20 books and 20 lbs (week 19): EHRMAGERD

I was really hoping that giving myself a challenge like this – losing 20lbs and reading 20 books in one year – would somehow force me into the discipline of posting weekly about my progress. AND THEN I HIT A WALL SHAPED LIKE SALMAN RUSHDIE.

Holy cow.

This. Book. Is. Slow.

I’m speaking of course, of “Midnight’s Children”, Rushdie’s 1981 novel about the life and times of some of the children born simultaneous with the creation of India as an independent state. I had originally reached for “The Satanic Verses” (which I’d bought when it first came out and almost immediately put down because I had trouble getting into it). DH deflected me to “Midnight’s Children” because he’d heard it was an easier read than “Verses” and he had enjoyed “Midnight’s Children” when he read it. He failed to mention that it was on his SECOND attempt to read it that it stuck. Sigh.

I’m finally past the 2/3 mark in the roughly 500pg novel, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Expect that this will not be a positive mark in my review, when I finally FINISH THIS BOOK and can move onto book #5 for the year. (Which I really need to do, lest I just bonk on this part of the challenge.)

As far as the attempts to lose weight go, I’ve spent the last few weeks trading up/down 1-2lbs…or sometimes even just a few oz. I haven’t done anything dramatic to my diet, and trying to get more walking time in to train for my Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk in September has been only semi-successful. Work commitments for me and/or DH have done a good job of derailing a lot of our best shots at training time.

We’re now 1/3 of the way through the year and I’ve dropped a little more than 1/3 of my goal – I’m down about 7lbs right now. Of course, I still feel like I’ve plateaued, so I have to do more there.

The one area where things really have been coming together nicely is with my #plankaday. As of yesterday, I had 3 consecutive weeks of #plankaday for at least 2min! I consider that a nice victory, although the next step beyond this is to aim for 2:30. Ouch. I can feel the ab burn even before I get down to my forearms!

So, in summation, life has been busy, but when I’m not at work or doing stuff with the family, I’m hip-deep slogging through “Midnight’s Children”. I will finish this book soon (before it finishes ME), and then I’ll grab book #5. With any luck, I’ll even manage to drop another pound or two and find my way off this plateau (in a positive direction, of course!).

Oh, Boston you’re my home (now)

It’s hard to put into words just what today meant to me. I’m not a native. I’m a transplant from Washington, DC, and I didn’t even marry a Bostonian – I married a native of New Hampshire. But, in many ways, I’ve become a Bostonian over the last 16 years that I’ve lived here, and it’s home to me as much as DC is home. (For a native Washingtonian, that’s saying something BIG.)

The first April after I moved to the Boston area, I worked in Copley Square and didn’t quite get why I got Patriots Day off (Patriots Day – what’s that?!) until I realized that my office was at the finish line and there was no earthly way employees could get to work en masse on the Commonwealth-wide holiday. So, I did what any other local would do: went drinking with friends at a nearby pub and then took a break to stand in front of the Hynes Convention Center cheering on the runners who made their way down the homestretch of Boylston Street headed for the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

I quickly caught on to how it works: even if you don’t know someone running, you root for everybody. You latch onto something about the runners and you give them the gas to make it those extra few blocks until they can finally drop from exhaustion. You clap and cheer – screaming at the top of your lungs. You see someone flying by you wearing shorts made to look like their country’s flag and you shout out a personalized cheer (“Ciao, Italia!” got a huge grin from one runner). You read their shirts that tell you their names and you call them out – verbal juice for these amazing individuals.

You see, while the media covers the winners of the races – the people who claim the medals – they completely miss the other winners. Everybody who runs the race is a winner, as are all of the charities they run for. Once you get outside the small “elite” pack of runners, the overwhelming majority of bib-holders are running for a charity. These are usually medically-related, like Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the fundraising minimums are stiff – typically in the low-to-mid four figures. These runners have been marathoning long before they got into their running training, holding fundraising dinners, raffles, auctions and whatever else it takes to make it happen.

And then came the year when I decided to do my first marathon. I knew I couldn’t run it because my knees would never make it, so instead I walked it. I did it under the auspices of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk because I would get to walk the same hallowed course that the April runners get to tread. I would go where they went and do what they did (albeit in a far longer stretch of time). The first year, I was in tears coming down Boylston into Copley because I didn’t know if I could finish…but I had to. The second year, I was exhilarated because I came into the finish line STRONG, beating my personal demons back. This third year…I will be somber. And sad. But I will finish, because that’s what you do.

When I was first contacted by a frantic friend, texting me concerned that I was in or near the city, I had no idea what was going on. I was in meeting starting right around when the explosions occurred, 50ish-mi south in Providence, RI, and I didn’t have a clue of what was happening in my adopted hometown. Once I heard, I went numb. Then I panicked – wondering where my friends were. I had frequent twitter correspondence friends at the finish line, like Elizabeth Comeau from Boston.com and Adam 12 from RadioBDC. I had friends of many years near the finish line, who were celebrating the Red Sox win with their traditional Marathon viewing. And I was scared for all of them.

As I checked Twitter, people started to give check-ins and tweet back messages that they were okay, since the cell system was so overwhelmed that Twitter was working where SMS was failing. It would be hours before dh would hear that the members of his triathlon club from our local Y were all okay – painful hours of wondering and waiting.

I can’t describe adequately how I feel right now. I’m numb. I’m sad. I’m horrified. I’m angry. I’m devastated. I’m so filled with hatred for whoever did this. I’m so proud of the City of Boston and everyone who claims a piece of it tonight. You don’t have to be FROM Boston to get why it’s a big deal, or why Patriots Day should be important to all Americans, or why the Boston Marathon is so…INCREDIBLE. So I’ll just leave it at this:

I will walk my 26.2 in September, treading in the same footsteps as those who ran today, and I will remember how lucky I am that I can do that. I will remember how lucky I am that all my friends escaped this without so much as a scratch. I will grieve for those who are lost and I will send my wishes into the stars that those who are injured are able to heal quickly. And I will continue to marvel at the awesomeness that is Boston and feel so lucky to be a part of it.

My 2nd walking marathon (part 4)

{In the prior parts of this series, I talked about selecting a walk & gearing up, training & fundraising, and actually DOING the walk. This last post focuses on the recovery, which was an area where I had difficulty my first year. As with the other posts, when you think about doing a walk like this – make sure you talk to a doctor and maybe someone who does personal training. They can give you far more tips than I can as to what’s appropriate for YOU. I can only comment on my experience and I don’t claim to have any medical training, professional certification, etc.}

Last year, when I finished the walk, I was tired and in massive amounts of pain. When we got back to the house after the Walk, my temperature dropped and I was then coping with pain and something that felt much like the worst chills I’d ever had in my life. The next few days I was sore – intensely sore – but after a week I was back to normal.

This year was COMPLETELY different.

For starters, I had my fuzzy slippers and a zip hoodie sweatshirt waiting for me at the car. I ditched my shoes and socks in the back seat and switched to the slippers, then I put on the hoodie and zipped it up. The whole point of this was to keep my body warm. Sure enough, I had stretched for a bit after the walk was over, but that’s not enough to cool your body down enough to resist the fact that it’s just done SO MUCH WORK for SO LONG. So, the extra heat from the slippers and hoodie kept my body at a stable enough temperature that the transition from Walk to home was an easy one.

When we got home, the kids were waiting eagerly for us and we managed to have dinner in tow (we’d called our local pizza joint on the ride home), so that made life a lot easier. I took some more ibuprofen, since I was starting to stiffen up a bit, and I took a lukewarm shower so I could wash off all the salt and sweat without setting my muscles off. Getting the kids to bed was easier than expected, and we all managed to sleep through the night this time – no nocturnal freak-outs from either child.

The next day, both dh & I pushed fluids and kept the protein going, and we both kept moving. Even when we were a little stiff or sore, the idea was not to just spend the entire day on the couch. Two days after the walk, my quads hurt, but that was to be expected. Typically, it’s not the day after a workout that gets you; it’s the day AFTER the day after a workout that has the peak pain. Even so, somehow, my body was in a better state for this Walk than it had been the year before, and I felt like I could go up and down stairs, walk around and generally be in less pain than I had been in the recovery period last year.

Next year, I think the plan will be much the same – have warm gear to change into at the car before the drive home, push ibuprofen as needed and don’t stop moving for an entire day. While I took a few days off from actual exercising, that doesn’t mean I didn’t get moving again quickly. Within a couple of days, I was doing strolls at lunchtime with co-workers, and I think that definitely helped me recover. I’m still amazed at how well everything went before, during and after the Walk. Honestly, all the planning in the world couldn’t have made it go any better.

And so I can close the book on the 2012 Walk and plan for 2013. Who’s with me?