The year 2017 is in my rear-view mirror. Not many races, very little training, even side-lined with plantar fasciitis. Of course I ran the usual suspects…the Marine Corp 10K, the Semper 5ive and the Across the Bay 10K. I even finished my first Disney Princess Challenge. My times weren’t great, but since my goal was usually to finish, I can proudly say, “mission accomplished”.
Yesterday was the first day of 2018. My first grandchild is in kindergarten, so his energy is limitless. My second grandchild is on the way so I guess, in my mind, I have something to prove. I’m only as old as I feel and I’m feeling kind of spunky…the possibilities are feeling endless in the coming year.
My daughter and I joined Planet Fitness a couple of days ago (barely avoiding the January rush). One thing I discovered at this gym, was I don’t really mind the treadmill all that much. (Wait…did I just say that?) The treadmills are conveniently located at the back of the gym…a “no judgement zone” gym by the way…the time seems to pass by quicker – I’m sure it’s just my imagination. the price is also very right at $21.99 (plus tax) a month.
I guess all this to say, I’m looking forward to 2018. There may not be as many races, but my goal this year is quality, which means longer…slightly faster runs. I have so many races on my bucket list that I won’t get to in 2018, but my goal is to have them all completed by December 31, 2019 – budget willing. I think I can do this…says my little engine.
2018…I’m all in…Who is with me?
This is a tough one for me to admit and an even tougher one for me to write. I’m going to admit it to the world. I have runner insecurities….phew… there, I said it!
I hated going to the gym when other people were there. Were they watching me? Judging how fast (o.k. really slow). I was running? There was always someone there faster, slimmer, definitely younger. I would always time my workouts for when I knew the gym would be empty. (Well O.K. another reason is that they always had either sports or news on the TV). This phobia often meant that I was going to the gym at 7 or 8 at night – not very conducive for getting ANYTHING done in the evening.
I hated running on the roads. My imagination would tell me that everyone was watching how fast (O.K. slow) I was running. When I needed to take a walk break, I would wait until there were absolutely no cars on the road to watch me transition to a walk. It didn’t matter that they were passing me at 50 mph and probably didn’t even see me. I guess this was actually a good thing, because it meant that I was running further.
The only time I really felt “comfortable” was amongst other runners during a race – I know, weird right? I had joined a running group and wasn’t comfortable, yet in the midst of 1000’s of runners I was more comfortable with my cloak of invisibility. No one really paid attention to me and I could run MY race, MY pace.
Earlier this week, as I was wavering on what time to go to the gym (it was ridiculously hot outside) and a feeling hit me. “So what?” I need to embrace my grandma gait and just go. So what if there were people running a 7 or 8-minute mile on the treadmill? I went to the gym jumped on the treadmill and did my thing. Suddenly a sense of new found freedom hit me. Wow! It doesn’t really matter that all of these people are here.
A couple of nights ago, however, was the true test. I went to the gym right after work, instead of waiting for the “all clear”. There was only one guy there and he was using the elliptical next to one of the two treadmills. Of course the treadmill, that I just used the night before wasn’t working so my only option was to use the treadmill next to elliptical guy (or pretend that I only came to use the weights). (First time in YEARS, a treadmill wasn’t working…talk about a “sign”)
What I discovered – it wasn’t bad. He was in his zone. I was in mine. We chatted for a few minutes about a news segment (which I was proudly able to do – while still running – and didn’t get breathless). Right at that moment, I felt almost all of those insecurities fading away. I know it’s a work in progress and I still might have those days, but now I know I can overcome them. Imagine the huge strides this will make with my training! I’m pretty excited!
I like walking. If I could put on my sneakers and walk for miles I would be perfectly happy. Not running, just walking. It clears the mind and allows me to solve so many real world issues, like which bills are coming due, should I find a plumber to fix the downstairs tub, real world problems. Unfortunately, I love entering races and I love Disney World. To guarantee at least one trip to Disney World per year, I enter the Disney races. Wait, who am I kidding? I also love the bling and the bibs make really nice wall art. Not to mention the fact that with my love of those trinkets, also comes races that have a maximum time limit.
The Disney Princess Half Marathon registration is coming up in about a month. I will register and fully intent to complete my third half marathon. I’m going to do it one step at a time, this grandma has been feeling old recently. So today, I ran a mile. Not much at all by normal standards. I looked on Facebook and saw all the runners posting 3 miles, 4 miles or 6 miles. Well today I ran a mile. I’m OK with that because I know the first step to finishing, is getting out there training and training isn’t sitting on a couch. Today one mile was better than none.
Today is a bitter sweet day. My daughter and my three-year old grandson are moving away tomorrow. As sad as I am, in reality it isn’t very far – less than two hours on the highway. It’s a trip we’ve made hundreds of times and in today’s world, I guess it could be considered practically right around the corner. She has a new job and is well on her way to becoming the person she wants to be. Sure, the mom in me wishes that things never had to change, that my kids would always be with me, but I know there comes a time when they have to stretch their wings and make their way into the world.
So what does that have to do with my running? For three years I have (quite cheerfully) used my grandma responsibilities as excuses to not go running. Plans to run after work? Sure, but I have to go home and make dinner. Plans to run on the weekends? I could, but he cries when I leave the house so I probably shouldn’t go. Always an excuse, happy ones as I love being a grandma, but the bottom line is that they were excuses. Well those excuses are now ending. I supposed it’s time. I do have one child left at home, but he is pretty self-sufficient when he wants to be at the age of 18, so rushing home to cook dinner or play really isn’t in the cards any more.
Sometimes it’s hard when those built-in excuses go away, but I face the future knowing that it’s a sign for me to get up off my duff and get serious. After all, didn’t I make a goal of a minimum of 500 miles for the year (a lightweight goal at less than 10 miles a week); or a goal to run another half-marathon by fall; or the goal to get my time under 3:30 for the half? Well, now is the time. I will miss seeing my grandson’s smiling face every time I walk in the door or the conversations with my daughter, but now is the time. No more built-in excuses.
I’ve been home sick over the past week which gave me plenty of opportunity to look through my unread Runner’s World magazines and scroll through the hundreds of running emails I’ve received from Active.com and even more from Runner’s World. Flipping through the pages, both online and in print, I see tons of stories, pictures and advertisements for the young and fit. Don’t get me wrong, they do include stories about older runners, but even those runners are the slimmest and most toned people I’ve ever seen. They usually have been running for years!
I’m not a hater (at least I like to think not); I think it’s fantastic to see so many people of my generation, and older, running and maintaining such a healthy lifestyle. What I find though, is that most of the content has ceased to motivate me. This is not to knock the younger generation (or those awesome mature runners), but what motivation am I going to get reading about the 20 and 30 something’s or a 70 year old that can lap me around a track, in a magazine that is designed to really push the products? Truth be told, that’s not my goal.
I often find that blogs are different, however. I love to read about the journey of many of the runners I follow; it doesn’t matter if they run a five minute mile or are just starting out; if they are 20 or 70. Their stories are so much more genuine to me. Their aches, pains and struggles are real.
I get it though, what magazine is going to sell with a bunch of stories about the average folks? Or ads showing someone with a little “age” around the middle? You know them, those that are just starting out running or aren’t running the ten minute pace. Magazines have shoes and clothing to sell. I get it. I realize that part of this “sudden” reflection is because I just received my yearly postcard from Runner’s World that if I don’t contact them by a certain day, they will automatically bill my credit card. I usually find an interesting tidbit or two, but is it time to cancel my subscription?
I guess I have to find my motivation inward and from the many blogs I subscribe to. I know the magazines will never be about me or “my peeps”. Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to applaud all runners because I know they work hard at their personal records and they are well deserving of everything they’ve worked for. I just know somewhere there is a “rag-tag fugitive fleet” of, not only grandma’s, but others who have decided to take a turn to the healthy side and are out there running, jogging, walking. Here’s to us!
For a while I was thinking a more proper title would be called “A Day of Guilt for not Running Yesterday”. The RunDisney countdown clock shows me that there are only 43 days: 13 hours; 55 minutes: 55, no 54, no 53 (you get the point) seconds left until Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend, one would think that I would be out there running every day to build up my endurance. In fact, if I let it, panic sets in every time I think about the weekend and remembering those ultra-cramps from last February.
The truth is this; however, everybody deserves a day of rest. In fact, us Grandma’s need to make sure we are not only getting in proper training, but we also need to realize (as difficult as it may be) that we are not in our 20’s anymore. We need to give our bodies a chance to recover. Does this mean that we should just sit with our feet up every other day? Absolutely not! Cross-training is just as important – weightlifting or a different kind of cardio works. In fact, we should probably try to sneak in a bit of exercise wherever/whenever we can. I didn’t run yesterday, but I spent a lot of time dancing to some great oldies – Michael Jackson’s Working Day and Night. Boyz II Men Motown Philly… just those two songs alone made me feel like I ran a 5K, I also did some stair climbing at home. Totally free workouts!
So bottom line, a day of no running isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on how you handle it!
I was too lazy this weekend. Actually, I don’t know if I would call it lazy. My daughter was working so I was babysitting both Saturday and Sunday. I guess I wouldn’t call chasing a two-year old (he’ll be 3 in February) around the house for six hours each day necessarily being lazy, but when you look at the running I got in… I spent the day chasing this two-year who managed to sneak and eat (or crumble) almost an entire half a bag of chocolate chip cookies (I kept wondering why it seemed he never seemed to finish the ONE I did give him – I finally found the pack.) He also managed to empty almost an entire container of perfume on his bedroom floor. (They are taller than you think). Note: quick tip from a grandmother, all of the above does result in evening 2-year old tummy troubles. Don’t turn your back or take a restroom break for a minute!
All this to say, running wasn’t a priority this weekend. I would love to blame the entire loss on my grandson, but I can’t. I’m a big girl; I have to take some of the responsibility, too. So I did manage to sneak out the house for a minute this morning for a really short run, before my daughter left for work. After all, one mile really is better than none at all.
ps..in the time it took me to dash this off, he managed to find a stapler (he has a knack for finding stuff, I forgot I even HAD a stapler) and one of his plastic animal toys is now dangerously close to meeting an untimely stapling. Gotta run!
What is the most precious thing that could tug at a grandma’s heart? Without a doubt it’s my grandson. It was so precious today when I was leaving to come back to work after lunch. Little JD gave me his little backwards wave (that’s the one when his fingers are actually pointed towards himself) and said “bye.” Granted he’s been making those “I’m about to start really talking” sounds for a while now, but to see him to put action into words with that sweet voice telling me “bye” almost made me cry. It’s time like these when it doesn’t matter that he’s made a mess of the rug, has taken every Tupperware container out of the cabinet or the house is a mess from all of his toys – you gotta love them. These are the times you wish you had an automatic camera to capture the moments. Yet another reason to stay healthy, to watch this child grow.
How I sometimes envy youth and the powers of healing! In the last month, I have been sidetracked, first with foot problems and most recently with a severe upper respiratory infection. How does this happen? I know part of it is from not taking better care of myself. But isn’t that why I’m running? Absolutely!
The problem when you get older is the fact that your body doesn’t quite have the same magical healing powers as when you’re younger. Not only that, but sometimes we tend to get hurt a little bit easier. Our feet don’t quite spring off the ground with the jaunty step of youth. It’s okay, I have learned to have a great appreciation of being well.
I’m also not complaining. I feel fortunate to be able to get up every day and attempt this “running thing” that I’m learning to enjoy. I’m up and about once again after a few mandatory days of bed rest, ready to get up and at ‘em. I know that I may injure quicker and heal slower, but I won’t let that stop me. Armed with the knowledge on the complexity of healing, I’m feeling even more determined to keep up my stride toward a healthy life style.
What about you?
Sometimes being a new runner can be a little frustrating. You want to be running, but realize you have to start with running basics such as how to move and how to breathe. Also, learning that while running is free, you do need to invest in the right equipment and sometimes that’s not cheap. All in all, you smile because you know that one day you may not be the fastest (especially this grandma), but you will be running.
What’s more frustrating than the feeling of “entry level”, is becoming injured a month after you begin your quest. I had suffered from plantar factitious last year before I even began running. Fortunately it only took one shot in the left foot and all returned back to normal quickly. This year, I have it in the right foot and it’s not recovering as quickly as I like – yesterday. While it’s so tempting to ignore the doctor’s advice, I found perhaps that’s not the road to travel.
Sometimes we have to take a moment or two to let our bodies heal (and healing when you’re older does take a minute or two longer) Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely chomping at the bit to get back out there and start running. I fear that when I do, it will be like starting over again – but you know, that’s okay. The most important thing is not to be permanently sidelined by injuries. If I learn patience and follow the doctor’s advice, take the pills for a couple of weeks and do the exercises, I will be as good as new.
No worries, this grandma will be back at it and running in no time. In fact, I have permission to gently put toe to the road by the end of this weekend. I’ve got my running clothes and my sneakers waiting right there at the door…looking a little lonely, but ready! Getting sidelined by injuries is not fun. Listening to the doctor’s advice so that I can get back out there – priceless.