Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Really BIG Change

Well, if you still pop in from time to time to see what I'm up to and if I've finally come out of my hibernation from posting, ta da! I'm back! Before you get all excited and expect to see pics of the 100's of things I've knit since May, I must warn you: I have not been knitting. Yes, you read that correctly. I. have. not. been. knitting.

Well! Got that out of the way.

I wish I could tell you that I've been really busy doing something deeply meaningful these past months like writing a novel or getting a law degree, but for the most part I've been consuming vast quantities of beer and novels. Satisfying, yes. Productive, no.

After turning 39, I decided that I wanted to be "Fabulous at 40" and was working hard at that goal with a new job and a really fit body when my mom found out that her kidney cancer had returned after 16 years. Needless to say, all of my personal goals took a back seat for several months. I'm happy to report that mom's 6 month cancer check-up was clean and that she has finally retired and is on the road to better health. I say better instead of "good" because she is still struggling with other health issues that are not insurmountable or life threatening, but nonetheless limit her ability to enjoy her retirement. Having devoted so much of my time to providing daily support to someone else, I needed some time to gestate and decide how I wanted to proceed with my own plans.

The first major change came when a woman at my office started a charity based social sports group with her husband. Somehow, I was talked into joining a kickball team by my co-workers. Let me just tell you this: I am not, nor have I ever been, anything remotely close to athletic. Sure, I took Pilates classes for several years and even joined a gym or two over the years, but never once participated in team sports (I don't count that fire pit of hell known as "gym" that I was forced to endure throughout until my junior year in high school when it became and elective rather than mandatory class). When I joined the team, I did it thinking that I'd quit when the 6 week season ended. Surprise surprise. I'm now in the fall league and enjoying the heck out of myself despite my somewhat mediocre stats and am eagerly looking forward to the "varsity" indoor kickball league. It helps, of course, that our team has done very well throughout and is so far undefeated this season.

Did I mention that I am the oldest person on my team? OK, it's only by a year, but still.

After several months of kickball (did I mention the post game happy hour?) and no Pilates and drinking lots and lots of beer, I found my clothes getting tighter and tighter and tighter. At first I told myself that I'd just hop back on my trusty South Beach plan, sign up for a Pilates class and I'd be right back in shape. But it didn't happen that way. Instead, every night before bed I'd vow "Tomorrow I will eat better". Ha! It wasn't until my annual physical exam in September, upon learning that I'd gained 24 (twenty-four) pounds in one year that I realized that I needed to snap out of it. My doctor told me "At your age, in order to loose weight, you either need to starve yourself or get some exercise and the first option isn't very desirable". WAAAAH!

So I decided to do something radical. I decided to start running.

Before I go any further, you must know this: I hate running. I have always hated running. I would proudly boast to anyone who ever asked me "I'm not made for running! It hurts my knees/hips/ankles". My experience with running can be best summed up in four words: Painful Humiliation And Failure. I'm sure it all stems back to junior high when, as part as some national fitness program, we were all forced, twice a year, to run around the parking lot twice. Did we train for this? No. Our times were posted for the whole school to see. Guess who was usually one of the slowest in the entire school? Yeah. Me. Every time I've ever tried running I ran out of breath in like 3 seconds and quit right away. Why on earth would anyone want to run?

My friend Dee turned me onto a training program from the folks at called Couch to 5K (a/k/a C25K). Well, on September 24th, I started the program and my life hasn't been the same since.

I really wish I'd started posting my progress when I began the program, because then you'd see how far I'd come and I'd have a record to look back on, but it's never too late to start. Rather than recap the past 4+ weeks, I'm just going to say this: during the first week, when I had to run (jog) for 60 seconds at a time, I thought I was going to die. On Friday, I ran for 8 minutes, twice. That's more running than I've ever done at once in my whole life, and it wasn't horrible. Sure the first 8 minute run was the usually plodding but tolerable drudgery, but something amazing happened when I started the second 8 minutes: I grew about 5 inches taller and a new set of lungs and suddenly felt like I could run forever. It was the stuff of dreams.

Tomorrow, I am going to run 20 minutes non-stop. I hope to cover 2 miles in that time, but if I don't, that's OK because it will be yet another mind-blowing landmark in my life. Odd though it sounds, I am more proud of running than anything else I've ever accomplished. Probably because it was the one thing that I'd convinced myself that I couldn't do.

Did I mention that I'm signed up for a 5K race on November 23rd?

When I started the program, it seemed like a crazy idea, but worth trying. Now, I'm thinking that a full marathon isn't out of the question.

"It's never too late be who you were meant to be" - Georg Elliot.

I'll keep you posted!