Week Two, Not Too Weak

Week 2 of couch to 5K went off with a bang, literally. I no sooner finished my stretches, started my 5 minute warm up walk, and BOOM… thunder clapped overhead. I had my headphones in and thought it was fireworks celebrating a recent graduation, that is, until the rain began to pour down on me.

“Turn back?” thought I.

“NEVER!” thought me.

I did my first 90 seconds of running was in no way challenging. I was shocked when I looked down and saw a minute and a half had already passed. The challenge came afterward with all the proceeding runs. I never accounted for the slickness of the pavement when went, or the way sand would just roll underneath me, making me feel like a cartoon character running in mid-air. The rain didn’t last long, just long enough to coat everything and leave humidity in the air. But, I did all the runs, only taking a quick break to breathe during the last one, about 5 seconds, then back at it.

Then, as I was walking back to my porch to do the cool down stretches, that song came on. You know the song. It doesn’t matter if you are running, taking a test, or creating a montage of awesomeness, when you hear:

“Dun! dun, da, dun!

dun, da, dun!

dun, da, dunnnnnn!

Rising up, back on the street, did my time, took my chances…”

You are completely powerless to do anything but feel like you could singlehandedly take on the Soviet Union.

I couldn’t waste this song on cool down stretches. This is not a cool down song. This is the song you play when you need to harness the power of Olympian Gods.

90 more seconds, just for the heck of it. 90 extra seconds of running because you are a champion. 90 extra seconds of floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee.

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The Uphill Battle

I was the fattest person at the AIDS Walk today. There were other large people walking, but they ere like black bears compared to my Kodiak size. Something triggers in the brain of a fat person when they are at an athletic event and they are the largest one. It is a level of perseverance that can only be felt when in that situation. When you look around and see that there are people bigger than you or more handicapped than you, you think “If they can do it, I can do it.” That’s a lot of pressure. But, even if you aren’t thinking that, the fat girl at the 5K awareness walk is thinking “No matter what, do not give in to stereotypes.”

May in Maine has two weather forecasts: Death heat or Freeze ray. We had death heat. The sun was bearing down on us, people were sweating before the walk even began. “Hydration” and “Sunscreen” were repeated like the winning lottery numbers. The trail for the walk started with a hike up a small mountain (okay, it was probably considered a hill, but it was a steep hill). For every half a mile of uphill walking, there was only about 1/16th of downhill and even less of flat ground. I had to sit a few times because my asthma was getting bad. Some walkers stopped to talk and told me I could tap out if I wanted.

It was a beautiful walk though. The leaves were so green and there were dandelions everywhere– I don’t care what people say, dandelions are a flower and they are pretty.– On one side of part of the trail was a stream and there were birds flying all around.

Despite enjoying the sounds of nature, I needed to block out the sounds of my asthmatic lungs, so I put in an earbud to listen to my mojo mix. Josh acted like a cheerleader at every new hill and when I wanted to give up he acted like your friendly neighborhood drill sergeant.

We got to the halfway point where water and sunscreen was provided. I sat for a bit to cool down in the shade. The walkers who I had talked to along the trail were with us. They gave up. Another walker came along to hydrate himself. We continued the trail with him, but he was much faster than us and was soon ahead.

The latter half of the walk wasn’t as intimidating as the first half. I was thankful they had started with the endurance challenge first. We continued walking up and down hills for what seemed to be forever. We could see the other side of the trail along side us as it looped around somewhere. Our hydration buddy was on one side, this gave me hope that we were almost finished.

“I cheated. The trail keeps going, but I am headed back.” He said, turning my joy to sadness.

At one point I needed to sit again to allow my asthma time to pass. A lady came along, cleaning up the signs indicating the walk’s path.

“You can stop early and head back,” She told me, “No one will judge you for it.”

“I’ll judge me,” I said. “I am training to run a 5K, I need to be able to walk one.”

I walked the entire thing. When we got back to the tent I learned that most people turned back early due to the rigorous trails and the heat. Not only was I the fattest person, but I was one of few who walked the entire 5K. Maybe next year I will run it!

I am not judging people who dropped out early, I thought about it many times myself. However, what seemed like an act that might kill me only made me stronger. We judge ourselves, often holding ourselves to a standard we would not require of other people. Sometimes that is a bad thing, but sometimes, like today, it is a good thing.

P.S. I clearly wasn’t dead afterwards, I went swimming at a favorite pond and even attempted to get a bit of a run in that evening.

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Doing Laps Around My Old Self

I run with my stopwatch on my phone set and in hand. When measuring your success in milliseconds, this is a useful tool. Unless you do what I did today.

I accidentally reset my stopwatch not once, not twice, but three times during my 20 minute run.

“Was that 4 minutes 33 seconds or 4:13?” I kept having to ask myself.

Running, I have learned, is about being honest with yourself. It is just you and the pavement out there. The neighbor taking out his trash and the driver going but do not care if you were on 4:33 or 4:13. However, if you want to do it and do it right, you must be honest with yourself.

“Just say it was 4 and keep going.”

I ended up doing 21 minutes of exercise, I know this because I calculated the play times of the songs that I listened to.

Oh yeah, remember that neighbor with his trash and all those cars, I as worried they might be judging me for being fat and running. This week it dawned on me that if I were sitting in my yard I wouldn’t have even given them a second thought or cared if they were judging me. Let them judge, I am doing laps around my old self.





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Saturday I am participating in the AIDS Walk to support the Horizon Program which offers support to those who are HIV/AIDS positive.

I intend to run some of this 5K. I know I won’t be able to do all of it just yet, but I now know I can do some of it.

HIV/AIDS effects everyone. Whether you know it or not, you probably know someone who is positive. There is a lot of misunderstanding around the disease, often considered the result of lifestyle choices. However, we are all at risk for HIV. Doctors, nurses, and dentists are extremely at risk due to exposure to blood. In the 80s and 90s many people transmitted HIV because of blood transfusions and a lack of understanding of the disease.

I walk because I have a friend who was in a long-term committed relationship with someone who was dishonest about his health and gave it to her.

If you would please sponsor me in this walk and help support the Horizon Program, I would greatly appreciate it. You can donate at this link: Sponsor Emily Here

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Tramps Like Us, Baby We Were Born to Run

Mojo: What is it? Most people view it like a cup of espresso, something that revs you up. But the difference is mojo cannot be ordered through any coffee shop drive-through. Mojo is something within you. You either have it or you don’t. You can build up to it, but when it isn’t there you feel it.

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t have any mojo today, but it was highly suppressed under a pile of pillows and blankets. I had all intentions of running after dinner and a quick nap that turned into a full-on snooze. When I finally admitted to myself that I was more tired than I was interested in running, I felt depressed. I thought of the money I had spent on sneakers. I thought of all the friends supporting me. I thought about how mad I was that my asthma had been acting up the last couple of days making it impossible for me to run earlier in the week. I thought about how many thing I have started and given up or put on the back burner just because I fell into a habit of putting it off with a slew of excuses.

Then I did something that was a metaphorical first moon landing: I took one small step. I got up, put on my running clothes, said to my husband “I’m going for a run, want to join me?”

“But its dark out now.” He responded.

“So, we can run in the dark.”

And we did.

As per last week’s plan, we repeated the first week’s routine. I completed the challenge, all the minute runs, without breaking them into thirty-second intervals. “Baby we were born to run” played as we began the first minute run.

It felt great. The cool, crisp May air felt fresh in my lungs. The pavement felt good beneath my feet. The love of my life taking up the challenge beside me encouraged me to keep it up.

I was impressed with Josh’s ability to keep up. He has asthma as well, but his is activity induced. I have never seen him run before, in fact, as I told him, I have barely even seen him briskly saunter. He told me he ran a mile once in school trying to keep up with a girl he had a crush on. Well, history must be repeating itself because after our 20 minutes ended Josh said to me, “I might not have been able to keep up, but the view from back there was amazing.”

So, today might not have been a giant leap for mankind, but one small step was a giant leap for my mojo.

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Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

“Tomorrow and tomorrw and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace.” (Macbeth)

Yesterday I spent the entire day with my inhaler in hand. Between the pollen as thick as snow outdoors and the dust of spring cleaning indoors, I have been like a fish out of water gasping for air. I still went to dance class and did as much as I could, but I could not go for my run after, as I had planned. I did, however, manage to break a chair and turn myself into a bruised mess in the process.

So, that brings us to today. I am, as you can imagine one would be after smashing themselves against an oven on the way to crashing against the floor and having a chair leg shoved into one’s hip, extremely sore. The asthma has only improved slightly, and although I have managed to persevere through my day, I do not have enough oxygen going to my muscles to make running happen.

I miss running already. It has only been a few days but I miss it real bad. I hope that tomorrow will be a new day without asthma.

“You’re only a day away!”

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