Running in Virginia

Or, Jumanji at 6:30 a.m.

Some back story: In May I started running, mostly to get healthy, mostly to set an example for the little oyster and future kids, a little bit to give me something to do during the day, and a little bit to lose weight.

So, in order:

  • I have definitely gotten healthy–I run an average of 3 miles a day, 6 days a week; I have lost two pants sizes; my resting heart rate is down 30 bpm; I have muscles!; and last week I ran an 8:54 mile. Oh! And I can do my whole yoga DVD without stopping, which I couldn’t do when I started working out and which I do on the day when I don’t run. GO ME.
  • I’m sure I’m setting an example for my kid(s). I want her/them to grow up assuming running moms are the norm and, planning ahead here, I would lovelovelove to do fun runs with my small fry when she/they are big enough to participate, years down the road. Which means I need to keep this up because mama is not getting younger.
  • Truth bomb: I started exercising daily in May because our mornings dragged and hustling around the block with a stroller made me feel strong and gave us something to do. But then a funny thing happened–as I got stronger and started to see results, I got bored pushing a stroller for a 40 minute speed walk and started getting up earlier to run alone before the husband left for work. So what started out as exercise to kill time has become a crucial part of my day, my well-being, and our family’s happiness because, believe it, those endorphin things are for. real.
  • And finally, yes, I wanted to be a certain weight before we went for another baby and knowing that I had at least six months of waiting on hormone levels before trying again, I figured I could lose the weight. Turns out no, and here’s how I know: 20 miles a week for three months, smaller meal portions, less sugar, and way more veggies and I’ve lost all of 6 lbs. Yep, six. And I haven’t lost–or gained!–an ounce since June. So I like to think that after that initial layer of 6 lbs. peeled itself off, my bod got serious about building muscle and toning up what’s left. And I like what’s left. The real goal was to be healthy and I mistakenly equated that with weight. But I’m a great size and a great weight and anyway, it all comes back to setting an example for my progeny; obsessing about a few pounds at the cost of maintaining a good, healthy lifestyle does no one any good.

Again, that’s all just back story. Where does Jumanji come in, you ask?

It comes in every morning at 6:30 a.m. in my quaint little northern Virginia neighborhood where I sometimes feel like I am running for my ever-loving life. I can never look behind me on a run because that’s when you run into a raptor or a tiger and get eaten alive in the movie version so no way, man. You have to understand that the wildlife I encounter–or do my best NOT to encounter–is solely responsible for all of my negative splits, and sometimes we’re talking the difference of a solid minute or more.

Last week I saw the glint of a spider web in an early commuter’s headlights. But as I got closer by the second, I also saw the spider that had made the web and to be able to spot a spider in a web in the wild from 15 feet away ten minutes before the sun comes up really says more about the size of the spider than the strength of one’s eyesight. I was slowing down and giving a wide berth until I saw that the web was spun between a large tree branch and the ground, MAKING IT TALLER THAN I AM. Also, the web was like forty-ply, a thick, plush masterpiece of arachnidal workmanship. Suddenly slowing down seemed like a fool’s errand. On my way home, I ran on the other side of the street.

Little snakes with stripes, bigger snakes without stripes, a darling little blue salamander or two (holy cow, do those things bite? must Google…), all of these creatures appear–always suddenly–on my runs. Someone even lost a white parrot in the neighborhood so in between songs I listen for the exotic cry of a wandering bird but an ornithologist I am not so I don’t think I’d know it if I heard it. I actually stopped and looked up into a tree a few weeks ago thinking “Oh, that sounds like a parrot, at least to me, in my head,” but what flew out of the tree was remarkably brown and small and not a parrot.

And while we’re talking about trees, lets talk about those mangy denizens of the wood, squirrels. They are e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. and many of them are too bold for their own good. Or at least too bold for my comfort. But while I used to run away from squirrels now I go full beast mode and charge at them if they are in my path, clapping if needed. I feel that this also deters potential human attackers.

The crickets in Virginia are so big my Rottweiler backs away from them. I think one hissed at me once. What I hate about encountering these “crickets” is that they are all antennaed and pointy in every direction so it’s impossible to tell which way they are facing and therefore which way they are going to jump. Although now that I think about it, I wonder if their size means they’d be amenable to the Milkbone peace offerings I sometimes carry.

Sometimes the number of creatures dangling, darting, slithering, jumping, leering, swooping, or dashing means that my morning run may be less of a run and more of an avoidance obstacle course. To which I say, who needs calisthenics and interval training? I just run in semi-darkness in a place where Jurassic Park looks like a kiddie ride.

And I’ve got the stems to prove it.

 

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Dogblog: What’s a bad-ask?

A few weekends ago my dad was gone and my mom took me and the naked puppy to play with some cousins in a big house with a big yard and I had so. much. fun. Tons of funs. All over. And also my mom came home with a bike from her cousins, for my dad to use because he has been talking forever about riding this kind of bike (dad says it’s a “fixed gear” but I hear “fixed” and I plug my ears and I go in the other room) and so dad has been using it which means…

…my mom is also exercising. She told my dad after they lost the other naked pup in January and found out in February that they can’t add to the pack until this fall that she wants to “lose weight” but I don’t know why she wants to when every time someone “loses” something it’s a bad thing.

Grown ups are so confusing to me. Also confusing: Who ate all my big Milkbones?

Anyway, every day when Mom goes exercising, she puts on her stinky exercise shirts and puts a little black X on the calendar so she knows when she did her exercises. Sometimes she makes me go but I hate the exercises. Yesterday Mom got so speedy and I was being so slow that she brought me home and put me back in the house still wearing my leash. That’s how much she was in a hurry to do exercising. The naked puppy doesn’t seem to mind, but that’s because all she does is sit in her stroller and enjoy the view. Pups these days.

Sometimes I hear my mom say that doing her sweaty-exercises makes her feel like a “bad ask” but I thought asking was good so I really do not get it. I was pretending to sleep the other day when Mom was talking to herself about jogging with the stroller and me (ugh) and how having a baby and then having some weights to lose (on purpose! again, what??) and hauling all three of us around the neighborhood makes her feel like a “bad-ask.”

I guess Mom’s exercises are making her happy though because she is missing some of her weight. I don’t know why she doesn’t look for it, the way we all have to look for Dad’s keys when he loses them. Like I said, grown ups are confusing to me.

So Dad is happy because his bike is “fixed” (LALALALALA CAN’T HEAR YOU ) and Mom can’t find some of her weight every time she comes back from her baby-doctor’s office every month and that makes her happier and happier so she keeps doing her exercises. Today she’s wearing pants that usually she wears not buttoned (woof! wasn’t supposed to say that!) but they are buttoned up and she even had to wear her belt tighter yesterday on her jeeenes genes Jene’s? regular blue pants. I think she looks very nice but I still don’t understand why no one is looking for the weight she keeps losing! Sometimes I try to help her find it and she says to get my nose out of her ear.

What? Maybe that’s where all my Milkbones went. Sheesh.

 

 

The husband’s dilemma

The husband: I heard about a writing opportunity today and I don’t want you to take this the wrong way.
Me: Ok. I have girded my loins and steeled my nerves. Lay it on me.
The husband: It’s a blogging job for the Washingtonian. They are looking for one man and one woman to blog through the month of January. They get the content out of it and these people get writing exposure.
Me: Awesome! What’s the topic?
The husband: Don’t take this the wrong way because you are perfect and I thought about not telling you because I’m going to sound like an ass.
Me: Oh. It’s about people with no friends, isn’t it?
The husband: No. It’s a weight-loss blog.
Me: HAHAHA!
The husband: All day. All day I went back and forth on whether or not to mention it to you. The Washingtonian will pay for a month of personal training for these people who will then blog about it. I think they are actually looking for people who need to lose weight, but I want you to be able to write and this came up on Twitter today.
Me: HAHAHA! You want the girl who fell off a treadmill to work out in public and then tell the District of Columbia about it? I’m in. I’m so in.
The husband: Can you see why I felt like a jerk for even thinking of you for this? What kind of husband suggests out of the blue that his wife get a personal trainer?
Me: We better slow down, I don’t know if I can keep up with you and Dietrich while laughing this hard.
The husband: Now you’re mocking me.
Me: Mocking you? I’m just trying to keep up with your athletic stride and zest for life. Take it down a notch, I’m getting a stitch.
The husband: You’re being mean.
Me: Me? Mean? Hang on, I have to rest. This walking the dog stuff will kill ya. I could use a personal trainer or something.
The husband: I shouldn’t have mentioned it.
Me: Why not? Now I’m burning extra calories from laughing. The trainer will have that much less to work with next month. Joke’s on them.
The husband: Are your feelings hurt?
Me: Of course they aren’t. Thanks for looking out for writing jobs. Do I enter online?
The husband: The Tweet they posted had a link to the rules.
Me: Good. Hopefully my overweight fingers can handle all the typing.
The husband: Again with the mocking.

When we got home from our rather jolly walk, I submitted my 200-word pitch for the blogging job and will be thrilled if I’m picked. Hopefully my heart can handle the excitement.