Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm a great runner. If it's away from my problems.

I just realized I should write about my running career.  Because clearly, it's not going last long, so I should use it to fill up some blog space while I can.

Here's the deal.

I always wanted to be a runner.  Not like a track star or hurdler or whatever.  I just wanted to be one of those people who could throw on a pair of sneakers, go out and run a few miles and then come back looking all refreshed and exercised.  The idea of only needing a pair of sneakers and a boob bounce house to get a full workout is just appealing to me.  Like, if I were going on a trip, I could just throw some sneakers in my bag and know that I'd be able to work out everyday.

The glitch in this pipe dream?  I hate running. 

So every year for as long as I've been going to gyms - I've run a mile in January, just to say I can, and then move on to my usual machines like the Elliptical, Bike, Stair Climber, etc.. 

Now, don't get me wrong - I have no problem breaking a dang good sweat and feeling the pain that comes with a good workout.  I love it - that exhausted wave of accomplishment.  It's not that I'm lazy or afraid of pit stains.

It's just that many of the times I've tried running I've gotten really confused as to why the Clydesdales were following me down the street.  Only to realize the noise I was hearing was, um, me.

So, every January, I put in a mile and call it a year.

Last year - I actually thought I'd gotten a permanent pass to running.  I'd jacked up my hip pretty good and had to take six months off of just about everything.  When I was getting back into tennis and the gym, I decided to run a bit.  The next day my hip hurt like ass.  So I just KNEW I had a free pass FOREVER!  Except I discovered a few months ago that it was actually the lunges I'd done on that same day that made my hip hurt. 

This year, I thought, why not?  Why not do something totally stupid?  And using my magic phone, I downloaded the C25K app.  Know what that is?

Couch 2 5k.

Supposedly, this magic app is going to take me from my most favorite spot in the world (the couch) to being able to run in a 5k (hell).  I have no idea why I thought this was a good idea - except, I love apps and the whole program only takes 9 weeks or so, and I figured, "Yeah, I got 9 weeks."

It guides you super slowly towards finding your 'inner runner' with lots of walking and a few quick jogs thrown in.  I finally got it, I thought, if I run really tiny amounts of time, I don't hate it as much.  A minute here, a minute there...totally feasible.

Then the jogs started to increase and the walks started to decrease.  Suspicious.

Today when I looked at the schedule, it said I was supposed to run for 20 minutes straight.

Which makes today the first day that I ignored the scheduled activity and went to the next one which seemed easier. 

The real hiccup actually came Wednesday. 

For five weeks, C25K has given me a weekly workout - you do the same combo of walking/running three days during a week.  The next week it moves to a little more running and then a little more the next week, etc.

Sunday, it was the first workout of Week 5 - three five minutes runs.  I managed.
Wednesday was the second workout of Week 5.  Should have been exactly the same.  Except as I'm on the treadmill I notice my app timer says 8:00min.  Hello? 

As I was tripping over my feet and hyperventilating trying to figure out how I could have possibly skipped ahead to an 8 minute week, I realized I was still on Week 5. Workout 2. 

C25K had bamboozled me. 

And now I was running slow enough to be considered backwards as I got my breath, wits and feet back in order.

I won't fall for that again.  Today, before I even went to the gym, I checked the daily workout - hence the discovery of the 20 minutes run.  That I skipped.

Instead opting for run five minutes, walk three, run eight, walk three and run five which in reality turns out to be more than 20 minutes of 'doing' yet didn't send me over any sweat soaked ledges.

Some highlights of my short running career:
* Week 3, Day 2 ~ forgot underwear and had to go commando.  Didn't mind it.
* Week 4, Day 1 ~ as I was running I felt something on the back of my leg.  It was a knee high that had static clung to the inside of my running shorts and was now working its way out.
* Week 5, Day 1 ~ after doubling up on Bounce sheets should not have been surprised to find one on the towel I was using to wipe the sweat from my brow.
* Realizing (after reading about running) that I are not supposed to be panting like an elephant in heat.  And being happy that I could lower the speed at which I was running. 
* Forbidding myself from studying other runners to see if their form looks good in an effort to imitate them.
* Crossing the mile mark.
* Crossing the mile and a half mark.
* Crossing the two mile mark.
* Crossing the two and a half mile mark.  Today.

I really do want to make it to three miles.  Just not sure if it will ever be in one whole shot.
Everyone talks about getting in some zone where they don't even notice how long they've been going.  I have that zone.  Except it only appears at nap time.  Or bars.

So, stay tuned.  The next update you see may be about actually running a 5k.  The more likely event will be a list of excuses as to why it's okay NOT to be a runner.  Which I can then follow up with reason it's okay that I'm still single.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Now THAT's a Friendship

There's no reason to share this with you - BUT - I feel you should know that 99% of the time I start blogging, I hear Doogie Howser music in my head.  And then I wonder if other blog-people hear it too.  Which then makes me think of "How I Met Your Mother," and how much I love Neil Patrick Harris.


After a rather gloomy post last week, I thought some smiles may be necessary.

So, I'm totally flaking out and stealing an email from a friend...(and of course will add my own thoughts).
Here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship. You will see no cute little smiley faces on this ~ just the stone-cold truth.

1. When you are sad ~ I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.  (Right off the top, we have a favorite of mine - The Revenge Plot.  Hours of time spent thinking about the bad things that could accidentally happen to someone who has done you wrong.  And, in rare cases, following through on brilliant ideas.  One of my best was dousing the insides of a newly-ex-boyfriend's stereo speakers with catnip.  Man, he loved those speakers.  Man, the cat did a job on them.)

2. When you are blue ~ I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.  (Actually, I'm not much of a 'helper' when it comes to health emergencies.  I'm more likely to sidle away and  hope that you pass out and forget I was even there.  I will, however, do my best to find someone else to help you.  And when I retell the story of what happened, I will be the star.)

3 When you smile ~ I will know you are thinking of something that I would probably want to be involved in.  (Because a true friend knows the difference between a smile, a sinister smile, a leer, an I-just-farted grin, a fake smile, a trying-not-cry smile and the I-know-it's-not-appropriate-to-smile-and-I'm-trying-so-hard-not-to smile.)

4. When you are scared - I will rag on you about it every chance I get, until you're NOT. (The truth in that is sometimes making someone feel incredibly stupid about their worries is the best way to make them go away.  I'm all for that.  However, when working in reverse, please remember that I just prefer a good coddling.)

5. When you are worried - I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be, until you quit whining.  (This is actually the only time EVER that a one-upper friend is useful.  You know the kind - the friend who always has a more dramatic, more tragic, more worse story than your own. So much so that you eventually just start making tragedies up to see if she can do better?)

6. When you are confused ~ I will try to use only little words.  (Also useful if alcohol consumption peaks)

7. When you are sick - Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
(Unless it's that 48 hour bug where you throw up a lot and lose ten pounds.  Then I want it.  Otherwise I'll be happy to leave drugs on your doorstep.  Or toast in your mailbox.)

8. When you fall ~ I will laugh at your clumsy ass, but I'll help you up.  (And apply band aids as needed - perhaps lots of them.  I will definitely wait to laugh until I'm sure you're okay.  Or at least until the crying has subsided.  But I'll definitely sit in the ER if  needed and try to pick up random doctors while you're getting swathed.  Actually (and this is irrelevant) the gal who sent me this was also the one who, after her second day of work with me, got to bandage ME up.  I had sprained both ankles and had blood pouring down my legs when I showed up in her new office and said, " we have a band aid?"  At which time she scanned my wounds and said, "Yeah, this is going to take more than a band aid so how about you just meet me in the bathroom." Great friends ever since.)

9. This is my oath .... I pledge it to the end. 'Why?' you may ask ~ because you are my friend.  (And if you are really my friend - you have seen me at my absolute worst - and you didn't run for the hills.  Either you are a total sucker or a true friend.  Or you know that eventually I'll pick myself up and laugh again and you are just waiting to hear it.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

For Susan

I shouldn't have been surprised....some people just radiate their goodness onto everyone.

Last night, I had just gotten word through the grapevine that Susan Lynn had died. I trudged off to dinner with friends putting it in the 'that sucks' compartment of my brain and planned to really think about it later.

So I sat down with my buddy - whom I know through tennis - and about the third sentence out of her mouth was, "...and then I found out that Susan Lynn died this morning...".

It was one of those moments where you should think, "Oh wow - she knew Susan, too?" but what comes instead is "Well, of course she knew Susan. Everybody did."

Susan Lynn was one of those rarities in Raleigh - as she was actually from Raleigh. Went to Ravenscroft. Went to St. Mary's. Was super active in the community. And then her life came to a numbing halt when she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia last year.

The strange thing is - I've never actually met Susan. We crossed into many of the same circles - most notably our time in the Raleigh Jaycees - and shared many common friends. We just never actually met. And yet I feel like I knew her from all the stories of the last several months. But don't waste your worries on me - I'm fine - my sadness lies with the wishing that I had known Susan. Send your worries to those who did.

I was pulling hard for her - especially when her treatment in Texas started to turn. She'd gone to Texas last year to be part of a research program - hoping that would offer the magic she needed to beat this thing.

Last year, a benefit concert was thrown in her honor here in Raleigh. I went - thinking I'd just drop in. I wasn't very sure I'd even know anyone there. Instead it was like a reunion - people everywhere screeching out with excitement as they ran into friends they hadn't seen in years. Myself included.

And the circles it crossed - friends from the Jaycees, friends from tennis, friends from work, friends from former jobs. It was really amazing to see all these people that typically lived in separate areas of my life all gathered together because of one person. If you want to see someones character - look at their friends.

Of course they knew Susan Lynn. Everybody did.

And while that night energized the heck out of us - naive as we were to think that a simple fundraiser would be just the ticket to curing her disease - it didn't make the leukemia go away. So most of us moved onto other things, while sending a continuous string of positive vibes to Texas.

While I do feel bummed that Susan has passed, I am more saddened by what her family and close friends are going through. To have someone call a halt to treatment to spend their remaining days under Carolina Blue Skies - knowing what this means - must be heart breaking.

My hope is that they realize how many lives Susan did touch - sort of a pay-it-forward thing - as her energy worked its way through Raleigh. She gave us a common goal - to will her to good health. And now she's given us another - to pray for her family and friends to find strength when they probably thought they were all out.

Susan Lynn - you are missed.

Susan Lunsford Lynn, 43, died peacefully at her parents' home on February 9, 2011, in Raleigh, NC.

A requiem mass will be held for Susan on Friday, February 11, 2010, at 2 PM at St. George's Anglican Church, located at 1210 Dixie Trail in Raleigh, NC. The family will receive friends and family immediately following the service in the parish hall.

Susan is survived by her parents, Jean S. and Clabe W. Lynn; her sister, Chloe Lynn; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in memory of Susan to either the North Carolina Chapter of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (401 Harrison Oaks Blvd., Suite 200, Cary, NC 27513) or St. George's Anglican Church, 1210 Dixie Trail, Raleigh, NC 27607.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

All-Star Review

When I threw caution to the wind ten years ago and moved to North Carolina - there was some culture shock to say the least.  After spending about eight months living with Mom & Dad, they sent me packing for the big city of Raleigh.  As a 'just outside Philadelphia' transplant, I initially spent a whole lot of time looking for the 'big' part of the 'big city'.

I did find it - and fell in love with it. 

The thing about Raleigh is that while it is one of our state's big cities (hey, it's the state capitol, after all) - it has a very small town vibe. 

It is easy to get around - and easy to get unlost if you should you find yourself in unfamiliar territory.  Traffic exists, but on a scale where it is not extremely annoying or dreadful.  And on the days when it is - it serves as a reminder to how easy most days are. 

One of my first quandaries upon moving here was why no matter where I went were complete strangers smiling at me - if not starting a full blown conversation.  It felt funny.  And stalkerish.  I wasn't used to having sales associates follow me around stores wanting to help.  I was used to them standing next to the register with a cell phone to their ear and a look in their eyes that said, 'don't you dare interrupt this phone call to my boo'.

And, of course - there is the weather.  I won't point out TOO much on that end as I know three quarters of our nation is currently under some sort of winter weather debacle (SnOMG 2011) while we sit here watching the temps climb up to the 70's.  I won't dwell too much on the fact that I came to work today sans coat while wearing a skirt, sleeveless shirt and short-sleeved cardigan.  It wouldn't be right to throw that in. 

Yes, I do love my city.  I'm wrapped up in glee for Raleigh right now because we just put on a show like no other.

When most folks think of hockey in the south - it's with a shrug and a 'oh yeah...right...'.  Unless you actually live here.  Then you know that hockey is not so much a game, but an event.  Every time. Here, hockey means arriving at the arena hours before the game for some serious tailgating before you wrap yourself up in your warm clothes to go inside.  Attendance isn't dependant on how well the team is doing - it's only dependant on whether or not you have a ticket.

And when Raleigh opens its doors to the world - we do it in style.  I'd been waiting so long for All Star Weekend to arrive - and when it finally was beyond my expectations.  I somehow missed at least two of the items on my punch list (going to the actual indoor portion of Fan Fair and hitting the North Hills area where all the players were staying).

What I did spend a lot of time doing was talking to people not from here.  Mostly from California, actually.  Who seemed relatively confused at the friendliness of their Raleigh Hosts.  I heard many times about how everybody talks to everybody - confusing guests into a thinking pattern of, " I know this person? I must know them.  No, I don't think I do.  This is weird."

And the Carolina Blue sky brought most of the activities outside - including an extended tailgating session before the Skills Challenge and the big game.  While I didn't make it to either of these, my co-worker was apparently accosted by several Canadians trying to understand what was happening.  Of course, his answer was to give them a beer and invite them to the party, which sent them further into a stymied tailspin.

Equally flustered was a visitor who watched while I offered to hold a man's tiny dog so he could escort his tot to the rest room.  The question I got was, "Wait, you don't actually know that guy?"  "No," I replied, "but how could he manage a dog and a kid in a port-o-potty?"  "Yeah," the visitor said, "But where I live, you probably only would have done that because you wanted to steal the dog."

Please.  First of all - everybody needs some spontaneous doggy kisses at some point.  And second, a Dachshund hardly counts as a dog. 

While the rest of America spent the weekend preparing for feet of incoming snow, we were making do with an imported sledding hill. 

Around the corner was a Snow Zone - where snow was being blown into a pile for kids to romp in.  Beyond that, our outdoor skating rink.  Rockefeller Center?  Who needs it?  Seems much smarter to live somewhere warm enough to sled without a jacket or ice skate without thirty two layers and a fear of the pond  cracking.

The All Star events themselves were a huge hit - including the newly conceived live player draft to determine the teams. There was the first free concert of the year - smack in the middle of town at the new amphitheatre.  And a way-out-of-the-usual-summer-schedule of Raleigh Wide Open - turning the main street into a carnival type atmosphere.

So what makes Raleigh big?  It's definitely not the size of the population.  It's not our public transportation system or our skyline (we have a lack of tall buildings).  It's certainly not our airport - which I absolutely adore due to the ease of navigation. We have a few claims to fame, but it's not like George Washington himself slept on a mountain a few miles away. 

What makes Raleigh big is its heart.  It's a city that welcomes everyone with a smile and is willing to give.  It's a city that never listens to folks who claim it can't put on an event like the All Star game.  It's a city that thrives on supporting it's own - whether it's in sports or the arts or research.

I'm not suggesting y'all pack up your things and move down here - we surely don't want a crowd.  Although I can certainly understand why you'd want to - especially if you live in one of the three dozens states having winter today.

And if you do, know that we are pretty damn proud after our recent showing. 

We'll expect you to jump right in and feel at home - and let the Raleigh-ness seep into your blood.  We'll expect you to talk to strangers and offer a helping hand to people you just met. 

But, I promise - you'll love it.