Friday, September 27, 2013

Down But Not Out

Okay, so I know that it has been months since I have written a post here...major life changes have happened, but I have finally settled into a new semi-normal situation. I have never been able to write through a crisis. I need a lot of processing time to absorb what is going on. So while more changes are coming, for now things are good and somewhat calm. There is much drama to report and I will get back to it, but today I am wearing new running shoes and damn, I am happy. I am smiling. Can we say happy feet?

And here they are with my dry, slightly hairy legs. My wonderful husband bought them for me today. I had put them on layaway so long ago that I had given up hope of ever actually owning them. I bought them here in Prescott at Manzanita Outfitters. (Check them out also on Facebook...Manzanita Outfitters.)

I went in one day to daydream about investing in my first pair of new running shoes and Dani Layne (who has finicky feet) ended up helping me so much: figuring out what I wanted and basically teaching me about shoes, my feet and how to wear and tie my shoes so that my finicky feet would feel good. I went crazy and put them on layaway even though I didn't really have the money for that kind of investment. Weekly, I would pine for them and mostly just felt embarrassed about the whole money situation. With this hubbie visit and finances better I asked my man to buy them for me so that I could wear them tomorrow in a race that I signed up to do for both my daughter and myself. It is my second 2 mile walk/run with her and another mother/daughter duo. I am getting pumped up. I think I can run a marathon now. Let's put it this way, my desire has been rekindled. So much of this process is mental. Two months until my birthday and it's hard to imagine making my goal, but if nothing else, I am persistent, which my husband describe as similar to a Chihuahua, a rabid Chihuahua. At times this can be a good quality, but for my poor husband is it usually distressing. 

Anyway, back to these great shoes. I love the color and now I love Dani. So here's what I learned from this fabulous gal: 1.) I am not the only person who does not like a tight toe-box.
2.) With a special tying method I can keep my toe-box loose and tighten the laces at the top.
3.) There are running shoes with high arches.

4.) The bottom treads on these shoes will be great for my favorite running location: the Peavine Trail.

And I got some new socks thanks to Dani. (On sale when one buys a pair of shoes. Oh how I do love a bargain.) And, what I love about sports gear today is that it can be cute. Thirty years ago everything just looked ugly and for me with boobs I looked fat in all the very unflattering boy gear. Today my socks have flowers and I must confess will match my pullover.

Yeah, I am a girlie girl in my secret heart of hearts. Check out these socks. Dani picked them. I will be thinking of her as a pivotal guide in my quest to run a marathon.

I hope to become to be as fast as my Cheetah girl, but until then I do feel as happy as she does with her face painted.

Hey, Brooks, if you want to be this old lady's sponsor, I wouldn't say no. I am going to need more shoes, gear etc. as I pursue my quest. And if you know of any great coaches in my area who want to take on a crazy project, well that recommendation would be great too. So read my blog and think about it. I could become an inspiring athlete if given a chance and support. I may not be your usual demographic, but there are a lot of women in the world like me. I'm just saying...

P.S. Brooks does not endorse this blog. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Marathon Runners Come In All Shapes And Sizes

As a task for a beginning running class, the instructor Pam suggested volunteering at a marathon. See my post Eating An Elephant. I decided to do just that for the Whiskey Row Marathon on Saturday, May 4th. As a volunteer my job was to stand near the finish line and direct runners into the final turn just before the finish. 

It was amazing to see all the different people with different goals doing that race. The Whiskey Row Marathon also has 5K, 10K and half-marathon components. I saw friends: moms with kids; moms and grandmothers alone running the 5K. I saw two friends running the half-marathon. I also saw a co-worker of my husband's who ran the half-marathon. Kids from my daughter's school ran the 10K. It was so exciting to see so many different ages, running levels and body types running the race. Not everyone had a rock hard skinny body. YEAH!!

Near the end, I got to see women, who were probably my age or so finishing the marathon. Some who did the early start time (two hours before the race began). I felt so encouraged and motivated. From my spot I could see the racers in the final stretch, who did not realize that they were almost done, then they turned the corner and seeing the FINISH sign, would do a final push to the end. Wow, it was inspiring. I am so glad I volunteered. 

It was wonderful to hear the announcer calling out names and what race the runner had competed in as they came across the finish line. I would like to hear my name. I want to run a marathon now more than ever. Pam's suggestion was true. Volunteering at a marathon really does spark one's inner runner.

Who Needs A Coach? I Do...

I am still wanting to catch up on April happenings. The most significant thing that happened in April beyond my marathon training involved getting a coach. No, I don't have personal trainer for my running, though I would like to find one. 

The coach I found was a personal "transformational life" coach. Fancy title, but a coach is a coach. By definition a coach, the noun: is a person who trains an athelte. Or the verb, to coach: to give instruction or advice in the capacity of a coach; to instruct. Thank you

As I was languishing in my beautiful office trying to actually complete just one idea and bring it to completion, I realized I needed a coach. I went for a couple of free visits to see a therapist (through a program from my husband's work), but in the end did not find what I was looking for. I really wanted cheerleading, handholding and accountability. 

At the NVC (Nonviolent Communication) group I attend once a week, the organizer happen to mention that she was working on her certificate to be a life coach. I asked if she needed any practice hours because I would love to be that person for her. She agreed to work with me (at no charge). Wow, was that the single most important thing that has happened in this crazy process of becoming a writer and running a marathon.

At the first visit, I knew I had found what I was looking for. Near the end of the session, she asked me what my goal was. I explained that I wanted to complete a treatment (an idea for a TV show) over the next two weeks and get it out into the world. She asked how much time would that take and I committed to three writing hours per day for two weeks. She said text me everyday at the end of the day with your status. ACCOUNTABILITY, thank you, thank you—now I had a deadline and a boss.

It took a little closer to three weeks, but I did finish the treatment and sent it to my scriptwriting mentor. The sessions with this amazing coach were so helpful in guiding me to see my writing blocks. Frankly, I didn't know how much I needed her till I started working with her. A person who trains someone is a coach. She trained me to move forward and step over my fear of being a writer. What was great, was that we didn't talk too much about "the why" of my fear, instead we just met it head on and pushed through it. 

The act of coaching involves instruction and this coach's instruction was the accountability factor. She was watching me and encouraging me. There were a number of tearful moments when I texted her and she texted me back with great quotes to motivate me, which propelled me forward. 

This process of becoming a writer is so parallel to becoming a runner and running a marathon. Slowly building stamina; gaining confidence that the task is even possible; embracing fear, but pushing through it; developing momentum that propels one forward—all of these things apply to both running and writing. 

I am at a point where my own momentum and accomplishment are starting to show results. Maybe I am not crazy after all. Maybe I just might be able to live my dreams. Maybe...I can run a marathon and support myself as a screenwriter.

Poof: Where Did April Go?

Well, I don't always make my goals, but I do keep trudging forward. 

April was a big month. First, I was sick for almost half of it. It has been very windy in Prescott and the wind really gets to me. When I got sick the first time I mostly ignored it and continued my training. In fact during the middle of the month I increased my running split ratios and felt like I might be able to run...whoa, hold on: yes, for the first time I thought maybe I could successfully complete a 5K race. No it's not a marathon, but I have got to start somewhere. 

Then, in the wind (with a hat) I did a great training day. I was so proud of myself that I mentally recorded the day—Tuesday, April 23rd. Basically, I did 21 minutes of running (some could say shuffling) and 24 minutes of walking—splits of 3 minute run / 3 minute walk—plus a one mile walking warm up and a one mile walking warm down. The total workout was about an hour and half. The total mileage just over four miles. That is some progress from where I started and it fired me up. My lungs were still struggling, but I was very happy with the day. 

Fast forward...that night my throat was a bit scratchy and I woke up on Wednesday with a full blown head cold. This time I made myself stay in bed and did nothing (hard to do as a wife and mother) and it took a week and a half to finally feel like I was normal again. 

Also in April, the marathon class I have been taking at the YMCA—that was connected to the Whiskey Row Marathon event—wrapped up. I have learned a great deal from the two instructors and have finally organized their handouts into a binder for myself. The instructors shared so many little tips and advice like: clip your toenails a few days before the marathon race so you don't get a rub burn from a too long toenail and so your feet can get used to the new toenail length. It seems silly, but for a 26 mile race, something small can turn out big. It was those kind of tidbits—from their personal experience and dare I say personal mistakes—that I recorded in my marathon journal, which will become so valuable as my marathon race day approaches.

Finally, in April I invested in some shoes. A small investment, but not what you might think. One of the women in the Y marathon class told me that Goodwill often had sports gear. I must get a good running bra, which start at $50 and running shoes, which start at $100. Needless to say, that is so beyond my budget right now. My little $214 is just covering my bills and a little gas. No room for extras. So I thought I would see what I could find at Goodwill. My guardian angel must have been looking out for me because I found a brand new pair of New Balance Walkers, sized 8.5 for $5. I tried them on and nearly started crying. I also found a fleece pull over that had a great pocket for my iPhone, which I use in my training. Did I mention that it was also half off day when I went in. I felt very loved indeed.

I am making the progress of a tortoise, but in the fable the tortoise does win the race against the jack rabbit. There is hope for me yet.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Little Something About The Office

Folks just wanted to share how great my office turned out. It's an oasis for me. I love coming here and settling into work. It feels like when I had my old painting studio in NYC on Broadway. The possibilities are endless...

(Chine collé print by Laura Sue Phillips)

(Bird sculptures by Rick Hartner and painting by Edith Isaac Rose)

(Native American basket, gift from Julia Kane)

(Photography by Beth Wesson)

100,000 Miles, Time For A Trade-In

So I am a little slower than I would like overall. This is the second post for the month of March. I had hoped to do four. Also I would have liked to be a bit further in my running process, but I have definitely started my splits at 1 minute of running with 4 minutes of walking. I can do more and tomorrow will finish that cycle and start the 2/3 combo on Tuesday.

I just recently finished reading an amazing book called Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. I don't want to do a pitch here for the book, but for me, it finally explained why I feel so poorly after eating wheat and gluten-free substitutes and why I have found difficulty getting off wheat. I also loosely follow the Eat Right For Your Blood Type diet and I am starting to explore more on the Paleo diet, which I am learning about on Elana's Pantry website. I bring this all up because I am trying to figure out the right fuel combination for this old body.

At near 50 years old, I figure in car terms I am at 100,000 miles. Now things are starting to need ongoing maintenance to keep me humming along. Usually, I think the best time for a car trade in is at 75,000 miles (in my mind that would have been in my early 40's). Things are still running well and smoothly at 75,000 miles. Trade in, get a great price, start with a new car. If only it was that easy. The bodies we get are the bodies we just have to keep. So how to get more miles and really keep things running smoothly in this 100,000 mile body?

When I had my old 1978 Toyota pickup with the camper-shell, I used to change the oil myself like clockwork. I did regular tune ups with the guys at Bill & Jay's in Petaluma and was very diligent, if thrifty about general maintenance. Fuel wasn't just the gas I used, it was also keeping the spark plugs, filters, oil, alternator, brakes and everything else in tiptop shape. I put another 100,000 miles on that truck myself and when I sold it and I told the woman just listen to this baby and keep on top of the maintenance, and you should get another 100,000 miles.

So it is with my body. I am following a variety of "diets" because my personal fuel cocktail is unique to me. My body has told me a variety of things over the years and now I am listening to every little knock and ding. Sleep, food, exercise, emotional well-being all play a part in keeping this body going. Part of the goal of running a marathon is to really have a task that requires me to juggle sleep, food, exercise and emotional well-being into healthy habits. 

I would like to log another 100,000 miles on this body, but with a smooth ride, not coughing and sputtering like a car with bad fuel that needs a tune up. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Eating An Elephant

Getting back to training feels good. Walking steady for 45 minutes really gets me going. On Friday, I will have two weeks back at it. So while I was slowed down in the physical aspect of running my marathon last month (February), I did keep my brain on task. I love the YMCA. They offered two courses that I signed up to do. One is a running clinic, which is ongoing every other week till the Whiskey Row Marathon (here in Prescott). The second workshop was a one day event. 

For this week's blog I want to talk about the workshop. This was a beginning runners workshop taught by Pamela Neimeth, a marathon runner and a gal in her fifties, probably. Wow...she was all about the fun and joy of running and taking things slow. I really liked her philosophy of success, particularly when running a race. She suggested doing shorter races and ending with a sense that one could do more instead of just finishing. 

Key take away points I got from her hour and a half workshop:
  • use a heart monitor to figure how much to push and when to back off (once I get my heart monitor I'll talk about more this);
  • date the back of your shoes to track mileage (400 to 600 miles per pair of running shoes);
  • really listen to your body and learn the difference between hurt/pain and soreness;
  • go slower and shorter distances than you think you can do;
  • pay for an event (a race), then put it on the calendar and map out the training for it;
  • volunteer at the finish of a race (to see the wonderful looks of satisfaction and accomplishment—great motivation);
  • consider finding a training partner;
  • consider doing a charity event/race (contributing to something bigger than oneself can be very motivating);
  • at a race, set goals, but not just a time goal (e.g. meet one new person, say thank you to three race volunteers, etc.).
The final thing that was so great was the formula she shared for building up one's running time. So much has changed in the running world. The formula she explained really helped me see that I could get stronger and work with my fickle back. Working in five minute increments using the formula below and I can move to the next step when the urge overtakes me.
  • 1 minute running / 4 minutes walking
  • 2 minutes running / 3 minutes walking
  • 3 minutes running / 2 minutes walking
  • 4 minutes running / 1 minute walking
These days it's not just about beating the pavement and high mileage. What a relief. My old body has a chance. I might actually be able to do this crazy thing called a marathon. As my husband likes to say: you eat an elephant one bite at a time. So here's to little bites. My goal for next week's training is to do that formula for step one: 1 minute running / 4 minutes walking during my 45 minute training time. Pam was encouraging, so that's my plan. 

Other thoughts: I am going to volunteer to do the finish line for the Whiskey Row Marathon (WRM) on Saturday, May 4th. At first I thought I would try to do the half marathon. Too much. Then I was contemplating the 10K. Still too much. The WRM is an intense course with lots of elevation changes, which I am learning about in the running clinic. Then I thought 5K, but there are a number of 5K races locally, so I think I would gain a lot by helping at the WRM finish line. 

I would really like to see what it looks like when you finish eating an elephant. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Grief, It's What's For Dinner...

The title of this post has been on my mind since mid January. I was thinking about life changes and how one must let go of old selves and old ways of doing things to really move forward. Changing my life is hard. Changing habits is hard. There is a sadness as I struggle to embrace change. Don't get me wrong, I like the changes I am making, but at times I realize that I don't feel like I did when I was in my twenties, or even thirties. Time is finite. Where once I was filled with hope at the possibility of everything, now I know how much hard work is involved in any task. Finally, it's not the hope that sees one through to completion, it's persistence. 

January ended on an intense note with the death of my husband's sister/cousin. She was just 49 years old, three months older than I am. I admit I have been slowed by that death. I feel remorse that I didn't get my Christmas card sent to her with some special pictures; relief that we went to Atlanta in September for her birthday; and regret that we just didn't have more time for our families to be together.

Suddenly grief is all I have for the moment. And time feels limited. I put my training on hold—though I went to a few classes about running, which I will blog about soon—and I called my mom. I just wanted to spend time with her, to enjoy her company and really connect. I suggested a little road trip for us. She decided that she really wanted to go to Monument Valley. It was a great trip, just two days and while I felt I had other priorities, deadlines, things I needed to do—that was the most important thing at the moment. I am so glad we went because time is finite.

And here it is again...on Monday this week, another member of my husband's family died. His niece's husband (at just 44 yrs) had a heart attack. Death has been nearby in these last few years. Older relatives, older mentors, all passing on. My father's death just over a year ago. Time is finite and people have slipped out of my live so easily, so quickly and without warning. 

So where does that leave me right now? This week I started back to training. I made a number of decisions, one of which was to blog here every week no matter what I am feeling. And to really just think about what I need to do each day so I am more present. Finally, while I am feeling grief, I am thinking about how lucky I am. 

I keep hearing a line from a Joan Armatrading song that my dear friend Ang turned me onto in college—old school, she gave me a home-made cassette of Joan's music. Now a check out a little new school view on YouTube...

"I'm lucky, I can walk under ladders."

I'm lucky
I'm lucky
I can walk under ladders
Yes I'm so lucky
That I'm as lucky
As me

Struck it rich
Dirty rich
No work
And get richer
And the world
Loves a winner
Yes I'm so happy
That you're happy
With me

You are happy too
Ain't you baby

Numero uno
Living for
Right now
And it's
When I'm here
With you

I'm lucky
I'm lucky
I don't need a bracelet
No salt
For my shoulder
I don't own a rabbit
No clover
No heather
No cross
No wonder
I'm lucky

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hello 2013...

It's going to be a good year. I survived Christmas and my birthday and now I am onto new things. I am so glad the holidays are over. I still have Christmas cards that I am sending out and some Thank You cards as well, but now it's just fun, fun, fun (sort of). It's great to have started my life changes before the new year because I have gotten past some of the emotional baggage about what I am trying to do: write and run.

My mood has greatly improved now that the eggnog has run out and the radio is no longer playing Christmas carols. Also spending the day at my office is great. I am still getting my time breakdown settled as to what I will be doing each day, but being here in this space means that I have made it real. Now to focus on what my writing tasks are, that's the next step, which I am figuring out. I am clear about one thing: blogging more regularly is important and at the top of the list of well-spent writing time. 

So, I managed to keep my training going during the month of December though it was spotty. Really, it's also been cold and snowy. I have pictures...see I'm not making it up. We got a bit of snow. I did do 33 minutes of walking up to the gate of Goldwater Lake Park and back twice after the road was plowed on the day these two pictures were taken. I managed to "train" about twice a week. But here is the really amazing thing: like having the office and really jumping in and changing my life, I have already lost 20 lbs with my few changes since starting this blog and marathon quest. How cool is that? Momentum is everything even though it's just nibbling at the task.

Amazingly, my marathon task is looking more and more like my scriptwriting task. I get a great newsletter from Hope Clark (Funds For Writers) that basically outlines her process (the nibble method) of 15 minutes everyday when she began her writing career. I can do this. My issue is focus. So many ideas, I just need to complete one. 

A little aside: I just wanted show the weird ice picture. These are from our dog's water dish. It's cold outside!!

Final thoughts: I plan to write more about the marathon task. I am hurting, but hopefully I can crush the Xmas cookies under my running shoe...and actually start running. To run, I have to purchase running shoes. I will be starting my homework in the next few weeks: what to buy and why. New running shoes are in my future.

Happy New Year! I raise a toast: To making life changes that enhance what we already have...