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.)


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.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

not dead yet

What a crappy day.

Just as I'm arriving at my workplace this morning I realize I've forgotten most of my lunch on the counter at home. I almost went back for it but quickly realized the drive is 20 minutes long one-way and I only had 30 minutes until class started. Thoughts of my frozen peas and corn sitting forlorn and melting pissed me right off.

The first 90 minutes of class were discouraging. My normally enthusiastic group was quiet and I got no emotional feedback from them at all. I was drained by 10:30.

After lunch - sans vegetables - my class wrote their second of four tests. Despite having received all the questions in advance, four of the 13 scored below the acceptable pass mark. One of them even resigned over it.

We had a bake sale today and I ate a brownie and some sort of chocolate-based square. They were both absolutely fabulous but I felt pretty guilty about having given in to the sugar. As punishment, when I got home from work I took a two-hour nap.

Alright, so that last part wasn't all that painful. Still, it was the best thing I could have done because it definitely made tonight's workout possible.

I learned something important that will likely make my chiropractor happy if I ever get back to see her: when I run, it's absolutely impossible to move my neck forward like I do when I'm sitting. That's why after some workouts I feel like my neck is 'off'; jogging forces me into good posture, exercising my neck muscles as a result.

The running itself was much less painful tonight than it was on Sunday and the 30 minutes went by very quickly. To ease the strain of those last 30 seconds I made myself concentrate on the beat of the music playing on my iPhone; it had a markedly positive impact. It's hard for me to believe I have just one session left this week.
Of course, it helped that I stayed at 4.5mph for every run this time.

Tomorrow is hump day. More importantly, tonight is LOST night. The episode is focused on Richard Alpert, former slave. Future slave, too, if wishes could come true. But that's just me being dirty.

Proof that running hasn't killed me, yet.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

i live, therefore i run

It's not always a good idea to look into a mirror after a workout.

I bought a full-length mirror yesterday and hung it on my door. I wanted a better picture of myself before I head to work but just now, after I got out of the shower, I looked at myself.

Why am I not skinny? The running took everything out of me; how can there be so much pudgy left? It just doesn't seem right.

Today is Week 2, Day 1 and that meant 90 seconds of running and two minutes of walking, six times each. I started with stretching as usual and I added in some back exercises. I felt awesome when I began the first run and so I kicked it up to five miles per hour. The last 15 seconds or so were rough but after two minutes of walking I did it again. And I learned I'm better off sticking with 4.5mph for a little longer.

The last 30 seconds - hell, the last five seconds - of each run were deadly. Luckily, Survivor was playing during the sixth and final jog and I drove myself to the finish line with "I'm not gonna give up" and "I'm gonna work harder", among others.

My neck feels a little out of alignment but other than that I feel great. I can only get through these things one at a time and I've got to remember that in May, when I'm running 5k, I'll be fit.

I used the Couch to 5k app again and was pleased overall. It didn't resume my playlist the way C25k did but I can live with that, especially as Couch to 5k does let me skip songs from within the app itself.

I've added some protein to my diet. With the up-and-down fatigue I've been experiencing for the last four to five weeks, I'm not taking any chances. At the grocery store today I concentrated on vegetables (for fibre) and tuna and nuts (for protein). At work I know I'm not eating enough so I need food that's quick and easy to consume. I've also resumed taking a multi-vitamin.

I have plans to call the doctor this week. It's been two weeks since I had bloodwork done and I can't figure out how he hasn't called me to confirm mononucleosis or something. It's time I see him and tell him how unbelievably tired I've been.

Maybe I shouldn't run at a time like this but the quality of my sleep lately has been lacking, contributing, of course, to the overall problem. Exercising will counter that. Besides, I figure if I can get through the run it must be OK.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

one down, eight to go

Tonight's session was a clumsy one.

Despite my usual pre-game stretching - which actually felt smoother than usual - I was pretty stiff during the first few runs.
Now, post-workout, even my arms feel a bit jerky, like the blood is still kicking through my veins and arteries as my heart still slows from the running.

Not even my app had the best conclusion to the week.

I had intended to use C25k one last time before moving on, but when I opened it I saw that it wanted to give me the Week 1 Day 1 workout all over again. Despite seeing the first two days clearly marked as having been completed, and despite knowing that the Day 3 workout is identical to the first, I just couldn't be bothered giving it another chance.

I loaded Couch to 5k instead, and I'm glad I did.

Couch to 5k took seconds to figure out. Even leap-frogging over the first two sessions was a breeze. The app let me slide a pointer to Day 3 and that was it. Next I clicked a Music tab, loaded my Workout playlist, moved on to one of those little informational 'i' circles, picked my settings (Female for the voice, everything else as it was), kicked the treadmill into gear and off I went.

If you've already used Couch to 5k, you can probably figure out what came next. If not, take my advice: choose the quiet voice and, if you don't want to pee your pants, turn off the User Interface Sound Effects.Otherwise, you're going to have a heart attack when the goddam siren thingy goes off to alert you to start running. If I'd been on a roadway I probably would have thrown myself into a ditch to avoid being hit by the imaginary emergency vehicle on my ass.

Seriously. That noise is suitable only for air raids and tsunamis. I never want to hear it again.

Other than that, Couch to 5k is perfect. The layout is awesome, giving tons of information about the workout. It even shows the time left in the walk/run periods down to the tenth of a second. And like C25k, it works with the Nike+ system, if you have one.

I'm glad that's the last session until Sunday. My body needs rest and probably a little more food than I've been giving it. Tomorrow is payday and I think I'll get some nutritional supplements to make sure I get everything I need to become stronger.

After all, I plan to run 5k on May 9th.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

i did it again!

I felt a little anxious heading into tonight's workout, having worked a full day and come home tired, as usual. My job - I'm a product trainer at a call centre - is a cross between public speaking and lecturing. It's very much a performance and it's exhausting. So tonight I approached my pre-treadmill stretching by relying on faith: faith that if I at least got started the movement would adrenalize me and carry me forward.

And it did.

I feel a little sleepy somewhere inside, but I also feel happy and proud.

Clearly, the Couch to 5k program is an appropriate one for me. And that's because it doesn't last too long in these early stages. Even with the warm-up and cool-down periods (five minutes each) the workout is only 31 minutes long. There are nine running stages, each one minute long, and eight walking stages, each 90 seconds long.
This week I'm using the C25k app on my iPhone to time my workouts and play my music. It doesn't tell me how fast to walk or run so I'm doing 3mph and 4.5mph respectively.

The best part of C25k so far is the playlist it lets me create from the music stored on my device. It's easy to add and remove tunes and today I found I didn't even have to start the music: it just picked up where I left off Sunday evening.
What didn't work, at least it didn't tonight, was the built-in Twitter feature. Sunday I didn't bother using it, but tonight I decided to give it a go. I entered my credentials and the app created a tweet for my approval. Unfortunately, the tweet said I had just completed my very first session. And when I went to the app home screen I noticed that for some reason the app hadn't marked Week 1 Day 2 complete like it had done for Sunday's workout. On the upside, the app does let you mark a session complete by double-tapping the relevant radio button, so that's now taken care of.

Other positives from tonight: my hip isn't achy like it was two days ago and my spine doesn't feel 'off'. I continue to have minor issues with the treadmill I'm using (it doesn't change speeds very well - I have to hold down the up or down button for just the right length of time to get to where I want without overshooting, and the movement is a little behind my instructions). It's a bit awkward, and I sure wish I had access to a fancier and programmable machine, but it's workable and certainly better than embarrassing myself out in public.

I'll do my last workout for the week on Thursday and then I'll test another app against Week 2. I hope to see you then!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

one down, 26 to go

I am still breathing a little heavy after my first Couch to 5k workout.

It felt fantastic to exercise - it's been a long time since I've pushed it that hard - and it was mostly uncomplicated as a result of the equipment I was using.

Let's start with the shoes. I bought some Nike+-capable shoes yesterday for $99 at Cleve's in New Minas. They were the only pair I looked at because I told the salesman, Kyle, what I needed (running shoes for someone who pronates inward quite severely) and that I was interested in the Nike+ system (not knowing my 2008 iPhone wouldn't be compatible, but oh, well).

Kyle presented me with some Nike Air Alaris+ shoes and some Superfeet insoles for the pronation. He also sold me the Nike+ sensor but I had to return that to the Greenwood store today. I'll get it again when I upgrade my phone.

I also have three iPhone apps to get me through the Couch to 5k interval training program. Tonight I used C25K and I enjoyed it very much.

C25K lets you create a music playlist from within the app itself, so I did that even before I started on the treadmill. Next I set up the app so that it would give me all the available alerts during the workout, though it turned out I was only going to get two during this first attempt. The app let me know when I was half-way through the workout and when I was about to start the last running period.

The voice that gives those alerts was a little disconcerting, but only because it sounds so damned familiar. At one point the guy reminded me a little of LOST's creepy Ethan but that didn't last. Maybe I'll place the voice before this journey is over.

The app was incredibly easy to use and made the exercise session a breeze, at least mentally.

Over the next nine weeks I'm going to blog my experiences with the Couch to 5k program, the three apps I'll be trying and the impact of the workouts on my body. I'm going to rest tomorrow, as instructed by the program, and I'm a little grateful for that because my right hip is a little uncomfortable and it feels like my spine is a bit 'out of joint'.

Still, I'm excited, I feel good and I'm ready to go to bed!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

sexuality: wondrous, mysterious ... ridiculous

Every now and then my mind returns me to the moment I still claim as my most embarrassing. The journey happened again recently and so I recreate it, here, for you.

"The moment" happened in winter, just after my 19th birthday.

It was just past Christmas. It may even have been Boxing Day. I was going to visit my boyfriend at the time, and I was wearing a new dress I'd received as a gift.

I was also wearing my first real stockings, the kind that require a garter belt.

I'd ordered the garter belt from the Sears Wish Book, so I hadn't had a chance to try it on before I wore it. I also didn't have much experience ordering from catalogues - I had lived a fairly shopping-sheltered life to that point - so I'd kind of made an educated guess about sizing. When I put the garter on I found it a little snug around my waist, but I figured I could tough out the slight discomfort for an hour or so (since I wasn't planning to wear it for long).

So off I went, a twisted yet naive version of Little Red Riding Hood, imagining myself quite sexy and sophisticated.

I honestly don't recall what happened when I got to my boyfriend's complex. He lived in a PMQ - Private Married Quarters - a kind of subdivision for military folks. The parking lot nearest his 'apartment' was mostly full, there was quite a lot of snow and someone was having difficulty getting parked but I can't remember whether the problem was mine or someone else's.

All I know is that at one point I was standing outside my vehicle and I was talking with a man and his very young son. One of us was trying to help the other.

As I stood, chatting gracefully with this man and his child, I felt the garter clasp snap gently apart. And very, very slowly, I felt the garter make its way past my hips and my knees.

Finally, the garter was at my feet. Between my cheap, black, high-heeled shoes, in fact. I saw it there, red lace, in the snow, and I knew it looked as though my panties had fallen off.

All I could do - to maintain the illusion of dignity, I suppose - was keep talking, pretending that nothing had happened.

The man, a gentleman, pretended with me. The child, miraculously, also maintained his silence, though his curiosity must have been intense.

To this day I have never felt more humbled. My sense of power and sexuality were vapor and I was small and flawed, a silly girl too clumsy to be a femme fatale.

Today, I can't deny that "the moment" was an embarrassing one, but it is not a source of shame. Instead, it reminds me that the most important sex toy in my collection is my generous sense of humour.

Without that, I'd never get naked again.