Be Inspired

Last year, my new year’s resolution was simple: Be Inspired. I didn’t know where it would take me, but my goal was just to start paying attention to things that were inspiring, and follow them.

This led to a whole bunch of inspiring activities in 2012:

  • Met the very talented and inspirational Global Lives Project board members at Board Match
  • Joined an orchestra (this has been on my five-year plan for some time now–and I’m happy to be part of a group that continually inspires me to play better)
  • Traveled to a couple of interesting places (London and Seattle; travel always inspires!)
  • Completed my second half marathon — four years after the first (and rediscovered the inspiration that comes from running in a group of very motivated individuals)
  • Launched a social network (it’s inspiring when I get to work with some of the most creative minds at my job!)
  • Joined the board of Global Lives Project (and now I get to work with people who inspire me on a regular basis!)
  • Re-learned how to swim laps (and have a new goal to swim 1 mile in one day)

I don’t know what this means for 2013 New Year’s resolution(s), but I’m pretty confident it’s a good sign for things to come!

3 pounds, 3 weeks

I’ve always known that I’m a snacker, and that I *generally* eat healthy until I start mindlessly munching on snacks at my desk. I’ve been mindlessly munching for about three years now…and it’s been time to rid myself of that habit for awhile! Now that I am climbing again, I have even more motivation for shedding the pounds (it’s much easier to pull a 10-pound lighter version of myself up the wall).

Therefore, three weeks ago, I rebooted my myfitnesspal.com account and, much to my surprise, it has been working! A pound a week is healthy weight loss, and that’s what I’m doing. It means I’m cutting out a lot of empty calories (i.e., wine) and cutting down on snacks (specifically, anything from Trader Joe’s, chocolate and peanut butter!). It also means I’m being more mindful of what I shove in my mouth when I’m in front of a computer screen. Baby steps.

Alive

Sometimes, you need to do things to remind yourself you are alive. For me, that thing is climbing outdoors, or really, doing anything that involves stepping out of my comfort zone.

Outdoor climbing is not super safe. You will fall and scrape your knee at least once in your tenure as a climber. If you haven’t, then you probably haven’t taken the proper risks involved (or you are climbing below your skill set). It involves technique and thought, two things which are practically given to you on a fake-rock plate at the gym. It involves hanging out in a beautiful place. It involves a healthy dose of adrenaline.

Yesterday, it also involved a long, steep hike to the “underworld,” a cold climbing destination in Castle Rock. I’m so sore today! But I also feel happy to be able to do these things, and grateful for the reminder of what is possible.

Sunset in SF

We’ve had some weird weather lately. Sunday, I spent a good chunk of my afternoon sitting at the beach, trying to reason with myself that I should leave (it was just too warm and beautiful to want to move, but eventually the desire for food got to me!). On Monday and Tuesday, it was 80 degrees. The past few days…very chilly. Right now, it’s 50 degrees. Granted, 50 degrees is not bad. But the 30 degree difference makes you feel as if it’s downright winter. The only consolation? My run/walk yesterday was filled with beauty. I normally prefer mornings, but wanted to try something different. I’m glad I did.

Cheating on the plan…already?

A few days ago, I started the Couch-to-5K training plan. I’m a big fan of it, or at least the concept of it, as it makes running accessible to people who don’t run. And it makes recovery easier! This morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn (which is, actually, pretty easy for me to do, with daylight savings time working in my favor). And I ran. And I walked. This repeated for awhile, until my training app told me to cool down. At that point in time, I was just finishing my favorite mixed-path loop around Golden Gate Park, and I knew I had about a mile-ish left, so I continued the run/walk pattern until I was about five mins from home. Maybe this is cheating, but it just feels normal to run/walk for longer than 30 minutes. Also, I feel great! One of these days, when I’m old and frail (or if I get injured again), I might not be able to run anymore. But until that day comes, I vow not to take it for granted.

C25K — A new beginning

Well, it’s official. I have clearance to use my feet in weight-bearing activities again! Given my few attempts at run/walking have ended in frustration, I’ve decided I’m going to take it easy and go the “couch-to-5K” route.

The concept behind the Couch to 5K plan is pretty simple–you gradually build up the endurance to run by doing a combination of run/walking over a period of 9 weeks. Eventually, you’re able to complete a 5K run. It’s intended for beginning runners, but that’s how running feels to me, after being away from running for awhile.

Sunday, I tested out the waters, and it went surprisingly well. A few things I like about it:

  • Being told what to do. OK, I don’t always like this in general. But in this case, it was encouraging. And it took the thinking out of when to start running/walking.
  • Interval training. Interval training is really great for keeping things interesting. It didn’t really feel like I was running, actually.
  • Easy plan. 30 minutes, three times a week. That seems very manageable.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to start and stop running like this. I might eventually cave and just run for longer than the app tells me to. But I’m convinced this is a great way to start running again.

Walking…It’s just like running

…only slower!

I read online that, in order to check if I’m ready for running again post stress fracture, I need to walk briskly for one straight hour and make sure there is no pain afterwards. I’ve been delaying this because I’ve been unmotivated, thinking that it would be boring.

The actual process of walking was not bad at all! In fact, it was quite enjoyable. I went straight to Golden Gate Park after an evening rain. It was just as I remembered it: the clouds shifted and turned in the sky. The sun peeked through. The ground was a little wet. It smelled like trees. It reminded me of running in the sense that, after getting warmed up, I felt good about continuing. It has a similar meditative-like quality to it in that it’s time I spend just walking, and I can give myself this time for about an hour in the morning.

By the evening, however, my foot was not feeling great. It wasn’t feeling as bad as it felt during the height of my stress fracture, but it was not 100%. Looks like I need to go back to the podiatrist to be cleared after all. In the meantime, I’ll still swim. I just wish I loved swimming just as much as running and climbing. I really do.

…And the winner is…

…not me!

I recently applied to be an ambassador for the 2013 Wipro Marathon. I don’t think I really wanted it, but I wanted to want it. I want to give back to the running community (once I can run again!), and this seemed like a great local outlet for it. It also seemed like a good way to meet other runners. However, let’s face it…I’m a busy person. I don’t really have time for extra extra-curriculars (but I like to think I do).

Maybe instead, I’ll volunteer for events (I can be a pretty good water girl!) and join a running club. And…next year, when I get a grip on my other activities, I’ll reapply.

Swimming Rules

I swim in a community pool during a time of day that is dominated by the retired subculture* of a wealthy northern California suburb. Though I haven’t been swimming for long, I’ve come to realize that swimming is an extremely social activity in this suburb for these folks. There are regulars who know each others’ names and life histories. There is actual locker-room gossip. There are rules, some unspoken.

Here’s one of the rules that’s spoken:

Rule #1: BEFORE ENTERING ANY LANE ALERT ALL PERSONS ALREADY SWIMMING.

TRY TO FIND A LANE THAT FITS YOUR SPEED

If people pass you, move to a slower lane.
If you pass people, move to a faster lane.
If you are a jogger or walker, use the area scheduled for this activity.
The lifeguard will assist in finding the best lane for you.
The lifeguard will move swimmers into appropriate lanes, when necessary.
Do not assume you can use the same lane every visit.

Note that “the lifeguard” is in charge of dictating who is in what lane, not “the swimmers.”

Enter…Gloved Woman (known for her trademark backstroke, accent, and dark gloves). Gloved Woman (GW) practically lives at the pool between 6-9am every M-W-F. She takes frequent breaks to gossip about the other swimmers to the lifeguard, in a clear attempt to sway him. The lifeguard humors her. Last Wednesday, I was swimming in the slow lane and taking frequent breaks. During one of my breaks, GW (who was taking a gossip break) hollered over to another prospective swimmer:

“She’s leaving! You can split the lane with me.”

Me: “No, I’m taking a break.”

GW: “Oh, my mistake.”

GW then proceeded to glare at me.

Me: “I’m new to swimming.”

GW: “No you’re not. I’ve seen you here before.”

GW then tossed her hair back (or she would have, had she not been wearing a swim cap), and proceeded to continue swimming. On my next break, I overheard her talking to the lifeguard about how she tried to let that other poor swimmer in with us, but I wouldn’t allow it.

20 minutes later, I was ready to get out, and saw another woman approaching the lane.

Me: “It’s yours.”

GW overheard me and quickly swam up to the top of the lane.

GW: “Good.” Directing the new swimmer to my lane, she said: “Now, you take this side of the lane.”

The next time I went swimming, GW was thankfully in the “Medium” lane. I doubt this will be my last encounter with her, however.

*Yes, I said “subculture.” I have my anthropology prof from my D.C. internship to thank for that! It implies exclusivity.

Rediscovery

I am a creature of habit. When I form a habit, it’s really hard for me to break it, be it getting up at the crack of dawn to run…or eating a certain sweet something at 3pm. I’m obviously not a slave to habit, otherwise I would never have moved in my life, nor would I have picked up new hobbies at any given point in time. But my habits ground me. And I guess, when you’ve moved four times in four years, you need something to ground you.

Running was not a habit I wanted to give up, for any period of time. But I had to push it off to the side for my poor little injured second metatarsal. Not only have I pushed aside running, I put a hold on my climbing gym membership (which, incidentally, was how I spent 2-3 evenings a week, for upwards of 4 hours each evening). It’s now been 3 weeks since my podiatrist’s stress fracture semi-diagnosis, and finally…I’ve broken the habits I so adored. In their place, I have new habits, and even though it was painful to give up the old habits, I’m starting to like the new ones.

Take swimming, for instance. I know how to swim, I enjoy it, and I recognize it is such a good workout. I was resistant to get back in the swimming game at first because it meant I’d have to learn where the pools were, what their schedule was, and how to make it there on time. It’s taken me three weeks, but I’ve finally figured it out, and it’s not that hard to make it to where I need to be. Moving through the water yesterday morning, I realized I’m finally getting the hang of things. I can go for two laps without stopping instead of one. I know that I have a lot to work on with swimming to get to the point where I could go continuously for 30 minutes or so, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling completely relaxed and fundamentally happy after a session. I don’t know if this is because I like swimming or if it is because it is the best exercise available for me right now…but I’ll take it.

I may be a habit-forming person, but habit breaking is just as much fun. I need to remember this when I get stuck in my ways. Life is just too short to schedule in so much and leave no room for discovering (or rediscovering) new things.