Then, I got soaked to the bone.

I felt deceived today!  The rain went away for a while, and I saw our neighborhood “hot running guy” run through, so I figured if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.  I got myself ready, stretched, and took to the road.  I saw the dog walking people, and the dog running stroller-lady.  I thought I was in good company, so I headed for the greenway.

I break through the other side of one of those greenway tunnels.  It starts misting, no big deal.  Then it’s just lightly sorta-raining.  Then all hell breaks loose.  I was a full 15 minutes away from the house no matter how you slice it.  Have you ever had to walk in such furious rain, that you could barely keep your eyes open? I have.  I actually remember the exact moment when I was so soaked that the rain pierced my underwear.  Literally soaked to the bone.

As I was walking past Chavis Heights, an older man had turned in front of me with an umbrella, smoking a cigarette.  He slowed down, and offered to walk with me as long as he could with his umbrella.  His name was Renaldo.  It definitely wasn’t social distanced, but here we were, two people in a straight up and down pouring type of rain, dodging puddles, me soaked through the skin.  There is a time and a place for everything.  I hope that whoever the powers that be decide that me, this man, and this umbrella are going to be okay.  I just couldn’t say no to a man, coming out of a housing project, with a cane and an umbrella who WAITED for me, just so he could be helpful.  Couldn’t do it.

I learned that he was a vet, and he felt lucky to have gotten one of those nice, new apartments in Chavis Heights (and it really is very nice).  He told me that they have a key fob to get in and whenever I go by, there are always people sitting out on their little patios, which all look beautiful and spring-like with plants and little tables and chairs.  I was also pleased with myself that I didn’t want to ask him for a cigarette lol.  It was nice to see that there are still kind, helpful people out there.

When I got home, I had to literally peel my clothes off, and they were so wet that I rung them out in the sink like rags.  I’m glad that I went hard for my first 15 minutes because my walk back trying not to bust my ass or land in a puddle definitely brought my average speed down, but at least it wasn’t cold outside.

The rest of the day was nothing so crazy, read some of my book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver.  Had a very frank and informative talk with my nibling, Devin.  Made black bean burgers tonight because we hadn’t had them in a long time.  Watched a movie called “Uncut Gems” with Adam Sandler in it that I actually really didn’t enjoy.  I hate watching people gamble over sports- I dated someone like that for a while and it was the most miserable thing to watch someone go through.  It is also miserable to go to a bookie’s house, because it just is.  In any case, that movie took me back to a time of life that I would never want to relive.

It’s Friday!  That doesn’t mean much to a lot of folks, but if you’re one of the ones that it means something to, Happy Friday!

 

Getting more serious about working out/healthy eating

Yesterday’s blog was definitely not about the advantages of being afraid to be around humans.  The advantages to this mess, for me, can be summed up very simply: I would have never quit smoking or drinking, I would have never started running/jogging/walking (not like this, maybe something a little lighter), and my yard would have never looked this amazing.  Why?  I would have been distracted, probably by people.  I would have been distracted by nights out at the bar, vodka, cigarettes, whatever I had to do during the day, and the constant rat race that our lives have become.  If you needed some positives, there are some.

I probably wouldn’t have dyed my hair, or if I had, I wouldn’t have taken my time with it.  I probably wouldn’t do my nails every other day.  I never had time for that shit, or I didn’t perceive that I had time for that shit.  I probably wouldn’t take large swaths of time to see how far I can travel all over town on my feet simply because “who has time for that”?  A friend of mine said that the other day, that he simply “Didn’t have 2 hours to do anything”, and I was like “You work for yourself?  How do you not have 2 hours to do anything?  That doesn’t even make sense.”  It’s because he perceives that he doesn’t have time.  I know he has time to drink multiple beers in a night.  I know he has time for a movie.  It’s a matter of priorities at that point.

I have had many jobs that I was so exhausted from when I got off that I couldn’t have even thought about putting more hurting on my tootsies than was absolutely necessary.  Many of my jobs have required me on my feet for hours and hours, conversely, it was much easier to keep my weight down during that time- the activities were built right into my daily job.  Easy-peasy.  I get that feeling and absolutely wouldn’t be doing this if that were my life now.  In those days I did a lot of crunches and pushups instead.  These days I think that planks and burpees would probably do me the most good, and I’ve gotten some of those giant rubber band things, so I’ve got to really check those out.

Tomorrow I really should take the day off from walking (or at least walking so much) and let my calves have a rest because they are absolutely so sore, and have been every day for the past 8.  I may do a shorter walk because I had a friend that wanted a walk buddy, and try to do some other types of more body conditioning, resistance exercises.  I’ve turned myfitnesspal back on and integrated it with a walking app (like I used to have my fitbit done).  I do really like that walking and running makes it so I really don’t have to worry so hard about what I eat.

Being a person over 40, especially a woman, is hard.  We require about 1400 calories a day (if you don’t have a physical job), 1200 if you’re losing weight.  Exercising makes it so that you can eat like a “normal person”.  Really, I’m not extravagant, and I am a very healthy eater, but even I can get very depressed very quickly at how little we’re “supposed” to eat.  It’s really hard to get enough protein, calcium, zinc, iron, and potassium at such tiny amounts of food too- in fact, I’ve never been able to do it, no matter how hard I’ve tried.  You simply cannot eat that few calories and get a daily dose of everything that you need to be healthy.  Vitamins are the cheat for that (at least for calcium, iron and zinc).  Protein, you just have to plug away at it and know that the app will tell you that you have eaten too much cholesterol, no matter how careful you are.  I have never gotten enough potassium.  I don’t know what you would have to eat in a day to reach that number, and I’ve tried it all and studied it all, trying to find the perfect balance.

So, this is what I’m going to control and obsess over for a while.  I don’t have alcohol to take up a bunch of garbage calories, so it should be a bit more healthy than I’ve been in the past.  I just have to do something, and now is the time for doing pretty much anything at all (that doesn’t involve people).

To Mask Or Not To Mask

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about tonight.  I proudly did over 6 miles on my run again today.  Dinner was modest, spaghetti, specifically because I wanted some really bad (I find that I’ve been actually craving carbs and protein a lot lately, I think it’s a good sign).  I planted some zinnias and marigolds in an area of the yard that doesn’t currently have anything blooming.  The dog is pleased to report that I took him on the first hour of my walk today- which was truly walking, as the dog isn’t as into this jogging thing as I am.  I wanted to share these pretty flowers that I stumbled upon (which I did in a simple post, as most people do not like to read random blathering).

I did want to share this great article about exercising outdoors during the COVID.

It contains tons of actually scientific advice about the virus and how it spreads (down to the ppm, how many ppm exist per different scenario, etc.), and may put some folks’ minds at ease.  I don’t want people to feel so afraid that they literally won’t even take a neighborhood walk, and I know folks have got to be feeling stir-crazy, so take the time to enjoy this read.

I wanted to write about this because I have seen some controversy on wether or not people should be wearing masks during every activity outdoors, which includes running and biking.  Honestly?  I personally don’t have the lung strength yet to be able to run with a mask outdoors, I would probably black out or pass out, but I’ve found that, at least where we are in Raleigh, it is very easy to avoid other people.  In more densely populated places, I would think that you would want to keep to less populated areas (like neighborhoods), or you might need to wear a mask if social distancing outdoors isn’t possible (like going to a park that is somewhat crowded).  Honestly?  I totally avoided Moore Square yesterday because there were just a lot of people, I knew I wasn’t wearing a mask, and there are so many places to run here in DTR, you just don’t even have to do that to yourself.

“The Risks- Know Them- Avoid Them” is another great article, posted by Abby Nardo yesterday (if you follow her), that may help decrease some of your anxiety.  It definitely helped mine.  The main thing to remember about the virus is that it loves the indoors, especially the indoors with lots of people, and it can travel via air vents in places that aren’t well ventilated.  It also requires a certain amount of time traveling like that to infect people, so definitely keep those store trips short, make your list, be purposeful, and wear your mask.

Some places that I have been, which have been enjoyable and have less risk of exposure are Logan’s in Seaboard Station, and the Farmer’s Market.  The outside plant section at Logan’s is easy to distance in (just have patience with everyone), and you only have to go inside long enough to pay (or grab whatever it is you need and pay).  The Farmer’s Market when it ISN’T 99 cent chicken day, (avoid that if you are virus afraid, it looks like a hot mess to deal with), is outdoors, and if you go during the week, it’s definitely sparsely populated.

I think that even though a lot of folks are refusing to wear masks, they are here to stay for many.  I’m going to continue to wear mine in public.  I have not had anyone “make fun of me” for it, but I also tend not to go places where those kinds of folks go (I have literally not seen the inside of a Wal-mart or a Target in months).  I also think that I might lose my entire shit on someone who did that and end up in jail, sooooooo, here’s hoping no one does???

Last plug, there is a mask selling event at Flex Nightclub on the patio tomorrow (today), Saturday from 12-3 pm.  These masks are SUPER COOL, I saw Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, bears and cub material, all kinds of cool stuff AND there are ones made in larger sizes for bigger heads and beards, so I’m definitely picking up a couple for my big headed, big bearded better half tomorrow.  See you there, maybe?

 

Running Feels Like Adopting Your First Dog

When we reach Saturday, if I can keep it up, I will have done my version of running (the closest I’ve ever gotten to it), for a full week. I will always have to wear a knee brace, that is unavoidable, and I may never run like those running groups you used to see all over town who ran from bar to bar, but I’m plugging away at it.  Today I traveled some of that beautiful greenway space, specifically the Little Rock Trail, and the Walnut Creek Wetlands.  It is easy to forget how beautiful open, wooded space can be when you live in the city.  We are so lucky to have the greenway.

If you haven’t been to the Wetland part yet, I encourage you to.  It is so full of life.  Below is a mother duck and her little babies that I watched for a while.  When I first saw them, they were right under the bridge I was running across, and swam away as I came closer. It was magical.  Bring the kids, you might see something cool.

I have noticed something, and I don’t know if this happens to any of y’all, but do you find yourself starving after a run?  I ate a little something before I left, but I was out for a solid 2 1/2 hours, and when I got home, I was ravenous.  It was like that the day before, and the day before that.  Actually, truth be told, I’ve been that way every time I finish a run.  I peel off clothes, hop in the shower, drink water, and my stomach is grumbling.  I start making dinner, and for the past few days, it’s been “the quickest thing I can make”.  Where I was taking all manner of hours to create masterpiece dinners, now I’m like “pasta sounds great”.  I think that if I continue to do this in the evenings, I’m going to have to prep anything that needs a lot of prep before I leave the house, and have it all ready for cooking when I return, because I return like a starving animal.

Below is what my phone has been charting each day.  One of the disadvantages of the “Health” app in iPhones is that it only works when the phone is in your pocket or hand.  It doesn’t track any steps you take without the phone (unlike a fitbit), but I don’t really have to know about how many steps I trudge through the yard or the house, I’m tracking the running.  Below is a screenshot of the amount of miles I’ve gone per day.

I’m so pleased!  I have always admired all of those running and walking people who I’ve seen my whole life while driving.  I have always thought “Now there’s a person who has their shit together”.  I’ve typically seen it as some sort of mark of adult success.  Anyone who does that shit at 5-7 am is seen in my book as “The Ultimate Adult”.  I still don’t see myself being that person any time soon, because I only see 5 am because I’m still awake at 5 am, however, there are PLENTY of evening runners, and I feel proud to be among them.

It’s funny, the things we perceive as “successful” when we’re young.  There are a lot of things I am today that would have blown 20 year old me’s MIND. Mid-twenties me could have never conceived of owning a house, much less two houses; it was almost too much to hope for, and yet, that shit has happened.  Early 20’s me thought that being the bartender was an ultimate goal, and being the manager of a restaurant was more than I could have ever hoped for, and those things have happened; come and gone in an adult lifetime.  There are tons of things that I’ve done that High School me would have not even believed, but funny story, as a middle aged woman, I still measured “success” by “Do you ever think I could be one of those running people?” It feels all responsible, like talking about “mortgages”, “salaries”, and “the stock market”- shit that you overhear when you’re 10, don’t know what it is, are bored, but somehow you know, those are grown up adult things.

In a sentence, running kind of feels like adopting your first dog.  Now you have something in common with “the normals”, something that shows responsibility and adulthood.  I guess tomorrow I should take the dog running.

 

Week #2: Not Smoking (and why our postal service is important)

I have hit the official 2 week mark of not smoking!  YAY!!! I am still on the patch, which has given my body the opportunity to heal from inhaling smoke, as well as given me the opportunity to create new routines that don’t center around cigarette breaks.  The patch is a very useful tool to have in your “quit smoking” tool box because although you are getting nicotine, you have space and time to re-create your life in a smoke-free environment.  While cold turkey is very effective (purging your system of nicotine in 3 days), I feel like 3 days isn’t long enough to create meaningful new routines and to form new habits.  Three days, even with the patch, still had me in a place where I couldn’t figure out exactly what I should do next.  Change takes time.

I’ve been doing my fast walk/running thing every day, each day going farther into town than the day before.  I’m changing up where I go each day to keep it interesting (and because that is a smart thing to do in general), and I’m really loving it.  I am wearing my knee brace, which has helped tremendously, as typically, I can’t do anything like “jogging” without one.  My right knee is shot.  It just puts me in a better mood all day, gets out nervous energy, and I get to see different things besides my own yard, which is great, but we all get tired of seeing the same thing every day.  I’ve noticed that running makes my appetite better, which in turn, gives me more energy to be able to do more.  It’s an actual “upward spiral” instead of a “downward” one.

One huge reason that I started doing this is to stretch and exercise my lungs.  I gave myself an almost full 2 weeks before I started so that I would be healed enough to be successful, even at a very modest pace.  This is very important because 2 decades of smoking does not go away overnight.  My cells will be replacing themselves for months ahead, and some parts of my lungs (mainly alveoli), may never fully recover, but I can still make it “better than it was”.  I’ve also started back my “50 pushups” thing I used to do, and BOY AM I OUT OF SHAPE!!! I did it Saturday, and I’ve been paying for it in soreness for 2 days.  To think that I used to do 50 pushups and 100 sit ups every single day (which was a decade ago), I am seriously so sore that I couldn’t touch a pushup yesterday or today.  I mean my abs ache, my triceps ache, my entire pec muscles ache all the way across my chest, my back muscles ache… man, if you don’t use it, you damn sure lose it.

I’m hoping to be able to do some sit up/push ups/hip extenders/squats tomorrow.  I know I’m going to have to build up to being able to do those every day as well.  I typically alternate arm and leg days (I did do 100 hip/glute reps yesterday, but didn’t get sore at all, which means that I need to do a higher number of those).  I just really shredded myself on those push ups- you never know how many things you use your abs for, until they are aching, then you realize you use them when you cut vegetables, and drive your car, seriously.  I’ve also lost 3 lbs. in 3 days.  Whenever I start doing some serious cardio, that happens.  It doesn’t go on like that forever, but it definitely jump starts your metabolism.  Since I’ve spent the past 6 months doing literally nothing, I’m sure my body appreciates the jolt.

In other things that give me hope, I was inspired to try out my bead loom today.  I have only used it once, the first day I got it, and then it went into the craft room and I forgot about it while I had my months and months of depression which turned into 2 years.  It was nice to do something creative.  I am still writing snail mail and am looking forward to a couple of letters to write tomorrow- I go all out with it, all sorts of pretty embellishments.  Which reminds me, I got the John Oliver Last Week Tonight stamps.

I’m so in between, I really want to use some of them when I get them, but I also feel like I should keep them as a collectors item, because they’re only available through June 11th.  I should have gotten 2 pages of them.  They’re absolutely hilarious.  Being a snail mail person, I had to have them, and I love the things that John Oliver’s show does.  This one is to specifically support the post office, which is why I bought the last two books of stamps that I did, so I’m all in.  I don’t want our postal service to be privatized.  That would be just one more way to disadvantage people, not to mention, our postal service is part of a broader network- every country has a postal service of some sort.  That’s how anything gets anywhere.  For more about this issue, I got to listen to “How Protecting Voter Safety with Mail-in Ballots Became a Partisan Issue” today.  Please read the transcript to find out why our postal service is in danger of being eradicated.

I got these nicotine patches through the mail.  I got the second set of them through the mail during lock down.  Without the mail, I might not be able to do this life-changing thing that I’m trying to do right now.  Go buy some stamps :).