Category Archives: Exercise

Moderate Effort, Maximum Embarrassment

This morning Clayton and I woke up nice and early for a 5k at our local zoo. I “accidentally” waited until last night to inform him it was a 7:30 a.m. start, not 8 a.m. Oopsies, we already paid! My bad, Dollface.

Unreasonably, I decided to shoot for a PR/check off an item on my Under 30 wish list, despite a serious lapse in training. Meaning I did not train. I know better than to assume I’ll push myself to a PR effort, especially going Garmin-less; I absolutely will not. So my secret weapon in this run was Clayton’s snobby athletic superiority and his claim that I can “definitely” go faster if I try harder. I’m still not quite as convinced as he is, but if he’s next to me or, better yet, a few steps ahead, at least I’ll definitely move quicker than normal just to shut him up.

The race probably started earlier to beat the heat and humidity. In theory, anyway. To actually beat the humidity it would have to start in Rhode Island. The race started about 10 minutes late. Not the way to the heart of Floridians already drenched in sweat walking from their cars to the start line. Even that little window allowed the humidity to climb from miserable to haha why are you idiots outside in running clothes.

My sister in law was on Addie duty, and the four of us had just moseyed on down near the start, fake stretching and ignoring that feeling of having to pee a sixth time, when all of a sudden the big crowd of people surged forward. I didn’t hear an announcement or gun. Just a rush of hot air whooshing by and a sudden moment of panic that the world was ending because we missed the start! Yeah, the world wasn’t ending. We just walked like four steps and got in the middle of the pack. Sometimes I’m a stickler for rules.

The course was pretty narrow for the number of runners, and I missed most of the view of the Hillsborough River dodging people in front of me. Running through the zoo may have been cool for people without annual passes that don’t go once a week, but Mama has seen that same monkey 15 times and would love for you to not stop abruptly to look at it. Again, very narrow with LOTS of zigzagging.

I was struggling at the end. It was muggy and we were running through a boring parking lot. Clayton somehow talked me into booking it the last 0.1 mile. Bad. Idea. I ran through the finish (picking off Miss “pink visor” that Clayton kept pointing out as our target, might I add), slowed for about 1/8 of a second in an attempt to have my shoe timing chip cut off, and realized things were about to get real up in that zoo. And also up in my throat. I jerked my foot away from the kind and understanding race worker and jello-walked to a cluster of bushes right next to the finish line. I then proceeded to complete about four cycles of dry heaving/pacing back and forth behind a stranger’s car. I may never reach that level of attractiveness ever again.

I heard the race worker tell Clayton two more times that he “needed” my race chip. Dude, you NEED me to not puke on your crisp, orange, zoo-issued polo. I assure you that is your most pressing need right now. It was both mortifying (it’s not like I busted out 6 minute miles…talking to you, GI system) and gratifying to experience that running rite of passage. Would I have preferred to experience it alone, hunched over foliage in my own yard? Sure, but where’s the fun/blog entry in that?

You see where I’m going with this, yes? Leading with all the excuses so that the big let down at the end seems expected and justified.

Oh, and I have exercise-induced asthma.

And I didn’t properly warm up.

While I did technically PR (as a Noa; who knows what those college 5k times were, before I discovered brown ales and hosted another human in my loins), I didn’t hit my goal time. By 25 seconds. That doesn’t sting at all. I made a fake-puking, chip-stealing loon out of myself to miss my goal by 25 seconds.

I’m still pumped to have broken a 10 minute/mile pace without really running beforehand. Certainly not impressing anyone, but it just sounds so much faster to me for some reason. And when scrolling through the results, I’ll be honest: it was thrilling to see my name before the pace number jumped to double digits. I hate talking about times because I know I’m slow, but dang it, I’m not the slowest!

Once I could see and stand straight, I turned over my apparently invaluable timing chip and waited as my husband grabbed every free item at the post-race party. Granola bars for toddlers even though we don’t have a toddler? You bet! Tiny packets of strange spreadable sunflower butter? Pack it up! Gargantuan moldy oranges that have no place to be stored in our fully loaded stroller? Two, please!

We met up with my sister in law and Addison for some necessary photo ops with livestock and an abbreviated tour of the zoo, mainly just to see the baby elephants. I wasn’t crying when they locked trunks in sweet baby elephant love, they kicked up dust in the air, I swear.

Just when it couldn't get any grosser after that run.

Just when it couldn’t get any grosser after that run.

zoo 5k fam

The Body Issue

I’ve debated writing about this for awhile for fear of being judged shallow or having the “wrong” priorities. But here’s the deal: having a baby demolishes your body. I read a lot about how the body changes during pregnancy and what each alteration is doing for the baby. Surprisingly, my growing abdomen didn’t bother me at all during those 38+ weeks. Lots of people love a pregnant belly and my friends and family obviously embraced the changes.

picnic island nat

About 12 hours before my water broke

The Then

But then the baby came out. She weighed 8 pounds. Not 35. The day I went home from the hospital, I had packed the most unflattering, body-hugging nightgown/dress. I tried to hide myself heading down the elevator and getting into the car. When I got home, my well-intentioned brother who had no experience with pregnancy, childbirth or the aftermath looked at me and said, cautiously, “So, not trying to be mean, but now what happens to…all of this?” And waved his hand over my midsection, which still looked like I was stowing away a baby.

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I shrugged it off at the time, knowing that the few days after delivery were not going to be my most attractive. My midsection was the least of my worries.

In the first two weeks, I got down about 20 pounds from my heaviest pregnancy weight. It was encouraging, and I figured it was a sign that my body was going to bounce back quickly. And then that little weight loss factory completely closed up shop. Stalled all production and  locked the doors and windows. Nada. Nothing. Nil. I didn’t lose one pound for about two months.

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About a week and a half after delivery

Now, no one means to make you feel bad, but once there is a baby to play with and talk about, the conversations directed to you are frequently body-related. I was often faced with well-meaning “you’re looking good”s and “have you lost weight?”s. The problem was that I hadn’t lost weight and didn’t feel like I looked remotely good. Those comments only reminded me of how unhappy I was with my figure.

About 3 weeks after I had Addison I started doing light weights for my upper body in a last ditch effort to slim an ounce or two from my arms before my brother’s wedding. It was a lost cause. However, the wedding proved to be a glaring indication that my perception of my body was so grossly unhealthy and skewed. When it came time for the bridesmaids to put on our dresses, I almost had a complete breakdown comparing what I [thought I] looked like to what the other girls looked like. Their boobs were proportional. I thought mine spilled out of my strapless dress. The other bridesmaids’ dresses cinched in at their waist. I saw myself in a light pink column of fabric with nary a waist in sight. Their arms had definition. I saw every imagined extra fold of skin on my arms.

That day, I did my very best to keep myself together and redirect my focus. Of all the things to think about that day, I knew my overanalyzed body image didn’t even deserve to make the list. So I blinked back tears and tried to avoid the room in our suite that was wall to wall mirrors. Unfortunately, I also tried to avoid the photographer.

Thankfully, throughout the day I began to feel a little more comfortable and not deathly afraid of a camera flash. When I saw the pictures from that amazing day, I was so very disappointed in myself. Not because I looked fat and ugly, but because I looked beautiful. And there wasn’t one minute during the celebration that I allowed myself to feel it. I was tormenting myself about my appearance, and because of that, there are a slew of pictures I wish I had but refused to take.

The Now

And here we are today, almost four and a half months since meeting my little peanut pie. I have lost a few more pounds…s  l   o   w   l   y. To be brutally honest, I still hate how I look in the mirror and in pictures. One of the hardest issues for me is not feeling like myself. For months, I have not recognized the curves and the softness that I see staring back at me. I don’t know who that person is, and I still have not learned to accept this new shape. Instead, I try to hide it or avoid it. Witnessing me getting dressed is a whole ball of fun for my husband as he dodges the dozens of articles of clothing tossed around the room before the final ensemble is settled on.

I feel like I have been at a crossroads recently where it’s time to shut up about my hang-ups. Even though I am convinced everyone—family, friends, Facebook friends, strangers, Facebook strangers, cashiers at Target—are judging my appearance, the reality is that no one cares. The only one scrutinizing every pound and cursing at the scale is me. It is easy to throw into conversations that “it’s so worth it, though” and smile affectionately at my kid. I know my lines in this play. The real work now is to actually claim that belief and force myself to grasp what that easy sentiment means.

I had a baby for crying out loud. My body, with the teeniest bit of assistance from the hubs, created a human being. The most perfect, adorable, hilarious, smart, chubby little girl. My extra pounds were what nourished her. My extra skin is what held her. My labored breathing allowed her to have strong, hearty lungs. My gigantic boobs are what sustain her and give her those kissable cheeks. While my crazy brain has perfected the art of compartmentalizing my adoration of her and my self-deprecation, I need to begin using the former to combat the latter.       

So I’m trying. I’m really, really trying. Not to lose 15 more pounds but to be proud of all the other accomplishments I can brag about from the past 13 and a half months, some of which are entirely due to this temple of mine. I grew a baby, I pushed that thing out and now I am raising her the best I know how. I know that I won’t ever be satisfied with this current body. I am focused on changing it. But I am also working so hard on not being focused on my body all of the time.

Apparently, it’s a struggle. I would not have written a novella about this if I had done one sit up and out popped the six pack or if I could simply be fat and happy. Neither have been the case. I know that I don’t have throngs of readers, but if you have any experience with this—lost the baby weight in the first two weeks, still haven’t lost the weight, don’t even care about the weight or anywhere in between, I’d love to hear your story! Although, if you fall into the first camp, I have a serious eye roll with your name on it.

And here’s a video that prevents me from feeling anything other than sheer joy and will probably make your life: Addie the Enforcer. I’m not lying when I say she really is so worth it.

Recap

Okay fine. I’ll write more about running.

Clayton never intended to run the half marathon with me. But after I decided not to run in my first choice of race–the Virginia Beach Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon–because I didn’t feel ready and my husband witnessed a full on breakdown after a long run gone wrong a few weeks ago, he stepped in to rescue my sanity. And I’m so glad he did…even if I trained for almost six months and he trained with five runs. We won’t get into that right now.

With our fall schedule filling up at lightning speed, this half marathon was virtually my only option once I dipped out of the RnR. Had I been forced to continue training for another month or two before actually racing, I don’t know if I could have done it. I am very close to my limit of running out of training necessity as opposed to running for “pleasure.” I will not miss those weekend long runs and ensuing nausea. Not even a little.

The eve of the race left me really excited. I didn’t have any nerves or jitters; they wouldn’t have fit in my body along with the Olive Garden soup, breadsticks and linguine anyway. Carbo loading. Look it up.

On race day, I woke up at 5 a.m. so I’d have plenty of time for the important things. Like drinking coffee. And taking self portraits.

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My “Did I really agree to this?” husband got his wake-up-ear-nibble around 5:45. We left the apartment around 6:15 and headed to Fort Eustis, the military base hosting the race. To enter the base, there’s obviously security and strict regulations. The security officers were actually making everyone get out of their car and searching all vehicles, which created a little backup when we arrived. Luckily, they opened an extra lane and we were able to sneak on over.

When the search-and-report cop approached, he asked for Clayton’s driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. When we handed it to him, things got interesting.

“This expired in July,” the officer said.

As soon as I heard the word “expired,” I knew he was talking about the insurance card, and I could have sketched an entire picture of our kitchen, including the exact spot on the kitchen table where my new insurance card has been sitting for three weeks.

“Nat, this is expired. Do you know where your new card is?”

“Yes…it’s on the table. At home.”

And that’s when the officer sweetly piped in with, “Well then you’re going to have to go get it from the table.” He kindly gave us directions out of the base, and that was that.

Insert very quick freak out here.

We went to the exit, knowing full well there was no way we had time to go back to our apartment and return in time for the race. Then, rising out of the pavement, in almost palatial, life-saving stature, was a Holiday Inn Express. We pulled in, parked and got our warm-up walk on.

We passed a duo of port-a-potties and, as time ticked away and the entrance gate seemed impossibly far away, we took advantage. If you feel like your dignity would benefit from being taken down a peg, sign up for a road race. That’s all I have to say about that.

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We made it to the entrance and zipped right in front of the huge line of cars to get top-secret pedestrian clearance with only our ID’s and ankle socks. When the security guard informed us that the starting line was a mile and a half away, it was clear life was going to get real awkward real fast. We’d have to hitch a ride with a fellow runner and/or military serviceman to avoid that exhausting walk.

And then we learned just how awesome our legs would look if we lived in New York City because of how awful we are at hailing passing cars. Clayton’s attempts only resulted in drivers waving at him, possibly wishing him luck in case he actually did make it to the race before Sunday. I didn’t even rack up any attempts; I stayed on the sidewalk to strategize and shout out Clayton’s next play.

“Red Tahoe. Wait. Wait. Now! Go! Red, red, red! DANG IT! Hold on, okay, white Tundra coming up. Tundra, do it! Now! TUNDRA!”

Inconceivably, this plan bombed. We gave up, hung our heads and started truckin’ it. Then a darling couple with an adorable dog pulled over and asked us if we needed a ride. We thanked them continuously for the entire ride and told them it was our first half marathon. The guy was also running, and every time we passed each other during the race (meaning when he would already have hit the turn-around and we were still a good ways away from it), he’d cheer us on. And he was there as we approached the finish line offering creative suggestions: ‘”Race each other to the finish line!” Or, how about our marriage survives this assault and my husband lets me finish first. Yeah, I like that idea better. But he did incite us to sprint to the finish, which is always way cooler.

The race itself turned out much closer to a best case scenario than any of the nightmares I had beforehand. The first four miles went by quickly. Miles six through eight were tough and dragged on and on until the end of time. One of my earphones shorted out at mile eight, leaving me with only the instrumental and background portions of my playlist for the rest of the run. If I had the extra energy, I would have filled in those missing lyrics for the enjoyment of all my fellow runners. 

I tried to think of the race as three smaller runs: five miles, four miles and four (plus 0.1) miles, so mile nine was a mental milestone. An unexpected burst of motivation and momentum bombarded me at mile 10.5, and we picked up the pace. Until that motivation turned the corner and started running uphill. Then she went bye-bye. Miles 11 to 13 were, by far, the hardest. Our (My) pace slowed dramatically, and even though I knew I was going to make it to the end, I thought it might take me another hour to get through those last two miles. The Garmin was not moving and I thought I might be on a treadmill. Clayton was a hero during those two miles and would not under any circumstances have let me quit. Luckily, I was still strong enough mentally to do the same for myself. Plus, my husband pointed to a walker and said, possibly too loudly, “Don’t quit like that guy.”   

When we rounded the final corner and faced the straight away, the small crowd combined with our chauffeur-stranger-friend yelling at us to race gave us a last push to “sprint.” And 13.13 miles were in the books.

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After we walked off the rush of lactic acid and urge to collapse in tears, we waited around to snack on oranges and Gatorade, hoping maybe this race would hand out age group awards based on heart and spunk, rather than finishing time. No such luck. And then we remembered we had to walk around the world to get back to our car. It was slow going, and I had certainly lost the embarrassment of stopping for breaks by this point. No good Samaritans stopped this time, and we were so gross, we wouldn’t have actually accepted any offers. Well, Clayton wouldn’t have. I would have agreed to strip down naked if they wanted me to. That walk sucked. 

Our drive home was a thrilling mix of jubilation, Gilmore Girls-style fast talking, nausea, chocolate milk, Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, calf stretching and more jubilation.

The rest of the day was spent dual-massaging each other’s feet and calves, napping and watching Florida State lose in typical fashion. But I gotta be honest—I’m going to be in a thoroughly undeterred good mood this weekend no matter what any football scoreboard says.

13.1

I feel like I should give you fair warning that this post is nearly void of humor and serves as one gigantic “you go girl” high-five. To me. From me. With an exaggerated back pat. Wearing a foam “number one” finger. During a parade in my honor. If that doesn’t sound like a party you’d like to attend, I recommend skipping this one and maybe spending that time writing an ode to yourself. It’s indulgent and fabulous.

8.30.2011

Big day for the Noa hip flexors. I registered for my first ever half marathon. Even though it’s 3 1/2 weeks away, I’m a big fat pansy and you probably won’t find out about this until long after I’ve iced my aching knees and downed my free beer. I really like having a non-accountable window of opportunity to completely flake out and forfeit my $30 (it’s a really, really small race, like 56 laps around someone’s backyard).

While I initially just typed “I don’t know why I’m afraid to talk about this milestone,” the absolute truth is that I know exactly why I don’t want to share the details of my attempt at a long distance road race: I’m obnoxiously competitive. And I’m just plain terrible at running. I don’t want you to know that I’m so very slow, and that it may take me three hours to finish that beast. I don’t want you to know that, because the race is so small, there’s a very high probability I’ll cross the finish line to an empty parking lot because everyone’s already gone home. I’m embarrassed and prideful and would never admit that I might take a walking break or five before finishing those 13.1 miles.

But that’s a heaping load of crap. I’ve worked my slow butt off, achieving things that I never imagined, like looking forward to a five miler as an easy run, pushing myself to keep moving when every single muscle from my waist down screamed at me to stop, getting back on the pavement after knee pain sidelined me for two weeks and doing what it took to stay there.

Week after week, I got up, put on my Mizunos, and ran. I could never have pressed “Confirm Registration” if I stopped doing those three little things when I was tired. Or when my muscles hurt. Or when I preferred to eat my weight in chips and salsa. Or when it was inconvenient. Or when my family asked repeatedly why I would ever run nine miles for no reason at all.

I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I can genuinely say that running is the hardest sport I’ve ever been a part of. I started noticing recently that all the running blogs and running friends I know are classic Type A personalities—driven, organized, structured and disciplined. You cannot run with any kind of success without all of these components. Being a solid middle-of-the-roader when it comes to personality, sticking to and improving my running was a true challenge. It demands consistency, and sometimes every single step is a mental and physical battle.

For the past five months, I’ve won. I beat the voice in my head that said

You can’t run because you’ve never done it.

You can’t run because you’re slow.

You can’t run because you won’t win.

You can’t run because you have asthma.

You can’t run because no one understands it.

You can’t run because it hurts.

You can’t run because it’s hard.

I told that voice to shut the hell up. And I ran.

For 2.5 really, really tough miles. And then for 3. And then for 5,6 and 7.

And then twice, I ran for 9 miles. This weekend, I’ll go for 10.

And in a little less than a month, I’ll finish 13.1. Without any expectations of how it will look, or how long it will take, or what the “real” runners will think of me. I simply expect to do what I’ve done for five months: to get up, put on my Mizunos, and run.

Running Collage

Running

9.24.2011

Dunzo. Kiss it goodbye, put a fork in it or smack it on the butt as it scoots by. 13.1 miles are D-O-N-E.

I might write a detailed recap, I might not, but trust that it didn’t take me 3 hours (even though that would have been fine with me, but better for my Achilles that it didn’t) and I didn’t stop to walk (even though that would have been okay, too).

The only reason those two things happened was because my husband ran with me. Step for step, for every mile. He wouldn’t let me work that hard and throw it away at mile 11, when I really, really, really wanted to walk straight off the course and into a tub of ice mixed with Heineken. He was there to hold my water bottle when it was time to take some Shot Bloks. And as soon as we put that bickering match that occurred between the starting line and the first quarter mile behind us, it was basically smooth, aching sailing.

And then we got to walk for days back to our car. Yeah, I should probably do a detailed recap.

But for now, I’m just thinking about what a very lucky girl I am. Now, about that Heineken.

half marathon

Rite of Passage

One tardy wake-up

Four socks

One banana

Two puffs on the inhaler

Three Clif Shot Blocks

One creepy cat hiding in a drainage ditch staring at me with neon green eyes like a demon from the pit of hell

One catcall from a total winner via the last existing CB system broadcast from his stereo speakers

Twenty-four ounces of heavily diluted Gatorade

Two playlists

Seven intense internal debates about just f’ing stopping already

One pit stop to refill my water bottle from the stash my husband stored outside our apartment for me

One unplanned burst of speed compliments of the skurry “worker” van with blacked out windows

Two mini out-and-back routes

Two trusty shoes

=

10 miles

For the first time ever. I know people lose all grasp on reality and run 50-something miles at one time, and lots and lots of people excel at marathons, but this is kind of a big deal for little ol’ slow me.

What did you accomplish that you thought might literally kill you this weekend?

Irene, et al.

The weather is crazytown over here this week. When we left for Florida, the temperature was consistently in the upper 90s in Virginia. I returned to a yummy, crisp morning in the 70s and a high of 82 on Tuesday.

And then there was an earthquake. Odd for Virginia. Bryson and I managed to hold down the fort unscathed. The apartment did rattle, but I thought an overweight upstairs neighbor was possibly rearranging some furniture. Nope, earthquake. Scratch that one off the bucket list.

After our little babyquake, the weather was still rockin’ compared to the inferno I left in Florida. I decided to make a date with this pretty lady, a birthday treat from my husband who obviously perused the wish list. Good boy.

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Don’t worry, that’s when I got home, not when I left. What’s throwing you off is that my wrist is not saturated with sweat. Who knew I’m not a disgusting manbeast sweater when the humidity drops below 95%?! Also aiding in the lack of exertion-related sweat? Walking the last half mile because I haven’t even pretended to exercise in six days.

This run was toooough. Usually my legs protest for the first half mile or so. Tonight, they whined and moaned every single step during their reintroduction to running. They weren’t having it.

But I had to get this trot in before that finicky Irene comes to town. (Source)

irene

Just to recap, that’s a wacky change in temperature, an earthquake and a hurricane in one week. I’m officially in the market for an underground apocalypse shelter.

Earning the “B.S.” behind my name

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy toeing the line between badass and suicidal. (Husband, cease laughing. Sharks are a whole different ball game. And lightning. Also, flying. Maybe farm animals. And pilot lights.)

So when the fine folks at weather.com tell you this:

NN weather

you think for 4 seconds and then decide, “I can TOTALLY rock that long run today.”

Thankfully, I’m usually just motivated enough to shoot for badass but lazy enough to avoid the suicidal situation. I should clarify that “badass” translates to “no one else in their right mind would choose to subject themselves to this torture. And if they did, they’d be adult enough to wake up before 10 a.m. to do it.” Sort of like spending the afternoon doing this, the definition of hard core:

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When all that dog hair, human skin and resentment of traditional gender-defined domestic duties was sucked up in the vacuum,  I did 5.25 miles indoors. While every other tenant in our apartment complex flittered around the pool with reckless, tan abandon, I was hamstering away on my wheel.

treading

Then I decided to work on my farmer’s tan and desperately force myself into the mentally unhinged long distance runners’ circle by running the last 2.25 miles outside. 8 miles on Excel turned into 7.5 in 90 degrees real quick like.

But it’s over, I’m alive and now I’ve bragged about it on my badass blog.

Remember that frying pan ain’t washing itself.

Don’t tell him I said so, but my husband is kind of a doll sometimes. Like Tuesday night. He has been sick for about a week and was on-call all weekend, but my little trooper agreed to put all that aside for the good of the team. And by team, I mean my love handles.

I had a horribly disappointing run on Sunday (the whole “I’m a lightning fast cheetah runner goddess busting out these 7 miles. Wait, this can’t be accurate. I’m driving it to double check. Oh, it’s SO not accurate. I ran 4.8 miles. I want to cry and eat chocolate.” thing happened). I decided to give it another go Tuesday after carefully driving and re-driving and Google mapping and calling my Congressman to verify the distance.

As running luck would have it, it was exactly 4 miles from our apartment to a paved trail that we recently discovered. The trail itself is 3 miles. So my darling peach pie of a husband agreed to meet me at the entrance to the trail and accompany me for the last bit of my run. He rode a bike for the entire 3 miles, but still. He was there. And he even left a little earlier like I demanded suggested to make sure I didn’t get stolen on the first solo portion. (That I.D. channel screws with your head, for serious.)

Strangers watching him might have thought it was peculiar as he trailed behind me for a mile driving 4mph staring at my ass. I thought it was positively heroic.

Even though those last 3 miles were infuriatingly slow, they weren’t spent alone. I even managed some gasping conversation, which I never thought I’d be able to do while running. He was nice and silent about my pace, even though I felt like an overweight, euthanasia-bound greyhound desperately trailing behind the bike, which Clayton wasn’t even kind enough to attach a dead rabbit or Banana Republic gift card to.

When we got home, it was shark o’clock, so I obviously couldn’t be bothered with caring for the nutritional welfare of my family. And do you know what my husband did? When he brought me the grilled cheese he made me, he forgot to bring me water. After a 7 mile run. On second thought, sometimes my husband can be downright self-absorbed.

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Everybody, cut loose

I finally pulled the plug on my gym membership. It wasn’t embarrassing at all when the guy looked up my account and said, “Oh, wow. You’re right; you haven’t been here in awhile.” Both personal trainers behind the counter were oozing with judgment and I wanted to scream, “I ran 6 miles on a treadmill yesterday, biznitches!” Instead, I squeaked, “I’ve been trying to run more.” And the mega buff, steroid-injected character kind of rolled his eyes and, failing miserably at sounding genuine, said, “Well…running’s good for you.” And then he looked me up and down and vomited in his mouth. Probably.

The truth is when we moved out of our rental house and into our apartment, we said goodbye to a cul-de-sac and a safe, family-friendly neighborhood and gained walls shared with six other people, parking three blocks from our front door AND a fitness center. Those three dumbbells and scalding hot water fountain only raised our rent by $300. I mean, hello, bargain!

Because of the unbearable heat, I’ve been stuck running on the treadmill at the fitness center for the past couple of weeks. It’s not ideal, not by a long shot. I knew I ran slow, but now there’s like numbers and facts and figures that actually back that up with indisputable accuracy. It makes me sad and like I should take everyone out to the playground to watch me do a left handed layup to prove that I’ve still got it. I am on that thing for a long time going not so very far. There’s a non-functioning TV attached to the top, blocking me from seeing my face in the mirrored walls (probably for the best). I just plug away, staring at my barely moving legs wondering, “wait, did I start walking?”

So it’s really exciting when other people join me so that I have some kind of entertainment beyond the Flo Rida on my ipod. This week, when Clayton and I were in the fitness center together, a guy came in with lots of complicated gym accessories. As in, a laptop, two cords and two portable speakers. You can’t even pretend like you’re not gawking in that gym—all the walls are mirrored and it’s about half the size of  Mariah Carey’s in-home salon. So, when something like that happens, you just stare. No shame, no sideways glance. You seriously get up and move to a better vantage point to see what the hell kind of intense work out this kid is about to pull off.

Should have known: dude wired up his mini office and got cracking to some P90X. Full volume. All out grunting. Clayton and I were so impressed that 1) someone actually called the number at 3am after watching the infomercial for two straight hours and 2) he was busting it out like it ain’t no thang. We were star struck. Like a 9-year old girl meeting Justin Bieber. Or me meeting Jeff Goldblum.

When I would catch his eye, I tried to be really smooth and charming, all while maintaining that grueling turtle speed on the treadmill. I would give a little half smile, which, when combined with the sweat pouring down my face, would induce a slight choking gurgle. Yummy. And because I’ve been on a steady physical decline since high school, that little hiccup in my “training” was enough to completely screw up my breathing. So there I am, giving my bedroom eyes seductively to the gym celebrity/protectively squinting from the sweat drippage, gasping for breath while simultaneously trying to suggestively purse my lips.

Don’t worry about what Clayton would think of all these shenanigans. My husband was drooling over in his corner and actually got up the courage to mumble something to the superstar like, “so…what day are you on?” Smooth operator, my husband.

When I finished my 4.5 hours/6 miles, I hopped off and made a point to towel off sexily towards the target. Is it still sexy if you’re mopping up sweat from the puddle at the nape of your neck? I think my fit friend answered that question when he slid his fragile electronics a little farther away from the splash zone. Whatever. Clayton LOVES that I sweat like a hippo in heat.

I then hurried over for some serious girl talk with my husband about OMG how awesome is he for doing P90X, like, right here?! When we were done peeking around the corner and giggling, Clayton decided we are getting P90X. So that we can be that awesome (but in our living room).

Unfortunately I had to inform my husband that, no matter how ripped or ballsy we get with public workouts, we add a “Mr.” in front of our dog’s name, one of us tries to reenact “Footloose” dance routines from his senior year production in the kitchen, and the other speaks with an obnoxious British accent throughout the entire two hours and nine minutes of “Hereafter.” We will never, never be that awesome. kevin_bacon-1

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all that’s missing is a pair of roller skates

last week i had 3 different appointments at my cardiologist’s office. on wednesday i had a stress test. it was the walk on a treadmill hooked up to lots of different machines kind of stress test. my supervisors never turned around so i couldn’t try to walk backwards like bill cosby did during his. but i also didn’t have any dreams about giant deli sandwiches, so bill and i really don’t have that much in common. the nurse made some snide comments before the test about my doing strength training and not doing much cardio, so i had a little extra motivation to do well. my results were great and apparently that part (the “plumbing”) of my heart is very healthy. i even used these results in my weekly newsletter at work to brag about the cardiovascular benefits of strength training vs. cardio. let’s hope i don’t keel over any time soon, or that article will really come back to bite me.

thursday i had to go get a 24-hour heart monitor attached to my chest. it recorded my heart’s electrical activity for 24 hours, and i had to keep a journal of what activities i did. the whole reason i went to the cardiologist was because i’d been having palpitations. the purpose of the heart monitor was to record what was happening when i had a palpitation, and for me to write what i was doing at the time. of course, i didn’t have any palpitations while i was wearing the monitor. so i had 10 electrodes glued to my chest and peeking out of the top of my shirt, i couldn’t take a shower, and i had what looked like a 1985 cassette player clipped to my waist for no reason at all. radical. when i returned the monitor and told the nurse i didn’t have any palpitations, she told me the next step would be a 30 day monitor. 30 DAYS OF THE CASSETTE PLAYER. so i said no thanks for now.

friday i had an echocardiogram. if you think of the analogy that the heart is like a house, the stress test studied the plumbing, the monitor studied the wiring and the echocardiogram studied the structure. it was basically an ultrasound of my heart. i couldn’t help but think of being pregnant as i watched the picture of my heart on the little screen, especially when i heard it beating. as far away from having kids as we are right now, i somewhat understood how life changing it would be to see and hear someone else’s tiny little heart on that screen. i also couldn’t help but wonder why i spent 10 minutes methodically folding my clothes so the tech couldn’t see my bra, only to have her come in and rub gel all over my naked boob for 15 minutes.