Am I a “Runner”?

In 2013, I griped when my then-partner wanted us to run the mile to the gym and back for our workouts rather than drive. In 2014, I participated in my first 5k. I brought my dog, who is not built for running, so I’d have an excuse for stopping frequently as he pooped, sniffed, and played in the kiddie pool. In 2015, I agreed to the four-mile leg of a marathon relay team, chosen because it was the shortest leg and largely downhill. Then I signed up for the Bolder Boulder 10k in 2016. I walked parts of it because I had mentally convinced myself I couldn’t jog that whole distance. My pace was 12:12. In 2017, I started going to running clubs regularly and increased my Bolder Boulder pace to 10:27. This year, I ran a 9:23 pace in my first half marathon and then an 8:55 pace in the Bolder Boulder a month later. Continue reading →

Yoga Required

After 15 months of butt-kicking workouts, I’m no longer an Orange Theory member. I loved Orange Theory and give that place half the credit for my performance on my first half marathon earlier this year. The consistent training got me to increase my flat road pace a full mile per hour and then the coaches pushed me to maintain that speed on inclines. So, my membership was well worth it and I’m sure I’ll be back some day.

But I’m now training for my second half marathon and there are running clubs Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday that I can go to. I don’t need the treadmill component of Orange Theory any more. And besides all the epic hiking I’m doing, Boulder is the capital of free summer workouts. I have a free Sunday bootcamp in the park, F45 is holding seven free community classes in July and August, Alchemy 365 is running a bunch of free community classes (in Denver), my friend gave me a $30 referral credit to ClassPass so I did a few barre classes and boxing classes, and of course, there are free yoga classes everywhere. Continue reading →

13.11 on a Mesa in Southern Utah

Mile 1: It’s 6:59 AM. I just peed 10 minutes ago and I really have to go again because despite the cold, I’m only wearing a tank top and capri yoga pants, and I’ve just chugged a cup of coffee to warm up and a bottle of water to combat the dehydrating effect of the coffee, as well as the desiccating salt of the bacon I ate in the rental car on the several thousand foot ascent up the mesa in the pre-sunrise hours of the day. The train of cars kicked up so much dust that my companions wondered if we were in intense fog, even though there is a total lack of humidity in south-western Utah. We all wondered how far we’d roll if our intrepid driver, who, like all of us, got only four hours of restless sleep, messed up and went off the edge. But there’s no time to pee; the judge fired the gun and we’re off.

31416843_10103394996117592_3836212811092983808_n Continue reading →

Feats of Endurance

Big Bend is the least visited of our national parks. In 2016, it saw just 388,290 visitors, compared to the 11,312,786 who went to the most visited, Great Smoky Mountains. This is not a surprise, given its location in an almost-forgotten corner of Texas, an 8.5 hour drive from Dallas, if you speed and don’t stop to eat or gas up. The drive down is a wasteland of oil fields and abandoned towns. But don’t be deterred; the park is worth the effort it takes to get there.

What to do when you get there? You can stay in the lodge and hope to see a javelina. You can cross to Mexico, legally via the Boquillas entrance or illegally by wading across the Rio Grande. But mostly, you go to Big Bend to hike. My first day, I did a four-mile hike in the morning up the Lost Mine trail and a five-mile hike in the afternoon to the Window. The second day I did a 15 mile hike up to Emory Peak, down around the South Rim, and back to the Chisos Basin via the Laguna Meadows trail. The last morning was only a quick two-mile (if that) walk to the end of Santa Elena Canyon and back. I would have loved to spend more time lying on the banks of the Rio Grande, soaking up the sunshine before heading back to the 20-degree Boulder weather, but that 8.5 hour drive lie ahead. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: I Never Thought I Would…

My recent 180 on Boulder has got me thinking about all the other things I’ve done in the last three months that I never thought I would. Being single gives me a lot more time to spend with the girls. In the core group I hang with, five of the six of us terminated our long term relationships between March 2016 and March 2017. And if you expand that core group to the friends of friends who join our outings on a semi-regular basis, 8 of those additional 12 women are single as well. Which means there are plenty of unencumbered ladies to get into trouble with on any given night. (As if anything any of us do can remotely be considered trouble-making. My penchant for cursing loudly when small children are present is probably the worst of it.) And since I’m not trying to balance relationships with friends with a relationship with a life partner anymore, I’m saying yes to more ridiculous things I would have passed on before. In no particular order, I present to you the following:

Pole Dancing

When we walked in the door for our 101 class, the advanced class was just finishing up. They looked like this. During my class, I looked like this. So, one class was enough for me, but, ever the sucker for making sure I get the most for my money, I had purchased a four pack of classes for $45 instead of paying $20 for a single class. What to do? I looked at the schedule for their other offerings and found Pound. Yes, it looks a little hokey from the videos, but it is SO much fun. You sweat a ton and work muscles you didn’t know you had, and the instructor, April Abbott, totally kicks ass. Someone find that woman a studio in Boulder! Continue reading →

Exercise

For 30 years my diet consisted of processed food, junk food, and candy. So much candy. It’s a genetic miracle that my innards didn’t just completely shrivel up and reject life for lack of proper nutrition. And how I stayed a trim 112 pounds that whole time is also a genetic miracle because, the occasional aerobics class aside, the most working out I did was putting quarters into a vending machine. Despite repeated warnings from my elders to the contrary, I definitely thought that I would be a skinny-minny my whole life and not have to worry about it.

Then I turned 30 and the Freshman Fifteen I avoided in undergrad hit me in my first year of graduate school. Now you can say that 15 pounds is not a lot, but everything is relative. That’s a 13.4 percent weight gain and more than enough to make all of my pants burst at the seams. The literally happened to a pair of jeans I had – ripped right up the backside as I bent over to grab another vat of cheese dip from the fridge. I was annoyed and unhappy about the way I looked, but also unwilling to make the changes necessary to go back to being a twig. I was still in denial that I would actually have to try for the first time in my life.

Two years went by and a change in my relationship status provided the impetus to make other changes in my life. Losing the weight proved to be pretty easy. I just cut out all sugar from my diet, and I mean all, had protein for breakfast, salad for lunch, and a healthy serving of vegetables (stay tuned for my V post on April 25) with whatever else I was having for dinner. I amped up my workout routine somewhat as well, mostly by starting running more. I never stepped on a scale and didn’t have any concrete goal in mind other than just looking better. And then one day I realized I was fitting into my old sizes again. Of course, I had long since thrown my old skinny clothes away but that’s OK. Skinny jeans were back in fashion by that point, so I’m sure all of my old clothes just weren’t cool anymore.

Another change in relationship status (I’m sensing a pattern here) and two more years later I had gained the weight back. But here’s the difference. My partner and I work out together several days a week. And on the days we don’t work out together, we make sure that we have each done our separate workout. We hold each other accountable. Six days a week, at least 45 minutes at a time. And we do hard workouts. I used to do primarily cardio, but when we work out together, we do a lot of weight lifting. So even though my weight is the same as it was at my heaviest, I look completely different. You can see it in my face. My face in photos from 2011 is chubby while it’s not at all right now. I have more muscle mass than I’ve ever had, and muscle is heavier than fat. That’s why I’m not concerned with what the scale says or what size my clothes are. All I care about is how I feel and what I see when I look in the mirror. And I feel and look great. I used to have a lot of back pain from a stupid incident in which I jumped off a bridge into a canal to impress a bunch of boys when I was 16. That pain is gone because the muscles in my back are so much stronger now. Exercise has become an addiction, and I like that my appearance is based on more than just the genetic lottery. I have a right to be proud of my body because I work hard for it to be like it is. Sure, it’s not perfect, but Denver bars and restaurants are too amazing to give up. I’ll gladly carry a few extra pounds for weekends full of pork belly and Manhattans. But I’ll also gladly do my penance on the weight bench every day after work during the week.

Curious about what everyone else is writing for the A to Z Blog Challenge? Me too! I’m using a random number generator to select three blogs from my fellow contributors to read each day. Here are today’s discoveries:

All Things Kevyn

Basil and Oil

The High Cost of This Low Living