Monthly Archives: March 2005

3/31/05 Through the Looking Glass (222)

Thursday. Thanksgiving. I guess today I’m thankful that I’m breathing. After the last couple of days of total frustration I guess it is time for a huge dose of perspective. I have been known to lose perspective more than once or twice and I think this week that is exactly what happened. Yes, I’m frustrated. Yes, I’m angry that I’m not doing better. But, is this really the end of the world? No, I guess not. There are so many truly tragic things out there and if having knee pain and not being able to run 13 miles at a certain pace is my biggest problem — that’s not the end of the world and I can’t let it pretend to be.

You know that old saying “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” It’s true, in my haste to quit the entire journey of fitness; I really lost sight of how far I have come. Yes, I have a long, long way to go. But, I’ve come a long way too. May 2003 I couldn’t run 1 mile, I couldn’t swim 1 mile, and I was scared of my bike. It is not even two complete years from when I started all of this training and I am ready to quit because I can’t do a half marathon. I’m comparing myself to 25 year olds who never gave up 15 years of their life to excess. I think that perhaps my perception is a little distorted. Perhaps I blew things oh just the slightest bit out of proportion.

How we see ourselves, how we want to see ourselves and how others see us are all different. It is all perspective. The women in the racquet club yesterday think I’m some kind of uber jock doing triathlons. To them I’m that 25 year old who decides to do the 1/2 marathon on a whim. I’m not an uber jock and I’m not a couch potato — the true image lies somewhere in between.

Where I envision myself is also a matter of perspective. My fantasies of crossing a finish line like I’m Deena Kastor are a little distorted. But when anyone crosses the finish line, whether they are 1st or 100th (or 4,000th as I have done as well), for one brief moment they feel like Deena Kastor. She has a great quote on the front page of her website http://www.deenadrossin.com/ She writes “I’ve always taken the philosophy that you have to dream a little in this sport. If you stay in your comfort zone, you are not going to do anything special.” That quote says a lot to me.

So it’s not about winning. It’s not about being the best. It’s about doing something special. I can come in last and still do something special. That’s why I was so frustrated the other day. I want to do something special. I want my efforts to count and the idea that all of my hard work could be for naught was too much for me to handle. But, special is also something that requires perspective. There has been many a day in my life when just getting up out of bed, pulling on my clothes and getting the mail was special. I forget those days of dark depression. The fact that those days are gone is in itself a miracle. What I lost sight of the other day was the fact that I made it up to the reservoir in the first place was special. That I cared enough to get my knees taped was special. In that effort, the effort to try to improve, to be a better runner there was the seed of something special — just add water.

So, yes, I’m a little older than the typical triathlete, I’m a lot fatter, I’m a lot slower, but I’ll go toe to toe on being special any day. Sure, there are a zillion 29 year old men fit men going out there to prove they are Iron men — how many overweight 45 year old women are out there? That has to be special.

So today I will concentrate on perspective. I had an okay run last night — it was only 50 minutes but I made it through and actually had a few moments of not-badness. I stretched for a full hour before practice. Today I swim and tomorrow I will try again for the 10 miles. Today, I will look in the mirror and see something special.

Namaste

“I’m very brave generally,” he went on in a low voice: “only today I happen to have a headache.”

— Lewis Carroll, Tweedledum, in Through the Looking-Glass

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3/30/05 The Q Word (223)

CAUTION: If you are feeling remotely down today. Please read no further. Come back tomorrow.

Wednesday. Well if you came here looking for wisdom, sorry to disappoint — just a lot of unresolved questions hanging out in this corner. Come back next week if you need uplifting, right now this is a boggy blog. A murky mudpile of misery.

Boy oh boy what a crappy week this has been fitness-wise. Caught a cold, my energy level has been low and my morale has been even lower. Yesterday was a culmination of all of the above.

I went to my physical therapist yesterday she taped up my knees for my run. I wanted to do just an easy 5 miles and concentrate on speed. She told me to concentrate on running on the outside of my feet. I made it through 3.5 miles and I gave up. Yep, you heard me, gave up, quit, threw in the towel. All of my months of positive reinforcement out the window. I am a quitter.

In retrospect, I guess it was hard for me to move with the tape on my knees and it caused me to be quite tense. My knees didn’t give out, instead I got a nice pulled muscle on the inside of my left calf. Then my right ankle gave out. I have run through MUCH worse pain than this. Why yesterday was the day I chose to quit, I don’t know. I completed one loop of the reservoir and halfway around I stopped to stretch and I just filled up with tears. I have been putting so much pressure on myself for this ½ marathon that I just kind of snapped. I guess I thought I was going to have some miraculous cure with the taped knees — it was so hard to be relaxed with that limited range of motion (and my motion is limited to begin with).

Everybody else is doing ½ marathons all over the place. Why am I having such difficulty? Just yesterday I got an email from someone that said “sorry I missed you at practice, decided to do the Brooklyn ½ marathon at the last minute it was great fun.” I was so mad. Here I am trying so hard to get to the 10 mile marker without crumbling and people are deciding at the last minute to do the half for ‘fun.’ Why am I working so hard? Why don’t I just go have a pizza? Why don’t I just go play tennis 5 days a week and let all this go? Maybe I’m just not meant to do this? Can’t I just pull a blanket over my head? I can just put the weight back on, order in some Pad Thai, curl up with a movie and be done with it.

I tried to conjure up some of my favorite quotes, draw inspiration from the blog. I tried to think about yesterday Arnold Schwarzenegger and not quitting. Screw him, I thought, I don’t care about Arnold or Buddha or Mahatma Ghandi or Rocky or anyone. I want to be pain free and this stinks! I made it half way around the second lap of the reservoir and just left, tears streaming down my cheeks like a 10 year. Very mature, I kept thinking to myself. I realized this was not me and that something else was going on, I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

I’m, sure much of yesterday’s episode was hormonal. I shorten workouts all the time. Somedays I have a good workout, somedays I have a bad one. Why was this one so emotional? Partly hormonal, partly pressure. I’m feeling two weeks to the ½ and I’m not anywhere near on schedule. I’m getting worse, not better. My freaking orthotics aren’t ready yet and I begged them to have them for me as soon as possible. If they are not ready tomorrow I will be so mad. But what am I mad about? One race? One ½ marathon? What’s the big deal? Walk it — lot’s of people walk it. I don’t want to walk it! I deserve to run it.

I can’t remember what magazine it was that I was flipping through the other day but there was an article about a mountain climber who had just climbed Mt. Everest. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) if you come to Mt. Everest expecting to enjoy the climb, you’ve come to the wrong Mountain. This is a hard, grueling and dangerous experience. It’s not about going out for a nice little hike. I know what he means. Granted, this is not Mt. Everest, but this is a lot of work and I feel I’m not getting anywhere. Ironman? Who am I kidding. I can’t do two loops.

Even if it is hormonal, I want to understand exactly what I am feeling. There are a ton of feelings and emotions running around in me including:

Humility. Realizing I’m not 20 anymore. Realizing that body will NOT do whatever I tell it to do.

Regret. Regret that I didn’t start trying this 20 years ago. Why did it take me so long to get started?

Defeat. Like I’ve studying hard all semester and when it comes time to take the final my pen breaks and spills ink all over my completed exam.

Surrender. I just want to say to the universe, okay you win, I won’t do the ½ marathon. I’ll flunk at St. Anthony’s. There, are you happy?

Anger. Hey Guardian Angel of Sports! What’s the deal??? Last week it was so all important that I go out and get that pair of running shoes, for what? To give me bad knees and ankles? I don’t get it.

Exhaustion. I’m tired and I want to take my ball and go home. I want to go back to the world of tennis where I am already accomplished and I don’t have to feel like the rookie for three years in a row. I want to be the big fish in the little pond again. I don’t want to be the minnow anymore — this sucks. I want to be the shark.

Optimism. Nope not a shred of it. Don’t feel like finding it either. I just feel like wallowing in self-pity.

Did anyone see Paula Rutledge collapse on the side of the road during the marathon at the Olympics? She just sunk down on the side of the road sobbing into her hands. Everyone left her alone — nothing you could do. I hate the fact that I am comparing myself to Paula Rutledge (because I don’t remotely deserve that — she tried 1,000 times harder than I am trying) but that’s how I feel. Utter dejection, utter failure. Leave me alone on the side of the road to die.

But why? Why? Why? Why all of these feelings over a couple of races? It’s not like there won’t be a hundred more. Ah, well maybe there won’t be a hundred more. Maybe I’ll never run again. If I can’t run the ½, what makes me think I can run the full? If I can’t run the full what makes me think that I could ever do the ironman? Particularly if I am a, gasp, QUITTER? There’s the evil word. There’s the crux of this. I quit. I gave up. That is something I just can reconcile in myself. I could have kept going, the pain was not that bad.

Okay, okay even I am starting to realize how ridiculously out of proportion I have blown this whole thing. One bad day, one bad run, one bad race. Hell, I’ve had plenty of bad races. Geesh if you think about it, I haven’t had a single good race yet — what am I whining about? I’m not a super star, I’m not Paul Rutledge. I’m not even Rosie Ruiz — at least she was creative and found a subway to get her to the finish line. What am I so upset about?

I don’t want to let my friends down either. All the people who support me and cheer for me. I want to do well — why won’t my body cooperate!??!?!

I ran the doubles clinic this morning down at the tennis club for my friend the tennis pro who had to be out of town. It went well. I think everyone had a good time and I managed to run 3 courts for 2 hours. I thought that would perk me up but it hasn’t. Big deal — I already know I can play tennis — I know I can teach it too.

As I sit here I realize the only thing that will make me feel better is to pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again (as the song goes.) I will be miserable as long as I consider myself a quitter. I have to keep trying even though I don’t want to. Other people don’t put themselves through all of this, why am I? It’s a race, it’s stupid, why bother? I realize it is not about the race. I don’t care if I finish the race in an 11 or a 14. I care about finishing it period. I care about not quitting.

It’s like tennis. I don’t mind losing as long as I didn’t give up. There is nothing worse than giving up. Tanking is a dirty word. I don’t mind not doing well at the 1/2 marathon, I mind giving up trying. I mind that I just didn’t walk the rest of the mileage yesterday. I mind that I let the devil on my left shoulder beat the angel on my right. One for the bad guys.

On the news this morning they were talking about Johnny Cochrane (he died yesterday of a brain tumor). I guess he knew he had the brain tumor since July but kept fighting right until the end. Some other lawyer who knew Mr. Cochrane was being interviewed. The interviewer said “but he knew it was terminal, right?” The lawyer said, “Johnny Cochrane didn’t believe anything was terminal – -he fought right until the end.” And me? Me? I couldn’t do one more stinking loop? Christopher Reeve didn’t give up and look at the odds he faced. Right until the end he went out kicking and fighting. That’s an athlete. That’s a hero.

I guess the question is how do I pull myself up and start all over? I guess I start at the begining. Lacing up my sneakers and showing up to practice tonight. We’ll see how it goes from there. I won’t look that far ahead. Today, I’ll just concentrate on today and try to make it through until tomorrow. No guarantees beyond that. I’ll try to cut myself a break and say woo hoo even though I mean boo hoo.

They say showing up for a match is 90%. The other 10% must be sticking around until it is finished.

Namaste

No quotes today — I don’t feel like it.

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3/29/05 Doing the Macarena (224)

Tuesday — Taste Day. I have to find a tasty recipe for broccoli because I bought two heads of organic broccoli yesterday. (Two for one at Food Emporium). Maybe I can freeze some….. I went to food network and found this nice little recipe — sounds easy too (This is the same chili sauce that I use from Missy’s chickpea recipe):

2 cups broccoli florets with stems
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil. Add broccoli, reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain.
While broccoli is simmering, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chile garlic sauce and swirl to combine with oil. Add drained broccoli and stir-fry until just cooked though; be careful to just warm through. Serve as a side dish or over rice.

One of the habits I have been trying to get into is throwing brown rice on to cook at the same time I make my oatmeal in the morning. Then later in the day when I am ready for my main meal (or at night) I don’t have to wait the forever to have my brown rice ready.

My Mom always cooks this way. She is never making one meal, she’s always making 3. As long as I am in the kitchen and the stove is going, might as well optimize the time. Also, did you know it is good Feng Shui to use all the burners on your stove? It is supposed to illustrate the movement of good fortune in your life.

—–

So yesterday I worked out with Rhonda which went well as usual. I think we are getting more efficient — she doesn’t have to spend so long explaining the exercises to me (although sometimes I still stare at her like an idiot and say huh — right? which one is right?). If there are more than 3 steps in an exercise, I’m hopeless. I have to admit I am not the most coordinated person when it comes to scripted actions.

Even in tennis lessons when my coach would say “okay, split, shift to your right and step with your left” — I would stand there looking at my feet and say “what?” Then they would say “Connie — do this” and demonstrate — no problem, that I can follow. My coach used to say “Kohni, vahtche the mooovie”, and then demonstrate how I was doing and then demonstrate the right way to do it. That cracked me up. I just can’t interpret too many directions at once. Dancing is the same way. If I try to do something as simple as the box step by following literal instructions — I screw it up. If I just look at them and mimic I’m fine. And, if I’m not fine at least I’m having a good time doing my version of the Macarena. When I dance they call me Macarena — and the boys they say that I´m Buena ….. Everybody!!!

Went to my first physical therapy session yesterday. I am very, very hopeful that this will work. Cynthia, my physical therapist is confident that we can make my IT band better. She did say if I wanted it cured I’m going to have to stop running for about six weeks. I told her I would give her 4 weeks after Memphis and before the marathon training starts — I’ll work time and a half to get it done. She gave me a bunch of exercises to do at home — like 3 times a day!!! Rhonda will be happy because they are all the same exercises she makes me do on Mondays. Bridges while holding ball between knees, bridges while holding leg in the air. Oh joy, my favorites!!! Then a lot of stretches to get the IT Band working properly. She did some ultrasound on me and really got down deep in there — I think she really got to it. Then she showed me how to tape my knees myself and I have to wear that every day while I’m going through physical therapy and while I run — just not while sleeping. My kneecaps are definitely out of alignment, she says.

Had to skip swim last night due to my cold and, oh, did I fail to mention terrible weather in New York City? What a shocker!! Rain and cold and just all around yucky!!! I feeling well enough to run today, but I’m going to take it to the gerbil mill for my workout because, guess what? the weather sucks today too!! (pardon my language but this is crazy!!! I need sun!!) So I’ll head down to the gym around 8 a.m., put 1 hour in on the gerbil mill and then go down to the weight room and practice these exercises for another 15 minutes. I have to go back to physical therapy late this afternoon and also on Friday. Whatever it takes to get these knee caps and IT band dancing the Macarena again — I’m ready. I’m going to attack this the same way I am attacking my weight loss — full court press — Weight Watchers meetings, Weight Watchers online, Blog, Trainer, TNT — whatever it takes, how ever long it takes.

10k Scotland Race coming up this Sunday. I’m feeling really optimistic about it. First, it is only 6.2 miles — I know I can do that much before my knees give out. Second it will be a nice preview of the course for next week. When I finish I should feel like I could do it again, if not — well then I’m in trouble. Oh God, please let me be ready!!! I’m just so frustrated that all of my distance work has been thwarted by these knees. My poor little, miserable, overused and much abused knees. Yes Jim — I took my Glucosamine this morning!!! Okay, well, I’m taking it right now. I’m trying to be good. Following all the steps — I’m doing the Physical Therapy Macarena.

So I’m counting yesterday as my day of rest since it was just 1 hour of core and strength training — no cardio. Today I’ll do 1 hour running and more P.T. exercises for my IT Band. Wed. GTS running and core work. Thursday I’ll swim — nice and easy. Friday I’ll do Physical Therapy and try once again for that 10 mile distance. Saturday should be a bike in the park — that should make my knees feel better (always does). Sunday the Scotland 10k race. Everyday working on stretching, stretching, stretching. That’s my plan for the week. I’m psyched for Sunday. I want to see the entire 10k in under a 12:15. I’m cutting this 1/2 marathon training down to the wire, and I’m a little panicked about it. But, the good news is even if my knees crap out, I can always crawl. It’s more dramatic anyway, don’t you think?

Namaste

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger

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3/28/05 Week 12 Check in (225)

Good Monday all. Week 12 check in. 12 weeks that sounds impressive. 3 months. Not bad. I think that is a good length of time. I think I’ve only stuck with an eating plan for 3 months once before in 2000. This seems a lot easier than that one (Carbohydrate Addicts Lifespan Plan) and this seems to be slowing becoming a way of life.

So the scale this morning reads .5 pounds down. Not too exciting (particularly when compared to last week), but in many ways it is good. First that brings me to a solid 25 pounds lost. That’s a nice round number. When I plugged in my weight loss to WW online they said that was equivalent to 3 gallons of milk. Okay, I’ll take that. Second, in light of my worries this week of weight coming off too fast, I think this is my body’s way of taking a needed breather. Third, this week was also my time of the month when weight loss does not usually happen so that is good too. Fourth, I had a lot of eating out and extra cocktails this week which means I still managed to keep it within plan. (This week will be more about temperance, I assure you.)

I think perhaps the weight is going to start being chiseled off instead of melting off. Originally I thought it would take a long time to lose the weight and after 12 weeks a 25 pound lost is still an average of about 2 pounds a week. That seems good to me. I just did it with a few spikes in there. If it settles in at .5 – 1 pound a week — that’s good too. I’m not going anywhere and this really is becoming a lifestyle change. Every week I’m starting to see things that are just becoming ingrained.

My friend had us all over for a lovely Easter dinner yesterday. She’s a very good cook and I knew everything would be tempting. She also loves to bake. She made an incredible cheese cake from an old Italian recipe. I knew it was going to be there so it gave me some time to prepare how I was going to deal with it. First thing I did was look up how many points for cheesecake online at WW — 10 points!! I almost fell off of my chair. I can have 5 glasses of wine for 10 points. That’s almost 1/3 of my weekly allotment of extra points. Even a piece of pizza is only 6 (ONLY, lol). So 10 points of cheesecake was something I had to really consider.

When I thought about it, the only reason I really wanted the cheesecake was so I wouldn’t insult my friend. I knew she worked very hard and it was a source of pride for her, but 10 points?? I knew I wanted to have some wine with them so I started thinking, gee if I have 3 glasses of wine and 1 slice of cheesecake that’s 16 points? Ouch!! Pretty much the most point intensive food I ever eat is a 5 point cliff bar or a luna bar and that is always associated with a workout. Other than that it is 1 pt here, 2 pts there. Never 10 pts in one fell swoop.

I think the thing that saved the ten points is my cold. I really figured, if you can’t taste it, why waste it? I’ll have cheesecake sometime when I can taste it and enjoy it. I could barely taste the rosemary and garlic in the dinner how was I going to enjoy the subtle taste of cheesecake? I think I escaped the cheesecake with my friendship intact — she knows I appreciate her cooking and it was not personal.

Food, family and friendship are so intertwined. Easter is such a commercial holiday these days — Easter Bunnies, Egg Hunts, Baskets, Candy, Chocolate and oh, by the way, if we have time let’s celebrate the miracle of some guy who rose from the dead. Every kid knows that Easter is about candy. When I was a kid I went crazy for my Easter Basket. Had to be one of the highlights of the year. My mother who considered carrots and apples a fun snack actually bought brightly colored baskets and put candy in it and gave it to us? That was the miracle!!!

But Easter is not the only booby-trapped holiday. No sooner do we pass one holiday than another is right around the corner — valentines day, memorial day, fourth of July, labor day, thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. Then, if it is not a holiday it is a birthday, anniversary, baptism, bar mitzvah, first communion, wedding, office promotion, engagement — the list seems endless. What are we to do if we are trying to lose weight? Be a hermit?

I don’t think there is an easy answer to that question. I know when I get together with my family we drink a lot. It’s not a good dinner unless there are a several dead bottles of wine and a bottle of brandy that is seriously injured. Ignoring the food is not an insult, but passing up the wine evokes, what are you sick? Check her for a fever. I think the only way for me to get through all of these events is to make a plan before hand of exactly what I will and will not have. To be honest, I could find resolve for cheesecake, but if that had pumpkin pie??? I don’t know, someone may have gotten hurt if they came between me and pumpkin pie. Cold or no cold.

I think some days of celebration I am going to be able to say “no thank you” and move on and other days I will have blueberry stains around my mouth as I put out my empty plate and pitifully plead “more please.” If I make it through 25% of these occasions, oh hell, if I make it through 50% of them without going berserk — then I’m ahead of last year.

I really want to do the Ironman and I’ll do everything I can to overcome the obstacles in my way. I’ll fight it one slice at a time. A funny picture just came to my mind, here I am this large woman being chased down the street by this tiny little piece of pie. I should be able to take that little wimp, what I am running for? I should just turn around and kick it’s apple/pumpkin/cheesecake/candy ass all the way back to the Little Pie Company it came from.

Word of warning to all you little cupcakes out there — don’t mess with me!!

Namaste, lol

“I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it”
Mae West

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3/27/05 The Interloper (226)

Happy Easter. Hope the E.B. left you low sugar treats in your basket. I rode with the TNT cycling team up to Piermont — what a nice bunch of people. Of course by the time we were heading back I was thinking of signing up for the Tahoe Century ride. I am so glad TNT got a hold of me before the Hare Krishnas — I sign up for anything. I’m such a sheep.

I was anxious to get on my bike mostly because I have a triathlon in 4 weeks and have barely been on my bike all winter. I was doing spinning classes, but that’s not the same. Our last bike GTS I basically round around helping out the newbies and didn’t put any real effort on my bike.

The ride to Piermont is really a good bike trip — lots of nice hills. It’s 30 miles roundtrip from the Jersey side of the GWB and I guess I’m about 7 miles from there so I guess I put in 44 miles and I felt like I could do it twice without a problem. I was not any faster — particularly uphill I’m still a slug. The big improvement is in my lungs. I wish I could explain what is going on with them — it feels like I have them for the first time! I can really breathe full deep breaths. It used to feel like there was something blocking me getting down deep into my lungs and I could never really get enough air in there. The ride was joyous for no other reason than I just kept breathing deeply and reveling in my depth of breath. I can imagine what suffering asthmatics go through — must be awful to never feel like you can get a full breath of air. What a simple blessing it is. I’m so happy to be able to breathe that I could care less about my speed.

The cycling coach was very nice and funny! He is a hoot and a half — very dry sense of humor. I confessed that I was an interloper and just tagging along because my mentee from the Memphis Tri was also doing the Tahoe Century so I came along to ride with them. After ribbing me about sneaking into the group, he gave me a really good pointer about going up hills. He said my leg motion was really good on the flats, but going up hills I pump them too much like pistons. That’s true that’s what I was trying to do — I thought that was what I was supposed to do. He said no — he told me to try to kick my butt with my heels and not use my quads on the uphill — try to transfer it to the butt and hamstrings. Wow, that was a totally different feel. Can’t wait to try it again. I think that alone will save me a lot of stress on my quads for NYC. (St. A’s and Memphis are pretty flat so I don’t think it will matter as much there.) Of course then there is always my triathlon coach’s method of getting me up the hills — he chases me on his bike yelling for me to go faster — that works too.

Everybody in the group was a pleasure to ride with — all different speeds and since I ride all different speeds, sometimes I was with the fast people and sometimes with the slow people. I adopted a couple of the slower people and made them my unofficial mentees, they were great.

As I was riding up to meet the group over the GWB (George Washington Bridge), I realized how much I had missed being on my bike. If my knees don’t get better and I can’t run — I’m just going to become a long distance swimmer and long distance biker — I could be happy with that. After the marathon and Ironman of course.

The thing that is just so great about doing triathlons is there no shortage of variety. You get totally absorbed in three different sports. I can talk endlessly, no REALLY I can (LOL), about any of these sports. They all fascinate me. Swimming, running, biking. If you get fed up with one just switch to the other. Can’t focus on my running today? No problem, focus on my cycling or my swimming and vice versa. My knees felt great on the bike — they always feel better after biking.

So all in all today I feel good. My lungs were working, got in a good ride on my bike so I don’t have to freak out about whether I can ride in Florida in 4 weeks. I’ll see Cynthia tomorrow and she’s going to help me get my knee caps fixed. My orthotics should be ready some time this week. Great way to end/start the week.

Namaste

In honor of getting my bike on the road today, I thought we should read a pearl of wisdom from Sir Lance:

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”

Lance Armstrong

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3/26/05 Whassup Doc? (227)

Started the day early yesterday a.m. at WW meeting. Was a good meeting. I was only down 1 pound this week but the WW number and my at home number are back to being close to in synch. They show me down 23.8 and my online says 24.5 (started that two weeks earlier). At the meeting I got a chance to talk about my feelings from yesterday. A couple of things I want to say about writing yesterday’s blog. I felt better immediately after writing it. This reminds me of my old “ugh” factor law — if you can identify it, you can beat it. I think saying it out loud — “my new shape is disarming to me” kind of takes the zing out of the feeling of discomfort. Now I can look in the mirror and when I feel that discomfort I can say “ah, yes, that is the discomfort with the change.” Something about acknowledging what it is makes it less stressful. Letting it out is less painful than making it trying to claw its way out of you. Once it has a name you can do something with it. Image discomfort — okay we’ve diagnosed it, now we can cure it.

I got a lot of good feedback from the people at the meeting — it is one lively group down there — no wallflowers!! One woman lost 80 pounds and said that it took her at least 8 months to get used to her new body. She said it became easier for her when she decided she was worth it — worth every struggle whether it was with food or body image. I liked that — I am worth the struggle of getting over the discomfort of a new body image. Another woman said it’s been years and she is still not used to it — she’ll always think of herself as fat but she said she’s learned to live with it. I think knowing that this is something everyone goes through also makes it a little less stressful. Putting it out there really helped. My friend Melissa had a good idea too — she said “think about surrendering the shape of your body (that you have become so familiar and comfortable with) as a sacrifice (just like bagels and full fat cheese) – and part of getting to the goal (marathon finish line).” I thought that was a good thought — just something I have to go through to get to the finish line. All good ideas and helped me tremendously. Now I can stop worrying about it and get back to worrying about my training.

I also had to go to my cardiologist/bike mechanic yesterday. Dr. Novack likes to talk about biking — he thinks I know something about bikes — I don’t know a Shimano from a Campagnolo. He gets into all this stuff about carbon vs. aluminum. He keeps asking me all these technical details about my bike even though I always just stare blankly and follow it with a “duh, I dunno.” I just try to keep the pedals moving and get up the hill. He is very thorough — he takes this all very seriously, but I suspect he is living his triathlon dreams a little vicariously through me. I have to go back for a stress test in two weeks — I’m not worried about it, I’m feeling great and all of my other test results were great (got my blood tests back and everything is top notch). One thing he said really bugged me though — he asked how the whole lung burning thing was going (that was last summer B.B. — before blog) and I had a whole episode with my heart and burning in my lungs blah, blah, blah. Nobody ever figured out what it was and it just went away. So yesterday he says to me, ‘ah as I suspected, it was probably an aggravated trachea.’ What? Nobody every said anything to me about an aggravated trachea. What the hell is that and that can cause a burning feeling in my lungs? Guess so. It’s better now, glad I wasn’t dying and waiting to hear a diagnosis.

Met up with Missy later for a TERRIBLE run. What a sport she is!! I run a 12 — she runs a sub 8. I know that has to be actually painful to try to run that slow and it touches me that she would be that patient with me. We practiced how she is going to get me up the hill at the MORE marathon. When I get to the big hill she is going to be waiting and jump in a few feet in front of me keeping the steady pace, all I have to do is follow her feet and get up the hill. That’s highly illegal in the racing world — it’s called pacing and a big no-no, but I figure let them strip me of my prize money and we’ll call it even. We practiced that on a couple of hills. She went off and did the North end of the park and met back up with me as we did laps of the reservoir. I had to stop a zillion times — knee caps popping right and left like fireworks. So the new SNEAKERS (they don’t deserve to be called running shoes) don’t seem to be helping. But, what I really feel when self-examining is that my muscles are way too tight. I need to do a more aggressive stretching routine. I believe the tight muscles are pulling on my knee caps. As I run the muscles get tighter and tighter and eventually pull the caps out of place. When I stop and stretch they feel better for a mile or so. I have to admit I don’t do enough stretching — I do about five minutes after a run. I think I need to do 20-30. I think I need to morning stretches too.

I was so distraught that last night I went down to the gym and got a massage. I was hoping that I would get rid of some of the knots. She gave me number of massage therapist who specializes in sports massage and does something called muscle memory testing. He tests each tiny little muscle and if it isn’t working he fires some pulse or something into to get it working. I don’t know — she says he is great, can’t hurt to try right?

She also made a good suggestion (which I’m sure I’ve heard before and just ignored) — she said to do a short warm-up run, stop and do a full stretch. Then after that stretch start the real run. I think it is a good idea. I will admit, however, that I have made fun of people I see taking a pre-run before a race. “Who would ever do extra running that they didn’t have to do?” I have said than more than once. Okay, I’m kind of embarrassed at that thought process. Running is not a punishment, running is for fun and health. So this morning, I took one Aleve, did some gentle stretching at home, ran 1.5 miles to practice and then did some stretches (still not enough because I started yammering when I got there).

I got there early and was picking coach Dave’s brain about my training strategy for the 1/2 marathon considering what was going on with my knees. One of my mentees Cynthia was there too and as it turns out she is a physical therapist. She starts to examine my knees and starts poking around and immediately hits a spot that hurts. ‘IT band’ — she diagnoses. ‘See it all the time. The orthotics are only one part of the answer — you could use some physical therapy too.’ Then she went on to explain how women are more prone to this because of our shape. Our hips are wider and that can cause more IT band problems. She said she would show me how to tape my kneecaps after practice. I was thrilled, you mean other people have this kneecap slipping problem? ‘All the time ‘– she said, like it was nothing.

So I ran slowly with her during the workout (she is just coming out of her SECOND round of treatment for Leukemia! Not bad enough to go through cancer once, she had to go through it twice). She is worried that her running is a little slow, but I assure you in another month she’ll be flying by me. After practice she walked me up to Duane Reede and bought some sports tape and taped my knee caps. Very interesting. She also explained that the tape was not a replacement for p.t., stretching or muscle building, we were just trying to train the IT band to stretch until we get to the physical therapy. Of course, you know me, I eat this stuff up. The IT band is connected to the ….

So this week I’m going to go to her for physical therapy. I guess I can get my doctor to write a prescription or just submit it to insurance myself and hope it gets paid, but I feel desperate to try to find a solution for my popping kneecaps and she seems like the first person who sounds like she knows what she is talking about. She did say I might have to take a week off from running and I might not be able to do both the 1/2 marathon and St. A’s, but we’ll just see about that…. Hey, the way I look at it, I was willing to do them with popping kneecaps so any help I get between now and then is just gravy, right?

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me. At last, a plan. I don’t mind battling something — but I need a name for it, a diagnosis and a plan of action. Just sitting around whining about it is not my style but I haven’t really had any choice.

Tomorrow I’ll do a ride to Nyack. Monday workout with Rhonda and a swim. Tuesday I will run again — with taped kneecaps — won’t that be a look? You know the old saying “if it not one thing, it’s your mother.”

Namaste

“First the doctor told me the good news: I was going to have a disease named after me.”
Steve Martin

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3/25/05 Pink Underwear (228)

Friday Feelings. It’s interesting, actually have some feelings about weight loss over the last couple of days and I guess if I am going to be true to myself, to my blog and to my readers I really have to face up to it. A real journey has peaks and valleys — it’s not all just the positive stuff. This week I really started to see changes in my body and I’m not so sure I’m exactly comfortable with it. It is not that I am uncomfortable — it is more like I am surprised when I look in the mirror. Believe me, I’m well aware I have a long way to go, but I’m seeing my clothes fit — or rather hang differently and it’s weirding me out a little.

Two different clothes episodes happened this week. First I ordered some new triathlon clothes from Danskin. While I was online I also checked out team estrogen.com. I really had my heart set on something pink. I can’t explain it and I have no idea why, but recently I am obsessed with the color pink. All shades of pink. I’m just really into pink. I’m looking for pink shoes, pink belts, pink pants — just pink. Very strange, have never been into pink before — never had anything against it either, but now I’m obsessed. I want pink everything. Yesterday I bought pink hangers. I don’t know — it’s a phase.

So the clothes I ordered arrived on Wed. Buying triathlon clothes for me has always been difficult because I have tried to be modest but functional at the same time. Most of the women’s triathlon clothing is petite to say the least. I figured Danskin would make real clothes for real women and since they are put on the most popular triathlon series for women, I would try their outfits. I was pretty pleased with the outfits — very, very comfortable and modest. I will wear the blue outfit for St. Anthony’s and I also got a black pair of shorts and orange top — might wear for Memphis or just general workouts. They didn’t have anything in pink.

On team estrogen they had a pink triathlon outfit by Louis Garneau that I thought was really cute http://www.teamestrogen.com/products.asp?pID=13265. I thought it would be a lark to try it even though I could tell it was something I would never wear (Louis Garneau makes everything tiny)and this pair of shorts had a 6 inch inseam and I always look for 9 or even 11 inch inseams. But it was pink and it was triathlon and I broke down and bought it — knowing I would return it the next day. (BTW, Team Estrogen is really great about returns — you get credit very quickly). I also bought a pink bike shirt.

So the Louis Garneau stuff arrives in a size 10 envelope (ok slight exaggeration, but it was a small package). I pulled the shorts and the top out and held them up and start laughing literally out loud. Huge guffaws and I’m sure if my neighbors were home they thought I was insane. I had ordered the largest they had in that outfit an XXL, I know this stuff is so small that it was going to be a real human’s medium (a size 10 is considered large in their world. The triathlon world does not realize there are plus size women out there competing — except Danskin). So now I’m rolling laughing at my own vanity — what kind of idiot are you thinking you would buy a Louis Garneau PROFESSIONAL triathlon outfit (the professional stuff is even tinier). I’m laughing so hard that tears are literally coming out of my eyes. This is an XXL? I have underwear bigger than this pair of shorts! Then I realize, hey –underwear!!! This could make some good sports underwear, why not? I could wear it under real clothing while working out. Now I’m all excited because I’ve come up with this great idea. So I pull myself up off the bed, wipe the tears of laugher from my eyes and try on my new, very expensive Louis Garneau underwear.

Well I’m sure the punch line is totally predictable. It fit. It actually looked better than the Danskin (didn’t show the rolls on my tummy as much) and it was really comfortable. I actually didn’t recognize myself in this outfit and that was a little discomforting. I would not wear this outfit in public — yet. But 15 more pounds — I might. Because it is so tiny, the shorts rest right on the hip bone and the top hits right at the top of the shorts — so if you raise your arms you expose a bit of your stomach. There is not an inch that is left to the imagination. I am not ready to reveal that much of my body to the general public — but it wasn’t hideous. That was the shocker. I’m looking at this saying, a little tighter abs and this is actually kind of cute and kind of wearable. I didn’t even think my thighs looked so terrible — they are not Cindy Crawford but they were human. So I decided to keep the outfit and if I lose 15 more pounds by July (and tighten up my abs some more), I will bring it out for the New York City triathlon and do a big reveal of the new Connie.

So now I have two mantras to scare me into working out and eating right — MARATHON and LOUIS GARNEAU!!! I’ve never had an outfit to hang on my wall as motivation. I’ve heard other women hang a bathing suit or a dress on the door as a reminder of their goal. So I’ll hang my Louis Garneau underwear on the door — why not?

I’m trying to figure out, however, why this made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe my second clothing episode will reveal more. On Wednesday, I had to go to a client. As most of you know, it takes an act of Congress to actually make me go to a client. I don’t do it very often. There is no reason for me to go in person. I have long term relationships with everyone and I conduct all of my business using the internet. In this case, however, I had to go to physically set up a database that I wrote in 1812 to work on a new computer. One of the few remaining pc-based programs I have floating around out there. So I pull out my skinny pants and a nice blouse and a blue blazer and off I go. Something is bothering me all day about my outfit — I’m uncomfortable and I can’t figure out why. I go to my client and they notice I have lost weight but they don’t make a big deal out of it. (It’s not like I don’t have a lot more to lose….) I’m all happy because I’m wearing my skinny pants and my blazer is almost swimming on me. Ah, I finally realize, that’s why I’m uncomfortable — the blazer is swimming on me.

Yesterday I had to go back to my client — I pulled out another pair of pants that I haven’t worn in a century and a blouse. I put them on and thought it looked dumpy. So I tucked in the blouse. Hmm, I thought, now I need a belt. I start looking at my belts — nope, not that one, doesn’t fit — nope, that ones too small too. Then I said, hey wait a minute — maybe one of those will fit. So I took out one of my smaller belts that I haven’t worn in years. Yep, it fit. I pulled out another one — yep it fit too. I pulled out the smallest belt I owned — it fit too. Then I started going a little crazy — what about those khakis? The baby blue shorts? The TENNIS SKIRT?!?! I went nuts, pulling things from my closet, trying everything on. Finally I plopped down on my bed staring at the stranger in the mirror. Oh my God, I realized — Every Single Thing In My Closet Fits! I don’t think this has ever happened in my entire life. It kind of freaked me out.

Why? Why did it freak me out? Why is it still freaking me out? BTW, I just went into my room and tried on the Louis Garneau again to try to figure what it is I am feeling. I feel like I’m someone else. I’m not used to the reflection in the mirror. I’m looking at myself and saying, geesh, another 15-20 pounds you are going to be pretty close to there. I won’t be skinny but I won’t obese either. There is a real disconnect to that image in the mirror and the image in my mind. Again, I have a long way to go yet, but now for the first time it seems like a real possibility — I see the possibility of reaching the goal. That’s a strange feeling. It’s like thinking about climbing Mt. Everest for years and years and finally you start your climb. At a certain point you get the first peek of the summit. That has to be a freaky feeling — there it is, in sight. All these years of dreaming, thinking, trying and there it is, in physical sight. It’s a little overwhelming. Is this really true? Converting a dream into reality is a little frightening. Who will I be when I get there?

It’s not that the difference in my body is that shocking or overwhelming — it is just that I have noticed it now for the very first time. As I was walking down the hall yesterday I noticed my jeans were baggy. These were the jeans I couldn’t even zip up if I was lying on the bed back in January. I couldn’t get them over my thighs. Now I have to wear a belt with them? So that’s almost two full sizes. I don’t have any smaller clothes in my closet to fit into, so now if I keep going, I’m going to have to buy some new stuff in a couple of more months. That makes me feel weird. It’s like being introduced to a new roommate in college. It takes awhile to get used to having them around.

I’m sure you are all going “what? you’re a nut! be happy.” I am happy, but I’m uncomfortable because it is a lot of change very quickly. Remember I thought it would take me 11 months to lose 40 pounds — here I am not even 3 months and I have lost almost 25. I’m not getting the time to adjust. So I have to be alert to the possibility of self-sabotage. I kind of wish it would slow down a little bit. If I go to WW this morning and I am up a pound — that’s not going to make me feel bad — it would almost be a relief. Now I really hear the collective screaming “okay, she’s really nuts!!” I’m not saying I don’t want to lose more weight, but can I just take a second to adjust? The last ten pounds came off so fast I didn’t even get a chance to be aware of it. I think because I have been working out too, that my body is getting tighter at the same time.

So that’s my big confession for Friday Feelings. I’m feeling a little rushed. I’m not quite used to the changes yet. I’m certainly getting more fit and that is what I want. But body image is weird thing — the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. I’ve spent 45 years getting used to my body — now all of a sudden in 3 months I’m supposed to just say “yippee, a new me?” I don’t think it works that way. I have fears that I’ll put it back on now because I’m uncomfortable with the change. I want to stay focused on the big goal — the big prize — that gives me some comfort. The huge dream, however, is now slightly changed. Now in my dream I’m crossing the finish line at Lake Placid and the announcer yells “C.C., YOU… ARE… AN Ironman! And by the way, you look FANTASTIC in that Louis Garneau!!!”

Namaste

“For women… bras, panties, bathing suits, and other stereotypical gear are visual reminders of a commercial, idealized feminine image that our real and diverse female bodies can’t possibly fit. Without these visual references, each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms. We stop being comparatives. We begin to be unique.” Gloria Steinem

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