Monthly Archives: November 2005

11/29/05 Chubby-wamba

Tuesday. I feel so fat. I feel like a parade balloon. I feel like if you prick me I’ll float away on the exhale of the air leaving my body. I don’t even know why. I think it is just three weeks of doing little exercise and eating too much and drinking too much. Oh there, that’s why.

I put a moratorium on drinking this week. Nothing until Sunday afternoon at my friends Christmas party. No matter how many invitations I get, I am just going to say no. One glass of wine and suddenly I’m eating cheese and crackers. I can’t be trusted. I hope I can make it out of this holiday season alive.

I can’t believe I am going to say this. Thank God half ironman training starts on Saturday. I just can’t be trusted with food or with working out on my own. A pilates class here, a little jog there — nothing worth burning even a fat-free brownie. I ran 40 minutes on Sat and 40 minutes on Sun with Steph. Yesterday I did nothing, less than nothing. When I thought about doing nothing, I caught myself and stopped myself from even doing that.

Today I played tennis with my friend Pilar. It was pushy of me to ask Pilar to play since I haven’t played since May (except for two weekends ago when I hit a couple of balls with Corrine in Charleston). Pilar hits like Lindsey Davenport. She is tall like Lindsey and she doesn’t even have to move to take out her wingspan and just wallop the ball like she is swatting a fly. The ball comes over that net low, flat and ten thousand miles an hour. I’m tall, 5′ 10″. But Pilar has a good 3 inches on me — super model tall and super model thin. And a lot of muscle. I felt like I was running to save my life out there and she was barely moving. Everything I could do to get to the ball and get it back — right at her!!

I really did not do as badly as I thought I would. I was hitting alright, it was just the movement that felt so strange. I felt myself very stiff and upright. I’ve probably always been stiff and upright — now I’m just aware of it. I’m playing tomorrow with Gail. I used to beat Gail but tomorrow will probalby be a whomping as she has been playing steadily all year. You never know, maybe I’ll have a little re-beginners luck!! After tennis a pilates class. Hopefully after that I will feel a little less inflated.

Emotionally I’m feeling a little defeated. Only a little because I know I’ll rally back and a couple of pounds gone and I’ll be back in the fight. I just feel like I’m never going to win this battle. I just keep falling back into my old habits like I really don’t believe these are the things that made me gain weight. Sitting at my desk, eating too much, partying too much at night. It’s a simple formula so why am I so shocked when I get on the scale and it says I’m up 5 pounds.

Yesterday and today I stayed on plan — good healthy foods — no binging, no partying. So that’s good. Tomorrow I have a busy day so I’ll be on plan then as well. Thursday I plan on doing a nice serious run — 1 hour with some intervals in there. I will also be playing tennis again with Pilar (ha! 5 months no tennis to now 3 times in 3 days!) Saturday we have our first Group Training Session — 30 minute social run followed by the 4 mile race I’m doing with my friends. I think then I’ll feel like I’m back on track. If this weather holds up and I can get a bike ride in on Sunday I may feel like I’m back to normal.

One step forward, three steps back. When will I ever learn? In the immortal words of Chumbawamba (or in my case chubby-wamba):

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down

But keep in mind this is the same song that continues “pissing the night away….” Yep that’s me. Ready to get up and fight for another round — of whatever their buying.

Namaste

p.s. Man I hope you didn’t come here looking for inspiration today — you got totally ripped off!

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11/27/05 Strategic Holidaying

Sunday. Sorry I have been absent for the last ten days. First I was away in Charleston with no time to write and then I was up in CT celebrating the holidays (and snow!).

I awoke on Thanksgiving morning in Connecticut to find 4 inches of snow. Quite beautiful and quite cold. I was actually excited because it meant instead of going for the run as I had planned, it was a great opportunity to pull out my cross-country skis that I bought at the end of the year last year. I did a couple of loops around our back yard and then became bored — definitely need the wide open spaces of the golf course to enjoy but I wasn’t motivated enough to pack up the car in all the ice and snow and make my way out there.

The rest of the day was quite nice and I employed one ww tip that really helped me a lot which I will use on future big meal and party days — eat first!! I have always been “taught” to not eat because a big meal would be coming up. Save your appetite. Unfortunately by the time I would sit down for dinner I would be so hungry that I would overeat — never feeling satisfied until I was painfully full. What a stupid, stupid thing to do. Never again. I just ate my breakfast as usual, a light snack at 11 and then when our big meal came around at 2 p.m. I didn’t feel a need to over indulge at all. I just took small portions of everything. What a concept — so simple and yet never occurred to me before.

At weight watchers they suggest using the same technique before going out to dinner and before going to parties — never go hungry! It sounds contradictory — eat more to eat less, but if you starve yourself you will eat twice as much. I also found myself to be less hungry several hours later as well. So all in all Thanksgiving did not turn out to be the big diet blowout that I had been dreading. Now the multiple days of wine drinking were not that good for me but that I will chalk up to my holiday revelry.

I ended up enjoying the holiday with my family and even got in some post-holiday shopping taking advantage of the early-bird specials at some of the stores. Did you know that stores open up at 5 a.m. for shopping on the day after Thanksgiving? Isn’t that strange? Of course now that I know that, next year I will be the first one in line at the jewelry counter to get my extra 50% off. I couldn’t get anywhere near it by 9:30 a.m.

The month of December is going to be hard for me. Every year everyone I know throws a holiday party. The rest of the year they do nothing but come December everyone has to throw a party. I never entertain in December — I feel my duty is populate the rest of the year’s social calendar to balance out December. I’m now at the point where there are multiple events on several nights and I’m having to say no to people that I’m sure are going to be insulted but there are only so many days in the month, hours in the day and calories in my budget.

I think my strategy for getting through the season — go to meetings, eat lots of small meals, keep alcohol to minimum, exercise more, meditate more. In January because a couple of friends have accepted my no wine drinking challenge which will begin on January 2nd and continue through February 2nd. During those days there will be zero consumption of any kind of alcohol. It is open to anyone who wants to accept the challenge — we even set up a yahoo group for people to join. They just have to send an email PurpleTeethChallenge-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and they can be part of the group. Open to one and to all.

I’m feeling a lot of optimism and energy these days. Looking forward to training starting next week. Stephanie and I did a small jog yesterday and will do another today. We didn’t go very far, but then again we didn’t have to!! Sometimes just getting up out of your chair is an accomplishment!!

Namaste

“Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.”
Dave Barry

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11/17/05 Charity Begins at Home

Thursday. Thanksgiving. Next week is the officially celebrated Thanksgiving Day but it is never too soon to start giving thanks. I have a huge list of things to be thankful for but I guess topping the list is my life, my friends, my family. Of course I have a lot of goals, dreams and ambitions but today, right now, sitting alone with my cup of coffee I have to say I’m a fairly content person but ready to do more — be more.

I have more stuff than any one person needs (including me so New Year’s resolution #1 is to purge my home of useless stuff). Having stuff doesn’t make me content, but sometimes the lack of necessities can cause discontent. So I’m grateful for not having discontent.

I am blessed to have really good, quality friends (sometimes I wonder what they are doing hanging out with the likes of me). My friends give me hope for the world in times when it seems there is just so much disappointment out there. When I look over my different groups of friends I constantly think to myself — I am just damn lucky! They inspire me.

I have always been blessed with having a good family. Yes they can be idiosyncratic (couldn’t love them this much if they weren’t), yes they drive me nuts (isn’t that the definition of family?), but when push comes to shove there is nobody else I want in my back corner. I would never have been happy in a cookie-cutter 1960’s TV. classic kind of family. I like diversity, texture and complexity in my people. Texture we got.

One of the nagging questions I contemplate a lot is why I have been so blessed with good fortune when there are people dying of starvation, being murdered by their families, abandoned by their friends. Thanksgiving is a time when families are supposed to come together yet it is a time of extreme loneliness for so many people. I like to believe in a purpose-driven life and that we find ourselves in the places in life where we can learn the most or contribute the most. I’ve made my monetary donations to City Harvest — my longtime favorite charity. They give people food all year round, not just at Holiday time. I think they are brilliant in coming up with the concept of rescuing food and giving it to people in need. City Harvest Of course, year round I donate my time to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and raising money for them through my endurance events. My Event Website

There is a limit, however, to how much money I can give and it seems an insultingly paltry drop in the bucket of need. The more I meditate on the huge injustices of the world and how impossible it is to fix everything, the more I am coming understand that it all begins with me. It also begins on the street, on the subway, in the store, in the theatre, in a restaurant or in any other place fellow human beings frequent. I am coming to understand that the smallest courtesies extended to our fellow human beings generate a larger good. There is a ripple effect of our actions.

A simple smile or hello you give the bus driver might turn his mood into one of charity and at the next stop instead of blowing by someone who was running to catch the bus; he might stop and pick that person up. That person in turn might feel grateful for her good bus luck that it puts her in a good mood when she gets to work and she might give a little bigger tip to the delivery man who had been just stiffed by someone else. That small token of generosity might extend itself later that day when he makes a delivery and takes the extra time to make sure the coffee doesn’t spill all over the bag. And that secretary who received the bag might feel so lucky that finally one day her egg and cheese on a roll wasn’t soaked by the spilled coffee. The phone might get answered a little nicer, the client might be a little nicer, the boss might become a little less stressed and might pick up a round of drinks for the staff after work and they all might go home to their families and might share a little extra kindness. This is what I understand the word Karma to mean. Your actions reverberate into the universe eventually some of it will hit you back.

Growing up, my mother used to say all the time “you get what you give back ten fold.” You give out nastiness, you’ll get back nastiness. You give out good, you’ll get back good. I don’t believe there is a one to one correlation of karmic inputer to karmic receiver. I’ve seen too many good, kind and generous people with the worst luck and misfortune in the world. But then again, who says they are not happy? They are certainly powerful. People who generate kindness even when faced with adversity are the richest people in the world. They understand the power of giving. They understand that when some crazy driver cuts you off in the street there is so much more power in letting him go and saying “have a nice day” than to jump out of your car and start beating the daylights out of him. (I witnessed that two weeks ago on Tenth Avenue — frightening!)

Our power as human beings rests in the ability to change the karmic forces from bad to good. When bad comes our way, our ability to deflect and resend out good energy is something unique to the human experience and a secret to happiness. I’m not saying be a doormat — that when something bad happens just say “no problem.” I’m saying the opposite. I’m saying we must be warriors for good. When bad happens we are strong enough to take it and turn it around to good. This is an art of diligence. I certainly have not mastered yet. I meditate on this and I try my best. So when someone says something that ticks me off or there is a flurry of misunderstanding or wild speculation, I want to be able to NOT contribute to that misunderstanding, I want to turn that misunderstanding around to agreement. I want to compliment instead of criticize. I want to change the subject instead of argue. I want to enlighten instead of squelch. I want to give rather than receive. These are the things I want, mastering them is another story.

Achieving the level of self-awareness that can consistently promote generosity and goodness takes daily mediation, moment to moment mindfulness and self-awareness. I’m still a work in progress. But one thing I am learning quickly is that you cannot be kind to other people until you are kind to yourself and forgive yourself. This holiday season, therefore, I’m focusing my personal time on me and my family and trying to be a better family member — more supportive, less critical, and more understanding. I’m going to focus on being a better me. I’m letting charity begin at home.

Namaste

“Nonviolence, equanimity, contentment, austerity, charity, fame, and ill fame; all these diverse qualities in human beings arise from Me alone.”

The Bhagavad Gita

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11/16/05 The Habit of Self Awareness

Wednesday. Wisdom Day. There are no shortcuts. I stayed on plan Monday and Tuesday, tracking all my points, exercised over an hour each day and drank my water. Only down side is I have had a severe sinus headache that hasn’t gone away for the last two days so I think I have to call the doctor today. I’ve taken every kind of pill imaginable. I steamed. I did the neti pot. I did Zicam. It still hurts. The only thing that gives me any relief is ice but how long can I hold ice to my face? I feel the pain generating from my left sinus next to my nose. Unfortunately it is causing me not to sleep very well. I have a sneaky feeling I aggravated my sinuses swimming on Monday. Oh boy, if it’s not one thing it’s your mother.

I went to a Team in Training Information Meeting last night. We are gearing up for the next season. It was fun to see old friends and coaches coming back for another season. I saw one of the gals from the New York City team from this summer and she looked fantastic — she had lost a good amount of weight. (I didn’t ask her, but I could guess she lost about 20 pounds and was in tip top shape). I did say she looked extremely fit and she said she lost some weight by going to Weight Watchers.

I didn’t say anything at first because she didn’t say anything like “oh you look great too.” But then I realized I had lost all of my weight earlier in the year and when we did New York City Triathlon together I had lost my 32 pounds already so she wouldn’t have noticed a difference in me. That made me a little depressed. Why didn’t I lose another twenty pounds over the summer? Because I was eating and drinking too much and not sticking to the plan. On paper it is so easy — calories in/calories out. I know what to do but I don’t always do it.

Some days writing down points seems like such a huge chore. Other days it seems ridiculously easy. It really is easy, except for when we want our other agendas to come forward and then taking two seconds to jot down what we just ate suddenly seems like such an effort. Identifying the other agendas — that’s the trick. What are they?

One of the things that my WW leader talks about a lot is realizing that more often than not our actions are sourced in trying to take care of ourselves, protect ourselves, sooth ourselves — NOT hurting ourselves. It is not so much we are self-sabotaging as much as self-sympathizing. We feel tired, angry, upset, nervous, lonely, bored [insert emotion here] and we instinctively try to do something to medicate or eradicate that feeling. Eating a gallon of ice cream to some people makes the pain go away — for a time. For others drinking a bottle of wine does it. I read a really great book by Caroline Knapp called “Drinking, A Love Story.” Amazing book — in it she discusses the root of alcoholism — pain. Trying to mute the pain people drink. No different with what people do with food, sex, gambling, criticizing, gossiping — they are trying to squelch the pain. Unfortunately the only way around pain is through it. You can throw a blanket over a pile of garbage, but the pile of garbage is still there and eventually it will start to stink.

In my experience, the pain may actually be gone, but you are left with the habit of throwing the blanket. Habit is so much of my issue with food. Don’t get me wrong — I have avoidance issues too. If I don’t want to deal with someone, food is a happy translator. (I sure told him as I downed that piece of chocolate cake?) But most of the time I overeat or overindulge because I am simply not aware of what I am doing. I’m partying, I’m playing, but I’m not paying attention and my old habits creep in during the night while I’m sleeping. I wake up the next morning unaware that they have moved back in and are cleaning out the refrigerator.

So everyday has to become about reminding myself of what my goals are. Why do I want to do what I am doing. If I don’t have a what for, I won’t have a how. I can’t look at my friend who lost 20 pounds and say “why not me?” without asking “why should I?” I want to replace my habit of tossing blankets on my garbage with daily removal of the garbage.

So I’m ready to dig a little deeper. Get a little tougher. Everyone wanted to go out drinking to P.J. Clarke’s last night after our meeting. My first instinct was “of course, I built P.J. Clarke’s” or as we used to say “paid their rent for a month.” But then I had to stop myself and just think it through. Sure I could go and be charming and down a couple of beers and then say what the heck to some fries and onion rings, but when I really thought about it what I wanted more was to go home, wash my face, put on my p.j.’s and read a good book (okay, I watched Medium instead but I would’ve read a book if I could have kept my eyes open). When I woke up this morning I felt good. I felt tired (sinuses) but at ease. I didn’t have to battle another hangover (last week was RIDICULOUS) I didn’t have to feel guilty about using the points that I have been saving for the weekend in Charleston. I didn’t have to answer questions of “why did I do that” or “what’s the matter with me?” In the nick of time I had one conscious, aware moment that I didn’t need to go out every night and entertain everyone. The only person I had to entertain was myself.

Namaste

“To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else. Rather than speaking badly about people and in ways that will produce friction and unrest in their lives, we should practice a purer perception of them, and when we speak of others, speak of their good qualities.”
Dalai Lama

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11/15/05 A Flock of Geese

Tuesday. I had a great day yesterday. Met all of my goals — water, tracking food, working out, meditation — even snuck work in there — lol. I felt it was a very productive day.

I was looking at the class schedule and saw that the spinning class I took last winter with Sonja was still on the schedule. I was pretty excited (which in itself is fairly humorous) so I signed up. I give Sonja full credit for taking minutes off my St. A’s bike time because I went to her spin class every Monday. We did a lot of uphill climbing (no help in St. A’s which is flat) and a lot of practice with headwinds which came in handy. I remember doing the St. A’s tri and cutting through the headwinds just remembering everything Sonja said. It was a great way for me to get back my bike butt muscles and get my legs used to spinning again. I have to say it was a real treat to do something other than running.

After spin class I got in the pool and did 20 minutes of drills. I’m still working on breathing on both sides. I was surprised that the stuff I was working on in the spring came back pretty quickly. That too was fun. I realize I miss the tri workouts a lot. I really like swimming and biking and did very little of that for the last four months. I’m excited to get started on my tri workouts. It doesn’t feel like I’m continuing training — it feels like I’m about to start something new. I’m pumped for this season. I want to see if I can get to 3:30 at St. A’s.

I have to say my legs and muscles feel great. Not a bit of pain or soreness anywhere. I’ve been to the Jacuzzi twice and I think it has helped. (Not running has helped too!)

Last night I had a meditation session at a different place than I usually go to — I thought it would be fun to try a different place. It was similar format — meditation followed by a dharma (Buddhist teaching) talk and then dharma exchange (break into small groups and discuss). Our topic last night was community or Sangha and how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded people. (Sangha used to be just monks and nuns but now we mean the extended community).

To illustrate the importance of Sangha, the leader was talking about how Geese fly and help one another. They fly in a triangle because it is the most efficient way for the group to travel — they keep each other up with air current (yes, I know all about DRAFTING!). But the really interesting thing about the geese is if one falls down or behind — a squad of geese automatically drops down and picks up that goose by flying with him/her until they can get back in line with the group. They do that because it is good for the individual goose as well as for the group. That’s what community is all about. That’s why we mediate in groups — that’s why we seek out like-minded friends. When one falls, the rest of the group swoops in and helps the injured one.

She gave another example of an occasion at a Special Olympics when a bunch of kids were doing a running race. One kid fell and instead of leaving him behind the rest of the kids instinctively ran back, picked him up and they all ran to the finish line together. How’s that for a tear jerker?

We broke into small groups of 3 to discuss how our Sangha helps us. Our group of 3 people couldn’t have been more different. One had been practicing Buddhism for 30 years — she even looked like she might be a nun — short hair, the natural wool fabrics, dark colors, and turtleneck bulky sweater. The other looked like he came from the East Village — short but spiked up hair, slouchy layers of clothes, a tattoo and earring. Me? I was wearing blue jeans, tennis shirt, and warm-up jacket with pony tail. What a motley crew we were!!

One of the focuses of the dharma exchange is to practice active listening — no interrupting, concentrating on hearing the other people talk without formulating your own input. That’s why a lot of Buddhists seem slow to me — they are actually listening, thinking about what you said and then they think about their response before they say anything. I admit I don’t do that well, but it is something I am working on.

I tried not to be the first one to speak in our group but they both pointed to me to speak first. I must exude something that says I talk a lot. I had 4 minutes to speak and I just talked about TNT and my Sangha of the TNT community and how much I get out of it. It took me about two minutes. I probably could have gone into my Sangha of my Weight Watchers Community (which really is like my pack of geese) or my lay friends who are so supportive of me. But, I was trying to be respectful and not monopolize all the time. I was finished in 2 minutes and had nothing left to say.

Ironically the other two people, who seemed so quiet, talked and talked and talked. They used my extra time and theirs and were both cut off by the gong. I found that so interesting. They were so quiet but when given the room to just speak they had a lot to say. The woman actually turned out to be a little bit militant about Buddhism and talked about the politics of the Buddhist community. I didn’t even know there were politics in Buddhism and I certainly wasn’t expecting that lecture to come out of this seemingly calm and passive person.

The boy was definitely in his twenties but there was something about him that was boyish and I couldn’t put my finger on it until he spoke. He seemed so shy. They he talked about Alcoholics Anonymous as his Sangha. He said he was a drug addict and an alcoholic and that he had been lost for a long time. He had only been going to AA for a short time and was not feeling confident yet that he had kicked his habits. But, he said he felt like in AA he was one of the fallen geese and the AA community swept down and picked him up. Just recently, he said, he saw glimpses of the person he knew he was when he was a little boy. “There, that’s me, there I am” he said, “I recognized myself again for the first time since I was a little boy.” My heart almost broke in half. One half feeling all the pain he had felt for so many years being lost and one half feeling the joy of hope and optimism that he was finding himself — reclaiming what he had lost. He was so genuine I felt his pain and felt his gratitude. He was the fallen boy at the start line and finally, after a long time, someone had come back to pick him up. It was all I could do not to hug him but I didn’t see anyone else hugging, just nodding ceremoniously so I didn’t say anything. Just listen.

As we were leaving the building, I felt I had to say something to him. I stopped him and said, “What you said tonight lifted my heart, thank you.” He broke into such a big smile like a six year old and was so grateful that I said something. His friend was with him and smiled too. These were two guys that I assure you I would not find myself talking to on any given day. On the outside they looked like a couple of tough ruffians. But the way they both smiled at me broke my heart — it was so real. They were just looking to be loved and accepted. His friend put his arm around him, said “thank you” to me and they started walking away. Then my discussion group partner turned around and said shyly “you’ll come next time please?” I said I would.

I will go back again. Who knows where you will find your Sangha? What kind of goose would I be if I left the flock behind?

Namaste

“I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time – just one, one, one. So you begin. I began – I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person, I wouldn’t have picked up forty-two thousand….The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community. Just begin – one, one, one.”

Mother Teresa

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11/14/05 Back to Reality

Monday. Mindfulness. Okay people. Here I am — back to reality and ready to get down to the real work. Marathon is over. Pre-marathon tapering, eating and worrying is over. Post-marathon resting, partying and congratulating myself are over. The results of the last three weeks include a shiny medal from the New York City Marathon and 8.5 new pounds to call my very own. 8.5 pounds in the last three weeks. Can you believe that? That’s a freakin’ baby! I saw them creeping on. 2 pounds here, 3 pounds there. Everyone kept saying “But you ran a Marathon!” I kept agreeing and eating cheese and wine and everything on the planet that was bad for me. My rewards for working hard? FOOD!! You know for running such a long distance, I didn’t get very far. What happened to everything I learned all year? Gone in one flash — in one marathon.

Well, I’m here this morning to take it all back. I’m reclaiming my caloric intake and control of my workouts. I’ve rested enough. My muscles have passed resting — they’ve gone into a deep sleep. Every once in awhile I hear one of them roll over and sigh “thank God she’s done with all that exercise stuff, now we can go back to normal.” Wakey, wakey, time muscles. We’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do. Doing a marathon was never the end of the mission. Doing a marathon was never an excuse to eat whatever we wanted. All we proved a week ago is that we have a lot of work to do before Lake Placid 2007. If we think we can perform like we did in the NYC Marathon and do an ironman — we have another thing coming. We aren’t even in the ballpark, never mind hitting homeruns.

So time to get up, smell the coffee and track the points. I went to my Weight Watchers meeting on Friday and was I embarassed to be up 3.8 pounds after the week before being up 3 pounds the week before that! My leader looked at me like I was sick. What the hell happened to me? How do you explain to someone that you gained a total of 8.5 pounds doing a marathon? You’re supposed to lose weight doing a marathon. Not me.

See the marathon itself is not to blame. It’s all the hype and promotion that goes with the marathon. Oh, wait a minute — actually I’M to blame, but here are my list of excuses. I’ve never been involved with an endurance event that had sooo much publicity. Everyone knows the marathon is hard. Posters everywhere, people talking about it for the month before — classes on how to visualize, charts, graphs and reports on how to tackle the race. Inch by inch, mile by mile coverage of the whole thing. This is not just running 26.2 miles — I said it before — it’s an event, it’s an occasion, it’s a ‘happening’. If you don’t celebrate, something wrong with you. And, God forbid, someone accuses me of renegging on a good party.

In Weight Watchers they say the holiday season starts with Halloween. I was able to stroll right past Halloween because I was working out of town. No candy to buy. No leftovers to nibble on. Let me tell you the calories I consumed pre and post marathon were worse than three Halloweens put together. I actually thought I was getting alcohol poisoning last week. I was drinking Sunday night, Monday night, Wednesday night. When Friday night came along I had another team party to go to. It was open bar — I was pretty sure if I had one more drink I was going to liquify on contact. Thank God when I got there I found the open bar was not required and I just drank Seltzers. The upstairs bartender was pretty nice and just kept giving them to me all night. My muscles only hurt for two days after the marathon but my internal organs were taking a bigger beating from all the partying.

But then I had my bridge friends over on Saturday night. We played bridge, laughed, drank wine and ordered in Thai Food. Did I mention the chocolate covered pretzels? Oh my God — can we say Bacchus?!?!?!

So I’m excited that today is here. I have no parties scheduled for Monday – Thursday which will give me a nice jump start toward the weekend when I go to Charleston. I have meetings tonight and tomorrow night which will allow me to frame my days nicely. The weekend will require some effort as I will be visiting a friend who plays tennis so we’ll get some good exercise in. With some careful calculations and restraint during the week I think I’ll be good.

Today’s goals:

Water
Keep track of all calories consumed
Excercise — 1/2 hour core, 1 hour drills in the pool
Meditation

I’m pumped. I’m ready. I wish they would fill all the marathon posters around town with signs that say “The Holidays are coming, get ready to rumble.” Getting through the “Good Times” of November and December are a lot harder in my mind than running the marathon. I’m NOT going to add more weight because Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years are here. I refuse to be a victim of holiday cheer. Bah Humbug if I have to, but I have goals to meet and promises to keep. So keep your hot toddies and butter cookies on your side of the scale.

Namaste

Okay since I basically just plagerized him anyway, why don’t we read the full poem this morning….

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Amen.

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11/10/05 Marathon Continued. Part 4

Part 4.

The Bronx was a lonely place but loyal cheerleading going on up there. Small crowds but they stayed out there. I was expecting to see some friends when I came over the bridge but I didn’t see any. I didn’t see any coaches either. My friend Mo said she would be there 138th street and just as I was convinced I wouldn’t see her either (I figured everyone had given up), I saw Mo and Colleen jumping up and down while running toward me. It was nice to finally see some faces that I knew. Lots of great words of encouragement and again I couldn’t jog and talk at the same time so I took a little walk break so I could talk a little. It meant a lot to have them wait out there all that time for me. I picked a spot to resume jogging, said my goodbyes and headed over the Madison Avenue Bridge onto 5th Avenue.

I was surprised to find myself on 5th Avenue so soon. I knew would see Melissa at 110th and 5th and that didn’t seem so far away now. 1 mile – I could hang on that long. I saw my friend Chris out there. That was a nice surprise – she had waited all that time just to see me. She said that Stephanie was not that far ahead of me. That gave me a small feeling of relief. I waved goodbye to Chris and she shouted that she would see me at my place afterwards. Right, I forgot people were coming over afterwards.

Soon a strange feeling of loneliness started creeping over me. I had never really experienced that before. I stopped for a second and stretched out my quads. I looked behind me and saw quite a few people coming – that surprised me too. I was beginning to feel like I was the last one in the race and seeing that many people behind me made me keep going. I was feeling physically renewed – I think I finally had my blood sugar to the right level but emotionally I was feeling a dark cloud settling over me. I just wanted to get to 110th and Central Park and find Melissa.

Finally I saw that bright orange shirt waving my Gus in her hand and then she was there “what do you need?” She said. “Just run with me” I said. I think I shocked Melissa because I never like to have people run with me. I just needed to have another human being around me to let me know that I was okay. It was similar to that awful creepy feeling I had that day out on my 18 mile run when I thought I was in a remake of the Blair Witch Project. There was some cloudiness, some slight confusion. I didn’t have confidence in my own clarity. I could have made it on my own, but just having someone there to help with the decision making process made me feel better. I don’t know what decisions I thought there were to be made, but I felt like there were decisions to make and I wasn’t qualified to make them. I wanted someone to just tell me what to do.

Melissa, as usual, was great. She ran ahead and got me waters and Gatorades and kept talking me through everything. We started to see more people that I knew and I just told her to respond for me because I just couldn’t spend the energy to say “Hi” to everyone. I knew Fifth Avenue was supposed to be hard because it was uphill. I would say it was a little hard – not as hard as the 59th street bridge. It was more that I was getting tired. Then coach Brad jumped out and ran with us for a little bit. His advice was to break everything down into little bits. Half a mile into the Park. 1 mile to Central Park South. Another mile to the finish. I was half listening to him – at that point I was just on auto pilot.

My breathing had become labored. Melissa kept telling me to take deeper breaths, keep the breathing smooth. I don’t know why I was breathing that way. I was breathing like I was dragging a ton of bricks up a hill. Oh, that’s right, I WAS dragging a ton of bricks up a hill. I was dragging ME up a hill. Then we saw Patty, my TNT quasi running partner. Patty and I usually end up together. She run/walks to the same speed as my run. She’s a faster runner than I am, but I run faster than she walks. I clung onto her like a lifeline. I just wanted to keep up with Patty. But Patty wasn’t walking anymore. Now Patty was just running and I couldn’t quite keep up. I had to let that go and let her go without me – hoping I would catch up with her later.

I saw other familiar faces but I couldn’t focus in to talk to them. It was somewhat dreamlike. I saw the faces but everything was in slight slo mo. I saw the mouths moving but what I was hearing was “wha, wha, wha, wha.” Then just as we were about to turn into Central Park I saw my friend Paul and that snapped me awake. “Paul!” I shouted. I recognized him. And then I saw Robin and Barbara and Robina again. They all looked so happy and that made me happy. Paul and Robin started running with me for a few feet into the park. I think I made world history for the most ridiculous thing to say during a marathon. Robin and the gang had run around the city looking for more Gus for me (not knowing I had reached the power gel station at mile 18). That was so sweet. Melissa held them for and then I turned to Robin barely able to get the words out “Robin…. Very Important…..” Robin was hanging on waiting for my incredible words of wisdom that I would impart — “Tortilla Chips” I said. “I need Tortilla Chips and bread for the bruschetta for the party. Can you get those for me?”

Marathons are supposed to involve a lot of soul searching, battling inner demons, coming to terms with yourself. In my case, it is an opportunity to review party plans. I was suddenly aware that for the last two miles since I saw Chris I had been consumed with how many people were coming over and whether or not I would have enough food for them. This seems to be a repeating theme in my life – food. Enough for me, enough for my friends. I didn’t care about my breathing, my bleeding feet, my twisted ankle, my buckling knees or my sore back. All I cared about was whether someone would pick up Tortilla chips because I had bought some Raspberry Chipolte Salsa and wanted to make sure I had something to dip in it. The depth of my athleticism (or lack of) shocks even me sometimes.

Now I was in Central Park. Home free. Homeland. At this point there would be no way not to finish – or so I thought. We were approaching Cat Hill – the point I had been dreading for the entire race. Downhill. I don’t think it was that bad – quite frankly I don’t remember it because I think that is where I saw Coach Christine coming toward me. I saw Christine bounding up the hill toward me yelling “Connie, Connie!” “Oh, no” I thought to myself. “Not Christine, not now!! I’ll start crying.” So I was mean and I said “Christine I can’t talk to you, go away.” I’m sure she was surprised but she complied and started running with Patty my TNT friend who was now steps behind me. Patty was happy to have the company.

As we are coming to the end of Cat Hill to my surprise I see the blue shirt and orange label of Heather – my super walker who had paced me all the way. Now I was jogging and she was lagging a little bit. I just had to acknowledge to her how much she had helped me. I turned to her and said “you got me through this marathon, thank you so much.” She was shocked. I said “I’ve been following you the whole time – you were a great pace maker.” She laughed and said “I’ve been following YOU the whole time!” I laughed to think the same woman who walked the first 8 miles with me was now finishing with me. I kept running and said “see you at the finish line!”

Then I saw a woman jumping up and down dressed in all pink. She was going crazy. She was in the middle of the road. I’m looking around trying to see who she is jumping up and down for but nobody is waving to her. Then I look closely and I see it is my sister-in-law Molly. OMG!! I can’t believe that’s my sister-in-law! Then I see my brother standing there trying to take a picture fumbling with his camera. For them I stop and give them hugs. Molly was crying she was so happy. That made me happy too. I stayed with them for a few seconds and then I had to keep moving.

Down the little hill heading to Central Park South. Now my ankle gives out. Felt like it cracked in two. I just had to pull over for a minute to rotate it a little. Melissa was worried I was stopping too long – “keep going Connie – don’t stop now.” I knew she was right. My body was starting to sense that the end was near and I had to keep it together long enough to get over the finish line. We made it to Central Park South and there was Coach Ramon ready to run with me.

I once admonished Melissa because I was in a race and she said “it’s not far – it’s like Bethesda to the Daniel Webster Statue.” I remember yelling at her in that race “that’s FAR!!! Don’t tell me that.” She thought I was nuts because in her mind that was nothing. In my mind that was painful. So now Coach Ramon starts running with us. He said something brilliant. He said “It’s less than 11 minutes for you.” I looked at him “11 minutes? I can do 11 minutes.” He said “of course you can. You’ve done 6 hours!” I thought this was such an interesting thing. Why would it bother me if he said “you only have 1 mile to go” which seemed like forever, but saying “you only have 11 minutes to go” seemed doable? This is fascinating psychology to me.

As I am running along CPS I am aware my body is starting to break down. Now it is getting harder to breath, I’m getting tired, my ankles are hurting, my knees are straining – it seems farther and farther away. I actually feel like I’m running backwards. Now Ramon is saying “seven minutes – seven minutes to go.” I start getting all mushy telling Ramon and Melissa that they have been the best coaches anyone can have. I’m very lucky. Just then a photographer appears. Melissa (who knows I want my own private photo opps at all times) jumps to get out of the way and Ramon goes the other way. I yell “NOOOO! I want you BOTH in my picture.” For some reason the photographer thinks this is hysterically funny and is laughing at this. I don’t know why he thought it was funny – maybe he knows what the picture will look like — we’ll just have to wait and see.

We pass Mo and Donna who are cheering on the side. There are still a good number of people on CPS. It is getting harder for me to breath and I can’t really talk to tell Melissa that they are going to kick her out when we get to the park entrance which they do. Ramon takes my hand and I say “thanks for everything” and I head into the finish shoot.

This is it. The final stretch. I see Cliff on the left. There seems to be still a lot of people around the edges of the finish. Then everything goes into sloooowww moooootion. I see Melissa bounding across the bleachers screaming and waving her arms “You’re doing it! You’re doing it!” There is a dull roar in my ears. 400 meters to go. I see the 400 and it looks so far away. My left knee locks but I try to keep going. I’m grimacing in pain and shuffling toward the finish like Quasimodo. I see people’s faces looking at me like they feel sorry for me. Some of them are looking away — I must look pretty bad. It’s hard to breath. Everything hurts. Melissa is going crazy.

Then I see the 300. For the first time I let myself think that I am going to finish. This is really happening. Everything is still in slow motion. And then I’m there at the finish and two guys run in front of me blocking my finish from the photographer. I give them a second and then I run over and the photographer is changing the film in his camera!!! I don’t care, I have crossed the finish and every cell of my body is in the process of collapsing.

Then there is a flurry. Someone puts a medal around my neck – it feels heavy. Someone hands me water. Then a woman comes up and puts one of those meallic looking shawls around my shoulders “this one is just for you honey.” I’m kind of dazed and confused. Then the photographers take my picture and there are all my friends standing by the gate. They look so happy – true joy in their faces. A joy I was not able to digest yet but seeing it in their faces made it more real for me. An overwhelming feeling of being blessed came over me. Not because I finished the marathon but because I had so many friends who came to cheer, because Melissa ran with me, because my brother and sister-in-law were there, because my teammates and coaches were there. When it was all said and done, what made me the happiest was knowing that people cared enough to come out and cheer for me and be with me. What made me happy was the feeling that I was loved. That and knowing someone was getting the Tortilla Chips.

Namaste

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