Thursday, March 20, 2014

Setbacks

Well, this was bound to happen. Setbacks. It's all part of this whole fitness game. A couple of weeks ago, I probably moved up a weight too early on the arms, and I had this weird tight muscle that would crack occassionally for the longest time. My massage therapist told me to hold off on lifting weights on the arm ("I guess you can probably still go swimming) but I was bummed out because, well, I'd made progress and I was on a roll, and now i have to "rest" it.

So, I did. And I'm back with the arms, and in fact, I've moved up a weight and it's good.... and.... ugh, my knee.

I did something to my knee the other day and half of me says to tough it out, go ahead and run, and the other half says, listen to your body, that knee needs a rest, wait until it's better. And I'd come so far with the running! I'm up to 2.5 miles at a respectable pace. I was shooting to be at the 3.1 I need for the tri (at this same pace) by April-ish. Ugh. If I rest this out (which is probably going to be two weeks), I'm going to have to start all over again.

On the bright side, I've learned that, well, starting from zero, it only takes me a month or so to get back up to where I am now. So it's not like I have this tri to run in May. I'll be OK. But it's still a setback, which I also have to keep reminding myself happens. The typical fitness/weightloss graph does not make a pretty parabolic line swinging upward. It looks more like the stock performance of NASDAC; AAPL. Still, it's a bummer. Especially after this past week, when I dropped two pounds to bring me down to my ten pound milestone (total: 20 since I started doing this seriously again), which means I take measurements (something I do every ten pounds). And that was significant: those ten pounds accounted for  two inches off chest, bust, waist, hips and arms. I put on a pair of pants that hadn't fit awhile as well as a sportscoat and did the happy dance in my closet the other day. The kids must have thought I'd lost it.

And then, I wake up the other day and my knee just went sploosh. It's doing the same thing my arm did a couple of weeks ago -- it's tightening up, pulling everything around it tighter, and after a while I hear a CRACK and then relief. And within a couple of hours, it tightens up again. Something in there is pulled/strained, and I just have to be kind to it and ride it out. But that means no running for a bit. And that's a setback. And I was on such a roll!  So it's back to the elliptical and the pool until this thing calms down. I hope I don't lose too much progress this time. OK, OK, setbacks are normal. It doesn't mean I have to like them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Secreting Awesomeness, not just sweat

So this went viral this week: some guy wrote a FB post to a large man he'd seen at the track at their local gym, "congratulating" his effort. The author of the original post was (and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt to say he was probably unintentionally) condescending. The object of his post wrote an eloquent reply, and you should probably read the whole exchange.

I love the reply from Tomy Posnanski and I agree the original poster is a douche. But what really is getting me thinking was the discussion in the comments (and a similar discussion is going on in other people's comments in various shares on FB, I'm sure.) A lot of people are taking this situation, comparing it to their own, and drawing similar conclusions.

Where I start to feel bad is that suddenly, many (not everybody) seem to be comparing him to any person who reaches out to lend a little encouragement to somebody on a health journey, whether that be weight loss, getting in shape, lowering one's cholesterol, etc. Many of the comments are people who don't want to be acknowledged whatsoever, and this person nailed it:
Because of the baggage I bring to the figurative table, anyone who tried to high five me at the gym no matter their intention would just remind me exactly how much I don't belong and how everyone knows it.
I consider myself fortunate that I really don't give a crap if there's anybody at the gym who looks down on me, because as Polansky points out, they don't know my journey. Also, I'm one of those people. I (like a few other commenters at the link) have always had this attitude that I am who I am and fuck you if you don't like it. (Albeit, I had to grow into this to really believe it). But I love riding my bike too much to worry about how fat it makes me look. A response in that thread really put into words what I genuinely believe:
Absolutely everyone who isn't a royal asshole is only seeing a fellow person working out. And the assholes ... they're thinking shitty about everyone for all kinds of random things that have no basis. That guy in the post is scary hateful and not the norm! 
There probably is someone at my gym giving me the side-eye because I'm sweating all over the elliptical. That's too fucking bad for them, actually. I'm not sweating, I'm secreting awesomeness (which I will, of course, wipe off when I'm done) and if they'd quit giving me the side-eye and instead throw up a high-five, then maybe I can spread some awesomeness to them.
The point is - if you want to go to the gym or get in the pool or go slog around the track, then DO IT. Don't worry what other people are thinking, because what you're doing has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. So go. Do it. I will high-five you.
My two cents may not have belonged in that thread, because frankly, I don't mind if somebody acknowledges that I and my obvious fat are there to do something about it. Hell, if I wasn't fishing for high fives and "God, You're Awesome" compliments, I wouldn't be go all public about my "journey" (are we sick of  that term yet?) on this public blog, now would I?

I'm running around the track (hey, folks, I'm up to 2 miles now -- at a 12minute/mile pace!) and waving at the "regulars" who I pass and pass me. There's Kathryn, who runs longer and faster than I do, smiling at me. There's the girl the key desk who waves when I pass her. There's Janet, who has a wave and a smile for me every time I walk in there, and story to tell when we're winding down in the steam room. (All of them are considerably thinner than I -- and I don't get a single vibe of patronizing attitude.) There's Emily, who teaches a class and we kvetch about raising our 10 year olds. There's the built-like-a-marine-drill-sergeant guy I sheepishly ask "Um, do you happen to know what the weight is on this bar I'm lifting? It doesn't say and I have no clue" who encouragingly replies, "Oh, that's at least 45 pounds!" There's the people who "like" my FB posts when I mention this in my status. If somebody is being condescending, it's their problem. It really is, and I really believe this. And I really need to believe that original poster's heart was in the right place -- but just hasn't been there long enough to know how incredibly condescendingly he is coming off.

Because I've been on the side of offering the literal or figurative high five. I've seen the person struggling with climbing that nasty hill on the bike, or trying to squeeze out one more rep on the bench, or just stopping their run because they can't take it one more damn step and I give them a nod or smile of encouragement because, well, frankly, I'm looking in the mirror. I've been  that person  wondering if I even belong there in the gym, in the pool, on the bike trail with all these other "athletes" and every time when I'm showering off the sweat and walking out clean and dry and high on endorphins, I know I do belong there. And if you've bothered to lace up your gym shoes and drag your tired butt in there, you do too, no matter what your story or journey is, and and if you look like you could use an encouraging smile I'll have one for you.

That's what bothered me about a lot of the responses. Sure, original poster dude doesn't know Posnanski's story (and that OP made some ferocious assumptions) but when I offer you a word of encouragement, maybe you don't know my story. Before you get all insulted that I offer you a BTDT, maybe you might want to consider that I have indeed Been There Done That and lived to tell the tale. So, if for whatever reason you're reading this blog, you think I'm inspiring, or just think it's cool that I'm doing this, or writing this, or whatever, I'm totally happy to get your encouragement. I'm insecure enough as it is not to take a compliment or encouraging word at face value.  I won't think it patronizing, and if you are trying to be patronizing, that's your problem, not mine.

Hmm. Maybe I'm not as insecure as I thought. Because I am one fat chick tha-whumping around the track, jamming out to My Chemical Romance not giving a crap about what people are saying about me (unless it's good!) (Yes, I'm a 53-year-old fat broad who jams out to her teenage daughter's playlist.) And (I love this phrase, I wish I'd come up with it) I'm secreting awesomeness as I do it.

In the meantime, here's another great post about how to put a condescending asshole in their place. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My low hanging fruit is in the shop

I admit it. I'm one of those people who go for the path of least resistance, the easy/fun way out, the low-hanging fruit. I guess that's why this Triathlon is probably a good thing for me, and being that I'm giving up bitching about the weather for Lent, I really can't complain about the fact that the weather is stopping me from doing my favorite athletic thing of them all: riding my bike.

See, that's my favorite part of the tri altogether: the bike. I say without hesitation, I am a cyclist. I finish in the top 10% of all the entrants in the bike portion.  I've been in love with bike riding ever since I got my training wheels off. I didn't even own a car until my 30s. Up till then it was my bike, public transportation, and mooching rides from friends. I won't even have to "start training" for the bike portion of the tri, which at 20 K isn't even a "long ride" for me.  I'm already in condition to blast out a dozen miles.That's just an errand. My summertime commute is longer than that.

No, I have to train on the running track, and for a race that's 7 months away, I'm not doing too bad. Last week I was all giddy that I could run 12 minutes without stopping; this week I'm at 18, and the goal is to be at 20 ish by the next time I write. Last time I did the tri, I did the 5K run portion in about 36 minutes. OK, you're not impressed and you shouldn't be. That pace is about as slow as you can go and still call it "running." But I ran the whole thing, dammit, which is more than I can say for some of the other athletes. Still, here's the thing: I'm really not in love with running. Running is more like this medicine that's good for me, and I feel good afterwards, but I really don't like it all that much. I have friends who do marathons and half marathons and appear to really enjoy it. Well, good for them.

This is as opposed to the absolute euphoria I live for when climbing up a hill against the wind on my bike. Yes, I love that. Partially because it's a bitch to do, but I'm rewarded not only with a downhill cruise, but that feeling of getting to look behind at the hill I just climbed and confidently say to myself, "V'ron, you are a badass." So I don't hate  running because running is hard. I just don't like it. Even with an excellent playlist burning in my ears.

But that's the thing about a challenge, isn't it? If everything about a challenge was wonderful and enjoyable, then it wouldn't be a challenge, now would it? A challenge is not about just going for the low hanging fruit. It's about going all the way up the tree, to those scary high branches, and having faced that is it's own reward. Yesterday on the track I did 12 minutes and really felt like stopping, but darn it, I did 18 the other day and I can't go back now. So I dialed in some eurpoean electronica on my ipod that I knew would last for 6 more minutes and off I went.

Besides, I kind of have no choice. I have to focus on running now because frankly, it's just too damn cold to hit the bike trails these days. I'm a badass on a bike but I'm not that badass -- I need at least 40 degrees outside before I'm riding. And on top of that, my bike is in the shop (South Shore Cyclery is having a service special right now!) So, I'm just going to have to wait until Easter for some delicious low hanging fruit. I'll have earned it.

Down 2 more pounds this week, BTW.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Callouses: Story of my life

I need to build up some callouses: fingers and  feet
So, I did it. I registered for the Iron Girl Triathlon in Pleasant Prairie (oh, it's really Kenosha, folks) this summer. I paid the money. Now I've committed to it. I was going to do this last summer, but too much fertilizer was hitting the cooling device then. Now I have a pile of personal and physical reasons to go back to Kenosha and feel as wonderful as I did the first time I did this. This has been festering in me for some time.

I spent last summer grabbing my bike, driving out to the sticks, and just piling on it in the hot, stinking weather. I love riding my bike on a hot, stinkin' humid day (and when possible, taking a break in the middle to jump in the lake, fully clothed, only to be relatively dry by the time I rode another 15 miles to finish my ride.) I was putting on between 30-40 miles on weekend days. It felt great. Then last September, I started jumping into the pool. I've been religiously swimming in the wee hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays before work. Even today, while the snow and cold flurried outside, there I was, at 6:30 am in the Tosa Y, putting in 30 laps.

Then two weeks ago, I got off the stairclimber and instead of cooling down by walking around the indoor track at the downtown YMCA, I was too hyped up, loaded with way too much nervous/kinetic energy. I did something I hadn't done in a couple years. Not because I was thinking about doing this, but more because I just needed to do something with this spazzed out energy. I ran two laps around the track before I stopped and thought to myself not, "Wow, that was hard. No wonder I don't run." No, honeys, it wasn't that at all. You know what it was?

"Crap, how old are these shoes? These shoes SUCK! I need some new springy running shoes."

So last week while I was at a sporting goods store getting a whole lot of other crap for family, I walked past the athletic shoe display, did a double take, and picked up some new rides. Tried on some hipper looking ones, but then  realized, "No, you're going to run in these, V'ron. This is not the time to look hip in cool colors. You need your sensible, go-to brand/style." So I got the relatively plain, but road tested for me Saucony Grids. They were on sale. I brought them home and put them on and jumped up and down (I love the feel of new gym shoes!) And I went to the Y the next day and climbed the stairmaster and I walked over to the track, and started running. Baby steps here. I'm not doing the Tri-distance 5 K yet. But I did do 10 minutes. And the next day, I did 11 minutes. (25 more to go, to work my way up to my historical average to do a 5K.) And the day after that I did 11.5 minutes.

OK then. This is it. This is the year I go back to Kenosha.

Oh yeah, I forgot, I have to break these shoes in! Oh crap! I'm brewing a blister! (Now I know that people tell me you shouldn't have to break shoes in, but if I get them in a different size, once I break them in they will be wrong.) No, I've had to freshen up my callouses my whole life. My feet are an odd shape and there is no such thing as a shoe I don't have to break in. I just have to build up new callouses if I'm going to do this. Story of my life.

I mean, my band is playing out in April for the first time in a couple of years, and I put new strings on my guitar and started practicing the other day and same thing happened. Duh, long time away from the instrument + fresh strings = sore fingertips. No, I don't got blisters on my fingers, but they are pretty damn sore. I just have to build up new callouses on them, too, if I'm going to do this. Story of my life (truth be told, story of any guitarist's life.)

And I'm back on this fat blog, which means I have to prepare for the eventual fat hate from internet trolls who have no clue what trying to fight fat issues is like. Oh, they are so tiresome! "Oh, should a fat girl like you be running? Is that good for you? Why are you bothering? You're just a fattie! Just eat less!" Seriously, people do this shit. People are fucking mean.  Remember the wonderful Fat Girl On a Bike blog? Sarah ended up having to go dark because the abuse from chickenshit dickslaps hiding under the cover of internet anonymity just got to be too much.   Fortunately there are plenty of other fat chick athletes to lean on and laugh with me when the dickslap factor gets high.  So I'm just going to have to put a few callouses on my soul, too, if I'm going to do this.  Story of my life.