Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Integrity Means Teaching the Truth

Alternatively Titled: This Country was Built on the Backs of Slaves

Bear with me while I climb up on my soapbox for a minute here.

There are many things I love about our annual class trip to Washington, DC: the symbolism of the monuments, the architecture, the gorgeous photographs in the Museum of Natural History, the naive idealism that used to be politics, evident in the video presentation preceding the tour of the Capitol Building...

But in the last couple years, I've been more and more bothered by the conspicuous absence of any worthwhile discussion of the real "founding" of America.
There is brief talk of slavery when we visit Mount Vernon and explore the slave quarters, but it does not come up again on the trip. I don't know how to explain what I'm feeling here...Slavery is covered so superficially and in such a way that the reputation of the Founding Fathers is protected. I don't want our 13-year-old students to hear graphic details of slave auctions and rape and abuse but I wish they could hear some objective truth to clarify that these men were flawed human beings, not omniscient gods, not mythical, untouchable legends, and we should take care not to idolize people.

But it seems that any sort of criticism makes one unpatriotic...and apparently that is the worst thing you could be.

There is a profound discomfort as our guide tells us to look left and right at various buildings as we drive by but remains silent as we pass the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, drawing no attention to it.

There is no mention at all of the genocide that had to be orchestrated to allow us to live in this country today. Portraits and statues suggest that Indigenous peoples were eager to give up their land and their homes for the sake of white colonialism. 
Our guides overuse "these men died for your freedom" at memorials until it loses all meaning. I want to experience a tour that doesn't glorify the darkest parts of American history while whitewashing them at the same time.

All of this makes me incredibly uncomfortable. The reverence for the Founding Fathers borders on fanatical at times, and their shortcomings are dismissed because "well, that was normal for the time period." It is not normal for us, and giving them a pass normalizes racism and sexism, as if there was once an acceptable time to curtail rights and own human beings. 

I wish our tours were more honest about our history. I wish we had a chance to see diverse monuments that pay homage to the people who toiled against their will so we could live here as we do.

America did not spring up in a vacuum. It was not manifest destiny. People were murdered to secure our place on this land. The country was built through slave labor in the most literal sense of the phrase. And here we are, reaping the benefits, and barely sparing a moment to acknowledge from whence we came.

This is "our country". We feel that we own it. We take pride in it. (Sometimes.) We feel patriotic toward it. (Maybe.) But this blinkered nationalism...It has always made my skin crawl, and it seems to get worse every year.

I think this trip is valuable, but I just can't help but feel we're missing an opportunity to deepen the lesson and explore crucial complexities that would help our students develop compassion alongside national pride. Would it kill us to inject a little honesty into our history lessons?

ABK

Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekly Workouts: 5/15-5/21 (DC Edition)

Monday 5/15: Rest.

Tuesday 5/16: Rest. I was supposed to work out but had to pack for DC and lost time.

Wednesday 5/17: Our first day in DC! I never plan to workout on our first day, and this was no different. We got some solid walking in, though.
How many steps are supposed to make a mile? My steps and mileage were drastically different from others' the whole trip.
Thursday 5/18: I did some ab exercises when I woke up and watched my steps throughout the day, but there was no time for the gym or a solid workout.
All that time standing was tough on my feet!
Friday 5/19: I couldn't sleep and woke up before my "go to the gym" alarm (which was set for 5:07am) so I got to the gym early. I asked Stacey if she wanted to join and she said she didn't think so, so I left without her. I did about a mile on the treadmill (if my Apple watch can be believed) and literally cheered a few minutes later when the door opened and Stacey came in!
After the run I did some weighted squats, presses, bicep curls, and planks.

We flew home that evening after a weather-delayed flight. I was home and asleep around 11pm.

Saturday 5/20: I literally slept until 12:30pm and then napped from 3:30-5pm. Major rest day!

Sunday 5/21: Rest. I needed a day of housekeeping after travel!

This week was almost a total loss as far as structured workouts go, but sometimes that happens! This week is the last week of school, and I know it'll be exhausting but I'm planning to get some good workouts in!

ABK

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Five: My Favorite Poems

Last week, our 7th grade math teacher and I were talking about our new math schedule for next year. We're adding geometry for our advanced 8th grade students. We were discussing which of the math teachers would teach it, and who would keep algebra, and she said something I found funny.

"Mrs. B really loves algebra, so she'll probably want to teach that."

Not she loves teaching algebra but she loves algebra. I thought it was funny/odd and then I realized, you know, I love teaching English but I love English itself, too, and many of its various components, like reading, symbolism, and poetry.
So, I thought I'd share five of my favorite poems with you guys for this Friday Five.*

1. La Muerta [The Dead Woman]

2. Cien Sonetos de Amor: XVII [One Hundred Love Sonnets XVII]
I am kind of a fan.
The first two poems are by Pablo Neruda, who is far-and-away my favorite poet. I wish I could read his work in the original Spanish; I have read many translations of his poems but my favorite translator of the first poem is Donald Walsh because of his use of "untamable" in the last stanza, which speaks to me so strongly. Other translations just don't compare.

That being said, it's an interesting practice to read the same poem by many different translators. They each bring a different perspective to the piece.

I am drawn to the visceral and emotionally-charged language of Neruda's political poems, like the first, and his simple, relatable, genuine language in his love poems really resonates with me.

3. the lesson of the moth

The next poem on my list is written from the point of view of Don Marquis's character Archy...so there is no capitalization or punctuation and it's a little stream-of-conscious. I had to read it a couple times to get the idea of who was speaking and what was being said.
I think most people want to be the moth but are actually the roach, including myself.
The act of figuring out speakers and opinions in this poem made the lesson, when I finally got it, that much more poignant. And I find myself wondering...am I the moth, or am I Archy?

4. Home (Bonus poem: do yourself a favor and click for the next poem when you get the bottom.)
Warsan Shire's poem Home came to my attention during the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis last year, as it probably did for many of you. The imagery is staggering and its honesty is brutal. This poem is proves that poems can be beautiful without being pretty.

5. Stone

After Home, it seems apropos to finish with a poem by author Charles Simic, who experienced displacement as a result of war. There is more to us than meets the eye, and sometimes we contain multitudes. Stone illustrates that beautifully. The subject, like the poem, should not be underestimated.

We can be hard, strong, calm, and dark while also being full of fire, light, and resilience.

Speaking of resilience, I'm adding a bonus poem because...why not?!

6. Maya Angelou's Still I Rise is an iconic, unapologetic rallying cry for Black women. I think parts of it can speak to the female experience in general, too. You can watch her recite it below, or search it up in YouTube. There are dozens to choose from, and each variation is powerful and moving.
I love poetry because it puts to words the feelings and experiences that often defy explanation. I love teaching poetry because it can give students that same invaluable skill.

Do you like poetry?
Share a poem that you love from school or your childhood!
What is a line from a song or poem that resonates with you?
Are you Archy or the moth?

ABK

*I'm in DC with my students so if this doesn't link, oops! Also, I would not be surprised if most of you skipped this post because, ugh, poetry, right? What is this, school?! Still, the English teacher in me can't help but wheedle: at least try one. Look at my commentary and pick the one you think you'll like. Try something new!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Earworm Wednesday

I'm currently (or will soon be) on a flight to DC with my 8th graders. We have a 45 minute layover during which we are not allowed to get off the plane. We board at 7am and arrive after 1pm. Pray for me.

Here are three songs I will probably be listening to on the plane to drown out the 90 students on this trip. This week's theme is loud, energized, and good-mood-inducing music!

Bleachers - Don't Take the Money. Just good ol' fun, upbeat music. There's a little bit of an '80s vibe that I dig, too.

STRFKR - Tape Machine. Electronic, groovy goodness.

Capital Cities - Vowels. ASL, impressive dancing, awesome beat...I love this song and video! After looking up the video to link here, I watched it three times.
What music do you like to listen to when you travel or need a pick-me-up?

ABK

Monday, May 15, 2017

Weekly Workouts: 5/8-5/14

Wow...it's the last month of the school-year! This year has flown by!

This is my last full week of workouts before the craziness that is the 8th grade Washington, DC trip, so I wanted to make it count.

The previous Saturday I experienced some of the worst pain I've had since resuming running. A friend in the Sub-30 Women's Club reached out:
This will be relevant later in this post.
Monday 5/8: 30 solid minutes on the max trainer. I didn't take any breathers and played with the intensity throughout the workout to get some good HIIT benefits. I'm finally catching up on Real Housewives because I finally had time to watch them! (I've been saving episodes for this workout.)
I accidentally deleted the original picture so here's a grainy screenshot from Instagram. 
Tuesday 5/9: We had our school's Art and Tech Expo night, which meant we were at work until after 7pm. Between 3:30 and 4:30 we fit in a solid circuit focused on upper-body.
As usual, complete each exercise for 30-60 seconds and rest for 60-120 seconds between sets.
Wednesday 5/10: Elizabeth met me for two miles before one of Matt's art nights. (His night went well but I was out much later than I wanted. I'm glad we were able to fit in the run.)
My calves were screaming by mile one, but we persevered. It was nice to run with Elizabeth again and she was a good distraction from my pain, but I realized I've really been enjoying the solitude of solo runs lately since all my other workouts throughout the week are done with my buddies. It felt good to be running together again, though.

Thursday 5/11: Rest. My body and head just did not feel like working out after my late night Wednesday.

Friday 5/12: Two Blogilates videos. One thing I really like about these videos is that Cassey looks strong and fit; she doesn't look underfed or so cut you know she's counting macros and diet-obsessed. I just feel like she's a really body-positive "trainer" to follow.
I was in the mood for squats, so we did a pretty easy ab video to warm up and then this plie challenge, which is no joke. I was trembling by the end of it.

Saturday: 30 minutes on the max trainer. I was feeling depressed Saturday as I saw friends' 5k posts coming across Facebook and Instagram. I'm just so jealous. I can barely run two miles these days, and a 5k used to be my favorite way to bust out some major speed.
This week on our episode of True Life: I'm a Blogger, I experiment with angsty photos to capture my injured-runner-feels.
Then I got this message from Christine and felt a little better:

Sunday: My flattie accompanied Christine during her half marathon, but the real me rested, had lunch with Matt and Carole,  and spent Mother's Day with my mom.
Christine gave me the full half marathon experience. It's a little weird how happy this made me!
Thank you so much, Christine! I love my Sub 30 family!

ABK

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Five: Pros and Cons

For today's Friday Five with Fairytales and Fitness, I bring you the Pros and Cons of running again...with some news at the end!
1. Pro: Having control and variety back in my workouts! Circuits get so redundant, and I hate having my choice of workout limited by injury. The freedom to choose what I want to do to get my sweat on, and the chance to change my daily workout pattern, has been wonderful.

2. Con: My pain is coming back. For the first week or two I barely had any. Then I started noticing it around 1.5 miles into my runs. This week it was really bad before I was even a mile in. But on the bright side of that, it means when I go to get my next round of tests, I know my symptoms will be present and that means the tests won't be in vain.
Nature, I missed you!
3. Pro: I missed being outside! Even though it's officially HOT (we're seeing high humidity and temps in the 90s already) I'm really enjoying getting some fresh air with my exercise. I missed it. That being said...

4. Con: I forgot that timing kind of sucks for running at the end of the school year. It's often too hot and sunny to run right after work, and by the time it's nice out - usually about 30 minutes before sunset, around 7:30pm - I've spent a couple hours lounging around and it's kind of hard to peel myself up off the couch.
I knew the hardest part of starting up again would be the summer temperatures...
5. Pro: My head feels so clear and awesome these days. Even though my body is struggling, I am benefiting mentally from being back to running. I just feel so much happier and more stable. I'm sleeping better. I just all-around feel more at ease.

A friend in one of my running groups posed a question about body image, and the conversation that got going led me to this realization: because running changed how I feel about my body, it also helped change how I literally see it. Running was a major tool in overcoming a variety of unhealthy habits, and I hadn't noticed how generally down I was feeling while I took time off.
I'm sure Matt and my friends have noticed!

So, the good news to end this post! I called my insurance company to check on whether a real pressure test for CECS would be covered (it will be, but it'll go toward my deductible) and I set up an appointment for May 22nd with a doctor who does the full test and whose website literally says:
I'm feeling hopeful! It definitely seems like "just stop running" isn't going to be this doctor's first suggestion.

What are your pros and cons of running?

ABK

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Living with Celiac

Recently, I heard that there is research coming out about the development of a series of vaccines to treat Celiac. I signed up for updates and information - and to maybe take part in a trial - through Beyond Celiac. Now, I get interesting updates in my email every week.

This week's email struck a little nerve. They sent the infographic below:
Apparently May is Celiac Awareness Month. Who knew? Actually, it's ironic that I didn't know because I was just about to write, "I've lived with Celiac in my family my entire life and I've lived with it personally for 20 years, so there's not much I don't know."
Eating pizza like a normal kid back before I was diagnosed.
My sister was diagnosed when she was 18 months old. This was back in the early '90s when Celiac was pretty unheard of. About eight years later, research came out about the heredity of the disease, and our entire family got tested.
Snacking on some naturally gluten free goodness!
My blood test came back positive (no surprise - I was really underweight and had stomachaches all the time) and we confirmed it with an endoscopy.
I'm pretty sure this photo was taken after I'd gone to the hospital for what they thought was appendicitis but which turned out to be just a really terrible stomachache, probably from gluten. (Before diagnosis)
But this post is not about my diagnosis story or how I adjusted or any of that. I wanted to talk about how I relate to these "I wish people knew" stories.

Even though I've had Celiac my entire adult life, I can see how I have to live differently than others in ways people often take for granted. The truth is, I don't consciously often think about my life with Celiac, even though I think about Celiac almost daily.

If we're going to try a new restaurant, I look up the menu online to see if I can eat anything there. I avoid certain types of food - like Chinese takeout - entirely. I eat before events - like friends' weddings or the Triumph event I was invited to speak at in March - because I never know if I'll be able to have what's served.
Delicious-looking flan-style mousse at the Triumph event...safe to eat, or nah?
I am not shy about asking if I'll be able to eat what's on the menu, but I do feel badly asking for something special to be made, so I just pack a snack.

My purse is always full of snacks for that reason!

I never feel like I can be spontaneous and go to a non-English speaking country because I'm too afraid I'll end up eating food I can't have. When I chose to study abroad in college, there were two main factors in my country of choice: can I speak the language and therefore eat safely, and were people I knew going.
Scotland was the right choice because they had gluten free options all over the place...and kilts!
I am not "healthier" for eating gluten free in the sense that I absolutely love junk food and sugar. I'd prefer to eat like a 5-year-old at a birthday party daily. The only reason I'm "healthier" for eating gluten free is that, for me, gluten is damaging.

I will say, though, that Celiac is not all-consuming. It does not "invade" every aspect of my life. That's a sad way to live. Yes, reading labels and asking about ingredients is second-nature to me, and Celiac itself comes up almost-daily in conversation with my family...
"Anchor down for Italian restaurants with over 15 gluten free options for my friends who are physically unable to consume gluten!!!"
And of course, anytime I'm going to eat, it becomes a factor. But I do not spend hours of my life thinking about Celiac and how it affects me. I hope the person who sent in that note is a new diagnosee and can find balance and peace, because their life sounds exhausting!

These days I know lots of people who have Celiac, but growing up it was just me and my sister. It's kind of fun to be able to trade expertise with friends now...back in the day, tasting GF food was expensive and often disgusting.
It's honestly amazing to me how many GF baking options we can find at the normal grocery store these days.
My mom baked bread for Stephanie and me. We ordered food from Canada (Kinnikinnik was our first foray into gluten free donuts) and it was a big deal when a shipment arrived. I remember looking at the catalogue and circling things with Steph as we decided what looked worth trying out. We're both in the habit of sending each other photos of new GF foods we find in the grocery store because the novelty hasn't worn off.

Anyway, the best thing Celiac has done for me is make me an adventurous eater. If I can eat something, I will try it at least once.

I wracked my brain for my own "what I wish people knew about Celiac" and I think it's this:
I am living a happy, full life with Celiac, and as far as autoimmune diseases go, Celiac isn't really that bad. It's not too hard to avoid gluten and thereby live a healthy life. I don't mean to be dismissive of it, though; adjusting to the diet can be tough and the symptoms can be awful and dangerous; I'm just at the point in my life where it's all second nature.

The gluten free fad has been a double-edged sword, and I just wish people were more aware that the condescension for people who eat gluten free can be harmful for those of us who need to be able to trust ingredient lists and labels when shopping and servers and chefs when we eat out.

ABK

Monday, May 8, 2017

Weekly Workouts: 5/1-5/7

Monday 5/1: Rest. I did a few squats and stretches, but no real workout.

Tuesday 5/2: A little run using 4/:45 intervals. My legs felt pretty "clompy" and uncoordinated the entire time; it was really hot and humid out, so it could have been that. Or it could've been something else. Who knows at this point?!
2 miles, 4/:45 run/walk, 10:23 pace.
Wednesday 5/3: Two Blogilates videos with Stacey. Elizabeth was out but we used her classroom because it's the only one with enough space to work out in!
During these videos, especially the arms, we always talk to Cassey like we know her. "Okay Cassey, c'mon, start counting down...you're killing me Cassey!"

Thursday 5/4: Full-body mini-circuit followed by two miles. This was the first run that was virtually pain-free. I took a slightly different route, too.
I've been sticking to the golf course because it's easy to just hop out there when the mood strikes, and I'm nervous to actually drive to one of my usual running routes these days, so taking a new route on the course was a nice change.

Friday 5/5: I made a stretch-and-recovery circuit because I was really feeling Wednesday's workout! While I did that, Elizabeth did some various Blogilates videos. I like that sometimes we work out together but focus on what we each need individually.
That evening, Elizabeth ran the two miles to my house (with her husband and daughter, who scooted the entire way), stopped to have some water and chat, and then ran home. I jokingly told her, "I love that you ran over here because it proves you like running!" and she denied denied denied...but I think she missed it more than she's saying!

Saturday 5/6: 2.3 miles...and the pain was definitely back this time. I felt it about a mile in, and around mile 1.5 I had to stop my run interval to stretch it out. I'd put the pain at a 7/10. I'll keep attempting to run this week to make sure this wasn't a fluke.
I got the bill for that first set of tests and I am feeling pretty dejected at the moment. I get to pay an arm and a leg to have learned nothing, and I still will need to get more definitive tests before I can have surgery. So...yeah. Injuries suck.

Sunday 5/7: Rest.

ABK

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday Five: My Plan

I realized this week that working running back into my routine has confused some people. Am I better? Am I back? I thought I'd use today's Friday Five to clarify what's going on.
I haven't run since February. That means my calves haven't been hurting, because they only hurt when I run. It also means whatever injury I have (or had) is back into a kind of dormant stage. Right now, I am trying to wake it back up so it can be properly diagnosed.

Step 1: Resume running. Carefully analyze every run for symptoms. The goal here is twofold: to identify pain and also to try to recreate my original issues.
Resume running: check.
Step 2: If no issues arise, keep running and pretend none of this ever happened and go on enjoying life.

Step 3: If symptoms come back, go see a new doctor and request an actual test for compartment syndrome.

Step 4: If that test is positive, talk about treatment (that is, plan surgery for this summer).
Pro tip: Do not look up actual photos of this surgery because they are terrifying.
Step 5: If the test is negative, seek out other explanations.

The thing is, compartment syndrome athletes only manifests when the muscles are too swollen for their compartments, and with CECS (chronic exertion compartment syndrome, as opposed to acute) that really only happens during a run. So they can't test for it if you're not in the midst of experiencing it.

All my resting between February and April gave my legs time to temporarily recover, and it could be awhile before I'm feeling the kind of pain I had back then. Or, I could start experiencing it next week. Or never. There's no perfect timeline for this.
Right now my discomfort during runs is about a level 3. In February my pain was at an 8...bad enough that I had to stop and walk. However, on these runs I've been using run/walk and so far I've avoided that level of pain.
But the bottom line is that I need to be able to experience the pain at the time I get the test done, so I need to keep running in order to trigger symptoms.

So I'm hesitant to say I'm "back" to running. That suggests an end to the process and I'm not there yet. Right now my runs are all about data-gathering. I am trying to recreate the discomfort I had during winter while still kind of hoping that the discomfort doesn't return at all.

Still, my mind, body, and spirit feel lifted, and it feels good to run at all.

I appreciate the excitement you're all feeling for me! It does feel good to be out there, even if being "back" comes with fine print at this point.

ABK

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Earworm Wednesday?

Can I make this a thing? I'm making it a thing. Not every Wednesday, but every once in awhile I just feel the need to compile my latest music obsessions. It also makes it easy for me when I'm looking to update my playlist on my phone, which I rarely do. I use Google Play most of the time.
Ta-da! Now it's a thing!
Anyway, here's what's stuck in my head lately.

888 - Seattle Rain. Something about this song reminds me of music I loved during my freshman and sophomore year of college, but I can't quite put my finger on it. It's maybe a little reminiscent of Yellowcard but with a lighter feel. This song is catchy, fun, and toes the line between upbeat and mellow.
Marian Hill - Down. This is totally not my usual kind of music, but this song has such a unique sound that I just can't stop listening to it.
Welshly Arms - Legendary. I am a sucker for songs that would make good background music for some strutting into a bar or a fight or a bar-fight. This one is no exception.
Arkells - Knocking at the Door. Yeah, that description above? Ditto for this song. I feel invincible when I listen to this.
Revivalists - Wish I Knew You. I'll finish this list on my favorite of the bunch. There are elements that hearken back to funk and "jam band" but it's very fresh and current, too. (There's a quality to the vocalist's delivery of "Oh I hope you don't mind/We can share my mood" that is so familiar but I can't put my finger on why!) I really love how alternative bands are reinventing classic sounds these days.
Do you and I have the same taste in music?
Are you a sucker for epic "walk up" songs?
Can you tell me why the last song sounds so familiar at that one part?!

ABK

Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekly Workouts: 4/24-4/30

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Unplanned rest. We had a family emergency and I had to skip out on my planned run.

Wednesday: Arms/shoulders/back lifting workout. Elizabeth and I made a quick weight routine and it was brutal. I could barely get through two repetitions! I know you're supposed to "lift to failure" so I guess we succeeded in that. I need some lighter weights for when we target shoulders!
I still don't know how to name some of these moves. Someday I'll get action shots, I swear.
After the weights, I took advantage of the late sunset and close golf course and got in a run! I did run/walk with 4::45 intervals. I felt amazing, as I wrote about on Friday.
So sweaty and so happy!
Thursday: Stacey, Elizabeth, and I did two Blogilates leg videos. Going back to these videos has been a good way to keep our routine going when we're pressed for time...as we usually are during the last weeks of school!
Friday: The KBC completed my favorite dynamic plank circuit. (Seriously, do yourself a favor and click that link. It's such a good workout.) We did each move 5 times and completed the circuit 3 times. It doesn't look like much, but this one always leaves me super sweaty and shaky.
I saw two beautiful woodpeckers on this run! I ran 1 mile @ 9:30.
After this workout, I went out and ran a mile. I decided to forgo run/walk because I didn't plan to be out there long and I wanted to see if I could get a mile in without stopping. The run was a success, but I did have some knee and shin aches in my left leg in the first few minutes.

Saturday: I was totally feeling those planks! My obliques and hips were pretty sore. I happily took a rest day.

Sunday: 2.5 miles around the golf course using 4:45 intervals again. I had definite stiffness in my right ankle that crept up to my knee as the run progressed. I am anxious to see if the stiffness and tightness I felt this week dissipates or gets worse as I continue to test the waters.
This week was solid and I am over the moon that I got to run! I ran fewer than six miles this week altogether, but I feel heartened and happy that, after weeks and weeks of nothing, I'm doing something, even if my symptoms still seem to be just below the surface.

ABK

Friday, April 28, 2017

So, I Ran a Little

Wednesday night, I went for a run.

Last week I couldn't say no to the constant drizzle and went out for a two minute run behind my house, just to remember the feeling.
Literally two minutes in the drizzle and it was the happiest I've been after a workout in weeks.
Those two minutes were like a gateway drug! After that, I just kept thinking about when I could try again. My plan for my legs is to work running back into my schedule and if/when the pain comes back, make sure I have a doctor at the ready to do the necessary tests.

So, Wednesday. In summer, after tourist season, the golf course closes a little earlier and the later sunsets mean it's still nice and bright when the course is empty. That means I can run on it more often. After Elizabeth's and my arm workout Wednesday, I didn't feel I'd done enough, so I let my feet lead me outside.
I set my watch to 4::45 intervals. I put on some music but left my headphones off. And then I just...ran.

In that first four minutes, I saw a little family playing on the green. A girl, maybe four years old, her toddler brother, and her dad.

She caught sight of me and started running full-tilt toward the path I was on. She was smiling and waving exuberantly. She stopped at the edge of the rough and my path, out of my way, and kept waving at me. I waved back, grinning.

"You're exercising!" she cried.

"I am exercising!" I agreed, and my heart was pumping: joy joy joy.

"That's what you do," she called after me as I ran past.

Heck yeah, kid! This IS what I do! It was like she had seen into my soul!

The run was perfect. My paces were in the mid-9s early in my 4-minute intervals, edging into the 9:50s as the time ticked by, and the walk breaks were just the right length. I didn't quite complete two miles because I set a route and chose to stick with it so I wouldn't overdo it. But I couldn't have been happier.
Intervals are new to me so I'm not sure how fast I'm supposed to walk, but I was happy and impressed with the overall effort I was able to put in!
After the run, staring at myself in the mirror, I felt a sense of calm. This is who I am. I am home. I feel secure in this. I felt a satisfaction I hadn't felt in ages. I looked at my reddened face and sweaty hair and was filled with a peace and sense of wellbeing I hadn't even realized I'd been without for these past couple runningless months.
PURE. FREAKING. JOY.
And I felt relief. I still love running. It hasn't forsaken me. It's still a part of me.

I'm not naive enough to think everything is good and I'm cured and healed and whatever else...but I will take this little bit of progress and the joy it brought me, and I will bask in it.

ABK

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Do What You Love

A while ago, Courteney wrote this post about fitness trends. At the time, it got me thinking about why I've stuck with running for so long. I'd tried other routines and exercises to get in shape before, but running was the first one that stuck. Now, with my calf issues, the post has also gotten me thinking about why the advice of "look into another sport" has made me irrationally stubborn and angry.
Unlike many running bloggers, I wasn't introduced to running at a young age; I didn't have the benefit of decades of experience that just makes it come naturally. I started running in graduate school with no idea that races even existed outside of high school and college.

Before running, I tested the fitness waters. I tried classes. I saw a personal trainer. I tried spin, hot yoga, weight-lifting, pilates...Nothing stuck. I would get bored or I'd hate the workout, and then I'd stop going. It's hard enough to motivate myself to start a workout I love, let alone one I dread!
And people might think that when you try something and you're not good at it, it's normal to hate it, but eventually the hate will dim and soon you'll be in a routine and you'll love it! I think that's true sometimes, but not always. Because even though running was (and still is) hard for me, something about it just automatically clicked. And despite doing circuits and other workouts for a solid year now with Elizabeth, I still don't love those the way I love running. In fact, I don't even really like them most of the time.
TBH, the best part of non-running workouts are these two!
I don't know if many people really just naturally love all kinds of exercise in general, but I'm sure those lucky people exist.

But if you're someone like me who wants to get active but it kind of goes against your nature, the best way to find success is to find something you actually enjoy. I think that's the downfall of most people who try to get active and give up; they just haven't found what they love.
You know that saying about finding a job you love means you never work a day in your life? I think the same goes for exercise. I don't like to work out, so I found a sport I love, and it feels like I don't have to work out a day in my life!

Do you like all workouts, or are you picky?
What is your favorite kind of exercise?

ABK