So I have this race in VT in November with this really big 4 mile hill to open the 10 miles we must cover. Out of sight out of mind was great until Saturday. I have had this “can do” attitude about it so far because well I don’t have a choice other than walk or quit if I don’t just get it done. I’m all rah rah about it for weeks since we signed up. Well there’s this “hill” (using term lightly) that the girls in my group have been telling me about for practicing to get ready for VT. I haven’t gotten over there but Saturday I took my son and his friend with me and went to check it out. It’s in Fall River which is one of the absolute armpits of Mass. Not really a good place and the element that hangs there is sketchy. Now if you’re from there, of course you’ll say “oh it’s really not a bad area” but it’s just above the line of somewhere in NYC where stripped cars, grafiti all over everything and trash on the street and walking the street. It’s clearly above that line but not by a whole lot. Maybe that’s the country girl in me but I’m personally not comfortable there. I wouldnt go there by myself ever and the thought of leaving my car parked for a while makes me nervous but the girls seem fine with it and have been there in small groups and alone.
So back to the hill. If you are old enough to remember the TV show “The Streets of San Francisco” you’ll know what this hill looks like. One big giant uphill battle is what it is! My “can do” attitude came down a whole lot as I drove up this hill. Usually hills that are hard to run feel like nothing in a car. This hill felt hard in the truck! The picture I’ve attached is a picture of Presidents Ave. Now, this snapshot from Google does NOT do that hill justice. You can’t even tell how very steep it is but trust me, it’s super steep and reminds me of the horrible hill in the Lynchburg Half Marathon that I ran which had an elevation gain of 200 feet over a mile. If Presidents Ave continued on for 4 miles it would exactly mirror that hill. I thought one mile of that crap was hard let alone 4 in a row! Now I’m nervous not only about practicing on this hill but about our race. I will finish but it gives it a whole lot more perspective about what a hill is and how much mental fortitude I’m going to need to get my ass up that hill. We’re meeting on Sunday to run together and hopefully we get a few runs up that hill before race day just to at least get a basis for the impending struggle. We grow by challenging ourselves right? RIGHT! Let’s get this done!
Yesterday I said I was going to start lap swimming. The statement, although true, will have to wait until next week. The reason I did not lap swim yesterday was not because I didn’t want to swim. It wasn’t because I’d feel slow or awkward in my motions. No no no, the reason started right in my bedroom when I tried on the swimsuit I ordered on Amazon. This would make the second or third online bathing suit order that I’ve made and none of them have been right. I should know better especially with bathing suits that don’t really seem to have a definitive sizing chart. Oh they have sizes like NU- what the fuck is that anyway? NU… I had to Google it! Can’t you just say European cut or something that the English speaking citizen can understand? So this in my opinion is a complete Pin-the-tail on the Donkey kind of undertaking. I looked at the sizing chart and even measured my hips, waist and bust area to try and get it right. So much for that effort because my bust was one size, my waist was another and my hips fell into yet a third size. Now what was I supposed to do? Being a hippier person, which I have pretty much been my entire life I figured that it was best to not scare the kids in the pool and buy the size that fit my hips.
When I tried this suit on, I pretty much looked like a sausage busting out of its casing at the hips. I tried pulling the side seam up and that gave me a hip shelf. I tried pulling it down and that was no better. I looked rediculous! Kind of like Big Hero 6 over there. It wasn’t just me being hard on myself, it was me realizing that I probably would have been asked to leave by some mother waiting for her child to finish swim lessons or something. So instead of giving up the idea of swimming laps or never ordering a bathing suit online again, what did I do this morning? I ordered the next size up in a flashy red color instead of I’m dead black. I love red and I’ll have it in two days, Thank You Amazon Prime! Now I’m excited again to try my newer suit on and maybe finally get in the pool to work on another level of fitness. I’ll have to let you know how that goes. We never give up, we just switch gears!
I took my sons (17 &19) to @HeritageAdvPark yesterday as the last fun mom & sons / brother & brother thing that we do this summer. I really wish it wasn’t that time because my heart is breaking knowing I only have Johnny for one more week. Part of life but one that I just am not adjusting to easily. I hate this time just as much as the first time last year that we left him. Anyway, I thought it would be a great way for me to do something super brave that they would be proud of and something that would give them a morning full of fun that they will talk about. That it will be. It also turned out to be a learning lesson for me as I found out my youngest son James is afraid of stuff in the air that wobbles. He’s my 225 lb gentle giant who has actually zip lined before. John and I surprised him with this because we thought he would love it. He didn’t. He liked the challenges but hated being high in the air on wobbly wires and wooden planks. He did one full course then decided it was more fun to cheer us on from solid ground. I really felt so bad because now it’s only “fun” for two of us and for me it wasn’t so much fun as a sense of accomplishment overcoming my fears to buck up and dig deep for bravery. I wanted the boys to see, and now especially with James on the ground, what it looks like to be so afraid of something and do it anyway. In fact, when we went up on the most challenging course at the end, I heard James say from the ground “if my mother can be brave, I can be brave”! WOW! Very proud of him for attempting another time by himself. He got half way and had to get down but he faced it on his own terms and tried again. Me, I’m just a stubborn Ukraninan but I did it! I Effing Did it!!! I was so scared, I cried at some points, I took deep breaths but I did it. I climbed vertical rope ladders with wooden round rungs that went straight up 5 feet / 10 feet to a platform that was 20 feet in the air. I ziplined 35 feet in the air (thank God for the canopy of trees below that lessened the look of how far up we were). I walked on wires, holding wires, across a span of 20 feet that was 30 feet in the air. I walked across a wire navigating my way around obstacles. It was a day of dusting off muscles in my head that I haven’t really used much…the ones for creative problem solving and concentration to do a challenge while not looking at it which required looking down which I couldn’t do. I sprained my finger on the last challenge because I wrapped my fingers in the nylon strapping that lowered us to the ground. Not a good idea since when it adjusts for your weight and snaps taught it yanked my finger and probably pulled some ligaments in there. That’s what happens when you’re scared. I couldn’t have done it without my sons. I pulled bravery up from somewhere in my gut to be a good life lesson for them. Johnny stayed with me and waited for me at EVERY obstacle. That’s us right there. In this selfie, the only selfie I could manage, we are about 15 or so feet in the air. If you look between us, there’s a wire. THAT was the kind of wires we were holding on to and ALL we had to hold on to most of the obstacles. No safety net, just two industrial hooks only one of which would lock at a time, strapped to your harness. I actually felt safe in the harness. I don’t look afraid here but I was. I just wasn’t looking down because I was distracted by a moment I needed to get for my memories. Johnny was amazing! He told me how every obstacle was designed, the best way to navigate it, how to stay steady and then went first so I could see it done. He’s not afraid. When he got to the other side He fastened himself then turned and encouraged me on. Just looking at him I felt ok. He just kept telling me that I was doing great and he coached me along what seemed like 1,000 yards to the other side of every obstacle. So grateful he helped me and waited for me with a kiss to the forehead and a “good job mama” when I finished each one. James was my safety net. Hearing him tell me that I was doing good, to keep going and that I was almost there was like having a blanket of courage wafting up from below me to help carry me to the other side. It was like a hug from below and it was the thing when I was at the highest point on the course that made me let go of the tree and try again. Yes, I was a tree hugger …literally! At the highest spots I had to hold the tree because the platform wasn’t super big and fear was poking at me big time. What I liked best about hearing James voice was that he knew how afraid I was…he lived it so his words were the words that someone so fearful, like me, neede to hear. He didn’t tell me not to be afraid because he knew I was and that those words wouldn’t help me move on. John didn’t say them either for the same reason. James didn’t say too much that would distract me, just enough for me to be reminded that I could do it. I am sort of happy that he decided the ground was the place for him because I had Johnny up top with me guiding me and helping me and James below me keeping me steady. God I love my sons so! I’m so lucky!!!
Today I am stiff in places that seem hard to believe have muscles, like across my ribs on my back. Not sure I really think about having muscles there but I clearly do and they are letting me know I irritated them with my little overachieving escapade. Many of my invisible muscles are whining today but it feels good when that happens because I worked another set of muscles to stay strong.
I have had a much more aggressive workout routine now for 10 months. Except for this week that seems like a struggle to get any double sessions in but I’ll just roll with it because Sunday is The Falmouth Road Race and I don’t need to have a exercise injury now simply because I am only giving half effort. Anyway, compared to a year ago, I bike, I run, I do strength training too. In my strength training, I have about 15-20 exercises that I rotate between when I work out, not all of which get done every time. It’s good to switch it up so your body doesn’t ever really plateau. I know continuing with the same exercises is still good but for fat burning it is not. I try to switch it up without building so I don’t use heavy weights or too many reps, just heavy enough to be some work without exhausting me. A few days ago I randomly added a few rounds of boxing to the Tabata workout that I was doing and today I can feel it in my back and chest! My abs have that “Please don’t cough” pleading going on which makes me laugh so hard…but not because it hurts, in a good way. It feels great to be sore because I know I am making improvements which get harder and harder to make the older I get. AAhhh the joys of aging! Next up on my radar is trying something from Les Mills called Body Combat which looks like kick boxing which I suck at but really want to try out! Just gotta keep switching it up!
On Saturday I did my long run. It was 8 miles for some undetermined reason that popped in my head. I have a 7 mile race in two weeks so if I was truly “in training” mode I would have just run 5 but I wanted to keep my miles up for long runs above 7. Maybe it’s random or maybe I’m stepping into a better, more experienced runner. I’m going with the first answer because well, you’re always hardest on yourself. So I invited my wingman to ride while I ran and he agreed. I like it when he goes because he talks to me, encourages me, holds my water and keys and food should I need any or all of those things. We run 4 and with every mile I feel better.
Mile 1 for me always feels like a challenge as I prime my joints and warm up into the pace I’ll hold onto most of the run. At 4 we decided to hit the local convenience store for more fluids. Wingman can drink all my hydration in an innocent gulp and we were a little low because of it. So at four miles he told me to wait while he biked the less than quarter mile to get our replenishment. I walked that way to keep moving and then we walked back to our stopping point. We fueled and then set off but no sooner had we embarked on our return journey it began raining. At first it was light rain then heavier and by the time we were a mile into the 4 mile return trip, it was down-pouring on us. I am accustomed to running in the rain as I’ve done it many times and in many different types of rain from Forest Gump “big ol’ fat rain” to driving rain to torrential downpours. I in fact like rain running because it makes me feel strong and tough and cool actually…cool like temperature cool but the other kind as well. As we moved along my wingman started off complaining about being wet and his pants and underwear getting wet and water in his eyes. Not long into the rain, which didn’t continue in the downpour way for long, he began to realize that it was kind of fun getting wet. When did kids forget the fun in getting wet? Remember jumping in puddles and standing with your face to the sky and your tongue hanging out catching rain drops? I do. Every time it rains and I get caught in it, it makes me smile. James came round and was laughing and woo-hooing all the way home and it made me laugh inside to see him having a good time with his soggy pants and shoes. He even took off his shirt that was weighing him down and said that we should do this more often…. Yes Buddy we should. We all should! There’s just something peaceful about being in the rain that if you can get your mind there, is calming and happy and joyous especially when shared with someone.
So there are things along this journey to being fitter that are kind of like milestones for me. One is pulling on clothes that I like in a size that makes me smile. Another is when your friends or co-workers tell you that you look good which is always nice. One of my favorite all time motivational smile-infusing happiness-creating things that have happened to me is when my kids tell me nice things without trying to make me feel good. Let me explain what I mean by that.
I know that I look good. Good compared to my old self and the healthiest that I’ve ever been. Good is relative I realize because I understand that I am not shaped like Barbie or the tall and skinnies of the world and that is just fine with me. I am happy with the 161 average weight that I seem to hover over these days because I’m muscular and in fact also shorter at 5′ 4″ tall. This means that I tend to grow out instead of up or evenly distributing my ever fluctuating weight because that’s the law of physics. I will never be Jessica Rabbit or have Heidi Klum’s legs sadly. I’m me and I know my boundaries and I’m fine with them. My job is managing all of that within the confines of the fitness routine I put in and keeping it all in check to stay between 150-165 roughly. I am always striving to get to the bottom of that range but truthfully I don’t care if I never see the big one-five-oh again. I work out and I work out pretty regularly, by choice and sometimes twice a day. It’s a little bit of an addiction and definitely a habit for sure. Something I’m just always working on like Mr. Holland’s Opus, just not ever done. I want to live to the crazy age of 96 so this is a good path to help me get there.
Now nothing and I mean nothing means more to me in this world than my kids. It is super important that they are proud of me and want to be with me and talk to me and hug me and hopefully always like my kisses! I hope they always tell me about their days be it good or crappy. I would die if I couldn’t be with and around them. They are just awesome! So, in the flow of two conversations recently, one with each son (19 and 17 respectively), we were discussing super skinny something or other and I said to one son that if whatever the statement were, was true I’d be super skinny. His answer melted me to pause my thought and compose my fast melting self. He said “You are super skinny Mom.” and he kept moving on with his thoughts about whatever it was that we were talking about. He wasn’t looking for accolades or a hug or even a response. It was his honest opinion. PAUSE: my son thinks I’m super skinny! woo hoo! On another day not long thereafter I was talking to the other son about something weight related (not necessarily mine) and whatever I said it prompted him to say “well it’s harder to get any smaller than you Mom, you work out all the time.” and he too proceeded to add to the conversation as if he had just said “the sky is blue”.
There it was again from a different source. From the one who wouldn’t sugar coat something to make you feel good (that’s his father in him). They both simply had said what they believed to be true which was like getting the best race bling ever! For those of you who do not know I am a medal whore. I Race for the prize because why should I not be rewarded for running for 2+ hours right? As I reflected on these thoughts that my sons had about me, it occurred to me that I have reached a personal milestone in my healthy lifestyle endeavor in this life. I have achieved the admiration of my kids who are proud of me for all this crazy hard work that I do. It’s become so much a part of who I now am that they don’t question it as being Mom’s new workout habit but more like part of what their Mom does. Some mom’s garden (I do that too) and some Moms do crafts and some Moms drive trucks. My kid’s Mom cooks great meals, sings new words to old songs, runs in the rain, would do anything for her kids to be happy and she also does fitness and that’s cool to them. I couldn’t have gotten two better compliments in the world than those two matter of fact statements made in passing by my sons.
Well, that was longer than expected but sometimes they are. Remember that there are those moments that tell you that you’ve arrived that you have to cherish and lock away for the days where you feel like you aren’t doing anything right. They are the moments that motivate us and push us to strive for more every day.
Today I had Jury Duty and after they let us go I picked up my son and we headed out to do something besides sit inside the house for the rest of the day. Since they don’t provide snacks at Jury Duty and the break was 40 minutes after I got there I didn’t think to bring a snack so I was starving when we were released. John and I decided to eat at Red Robim (yummmmm) sorry couldn’t resist! I had every intention of being good and eating salad, which I love but the more I stared at the burgers which are a collossal no-no in my book, the more I wanted one. I tried staring at the fish and chips plate and said that was what I was ordering but then I began eating our appetizer which by my choice was the NachO.M.G.™ Fun and flavor, layer by layer Tortilla chips loaded with Red’s Chili Chili™, two cheeses, guac, house-pickled jalapeños, tomatoes, diced onion, salsa and sour cream.HolyGod in heaven they were amazing but probably moreso because I was so famished. I ate them and thought that this was the beginning of a Foodgasm. As I ate I got some of the chili and immediately…I mean IMMEDIATELY, my body screamed for more red meat! Definitely Foodgasm without a doubt! There will be no damn discipline at this meal my friends!! LOL it was as clear as day what I had to do. Now I usually have to work a little harder to read signs that my body is giving me like dry elbows or a headache usually mean I need more water, eye twitches mean I’m tired, the backs of my legs pounding after a run usually means that I need new running shoes. Today there wasn’t that much science involved. It was very apparent what I needed and after I surpressed the Id – Ego fight that started tableside arguing that burgers were bad / you need a burger, I politely told our waitress to order me THIS Royal Red Robin beauty right there:
Yes it’s true, I ate this work of art partly because I needed the iron I’m guessing but partly because I knew I could. Not COULD like I had that ability to eat it, more like “I run so go ahead and order it you big whining baby! Live a little you won’t die if you eat a burger one time!” kind of COULD.
Let me just say that this concoction with the egg on top was so amazing that I actually think I literally horked it down! I feel like it was SO good and I enjoyed it SO VERY MUCH that perhaps I might have looked a little like the “When Harry Met Sally” scene in the diner where she fakes an orgasm (turn speakers down or off if you don’t want your co-workers wondering what you’re doing over there in your cubicle all alone!) For those of you who may not seen it, here it is, yes this was how I felt in that Red Robin booth eating this burger….OH GOD it was good!
I’m assuming that if I even looked remotely like an embarrassment my Son either would have told me to knock it off or got up and left me in the booth. Seeing that he didn’t tells me it was just exciting in my head and who cares anyway because it was fulfilling to eat something so wonderful without worrying that I won’t work it off with a second round of exercise on the bike later which will be totally worth it and thank God for that fact because it was just THAT GOOD!