Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Grace Is Ever Present

I can trip on a flat surface, slice my finger with a dull knife, or make a fool of myself in front of room full of people without even trying. It’s a gift really, I mean, slapstick comedians have to work hard at their craft, me, all I have to do is just walk down the street on any given day. It may not be immediately apparent, but stick around long enough and sure enough you’ll shake your head to yourself thinking why friends haven’t swaddled me in bubble wrap on a daily basis. Case in point, one early morning as I am sitting on the exam table at my physical therapist office finishing up one of my exercises, I lift my head slightly to let my PT know that I am done and to see what is next on the list of torturous movements they need me to complete. As my chin gets to about 90 degrees, the ball that was placed between my knees slips out, landing with a loud thud on the ground, then bounces onto the loosely attached wooden shelf under the exam table next to me, scaring the poor woman who was belly down, concentrating on HER exercises to the point where she uses her forearms to rear up on the table and quickly look back and forth to see what just happened. The ball then rolls the rest of the way across the room, bouncing off the floor to ceiling mirror, and finally coming to stop a few inches from treadmill. The ball is retrieved by, well, not me since my ankles were still constricted by the tight elastic band required for the exercise I was completing. So through out the whole scene (that happened in slow-mo through my eyes, but probably clocked around 8 seconds) I sat there, with a wide-eyed and apologetic look on my guilty face. Not 5 minutes later, I was finishing up my next task, when *zip-lop* the same elastic band that had caused me to sit motionless throughout the last debacle, snaps in half with a surprisingly loud crack, flinging itself again across the room, and landing with a loud *thud* on the Berber carpet 5 feet away. I stand, unharmed, frozen to the spot for a second, my trance breaking when Matt looks at me and says with his flat tone, “Well, you’re having a hell of a morning, aren’t you?” True story, Matt, true story. That was apparently their only band of that strength and my little legs destroyed it. Oops. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there weren't other witnesses, but, alas, everyone else stopped what they were doing to stare at my awkwardness. Awesome.

The run I mentioned I had to do in Florida this past weekend turned out not to be too bad. My brother and I mapped out a few possibilities the night before, and I decided to go with the one that did the most of the mileage on a trail. So, Saturday morning I rolled out of bed, quietly dressed and headed out the door before my brother (or the heat) rose. The trail didn’t have mile markers like I had hoped, but there were enough people out on the trail that I never felt lonely. Everyone was smiling and waving as they ran or rode by me, all happy to get up early to get a workout in. (Freaks.) The run went by without much excitement, though I did have one passing thought when I initially hit the trail, “Wait a sec…Florida has alligators and snakes, big ones, and I’m running on a wooded trail? What was I thinking! Hm, did that map show any water around here??? Oh, crap.” Luckily I did not see one gator, or snake or even many flies for that matter. Perfectly serene surroundings. Whew!

Although the majority of the Floridians just smiled and/or waved that morning, one older gentleman, who was out for a walk - picking up some of the trash on the trail as he went, approached me while I was doing a little mid-run stretch. There was no hello, or a My Name Is, starter sentence - he dove right in with, “You lift, as well as run, don’t you?” I had run by him a little ways back, so he didn’t take me completely off guard, but I still wasn’t sure what my answer, or this question, meant to him. Why he felt compelled to ask it. It wasn’t hurting anyone, so answered him, “Yes, I try to lift at least once a week.”
“Yeah (pausing and thinking to himself for a second) yeah, yeah. I thought so. You can tell by your shoulders. You look good, you look good.” Thanks old guy.

It’s a question I get almost every time I meet someone, though it has variations.
Variation 1: Did you do gymnastics? (Answer: no)
Variation 2: Were you a swimmer? (Answer: yes, but a very bad one)
Variation 3: Do you lift/ How much do you lift? (Answer: yes/ depends)

I do have a broad back for someone my size (most likely from swimming as a young teen), which, coupled with my teeny, tiny hips, can make me look like I’m a pretty serious lifter. I used to hate this about my body, but since completing my last marathon, I have really come to terms with the way I look. I am not, though, as strong as I may seem when taking a quick once over on me. Case in point, my workout with Lisa yesterday.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again - I love my friends. When I heard (or, rather, was reminded that) Lisa was headed back to her homeland of Sweden, I e-mailed her immediately to see if she wanted to catch a drink. After throwing a few ideas back and forth, she finally said, “Why don’t you come and do my kick boxing class, and then we’ll do some lifting afterwards and catch up.” Perfect. I had been wanting to do a kick boxing class for awhile, and since she was getting me into Georgetown Law’s super sweet gym for free, I was all but sprinting for the door. Oh, just to clarify, when she said “my kick boxing class” she was not referring to a class that she takes every week, or just a class at the gym she goes to, no, no, no - this was HER kickboxing class. The one she teaches every week, in addition to all of the other classes she teaches and clients she trains. Still, I thought, “no sweat. I can totally handle a kickboxing class.” Well, maybe I could have…if it was strictly a kickboxing class. After my 50th push-up (yes, more then half were “girl” push-ups), 9th minute jumping rope, and second stairwell run (with intertwining kick boxing moves - round houses, side punches, Criss-crosses, etc.) I was chalking this class up to more of a boot camp then anything else. Billy Blanks has nothing on Lisa. She kicked the ever-loving snot out of me, and - I’d do it again in a heart beat. It was exactly what my body needs on my days off from running - doing movements that in no way shape or form could be done while running, helping to develop the other muscles in my body to aid those that are used more frequently during the marathon. I was spent after the class, but Lisa was still ready to put some lifting time in. I conceded so that we would have an opportunity to catch up. Seeing as how she does this for a living, she was able to help me modify some of my movements so that my knee wasn’t bothered. Needless to say, after an hour long butt whipping with a half an hour of lifting on top of that, I’m gratifyingly sore today. The kind of sore that let’s you know you worked hard with out overdoing it.

On another note, I finally stopped hemming and hawing, and bought myself a running watch. No more guessing how long I have been out running for, or trying to speculate/ monitor my pace on solo runs. I wanted to get something with a heart rate monitor (feeling it will be especially helpful when I hit those elevations in San Fran, and want to keep my heart rate semi-normal. This will require me to know what my normal heart rate is before hand. Ah, planning ahead. Hopefully it’ll pay off). I bought the Polar F6. I am able to track time, heart rate, calories burned and I’m hoping many more things that I will learn about as soon as I crack the manual! Of course, not having read about it does not mean that I didn’t take it for a test dri
ve. This past Tuesday I put all the settings needed into the watch (height, weight, age, and gender) so that it could calibrate the range where my heart rate SHOULD be, so that it can then yell at me, in high pitched beeps, when I get too low or too high and headed out for my run. I had been most nervous about the chest strap before actually buying the watch. I felt like I was already “strapped in” enough - what with my knee brace and water belt, and here I was, going to tack on yet another thing!? Ugh, really? But, what I found was that the heart rate belt fit neatly underneath my sports bra strap, and with a few minor adjustments, it fit like a glove. I didn’t even realize I was wearing it. As you can tell from the picture, the watch face is comfortably large so that you don’t have to spend too much time trying to focus on keeping your arm from jostling so that you can read the screen. I was able to take a quick peek down at my wrist and see how long I had been out there for. I didn’t figure out how to see my heart rate until I was stopped at a red light about a mile from my ending point, but as soon as it clicked on…“beep!beep!beep!beep!beep!beep!” My heart rate was 177 - which is apparently, waaaaay too high for my range. I knew my heart was going fairly fast that day - it was hot and I had done quite a bit of uphill in the previous two miles, but 177 - sheesh. I worked on keeping my pace even and a touch slower during the last mile, to cool down and give my poor heart a second to catch itself. I am now obsessed with find out what my heart rate is. Here are some readings I have taken so far:

Running =
Lisa’s Insane “Kick-Boxing” Class = around 160
Metro Ride Home = 79-80
Walking up Metro’s Escalator = 110

Online I read that the best time of day to take your resting heart rate is right when you wake up and before you get out of bed. This means I would have to go to sleep with the chest strap and watch on, so that before I got out of bed I could take the reading. And, you know I’ll do it. I’m sure the novelty of my little gadget will wear off evidentially, but for right now - it’s just a matter of time before I start wearing it 24/7.

A final note to say a Thank You! to City Sports (where my watch was purchased) for giving your customers with a gym membership 10% off on all of their purchases. That small discount saved me around $20.00! And THANK YOU Lisa - I’m sorry we didn’t get to hang out more. I’m going to miss you. Keep in touch - and good luck with school!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Lady! There just might be some clutsy tendencies, but don't we all! I pretty much always have some sort of cut or ache and pain from my "adventures" with pavement. (he he)

    Love you, you gymnastic, swimming, and lifting (he he) wonderful friend! -Amy