False Starts

I started running again. When you read that phrase, the image in your head is likely one of an elite athlete forced to take a break from their training finally returning to the sport in triumph. I’m going to let you think that.

I am not a runner. My husband is. He’s like a greyhound at the track, long and lean, and likely to chew on your library books. Okay, I made that last bit up. But he’s a runner. 30+ miles a week qualifies him for the label. My one mile a day, three days a week running the Padawan to school does not.

I don’t like to run. If I could get healthy and fit by being beaten with a wooden oar, that’s the option I’d probably choose. I’m short and wheezy and asthmatic, clearly the makings of a top tier competitor.

My absence from the sport can be explained partly by some trouble with my leg. It hurt. Like, a lot. I don’t go to the doctor. I have my reasons. They aren’t sound ones, but I’m a big baby an adult. So I did what anyone would do. Nothing at all. Until I could barely walk. I was finally referred to a physical therapist.

Turns out I’m made weird. My foot does something freakish I should have outgrown when I was 15, resulting in a calf that’s roughly 30% larger than the other. No wonder I run like a duck.

The actual therapy part is painful, and I don’t mean a little. It requires The Stick, a series of giant beads strung on a PVC stick. It’s used to apply pressure up and down the tightened muscles of my calf. The rotten bit is that I cannot use this device properly by myself, which means engaging an assistant. And he hates it.

He’s a little soft-hearted, I guess. He doesn’t like to hurt me. I don’t know it’s the screaming. Or the tears. Or the kick to the groin. But for some reason, after two sessions he has been reluctant to help me. I try to motivate him, to get him in the proper frame of mind for the task, but there are only so many times I can key his car or pee in his running shoes before he takes out a restraining order and I’m right back where I started. What’s a girl to do?

Anyway, I ran again today. After several long weeks, I went to the track. It has less to do with New Years resolutions than the sure knowledge that I’m going to die if I don’t. I’ve had a series of migraines lately and have come to the understanding that if I don’t develop a good way of dealing with stress, my head is going to quite literally explode. So I ran.

It was just a mile. Four little laps around the track. I could do that easily. Except I discovered that when I run, I lose the ability to count to four. I think I ran four laps. Maybe it was three. “Four” comes after “one,” right?

39 degrees is warmer that I thought it would be, and I did eventually need to peel off my sweatpants. Next time, I will try really hard to make sure I’m wearing shorts underneath.

I had hoped to process some plot lines for the novel I am working on, but I was not successful. Unless that plot involves lots of wheezy breathing and vows to never, ever do this again. I’m sure I’ll have better luck with that next time.

If there is a next time. Maybe exploding head isn’t as bad as I thought.

Magic Shoes – With Sincere Apologies to Forrest Gump

I bought new running shoes. I had to. Running shoes are supposed to be replaced every 400 miles or so. I don’t run much, of course, but after two years of ownership, my last pair had seen a good 2000 miles. It was time, due to both condition and aroma. Sauconys don’t smell the best to start with, so after two years and that many miles, I’m frankly a little grateful that severe allergies have killed most of my sense of smell.

I almost didn’t buy them. I asked to see the latest model of what I was wearing, and sticker shock nearly took me out. I’m a cheapskate. I have shopped at thrift stores for more than ten years (if you were to ever see me in person, you’d be painfully aware of it), so the idea of paying full retail for anything is repugnant. Add to that the price increase. This model has gone up about 30% in the last two years, which seems pretty darned steep. ***

I looked the pricey kicks up and down and wondered if I could gracefully back out of the store and put up with what I had for a few more years. But my legs offered their two cents in the form of a well-timed muscle twinge. I don’t know if it’s my old, beat up shoes or my illness that flares up from time to time, but the last few weeks I’ve been unable to sleep due to leg pain. It might actually be worth coughing up the national debt of a small nation to be able to rest well, right? Cognitive dissonance says yes, friends.

I tried on the shoes to make sure I actually liked them. Saucony has surprised me before. Their Grid Omni III was just heaven. The four was unwearable. I tried the current model. It was okay, but if I’m going to plunk down a chunk of the money I’ve been saving for my camera, I am going to be sure I’m buying the right thing. Thirty minutes and eight pairs later, I walked out with the very first pair of shoes I tried on. Of. Course.

They are ugly. Where most brands are moving to a wider toe box (that’s the part of the shoe where the toes go, for those of you who don’t speak the lingo), these are strangely pointy,  but the sole itself is wide. I look like I’m wearing orthopedic elf shoes.

But they do the trick, and that’s what counts. I beat my old time by about two minutes this morning, though that may have had less to do with the shoes than with the bone-chilling temperature. More importantly, my legs hurt less, and that’s worth every penny.

 

*** Heather’s soapbox Let me just jump in and say that I might could have saved $10 online, but I didn’t. The shop I visited is locally owned. The folks who work there are so knowledgeable that they analyze a customer’s gait before recommending shoes. When my husband first shopped there many years ago, they told him he was actually wearing the wrong kind of shoe for his particular body mechanics. And they were right. You can’t get that kind of advice online. And if I visit a local shop and take more than five minutes of their time getting (good) advice, I sure as heck owe it to them to shop there.

An aquarium shop I used to work for recently went out of business after about 40 years because customers would come in and get lots of great advice on keeping their fish, and then they’d go right down the road to the big box pet supply place to buy what they needed. Or go on the world wide web and buy stuff in bulk. Now there’s no one in town to offer 40 years of experience.

My New Hobby

I started running recently. My husband is an avid runner. He is doing a bit of training with the Padawan, who has now appointed himself my personal trainer. As if I need one. You don’t get this stunning physique from sitting at the computer writing and eating MoonPies. Okay, maybe you do.

So the Padawan and I run to school each morning, which is saying something. When Bill Cosby wrote his bit about his dad claiming to walk to school and it was uphill both ways, he had our neighborhood in mind. Whichever direction you choose, there’s nowhere to go but up. But I do it because it makes the kid happy, and it makes me tired, requiring me to fortify myself with an extra MoonPie. What? I said I was running, not adopting an entirely new lifestyle.

I know lots of writers who draw inspiration from their runs, mulling over chapters, blog posts, short stories as they exercise. I am not one to let such an opportunity pass me by, so here you go. The poem inspired by my morning run.

Beautiful morning! Wow!

Cool breeze. Fall is here.

Padawan is so fast.

I’ll never be that fast.

If he makes fun of my speed again,

I will pound him into the ground.

I need running shoes.

These Chacos just aren’t doing the job.

Are we there yet?

Good Lord, this hill is long.

My legs hurt. I need to pee.

Why did I drink all that water this morning?

Goodbye Padawan! Have a good day!

I will never do this again.

Why are those people staring at me?

I hate them. All of them.

If that car honks its horn at me,

I will flatten their tire.

How long is this hill?

I think I may die!

No, seriously! Someone call 9-1-1.

I am not going to make it!

Help!

Catching my breath.

Stopping.

Never moving another step.

Ever.

But I still need to pee.

Over in those bushes?

No, the neighbors are watching

After the last time.

Moving on.

I see the house!

It has never looked more beautiful.

 

***

And scene.

 

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: What Happens When You Don’t Listen

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Your kid paints your toenail burgundy.

Not my huge, hairy hobbit foot. No, really. This is my husband’s foot. All my toenails match. In fact, they match his. That was my polish she used.

 

Runners kill toenails. Usually their own. And sometimes they try to hide the dead nail fact with pretty pink nail polish. The Princess of Darkness observed her dad’s icky nail with an artist’s eye. Let the record show, she did say “Dad, that pink polish isn’t working. Can I repaint it with burgundy?”

And let the record show, he said “Mmmm-hmmm….” Maybe I should strike from the record that he was reading the news after work on the internet. Anyhoo, thirty minutes later, he looked down at his toe. And maybe screamed a little. But not in a girly way. In a “how am I going to wear Chacos in public, and do we have any polish remover?” kind of way.

Maybe he has learned to listen more carefully before he agrees to anything. Or maybe he’s just going to pretend he has boo-boo until the paint chips off.

 

***I’m making a list of my favorite names for voting. Coming soon.

And How Am I Doing? Thanks For Asking

As the paragon of diet and exercise, I was recently interviewed regarding my astonishing success in keeping my  New Year’s resolutions. The interviewer was sharp and witty, a hard-hitting journalist. You know. Me. And here, dear friends, is most important interview you will ever read. In the next fifteen minutes.

What steps have you taken to meet your exercise goals? 

I recently brought home an instrument of torture elliptical machine.   The good news is that I have actually used the stupid thing every day.

So what’s the bad news? 

The bad news is that the resistance is stuck on “Summitting Everest.” Using it for longer than five minutes makes me want to curl up and die.

Five minutes? Seriously?  

No, actually. Thank you for asking, although I wish you wouldn’t use that tone. TWO minutes makes me wish I was dead.  Five is the longest I have been able to power through without the heart rate monitor calling an ambulance. Or a coroner.

How do you stay motivated? 

For every 100 reps I do on the elliptical, I get a Snickers bar blizzard from Dairy Queen. You’d think it would get old, but it doesn’t.

Have you lost any weight? 

I’m sorry. I don’ t understand the question. And it really hurts my feelings when you make pig noises.

Are you making the improvements to your diet that you had hoped? 

I’m doing pretty well with this one. I have cut out most of the sugar in my diet. I still have it in my coffee each morning. And evening. And afternoon. I have even eliminated sugar from my morning Cheerios by adding raisins. And chocolate milk. My taste buds will eventually become accustomed to the reduced sweetness over time, I am sure. Did you just gag?

Can’t you just use an artificial sweetener? 

I don’t think so.  Eating artificial sweeteners leaves me wishing I could lick a brick wall to get the taste out of my mouth.

How is work on your book coming? Can we expect some big announcements soon?

I finished reading a book. And it was amazing. It took me a couple of weeks to go cover-to-cover,  but it was well worth the effort. I cried a little, I laughed a lot. That Curious George is one funny monkey.

Aren’t you supposed to be WRITING a book? 

There is no need to roll your eyes. Progress on my own work has stalled a bit.

Any particular reason, or are you just kind of lazy?

Of course, there is a reason:

The anti-muse

 

Isn’t it a little cliche to blame the toddler for your lack of productivity?

Hi, there. Have you ever actually read the title of my blog? Judging from the expression on your face, I’d say no, which is a little weird, since you’re me, but whatever. Blaming the toddler may be cliche, but it’s also true. In hour and a half that I have been finishing my blog post, we have made four trips to the potty, colored two pictures, played “Mommy, watch this!” 437 times moved the living room furniture to retrieve lost trains twice, read three books, and prepared two snacks. And don’t get me started on the “Why?” game.

Fair enough. Any plans to get yourself back on track in the near future?

I have heard that computers and cable are leading kids to grow up much faster than they used to, so I’m signing Squish up for Netflix. A few weeks of Jersey Shore, and he should be ready to move out, or at least get a job, and then I’ll have more time to work.

Wait. Where did you get a cell phone?  I didn’t know you had that. I thought we hated cell phones. Why are you calling Social Services? And why do you have them on speed dial?

 

 

Which Way Do I Go?

I’ve only just now shuffled the husband and last school-aged child out the door, and already I feel as though I’m on a roller coaster. I am now sitting with my cup of coffee and attempting to determine my mood for the day. This kind of decision cannot be left to the likes of me this morning, so I am going to trust you, my fabulous readers, to choose for me.

A summary of my morning, to help you make your decision.

Upon waking up, Squish refused to snuggle with me.  Daddy got the snuggly part of the toddler, and I got the frozen feet.

Got up too late to use the elliptical. Without an audience, anyway. After providing yesterday’s morning entertainment for my crew, while only burning off the equivalent of ten M&Ms, I swore never again. And now the machine is smirking at me. If there is one thing I hate, it’s a smug machine. The robot apocalypse will be hard on me.

Got peed on. Again. I have no idea how to change Squish from a setter to a pointer, and the kid thinks he’s Zorro. Cheerios in the potty is not an option. This is the child who dropped a handful of cereal into the water and declared “Mommy! I pooped!” and when I didn’t buy it, attempted to reach in and grab the rest of his snack.

Had a stand-off with a raccoon on the walk home from school. Following the advice of a marvelous fellow blogger I’ve drinking four glasses of water first thing in the morning. This practice has done incredible things for my skin, but does little for encounters with rabies vectors. I may or may not have lost bladder control, but I think he/she did, too. This round might have been a draw.

Phoebe, you're supposed to PROTECT us from it, not make friends with it! No,it can't come in.

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Lost my cool with the kids for the most ridiculous reasons. Some days, I feel like I should be kept in a cage.

Discovered that we are out of toilet paper. The hard way. And it’s my own fault.

I have to go to Wal-mart. ‘Nuff said.

Squish gave up naps. Again, ’nuff said.

And now some good stuff.

Daughter discovered the sand boa resting on the rim of its cage.  You know the one. The snake we thought was entirely too small to reach the top of the cage, so we didn’t bother securing the lid with heavy objects. I’ll count a thwarted escape as a win.

Squish brings me book after book to read. He loves Mercer Mayer and Little Critter as much as I do. It just never gets old. He likes to sit down with a stack of them. That’s why my post almost never goes up before 9:00am.

Toy Story. Under the covers. Almost as good as a nap.

I have a movie date with the most marvelous friend tonight. Without kids. To see a movie that I don’t get tired of. Win:win:win.

So here is where you come in. My future is in your hands. Choose carefully. Squish is stuck with me for a few more hours. 

In The Name Of Fitness

My husband saw it first, standing in all its dusty glory at the church rummage sale. A marvelous piece of machinery – a Nordic Trac elliptical trainer. How could anyone let this baby go?  At its unbelievable bargain price, we bought it. There was only catch. Actually, there were three of them; our children. We had too many to get our family and our new machine in the van. We tried to give them all a child away, but there were no takers. I would be forced to return to fetch my prize on the morrow. And so I did. Now you can follow the timeline as my fitness dreams come closer to fruition.

11:00am – Locate treasure. Discover with great joy that it has wheels, so moving it will be almost effortless. Two guys offer to help, so it’s even easier! Whole new levels of physical fitness await.

11:05 - Open back of van. Crane neck to one side, and then the other. This is not a warm-up stretch. This is the slow realization that this machine, which measures five and a half feet tall,  may be too big for the van.

11:07 – Remove 75lb seat from the van in an effort to fit the elliptical. Discover stash of bunny crackers and miscellaneous crumbs sufficient to feed a starving nation. Die of humiliation.

11:08 – Realize that there is nowhere in the van to store the dislodged seat. It is heavy, and now it is also loose.

11:10 - Watch two guys struggle to get the machine stowed in the vehicle. Do not wonder how a lone female will remove it when the time comes. Doubt is fatal.

11:20 - Admit that it is not actually possible to close the hatch at all, and the only way to get it home is to drive with the back entirely open. Be very brave as the machine is secured to the van by the grace of God and a strategically placed bungee cord.

11:25 Rummage through a bag of Goodwill donations in the hopes of finding a red cloth to tie to the open door, which protrudes four feet. Find nothing of the sort. Pink striped polo, it is. Off we go.

11:30 - Try to forget that the only thing stopping the loose seat from leaving the scene is a 150lb piece of exercise equipment that is held in place by a giant rubber band. Gravity is not on our side. Avoid hills and imagine buff and beautiful new physique.

11:32 - Begin to wonder why husband insisted on buying this stupid machine in the first place. Consider looking for new man who likes his woman fluffy and weak.

11:37- Try forget that there is no way to actually get home without scaling hills that make K2 look like a prairie. And there is a heavy seat floating around unsecured in the back.

11:39 - Beg Squish not to throw the toy he is holding onto, even though he asked nicely. Try to describe said toy getting sucked out of the van, never to be seen again. Small son not convinced.

11:45 - Breath sigh of relief as the driveway appears. Elliptical machines really are good for the heart. It never stopped pounding the entire drive home.

Not mine. Know how you can tell? All of my walls have fingerprints. And I'd never work out in front of a window. Like, ever. Got this pic from wikipedia.

 

Stay tuned for Part II:Getting the Ever-Loving, Stupid Machine Into The House And Abandoning It In The Living Room Because The Wheels Didn’t Work And It Was Too Heavy To Move Anywhere Else.

Update: I’m Being Thwarted

I'm onto you, woman. Stay out of my bed. Stay far, far away.

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***I do apologize to those who got the first draft in their inbox with its questionable title. Big shout-out to WordPress for including Urban Dictionary trash words in their spell check.

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So yesterday I shared my list of Resolutions. Yes, it’s a capital letter. Because they’re that important. And I expected to run into a few roadblocks along the way, but not right out of the starting gate. The universe is conspiring against me.

#2 is becoming a bigger challenge than I thought, as the cats have taken to sleeping on the couch in the family room. I know better that to wee where I Wii, so I must wait.

#4 is a little dicey, as well. The moment I hit “publish” and announced to the world that I plan to blog five days a week, my computer began making strange noises, as though is were filled with African killer bees. I should have known. In the middle of editing the post, it gave me the blue-screen of death and for 15 minutes, I thought I had lost everything. My computer is roughly 143 in laptop years, so I should be realistic.If you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s because I had to take it out in a field and shoot it.

#6 is not as much fun as I wanted it to be. The temperature here dropped well below freezing, so the thought of outdoor exercise of any kind is unpleasant. My husband decided yesterday that I should go to a mall to get some walking in. I put on my polyester stretch pants and went for it, and what a mistake that was! I barely got out of there alive. Between the choking fumes pumped into the corridor by that hot clothing retailer Armpit & Stench and the cute little train that was someone’s genius idea to make holiday shopping in a crowded mall more death-defying than ever, I decided that indoor exercise is not worth it. Does it matter if I lose 15lbs if I meet my end under the wheels of a mall-train?

#8 reared its ugly head, as well. I know I am not to compare my progress to others’, but how can I not? There’s a fitness center in my area that has been posting billboards with esoteric close-ups of bare skin. I’m not even sure what body-part I am looking at. Is it a thigh? Abs? An armpit? I don’t know, but I get the very strong feeling that my whatever-it-is should look like that, too. And I am sad. There’s a new one where the model looks more like challah bread than an actual person. I KNOW I am sorely lacking in braided-bread-body-parts. And I am dissatisfied. There is someone shinier and lumpier than I, and it is not fair.

On the up-side, my husband returned to work this morning, and I have not yet let my dog Phoebe drink out of his coffee mug. Though she is looking pretty comfortable on his side of the bed and has asked to try on his racing shoes later this morning. Hey, a girl can’t change overnight.

Running Is Hazardous to Your Health

Saturday should be sacred. It is the one golden day of the week where I can sleep late. We attend the early service on Sunday mornings, so sleeping past 7:30 on a Sunday means a frantic morning rush that can lead to losing our religion before we even get out of the house.

Saturdays are for quilts and pillows and sweet dreams, not the screech of the alarm clock at 5:45 so a spouse can get in his morning run. 5:45. I know the importance of his morning run, but I’ve got news. 8:45? Still morning! Wait a couple of hours. It still counts.

I get the importance of exercise and all of that. I do. And I know that running is a big stress relief. But honestly, what kind of stress do you have at 5:45 that isn’t actually caused by getting up  at that ungodly hour? No, the stress comes when you later realize your disgruntled, exhausted wife, awakened hours before her time, has put kitty litter in your morning coffee. I’m sure it was an accident and not revenge. After all, litter and ground coffee do look a bit alike. Even though the coffee is kept in a cabinet above the pantry and the litter is kept downstairs. I can’t be expected to know the difference between French roast and Fresh Step before the sun has even come up, right?

What’s the big deal, you ask? Why can’t I just go back to sleep when the alarm goes off? Oh, but I can. I usually have no trouble sliding back into the arms of slumber. But toddlers are a different story. Squish sleeps in our room. When the alarm sounds his Reveille , smallest soldier takes up arms for adventure. He is content to snuggle just long enough to warm his icy feet on my leg before he is clamoring for breakfast or making plans to ride his toy motorcycle with a bucket on his head in lieu of a helmet.

This morning, I was dreaming I was being chased by a chimpanzee who was trying to kill me. I longed to sink back into that dream, as my waking alternative meant trying to subdue a hairless primate who was amusing himself in the dark by transferring boogers from his nose to mine. Sharing is caring.  Running before daylight is killing.

If these Saturday shenanigans continue, my dear husband may discover he indeed has something to run from.  His exercise of choice may take on a whole new range of health benefits, including preventing his untimely death. If he can outrun me. This morning, his odds aren’t good.