Thursday, October 17, 2013

From "I Can't" to "Maybe I Can"

Have you seen this?

This is Maria Kang, and she seems to be causing quite a stir.  There are camps that say she's knocking overweight women, and there are camps that are saying, "You go girl!"  I happen to be in the 'you go girl' camp, but that is neither here nor there.  Discussing the stir surrounding this picture is not my goal today, however.  My goal is offer understanding, and perhaps lend some perspective to the buzz.

No one gives birth to three children and looks like that without a lot of hard work.  However she got there, that's where she is, and I don't begrudge her that.

I used to come from a place of "I can't."  After the high school mile debacle, my mantra was "I can't run."  My ex-husband used to like to say, "She can't cook, she can't clean, and she can't sew."  (As if that's all a wife was good for!  Ha!  Good riddance, you jerk!)  So I didn't cook, didn't clean and I still don't sew.  I signed up for a 5:30 a.m. bootcamp once, and I was so tired at the end of the day, that I decided I couldn't do that either.

That all changed one day, when I said to myself, "Maybe I can."  A friend asked me to run a local half marathon with her.  Of course my first answer was, "I can't."  Then I asked myself why I thought I could not at least attempt this.  Why couldn't I try?  Why couldn't I train for this?  I could not come up with a good answer.  That is when I committed 100% to this goal of finishing a half marathon, and I've never looked back.

Unlike the high school cross country athlete who perhaps walks away from her sport to further her career, get married and have children, I was not an athlete as a kid.  I didn't do much at all until I decided to run a half marathon at the age of 44.  I wasn't a gym rat, I did some Jazzercize back in the day (now I'm really dating myself!), but exercise was not a part of my life.  

Deciding to do this seemingly impossible thing was something I committed to like it was my job.  Look for a coach, find a gym, do the workouts, read the books and magazines, eat the right food, and take it one day at a time.  One workout at a time, even.  When you approach a goal this way--take small bites each day in pursuit of your goal--it is completely doable and you learn so much about yourself while you're getting there.

If I didn't have that shift in my thinking, I would not be the person I am today.  Maria Kang's body didn't just happen.  Maybe she used to be in a place of "I can't" just like the rest of us.  You'd never know it from the picture, because humility was not one of her goals in posting it.  That's ok, everyone is different.  I'd rather allow people to see the good, the bad and the ugly.  You don't see all the hard work, stress on the family, sweat and discomfort that Maria endured in order to get to the picture you see.  I'm willing to expose that side of me.  Now granted, I don't look like she does!  I used to weigh 25 pounds more than I do today, but I'm still not that!  What I am is stronger, leaner and faster than I used to be, and that's what's important to me.  You can never go into something new and different without telling yourself that the only person that you're trying to be better than is yourself.

Today, when you're thinking of all the things that seem impossible to do, allow the thought of "Maybe I can..." to work its way into your brain.  We all have it in us to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  Instead of convincing ourselves that we can't, let the maybe in.

Do you have a goal that you think you can't accomplish?  

What's your excuse?

Happy Thursday, everyone!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wineglass Half Marathon Weekend Update

Sit down, grab some coffee and put those reading glasses on!  It's Weekend Update time!

This past weekend I ran the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, NY.  Ever since the hotel debacle that happened the night before my full marathon in 2011, I have been a stickler for booking the right hotel way in advance of race weekend.  Corning is about 190 miles away from home, which meant an opportunity for us to get away for the weekend at a nice, cushy hotel.  Hotel options were not abundant in Corning, so we ended up finding a very nice hotel in a little town called Watkins Glen, in the Finger Lakes region.  Watkins Glen is about 30 miles from Corning, but I figured that'd give us the chance to see the general area, and catch some local flavor.

My husband and I started our journey on Friday afternoon.  Knowing that this particular race was a "goal race," I decided that I would not be consuming a drop of alcohol this weekend.  If you know anything about me, you know I enjoy a nice glass of wine now and again, especially when we travel.  I am not the kind of girl to give up a beautiful Pinot Noir just because there is a race the next day.  In fact, once I completed a 20-mile training run while I was still tipsy from the night before.

During the ride, I had that feeling that you get when you know you forgot something important.  I mentally ticked off the checklist in my head, and realized that whatever it was that I had forgotten could be purchased at our destination.  We weren't visiting a third-world country, after all.  As we pulled up to our hotel, I am happy that it looks lovely.  Checked in, ordered some room service, snuggle into bed and had a good night's sleep.  Upon waking the next morning, I quickly realize what I had forgotten.

Perhaps you do not fully comprehend the exhaustive list of things you must remember for a race, especially while traveling.  The obvious things like running shoes, socks, outfit, and Garmin come easily.  The other things require some thought.  Should I run with music, or without?  With requires armband and headphones.  If I run without music, I need something to carry my phone, so I'll pack that little waistband thingy, which also holds my GU.  May as well pack another pair of running shoes, just in case, and ok fine, another pair of socks.  Then it's time to decide what kind of head covering to wear.  If it's going to be hot, a visor.  If it's going to rain, a cap.  Grab both, decide later.  Don't forget the ponytail holder.  Sunscreen, handheld water bottle, Body Glide, sunglasses, race-morning breakfast options, baby wipes for guerilla-type shower after race so I don't smell up car on the way home.  I got it all.  Except for one thing--underwear.  Yes, I remembered every piece of runner minutiae ever invented, but I forgot good, old-fashioned underwear.  Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and micromanaging.

Good thing we had Saturday to have some fun.  And underwear shop.  Before I continue with the rest of the weekend, I have to give a shout-out to Trip Advisor.  We used this app extensively to find the mall (underwear) and restaurants (breakfast).  Very useful.  Breakfast was at Savard's Family Restaurant, and they had really cool placemats where there are hidden objects drawn into the ads to pass the time while waiting for food.

This happened to be a place frequented by the biker crowd.  I would've taken a picture of them, but I feared for my life.  We're still not sure what the attraction of the bikers to that town was.  Maybe one of you know?

We headed to the expo from there to grab my bib, and little did we know that they gave out other goodies too!

I picked the wrong day to quit drinking!

There was a wineglass too, but Jim already wrapped it up.

The Corning Museum of Glass was next, since it was next door to the YMCA where we picked up the bib and goodies.  We saw the Hot Glass Show, where they demonstrated how to blow glass (very cool), and we shopped at the museum store.  Here are a few pictures of us at the Glass Museum.

I did mention our sense of humor was juvenile, right?

Since I was without significant underclothing, next on the agenda was, well, that.  Trip Advisor to the rescue again!  We found the local mall, and had a good time with the name.  It was the Arnot Mall.  As in, "We Arnot a real mall."  We found this to be true.  It was the most depressing mall at which we ever had the pleasure of shopping.  Since we were kid-less for the weekend, we decided to take in a movie at the (We) Arnot (a) Regal Movie Theatre.  We saw Gravity, with Sandra Bullock and five minutes of George Clooney.  We liked it.

Back to our lovely hotel for a nap, then dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant.

Sunday morning started out wet.  We woke up at 5 a.m. to pouring rain.  Good thing I had many cap options, and if necessary, we could've stopped at the (We) Arnot (a) Convenience Store for a trash bag rain coat.  Fortunately, it wasn't necessary!  Yay!  All the rain did its thing by 7 a.m., and it was cool, dry and absolutely perfect running weather.  Here's my selfie on race morning.

I will not go into all the runner-specific details of my race.  Suffice it to say, it confusled me.  That's pronounced 'con-fuse-eld.'  I was surprised at how strong I felt throughout the entire race, and thought I could turn in a significant PR (personal record), but it turned out I was a little overly-confident.  OK, a lot.  I ran a very consistent race, and in fact, my most consistent.  You see, I usually lose it at about mile 10.  I start to ask questions like, "Who the hell signed me up for this race?", and "I'm older!  What makes me think I can still run 13.1 miles again this year?"  But that didn't happen!  I was almost surprised at myself because I felt so strong at mile 10.  I thought for sure I'd run it faster than my best.

It's all good though, I was only a few minutes slower than my best, and I'm OK with that.  I like to think about my husband and kids as I cross, and the fact that I am completely in control of my accomplishments.  In fact, these days, I'm learning it's one of the only things I can control.  The race wound through charming towns, had friendly and encouraging crowd support, and the best thing?  The medal.  You've gotta see this medal.

And here I am, after finishing my tenth half marathon since I began running in 2010.  I gotta tell you, it's a great feeling!

Are you forgetful?

Do you have a juvenile sense of humor?  I probably would not if it weren't for my husband.  He brings out the best (worst?) of me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Too Fat for Shoes

"Comparison is the thief of joy," wrote Theodore Roosevelt.

With just a few words, this great man has not only acknowledged that we all compare ourselves to others, but he has also given us an excellent reason to stop.  To compare yourself to others will rob you of the joy that you would normally have, so stop comparing yourself!  What we all try to say with a whole lot more words, he has said so succinctly, and so perfectly.

I find myself comparing almost every day.  Even when I know that it's not a healthy thing to do, I find myself doing it anyway.  I was in DSW the other day, looking for a pair of boots.  A pair of brown boots, to be exact.  If you've ever been to DSW, you know how many aisles of boots they have, and I love it.

So I do the cursory browse down the aisles, but nothing is jumping out at me.  I saunter through a few more times, almost ready to give up and go home, when a beautiful, tall blonde woman walks very purposefully by me.  In five seconds flat, I scan her from head to toe when BOOM.  "Daddy, I want the boots she's wearing!"  (I'm trying to channel my inner Veruca Salt here.)  They looked so good on her.  I had walked by that particular pair several times, thinking they were 'too much.'  Well, not on her!  Too much was just right.

I follow her to the location of the boots she is wearing, where she is sitting down.  I casually walk by and said, "Oh, you've got those boots on, right?", pointing to the pair on the shelf.  She told me that she loved them so much, she had to get them in black too.  She quickly tries them on, they fit perfectly, of course, and she glides off to the front of the store to pay.  I never thought of myself as a visual person, but I think I'm quickly becoming one.  I had to have those boots.

These boots aren't just any old boot, they happen to be slightly over the knee.  Not too much, but just enough.  They are awesome.  I sit down to try them on and I am able to slip my foot into the boot itself, but now I've gotta do some finagling to get them zipped up.  These particular boots have a side zip that stops right below the cuff, so that the beautiful cuff can come up to the knee and just look fabulous.  I go to zip it up, and those beautiful, magical, tall-blonde-woman boots will not zip up over my gigantic calves.  Try as I might, I could not squeeze the fat down into the boot one more iota without performing do-it-yourself surgery.

So I begin doing what I usually do when I'm frustrated.  I talk to myself.  "Really?  I mean, I must be the only woman on Earth who, in the midst of a 300-pair bootapalooza, is too fat for the only pair I like!" and "This isn't happening right now," as if this is the most devastating news I could possibly hear right now.

I sat there for a minute, letting the gravity of the situation sink in.  I cannot wear these boots, because I am too fat for them.  But SHE wasn't too fat for the boots.  Oh, nooooo!  In fact, now she has two pairs of those sacred things.  Gosh, she even has good hair.  And that sweater paired with the jeans was just perfect.  Grrrrr, I hate her.  I want to be her.

That's when I stopped myself.  These calves may be too big for those particular boots, but these calves have taken me pretty far.  My hair may not be as smooth and shiny as that woman's, but at least I have hair, and I'm not struggling with chemo and losing it.  Who knows what else that woman struggles with that I don't?  Yes, I have my problems in life, but they're mine.  I don't want yours.

Do you find yourself comparing to others?  Do you catch yourself and stop, or not?

Do you have a shoe fetish?

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The One Mile Run Test

Do you remember the One-Mile Run test in high school?

For me, it was the worst day of the year.  When I found out that our gym class had to run the mile, I would literally break out into a cold sweat.  I hated
gym class, and I especially hated running.  Interestingly enough, I attended my youngest son's back to school night this past week.  Gym class is so much different than when I was a kid.  Now, you don't have to participate in the sport of the week.  Yea, you heard me.  Now, you have a choice.  You can go into the fitness center for some cardio or weight machines, you can go into the gym and shoot hoops casually, but you don't have to do the sport.  Life now is all about options.  You can do this, or hey, if you don't wanna do this, then do that.  As long as you're moving around, you're good.  No worries!  Not that I wish I was a kid growing up now, but a few choices would've been nice back in the day.

I have vivid memories of one year in particular, when we had to do the One-Mile run test.  I think it was part of the Presidential Fitness Test, or something like that.  Remember the shuttle run, the 100-yard dash, and that 'see how far you can jump' test?  Anyway, I was a junior in high school and it was one mile test day.  Mind you, the gym teachers back then didn't think it was a good idea to give any pointers to the kids.  "Hey guys, it's simple!  Just get out there and run a mile."  Running a mile, when you never, ever run, is really hard.  It would've been nice to learn a little something about pacing.  Go out slower than you should, and pick it up towards the end.  Some kind of advice for us fat kids would've been helpful.

So the whole class lines up on the track, and the gym teacher yells, "Go!"  So I went.  Like a bat out of hell I went, wondering why I was ahead of everyone else.  I thought, "Hey, maybe I'm not so bad at this whole running thing!"  Well, as you can imagine, by the first lap I was sucking wind.  I wasn't feeling so well during the second lap, and the third and fourth were pathetic.  I finished last, and with so many red blotches on my face, that the gym teacher sent me to the nurse.

The nurse said I should rest, then proceeded to call my mother to tell her to pick me up from school.  That's how unfit I was as a youth.  I hated sports, I hated gym class, and I really hated running, especially after this complete embarrassment.  Did I mention that I hated running?

How in the world then, did I get into running in my 40's?  Well kids, that's a story for another time.

Were you a gym class lover, or an uncoordinated unfortunate soul in high school?

Do you do something now that you hated when you were younger?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An 8 Week Plan to Get Ready for Christmas: Runner's Edition

It's October 1.  You know what this means, right?

Christmas is coming like a freight train.  I really wish that the coming of October did not scare me to pieces, but it does.  Why?  Cooler temperatures mean fall, and fall is GYST (Get Your Shit Together) Season.  Christmas stresses the heck out of me, and it always has.  Playing Santa to four kids, my husband, two sets of parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, girlfriends, boyfriends, teachers, mailmen, paperboy, dry cleaners, UPS guy, and the dog ain't easy!  It's one of those things that, once you get going, isn't so bad.  Certainly, when it's over, the afterglow of happy kids makes it all worth it.  When you're in the trenches, though, it can be hell!  There's so much stress between Thanksgiving and Christmas, brought on by the retail industry, that I always second guess myself.  Do they all have the same number of gifts?  Did I forget the obvious gift that he/she wanted this year?  What about that one gift that everyone is getting this we need it too?

My husband made a silly remark the other day, challenging our family to have our shopping and wrapping done by December 1.  So I looked at it just like training for a big race; we have to plan this out.  This kind of goal doesn't just happen by itself.  So I've come up with a training plan for the beginner, intermediate and advanced shopper/giver/wrapper/decorator.  If we start today, I think we can do this thing.

Week 1 (10/1-10/7):
Beginner:  Buy a pretty new notebook to make lists of things in.  Oh, and pick up some brightly-colored pens. List-making is FUN! (Pace:  taking it slow)
Intermediate:  Beginners plan PLUS list the people you need to buy for.  (Pace:  If I don't stick to the plan from Week 1, I may fall behind.)
Advanced:  Intermediate plan PLUS come up with one major gift for each person.  (Pace:  Notebook-check, pens-check, list-check, major gift-check.  What's next, because I'm an overachiever.  Let's get this party started.)

Week 2 (10/8-10/14):
Beginner:  This is going to be so much FUN!  I love my new notebook and beautiful pens!  I still have time for all this silly holiday planning, so I'm just going to buy some pumpkins and decorate for Halloween.  It'll be so much FUN! (Pace:  I'm good.  I'm happy.  I'll be fine, really.)
Intermediate:  Scout on Amazon for major gifts.  (Pace:  I am so on track right now, and I feel great.)
Advanced:  Order major gifts on Amazon and have them shipped gift-wrapped.  (Pace:  Excellent, feeling good, although I could go faster, but it's still early.)

Week 3 (10/15-10/21):
Beginner:  I started making a list, but I was sidetracked by the fact that I still needed pumpkins, scarecrows and hay bales, but I'm FINE!  (Pace:  One holiday at a time, OK?)
Intermediate:  Is it too early to think about getting the Christmas decorations down?  (Pace:  Get the ladder, honey.)
Advanced:  Find excellent hiding spot for gift-wrapped packages, and while I'm at it, clean out that closet.  (Pace:  Overachiever mode.)

Week 4 (10/22-10/28):
Beginner:  Buy Halloween candy while shopping.  (Pace:  What?  Kids gotta have the candy, man!)
Intermediate:  All this early Christmas prep really screwed up my Halloween.  (Pace:  not feeling it anymore.)
Advanced:  Halloween shopping was done in August, dudes!  Time to wrap!  (Pace:  Definitely hyper-speed.)

Week 5 (10/29-11/4):
Beginner:  Buy more Halloween candy because you ate the supply from last week.  (Pace:  Where's my pretty notebook and cool pens?)
Intermediate:  Throw back a few beers after the kids are finished trick-or-treating.  Chocolate makes you thirsty.  (Pace:  Is it too soon to carb load?)
Advanced:  Fill in list with fun stuff and stocking stuffers.  (Pace:  I'm still so early, it's ridiculous!)

Week 6 (11/5-11/11):
Beginner:  Raid kids' candy stash.  (Pace:  I think it's the month Thanksgiving falls in, but I'm on such a sugar high, I could be wrong.)
Intermediate:  I could still do this whole 'be ready early' thing.  I totally could.  (Pace:  needing a kick in the pants.)
Advanced:  Why not go get a, make that TWO turkeys.  I'll need them this holiday season.  Preparing feels good.  I'm so much better than everyone else right now.  (Pace:  Woo Hoo!)

Week 7 (11/12-11/18):
Beginner:  What a nice little break between Halloween and Thanksgiving!  I think I'll put my feet up and relax this week!  (Pace:  La De Dah, La De Dah.)
Intermediate:  Holy Shit!  If I'm going to be finished in 13 days, I better start soon.  (Pace:  OMG, 13 days, really?)
Advanced:  I may start early meal prepping activities for Thanksgiving.  Yes, I'm calm, cool, and collected.  (Pace:  Arrogance.  Pure, unadulterated arrogance.)

Week 8 (11/19-11/30):  Yes, I know that 12 day weeks do not exist, but for purposes of this example, gimme a little artistic license, OK?  
Beginner:  Oh.  My.  God.  Who put Thanksgiving on the calendar so early this year?  Why are there no handy guides for planning for Thanksgiving, for God's sake?  Why is this whole Xmas thing so important anyway?  (Pace:  spinning out of control, I don't even have time to spell Christmas.  I mean Xmas.)
Intermediate:  I have slacked off for a few weeks now.  Check the list, shop for more stuff, buy wrapping paper, serve Thanksgiving dinner to 14 people with a damn smile on your face, find the ladder, get the decorations down, buy the tree, decorate the tree, run around the house spraying evergreen-scented air freshener, nag husband to put house lights up, think about wrapping gifts...(Pace:  frantic frenzy.)
Advanced:  Realizing that all gifts are wrapped, having a Homer Simpson "D'oh" moment when you realize you forgot the gift tags.  "Shit."  (Pace:  "Shit.")

So, you see, in my humblest of opinions, moderation is the key.  And by moderation, I mean do everything at the last minute.  Who isn't motivated by a goal?

Are you an early shopper?

Totally unrelated...What's on your Christmas (Hannukah/Kwanzaa) list this year?