Tag Archives: exercise

Coming Up For Air

Coming Up For Air

Random cat picture. I don’t talk about him in the post, but isn’t he handsome?

Rising to the surface briefly to report that I am not dead.  Yay!  By way of summary:
  1. I started actually training on the new job last week.  Hurrah!  I think once I master it, it will be good, but right now it’s terribly frustrating.  I’m slow and stumbling and I hate not being good at things.  But everyone on the new team is really nice (and young!  ZOMG, so young…), and there’s lots of room for me to develop once I get the basics down, so I just have to be gentle with myself for the next few months.
  2. The washing machine is fixed.  To the tune of $210 dollars.  Ouch.  But worth it.  The technician was worried about my water supply (it leaks a few drops an hour) and my hoses.  I can replace the hoses myself easily enough.  The water supply…well, that will keep for now.  But I realized that this washing machine is the one we bought when we moved into the house 18 years ago.  It’s done very well by us!
  3. Speaking of fixing things, I finished my bike repair class last night.  What a great class!  I can now change tires, replace brake and derailleur cables, and even disassemble and rebuild wheel hubs!  If you have a bike in the Delaware Valley, I highly recommend taking this class and/or checking out Bike Church at the Neighborhood Bike Works.  What a great resource!
  4. I broke my toe.  Yes, on the same foot.  I think it’s cursed.  Not much to do about this one, though, except wait it out.  Which means no running.  Considering the state of the roads, that isn’t as much of a hardship as it was this summer.
  5. I’ve been watching way too much Great British Bake Off.  This is a bad thing.  I’ve put on an additional 3 pounds.  There may be eclairs in the near future.  There will definitely be a blog post.
  6. The payment deadline for Hero’s trip is getting closer.  GAH!!!  In a fit of panic, I started a fundraising campaign on RallyUp to help raise money for those last payments.  If you’re one of the few people who I haven’t force-fed this campaign, please go and check it out, and donate if you can or just share it on social media if you can’t.  We’re about a third of the way to our goal with 6 weeks until the final payments.  In the meantime, she’s selling frozen pizzas and will be working the next few months on making and selling hoagies at school.  She’s had to give up art club for the foreseeable future to do it, but I think/hope this drives home that you need to sacrifice sometimes to get the things you want.  Growing up is hard, yo.
  7. We’re getting ready for a houseguest from Germany next week.  Morgan’s boyfriend is coming over so the two of them can go to a convention in NYC next weekend.  Not only will it be the first time we’ve met him, it will be the first time he and Morgan will meet in person.  I’m both nervous and excited for Morgan, and want to do what I can to help make a good impression on his behalf.  So this week we are cleaning the house within an inch of its life.  And trying not to think about what young men in love are thinking about.  Having your kids grow up is hard, yo.
  8. I have the beginnings of a new book poking at me.  Shh, we don’t want to scare it.
I think that’s it for now.  Updates as they arise!

When I was…

When I was…

When I was 18, I went to Israel with my dad.  It was an amazing trip, and I learned a lot about the world and myself.

I also came home with a bad case of traveler’s trots.

We didn’t think much of it.  Dad had it, too, and it’s one of the costs of travel, right?

But a couple of weeks after coming back, I developed a terrible case of pink eye, and then suddenly my ankles swelled up to about 4 times normal.  Of course this was aobut a month before graduation, so I looked lovely for the awards ceremonies!

Our family doctor diagnosed all these symptoms as one condition that at the time (1985) was called Reiter’s syndrome and now is called reactive arthritis.  I was lucky to get the diagnosis, as back then it was considered a condition only men got.  Except on hearing about it, Mom realized she had had the same thing happen to her at least twice.

So here I was, at graduation, barely able to walk, eyes red and streaming, getting ready to start the next phase of my life.

I think, looking back on it, that that was the moment my weight problem started.

Don’t get me wrong, I had issues before that.  Portion control was all about who finished their dinner first to get to the seconds.  Sweets were rare and often rewards or, again, competitive.  Or something you got to have when you were an adult.  But I was pretty active, walking or riding my bike everywhere, roller skating and dancing, even trying a couple of sports (nothing took).  But for almost six months, I barely walked if I could avoid it (for the first six weeks I could hardly walk at all), and I certainly wasn’t involved in any sports.  Couple that with living in the dorm and eating in the cafeteria, my freshman 15 came on and made no plans to leave.  Even when I moved off campus, I managed to get rides to class until I got my own car.  Sedentary wasn’t just a vocab word from geology class.  That became my lifestyle until this past spring.

I think this is where some of my frustration with the broken foot is coming from.  I can remember hobbling around, losing any interest or willingness to be active, and I’m terrified of ending up back there again.  I can already tell some of the same thought patterns are coming back.  “Well, I’ll try biking, but it won’t really take.”  Did that one my sophomore year.  I was kind of happy when someone stole my bike so I didn’t have to feel guilty about not riding it.  I set up a bunch of upper body workouts to do while I’m recovering.  I have not been good about actually doing them, though.

I don’t want to end up back there.  I know it’s all a mental game, but I’m so new to this exercise gig, it just feels too fragile.  It doesn’t take long to lose a habit you haven’t had long.  I know activity is the most important part of the maintenance for my weight loss.  I HAVE to do this.

I’m just scared I won’t.



I’m still in the boot.


You can see the fine line of the break just above the fold crease. It looks like an elevation chart!

Two more weeks, which is discouraging, but should have been expected.  Every article I’ve read about broken ankles has said 6 weeks, and it never occurred to me that 4 weeks might just be to check on progress.  So I was incredibly disappointed, bordering on tears.  But everything’s lined up nice and straight and starting to fill in as it should.  Another two weeks, and then I get moved into an ankle brace for god knows how long.  As long as I can start driving again, I’ll be happy.  I actually kind of like riding to work with co-workers, but I want to be able to run errands, dammit!  I’m working on sucking it up, though, aside from a lot of whining, and am looking to get on with things.

To that end, I’m looking ahead to what’s next.  I won’t be able to run for months even once I’m out of the boot (sob!), but it looks like biking will be good right off the bat.  Since initially I got into running as a gateway to cycling (who knew I’d end up loving running!), it seems like this may be the universe’s way of telling me to get on with it.

I did get a few trips in this summer, and even managed a hilly 10 miles once.  But my bike is heavy and sluggish for that kind of riding.  She’s good for rough trails or grocery getting, but dragging her uphill is a chore, even in the lowest gear, and I can’t get her going very fast even ont he flats.  As the ennui of my ankle settled in, I went looking on Craigslist for a more suitable road bike.

I found Galadriel.


She’s a 1984 Lotus Challenger mixte.  But you wouldn’t know to look at her that she’s over 30 years old.  She looks like she just came off the line last year.  The paint is almost pristine, the welds perfect, and the guy selling her had replaced all the things that lack of use would degrade, like the tires and cables and bar wrap.  He’d even added a rear rack.  I did a lot of research on her, and even though he was asking a lot for her, it was a fair price.  She’s a collector’s bike, where even ones in crap condition go for $150-200, and she’s in gorgeous condition.  I would spend twice as much to get a similar bike new.  But I wasn’t in a hurry to get a bike.  This was only week 2 of the boot, after all.  But she kept eating at me.  I started researching her, and asked other, more experienced riders for their input.  Hell, I even dreamed about her, which is when she told me her name.  So I figured I needed to at least make an attempt at her.  I got in touch with the seller, and he responded right away agreeing to set up a test ride that weekend.  Nikki was great and came up to drive me over, even though she hadn’t driven anything in almost a year, let alone my big old van.  I took off the boot, put on a sneaker, and off we went.

She looked even better in person.  Then I got on her.  She was fast.  And smooth.  She shifted great, despite me having no clue how to use her lever shifters.  There was a fairly steep (for me) hill right next to the house, which I was able to fly up, despite babying my foot.  And she fit me perfectly.

I needed this bike.

I tried to talk him down, but he knew what he had, and I knew what he had, so I told him I’d have to think about it until pay day.  I was worried he’d sell it in the meantime, but if he did, well, that just meant I wasn’t meant to have her.

Monday Nikki sent me half the cost with a not.  “Buy the bike.”  I looked at the ad again.  And I got in touch with him.  The problem, of course, was that I couldn’t drive out to get her.  Fortunately he was willing to drop her off.  She was just as beautiful in my yard as she’d been in his.  I was not going to lock her on my front porch with the other bikes, though, so initially she was in the kitchen and now is living in my dining room where I can pet her whenever I want.

Now, there may be some adjustments made.  As I said, she has lever shifters, which I have never used, and they’re on the down tube instead of on the bars, so it takes a little more finesse to shift.  And she has drop handlebars, which again, never used.  So she’s going to take a little getting used to.  I am going to get professionally fit to her so everything’s the way it should be.  I think the handlebars need to be a little higher, as I feel like I’m tipping over if I hold the brakes.  Once that’s all set, I’ll give it three months to get used to.  If at that point it’s just not working, I’ll change out the bars for butterfly bars which will let me ride more upright and get thumb shifters installed on the bars.  I want to at least give the current set-up a try, though.

Not getting to start riding her this week was especially disappointing.  I’m making it up to myself by shopping for gear for her.  I’ve ordered a handlebar bag which has a map pocket and cell phone display pocket, and I got a repair kit with all the basics for on the road repairs.  I want a trunk bag and panniers, but those will keep, and as the season moves on, I’ll need decent lights.  Sophie, my old bike, will probably be my winter bike, as she can handle snowy roads better, so I won’t need heavier gear for Galadriel.  But what I really want for the new bike are these panniers.

The vendor on Etsy who sells them has taken them down, but I’m hoping they’ll go back up eventually.  They’re expensive, though, $150, but they hold a lot of stuff, and don’t they just look like something an elf queen should have?  And they’d be easy to move between the two bikes as needed, so they’d be flexible.  So I’ll watch to see if they go back up.  I’m not allowed to get them anyway until I can complete the long park trip I have planned.  It’s 30 miles round trip, and is the same route the local bike club rides, so once I can do that, hopefully I can start riding with them.  Meanwhile I’ve created an Amazon wishlist for all the other goodies I want.  I may make another one to build fantasy kit for bike camping.  There’s so much stuff to get, I could go a little nuts!

And I’m not the only cyclist in the house!  Xander has been amazing about riding his bike to school.  He can’t wait to get out the door in the morning, literally.  I’ve had to keep him in when he’s made a break for it a 6:15. As it’s staying dark later and later in the morning, we’ve been adapting.  He know has a quick release light for his handlebars, and I ordered another set so he’d have them front and back.  I also got him a pair of cycling gloves with skeleton hands on the back to keep him warm now that it’s finally cooled off.  There are a couple more goodies I want to get him, like spoke lights and a reflective harness, but there’s time for that.  He said he wants to keep doing it even after I start driving again, but we’ll see how long that holds once the snow flies.  I may drag him out with me on a couple of long weekend rides once I get moving again.  Who knows, maybe I’ll have a riding buddy!  Hero’s getting more attached to her bike, too, but she doesn’t want to make it her sport of choice, because then it’s work instead of fun.  This is a mindset I hear from a lot of my family, and it makes me a little crazy.  I mean, shouldn’t your work BE fun?  But she has to do what works for her, and as long as she gets some fitness in, I’m happy.  Of course, she still has to get through her push up test in gym, but that’s a whole other workout goal!

So.  Two more weeks.  (Again.)




Injury is isolating.  I’ve been feeling pretty lonely lately.

It’s been 4 weeks since I broke my ankle.  4 weeks of being dependent, of being confined, of being uncomfortable, and, honestly, of feeling sorry for myself.  I think I’ve actually felt worse with this than I did through most of my cancer therapy.  Which really is pathetic.  I’ve been very fortunate.  People have been very kind and generous with their time.  Eileen and Jess from work have been giving me rides every day so I haven’t had to work from home.  Eric took me to run errands last weekend, and Nikki came up this past weekend to drive me around as well.  Which I appreciate more than they’ll know.

But it’s hard to be dependent.  I can’t do everything I want to when I want to.  There’s stuff that is fine to wait until after I’m driving again, like taking Morgan clothes shopping, but I hate having to (gods, that boy needs new pants!)  I’m trying to buy a new bike, but I have to see if the seller will deliver it since I can’t go get it.  It’s just INCONVENIENT, and that’s almost worse, because you get aggravated even though you know it’s not that important.

The worst is at night.  Sleeping with the boot on is a pain, as there’s really only one position you can sleep in, on your back, preferably with the foot elevated.  If it’s not elevated, my knee tends to lock and hurt.  But I’m a stomach/side sleeper, so I’m in and out all night.  Last night was cold enough to be under the covers, but I couldn’t because of the boot.  I woke up at 4 and couldn’t get comfortable, so that was it for me.  Which is probably why this post is so whiny.  I’m tired, I’m uncomfortable, and I’m frustrated.

One more week.

Getting the Boot

Getting the Boot

I should have realized that doing that epic running post was just asking for trouble.

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or know me in real life know, my running took a turn for the dramatic on Sunday.


As I said in my running post, I’ve started doing 6-7 mile runs on Sunday to build my endurance.  The first one had not gone great, mostly because of the route I took.  Not sure how it ended up being all uphill, but it honestly was.  So I mapped out a different route, one which went down to the high school, past almost all of Hero’s friends houses so I could properly embarrass her, then back through almost-country and into town.  I knew this route from driving it a number of times and having run part of it with the running club.  It was hilly, but they were up AND down, so I thought it would work.

The first thing I did was swap the arches out of my old running shoes into my new ones.  I liked the new ones, but they just didn’t have enough arch support for my feet, and with my overpronation issues, I figured I needed them for that as well.  Put them on and they felt good, so yay!  Fashionable runner!

I got all my apps set up and running, then started walking my warm-up.  It was about 75 degrees and 70% humidity, so not bad at all.  Started running at my usual spot.  As always, it took a while to get in the groove of the run, but the Zombies, Run! episode was really engaging (it was the last episode of season 1, so big doings!) and the route worked well.  I didn’t like running at the high school just because there was no shade, but I was there less than 5 minutes, so it’s certainly doable.  Everything felt good.  The country stretch was pretty, running past all the tall corn in the quiet of a Sunday morning.  I like Sunday mornings.  No one’s in a hurry to get anywhere.

My app told me I had done 5 miles in about 56 minutes.  It usually gives me credit for a faster run than I’m doing, but still, that told me in general my pace was pretty good.  I felt strong.  Confident.  Just had a mile and a half to go, and then I could get on with the day.  Take the kids back to school shopping.  Clean the house.  Maybe do some of the work on the shed I need to.

The next thing I know, I’m face down in the middle of the street.

I didn’t trip.  I keep saying I stepped off a curb, but it wasn’t really even much of a curb.  It was one of those ADA ramps they put on sidewalk corners.  Zero entry.  I’ve had to practically vault much higher curbs on other runs. And yet, when I stepped from the concrete onto the asphalt, my right foot rolled right as my body weight shifted left, and down I went.

I’ve had falls like this a lot.  Ever since I got reactive arthritis as a teenager, my knees and ankles have always been a bit weak.  Every once in a while one of them will just go, “Nope!” and down I go.  But I’ve never had it happen at speed before, and with all my weight coming down on the foot that was turning.  I heard that sucker pop and knew I was in trouble.

I picked up my glasses and dragged myself back to the curb to evaluate.  A runner and a car stopped to see if I needed help, but I waved them off, as I didn’t know how bad it was.  Stubborn me figured I could just carefully walk home.  It wasn’t that far, after all.  My first mistake was taking my shoe off.

My second mistake was walking half a mile with no shoe on.

By the time I got almost to Main Street, I was seeing black swarms in front of my eyes, which is usually a sign that I’m about to pass out.  So I found a stoop and sat.  I realized I was only about a block from one of the earlier mentioned Hero’s friends homes, so I called Hero to see if they were home that weekend.  They weren’t.  None of her friends whose parents I knew were in town.  The people I knew from the running club were all out of town, too, and I didn’t have anyone’s number anyway.  So I asked Hero if she would ride her bike down so she could at least walk back with me. (It only just now occurred to me I could have sat on her bike and one footed it home.  Oh well.)  Then, left with no choice, I called Eric to see if he could take me to the urgent care center.  Thankfully he could, and asked if I wanted him to pick me up where I was now.  I told him Hero was on the way, but if he wanted to come the route we’d be going home just in case, he could.  After I got of the phone with him, I thought, well, I don’t want them to miss me, so I’ll just hobble to the corner.

I made it to the next house.  Surrendering all pride at that point, I called him to come get me.

Hero showed up, and she blessedly brought a water bottle with her.  I tend not to carry one on my runs as I’m well hydrated going into them and am not usually out long enough to need them (plus I hate carrying anything).  So that was a blessing and secured her position as my favorite daughter.  (hush.)  Eric got there about 10 minutes later, we went back to the house to get my checkbook and wallet, and off we went to urgent care.

On later reflection, I wish I had gone to the ER instead, but at this point I figured it was just a sprain and no big deal.  But I’d never had a sprain before and didn’t know what to expect.  And there usually isn’t a long wait at the urgent care center, so there I was.  They got me checked in and back in about 5 minutes, and within 10 I was on the x-ray table.  By then my ankle was huge.


The staff were all very kind, but the doctor who finally saw me hardly talked to me at all.  He didn’t even give me any instructions until I asked pointed questions.  But the nurse who brought me my aircast was very nice and helpful.  Take it easy, elevate it, ice it, yadda yadda.  By 11:30, I was home.

Well, I still had that list of things to do, so.  After lunch I took a nap, and then I took Xander and Hero to 2nd Avenue to do clothes shopping.  It had to get done, and I could do it all leaning on a shopping cart, so I did.  I gave them a budget of $50 each and a couple of things they HAD to get (picture day outfit especially, since their picture day is the first Thursday of school) and set them loose.  Well, set Hero loose.  I went with Xander to help him pick some things out.  The score of the day was all his, though.  A beautiful black long sleeve dress shirt that fit him gorgeously.  He got compliments from 5 different people waiting in line at the dressing rooms!  He got all his back to school clothes (although he could use another pair of dress slacks) and even a pair of shoes for under his budget.  Hero didn’t do as well, but she got a couple of nice pieces.  She doesn’t need as many clothes, as her drawers are overflowing.  Once we get those purged, we’ll have a better sense of what she still needs.

I got a cane.  It was only $2.50.

Then we went to the dollar store for the bare minimum in school supplies.  There was no point in buying a lot until I know what they really need.  So they got paper and pens or mechanical pencils, depending on their preferences, pencil bags, a couple of other knick nacks.

I got a couple of ace bandages.  The aircasts are proven in studies to be better than compression bandages, but both together are even better, so I was going to use both.  Knowledge, and how to get it.  One of the perks of my day job.  Then we went home, where I had Hero help me make dinner.  I sat and chopped, she handled the stove part and made the muffins.  Then I took my pain meds and crashed.  Thank you, hydrocodone!

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and didn’t sleep well with the cast and the pain, so I called out from work on Monday.  Slept a lot, iced and elevated it, and made a comfrey poultice that I wore for a couple of hours.  I’ve seen that stuff work miracles, so I figured a boost couldn’t hurt as long as I did the mainstream therapies along side.  All was going well until that evening when I got a call from the urgent care center.

They’d found at least two breaks in my foot.  I needed to come in and get splinted, and then I’d need to see an orthopedist.

Well, shit.

I automatically went to my go to source for all my medical needs, and lo and behold, Penn Medicine ortho does same day appointments.  Even though it was Sunday evening, I filled out the request form figuring I’d get a call first thing in the morning, and politely declined the urgent care center’s offer to splint it for me.  It didn’t make sense to pay to have them do something that would just get undone and presumably done better the next day.


Tuesday I heard from Penn via email.  My phone number hadn’t come through on my request, so could I call in?  I did.  And the rage started.  The receptionist I was talking to said she could get me an appointment on Friday.  For a broken foot.  Seriously?  She knew nothing about the same day service, and kept giving me the standard line of she couldn’t override the doctors’ schedules.  I understand scheduling, honey, I’ve done it myself.  But I also know for emergencies, you can find time to squeeze me in.  “I can get you seen in Cherry Hill today.”  Seriously?  “The only other place I have any openings today is in Exton.”  Fine, send me to fucking Exton.  Yeah, it’s just as far and inconvenient, but at least there isn’t a bridge.  “You’ll need to bring your x-rays.”  I lost it at that point.  You’re one of the most advanced care centers in the region, if not the country, with your own very impressive imaging centers, I can’t freakin’ DRIVE, and you need me to bring x-rays from a Podunk care center?  Honestly??  She got an earful, poor thing.  I know she was just doing her job, but I was too hurting and frustrated to care at that point.  She went away for a few minutes, and when she came back, lo and behold, she had an appointment for me downtown that afternoon.  I’d still have to get my x-rays, though.  Fine, I’d manage.

I’d already been in touch with Deb about giving me a ride.  She had another commitment at noon, but she could at least take me to get my x-rays and get me down there.  I figured even if I had to camp out in the waiting area for a couple of hours, I could read or knit or take a nap, so long as I was there, and I could get myself home.  The bus stopped right outside the office that would take me to the station, and presumably I’d be in some sort of a cast by then.  Deb’s driving karma held out, though, and it took an hour and a half to get downtown.  Midday on a Tuesday.  What the hell, people?  I felt guilty about keeping her so late, but she felt bad about not being able to stay, so the guilt balanced out.  And I only had to wait about 45 minutes.


The center was very nice.  The building is right across from where I’d worked for the National Board of Medical Examiners, and hadn’t even existed until a year ago.  That area is building up so fast, it’s astonishing.  For me the nice thing about going to Penn is that even though I was new to the practice, I didn’t have to fill out a ton of paperwork because I’m already in their system.  I still had to wait until my appointment time, but that was fine.  They got me back about 1:30, and it went pretty quickly from there.  The resident was able to show me the break.  It’s pretty straight across the bottom of my fibula.  What urgent care thought was two breaks actually seems to be two ends of the same break.  The doctor said that it was actually in a good spot, that that low the joint isn’t as unstable and doesn’t open up.  Almost all of these kinds of breaks heal just fine.  I did mess up probably all three ligaments attached to it, but we’ll worry about those after the break heals.  I got prescribed a CAM boot and told to come back in 4 weeks for more x-rays and to discuss rehab.  The nice thing is this doctor is a sports medicine doc, so he’ll know how to get me back running.  Oh, but no driving for the next 4 weeks.

That’s the part that’s going to suck.  Never mind that we can’t do the day trip to Assateague now.  More important is no grocery shopping and I won’t be able to drive Xander to school for his first couple of weeks of high school.  When I told him he would have to ride the bus, he said, “Can’t I just ride my bike?”  So he’s going to do that.  I’m sending him and Hero to test ride it this weekend and to find the bike racks.  I’d like to get him a rack for the back of his bike so it’s easier for him to carry his backpack, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford that before school starts.  Thank ghod we got their back to school basics done!


So this is Fred, my live-in companion for the next month.  We’re getting along better than I’d expected, certainly better than I got on with the boot for plantar fasciitis a couple years ago.  I’m actually relatively comfortable sleeping in it, although that may be the pain meds.  I have an oddball pair (trio?) of handknit socks I’m wearing under it in rotation to keep the smell down, and I’m figuring out what shoes to wear on the left foot to balance out the height of the boot.  No more flip flops for me!  Several of my co-workers have been incredibly generous about driving me to work with them, so I’m back in the office on schedule, which makes me feel a little more human (and the air conditioning doesn’t hurt!)  I’m easing into the new normal.

I’m just glad I didn’t pay for any of those races already…

Run Report

Run Report

More than just running, though!

I made it through the week 8 redo on my 5k training.  Hero was really struggling with her week 6 training, so she redid that week and I went out with her a couple of times to do it and then tacked on an extra 20 minute run, which seemed to do the trick.  Rather than redoing the day 2 training like I’d planned, at the end of the week I went straight to the 5k run.  I very carefully mapped out a new route, got the distance perfect, and went out and DID IT.  I only walked once for about 45 seconds and had one long road crossing, but I think that pretty much counts as mission accomplished.  And even with those pauses, I still had an almost perfectly steady 11:30 minute/mile pace.  So I’m really happy with that!  That was last Monday, June 8th (recorded here for posterity!)

I lasted exactly one run before I crumpled and started running the full Zombies Run! app.

Hero’s doing better.  She was struggling with a head cold and female issues, so she wisely decided to redo week 6, and did it slowly.  By the end, she was running most of all her free runs.  She started Week 7, but on the second day got a bad pain in her hip and had to stop.  I think she’s just not stretching enough, so I walked her through some, including the IT band stretch I just learned and which has saved my life, and made sure she was holding them long enough.  She’s going to give it another stab today or tomorrow.

Since I finished the 5k training, my runs haven’t gone well.  To be fair, the heat and humidity here has been ungodly, and I was still running in the evening.  But now that the kids are out of school and I don’t have to get them moving in the morning, I can go out and run then instead.  Did that for the first time on Tuesday, and it wasn’t bad.  I only ended up walking 3 minutes or so out of 48, AND I found out that the route I’ve been doing wasn’t 3.2 miles, but 4.1.  And my pace is still consistent at 11:30, so in reality, I’m doing a lot better than I thought I was!  I’ve got this new route tweaked to where I like it, so I think that will be my regular run, in either direction, and then I’ll work on building distance/time from that.  And hey, I only have to add 12 minutes instead of 25 like I’d expected!

I finally got signed up for my races.  I’ll be doing the Tex-Mex 5k next Wednesday evening.  I’ve got it mapped out, and it looks pretty doable.  The worst of the hills are in the first half of the route, so I can get them out of the way no problem.  I’m tempted to go try running it in advance, but no, I’ll just keep on keeping on.  I also signed up for a virtual run/walk, the Sherlock Run.  I’ll admit, I’m doing it mostly for the medal (because it’s awesome!)

Sherlock run medal

But it also raises money for rescue dogs, which is always a good thing.  I signed up for the 22.1 mile challenge, which fortunately you don’t have to do all at once.  I should finish earning it with the Tex-Mex run, so two medals for the work of one!!  (Although I don’t think I get a medal for Tex-Mex. Oh well.)

I haven’t given up on the cycling, either.  I’m not getting much riding in this week because of getting ready for the trip.  I’m not comfortable riding early or late, as I don’t have my lights rigged up yet.  But once we get back, next week I’ll get back to alternate days with the running.  I’m already improving.  In exploring what I thought would be a 7 mile route, I got lost and ended up going 10, and aside from one monstrous hill, I didn’t have too much trouble.  I do need to get the bike looked at, as the front derailleur isn’t shifting to the lowest gear.  Hopefully that’s a quick and easy fix, though.  Xander’s decided to be my riding buddy for his summer activity.  So we have to get his bike in shape (the weld blew on his front gears) and make sure he knows the rules of riding on the road.  Then we’ll start doing distances and see how he does.  I’m not sure if we’ll actually ride together together, as he likes to go pretty fast, but that’s good.  Once we know what he can do, maybe we’ll see about hooking him up with a local ride club.

I know all this fitness stuff has really taken hold, though.  It’s become so automatic that when I get off my routine, I get twitchy.  Last night, I kept feeling like I was forgetting to do something, even though I’d already run for the day.  Today is worse, as it’s a rest day and I can’t run (I refuse to tempt injury.  I’m at risk enough as it is!).  I’m so looking forward to tomorrow morning, it’s not even funny.  Me, looking forward to running.  IN THE MORNING.  That’s just…deeply wrong somehow.

Doesn’t stop me from doing it, though.


Wheels up!

Wheels up!

Sunday was a wheels day.

I had all my housework done, so I planned to putter.  I spent most of the afternoon watching Harry Potter and finishing the singles for a new yarn to get it off my bobbins before Tour de Fleece starts next month.  But the morning was spent with some different wheels.


This is Charlotte.  She is the base of what I hope will become my cycling lifestyle.  She’s a hybrid bike, good for both urban commuting and distance cycling.  Neither of which I do at the moment, but I want to.  I know I talk a lot about running, but that’s not what I really want to be doing.  I want to be a cyclist.  Not for speed, but for distance.  I love the idea of cycling holidays, of hopping on my bike to run to the grocery store, of riding to work.  But other issues aside, I can’t manage even a few miles without getting exhausted.  Or I couldn’t.  But if I can master a 5k, I can build up my riding endurance as well.

But I have to start somewhere, and Sunday was about finding out where I was starting from.  I mapped out a couple of routes to the grocery store and was surprised to find out that what had seemed like an overwhelming distance was really just under 3 miles each way.  If I could run that far, I certainly could ride it.  So Sunday morning, I got Charlotte out of the basement, dusted her off, pumped up the tires and set out to see if I could do it.

Sunday morning seemed like the best time to make the attempt, as the traffic would be at its lowest.  The problem with living in the suburbs is that there is ALWAYS traffic.  We don’t really have back roads per se.  But some roads are worse than others.  I won’t go on Cowpath, because it’s always busy and overwhelming.  But going the back way, I only have to do half a mile on Orvilla Rd., another busy road with narrow shoulders.  That half mile seems a lot less intimidating somehow.  We’ll see how it goes when I have to deal with actual traffic, but this trip was just about distance.

I got off to a pretty good start.  Route 1 was fairly flat at the beginning, so I had good speed and was fairly comfortable taking the lane when I needed to.  The first hills were a little intimidating.  I’d grown up on single speed bikes, so gears are not intuitive for me.  But I’ve been asking a lot of people a lot of questions recently, so I at least knew technically what I was supposed to do.  It didn’t make them any easier, but at least I didn’t have to get off and walk!  Made it to Orvilla and was pleased to find there’s just enough shoulder to feel relatively safe up to the store.  Made it there in 15 minutes, which surprised and pleased me.  Honestly, most evenings I can’t drive there that fast, the traffic is so bad.  So riding there isn’t an unreasonable option.  But I was pretty out of breath.  I rested there for a couple of minutes, then turned around to take Route 2 home.

I don’t think Route 2 was worse.  A little longer on Orvilla, but only a block, and the left turn is at a light, so that helps.  But OMG the hills.  Okay, yes, there were only probably two that actually qualify as hills.  The rest were…slopes.  But crikey!  And the last one was towards the end of the ride, when I’m already out of breath.  I almost ran out of gears.  But only almost.  And I made it home in about the same 15 minutes, so either route is viable.

So there.  I’m not ready for grocery fetching on the bike yet.  Especially since I don’t have the right gear.  I have fenders, a rear rack and baskets in my Amazon wishlist for when I have more money, but I’m adding regular riding into my exercise routine.  The nights I’m not running, I will go out for a half hourish ride, around 6-7 miles, and try to do a longer one on the weekend.  15-20 miles a week this month.  Next month I’ll try to double that.  It won’t come right away, but it will come.  By the end of the summer, I would like to a) be able to ride the Schuykill River Trail into Philly and 2) be able to ride the 202 trail into Doylestown.  The second is harder than the first, even though the distance is shorter, because it is seriously hilly, and not just slope-y but actual HILLS. But just having a goal is a first step.  And I’ve learned that I can actually achieve these things.  I won’t be ready for the Endless Mountain 1240k next year, but I’ll be closer to it than I am now. If I can ride a century (100 miles) by next year, I’ll be a happy cyclist.

Confidence in Insecurity

Confidence in Insecurity


I’m entering a phase of my weight loss process that I somehow thought I’d skipped but which is making it’s presence felt forcefully now.

I don’t know who I am anymore.

This is pretty common among folks who have gone through weight loss surgery. A lot changes when you lose that much weight.  It can be dumb, simple things like suddenly having too many options on what to wear.  When there are only two stores you can buy clothes in, your fashion options are limited.  Getting under a size 16 is kind of overwhelming (and I’m down to a 10!).  Some people lose friendships and relationships because of the weight loss. Our identities have evolved around us being heavy.  Most of us have been heavy from a fairly young age (I was overweight by 19, obese by 25), so all we know of ourselves is filtered through that lens.  I know I still think like a fat girl in a lot of ways.  Wehn I go out running, I have my headphones on and my music loud so I don’t hear the jeers and catcalls that I would get every time I exercised out in public while heavy. I used to get them all the time, whenever I was out on a bike or trying (and failing) to run, some complete stranger would feel entitled to make a comment about my fitness and my right to work out where someone might see me.  Except now they don’t come.  Cars don’t slow.  People I pass smile at me.  I’m tense and defensive for no reason.  At least no current reason.  Just 20 years of experience that doesn’t apply anymore, apparently.

My interests and activities have changed.  Not all of that is entirely on me.  I’ve had to give up a lot of evenings in the last few months to help the kids slog through their backlog of homework.  That will go away in a few weeks (hallelujah), but even then, things have changed.  I don’t write anymore.  I’d like to, I miss it quite a lot, but I just don’t have the fire to do it anymore.  This from the woman who was writing scenes while waiting to get wheeled in for cancer surgery 3 years ago.  I don’t knit as much.  I’m still spinning, but not regularly, and I’ve finished 2 knitting projects in the past six months.  I still like to knit, I just…I don’t know.  Don’t make the time for it?

I’m a runner now.  Like, a little bit obsessively.  I run 3-4 times a week, every other day religiously.  When I have down time, I’m reading running websites.  Thursday I will finish my Couch to 5K training.  Finish it, where when I tried it two years ago, I couldn’t get off day 1 despite running it every other day for a month.  I can run almost 15 minutes without stopping.  When I’m on a rest day, I often find myself disappointed as I WANT to go out and run.  Which is madness. I know a lot of it is the shiny newness of it.  Whenever I take anything new on, I throw myself in headfirst, learn as much as I can, practice as much as I can.  But this is *running*.  Exercise.  My eternal nemesis even in high school.  I just don’t even know.

One of my coworkers told me the other day that I look tiny.  Which I know she meant as a compliment, and I took it as such at the time.  But thinking about it made me feel…small.  Like I wasn’t big enough physically to back up the badass personality I’ve kind of cultivated for myself.  My brain, which still thinks like a fat chick, remember, is trying to understand what being thin means.  Assumptions I’d always had about how people would respond to me and what expectations I would have to work against aren’t true any more, and I don’t know what the new expectations are.

The thought of dating again is truly terrifying.  Not that I’m ready for that, but…

I know this sounds like a lot of whining, and a little bit it is.  But it’s also the process of WLS, letting go of the past and trying to define a new self.  I don’t even know where I’m going with this.  I like who I am physically now.  Well, the boobs could be a little perkier and the belly a little flatter.  But I can run. Actually, flat out run.  For fun.  Because it feels good.  The last time running felt good to me was in the 5th grade when we did the President’s Physical Fitness challenge and I beat the fastest girl in the grade in the mile.  That was a loooooong time ago.  I’m glad to have these new things, but I miss some of the old things, too.  Maybe I’ll write again, when there isn’t so much pressure on me.  It’s happened before.  And slowly bits and pieces of me will get reintegrated in new ways, or new things will come up to take the place of the old.  I’ll find my new normal.

But right now, I feel more than a little adrift, and it’s tempting to go back to where it was comfortable instead of forward into something new.

Move it!

Move it!

The other thing I’m getting under control is my exercise.  As in, since Thanksgiving, there’s been a decided lack of it.  There’s been plenty of cleaning and schlepping and snow shovelling, but not anything focused.  I almost scared myself at Writers Weekend when the first night I WANTED to do calisthenics.  And did them.  So good sign: my body WANTS to be active.  Time to get moving.

Started easy with getting back to daily walking.  Well, when I say daily… Between appointments and illness and having to make up time, it’s been more like 3 times a week, but still, that’s better than it was.  The cemetary next to work has finally dried out enough for my co-worker and I to be able to get to the road through it without too much squishing through the dirt, so as many lunch times as we can manage, we get out there and do half an hour.  It’s pretty hilly, so it’s a good work out.  The building also has a half mile walking path, but they have it covered in this mulch that’s cut too big, so it gives under your feet like beach sand when you try to walk on it.  I’m hoping when they resurface it for the year (that’s the other problem with it, it all washes away) that they’ll get a finer, more compact mulch so we can mix up our walking routes.

In addition to that, I’m making another attempt at Couch to 5K.  I still don’t like running, but it’s still the easiest excercise for me to do, as I don’t need to go anywhere special to do it safely like I would for swimming or biking, and I don’t need any special equipment.  So hopefully this will be my gateway activity to those others.  I still want to start randoneurring, but I’m no where near there yet.  For now, running.  I got a different app this time, and I think it’s a good one.  I’m trying the Zombies, Run! 5k trainer, and I really like it.  First off, the training cycle isn’t as punishing as the standard C25K app that I tried.  The first week is 15 second sprints rather than 1 minute, so I can actually get through them.  I think the second week is as well, along with some added stretching.  Granted being 120 pounds lighter than last time helps, too, but I’m two days into it and feel pretty good.  I even actually ran during the free run/walk cool down period both days!  I also like the gamification a lot.  It’s a British-based company that makes it, so most of the voices are British or Brits doing American (not badly, but recognizably), so I described it to Nikki as being like taking part in a Doctor Who radio play episode.  The story is engaging, and I honestly think it helps having a real-sounding person encouraging me over a flat, automatic reminder.  Not too many zombies yet, but enough to get the heart racing once in a while!  So yeah, if you’re looking to start running, I recommend this app.

The other thing really helping me is my playlist.  It’s not big, but it’s almost all girl power, attitude songs with a strong, steady beat.

That Man by Caro Emerald
Shake the Room by Gamu
I’m the One That’s Cool by The Guild
Back to Me by Kathleen Edwards
Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall
Box of Secrets by Zarif
I Want You Back by the Jackson Five
Cherry Bomb by the Runaways

I need to add some ELO to this mix as well.  And if you know anything that fits these styles, let me know!  Music is not my thing, so I’ll always take recommendations!

Last time I tried this, I never got off Day One after six weeks of working at it.  Again, I was 120 pounds heavier, but nevertheless, I feel a lot more optimistic that I can get through the whole thing this time!  If I don’t have to repeat any days, I’ll finish the 8 week training on June 2.  Not sure what my reward will be for completing, but it will be something good!  Aside from the regular Zombies, Run app, so I can keep going!


Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here

It wasn’t a very exciting day.  Those are the hard ones to blog about.  Bullet points to the rescue!

1.  It was the kids’ last day of school.  Such as it is.  They only had to go in for about two and a half hours.  But it still meant I had to get them up and out the door.  On the plus side, they decided they wanted to ride their bikes in.  Since they didn’t have to carry their monster backpacks, I said sure and spent an extra 15 minutes watering the garden.

2.  I think the 5 gallon self-waterers aren’t working well.  They don’t seem to be getting enough water up to the plants.  When I refill the reservoir, it’s still full on all of them.  I’m wondering if the cups I used to make the wick aren’t letting enough water in.  Of course, now that the plants are in and up, I can’t do anything to fix it.  More watering.  But they’re getting their third leaves finally, so they don’t seem to mind it.

3.  Spent some quality time editing today.  And by editing, I mean programming macros to show me all the things I’m doing wrong in bright glaring neon.  Too many adverbs, repetitive words, passive voice.  All of it.  I did get some actual revision done as well.  But not much.  Tomorrow.  Maybe.

4.  My joy with the pushups was short lived.  I went to do today’s and nearly fell on my face when the muscles along my stomach hurt so much when I flexed them.  So a) the pushups are doing what they’re supposed to and b) my core strength is pathetic.  I did my pushups, but I did the wimpy kind.  I’m going to try to alternate the good ones versus the wimp ones to start building it up.  Did my situps fine, and I did the test to add lunges.  Baby steps.

5.  The vacuum cleaner died.  Not that we use it that often, but we use it enough, especially with the animals.  So I have to add that to the shopping list, along with the new air conditioner.

So not an exciting day, but it’s a day.  Tomorrow I can sleep a little later and I don’t have to get kids up, so my morning will be a little calmer.