Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Slowly but surely

My second 5k featured a pre-race adventure involving incorrect bus schedules, rain, a poor sense of direction, a comedic bike ride on muddy trails and assorted other hijinks that amuse me enormously but sound asinine and mundane when I write about them. Forthwith, then, are the results:

"Scamper in the Park" 5k, benefiting St. Jude's Hospital, 2/19/05

Time: 33:20

My previous 5K time was 35:04, so I'm happy with the improvement. What's more, someone with a Garmin said the course read at 3.36 miles instead of 3.1 miles.

So according to this pace calculator my average pace was either 10:43 or 9:55. I'll take either of those times, thankyouverymuch.

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Resolution Review

Resolved: to weight myself in February, for the first time in 2005
Results: 153 lbs. on 2/15/05

Commentary: My previous weigh-in was in mid-December for Weight Watchers at 157 lbs. The current weight was taken on a Tanita scale at the gym. I am a bit suspicious of this scale and am tempted to pay $11 to get myself weighed on the WW scale. The reason: my clothes feel exactly the same as they did two months ago. Next weigh-in: 3/15/05.

Resolved: to complete a January 5K race
Results: 5k planned this weekend

Commentary: a bit behind schedule, but a lot of the 5k's in my city take place in the northern exburbs which do not have frequent bus service. This weekend's 5k at a local park will involve 2 buses and one bike ride to reach. Am hoping to improve on my previous time of 35:04.

Resolved: join local running club
Results: completed, sort-of

Commentary: by hiring my coach (see previous entry) I am now technically a member of the running club, even though coach has said I am not fast enough yet to actually run with the club. On our second meeting last Friday, however, I did run 4 miles without too much trouble, which just goes to prove the point Richard and a few others made in their comments, that I've been in a running rut and am probably capable of more that I realize. Thanks guys!

Resolved: continue weekly weight training, but change up routine to maintain interest.
Results: ongoing

Commentary: I've been sticking to the same full-body routine though I have upped the weights from anywhere between 3 - 15 lbs depending on the exercise. I have a sneaking suspicion I am actually lifting too light. I also am almost positive that my squat form is crap. Am waiting on an Interlibrary loan book Margaret recommended to start some new exercises and improve my form. However, I am apparently committed to this weight training shtick. Case in point: I was supposed to go the gym last night but opted instead for a bike ride to enjoy some rare blue skies. And then -- in a startling bit of out of character behavior -- I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning to bus to the gym to make up the workout. (As a side note, I observed two interesting, if practical, forms of behavior this morning: a woman spraying the soles of her feet with deodorant and the same woman using two blow dryers simultaneously to dry her hair.)

Resolved: take Salsa class
Results: completed, final class on 2/14

Commentary: the next step, of course, is to actually get up the gumption to dance socially. This will be quite a step because -- have I mentioned this before? -- I have lots of social insecurities, what I think of as a form of performance anxiety. If I go out salsa dancing to a club I fear I will drink too much in order to calm the f*ck down or hide in the bathroom all night. At least now I know some people who might actually be interested in practicing their salsa.

Resolved: eat smaller portions, pay attention to satiety, eat slower, stop when full
Results: meh

Commentary: certainly the most neglected of my goals. I am a mindless eater, and eat what's put in front of me. I want to be careful with this one, though, because those three months of WW showed me how easily obsessed and cranky I can get about food, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much about the progress of this goal even as I will strive to pay better attention.

Resolved: moratorium on diet books
Results: done!

Commentary: doing this really helped my mental health, truly. The information overload was making me hyperventilate.

Resolved: perform one charitable activity per month
Results: easier said than done

Commentary: I did the Amnesty International campaign for December and that was all. I did recently however pack a big box of used VHS tapes and audiocassettes I've been hoarding since high school and will be sending them off to GreenDisk for recycling.

Resolved: Cancel television service for 30 days.
Results: ohmygodohmygod

Commentary: as soon as Project Runway finishes its season on 2/23 I'm calling the television company and cutting myself off. In a pre-emptive strike this week, I literally put about 20 DVDs on hold at the library, as if turning off my TV were akin to some kind of nuclear winter requiring the stockpiling of resources. Am very curious to see how this experiment turns out.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Coach and I

Last night I hired a running coach. Our first session resulted in a mixture of emotions for me: excitement, discouragement, determination.

The coach directs a local running club and organizes local races. The deal is great: 20 sessions for $80. The idea is that you run with the local club twice a week and get some personalized attention from the coach. I like him -- he's very friendly, down-to-earth and has been doing this running things for decades. I trust his experience -- but some of the things he had to tell me were things I didn't want to hear!

The individual session last night was to get an idea of my fitness level. I told him my goals were weight loss and fitness, and that I'd been running 35 minutes for 3 times a week for several months. Right away he told me his opinion that in order to be a fit runner, one needs to be able to run 5 miles regularly.

This is where I started to feel the discouragement. It's not like I haven't seen this coming -- I haven't lost any weight that I can tell in the past months on running alone (first official weigh-in of 2005 is scheduled for next week). Many blogs I read talk about how the "groove" of running doesn't occur until sometime after mile 3. My discouragement came from the tape loop in my head that sounded something like this: "holy crap, there's no way I can run 5 miles and have fun. It will take too much time out of my day. I don't have enough running clothes. What if I decide I hate running and any fitness or weight loss benefits I see are lost forever if I stop? Does this mean I'm going to have run 5 miles every day for the rest of my everlasting life? What if I never get any faster? What if I don't want to get any faster? What if I'm just a fraud and deluding myself?!" You can see how hysterical my little brain can get.

On to the actual session: (can I just say that I was so nervous to be running with someone for the first time that I took preventative measures by swallowing two anti-gas caplets? In light of the gazillion Girl Scout cookies I'd ingested earlier in the day this seemed like a prudent action.)

First he took my watch away. This was actually quite disorientating. After he showed me a few basic stretches, we got started along a route in a local urban park. He rode alongside me on his bike and chatted as I tried to gasp out replies. The run itself felt fine, physically. Still a bit difficult, but not tortuous. Do-able.

In the end, I ran 3.5 miles in 42 minutes, which puts me squarely at a 12 minute pace. This is further and longer than I've ever run, and without my watch and with a companion I must say that the run didn't seem nearly as long as my solo 35 minutes. But this means I haven't improved any since the 5K in December, which I ran at an 11:30 pace or so.

The coach also told me that he was going to continue private sessions with me because I'm not fast enough to run with the club yet. They are running 4.5 miles at a 10-minute pace. He'd told me he was coaching lots of beginners, people who are doing run/walk combos, but I guess they're not working out with the club either. This discouraged me because I'd like to run with people, if only for the distraction. Also, it felt a bit like high school when I wasn't cool enough to join a certain club or clique -- the skulking shame! the burning cheeks!

When I got home I had a "What's the point?" attack. As in, what's the point of running, what's the point of eating better, what's the point of lifting weights, what's the point of going to work, what's the point of washing the dishes, what's the point of taking a shower? Somewhere in there was a whole riff on "Winter sucks and I'm getting on the next plane to the tropics."

I pretty much lay comatose on my couch for a few hours flipping TV channels feeling crappy and down on myself. Eventually, however, I was able to convince myself that these 20 sessions don't represent anything other than a new experience. If I don't get faster, well then, I'll just know that I'm slow and be OK with it. If I want to give up running, I'll find something new to replace it. It's not do or die. It's not black or white. My little life and me are so not the center of the universe.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Digging into the Skinny

Saturday night I took the bus to a community arts center to see a dance show, a Latin Review of sorts, complete with lots of feathers, sequins and tropical colors. It was fabulous and completely over the top, which made me swoon with happiness! I often go to things like this alone, and I'm pretty much over any discomfort I feel when doing this, but I often feel that I cause discomfort to others with this loner behavior.

The thing is, art is important to me. And if I wait around to find someone to join me, I'll miss out on a lot of good stuff. As it is, my finances really limit how many concerts or plays or even movies I attend. Being able to participate in creative expression, even as an audience member, is vital for me.

The point of this whole story is that one of the dancers in the group is a young man I know. I took a weekly salsa class from him a few years back, for over a year. The class was out of a hole-in-the-wall flamenco studio in a strip mall, and I was often his only student. He had a very theatrical flair and he often taught me flashy, complicated moves and bemoaned by reluctance to be more expressive and expansive with my hands. He was an absolute treat as an instructor, if a bit impractical since I'm not headed into a Broadway career.

When we spoke Saturday after the show he was noticeably thinner. Gaunt, even. I told him this, and he thanked me, but I don't really think I meant it as a compliment, even though he accepted it as one. I think I was more startled upon seeing him up close and just blurted out "You must have lost 50 pounds!"

I wanted to take him aside and made sure he was getting enough protein and carbs and fats. I waned to march up to the dance director and lecture him about not encouraging thinness in his dancers. I wanted to break out in a dance move and show him that while I may not be a talented dancer, I can still look good and exude energy and style without being skinny.

So riding home on the bus that night I made a vow that I will try very hard to be more precise in my compliments and not say to anyone "you look so thin!" "Thin" is such a small part of the equation. When I see someone whose appearance has changed I want to try and say something like:

"You look so healthy. You're glowing."
"You're so strong."
"I really admire your athleticism."
"I'm so inspired by your energy and dedication."
"I love how you channel your passion through your dance."

I suppose I want to try to compliment not only changes in appearance but also the accompanying, but less heralded, discipline and passion and emotion required for that effort.

Last week my brother said to me "you're getting so skinny" and I was angry with him!

I wanted him to see other things that just the drop of a few pounds. I wanted him to admire my new ability to run with increasing ease, my lifting routine, my focus, my wide range of physical interests. It felt like an inadequate observation, and reduced all my efforts to one result.

I've seen these advertised on an infomercial and am totally obsessed. I can't afford the price listed on Amazon but I swear the infomercial was for $19.95 or something. Are they too good to be true?: Bowflex SelctTech