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Nia dance

Did another 5k – But am I a Runner?

IMG_0625I did my 3rd 5k race today. I was really nervous about it since I have not been running very much at all – maybe a 20 minute run per week -and I had not trained for it. But I was curious to know how the rest of my exercise would prepare me – does general fitness help? And I was curious about how my running time would stand up to the previous two runs.

There were all sorts of impediments that I was sort of hoping would make us decide to NOT do the run. I realized that the major bridge between where I live and the run took place, was closed all weekend for construction. But we ended up going around, and taking two other bridges, and we actually got there in about half an hour.

We got there so early we went to a Starbucks nearby (there are ALWAYS Starbucks nearby, aren’t there?) and I had my 2nd cup of coffee for the morning (probably not wise). We went over to the race course about twenty minutes ahead of time, registered and got little tags to pin to our shirts. This was definitely a low-budget, low-tech, volunteer affair, unlike the other races. Which meant that most of the people participating were more serious runners.

There were only a few minutes to “warm up” and I was sort of kicking myself, because the point of getting there super early was to WARM UP, not to sit and drink coffee at Starbucks. Duh! There was no bell or gun or anything at the Start, just a guy yelling, “Ready…. set… GO!” We went. Most of the crowd (a few hundred people?) took off really, really fast. M and I had sworn to each other that we would try and go at a comfortable pace, and not get all worked up about trying to keep up with folks. This was hard as most people just kept passing and passing us.

For the first mile or so, my feet hurt. My feet haven’t hurt while exercising in MONTHS. But they hurt. Plus I knew I was breathing harder than usual. M kept saying, “It’s going to get easier.” Probably the middle mile was the easiest. My foot pain eased up and we were in sort of a rhythm. It was super windy. We were going against the wind and it felt like a huge hand was just pushing us way back. The good part was that it was right along the water and the Golden Gate Bridge was right there and it looked quite pretty. (not that I looked at it much)

After a while, we started seeing the front runners coming towards us. The route had a turnaround point and those out in front were sailing past. They looked pretty awesome and cool and I felt inspired seeing them. Then I kept wondering, when do WE get to turn around? It took a lot longer to get to that point than I would have liked.

The last mile was both better and worse. The prospect of finishing made me happy, but I think we were both struggling a bit and wondering if it was going to happen. Then the finish line was in sight. We sprinted at the end, so we could finish with a time of 36 minutes. We did! But then I felt instantly nauseated. I had to walk around. I felt pretty awful.

After we drove home and I dropped M off, I noticed that I was only about a mile from my Sunday morning Nia class, and it was starting in 15 minutes. Part of me said, “That’s crazy” and part of me felt like I really, really needed it. I think the run had stressed me. I felt pretty anxious during most of it, asking constantly about the time and trying to figure out if I was going to survive. I was sure I was filled with adrenaline and stress hormones. I felt like I needed the calm and grounding of Nia, even if it was another workout. So I went.

It was lovely, and very energizing. I felt like the run had really warmed me up, plus the room was super hot. I was really happy to be in there. The teacher was fantastic (again).  I was glad I had done it. After the class, I decided to go check out the mega amazing super organic million-times-better-than-Whole-Foods new grocery store.

And it was in there that I bonked. Suddenly I was pushing my cart like a 100 year old person, feeling faint, nauseated, overwhelmed. None of the amazing food looked good to me, even though I hadn’t eaten anything since my PB-on-whole-wheat-English-muffin at 6:30am. (MISTAKE) But I pushed it along for an hour, came home, brought the groceries into the kitchen, feeling worse and worse and worse, then promptly fell into bed and did not move except to moan for the rest of the day (I am still in bed).

I think I got super dehydrated. I also did not do myself any favors by not eating, especially before the Nia class. But I had been feeling so upset-stomachy that food did not appeal. So I pretty much messed myself up today. Oh well. I learned. And I recovered by having some super salty chicken soup that my nice husband brought to me.

But I’m feeling ambivalent about running now. The good news is:

  1. I finished.
  2. I finished with the same time as my last race.
  3. 36 minutes for 3.1 miles is not amazing, but it is also not too shabby. For a 50 yr old who does not run a lot.
  4. It made me feel happy and accomplished, and I got another little ribbon to add to my collection.

The bad news is:

  1. I was really pretty anxious during the whole run.
  2. I was dumb and did not hydrate or eat enough.
  3. I basically was useless the entire second half of the day. I mean, I felt TERRIBLE.
  4. I do not want to run all the time, which is probably necessary for doing better during races than I did today.

The thing is, I actually like running when I am running to run, but not in races. I get too caught up in keeping up with people. Meanwhile, today, an 80 year old limping guy passed us. A woman who probably weighs 150 more than me passed us. A ton of little kids passed us, including a few who fell down and were crying, but got up and still beat us.

We ARE the running Penguins, that’s for sure. Should we just run for the fun of it when we want to, as far as we want to, or should we (or mainly I) keep doing races?

Exercise as Pleasure, Not Punishment

3388196563_528db7559eIt was not too long ago – less than a year – that I viewed exercise (or “activity” as WW likes to euphemistically call it) as painful, something to be dreaded and endured. Even though I was going to a personal trainer twice a week, I rarely did anything on the other days. And I often could barely get through my workouts. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I threw up (I am not kidding). Sometimes I acted like a total whiney wimp so my trainer would have mercy on me and go easy on my poor pathetic self. It wasn’t pretty. I’d also use exercise as a tool to flog myself when I ate too much. Again, NOT pretty.

But things changed when January 2009 and this blog and my diabetes diagnosis rolled around. I knew that I was going to have to step it up or my body and health were in for big trouble. So I upped the trainer to 3x a week, and started myself on the Couch-to-5k running program. It was not so easy at first, but eventually my 60 second runs turned into two minute runs, then three and five and fifteen minutes. Around that time I actually began LOOKING FORWARD to working out. Once I began working out 5-6 times a week, I began feeling that endorphin rush that I had believed was a mythical state of being. I started feeling happier and more energetic. I stopped wanting to take naps every single day.

For many months, I felt like the longer, the harder, the better. I would go to the gym and go at the elliptical like a mad woman. All this was good. I got a lot stronger. I lost weight. All good!

But I started thinking, how the heck am I going to keep this up when I am sixty years old? Seventy? The idea of it made me feel kind of nervous and worried.

Not long ago, a friend of mine brought me to a Nia class for the first time. It was really one of the most unusual exercise experiences I have ever had. I was not sure what to make of it. I sort of mocked it but I had to admit that it made me feel good, and after that class, I really wanted to do it again (that’s always a good sign!). So yesterday I went to my second class. It was even better than the first one. I enjoyed it so much. The teacher had fabulous dimples (I am a complete sucker for dimples) and kept using words like “juicy” and “gooey” and “yummy.” She was just like that – yummy! and really happy. At the end of the class she put on this song called “Dream” and she was singing along with it really loudly and joyfully, just like you sing in the car with the windows rolled up. I mean, she really belted it out and it was so great! I did not have the guts to belt it out along with her, but it was great to hear.

Today I went to another class, at another place. This teacher was super graceful, elegant and willowy and just beautiful to watch. (that’s her in the photo above!!) She was so cool. The other two Nia classes I went to both made me want to laugh out loud (I did, actually) but today’s class had me almost crying in parts. I got really emotional and lump-in-throat as we were moving around. But in a good way.

If you look at the Nia website, one of the testimonials has this woman saying she used to pump iron and such, but now all she does is Nia and she is in super amazing shape. And I had to think, WOW, could you really be in such awesome shape from something that is so much FUN? It does not seem possible. And this is something that seventy year olds can totally do. And thirty year olds.

But I also did not think it was possible to lose weight while eating yummy foods like cheese, brownies, birthday cake and Prosecco. And here I am, doing just that.

It’s made me rethink all the ideas I had about “dieting” and “exercise.” Maybe it doesn’t have to be torture. Maybe the secret is that it CAN’T be torture.  🙂

Woo Woo Workout! & my Very Good Day

One of my best buddies invited me to join her at a Nia class today. She and I only live 17 miles apart, but we are separated by a large body of water and a big bridge, which daunts us both from seeing each other more often. (she is also my What Not To Wear shopping and fashion expert!) I jumped at the chance to exercise with her! I was a little trepidatious because I’d watched some of the Nia videos, and it looked like some level of … er… coordination was involved. It was in the big gymnasium of her YMCA – about 30-4o people all spread out, and one very pregnant instructor with a microphone strapped to her head.  We were in bare feet, which felt really nice. I don’t usually exercise in bare feet.

The class started out with this very Cirque-du-Soleil-ish music (which I loved). Lots of swaying, head rolling, etc. Evolved into some kind of free-for-all ecstatic dance or mad hippie dance combo in which people glided (glid?) around the room, waving arms, rotating pelvises etc. Gyrations and undulations. I vacillated between wanting to laugh my head off, and getting really into it. It helped to close my eyes and groove. But there were also very specific choreographed moves involved as well. There would be a few minutes of scripted stuff, which I had to concentrate hard on, and then a few minutes of let it all hang, people! Bounce around in ecstasy!  The Nia people say that this activity is all about

“tapping into the mental, spiritual and emotional aspects of being, as… the physical. It aims to make movement more conscious, to release blocked energy, to enable participants to connect to a greater whole and learn to be guided by the pleasure principle: if it feels good, do it.”

It did feel good. On one level it was goofy as heck, but it still felt good. I especially liked what they call “Floorplay” (which I think MizFit would appreciate) as opposed to “floorwork.” We were encouraged to become embryos or protozoa or platypuses or whatever we wanted. It reminded me of my favorite scene in Harriet the Spy when her dance teacher casts her as an onion, and she rolls around on the floor really feeling it.

After the Nia class, I was definitely energized. Not dripping sweat, but with a nice sweaty layer. My friend wanted me to check out these high-tech stationery bikes that have an interactive video monitor attached. SO hilarious and high-tech and cool! I got on the bike and chose the Redwood Forest course, and found myself pedaling through these beautiful redwood forests! You have to steer so you don’t crash into a tree, and there are even hills that you really feel.  I think I rode about 5 miles at “level 12” (whatever that is) and worked up a HUGE river of sweat. BIG FUN!

Then we had a very nice healthy lunch at the mall food court. I got gazpacho (cold soup was excellent because I was still superoverheated) and a hummus wrap. Then we strolled into the Gap. Remember that Gap commercial from the 70s? “Fall into the GAP.” I fell in, alright. I was not intending to either try OR buy anything but ended up having a mini-spree which I am now calling my birthday present from my dear husband.

I have been dying for a pair of “boyfriend jeans” (except, NO, I do not wear them with 5″ heels! LOL!) every since I saw them on J. Jill website (and Gap’s are cheaper! Way!). I am here to say – people, (no, WOMEN) if you want an ego boost the size of Montana, run right over to the Gap and try on some BOYFRIEND JEANS. They are cute, floppy, comfortable as all heck, and their sizes are INSANE.  Let me just say that I kept trying on smaller and smaller sizes until I was at size 4 (FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR FOUR) and even they were kind of on the loose side. The saleslady suggested I try a TWO at which point I almost passed out from ecstasy and slid down to the floor to relive my Nia protoplasm dance. But alas, they had no size 2 BF jeans, so I took the 4s and hugged them to my (still-sweaty) bosom. HAPPY TIMES in Gap!

I also got, at the prodding of my fashionista friend, some wild colored clothing (ie: bright blue, dark plum, orangey red and mustard yellow-green.) As most people know, my favorite colors for clothing are: black and brown. Or orange and green but I only wear those clothes when I’m cheering for my kids’ rowing team. And it was all on some “Tuesday only” 40% off sale so I got a big bag o clothes for what normally would be like ONE Eileen Fisher sweater.

It was a good good good day!

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