Monday, March 29, 2010

Somewhere the Sun is Shining

Somewhere the sun is shining
So honey, don't you cry
We'll find a silver lining
The clouds will soon roll by.

I've been humming this song since I returned home from my run with THR this morning; in the shower, washing dishes, riding the bus, and eating dinner with my family, this song has repeated again and again in my head. It has been my theme for the day. Yes, positive affirmation to myself, the clouds will soon roll by. In fact, they rolled by this morning on my run.

I have always loved 1920's/30's music and I attribute that love to the BBC mini-series Pennies from Heaven (and to a lesser extent BBC's The Singing Detective although I remember that more for bestowing on me my completely irrational fear of moving scarecrows... don't ask) written by the amazing Dennis Potter and staring the talented Bob Hoskins. I loved that mini-series and watched it over and over again on VHS until the tapes finally stretched; I listened to the soundtrack until I had memorized every song and would dance around the house to them. I loved how even the sad songs sounded hopeful. In times of sorrow, I have returned to those songs and they never fail to make me feel better. I am also sure that in some way my need to randomly burst into song is directly linked to that series.

I hit a bit of a funk after my last blog post. I had started to struggle a bit more with running and I was getting frustrated with it; I wasn't meeting either of the goals I had set for myself (although the amount of water consumed and hours of sleep has increased); German study had hit a road block almost immediately out of the gate thanks to a lost textbook. With feelings of failure weighing on me, I headed back to the West African Dance after two weeks off and succeeded in having a great time while pulling not one, but two muscles. Two! The real kicker is that the move was not the 'throw-your-body-around' move I would have expected to hurt myself on, but a rather tame 'hop-from-one-foot-to-another-while-waving-your-hands' move. It was like a complicated dismount from a pommle horse only to pull your hamstring walking off the mat. I was out of commission for a few days and that just added to the funk.

Then I headed out for my run this morning. As I walked to "our corner" to meet THR, I questioned why I thought to start running in the first place. Did I really need this? Perhaps becoming a more active speedwalker was a better idea? Wasn't I just holding THR back? She is, after all, fitter and faster than I am and I appreciate that she goes at my speed, but at what point am I just more of a nuisance? We're supposed to up to five minute intervals this week, shouldn't I just admit defeat now? Having told so many people how much I was enjoying the running, could I just back out without them commenting? But then, then we started running and a great thing happened: I ran faster than I had before. I pushed myself just hard enough and I went further in my three minute intervals than I had any of the other times. We went so far in fact, that I worried we would run out of route to be run before we ran out of time on the clock. Suddenly, five minutes didn't seem so scary. Sure, I'll struggle the first time, but I'll persevere and it will become easier. I struggled with two minutes when we started and I overcame that. I struggled with three and today I ran faster than I ever thought I could. When I parted from THR after the run, I started to hum and resolved to spend this week seeing the silver linings and not the clouds.

PS. It was less than a year ago that I learned of the American remake of Pennies from Heaven starring Steve Martin. I gave it 20 minutes and then I had to turn it off. I could have gone another 29 years without knowing that it existed; it's just wrong.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Excuse me? Wie bitte?

I have spent much of my life being the 'I would like to' girl. I rock at the 'I would like to', but I am a horrible disaster when it comes to the follow-through. I want to change that; I'm going to take that 'I would like to' girl and change her into the 'I will' girl. I will (see it's happening already) stop thinking how nice something would be to accomplish but instead set the goal, make a plan and achieve it. Ultimately, that's what I really want from this whole journey that I'm on. "I would like to hike the Chilkoot Trail" became "I will hike the Chilkoot Trail". I set a goal (with a few mini-goals ahead of it), I've made a plan, and I'm doing it. If we were German, I'd be changing from möchten to müssen.

Wow, look at me getting all bilingual with the German! Isn't that random? No, it's not. I used to speak German fairly fluently. I used to write entire papers in German. German people who I'd meet in Victoria (I worked in the tourist industry) used to think I was Swiss because of my accent and vocabulary. Used to. I went to write to a friend a few weeks back and after 20 minutes of struggling to complete the first paragraph, I gave up and wrote to them in English. Well, German, I'm here to tell you that "I would like to speak German again" has become "I will speak German again". I've set my goal, I've made a plan and (as of this past weekend) I'm doing it. For those of you near me, get ready for me to say things in English and then repeat them in German. This is my pre-emptive apology: I'm sorry. Es tut mir Leid.

I continue to set various goals related to health/fitness on top of these 'other' goals. My eatting could still be cleaner, but for the moment I'm choosing to concentrate on drinking more water and going to bed earlier. Water's a big one for me because I'd be lying if I said I drink more than three glasses a day. I know... BAD! My goal for the next two weeks is to drain my 750ml Camelbak at least twice each day. As for the sleep, I've gotten into the really bad habit of staying up until midnight when I have to wake up for 6:30. It hasn't totally done me in yet as I have days off for school and usually find myself still averaging out to eight hours a night per week, but sleeping until 10:00 on my days off is really annoying for someone who used to never sleep in past 8. Hopefully, I can do these two tiny things for two weeks (roughly the end of the month) and I can cross them off my goal list.

And finally, I want to wish everyone a Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Or, as my dad taught me to say it years ago, Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig! I've been listening to the Fureys (my dad's favourite band), Christy Moore (my favourite aunt's favourite singer), and Na Casaidigh (a completely Irish group from Co. Donegal) to get into the right frame of mind for the celebrations. I with you all a safe and happy day of pretending you're one of 'my people' ;-)

All of my Ireland pictures are on my family computer, so I am reduced to finding ones online. I tried to find something personal to me, so here you go. It was in this church that I used to light candles for my granddad who passed away when my dad was eight. That row of houses includes my Grannie's old house. I remember playing in the front yard and my Uncle Kevin running out of the house to shoo us all inside because a funeral procession was coming and it is disrespectful to watch it go out. It was an exciting day when we were finally deemed 'old enough' to be given money and walk into town on our own to buy our 99's. I could go on and on about it, but I will just say that the regular trips to Ireland as a child are so much a part of who I am today that I often just tell people I'm from there because it's easier than explaining the real story.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ein Royal mit Käse

Someone in my apartment building had McDonald's tonight. I know because that's all I could smell in the elevator as I headed out for my run. The few times I've had McDonald's in the past year (usually a good 4-5 months apart) I always end up feeling sluggish and sick but I keep going back. There is something in their food which holds slightly addictive qualities; perhaps it's the 5000:1 ratio of fat/sodium:actual food, perhaps it's the fries with the sprinkling of what I can only assume is sodium crack, perhaps it's the fact that I have no willpower and it still smells good although it makes me feel like ass, perhaps it's that Ronald McDonald secretly sneaks into my bedroom every couple of months and plants subliminal messages in my head. I may never know why I always feel this need to return to McDonald's. I stood in the elevator straining my mind to think I had forgotten anything so I could ride back up to my apartment, but I had everything so I stepped off the elevator, and headed out to meet THR for my run... or rather walk. I'm still not totally better so I'm slowing down the running for just a little bit.

Despite the fact that I'm not feeling well, there was a couple of times on the walk today when I wanted to break into a run and that made me feel good. The more I run, the more I like it. I'm seeing results; my body is changing, my cardio is improving (although right now it pretty much sucks because I can only breath through 1/4 of my nose), my distances are increasing... it's a great feeling. I have decided that I want to set myself a goal for running. I have the 10K coming up which I plan to "run" (read=run as much as I can) but that's very soon so I can't really train for it beyond what I'm doing, so I've decided that if I feel good running the 10K then my next goal is the Royal Victoria Half Marathon in October. It's scary saying that because I look in the mirror right now and I don't see a runner: I see me, my mouth and a (despite shrinking) large butt. I can't, unfortunately, sass my way through a half marathon so I need to find that runner in there. I know she's in there, lost in one of the rolls of fat and probably slowly suffocating.

I really didn't think I would enjoy running when I first decided to actually give it a try. A random conversation with a friend about the Antarctic Marathon in 2013 and this little idea started to take root. Delays thanks to my severly sprained ankle almost seemed like some sort of warning sign, but here I am and I'm loving it. I want to become a runner and that's more than I ever thought possible. I always imagined that I'd run because it was a good way to get and stay fit not because I wanted to do it. With this world of running opened the world of travelling to run. I loved this idea of centering travel plans around a race. I started searching for races in parts of the world I want to travel to (or back to in many cases) and as a result, I've set another goal for myself: if I ever run a marathon, I want to pop my proverbial marathon cherry with the Three Country Marathon in Europe. I debated about the Jungfrau Marathon but it has a scary altitude change and there's a lovely cog-wheel train all the way up there so really, why run it?

I miss Switzerland. The view from Sami and Susi's front steps.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My butt makes my butt look smaller

Both my butt and my chest are getting smaller so it's only safe to assume that the rest of me is too. I noticed both of these shrinkages (again, quite possibly making up words here) at rather unusual times, and as I have no shame, let's talk about them now.

I noticed the smaller chest first during last Wednesday's dance class. It was the end of our eight week session during which we learned one entire dance called Soko; as part of the final 'performance' of the dance, we were broken up into two groups and danced for each other. As Lynn, our teacher said, "you wouldn't have joined a dance class if you didn't secretly want people to see you dance." During our warm up and first few practices, I noticed that my bra no longer seemed to be keeping me in place in the way it used too. I could feel the girls moving almost independently of the rest of my body and during the moves in which we're bent over at the waist, I had to fight the temptation to hug my arms to my chest to stop the moving. It was great that they're getting smaller and so I need a smaller bra, but I still had this class to finish and all I could think of was that 14 year-old girl who stopped playing soccer for this very reason. I decided to take the old 'screw it' attitidue and just dance. It's predominately woman, what do they care if my boobs flop in different directions from my body and each other? It was going fine until we got to a move which I can only describe as bending-at-the-waist-and-doing-the-wave-with-your-upper-torso. It's a really fun move and I was so happy with myself when I finally nailed the feet/arm/upper torso move in the previous class. This time around, I made the mistake of letting my head drop a little further than normal to see my ample bosom moving towards my face like some sort of steamroller along my body. It seemed almost slow-mo in that second and an image flashed in my mind of having to explain how I got the black eye to my coworkers the next day. Then I hit the part where the torso moves up and the moment was gone. I made sure not to drop my head that far again, added 'new sports bra' to my shopping list and smiled at the knowledge that the shrinking was starting.

I noticed the smaller butt on Friday at work. Specifically, I was standing at the printer with my hands on my back/hips like I often do and I randomly realised that my shelf was gone. Larger woman know what I'm talking about, that part where your back meets your butt and suddenly juts out like some sort of mini-shelf where you could place your coffee cup when your hands are full. Well, it was gone. I could slide my hands down a nice gentle slop to my actual butt. I couldn't get over this. How had I not noticed this before? I stand with my hands there a lot, how did I miss the changes as it got smaller? Have the Adipose come to this planet and we just don't know it? (Doctor Who reference... such a geek!) I don't know how long I stood at the printer rubbing my backside, both pleased and shocked by this developement, until I snapped back to the realisation that I was rubbing my butt in my workplace!! I grabbed my documents and headed back to my desk, but I will admit that I have repeated the action of sliding my hands down my waist to my upper butt the entire weekend. I had noticed my jeans feeling looser, but I didn't know if they actually were or they had that need-to-be-washed-add-stretch to them. Now I know and it rocks.

If a diet pill could turn your fat into these cute little guys, wouldn't you try it?
picture: BBC Worldwide

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Being sick sucks when you don't have your mommy

I should have seen this coming: I couldn't seem to get myself out of bed the last half of this week, I struggled with my run on Friday in a way I haven't struggled with it since the first week, all I wanted to do while out with a friend yesterday was sit down even though we were just casually walking around, and I had innumberable sore muscles in places I had previously thought devoid of muscle tissue. I am sick and it sucks.

I was in denial that I was sick, convinced I just hadn't slept enough or I'm just out of shape, but after I returned home from dinner at the Blue Nile last night, I hit that wall that says STOP. For the first time in months, I crawled into bed before 10:00pm and just crashed. It was a disappointing realisation as I had plans for another run today and a skating session with a bunch of people from work; having spent so many weekend hidden away in my apartment because of school work, I was really looking forward to the social aspects of these outtings.

Instead, I will take it easy and spend the remainder of the weekend crocheting and seeing my family for dinner tonight. I'm mentally feeling a little better but still lethargic and achy so I may drag myself to the local movie theatre for an afternoon show. In the meantime, I'm going to see if a hot shower can loosen some of the aches out of my back.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Is there anything Calvin doesn't know?

I feel like I've hit a wall with writing. Not just writing for this blog, but with all my writing. I have a million ideas in my head but everytime I sit at my laptop all that comes out is drivel and I end up erasing it. I have repeated this over and over again; Friday, Saturday, Monday and now tonight have all seen themselves fall victim to my delete button and bed time (Sunday fell victim to the hocky game, completely different issues altogether). In the case of this blog, I think I might be suffering from too many topics to talk about and a complete lack of where to start: I'm having hip problems and it feels like a tendon, I won an exercise journal, I'm loving the world of weightloss that I have found on Twitter and (by extenstion) the numerous blogs I now follow, my running partner is back, at the rate I'm going I'll be making an entire women's hockey team out of my coworkers, I've signed up to run (not walk as the last six years) the TC10K, I'm debating about actually joining a WeightWatchers to make my food choices more accountable, I'm reading a history of the Chilkoot at the moment and it makes me want to go right now, and the list goes on. Without some sort of path to follow, my thoughts and ideas on these topics all turn into some sort of jumbled mess which reads like, well, like a Japanese menu translated into Russian and then into English.

I also feel that as my life becomes more jumpled with an every-growing to-do list, writing becomes harder. I'm sure this is completely mental but then, isn't writing? So I'm bringing my back my giant lists and hopefully I'll be back on track with my writing soon.