Archive for ‘running’

August 10, 2012

Before Title IX

My son and I are lazing around, watching the Olympics, dreaming of glory days.

The Olympics got me thinking. How do I compare with most women my age in terms of fitness? Could I take them? I would have to say, honestly, that I can bike, play tennis, swim and dance slightly better than most women my age. A contest that involves running, softball or bowling? Not so much.

But why do I have to compare? I usually blame my three brothers for making me so competitive. And I blame society for not offering me more girls’ team sport opportunities. I came of age just when Title IX was introduced. The requirements had not yet trickled down to suburban Chicago. So I didn’t get to benefit. This is Title IX’s 40th anniversary. So YAY! Lucky for my girls. Unlucky for me.

Still, sports were essential. I played in a Saturday night high school volleyball league at Mary Seat of Wisdom church and I loved it. I loved volleyball again years later when I was in the cast of The King & I at the Depot Theatre (the alpha and the omega of my summerstock career!). We had games right before the matinee. I loved the sting on my wrists when I landed a bump. I think that is the technical term — a bump!

I loved the camaraderie of sports and the room for showboating (Hello, Usain Bolt!)

In high school we had gym every day. I was chosen to be the demo girl when we had gymnastics. I was proud. But then, in front of everyone, on the unevens, I could not kick myself up from the low bar to the high bar. The very next day, Ms. Sellers picked another girl to demo. That stung. Worse than a sore wrist from volleyball.

While I do not have to be the best, I prefer it. And I prefer that no one see me as I slip from my pinnacle — an inevitable decline from my Numero Uno standing in my own mind. (I’m not sure, but it is possible, that this post is about the downside of aging.)

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July 29, 2012

Need for Speed

Am writing this while watching the Olympic hopefuls sail along rainy London streets on their bikes. The women are so fast. I love sports where you go fast, like skiing and biking.

The other day I was riding my bike to work and there was a woman running faster than I was riding on my bike. That was one fast runner.

There’s used to be a myth that only men liked the adrenaline rush of the high-speed chase. But women (and kids) do too. It’s a human instinct to push our physical limits and thrill with the ride. We were born to run.

And now that I’ve admitted my own need for speed, let me post a couple of pictures from my long walk in the Adirondacks.

While I love to run and ride and go fast, it’s easier to snap a pic when you walk and amble and go slow. It’s easier to savor the moment when you slow it all down.

To catch a good photo, you have to pause to frame it. To enjoy a moment, you have to stop and savor it. And any sport that you do outdoors, reminds you to love nature.

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June 3, 2012

Runner from Botswana

I have found my Olympic athlete to watch!

On the shuttle bus ride in Portland on June 3, I met this future Olympian, Amantle Montsho from Botswana. Ms. Montsho was very sweet; she had just competed in the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon the day before and came in second. She was departing our van and looking for Delta; I think she was heading to Europe. I was looking for my rental car as I was heading for Eugene to meet my college roommate and spend the day. (So much fun!)

I learned about this runner on the New York Times cover sports story about Amantle Montsho. I am usally ticked off that every story in the sports section (of every newspaper) is dedicated to men’s sports so I was surprised and happy when I saw this article about a woman Olympic hopeful. I thought, “Way to go, NYTimes! Way to go Botswana!”

The kids and I love Botswana, ever since we hosted two young women for a week in New York from Botswana a month or so ago. Lolo and Rati were beautiful, smart, talented! We became fans of this land-locked country, north of South Africa. And especially the people there. I wrote about our awesome experience hosting these high school musicians at Our High School Students from Botswana.

Lolo told us that the whole country of Botswana is rooting for Amantle. They all know her personally as Botswana is small country (almost as big as Texas, according to Google).

When Amantle walked away from me at the airport, she seemed hardly to touch the ground as she walked. It may be cliche to say, but she was extremely light on her feet. Like a ballet dancer in New York City coming from class, you can tell by the way she walks, she is a special kind of person who really lives in her body. She is lithe and strong. She also seemed quite young and innocent.

And I’m rooting for her!

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Official Results – Women – 400 Metres

Pos

Athlete

Nat

Mark

1 Sanya Richards-Ross USA 49.39
2 Amantle Montsho BOT 49.62
3 Novlene Williams-Mills JAM 49.78
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March 22, 2012

Going Running

How do you psych yourself up to go for a run? I tell myself, “Come on, girl. You can do it.” I talk to my body like it were a beloved family horse. “Yes, get moving, Ole Paint. Get out of your easy chair.” (I know that’s a mixed metaphor: horses don’t sit in easy chairs! Hey, it’s my blog. Write your own blog and mix up your own metaphors!)

There are a million reasons NOT to run. Here are a few:

Florida flower1. My feet hurt.

2. I am slow.

3. No one else is running. (Everyone else is going out for breakfast, in fact.)

And here’s why:

1. It will feel good when you’re done.

2. You will see some new things.

3. You will model fitness for your kids.

4. When you’re done, you can have a big breakfast.

Maybe I’ll go wake up one of my kids and see if they want to go with me.

I am writing this from a rocking chair on the porch. The kids and I are on a four-day trip to Siesta Key, Florida. It is our third day and inertia has set in. After a few days of vacay, especially in a warm clime, inertia always sets in. I must beat back inertia as if it were a horse sitting in an easy chair. (That’s a horrible image. But there you have it. As I’ve said, inertia has set in and I am mentally lazy, can’t come up with a better image. I could, if I really tried. But I have to go running.)

Come on, girl. Let’s go.

December 27, 2011

Can Cleaning Be Exercise?

broom by creative commons

I have updated one of my four blogs (about faithcreative writingNew York, or this one, fitness) at least every other day during 2011. When I began in January 2011, I posted every day for 66 days, because I’d heard that’s how long it takes to make a habit.

When I traveled or wrote my NaNoWriMo (November’s National Novel Writing month), I slacked a bit. But mostly I’ve been consistent with my blogging.

I need to retire a couple of my blogs and this one, Running Aground, is the lead candidate for retirement. This has been my least popular and least updated blog. Reading about my attempt to run a 5K may not have mass appeal. And I don’t write on this one because I think that if I haven’t exercised by swimming, running, or going to Pilates class, I haven’t worked out. (Although, yes, I’ve written about sleep and diet, as well.)

But wait — I clean a lot and, living in New York City, I walk a lot! So let’s remember — Cleaning is a good work out. In an hour, you burn:

  • Sweeping: 240
  • Packing/Unpacking: 220
  • Scrubbing floors on hands and knees: 325 (Who does this?)
  • Cleaning, light (dusting, wiping down counters, picking up clothes): 100
  • Cleaning, general (washing dishes, doing laundry): 200

according to a post by Divine Caroline (Brie Cadman).

This post is an attempt to encourage myself to believe in the power of the clean-up work out! Now, Mary Beth, get out there and clean! I have about an hour to unpack from our Chicago trip and pack for our Adirondacks trip, take down the Christmas tree, and generally tidy up this apartment where I’ve hosted four parties in one month!

There’s been a lot of stash and dash over the holidays. Now let’s burn some calories by cleaning. But wait, first, I have to update my Facebook status and check my friends’ news.

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November 4, 2011

Running on Marathon Weekend

I don’t want to make anyone feel bad, especially those sinew-y runner types getting all psyched up for Sunday’s marathon, but I ran today and I ran at a pace of 12:15 a mile. That’s right, beat that, suckers!

I am definitely in the slow lane. I don’t want to make excuses *much. But I have a foot problem… And I have other problems, but I can’t remember what they are at the moment, because I’m so dang exhausted and hungry for chocolate. But hey, I did it. I did something! I pushed myself away from the computer.

I ran with my friend, Liz, at a secret indoor track near work. And I’m not telling you where it is ’cause then it wouldn’t be secret.

Liz and I agreed that it’s way more fun to run with a friend and we wouldn’t have run without each other.

And I do LOVE going out with friends for breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour, etc., I also LOVE running and working out with friends. So anyone want to join me running someday? Then after our two and a half miles, you can sprint ahead of me like Liz did. That’s right. When you’re in the slow lane, you’re just happy to be in any lane at all.

All those people passing me? I celebrate them! I do! Especially all those runners I’ll see on Sunday afternoon, wearing silver blankets, looking fabulous and exhausted. I salute you!

Now, excuse me, I have to go and hunt for some Halloween chocolate. I think my kids still have some hidden somewhere.

October 6, 2011

an upturned tree

Up in the Adirondacks, Sunday morning, I was sipping coffee before my family woke up. I was crabby because I’d have to rally the troops, pack up, leave the country, return to the city, get ready for the week ahead. Even writing in my journal didn’t work the usual magic of lifting my mood.

So I went for a run. I watched the fitness app on my phone, noticing that I was still unable to run faster than a 13-minute mile. Yes, I was in the slow lane; my feet hurt. And I couldn’t get enough breath. I tired easily.

I ran for five minutes, then walked for a minute. Then did that again. The first part of the run was easy. I passed the school house. Then it was wet so I looped around the Cold Spring Road instead of going down to the Stable Inn. I began the walk up the rough-hewn stone steps to the Big House. That’s when I saw this upturned tree.

Hard to capture in a dark, rainy forest, but this wide swath of trees and roots were upturned by Hurricane Irene.

Un-be-liev-able! It took my breath away.

If some special effects geek tried to recreate this 10-foot circumference of a sideways forest floor, it would cost millions of dollars and people would never believe it. But nature did this outstanding damage free of charge. Nature is whack, doing crazy shit. Hurricane Irene must’ve tore up this part of the woods as she tore through Vermont and the Adirondacks a month ago.

I gave up running, walked up the steps back to the house, packed and woke the darlings. I wasn’t crabby any more.

For some reason the extraordinary sight of the upturned tree calmed me down.

Today people are contemplating Steve Jobs’ death. And I’m remembering the upturned tree.

We all will die. I will die. I am small. Whether my death comes by cancer like Steven Jobs, by hurricane like the forest floor, or my personal preference, by old age, I will die. Running away from my troubles on a dreary Sunday morning made me remember that. And it humbled me and made me less crabby.

July 6, 2011

Running Without a Soundtrack

The silence running in the country was deafening.

I could not find my head phones. I usually run with ear buds listening to Pandora and the Omar Shariff sound-alike who calculates the distance of my run on my Cardio Trainer app.

I like running to Britney Spears songs like Piece of Me or Pat Benatar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot. I think, “Yay, world, hit me. Try getting a piece of this.”

I know, I know. I am delirious after just five minutes of running, wondering, Is it time to take that well-deserved water break or walk yet? The music keeps me going.

So running without Britney, Pat or Omar, I felt a twinge of loneliness. The steadiest sound was the scraping labor of my own breath. Then the silence came alive.

running on a country road

There was a cawing of a crow, an old Buick rounding a corner, the wind swishing the hay in the field, and in the mix, my breath.

My breath was just a speck on the country road. Running helps you figure out where you fit in, a small piece in a big picture.

For this epiphany I rewarded myself by slowing down and walking.

May 15, 2011

Loehmann’s Fitting Room

There’s nothing like a visit to Loehmann’s communal fitting room to motivate you to work out!

That’s what I was thinking last night  as I was trying on summer dresses, bras, and, bathing suits in Loehmann’s changing space — you can’t really call it a room. A room implies there are boundaries. And boundaries are in short supply.

At one point the friendly gal beside me reached over to straighten my twisted bra strap. That rattled me. But I laughed, “Gotta get a new sports bra ’cause after looking in the mirrors here, I gotta work out!”

“Oh, nothing new for me — I’ve had weight problems my whole life,” she told me. “I’m shopping for clothes for my new job. My first real job!”

“Congrats! Hey those are cute!” I pointed to her black pants.

That’s an unwritten rule in the communal fitting room — you can compliment an outfit, but  you can’t criticize it. And apparently you can straighten one another’s bra straps.

Although I was embarrassed by every one seeing every part of me, one consolation is that I can see every one too. (Not that I looked. I’m just sayin’!)

I tried to keep my eyes and my body to my little space, trying on four out of the five dresses hanging on the hook. All a bit snug.

I hope it’s not bragging to tell you that on most of my visits to the fitting room, just about every single item looks great on me. But not so last night.

Although the red dress, the last one, worked.

In the cashier line I barely recognized my fitting room mate with her clothes on.

I said, “Hey, I’m getting the red dress!”

“Great!” She smiled, happy for me. There’ s nothing like the banter about purchases and camaraderie between women who’ve been naked together.

“Good luck with your new job!”

“Good night!”

This morning I woke before the family and I ran for 18 minutes. I think I went a mile. Then I picked up bagels.

March 22, 2011

Foot Pain

I had major foot pain — on my heel and now on my big toe knuckle.

It hurt so badly that I woke in the night wincing. So a few mornings ago, I went to the podiatrist. Dr. Rottenberg thinks it might be a running injury or the early stages of arthritis. It is also, as I self-diagnosed, plantar fisciitis. She gave me steroid pads and anti-inflammatory pills to take nightly. I’ll go back in a week.

Dr. Rottenberg advised me to stop running or I will have to have surgery within the next two years. So after my huge HUGE success of running a 5K. Yes, a 5K without stopping. I’m being a little sarcastic, but also, yes, I’m proud of myself — I came in 150th in my age group (out of 180). I think I have to find a new sport. I need to do something for cardio.

I ride my bike almost every day in nice weather, but the bike has really failed me. One of the pedal’s fell off and the bike’s just given up on life. (See last year’s post on how my bike fell in love: https://runningaground.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/damn-you-gary-fisher/) I’ll probably get a new bike. That’ll be good.

Swimming might be good. I love the smell of chlorine. (I know, I know, it’s not good.) And I LOVE taking a steam bath after swimming. The steam room’s a great place to pray and think and simply be.

A couple of days a week, there’s also my workplace Pilates and Yoga classes. I love these. But they’re so woven into the fabric of my life that they don’t feel like I’m doing much. But as my gorgeous podiatrist Dr. Rottenberg said, “They’re the best.” Yet they’re not cardio. In college I loved Afro-Caribbean dance. Maybe I’ll go back to that. I love tennis, but that’s probably hard on the feet too.

Oh, one more thing, the doctor advised me to stay off high heels. Easy for her to say. (She got to wear them!) I like a little height. I like a little run. I like feeling healthy and fit.