Posts Tagged 'Running'

Just Call Me Mrs. Rodney Dangerfield

Yeah, you got it.  I get very little respect.

Some of this, I deserve.  I can be goofy and annoying.  There’s a ring of truth to the comments my boys sometimes make about me being immature, like when I get on their case just for the sheer joy of annoying them.  Other times, though, they fail to see my strengths.  Like, I’m not quite as dedicated to my exercise regimen as they may be.  But I’m like 30 years older than they are. Our senses dull a little with age and I just can’t seem to hear that little voice that says “Push on” when the legs want to quit running or the arms don’t want to lift those weights.  But I still do push myself…a little.  At least give me some credit for putting on those running shoes!

Tonight, after downing 6 slices of Pizza Hut pizza, Youngest Son decided to go for a run before it got too dark.  Mr. Track Star is the same little dude who used to hate me the most, cussing me out under his breath the whole entire time he ran around the community track, back when I used to bribe the kids to run a mile with me for Dairy Queen rewards.  Now he’s psycho-runner, breaking his school’s records at track meets, building bulging calf muscles doing wind sprints, mapping killer 5 mile practice runs through the neighborhood.

Mr. "I Hate-To-Run" all grown up

Does he give me any credit, though?  No.  Instead he comes home with this story about how he nearly puked multiple times during this evening’s run.  It was pretty funny hearing about how the pizza tasted so good going down but how the flavor of the sauce takes on an evil salty aftertaste when it wants to come back up.  I empathized with his desire not to throw up in front of the elderly neighbor lady who was out walking her dog and so he made himself plod on, knowing that if he stopped, the puke would flow.  But then my amusement at his clever telling of this tale vanished at the point when he said he almost quit running after the first mile, but then he decided he “didn’t want to be like MOM.” Really?

A party? No, just dinner for my "hosses"

Mr. Big Shot is running a 5K on Memorial Day.  I didn’t sign up this year.  It would serve him right if I plopped a Pizza Hut pizza in front of him Monday morning before the race, because that little voice of his may know how to keep him running through the pain, but it hasn’t been able to convince him not to down half a large pizza before going for a run.

Never Say Never

Since I already bored shared with my Facebook friends my Turkey Trot pictures, I wasn’t going to bother posting about it.  But after my boys said I was slacking off a bit on my blogging, I decided to share the day with you, just to prove to you all that I’m not a total slacker.  And hey, I got nothing else for you.

I meant it with my entire heart and soul when I said I was done running 5K races.  The novelty was gone.   It wasn’t really fun anymore.  And even though I train more than I ever did, my time just keeps getting worse.  I’ve peaked.  It’s so sad. 😦

Meanwhile, the forces that be (like my active family) keep after me to stay young and healthy.  Sometimes I wonder if hubby is just afraid of what I’d look like if I didn’t run at all, knowing how much I love to eat!

Looks like fun, huh?

Anyway, Thanksgiving Day turned out to be a perfect running day.  Even at 9:00 in the morning it was sunny and bright, with just a nip in the air.  Youngest Son had picked up our race packets and T-shirts the night before and somehow got roped into being the Turkey.  He was the perfect turkey, handing out the awards at the end, socializing with the racers, and posing for numerous photos.  It was hilarious and I think he’s glad he did it…once.  He was overheard telling some people that “it was not a good life choice.”  The turkey costume added about 10 pounds to his athletic body and several minutes to his run time.  It was an ancient, hot costume with a plaster mold inside the head that gave him almost zero visibility since the only holes were the two eyes, and those eyes did not correspond to where a human’s eyes would be.Me and my boys before the race

Since I started the race somewhere in the middle of the pack, I completely missed the show at the start of the race.  The hard-core runners usually gather at the front, not wanting to waste any time getting stuck behind some slow runner and shaving minutes off their time.  These people actually have a shot at the trophies.  Youngest Son, being the star of the day and all, muscled his way to the front.  One reason was because he thought it might be safer up there with nobody in front of him, being that he couldn’t see and all.  What he didn’t realize was that even though they were in the front, people would cross in front of him.  Legs got tangled with his turkey drumsticks, and about thirty people went down, including the turkey.  Some people that witnessed it said it was like a domino effect.  I had no knowledge of this until I heard people asking the turkey how he was after the race.  I was too busy trying to make my breakaway in the middle of the pack.  I was boxed in on all sides and could barely break into a trot.

suffering on the final hill

I have to admit, I actually had fun, although it certainly wasn’t obvious from the expression on my face when I was climbing the hills.  The music, the camaraderie, all the familiar faces and the beautiful day made for a fun experience.  A lot of money was raised for local charities and many calories were burned for maximum turkey feast enjoyment.  I can’t say for sure if I’ll do another race.  And no matter what I say, there’s no reason to believe me.

Use It Before You Lose It

Today was a balmy sunny 68 degrees F.  In southwestern Pennsylvania, in the middle of November, this is truly a gift.  The whole weekend was like this.  A double bonus.


Perfect November day

I know I swore I’d never do another 5K race.  Last year, unlike so many other years, none of us did the local 5K Turkey Trot race on Thanksgiving morning.  I remember how warm and happy and grateful I felt that morning as I snuggled under the covers and listened to the cold rain pouring down.  I not only wasn’t running the race, but I didn’t even have to go out and support any family members.  This year, however, Youngest Son said to sign him up.  Then I asked the other family members if they wanted to run.  Oldest Son said, “Of course.”  Then they all proceeded to get on my case.  And I figured if I had to get up and go out anyways, I might as well run.  And as much as my life will suck for a short time that morning, I’ll feel less guilty as I’m stuffing my face with turkey and gravy later that day.

So yesterday I took advantage of the beautiful day and ran my nearly 5K practice course.  As usual, it both felt good and yet hurt at the same time.  The thing that usually makes me want to stop running and slow down to a walk, a discomfort in my midsection, was a little more acute than usual.  It’s usually worse when I run uphill, or try to sprint.  But yesterday I felt like I had just been punched in the solar plexus, and I wasn’t on a hill, and I wasn’t running fast.  I realized that is the sensation I hate most about running!

While I was running today, I started getting that feeling again.  I thought about the mantras my sons use to keep themselves running and to try to inspire me not to give up.  “Quitting is not an option,” Youngest Son tells himself.  And somehow he can convince himself not to ever quit.  “Embrace the suck,” Oldest Son learned as he pushed himself through a very rigorous Army basic training.  But, alas, poor old mama wants to embrace nothing more than a nice warm lounge chair and a bag of Doritos.

But today, on this blessedly beautiful autumn day, I thought about how lucky I was to be able to enjoy this moment.  My breathing was slightly labored from the exertion of running, but I felt flushed and alive.  I had to will my legs to keep on moving, but I could feel the breeze through my hair, and the warmth of the sun on my face.  It made me push through the pain, because I realized that very soon we will be shivering in the cold, shoveling snow off the driveway. And perhaps not so soon, but soon enough, I may not be able to run anymore.  I may inherit the heart problems my mother has, which has slowed her down to a leisurely walk.  I may someday actually become nostalgic for the pain I haven’t yet learned to embrace.

A Series of Small Steps

One of the few nice things about the weather turning cooler is I’ve been able to go for a run whenever my poor old decrepit body is awake enough and not worry about melting in the afternoon sun.  It’s getting harder to force myself to do these things, folks.  I look for excuses not to run…you know, the heat, PMS, kids keeping me busy.  But I know I need to run.  I feel better for it in the long run.  I can keep wearing the clothes I own and not have to shop for bigger sizes.  I can continue to eat like a sumo wrestler and not feel guilty.

I’ve decided, while the weather is nice, to keep running my three mile course.  It’s a nice neighborhood run with a few small hills but a lot of straightaways.  It’s a safe friendly route with no loose dogs running around to take chase.  I used to push myself to run the entire three miles, but  I’ve been cutting myself some slack lately and doing a combination run/walk, but trying to run more than walk.  I figure if I make it more enjoyable, there’s less of a chance to talk myself out of doing the three miles altogether.

I’ve found I can play little mind games to run longer than my mind and body want me to.  When I feel the urge to quit running and slow down to a walk, I pick a target not too far ahead and tell myself I can walk when I reach, say, that particular blue mailbox.  Then, when I reach that mailbox, I’ll say that I know I can get to the azalea bush up ahead.  Nine times out of ten, I’ll wind up running much farther than I would have.  Like Youngest Son always tells me, it’s my mind that’s weak.  My body is still capable of doing the distance.  At least for now.

Tonight, I’ll be watching the first show of the new season of Biggest Loser.  These people are amazing.  They are pushed to physical extremes that I can’t even imagine, and they have a lot more weight on their frames to carry.  Their weight losses are phenomenal, but they work out for up to eight hours a day.  My mind would give up during the warm-up.

Lucky for me, I’m not competing for a huge cash prize.  My desire to lose weight is more about aesthetics rather than life and death issues.  So I can continue to push myself to that next mailbox, or to the top of that little hill.  Then I can eat my dessert while I’m watching those poor contestants run a marathon.

The Pictures Say It All

This is how we spent our holiday weekend:

Youngest Son running local 5K

Youngest Son running local 5K

Oldest Son (shirtless) across the finish line

Oldest Son (shirtless) across the finish line

Me--Stuffing My Face

Me--Stuffing My Face

Notice there is no picture of me running the race.  No wonder I can’t lose any weight!!!

Full Circle

When the boys were younger, there was about two months out of the year that I treasured more than the rest.  This was the brief time we all got a break from school activities, soccer, T-ball/baseball, and Scouts.  This was our summer vacation when we could all just kick back and do our own thing.

Of course, I couldn’t have us doing just “nothing.”  I didn’t want their little brains to turn to mush or their muscles to atrophy in front of the TV.  They did go out and play, especially the two younger boys.  I wanted us all to enjoy our time off, but I still wanted to structure in some balance.

We went to the library to pick out books.  I made little math worksheets for them to practice their skills and bought some appropriate grade level workbooks.  I dug out books we read in college for Oldest Son.  And I took them to run!

The track where we would go to run was a local recreation area.  There was a small playground, baseball and soccer fields, and the community pool.  The track itself was a figure-eight, which was an entire mile.  Across the street was a Dairy Queen.

I’m not gonna lie.  I didn’t want the boys to be couch potatoes, but I wanted to get my run in, too.  This was a safe place to try to teach them to embrace a healthy lifestyle, burn up some energy, and still get in my own exercise.  I wouldn’t force them to run; they had a choice.  If they wanted something at the DQ across the street, they had to run the mile.  I knew they had it in them.  Sometimes the prize was only $1 for the mile if I was low on cash.  (This is one of the rewards of not spoiling the kids.  You can get off cheap like this).

Middle Son J, probably the most athletically inclined, usually finished first without much ado.  Oldest Son would normally grouse about it, convinced I was trying to turn him into a jock or something, but he would plod along for the reward.  Youngest Son, the toughest and most independent of the three, would be pissed.  Every time.  He hated to run.

Like I said, there was no punishment for not running.  There was just no tasty ice cream treat for the slacker.  So Youngest Son would shoot me nasty looks and huff and puff around the track.  He almost always came in last, and we would patiently watch him trudging around the track, mumbling every curse word his little brain knew.  I’m sure there were quite a few “I hate mom’s” being muttered, also.

Fast forward a few years and we proudly watched our two younger sons excel on their high school track team.  The two older boys survived Army basic training, pushing their bodies to run long distances in full gear.  Yesterday, Youngest Son and 4 other college teammates traveled almost 475 miles with their two track coaches to compete in the ECAC track and field championships today and tomorrow in Massachusetts.  He chose to run track this year, even though their small college doesn’t have a track of it’s own to practice on, and he’s suffering terribly with shin splints as a result.

And when he gets back home, I’m sure he’ll be dragging me out to the local high school track to run while he practices for all the summer 5K’s he’s running.  He’ll give me tips and admonish me for not being “mentally tough” because I always want to quit as soon as it starts hurting.  Payback’s a bitch.

The Reluctant Runners

The Reluctant Runners

A Runner’s Stream of Consciousness

Running sucks.  Getting ready to go, you have to force yourself to think about the results of running–lower number on the scale, not-so-tight pants, and even the runner’s high you will feel when you’re done.  Because as much as it hurts while you’re actually running, and as bad as you want to quit before reaching your goal, you do feel SO good when you’re done–energized, alive, and ready to get things done.

Today, I actually got out of bed before 9:00 a.m.  The sun was streaming through the bedroom windows.  It was a gorgeous Sunday morning and I had absolutely no excuse not to run.  After staring at an ungodly 135.6 on the scale last night, I had no other option. (I’ve been fluctuating between about 131 and 138 lately.  My biggest weigh-in ever was at the hospital right before giving birth to one of the boys.  I was around 142 lbs. and I looked like I had swallowed a huge basketball.  But I was ready to give birth!  My goal now is to hit the low 120’s.).  Running takes the weight off me like no other exercise.  I should mix in a little weight training, too.  God knows we have the equipment.

Neighborhood running is good because it keeps your mind occupied and off the pain a bit.  I decided on my 2 mile course.  I walked up the short grade to the top of my street, then made a left and started my run.  Slow and steady.  A “Let’s Go Pens!” sign on someone’s door.  I think about how bad they sucked last night and the optimism we Penguins fans need to have to think we are actually going to win the Stanley Cup.  Yeah, they rallied for Game 3, but last night, even at home, they looked like rookies next to the veteran Red Wings.  And they really don’t suck.  It’s just that the Red Wings are that good.

I made a right at our chiropractor’s laid-off receptionist’s house.  Her backyard is fenced in to keep her huge dogs in the yard.  As I pass by, the big brown boxer (much bigger than ours) comes running toward me barking and looking over the fence.  “Naked dog,” I think to myself.  It doesn’t have a collar on and that’s what we call our dog when we take her collar off.  I think about what would happen if the dog actually jumped the fence.  It would probably chase me and then just sniff.  That’s what boxers do.  Years ago I would have been terrified at the thought; but now I know how sweet and harmless boxers are.  “Hey pup,” I smile at him and keep running.

I pass Joey’s house, a comical kid we used to car pool to soccer practices with.  I see a gold colored SUV in the driveway and think that maybe the woman with the sunglasses on that waved to us from the SUV yesterday was Helen, his mother.  We couldn’t figure it out at the time.  A house on the corner has a tent in the backyard and blue and silver balloons in the front.  Grad party!  Good thing they picked today instead of yesterday (rain again yesterday).

I start humming the Penguins “fight” song in my head.  I sometimes have to chant or sing or even count to keep my mind off a boring painful stretch.   Then I pass the church on my left.  The parking lot is full.  I’m glad I didn’t time my run when church was letting out.  The traffic has been pretty minimal.

Home stretch–it’s now mostly downhill.  I know I can keep going without stopping.  I pass our mail lady’s house.  The front yard is fenced in; it kept her boys safe.  But today there is a sign in the front that says: “Home of a ‘Name of High School’ Grad.’  Wow, does she have a graduate already?  I remember when those boys were in scouts with my boys!  I guess they would be that old.

I’ve made it to my street.  The part I can’t see from my house because it’s around a bend.  I’m surprised to see another grad sign in a front yard.  It’s where the “Democrats” used to live.  I’m not talking about normal moderate Democrats.  These people were “” Democrats, full-blown Communist-loving entitlement craving liberals.  And now a family with kids lives there.  And the house looks much nicer–the old white siding painted a nice dark tan color.  These people aren’t waiting for a tax subsidy to fix up their house!

I push myself to reach Haunted Hell House and then walk up the grade to our house to cool down.  It’s a beautiful day and I feel great!

The Torture of the 5K

They’re sitting on the table, taunting me. Three 5K sign-up forms, one addressed to me, one to Youngest Son, and one to Soldier Son. Obviously, Soldier Son won’t be running this Memorial Day. He’s in Iraq. And I have no intention of running. I swore that my last race was two summers ago, until the family guilted me into running that fall in the Turkey Trot since Soldier Son had just come home from basic training and decided to run his first race. Don’t get me wrong. I love the camaraderie and the community atmosphere of these things. I also love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I finish. It’s just all the torture in between I’m not too fond of.

I never expect to win these things. At first, I was happy just to be able to run across the finish line and not be dead last. In fact, my very first Turkey Trot several years ago, I came in dead center for women in my age group (11 out of 22) at a respectable but certainly not impressive 31.42 minutes. I trained hard with Youngest Son for the following Fourth of July race but only shaved about a half minute from my time. I must have peaked there, because no matter how hard I’ve trained, it’s been downhill from there and it’s not because I didn’t work at it. Youngest Son was an awesome trainer. He had me running hills with him that most people wouldn’t walk. He had me sprinting until my legs felt like rubber. He does great in these races. He usually places or comes pretty close. But, unlike me, he never gives up. When we’re training and it hurts too much, I’ll quit running and start walking for a while. He looks at me disappointedly and says, “Just tell yourself walking is not an option.” That works for him.  But for me, it’s one of two options–walk, or die.

Youngest Son is thinking about doing this Memorial Day Race so I’ll hang on to these sign-up sheets for a while. And I’ll be there, too. On the sidelines, cheering him on.

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July 2020

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