When Expectations and Reality Clash (A Review of Sorts)

“Kitty! You’re back! Where have you been?”

Oh, just doing a Forrest Gump and running across the country. Except without the running. Or the “across the country”… I’ve actually just been going about my normal life with a few internet-related technical difficulties.

I did run, though.

This past weekend was The Glo Run*, which describes itself as a “sensory overload” and “a course powered with energized colors and effects jumping to music.”

 

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The description is so wildly inaccurate, they may want to be careful about getting some false advertising charges brought against them.

Contrary to the description (and any expectations you might have from the name of the race), The Glo Run is actually 3.1 miles of near total-darkness. The only light comes from the glowing necklaces and bracelets that are handed out with the race packet. In the case of my city, it was also run on an incredibly narrow gravel track. If you’re unfamiliar with this sort of thing, this means that, because there are thousands of runners in a confined space that’s covered in dust, you’re basically running through a giant dust cloud. It’s dark, so you can’t see where you’re going, and watching the disembodied glowing jewelry bobbing up and down in front of you is disorienting at best, nauseating at worst. Alone, that might have been tolerable, but the paths wound between large, stagnant ponds, with no barrier around them. With no light, the only way to even know there was water was from the smell. Perhaps that was the “sensory overload” they referred to?

There were three stations set up as “energy worlds” that were essentially tents or inflatable arches lit with blacklight. One of them had a DJ, the other two had boomboxes. Everyone stopped to take pictures, making for a nice, claustrophobic effect. This is especially true at the final “energy station”, where we had the added bonus of a fog machine on the highest setting. Yes, inside the closed-up tent. I’ll avoid talking about the DJ too much, because hey, maybe he was told to play nothing but bubblegum pop and 90’s hip hop.

The event was poorly organized, which was surprising and disappointing, as it was put on by my favorite running company. Packet pickup was a nightmare, with only a single pickup point, 40 minutes away from the location of the race. Three computers manned by surly, unfriendly staff, and a line that stretched almost the entire length of the strip mall added up to about an hour and a half wait.

The race was held in the middle of the largest park in the city, with no signs or volunteers to direct the parking or to lead you to the event. We got lucky and ended up in the lot directly by the start, so we could see the porta-potties and figured out where the race was.

The course, as mentioned, was on narrow paths rather than on the streets, despite the huge turnout. The paths went across several roads, none of which were blocked to traffic. And the end of the race actually went off the path completely, through a tent, and then… nothing. No finish line, just walk out of the tent, and wander off somewhere.

On the plus side, I did run part of it. Once we got to the total darkness, I had to slow to a walk due to lack of visibility. I also finished fairly quickly just so I could be done and go home. I guess that’s good.

The one good thing I can say about it is that, as always, the people of St. Louis were awesome and fun, and managed to salvage at least part of the evening with interesting chats and a lot of energy. I’ll keep doing races for that, but The Glo Run is definitely crossed off next year’s list.

 

*Not to be confused with The Glow Run 5K or the Electric Run, which are in no way affiliated.

A Walk In The Park

If you’re familiar with the online weight loss community at all, then you know about NSV’s, or Non Scale Victories. These are the things that remind us that we’re making progress, even when the numbers on the scale don’t show it. This is important because, even though some have a goal of losing weight, the overall goal is generally to be healthier, and NSV’s reflect the changes that have occurred in our lives as a result of our work.

I had a lovely little NSV this weekend. I had to take my car to the shop, about half a mile away. The trip there is all downhill, which means coming back is all uphill. A year ago, I would have needed to call a cab or get a friend to pick me up. Six months ago, I could have managed to walk home, but I’d have been struggling to get home in less than half an hour and would have needed to stop and rest a couple of times. Now? I made the walk back in less than ten minutes, sprinted up the steepest part of the route, and then, just so being up early wasn’t wasted, I did another half mile around the neighborhood. And the best part is that the reason I stopped was because I’d only had an hour of sleep and wanted to try to grab a bit more before work, otherwise I could easily have done another mile or two.

This is why I do this. It’s nice to lose weight, look better, fit into smaller sizes, and so on. It’s even better to be able to do the things I couldn’t do before. While a half mile in ten minutes might not be very fast, it’s a lot faster than nowhere at all for years.

Does Coffee Count As Hydration?

I’m not a morning person.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I do just fine with mornings, as long as I’m approaching them from the other side. Mornings are late nights. It’s more accurate to say I’m not a “functional-when-I-first-wake-up person.” As such, I’m in awe of runners (and other athletic types) who get up early and get their workout in at the beginning of the day. I have to cling to the wall just to stop everything spinning as I shuffle from room to room, cursing the daylight. But I figured I’d give it a try today. I set my alarm for an hour earlier than my usual time, and managed to get out of bed after hitting snooze only three times. Stumbled into the living room, sat down at the computer, and seriously contemplated just going back to bed. Then I saw this posted on Facebook:

weakdays

I thought about that for a moment, and contemplated the engraving on my ID bracelet:

I Choose To Be Stronger Than My Excuses

And I realized that if I just sat there when I was physically capable of getting up, getting my shoes on, and heading out the door, then I was weak. I accept a lot of my faults, but weakness isn’t one of them.

I got dressed, laced my shoes up, and stumbled out the door. I faltered and ached and wanted to just lie down in the park’s grass and sleep, but I kept going. My route is through a park, with the midway point at a small, man-made lake with a fountain and ducks.

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Yep. Totally worth it.

Begin At The Beginning

In trying to become a runner, I’m using The Starting Line as a guide. After a couple of months, I’m still somewhere between steps 1 and 2. And that’s okay.

Whether it’s this plan, one you get from a friend, or one from a personal trainer, it’s important to remember that these are guides. Our bodies are all unique, and it’s up to us to know our true limitations, and not what we either want them to be, or what we convince ourselves that they are.

At the beginning of the year, I’d have told you my limitation was pretty much a trip to the grocery store. By the time I walked all the way around the store and then carried the groceries up to the second floor, I was too exhausted to do anything else for the rest of the day. Or, you know, week. I know now that this was a false limitation. I felt tired, therefore that must be all that I can do. I know now that a little bit more each day beyond what I think I can do is what helps me improve. (For what it’s worth, I’ve improved to the point where I admit that I giggled a little when my husband complained about walking “all the way back” to the other side of the store for something, and offered to go get it for him. Before, I had him fetching things for me all the time.)

I’ve also learned that there are limits, and my body will tell me when I hit them. I know, for example, that if I try to do a mile when I have a severe sinus infection, I will pass out. But my mind says, “Skip the workout completely, you’re too sick.” My body knows that’s a false limitation. I can’t do a mile, but I can do a half mile, or lift, or cycle so that I’m already sitting down if I get dizzy. I can work out at home so that if I do feel faint, I can stop and rest without being in anyone’s way (except the cats, but I’m always in their way).

One of the cats, looking reproachfully at me because I'm in his way.

Cheese looking at me reproachfully because I’m in his way.

One of my favorite quotes is from Richard Bach’s Illusions:

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.

There are enough other people arguing for your limitations already, enough people telling you that you can’t or you’re not good enough or you won’t make it. There are enough other people telling you that you’re not doing enough, that you need to push yourself harder. You can ignore all of that. It’s harder to ignore it when you’re saying it to yourself. Just remind yourself that your limitations are exactly that: YOURS. Only you know what you’re truly capable of, and only you can decide what you’re going to be capable of  a month from now, or a year from now, or five years from now. And if your pace is a little slower than some, so what? It’s your pace, and at least you’re going somewhere.

Anticipation

Sunday was the Zombie Run. Monday, I worked out at home. Tuesday and Thursday I was at the gym, and last night I did laps after work.

For someone who’s been slacking a bit, four workouts in a week is a lot. I plan to get more in this week.

 

I also have an appointment with my doctor on Wednesday.

 

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I’m sure these two things are totally unrelated. Nothing at all to do with the fact that I weighed in at 219 last time I was there. I mean, what? Trying to drop a couple of extra pounds before my “official” weigh-in? Nah. (Though, if it matches what my scale says at home, I’m totally taking a picture.)

The (Not-So) Quick and the (Un)dead

If you pay attention to the upcoming events over on the right-hand side, then you already know that The Zombie Run took place in St. Louis this past weekend.

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I chose to participate as a zombie this year. In doing so, I learned a few things, which I will share with you, in the event that you ever decide to take place in a zombie apocalypse on the side of the undead.

  1. Make sure you have all of the supplies that you’re going to need, including inhaler and sunblock.
  2. Being a zombie is fun, but it’s most fun when you put a lot of work into it. It’s also, in many ways, more physically demanding than actually running the 5K. And you are more likely to get injured, as you contort your body into bizarre zombie poses and lurch around in a way that the human body isn’t really intended to move.
  3. Makeup that’s been sitting in the sun for hours adds quite a lot to the “undead” experience, in that it smells a lot like something died.
  4. I feel the need to repeat the necessity of sunblock.
  5. Don’t wear clothes that you can’t bear to part with. The “blood” should wash out, but there’s no guarantee. (Or you could just wear them and look all bloody, which can be sort of cool under the right circumstances.)
  6. Be kind to the youngest runners. This is supposed to be fun for them, not a horrible experience that they never want to repeat. (And if a little zombie hunter shoots you with a water gun, fall down.)
  7. Hydrate! Unlike the runners, you’re not getting water stops, and you don’t just finish and head off to the party. You’re there for the entire race. And growling and roaring without water is just dangerous.
  8. Did I mention sunblock? Because seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Especially if your makeup artist decides to go with the “dark, rotting flesh” look.
  9. Don’t attack the runners. Really, just don’t. It’s rude, dangerous, and completely against the rules, and ruins the event for a lot of people, as you end up with cranky runners further down the line.
  10. It’s not often that you get to dress up in a scary costume and leap out behind trees to chase people down a road (well, I mean, I guess it could happen often, but I’m pretty sure you’d end up with restraining orders against you). Enjoy it, play it up, and have fun!

Next year, the zombies better be at the top of their game, because they’ll be contending with Kitty as a runner!

When Reasonable Eating Becomes a Habit

Something that I find kind of interesting… sometimes (especially on my days off), I’m tempted to declare a “free day” because I either just kind of graze all day, or I eat whatever happens to be in the house, rather than going out and getting something healthy. But I go ahead and log the calories, and find that I’m nearly always under goal. Even if I go over, it’s usually by less than 50 calories.

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Yes, I ate Hershey’s miniatures. Three of them, to be exact, which isn’t bad when you consider that a “serving” is five pieces. They weren’t even dark chocolate (the healthier option). There was a time that I would have eaten the entire bag on my day off. Now, it wouldn’t even occur to me to do so, not because it’s “wrong”, but because it’s just not a thing I do anymore. I also ate a Totino’s Mexican Pizza. And a salad. And another salad, because the first one was so tasty, I wanted another a few hours later.

It makes me feel good to know that my habits are changing. It makes it that much easier to believe that I’ll reach my goals.