Throughout most of my life I've been active. I was a basketball player in high school, but I also enjoyed volleyball and track. When I went to college a friend of mine convinced me to turn out for crew, and it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I rowed at the University of Washington, and after I graduated I continued rowing with the Seattle Rowing Club. We rowed five days a week, and we rowed in all of the races in PNW, winning a lot of regional and local races. We even rowed in the Head of the Charles and the San Diego Crew Classic. I also played competitive co-rec volleyball for a number of years in Seattle, and did a fair amount of hiking, biking and kayaking. Before I got pregnant with my daughter I had discovered the joys of yoga and was amazed at the gain in flexibility - I've never been a very flexible person so when I have even the smallest improvements in my ability to bend and stretch I'm very excited. As active as I've always been, I've always struggled with my weight and my eating habits. When I had kids, that struggle ventured into the realm of MONUMENTAL EPIC BATTLE.
Most women gain weight when pregnant. I gained weight like I was going for the Olympic Medal in GETTING FAT. I gained 70 pounds with Amazon Girl, much of which I shed before I found out I was pregnant with Race Car Man. I thought I would do better when pregnant with him, and at first I really did. I was throwing up much of the first trimester, and I lost 11 pounds. Then the second trimester I felt better, but my weight gain was OK - 25 pounds. I was walking two or three miles a day and staying very active. I felt good. The third trimester, it all went to hell. I got horrible Edema. I had Fred Flintstone feet - I had two pairs of shoes I could wear, a pair of fake Keds slipons and my birkenstocks. My office decided that my grumpy pregnant self was more than they could handle and asked me to telecommute until the baby was born, which essentially meant I was planted next to my refrigerator for the remainder of the pregnancy. Everything was compounded by early contractions. Whenever I would walk further than a block, I would start having what at first felt like really bad Braxton Hicks contractions. When I had an incident of spotting and went in to get checked, they put a monitor on me and discovered that I was having actual mild contractions, and ordered to stop exercising for fear it would put me into early labor. Yeah, having my son born on the streets of my New Jersey suburb wasn't really in the game plan, so I quit exercising and concentrated on eating instead. By the time my son made his appearance, a mere two days before his due date, my total gain was 65 pounds.
I managed to lose most of the weight again, but I haven't been as truly active since my kids as I was before they arrived. I'm what I would consider "mildly fit" with periods of serious intensity. I have an elliptical trainer that I get on as many days a week as I can stand, I go for almost daily walks during the week at the vineyard with a couple of coworkers. I ride my horses on weekends, I enjoy exercise videos and yoga. I'm strong as an ox, I can easly throw 90-pound bales of hay (which is helpful when you're the only one there to stack the hay when it gets delivered).
There is one fitness activity that has eluded me most of my life, and that is the ability to run. I'm not quite built for running - I lack the lean physique that most really able runners enjoy. I'm built a little bit more like a linebacker - broad shoulders, wide hips. I'm totally bottom heavy. Sure, I ran as part of my team sports in high school and college, but I hated EVERY SECOND OF IT. Bob Ernst, the women's varsity coach at the UW, sent us at least once a week for what he called "altitude training," which either meant running stairs in the football stadium, or if he was feeling particularly evil, running the long hill at Laurelhurst. SEVERAL TIMES. I was among the slowest runners on the team, so it always took me the longest. I HATED IT. Basketball involved running, of course, but short bursts never bothered me. It was a sustained pace that I had a problem with.
However, the weather here is getting nice. I am feeling that I have reached the age where I need to get serious about my fitness level. I only have a few more years before I will have passed the point where getting back into serious shape is probably not an achievable goal. One of the bloggers I follow, Liz over at Eternal Lizdom started a plan to get into 5K shape. Then I found out one of the women in my carpool runs marathons. Then I saw that Catherine at Her Bad Mother was going to be running a half marathon to raise money for muscular dystrophy awareness in honor of her nephew Tanner. Yesterday, Kristen and Bill over at Shredheads announced Tutus for Tanner. The plan? If you are planning on running a race this year, sign up with them and wear a tutu to raise awareness for Tanner and for MD. What a great idea. Except, I thought to myself, I'm not planning on running any races this year. OR EVER. Because, you know, I DON'T RUN. Then I started looking through the website, and I found links to running plans designed to turn a non-runner into a runner. Like this one at Cool Runnings. And I thought to myself, "Why not? WHY NOT?" I know. CALL ME CRAZY!
So here it goes. Today, after work, I am going to the mall to get fitted for a good pair of running shoes (since I'm pretty certain the sneakers I bought at Payless Shoe Source aren't going to cut it) and tomorrow? I start.
I'll post progress updates.
Your job? DON'T LET ME QUIT. Cheer me on. Ask me how I'm doing on my running plan. Make sure I keep going. You can do that, right? And ask me if I've signed up for a race yet, because that's the thing I absolutely HAVE to do. Not only to have the incentive to reach my goal, but to do something to honor a bunch of really awesome kids who have a really horrible disease. I know that there is a possibility that my arthritis is going to try and toss a wrench into this, but I think if I manage it well that I will be OK.
Ready? Set? GO!