Archive for the ‘Healthy Self’ Category
That’s right: I trained all summer with a women’s running group, paid the fee for the race, picked up my shirt and bib, then didn’t go. I’ve never done that before.
I had a good reason, I guess: Last weekend, I did my first Zumba class ever, and though I loved it, it didn’t love me. By the end of the day of the class, my knee was swollen and throbbing, and no amount of ice, ibuprofen and fewer miles seemed to help. Friday night when I was out with Andy, I finally told him about my knee, and he pointed out that I didn’t have to race if I didn’t want to. I had literally never thought of that.
I come from a long line of stoics. Complaining about an ache or pain just wasn’t something our family ever much countenanced, and I still feel slightly ashamed when I call in sick to work. Living with my hardworking but tender-hearted husband all these years has helped a little, but yesterday was miserable.
“You totally could have done that race,” my conscience shouted at me all day. And I probably could have. It would have been pain from the beginning to the end, and more pain later. I probably wouldn’t have come close to the time goal I was trying for, but I would have pushed as hard as I could. Should I have done it?
Truthfully, running fast is painful for me, even on a good day. Most runners have run through pain, and most don’t like to talk about it. This weekend’s adventures have given me a lot to think about. Should I keep trying for a time goal, even if it hurts? Am I taking the easy way out, letting an achy knee make training decisions for me? What about slowing down, running longer, and concentrating on the fun of it again? It’s probably not a coincidence that I have been running alone a lot lately. I miss my running friends, and the way the miles slide by when there’s someone to talk to.
I will keep thinking, but in the meantime, here’s the good news: My knee feels some better today. Maybe I’ll hit the road tomorrow morning and see how things go.
Today was my first full work day back from vacation, and it was a pretty good day. I often forget to be as grateful as I should be for engaging work that challenges (and pays!) me, as well as smart, motivated and interesting people to share it with. Not to mention the slower pace of summer.
I had a lovely vacation. We spent the first long weekend of it on the Spring River in Hardy, and then I had a gloriously blank week to fill, punctuated only by running my son back and forth to band camp. And celebrating his 14th birthday.
We ate at a different lunch spot every day, none that we usually frequent. (Try Lunchbox Eats downtown, and be sure to have their homemade lemonade of the day; last week it was cantaloupe.) I had eggs for breakfast – a splurge, for sure – at least twice, and biscuits at Bryant’s on Summer (you can tell I was there late in the morning; there are empty seats!). Continuing the food/drink/indulgence theme, I discovered that I like a Dark and Stormy better with bourbon than with rum, and that fresh peaches are the summer snack of choice.
I spent time with friends, much of it without an agenda other than being together. My husband and I had a few dinner dates, and actually sat on the side porch together a couple of afternoons, Andy working, me reading in the hammock with the fountain burbling in the background. I took a nap nearly every day.
I made time to get the amazing Leah Nichols to give me a private yoga lesson that gave me some pain-free ways to stretch my creaky right knee. I ran one morning with a new running pal, ran my regular weekly miles whenever I chose, and lifted weights twice, which is my goal every week, seldom achieved.
I also wrote a lot more than usual, sometimes on this blog. I have honed a few queries for some freelance articles I’ve been thinking about. I read the newspaper on paper most mornings. I read a few books, some that I’d planned, some that surprised me. (I really enjoyed TransAtlantic, the new novel by Colum McCann.) I took time to
think about what makes good writing — mine, McCann’s, my friends’ — more than I have in many months.
Then last night I had a look at the notes I made at the beginning of the week of all the things I wanted to accomplish on my vacation. Big mistake. Goals for vacation? Why do I do this to myself? I could be off until Christmas and probably never get to some of the tasks I put on that list.
That’s when I decided to write this post, a roundup of what I actually did. Sure enough, I did get to check a few boxes on my list. But I now see that a real vacation is not about checking boxes. It’s about biscuits and yoga and writing and thinking. THINKING.
I hope I can remember to do at least a little bit of that before it’s time for my next vacation.
When I left for my run tonight at 7pm, my weather app said it was still purchase cialis online 90 degrees and humid. It’s a logical question: Why would you DO that?
I spent most of my run thinking about the answer, as I have often since last summer, when I began running seriously for the first time in my life.
Truthfully, this running thing sort of sneaked up on me. I was a varsity athlete in high school and college (field hockey was my sport in the days just after Title IX). I have variously been into aerobics, step classes, swimming, weights and yoga, so I have (sort of) stayed in shape. Still, I have lost 40-plus pounds on Weight Watchers twice, and always hated running.
So what’s different now? Almost everything.
I no longer expect it to come easily. To state the obvious: Running is tough, sometimes nearly unbearable. But when I stopped expecting that I would be able to fly along for miles on my first try, things started to get easier. I am slow. Faster now than last summer, but still, slow. When I finally stopped pushing myself to go faster than I was ready to go, I suddenly started having fun. And going faster. This running program, about to begin again for the summer, helped me a lot.
It feels good to be able to do something hard. As my Best Running Friend frequently tells me, I am competitive. I want to go faster, squeeze in one more mile before it starts raining, beat her when we race. My favorite running book/blog/podcast calls this being a badass. Yes, I am.
I get to talk to my friends. I have always been a team sport kind of girl, and love the amazing feeling of working together to achieve something you couldn’t have done on your own. Turns out running is like this, too, at least for me. When I have to, I run alone, but mostly I want to run with my running friends, my BRF in the neighborhood, and the girls in the photo, above. We have done great things together — that’s a picture of us about halfway through the St. Jude Half Marathon last December. 13.1 miles. We also had a lot of fun on our training runs, which were actually more fun than the race itself.
And yes, it was pretty awful running tonight. But I when I slowed down a little, I noticed the hydrangeas in bloom, the cool green smell of the woods, the sunset on the river, and the steady sound of my own breathing. I felt sweaty and great. For at least one more day, I was a badass.
That’s why I run.
When I tell people I am going to walk 60 miles in a couple of weeks for breast cancer research and awareness, they often shake their heads. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it’s been near 100 degrees in Memphis for the last few days (I walked 10 miles yesterday morning before it got too bad), but sometimes you can tell people think the whole idea is sort of goofy. Like, what am I trying to prove, anyway?
I don’t know Diana Nyad, but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t think that.
You see, Nyad is a world-record-holding marathon swimmer, who, after 30 years out of the water, is about to attempt a swim she failed at when she was (much) younger — 103 miles from Cuba to the Florida Keys. Without a shark cage. It’s going to take 60 hours. The best part: Nyad is 61. (That’s Diana’s little arm, stroking out of the water, on one of her training swims, from a photo that ran with the New York Times story about her quest. Her training swims last NINE hours. I love this photo.)
I am completely taken with Nyad’s challenge, and have been thinking about her nearly every day, as I drag myself out of bed at dawn to walk.
“Why would she want to do that?” asked Tomas today when I told him about her. I guess it is pretty difficult to explain why someone wants to do any endurance event,
even one as (relatively) tame as walking 60 miles for breast cancer.
But here’s why: To prove that you can still do great things, even when you are 61 (or 51, as the case may be). To get yourself in shape, to feel your body respond (I actually felt pretty good this weekend as I cruised over the Auction Avenue bridge at the end of my long walk, pouring sweat). To have a goal that doesn’t involve checking things off a work to-do list, or remembering someone else’s soccer cleats or homework. To be forced to spend time inside your own head, figuring out the big questions that are easy to avoid during regular life.
I hope Nyad will accomplish her goal, and climb out of the sea at Key West, into the arms of her friends. For some reason, I feel like she has a much better chance at 61 than she did on her first try, though maybe I’m just taken with her fascinating blog, and all of the details of this major undertaking.
I know one thing: I will be rooting for you, Diana, to be strong, and swim past the sharks, the jellyfish, and the doubters. I’ll be walking right along with you.
I no longer worry that I won’t make it — I’ve been clipping off 17-minute miles, which is not that much slower than I run. I’ve become comfortable with being soaked in sweat by the time I get to the end of my street, a logical by-product of training in the summer in Memphis. I haven’t lost much (any?) weight, but my clothes are beginning to fit noticeably better. I’ve read much more about what this event entails, and when I found out that the end of the walk — the 60th mile — will be at Soldier Field, I started really getting excited.
(I’m almost halfway to my fundraising goal, too. Here’s a link to my Personal Page if you’d like to help me get a little closer.)
What’s different is that I have begun to use my walks to think, really think, about why I am doing this. And what comes into my head are the faces of women I knew when we were younger, much younger, and everything was about possibility. We were studying to be doctors, lawyers, journalists, engineers, English professors, physical therapists. We had no doubt we would be changing the world, or at least that we’d have all kinds of options. And we were having FUN. If you don’t believe me, look at those faces in the photo with this post. (That’s Pledge Night at Theta at Northwestern, circa 1979. I’m happy to say that I still know most
of the women in this photo. That’s me on the far left.)
My mother’s breast cancer changed all that. I ended up being a journalist after all, but I was no longer that carefree girl in the photo. The moment she died, on Good Friday in 1988, my childhood was over. I knew it as surely as if someone had turned a calendar page, or turned off a light.
Don’t get me wrong: I still have fun. And I have been incredibly lucky to have a terrific husband, a wonderful son, great friends and good work. But I am only now beginning to realize how awfully YOUNG I was when she died, and how much I needed her experience, advice, and unconditional love. How much I still need it.
And that is why I am walking. All the way to Soldier Field.