Sunday, November 23, 2008
The Perfect Run
Did you ever have a run where it felt effortless? Your breathing was rhythmic and easy, your legs felt strong and the strides were long, your arms and neck were loose? A run where you got faster as the miles ticked away? Well, I just had one of those runs. It was the run dreams are made of.
Usually running is a chore. When people ask why I run, I tell them it’s because I feel great—when it's all over. But today was different; today gave me hope that I can be a "real" runner. I don't know why it was so perfect, but I loved it, and I yearn for another one—soon.
There was nothing special about the day. I got up around 6:30, had breakfast with my husband, and got ready to head into the office to wrap up a special project that was due on Monday. I've been stressing all weekend about this project—a luncheon for some VIPs, and I was eager to finish up my small part.
About 2 p.m. I finished the final detail and logged on to MapMyRun to plan my route—my half marathon training program called for a long run this weekend. About 3:30 p.m. I headed out, and right from the start, I knew this run was going to be different. Despite not warming up adequately, my stride felt easy—I was immediately in the zone. Maybe it was the appreciation that it was sunny and in the low 40s with just a light breeze. Quite a change from the previous few days of several inches of snow with high, gusting winds. It was a spectacular late fall/early winter day—it was "crisp." There was almost no traffic on campus, so I had the roads just about to myself.
Just a few minutes into the run, I crested the first hill. I wasn't out of breath and didn't feel the need to alter my pace. The flat sections flew by; I was almost vibrating from the excitement of this easy run. Were these my legs working so flawlessly? It was as if I was removed from them. Where was the burn? The heaviness? It was . . . surreal.
At about mile 5 or so, I realized I still had a tremendous amount of energy, so I lengthened my stride. I felt fresh, like I could go on and on. I kept up this increased speed and long stride to the very end. Even over the last hill my stride was long and strong. Every step had a spring to it. I debated about continuing the run—just how far could I go today before I hit the wall? 8 miles? 9 miles?? Would I hit the wall? But common sense ruled, and I started my cool down. I didn't want to risk an injury and ruin my perfect run. Who knows when the next one will come along.
As I was running, I wished that every run would be just like this. But I've changed my mind. I appreciate today and realize what a special gift it is because I've had the rough days when every step is a struggle. The memory of this run will keep me motivated when it's cold, blustery, rainy or snowy, or I just don't feel I have the energy or will power to get out there. I'll pull this day out of my memory and go for it. You just never know. . .
Next Saturday I race in a 5 mile Turkey Trot. Could I possibly get a perfect run on two consecutive weekends? Let's hope.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Last weekend was great! Saturday I sat in the cold and rain at Beaver Stadium with my husband and some of his college friends to watch Penn State earn a hard-fought win over Indiana. I admit it—I’m a fair-weather football fan. When the team has a good season, I try to catch most of the games on TV—actually sit through the entire game. When it’s a not-so-good season, I barely acknowledge that it’s football season.
Saturday morning started of with pre-game sweets—apple cake, cookies, coffee cake, etc. Having just had breakfast, it was easy to limit myself to a small piece of apple cake before heading off to the game.
Post-game was a different story. Two glasses of wine took my mind off being chilled and slightly damp. It also took my mind off the array of cheese, crackers and chips that were displayed on the coffee table, all just a convenient arm’s length away. I don’t know how much I ate, but it was enough that by the time we arrived at the restaurant for dinner, I wasn’t hungry. Nevertheless, I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and fries. I only ate a few fries and most of the sandwich.
By Sunday morning, I had a serious case of the munchies. I had my regular healthy breakfast, but nibbled all morning on dried fruit, dry cereal, Tostitos, several Milk Duds, etc. Despite being full, I ate lunch – soup and half a sandwich. More munching in the afternoon, followed by dinner and a couple of mini-candy bars left over from Halloween.
Monday was gruesome—a three pound gain over just 2 days. Normally, this would upset me so much that I’d regret the entire weekend and berate myself or I would say the H*** with trying to lose weight. But not anymore. Now I can keep this temporary set back in perspective—in a POSITIVE perspective.
1. I’m not on a diet. Diet’s are temporary and are bound for failure. I’m on a mission to eat better to provide my body with high-quality fuel so that I can enjoy being active, reduce cholesterol, and keep myself strong and healthy.
2. It’s not all or nothing. It’s okay to enjoy an occasional “goodie.” Life would be a complete drag if cake or pie or chocolate never crossed my lips. Maintaining good nutrition is easier if nothing is out of bounds.
3. I’m not Super Woman. Super Woman is fiction; I’m real. I don’t have super-human will power to totally exclude foods that bring me pleasure. It’s easier to control portion size. Besides, chocolate raises serotonin levels which elevates mood, and who doesn’t need that on occasion.
4. My choice of foods doesn’t define my worth or value as a person. I am not “bad” because I over-ate. And conversely, I am not “good” because I exercised or didn’t eat dessert.
5. Focus on the positive. Overall, I eat and exercise sensibly. And I’ll continue on this path because I feel better, which provides more positive feedback.
6. Tomorrow is a brand new day. Yes, I’ve gained several pounds, but the battle isn't lost. Monday I returned to my usual eating habits, and I headed to the gym for a workout.
I hope you had a great weekend.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Joy Johnson, 81, came in first in her age group in the NYC Marathon. She broke her record from last year's race. Way to go Joy!!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
There is a wonderful story in the Oct.3 1 Wall Street Journal about Joy Johnson, 81, who is running in this year's New York Marathon. Her goal: under 6 hours. And she's not the only one in that age group--there are 26 over the age of 80.
To train, she's been running 50-55 miles per week and to strengthen her legs, she's been running up hills and bleachers. It's paid off--in a marathon she ran a few weeks ago, she cut an hour from her time in last year's NY Marathon.
Ms. Johnson didn't take up running until she was an adult--a 3-mile walk she took in 1985 turned into running 12 miles a day by 1988.
I wannabe like Ms. Johnson. I wannabe strong, healthy, fit, happy, and a positive role model for others. I wannabe an inspiration to others.
What do you wannabe?
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This week has been our first for truly cooler weather and the hint of what is to come. Last Sunday we had our first hard frost and several mornings I needed my winter coat and mittens to walk the dog at 6 a.m. Today it is a "winter rain"--cold, damp and overcast. There is no promise of spring flowers in this shower.
It's time to switch from summer to winter clothes. There will still be some beautiful "Indian Summer" days before the snow falls and freezing temps, but for the most part long sleeves, cordoroys, sweatpants, layered sweaters and sweatshirts will be the new uniform at home.
As I re-organize my closet and dresser, it occurs to me that comfort clothes are just as much of a danger as comfort foods. Comfort clothes hide all the wobblies and put them out of your mind until Spring begins creeping in around April and May. Comfort clothes are cuddly, warm, and stretchy. They are forgiving. They whisper to my body, "have that piece of dessert, I promise not to pinch your waist." "I'll be discreet; no one will see the growing waistline, the flabby arms. I will protect you."
Don't let them lure you into complacency this winter. Keep some skin-baring clothes in your dresser and closet and remember that next spring and summer will be here sooner than we think.
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