Saturday, December 18, 2010

my navel has a scar inside it

December 17Lesson Learned
What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I'm once again drawing a blank.

I'm learning that I don't have the patience for this kind of question anymore, that's for sure. There was a time when thinking about myself and writing about myself was satisfying, but that time is long gone.

Yes, yes, this blog is all about me. I get that. But I don't want to treat it like a therapy session. Been there, done that. It's not only boring for me, it's potentially deadly for anyone who may read me.

A life examined is a life well-lived, I agree, but I don't want to do it publicly, I guess.

So why did I choose to participate in Reverb10? Because I wanted to write more. I didn't know it would be this line of topic but even so, I'm okay with that.

It's got me writing, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

in my dictionary, s followed t

December 16Friendship
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

In 2009 it was T who changed me. She did it in about a week. She convinced me I was fun, deserved to feel confident and even that I was attractive. No one has ever gotten me to believe those things before. After a week with her, I even believed I was likable and that my friendship was desirable.

In many respects, what she did for me led me to this year's influencer, the South African hottie.

The hottie has led me to sensibility. I've become significantly more aware of my finances and responsibilities, my physical condition and my inner motivations. He's not let me 'fuck the dog' anymore, as they say back home.

The hottie has made me choose and he's made me live. It's not been easy; in fact, it's been a lot like learning to walk after a lifetime in bed. I haven't liked it and sometimes he's pushed me too hard, but mostly he's been on the money. I find him very interesting and frequently infuriating.

He may be away right now, but his influence is still here. If it weren't for that, I'd have waited much longer to pick myself up after the job shoved me down the stairs last week. Now, not only am I doing what's necessary, I'm allowing myself to dream and to chase the things I really want.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

i'm glad that's (almost) over

December 155 Minutes
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010

Ok, alarm set now!

And... I'm drawing a blank.

It doesn't help that I've had a beer. It doesn't help that the last part of this year has sucked.

Hmmmm.....

You know what? Lots of bits of this year have sucked.

I had some pretty rough times at work - the job before last, not the one I just got fired from.

I drowned my iPhone and a Garmin in Coke.

My purse was stolen and I had to replace all my ID. I also had to pay to have my car towed so we could program a new key for it.

My car was opened - probably with the keys that were still in my purse when it was stolen - and a tote carrying car cleaning supplies was removed. Also inside: a license plate kit that just cost me $50 to replace so that I can put a plate on the front of my car now that I'm in New Brunswick.

The South African hottie went out west to work for a year.

Yeah, I'm gonna need more than five minutes to think of good things that happened.

I got some freelance work that I've been craving for a year. I'm writing reviews for Appolicious. Come visit me!

I got a job in social media. That was a dream, too. It's dead now, maybe, but whatever.

And there are 40 seconds left....

I discovered The Wire! Yeah! Holy shit am I glad of that. Especially as LOST is over.

That's another thing: LOST is over.

Fuck.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

chomp on *this*, life!

When I was in my very early 30s my grampy died. I had no job, the guy I loved was tormenting me with feelings that took me on a roller-coaster ride and I was having trouble making rent.

My friend Billy told me it could always get worse, which infuriated me enough that I stormed out of my own house.

Not only was he right - it got worse within the year when my mother died - I see now that he wasn't trying to belittle what was happening at the time.

Ever since then, when bad things happen, I'm conscious they can always get worse.

Last time I posted I thought I was in a rough place. I knew it could get worse - and it has. And I know it could get worse still. So I'm keeping my head up, plowing forward, somehow determined to thrive.

On Friday afternoon I was approached at work by my manager's manager. In two-plus months he's only really spoken to me when something's gone wrong so I was immediately on my guard. I asked him what I'd done now (paranoia, much?), and he sorta smiled and said to come along 'for a sec'.

An HR person was already in the room and she had a letter in front of her. I had a feeling I was about to get a talking to for some tension I'd caused on Tuesday and I knew it would be embarrassing because I had handled a situation badly by letting myself become impatient and frustrated. I was ready to own up to that, however. In fact, I'd already apologized to the people affected.

But no, I wasn't getting a talking to. I was getting fired.

'I wasn't fitting in' and since my employment was within the probationary period, that was that.

My dream job had just been flushed.

But that was on Friday. Every day since I've lifted myself taller and taller, doing what needs to be done (i.e. look for work, apply for Employment Insurance benefits, email people with ideas for things I could do for them), and today I got my first piece of work doing some freelance writing.

Phew.

And now it's time to play catchup (again).

December 10Wisdom 
Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

It's not surprising that all these questions seem so relevant to me right now. It's only natural, in fact, that I'd try to find a way to apply them to recent history as opposed to events that are more difficult to remember. But seriously: omgwtf?!?

The wisest decision I made was on Friday afternoon when I kept my plans to visit my aunt and uncle in Moncton, 90 minutes away. Instead of driving into a concrete wall, of course.

I've just described how it played out so I'll move on to the next one.

December 1111 Things 
What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Oh, shit. I'm really attached to my things. I already know that because the South African hottie and I argue about how much I love my iPhone, my laptop and my Bath & Body Works toiletries.

I got 'permission', of sorts, to sell my grandmother's Wedgwood china, so that's a likely sacrifice. My aunt had once told me that if I didn't want it I should sell it to her but I knew that if I did it she'd resent it so I kept my mouth shut and held on to the china. This weekend she volunteered that if I wasn't using it I should sell it. w00t.

I could sell the thousands of dollars worth of cross stitch supplies I have stored away, but I still dream of having time to complete projects on a regular basis.

I could sell my bike, which I haven't ridden regularly in years, but I still dream I'm going to ride it because it feels so damn good and I spent so much money on cycling clothing. Which I could also sell.

I've already given up on replacing the Garmin I ruined on one of our apartment-hunting trips to Fredericton.

There's not much else to mention. I own a laptop, a nice bed, an okay flatscreen, an older TiVo, some books and some clothing. I could get rid of the TiVo (I'm not using it) and the flatscreen, I suppose (I'm not using it). I guess I'll look at kijiji later this week....

Will getting rid of this stuff change my life? Sure, if I earn some money from them. I might even gain a modicum of respect from the South African hottie, for that matter. In the long run, though? I'll have less stuff to move when the time comes, but that's it.

China plus flatscreen plus TiVo is only three things, but I may find another item or two of I try. Let me start small, okay?

You still with me?

Good. Next!

December 12Body Integration
This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

No.

December 13Action
When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

The job hunt. See above.

December 14Appreciate
What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

It really is getting easier to pull myself out of the manure pile. I express gratitude by talking about it and by smiling. And by telling the South African hottie he should congratulate me on my little bit of freelance work instead of telling me I have to replace his Pyrex dish I broke this morning.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

at least it's not a pity party

Today has been a good day.

I didn't mention it before but I've recently changed some medication and it's definitely messed with my ability to sleep. My spirits have also suffered because of the switch, and that's on top of the effects brought on by fatigue. I'm not completely stabilized yet but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's not far away at all. It'll be very good to be 'right as rain' again.

Here is today's entry:

December 9Party 
Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Well, shit.

(You may want to say that in a Clay Davis voice, for full effect.)

It's a good thing I don't read these prompts until after I've copied and pasted them. I probably wouldn't write a word.

I don't mean that they're bad ideas. They're just not great for someone who's as much of a loner as I am.

Hell, just today I earned the Lone Wolf sticker on GetGlue, for crying out loud. Even the Web knows my true nature.

A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday. It was also the weekend of the office Christmas party. It was an amazing opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, really celebrate my 46th with a lot of cool people who share one of my most important interests. Oh, and I skipped it because I was too scared to be around people who didn't really know me.

That's a pretty damn classic example of why this kind of prompt isn't an ideal topic for me.

The only gathering I can recall for 2010 was my farewell dinner for my last job. I was surrounded mostly by people who couldn't be trusted (I'm not making this up) and some of the folks I did want to see couldn't make it. Only three could really be called my friends (which isn't a bad number, considering how difficult it is for me to get close to people). Still, they did get me some very cool parting gifts, so I came out of it okay.

By the way, I'm starting to think participation in Reverb10 is going to make me out to be quite the sad and tragic figure, when my life isn't usually like that at all.

Sure, I'm transitioning, and if you know anything about Tarot you know that the card for transition is Death, so if there's a better indicator of how tough change is I can't imagine it.

I'm a content, silly, outgoing and funny woman, usually.

Usually. Just not lately. But life's like that sometimes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

i should probably just go to bed

Yesterday was a craptacular day.

I made something of an ass of myself at work and that, on top of remarkably poor and sparse sleep the night before, meant that preparing dinner was as much as I could muster before trying once again to rest.

That's made me late with my #Reverb10 entry, but I intend to do double-duty tonight.


December 7Community.
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

I haven't experienced community in many years, though I came close during my last few years in Nova Scotia. I'd been at my job for so long that I knew tons of people and was known for my real self by a decent number of those, and that wasn't bad at all. Now that I've moved away I'm on my own again, so community isn't something I feel a part of right now.

I want to be a more substantial part of the community at my new workplace, but I believe that will take just as many years to accomplish as it did in Nova Scotia, so I have quite a way to go.

I can't express how painful it is to be away from people who know me. I feel isolation, helplessness, anxiety and frustration. I don't yet share a language with anyone in New Brunswick and so a lot of my time is spent inside myself, which isn't a particularly bright and sunny place to be right now.

Self-pity isn't always with me, but it's there. I try to summon patience, too, knowing that my circumstances will change with time. So there's hope, but I stumble a little too often in these early days.


December 8Beautifully Different.
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

Oh, for crying out loud. I hate these things.
I'm not a goddam snowflake and I'm not special and I'm not beautiful. It's all a lot of horse manure.

I'm getting by, like everybody else. Sometimes things go amazingly well and I'm on top of the world and I feel great and I know I'm loved and I feel secure, and other times things are really rough, but most of the time it's just mundane and routine and ordinary. I go to work, I make huge and embarrassing mistakes, I worry I'll be fired, I think about quitting, I think about giving up and that's what lots of people do every day.

This isn't a dark time at all. It's just not the best time and there's nothing remarkable about that in the least. I'm not remarkable, either, but that's not a bad thing.

I'm not the best person to talk to right now, is all.

Ha!

Monday, December 6, 2010

time is never the hurdle

December 6Make.
What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

During my year of unemployment in 2003 I spent at least eight hours a day doing cross stitch. It was one of the most peaceful and productive years of my life.

Once I got back to working, cross stitch became something I had to push myself to make time for.

The last thing I made was a cross stitch Christmas tree ornament. I gave it to my friend Andy last year.

I stitched him a snowman on perforated paper and used a foam backing with fabric-covered wire for hanging. I rushed the job a little at the end but it still came out OK.

This year I wanted to make something special for my co-workers but I still haven't started it. I have some time off coming so maybe it'll still happen, but knowing me....

It's enough that I'm making time for these blog entries. I'll be pleased with that for now.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

catching up

I've just committed myself to Reverb10.

That means, among other things, I'm going to write every day.

I have some catching up to do; each day of December has its own topic and I've come a little late to the party.

Here goes:

December 1 - One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?


My choice for 2010 is not an adjective. No, I'm going for an adverb (and some emphasis): "finally!"

I can explain.

For my whole life, all I've wanted is to know where I belong and get myself there. I couldn't sort it out at university in my early twenties because my mind was too clouded by depression. In my late twenties I diverted from my own path by one dictated to me by fundamentalist Christianity. In my thirties, my mind began to clear and I found journalism. I was good at it and thought I would become a star; a single bad decision led to depression and cost me everything I had.

I got lucky in my forties. I found a job that should have been a short stop along the way except for a single friend I made early on. He got me started on a path to professional clarity. I had to endure a lot of confusion and crap but I got the experience I needed to get me somewhere better.

A year or more ago, I knew I wanted to be part of social media. And, just before my 46th birthday, I got there.

Finally.

I'd like to end 2011 with the word "comfortable". I'll explain it if and when I get there.

December 2 - Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?


I get distracted. It's that simple.

I start a task with a goal in mind and then I find some article online and I start to read it and then I decide to read another and then I check my email and then I check the news, maybe, and then I decide to watch TV or play a game on my iPhone, and then I decide it's late and I'd better go to bed.

There are so many things I want to give my attention to. To accomplish today's writing task, however, I came to the laptop determined to start and not stop until I finished the whole exercise.

I don't need to eliminate anything to write; I need to add that same focus and determination. I have to accept that other interests have been made secondary now that I have this commitment.


December 3Moment.
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).


I'm not sure I've had a moment like that this year

I had a moment of perfect joy a few weeks ago when I did my first run after several months away. The music from my iPhone was invigorating, my body felt so grateful to be moving again and I was so blissful I reached a place of high peace. But I've had moments of aliveness and that wasn't one of them, though it was close.


December 4Wonder.
How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Haha - I didn't realize it was a goal! The question implies it's something I should have striven for, something I should have been conscious of.

Maybe that's not how wonder works. Wonder is a quality that sneaks up and surprises us; it's not something we can watch for. How can we prepare to have life delight and amaze us?

December 5Let Go.
What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

Wow.

Well, most recently I've let go of the South African hottie. He's away for a year to work and I believe we both accept that the separation could have a terrible impact on our relationship in the long term.

I was happy to let go of my life in Nova Scotia, especially the job. That company and that centre were killing me slowly but surely, chipping away at my connection to the outside world. I'm living as an adult now, with other adults, and though I'm timid about being in these new surroundings, I'm more grateful than I can ever express.

This was the year for big changes and I couldn't be happier about that. Those changes will force me to rediscover myself and to put myself in the world again.

Monday, September 27, 2010

beautiful dougie

I don't have to buy cat food.

I don't have to buy litter. Hell, I don't have to change litter.

I don't have vet bills anymore.

I don't have to stop watching TV to find out why she's meowing.

I don't have to worry about going away and finding someone to look after her.

I hope I never stop dreaming of her.

Monday, September 13, 2010

mildly epic fail

Guess what day it is?





I can't hear you thinking it, so I'll just tell you it's Monday. Maybe you already knew that.



It's also the day I decided I would hit the treadmill again.



Yeah, that's not going so well.

Honestly, I'm so tired after my first day back to work. I'm often tired after work, actually.

Today I returned to a class that started while I was on vacation. I'm training a product I haven't trained since February, so I'm a little anxious. If I had more energy I'd try preparing for tomorrow's class but it's taking everything I've got just to keep myself from going to bed for the night. And it's barely past 7 p.m.

I haven't run my last kilometer, I'm sure of it. But it doesn't look like I'll be putting on the Nikes tonight.

Maybe tomorrow....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

the missing months

No doubt about it, I've missed a lot of targets the last three months.

I haven't been running.

I haven't been blogging.

My finances have been at the mercy of my emotions and irresponsible (shopping) behavior.

Not to mention the theft of my purse from work ... where all employees are issued passcards to enter the building, which means it was a co-worker - maybe even one of my own trainees! - who took it.

No money inside, but I lost all my keys, ID and rewards cards. Oh, and I'd never used the purse before, so that was a hit all on its own.

Two weeks later it was my iPhone I was crying over. I drowned it in Coke and killed it dead. It took a couple of weeks but I eventually learned of Apple's gorgeous out-of-warranty program and within a week of finding the information on the discussion forums I had a new device in my hands.

I've never been more impressed with a company in my life, especially as the replacement cost me $40 less than my provider charged for the original!



But back to my biggest problem: not running.

I haven't stopped wanting to, I just haven't done it. Yes, the insane heat and humidity were valid reasons not to run ... outside. But I could have used the treadmill, which sits conveniently next to our air conditioner.

This week I'm on vacation, helping the South African hottie get set up in his new apartment (and applying/interviewing for jobs, truth be told), but when I go home on Sunday it'll be to an empty house.

I'll have no excuses, then.

Can I get my ass in motion again?

Monday, June 14, 2010

back at it

I've had two runs since my last post.

The first, on Saturday, did not go that well. I hadn't run even a dozen paces when I could feel a distinct weakness and wobbliness in my hamstrings. I knew I wouldn't run the 5km I'd planned for, but I certainly got a good 3.5km in before I had to start walking.



In fact, from the speed/elevation graph (click on the 'details' link to see what I mean), it looks like I very nearly made it 4km before my pace dropped to 5km/hour the first time.

Tonight's run, however, went much better. I ran the entire 5km and it felt great.



It took about 36.5 minutes to run that distance so one goal is to get that below 35 minutes. Overall, however, I'm pleased because I know I could have run longer.

Another difference between the two runs? Saturday's was in sweltering, noon-time heat and sunshine, today's was in drizzle. It turns out I prefer drizzle.

No matter what the weather from now on, I just hope I can keep up the good habits. There's certainly more satisfaction in it, if nothing else.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

closing a door

I resigned today.

The past six or so weeks have been really trying and I only started to feel better when I realized it might be time to pull the plug. I've been applying for jobs every time I find something suitable online and last weekend I spoke to a friend at Future Shop about potentially getting on there.

I'm not going to air any dirty laundry here, but I will say I learned some things today in a conversation with our site director that confirmed I'd made the right decision. I don't envy her for the summer she's likely to have.

I haven't run in over a week. I haven't even been eating properly - not enough food, by far, though it's been of good quality - so exercise has been out of the question. I've been tired yet sleeping poorly.

I have a feeling that will all change now that the end of this era is within sight.

Some serious change is on its way.

Monday, May 31, 2010

saving my sanity, one run at a time

I'm still running.

If you follow me on Twitter or you've friended me on Facebook you already know that, of course. You've seen the RunKeeper and LoseIt! updates.

What you can't know is that I'm in another discouraged phase.

According to my scale I haven't lost any weight in two weeks. For a week or so, running wasn't working out well. Even eating has been a challenge.

What's really got me down, however, is my current job and the fact I feel stuck in it. I've been applying to one new position a week but haven't heard a thing. I know that if I persist the right one will come along, but it's hard on the soul to have my hopes dashed over and over.

Finding the motivation to run in the evenings when my days are spent on work that is more depressing than satisfying is tough. I'm always rewarded when I push myself to get out the door in the evening, but that push requires significant faith some days.

I want a new job. I want to be passionate again about my work, I want to feel valued, I want to feel alive. Running does those things, but I can't make money running.

On the other hand, I believe that if it weren't for running, I'd be seriously miserable. Running reminds me there is more to me and to my life than my job.

Running moves me forward even when I'm not doing it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blessings, disguised

How cheated do you feel with the ending of "Lost" ?
That was all the email said. It was from my brother and I received it Tuesday, two days after the finale but less than 12 hours after I'd finished watching it from my TiVo.

I wasn't surprised by his question.

My mind had wandered for just a moment during that last scene between Christian and Jack: "A lot of people are going to be pissed about this", I thought.

I remembered the early speculation that the LOSTies were all dead from the crash and the Island was some sort of Hell/Heaven/Purgatory. Such theories represented the backlash against the popularity of the show; they were a way to dismiss how passionate people were becoming about the mysteries and the characters.

Now, before me, Jack was coming to understand that he had, in fact, died. Instead of feeling cheated, however, I felt moved.

The LOST finale is one of the two most powerful pieces of pop culture I've experienced.

(The other is Truly, Madly, Deeply. Give it a go if you like tear-jerkers. And dead people.)

The finale, especially the last 20 minutes or so, as everyone comes to realize and accept their condition, resonated with me more than I ever could have anticipated. It took me back to the night I sat holding my mother's hand, at her bedside, coaxing her gently into whatever light or darkness awaited her now that her body had been irreparably damaged by cancer.

She was ready to leave and I wanted her to know I understood. I whispered to her that it was okay, she could go now, we would be alright.

Watching Christian explain to Jack that it was alright for him, too, to move on, I felt intimately connected to the message. It was profoundly true and I was astounded that someone else knew it.

Here's what else I know:

Jack died on the Island. At the moment of his death he found himself in Sideways world, believing he'd had a past that he'd never had. He had died but he wasn't ready to leave, not by himself. He needed his tribe, and they needed him. That was Christian's message.

(I loved, by the way, how the writers drew attention to Christian's full name, just before it took on its real meaning for the character - very clever!)

The scene shared by Ben and Hurley, so lovely I found myself crying again the next day as I tried to describe it, emphasized that we won't move on until we are ready. Ben wasn't prepared to leave with the others, deciding instead to 'sit for a while'. This is true with life just as it may be with death.

Season 6 gave us two stories: the end of Jack's life and the end of Jack's dying. We didn't realize we were witnessing Jack's dying until it was nearly too late to appreciate and I believe that may have trapped some viewers, giving them an opportunity to confuse themselves about what they'd witnessed.

Neither story implies that the events on that very unusual, nearly-magical Island didn't happen. They did happen, and they led to Jack's death. But the Island experience wasn't the only journey the LOST team gave us: they also gifted us with some wonderful possibilities for our own destinies.

So no, I don't feel cheated.

I feel blessed.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

live and learn

It's not a coincidence that this week has been a significant learning experience and another of the most discouraging periods in my running life.

Only once since I planned it have I completed the 33-minute run that is my most recent goal. Today I set out to run the entire thing, refusing to walk except during warm-up and cool-down.

As of today, I've attempted that run four times. Except for that one success, I've had to walk a little each time when I'm supposed to be running. This afternoon, I ran about three kilometres of it and walked the remaining two-plus.



I felt slightly nauseated as I walked, but running made me feel very weak in the legs, like there was no strength to draw from.

Most of all, I felt hungry.

In fact, for the first time I since I started this journey of fitness and weight loss, I've been hungry quite a lot this week. When I started to consider the reasons why, I couldn't see anything different. I've been eating carefully, using Lose It! to ensure my carbohydrate/protein/fat proportions were reasonable.

I have to admit, however, I've been putting more emphasis on protein lately, particularly after reading somewhere that I should be getting around 100g/day.

Not only that, but every weekend I've splurged a little. I've had Chinese food or sushi or a chicken curry dish at a local restaurant. Nothing too extravagant, but maybe it's been enough to fuel the week. Last weekend I only had a piece of chocolate cake during my brother's birthday party; not exactly enough to inspire these legs to action, I'm thinking. I didn't even share in the steaks and hamburgers; I cooked myself a chicken kabob and vegetables, instead.

So this week I've been non-stop hungry but I couldn't figure out why. I've consumed the same number of calories but food isn't filling me up. Then, last night, I ate a Lean Cuisine Meat Lasagna.

Instant satisfaction.

It was instantly clear, too: I haven't eaten pasta or rice or potatoes - nice, starchy carbs - in ages! In fact, I'd been avoiding them, thinking I'd lose weight faster.

I got on the scale this morning, by the way. I've been so damn hungry, I knew I might see exactly what I did see: zero weight lost for the week. My metabolism has slowed down to compensate.

Dammit.

So I was pretty down on the whole thing this morning. It was worse after another disastrous 'run'.

Still, I know I'm doing my best. And tonight I've just eaten 3/4 cup of rice and a pasta/vegetable mix I like. I cooked up a ton of extra rice and plan to use it up this week. I'll do what I have to to get myself back on track. I want to be able to run 33 minutes three times consecutively before I move up to 36 minutes.

I don't know if this will do it. I may have to make more adjustments. I know I have a lot to learn about nutrition and exercise and I'll allow myself the time I need.

I'll try not to beat myself up for having put myself in this position of weakness. I'll try not to feel discouraged at my still-lumpy body.

I'll try to remember that it can't all be downhill.

Monday, May 17, 2010

miles, shmiles



I think I ran five kilometres.

In fact, it may not have been the first time.

Saturday I officially finished the Couch to 5K program. I ran my last 30 minutes with guidance from Get Running, my favorite C25K app. It was a good run, though a little cold.

Sunday I decided to run again. I thought it would be good to get in the habit of running as close to every day as I could manage. There are people who do that, right? I'm sure I've read about people who run five miles or five kilometres every day....

I learned I wasn't anywhere near being able to run every day when I hit the 17-minute mark and had to start walking. My legs were so tired.

I tried running again after a minute or so, but it was a no-go. I walked for another two or three. Then I was able to get back to running. I finished the last kilometre or so that way.

Because I wasn't relying on Get Running anymore, I decided to try a new app. I've used Map My Run a few times online and had intended to get the paid app, but after I read some reviews at the iTunes store, I went with RunKeeper Free instead, and I had a fantastic experience with it.

In fact, I learned something significant: I was much closer to running 5k than I'd ever believed.

My route, according to Map My Run, was 1.44 miles long. I had clearly indicated that I'd gone in one direction for a length of time and then returned the same way, and that's the distance Map My Run gave me.

RunKeeper not only clarified that I'd done more than 1.44 miles, it showed me each kilometre there and back. Just check out the map above to see what I mean, then compare it with this one.

Holy crap! That's five kilometres on there! w00t!

Yes, I walked some of it, but damn, I'm close! I thought I had ages to go before I hit the 5k mark.

I'll be buying the 'pro' version of RunKeeper soon, but I'm pretty impressed with the free one. Even the RunKeeper Web site is worth a move from Map My Run; it doesn't have that horrid advertising all over it and it gives me clear maps, elevation representations, speed and pace information, and practical options to configure. Best of all, every user gets the same experience; a fee will get me more detailed reports about my fitness activities but I'm not nearly anal enough for that, yet.

By the way, the app isn't the only new technology I've added to my running experience: I dug out a heart rate monitor I'd purchased when I used to cycle regularly. It needed new batteries - and changing the one in the watch portion almost caused my head to explode - but it's given me a good idea of how much work I'm putting into the running. It's also given me a desire for a better monitor, one that can track calories - RunKeeper Free told me I'd burned 423 calories on Sunday, which sounded very familiar - but I've spent quite enough money on this activity in the last month. More gadgets and gear will have to wait.

Oh, and so will another run. But my legs will thank me for that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

one left

Today, at work, as I was passing some glassy surface, I saw my reflection.

I did this. I have created these results because of the work I've done. This is my outcome.

Specifically, what I noticed was the area around my breastbone. It's starting to have contours; I can see the shape of the bone. The fat really is leaving my body.

Sure, there are some spots that are still heavily basted. My belly, lower back and butt are going to be flabby for at least another couple of months, maybe even until the fall. But even they must be changing, judging from the way most of my pants don't fit well anymore.

This has not come from some magic trick. I have not gotten lucky. I have worked hard and I've turned my back on gorgeous donuts, my beloved french fries and especially the extra-large triple triples from Tim Horton's (450 calories each, thank you very much).

I'm 45 years old and I'm finally giving myself the body I've wanted for the last 15-20 years. It would have been so much easier to do it when I only had 10 lbs. to manage, but 30 is proving do-able, too. In fact, I may find that I only have to do 20, as the muscle weight I've gained makes 150 lbs. look much better than I would have expected. I will be re-evaluating my goal when I hit 140 lbs.

I am changed. I have had enough of the drug-like pleasure-foods. They no longer entertain me.

I can attribute my new view of junk meals to Food, Inc and to The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. Of course, I had to be open to the changes, but I've always been that. My whole life has been about doing the right thing, and when I don't do the right thing I obsess about doing it.

The physical changes are thanks to Couch to 5K. My success with Couch to 5K is very much due to the Get Running iPhone application and its developer, Benjohn Barnes. Benjohn has followed me on Twitter, commented on my blog entries and even listed my blog on the forum for Get Running. His encouragement has added real value to my experience; there is no other app that gets users such hands-on attention from its maker.

There are two friends who've had a regular and significant impact on my progress with C25K, and they're both named Jason. The younger of the two Jasons has been running for longer than I have and has encouraged me both by running races and by giving me the best mantra ever: "Just kick ass at all times."
The elder Jason (still younger than I am, of course), encouraged me by starting the C25K program after hearing me talk about it. He's just a few weeks behind me but it's such a big help to have someone to talk to about it.

I have one run left in the Couch to 5K program. I'm so grateful I've made it to this point.

Here's to kicking - and shaping - ass.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

the homestretch

I have two runs left before I graduate from the Couch to 5K program.

Yes, it's been that long since I began. I can barely believe it myself.

Tonight I ran 30 minutes for the first time. It was easy, but I wasn't expecting it to be. Much of my day had been one screwup after another, so when I got on the treadmill I kept it at 4 mph, just in case.

Speaking of the treadmill, that was one of the things that didn't go right. Here it is, almost mid-May, we've been having glorious temperatures and seem to be a full month ahead of the usual spring schedule in Nova Scotia, and today was a craptacular 8° Celsius (46°F) with gray skies and the occasional cold spit of rain.

I could have run while wearing some of my winter cycling gear but I think I would have been uncomfortable so I played it safe and stayed inside.

My last run of Week 8 was also inside, but that was because I needed a nap - as I  often do on Thursdays - to restore some of the energy that had been sucked out of me during the week at work.

Have I mentioned that my work is incredibly draining? You'd think I was a babysitter for a vampire family instead of just a product trainer.

I made another purchase towards my jogging kit, by the way:


















They are Sennheiser MX85 Sport II earbuds and I like them very much. I didn't have to adjust them a single time during tonight's workout, they were comfortable, provided excellent sound, and I got them for $45 at Future Shop on Friday.

Best of all, they're sweat-proof. My original iPhone earphones do not respond well to the waterfall of moisture that comes off my noggin during a run and I got tired of hearing tunes in just one ear.

I've been thinking a lot about how to follow up C25K and my plans are currently as follows:

  • I find it tough doing that first workout after two days off so I'm going to run at least every other day.
  • I will extend my run time by 10% every week. Next week, in other words, I'll run for 33 minutes. I may stop once I reach eight hours, however. Haha.
  • I'm going to install MapMyRun on my iPhone. I've been using it online and I'd love to have it track my progress.
  • At least once a week, on one of my 'off' days, I'm going to run the nasty hill just up the road from my home. Should be good for a laugh. And for a nice ass, if I play my cards right.
  • My ultimate goal, unless I move from where I currently living, is to run the 10 miles from my home, through the main portion of Kingston, and back home via Bridge Street. I have no idea how long it would take me to reach that level of fitness.
All of this is open to change, of course. I'm nothing if not inconsistent.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

pwnasaurus rex, that's me!

No more glue!

Tonight's run was significantly easier than Sunday's. No thoughts of quitting, though it was fascinating to monitor how the level of difficulty would increase and decrease in waves. There were even short periods I found quite enjoyable!

Funnily enough, however, I didn't get much further than I did on Sunday. I'd show you the new run but Google Maps Street View is being a turd.

I may not have made much progress with my distance, but my blister has at least doubled in size. Even so, it didn't hurt as much as I ran, in part because I'd covered it with a band-aid. I'd also purchased some special socks; I'd read they'd be effective preventing blisters. They were certainly an improvement; the blister got bigger because of the stupid band-aid.

The socks, by the way, were $10 for two pair at Cleve's. Apparently Nike doesn't make them anymore (the package is dated 2007), but I'm happy enough. Besides, they seemed to be all Cleve's had.

While at Cleve's I looked for a waist pack that would hold my iPhone and a water bottle. Sunday I'd run holding each one of them. It wasn't a problem, but I preferred to have my hands free.

The store had this, for $60:








It's called the Fuel Belt Helium 4-bottle holder, if you're interested.

I wasn't paying that much for something that was way more than I needed, so I walked through the mall, checking at Rogers and The Source for armbands that would at least hold my iPhone. I figured I'd get a water bottle belt in New Minas on the weekend.

The Source had one armband for $35.

Nope.

On to Zellers.

And that's where I found it:










Now, as the reviews at the above link explain, the water bottle does bounce around a lot. I managed to adjust it against my pelvic bone and found it wasn't too bad in that position, and I actually did get used to it. As for the iPhone pouch, it wasn't as well-fitted as I would have liked - the seams would make it tough to adjust the volume using the iPhone's buttons, for example - but I was able to swipe the screen even through the thick plastic window.

My only meaningful complaint about the belt is that I couldn't adjust it so that it stayed firmly in one place. I'll be playing with that a little tonight to see if I can improve it.

I paid $20 for it, however, so I will not complain. I will get as much use out of it as I can until I find something better.

Equipping myself is proving quite motivating, I must say. I've also been getting more compliments on my appearance lately, which is more encouraging than people realize.

It's exciting to be through that last phase of discouragement and I'm pleased to have made it this far through the Couch to 5K program. When I began C25K I couldn't imagine myself running 10 minutes, let alone 28.

I gave the program my faith, I got some fantastic help from the Get Running (Couch to 5K) app, and here I am. On my way to a whole new way of living and being.

Yay, me!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

the 20-minute mile

Today's run - Week 8, Day 1 - was the most significant one of all.

First of all, I ran outside for the first time.

I prepared for my adventure the same way I prepared to start Couch to 5K seven weeks ago: with a shopping trip.
At Cleve's in New Minas I got a great Saucony shirt for just $20. It's brighter and bluer than it appears in the image below, and I love it.












I also got some awesome shorts from Sportchek, also in New Minas.












I've never seen an online store include such a horrible image of a product, but there you are. What you can't see is that there are two bright squares of colour on the left side: one pink and one orange. Also, they look way better on me than they do in this image.

Hell, they looked way better than this when they were still on the hanger!

The manufacturer is Matrix, a brand I'd never heard of, but they were only $25.

With money spent, I was committed. I felt nervous about running outside - the issues I've had with moving my body in public (drunken hours on a dance floor don't count) could fill volumes - but I was determined. I felt good about the progress I've made and knew I could do it.

I was right about being able to do it; what I didn't expect was how tough it would be.

I was concerned about my pace so I used a Motion Traxx podcast to ensure I ran at about 4 mph. Even so, I'm not sure I reached that.

It turns out that running on pavement is noticeably different than running on a treadmill. I realized quickly that the treadmill had been helping me move forward and now that I was on the road, I didn't have the forward momentum I was used to. I was running but I felt like my legs were in a vat of glue.

Today's run was for 28 minutes. I've never been more eager for the lovely lady's voice on my Get Running app to tell me that I was half-finished.

The first 14 minutes were difficult. The last 14 took everything I had, or so it seemed. I wanted to walk, I wanted to quit running, but I didn't.

My friend Jason ran a 10-mile race in Philadelphia today. Thoughts of him and his accomplishment are the only reason I ran the entire 28 minutes.

I don't know if I can describe how hard it was to do what I did. My legs felt so heavy and sluggish. I developed a blister on my left foot and every step burned. I survived by getting myself from one driveway to the next. I felt like I'd never run a moment in my life before then.

Of course, I feel really, really proud. I'm determined to do it again.

I understand so much better why I haven't lost more weight. The treadmill has been deceptive. On the bright side, now that I'm outside, the strength I'll gain will be extraordinary by comparison.

Also, check out these numbers: 124, 265, 400. Any guesses as to what they are?

They are the three versions of calories I burned on my run. The first comes from Map My Run, I believe. The second is from the pedometer I wore during the run (which said I ran 2.65 miles). The final one is what the treadmill would have told me I'd burned.

I think that means I have to go with the first. Which means, in turn, that my entries in Lose It! to date have been wildly inaccurate.

Awesome.

I can't be too upset with the treadmill, mind you. It's always given me two calorie measurements: one for fat, one for something else. I see now I should have been going with the fat calories burned.

So I'll make the necessary adjustments.

Besides getting outside more, I have another new goal: to extend today's run further and further. Here's what it looked like, by the way:



It ain't 10 miles by any means, but the mile is mine and I'm happy to say so.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

metaphors and miracles

Every day I get proof that I'm not the brightest tool in the shed.

I mean, I can't even do metaphors right.

As I got on the treadmill tonight I managed to convince myself that I really was going to listen to the Motion Traxx podcast I downloaded yesterday. I felt I'd be taking a chance with the unknown, but I knew I had to give it a try or I'd never know if it was going to help me work out.

I loaded the iPod app of my iPhone and went into the Podcast area. I scrolled down past Dispatches, Quirks & Quarks, The Savage Lovecast and Wiretap, and ... nothing.

Where the hell was it?!?

Oh, yeah.

When I synced my iPhone last night, I forgot to select the Motion Traxx podcast from the list.

Oops.

It all worked out, I'm happy to say. I had pruned my workout playlist before syncing and I'd taken out alot of the stuff I'd begun to find irritating. I'm pretty happy so far with what got left behind.

I'm also very happy with tonight's jog. I stayed at 4.2 mph for the entire 25 minutes and my legs didn't tire the way they'd been doing earlier in the week. I find it odd that my third run each week is always the best one - you'd think I'd be getting more fatigued as the week drags on, but no. I know I could have run longer than I did, but I'm really happy I didn't have to.

As it is, Week 8 will be taking me to 28 minutes. Gah!

The good news? I'm almost finished the program.

Wow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

even sweat is better than self-pity

I'm sitting here, trying to appreciate that I've just run for 25 minutes solid. I should feel that I've accomplished something large, particularly after Sunday night's fiasco.

Instead, the only thing I feel excited about is no longer having a craving for the chocolate bunny that's been in the refrigerator since the day I ate his ears. Turns out running makes your belly feel full. I like that.

Actually, I do feel one other thing: there's sweat dripping from behind my ear, onto my shoulder. It's pretty intense, actually. Like rain.

Gross.

Anyhoo, the run is past yet I feel like I haven't done anything, despite the evidence that perspiration is providing. Goddamn, I'm weird.

You know, if navel-gazing burned calories, I'd have to be hospitalized for anorexia.

Enough.

Here's a positive note to conclude on:
Today one of our managers returned to work after at least three weeks away due to illness. She noticed right away I'd lost weight.

Now that's cool.

Monday, April 26, 2010

sunday, bloody sunday

Here's what happened:

I intended to have a reasonably productive yet relaxing Sunday. The South African hottie has taught me how much time I've been wasting and I had decided to manage my Twitter and Buzz streams a little bit so that I don't lose so much time keeping current.

It was a disaster.

I made some new lists for Twitter but they only made the situation worse. Now I had 13 columns to create and after adding about seven or eight of them I realized TweetDeck was becoming impossible.

I switched to HootSuite, which is better suited to a large number of lists, but then I became overwhelmed by the very first of my columns when I attempted to catch up on it ... after a week or more of being away.

I jumped over to Buzz, to see if I could get myself in order over there. Bad idea: more chaos.

I decided I'd leave the PC for a while and go paint the baseboards in the spare room. I've been picking away at a refresh of that room since the fall and all I have left is the trim and the ceiling.

I got into the room and removed the painter's tape from my last session. As usual, a few tiny bits remained behind as I tore it away. Tweezers would be the best way of dealing with them but Dotty was in the shower and that meant I'd have to wait almost an hour (she's pretty damn slow in there).

I noticed the baseboards and ceiling needed a wash before I painted. But I couldn't do that while Dotty was in the shower. Bah!

It was definitely one of those days. By the time I got to my run, I felt empty. I didn't want to do it, I couldn't even remember why I'd committed to the program in the first place, and all I wanted to do was eat and eat and eat and eat. Not because I was hungry, just because I wanted the comfort only potato chips and chocolate can bring.

I got onto the treadmill. Even the warm-up walk felt challenging.

I started running. I had decided to try listening to a podcast instead of my music, as the tunes didn't seem to make the time go by very fast.

Quirks & Quarks is normally fascinating. The episode I happened to choose, however, talked about a dinosaur fossil and about the impact of dust on climate. The topics were even less interesting than I just made them sound.

I made it 20 minutes into the run. I had five minutes left. And the thought of it really did seem impossible. I just didn't have it. I went into the cool-down, instead. I gave up.

I wanted to cry. I felt disappointed, sad and lost. It was scary and confusing.

I wanted to quit everything. I wanted to quit my job and stay home and eat and read and do cross stitch. I started to panic at the thought of the energy I'd require just to go into work on Monday.

And then I decided it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself. At least now I had something to call on the next time I felt like finishing a run early: quitting felt pretty damn horrible.

I considered doing the run again tonight but then decided to just let it go. I'll chalk it up to experience and just do the next one as scheduled.

And this weekend, I'm buying some goddam running shorts and hitting the damn pavement. If the tunes and the podcasts aren't enough of a distraction, maybe the ditches and the neighborhood dogs will be.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

give up? ain't happenin'.

I've never sweated so much.

I've tried to work this hard, but without a goal (or a program to force a goal on me), it's been too easy to work only hard enough to hurt a little. Now, however, I have a better sense of what it's like to work so hard there is no pain.

The thing is, I haven't really wanted to do the last two runs this week. Tuesday night I was feeling discouraged, as though my efforts haven't been paying off.

(I know, I know; my last post was all about how good it feels that my body is changing. Turns out that was the calm before the emotional storm.)

I ran on Tuesday despite feeling it was futile. Of course I was happy that I did, but I'm still working on my patience.

Tonight I got home and I just knew I was too tired. I'm always tired when I get home from work but I can usually eat dinner and recover pretty quickly. This time, I was so tired I didn't even want to eat.

I made myself heat up some shepherd's pie from M&M and I played a little on the Internet as I waited for the food to take effect.

It didn't happen.

As I lay my head on my pillow at 6:30 I realized I would probably wake up in a couple of hours. I vowed that if I did I'd run. At 8:33 I got out of bed and prepared to stretch.

Twenty-five minutes is a long time to run. It's hard to believe that six weeks ago I had difficulty running for 90 seconds. I burned a record number (for me) of calories tonight: 370.

My friend THG tells me that he gets through his runs by imagining that if he stops someone will hurt one of his family members. I tried that but it didn't really work for me. Instead, I'll stick to my daydreams of sexy clothing and dance floors and an actual ass. I'd love to have an actual ass; my maternal genetics have denied me one of those 'til now.

I'm happy to be running rather than living the sedentary, fast food-filled life I was caught up in before. That doesn't mean I won't lack motivation now and then. Luckily, life experience has taught me how important it is to force myself forward.

By the way, I've sort of figured out what was happening with my left knee. I thought something was rubbing against my fibula but I played around and realized it's actually my fibula doing the rubbing.

As my knee moves the fibula rises and falls; I think it occasionally hits an artery or vein or something else just under the skin. It still causes zero pain and it doesn't even happen every time my knee moves.

I researched the sensation until I knew more about knee tendons and ligaments and bursa than I ever wanted and still found nothing, so I'm not going to worry about it anymore. I figure it'll stop as suddenly as it began.

Of course, if you have any ideas, feel free to pass them along. Just remember: the sensation isn't in my knee and there is absolutely, unequivocally, no pain.

Oh, and I'm weirdly built. Remember: I'm a girl without an ass.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

humpty dumpty in reverse

My body is changing.

The weight isn't necessarily melting off, but one of the changes I've noticed recently is pretty major. I don't know if it's due to my new food choices or to the running, but it's something I had no idea how to manage before now.

At least eight years ago I began to notice that at some point each day, the area marked by the end of my ribcage would swell and become hard, and would last through the rest of the day.

The swelling would extend pretty much down to my belly and nothing I did seemed to change it. I couldn't even tell if it was water retention or something more.

I tried massaging myself to both calm the swelling and try to detect if there was anything inside me that felt odd, but I never found anything other than tight muscle and tissue. Still, the swelling made me look 'matronly'.

One day, while working with a yoga instructor, she noticed it. What was amazing at the time was that she, too, experienced it. I'd never known someone who taught yoga who had anything other than a well-toned body, but here she was with the same tough belly that extended out from under the bottom of our bras (near the diaphragm?).

The thing is, in the mornings the swelling isn't usually there, so I know it's a consequence of something I'm doing through the day. The yoga instructor and I had talked about it being stress-related (another reason I tried the massage), as though we were holding in all the emotions and anxieties of the day.

Well, for at least the last week, maybe two, the swelling is completely gone. It doesn't show up at all. The first day I noticed it, I couldn't believe it would last.

I showed the South African hottie on Friday and even he was happy for me (it takes a lot to impress that guy, believe me). I can even pull in my belly muscles enough that I can envision myself in a bikini, someday soon.

For the last week I've been aware of how good my belly feels under my clothing, how comparatively flat it is and how it doesn't feel heavy with pressure. It's an unexpected bonus from the changes I've made.

I've been hoping that the issues with my back would resolve as quickly but no luck. There's so much going on with my spine I'm not really surprised, though. And I can't deny that overall, I'm in much better shape even in that regard.

One of my legs is half an inch longer than the other, I've got flat feet/fallen arches, the area over my sacrum is constantly - and very noticeably - puffy, and I'm susceptible to tension headaches as a consequence of all the imbalances and their impact on my neck muscles.

I sound like a freak, wha? Lordy.

Anyway, I find that the exercise helps to loosen things up and take away a lot of stiffness and discomfort, but it's not 100% and I wish it were. Maybe in the long term....

Finally, one of the wackier things I've been experiencing is this: for the last two days, when I step with my left foot it feels as though something is sliding up and down on the outer side of my knee. I've looked at a bunch of articles and images at Wikipedia and my guess is the area affected is near the top of my fibula. The sliding feels like an elastic band, so I'm guessing there's a tendon or ligament involved, but I can't figure it out exactly.

I didn't notice it that much during my run tonight, but it's quite remarkable when I go up or down stairs. There is zero pain, so I'm not concerned, but I am curious. I did take a bad step during one of my recent runs (Tuesday? Thursday?) and felt something sharp and unpleasant in what I would call my inner ankle, but that pain was completely gone the next morning. I just wonder if they're related.

All in all, I'm falling apart ... but less so than I was before I started Couch to 5K.

I can't ask for more than that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

i'm gonna work harder

I sent a text message to the South African hottie from my iPhone a few minutes ago. It read,
"I just ran for 20 minutes solid, bitches!"
I might be feeling a little cocky.

And yet the run was so easy I'm a little disappointed in myself. I set the treadmill for 4 mph, not wanting a repeat of the near-crisis I had last week. I definitely could have gone higher, so I'll put it at 4.2 mph on Sunday, when I start Week 6.

Actually, maybe I'll try 4.5 mph again. I've peeked at the first run and it's something like two fives and an eight, so it's worth a try. Besides, I'm feeling cocky.

In related news, my calories are too low for today. I have almost 700 left in my budget. I've baked some pitas to a crispy state and plan to hit the hummus while I watch Survivor.

Oh, and speaking of which, guess what showed up during the last three-and-a-half minutes of my run, when I was finally starting to think about finishing? You've got it.

Beyonce's got damn good timing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

on battlestar galactica they said "frak"

I just finished eating the ears from my Easter bunny.

Yeah, it's a couple of weeks after the fact but I've been resisting it because of my new healthy regimen. Lose It! told me I had a little buffer tonight so I went for it.

The ears weighed about 25g, which isn't much, believe me. It might fit in two measuring tablespoons, I guess. Even so, those two or three bites had seven grams of fat and more than 14 grams of sugar.

And guess what?

It didn't even taste as good as I thought it would. It totally wasn't worth it.

I guess I'm over sugar.

Yay!

I weighed myself this morning: I'm now down 1.6 pounds. I entered it into Lose It! and the app promptly revised my daily calorie allotment ... downwards! But only by about 11 calories, so I'll barely notice, especially since I find myself consuming on average about 300 fewer calories than I'm allowed each day.

It's not deliberate, this lack of topping out. In fact, as I look back to my first week with the app I see that I took in even the teensiest bit too much energy (11 calories). The week after that was 463 calories below my allotment and it's been downhill ever since, mostly as I consume foods that are more nutritional and filling. 'Cause I'm just not hungry. And when I am, I eat.

As for Couch to 5K, last night I got the most delightful surprise!

(Hint: anytime I use the word "delightful", I'm being sarcastic.)

My session went from three five-minute runs (Sunday) to two eight-minute runs!

Honestly, the first thing that popped into my mind when I opened Get Running and saw the agenda was

What

The

Fuck?

But I did it. I really did.

The first eight minutes were at 4.2 mph and the second were at 4, just in case. I had to push hard during the second run with just three minutes left, but I made it. I pushed and I made it.

And then I came upstairs, got on my computer and looked up the next session.

Oh, goodie!

(Hint: ... oh, never mind. You know by now.)

That's right: on Thursday I get to run for 20 solid, undoubtedly mostly-excruciating minutes!!!

Yep, another WTF moment.

Honestly, I think most of my shock comes at the notion that I can actually do it. And I know I can; the program may have blown my mind (and legs) (and lungs) in Week 4 but overall I've been able to do what it tasks me to.

And that's pretty damn WTF.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

so many numbers

I have officially lost one pound.

I weighed myself this morning and all I could think was "it's about time". I do hope this bodes well for the next few weeks. I need the pay-off.

Tonight I started Week 5 of Couch to 5K and that means three runs of five minutes each. I did it at 4.2 mph, making it tough enough that I had to push myself through the last three minutes of the last run but not so tough that I had to lean on the treadmill just to get through.

Five minutes was definitely much easier to get through this week than last. That kind of improvement has been my general experience all along and it relieves my mind of some anxiety regarding my diet. I've worried that I'm not getting enough protein (I've averaged 70g/day this week, for example) or that I'm not eating enough (to lose a pound a week I'm supposed to consume 1506 calories per day, but I'm 1,743 calories under budget since Monday), but I'm definitely gaining endurance and strength, so I'll relax a little on those things.

The data I've mentioned, by the way, comes courtesy of Lose It!, a great little iPhone app that's really helped me see my food more clearly. Once I got used to some of the nutritional values and adjusted my intake of certain foods, I found that I was even able to afford a treat every few days.

I'm not going crazy with that, mind you. I'm just having the occasional small piece of cake (Happy 71st Birthday, Dotty!) or a medium dub-dub from Tim's.

The other app I rely on for this program is Get Running (Couch to 5K). It remains my favorite overall but I've begun to notice a few minor glitches. I know the developer occasionally reads my entries so I'll take advantage of that to mention them.

The voice-over for Get Running made a slight boo-boo during the intro to each Week 4 session: instead of explaining there would be two runs of three minutes each, she said they'd be two-and-a-half minutes long. That pleased me as I'd been dreading the thought of three-minute runs coupled with five-minute runs, and I can assure you the pleasure was mashed into a bloody pulp with each step I took during the last 30 seconds of those runs.

Next, I've been under the impression that the pause/stop/forward/reverse tools at the bottom of the main screen are for managing whatever tunes I've got playing during the session. They didn't work on Sunday, however, when I decided to skip a song from my playlist; instead, I had to open the iPod controls to do it.

Like I said, neither issue is a big one. I can live with them, in fact. I just know the developer wants a perfect product and I'd like to help with that if I can.

I'm also finding - and this isn't the app's fault - is that I need more visual stimulation to distract me while I run. I'm obsessing over the time each running period takes and I'm sure that makes them feel longer than they are. I'd love to watch something on my iPhone and still get the audio cues from the app, but it's probably better if I just bring a magazine to the treadmill from now on.

Hell, I've got two-plus years of unread Vanity Fair magazines sitting in our spare room. If I weren't such a doofus I'd have realized before now I could kill two birds with one stone.

Oh, well. I'm slow, but I get there eventually.

Friday, April 9, 2010

math makes it worse

Nobody knows better than I do how big a doofus I am.

I've been whining about how fast I should be going during the running portions of the Couch to 5k program and all I had to do was turn to tha mathz.

The ninth week is nothing but run. Each session lasts 30 minutes. To run 5k in 30 minutes I have to run 10 kph.

How simple was that?

*sigh*

I dig out my trusty AppBox Lite app to do the conversion, and that's when I learn I should be running at 6.2 mph.

Oh, fuck.

Seriously, how else can I respond to that?

Considering I had to support myself on the treadmill during the five-minute portions of two of this week's runs - when I was running 4.5 mph - this was not good news. In fact, after Monday and Wednesday I realized I should slow my pace to 4 mph to successfully complete the last Week 4 session (it worked, by the way).

The upside is having two goals instead of one. They are: 1. to get to the point where I can run for 30 minutes non-stop; and 2. to get strong enough to run for 30 minutes at 6.2 mph.

Breaking the goal into two parts means I can take the pressure off this time around. It also provides an explanation for the lack of dramatic weight loss. Besides the exercise I've been counting calories for the last two weeks using Lose It!, another iPhone app, and I should be losing one pound a week. That hasn't started to show yet, partly because my sodium intake has been a tad high and I'm undoubtedly retaining water. Now that I understand I'm not exactly running at race-pace I feel a little less frustrated about the (missing) results.

It's difficult to believe I've finished four weeks of the program, however. I feel proud that I've made it this far and I'm excited the time has flown by so fast.

Monday, April 5, 2010

cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater

I cheated.

But only with my arms. My legs still did what they were supposed to.

Week 4 of Couch to 5k is evil. It's exponentially tougher than Week 3, which I've already complained about. In fact, now that I think about it, I've seen every new week as profoundly more difficult than the previous one, haven't I?

That's pretty lame.

Still, here's the deal for the fourth week: I ran for three minutes (easier than last week, but not by much), walked for one-and-a-half, ran for five minutes, walked for two-and-a-half, ran for three, walked for one-and-a-half, then ran a final five.

You've got to admit: 16 minutes is quite a bit different from nine, which is all I did last week.

But I cheated this time.

For the last two minutes of the first five-minute run I held on to the treadmill. For the second five-minute run I held on for the last two-and-a-half.

I don't think I would have made it otherwise. It could be that I psyched myself out, it could be the four light beers I drank yesterday (Easter with family - need I say more?) took too much out of me, it could be that 16 minutes is quite a bit different from nine.

I'll find out on Wednesday, when I do it again.

Friday, April 2, 2010

a triple play

Well, the last run for this week is done. I had to wait to do it this morning because I didn't eat last night's dinner in time to work out before Dad and Dotty started watching their evening movie, but with today being a holiday it wasn't difficult to fit into my day.

All that's left is to do some laundry and figure out if the South African hottie and I are going to take an overnight trip later.

I spent last night consuming television programs: Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, 24.... And then, just as I was about to sleep, a friend IM'd me to let me know he'd been thinking of me lately.

Yes, he's in his 20s.

Yes, he meant it in 'that' way.

Yes, he'd been drinking.

*sigh*

Still, this one's different. He's a great guy, really kind and generous. He's easy to talk to and when I first met him I actually did consider him as a potential object-of-affection. He plays poker for a living and he's articulate, intelligent and thoughtful.

But dammit, he's in his 20s. And I can't help but think that his parents are essentially my peers.

Besides, I'm not interested in mixing it up with anyone but the South African hottie. Oh, and Nestor Carbonell. Or even Hiroyuki Sanada.

(And I adore Michael Emerson, of course, but he's too good for me.)

I'm an equal opportunity slut, but only if they're over 40 and have worked on LOST.

Seems like monogamy is in my future after all.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

just wait until i'm sexy!

If you've read my blog before - and I doubt you have, since barely anyone does - you know that I have an open approach to relationships.

Still, I am not above using the South African hottie as a protective shield - or, if I'm being *completely* honest, an excuse - when someone I am not interested in makes a move in my direction.

True, considering my views on monogamy it's not very honest of me to respond that way, but damn, it sure is efficient.

And so, for the second time in about a week, I essentially lied as a way of telling a guy that I wasn't interested.

Here's a summary of the latest convo (via Facebook, the Craigslist for rural Nova Scotians):

Him: Do u like young guys lol

Me: Some of them. (Because when it comes down to it I can't tell a bald-faced lie.)

Him: [I'm] lookin for a lil fun lol

(What is it about 20-somethings and their distaste for punctuation and clarity?)

Me: My boyfriend is 40, so I guess that's young enough. (See what I did there? I used the South African hottie and hinted at my age in the hope it would pour cold water on his efforts. Damn, I'm good at this.)

Him: Oh, you have a boyfriend? (Actually, it was much less articulate than that.)

Pause.

Him: Would u want 2?

So much for the shield. Time for the weapons of mass destruction.

Me: No, thank you. (I actually wrote it that way. To emphasize how wrong I am for this guy.)

Me: I'm old enough to be your mom. Too creepy.

Me: And I never wanted to be a cougar. (I really didn't.)

Me: Haha (To ease his pain.)

So, when Couch to 5k finally gives me an ass, will I have to beat them off with a stick?

Speaking of C25k, tonight's workout went really well. The three-minute jogs were significantly easier to get through. I still can't imagine running five kilometers, mind you. I'm a little terrified at how the program is gonna get me there, but so far it's been doable.

I'll just have to have a little faith, I suppose. Here's to faith!


(Unless it's in the pants of a Facebook creep.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

i have to run for HOW long?

I can't help but laugh at a recent post of my own, the one where I complained about how long 30 seconds can feel when you're running and you want it to end.

Tonight, as part of the continuing saga that is my progress with Couch to 5k, I ran for three solid minutes. Twice.

Talk about "ouch". I still can't really believe I did it, but I did. I totally didn't bail or slow my pace or vomit. I ran three whole minutes. And then I did it again.

(I also walked for five minutes and for three minutes and for 90 seconds and then for five minutes again. I even ran for a now-relatively light 90 seconds somewhere in the middle of all that. That's C25k, childrens.)

I also fired up a new app. This time I tried Get Running.

Before I get into my impressions, I'd like to point out that before I even started the program, when I was investigating apps and trying to settle on just one that would give me all the best features, only the developer of Get Running replied to my tweeted inquiries on the subject. As a consequence, I approached my experience with a different set of expectations, though I can't fully articulate those at the moment. Suffice to say, I hoped I'd like it.

Not knowing what I was in for, I started the app setup process while cooking dinner. I didn't want to be stuck fumbling with my iPhone on the treadmill.

There are three decisions to make when configuring the app: 1. Whether or not to display the back light during the run; 2. What to do if a run is interrupted; and 3. What kind of audio cues to receive. Only the latter appears on the other apps I tried, if I recall correctly.

I made my selections - including rejecting the 'coaching and encouragement' cues - and moved on to setting up Status Updates (via Twitter). Get Running let me write my own update and promised to post it as soon as my run was complete. I've just checked my stream and sure enough, the update I wrote is there ... with a little piece tacked on at the end committing me to run again on Tuesday. Presumptuous, but I like it. Thumbs up on that feature.

I'm glad I didn't go with the coaching cues; the woman's voice is lovely and not intrusive to the senses at all, but there was more talking than with the other apps because she insisted on encouraging me a little anyway. Again, I liked it, and not just because of the English accent. She gave me gentle advance warning about the upcoming three-minute run, she gave me permission to slow my pace during that portion (I didn't), and then she congratulated me each time I made it through. She even pointed out how I'd tripled my run time in just two weeks. I felt like a hero. Even better: I felt like someone else knew I was a hero. Seriously, that's awesome.

Most important of all, Get Running let me skip the two weeks of runs I'd already done. It was just a matter of selecting the run I wanted to do and clicking the Run! button. Now, on the Home Screen, the app has inserted dates (with polite question marks, mind you) for all the other sessions in the nine-week program. It even jumps Fridays and Saturdays like I do!

I think the damn thing's psychic.

The only thing I've found so far that it doesn't do as well as the other two apps is handle my workout playlist internally. I have to start the playlist on the iPod app and then go back to Get Running for the workout. Not a huge deal, but there you go. At least I can choose to shuffle the music, something I couldn't seem to do with Couch to 5k. That app played the tunes in the exact order I'd added them to the playlist, which made the experience a little predictable.

I won't deny it. So far, this one is my favorite. I even like the way the interface illustrates the session and each run/walk period. That surprises me because when I was researching the apps I had found the screenshots of the interface dull and uninspiring. Now that I've seen them in action I feel they're plenty heartening. Watching seconds count down is one thing - even less fun than watching paint dry, to be clear - but watching a little arrow get closer and closer to the end of one of those scary aqua-coloured bars (those are the running bars) is definitely encouraging.

I'm a little sleepy now - most people are energized by workouts, I hear, but that's never been me - and that's a relief because it's soon bed time. I hate getting up in the morning and the only way I manage is by going to bed really early most nights.

Besides, Dad came home from his visit with Dotty with a box of Timbits. It's much easier to resist them if I'm not conscious.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

better late than never

Thursday started a little early.

My alarm is set for 7 a.m. on weekdays, giving me a full hour to get ready for work. That morning, however, I woke up to noise from my Dad's room at 6:30. It didn't take me long to figure out that Dad was on the phone, something that's definitely unusual for that time of the day. It was also out-of-character to hear him actually talking so much.

I could hear my step-mother, too, but it didn't sound right.

I heard someone go downstairs and return quite quickly, something else that doesn't happen with them. They're in their 70s and slow movements are the name of the game.

I got out of bed, opened my door and asked what was up.

Dotty couldn't breathe. Dad had called for an ambulance.

I asked if there was anything I could do; Dad wanted me to go wait by the door for the ambulance, which I did.

Dotty was taking very shallow breaths and was understandably anxious and slightly panicky.

I could hear the sirens, apparently from miles away. It was a few minutes until the paramedics arrived. Their names were Christine and John.

Christine asked all the medical history questions. Had this come on suddenly or gradually? (Suddenly) Had she been coughing? (Dotty always coughs - she's an ex-smoker with COPD.) Was anything coming up when she coughed? (Yes, and you don't want to know.)

John and Christine got Dotty on oxygen and got her out of the house and into the very brisk morning air. The ambulance stayed in the driveway for another five minutes or so before leaving.

Dad got ready to follow. He left within another 15 minutes. I told him I'd stay behind in case he needed me to do anything. Besides, going to work and trying to train a class not knowing what was happening was out of the question. I would have been much too distracted. I called my manager and explained.

And then I sat at the computer and killed time, my cellphone beside me. It was a complicated period of time: Dotty and I don't really get along, though we are mostly friendly with one another. Most people know I don't really like her. Whenever this kind of crisis takes place, however, I become very anxious.

This is the third time since 2006 that I haven't known if she would survive her body's weakness. She's both the toughest person I know and the most frail. Her own purse is too heavy for her most of the time, yet she's survived several heart attacks (2009), her heart and breathing have stopped more than once (also 2009), her heart has functioned abnormally for a prolonged period of time (2006), and she even had a bad bout with pneumonia last year.

Dad came home just over an hour later, which worried me. Why wasn't he waiting at the hospital?

Seeing his face, though, I knew Dotty was okay.

The hospital suspected pneumonia again, he explained. They would be running some tests and doing x-rays all morning so he came home for a nap.

Fair enough.

I messaged my manager: I'd be in before lunch was over. I was going to snooze, too. I felt very sleepy, despite being up for just a few hours.

I made it to work and I made it through my final workout for the week, too. It went very well, actually.

Pneumonia has been confirmed and Dotty has stabilized quite a lot, Dad says. I haven't visited her, yet, though I'll get there today. She'll likely be home early next week, according to her doctor.

And I'm looking forward to a weekend with no Couch to 5k and no 'wicked' step-mother.

Oh. I even have beer.