Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My 5K Picture

Yay! The digital copy of my 5K picture that I ordered arrived tonight, so I can finally share it here.

This photo was taken by and is owned by Facchino Photography. It was taken at the finish line, and the smile on my face is one of pride, exhaustion, and happiness. And yes...that is a rubber duck strapped to my right wrist.


A couple of weeks ago, in one of my typical, rambling conversations with M. the Reasonable, it somehow came up that earlier this month, I came home from a run and removed my running shoes, only to find that I had a blood stain on one sock. My fourth toe was bleeding around the toenail, and I never did figure out why.

As I said to M. at that appointment, "I didn't feel a thing while I was running!"

His response was to slightly widen his eyes, smile slowly, and say, "That...is savage."

Laughing, I told him, "Hey, I'm hardcore."

"Yes, yes, you are!"

Fast forward to Sunday. I went on my run and felt just fine--it was a very good run, actually. I arrived home to find that--oh, gah--I have a fresh blister on my left heel. It's a recurring thing these days. I had bled through my sock onto the inside of my fancy running shoe. And I didn't feel a thing while I was running.

It's a badge of honor.

It's savage. It's hardcore. I am a rock star. I am a runner.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I [Heart] the Internet

Last night, I was participating in a Twitter chat for fitness buffs, and made a point of posting the link to this post, to share my story.

A little while later, Jennifer Ehle, the lovely English actress who played Lizzie Bennett to Colin Firth's Mr Darcy, responded to me. She follows me on Twitter, you see, ever since she asked people to share old games/toys from the 70s and 80s that we all used to play with. She followed everyone who responded to her that evening, saying she'd love to have a big play date with all of us. : )

Anyway, she complimented me on the success I've had losing weight, and I replied that I'd been in a Twitter chat, hence all the talking about weight loss and running. She came back with, "I read your blog!"

Jennifer Ehle read my blog.

I LOVE the Internet!

Fangirling over here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Hairy Situation

In April 2010, I embarked on a bit of an experiment. The question: How long can I get my hair to grow before A) it's either too long to take care of, B) I'm completely sick of it? or C) It just stops and won't get any longer?

The answer has come in the last few weeks, as I decided that getting about six inches of my almost waist-length hair cut off would be great. Taking care of it has become a pain, and the ends were fried from all those years of bleaching.

So today, I was happy to get to the salon. I told the lady to cut six inches off,  and touch up the layers, figuring I'd still have lots of length, but I'd get rid of the nasty ends, and it would be so much easier to wash, comb and style.

I even showed her, with my hands, what I thought six inches should look like.

No problem, right? The hairdresser took me to the sink to wash my hair, and we walked back to her station, where she combed it out, then pulled out her scissors, and...

Chopped off TEN inches.

I stared at the mirror, unable to comprehend what was happening.

She kept merrily trimming, shortening it even more. I just sat there like a moron, wanting to cry. There wasn't much I could do now.

She finally started to blow-dry it, and I reached up and said, shakily, "It's...it's really short."

She insisted she did what I told her to do, cutting six inches off. I said, "No...no, that's more than six inches."

"Well, the bad stuff is gone!" She was smiling reassuringly at my bleak face in the mirror. I wasn't drinking her Kool-Aid.

I was getting a little angry, actually.

Finally, she picked up some of my discarded hair and showed me. "See? Six inches!"

"That's...a lot...more...than...six...inches..." I said in a measured tone. She made some half-hearted protests about it being six inches and I just stared at her and said, "Whatever."

She started to style it. "No, please, this is fine. I'm just going home." She took the cape off and I fingered my hair, which was almost to my waist and now just brushes my shoulder blades.

I was close to tears, incredibly angry, and I just wanted to get the hell out of there, never to return. (For the record, the salon is Papillion Salon in Lincoln, CA, if you're looking to avoid having this happen to you.) I said to her, "I just hope I can still wear it in a ponytail when I work out." I took my scrunchie out of my purse and put it in a messy ponytail (after she had blown it dry, which was probably rude but I wanted her to know I was unhappy so maybe, in future, she won't do this to someone else) before paying her.

And here's the thing--it's a good cut. It looks great. Mom loves it. Dad was complimentary. My duck lady friends think it looks adorable.

But I'm shell-shocked. I wanted six inches cut off. Not ten (more, actually, once you factor in the additional trimming she did after quickly lopping off that initial ten inches).

Yes, it's cute. Yes, it will grow--and quickly because of my good nutrition and frequent exercise. But I'm so angry that someone can blatantly go against a customer's wishes and then act like it's what I asked for.

Anyway, for the record:

That's how long it is all around. And yes, I was pissed when I took this

Yeah, more than six inches.

Anyway, yes, it's a cute cut, blah, blah, blah. I can wear it in a ponytail without needing seventeen clips to hold it in place, which is good news for running and working out. I'm still a little angry, though. And I will NOT go back to this woman, if this is how she treats customers.

Conversations With My Trainer

Two months in to my training with M. the Reasonable, things are moving along quite nicely. I'm losing weight every week, he's never had to get angry with me, and he once even told me he wishes he could transfer some of my "great" attitude to his other clients. We have a great rapport, so my appointments with him fly by in a flurry of hard exercising (he's nice, yes, but he still makes me work hard) and easygoing chatter.

We have none of the acidity that I could sometimes throw at G. the [long-suffering] Meanie (make no mistake, he gave me my share in return). I admit, I was a brat to the kid. With M., there's the occasional hint of sarcasm:

MtR: Okay, you're going to do [insert name of exercise I'm not crazy about] now.

Meg: Oh, GOODIE!! 

He usually just greets this with a slightly evil smile, and possibly, "Your favorite!!"

Today, the following exchange occurred while I was completing an exercise I struggle with:

Meg: I can do this!

MtR: Yes, you can!

Meg: That was more for me than it was for you.

MtR: I know, I just wanted to let you know I'm on your side.

Meg: I appreciate that! Actually, I do that a lot. I mutter to myself as I'm working out. It's like I need to hear it, not just think it. People must think I'm crazy when I'm running.

MtR: I do that, too!

We went on to discuss that we talk to ourselves, basically. How it's not enough to simply think, "Come on, you candy ass, don't give up!" (yes, the term "candy ass" was used by both of us, and it was agreed that it's a great descriptive term). Sometimes, you have to hear it. So muttering it out loud to yourself just makes sense. In our minds, anyway.

All of my trainers have been great at motivating me, but it just seems like M. is constantly positive and upbeat about all of the successes I'm achieving, and also when I have bad days. He does not let me get down on myself.

I didn't see him as usual on Monday because he was ill, so at today's appointment, I was excited to tell him that 1) I weighed in at 158 the other day, and 2) I've signed up for my next 5K (roll on, February 26th). He was, of course, very pleased, and then he pointed something out.

MtR: So, February 26th...hmm, we'll be staring at the 140s by then!

Meg: Yeah...[thinking about just what this means] yeah...Wow, yeah!!!

MtR: [laughing as he watches light dawn on Marble Head]

Meg: I've gotten in the habit of focusing on the immediate goals. I've been thinking, "Yay, I'm getting close to 150! But you're absolutely right, I'm not far away from the 140s!

By far the best conversation we had today, however, was the one I thought might make him think I'm a complete moron.

Meg: Yeah, so...it's a little crazy. But...I ran my 5K on Sunday with a rubber duck strapped to my wrist.

MtR: [initially looking confused] A rubber duck?

Meg: Yes, I have a lucky rubber duck.

MtR: [motioning with his hands] Like a full-sized rubber duck?

Meg: No, he's just a small duck. [motioning with my own hands to show him how little Cali Swimmy is] It's kind of a long story, but he's got four friends. There are five of us--me here in California, Lindsay in Detroit, Maayan in New York, Amanda in Holland and Sarah in England. We all have ducks. We take random pictures of our ducks in random places.

MtR: That's awesome!

Meg: It's ridiculous, really, but--

Mtr: It's not ridiculous. I think it's awesome.

Meg: Well, we have fun, anyway!

MtR: So you take it everywhere?

Meg: Yeah, I take it on trips and adventures. My friends here have gotten used to me pulling the duck out of my purse for photo ops. Like when my friend Summer and I had our little trip a couple weekends ago, I took some duck pictures. I love it when I find a fountain, so he can swim in it.

MtR: [full-out laughing by now] I love it!

We discussed how there are people with traveling garden gnomes and other funny things, and he said, "It's not even weird, anymore, really, to do stuff like that. People have their strange little things, but no one really cares of thinks its strange anymore. This is your strange little thing, but I like it!"

Cali Swimmy approves. And yes, he'll be running that next 5K with me.

I've enjoyed working with all of my trainers--all of them have been easy to talk to, and though this blog would make you think that it was all sarcasm and acid with G., we actually had laid-back and friendly conversations all the time. It makes the workout more fun--I actually enjoy working hard at the gym, as it feels great to sweat and know I'm doing something great for my body, but having someone to talk and laugh with does make it even more fun. So it's nice when a trainer and trainee can get along as well as I do with M.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going Down!

When I finished my training with G. the Meanie in July 2010, I weighed in at 158 pounds. In two months with M. the Reasonable, I've lost the 15 I gained back in a year-and-a-half and I am now back at my "fighting weight." I have more to lose, of course, but when I weighed in yesterday and the scale said 158.6, believe me, I was feeling good.

Last night I had choir rehearsal, and I always try to dress well for that. Mom thought I looked really cute last night, in my Steve Madden boots (LOVE THEM) and a top that was, when I bought it in October, too tight to wear in public. My skinny jeans are baggy.

Always, always, followed around by my cats...

So here I am, at 158. I've got three appointments left with M., so I'll be buying more. He'll help me get to my next mini-goal of 150 pounds, and even beyond that. I'm within 20 pounds of 140, which is fantastic.

People have been asking me what my goal weight is, and I'm still loosely thinking 130, but honestly, both M. and I agree that a specific number is unnecessary, and that I should really just focus on having a healthy lifestyle and achieving my optimal fitness level. I'm hoping to get to a size 6 (right now I'm a size 10) in the next few months, and I have a feeling that's where my body will be most comfortable. I'm always going to be curvy--I have hips and booty and bust--and I'm fine with this. I also have muscle and strength, and that's improving every day.

Roll on, 2012. I'm off to a great start!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Music: Aqualung

Aqualung was recommended to me by iTunes, of all things. iTunes figured I'd enjoy it because I bought some other artists' music. I've been keeping a list of bands to "try out" on YouTube and so I set off to listen to Aqualung.

Unfortunately, iTunes didn't really get it right. Most of what I heard was just so-so. However, I did really love this song, and it's worth sharing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My First 5K

Today I ran the Whole Foods Running School Family Fun Run in Roseville, CA. Three or four months ago, I found a flyer for it while shopping at Whole Foods (gah, I love that store) and took it home, thinking, "Hmm. Maybe." Since then, I started training with M. the Reasonable, and as he encouraged my daily running, I started to think about making this 5K a goal for January. Right after New Year's, I signed up.

Here's the thing with me and running: I'm a lot better at it than I think I am. My biggest battle these days isn't shin splints and huge discomfort. I rarely (knock on wood) even have pain. My biggest battle is that stupid little voice in my head that keeps telling me, "You're not a runner." The devil on one shoulder keeps telling me that, while the angel on the other shoulder protests.

You know, like this.

So, yeah. I don't always believe in myself. The good news is, that's starting to change. Still, I approached today's "fun run" race with some trepidation.

My usual daily run course takes me about two-and-a-half miles. Most days, I can run it without stopping or walking. I haven't pushed myself to three miles in more than a year, and the last time I ran a sub-10-minute mile was July 2010. But since going back to training, I've been gaining confidence and even some speed, in small increments.

Anyway, I'm getting away from the original point of this post, which is to talk about today's race! 

Last night, I asked my fellow runners on Twitter for advice about running a 5K in the rain. I got some great responses, including:

I also made a great 5K playlist on my iPod, using some of my favorite "running anthems" to inspire me along the route:

Yep, two songs with copious use of the f-word. I actually use "F*** You" to
tell that little devil in my head to go away and leave me alone.

This morning, I donned my red shirt (Why red? In honor of The Bloggess and her Traveling Red Dress Project.), but ended up abandoning the hat.

The 5K started at 8:50, so I arrived at Whole Foods at about 7:30, wanting a good parking spot and an easy registration. I've walked some untimed 5Ks in the past, but today was the first time I've ever had a timing chip. I collected my race bib (#759) and promptly...went back to my car to get warm.

And to take random pictures.
My race bib, my timing chip, my iPod, and my lucky rubber ducky. Also, my
new Nike shoe wallet to hold my car key and Chapstick.

Of COURSE Cali Swimmy had to come along! I used a couple of hair ties
to tether him to my wrist.
At 8:30, I went to the starting line to watch the 13-milers start their race. It was fun to cheer them on, and, ten minutes later, the 10K runners. Then I lined up near the start and walked in place and jumped around a bit to get warm. Finally, it was time for the 5K runners to go.

I started off at a reasonable pace--I am not a fast runner, but I knew I'd beat the walkers, anyway! I had to laugh when a lady passed me with her three-legged dog and it occurred to me that even a dog that's missing a leg is faster than I am. After that, I decided not to worry about how I ran compared to others, and to just enjoy the run as much as possible. (Some people enjoy running. I tolerate running and enjoy how I feel when I'm finished.)

I'm not gonna lie--I walked more of today's race than I intended to. There were some small hills that did me in (I run in a hilly neighborhood every day but I've got a route that goes mostly downhill and leaves the uphill parts for my cool-down walk back home). And my biggest complaint about "fun run" races like this one remains--dogs (except, of course, service dogs) should not be allowed. Not because a three-legged dog passed me, but because a little yappy dog almost tripped me by darting out in front of me with a taught leash. 

But overall, I did very well, and just treated it like my normal Sunday morning run. As I approached the finish line, I felt like I'd accomplished something good, and very, very proud of myself. The clock said 37:03 as I crossed the line, but I'll have to wait to see what my official time was. I'm also waiting for the photographers who were there to get the pics up online, so I can see myself in action. 

I went into today's race with what some might call low expectations. I didn't want to set a best time. I didn't expect--at all--to place within my age group. All I wanted was to go out there and prove--to myself--that I can get out there and do a 5K. I wanted to finish in less than 40 minutes. 

Mission accomplished.

When I got back to my car, I dug my cell phone and wallet out from under the seat and saw a text message waiting for me. It was from M. the Reasonable, just before the race started, wishing me luck. I texted a simple reply: "I did it!" 

Within a few minutes, I had his response: "I knew you would! Great job!" He's very supportive, is M.

I'm pleased with myself. I'm looking for more races to do, to keep challenging myself, and in the mean time, I'll continue running my daily neighborhood jaunt (well, not daily, I run it five days a week) and improving my time, my form, and most importantly, my confidence.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I've been quiet the last few days--I guess I just haven't had much inspiration to blog, and I've been busy with my normal working out and job-hunting duties.

Tomorrow I run my first 5K of 2012, and my first timed 5K ever. I'm nervous and excited and ready to get out there and get it done. M. the Reasonable has been encouraging me all week and told me to send him a text when I finish. He's really awesome about giving kudos when I need them.

Today was my rest day, so I've mostly just sat around. I watched a whole movie without getting up from the bed (since I've adopted a more active lifestyle, I sometimes find it hard to sit still for long periods of time) and cuddled with the cats.

It's supposed to be rainy and windy tomorrow, which isn't ideal for running a whole 5K (my normal running route these days is 2.5 miles, and a 5K is 3.1--I can do it but it's going to feel a lot longer in comparison, especially in rain and wind). I'll survive, though! I've got my red shirt ready to go, and I've devised a "leash" for Cali Swimmy so he can ride along on my wrist. It won't just be Cali going on a run with me tomorrow, but also my friends in ducky madness!

So it's off to bed early for me tonight--I have to be up early to eat a healthy breakfast and get ready. I want to get to the race venue early so I don't have to fight too hard for parking, and so I can walk and stretch a bit. I'll probably do the foam roller at home before I go.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I've been paying behind-the-scenes attention to the bills coming up in Congress that have many, many people worried about Internet censorship and our ability to freely blog, use Facebook, Twitter, and many other popular web sites.

Tomorrow, a large-scale online protest is happening--you may have heard about Wikipedia "going dark" for a day. The goal is to encourage everyone who uses the Internet for anything to contact their representatives (if you click on THIS LINK, it's super-easy to fill in your info and contact them within about thirty seconds). Use your voice, people--the elected officials don't run this country, WE do. Tell them you won't stand for Internet censorship!

This video does a pretty good job explaining how SOPA and PIPA would affect us all:

In support of this strike, I will not be blogging tomorrow (the Wordless Wednesday post you will see was scheduled tonight, to make a point). I will be using the Internet--I have daily job-hunting tasks that have to be done, after all--but my blog will be silent. If I have some sort of inspiration to post, it will have to wait 'til Thursday, and as I am the type to write blog posts as they come to me, this pains me. I can't imagine my right to this blog--which I've kept for over seven years--ever being taken from me. It would break my heart.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Music: Beck

Here's the thing about Beck--I was aware of him in the 1990s, but I was so immersed in my love of pop music that I didn't pay a whole lot of attention (though I always giggled at the song "Loser").

Fast forward to 2011, and Meg, who is hopeless when it comes to knowledge of the truly good music from the 1990s, has a chance to see Beck live at the Bridge School Benefit concert. And she likes what she hears.

Determined to hear more and form an opinion, once and for all, about Beck, she files away the idea that she needs to do some YouTube research. And then promptly forgets.

Fast forward again to a couple of months later. I was talking to M. the Reasonable about music during a workout  in December and he made an off-hand mention of Beck (M. and I are of the same generation and also in very close agreement about what makes for good music). That evening, at home, I finally gave Beck a good, serious listen on YouTube and I walked away amazed. After all these years, I'm finally one of the cool kids who knows just how awesome Beck is.

Anyway, here's one of my favorites from his playlist.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Running For Another...And For Myself

Yesterday, Beth of Shut Up And Run asked us all to remember her cousin and friend, Sherry Arnold, in our runs this weekend. Yesterday was my rest day, but I strapped on my running shoes this morning and went out for my run, and yes, I thought of Sherry. People like Sherry should not be forgotten...she is all of us.

It was windy outside when I got up this morning. I was not looking forward to going outside in the cold, but an hour or so after my breakfast, I dutifully strapped on my running shoes and set off with my iPod in hand.

I walk a fairly long warm-up route most days, listening to music and getting my legs primed for the run ahead:

At the corner of Spring Valley and Longspur Loop, I begin my run. Today, I was apprehensive--after having yesterday off, short drills on Friday, and a lame attempt on the treadmill on Thursday, I didn't know how I'd do out on the pavement today--especially with the wind as high as it was. But I started off at a fairly confident trot and settled into an easy rhythm.

At about the first mile, I thought of Sherry, and the joy she got from running. I still run because I have to for weight loss, and not so much because of joy, though I can feel a change slowly happening in me the more I run. I thought of how happy she would have been to be out on a sunny Sunday morning, battling the wind and watching hawks fly overhead. Maybe some of her joy, or her confidence, seeped into me. I kept running.

At Mile 2, I turned onto Twelve Bridges Drive, and the hard part began. This is always the hardest part of my run--I'm so near to the finish, and yet I can't rest. It is ever-so-slightly uphill at this point, and that is taxing on my legs and lungs. Today, I was running straight into heavy wind. My body was instantly fatigued. I put my head down and pounded harder. My arms were swinging, almost punching the air.

I let myself walk for about thirty seconds--the wind was just so intense. But I finished my route on a run, checking my stopwatch to see how I'd done.

Twenty-nine minutes, seven seconds.

Last week, I set a personal best on this route of 29:48. So today, battling wind, I bested my best time by forty-one seconds...and this with that thirty seconds of walking!

Elated, I began my mile-and-a-half cool-down walk home (uphill).

All told, I put in about five miles when I go out for a run--half walking, half running. Today, I burst through my best time, and I did it while running in difficult conditions. I feel very good about that.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Did You See THAT, Grandma Bean?

On January 10, 1982, when Joe Montana connected to Dwight Clark for The Catch, I was three years old. There's a chance (I'll have to ask Mom) that I was "watching" the game with her, and Grandma and Grandpa Bean, who were devoted fans of the San Francisco teams--the 49ers for football and the Giants for baseball.

As I grew up and understood a little better, I came to love the 49ers as much as my grandparents and Mom did, and I can remember some fantastic moments played out by great athletes: Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig...so many. I knew the starting players of the offense and defense--I still have great respect for guys like Harris Barton and Tom Rathman. I loved George Siefert's stern demeanor, and I watched my share of great 49er moments in the 80s, and into the 90s. (Also, for the record: I never referred to the stadium as anything but Candlestick Park or "The Stick." Because...no. Just no.)

I was, of course, a huge fan of Steve Young and the guys who took the team into the 90s. Jerry Rice continued to be a star (greatest wide receiver ever? You'll never convince me otherwise!), and new guys like Terrell Owens came in and kept the tradition of excellent offense alive.

I remember very well The Catch II from 1998, when Steve Young connected to Terrell Owens with eight--EIGHT!!--seconds left in a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers. Mom had left the room. We both figured the Packers had it, but I stayed in the living room, determined to support my guys 'til the bitter end. The crazed screaming that issued from my mouth brought Mom running back in time to see the replays, and I remember hugging her and doing a victory jig around the living room.

By 1998, both Grandma and Grandpa Bean were gone--Grandpa for seven years and Grandma for four. It was just Mom and I celebrating a fantastic sports moment. By this time, I was in college, and my own football viewing was way down. Turns out studying, being a music major and having a social life takes away from Sunday afternoon NFL viewing. It wasn't that I didn't care about the 49ers anymore, it was just that I had other things going on.

Fast forward fourteen years (how time flies!) and I haven't paid a tremendous amount of attention to football or the 49ers over the years. As my heroes retired and my favorite team floundered, I paid some attention...but I also allowed my new found interest in NASCAR (now, amazingly, going on eleven years) to take over my Sunday afternoons. Shouts of "GO JUNIOR!!!" replaced my excited shouts of "DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!" I still considered myself a "49er fan," and would let anyone know that I had some serious fan credentials--I watched all of those five Super Bowls, thankyouverymuch (even if I don't necessarily remember one or two!). But really, I was a fan in name only for a long time.

I vaguely noticed this season that the 49ers seemed to be doing well, but again, I didn't pay a lot of attention. I had NASCAR, and my own running, and time with friends and family. You know, other stuff.

Then this morning, I noticed the 49ers were in the playoffs, and today's game would pit them against the Saints. Feeling a bit bored and listless this weekend (after last weekend's marvelous adventure with Summer, now I've got pretty much nothing going on), I decided to tune into the game.

Well, WOW.

It was a great game, though there were some sloppy defensive moments from the 49ers that allowed the Saints to first, catch up and second, take the lead. Then, the Saints pulled ahead in a stunning play with two minutes left, and the hearts of San Francisco's fans bled red and gold all over the place as they started breaking.

Here's the thing, though. One doesn't grow up a 49er fan without having a little bit of faith in sports miracles. I was spoon-fed replays of The Catch and I have watched this team come from behind in the face of crazy odds more than once. I never turn away from a 49er game until the last second has ticked off that play clock.

I believe...I think!! Yes, I believe! Maybe. Oh, hell. GO NINERS!!

My faith in the team may seem a little misguided--after all, this is a team of guys I know nothing about. Long retired are the incredible athletes I cheered for in my youth, and I was frantically learning names as I watched today's game. The coach is new this year? I didn't know that. But like any long-time fan of the San Francisco 49ers, I crossed my fingers, and I willed them to pull that miracle play out of their hats.

And what do you know...with the Saints ahead by three and only nine seconds left on the clock, Alex Smith threw a pass, and Vernon Davis caught it...and landed in the end zone. People are already calling it The Catch III or The Catch 3.0.

Thirty-three years old, and I can still scream like an eleven-year-old. And believe me, I did.

What a game. I can't wait to see what happens next week.

What 160 Looks Like

I snapped this picture of myself yesterday. This is Meg, at approximately 160 pounds. Getting slimmer, getting stronger!

Meg, sweaty and feeling gooood after a workout.

The off-the-shoulder thing was a joke for my fellow ladies in ducky madness, though the shirt does have a tendency to move off one shoulder. Many things do. I have narrow shoulders, or so I've discovered through this whole weight loss adventure.

I'm hoping to be in the 150s on Monday (even if it's just 159.9!!) and forever out of the 160s. We'll see!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Sobering Reminder

I recently started following a blog, Shut Up and Run, for inspiration and humor. However, a week ago, the woman who writes it, Beth, posted that her cousin and friend, Sherry Arnold, had gone missing while out for her Saturday morning run in rural Montana. The only trace of her was a single running shoe.

Since then, I've checked in daily for updates. Today, the sad news came: Sherry Arnold is not coming home. The 43-year-old runner, wife, mother, and teacher leaves a small community of people shocked and saddened, but beyond that, she leaves a much larger community--of runners, of people who understand what it is to go out there and pound the pavement--desperately trying to understand why terrible things like this happen.

I didn't know Sherry, but she is me. She is every woman who constantly looks over her shoulder while running, calling herself paranoid. She is every woman who skips a day's run because it's too dark out, or she doesn't feel safe running alone. She is every woman who has been harassed, assaulted--or worse, abducted and/or killed while exercising that wonderful, oh-so-human right to go out and find joy in being healthy.

It's such a sobering reminder to all of us. It makes me sad, and it makes me angry. I hope whoever did this is found and appropriately locked up for life. I hold out hope that our world will get safer for women, that we will continue to watch out for each other.

My sincerest condolences go out to Sherry's family, friends and community. Her husband and children are in my thoughts as they come to terms with their horrible loss. Rest in peace, Sherry.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If My Glutes Could Talk...

It's been a week or so since I've blogged about the ole fitness adventure, so tonight, let's talk about my booty.

Just what you all wanted!

I bring up my glutes because, OY! They are hurting today. Yesterday, M. the Reasonable had me do a new exercise, in which he put a 60-pound barbell on the floor and I had to move it across the room by squatting, picking up one end, rotating it, and then squatting again to gently set it down. Back up, rinse, repeat. Across the room and back. It was intense--in a good way.

My workouts with M. are going very well. He makes me work, and he does not let good form slide. During yesterday's glute-a-thon exercise (we also did some heavy-duty work on my back, shoulders and triceps), I looked at the weight I was moving, smiled and said, "Sixty pounds. That's how much I've lost, you know." He grinned back at me. "I can't believe I was carrying this around on my heart, my ankles, my...everything. And now I have to work to lift it off the ground."

This week, I've been less plagued by anxiety (actually, I've been quite chipper), and I've had some good runs, though on Tuesday, my left foot started to hurt. Paranoid about injury, I immediately sought M.'s advice on Wednesday, and he showed me some stretches I can do. It's still giving me some issues, but when I ran on the treadmill today, I notice the pain lessened when I ran (but was worse when I walked, go figure). Either the running motion helps stretch the sore muscles, or my foot was going numb.

Not exactly what I want to deal with a week shy of my first 5K, but I refuse to let it get me down.

Overall, I've lost about twelve pounds since I've started working with M., bringing me back to 161.6 pounds (as of Monday, anyway) and closer to getting back to the 150s. I got to 158 with G. the Meanie and I'm looking forward to forever bidding adieu to the 160s over the next couple of weeks.

Tomorrow, it's back to the gym for my weekly assignment. It involves lots of squats and lunges, as well as some intervals on the treadmill. My glutes are weeping just thinking about it, but I did it twice last week and know I can power through tomorrow, too. Saturday is my rest day and then it's back to the running on Sunday.

So we're plugging along. I'm seeing huge differences in my body--slightly leaner, muscles coming back, and even my Burpees are getting better, miracle of miracles (I did 12 yesterday with M. and I could actually jump back, instead of having to step back. Yay me!). My skinny jeans are baggy, my size 10s fit comfortably again, and my pajamas are falling down on me.

Honestly, training is the best thing I've ever done for myself--it seems to be the motivation I need to stay healthy and strong, and the guidance is great. I've been really lucky, first with G. and now with M., having trainers with styles that I work well with.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Monday Music: Ben Folds

For all the time I've known Summer, I've known she's a huge fan of Ben Folds. I always meant to get to know his music, but it wasn't until July, when I saw him in concert, that I really started to understand what a flippin' brilliant musician he is. I've been slowly buying up as much of his music as I can justify spending my money on at a time, and I'll probably feature him a few times more on Monday Music. It's too difficult to pick just one good song to share.

This one is great live--there's an audience sing-along (on those Ahh-ahhs in the chorus) that is a lot of fun. He can get a large crowd harmonizing!

Here's a great video of him singing it with the Dartmouth Aires on "The Sing-Off," complete with audience participation.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Running In Red

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that over the last two years, I've had my share of ups and downs when it comes to running. The biggest problem I have with the sport does not come from shin splints or sore knees but rather good, old-fashioned fear. Fear of injury, fear of failure, fear of believing in myself.

In the last couple of months, I've started following The Bloggess, a hysterically funny blogger who writes irreverent musings on life and Wil Wheaton. She buys giant metal chickens named Beyonce, and her long-suffering husband puts up with her shenanigans. I have been known to sit here at my computer, near tears from laughing at her blog. And then, last week, I was in real tears, reading this post, and later, this one, about her depression and self-harm...and the incredible, moving response the first post got from her readers all over the world. People who get it. People who relate. People who have been saved by finding out, from The Bloggess, that they are not alone.

Today, I found out about a project she's been doing for over a year now, The Traveling Red Dress. The gist of it is that she decided, a while back, to stop worrying about how impractical it was to buy a flashy red evening gown, having no place to wear it...and to just buy the dress and enjoy it. To give herself permission to live. Because, as she said, "I am worth it." The dress, after she enjoyed it, began a journey, traveling from woman to woman to woman, bringing joy, freedom, and LIFE wherever it stopped.

Where am I going with all this?

I have decided that I am sick and tired of letting the bad days get me down. On Thursday, I had my second bad run of the week and texted M. the So-Kind-To-Put-Up-With-Me about my frustration. I was tired. My shins hurt. My confidence was in the gutter. It was my 2nd bad day in one week after the previous week was so great. With two-and-a-half weeks left until my first 5K, I was feeling like I'd never be able to run the whole race, or even half.

Tonight, I've made the decision to let go of all that. I am going to stop caring about times, personal records, and my own always-fluctuating confidence. Two weeks from today I will line up for my first true 5K. I will run. I may not run the whole way. I may run slower than ever. I may set a best time. But I will cross that finish line with a smile on my face, and I will enjoy every minute of that race because every step will bring me closer to realizing my goal of truly believing, deep in that dark inner place, that I am a runner.

I've decided to wear red. All of my workout gear is black for convenience, so I'll have to find red running gear. If I can't, I'll make some sort of sign I can wear pinned to my back. But in honor of Jenny the Bloggess, and more importantly, in my own honor, I will be wearing red--literally and figuratively--as I run my first 5K.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The First Mini-Adventure of 2012, Part 2: On a Mission

After finding and purchasing Biggie Swimmy last night, there was nothing else that could be done but to go back to the hotel, watch a rented movie on Summer's laptop, and then crash in happy exhaustion.We woke up this morning ready for more adventures, and after leisurely getting ready and having some breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and got on our way.

I'm lucky that I have two very good friends who are also interested in seeing the California Missions. Today I saw my 11th and 12th missions with Summer (only nine to go!): Mission Santa Clara and Mission San Jose.

The first stop was Mission Santa Clara, which is on the small campus of Santa Clara College, a Catholic university. The mission is lovely, and beautifully maintained.

Fantastic sign that Summer spotted as we drove to the mission.

Mission Santa Clara.

A very old adobe wall.

Curiously, there was a bowl of water and a bowl of
cat kibble...as well as some pictures of a cat.

Inside the church itself. I love the bright colors used in the mission church

The ceiling.

Mission Santa Clara was the first mission named
for a female saint.

After Santa Clara, we set off for Mission San Jose (which is actually in the city of Fremont), stopping along the way for Greek salads.

We had to drive down Benton Street (Benton is Summer's maiden name).

Mission San Jose

It took both of us a moment to be comfortable pronouncing "Gloriosisimo."
He must have been very glorious indeed.

Short doorways, or Meg on stilts? Either way, look how skinny I'm
getting in my middle!!

With 12 missions under my belt, I've seen a lot of this
guy, Fr. Junipero Sera, the founder of the missions.

All pictures in the church are blurry because no flashes were allowed.
But you get the basic idea.

As I muttered to Summer, "Funny that they have all these pagan
Christmas trees all over the place..."

An experimentation...taking a pic through the keyhole of a very, very
old door.

I changed the setting on my camera and accidentally
got one picture with the flash. oops.

One last look at Mission San Jose.

After Mission San Jose, we drove back to Oakland, where I transferred my gloriosisimo new rubber duck, my overnight bag, favorite pillow, and cooler (M. the Reasonable is going to be quite proud of me for taking wise food choices and protein smoothies along with me this weekend) to Rosie Pro and hit the road for the two-hour drive back to Lincoln. 

I had a wonderful weekend with Summer, filled with laughter, chatter, catching up, and some fun adventures. I got to see three great tourist stops I hadn't seen before. Summer and I agreed that we need to have mini-adventures more often, and we have plans to find something fun to do the first weekend of February.