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May 20, 2005

As long as we keep our stride, I believe we'll be fine

I may never go back to the gym!

No, I haven't given up because of the shin splints. I am babying my legs a little bit, though; I skipped the last hour of dance classes last night, and I haven't run in a couple of days. Instead, I've been walking a lot. In Prospect Park. Wow!

Yesterday was perfect.

I put on my running gear, had a look in the mirror, and thought, "Someone who hadn't seen me since I took up running would walk right past me on the street and never recognize me!" I looked like any amateur athlete you see in the park: reasonably fit but not strikingly so, wearing a snug black tank top over a running bra, fuchsia yoga shorts, and a baseball cap to shade my eyes. I'd never have been seen in public in such a get-up a year ago.

I walked over to the park and it was an extreme effort to keep myself from running the loop. The walk itself was invigorating (it's about five minutes from my house), the sun was shining, the air was balmy with a faint floral scent. I felt like a big dog straining and begging its master to let it off-leash. When I got to the park I bounced up and down a bit and felt my legs out, I stretched my lower legs in particular, and I just remained unconvinced that it was a good idea. So the leash stayed on and I started off on a walk around the loop. I felt a little sorry for myself as I started walking, and then I got to thinking.

About a year and half ago I was still regularly walking with a cane. Last spring I was thrilled to walk three miles at all, as part of a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. Yesterday, I was walking over four miles, as the easy version of my workout, due to a completely temporary situation. So I told myself to get a grip. This cheered me up and let me fully enjoy the immeasurable, ineffable beauty of the morning. There were a lot of great moments, but one of my favorites? When I came around the last bend of the park, walking past the little lake, and realized that I had no idea if any children had been abducted anywhere in the country, or how many people had been killed in Iraq today. No CNN in Prospect Park!

This morning was a bit more of a test of my committment to walking in the park; it was not only cold and damp outside, it was actively raining. That was fine with me. As my mother often reminded me when I was little, I'm not made of sugar and I'm not about to melt. I did get a bit squishy, though. I loved being out with the other diehards; like the Velveteen Rabbit, I felt as though I was somehow being made Real. On my way to the park I already felt invincible. People were going to work, mincing around puddles, slightly crouched, holding up umbrellas to cover themselves, and there I was, striding along upright, with just a baseball cap to keep the water out of my eyes. I know who was happier.

My shins are still sore, but I'm keeping at stretching them, and I know they'll be okay soon. Now my thighs are sore in an entirely new way, but I'm really enjoying that. You know all those place names in Brooklyn? Prospect Heights? Park Slope? Boerum Hill? Well, let's just say that now I understand how they got those names. Hills. Brooklyn is full of hills. And I love every damned one of them. As Walt Whitman said in "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

Brooklyn of ample hills was mine

Posted by Rose at 03:48 PM | Comments (3)

May 18, 2005

There is this side of me that wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and fly the whole mess into the sea

I'd heard about them; every runner has heard about them. I knew they were something to worry about. But it wasn't really until this past weekend that the evil pain of shin splints decided to visit my very own legs. Fuck.

This month I started taking harder swing dance classes; on Thursdays, I've got three hours in a row. The first night, May 5th, was hard, and the next morning I definitely felt like my knees were trashed, but we'd learned this crazy step called "shorty George" that specifically trashes your knees. The second night, the 12th, wasn't as hard on my legs, and I ran three miles the next morning without too much difficulty. That night we went out dancing for about three hours, though, and we danced pretty much the whole time -- when we weren't "social dancing" we were practicing some steps I'd been having trouble with, and by the end of the night my legs were exhausted.

Saturday morning I skipped running so that we could walk to the greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza. This is a pretty good walk, through Prospect Park, a couple of miles, at least, and noticed my legs were tired, but, you know. I ran three miles Friday morning and danced three hours Friday night -- it was understandable, right? Then Sunday morning, I had a crappy workout. I didn't want to go, then I didn't have much time to run, then I didn't feel great when I was running, and my legs felt twinge-y and weird: the beginning of the problem.

Monday and Tuesday I noticed my legs feeling kind of achy, and I tried to stretch them when I had opportunities, but I also wasn't doing anything too hard to them. Then Tuesday night I went to swing dance practice, and yep, my shins were hurting. Definitely. Then this morning, I ran a mile, and they just felt shitty. I got off the treadmill and used the elliptical machine instead, and felt all fretful.

Argh! I know there are stretches and exercises and things to do to help with this, but I am feeling very frustrated! I really love swing dancing, and I really love running, and it didn't occur to me that they might not mix well with each other! In the short term, I will try not to panic, and I'll try some stretches and ice packs and whatnot. Historically, I'm bad at not fretting, though.

Posted by Rose at 05:49 PM | Comments (2)

May 09, 2005

When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour

I sat outside for a little while this afternoon, and I surely didn't want to go back to my office. It was So Damned Beautiful out there, just filling my heart all up with wanting to be right in it. The sky clear and blue and covered up at the edges with Manhattan buildings; the trees every shade of green. (Leaves right now are in a precious intermediate state, poised between the fragile, translucent beauty they spilled forth a couple of weeks ago, but not yet up to the full-on dark green they'll be sporting in June.)

Everything goes by so fast, you know? But it's okay; it'll be spring again before we know it. I guess I am just really fucking in love with the physical world these days. Life is swell.

Posted by Rose at 03:43 PM | Comments (1)

May 04, 2005

I'm turning it on, I'm working my legs

Well, I wasn't quite so blissed out as I was on Friday, when I had to drag myself off the treadmill, but today I did it: three miles without stopping. And while I didn't feel exhilaration, I was certainly able to tap into the comfort of physical exertion, and that was rewarding.

Now that I can run three miles, I feel like I can try doing the loop of Prospect Park. I'm feeling a little anxious about it; just as a quarter-mile track is not simply a long treadmill, the running lane around Prospect Park is not simply thirteen quarter-mile tracks laid end to end. For one thing, there are hills! That go both up and down! For another thing, anything I want with me, I have to carry. Jackrabbit Sports has these FuelBelt gizmos that Monica recommended. Seems like a one-bottle version of that would hold just the right amount of crap.

There's no point in stressing about these things, though; I have to start logging road miles, and now is a good time to start.


Postscript: I bought a new pair of shoes at Jackrabbit this weekend! My old pair were Brooks Adrenalines; the new ones are Asics GT-2100s. The run this morning in the new pair felt great; I should probably have gone in a little sooner, but I was trying to game the timing on when I'll need another new pair before the marathon this fall. I was chatting with the guy in the store about how often to replace running shoes, and he said, "Oh, you know, every six months or 3,000 miles." But although I thought, "Huh, that doesn't sound quite right," I didn't say anything, because I couldn't remember the numbers I'd read, and I didn't want to look stupid. Sigh. As a person who hasn't owned a car for almost five years, it took a day and a half before I realized he was making a joke!

Posted by Rose at 04:44 PM | Comments (2)