Friday, June 29, 2012

Feelin' Keane

Woohoo!! The day is almost here. Tomorrow, after running and swimming in the morning, I will drive to Oakland, meet up with Summer and Meghan, and enjoy some Keane.

Everything is set. I took some cash out today, decided to wear the infamous shirt again, and Cali Swimmy is beside himself with excitement. He's not yet been to a Keane gig, see. I've made cards for the Keane guys, with sign pics:

I used this one on all four cards.

I am so ready!

Looks like we'll start with dinner at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe first, then go to the gig. I'm spending the night at Summer's, and on Sunday, driving into the city to see Keane play at Amoeba Records in The Haight.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

And So It Goes...

Over the last few weeks, I've bumped up the workouts. Six days a week, I kick my own butt. In a good way...and of course, it's bound to catch up. Here's what I've been doing:

Monday: Run and strength train
Tuesday: Run and swim
Wednesday: Run and strength train
Thursday: Run and swim
Friday: Run and strength train
Saturday: Run and sometimes swim
Sunday: Stare at the walls.

I've been feeling badass and full of awesomeness, until this week, when, as can be expected, the ickies descended. A bit of a sore throat and an all-over fatigue are what I woke up with yesterday, and my strength training session showed it. A simple shoulder press while sitting on a stability ball felt like trying to climb a mountain.

As I do in these situations, I asked M. the Reasonable-and-Awesome for advice/crossed fingers/sympathy. As he does in these situations, he delivered. It turns out he had similar symptoms last week...does this mean I can blame him?

Basically, all he could tell me was to perhaps lay off the super-crazy-butt-kicking activity for a day or two. So today I've done nothing, choosing to lie around on my bed watching "Anne of Green Gables" and drinking tea. Tomorrow I'll head back to the gym after a run in the morning, feeling my way along and hoping that a couple nights of serious Nyquil-induced sleep will give my body the rest it needs to feel better. After all, I've got Keane this weekend! I have to be in top form.

It was bound to happen--any time I step up the amount of activity I put in, my body has to go through a little drama before it completely accepts the new regime. I suppose adding a bike to all this fun will make things even more exciting...but I am determined to do it as soon as I can. ; )

It's hard to say when I went from Reluctant Runner to that one lady who whines at taking a day off, but here I am. Can't say that I really mind.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What's Up?

I feel like all I ever blog about anymore is fitness this, body image that. Obviously, I spend a lot of time these days focusing on this part of my life. I run 5-6 days a week, swim 3-4, and strength train 3. I've been exhausted every night--I'm typing this post at 6:30 in the evening and thinking that bed sounds really, really good.

But what else have I been up to? Here's a few little things.

Well, obviously, there's Keane...

Woohoo! This Saturday, I'm heading to Oakland to see my boys. I'm really excited to see them live again, and hopefully meet them after the show. On Sunday, they're doing a small gig at Amoeba Records in San Francisco, so I'll be at that, as well. Summer is, of course, going with me on Saturday, but Sunday I'll be on my own, so I plan to drive into the city early and hang out in the Haight taking pictures and taking in the unique vibe of that particular neighborhood.

...And the ongoing job hunt.

There's a trend I'm noticing--there are tons of music jobs opening up in the schools--this is great news! And a great many of them are part-time. Not exactly conducive to getting me out on my own again, but that's okay. Just getting a part-time position would be great. I could supplement it with subbing and private lessons (I'm up to five students right now and enjoying all of them). Mom and Dad are okay with me staying.

Of course, I've got my ESL Arts gig coming in a few weeks. I've been to one meeting and we have another soon. It's all very exciting, and the team is fantastic. I look forward to meeting the kids.

Then there's NASCAR.

I've been following NASCAR a little more closely this year because after a few really hard-to-watch seasons, my boy Dale Jr. is finally having a stellar season again. Whatever clicked, it clicked in a big way. He won a race a week ago, and he's inching closer to the top spot in the points standings all the time.

A lovely and awesome friend actually gave me tickets to Sunday's race in Sonoma, but I didn't end up using them. I'm saving my extra money for Keane this weekend, and all of the driving involved with getting to Oakland and then San Francisco and then back home.

And can I just tell you how in love I am?

With my iPhone.

What a marvelous and awesome piece of technology. I fully admit that I've become that lady who posts Instagram pictures of her feet at the gym with captions like, "Gonna kick some booty!!" What can I say? I'm obnoxious.

However, that phone is awesome in so many other ways. I now have unlimited texting (didn't on the old phone) and I can actually receive and hold onto calls here at home! I can't tell you how awful it was, calling potential employers back from the land line and apologizing that my phone had dropped them because I live in an apparent dead zone. For some reason, that's not a problem with the iPhone. Not one dropped call or, "Meg! I can't hear you!!!" since I've had it.

So yeah...I'm kinda boring these days.

Well, I'm enjoying myself, but as you can see, my life isn't all that blog-worthy unless I'm discussing my running or swimming. Of course, when I get home on Sunday evening, I will have tons of pictures and stories to share from my Keane weekend.

And hopefully soon I'll be posting my excitement when I'm offered a teaching position for the school year--even just a 50% contract. Something to get me back into the classroom. I miss it so.

I'll sign off with a gratuitous cat picture. Everyone's fat and happy (well, Millie is still skinny, but she eats like a fat cat and is a very happy girl).

Sunday, June 24, 2012


As happens, when I hit puberty, I started filling out in various places. To my dismay, I was slightly on the pudgy side. Not overweight, just curved in places I didn't want to be curved (and not curved enough in others--such is life, and Mother Nature more than compensated me later on).

I remember a school friend in junior high--she was tall and very slender. One day in P.E., she patted her flat tummy and said out loud, "I wonder what it feels like to be fat?" This has never left me, because I remember standing there in the dressing room, feeling fat and horrendous. Her words didn't hurt me, I knew she was asking a rhetorical question, not even thinking how it sounded. I just remember thinking, "I'd love to feel skinny."

When I found myself, thirty years old and weighing over 220 pounds, I wondered what it would feel like to be slender, to not have the extra fat on my body. I imagined it would feel great, and sexy. When I embarked on my weight loss odyssey, I looked forward to the day I could finally know.

Now I know.

It really doesn't feel all that different.

Oh, sure, my body is smaller. Spaces I used to have to squeeze through I know effortlessly float through. I can sit in a movie theater seat with my elbows at my sides instead of the armrests. Clothes fall more comfortably. In general, I feel more comfortable moving around.

That said, I still bloat when I have my period. I still have moments, after a particularly indulgent meal, where I feel uncomfortable. I still see the flaws when I look in the mirror (though I'm really working on that). Just like anyone else, whether she's a size zero or a size twenty-two, I have the same hang-ups and bodily functions I always had.

A few days ago, I went to the opening evening of a quilt show that Mom's quilt guild is having. As Mom and I wandered around, admiring the quilts, we ran into several of her friends. I've met some of these ladies, and they know my story. They're always quite complimentary when they see me, because the changes in me are quite obvious if you go a while without seeing me.

For the most part, the compliments are benign. "You look great!" "You must feel wonderful!" I smile and thank them, telling them I'm training to be a triathlete, and feeling really strong.

But one of Mom's friends couldn't stop going on about how "skinny" I am. How wonderful it is that I'm skinny. I was uncomfortable--this lady is, herself, quite thin, and has made comments to Mom before about finding fat "disgusting" and horrible. Her repeated compliments on my skinny state made me cringe, even as I felt like laughing a little bit. I'm not skinny. I'm curvy in the hips and I have a bubble butt that I actually quite adore. I have some serious muscles in my legs and arms, the same thick-ish neck I've always had (but I like it more these days). I am, of course, much smaller than I was eighty pounds ago. But I would never describe myself as being skinny.

It made me think. So much pressure is put on women to fit the cookie-cutter ideal society holds above our heads. I'm actually getting a little tired of thinking that skinny and slender and thin should be the goal. (And if anyone ever uses the word "thinspiration" in conversation with me, I might hit them--I hate that word.)What about strength? Ability? Mobility? When I think of the best compliments I've been given by my trainers, I recall less and less G. the Meanie telling me, "You're tiny now!" and think more about M. the Reasonable telling me I'm gazelle-like. Strong, graceful. That means more than any remark about my size--though I still love that he once said to me, "Your body has gotten quite...shapely."

Tell me I'm strong. Tell me I'm fierce. Just please, don't call me skinny.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

One Week From RIGHT NOW

I will be standing in Oakland's Fox Theater, bouncing up and down, excitedly waiting for Keane to take the stage.

Brilliant. : )

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Little Things

I was laughing at something a few minutes ago, and, as I sometimes do, I put my hand on my belly. What really struck me was feeling the abdominal muscles contract as I laughed, where I used to feel nothing but fat. Oh, there's still a bit of flab, and I'm okay with that. But there are some incredible muscles in there, too, and I was delighted to feel them at work.

It reminds me of the "little things" I've been celebrating for over three years now. I think about them constantly--passing the Mac 'N Cheese at the grocery store and going straight to the produce section. It sounds ridiculous, but keep in mind, there was a point in my life when I did not have the willpower to choose fresh vegetables and lean proteins over an easy-to-cook box of processed chemical cheese and cheap pasta. When my stressed-out soul demanded that and considered it "good food."

After my big fall last week, I was craving something gooey and chocolatey. Hey, falling is traumatic! I hurt my elbow! I couldn't work out at the gym! I was stressed. What harm would a piece of chocolate cake do?

I bought some fresh strawberries instead. (Side note: I cannot stop eating strawberries. I think I'd just eat them all day if I thought I could get away with it. I'm going to turn red and freckled any day now.)

The little things. One small choice, with an enormous impact.

It gets me thinking about other small things I celebrate. The pair of pajamas I bought in a size small recently. The slight bagginess of my current pair of Old Navy Sweethearts. Wearing the Booty Shorts of Doom to the gym and not expiring of embarrassment. Feeling like a complete wannabe in my swim cap, goggles and Speedo, but still getting in the pool and swimming--so that I don't have to feel like a wannabe anymore. M. the Reasonable telling me I'm a badass. Having friends come to me for advice on working out and/or running.

And a big thing I celebrate: Learning to love my body, with all of its curves and muscles, its strong parts and its soft parts. This body is not perfect, but it is strong, and it's mine.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meg and the Booty Shorts of Doom

Last week, I went to Sports Authority to buy a swim cap.

I've finally succumbed and become one of those people who walks into a sporting goods store and wants to BUY ALL THE THINGS!!! I drooled over shoes, coveted the bikes, and browsed through the women's workout gear, looking at the clearance racks to see if there were any good running bras.

I didn't find a bra, but I did find a pair of shorts.

They're very short shorts.

As they were on clearance, and I was high on that rush of euphoria that comes with wanting all the gear, I decided I really had to buy these shorts. Into my shopping basket they went.

When I got home, I tried them on. And indeed, they are very short shorts.

The next day, I went running in them. Before I left, I joked with a few friends on Facebook that they are the Booty Shorts of Doom. How I very well could cause a car accident out there, with people turning to stare, or being blinded by my glow-in-the-dark legs.

It's one thing to wear the BSOD (as they're being called) in my neighborhood, and another prospect entirely to wear them to the gym. My friends told me I should go for it. I shuddered, but I did it.

I wore them last Friday, to run some intervals on the treadmill. When I was finished, I had a brief chat with my trainer before ducking into the safety of the locker room to change into my swim gear.

Today, I again donned the BSOD for a trip to the gym. I planned to do more treadmill intervals, but first, I needed to spend some time with the foam roller. I sent a message to my friend Shae via Facebook for iPhone: "I feel ridiculous."

"Why?" asked Shae.

"It takes a while for the self-esteem to catch up to the weight loss."

Truth. Despite Mom telling me I look great in the shorts, and my friends agreeing, I still feel self-conscious in them; I still feel that everyone must be staring at me and thinking, "Why, WHY is she wearing those? Delusional."

It's something I'm working on.

Quote by Shakespeare. Legs by running and training.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Going the Distance

I've been running--and blogging about running, and whining about running--for about two-and-a-half years now. Amazing, that.

It was January 2010 when G. the Meanie made me do a mile-and-a-half without stopping, the first time in my life I'd run that far. I was 31 years old. What came out of that was the World's Most Reluctant Runner, knowing that I needed to run to continue losing weight and getting in better shape, but also hating every moment of pain, every struggle to keep moving.

Something finally clicked about six months ago, when, on Christmas Eve morning, I burst through the wall at last, and started to find that I could really do this. Instead of running three 10-minute intervals, I could run thirty minutes without stopping. From there, a new confidence emerged. I started running 5Ks. And one morning, I was running along the mean streets of Lincoln and I realized I was...smiling? Yes, that was definitely a grin on my face. Shocking.

I'm finally at a point where I run because it brings me peace and joy. I don't always feel like running; there are days I have to force myself out the door. However, I never regret a run. Even a run with shin splints or cramping--because getting out there and just doing it, even if I have to stop early to minimize the risk of an injury, means I've done more than I would have had I stayed tied to my computer.

I've recently joined a running club, and I'm enjoying getting to know the other runners in the group. Most of them are marathoners, and they have already begun joking that while right now I'm a 5K kind of girl, I should get the bug. And here's the thing...I really don't see it happening.

It's not that I don't think I could do it.

I simply don't want to.

From what I see and read about marathon training, it involves a lot more than I want to give to my running. Ice baths, increased risk of injury and wear on the body from running greater distances. I've seen videos of people literally crawling across the finish line, their wearied bodies completely shot from running 26.2 miles.

If that's a person's passion, I'm not going to judge; it simply is not what I want for myself. Obviously, my sights are set more on the triathlon course these days (which, let's face it, is also kind of crazy and extreme in its own way).

But I get this sense sometimes that people who "go the distance" kind of think less of those of us who don't--not openly. I've met some wonderful marathon runners through my new club and Twitter who encourage and respect my choice to keep the running shorter. But sometimes there's this feeling--and maybe I'm just imagining it--that they feel the best runners go long.

And I've actually seen comments on Twitter from distance runners, basically stating that in their eyes, you run marathons or you're just pretending to be a runner. I resent that. Because five or six days a week--every week--I get out there and push myself. I'm not fast. I don't go great distances. But I push, and I sweat, and I feel the joys and the lows that come with being a committed runner just as much as anyone else. I am just as much of a runner as someone who finishes Boston in under two hours.

I don't feel like I have to justify this; I'm writing this post simply to vent some frustration I've felt a time or two. I laugh when my running blogs are featured by marathon newsletters on Twitter--I'm certainly very flattered that they enjoy my posts enough to share them with other runners, but I am also baffled because nothing about my running career comes remotely close to doing a marathon. I don't even run a marathon distance in one week; I generally average 10 miles, though I'm working my way up to 12.

I'll leave the marathons to the people who love them; as for me, you're likely to find me running the streets of my neighborhood with a silly grin on my face, listening to my iPod and feeling a great sense of accomplishment after two-and-a-half miles. For someone who couldn't run a whole mile, even in high school, that's a big deal.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rosie Pro and the Incredible Mess

Last night, Mom and Dad went out for a little while, leaving me here at home to do what I normally do--hang out in my room.

At about 10:00, I heard a loud crash, which startled me. Figuring it was one of the four cats that live in this house, I went to the living room to investigate. The cats seemed startled, but there was no mess, and no tell-tale evidence, such as a fuzzed-out feeling fleeing the scene of the crime.

It was dark out, and the shutters were all wide open, so I turned on a few lamps to ease my mind, and went back to my room. Ten or so minutes later, again, CRASH.

Now I was worried. Was someone trying to break in? I called Dad on his cell phone. He and Mom were on their way home, so I told him I was a little nervous and glad they were coming. Within a few minutes, I could hear the garage door going up (the garage shares a wall with my bedroom), so I got up and went to greet them.

I was greeted by my parents' shocked faces and a huge mess.

Turns out a set of shelves in our garage had completely collapsed, leaving boxes of stuff all over the floor--and my poor intrepid little Protege, Rosie.

A few minutes later, the shelf fell off the wall.

I woke up at 5:00 this morning, so by 5:30 I was out in the garage. I pulled Mom's van out, set up a folding table, and started hauling the mess out from between my car and the wall. Finally, I was able to back my car out without risking running over broken pottery shards (a container full of plant pots was destroyed), and now the garage is looking quite as it should.

Sunday morning, exciting life.

Some of the casualties included some old Christmas

All the boxes on the floor were already there--that's
my eBay stuff.
When Dad woke up, I beckoned to him to follow me. We walked in the garage and much to his surprise, it was far less chaotic. "Happy Father's Day," was my response to his thanks. A little while later, he led Mom out there and I followed to see her reaction. "You did this?!" exclaimed Mom to Dad. "Meg did."

I just wanted to dig poor Rosie out of the mess!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

And Here We Go...

The doubt sets in.

It was bound to happen; after all, one doesn't go from "I want to get to goal weight!" to "I want to compete in a triathlon!" without some ups and downs along the way.

Even though he's technically not my trainer anymore, M. the Reasonable Awesome is still advising me and offering support at every turn. A few days ago, we discussed my desire to train for a triathlon. I told him I figure Summer 2013 is a reasonable goal, and he nodded his head and grinned at me, which is M.-speak for "I agree completely!" I told him that my swimming is progressing--slowly, but it is progressing--but I still worry about one aspect of competing in a tri: swimming in a body of water that is not a swimming pool. It's a deep-rooted fear, and one that will take a lot to overcome. Currents and undertows scare the daylights out of me.

M. pointed out that the swim portion of a triathlon can also be terrifying at the start, from what he's heard, as everyone races in a pack into the water and starts kicking and flailing. (Oh, God.) He suggested I look into the Eppie's Great Race, a local tri that involves kayaking instead of swimming. My first thought was that I've never paddled anything more scary than a rubber air mattress in a swimming pool, followed by a rush of bravado. "Well, three years ago, you'd never run more than a quarter-mile without stopping, and look at you now," I thought to myself. Kayaking can't be that hard, right?

So this afternoon, I sat down and Googled Eppie's Great Race. Two minutes later, I shut down the tab and sat back in my chair, gazing wide-eyed at my computer and thinking, "Who the hell are you kidding? You can't do that!"

It's so easy for that fear and loathing to rush back in. The hardest part of training for a triathlon is not getting up and running, or jumping into the gym pool while a spa-full of older men looks on. The hardest part is believing that I'm doing all of this and getting a little bit closer to my goal. That a year from now I'll be ready, and able. Every time that stupid demon rears it's ugly head, I have two choices: I can cower in fear and let the demon convince me that this is impossible...or I can get up and pound that stupid demon into the ground with my Mizunos.

I choose a good pounding. I have not come as far as I have--eighty pounds gone and so much strength built--to let fear put me off of my goals. I tell people all the time that losing the weight, getting in better shape, learning to run--none of it was easy. Training for a tri won't be easy, either. Maybe that's why I'm doing it.

No one else doubts that I am capable of accomplishing this goal--least of all M. So here's an open statement to the demon:

Game. On.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Scream, You Scream...

We all scream for ice cream!!

I love ice cream. While the Cake vs. Pie debate rages on forever on the Internet, I'll just be in my corner, eating straight out of the carton of Ben and Jerry's. Dublin Mudslide (think non-alcoholic Bailey's ice cream). Red Velvet cake. Ben and Jerry know their ice cream, and how to make me happy.

Of course, my new lifestyle doesn't allow for tons and tons of ice cream. I have the occasional treat, once every couple of months, and believe me, I enjoy it. A lot. But no longer do I buy pints of Ben and Jerry's, or half gallons of Dreyer's. I just can't if I want to maintain the level of fitness I've reached. Ever try going for a run after overindulging on ice cream?

It's not pretty.

Anyway, temps have been soaring here in the Sacra-tomato Valley. If it's not 100 degrees today, it's very close, and has been every day this week. Even with the air conditioner cranked up and aimed directly at my face and armpits, driving around out there is miserable, and sometimes, a girl gets home and just wants ice cream.

Here's my solution.

I recently indulged and bought myself the chocolate-flavored protein whey supplement at the gym. I've been using the vanilla for months in my daily protein smoothies, with lots of fruit and spinach. I got the idea to try the chocolate, and blended it with a banana, a handful of spinach (you don't taste it, and it's packed with nutrients), a tablespoon of peanut butter, and some chocolate-flavored almond milk (much better than cow's milk). Needless to say, it's delicious. Even better? It's healthy, and something I have to consume anyway.

A few days ago, I got the idea to try freezing it. What do you know? It comes out just like frozen yogurt. I can trick myself into thinking I'm getting ice cream instead of yet another smoothie (I drink two a day to help my muscles recover from all the working out I do).

I have a feeling I'll be eating a lot of "ice cream" this summer.

Taken with Instagram on my new-yes-I-absolutely-love-it iPhone.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wisdom For A Wednesday Morning

I just wrote this to a friend, and until the words formed under my fingers on the keyboard, I didn't really realize how true it was:

As the weight has come off, I've started realizing I did it less to make other people love me and more simply because I love myself.

And how incredible is that?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You Know You're a Rock Star...

You know you are a fitness rock star when...
  • Your trainer looks at your bruised elbow and simply says, "Ohhhhh!!"
  • He also gets a big grin on his face when you tell him you finished the run after falling yesterday, and
  • Praises you for coming to the gym to work out after the fall, but also,
  • Knowing when to listen to your body and put off that strength training workout for a day to let your body recover.
  • Oh, and when he looks at the workout you made up for yourself and says, "Yes. Very good."

I'm still sore today--especially my elbow but also just overall--but I managed to finish my workout. Three sets of ten Turkish Get-Ups, one minute intervals of jumping squats, lunge-and-twists, side lunges, side planks (much as my elbow would let me), and bicep curl/presses. Oh, and I chased it all with Tabata intervals on the treadmill--incline 11, 5.5 miles per hour.

I had thought about swimming, and lamented to M. that I didn't run this morning, but Mr. Reasonable himself just smiled at me and said, "You've done your workout for today." Translation: Don't overdo it.

So tomorrow, I hope to run again, then swim. Because I strength trained today, I will skip tomorrow and do it on Thursday instead.

M. just laughed quietly today and said, "It's almost like you're addicted to working out." He thinks it's awesome...and so do I.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Refusing To Quit...And Knowing When To Quit

I had another runner's first today. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner, actually. Yep, I ate dirt. Bailed. Crashed and burned.

I fell.

Tripped on a stupid shoelace.

So down I went, hitting the pavement before you can form the word "splat" on your lips. My left hand and right elbow (my right hand stayed up to better protect my iPod, you know) took the worst of the impact, with my knees coming in a close second. A nearby gardener leapt forward. "Are you okay?" "Oh, I'm fine," I said as I stood back up, assessing the damage.

Mostly embarrassed, I reassured him that I was uninjured, and set off. I finished my run--another three-quarters of a mile or thereabouts. The good news is that nothing is broken, no muscles seem to be damaged, and my injuries are all surface--some road rash and bruising.

But oh, how spectacular the bruising. My elbow, in addition to having some lovely road rash, is bruised over quite a large area. It's quite sore this afternoon.

I had grand workout plans for today. I was to run 2.5 miles, do a fantastic new strength training routine at the gym, then swim 300 meters. I finished my run, walked a mile-and-a-half back home, whimpering whenever my sweat dripped into the broken skin on my elbow. On reaching home, I got some much-needed sympathy from Mom and cleaned my wounds in the bathroom sink. Then I set off for the gym.

Mom simply shook her said and muttered, "You are dedicated..."

I arrived at the gym feeling, perhaps, a little less ready-to-go than I had when I left the house. I grabbed a ten-pound dumbbell and started doing a Turkish Get-Up. This was when I realized that I was far more sore and tired than I had thought. My knees had started bruising from hitting the ground, and my left hand wasn't happy supporting me as I propped myself up in the exercise. I completed two before sitting back on the floor and reassessing my options.

Sometimes, you just have to quit.

I'm not a quitter by nature. I take great pride in the fact that every time I tell M. the Reasonable I will do something, he simply smiles and says, "I know you will." In six months, he has learned that even when something is really, really hard for me, I will not give up. Even this morning, right after falling on the ground, I got back to my feet and finished my run. I am proud of that.

As I left the gym, I grumbled to myself and felt a little like crying. I'd been there maybe ten minutes, tops, and here I was, giving up and going home. It felt like quitting, and it doesn't sit well with me. I have to remind myself that taking care of myself is not a crime, and that I can go back tomorrow and commit one hundred percent to the workout I was supposed to do today, with better results. Forcing my body through it this morning would have been a bad even though my heart is saying, "Keep fighting! You are hardcore!!" at loud volume, my brain is telling me to slow down, let my body rest a bit, and go back tomorrow.

Sure enough, I'm sore and tired this afternoon. I'm not in horrible pain, but I have an overall feeling of tightness in my body, which means some before-bed stretching and Ibuprofen tonight.

Plenty of time tomorrow to be hardcore.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


My birthday is two months from Tuesday, but I got my present tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, I am no longer using a Dumb Phone. I have an iPhone!

And I love it.

I've already set up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and I'm set.

Love, love, love. As soon as I figure out how to make my ringtone a Keane song, life will be really, really good.

Rail Tales

When I joined Sac Choral Society last August, I was immediately and warmly welcomed by many people, but one person stood out. Brian is welcoming and friendly to everyone, and genuinely cares about other people. He sent me a friend request on Facebook, and often before rehearsal, he'll mention that day's awesome run I had, or congratulate me on my progress at the gym.

A couple of months ago, Brian published a book--a collection of anecdotes he's collected over the last few years of riding Sacramento's Light Rail trains to work each morning. In his attempt to reduce his carbon footprint, he rides the train every day, and he encounters the best and the worst of humanity on a regular basis...and the weirdest.

Yesterday, he had a book signing at a coffee shop in Midtown, so I thought it would be nice to drive down and show some support. Brian was happy to see me, and I am now the proud owner of a signed copy of Rail Tales.


Brian is also an ace photographer and took all of the pictures that
are featured in the book.

There is a Kindle edition of the book available. Take a look at the preview on Amazon--Brian's stories are funny, touching, and an excellent snapshot of Sacramento. We may not be the biggest city, or as glamorous as many of our California counterparts, but we have a certain charm.

And don't forget to "like" the Facebook page for daily anecdotes!

Things I'll Never Be

I’ll never be a supermodel
Tall and long of limb
Strutting down a catwalk
With waist and hips so slim

I’ll never be a ballerina
With limbs that leap and bend
With feet that balance on their points
And gracefulness without end

I’ll never be a hoop star
Powerful and tall
Shutting down the other side
Every time I have the ball

For I was born to be petite
Toned and strong and curvy
And as I learn to love myself
That’s everything I want to be

Just a little poem I created in my head this morning and had to write down. ; )

Thursday, June 07, 2012


I grew up with swimming pools.

This was a hotel pool, but so what. Aaron and I loved hotel pools as much
as we loved our pool at home.

This was our backyard pool in Folsom. We spent
a lot of hot California summers in this pool.
I had swimming lessons as a kid, but never serious ones--mostly just the ones at the local community pool that helped me learn how to float, paddle, kick, and play safely in a pool. Most of what I can do in a pool now (which isn't much) comes from years and years of spending most of my summer vacations playing in the pool with my brother and our friends.

In other words, I'm quite proficient in not drowning. Could probably still do an underwater handstand, too.

I enjoy swimming--it's a nearly perfect exercise. My heart rate goes up, my muscles work hard, and yet there is no impact whatsoever on my joints and I don't get sweaty. Best of all possible worlds, right? And until recently, when I got a bee in my bonnet had a bee put in my bonnet by M. the Reasonable to be a triathlete, I've been content to spend my swimming time at the gym doing my own slow version of a breast stroke, with my head above water and a cute little frog kick. Keeping my head above water meant not having major chlorine smell in my hair, and not worrying about my contact lenses, which I'm not supposed to submerge.

I had a pair of goggles, but they stayed buried in a drawer with the rest of my workout gear...until this week.

If I'm going to tell people I'm training for a triathlon, I need to start swimming like a triathlete. So on Monday, I headed to the gym, goggles tucked in my bag with my swimsuit and towel, intent on doing my best to swim freestyle.

(Said to M. the Reasonable today: "It's kind of kicking my butt." He grinned. Bastard.)

And it is. After warming up with eight laps of breast stroke, I managed four laps--100 meters--on Monday before fatigue (to be fair, I'd also run that morning and done a full strength training workout) drove me back to the locker room.

On Tuesday, I went back. I managed six laps of freestyle this time (and about six of breast stroke). I kept my contacts in and found that my goggles do a very good job of keeping the water out.

Today, after a two-and-a-half-mile run, it was back to the gym. My goal was to skip the breast stroke entirely and do eight laps of freestyle. I managed to push out ten. That's 250 meters down, 250 to go if I'm going to do a triathlon next year.

I can do it.

The trick is to start as I have--doing what I can do, and adding more each day. Just a little. I probably won't swim tomorrow, but next time I get in the pool, the expectation that I can complete ten laps is there. Maybe I can then push it to twelve, or I can start doing laps without stopping at the end of each one, improving my overall time. I'm sort of blindly self-coaching myself, listening to my body and figuring things out as I go.

Eventually, I want to talk to someone who knows what they're doing about my form. I know I'm kicking pretty well--I don't splash too much. My arms are doing pretty well. Breathing is hard and sometimes I stop, gasping, in the middle of the pool to readjust. And if I'm going to actually race, I supposed I'd better get faster, and used to the idea of swimming in something far more scary and sinister than a pool (I'm not crazy about swimming in bodies of water where I can't see the bottom).

Do I have my work cut out for me? Yes, yes I do.

I said to M. the Reasonable last week, "I'm so doing this."

He knows me well enough to know that I will follow through. He simply smiled. "I know you are."

And so I am. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: On This Day (1944, 1996)

Omaha Beach in Normandy, France

Folsom, California

Monday, June 04, 2012

General Awesomeness

As I interact more and more with fellow runners on Twitter, cool little opportunities arise. Yesterday, one contacted me asking if he could "interview" me for his blog. He's been asking the same 10 questions of lots of different runners, and I was flattered to be asked. I'm not a distance runner as he and many of the people he's featured are, but I'm still a runner and I have plenty to say about it (if you follow this blog with any regularity, you know this to be true!).

Anyway, check it out here. Thanks, Alex, for featuring me!

Joy In Movement

When I first started teaching in Stockton, one the happiest parts of my day was a quiet moment during my prep time, when the kindergarten classes had their recess time. The window next to my desk overlooked their playground, and the noise never bothered me--I was delighted by the yelling and by watching these feisty little people running and jumping and being kids. Watch a child play outside sometime--there is a total joy in them, in their body as it moves. Kids run, jump, bounce, roll, slide, climb and just move with total abandon. There is no self-consciousness, and no fear.

When I talk to other adults about my fitness journey, I often lament that children have this total joy in movement for such a short time--what happens to us? What makes us suddenly afraid of injury or being laughed at? I suppose puberty is part of it, and certainly our society has become one of convenience. Why get out of the car? Drive through! Why take the stairs? There's an elevator! Run? Are you joking?

I was thinking about this today while out for a short walk (a short walk, for me, is one mile). I would have run today, but my calves are hurting and 60 or so Bosu squats didn't exactly make them less so. I was rehashing my swimming session at the gym this morning, in which I switched from my dainty head-above-water breast stroke with a cute little frog kick for some all-out freestyle swimming. I was thinking of all the improvements I need to make--learn to breathe better, make sure my arms and legs have good form, work on feeling confident, and, also important, getting to a point where I don't have to stop, touch the wall, turn around and then swim back to the other end of the pool. I don't feel confident, quite yet, that I can pull off a quick underwater somersault without inhaling a lungful of water.

When, in my life, did I lose that joy in movement that I had as a child? I can remember spending 80% of every summer vacation in our pool as a child, perfecting my handstand, underwater somersault, jumping technique, diving, and other general dolphin-like moves. No fear, just lots of sunscreen (thank you, Mom!) and a ton of joy.

I think for most girls, it starts around puberty. Our bodies change, and suddenly we go from childish and gangly to curvy and with fat in places it's never been before. Society tells us fat is bad, and we panic and hide it in shame. I didn't have a lot of athletic experience outside of spending my summers in the pool, so I didn't feel any sort of urge to run or play sports. My music career was taking form, and that kept me busy. I hated PE class and took two summer school sessions worth of it so I wouldn't have to take it for a whole school year.

I feel so fortunate to have finally reached a point in my running where I no longer loathe it, but rather relish the fact that my body is moving. I like the sweat and the strain, the challenge. Sometimes I'll be having a great run and I'll suddenly realize there's a smile on my face. A happy grin that doesn't happen every day but happens often enough to let me know that I've rediscovered what my kindergartners knew already--there is so much joy to be found in simply moving your body. It's what your body does best!

I wish our society encouraged more of it.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Tea Can Wait

This evening, I sat down at the computer with a cup of just-brewed tea. It was just as I like it--brewed semi-strong with a tiny bit of sugar and the littlest dash of milk. Tea is one of my greatest simple pleasures in life.

Just then, Dad asked if I wanted to accompany him and Mom on a walk. "Oh, I just brewed this tea," I replied, lounging in my desk chair wearing pajamas, enjoying a DVD and tuning into Facebook on my computer. Dad shrugged and a moment later, he and Mom were out the front door.

And I was left to think.

A cup of tea, or a quick walk.

Today is my rest day--I gave myself a nice lazy day to reward myself for a couple of fast miles with running club yesterday (I'm near a nine-minute mile, and this is awesome) and for surviving the craziness of a day filled with choir rehearsal and a concert. But a little light activity, even on a rest day, is always good, so I got up and threw on some running gear. I glanced longingly at my piping-hot cup of tea, which would need a few minutes to cool just enough so that I wouldn't burn my tongue. I decided I could brew another cup when I returned.

So I set off. I never did catch up with Mom and Dad (they had turned down one of the side streets) but I ended up walking and jogging a quick mile and returning home to find my tea was actually the perfect temperature for drinking.

Gone are the days when I let inactivity rule my life.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

A Gem in Roseville

Last week, I had a job interview at an art gallery in Roseville (unfortunately, there's a conflict with my other summer gig so I won't be able to take this one on, teaching art to summer camp kids). The gallery is in a part of downtown Roseville I had never explored, and I was delighted to find this photogenic old theater next door.

It was seeing my reflection in these windows that inspired my post
about loving my legs. I also love my blue dress.

Friday, June 01, 2012

This Is My Life

I have a label I sometimes use on blog posts, called "This is My Life." It's meant to be a tongue-in-cheek, ever-so-slightly-sarcastic way of pointing out that my life is...well, never truly dull. My friends laugh at my ability to live a life that is Wild and Absolutely True. It's not that I invite drama. I prefer to think that I court adventure and take chances. Think about it--how many people do you know who move from California to England to teach music for a year?

I rather like my crazy little life, for all its twists and turns and ups and downs. I choose to come at the crazy times with laughter whenever possible.

And did I need it this week.

While I'm no longer doing the pay-for-online-dating thing, I have kept open a free account and I periodically check it out. In the last couple of weeks, I've noticed that I'm getting more messages than I was previously, and I've replied to a few here and there, figuring it can't hurt to get out and date more. So last week, when a guy sent a somewhat witty message indicating his interest in meeting me in person, I thought, "What the heck?" and agreed to meet for coffee.

He offered me his cell phone number, but I don't exchange numbers right off the bat (safety thing). He didn't seem to mind, and for that, I was pleased. Nothing turns me off faster than a guy who pushes the issue. He did seem to be a little too confident in his ability to woo me: "Meeting in the future will be much easier I'm sure for us lol"

As we continued messaging and looking for a time and date to meet, I felt an odd vibe in his messages. He seemed intent on asking how my job interview went last week. I would reply to his initial question and not mention the interview, and he always came back to it. He also seemed intent on reiterating to me, every other day or so, that he, too, likes to run. In my mind I was thinking, "Dude, I got it..." but outwardly I was friendly and determined to take a chance. People can be awkward online.

Well, it turns out they can be even more awkward in person.

Where do I even start?

I'll start with the camping. We were talking about travel--places we've been, want to go, etc. He mentioned Yellowstone. I said, "Oh, I've never been there. I hear it's beautiful." He said that it is...and that we'd probably want to camp when we go there. "Are you okay with that?"

Um, what?

Now let me insert here that pretty much from the time he arrived (I got there first), I had been giving off slight "back off" vibes with my body language while I took stock and got the lay of the land. Legs crossed, pointed away from him, arms lightly crossed. I had been friendly, of course, but I'm pretty sure my overall message was, "Well, it was nice to meet you but I am not promising anything 'til I know what I'm getting into."

The camping thing, then, came as a surprise. I think I said something like, "Ahhhh," which is my normal response when faced with something that I have absolutely no response for.

My friend Shae had sent me a text to let me know she'd be available if I needed an out, so I sent off a quick text while Yellowstone scrolled through endless pictures from his Hawaii trip on the iPhone, explaining in great detail to me just what he and his travel companion ("A girl, but not my girlfriend or anything...") had been doing.


Shae, bless her, tried to call me, and I accidentally hung up on her because I was texting her again. I apologized to Yellowstone, telling him my friend has been going through some hard times and I have to answer a couple of texts.

"Oh, no this friend a boy or a girl?"


"...A woman."

He looked too happy to hear that.

Finally, after about 40 minutes (yes, I lasted that long), I started making my excuses. Early start tomorrow, gotta run before it's hot out, etc. Yellowstone smiled cheerfully and said, "Yes, I figured we'd only meet for an hour at the most this first time."


"Maybe we can hang out again. And after we hang out a few times, I can ask you to be my girlfriend."


He walked me to my car and I said something inane like "nice to meet you" before diving into Rosie Pro and frantically plugging in my hands-free device and calling Shae. I spent most of my drive up Eastbound 80 giving her the sordid details.

I haven't heard from him since. I consider this a bullet dodged.


In other news, I did not get one of the jobs I interviewed for last week. And that's okay, as I left the interview feeling it would not be a good fit. The job I really want, a local one, part-time, teaching K-8 music, is still up in the air. They told me it would be two weeks, and we're not at two weeks yet. I'm hopeful.

In the mean time:
  1. I have my first meeting with ESL Arts Advantage next week (my summer gig), 
  2. I have joined a running club, 
  3. I'm working on my swimming, 
  4. I'm planning for that happy day I can buy a bike and really be a "triathlete,"
  5. There's the last choir concert of the season this weekend, 
  6. I might soon have five private music students,
  7. Keane are coming to Oakland at the end of this month,
 This is my life. It is Wild and Absolutely True. Bring it, world.

Books For Tommy

In true Swimmy fashion, it took us months to get this done, but done it is at last, and this blog post is to share what four of us did for the fifth on the occasion of the first Swimmy Baby coming into the world.

Just before Lindsay was due in February, Maayan sent out an email, asking whether we should do something as a group for Lindsay and her soon-to-be-born son, Tommy. We wanted it to be something special, not just another set of onsies or another diaper bag. An idea was born--books. Lindsay had mentioned in a thank-you note to me that she wants Tommy to be surrounded by books, even as an infant. And it was decided that each of us would buy a book that represented our culture or home in some way. Perfect, right?


From Yours Truly and Cali Swimmy

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco.

Half Dome in Yosemite...this book is full of California

A book from Israel, written in Hebrew, painstakingly translated into English
by Maayan and Izzy Swimmy.

Some books for Tommy and chocolates for Mommy, all the way from
England...sent with love from Sarah and Timmy Swimmy.

Amanda and Eendje Swimmy thoughtfully provided an English translation
for this Dutch book, mailed from Delft, Holland.

I have a feeling Lindsay is going to love this...and of course, I'm scheduling this blog post to post later in the week, giving the package a few days to get from California to Michigan. I love that Tommy will have a small piece of each Swimmy's Lady's home and culture to learn from as he gets older and becomes aware of books.

Here's to curiousity, finding out about the world, and life-long learning. : )