the double-digit club

Two mornings ago I woke up, had a small bowl of Aldi-brand Cheerios, a quick cup of coffee, and then went for a little jog. For ten miles. It was about 16,000 steps. It took me one hour and thirty-nine minutes and felt like it took approximately six days.

See, in this crazy-for-me experiment I’m calling, “Training for a Half-Marathon”, running is still a chore. I keep waiting for the love to overtake me, I keep waiting for a high or thrill or something resembling joy in regards to running, but it’s yet to happen.

I like running, I guess. It’s a great workout. I’ve learned a lot about my own ability to keep going, put one foot in front of the other, to run through the aches and pains, and I do like that I’m slowly building up to a race that not a lot of people can do. But am I in love with running? Do I crave it on my off days, look forward to it?

I have to admit, it’s a big resounding “NO”.

Being able to run ten miles at an average pace of about ten minutes per mile is a huge accomplishment from where I started from back in August when I started training. And three weeks ago I ran eight miles on a busy trail clogged with bikers and other fellow runners and it was almost fun, but, once my goal is finished, I can’t imagine missing it much.

I miss my group fitness classes and the routine of going to the gym every morning and sweating it out with a mix of cardio, jumping, and weights. Running is by far a better overall workout, but it’s boring.

My husband adores running. He comes in from a run, soaked in sweat, with a big grin on his face. I feel like I come in missing half my limbs and somehow more depressed than when I started. Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but like I said above, the “love” isn’t there. Running isn’t something I discovered on my own, we don’t have a romantic love story built up over time … it’s an arranged marriage that is dependable and good for me but that’s about it. I run because I have to run because I chose to do a half, and that’s about as sentimental as I can get for it.

In a little more than a month the race is here. I’ll stand with about 1,100 fellow runners and trudge it out. My secret silly goal is to run it in under 2 hours, which is probably a stretch. I ran those eight miles two weeks ago at a 9 minute-15-second pace, but this week’s ten miles was 9:58, and to get 13.1 miles done in under 120 minutes I’d need to do about a 9:09 pace.  I also just discovered my times (so far) look like I could possibly place in the “Athena 160+” Category, which means I’d run among the fastest of women who are comfortable admitting to the public they weigh more than 160 pounds. So, yay for a higher than average body mass?

When this is all said and done I will be glad I worked hard and made it to the goal. It’s also pretty cool to find something recreational to do with my husband, although we haven’t been able to train much together (remember, we have three kids). I would like to keep going to fun 5k runs and maybe a few 10k’s, but so far that running bug that so many other people Instagram and Tweet and Blog about is meeting me with a bunch of resistance.

And that’s ok.

Maybe once I’m done training I’ll realize what a good fit running is for me and, like the above comparison to arranged marriage I made, I’ll realize I actually have loved it, all along. Maybe. No fingers crossed here but I can admit my feelings can always change.

running fool

I’ve never liked running. Running, to me, it torture in slow motion. And in my case, very slow motion, especially if I’m running long distance. For track in high school, I ran sprints just because I wanted to get the running over and done with a fast as possible, not because I had any talent for sprinting.

Still, I run. I go through phases. Again, in high school, I used to take my little Excel car on back dirt roads and run 1-2 miles. In the past when I wasn’t a member of a gym I’d run for exercise, but never far. I have a 3 miles limit on my tolerance for running.

Now enter my husband. About three years ago he started running. He’s since competed in two half-marathons and one full. I’ve seen him come in from a fifteen-mile run, sweat dripping down his face, him all out of breath, and haven’t felt the slightest case of inspiration or desire to do the same. This is because running is misery.

And now, to torture myself, I’ve agreed to train for a half-marathon with him. I promised to do it when I still had an eight-pound baby in my stomach, sort of a nodded agreement, “Sure, next year I’ll train with you, dear”, all the while having to stop and catch my breath walking upstairs, so – at the time – it wasn’t the most sincere promise I’ve ever made.

But a promise is a promise and now it’s time.

My scheduled training starts on August 9th. It doesn’t seem too bad; three to four days of three to four miles runs a week, with one long run at the end of the week. According to the schedule, I’ll be able to run 13 miles by October 29th. 13. Effing. Miles.

Last week I ran a total of ten miles, spread over 4 days. I didn’t die. Last night I ran four miles straight and it actually felt, sort of, cool. Like, the last mile felt cool. I’ve rarely run more than three miles at a time in my 34 years of life, so the fact I wasn’t combusting internally from the distance felt reassuring. Of course, this morning I ran a measly three miles and wanted to die about halfway through so last night’s high was probably some fluke.

The hardest part of this all is forcing myself to slow down. I hate running slow – hence the whole sprinter-in-high-school-thing. My natural instinct is to run as fast as I can to make the run get over and done with. But I’ve got to get the whole “pacing” aspect of long distance running in my head. I’m in decent physical shape right now so I have no doubt my body can take me to 13 miles, but the question is if my mind can handle it.

I’m excited about the whole “setting a goal and achieving it step by step” aspect of this trek. I’m sure the sense of accomplishment is rewarding. Maybe I’ll grow to love running. Maybe. In the meantime, I’m taking it one scheduled run to the next, hoping it gets over as quick as possible.

workout buddies

Today I’m landlocked at the house. We are a one car household *until next week when our one-car status will cease after nearly 7 years of marriage!* and it worked out for my husband to take the car to LGA for just one night.

In the past, this was never a problem. I’m used to not having a car to drive, and now with two babies to lug in and out whenever I want to go anywhere without my husband around, I welcome the excuse to not drive for 24 hours.

Except – on this particular day, Monday, it meant I couldn’t go to my Monday morning fitness class. And it immediately stung me.

I have made no secret of my love of group workout classes. It’s my “me” time and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t walk into the gym and workout by myself anymore because I feel so lost and bored without an instructor and other women working out beside me.

Anyway, I got over my loss of Monday’s class by putting a trusty, well-worn Jillian Micheals DVD in this morning. I used to spend hours every week with Jillian, and it was like seeing an old friend after many years. I get oddly obsessed with the personalities and quirks of the background fitness people on workout videos; I can clearly bring to mind the two women in the first Tae Bo video cassettes I ever owned (short-haired young woman who made everything look easy and the older lady with long blonde hair in blue who struggled just like me) and seeing the gang back together again made me all nostalgic. For a workout video from 5 years ago. I need to get a life….and stop being such a sap.

So I’m in my living room, testing the limits of our floor joists by jumping up and down with vigor, and my kids are proving to me just why having a babysitting option at our gym is invaluable. L made me stop about three times just for snack upkeep, and little H demanded a feeding exactly halfway through the 45 minute DVD. I sat on our couch, sweaty and gross as I fed him and longed for the peace of an uninterrupted workout.

I’ve obviously gotten very spoiled and need to check my workout “privilege”. What struck me as funny today, though, was how my little obsessions and admiration for the people on the TV sort of correspond with my real-life gym workouts. Generally, it is the same women in each class, the same instructors. You get to know the quirks of everyone, and you have those women who you aspire to work as hard as, plus those you make you roll your eyes all the time. Before I joined my local gym, I was an avid at-home fitness DVD connoisseur, and I think it’s messed me up mentally. When I see the instructors or other women outside of the gym, the fourth wall is broken and I get very shy.

The other day at work I saw someone I recognized from classes and found an excuse to go hide in the back until she had her coffee and left. I can’t really explain my awkwardness, I suppose I just want to keep people in “boxes” and if they aren’t where I expect to see them it’s one of the few times of my life where I’m bashful. But breaking that fourth wall as it relates to my workouts just doesn’t work for me.

 

not this week, satan

Something in this universe is conspiring against me working out this week. Be it Mother Nature via a massive snowstorm nobody saw coming until the day before it came, or my kids misbehaving in ways I’ve never seen, it’s pretty clear I’ve had to fight this week just to make it to the gym.

Finding motivation is hard enough, but throw in all these other distractions and it’s downright nearly impossible.

On Wednesday morning I barely got the kids out of the door in time to drop my son off at school. I drove nearly to the gym (a ten-minute drive) and realized my phone was at home. I have to have the phone for babysitting so we raced home, I sprinted inside, and once we got back to the gym parking lot at 925 for my 930 class, my daughter started screaming, “NO GYM!”

“Yes gym!” I cheerily shot back.

Getting inside the gym with 2 under 2 is an ordeal. I look absolutely ridiculous on good days. But on this day, I walked in with a yoga mat and L under one arm, and H in his carseat hooked under my other. I put L down to check in and she promptly turned around and ran out the door. “NO GYM!!!”

Everyone laughed at the check-in counter. I scooped her up again and asked them if they could sign me in. We made it to the elevator, and once we got into babysitting she was in full-on tantrum mode. This is not normal behavior for her. She usually loves the gym. The sitter and I looked at each other, I shrugged, and booked it for the class.

Yesterday it snowed 12 inches in 4 hours and the gym closed. I sort of got my workout in by shoveling, but it wasn’t the same.

Today I knew I would need serious discipline to make it to my 930 class, taught by the best instructor at the gym. The car still had a blanket of snow on it. So, at 840 I turned Daniel Tiger on the TV, bundled up, turned the car on and scraped and shoveled. It took much longer than anticipated but at 910 I still had enough time. I put the babies in the car one at at time, and then my oldest son.

Before I pulled out I did the mental checklist: purse, wallet with cash for babysitting, water, yoga mat …. shoot my phone! My son was playing with it. He didn’t know where it was. It was 915. I spent 10 minutes pacing through the living room/ kitchen in that manic fashion only someone who has misplaced something essential can. I went to the car and yelled at E (I feel bad about that now, but at the time I was so angry). I look around more, it’s 925 now so the class is in the crapper, and thankfully someone sent me a text message because I heard it ding from his bookbag. Why he put MY phone in his backpack is beyond me, but I grabbed it, walked as quickly as I could down our ice-covered front steps, and we went on our way.

L pulled another gym resistance move but I was beyond the pale. I scooped her up again, I dropped the kids off at exactly 945 and I went down to the treadmills to do run intervals. I had seen Amanda and the class-that-could-have-been doing their thing, so I was peeved on the way down the stairs.

Curse these kids, curse this weather, curse it all!

But, the run was awesome. Nothing like a good sweat to revamp my mood. I got a good 45 minutes in, returned upstairs to a crying L (apparently she had been stealing toys from other kids and needed to hear ‘no’ from someone other than me). I didn’t even blink. I had a high and squeezed her tight and we went downstairs and I treated them to McDonalds for lunch and all is well.

I never thought I’d take up the “gym” as my church, but it seems like it’s the only space and time of my day that’s just mine. Especially now that I’ve returned to work, I really have to commit to finding the time to go in. Especially when the entire universe and possibly Satan himself is conspiring against me getting a good workout in. Not this week!

image-1

negative motivation

My alarm blared at 5:15am this morning. I scraped myself up, walked into the dark living room, pumped milk and then returned to the room to top off baby H before I left. I bade a quiet goodbye to my husband, patted our dog on her head, and left.

Driving to the gym before the sun rises makes me feel like a motivated fit-ass bitch.

The 6 am “Insanity” class is new at the gym, and when I mentioned to my husband I was thinking about attending it he scoffed. He teased. He told me there was no way I’d make it to the class that early.

I mean, I can understand his jests.

I’m lazy – especially when he’s home. Unless I have work, I bum around all day. I sip coffee and watch my morning news program of choice (the awesome “Good Day New York” which features my fav duo Greg & Roseanne… I love unscripted, off the cuff and corny news when I wake up) and generally I procrastinate the day away in yoga pants and unwashed hair. I am that cliche SAHM.

And I also know he was teasing me as a way to get me to do it.

He knows me well.

Tell me I won’t succeed and I do my best. I’ve always been that way. But give me encouragement and support to go to the gym? I slink away and mutter and generally end up wearing the same clothes with a build of food stains three days in a row.

And even when I know I’m being played, even though I saw that smug twinkle in his eye as he was berating me and I was overreacting, a part of me believed him and just had to prove him wrong.

So that’s how I found myself with twenty other early morning gym rats, bouncing and pushing and sprinting in place. I’m sure most of the other people there had jobs to get to, important things to do. I am not one of those people. I was done with my workout at 7 am and had the rest of the morning to slurp on one cup of coffee and change diapers and try to find dairy-free snacks to snack on.

The class was good too. Nothing life-changing or revolutionary, but hard and I built up a good sweat. Will I make it a weekly habit? Not sure yet, but I do know if I ever dare to plan on attending it again, the husband will mock and I will shriek in reply and I’ll find myself back at the exact same place I did this morning, again.

motherhood calling

I was in the zone forty minutes into an “overtime” hour-long workout at the gym. It was my favorite instructor, Amanda, my gym woman-crush (and based on the over packed class, I am not alone in admiring her) and after the day before’s dancing extravaganza it was my happy place.

I don’t really ask for much for myself, as a stay at home mom who goes days without a break when hubby is out earning a living for us. I like to savor a cup of coffee in the morning, I like to take a little time to write in here, read the paper, read a book. I can delay taking a shower a few days if I have to. But – lately – I’ve needed my gym fix. Those 45-odd minutes are what cleanses my mind, makes me feel good. Just something I do just for me 5 days a week.

Anyway, the sweat was pouring out of me, seeping through my tee-shirt. My face red as a Christmas stocking and my breath labored … in the zone completely … and my phone rings. Then the buzz of a text comes through. I stop the front/back kicks we were doing, read, “Come to babysitting, H won’t stop crying”.

Mommy mode clicked on instantly, and I scanned the room. Sixty-odd women, all doing front back kicks, all within five feet of each other. There was no sneaking across the room. I had to navigate out of a class that looked like a scene from Mulan, where she’s training with all the other Kung Fu fighters. I snaked my way through the front, along the mirror, muttering sorry as I went. One poor lady had to stop her groove so I could pass, but other than that I don’t believe I disturbed anyone.

The babysitting room is a madhouse. It’s Christmas break so everyone is dumping their kids off for mini-mental breaks. The sitter apologizes over the cry of about five babies, and my ear picks out H’s wail instantly. Of course, L attached herself to me the moment I walk in. I learned a few weeks back they don’t allow breastfeeding in the sitting room, so I take H and L to the ladies locker room, like before.

My heart rate was still way elevated and the poor little bugger could barely latch on due to the slippery sweat all over me, but once we settled in and I had a letdown, the mental let down hit me too. Yes, I got a good 40 minutes in, but I envied the women in the class whose music I could hear thumping through the walls. They were there, and I was back in Mom Mode. My fitness indulgence ended just like that.

Isn’t that parenting though?

After H was satisfied the class was still in full swing, but L wasn’t going to let me out of her sights again. She screamed as I carried her into the babysitting room, she screamed when I put H in his seat. I bundled her on my back in the Tula just to assure her I wasn’t abandoning her again.

I got to navigate the class once more, to put my equipment away and gather my personal items, but this time they were on their backs doing the ab portion of the day. Feeling ridiculous I weaved through the yogamats with L snuggled up against my back, willing myself not to make eye contact with anyone.

By the time I get all the kids out the door the class was just ending.

I felt a curious mix of emotions. I felt like I was cheating myself out of a great workout, even though I’d put in my all for 40 minutes. I felt like my kids were once again butting into my personal desires and needs, and then felt that mom guilt of feeling bad for those moments of resentment. Most of all, I just felt like a Mom, loading them all up in our car, telling E there was no way we’d go to McDonalds for lunch, trying to shove a pacifier in H’s mouth sightless from the front seat before putting the car in drive. It was like, the fantasy of the gym ended in the most abrupt way and reality butted itself in before I was ready.

Even now, a day later, I’m still peeved that I could have had an extra 20 minutes with everyone in the room, I could have left the class with everyone. But, that’s life. Kids, toddlers, and especially newborns are not predictable and they have a way of reminding you that your time means nothing to them. It’s just the way it is and rather than complain, I will look at it as one of those moments that are fleeting and one day I’m sure I’ll wish my kids still needed me so much I couldn’t even get through an hour-long class.

 

zumba

I took my first ever Zumba class today.

I’ve avoided Zumba ever since I heard it was a thing, which had to be at least a decade ago. I’m not exactly one for dance, I’m not graceful or lithe and I’m pretty much always way too self-conscious with my dancing skills in public unless I’ve had several rounds of liquid courage. My best friends my freshman year of college were both former competitive cheerleaders, and I remember us bored one night so they decided to teach me a dance routine. We could barely stand up from laughing so hard at the horribleness of my moves.

So, anyway, I had no choice but to take this class today. I wanted a workout, it had to be when there was babysitting at the gym, and this was the only option. I could have gone out to the weight room or cardio room instead, but I figured today was as good as any day to try something new.

I have never wanted to walk out of a class before, but I nearly did about 40 seconds into the session.

The instructor was a hopping bunny of a dancer, her smile so real and enthusiastic it was almost contagious despite my awkwardness. Seriously. The girl loved what she was doing, you could just see it on her face. If the class were empty she’d still be bouncing up at the front of the room. She was basically in her own world.

Lucky for me, this 9:30 am class was filled with the fabulous senior Betty’s that tend to frequent the weekday-morning class sector of the gym. These ladies are all probably in their sixties or older, and seeing them ‘shake it’ eased my discomfort, a bit. They, as they say, “danced like no one was watching”.

Zumba moves so fast I didn’t have a chance to watch anyone, much less myself in the mirror. Seriously, bouncing Barbie in the front of the class had all my attention as I tried to figure out what exactly my feet and arms were supposed to do every eight-counts of the latin music.

I’m not exactly sure what I thought of the experience. I’m a bit Zumba-Whiplashed. It was sort of fun, but I entered the class alone and I was the youngest there by probably 15 years and there wasn’t anyone to laugh at myself with. I did get sweaty and my heart rate stayed elevated just like it does during a genuine cardio class, so the workout did something.

I think I prefer the high-intensity-interval classes. The ones full of burpees and squats and lunges. No one is supposed to look pretty doing a pushup. I can throw my body around without worrying that I look like a dweeb.

I wonder if there is a way I can request the Zumba soundtrack for the next HIIT class I attend, though. The music was certainly a nice change from the typical tunes and I liked the beat.

Anyway, I’m glad I went if only because it really pushed my comfort zone – it was a mental and social challenge and at the very least now I can have a real opinion on why I’ve been avoiding it all these years.

pilates and my total lack of grace

Strolling up to my 8:30am pilates class yesterday morning, I felt pretty accomplished. Here I was, surrounded by all the other fit-minded women in our little area of the island, and I was doing something positive for my health and body.

Continue reading “pilates and my total lack of grace”

is it worth it, let me work it

5 weeks postpartum, as yesterday, and today I attended my third workout class since having H. I am living proof that what the natural birth advocates say: the recovery of a med-free birth is so much easier than other types. I also was fairly active throughout my pregnancy.

This is not to say I’m a total badass. I can barely do a pushup anymore. Doing crunches feels like my core is jelly and after 20 minutes of cardio I’m seriously wondering if the class I’m in is tougher, physically, than giving birth.

Anyway. Today’s class was a step-and-weightlifting class. Step always makes me feel like I’m in an 80’s era, and most of the women in the room were my age in the 80’s. But something about step appeals to me. It’s challenging, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I get the routine down. It’s far enough from “dance” to feel like I can handle the choreography and I sweat.

These group classes bring me back to my Jr. High/ High School organized team sports. I played a sport every season- volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track and softball in the spring. (I must add I wasn’t a talented jock or anything. I just went to a small school and everyone played every sport). While I enjoyed the sports, I can honestly look back and say my favorite part of every practice was the conditioning part. I liked running lines against my teammates at the end of basketball, I liked the circuit training we did during volleyball.

I discovered my first organized step class in college- and for a few years I became obsessed with following the best step instructors around the local gyms at my college city and trying to get a friend to join me. (most of my friends aren’t big into step) For whatever reason, step class has become a thing I do just for me, only with me, I just share the experience with a group of strangers.

It feels SO right to recapture this passion of mine. Having a baby, being pregnant, your body isn’t yours anymore. I haven’t been to an organized group class at the gym since I found out I was pregnant with H. 10 months is a LONG time to give something up you love. It’s also discouraging to feel how out of shape I am (compared to how I was). I’m wearing my husbands workout shirts because my belly is so floppy. But – this is just the beginning. I’m starting the habit back up, and hopefully I can wear my tight tank tops with pride in a few months. My mood is already elevated from the general fact I can do classes again.

In the words of Missy Elliot – (which were inspired by her workout regime) “is it worth it/ let me work it/ put my thing down flip and and reverse it”.