Category Archives: inspirations

The season so far: sore but inspired

They says this old age thing isn’t for sissies. Whoever “they” are, they aren’t kidding.

Four competitions in five weeks, with another one next week, tends to leave a person hurting a bit. Toss work and writing and keeping up with the house on top of all that, and even I am surprised I still get up some mornings. Miss Bayer, Kid Advil and Aunt Aleve have become close members of my family now.

I’m slowly filling out the competition calendar, trying out some new things over the next few months. The World Out Games are coming to the  area, and I plan to swim there. I’m straight, so you many wonder why I’d go to something that’s geared toward bi, gay and trans athletes. I think the athletic community as a whole has to show love and respect towards athletes whose sexual and gender orientation is alternative to what the world expects. The Pulse nightclub shooting is part of the impetus, but these are ordinary people who do extraordinary things and also happen to be bi, gay and trans.  I’m looking forward to the experience – and looking for an affordable hotel.

I’m going back to a half-marathon in March (I swore these off years ago),  hoping to do my first Olympic triathlon in April and aiming for an open water swim of more than a mile in May.  The holidays are coming, and aside from some standard entertaining, I hope to do some resting. This upcoming weekend’s swim meet will afford some visiting time with family, plus a hotel room in which I do not have to make the bed, clean the bathroom or hang up my clothes. Hey, I’ll take a gift any way I can get it.

I’ve got a 10-mile run, a 10K, local and state Senior Games, a triathlon and one or two postal swims left before the holidays. How about you? What’s your sports torture du jour? And if it hurts, why do you do it?hard

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, inspirations, Ocean swimming, Running, Swimming, transgender, Triathlons

Four weeks, still sane…so far

It does not seem that long, but it has been four weeks without a job.

I’m still OK, and busy. Sending out applications and resumes every day, working out more often, and spending less and when I do spend, it’s cash and it’s done with care.

I’m not cutting back much on competitions at this point. Three swim meets, a triathlon and a 10K are on the schedule in the next six weeks. I’d like to add a half-marathon to that, if a job offer comes through. Or a 5K, if it doesn’t. It’s all about price at this point.

I’m taking the opportunity to search outside my employment comfort level, and doing more freelance work. The house has never been cleaner (you can walk into our master bedroom closet now and not fear breaking a toe by tripping on wayward shoes, dropped hangars or misplaced backpacks).

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The time off has afforded the opportunity to photograph local art.

The Husband would probably like the home office to himself more often, but he has exhibited patience and good humor about it (I bribed him with homemade oatmeal raisin cookies).

In spite of advice to the contrary, I have not changed my habits. I still wake up and go to bed at basically the same time I did when working. I still maintain discipline by dressing as if I am working, and having a to-do list each day, with specific tasks to complete. The temptation to curl up on the couch and watch idiot TV programming is getting stronger, I admit, as is the sense of occasional depressive thoughts, such as the notion that not one single employer is ever going to find me or my talents worthy of money. But in the end, as I said at the beginning, I’m still doing OK and working on getting back to work.

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Filed under athletic competition, budget, employment, Exercise, freelancing, inspirations, mental health, unemployment

Doing It When You Don’t Want To

IRoads I was not exactly raring to go this morning. It was cold and drizzly, and it’s Day 1 being laid off from a job. I’ve never been laid off from a job. Not in over forty years of working. It is an odd feeling, to say the least.

The pool is closed today, so my schedule said I was running instead. My brain sort of said my schedule really should not matter. My heart dictated differently. So I got up at my normal time, layered up and headed to the track for sprints and bleacher work. After all, my first 10K of the new year is a week and a half away.

I got to the track and ran my laps. The bleachers were wet and slick and not looking all that safe. But something propels me to get up there and run them anyway. I am pushed on, not so much by my lack of a place to go today (though I do have work to do and resumes to send out and interviews to set up) as I am by a book I am reading, Find A Way, the autobiography of marathon swimmer Diana Nyad. It was not until she was 64 years old and on her fifth try that she achieved her dream of the Cuba-to-Florida swim. That means there were four failures before that. Failures that took a toll on her family, her friends, her health and her finances. And that’s on top of a childhood filled with sexual and physical abuse at the hands of both her father and swimming coach. The loss of her brother to schizophrenia and her mother to Alzheimer’s. How does anyone climb out of a place so dark  and not only survive, but keep focused and training and moving forward until they achieve exactly what they know they can do?

She did, and compared to her, my dark place is a just little ditch. The book was a Hanukkah gift, but the timing of its arrival was perfect. I’ll be fine.

 

 

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January 7, 2016 · 1:51 am

Busting the comfort zone and annoying others

I may not do it well, but I'll show up and annoy you anyway.

I may not do it well, but I’ll show up and annoy you anyway.

I’ve mentioned many times that I swim, run and bike.

I’m pretty sure I’ve also mentioned that I do none of them especially well. In fact, last place and I are pretty good friends.

I’m reminded of that every time I see a results sheet at a race or a meet. People wonder why I don’t have apps on my phone to send my results and keep me informed of the competition. I don’t have a smart phone (I am getting one next week, which will certainly be fodder for another blog post) and how excited should I be to see that I’ve come in last, on a tiny little screen, no less?

The whole idea of busting out of the comfort zone is nothing new. We’re encouraged as kids to try new things, from food to sports, and told that we only have to “try it just this once.” Sometimes we decide to hate it out of spite. Or pretend to love it because our friends love it, or our parents pressure us.  How many of us played a musical instrument, played baseball or danced for far too many years, with no talent or hope of progress to show for it, just because someone else wanted us to participate? We feel bad for slowing down other people, we feel dumb for looking bad next to better people and spend years wondering why we do it. Then some of us have kids and put them through the same thing.

As kids, we had no control over where our comfort zone ended and adventure began. As adults, we don’t have to ask permission or look to the bleachers to see if anyone is cheering or not. If it’s affordable and the time is available, it’s doable. Don’t look around to see if anyone thinks you’re awesome. Their opinion doesn’t count. Just go play, and in the process, you will likely be showing someone else with more fear than faith in their own ability that the impossible can be done and the goal attained. And you’ll be annoying the more accomplished souls in the process, because they’ll wonder why you’re having such a good time.

Note: This post is dedicated to Raife Snover, a cyclist, trainer, swimmer, dog trainer, barrel racer, pilot, wonderful son, husband and a guy his fellow swimmers miss very much. Thanks for letting us all know how much he meant to you.

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Filed under Exercise, inspirations, Running, Swimming, thought

A Subtle Sunrise

From black and starlit sky to deep blue, yet still starlit. I saw it this morning as I stretched out before my run.

 

I took the opportunity of a day off to head to the beach and run. I never get to see the slow change from dark to just barely daylight. I’m usually swimming at this hour; a head in the water notices very little, other than the bottom of the pool. I was surprised at the stars’ brightness, being so close to humanity and the light it produces. I thought there would be none.

 

I was in a local park, alone at that moment, waiting for just enough light to tackle the wood-chip track safely, since there are no spotlights or lampposts. I’ve seen plenty of sunsets, doing the nine-to-five thing and driving home when I do. But a long, slow sunrise is a gift. The shape of the clouds as they slowly become evident, looming monster-big against a slow morning sky that no crayon box can ever replicate in its colors.

 

The nuance of the early day is a gift, something I miss on an ordinary day. I can’t wrap it up or put a bow on it, place it under a tree or give it to anyone else (unless, of course, they want to get up at that gawdawful hour and run with me). But I’ll gladly take it for myself on this Christmas Eve day. And I hope all of you get lucky enough to discover something subtle that you’ve missed, and if you do, consider it a gift to yourself.

 

Sunrise in SE shortly after New Year.

Sunrise in SE shortly after New Year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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Filed under inspirations, Running, thought

Fat-Shaming, Or Fit and Focused?

Maria Kang has been called everything from an inspiration to an idiot.

She’s a bully or a beauty; she’s obnoxious or outstanding. Why the range of emotions, and who is Maria Kang?

The Sacramento mom posted a photo of herself, in exercise shorts and bra top, alongside her three young sons and pointedly asked, “What’s Your Excuse?” And the floodgates of social commentary Hell hath opened upon her.

The mother of three, business owner and recovering bulimic makes no apologies for looking that good. She claims no hereditary or ethnic advantage, no hours-long workouts, nanny, caretaker or extreme dieting regimen. In her own words, “I’m a wife, mother, business owner and nonprofit founder. I dream. I set goals. I plan. I take action.” Makes sense when it comes to getting fit and staying that way. But what about the women (and at least a few men) who read her post, saw her photo and decided it was time to tie her down to the nearest weight bench and beat her with barbells?

Her detractors call themselves real people, normal people, average types. They slam Kang for fat-shaming, for being obsessive and unrealistic, for not really getting it when it comes to what most people face in terms changing their lifestyle habits.

On the contrary: I think she does get it. She’s been through an eating disorder, she’s had three healthy pregnancies in three years without excessive weight gain, she works, and most important, I saw nothing particularly accusatory in anything she wrote. I did not see her outright hating on fat people, or using a verbal cattle prod to force anyone to follow her lifestyle. Just posting the photo on Facebook, Pinterest or her blog and putting the generic question “What’s Your Excuse?” out there is not a sign that she hates YOU. And it’s not likely that you’ll ever look like Maria Kang, either. But that’s fine because neither will I; there isn’t enough workout time in the day or plastic surgery to achieve that.

Go ahead and keep working out and have a goal: look like the best person YOU can be. Because if you want to work out to the point of looking like Maria Kang or anyone else, it probably won’t happen. You’ll give up and walk away from your workouts long before that point. Some goals, like being YOUR best, are attainable with planning and action. Others are just a dream because the time commitment, the money or the equipment just isn’t available.

And don’t slam her just because she looks the way she does and displays it on Facebook. After all, you can post there, too.

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Filed under blogging, Children, Current news, Exercise, health and beauty, inspirations, social media, thought

A Birthday’s Worth of Gratitude

English: A chocolate birthday cake

English: A chocolate birthday cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You don’t get but one day a year to celebrate, or at least quietly admit, that you’ve gotten a year older.

In my case, it came with a little baggage (the start of a pension and aging up for competitive swimming and running purposes), but it’s still good to be here. Dinner tonight was out; after all, what’s a birthday celebration if  you’re doing all the work?

Dinner was about wine, seafood, truffles, cream sauce and a small piece of chocolate cake. I shared the cake with The Husband. Normally, I don’t share chocolate anything with anyone. I’d sooner use my fork to stab you through both hands, in fact. But he was paying for dinner, and by dessert I was getting a bit full, and thinking that my cholesterol meds deserved to work less tonight.

On the way home, the passing scenery, so familiar because I see it going to work and coming home, caught my attention anew. It wasn’t the buildings, trees or the sunset. It was the people.

I saw people walking home with big packages, and I know these people do this because walking is their only means of getting from Point A to Point B. I walk a lot, but I do it for exercise and by choice.

I saw people hauling groceries from store to car, shopping on a Saturday night because they have no other time to get it done. My time is tight, but I have options. I can get groceries on my lunch hour, on weeknights or on the weekend.

I saw people pedaling old bikes, coming from hard labor jobs: dirt-streaked, sweaty, sunburned; carrying lunch boxes or bags of takeout food home to waiting families. I cycle, but my ride is nice, and it’s because I want the workout.

I know many people did not eat as well as I did tonight, and never will. For them, the words “fine dining” are as foreign as any language besides their own. Their food is discounted, donated and found via dumpster diving by necessity. Their homes are often not their own, and not places of safety and comfort, as mine is. Their job choices are dictated by how little education and access they have, not by how much they know, who they know and the technology that’s available, but not to them.

Happy birthday to me. It’s not bad to be me, though it can be better. But at least I have choices.

 

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Filed under Aging, Chocolate, family, food, inspirations, thought