Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Cillian and Claddagh Report

This story ends well, in case you're one of those people who reads the last page of a book first ;)

A few days ago, Cillian started this weird thing. He was skittish, and crying constantly, and would run away from me when I walked toward him. It was just awful to see, and I couldn't imagine what had happened. It didn't seem as though there was an injury, and the obvious indicators of illness weren't there. But clearly, he was sick. I called the vet, nervous first-time cat mom that I am. And they sounded worried, too.

The first night after I noticed this sadness, neither cat tried to sleep up on my bed. This is unusual. Weirdly, missing that annoying behavior made me more worried. When the clock went off, I had to go look for them.

I didn't have to look far; their beds are in my room. They were cuddled up in Claddagh's much bigger bed. Usually if they sleep together, they're jumbled up, like puppies in a pile. This time, they were spooning. I'm not kidding. They were nestled in, and Claddagh had his paw around Cillian's little tummy. I wish I had taken a picture, but I didn't want to disturb them.

Did Claddagh know that Cillian was sick? Probably. Did he surmise a stomach ache? OK, probably not. Probably they just wiggled around in the bed until they were both comfortable. And yet, it's hard not to anthropomorphize when it comes to Claddagh. He knows stuff, I swear.

And this morning, Cillian jumped on my bed for his morning snuggle, and now they're fighting over the toy mice. We're back to normal, apparently.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Training Indignities

So I hired a personal trainer. That was the source of the self-doubt the other day, by the way. I could hear Math-Rat's voice, suggesting that doing so was less-than his "just get on the bike and ride until your nether parts are blue" strategy.

But see... he knows not of personal trainers, and now I do. Young Aaron the Trainer is the reincarnation of Attila the Hun, and he's going to make a warrior out of me. No, that's not quite right. God love him, I walked in and subjected myself to being weighed and having my fat measured with calipers and my waistline measured, and thought I would expire from the shame. Aaron knows all these numbers. He is practiced at not saying "OH MY GOD" when he sees the results. Moreover, he just grabbed my crafted-during-my-lunch-hour training plan and reviewed it as though it were the Rosetta Stone. He takes me seriously. He is on board to get me through this, but I have to do the work.

He does, however, recognize a lost cause when he sees one. He has these cards that he carries around; each card has an exercise. I'm supposed to do each exercise for a minute; he shuffles the cards again while I'm doing my one-minute. The theory is -it's only a minute. He had me doing those pushups where you push off the ground and clap. Yeah... about that.

For the last one, there was no clapping. None. Just a sad little push-off. And as sometimes happens with random shuffling, that card came up again. Young-Aaron-the Tactful suggested that I just do pushups "seeing as you're likely to break your nose, otherwise." So, he's not beyond some gentle teasing, which I like very much.

I may become strong yet. We shall see.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Financial Report

Three people have donated to support the beneficiaries of the Chicago AIDS Ride. Thanks, dears! I appreciate the support. It makes me think you think I can do it -even though, I get it, you probably donated to, oh I don't know, the CAUSE!!!

If someone else wants to contribute, that would be great. Here's the link: Donate.

ideas for fundraisers

href="">Thermometers to
track fund raisers
- even href="">simple fundraisers

Monday, March 15, 2010

Self-Doubt Sucks -the post in which she lectures herself

For this insight, I went to graduate school?????

The insidious thing about self-doubt is that, when you're in the midst of it, it feels so justified. You know that other people occasionally feel doubt, but that they're just being humble or experiencing a momentary lapse. You, on the other hand, really are incapable, and everyone is about to know.


The truth? EVERYONE experiences authentic self-doubt sometimes. Presidents, philosophers, activists, writers, parents.... everyone. Some of us do live there a little more than others, this is true. The top ten reasons why I am inadequate can spring to my mind with very little prompting, and this training I'm undertaking is activating that process quite nicely.

This is a strange twisted path for me. The link between being told repeatedly (however subtly) that you're inadequate and then coming to believe that to be your own thought, is well documented. People participate in their own oppression all the time. But honestly, I thought it was more likely to apply to children and, well, people less gifted in the intellect department.

Really, you want to make this argument?? I'm smart enough that I ought to be impervious to insidious emotional abuse. Therefore, I must be authentically incapable. Isn't this kind of the opposite of self-doubt? Well, no, on two fronts. First, arrogance and self-doubt are quite frequently the same thing. And secondly, the more fundamental (primitive, as in "first in time") parts of our brain -which have nothing to do with intellect- understand repetition and rehearsal. And the "Andrea's not as good as Math-Rat at just about anything" message (everything from higher-order reasoning to washing dishes and grocery shopping were covered, believe me) has been widely repeated -frequently by me. Rather, repetition over decades will penetrate even the toughest of shields; very few people are that resilient in the face of abuse.

So, now what? It's not so much about re-erecting the shield, these days. There's no one -other than me- trying to bash it in. It's about changing the messages. Dave's strategy, conscious or subconscious, I really can't say, was to take a strong person, and set it up so that everything he did was better than what that person did. Therefore, he must be a strong person. When that person (me) was fully broken, I could no longer fulfill my assigned role. Being discarded was inevitable.

The flip side to that same thing is that the game only works if it starts with a strong person. Ergo... I'm a strong person. Or at least, I was, once. But who cares if a person now known to be shallow and sad himself recognized me to be strong? I don't, actually. But it's time to acknowledge that many many of the negative messages in my own head are actually his. His game. His narrative. His needs.

I'm not quite up to replacing those thoughts with happy, uplifting self-talk, but I can acknowledge that many of the negative thoughts are NOT MINE. And, I do at least know that I'm smart enough to have thoughts of my very own.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Training Geekery

For one thing, I apologize. Apparently, all I have to do is announce to the the universe that I intend to start training outside. We are now scheduled for 16 days straight of rain. Perhaps I should take up ark-building?

Let's do the numbers -my weight is n-1.4. This is a trend I can live with.

My training went pretty well, but not perfectly last week. I would feel great about it if I could revert to my "you have a lifetime of getting and being fit; relax" attitude. So, I'm trying for that attitude again, even though there is this looming deadline in my head. And there was a certain amount of moping and sadness, which I expected, since I had hoped that biking would be a "together sport" for my ex-husband and me. Now I get to turn it into a solo-sport, which is just a different kind of fine. But I get to mope sometimes, too; even expected grief is grief. At least it wasn't debilitating.

This week's training plan:

Sunday: rock-climbing (which I'm thinking of as fun as well as lower-body strength work) at the 5.easy, 5.6 or maybe5.7 level- and abs yoga
Monday: 30 minutes of steady-state stationary cycling (or outdoors, if possible); Yoga for Strength
Tuesday: swimming (I hate to admit this, but I'm starting out with 9 laps, which is just 1/4 mile), abs yoga, and lower-body strength work
Wednesday: 1/2 hour walk on the treadmill and yummy yoga
Thursday: 9 laps swimming, abs yoga, and lower body strength training
Friday: 45 minutes of cycling, including intervals, and yoga
Saturday: long ride -just to see how long is comfortable. Surely I can do 15 miles.

There is no rest day, which worries me. But a) one will probably just happen, and b) Wednesday is pretty easy. There is also no upper-body weight work. I'm getting around that by claiming that swimming is gentle cardio as well as upper body strength work. I've always been an upper-body swimmer. And when you add in my generally woeful fitness level, my arms will be sore from swimming, I'm quite sure.

So, there you go. Physical health, emotional health (to use the word "health" somewhat loosely!), and marching orders for this week. It's coming together.

Friday, March 12, 2010

She Considers her Equipment Needs

When confronted with a big new project, my first (unhealthy) thought is, "ooh, I get to buy things." This strategy is weak because it hurts the pocketbook and does not, in and of itself, move the project forward. It's the same as the tendency I have to buy more books than I can read. Or more yarn than I can knit. Or.... well, you get the idea. If I am not going to use the piece of equipment right away, then perhaps I should consider more carefully.

That said... CAN I go shopping?

Bike shorts: Given the Montana-sized person that must be stuffed into them, I think I need new ones. These shorts are horrifying enough, without having them be too small. And I need enough of them that they don't have to be laundered every day, because what are the chances of that happening??

Long-sleeved bike shirts: These have such a short shelf-life that I have avoided buying them. Similarly, I don't have lycra sleeves. Why would a person buy just the sleeves of a garment?? Well, because they want to ride outdoors when it's really too cold yet to be doing that.

Clipless pedal shoes. Mine are just plain worn out. I would like to have the sandals, but I can't have everything all at once!

A trainer? Math-Rat ended up with the trainer, which at the time I thought was fine. Well, it was fine, but now I might need one of my own. This is a maybe; I do have a spin bike.

Cool sunglasses. Sunglasses aren't optional. But I don't WANT to just go to Target and get sunglasses. I either need to get prescription sunglasses, or get cool biker's glasses and wear my contacts for riding. Thoughts?

Tunes: I need some more biking playlists for indoor training. Ideas?

Yoga media: DVDs... podcasts....I don't care. But I need something new. I received Rodney Yee's new (to me) Yoga: Core Cross-train from netflix and tried it last evening. Ahem. About that. As I've been saying rather a lot, "at least I know the baseline now." I'll keep the DVD for a couple of weeks and see if I can make some progress.

I went to Wrench Night last night, met up again with some wonderful people, and learned a bit more about my bicycle. And, I heard the good news that the green bike is ready. I'll pick it up today and, if there is still enough daylight enough after work, I'll ride tonight. Otherwise, tomorrow for sure!

Today's training plan: either cycling outdoors or a golden-oldie step workout and a yoga podcast. Probably I should stick with the actual plan and do the step workout. There was a method to my madness in putting that workout there in the rotation. We'll see if I have that much self-control!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Post in which She Reveals the Baseline

Serious cyclists sometimes fret, trying to shave an ounce or two off the weight of their bicycles. I have a heavy bike and a light bike, and I absolutely agree that those ounces matter. But believe me when I tell you that the weight of the bicycle is not the problem, here. I find myself unwilling to reveal the precise number that showed up on my bathroom scale this morning, but at this weight I should at least be imminently delivering twins. Got the picture? For our purposes, we will call this number n. By race date, I would like to be discussing n-16, or even n-20 wouldn't go amiss.

Fitness-wise, I haven't been on the real bikes since last season, so it's hard to judge. Thirty minutes on the spin bike at a steady-state is pretty easy. Add some fictional hills and it feels like my heart is going to jump out of my chest. My uber-flexibility of days gone by is gone, but it's returning slowly. I've never been strong. Rock-climbing has made me somewhat stronger, but it's time to take that little problem in hand. Without strong abs, you can't ride 190 miles, and that's the truth.

Here's the training plan for this week. Questions, comments, suggestions are totally welcome.

Wednesday: 30 minutes of rapid, but steady-state (which makes it easier), cycling; here and there I did some Isolated Leg Drills. But holy mackerel with that. I didn't do many. And I did a shoulder-opening yoga sequence, for about 20 minutes. I was arguing with the cats about whose yoga mat this really is, so the practice was a little wonky. The upside? You have to do jump-throughs when there's a big fat cat sitting where you want to step ;)
Thursday: yoga only -This is my rest day, so I'll do some dreamy, flexibility-focused yoga.
Friday: yoga, a short step workout, and upper body strength training -The step workout seems counter-intuitive, but at my age I am reluctant to give up impact work entirely. My mom's already got mild osteoporosis. I need to do what I can to prevent it.)
Saturday: cycling and yoga. If the bikes are ready, I'll go for the first outside ride of the year!!! If not, I'll stick with the spin bike. Whichever, it's going to be 45 minutes.

It'll be easier to see where strength training and cross-training fit in when you can see an entire week. They are there, I promise.

The books I'm reading to focus my thinking: Shape Up with the The Slow Fat Triathlete by Jayne Williams. She is so wry and insightful, and at the same time so motivating. Like Ms. Williams, I will be an imperfect athlete, but an athlete nonetheless. I am also reading Total Body Transformation: A 3-Month Personal Fitness Prescription For a Strong, Lean Body and a Calmer Mind. Ummm... yeah... I'll take some of that. But the jury is still out on that book. We'll see. It might lean too much toward drinking some weird mystical Kool-Aid; it's a little cult-ish.

And Wrench Night at North Central Cylery is tonight. Hopefully I will get some ride sponsors and re-learn about caring for my bike. Anything mechanical is a source of existential angst for me. But, as with so much of this "brave new life" process, I need to tend to my own safety. Doing so carries some pride with it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My New Focus

Well, the universe provided. And as usual, I'm quite nervous about the opportunities it seems to be...ummmm.... offering. It does have a rather heavy hand, the universe does. But perhaps light touches go unnoticed when it's me.

Here's the story.

As you probably don't remember -but I do- I stepped back from some commitments this semester in order to focus more attention on "life architecture" tasks. And that has been successful. My name is finally all-the-way changed (except today I detected a last little glitch in that process, but I will rectify it tomorrow). I've made some important progress toward furnishing and tending my home. Some other things are coming along as well.

I've even gently and slowly started to reclaim a fitness regimen. And then.... I was offered the opportunity to ride in the Chicago AIDS Ride. It's a 190-mile, 2-day ride from Chicago to Milwaukee and vice-versa. "Oh sure," I said.

And then I plotzed. What did I just say????? THe evil twin who lives in my head started talking, and the procrastination began. I won't be ready that early. I'm not good enough. I can hardly change a flat tire on the green bike of wonderment. (It really is hard, just to be clear.) Dave's the bike rider, not me.

Oh for crying out loud. Is there EVER going to be a point where he's not taking up space in my head?

Having noticed that this is -again-the problem, I plunked down my money to ride. I am not signing up any more to have him define what I do and don't do. I committed myself to raising $1000. (Please don't make me ride 190 miles AND donate $1000. Seriously.) I have readied the bikes to go to the bike shop for a tune-up. I must choose between Wrench Night at the bike shop and the ride orientation tomorrow night. I think I'd best go to Wrench Night, to get re-oriented to bike mechanics but also to find potential sponsors. There will be other ride orientations. I have signed up for a one-on-one tutorial about dealing with my particular bike issues. I have a training plan.

And.... we're off. The baseline sucks. Seriously, I have only once before been in this poor physical shape, and then I was coming off a serious illness. But I have committed myself -not to finishing elegantly, but to finishing.

Think about what this ride is for, for crying out loud. If people can confront the terror of an AIDS diagnosis, this fear of mine is put nicely into perspective. Get on the bike. How bad could it be, particularly when I love to ride my bike??? (Yes, I've ridden enough to know the answer to that question, but let's let the glow spread for a little while.)

So, I will be part of Team Youth Outlook, because a colleague and friend is on their Board. Go here to learn more about Youth Outlook and its work in the community. And go here to learn more about the Chicago AIDS Ride. And PLEASE go here to make a donation.

And I will report here how the training and the progress move along -even if it's backward from time to time.