orders?) 🙂 Today was my first official training run so I took a pic to commemorate. Let’s see if I look any different in 109 days:

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It was a good 4.17 miles, 55 minutes. It’s hot today but that’s par for the course: it’s August. 🙂 Tomorrow 4 more, and Thursday 4 more. Rest day Friday, 10 miles Saturday, 3 miles Sunday. I’m keeping a spreadsheet of my mileage too.

Today it begins. I think I’m ready to try this new adventure. Let’s see what happens next, shall we?

Oh, and if you’re so inclined, as you can see I’m running for the OAR, the Organization for Autism Research, a terrific charity that helps people and families with autism. My fundraising page is here. I’d love your support! 🙂 Thank you!!

Day 112: Or Is It One?

Today is the last day of normal life. Well, technically. My 16-week marathon training programs starts tomorrow, so today was my last “freestyle” run before a chart on the wall mandates, between now and November 22nd, how far I’ll be running and when.

The pre-race nerves fluctuate. One day I’m scared spitless. The next day I’m confident I can finish. Remembering how bad my nerves were the night before my first 5k—I think I got 3 hours of sleep, wondering if I had everything I needed—and knowing that now, I sleep like a stone the night before a race, I expect I’ll need to try to go to bed at 8 the day before if I hope to close my eyes by 10. Let’s not forget that I’ll probably have to be at the starting line by 5, as my friends had to do last year. The race starts at 7. I keep telling myself it’ll all be over by 1. God willing and the creek don’t rise, it’ll be over a while before that, but we’ll see.

So as of tonight, all fun ceases. Well, not ALL (Bradley Cooper, call me? 🙂 ) but no more wine. Watch everything I eat. No cheat days. I’m officially in training in a few hours, which is why there’s ice cream in the freezer and a glass of white zinfandel next to me. I’m told if you want to change your body, take up running. If you want to change your life, train for a marathon. We’ll see.

I ran Kelly Drive and MLK Drive this morning, 9.22 miles. I started feeling it at 8 miles, with my feet hurting and my hips aching. All I could think was, “Oh great. I have 3 times this distance to go and I’m tired now? Lovely.” I’d planned on 10 miles but stopped when I got back to the car. But I got some beautiful pictures:

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And as luck would have it, I got to the Art Museum and started up the steps, videoing all the way, when “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky came on my iPod. For once, iPod, your timing was excellent. Could’ve been better because I was halfway up the steps at the time, but still, I appreciated it, and I ran around the fountain just to enjoy the moment a little longer. If you’ve never run the Steps or been to Philadelphia, but you wanted to run in Rocky’s footsteps, here you go. Sorry about the heavy breathing. Couldn’t be helped. 😉

Tomorrow it’s official: I’m training for a marathon. I’m scared, excited, anxious, and, well, just hand me the thesaurus. I’m sure I can find more adjectives. 🙂 Here goes everything!

 

 

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. 🙂

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.

Day 149: The Hard Things

For the last three nights, I’ve pushed myself to go to the gym. I didn’t want to. It’s not easy. My youngest is in summer camp, which means I pick him up at 3 to go home. Normally he gets home on the bus at 2:45, and home life starts from there. I sign in to work, work on whatever comes in, throw in some laundry or consider what to make for dinner, and if time allows, I run to the gym at 4-ish. With this change in the schedule, everything’s pushed back and time is at a premium, so I’ve been going to the gym at something closer to 6 or even 7, which gets me home closer to 8. Mostly I’ve been putting the boys’ dinner together ahead of time. Because I’m a veggie, I eat a different meal anyway, and since it’s hot, salad has worked out just fine.

But add that I need to get the revised partial back to The Sheila contest, too. I do as much as I can during lunch but the time I need to focus on the changes I want to make to the story? Mostly I do my thinking in the car between work, camp, and home. I haven’t turned on the TV in two days. I just didn’t care enough about anything to let myself be distracted.

Yesterday between dinner and 7, I decided I needed to go for a run. Not just needed, but needed. As in, my training runs are going to be 5 days a week and so far I’m only doing 2. I need to get up to 3 for the next couple of weeks, and then boost it to 4 before scheduled training runs start the first week in August. But before dinner we had a massive downpour: pitch black skies, sheets of rain, you name it. I may have seen a terrier in a basket fly by. The rain subsided between dinner and my food coma nap, and I thought, “But it’s so icky and steamy out. I should go to the gym…but I don’t feel like driving that far. Maybe I’ll sk–”

Cue the inner critic reminding me what a slouch I am, and how I’m going to make a total botch out of this marathon. I got up then and there, got my socks, changed clothes, pulled my hair up in a ponytail, and without another thought I went out to run at the park. Yes, the first mile was like running in a moving dryer full of damp clothes. More than once I thought, “You don’t need to do 5 miles. Four, or even 3 would be fine.” No, dammit, I’m doing five.

The last mile was the best. I hit my stride, I felt good, and I passed 6 teenage boys out for a walk by the stream. Honestly, they made me nervous. I’m probably not faster and they had numbers. There’ve been a lot of attacks in the area lately and I didn’t want to be a statistic, so I hit the gas…and it felt great. Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” came on my iPod and I found my back kick and off I went, all the way to the stop sign a block ahead. 🙂

But the main thing was, I was out there, sweating my tail off, wearing my OAR singlet, running in the heat. I did it. I didn’t want to. I knew it would be uncomfortable, but it was good and it was worth it.

In mile 4 I had an idea for the ending on the manuscript I’m working on that pulled together what I’ve been trying to do for a while: bring the heroine to her knees. No, not like that, but I knew she had to lose everything before she could truly save herself. I had to make her situation so dire that she would willingly go back to who she was, even though she hated that person. When the thought hit me, I pulled out my cell phone and tried to dictate it into speech-to-text. I didn’t have my glasses on, and when I got home, the result was so far from what I’d intended that it barely made sense, but I managed to piece it together into notes and then finish the rewrite of the synopsis. From there I can make the changes to the manuscript, though I will say it’s embarrassing how weak the original ending is. I only hope I’ve learned from this, and next time it won’t be so difficult to make the heroine miserable.

As I was taking off at the end of mile 4, passing 6 teenage boys who probably thought I was the oldest, fattest lady they’d ever seen attempting to run, it hit me: in writing as in running, I have to do the hard things in order to be better. I have to do exactly what I’m afraid of to get the best result possible. There’s a reason, something in my psyche (and probably everyone’s, to some degree, except that guy who sky-dove off a satellite) that says, “You can’t do this. It’s too scary. It’s too hard. Go crochet something instead,” or whatever your emotional junk food of choice is. But for the past few days, and yesterday in particular, I’ve made myself do the hard things, and I’ve gotten damn good results.

I’m tempted to not watch TV again tonight, but we’ll see. Last night I finished the synopsis revisions at 10:30 and said, “Oh yeah, break time,” and I read some more in “Game of Thrones.” I’m already hooked into it and I’m not 50 pages in. I can even forgive the backstory info-dumps because it’s so well written into the narrative. It was a real treat to take thirty minutes off and sit and read someone else’s work. Maybe there’ll be more time for that tonight, or maybe I’ll keep pushing through the hard things, because I want someone some day to pull out one of my books as a treat earned for a day well spent.

Day 168: Let It Go

Yes, I mean the song. Well, mostly.

Last Sunday I had a hard time getting started on my run. This Sunday I had some encouragement in the form of my cat, insisting that by 6:30 I should be out of bed. In his defense, my alarm is set to 5:30 on weekdays and he doesn’t know what a weekend is. I would’ve liked to have slept a little more but hey, que sera, sera.

I rolled out of bed, had a little breakfast, and goofed around on email and Facebook until I finally came to the conclusion, I needed to go hit the park. I couldn’t go to Kelly Drive with the Sunday Funday Runday team; most of them were already there, running the Oddysey Half Marathon. I didn’t sign up because I had it in mind to cut back on my races. (As of now I’m doing 6 more races than I did last year, including the marathon. While I was goofing off, I browsed the Whiteface Mountain Uphill Race, glutton for punishment that I am, but I’ve been to Whiteface and it’s gorgeous. Plus the registration fee is only $40, almost too good to resist.)

By 8:30 I said, “Okay, let’s go.” I changed clothes, laced up, and went out the door to go to Valley Forge. I could’ve run at the farm park but I go there all the time, and I wanted to treat myself to something different. It meant carrying my keys with me, but I figured I could hide my purse in the back of the car.

Checking the map, I figured I’d go from the Visitor’s Center to Washington’s Headquarters; a good long run, right? So imagine my shock when I got to WHQ and realized I’d only run 3.30 miles. I ran the stairs at the train station a few times–pretty sure the park guide at the WHQ building thought I was nuts–took lots of great pictures, and headed back.

Not far from WHQ, I was back at the parking lot marked by a block for Guarnam’s location during the encampment. (I probably have the name wrong but Google’s not being much help at the moment.) I decided I could either cop out and run the 3 miles back, making a total of 6 miles for the day–seemingly wasting the trip, since I could easily run 7 miles at home–or turn right onto North Inner Loop and take the longer way back. Guess what I did?

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The long way. I was at the “You Are Here” mark and instead of taking the straight trip back up Rt 23, I turned right and did that crazy wide loop back, about 5 miles. Gorgeous.

But I forgot to mention that on the way out, when I crossed the road, there was no one around, in front of or in back of me. A few cars drove by but nothing outstanding, and then “Let It Go” came on my iPod. I laughed out loud, then looked around. What the hell? 🙂 I sang it. Probably scared every deer in the county but so what. I even took a selfie:

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But the remarkable thing about it was how it made me feel: FREE. Really, the parts about, “That perfect girl is gone” and “It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through, no right no wrong, no rules for me: I’m free!” Mostly it made me feel like I need to stop caring about stupid petty bullsh*t and just let loose who I am. Say what I think and how I feel. Stop hiding to make other people feel better. Don’t be a b*tch but don’t let myself be walked on, either.

And no, I’m not “coming out”. 😉 In fact, in my first mile a truly hot guy waved at me; not just the usual, “Hey how ya doin'” wave runners exchange; it was a complicated little hand wave that ended with a point in my direction. Damn, I almost tripped on my shoes.

Oh, and one more little pay-attention moment, when I turned a corner and saw two women stop, looking around, talking to each other. I’m thinking something died on the path and they’re not sure what to do about it. No, it’s a baby squirrel, lost. They warned me it might try to follow me; apparently it wasn’t sure who mommy was and it did that with them. I had to get a picture:

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It made me laugh because if you have the full, unedited version of Bruno Mars’ song, “Treasure”, you know it starts off with a male Siri-like voice saying, “Hey. Baby. Squirrel. You. One. Sexy. Mother–” Yeah, you can guess the rest. But today I saw a real baby squirrel. The pic is now my Facebook profile pic, to remind me, I’m one sexy…yeah, that. 🙂

Best part of all of this was that I got ALL my stuff done this weekend. I did everything I had to do (electronics dump-off at the HS; Alex’s playwriting class finale; Impact Store; Panera; cut the grass; collect mail/newspapers for my neighbors who were away for the weekend; run; pick up groceries), so when I came home with the food, the only thing left to do was to take a shower and goof off. How often is THAT on my To Do list? Yeah, baby!

But honestly, I’ve been kind of restless so I’ve been on Facebook a *lot*, reading articles, watching videos, etc. Oh, and the sugar-free streak is over. My neighbors brought us a variety pack of fudge to thank us for collecting the mail. I think that was overkill, but I couldn’t give the boys all the fudge when I’m the one who got the paper/mail. It was delish, and the really odd thing was that I’d been munching all afternoon (on sugar-free snacks) and pretty regularly looking for more, but one piece of fudge and it was like, “Okay, I’m good.” I might need to seek out some balance in my diet, but really, I did so well for so long, why blow it?

I’m watching the Tonys tonight because Bradley Cooper is on it. I’m not sure how he’s connected, but does it matter? 🙂

 

 

 

 

Day 184: Her Pilgrim Soul

I must be doing something right. The past few days when I look in the mirror, I’m seeing less fluff under my cheekbones. (AKA, I don’t look so fat-faced.) I don’t actually HAVE cheekbones per se; I just have a spot at the sides of my face where I sometimes put blusher. But what’s there is showing lately with a little more definition. It’s taking some getting used to.

I think it has something to do with four weeks sugar-free. There are days when it’s SO hard to resist Tastykakes or ice cream or whatever delicious looking thing that happens to pass by. The other day I was reading that eating sugar releases a feel-good hormone in the brain, and you crave more of that, which is why sugar can be so addicting. Sugar also suppresses the body’s indicator that it’s full, so you’ll eat more in a short period of time before your brain says, “Hey, slow down; you don’t need more.” It really is an evil thing.

But I’m now 4 weeks sugar-free, and for the most part I didn’t notice the passage of time. Had I said, “I can’t eat sugar for four weeks,” I’d be counting down the days ‘til I could binge, but with no end zone in sight, it’s kinda like…okay, fine, whatever. Just keep going.

There are ways around it. I made pretzel salad entirely sugar-free and it was delish! No pics because it didn’t last long enough once Alex figured out that he liked it. And lately I’ve been eating a lot more fruit. The other day I picked up white peaches. Where have they BEEN all my life?? And I got a little crazy on dried fruit two days ago. The dried mangoes were gone the next morning, and the dried apples were gone last night. The dried banana chips taste SO good with unsalted peanuts that I now understand why Elvis loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. J

But the proof is in the sugar-free pudding: this week I think I ate more, but I lost weight. I know last night I should’ve gone up but I dropped 1.6 pounds after two hearty helpings of spaetzle. It makes no sense to me, but there it is. Of course, I also ran 4 miles Galloway-style. Oh, and did I mention I found my final times from the 5k’s this weekend and my 2nd race, I ran an 11:12 pace? Yep, that was my name on that line; me who stands in the 13 minute corral at every half. Bearing in mind, that was a 5k, but it’ll be interesting to see if my new heel-to-toe stride will impact my distance times.

So anyway, weight. It’s not a lot. I’m down about 4 pounds in the last week, but for the last two weeks I’ve been pretty dedicated to better eating and regular exercise. I’m taking one day off a week, usually Thursdays because scheduling-wise, they’re the hairiest, but this week I had to take Tuesday, though at the moment I forget why. Stuff just piled up and I couldn’t find the time, though I wanted to. Rest days make me nuts, but only because I let the guilt creep in and tell me what a lazy jerk I am. It’s gone as soon as I’ve had my workout again, and really, cutting the grass *does* count as exercise. At least, it does in my yard.

But this time, four pounds shows on my face. It also shows in my shoulders and collarbones, which I’m finally starting to see again. Last time I lost significant weight, they were pretty obvious and there was definition; I looked skinny (comparatively speaking), and it scared me. I wasn’t used to who I saw in the mirror. She wasn’t someone I recognized. They tell men, if you want to know what your new wife will look like in 20 years, look at her mother. Well, that wasn’t working for me at all. My mom still has weight issues she’s dealing with, but I don’t look like she did at 47. Yes, I color my hair but even when I let it go, I have a lot less gray than she did at my age. It really did frighten me, I think, and I put the weight back on, if only so I’d see someone I’m comfortable with, I think.

But this time I’m ready to see someone else. For starters, it seems in my family like our appearances skip generations. I see my grandmother in my cousin’s face, and I see some of my dad in my son’s face. That being the case, I probably look like my grandmother on my father’s side, and we’ll never know what she’d have looked like at 47 because she didn’t live to see it. It took quite a bit for me to accept that, but now I’m proud of it. I get to live the life she didn’t have. Maybe somehow she gets to see the world through my eyes.

One of my all-time favorite poems (and I have two) is Yeats’ “When You Are Old.” One line has been resonating for me lately, “One man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face.” My face is changing, thanks to so many changes I’ve made in my life. (Running, and thoughtful eating.) I’m ready to see more change, and see who I’m supposed to be, without hiding under the layers of fat or guilt or uncertainty. It scared me before, but now I think I’m ready to meet the real me.

Day 187: Two for One

The height of laziness: when you don’t post because you don’t feel like doing the math to figure out how far I am from the marathon. 🙂 But it’s starting to get closer. My son’s teacher (and running mentor) asked me last week how my training was coming. I said, “It starts in July, early August.” This being late May and almost Memorial Day, we’re getting there. A little intimidating to think I’ll be training All. Through. The. Summer. Then again, this is why it’s in November: because training in winter SUCKS.

So as it turns out, two 5ks in one day *is* entirely do-able. The first was at Dragonfly Forest, a camp for kids with autism spectrum disorders and other medical issues. Alex would be eligible for the Explorers Program, which is the one camp activity that’s not free, but it would be a week of sleep-away camp. The idea gives me shivers, and not just because of the cost, but at the same time, I know it might be something good for him. After seeing him at the Special Needs prom on Friday, I know he’s fine on his own. He enjoys being with his friends, and he has no problem finding entertainment, either from within or without. (Once he knew I was there, he practically begged me to leave.) It’s all things I need to think about.

The 5k was *awesome*! I didn’t know it was a trail run but it was SO pretty, and I was there with my bestie Karen, who did the 1 mile charity walk. (She’s not into running yet. Yet.) The weather was gorgeous, we had a great time, and I *made* great time despite it being a trail run. My new heel-to-toe stride, as opposed to using a midfoot foot strike, is SO much better. My knee didn’t tweak once and my legs felt MUCH stronger. I have to be careful because most running books advocate smaller strides but this is working for me. A few miles in I thought, “If I use this for the marathon, I won’t have a problem.” So if all the new stride gives me is confidence, that’s fine.

We then went to Downingtown for the Run for Ryan at Victory Brewing Co. Loved it! The weather again was perfect–just 4 hours from the first race–and the location was terrific. Plus my buddy Stacey showed up for it!! I haven’t seen her since her beautiful little girl was 18 months old (she’s now 3) so it was fantastic to get to hang out with her. I knew she’d hit it off with Karen, too; they’re both Tattooed Ladies! And really, Stacey’s just so cool, I can’t imagine her not getting along with everyone on the planet. Once I teach her to knit, she’ll be Perfect. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The funny thing is that Karen and Stacey were having such a good time on the 1 mile walk that I got there ahead of them. I’m still pretty pleased that I finished in 34 minutes and change, considering the hill on mile 2. As I was going down it, I thought, “Cool! I’ll make great time!” until I realized, uh yeah, I have to go back UP the thing on the way back. But I got to the bottom, let out a string of swear words, and then just focused on the road ahead and not on the incline I was climbing. Surprise surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected and before I knew it I was at the top, and I hadn’t stopped to walk (except at the water station). When I got to the finish line, I poured it on and shot through two people mailing it in ahead of me. 😉 I also collapsed on the grass just past the finish line, but it felt damn good. I really put my heart into it.

The food was great, and even though the lines were long, they moved quickly. The Victory lager was delish, and the portobello sandwich! Yum!! I even told the server, “Thank you for giving a vegetarian option!” He said, “We’re here to serve everybody.” Quite the cutie! 🙂 And I do have to say, there were a lot more good-looking guys at this race than most of the races I’ve been to. Beer, a road race, and eye candy. Trifecta!

Saturday the weather was great (as compared to Friday, which was one giant downpour) so I sat outside with my City Blocks wrap and picked up the stitches for the next section. I needed to do it in broad daylight so I could see the stitches in the black yarn section. It’s SO CUTE, I can’t wait to have it wrapped around my shoulders! Now to hope the yarn lasts. I’m not sure I have enough, and I know I don’t have enough for the edging, and the yarn company changed hands so if I order more, I don’t know if it’ll be the same thing. But where I am now is all decreases, so we’ll see. I love what I have right now, and at last I can add more rows to it!

Day 195: Adventures in Online Dating

Yep, totally different subject, but it’s on my mind so here goes.

I’m telling you, it’s a different world these days. When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t know any guys my age who were actively seeking older women. Sometimes it just happened, but in general, it wasn’t a thing. More often than not, you heard about older men seeking younger women, but there was a term for that: midlife crisis. (I had a beloved friend once upon a time who’d see a bald man in a convertible or Firebird, and if she happened to be next to him at a stoplight, she’d lean over and say, “Sorry about your penis.” Penny, if you’re still out there, find me on Facebook, please!)

I suppose I should feel complimented that I’ve gotten three “Hey babe, how’s it going?” messages on OKCupid from men under 35. I mean, there are millions of women their age out there and they thought I was attractive. I did happen upon one who, from the wording of his message, clearly had mommy issues and was badly in need of a therapist, but overall I think I can honestly say that the psychos are few and far between. But they definitely are out there. Caveat emptor.

I saw this on Facebook today and I’ve seen it before but I still love it, because it still gives me that tiny mustard seed of hope that I’ll find The One some day.

As a kid, my mom said there’s a pot for every lid, which left me wondering, what if my other half died as a kid? Does that mean I don’t get a Happily Ever After, ever? Over time I came to realize that the whole concept of soul mates is somewhat flawed, because if a soul mate is someone who truly *gets* you, that could cover many people. My cat, Mickey, makes me feel needed in a way that sometimes I’ll look at him looking at me, and I’ll think he could be my soul mate. Or my son, who I can banter with and we exchange thoughts so comfortably that I feel that connection with him, though I will say I felt that connection with him on his very first night, when the nurse forgot to come get him and he stayed the night in my room, tucked safely under my arm, that cute little blue-eyed football that he was. Long story short, I don’t think a soul mate is just one person, but it may be just one person at a time. That one person who understands who you really are, even if you don’t understand it yourself.

So if I keep working toward finding The One (who is or isn’t my soul mate), somewhere out there, he’s looking to find me too.

Anyway…

I had a nice run on Mother’s Day. The weather was gorgeous. I wish I’d gone out earlier (instead of at 1, but Silver Linings Playbook was on and I wanted to see where they’d filmed at Norristown State Hospital; I think I know where, but the security truck was roaming and I didn’t want to look snoopy) but I was out for 2 hours, enjoying the heck out of it. I’m a little anxious about training for the marathon. I put the training plan on the wall next to my computer and it looks overwhelming, but I put this on Facebook today and it’s very true.

I just wonder if I have the self-discipline needed, but we’ll see. I had the discipline to finish the straight portion of my Citys Blocks wrap last night; now to the decreases, and seeing if I have enough yarn to finish this thing. Can’t wait to post pics! I’d wear it after the marathon if I could but sweat + cashmere & mink = NO NO NO. 🙂