Monday, December 31, 2012

physical goals: looking back/looking forward

It's New Year's Eve and I started last night on what will run through tomorrow and possibly beyond...the great string of blog posts that mark my transition from one year to another.  Looking back, looking forward, celebrating, pondering...this holiday is my favorite of all writing occasions, I think. 

With this post, I will have written 111 times on the Naked blog in 2012.  February was my banner month, with almost one post per day...December has been dismal on the blogging front, with this being just number 5 for the whole month. 

I've been rereading to see what I thought I might do this year.  The nice part about this business of letting God teach me to love my body is that it's not a *resolution* and not a *diet* and not an *exercise program* and so I don't have to come here with the usual report of dismal failure.  I am further along the path, re: loving my body than I was this time last year.  So that's a success.  

I dreamed aloud about some physical goals at the last New Year...not so much resolutions as great hopes:

  • cycling to Savannah - this was to be a 120 mile round trip with one of my great friends at JPUSA.  I conditioned for it all spring and summer.  And then, come fall, when the time was right, it was sabotaged by a combination of schedule and arthritic feet.  Grrr. 
  • century ride - I was SO PUMPED to do the annual century (100 mile, that is) ride in Chicago that is a tour of the city's perimeter.  When they finally announced the date...I was committed elsewhere that weekend.  Grrr.  
  • 5K - I talked about doing at least the Rhubarb Run in Aledo and maybe also the Hot Chocolate Hustle, also in Aledo.   Then in a moment of genius, I scheduled myself to be many states away on vacation during the Rhubarb Run.  And I think I basically forgot the Hot Chocolate Hustle, come December.
Those were the only physical goals on the 2012 list of dreams.   Sounds like a crashing failure, eh?

But I don't count it as such.  Instead, I recall that I:
  • rode several 50-mile bike rides this year, along with a huge number of 30+ mile rides
  • rode up the Davenport Main Street hill without stopping (multiple instances)
  • rode a cumulative 1000+ miles this year
  • ran 7 miles in The Bix race here in Davenport
  • ran up the Davenport Brady Street hill without stopping (multiple instances) 
  • faithfully ran my 2.5 miles three to five mornings a week, anytime that my arthritic feet didn't say no
  • rode my bike to and from work quite a number of times 
That's not the sound of failure.  That's the sound of an over-scheduled woman choosing to find joy in her achievements and not focus on the fact that they don't read exactly like she thought they might. 

At the last New Year, I mentioned possibilities for 2013 that I was scheming in advance about:  riding the RAGBRAI (a week-long ride/party on wheels across Iowa) and perhaps participating in a duathlon.  I'm scratching both of those.  While I was very excited about the idea of riding the RAGBRAI, between the fact that my first grandbaby was born in Kentucky 2 weeks ago and also that I'm head over heels in love with a wonderful someone who lives almost 4 hours from me in Chicago...let's just say, I'm not using up a full week of PTO to spend time NOT being in one or the other of those places.  It's just not happening.  Maybe someday my guy will ride the RAGBRAI with me...say, when we can do things like sharing a tent.  And I spent enough time trying to talk myself into doing a triathlon with a friend this year that I know my level of resistance to the "-thlon" kind of competition.  No duathlon for me.  Not this year.  I'll ask myself again in 50 more pounds, maybe, if I get there.  Or maybe not.

While I would still love to try again next year for the ride to Savannah (Steffie!  Don't give up on me yet!) and/or the century ride, and while I absolutely intend to do the Bix again (can I run it without walking this time?  I'm asking myself...) none of these things is the target of my physical goal this year. 

What is it, you ask?

In 2013, I will wage war on the ever-worsening adult onset A.D.D. that is making it harder and harder to do the things I need to do at work and even sometimes at home. 

This is not an "exercise" issue but I suspect it very much IS a "loving my body" issue.  I've been making half-hearted efforts to combat the A.D.D. for a few years now, and in the 17 months since I moved back from Chicago, it has been a much more formidable opponent than before that.  Enough of an issue that I mentioned it as a problem on the job when my boss asked me to evaluate myself as part of his evaluation of me last spring.  I'm darn good and tired of *thinking* that I am paying attention, only to get embarrassed when it quickly becomes apparent that I have not been.  In 2013 I will make a focused campaign to get it under control, and to make it STOP derailing me from taking care of business.

That's all, folks, for my "physical goals" for 2013.  I'll be blogging about the other stuff over at my other addressMaybe I'll see you there.

Meanwhile...what are you seeing in YOUR 2013?


Thursday, December 13, 2012

sore feet, miracle healing, and no backup plan

I'm awfully glad I got to run Monday, because the rest of the week isn't cooperating for that.  At work we give our residents a Christmas candlelight dinner, which is spread over 3 nights and staffed by us salaried people.  I serve (wait tables) in the same shoes I wear for my office work - dress shoes.  Yes, they are flats.  But there is not one bit of support in them (who needs support, to sit in a chair?)  By the end of each night I am limping and I can feel the arthritic swelling in the tops of my feet in a major way.  So each morning I just let them rest.  Hopefully next week I can get back to the run.

Meanwhile, don't tell anyone, but I haven't followed through on my promise to myself to make a plan for non-running days.  I've had a number of great suggestions and one of my cousins is even burning me a DVD of some kind of hybrid yoga thing, and a friend has a series of the "T-tap" stuff that she would happily share with me.  I've thought up plans that don't involve videos (cuz videos involve both light and sound, both of which p*ss me off in the mornings), but I haven't put them to paper.  And anything that is just an idea in my head and not put down on probably NEVER happening because Karen Can't Think that early in the morning, to remember what the plan was.  Duh.  

But anyway.  Back to this business of sore feet.  I am not alone in this, though the reason some of my coworkers are in pain isn't arthritis, like me, but crazy high heels.  I was reflecting this morning, how we take the miracle of our self-healing bodies for granted.  WE CHOOSE to inflict pain on our feet, making the assumption that with a little rest they will soon enough be back to normal.  

What if they didn't go back to normal?

What if we had to treat them in a way that wouldn't leave them in pain, in case they decided never to be the same again?

This morning I am taking the opportunity to be extra aware of the miraculous nature of many things my body does, with God's help and certainly not mine.  

Seems like a good reason to be thankful, eh?

Monday, December 10, 2012

brown silk suit, the darn sit test, and insulating fat

With all the not being able to run lately due to arthritic feet protesting, and not being able to bike as much due to schedule craziness, I've been, I'm sure, on a plateau for awhile, weight-wise.  I don't have to step on a scale to know I've not gotten smaller in a little while.  The result of that (which I recall happening last year, too, when various things took some of my running away from me) is that after shrinking consistently, being on the plateau can feel like getting fatter.  I've been fairly at peace with it, as I understand the goal here is not about size, but about letting Him teach me to love my body...but still...I've held the opinion that I've probably put on some weight.

Saturday night was a Christmas party for work.  I SO wished I had something *new* to wear for it - something I haven't already been seen in eleventy-zillion times.  Then I remembered!  In the back of my closet hung a brown silk suit - skirt and shirtish/jackety high dollar wonder that is TO DIE FOR - a hand-me-down from my high school BFF, who asked me to treasure it well.  I got it from her back in May, and at the time I could button the skirt if I sucked everything in as hard as I could and pulled it so tight it hurt.  I couldn't even begin to zip it.  I brought it home, trusting that one day it would fit.  What if it fit now?  I doubted it.  Still, I really wanted something special to wear, so I pulled it out and tried it on, bracing myself for that terrible feeling of trying on something that's too small.

To my surprise, it fit.  It came with matching sky-high heels and I put them on and WOW it was fun to look in the mirror.  I was so excited.  

In the end, though, I couldn't wear it.  Because in the end, it didn't pass the darn "sit test."  I HATE THE SIT TEST.  That's when something looks great on me standing up, and then I put my wooden chair in front of the mirror and try sitting down, and watch in horror as the shifting that happens is too gruesome to be witnessed by anyone else's eyes.  DARN THE SIT TEST!  But I'm sure glad I remembered to do it before I walked out the door feeling all like Mama Hottie.  That would have let alll the air out of me, when I sat down at the party.  I just need to lose probably 10 more pounds and the sit test should be passable in that suit.

I settled for a black velvet shapeless dress that I've been wearing since last February.  It's a lot bigger on me now than it was then, but it's still perfectly acceptable and hey, I haven't over-worn it, I don't think, so it was fine.  

On an unrelated note, my schedule has been running over me lately with all the gentleness and kindness of a freight train.  It's been an item of prayer and concern for me.  I spent yesterday (other than church time) mostly doing what seemed totally counter-intuitive to me - when I felt like I should be "catching up," I rested, and rested, and rested some more.  Oh, I puttered and got some important stuff done, but mostly I rested and hung out "virtually" with my guy (thank you Jesus for cell phones).  This, it turns out, was a good investment of my time.  I had gone to bed Saturday night feeling kind of desperate and depressed with that, "I'll never catch up" feeling that blankets one in exhaustion and confusion.  This morning, I am refreshed, revived, and ready to take on the world.  WE NEED REST.  That's why God built a day of it into the week.  It's a gift to us, and a needed one at that. 

And a final note:  MY FEET LET ME RUN THIS MORNING!  HALLELUJAH!!!!!  It was sooooo great to be back out there.  I lost my mind and thought that 25 degrees was warm enough to not need my headband, and so my forehead and ears were frosty frozen for the first quarter mile or so until my body could work up its usual massive amount of heat.  After that I was fine.  When I got back home, some dude in the lobby, who I could tell even without my glasses on is MUCH leaner than I am, commented to me how he nearly froze on his run this morning.  

Hey.  That's the benefit of carrying around all these surplus pounds.  They insulate me, and they cause my body to be a super heat producing factory when I move it hard.  I suppose I'm gonna miss that, when more of the pounds leave me.

Eh.  They can leave anyway.  That's what layers are for, right? 


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

next step: backup plan

No run again this morning.  I negotiated hard with my foot, but...nothing doing.  Truth:  it was all I could do not to just sit down and cry.

I want to run.  

I realized at that hour of the morning, I am not able to do the hard work of "forming a new plan."  So today's objective will be, while I'm awake and actually capable of thought, to make a backup plan.  Something I can just "do instead" without having to think of what it will be.  

A year ago, I was having to trick myself into faithful running by making my bed as I got out of it, dressing fast, and getting out on the street before I could think of a reason to stay in bed.  Tricking myself into faithfulness isn't the need any more, at least when it comes to exercise.  

I just need a backup plan. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Friday I couldn't run because the arthritis in my feet acted up.

Saturday and Sunday life (and darn early sunsets) kept me off my bike.

Yesterday, more with the arthritis.

This morning, I took one more morning off as the feet seem mostly but not completely better.

I am very hopeful that tomorrow will be "back to running."  

Meanwhile, my muscles are complaining LOUDLY.  My thighs, my butt, even across my chest everything aches and begs and hollers for a workout.  

If I'm gonna crave something desperately, I find it pretty cool that the craving is exercise.  What a journey this is...

Friday, November 30, 2012

a patience friday

Well, again this morning I was mostly dressed for the run when my left foot informed me with a high keening of arthritis pain that we would not be running.  DARN IT.  It's really hard to surrender to that, when I'm already in my running tights, already got my pants and shoes pulled on, already got the underarmour shirt on, already got the rest all piled up and ready, and already started stretching.  It feels almost like a point of no return and it chafes me to stop.  

But, just for today, I chose love by not running on a foot that was clearly indicating I should not.  

Now, to continue choosing love throughout my Friday...

Praying for me, that I do.  And praying for you, that you do too!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

progress report - boring but i'm smiling

Yesterday, the cookies were still in the hall, and I walked past them every time without touching.

Yesterday, I ate lunch in the Bistro and did not request a cookie basket or freak out about the different soup bowls.

Yesterday, I ran in the morning and biked to and from work.

Last night felt better than the 2 nights before it.  

Go figure...loving one's body feels better then destroying it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

cookies on monday, cookies on tuesday, bring on the hill

Well, yesterday was another not-so-banner day for me.  A coworker brought these amazing chocolate chip cookies - made by his MOM, for heavens sake! - and they were really small (which my brain translates as somehow not as bad a choice as big ones) and they sat in a container in the hall all day.  There weren't many times that I walked by that container without snitching one.  And I passed thru that hall a lot.  DARN IT. 

I've been putting off running up the Brady Street hill, as I was getting re-conditioned after my involuntary running vacation.  This morning I decided that 2 days in a row of nutritional crimes against my body meant it was time to do the hill again.  Gotta help the body burn all those awful carbs or the pounds they've probably already added.  

It's still the Brady Street hill.  It didn't get more gentle during my time away.  It really takes me to the place of ONE STEP AT A TIME.  Looking ahead just isn't an option, if I'm gonna actually do the whole hill without walking.  

And that's what I did.  Which leaves me a bit less bummed about two days of cookie binge.  And a bit more hopeful that I'll choose love today.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

some mondays, i lose the battle

If you've followed the naked blog for long, you know that Mondays are difficult for me, and doubly so Mondays after a longer-than-usual weekend.  I am ALWAYS hungry all day long on Mondays.  I assume it's my body's response to me messing with my usual schedule and routine.  I always run late for work on Monday morning.  My muscles are always more stiff when I stretch for the run on Mondays.

Yesterday was no exception, and it contained the multiplier of the Thanksgiving weekend behind it.  I was glad to still make it out for my run, and didn't bother to be frustrated that it was one of the slowest runs I've done in awhile.  I had forgotten to pack snacks, so I worked away at my desk all morning feeling voracious to the point of distraction.  A friend invited me to join her for lunch, so I stuffed my rice and beans in the fridge and joined her in our Bistro there at work, where I can get a nice bowl of soup for about $2.  

The soup is a perfectly adequate lunch.  It is hot.  It is big.  It is unfailingly yummy.  It is varied.  What's not to like about soup for lunch?

We have new dishes there now, purchased to be quieter when handled and banged about.  The big bowls are shaped different than the old, noisy big bowls.  I am pretty sure they are not ACTUALLY smaller.  But they give the illusion of being smaller.  When the bowl came, I saw it and instantly thought "smaller."  And KNEW it was almost surely a visual trick.  Still, for whatever reason, my stupid animal impulses were stronger than my knowing-better brain, and I couldn't get past the feeling that lunch wasn't "enough."  Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Then I followed that mis-perception with a bad choice - I asked for the free cookie basket.  One can ALWAYS have free cookies in the Bistro, just for the asking.  Unfortunately, they don't bring you A cookie.  They bring a basket, you know, for the table.  A generous and sweet thing to do.  And - Monday sufferer extraordinaire that I was - I reached into that basket more times than I want to write here.  

Doh!  This is the naked blog!  That means I gotta tell the truth.  


I might have eaten something like 5 chocolate chip cookies for dessert yesterday at lunch.

Yes, this makes me want to cuss like a sailor. 

Nothing to do, of course, but pick up and do better going forward.   Anything else is self-sabotage, and I think yesterday's lunch was a sufficient dose of THAT, don't you?

Grace.  It's everything.  Today's goal:  not abusing that grace.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

karen's beans and rice recipe

I make this on the weekend and then eat throughout the week.  Totally vegan, cheaper than cheap, almost no work at all, highly satisfying and nicely spicy, pretty darn good for you.  It's my own adaptation of a recipe I found on the internet. 
The picture doesn't do it justice - I generally add a smidge of water before microwaving a bowl of it, and today I added too much.  But if I put off posting this, who KNOWS when it's going to happen!  Trust me.  It's yummy!  


1 (1 lb) bag dried pinto beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes with chilis
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon garlic, minced (kind in jar is okay)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
1 large onion, chopped

Rinse beans in colander.

Put in a crock pot.

Cover with water, plus about 2 inches over top of beans.

Add all ingredients except the can of Rotel.  Truth:  I don't even bother stirring.  Just put the spices in first, everything else on top, and it's FINE.
Cook on low in crock pot about 8-12 hours until tender. (Overnight is what I do - you can stir and even add water a bit, but I generally don't bother them.)

Add the can of Rotel (no need to drain it first).  Stir.  Turn crockpot up to high setting.  Cook about 4 more hours.

Serve atop cooked brown rice ( COULD choose white rice...but brown is so much better for you!  Come on!)

wrinkles and fog and cellulite

I stood in front of the mirror this morning at 4:40 AM, brushing my teeth and noticing all the extra lines and wrinkles in my face that this hour of the morning brings on.  It occurs to me that God had pretty good timing, bringing me on this "letting Him teach me to love my body" at this point in middle age, right when evidence that I'm no longer 17 becomes so obvious that even I in my generally oblivious state of being can notice it.  I looked at the wrinkles and I didn't hate them at all.  Just noticed.  Actually I'm pretty sure losing weight has added wrinkles, where everything all used to be all plumped full of fat and now isn't.  

It's okay.  I love the peace of seeing and just embracing where I am.  I've been very blessed.  I grew up in a house where my dad told me every day (many times, most days) that I was beautiful and smart and that he was so very proud of me (and he still does that very same thing, every time I see him, even now.)  Somewhere there in the middle there were a couple of voices that did a lot of damage on that front, and my voice joined theirs for a long time in condemning agreement.  But those old voices grow quieter and deader each day, and the things I say to myself and about myself grow kinder and more life-giving each day.  And - oh happy, blessed thing - into the picture comes a man who tells me I'm beautiful every time he talks to me.  On one hand, I'm glad to be at the point of not NEEDING that validation.  On the other hand...DANG it's nice.  I'm just sayin.  

The fog was thick this morning.  Running on the bridge, there was no water to be seen below, no downtown Davenport to the one side, no downtown Rock Island to the other.  Just me and the black morning and a few very dim orange lights and the fog and the little patch of concrete and steel beams just a few feet ahead of me, and cars zipping by, being swallowed nearly instantly by the fog.   I ran the only way I can, one step at a time, just doing the best I can with THIS step and not minding the ones ahead.  The fog helped highlight that for me.  No visual gauge of how much further to the turnaround point, how much further to the end.  

I ran and I thought about the grace in learning to love my body.  I ran and I really felt my muscles moving and working, listened to my rhythmic breathing and the much-lighter-than-before patter of my feet on the pavement.  I loved what my legs can do, the way they carry me.  I remembered that when I started hating my legs was 7th grade, a year with many black marks on it, the least of which was I went from 94 pounds to 126 pounds, and cellulite appeared on my legs and has never left me since.  I realized at 46 it's unlikely this journey will lead me back to even 126 pounds, much less 94.  Which means me and my cellulite had best make friends - we're probably (not definitely, but probably) in a 'til death do us part kind of thing.  

You know what?  It's okay.  Really.  I've run far enough down this road to understand:  He loves me just exactly as I am.  

I can do that too.  FOR REAL.  All I gotta do is keep letting Him teach me.

(You too, by the way...)

Monday, November 19, 2012

being one with the bike

My son Caleb is 23 years old and inspires me pretty much every time I spend time with him, whether it's politically, socially, or health-wise (and I think that inspiration runs both ways, which is fun.)  He is an avid "fixie" rider, meaning his bike is of the "fixed gear" sort, which means basically 2 things:

1.  It has no "speeds" for shifting.
2.  The wheels only move exactly as the pedals do.  There is no such thing as coasting.  Forward or backward or completely stopped on the street are your 3 choices on a fixie.  

I pretty much think he's crazy for loving his fixie, but he and his fixie friends assure me that I just don't know what I'm missing.  Truth:  I'm not interested in exploring that territory. I am a frequent user of "coast" mode and I love using the gears to navigate hills.

But whenever I ride with him I note how his bike is basically just an extension of his body.  Really nimble and agile.  It reminds me of when I was a teen on my beloved excessively high-strung horses - just a total connection, one moving with the other seamlessly and without thought.  What a great high.  

It has been nearly 3 years now since I bought Lulu in her wonderful pinkness.  When I first got her, I was beyond terrified and clumsy on her.  It was proof to me that I am no longer the wild, fearless, skinny little thing I was at 16.  Every push of the pedals felt like taking my life into my own hands.  The streets felt like potential corridors of death.  Heck, it took me basically a year of riding to get to the point where I could stand on the pedals while coasting.  

This past few months, I have begun to feel that connectedness with the bike.  The joy of pushing the envelope, whether it's whipping 30 MPH down Main Street hill or just doing little swervy navigation.  I grin like I'm 5 when I stand WHILE pedaling - this is a whole other world.  Yesterday I navigated several construction zones with their uneven surfaces and gravel and such.  This used to make my hands clench and my stomach twist in knots.  Now the challenge just makes me happy all over, even though I'm still pretty slow and awkward as I rise to it.  

I'm not 23 like my son.  I won't be pulling his insane stunts anytime soon.  But I do like growing into that feeling, bit by bit, that the bike is an extension of my body.  

Wonder what that'll look like a year from now.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

one of those food photo blogs

I got blessed yesterday with leftovers from my parents' house - my mom is a lady who could (and would gladly) feed the entire world.  She's where I get my love of feeding others.  Having read the naked blog, she was on to my rice-and-beans diet and wanted to expand it a bit for me.  So I came home with a grocery bag full of assorted leftovers and such.  AWESOME.  

So with the goodies from Mom and assorted various things I have lying around, here's what I made for my supper tonight, after a nice little hilly 17 mile bike ride in the perfect sunshine (can you say LOVE, JOY, HALLELUJAH?)

Little olive oil in the pan.  Add garlic (about a teaspoon, minced), about a quarter of an onion, chopped, 4 baby bella mushrooms, chopped, handful of frozen green beans, and about half a can of rinsed garbanzo beans.  Stir fry.  

Add a little handful of deboned, chopped chicken.  And an actual ONLY ONE SERVING of cooked spaghetti (that's a very small amount, as compared to what most of us consider a serving.  Salt and pepper.  Stir fry some more.  

Add a little parmesan cheese and serve.  Note:  the important thing to do, if you're gonna eat pasta, is DON'T make it the main part of the dish...cuz pasta - and especially regular, not-whole-wheat pasta, which is what I had here - is excessively simple, way over-processed carbs (equals NOT a body-loving choice IMHO).  (The other thing you could do there instead of spaghetti, is Shritaki noodles - great spaghetti substitute, methinks.)  Veggies are the main part.  Pasta is just a little element. 

This was a delicious, warm, satisfying meal.  Portabello mushrooms give you a day's worth of Vitamin D, which is hard to come by.  Garbanzo beans are insanely good for you - ditto the onions and garlic.  Frozen is one of the most nutritious ways to get your green beans.  Chicken...if you're gonna eat meat, it's a better choice than many (and trust me, the meal would be FINE without the chicken).  Olive oil...c'mon...happy fats!  And I went very light on the salt and parmesan, neither of which is really a beneficial item other than for taste.  Give it a try!  Nice change. 

My crockpot pinto beans for beans and rice came out killer awesome and totally vegan...I'll try to share them sometime this week...and I've got some bean soup bubbling happily on the stove and promising warm comfort in days to come as well.  Watch this space for recipes this week.  Apparently that's the current trend! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

on speaking terms with the body

It's nice, being on speaking terms with my body.

Tuesday morning I woke up before the alarm with a painful tummy.  It was enough to bring me up into a sitting position and take away my (usually very easy) ability to sleep through.  A couple of years ago...heck...this time LAST year...I wouldn't have had any solutions.  My only response to such pain has always been:

1.  Try to be very still, so as not to make it worse.
2.  Try not to complain or get all emotional, as that only makes it worse.
3.  Try to just ignore it.
4.  Just muddle through.

All this time of letting God teach me to love my body, though, has had this wondrous effect:  my mind and body are connected in ways they never were before.  Perhaps knowing this will help you understand:  before this adventure, I detested my body.  Hated it as an enemy and a source of shame and contempt.  Was adamant that, "I am not my body just carries me around."  

Today I am past the worst of that.  I begin to understand that my body IS a part of who I am, and not just a vessel to carry around what REALLY matters about me.  I am more whole than I have ever been.  

The joy of that wholeness...I am learning how to ask my body questions and hear its answers.  So when I sat, curled in pain on my bed from the pain, I didn't ignore it or just muddle through.  I asked my body what was wrong.  I listened.  Felt.  Listened some more.  Some answers came to me.

Some of the pain was just simple muscle soreness from returning to running after being off for more than a month (if you have a little cute flat belly, you maybe haven't experienced the fact that carrying your gut around CAN cause soreness, when life gets bouncy.)  That pain could be addressed with massage.  It helped, a lot.  But it wasn't the whole story.

Some of the pain was diet related.  I mentioned before that I am on a mostly beans-and-rice diet right now, for financial reasons.  You gotta drink plenty of water, if you're gonna eat that way.  I mostly do.  Monday, I didn't.  Some of the pain was as simple as:  stuff is crowded inside there and can't get uhhh moving without a little fluid.  Two big mugs of hot water later that part of the pain left me. 

A good hour of focused attention, meaning asking my body questions, listening, trying what I know to do, and listening some more...took the pain away.  It hasn't returned to me since.

I'm pretty sure this stuff is elementary for a lot of you out there.  Like, you've been doing it since you were little.  Maybe you're shaking your head and thinking, "Duhhhh...."  But this is for the rest of us, who have spent our lives as enemies to the very flesh that carries us everywhere we go.  A story of hope, that it doesn't ALWAYS have to be like that.  

If you can't hear what your body says to you, may I suggest one more time:  step into the adventure of letting God teach you to love your body.  

He'll blow your little mind. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

stiff feet and beans and rice

Took a lot of stretching this morning before my run, and then it was a very slow one.  That's to be expected - I was feeling the effects of Monday's run after so long off the road.  Still, it was delicious to be out there in the chill.

Navigating the business of these arthritic feet is interesting.  I had to stop and decide this morning - is that pain, or just stiffness?  Loosening my shoelaces helped with the first bit of throbbing.  I remembered the x-ray I was shown, how there is extra stuff grown on the bones on the top of my feet, so it made sense that maybe that pain was just excess lace pressure.  That tactic worked enough to get me out on the street.  Feet were fine for the first 2.25 miles, and for the last quarter mile it went from stiff to OUCH.  So I'll be dragging the bags of frozen peas out of the freezer at work today to ice my feet while I sit there working.  I am NOT willing, at this point, to give up running unless it is made crystal clear that there is no other option.  Just love it too darn much.  

This month and next, I am doing a bit of traveling for love's sake (a visit to my guy in Chicago, and a December introduction to my soon-to-be-born granddaughter, Ms. Eliana Mercy Glenn, in Kentucky).  The travels don't fit in my budget (I have an actual budget now! But that's a whole other blog...), so I'm doing all manner of creative things to make it happen anyway.  On the list:  cutting food expense to as bare-bones as can humanly be done.  What I'm grateful for:  nearly 2 years of letting God teach me to love my body have been a good investment.  I know now how to eat cheap and reasonably healthy, as opposed to cheap and basically ruining my health, one bite at a time.  So from now through the end of 2012, I shall be enjoying the many ways that beans and rice can be concocted.  While I look forward to a time when hopefully I can get back to eating a ridiculous explosion of fresh veggies, what better time than winter to test out this beans and rice business, eh?  IT'S GOOD FOR ME. 

Maybe I'll share a recipe or two. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

back at it

This morning I finally got back out there for the run, after WAY TOO LONG away.  First there had been my arthritic feet, egged on by the rainy weather, that stopped me.  Then I had a wicked bad cold for 3 weeks that allowed me only to get up and go to work every morning, and cancel basically everything else in life in favor of sleep.  But my body has healed and the rain has ceased and though my feet are stiff, they are not painful.  So this morning I ran!

Late fall is here.  It was 25 degrees when I got dressed this morning at 4:45.  That meant running tights under the jogging pants and layered shirts and wool socks and gloves and even the ear warmer thingy, though it's not yet cold enough to need my mouth and nose covered.  Beautiful, perfect running weather.  Far better than summer.  Put a bounce in my step.

Right before I got derailed, I had been starting to really work at improving my speed.  I didn't work on that this morning.  The goal was just to get out there and finish my 2.5 miles without walking.  I am learning what a forgiving thing the body is...despite weeks away from running, I was able to pick it back up easily.  Not the slightest need to walk.  Heck, when I got up the incline of the bridge to the flat part, I even picked it up and hustled, which wasn't even a goal!  So if you saw some chubby fool smiling her way across the Centennial bridge this morning way before sunrise and were irritated, my apologies.  I don't like peppy people in the morning either. 

I mentioned the body is forgiving.  That ain't no lie, folks.  Not only have I not been able to run in over a month, but also many factors in life have kept me mostly off my bike for most of that time as well.  Have I gained a little weight?  I think so, but I'm not gonna be silly enough to derail myself by stepping on a scale to verify that.  I can still wear all the clothes I was wearing, so though I can feel places where weight is either increased or shifted badly, the fact is I can't be up more than 10 pounds total.  And the number on the scale is an irrelevancy for me anyway.  Truth is, God and I are still working out this gig of Him teaching me to love my body.  He's still surprising me daily in the cool things He does.  

The rest doesn't matter.

To all of you who have taken a moment to say you've missed the blog too.  Thanks for the encouragement.  I think maybe I'm swinging back to gear!  May you be encouraged today as well.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

focus shift

Hey look.  Another 3 weeks went by between blogs.  Ugh.  

Here's where I am:  the rainy season hit and the arthritis in my feet is crazy.  I haven't run in quite awhile.  And biking has been rare for the same reason.  Ugh.  I would say I have definitely gained weight, but happily I'm still in the same pants, so it's not too horribly much.  

And happily, the goal is not weight-related anyway.  It's about loving my body.  Running anyway on arthritic feet in pain would not be love.  

Along the way, I am discovering a shift in focus for this season.  Less emphasis on exercise and food (though both are crucial for loving one's body and cannot be ignored) and more emphasis on just the simple connection of body to mind.  I had them so completely disconnected from one another far back as my memory goes.  

I'm figuring out cause and effect...stuff that most of you probably already know about yourself, and I didn't know at all about me.  Just the "when I do this, the effect on my body is that" kind of deal.  It's way cool.  

I've been sick for 5 days, just a bug going around my office.  Even being sick is kind of a wonder, in the midst of all this mind-body connection.  I can feel WHY I am coughing.  I get the mechanics of it all, and not just the general feeling of yuck (and yuck ain't as bad when you understand what is happening, for some reason.)  I can sense things happening in my body that were just beyond my notice before.  It's still not fun being sick, but it is pretty astonishing to be this connected in the midst of it. 

Earlier this week, I was able to take a lesson I've learned abundantly in the journey of letting Him teach me to love my body, and apply it to another area of my life.  The lesson:  quick obedience to His leadings is essential.  When I hesitate, often all is lost.  I got a leading that I really, REALLY didn't want to follow.  I noticed Him reminding me about the lesson.  I obeyed as fast as I was able, despite feeling like I might die in the process.  Oh BABY He showed up.  

Is that called real-life cross-training?  LOL  Whatever it is, I like it.

Happy weekend, all.  May He blow your little mind today.  :-) 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

even when it's ugly, it's beautiful

Wow, I haven't posted here in AN ENTIRE MONTH.  Be assured:  this is NOT a good sign.

I have been letting "busy" dictate my life.  It has invaded both my work life and my personal life...not the productive "hoo boy, I sure am getting a lot done!" kind of busy, but that other one...the "hey, the water is up over my head" kind.  Commitments, projects, the to-do list...all have been off the scale in the Entirely Too Much zone, and I've just been pushing as hard as I can to get through.  

That does bad things with this "loving my body" gig.  

It means I've got too many errands to do before/during/after work, so I drive instead of biking.

It means I put myself in positions where, sure, lots of food is offered...and 95% of it is stuff I try not to eat other than in tiny quantities anymore, having come to understand that white flour (who am I kidding? ANY flour...), white sugar, dairy, meat...these are all things that don't love THIS body (I'm not saying what's best for all y'all...just what I've been shown for ME.)  And I haven't planned ahead well for better choices by either bringing my own or making a special request (making a special dietary request at a "free food" situation is still WAY outside my comfort zone...feels like being "high maintenance" when it's uhh "just because" I want to do better and not because some doctor wrote a prescription...dumb, when I read it on the page...)  And on top of it all, I've been broke, so it's been a little trickier, that business of nutrition-bombing this body as I ought.

It means that in those moments, the exhaustion in my body translates to poor decision making and I eat, let's just say, UNtiny portions of said body-haters. 

It means I stay up so late at night trying to get stuff done that I miss some of my runs, just desperate for a little more sleep in the mornings.

It means my defenses go down and when I'm feeling crappy all over, I forget and comfort myself with bad food, thereby making myself feel crappier all over-er. 

A good thing that has come out of 3 really bad weeks, in the "letting God teach me to love my body" department:  I am clearer than ever that I absolutely DO NOT want to go back to living the way that I used to before this great challenge.  

Eating poorly makes me feel poorly.  I cannot BELIEVE I used to walk around feeling that bad all the time and not even realizing it...or, when I even realized I felt bad, I definitely never connected it to my diet!

Not getting enough exercise makes me tired.  I can now hear the way my body cries, pleads, BEGS me to get out and move.  Today I spent the afternoon out on my bike, exploring places I've never been before, including a beautiful, quiet country road lined with gorgeous trees and cornfields, and a little narrow dirt path on an island.  It was like returning to the best stuff from my childhood.  I was really like a little kid, laughing nervously aloud as I careened on that crazy outside-my-comfort-zone dirt path.  My body was singing its gratitude.  I've been working to make amends to it for the food crimes of the last 3 weeks.

Along the way, I'm pretty sure I've gained a little weight.  Not so much that my pants don't fit.  But enough that I notice it in my belly and around my face (though some of the face stuff is surely just from the insane amount of sodium...can you say "puffy?")  Here's the cool thing:  ZERO SELF-HATRED has come with the probable weight gain.  I see it, I have compassion for me, I work to turn the other direction.  I don't feel uglier, less worthy, embarrassed, horrified, ashamed.  

This letting God teach me to love my body gig...hey...even when it's ugly, it's beautiful. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

yay for chilly!

Back when I had horses, I loved fall and winter's descent into cold.  I had pretty lively horses, but the heat of summer sometimes took some of the "lively" out of them.  When fall came, they perked up.  They stepped faster, carried their heads higher, ran harder.  Being all about the awesome power of a high-strung, tightly wound horse under me, I really loved the change.  

Running makes me understand a little better why they perked up so much in cold weather.  This morning it was 34 delicious degrees outside at run time.  Cold enough to get out the running tights and the long-sleeved Under Armour shirt.  Cold enough for wool socks and gloves.  Cold enough to fill me with glee - 34 is enough to add bounce to my step and subtract some of the sweat from my brow.  

It was a great run, even on a Monday.  I didn't drag my butt up the hills, I bounced up.  It wasn't hard to push myself a little harder, a little faster.  

It's not a bike day today, but if the weather holds like this tomorrow, it means finally my head won't be a total sweat ball when I take off the helmet, arriving at work.  YAY!

Hallelujah and thank You LORD for 34 degrees!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

regaining lost momentum, and choosing life

I missed some runs last week, as the arthritis in my feet acted up.  And then I missed my run Monday, because I was running on something like 4 hours of sleep.  So this morning, it was EXTRA DELICIOUS to get out there in the awesome chilly fall pre-dawn.  

Here's the thing about missing the run for a period of time:  you lose momentum.  I started out feeling heavy as lead.  Running in my old heffalump heavy steps.  Feeling too tired to possibly finish the thing.

I was patient.  I know it takes me a full half-mile to really get in the running groove anyway.  And I was aware of the missed runs.  

It didn't get better at the half-mile mark.  

I have a choice, when my body doesn't feel all the jubilation at running that my mind and spirit do.  I can feed the voice of "I can't" by speaking its language, thinking its thoughts, considering it as a valid option.  If I do that, chances are good that it's right....I CAN'T. 

Or I can feed the voice of "I love my body" by refusing the "I can't."  I can be patient with me and speak kindly to myself.  I can choose to be satisfied with just finishing, and not worry about beating my recent speed.  I can keep putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that all I've done is lost a bit of momentum, and the only way to regain, this is deep, people...KEEP MOVING! 

I chose the latter.  Finally, just before I turned around at the halfway point (so, around 1.25 miles), the heaviness left me and I was able to step more lightly and pick up the pace.  Evidence of how much this was true:  turning around meant running UPhill...but I still bounced.  HALLELUJAH, THANK YOU JESUS, WOO HOO!!!  

Really in life I find that we have that choice all the time.  I can feed the voice of insecurity or the voice of trust.  I can feed the voice of resentment or the voice of blessing.  On and on.  What I decide to say aloud and inside my head, where I decide to allows God to work, or blocks Him, depending on what I choose.

I think THAT is what the whole "I set before you life and death....choose life" is about (ummm somewhere in the first 5 books of the Bible, and I'm in too much of a hurry to find it right now).

As for me, today, I choose life.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

sometimes love means changing your mind

I was all dressed this morning (even had on the silly reflective vest) and was already stretching when I realized my foot really hurts.  

This is not the same foot that I showed to the podiatrist awhile back.  It's the OTHER one.  Since it's the same pain, I conclude that apparently I have arthritis in BOTH feet.  Grabbing my foot for the stretch, even in a shoe, was painful.

I know what I did.  Remember me leaving my running shoes in Iowa while I went to Chicago?  Well, I still walked around A LOT in shoes I shouldn't even own, much less walk long in.  (In my defense, THEY LOOK GREAT with the dress I was that a defense?  No?  Erm....)

So the foot has bothered me on and off since then, but not on a running morning before now.  

I first decided to go anyway.  It's REALLY HARD for me to change my mind, once I set something in motion.  And I was craving the run.  And I was already stretched.  And, did I mention, I already had on the silly reflective vest?

But then came the reminder, really just as I was about to walk out the door, that the doctor said, "If it hurts, don't run on it."  I remember how marvelous that was, the simple truth that my body knows how to tell me if I should go or not.  It didn't feel marvelous this morning.  It felt frustrating.  Still, I remembered....

...this is not about "being tough"'s about loving my body. frustration was because I wanted the good feeling of running.  It's no more right to do THAT, just to feel good, than it is to eat a second helping of something bad for me or go indulge in any other uhhh sensory overindulgence "just to feel good."  THAT IS NOT LOVE.  And this is about loving my body.

...I won't die from changing plans at the last minute (part of me is never quite sure, on that point.) 

So I chose love.  I stayed home, got out the bag of frozen peas, and iced the snot out of my foot.  

I didn't do it with a good attitude, at first.  I was mad, I was whiny, I was frustrated, I was whiny, I was impatient, I was whiny.  

Thank God for the perfectly wonderful man He has placed in my life, who happened to be talking to me, and happened to turn my brain away from the whine into remembering the other ingredient, besides rest and ice, that will help with my foot pain:  prayer.  

Uhhh.  Oh yeah!  

So I'm on it.  And I'm done whining.  Sometimes love means being willing to change your mind.  Today, I chose love for this body - more precisely, that foot.  

If you need to do that too, may you do it with more grace than me. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

happy monday morning thoughts along the way

Last week contained almost no exercise for me at all.  I missed Monday's run as I was in Chicago and had left my running shoes in Iowa.  Wednesday and Friday both brought more lightning than I was comfortable with for running.  My schedule and the weather also prevented me from biking to work even once.  Let me tell you, MY BODY OBJECTED.  My body and mind are very connected and in agreement these days:  exercise is a good and welcome thing, and its absence brings sluggishness and generally not feeling as well.  

So it was a beautiful thing to get back out there for the run this morning.  My muscles were very tight and stretching was much harder than usual, but again, my body and mind are very connected these days.  Felt FANTASTIC to work the stretch, to get out there and move.  I love feeling my running muscles come alive.  I love feeling very clearly the reshaping that continues to happen.  This body, that I spent my whole life hating, resenting, ignoring, abusing, and being ashamed of...well, let's just say God's grace is amazing.  He really has taught me to love my body, which I had no idea was such an integral part of loving myself.  

Also:  on Friday and again last night I had fast food.  Friday was because I was hurrying between tasks, and last night that was just the place I landed, with a group, and hadn't had supper.  The change in me is still real:  the fast food was very disappointing.  It doesn't TASTE like loving my body.  It isn't satisfying.  It doesn't feel like a celebration, an affirmation, an encouragement, a bit of hope.  My normal body-loving choices DO.  

For all of the above reasons, I have hope that this isn't just another "skinny cycle" in a lifetime of the yo yo diet.  I'm not "trying harder."  I'm not "working a program."  I'm not forbidden ANY food, EVER.  I'm not counting calories or carbs or exercising any other food measurement program.  I'm not trying to beat my muscles into submission with unwelcome workouts.  I'm not defining my worth by inches or pounds or pants size.  ALL I AM DOING IS LETTING GOD TEACH ME TO LOVE MY BODY.  You this:  Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.  The continual weight loss, the increasing fitness, the joy in movement, the ever-increasing understanding of nutrition...all that is "added" stuff and is NEVER the point of the story. 

The point of the story is LOVE.  It's the beginning, the middle, the end, the focus, the purpose, and all that really matters.  The other details mind themselves, as I mind the mission.  Meanwhile, every day I am healed a little more.  Every day my mind and body are a little more connected - that's among the definitions of wholeness...and wholeness ROCKS.  I recommend finding it.

Isn't God amazing?!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

runner's stitch

On yesterday's run I got that old dreaded "runner's stitch."  You know...that pain in your side?  I hadn't had that since I was a kid.  I guess it comes with how much harder I'm trying to push myself to hustle.  

I Googled it (what did we ever do before the Google?) to find out the "why" and "how not to" about runner's stitch.  Seems it's a bit of a mystery.  Some think it comes from breathing too shallowly, which causes basically a cramp in the diaphragm.  Some think it's from one's guts bouncing around too much and pulling on the diaphragm in a specific way.  Some think it's from always exhaling on the same stride - say, the left foot, for example - and thus working the diaphragm in an uneven way.  What I get from this is it seems to be all about the diaphragm.  LOL   The only non-diaphragm answer I read was something about how running downhill might make it worse because it stresses the whole body in general more.  I actually LOVE running feeling how it works in my butt and the front of my thighs.  I ain't giving up my running downhill.  And besides, the stitch happened on the flat part of my run.

The important thing here is not so much the cause but what to do about it, I say.

Possible tactics for dealing with it include intentional deep breathing BEFORE running, pursing one's lips to blow hard (like blowing a trumpet) AMIDST running, when the stitch sets in, being sure not to eat too much before running, and maybe pressing ones thumb into the pained area to help relieve the pain. 

So tomorrow I'll add some breathing stuff to my warmup routine, and will be ready to blow the imaginary trumpet if needed.

Won't THAT be cute?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

1,000 miles

Well, I hit my 1,000 mile mark last night on Wilma.  I hadn't planned for that before riding, but as I rode, I saw how close it was was WORTH riding past dark to hit that mark.  

There is of course nothing inherently special about the number 1,000, any more than there is anything inherently special about the new year or my birthday or any other numbered item.  But I am definitely a person who stops to reflect when they hit, nonetheless.  

(I can almost HEAR Lulu pining, "What about ME?  What about MY miles?"  So...reminder...there were A LOT of Lulu miles in the same time frame as Wilma's 1,000.  Wilma's just the lucky bike that gets a speedometer.  LOL)

So what has happened in the 1,000 miles Wilma and I have done in 10 months minus winter?  

I have learned to love the hilly parts of the bike trail and learned to hold my own on one of the meanest streets in Rock Island.  Conquered steeps I thought were insurmountable.  Wiped countless bugs out of my eyes, snorted them out of my nose, and swallowed them without number.  Scared beavers, had showdowns with territorial hissing geese, and felt my heart jump in close encounters with deer.  Lost pounds and inches that I still won't bother quantifying.  Built leg muscles that I love to watch work.  Got my mind blown as God completely healed my life-long terror of heights.  Been laughed at, yelled at, cheered on, screamed at, honked at, and propositioned.  Battled carpal tunnel hands, an arthritic foot, and uhh saddle pain.  Gone from being passed by everyone on the trail to mostly holding my own position.  Gloried in standing on the pedals down hills and grunted while standing on the pedals up hills.  Soaked sweat clean through all the hair on my head and every stitch of clothing I had on too many times to count.  Fought headwinds for hours at a time.  Giggled like a child in the driving rain.  Talked to myself, silently and aloud.  Sung to myself, sometimes at the top of my lungs.  Talked to God, silently and aloud.  Laughed and joked and occasionally cried with Him.  Even rode with a friend a time or two.  Witnessed fights and lovers and drug deals and pranks and friendships.  Experienced the "thin places" where the barrier between physical and spiritual is almost not there at all.  Breathed so hard it made my throat sore.  Rode so hard it made my body sore.  Meandered at a pace barely moving.  Sat beside water and listened.  Smiled at passers by.  Got smiled at by passers by.  Got glared at by passers by.  Got stared thru as if invisible by passers by.  Felt judged by riders slicker than me.  Judged riders slicker than me.  Silently cheered fellow non-athletic types as I encountered them.  Prayed for what I saw in the natural and in the spirit for others along the way.  Watched seasons come and go.  Remembered long long ago.  Fought fantasies.  Made plans.  Abandoned plans.  Rewrote plans.  Surrendered my right to plan.  Dreamed of far far ahead.  Drifted in peace.  

Oh, there's more, but really how long am I gonna go on about how great it is to ride a bike?

If you don't have something this awesome in your life, whether it is riding a bike or something prayer for you is that THIS is the year it opens up. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

just a little trash talk for your morning

Met with my old good friend Brady this morning...Brady Street Hill, that is.  Hadn't done that since the Bix.  

Just for the record:  IT'S STILL HUGE.

Just for the record:  I STILL OWNED IT.

I discovered this past weekend that I'm approaching the 1,000 mile mark on Wilma's speedometer (I had that installed in late October, 2011, which means I've used it for 10 months, 4 or so of which I did not ride AT ALL...and keep in mind, those miles don't count the ones I've ridden on I bragging?  MAYBE.)  

I intend to get to 1,000 before September 1.  

You should probably expect me to celebrate that in some ridiculous fashion, which will probably embarrass me.

Just sayin'...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

not a speed demon but hey, improvement!

I am continuing to have fun pushing myself on the morning runs - just seeing how fast I can make myself go.  While it's fun to move faster, I'm always acutely aware that my "fast" is everybody else's "yeah, right."  Put it this way:  the first time I watched the movie Jumanji, my favorite thing from it was the fat rhinoceros running at the back of the trampling herd - I totally related.  Everyone else runs like a leaping gazelle, and then I huff by 10 minutes later, making the earth shake with my footfalls.  I'm slow, people.  It's a fact.  While it bothers me less and less over time, it still just is what it is.  I am slow.  

BUT this morning I got a measure of my improvement on that:  near the far end of the bridge, I met a couple of ladies out walking for exercise.  After we met, I still ran something like maybe 200 feet in the opposite direction.  Then had to turn around and go UPhill, and this on a morning when the air weighed like a million pounds or something.  You cannot imagine how fun it was for me, later about 3/4 of the way back across the bridge, that I CAUGHT UP WITH AND PASSED those same ladies!  WOO HOO!  It has NEVER been true of me that I'm a danger of catching up with ANYBODY...even walkers.  

I ran even faster after passing them, just on the sheer adrenaline and thrill of it.  

Who knew running was gonna be this great?!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

notes from the freedom zone on love

Sunday while getting ready for church, I had to put 4 shirts in the "this is now too big for me" stack.  I had to pull down the "stuff waiting for me to shrink into it" bags from the top of the closet and investigate what might work.

This is not the point of my story.  But it's fun.

Friday I realized my dress belt is now so big it's purely decorative - can't do anything remotely like holding pants up anymore. 

This is not the point of my story.  But it's fun.

Saturday at a training I was attending, they served pizza and the lady next to me had one of my top favorite candies - peanut m& bulk.  I overindulged on both. BY A LOT. 

This was not the end of the world.  I just started over when I got home.  No condemnation.  

This morning in the shower I looked down at my legs and saw enough change to make my heart dance.  

For so long, "loving my body" has been primarily about CHOOSING love.  As in, doing the most loving things possible for it.  As in, speaking kindly to it and about it, regardless of the old garbage that WANTED to be spoken in hate.  As in, not giving up on it.  Not so much about FEELING love, though that has grown over time, for sure.

Isn't that the way love is, though?  In any setting?  We make it all about how we FEEL.  But really it is, at its core, what we DO.  

The feelings follow the choices.  And they rock.  

But they are not the point of this story. 

Just a few notes from the freedom zone.  If you haven't started your journey toward joining me here yet...why not?

much love


Thursday, August 9, 2012

running in the sparkly zone

I'm not focusing very well right now when I run.  I mean, I used to count off the seconds in my head and the minutes on my hands.  It was truly almost more than I could handle (yes, THAT is how non-functioning my brain can be before dawn...counting to 60 is a challenge!) but it helped keep me on pace.

Lately I keep forgetting to count, mostly due to a ridiculously happy bunch of thoughts that are keeping my head overcrowded.  Picture sparkles and hearts and big eyed bunnies and flowers and ponies and perky eared puppies and ethereal music and sunshines with happy faces on them and fireworks and pouncing kittens and you almost start to get a glimpse of the happy zone Karen's brain is in just now (we'll just say God and one other person are turning me into a smile factory lately...)  So how does one experience all that and still remember to count to 60?  I just don't. And apparently I don't care.

This could be a problem, as far as pacing, but it seems to be working itself out.  Sure, sometimes I get so busy thinking sparkly thoughts that I slow down to "not hardly running" mode...but I'm counteracting that with the occasional "Wheee!  Let's just sprint awhile!" bursts.  

And I'm still making it home right on time.  

Not gonna lie, it is FUN testing out what this body can do.  Let's just say my leg muscles and I are developing quite the affectionate relationship.  

Which just goes to prove, God can change me really any way He wants to at all.

Monday, August 6, 2012

stepping light and compression pants

If you've been hanging around the naked blog awhile, you might recall that when I started running (May 2011) I was immediately discouraged by the heaviness of my footsteps.  I felt like a heffalump plodding down the path.  BOOM.  BOOM.  BOOM.  I speculated about whether it would ever get better.  I felt self-conscious next to the lightly bouncing nubile wonders that practically floated by me along the path.  OY.

This morning, only a mere more-than-a-year-later, I was tickled to notice...I'm finally stepping a lot lighter!  YAY!  

But why?

Is it the fact that I'm so much lighter?  I mean...I still haven't weighed since that doctor appointment last fall and have no intention of doing so any time in the foreseeable future (cuz it's still only about letting God teach me to love my body, NOT about the scale, the measuring tape, or even the shape of my butt), but if I had to guess, I'd say I'm 80 pounds lighter than when I started all of this some 20 months ago.  So is it just less pounds of me to pound the pavement?

Is it that practice makes perfect and I've stayed the course?

I've been getting more and more in tune with my body - is it that?

Is it the incredible joy in me right now?  You don't even KNOW how many reasons I have to be smiling and bouncing lately...

Maybe all of those things, at least in part.  I don't know.  But I DO think that...believe it or new pants helped.  You might recall that an anonymous friend decided she wanted to bless me with new running clothes for the Bix; the pants I chose are compression capris.  I didn't do that ON PURPOSE - it was just what the store was selling, and I was so happy not to feel like an overstuffed sausage in them that I bought 'em.  When I got home today, I was so blown away by how much lighter my step had been all run that I googled "benefits of compression pants."  Ummm.  They might have helped!  Go figure!  

So here's a big thanks and major props to my friend who blessed me...I know she reads...girl, you affected more than just my Bix!  THANK YOU!



Saturday, July 28, 2012

bix blog!

These little soldiers did some good work today.  I FINISHED THE BIX!  Seven miles, much (most?) of it on an incline.  Walked, ran, did not stop.  FINISHED!  Words cannot describe how grateful I am to my friend Sarah for provoking me into this what felt like utter insanity.  If I had skipped it, I'd have really missed out on something.  

I expected to put something up here right after the race.  It's funny...though I was terrified of how long we were running, I hadn't anticipated being too tired to even write a blog afterward.  Wow.  Coming home after the race, there was stretching and icing and showering and a huge bowl of chopped veggies for lunch, and then...when I thought it would be blog time...sleep.  Sleep wasn't "one of the choices available to me."  My body was having it and there was no negotiating.  Tried to get up after an hour, only to find my body had apparently converted to solid lead.  Pressed back down onto the bed, I slept a total of about 3 hours.  And am now sitting here with my feet up, listening to them tell me the story of what a job that was, and folks...I ain't goin' nowhere.  

But that's the afterstory.  Let's go back to the beginning!

Here we are, waiting for the fun to begin! YES we were excited...
It's a beautiful thing, living just a couple of blocks from the starting line.  Sarah and I had just a short walk to the back of the line, just ahead of the walkers, where we had been designated based on having no previous recorded race times.  It'll keep you humble, knowing the walkers are just RIGHT THERE - or it did me, anyway, as I already knew a bunch of them would be kicking my butt (this based on my experiences on the Chicago Lake Front Path - always [NOT] fun to be passed by a walker while one is running!)

This is the most "Chicago feel" I've experienced since moving back to the QC!
Seeing 20,000 people line up for a race is impressive.  Being a height-challenged person, I couldn't see most of it, but here's a glimpse from Sarah's phone.  

You can't *start* 20,000 people all at the same time.  Happily, we were wearing computer chipped tags, which meant our time didn't start until we actually crossed the starting line.  That was, ummm, either a block or 2 blocks from where we lined up and by my calculations from reading race results, it took us just about 4.5 minutes to actually reach that starting line.  At that point...HOLY COW.  I could look up Brady Street hill and see all four lanes of the road filled with bodies, top to bottom, side to side.  An awesome mass of humanity.  It's a rush you have to experience to appreciate, I think.  

Starting with that hill is discouraging.  We were running faster than I normally would.  It takes me maybe half a mile to really get to be "ok" on any run, and the (4-5% grade) hill takes up most (all?) of that distance.  Truth:  I didn't feel like I could finish the race, as we were climbing the hill.  Truth:  it took me another MORE THAN HALF A MILE just to recover from that hill.  I kept moving, but - dude - I was dying.  

But the crowd is a huge encouragement - both runners and spectators.  So much noise.  Cheering, music of every kind.  We were sprayed with yard sprinklers and told what a great job we were doing.  People knew just the right beat to turn up loud, music-wise, and more than once that beat helped me step a little faster - from stereos to live bands, the music was a crucial piece of the energy.

There were drink stations along the way - people standing holding out paper cups of water.  I quickly learned that if I am handed a half cup of water, I can swallow most of it.  When it's a full cup they give me...well, let's just say I end up wearing it more than ingesting.  This is NOT a complaint - after a bit, I was pouring water down my neck, down my back, on my head...and shuddering and hollering a bit for the joy of how good it felt.  You drink and you drop the cup and keep running.  After awhile, there were spots where we basically ran on a carpet of smashed paper cups (and if you're worrying about worries...afterward, all sorts of people were out raking up piles of cups from the street!)  

Because the race doubles back on itself, we got to see the superstar runners coming back around when we were just past the first mile marker.  They were incredible.  I can't imagine being able to move that fast at all, much less for that far.  

Each mile was marked with a huge banner, and featured someone calling out race times as we crossed.  That was helpful - I had checked out the "race calculator" on the race website ahead of time and knew we had to finish each mile in about 17 minutes to make our goal of doing it within 2 hours.  Definition of encouraging:  at every mile marker, we got to hear times that told us we were on track to make the goal.  We even ran the 2nd mile in 15 minutes, which MIGHT be a personal best for me since I took up running 15 months ago.  

Having Sarah with me was invaluable.  I guess it's POSSIBLE to run a race alone, but I know for sure more than once I stepped faster with her than I would have without her.  And the conversation and camaraderie along the way were great gifts.  A race buddy is a Very Good Idea.  

Fun things I saw along the way:  costumed runners, a dude on stilts (he beat us), someone running barefoot with tape on his toes, "the Marilyns" (you haven't lived until you've seen multiple Marilyn Monroes out for a run!), some foolish young guys running with beer, people of every age and size and all manner of getup.  The only bummer all day were some church folks, unsmiling, holding up "Repent, the kingdom is at hand" and ummm NOT radiating love. Really?  You're advancing the Kingdom like that?  Hmmm.   

The most moving thing (to me) was a soldier running in full gear with his packed rucksack.  Early in the race, he carried the black POW/MIA flag; if it was the same guy, he didn't have the flag at the end but he finished at the same time we did.  Feeling the burn of the run in my lightweight clothes, I appreciated what my son went through at boot camp on a whole other level and was nearly undone at it.  He didn't get cheering crowds when he ran all those times - he faced screaming superiors and weather much worse than what I was running in (and let's not even START on the fact he did a lot of it with stress fractures in his feet).  Yes, I finished the race fighting tears and praying for soldiers everywhere.  I'm not always *for* all the wars, but I am certainly behind those who give of themselves for the cause of peace.

At the turn-around there is a digital readout of race times.  We were at 57:02 there.  It was loud - drums and so much to take in that mile 3-4 just flew by.  I still wasn't sure we could finish within the 2 hours, because the race (other than the Brady Street hill) is largely DOWNhill on the first half.  How would we maintain the pace for the second half, fighting our way UPhill?  Sarah suggested the strategy of running for a count of 20 and then walking for a count of 10.  Great strategy.  It took us a long way. 

Little extras passed out along the way included "Mr. Freezie" ice pops and bags of ice cubes.  It was fun to see how much fun the volunteers were having as they blessed us.  If you can ever do this race, even just to walk it, I recommend trying.  It's a pretty great high. 

We ran more than we walked - we're in agreement that we ran at least 4 of the miles, including uninterrupted running for the last (more than) 1 mile.  Coming DOWN Brady Street hill was a rush.  Being newbies, we mistakenly thought the starting line was also the finish line, and we crossed it holding hands and hollering.  Thank God for the other runner who came by and straightened us out:  "This is not the finish line."  Oh.  Oops!  

Still, we got there.  Sweaty, soaked, sore, grinning like idiots.  Yup, we made it!  And we both finished several minutes before the two hour mark (my time was 1:56:29; Sarah finished a little before me.)

*Insert victory yell here*

We did stop by the race after-party, where all sorts of food and drink (the good-for-you stuff and the bad-for-you stuff as well) was laid out for our enjoyment.  The item that most surprised me there:  free beer.  The beer line was LONG.  Happily, I didn't want to be in it.  But really, free beer?  Someone committed some dollars there!  

I am a runner.  

It took me nearly 17 minutes per mile, but I am a runner. 

I was passed by walkers, but I am a runner.

I did it in size extra large running clothes, but I am a runner.  

It sent me to bed afterward, but I am a runner.

I finished.  I am a runner.

And, guaranteed:  that didn't happen - would NEVER have happened in MY life - without 19 months of personal, one-on-one "training" from the very God of all the universe, JUST FOR ME, on how to love my body.  I think I'll stick with letting Him teach me.  Like...forever.

To God be the glory.  Great things He has done.