Wednesday, May 30, 2012

it seems pain is my teacher just now

Recently I developed a pain in my right foot and ankle.  I have no idea of its source.  I don't remember injuring it.  There appears to be no bruising or swelling, though it certainly FEELS both bruised and swollen much of the time.  It also feels arthritic some of the time.  And it falls asleep at strange moments for no discernible reason. 

My response to this has been varied.  First, I powered through and just ran on it, as I know from a lot of experience that if it's just stiffness, it'll run out.  And the pain did go away about halfway through that run (which was about 15 minutes later than usual, for running out general stiffness)...but after my run...OY it came back with a terrible vengeance.  I took a couple of days off of running, and that seemed to help, so then I ran again and it got worse again.  That has been sort of a round-and-round cycle for almost 2 weeks now. 

I googled to see if it is possible to get carpal tunnel syndrome in one's legs, as it sometimes feels kind of like that.  It IS possible - it's called tarsal tunnel syndrome.  Let's just say I am frantically hoping it's not that.  

I haven't wanted to go to the doctor for this.  I have wanted it to Just Go Away.  But I've realized in the past couple of days that my attitude was one of an attempt to not deal with reality as it is.  So, reluctantly (and protesting how much this is probably going to cost), I have resolved that when I get home from vacation, I'm going to get myself an appointment (and meanwhile YES I am praying for healing, though I tend to be of very little faith on that, no matter now many miracle healings the Lord does in dumb...I truly do depend on His mercy, when it comes to this hard head of mine.)  I can't let pain sideline me at this point, and I'm feeling quite sure that trying to "muscle through it" would NOT be an example of choosing to love my body.  

The Lord has brought me too far, on the front entitled "learning to love my body," for any turning back now. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

escaping the fat suit, one moment at a time

Somewhere around the time I was in college, Hollywood started utilizing very believable "fat suits" for famous comedians to create humor of my least favorite sort in their movies.  I hate fat suit humor.  I don't think it's funny, and I don't want to hear how funny you think it is.  Not cool.

But the fat suit is something that has always made me think.  I didn't grow up heavy (though I thought I was an appallingly enormous cow from puberty on.)  I can remember hitting size 18 in college and feeling like it was the end of the world (funny how things change - I'm awfully tickled to be back *down* to an 18 now) and the prevailing thought as I dealt with my heavier body was:  I still feel like little, smaller me stuck inside a fat suit.  I have always been able to physically FEEL the smaller me inside the encasement of extra flesh, and wayyy too many times I have longed to just unzip that sucker and step out of it.  

While there ain't no zipper on this thing, at last I find that I am coming out of the fat suit.  It's a long journey out - one bite at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time.  I wasn't ever able to make any lasting progress out, as long as I was "trying to lose weight."  

For ME, the way out of the fat suit is simply:  let God teach me to love my body.  Listen, follow, obey, thank, repeat.  One bite at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time.  Actually loving my body, even while it's still at plus size...that's the best gift.  The freedom ranks right up there a close second.  And yeah...somewhere on the list...not at the TOP, but it's on I am grateful to be stepping out of the fat suit.  There's a ME in there, and she's finding her way out. 

Some of that journey isn't very fun "in the moment."  Yesterday was another 50 mile bike ride.  I started with a tailwind (this is never wants to END with a tailwind!) and the ride home was pretty slow.  A large portion of the last 10 or 12 miles is out away from any trees or protective structures, fairly exposed to the wind, and I felt like I was riding into a wall.  Remember how Lucy and Ethel used to break out in that big silly fake "WAHHHHHH"when they got in a jam?  That was me (at least it's what the inside of my head sounded like), the last quarter of my ride., exhausted.  My butt hurt from the seat.  The heels of my hands hurt from the grips, and carpal tunnel pain was shooting up my arms.  The bottoms of my feet felt bruised by the pedals.  My neck and shoulders were sore and kept tensing up - it was constant work, pushing them down into better alignment. I couldn't look ahead, couldn't think ahead.  All I could do was push the pedal, and push the pedal, and push the pedal again.  It's really the only way to finish.

Not very fun.

But worth it?

Oh yes!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

weather and cool musicians: a lulu adventure

Biking to work on a fairly regular basis changes one's relationship with the weather predictors.  Where once their information was mildly interesting, now it becomes the major deciding factor in a daily decision:  bike, or drive?  I have come to believe that when the forecasters say there is a 30% chance of precipitation, what they REALLY mean is, "It's not going to rain, but we reserve the right to be wrong about that."  Coming to that conclusion has meant that I mostly disregard little 30% threats and ride my bike anyway.

I did a bit of a double-take when checking yesterday morning, as the forecast said 30% chance...of SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS.  Hmmm.  Eventually I decided it was more of the same old stuff, and I really, really wanted to ride, so I did.  The weather was beautiful going to work.  The weather was beautiful riding from work to a committee meeting at a nearby church afterward.  I chained Lulu up to a telephone pole, hung my helmet on her handlebars, and jauntily bounced into the church without a care in the world.

During the meeting, though...the weather changed.  First it went from super-bright sun to dark.  Then the trees started whipping.  Next thing I knew, I was not hearing my fellow committee members say much at all, as I was too distracted by what I saw:  it looked like someone had turned on a God-sized fire hose out there.  So much rain, and all if it blowing directly sideways.  Trees waving frantically as if they were preparing for liftoff.  Ohhhh golly.  

How was I going home in THAT?!

Well I sat there, not being a good committee member but instead thinking through my options, and figured out who I was going to call for help.  Meanwhile, the storm spent its fury and moved along as quickly as it had appeared. 


I came out afterward and shook a lot of water out of my helmet as I checked out one of those crazy weather times that are easy to love.  The sky was intermittent patches.  Some threatening, low, dark thunderhead sort of thingies.  And some patches of shockingly bright blue sky.  It wasn't raining.  But it sort of was!  It was all just strange enough that I was thoroughly enjoying riding my bike through it (and checking out whole portions of trees on the ground from that few minutes of craziness.)  

When I came down the ramp of the Arsenal bridge to veer onto the bike path, I looked over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't going to collide with anyone.  

What I saw made me shout, "OH!" like a little child and jump off my bike to get a better view:  A DOUBLE RAINBOW!  

It was so huge that I couldn't begin to get the whole thing in one shot, but here is part of one end of it.  The "double" didn't show up as well on camera, but if you peer hard above the one that's easy to see, you might glimpse it (it kind of runs right through the bulb of the lamppost).  It was wonderful.  I wanted to stand there until it went away.

A little further down the path, I turned up the hill toward my place.  There, leaning against the RME (short for "River Music Experience") Building, stood 2 guys in jeans and black t-shirts, leaning against the side of the building with so much coolness that they HAD to be musicians (nobody pulls off "cool" like a musician, am I right?!)  Lulu was all look at me! and they were totally eyes-on, with great big silly grins, from a full block back until I was well beyond them.  She's such a show off.

She was flirty this day, too!
I like that about her. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

how many miles do you think i rode this weekend?

One of my recent consistent goals has been to ride 75 miles in a weekend, the plan being that Friday can count as part of the weekend at first.  Easier to get 75 miles in with 3 rides.  And then the thought is I'll move to doing it within 2 days.  That MIGHT be the most conditioning I'll do in preparation for my August century ride in Chicago.  

I can't remember if I had made the 75 mile goal yet before this weekend - I know there have been a multitude of social obligations as well as some weather issues that have hung me up quite a bit.  Nonetheless...I DID IT this weekend!  YAY!  Hit the goal and surpassed it - my total miles ridden over those 3 days, including today's 50-mile jaunt, is (and I had to do the math SEVERAL times to get this right)....90!  WOO HOO!!!

My carpal tunnel is giving me fits - the bike really flares it up.  Friday night it was there but pretty manageable, with just some opening and closing of my hands as I rode along.  Saturday morning it started in on me at mile 2, and I fought it the whole ride...but didn't have to make any stops to deal with it.  Today was a 50-mile ride, and my hands started acting up at mile 1.  I used every coping-while-riding technique I know, and also had to make pretty frequent stops as my right hand especially just started feeling like a big meaty paw with almost zero feeling in it (hard to brake well with zero feeling in your fingers) and pain pulsing up my wrist and arm.  Darn carpal tunnel.  I came across some possible solutions for it recently, but haven't had the funds to buy the book.  And no, if you're wondering...I'm not interested in the surgery.  From what I understand, as long as one persists in continuing the offending behaviors, it just comes back anyway.  And I'll not be stopping on the keyboard nor on the bike anytime soon - those are my two greatest contributors to the problem - so I'll just keep looking for non-surgical solutions.  Though I've given this topic an entirely-too-long paragraph, it's not really a deterrent for the bike...soooo...onward and upward (says the lady who will sleep in wrist braces tonight and probably work in them tomorrow!)

The other fun element for the ride was the bugs.  All of my bike paths run along water.  And this is apparently "flying insect season" in full.  All weekend I rode through continuous clouds of bugs.  There are these blonde-colored winged insects that seem to be just EVERYWHERE; today early in the ride, one flew into my ear and then was trapped by my helmet strap.  Major miracle, that I didn't crash while coping with that (some things just make you instantly crazy, ya know?!)  Later, a gnat got caught between my glasses and my eyeball and did a little pinball game before I was able to wipe him away.  Several times through the day, those blonde bugs shot foomp right between my helmet and my head - just hit at full speed and slid right in there, though none of 'em wiggled long, once lodged.  Disconcerting, but I ignored it (and seemingly all their little carcasses exited my hair in the shower afterward.)  I'm apparently learning how to ride without my usual big dumb happy bike-riding grin, cuz I don't think I swallowed a single bug all weekend.  Projectile spit some...well, YEAH...but nobody went down the gullet.  Ahhh progress.  My least favorite of the little darlings are the ones that land directly on my face or the exposed part of my chest, and get instantly caught up in the gumminess of combined sweat, SPF 80, and dirt...and just struggle there, wiggling and wriggling until I get a free hand to wipe them away.  Ahhh bug life. 

Anyway, even with all that nonsense, being out on the bike is better than not being out on the bike.  It was around 70 today and sunny - nice enough that I could wear short pants but long sleeves (surviving Melanoma makes one not as fond of the whole "tanning" craze - I'll be glowing white, thank you!) 

My legs are less sore tonight than they have been after past 50 mile rides.  I think that means my time on the Duck Creek path, conquering its frequent and steeper hills, has conditioned me nicely. Oh, I'm still sore tonight - but I didn't need a soak in the hot bathtub afterward, and THIS is progress.  Which I could have guessed, by the very noticeable-of-late reduction of size of my thighs.  While they are still massive to the unfamiliar gaze, I'm here to tell mind is blown by how much smaller they "suddenly" seem (she says, two full years into biking, one full year into running, and something like 16 months into letting God teach me to love my body..."suddenly" indeed...)

Before I rode, I feasted on:  3/4 cup brown rice (that's TOO BIG a serving in general, but I knew I was about to ride a 50, and that's a good time for carbs), 1/2 can of refried beans, 1/4 can of fire-roasted tomatoes, 1 entire avocado, chopped, a generous dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and a big bunch of red sauce, all with a big ol' bottle of water and then a water chaser.  That was an AWESOME bowl-o-food and carried me through the day well.  I did stop at the half point of the ride for 2 hard boiled eggs (from a local farm, of course) and I drank my water backpack dry while I rode.  Afterward, I enjoyed half a porterhouse steak (I don't do meat most days anymore, but this was extra I had from preparing for a church cookout yesterday), a small baked potato, and a small bowl of Greek salad (and endless quantities of water - I sweated enough riding that even with all that drinking, I didn't need a singe potty stop in the 6 hours I was out there).  Tonight, craving something sweet, I had a banana.  Turns out that'll scratch the itch just as well as ice cream might have.  Who knew? 

Probably too much detail there.  Just sharing another day in the life of letting God teach me to love my body.

This stuff rocks. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

okay, i'm ready to take the name

I am a runner.

I am done referring to "real" runners as someone other than myself, even when I try to funny it up, as in "real runners, whatever THAT IS."

This is not because I've done any official event.  I haven't yet.

It's not because I reached any distance or speed goal.  I haven't yet.

Not because I've reached peak fitness and *look* like a real runner.  I haven't yet.  

I am still Karen, who barely picks her feet up when she runs (and thus is in constant danger of tripping and falling over a sidewalk crack).  Still Karen, whom the power-walkers passed easily on the Chicago lakefront path - and I expect more of the same, come Bix time.  Still by any doctor's definition "morbidly obese" - I'm guessing the scale would STILL report I am at least 75 pounds overweight at this point, if I wanted to sabotage myself and step on it. 

Still a long, long way from any finish line.

So why am I calling myself a runner NOW?

A friend who has been a HUGE encouragement for my writing and for my running stamped me with the "runner" title quite awhile back.  I was encouraged when she said so.  But I didn't feel it yet.

But yesterday morning I woke up to pouring rain at 4:45 AM, and I joyously slid into my running clothes and out the door, excited to be out there.  I ran my full 40+ minutes, 2.6 miles, in rain and some wind.  I got soaked clear through - clothes, hair, shoes, the whole shebang.  

I realized that not so long ago, on a rainy day I'd have taken the day off and tried again tomorrow.  That wasn't even a thought that crossed my mind before yesterday's run.  I just had to get out there.

I thought about that while I ran.  That I have run for a full year as of later this month.  I have run in every kind of weather.  I didn't let winter push me off the street.  I didn't let moving derail me.  I'm not doing this because I "should."  I'm  no longer in the place of having to dress quickly and go, to trick myself into not skipping it.  

I'm running because I love it. I'm pushing into the wind for the joy of the challenge.  I'm choosing to run up hills just to prove I can.  I'm totally grooving on the way my leg and butt muscles feel when I move. 

I don't know if I'll ever get better than a 15 minute mile.  And since that's not the point of the story, it doesn't tax my love of being out there. 

I am a runner.

I thought I never, ever, EVER could be.  

What if you're a runner too, and you just don't know it?  What other unknown passions might be there in you, just waiting for a bit of stirring?

Just asking. 

In other news, another pictorial celebration.  Today I was in a "thrift store style show" for an organization I'm in.   I got to wear a smokin' hot dress.  I bought the thing.  Where will I wear it?  I HAVE NO IDEA.  My daughter tells me to create an occasion, if necessary.  Hey, I'm willing!

Check this out:  here I am in August 2009 at my daughter's wedding.  I was all dressed up.  I felt pretty darn great about the way I looked (I mean, other than totally hating and being ashamed of my body):

Here I am today at the style show:

It ain't only POUNDS falling off.  

It's years falling off.

It's self-hatred falling off.

It's doubt falling off.

And get this:  tomorrow, I get to wake up and run again!

How cool is THAT?!

Friday, May 4, 2012

chocolate muffin temptation victory

The nice part about approaching eating as just another way I choose to love my body is that the change in the things I eat just mostly sort of comes naturally.  I'm excited about buying and eating things that love my body...veggies, fruit, beans, seeds, actual whole grains (not fakey, lying "whole grain products.") 

Take last night's supper, for instance.  I put a tiny bit of oil in my pan, cooked up some garlic and onion, added a whole colander filled to the top with spinach and parsley, and when that was cooked down a bit I tossed in a handful of chopped olives, a bit of bell pepper, and very small amounts of whole wheat pasta and organic spaghetti sauce.  The dish was mostly spinach.  It was soooooo good and I didn't feel deprived in the least as I savored a massive plate of it. 

Try to hand me a donut and I will see:  that poisonous trifecta of white sugar, white flour, and fat - bad for the body going in, and 100% sure to stimulate an out-of-control appetite for at least a few hours. 

Nonetheless, this is not a completed, perfected work in me.  Yesterday we had a little reception at work after our National Day of Prayer event, and the table was laden with sweets and fruit.  Know what tempted me?  CHOCOLATE MUFFINS.  I LOVE me some chocolate muffins.  And though they too are that poisonous trifecta...I don't *see* white flour when I look at them.  So I don't have that immediate "no thanks" rising up in me.  This can also be a problem for me with some dessert items, if their appearance doesn't immediately push my "no trifecta" button.

I stayed at the reception for awhile, helping carry coffee cups to tables for the seniors.  When the work slowed down, though...MAN, those chocolate muffins were calling my name.  

Scripture tells us to flee temptation.  Not "resist" but FLEE.  

That's what I did.  Beat a path for my office, leaving those little chocolate muffins singing their siren song after me as I went down the hall.  Victory.  But not by much!  

In other victorious news, I ran up Brady Street hill again this morning.  It was not raining.  It was not as much fun.  Just sayin'...

But I did it anyway.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

i owned the brady street do you like me NOW?!

I woke up this morning to a light show in the sky, and I wasn't about to put myself out on the bridge and beg for my own personal lightning experience.  So...I started my Brady Street hill training.

First I ran down Main Street to the river, just warming up, and then over to Brady and allllllll the way up to Locust.  MAN what a hill.  To add to the fun, it started to rain about 2 minutes after I started running.  It was nice and warm out - like, 62 degrees - and so the rain was just fun and just made me feel like a superstar while I ran.  How you gonna complain about that?  

I am happy to report that I neither stopped nor walked at any point in the run.  I mean, I wasn't exactly SPRINTING, it was definitely Karen In Jog Mode, and on some of the steeper spots the forward motion got prettty slow...but still, no stop, no walk, I WIN!!!  BRADY STREET HILL, I OWNED YOU!!!  HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Focusing on that, this morning, and not on the fact that probably still all the runners and most of the walkers in the upcoming race would have left me far behind, at the rate I moved.  It's okay.  The competition is with myself, not them.  

This is fun.  

In other news, I forgot to put brown sugar in my steel-ground oats when I was cooking them up last night.  I realized it on the first bite this morning.  But you know what?  With raisins, dates, and nuts in was fine.  WITHOUT SUGAR.  How cool is that?

Grateful for making that mistake.  It's only 7:30 AM and I already learned today!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

hill runner

This morning I started my focused hill running - I went up Main Street hill (on which I live) to Locust Street.  I had expected this to be extremely hard.  I gave myself a lot of grace - no pushing for speed, no need to even make sure I made my usual 2.6 miles.  Just get up the hill and back down.  

I was happily surprised to discover:  running up Main Street hill is not a bit harder than running up the bridge.  

So instead of focusing there, on Thursday (when it is again time to focus on a hill), I will run up Brady.  Apparently I've already done the work of working up to it.  I am filled with both dread and excitement about this development - but most of all I am shocked to find myself here.  

I looked back on this blog and I see I started my C25K program on May 23, 2011.  Oh, the difference the Lord has made in me, in a year of shutting up, stopping with all the making of plans and following of programs, and just doing what He shows me to do, one moment at a time. 

I like it.