Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Cottonwood Club Revisited

Last week, I "renewed" my membership to the gym I used to go to twenty years ago. It's part of the Prairie Life Center chain now, but back in the day it was The Cottonwood Club. The gym looks pretty much the same, except the lounge in the lobby has been cleared out and they've added more cardio equipment there. Really? You're not supposed to lounge at the gym? What's changed the most is me!

Back then, I went out dancing most nights of the week with my friends Jodie and Tami, and although I didn't feel like it back then, we were in great shape! On my gym tour, I had a flashback... I went to an aerobics class upstairs and got there about half an hour early, so I hopped on the stationary bike and rode it until class started, then took the hour long class, and was still barely breaking a sweat! That's not exactly the case these days! I guess a marriage, divorce, some failed relationships, a few career changes, and doubling your age will do that to a person!

If you remember, I joined a running class about a month ago and sprained my ankle. A week later, I was running on it. A week after that, I was told that it was broken. A week after that, I was informed that the bottom of my ankle bone is, in fact, broken off, however it happened four years ago, so don't worry about it. By then, I was quickly losing my motivation... especially since it's so freaking humid here! I could hardly breathe anyway, and now I'm trying to run out there in it? Um, ya. But since I did still have some motivation and a twelve-pound weight loss, I wanted to keep moving! So I joined the gym again!

The thing is, I feel different! The last gym I joined was Lifetime Fitness back in Chicago (in the 'burbs, anyway). When the trainer for my complimentary session asked me how committed I was, my answer was "Oh, about 60%"... if my PLC trainer Becke asked me the same question, I would have to say that it's more around 90-95% right now! I'm not completely obsessed and spot on with my diet (which allowed me to take my sister and the kids to Old Chicago yesterday), but I do watch what I eat on a daily basis (no processed food, no white flour, no sugar, plenty of protein, plenty of veggies, plenty of fruit) and if I go off track, then it's a conscious decision and not just autopilot.

I've also made it through my first week at the gym exactly on schedule! My goal is to go 4 days a week and do my run/walk thing on the treadmill (hello, air conditioning!!). I'm not concerned about increasing my mileage or my interval times right now... my goal is just to get there on a regular basis and make it a habit. Especially since I'm still working 2 jobs and the only day I've had off since mid-May was the day after I sprained my ankle. Next weekend is my last one out at the track, so I'm completely comfortable with "taking it easy" until then.

That being said, today was my best run ever!! For the first time, I made it through my 5 min warm up, and then 20 minutes of running for 30 seconds and then walking for 30 seconds, and then my 5 minute cool down.  Until now, I've lasted the whole time, but had to build in more walking breaks. I felt very focused, my breathing was under control, my form was semi-controlled, and I probably could have done 10 more minutes of my intervals if I'd wanted to push myself. But that's not my goal right now. I went, I feel good, and I'll be at it again tomorrow!

I have plenty of time to realize my full potential as a runner/exerciser! For now, it's enough that I'm pushing myself just a little bit harder... seeing myself as being a little bit stronger... and getting a sneak peek of the future me that I'm creating!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Broken Ankle Saga

I finally had my appointment with and Orthopedic Surgeon this afternoon and I am sooooo relieved!!

Three weeks ago, I sprained my ankle. Running. Most of my friends were shocked that I would even attempt such a thing, given my history of falling down but I did it anyway! So I signed up for an 8-week running class called Beginner's Luck, bought some new shoes, and hit the ground running! I was super psyched up and ready to really challenge myself and break out of my rut that I've been in physically since my divorce in 1995.

So there I am in the middle of the pack... there are about 300 runners... we've just turned around at the halfway point for our 20 minute run (30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking) when suddenly I was pitched forward, rolled my ankle, practically took down the poor girl running in front of me, and a guy behind me patted me on the back and said "Sorry. It's really crowded." and kept running as I limped to the grass.

I was pissed!!! My worst nightmare had come true. Here I was super excited and motivated and I sprain my ankle on the very first run and have to limp back the whole way!! I was also completely and utterly defeated. My brain was going a mile a minute thinking first that it was a sign that I'm not supposed to run and then thinking that it's actually a test to see how committed I really am! Then I started to cry and feel sorry for myself as I recognized that it's part of my pattern... I attempt big things and then go down in flames. Then felt a bit panicked since I work two jobs and I stand literally all day long at both of them! It really was a sad state of affairs. Thankfully, one of the volunteers slowed down and walked with me the rest of the way back and gave me a pep talk as my friend Jackie from work ran by and gave me a "thumbs up", not knowing that I'd hurt myself.

When I got back to the school and she saw me limping, she immediately went into Mom mode and found the organizers so we could tell them what happened. She also tracked down someone who could tell me how to care for my injury. All the while, telling me that it does matter and that I'll be fine. Love her!

So, I got home, did RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation)... called in sick to work the next day, and dug out the ankle wrap that I bought after the 3rd time I sprained my ankle years ago... I think this is the 7th time. Um, ya. I went back to the running class the next week to sit in on the informational class that they do before we run and the organizer, Ann, told me that I'd probably be okay running on it as long as I ran on a flat, smooth surface and was very careful. So I ran Friday, Saturday, and Monday on it. By Wednesday, the swelling was starting to go down and it started feeling.. weird.. just a little poking feeling above my ankle. So I decided that I would finally go and have x-rays done before I ran again so I didn't really hurt myself.

The verdict? "You broke it!!"
My reaction? "CRAP!!"
Then the nurse walks in with a Boot...
My reaction? "CRAP!!!!!"

And so I hobbled out with a boot strapped to me, a prescription for crutches, and a referral to an Orthopedic Surgeon. And I was miserable for the next 2 days. My hip hurt and I was completely worn out from lugging the boot around. So I made an Executive Decision to just wear my normal ankle wrap until I could get in to the OS. (which was an adventure in itself...)

So now it's been three weeks since I sprained my ankle and I was finally able to consult with the OS. I called my sister Karen on my way there to have her put out some good vibes for me. "What kind of good vibes?" she asked... "I want him to say that I've been doing an awesome job taking care of it and that I'm doing exactly the right thing and that I should just keep up the good work."

Know what? That's EXACTLY what he said!!

It turns out that my Fibula has a chip broken off the bottom of my ankle bone. So technically speaking, it is broken. However!! It's not a recent break! It's separated enough from the bone and worn down a bit, so he said it was from a previous "sprain" and asked me about the sprain from the time before this. I remember exactly!

Chicago. South Side Irish Parade. St Patty's Day. 2007.

I was walking along with my friend Amy and didn't realize that there was about a 3" drop-off on my right side where the bricks ended and the tree "ring" began. So I stepped half on and half off and rolled my ankle. I'm pretty sure I actually fell to the ground that time. We'd taken the drunk bus down there, so I'd had a few drinks by then. I hobbled around a bit and sat down on a curb for a while and we took the bus back later. I don't remember it hurting more than just a sprain, though.

So!! The good news is that I don't have to wear my boot... use my cousin's crutches... and no surgery!! He shook my hand, told me it was nice to meet me, gave me a list of exercises to strengthen my ankles, and sent me on my way. YAY!!!

So now I'm contemplating my next move! My ankle still has swelling, so I think I'll take it easy for another couple of weeks and then I'll get back onto the exercise wagon. Before this happened, I was actually considering joining a nearby gym that's having a membership special. Now I feel that I'm able to go ahead with the plan! I honestly don't know if I even want to run with the running group again. I think I actually like running on my own better. It's like a moment of Zen and I don't have to think about anything other than my form and my breathing and my stuff. Ya know?

And if I fall down again, I have no one to blame but myself.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not So Happy Father's Day

The weeks leading up to Father's Day are tough when your Dad is dead. It seems like there are ads all over the place trying to sell you something that's just perfect for your Pop. Working retail doesn't help... neither did working at the horse track today with all the Dads carrying around their Happy Sires Day mugs. I couldn't help but think today that my Dad might have really liked going to the races! Too bad I didn't think of that when he was still around.

It's not like we never did anything together... we played pool or cribbage once in a while... eating out was always a big thing... we even took a couple of road trips to California together to see family! But I think what he really wanted was for me to just once get out of bed and invite him over when he called on Sunday mornings at 7am (after I'd been out half the night) to ask "What's for breakfast?" It was kind of a going joke that I had to train him not to call until after "double digits".... at least 10am! What I wouldn't give for a wake up call like that now...

I guess I always thought we'd have more time.

It's been seven years since we lost him to cancer and there's still a hole in my heart where he should be. Every time I think about him, my heart breaks all over again because I immediately think about the days before he passed away and how he was wasting away before our eyes. I think about sleeping in the chair in his hotel room and waking up with my heart pounding because he's trying to get out of bed... or staring at me trying to get me to understand that there's someone out to get us but there's strength in numbers so we should stick together... or the last night when I crept out to his living room to check on him and he was already gone (then trying to wake up my sister to tell her... "karen... Karen... KAREN... (nothing)... Dad's Dead." (that woke her up!)).

I also think about how we found strength that we didn't know we had and how much closer my sister and I have been since that happened. That helps. A lot. If I was strong enough to make it through that, then I'm strong enough to get through anything... including days like this when well-meaning people ask if I called my Dad today... and I have to say "No... I lost my Dad in 2004." without crying.

I never realized how hard losing a parent is or how long the hurt stays with you. So, to all of you out there who have lost a parent and still have a hard time getting through holidays and birthdays... you're not alone. And to all of you who are lucky enough to still have yours... just once, get out of bed and ask them over for breakfast once in a while, huh?


ps - Here's the website I was blogging on when Dad was in the hospital, just in case you haven't seen it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What is my Full Potential?

That's what I'm trying to find out...

Welcome to my new blog! I'm going through a period of reinvention right now and it always helps me to get my thoughts down in writing, so welcome aboard! Maybe something I stumble on will help someone going through the same thing? Maybe it will help my friends and family get to know me a little more? Or maybe someone lurking will get some sort of entertainment from this. Who knows... but here it is!

Here are a few things you should know about me...
  • I write like I talk. This is me. I wasn't an English major, I don't do rough drafts, I don't proofread, and I don't always use complete sentences... and I don't care.
  • I'm a Scanner and my interests vary constantly, so this is going to turn out to be a mishmosh of pretty much everything under the sun (maybe even including the sun).
  • I'm not a scheduler, I don't write posts weeks in advance. I write what I feel when I feel it. If I don't, whatever happened usually seems irrelevant to me, or I lose the juicy details, so that's why I like to get it down in writing! I never know when I'll want to come back to it.
  • I call it like I see it and am striving to be completely honest in all areas of my life.
  • I'm a sharer, so prepare yourself!
Here's what I see happening in this space... I see talk of deep inner thoughts, love, loss, grief, hope, despair, family relationships, friendships, genealogy, career, hopes and dreams, astrology, skincare, exercise, running, injuries, accomplishments, successes, failures, learning opportunities, books, finances, health, diet, nutrition, real food, my dog, raw dog food, home ownership, the economy, self-sufficiency, asking for help, nature, nurture, creativity, Nebraska law, left brain, right brain, sleeping, being present, the Universe, thoughts on aging, observations, predictions, travel, lifetime learning, and all of the things that go into what makes me ME!

See, I've led a pretty charmed life. I had a idyllic childhood in California, moved to Nebraska with my parents and younger sister when I was 7, lived here most of my life until I struck out on my own in 2003 and moved to Chicago, lost my Dad, sowed some wild oats, quit my job of 11 years, moved back to Nebraska in 2008 and have floated along until just recently.

Although I've had quite a few great successes, I don't feel like I've really tried my hardest to accomplish anything. I just seem to fall into things (sometimes literally!) and they just seem to work out. And while that's great and everything and I'm a pretty normal, balanced, good-natured person... I think I can do better. I KNOW I can do better. So I'm going to try. I have been trying. That's what 2011 is all about for me... reinventing myself. What is my full potential? Is there such a thing? What is the best version of me? Let's find out...

Something is in the air... big changes are coming... and for once in my life, I feel ready for it!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Firsts & the Circus

I just started reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and I'm already close to tears. Not because of the storyline (although it has been pretty sad so far), but because I'm seeing through Jacob Jankowski's eyes as he experiences the circus for the first time in 1931. Back when the circus traveled by train and actually set up the Big Top... before televisions and the internet and smartphones... Jacob has just seen the menagerie...
Brilliantly painted red and gold animal dens line tow of the four walls, their sides propped open to reveal lions, tigers, panthers, jaguars, bears, chimps, and spider monkeys -- even an orangutan. 
"Even an orangutan." That's what got me.  So much has changed in the last 80 years! My Dad was born into this world in 1931. I wonder when my parents saw an orangutan for the first time? Did the circus come through here? Did they have the money to go? Would they even have been allowed to? Interesting questions that I've never thought to ask until now. Looks like I'll have to quiz Mom this week while she's in town!

Firsts... they're so hard to come by in this day and age. Nothing is new anymore. Nothing is special. Everything under the sun is a Google away. The circus is in the auditorium down the road. The zoo is a 15 minute drive. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt.

I feel the need to experience more firsts in my life.