Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Oral History of My Run Today, Featuring My Body (Project 190, Day Eighteen)

I am just back from my run, dripping with sweat and drinking my cool-down glass of milk.  I'm so sweaty that Mr Bunches thought I went swimming:

"How's the small pool?" he asked, referring to pool we go swimming at.

"I actually went running," I told him.  "This is sweat."

He thought about that for a second and said:

"How's the splash park?"

I let it go, and said "It was fun."

I'm so tired that I thought I'd let my body tell the story of the run today, via an oral history, since that seems to be what everyone's up to.  So I got my brain, and legs, and feet, and stomach, and arms, together and asked them to walk you through the run, song by song:

1.  Counting In C, Jad Abumrad

Brain:  This was actually the start of the run, walking uphill.  I picked this song because it always puts me in a good mood, and if I'm happy, we're all happy.

Legs: That's not actually true.

Brain: Have some endorphins and think about that for a while.

Legs: *sigh*

Brain: So I picked this song to get in the mood, and set the iPod so that I could get back to it in a pinch.  That's a secret I use, setting a song to get to with one click so that when the rest of you "hit the wall," I can get Arms to give us a good song to inspire you all.

Arms: We have little enough to do as it is on stuff like this.

2.  Baby Got Back, Gilbert & Sullivan Version.

Legs:  We thought this was an unorthodox choice to start with, but we think Brain was tricking us, because no sooner did this song come on than word came down: we're going to try a long run.

Feet: It was crazy; suddenly Brain is saying Hey, let's go for the long run like we used to I bet we can do it, and we were all Brain, are you NUTS? It's like 100 degrees out here.

Stomach: I pointed out that I was a lot bigger than the last time we tried that, and it was already getting hot in that shirt.

Brain:  I knew it was hot, but I couldn't get over that other day, where we didn't try to run up the hill.  Here it was, a beautiful Saturday, and why not push us? We hadn't done the long run in so much time.  I wanted to go past the Tree, and get to the Veldt.

Arms: That's what Brain calls this broad plain we run through on the Long Run: The Veldt, because there's just this one tree on it, out in the middle, and otherwise it's all grassy plains with forest in the distance, and Brain pretends it's an African Savannah.

3.  Little Lion Man, Mumford & Sons.

Legs: It was obvious Brain was serious about this Long Run thing, so we're trying to pace ourselves, and then this song comes on just as we hit the big downhill at the start of the run, and we're like Whoa, take it easy, everyone, watch the momentum.

Stomach:  I was starting to get even hotter under the shirt, but I think Brain was a little embarrassed of me, because he kept saying No leave the shirt on for now.

4.  Internet Love Song, Tom Milsom.

Brain: I was so going to skip this song, but Legs sent up word that it was a good mellow song and might help with the pacing.  And anyway, I got distracted by these three bikers who were coming at us, and they were all over the path.

Legs: Brain is always getting annoyed when we have to change course or move to the other side of the path.  And then he'll just go and change sides for no apparent reason.

Brain: It's not for no reason.  There are better and worse parts of the path to be on.

Eyes:  We could see the Tree where the river is, and we were almost out of the park as this song was coming on, which was pretty cool.  Plus, it's nice to have a change of scenery while we run.

5.  Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple.

Stomach: Brain is so corny.  This song comes on and he's all We ARE an extraordinary machine! Come on, guys!

Arms:  Stomach was really bugging us to take off the shirt, but Brain wasn't giving in, until we all teamed up on him and said enough's enough, it's like jogging on the surface of the sun.

Brain:  It was still a mess.  If I thought you guys were able to take off a shirt and keep running, I'd have given the command earlier.  As it was, you practically dropped the headphones.

Arms:  At least we got the shirt off.

6.  Counting In C, Jad Abumrad.

Brain:  I had to do it.  We were barely past the tree, maybe 1/2 way through the long run, and everyone was quitting on me.  So I made Arms push the button and bring this song back up.

Legs:  I don't think Brain understands how hard it is to carry everyone around, up and down hills on a gravel trail.  We tried.  We really did.  But as we got to the part of the run where there's usually a little stream only it was all dried up from the heat, we just couldn't take it.

Feet:  It's not like we didn't push it.

Legs:  We just said that's it, we've got to walk, and so we did.

7.  Waiting For The Great Leap Forward, Billy Bragg.

Brain:  I really really wanted to do a long run; I'd been thinking we could at least make it back to the road, and so I was let down for a minute, but then I thought of the Counting Run.

Legs:  We're not crazy about the counting run.

Feet:  It's this thing where Brain says Okay, walk 100 steps, counting only the left foot as a step, and then run 100 steps, and then after you do that, you walk 90 steps, and run 90, and then 80, and so on, until you get down to 10, and then start counting up, again, and do that until you get home.

Legs:  Like we said, not crazy about that.

Brain:  But I convinced everyone, and so we started counting the steps, and Billy Bragg comes on, and that's a great song to jog to, all light and bouncy and yet challenging in tone, so we walked 100 steps, counting each time the left foot gets down.

Feet:  Why do you do that, anyway?

Brain:  You think it's easy being the brain? I've got to count the steps and listen to the lyrics for inspiration and decide when to change the song and make sure the eyes watch the path and keep track of where we are.

Legs:  Like when you forgot we were swimming yesterday?

Brain:  It's a lot of work, being me.

Stomach:  Try being me! I've been sucking myself in for years.

8. Golden Phone, Micachu & The Shapes

Brain: I remember when we first heard this song, on that date with Sweetie where we were in that clothes store and the help said something had "scurried into a corner" and both Sweetie and I for some reason thought the thing that had scurried away was a turtle.  For some reason.

Legs:  By this point, we're on the part of the path that's all  ups and downs and curves, and Brain is still making us do the Counting Run, and trying to distract us with stupid memories like that.

Feet: It wasn't working.

Arms: Plus, Brain gets all crabby, like when that lady ahead of us suddenly stopped and turned and Brain was all "What the heck, lady, haven't you ever seen a jogger before?"

Brain: Did you see how she reacted?  We're like five feet away and she stopped and whirled around like we were a team of Terrorist Rapists. I thought we were going to get pepper sprayed.

Stomach:  Don't blame me.  I was sucking myself in.

9.  So What's New, Herb Alpert.

Brain:  This song came on just as we were getting to the best part of the run, the boardwalks.

Legs: Brain goes nuts over the boardwalks through the swampy part of the woods.  He's always "Oh, this is so scenic." It's not so scenic when you're half-covered with a pair of sopping-wet jogging shorts.

Feet:  I like it.  The boards are all springy.

10.  Giving Up On Love, Slow Club

Brain: So what's cool here is this song synchs up perfectly with our running and walking, so the beat makes it easy to count, forty-one, forty-two and it's such an awesome song.

Legs: It really is.  By this point, we were like, F- it.  Let's just run as far as we can each time, so Brain would count our walking steps to like 30 and then we'd jog for a while and then walk again.

11. I See You Baby, Groove Armada.

Brain:  And then this song comes on, right near the part where we're going to get to the road, and by now, we're walking like twenty steps and then running for a while, which is what it's all about: pushing ourselves, going one step further.

Stomach: I was surprised that we got out onto the road where people could see us and brain let Arms keep the shirt off anyway.  Usually I get covered up again around people.

Brain:  You earned it.  Let the people look.  We've been working hard.

Legs: The road part was the hill we walked up the other day, and today we ran up like 2/3 of it, which was really something.

12.  Wavin' Flag, K'naan.

Legs: We were like, no way, Brain, you set this up, when this song came on at the end, 'cause it's a superawesome song to finish a run to.  All that when I get older/I will be stronger stuff in the lyrics.

Brain:  I didn't, though.  It was just chance.

Stomach:  Whatever it was, we finished up the whole run from the top of the hill home and it was incredible.

Arms: And then I got to do the most important part -- the V-for-Victory at the end of the run.

Brain:  That is not the most important part!

Today's Workout:  Long Run, outside.
Latest weight: 251. 

Sometimes, a house. (Vacations)

Stuff that was NOT for sale at the Superman Museum
Continuing the story of my recent vacation to Florida... read part one by clicking here
or part two by clicking here
Or part three by clicking here.

TO RECAP: We were going to Florida to hang out with Sweetie's family for a week, and got waylaid by recalcitrant car lenders and three cases of strep throat. But it was 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, we had stopped and gotten McDonald's for the trip, and were ON OUR WAY!

Let me begin this portion of the story by pointing out that Mr Bunches and Mr F have only rarely left our house and never for this long a time. Their last real vacation was a trip to Florida back four years ago, almost four years to the day, when we had taken a trip with the then-Babies! and Middle Daughter and The Boy to go to Orlando to make use of the vacation package I had purchased in a spurt of optimism one time using our tax refund.

That trip is for another day, but the main thing we remembered about it, vis a vis Mr F and Mr Bunches, was that they had not slept.

Not at all, as far as we could tell, for four days.  Four days in a hotel suite with two little boys who would not, under any circumstances, sit down long enough to let them fall asleep at all, and consequently, we almost never slept on that trip, at all.

Since then, Mr F and Mr Bunches had not been away from their home for more than a single night, and those single nights had not gone much better.  We had taken them with us when we went to drop off Middle Daughter at college, and stayed in a hotel room that night, with Mr F having to be almost forcibly subdued before he would sleep: I literally took him in my arms, and laid with him on the bed, and held him immobile as much as I could for as long as I could, with him occasionally trying to worm out or kick me or just tap his tappers around on whatever was handy, e.g., my head.  He'd fallen asleep, that time, about 2:00 a.m. and woken up about 2:02 a.m. and we'd eventually packed up and gone home to get some sleep.

That was what we expected on this trip, too: we were all, Sweetie, me, The Boy, girding ourselves for a nightmare of no sleep for the week, trying to figure out how long we'd cope before we got exhausted... then started to hallucinate... then turned on each other and began infighting, so that eventually the authorities would find a triple murder-suicide at a resort in Orlando, with two little boys wandering around in their Justice League pajamas, bags under their eyes.

What we didn't know, and could hardly contemplate, was how Mr F and Mr Bunches would react, period, to being away from their house for 8 consecutive days, a period of time that was double their previous record, from when they were two and of which they had no recollection; all trips since then had been only one-day affairs and those had been tough enough.

So as we set out for the first leg of the journey, to Metropolis, Illinois, that was what I was mainly pondering: Would Mr F and Mr Bunches be able to handle the rigors of the road, and how would they react to not seeing their house and their stuff for over a week?

To help deal with that,we'd brought along a big chunk of their stuff, including one of the mattresses from their beds and a tub, literally a tub, of their toys, stuffed into the back of Sweetie's car with the bag of medicines and facial creams, the suitcases of t-shirts, and the bag of beach toys that I'd bought at Toys"R"Us to use at the ocean.  Our idea was that they might not miss their house so much if 90% of their house had come with them to Florida.

Loaded down, we began the most boring part of the trip: the beginning.  Starting out on a vacation, when you are driving, is always boring.  When you start on a vacation and you're flying, you are almost instantly transported into VacationLand, a wonderful place where you are unencumbered by the familiar, where you are free to make purchases that you would not otherwise make, able to read that book you have been saving for vacation, able to watch TV at 9:30 a.m. even though ordinarily you would never do that, because when you start out on a vacation and you are flying, you go to the airport and the airport is part of VacationLand, not part of Regular Life.

I have always loved airports, always found them exciting, and I finally hit on why with this latest vacation:: it's because airports are in no way connected with anything that I associate with real life.  When you walk into an airport, there are decorations (Chicago's O'Hare has dinosaur skeletons, Madison's airport has an airplane hanging up there) and there are security guards and there are those stores that sell t-shirts and books and candy and soda, with their stuff just all out in the open and spreading into the mall area because what are you going to do, steal a t-shirt and run past all the security?  There are newstands and shoeshine places and runways and TVs up in the corners, and all you have to do, to begin your vacation, is take a short drive and suddenly everything is different and you've got permission to buy a bunch of junk food, sit on a chair, pull out that book you bought, and watch CNN Headline News while you eat Circus Peanuts and read a sci-fi novel, which is what a vacation is.  Your vacation has begun, right then.

But when you drive on vacation, your vacation takes forever to start. We had loaded up the car and gone to our same old gas station and same old McDonald's, and we'd already been "on the road" for 20 minutes by that point and I could still see my house.

 Mr F briefly took an interest in our surroundings before deciding that tapping coat hangers together was more interesting than highway scenery.  (He was right.)

Well, not really, because my house is hidden by trees behind a hill, but I could still see where I would look to see my house if I could see my house.

When you drive on vacation, you drive through all the familiar stuff that you drive through all the time, and that takes forever.  When we "left" for Orlando this time, we drove almost the exact same route that I take on my commute to work for the first five miles, so I was on vacation and sitting in the exact same traffic I drive through every day.

Eating a cheeseburger, granted, but still.

From Madison we went onto the Interstate, which is not the best way to travel if you want to actually see stuff.  The Interstate Highway system is a great idea for getting people to and from places really quickly, but you know what's an even better idea for getting people to and from places really quickly? Airplanes, and the view is the same from an airplane or an Interstate: almost nothing.

This is the most scenic thing you can find on most highways: A wall.
When we'd decided to drive, which we decided because we weren't sure how the boys would react to flying and didn't want to be on the news for being the family that got kicked off a plane bound for Florida because one of their twins wouldn't stop freaking out, I'd told Sweetie that it was okay in part because I love road trips, which I do, and because we would "see the sights."

But I'd been mistaken on that latter one, and I can be forgiven, because the last few "road trips" we'd taken had been years ago -- taking the kids to California, where we drove a lot, and taking Sweetie to New York for our honeymoon, where we hadn't worried about the scenery -- and I'd had somehow, in my mind, replaced the actual scenery that accompanies an Interstate road trip:

Scraggly trees. Long fields of nothing.  Sometimes, a house.

With what I assumed was the scenery that accompanies an Interstate road trip:

Wacky tourist traps, panoramic city vistas, the sprawling majesty of the United States.  

You don't see none of that from the Interstate - or precious little, anyway, especially when the bulk of your trip is done in the Midwest, which appears to be a place that long ago got rid of all its scenery because decent folk don't need scenery, not if they're going to be respectable people, let those hippies in California have the scenery, we're fine with a few small trees and whatnot, which is why the only scenic place in the entire Midwest is now the Wisconsin Dells and in an attempt to hide that like a guilty teenager with a Playboy, we Wisconsinites have buried the Dells under waterparks and minigolfs.

All of which is to say: we drove on down I-90 towards the Illinois border and the excitement of finally being on the way was overcome almost instantaneously with the drudgery of the Interstate that exists in Wisconsin between Madison and Beloit, a city that I associate with the terror of being lost.

Beloit, Wisconsin, sits right on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, and is a city that nobody goes to willingly, as far as I can tell.  The only time I've ever been to Beloit is when I have had to stop for gas on the way somewhere else, and I never actually venture into the city.  Of course, I may be biased, because my earliest memory of Beloit is that I almost ended up living there as a result of a fight between my parents.

I think.

Here's what happened: When I was a kid, I had lazy eye. 

I still have lazy eye, I mean, but it's not as bad as it was and it all started when I was a kid, so when I was a kid, I had lazy eye.  And to get it fixed, a little, I had to go see an eye doctor in Madison, which was kind of a problem in that we lived in Milwaukee, an hour away, and don't ask me why we had to go to Madison to treat a relatively common eye problem. But we had to go, and we were in Madison long enough that it got dark out, and we left Madison in the dark.

I was in the backseat, trying to read a book, which was what I did in the car when I was a kid, and it was made harder by the fact that it was dark, and also I'd had my eyes dilated and so couldn't see all that great, and my Mom and Dad were up front, driving and only paying attention to me to tell me to quit trying to read because I'd hurt my eyes, which was ridiculous because my eyes were already hurt.  Or at least, lazy.

We'd been driving along for a while when I became aware of a more tense feeling in the car, something that was not uncommon in my childhood, where tension was a constant companion, but this was starting to boil over as my parents were arguing about where we were headed and whether we were on the right route.

I don't remember all the details of the conversation/argument: it got bigger and more heated as my Dad claimed one thing and my Mom claimed another about where we were going or what road we should take, but I do remember this exchange:

Mom:  It says you're going to Beloit!

Dad:  F**K IT! Then we'll go to Beloit and we'll live THERE!
I, in the backseat, got suddenly sad and scared because I didn't know anyone in Beloit.

We didn't go to Beloit, of course, we made it back home, but that momentary fight, there in the dark of what I know now to be I-90, a road I drive all the time, made such an impression on me that nearly 40 years later I still think, every time I see Beloit:

"F**K IT! Then we'll go to Beloit and we'll live THERE!"

Every. time.

Think about that, if you are a parent or will be one: You will spend night after night after night trying to teach your kid to do math or be responsible or clean his room or something, and none of that will have as much of a lasting impact as one explosion of frustration that was not even directed at him.

Beloit, in other words, is the ideal marker for the edge of Wisconsin when we leave on trips, because only those memories of possibly going to live in Beloit would ever be the final impetus into doing what we did as we drove past Beloit on this trip, which was to cheer, as we crossed the state line past the sign that said "Welcome To Illinois!"

"ILLINOIS!" I said.  "YAY!"

"Illinois!" Sweetie said.  "Yay!"

The Boy was playing with his laptop and ignored us.  Mr F was tapping a coat hanger against the window and ignored us.

"Say Hi, Illinois!" I told Mr Bunches, who looked up from his iPad.

"Hi, Illinois," he said, in a small, quiet voice, and waved.

This is a McDonald's playland, somewhere in Kentucky, or maybe Tennessee.  Or Georgia?  All I know for sure is, it's really hot inside that top row and I should not have agreed to chase Mr Bunches through it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I forgot what I was doing in that swimming pool, and I STILL think I'm better than you. (Project 190, Day Seventeen)

If you are ever working out next to me, or near me, or within eyesight of me, know this:


Even if I have to cheat.

When I work out, I have various methods to make sure I'm really working up to my potential -- I keep track of my time, or I always increase my number of laps, or I watch my RPMs when I'm biking, stuff like that.

And I secretly compete with everyone around me and I always win no matter what the facts might suggest.

Here's how that works, and also how it began: One time, back when I was healthier than I am now and could run 3, 4, 5 miles without really thinking about it much, I was running on the track and I was on lap 32 or thereabouts.  The track has 12 laps to a mile, so I was cruising into the end of my third mile and really, doing pretty good at it.

And then this guy comes out, and it's a pretty crowded day at the track and there's an aerobics class going on and so there's lots of people, and New Guy gets onto the track in his fancy shorts and mesh-y shirt that's just made for running and his tiny earphones and other stuff, and I instantly disliked him because, really, I instantly dislike almost anyone but especially I instantly dislike people like New Guy, who made a big show of being a runner and who got onto the track and who began running really pretty fast, in a very showy way, all fists and pumping elbows and making that phfwhooosh sound as he ran that only people who are annoying about their workouts make.

I saw New Guy coming onto the track and ostentatiously stretching in front of everyone, in the walking lane -- I always did my stretching off-track, outside the enclosure, because (A) I'm not showy and (B) My stretching is almost comically the exact opposite of stretching in that I am about as limber and stretchy as an Ent, so I don't like to do it in front of people -- and I passed him and then kept on going on my then-7-minute mile pace.

About a half-lap around, New Guy came whipping around the track, knees akimbo, phfwhoooshing and all, with a headband, and swept past me and another guy and some girls and did this all in front of the aerobics class, and (in my mind, at least) being snarky about how fast he'd passed us.

He did that two or three more times, each time seeming showier than the last, and on the fourth lap, the two girls he'd passed a few time, and much of the aerobics class, had finished their workout, and with most of the track cleared out New Guy stopped running.

He just walked a lap and then went off and I didn't see him the rest of the day.

Now, I acknowledge that it's possible New Guy was just doing a warm-up or something, or maybe that was his workout that day, as unlikely as it is that three sprints and a walk and that's it would be your workout, but what I assumed, because (I know) I am deranged and antisocial, was that New Guy had come out there to sprint as quickly as possible in front of the women and that when most of them left, he'd stopped, and what I thought was "Sure, you might have run those three laps faster than me but I'm still beating you because here I am into my fourth mile," as I was still chugging away on my own run, and I decided that I was better than him because I ran farther than him, even though he was faster than me on those three laps.

Since that time, I have become hypercompetitive with everyone around me when I am working out, even if they do not know it: When people work out around me, I am secretly comparing my workout to theirs and trying to find a way to justify in my mind that I am winning.

If I get on a treadmill and start jogging, and a guy is next to me jogging, I will check and see if I have my pace faster than his.  If I do, I WIN.  Or if he stops running before me, I WIN.  I don't even care if he was there for an hour, three hours, ten hours, before I started running: If he stops before I do, I WIN.

(If he is still running when I quit, then he is a jerk.)

When I bike, when I swim, I do the same thing: I compare myself to people around me. And I make sure I win, because if I don't appear to be winning, then they are cheating.

For example: Are they swimming faster than I am? Their form is probably wrong.

(NOTE: I technically swim three different strokes, in rotation.  In my mind, the strokes are (1) the crawl, (2) the breaststroke, and (2) the backstroke. In reality, I know, the strokes are (1) "something that might be the crawl but there's a lot of thrashing involved, (2) I suppose that's a breaststroke, but you are going awfully slow for a swimmer, so it's more of a treading water with a bit of drifting thrown in, and (3) "Am I going to hit the edge? I think I'm going to hit the edge. I better look.  Not yet? Now? Am I going to hit the edge? Why have I veered into that lane?")

(NOTE, 2: That does not keep me from assuming you, my competitor, are doing it wrong.)

Are they going further than I am? They probably cut a corner; did you see the way that guy took the inside track on that lap? That's why he's ahead. (That is an actual thought I had.)

Biking longer? Faster? Harder? They took the bike I wanted, and also my shoes aren't biker shoes. Whatever it takes, I am always competing against the people around me and always winning unless they are cheating.

And that is how today I found myself locked into another life-or-death mortal competition with the woman in the next lane over, who probably didn't know we were engaged in a titanic struggle but who lost, also, anyway, even though I twice got so winded that I forgot what I was doing.

I had to swim in the longest, worstest pool today, the LAP pool, which is where people are supposed to swim laps but I don't like to swim there because it's full of people who know what they're doing and wear goggles and turn their heads the right way and sometimes you have to share a lane with people like that and that's awkward because I can't swim in a straight line, and also the water is supercold.

So I try to swim in the "Sport" pool, or the "Warm Water" pool, or the outdoor pool, but each of them today at 5:50 a.m. was full of old people.  There were old people in classes, old people in other classes, and in the outdoor pool, old people just walking around in the pool.

Sweetie, when I mentioned this later, said "Friday mornings are full of old people at the club," to which I said:

"Know where I won't be before dawn on a Friday morning when I'm old? Working out.  Why can't they work out at 10 a.m., when the rest of us are at work?"

So I had to swim in the lap pool:

Which is longer than the other pools, too.  But I got in and ignored the fact that the water had been shipped in directly from the North Pole and started swimming, and it wasn't long before I realized that I and the lady in the lane next to me were finishing about every fourth lap at the same time.


She would pause a little as she turned around and I would pause a little as I turned around and I began trying to swim faster and faster to keep getting to the end of the pool before her and the result of that was that on about Lap 22, I got to the end of the pool and put my head up and was going to turn around...

...I know how to do a flip turn because I was on a swim team once and can do that but that's a lot of work right now, so I just stop and turn around and push off and go...

...and I sat there for a moment and thought:

"What was I doing again?"

I thought that, mind you, crouching in a pool with my swimsuit on, in Lap 22 of a workout.

And after a second my mind kicked in as Lady In Next Lane arrived at the end and I took off, swimming with all my might and I got to the end of the pool and turned and got back and did it again and I was on the end of Lap 25, at the far end of the pool, and I was about to swim the last lap, and it happened again:

"What was I about to do?", I thought, and stood there, for a second, dripping, staring at the clock at the far end of the pool before my mind rebooted and said SWIM! and so I finished the last lap and got out, none the worse for the wear, other than now I am worried that maybe I should work on how I breathe when I swim because I really don't think I'm doing it right.


The pool has two signs I found interesting.

This one:

Which is a perceived exertion index, and about which I thought "Is that necessary?" I mean, do you need a scale to let you know how hard you think you are working out?

"Oh, I thought I was working out really hard but now I guess it is only somewhat hard, thanks, handy numeric scale!"

I don't need such a scale; I know I'm working hard when my mind goes completely blank, the biological equivalent of that blue screen my laptop gets sometimes.  Refreshing.

And do you need 10 levels of working out? How fine are the gradations you are making, here?  "Today, I'm only going to exert myself to an 8.  I was going to do a 9, but I thought I'd relax a little."

Isn't this taking it a bit far?  Can't you just have a scale that says:

0: Not sweating at all/haven't changed out of street clothes.
1: Sweating, but not in the gross way.
2: Nobody's going to want to stand near you.
3: I think you just tore a muscle most people don't have.

And have that cover it? With maybe a final grade that says:

4: You don't have to make those noises, we're all aware that you are working out very diligently.

There is also this sign:

I wondered how they figured that out, and what happens if you exceed it.  Would there be any spots left to stand in? Would all the people displace the water entirely and leave just a bunch of people standing in a sunken space? If so, is it a pool anymore and would the limitations apply?

You can see how my swim really cleared my head for some critical thinking.

Also: I totally beat that lady in the next lane.

Today's workout: Swimming, 26 laps.
 Latest Weight: 251
Song that I listened to while typing this because I can't listen to music while I swim:

Everyday, by Elin Palmer:

PS: The picture at the top of the post is a listing of every workout I have done since I had a heart attack a few years ago: every single run, bike, or swim plus how long it took and how far I went.

This is going to sound like a weird question but my boyfriend and I are in the middle of an argument about what people like more.  (It’s not really an argument, it’s just silly really but I still think that I am right)

Honey Mustard or Blue Cheese?

I told him that I would take a poll and let him know but he hates honey mustard and I hate blue cheese. 

We got onto this conversation last night when we were talking about foods we like and dislike.  I told him that I loved pretzels and he thinks that they are gross.  He thinks that they don’t have a taste to them and it was after that comment that I told him that I prefer to dip my pretzels in honey mustard.  After I told him that he made this horrific sound like I had just told him that I eat little kittens. 

I asked him what and he said that he hates mustard so much that if he had the choice of eating mustard to survive if he was trapped in a desert that he would die instead.  (I thought that was a little extreme but I guess he must really hate mustard….)

So then we got onto the topic of spicy food because both of us love spicy food and I mentioned that I loved buffalo chicken and he said that it was okay.  So I just decided to ask him what food he liked because he hated everything that I brought into the conversation and he said that he loved buffalo chicken when you can dip it in blue cheese dressing.  Then I made a horrifying sound.

I understand if something is too spicy then dipping it in ranch or blue cheese dressing makes the heat a little better to bear (and I mentioned this thought to him and he laughed saying that he can handle the heat, but I still think that people dip their spicy wings or whatever they have that’s spicy into a sauce to cool it down.) 

Not only do I dislike blue cheese dressing I dislike blue cheese crumbled into my salad and wrap.  I just think that it tastes like moldy cheese…which it is but I can’t get over the initial bitter taste.


Honey Mustard or Blue Cheese..? 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's our own Off-Broadway production!

Mr Bunches recently watched an episode of Blue's Clues where they read and animated the children's book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, about a bunch of letters who climb a coconut tree and then fall out. (It's quite dramatic.)

Then he got the book on his iPad.

Now, he re-enacts the book using one of his alphabet puzzles.  So two, sometimes three times a day, we get a live, dramatic interpretation of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, STARRING THE ORIGINAL CAST.

You can't control my thoughts. (Yet.) (Project 190, Day Sixteen)

I have this crabby streak in me, and it surfaces a lot at 5:53 in the morning as I'm getting ready to go work out, and so I would apologize to this lady except I didn't say anything and I don't have to apologize for thinking it, but really it was her fault because as I walked into the club this morning, the front-desk lady was sitting and looking at her computer and she had her hand on her cheek, and her chin, in this kind of weird way, like maybe if she was an 1870s British housewife who had just heard someone scandalously describe the Queen's knickers, and I looked at her and thought "Knock off what you're doing with your hand my God that's annoying."

"Morning!" she said, cheerily.  I scanned my card.

"Good morning," I said back.

Today's workout:  Biking, level TWO, 20:00.
Latest Weight: 251.
Song that isn't the song I wanted to put in here because I can't find a video for it so instead I'll put a song that I didn't even listen to but which popped into my head and is somehow sort of appropriate?

Handlebars, Flobots:

I wanted to put "Lang Toun" by Rozi Plain in here, but I couldn't because nobody has put it on the Internets and I don't have time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I feel like I let myself down. (Project 190, Day Fifteen)

The route I take, when running outside, begins and ends with a hill; we live just off the crest of a large hill, so when you leave our house you first go up a rather steep incline, and then reach the top of the hill -- the result being that when I go jogging around our house, I start out going downhill and end up going uphill at the very end.

Or I should.  In the past, I always jogged the uphill parts on the way back, and sometimes even started jogging right at our driveway, so I would begin and end with an uphill run.

But I haven't yet challenged myself with those end-of-run hills, on this Project.  It's been a long time since I jogged up one of the monster hills that end the run, and for right now, my route is that I walk to the top of our hill, then start jogging; my route takes me along a road, then through a nature trail to the watertower and then back home. I reverse the route each time I run, so sometimes I begin on the road and other times I end on it, and each way I take, I stop running at the bottom of the final hill and walk home.

My plan is that come next month, when I increase my exercise -- that's my plan, each 30 days or so to step it up a bit, increase the level of my biking, increase the distance of my running, increase... what can I increase in the pool?  Maybe I'll ask that they put some deuterium in there and swim through heavy water.... make it harder to keep challenging myself.

So for now, I've been content to just run, and not push up those hills, waiting for August to increase the difficulty of the run, but today, I felt good and at the end of the run, as I curved onto the street and raised my arms in V-for-Victory, I felt like I could go up that hill.

I didn't.

I told myself I'm sticking to the plan, but that didn't carry much weight with me.  My body wanted to try the hill and keep pushing it, but my mind won.  Or maybe my mind wanted to go on and my body didn't.  I have trouble keeping track.  But I didn't try to run up the hill and instead I walked.

But at the top of the hill, whoever was pushing the other one, mind or body, kept bringing it up and so at the top of the hill I began jogging again and finished the last 1/4 mile home jogging.

It wasn't the big challenge, but it was a little extra, and I think next time I jog I'm going to tackle that hill.

Today's workout: Jogging, outside, 23:00... but I could've/should've done more.
Latest weight: 251.
Song I listened to not once but twice at the start of the run because it felt so inspirational, and I'd have listened to it again at the end of the run but I was distracted by the battle over whether I'd run up the hill:

Sister, by Mumford & Sons:

Bonus song that was playing when I did the little extra run at the end:

Unless It's Kicks, Okkervil River.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Assuming my mind is incorrect and/or science doesn't work the way I think it does... YAY! (Project 190, Day Fourteen)

Here is how my mind, which I've previously talked about, works:

Today I lost two pounds.

Well, not today, but since I last weighed myself last week.  I'm down to 251...


...and I know that because after I swam today I realized that tomorrow is running and so I would probably do that outside and so I wouldn't be at the club and wouldn't weigh myself (I always weigh myself on the same scale, because I believe that different scales have different weights, which, as I think of it, is kind of like saying one of two things.  Saying different scales have different weights is the exact same thing as saying:

1.  We can't possibly have any objective measurements because if different scales produce different weights then each is imperfect and we can't possibly know what something, like me, truly weighs, or

2.  Gravity works differently depending on where you stand.


Anyway, I went swimming, then thought tomorrow, etc., and so I decided to weigh myself today even though it was a day early, and I ran the risk of being disappointed because I might not have lost weight, that being the first thing my mind thought:  "Maybe those last six days you didn't do anything and all the weight loss was going to come between now and tomorrow morning."

But I ignored it and weighed myself anyway and I weighed 251! a loss of two pounds, and my mind said to me:

"Well, sure, but that's probably just water that seeped out through your skin via osmosis, you know that happens when you swim so you probably only dropped two pounds of water weight."

I really did think that.  I'm using SCIENCE! to try to bring myself down, via osmosis, which is a science thing I know about.

So when I got home, I looked it up, and found out that if you work out for an hour, hard, swimming, you will lose about 600 ml of fluids, just via sweat and osmosis (with the water on the pool compressing your body and pushing the fluids into your kidneys).  I worked out for only 15 minutes, so I lost about 150 ml of fluids, tops, which...

... is completely unhelpful in terms of figuring anything out, as I don't know how much a ml weighs.  I'm sitting here trying to remember how big beakers were in science class in 6th grade, but I think that was the year we dissected a frog.

Today's workout: Swimming, 25 laps, 15 minutes.
Latest weight: 251!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Today's song: I can't listen to music while I swim, so here are some classic Jim Gaffigan commercials:

Okay, so the second one doesn't have much to do with working out.)

After reading this, I can say absolutely nothing of significance happened ALL DAY. (Project 190, Day Fourteen)

Absolutely nothing of significance happened in today's workout.

I got up at 5:45 a.m., like I always do (now) and went biking and read some news headlines and stuff while I did so and listened to music while I did so, and I burnt 100 calories or so, and I came home and got ready for work and then went to work, where I had a meeting and then worked on a brief and then went to Court (where I won) and then came back to my office and now I'm here, typing this, and really the only thing of note is that for some reason, the song "String of Pearls" by Soul Asylum popped into mind during that process and I tried to remember all the words to it but I could only remember 1/2 of them.

So now I'm listening to that song.

Today's workout: Biking, level 1, 20:00.
Latest weight:  253 pounds.
Song that I didn't listen to while working out but am listening to now and so are you if you click it, String of Pearls, Soul Asylum:

It's a pretty cool song, I guess; what always throws me is the feeling that the lines all rhyme, when really none of them do.  It's the least-rhymingest song I can think of, and yet it feels like it's a series of couplets.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Everything I say here will probably end up on a t-shirt. (Project 190, Day Thirteen)

I have reached the stage of my workout program where the fact that I have reached this stage helps me continue on.

Let me explain:

There is a certain point where the fact that you've come this far means you can go farther, where going on seems to be the only way to reward having been.

Today, I really didn't feel like working out, for the first time since I started Project 190. It was gloomy outside and I was tired (still tired, from having stayed up nearly 'til midnight Friday after going to see The Dark Knight Rises with Sweetie) and I had to go in to the office to do some work and it was Sunday morning and all, but I thought to myself:  I've already done 12 straight days, I can't quit now.

And so I went jogging, and it was a lot of work today, but I kept jogging along the nature trail, and kept thinking to myself Day 13, Day 13, Day 13, Day 13.

And then I pictured myself doing that tomorrow, Day 14, Day 14, Day 14, and then next week Day 22, Day 22, Day 22 and next month Day 52, Day 52, Day 52...

... That would be really something, I thought, quite an achievement. Heck, I haven't worked out even 12 days in a row since I had that heart attack, but here I was on Day 13 and going strong, and I couldn't get to Day 52 or Day 72 or Day 190 without doing Day 13, so I did Day 13.

I read once an article that said that when you are exercising, you shouldn't look at your goal -- don't look at the top of the hill or the horizon, it said, because that will help intimidate you into not getting that far.  Don't reflect on how far you've come or how far you have to go, that article said, to keep your mind from getting tired of the effort and quitting on you.

I never follow that advice. I look exactly where I am headed.  I think constantly about how far I have to go and how I will do it.  I stare at the hill I'm about to climb and think about the hills I have already climbed.  I think about how many miles, days, stretch behind me and ahead of me and I use that to give me the strength to keep going.

You don't get anywhere with your eyes closed, and you can't take the 100,000th step without having taken every step that goes before it.