Dude, where’re my earbuds?

I went to the gym this morning to run. Since the snow and cold settled in, I haven’t done a whole lot of running. So for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to work it back into my schedule by using the treadmills at the gym.

One of the first days I was going to the gym to run, I realized I had no idea where my earbuds were. Which is odd, because if they’re not plugged into my phone, I put them back in their little black zipper case. I had the case. But no earbuds.

It’s not like me to lose something like this. Oh, I can lose things as easily as the next person, but not something like my earbuds, which are always in one of two places. Not to mention, they were really nice Bose earbuds. Mark bought them for me for Valentine’s Day four years or so ago. Their sound was better than any other earbuds I’ve ever had. And they fit comfortably in my ears, unlike almost everything else I’d tried.

I’ve got a plethora of other earbuds floating around here. Some of them came with the various iPhones owned by the family over the years. Some I bought in my quest to find earbuds that would stay in my ears while running. Once the Bose earbuds entered my life, all of the rest of them began collecting dust. But I’ve resurrected a few pairs over the last couple of weeks. And I was quickly reminded how much I miss my Bose earbuds.

I’ve continued to search, without success for my favorite earbuds. And I’ve done my share of whining over the fact that I still can’t find them. This morning, I woke up Mark while rummaging around my nightstand drawer in the dark.

What are you doing? He mumbled.

Sorry! I whispered. Looking for some earbuds.

I found another old pair. Mark rolled over and went back to sleep while I headed off to the gym. I claimed my treadmill, plugged the earbuds in my ears and began to listen to music while I ran. And then I thought I felt a little sting in one ear. And then the other. Those earbuds were zapping my ears! Guess that pair had a short in the wires or something. I yanked ’em out in frustration and resolved to do my run to the sounds of the gym and whatever music was being piped through the speaker system.

I was a little thrown off by all of the distraction, but I kept at it. I realized that, for me at least, being able to run continuously is mainly a matter of telling myself I can! The minute I start thinking I might need to slow down and walk for a bit, that’s my downfall. I’ll do exactly that. So I have to keep mentally encouraging myself.

A gentleman came along and claimed the treadmill next to mine around the time I was hitting the first mile. I kind of prefer if I can run without anyone directly next to me, but that’s a rare luxury at the gym. My treadmill neighbor started to run too, and then I became grateful he was there. Because another recent realization is that running with another person is highly motivating. Whether he knew it or not, he was my motivator, and the run felt easier for the next mile because I was keeping up with him.

But then? He slowed down and stopped. Oh, no! And I still wanted to go another mile. So I had to motivate myself. I said to myself, I said,  Dude, just one more mile. Keep going! (I don’t know why I referred to myself as Dude. I don’t really fit the bill of your typical dude, but the encouragement seemed to do the trick. I kept running.)

I got my few miles in and then called it quits. I’d had a hard time waking up an hour earlier, but I was glad I’d dragged myself out of bed and done some exercise to jump-start my day. I always feel a million times more energetic when I do some kind of workout.

And when it was all said and done, it was quite a day, bringing up the end of a particularly long week. A real brain-drainer. I spent way too much time just sitting, staring at my computer screen and typing. I really should get up and move around more often. I hate to imagine what all of that sitting is doing to my heart. So especially after days and weeks like this, I’m glad when I start my days with something physical.

I came home from work to an empty house, save for Lucy, who greeted me with a level of excitement that would imply I’d been gone for weeks rather than hours. As I made my way up the steps from the foyer to the living room, being careful not to trip over the dog who was still dancing around my feet, something caught my eye.

It was a box on the end table, next to my stack of books. There was no question it was for me and no doubt in my mind it had been left there by my hubby.

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This is definitely one of the most thoughtful things he’s ever done for me! And it’s not even Valentine’s Day!

The Color Run – SO MUCH FUN!

Sunday morning arrived, the day of the Color Run. I was excited in a way I can’t remember feeling in… well, forever! I was surprised at my level of enthusiasm, partly because when Kacey asked me to sign up with her, I was less than enthusiastic. I had given running a try a while ago, but seemed only to meet with frustration and failure. Eventually, I decided there just wasn’t a runner in me. But my daughter wanted to do the Color Run with me and she was excited about it. So I agreed and decided to do my best to get in running shape, at least enough to succeed in this fun run.

I ran my usual three miles on Saturday morning, the day before the run. The air was heavy and it was harder to breathe than usual. I felt like I was struggling through most of my run and I arrived home dripping in sweat. I worried that Sunday would arrive with more of the same. But all Saturday afternoon it rained off and on. And when Sunday dawned, the air was lighter, the sun was bright and the temperature was a near perfect seventy-ish.

Color Run 1

Starting out clean!

I was awake early and enjoyed my morning coffee in the quiet house before getting ready to go. Soon Kacey was awake too and we got dressed in our shorts and white tees, pinned on our numbers and decorated ourselves with a few complimentary Color Run tattoos.

John and Shelby came to pick us up and we headed off to the state fairgrounds where the run would take place. We all chattered excitedly as we drove and John made it clear several times that he does not consider running to be enjoyable and that he would likely hold us all up with his slow pace. I told him I was relieved to hear that. I didn’t have the greatest confidence in my own ability. But any doubts I had about succeeding in this run were erased when we arrived and saw all of the other runners and walkers heading for the starting line.

It was a total party atmosphere and there were people of all ages, shapes and sizes getting ready for the big event. I relaxed and just decided to soak it all in. I couldn’t seem to stop smiling as we made our way into the crowd of people. It was such a beautiful day and Kacey kept telling me how glad she was that I was there with her.

Kacey, me, John and Shelby... ready to run!

Kacey, me, John and Shelby… ready to run!

As we waited our turn to start running, music was pumping through the air and a young emcee was busy tossing out Color Run goodies and keeping the crowd pumped up. Our countdown began and we were off.

I soon found out the true meaning behind the words “fun run.” There were both runners and walkers. No pressure! People were dressed in crazy clothing with colorful tutus and crazy socks. One woman ran in a wedding dress!

The route itself was actually much easier than my usual route, which has a lot of incline. I was able to run it easily and even found myself conversing with John and the girls as we ran. The color stations were crazy and we did our best to get our shirts as colorful as possible as we ran through each one. I was having the time of my life!

Color Run 3After the finish, we made our way to the big party. We received our own packets of colored powder and joined the huge crowd in the grandstand area of the fairgrounds. Music was blasting, we were dancing and laughing and took our turn volleying the huge beach balls bouncing around above the heads of the crowd. And when it was time to toss our colors up into the air, we did our duty, whooping and laughing along with the rest of the crowd. If there was any part of my body not covered in color before the big toss, it was sure covered afterwards!

Now that we were tasting and sneezing colored powder, we were ready to head back home. All the way back, we all kept saying how much fun it was. I think John and I were both really surprised how much we had enjoyed it and we told the girls we would definitely do it again next year! Heck, I want to do another run well before next year!

My HAPPY tattoo!

My HAPPY tattoo!

As soon as we were back home, Kacey and I packed up the car and headed up to the cabin to join Mark, Brad and Connor for a few days of fun. We were anxious to get there, so we skipped showering and just tossed some towels over our seats to keep the car as clean as possible. When we arrived a couple of hours later, Mark couldn’t believe how covered in color we were! Yep, we were definitely not as clean as we’d started out, but we’d had such a great time!

Color Run 6

Nothing a nice shower and a good scrub wouldn’t take care of!

Color Run 4

Okay, maybe two showers! (I discovered after my first shower that my armpits were still a little blue!)

I am so totally doing this again next year. And probably the best part of it all? I discovered that there is a runner inside of me. And now I just want to push her harder and see what more I can do! Nobody is more surprised than me!

Color Me Happy

It’s Color Run day and I’m ready!

Months ago, Kacey asked me to sign up for the Color Run with her. And although I had long ago decided that I was not a runner, I agreed to do it, if for no other reason than my favorite girl wanted me to. We’ll be joining Kacey’s friend and former softball teammate, Shelby and her dad, John who is the girls’ former softball coach.

Color Run 2014

Early in the year, I thought, “Well. I should start getting ready for this thing.” But I didn’t. January, February, March all went by and I didn’t run. Then the cold weather, snow and slush finally subsided. The sun started coming up earlier and the temperatures grew warmer. The thought of running outside as opposed to in they gym gave me the motivation I needed.

Lucy Pie was more than happy to help me get back into a running groove. If not for her habit of practically dragging me along each day, often helping me to keep running when I might otherwise have stopped, I don’t know that I would have gotten back into it. Gosh, I hope I can do it without her.

005bI’m ready for some fun! Wish us luck today!

 

Melting

It’s been happening in small doses lately and it brings me hope! Over the past few days, we’ve been hearing that the weekend could bring the warmest temperatures this year. Keep your fingers crossed! The snow cover is slowly diminishing, but there is still a long ways to go.

20140328Lucy and I haven’t had any regular morning walks in months. There has been too much snow and too much cold. I feared for the well-being of her paws. But with all the talk of a warm weekend, I was determined to get out there again. I didn’t dare say the word to Lucy before it was time. Last night as she was sitting with me in the recliner, I told her, “Tomorrow, we’ll go for a double you!

Her curiosity was piqued and she tipped her head to the side, looking at me with questions in her eyes. “I can’t tell you anymore right now,” I told her. “But I promise. You’ll be happy.”

When morning arrived, even though I knew better, I said the word before my teeth were brushed or my shoes were on. As my electric toothbrush hummed in my mouth, Lucy whined and pranced in the bathroom doorway, wanting me to hurry up and take her on her walk already! When we finally hit the pavement, she was bound and determined to race toward all of those fun smells and sights.

The weather app on my phone said nineteen degrees this morning. I knew the warmer weather wouldn’t show up until later today, but nineteen degrees was better than the single digit and below zero temps that hung around for too many weeks. Lucy and I had the path pretty much to ourselves, save for one ambitious runner who wore a black mask over his mouth and nose and passed us by pretty quickly. We had to weave our way off the path and back again here and there to avoid large patches of ice, but the fresh air and sunshine felt amazing.

See the ice up ahead?

See the ice up ahead?

Also, that annoying kink in my back that I haven’t been able to shake all month feels like it might be gone; Just one of the many perks of outside versus the treadmill. Lucy and I burned off a bunch of cabin fever! Looking forward to many more mornings like this in the coming months (minus the snow and ice!)

Yoga la la la

As the muscle in my lower back slowly continues to heal from the “tweaking” it experienced three weeks ago, I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t resume the high intensity workout I’d been doing. It bums me out too. I had surprised myself by keeping up and progressing to a higher level. Unfortunately, it involved too many moves that would only continue to strain the sore muscles in my back and I haven’t been able to pick it up again. And all this comes so soon after I’d been reminded of what a mental and physical boost a good workout gives me. Exercise for me is such a big part of staying happy!

As I was picking up some necessities at Target last night, I wandered over to the exercise aisle to peruse the workout DVDs. Since I had been contemplating yoga, I was happy to see several DVD options. The only yoga I’ve ever attempted was on the Wii Fit, and I can’t say I was either impressed or very successful at it. I’ve got very limited knowledge and experience with yoga, so when I saw a Jillian Michaels yoga DVD, it seemed like the way to go. After all, I had been thoroughly enjoying her Six Week Six Pack workout until the tweaking.

Early, early this morning, I got up and put on some workout clothes. I put my new DVD in the player and rolled out my yoga mat. With the Christmas tree lights twinkling in the corner of the room, I began to learn what to do. And even though I’m not wise to the ways of yoga, I could tell that this version was a little unconventional. But I liked it! It didn’t produce a hammering heartbeat or profuse sweating like the more intense workout I’d been doing, but it felt good and I was able to do most of the moves. I learned that in yoga, the belief is that there is no such thing as perfection. That’s why they call a yoga workout a “practice.” If you can’t quite achieve a move, you just keep trying time and time again. And the more gentle pace was much easier on my lower back.

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Doesn’t look that hard, but I can’t do it. Yet.

There were a few moves that were beyond my ability. As I was following along, I was thinking, “Wow. Some parts of my body are so tight! And not in a good way!” Maybe yoga will make me more flexible and with time, there may be fewer instances of my muscles feeling as if they’ve burst into flames while I’m doing something I always do, like bowling!

When it was all done, I was sweating and felt as if I’d accomplished something good. I didn’t quite have that zen feeling you hear so much about with yoga, but I felt ready to take on the day. Maybe that’s because I was exercising in the glow of the Christmas tree with the sight of snow falling gently outside the window. Maybe zen will come with time. Then again, it’s Jillian Michaels. Maybe zen isn’t included in her version of this exercise. That might be okay. I’m just glad to be doing something good for myself and learning something new.

Before going to work, I went to see the chiropractor for the second week in a row. He asked how I was doing and I told him that today was the first day that I didn’t feel any sharp pains in my lower back and hips, just some minor dull pain. I told him that when it first happened, I thought I’d feel better in a couple of days. I’d been stretching diligently every day and hoping the tightness would loosen up quickly. No way did I expect to still be less than a hundred percent three weeks later. I said that I probably needed to accept the fact that I was getting older.

“No,” he said. “Don’t accept it! Fight it!” That cracked me up. Dr. Dave’s humor is an added bonus to his chiropractic care.

He also said that when you tweak a muscle, it’s already over-extended and aggravated, so deep stretches are really not the best thing for it.

“Oh,” I said. “So I guess maybe I’m responsible for prolonging the problem.”

He said that an aggravated muscle needs time to heal. Give it rest and plenty of ice. And only when I’m feeling about 75% better should I think about doing some light stretching. Light. Stretching. Yep. Wish I’d have known that sooner.

Lesson learned. Also, I shouldn’t have waited two weeks, thinking the muscle would relax on its own before finally making time to see Dr. Dave. He’s a good guy. Even gave me his personal cell phone number and said anytime I needed advice but didn’t necessarily want to make an appointment, I could call or text and he will steer me in the right direction. Dr. Dave is so worth the money I spend to see him!

So, yoga it is!

Getting Stronger

Oh how I hate and love this move!

Oh, Jillian Michaels, how I hate and love this move!

I’ve been really diligent about exercise the past two weeks. I had been in such a slump for most of this year that I didn’t really think I could get back on the bandwagon. But the more I work at it, the more motivated I am to keep it up. I’d forgotten how good it feels to push past my limits and earn that sense of accomplishment for the day. I’d forgotten how the aches that tend to follow are a welcome kind of pain because I know they mean I’m getting stronger again. And the best part isn’t even the numbers on the scale or seeing the promise of the shape in my midsection again, (although I am in no way complaining!) The best part is the mental impact. Strength in the body seems to translate to a feeling that I can handle anything. It permeates into every aspect of the day.

Why was it so easy to forget how good this is for me?

All summer long I set my alarm clock to wake me in time to do some physical activity before I had to get ready for work. As the weeks wore on, that alarm would go off and my body would sleepily protest. My eyes didn’t want to open. More often than not, the weariness inside would win and the alarm would get postponed for another hour. Still, I couldn’t ever seem to get caught up on my sleep. I felt mentally and physically drained so much of the time.

My turnaround came slowly. A couple of months ago, I attended a birthday celebration for my former morning gym buddy. Near the end of her pregnancy, her gym visits had dwindled. After her baby boy arrived, there were a few months when escaping the house at 5:00 am just wasn’t possible. The night of the birthday party, she informed me she was back in routine and was hoping I’d start joining her again. Working out with a friend always makes the work feel so much easier! I started getting out of bed with the alarm and going to the gym to meet my friend a couple of times a week.

A few weeks ago when I began to set weekly goals, exercise was a big one. Just having set the goal and telling others about it went a long way in pushing me to follow through. And seeing my parents’ health issues take their toll is a painful reminder that exercise isn’t just a nice thing to do for myself, it’s necessary to keep the effects of aging from coming on too soon. The more I work out, the more I want to work out, the more I want to eat better, the more I believe I can be healthier. I’m climbing out of the slump and it feels so good.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (plus men in little clothing)

Look at this big guy who was hanging out at the bird feeder on Friday morning! There must have been a shortage of discarded french fries and/or roadkill out on the street!IMG_8481bLucy and I really enjoyed our morning walk today. The air was perfectly comfortable and there was a slight haze in the sky so the sun wasn’t so hard on the eyes. (I hate wearing sunglasses when I’m out walking. They always fall down my nose.) We encountered a few other dogs along the way. They greeted Lucy from their yards and she strained on the leash in an effort to get closer to them. A big man in nothing but his bathrobe stepped down off his front porch to tell “Julie” to stop her barking and go sit up on the porch while we passed. She did as he said, stopping once or twice to turn and yip-yap one more time in Lucy’s direction.

We went out early, while it was still quiet in the neighborhoods. I love how peaceful it is in the early part of the day, before the hustle and bustle of life takes over. Lucy followed the trails of various scents along the way, nose to the ground and sniffing loudly. I admired the way the rain has promoted full, green lawns. They look so manicured after a fresh mowing. Flowers and plants have grown past their budding stages into full, colorful bloom.

When we first moved into our house, the neighborhoods in our area were just being developed. There was always new construction to watch and we would take walks just to see what kind of projects other new homeowners were working on, sometimes taking home ideas to put to use ourselves. These days, the trees are tall and strong, those that weren’t taken down by last week’s storm, anyway. There’s a definite sense of establishment. The storm couldn’t take that away, hard as it tried. As we walked, I admired the different ways people give personality to their yards and homes with colorful flower gardens, decks full of comfy patio furniture,  carefully patterned brick patios and even a few pools here and there. One home had a volleyball net set up in the side yard, and a back yard with a swing set and sandbox, and children’s toys scattered everywhere.

As we neared the corner to turn toward our house, another dog began to greet Lucy. My neighbor, Pat stepped out the door, bare-chested and wearing only a pair of shorts, scolding his dog and pulling him by the leash back inside the house. He waved as we walked by I said, “Hey, Pat!”

A few homes and properties in our neighborhood have fallen into disrepair. I guess that’s normal as a place begins to age. But for the most part it feels comfortable here. It feels settled and most of the time, it feels safe too. I am grateful that this place is where we call home.