Day 56: A New Wrinkle

So this was my horoscope today:

“An inspirational person enters your life today, presenting you with an intriguing opportunity. You could be so eager for something new to happen that you start dreaming about all the possibilities without considering the practicalities involved. Be patient and try not to prematurely jump to any extreme conclusions. Although your conversation might not catalyze an immediate change, it could lead to something else that’s ultimately a positive move.”

I suspect I already know who the new person is: me. Seems after what feels like years of pre-menopausal symptoms, I’m finally there. If you’ll pardon the TMI, this appears to be the first time in my life I’m missing a period without there being a really nice reason for it. I’m not even sure what to do about it. For all the times I cursed The Curse, here it may be departing and I’m wondering what the hell to do now.

So I went for a 14 mile training run. If nothing else, life does go on, and marathon training has been brilliant for weight loss. I’ve lost 12 pounds since I started and this is the end if week 8. I feel awesome and I’m adjusting to the changes in my appearance because I’m not used to seeing this new person in the mirror. I’m even thinking I’m going to continue training after the marathon, though I may do shorter long runs on weekends.

Alas, the run is over, I have some errands, and then I plan on spending the rest of the day doing as little as humanly possible, because the last two weeks have been insane and I’m due for some down time. Make it a good one, people!

Day 98: Uncle

I had 12 miles to do today. Around mile 6 I started dropping F bombs like they were a mandatory pause between words. Around mile 8 my legs said, “Screw you, bitch; we’re outtahere.” Around mile 10 I wanted to hit my head against a tree because for some reason I kept thinking I only had 10 miles to do, and when I realized I had to go 2 more, yes, please shoot me now; that would be fine.

Now I’m home, my legs are crying, my back hurts, and of all the stupid things, my feet actually feel okay. I’m starting to see the mental aspect of marathon running, when your body’s saying, “For the love of God, stop this!” but your brain is saying, “But I have 6 more miles to go! If not now, when?” It’s like staying in a bad marriage but you stay in it for…well, some reason. In both cases, self-flagellation is probably involved.

BUT on the happy side, I dropped 5 whole pounds between when I woke up this morning—and had breakfast and a cup of coffee—and when I came back from the run. Naturally, as I tried to lie down and stop sweating, my mind strayed over to, “Hey, if I lost 5 pounds on 12 miles, I’ll lose at least 10 pounds on 26, right?” Really, I am dropping some serious weight (AT LAST!) and it feels good. My friend Karen told me to come raid her closet but in another month, I could very well be down to a size 10. And in another month I’ll still have 2 more months of training to go, and then the 20 mile practice runs will start.

Oh please, just shoot me now?

But also on the happy side, had this been a half marathon, I would’ve PR’d. I did some hellacious hills. I’ve taken to calling the hill that leads to the Hay Barn “Depression Hill.” I had to do it twice and almost did it a third time—until I realized the flaw in my math, and that going that way a third time still would be put me 3 miles from 12—but the idea of climbing that bastard one more time? Oh hell no. Something about beating myself up that hill brings out some very dark and dangerous thoughts in my head. The kind of thoughts even therapists shy away from addressing. Had I done that loop 3 times, I could’ve knocked out 6 miles, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. Turned out to be a good thing, though, because I did the compost loop by the EN complex instead and realized where I can get water.

The heel-to-toe stride has made a ridiculous amount of difference. My feet can handle the distances and my knee didn’t go on strike. I get a much better push off a heel strike, and at one point up Depression Hill, I found a burst of speed and went for it. Not on the second trip; that was where my mind was edging into Hannibal Lecter territory, and I didn’t dare go the third time.

So today I did 12. Next week, 14; likely at Kelly Drive, up to the Art Museum, back to Falls Bridge, and then up to Manayunk and back for the balance. The week after, 10, which will feel like a vacation. Then the REAL fun begins.

After the run, I took a shower and then laid on the bed, willing myself to stop sweating. For a while I looked up at the curtain rod over the window by the bed. I’ve hung my race medals there, and looking at them always makes me feel better. Each one represents something I did that I wasn’t sure I could do. The last one on the rack right now is the Broad Street medal, but come November I want to hang two new medals: my Philly Marathon medal and my OAR team medal. I really want those, so that’s why I’m doing this. It’s not the having something that they really represent. It’s the earning.

Day 105: Week One In the Books

Well, the first of 16 weeks of training is over. Yesterday I dragged myself home after 10 miles, wondering how on earth I’m going to do 12 miles next weekend. Mostly trying to figure out when, since we have tickets to the PA Renaissance Faire for either Saturday or Sunday. We’ll go on the better weather day, though really, we went last year on a misty, light rainy day, and it wasn’t crowded and we had a lot of fun. Something to think about.

As far as the run goes, it took some creativity to complete 10 miles at the farm park. I got to mile 7.5 and had to backtrack through the hospital grounds, but I came in at 10.22 miles. Next week I think I’ll just hit the Schuylkill River Trail, go up 6 miles and then come back 6 miles. Easy peasy, plus I’ll pass the Betzwood Trail Head and refill my water bottle. Water, I’ve come to learn, is absolutely essential for long practice runs. My pint bottle needs to get bigger for the longer runs ahead.

But all in all it felt good. Yesterday after the 10, I kept moving and that helped keep me from stiffening up. This morning I felt fine, but I also let myself sleep a little and I went out to run at 10 a.m. Earlier runs are cooler temperature-wise but this was only 3 miles. “Just 3” felt like a cheat so I didn’t mind doing 3.55. I’ll definitely appreciate them after I’ve done an 18 miler.

Fifteen more weeks to go. It’s funny, I look at the rest days on the schedule and think, “You know, I could just go out and do a few miles.” But I only have 2 running bras. Two consecutive runs means I’m doing laundry again. And again. And again…

So this Saturday (or Sunday) will be the real challenge. Luckily I added a new song to my running playlist. Good pace, the title says it all, and Starz was free for the weekend while “Outlander” premiered so I finally got to see “American Hustle” so I consider the song motivation. 😀

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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