Category Archives: Lessons

Mile 751: Crying and Jogging

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Miles since last time: 121
Total miles: 751

It’s extremely hard to run when you’re crying. 

It’s nearly impossible to maintain a steady stream of inhaling and exhaling when your throat starts to get tight and your chest starts to hitch and you feel an unwanted but familiar sting behind your eyes.

It’s even more difficult when you’re the type of person who tries in vain to hold it all back until you’re not so much breathing as hyperventilating.

Nevertheless, this happened to me no less than four times during my run this morning while I tried to process the election news.

Instead of choosing tolerance and acceptance, we showed that a large portion of us are mad that we have to share the country  with scary brown people and the gays. Instead of choosing a hopeful, inclusive future, we proved that an alarming number of us believe that non-white, non-Christian, non-male, non-cisgender, non-straight people don’t deserve a voice or an equal place in the United States. Instead of listening to logic, we chose to believe that a man who lies 70% of the time is simply “telling it like it is,” and that (somehow, inexplicably) that’s okay–even admirable. 

Instead of Hillary Clinton, we elected Donald Trump.

We chose a bully who gets away with spewing hate because he is rich and white, and who, despite multiple bankruptcies, people continue to incorrectly believe is a good businessman and leader. For some reason, it is easier for 59,611,678 (at last count) to believe that Hillary Clinton is a liar, which is easy, I guess, if you cover your ears and start shouting so you can’t hear me when I tell you that she is one of the nation’s most honest politicians. No, seriously. People who believe otherwise are either misinformed, willfully ignorant, or gifted at blatantly ignoring facts.

Only in America can a man with no experience refuse to lay out any real policy, throw temper tantrums, threaten to sue people he doesn’t like, refuse to release his tax returns under provably false pretenses, refuse to pay people who work for him, and constantly say to “trust him” when he’s asked a hard question–and still be thought of as the transparent, honest candidate. Only in America can a woman be the most qualified and capable candidate we’ve possibly ever had, keep her cool while being interrupted 50 times in 90 minutes, rack up endorsements like they’re Halloween candy, dedicate her entire adult life to public service, be cleared of wrongdoing every single time she is accused of it, and win the majority of the popular vote–and it still isn’t enough.

I’ll say it again for those in the back.

Hillary Clinton got the most votes and it still wasn’t enough. 

Now, instead of spending early, formative years in a country where women can lead the free world, my three-year-old niece and my almost two-year-old little cousin will spend those years with a president who would either a.) be disgusted by them because they are children (and GIRLS, nonetheless!), or b.) wonder if he could date them in a couple of decades. Instead, people I care about are legitimately scared for their well-being. We all deserve better.

I spent today feeling hurt and sad and scared and betrayed and angry and defeated. Quite frankly, I get to grieve for today. In Oklahoma, my vote didn’t count because I’m in the liberal minority. Nationwide, my vote didn’t count because of the Electoral College. In our culture, my voice and time and work count less because of my gender. 

If an intelligent, exceedingly competent woman can win but still not be victorious, what does that mean for the rest of us? What more do we have to do? Will anything ever be enough?

So, yes, I cried during my jog this morning, despite it making the entire process so much harder.

But I kept going.

And I will keep going. And I will join the fight, despite learning today how much harder everything is going to be.

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Mile 309.1: 13.1 Things I Would Tell Pre-Half-Marathon Me

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“We won! We won! WE WON! WE WON!”
–“Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” Hamilton

Miles since last time: 167 (+ 13.1!)
Total miles: 309.1

I DID A FRIGGING HALF-MARATHON YESTERDAY!

Whoa, sorry. I didn’t mean to shout at you.

BUT I DID MY FIRST HALF-MARATHON.

OKC Memorial Marathon 2016 start line

Can you see me? I’m waaaaaaaaaaaaay at the back. Source

I’m not going to lie–I was a bit worried during the week or so before that it wouldn’t happen. The long runs leading up to it kept getting more and more difficult. The Oklahoma City Memorial Run is kind of a big deal, and I was pretty convinced I was going to die.

I’m happy to report that I didn’t. So, now I go back to not knowing where, when, or how it’s going to happen–what a beautiful feeling!

It turns out you have a lot of time to think as you race (or, in my case, heartily jog and intermittently walk) through the neighborhoods of Oklahoma City, and as I did, I considered what I would’ve told myself twenty-one weeks ago, before I started training.

Here’s what I came up with.

1) Put your Twitter handle on your bib, dummy.
No one cares what your first name is. Self-promote, dammit!

2) Get fitted for shoes NOW.
Sure, Shoe Carnival is going to have a BOGO half-off sale right when you start training. Don’t do it. Those Nikes will do terrible things to your toes, heel, and possibly your sanity and will to live. See a professional early. And then, when you do finally go to OK Runner in Norman, you’re pretty sure that the guy who fits you for shoes turns out to be the male marathon winner. NBD. It’s just probably the closest you’ll ever get to winning a marathon.

2016 Half Marathon Course Map

2016 Half Marathon Course Map

3) NEVER skip a water station.
Sometimes, they’re far apart. You’re going to pass the first one thinking it’s too early and you don’t need hydration yet. You will regret that thought as soon as the last person holding out a wax paper cup is behind you.

4) Get ready to have your ego stroked a bit.
People basically cheer for you the whole time. Even thought they don’t know you, they are so enthusiastic about the race that they happily sit, clap, shout words of encouragement, high-five, and wave signs as they watch you hobble by. Remember the Hall of Gratuitous Praise from Sabrina the Teenage Witch? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. Plus, no fewer than five people will even be dressed as chickens, so get ready for that sight.

5) Fight the urge to stop and correct misspelled signs.
Looking at you, “Unstopable” guy. Your heart is in the right place, and I appreciate that. Also, I didn’t think to bring a pen.

6) Don’t stress about missing the turn-off for the half.
You’re going to spend a good chunk of the beginning of the run worried that you will miss the split between the half- and full-marathon courses, causing you to accidentally end up on the wrong path, leading you to fall into Lake Hefner out of sheer exhaustion because you were not prepared to accidentally do a full marathon, which ends up making you part of a balanced breakfast for the giant squid monster that somehow survives down there undetected. (There’s a lot of time for your mind to wander, okay?) However, there are spray-painted arrows on the road and at least four people with bullhorns who announce the correct directions for everyone. You’ll be fine. I mean, there may come a day when that giant squid monster gets you, but April 24, 2016, is not that day.

Race results

6,585th place, baby!

7) You’ll start to get a weird cramp in your right bicep and into your shoulder for no reason.
Yeah, I don’t know what to tell you about that. Maybe you should have practiced your arm swing. It seems there’s a wrong way to do it.

8) Running into the wind is a bee-yatch.
The lighter breezes are nice and will keep you from overheating, but there are stretches where you’ll think, “Wait–why is this air solid?”

9) The Hamilton soundtrack, Foo Fighters, Neon Trees, boy bands, and various other dance/pop hits will help you get through.
For a Broadway musical, Hamilton is surprisingly good for running. However, try not to shout, “VOTE FOR BURR!” along the course, or, you know, while Senator Lankford is speaking.

10) No GI distress!
I know you’re worried, but let me tell you that your intestines are the real champs of the day.

11) After you finish, don’t go directly to get your finisher shirt.
Cool down first, because going from jogging/walking for a long time to standing around in a line in the middle of a huge crowd of people is apparently a bad idea. You don’t need the vomit anxiety.

OKC Memorial Marathon Finish Line

HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIIIIIIIIIIDE

12) There will be burgers at the finish line.
They’ll smell amazing and wonderful, but thought of actually eating a burger will make you a little nauseous. Stick with the banana and bagel. And the chocolate milk, of course. Never deny yourself chocolate milk.

13) You’ll finish.
Yes, you’ll have to walk sometimes. A lot of people will pass you, but you will still cross the finish line, and in slightly less time than you predicted. Honestly, aside from the full-body muscle soreness and right heel/arch pain, you make it out pretty scot-free. You are even mobile enough to go to a David Cross performance afterward. Fair warning, though–the show is upstairs, so good luck with that.

13.1) There’s no–
That’s approximately one-tenth of the sentence I would have written. Fill in the blanks yourself.

So, who’s doing it with me next year???

OKC Memorial Marathon merchandise

Finisher swag!

Mile 838.5: Five Reasons You Should Be Wearing Leggings Right Now

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“And I wonder
When I sing along with you
If anything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this real again.”
–Foo Fighters, “Everlong” 

Miles since last time: 61.5
Total miles: 838.5

For a long time, I told myself that I would never wear skinny pants, no matter what size I was. They seemed specifically designed to make my legs look like sausages, and who feels good about themselves when their pants make them feel like spicy ground meat that is usually stuffed into a tube of skin? (Thanks for that G-rated definition, Merriam-Webster!)

When replenishing my wardrobe a while back, I decided to bite the bullet and try skinny pants out so that I could also invest in tall boots. That’s really all I wanted–to be able to wear my new tall boots during the winter. Much to my surprise, I discovered that skinny pants are not fabric sausage factories or the Devil’s garment. They didn’t even look that terrible. In fact, they were even quite comfortable.

It was this revelation that lead me to also reconsider similar feelings about leggings. (Well, that and my desire to never subject the public at large to the sight of my bare legs. You’re welcome, public at large–now I wear leggings with dresses.)

I began with running leggings. When these proved to be a pleasure to work out in, I moved on to tights to wear with dresses. Then cotton leggings. Then jeggings–don’t judge. Now, I basically want to be wearing leggings all day, every day, which means I really need to invest in more tunics and long shirts. (I mean, I love leggings and all, but not enough to walk around like, “HERE’S THE EXACT SHAPE OF MY BODY WITH NO FLATTERING WAY OF HIDING PROBLEM AREAS, EVERYONE.”)

Here are five reasons I’m wearing leggings right now and why you should be, too.

1) They are ridiculously comfortable.
OHMYGOSH THE COMFORT. Wearing leggings is like wearing no pants, but without that weird leg sweat that results from sitting with two different areas of skin touching each other for too long. Wearing leggings is basically like having a second, cotton skin that protects you from back-of-the-knee perspiration.

2-5) See reason number one.
You need no other reason.

Mile 230: A Conversation With Myself

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“I’m looking for some back and forth with you.
Are you feeling the same as I do now and now and then?”
–Foo Fighters, “Back and Forth”

Miles Last Week: 50
Total Miles: 230

Now that I’m about halfway through Level 1 improv, I think it’s time I checked in with myself about how it’s going. The talk was longer than anticipated…


Hi, Amanda.

Hey.

I know you’re excited about The Walking Dead coming back today, but I’m going to need you to focus and answer a few questions.

Okay. But Better Call Saul starts tonight, too, so I can’t make any promises.

Fair enough.

So, whatcha wanna talk about?

Improv.

Yay!

So I take it that means it’s going well?

Yeah, I mean, I laugh a lot. It’s really fun, and I’m definitely learning a lot. I’m not super great at it, but I always look forward to it every week.

That’s great–but you decided to join for a lot of reasons. How’s the rest of it working out? Are you using improv skills elsewhere? Are you participating more? Are you feeling more creative/funny?

Um…

Uh oh.

What’s that supposed to mean? You asked a lot of questions in a row. I was just trying to decide which one to answer first.

Sure you were.

Whatever, Amanda.

"Talk to Yourself Hat" by Kate Hartman Source

“Talk to Yourself Hat” by Kate Hartman
Source

Let’s just take them one at a time. Are you using improv skills elsewhere?

Well, I’m writing this blog post. That’s kind of improv-y.

You’ve been thinking about this since yesterday. That’s not at all improv-y.

Oh. Good point.

I know.

Well, no need to get cocky about it.

Just answer the question.

You’re mean.

No, I’m not. I’ve just learned that I need to be firm with you.

You are me.

I know. I’m not proud of it, either.

You’re doing that mean thing, again.

Okay, next question. Are you participating–without being prodded?

Um…

Good lord.

Hey, now. I’m participating. I’m just still working on the whole “prodding” thing. It’s only been four weeks. Changing behavior takes time.

I suppose that’s understandable.

I know.

Don’t do that.

What? You can, but I can’t?

Pretty much.

You’re the worst.

I’m you.

I’m aware.

Still, come on. You can jump out there. I know you want to.

I know. But the other people in my class are so creative/funny/quick. It’s slightly intimidating. I might screw up.

There are no wrong moves in improv. It’s one of the rules and everything.

I know, but…

Are you so arrogant that you think you are the one person who can mess up improv?

Ouch.

Besides, it’s not like you are a stranger to trying something and failing. Do I need to remind you about the Planking Challenge of 2013? Or the NaNoWriMo disaster?

You bastard. How dare you.

Life’s hard. Get a helmet. And jump out there–literally. It’ll probably be more entertaining that way.

I’m working on it. And you’re still mean.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. Are you feeling more creative/funny?

Um…

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Well…

What’s the problem?

I wouldn’t say there’s a problem, per se. I just think I tend to go to the most obvious thing and not necessarily the most creative. I’m still working on that, too.

Well, just say something creative/funny right now.

Eek…

You did it, didn’t you? That squeak thing you do when you don’t know what to do?

No. Shut up.

You were expressly told to work on not doing that.

I know. I am, but–

But changing behavior takes time. I know.

You’re sympathy is overwhelming.

As for the “obvious” thing, sometimes you just have to say the obvious thing to get it out of your head and then you build off of that. Plus, sometimes the thing that’s obvious to you isn’t obvious to everyone else.

Fair point.

I know.

Not again.

Anyway, I can see that we’ve made progress but that there’s still some progress to make. It’s okay, though. We can do it.

Did you just say something moderately encouraging? It’s like I don’t know you anymore.

I’ll be ignoring that.

You would.

You would know.

Mature.

Look who’s talking.

Whatever. We’re agreed, anyhow. We’ll keep working. We’ve got this.

Yeah. You’re not so bad.

You’re still mean.

Ignoring that.


That wasn’t so bad, I suppose. It’s good to check in with yourself every now and then. I have some things to work on, and I’m going to. It’ll be good. It’ll be fine. I think.

Mile 180: Things No One Tells You About Weight Loss, Part 1

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“In a few weeks, I will get time
To realize it’s right before my eyes.
And I can take it if it’s what I want to do.”
–Two Door Cinema Club, “What You Know”

Miles since last time: 69 (hehe–sorry, sometimes I’m 12)
Total miles: 180

When people talk about losing weight and getting fit, there are a few obvious things they’ll refer to: new clothes, more stamina, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

There are also many things that no one tells you–or at least, no one told me. I’ve started a list.

1.) You can feel your heartbeat in your torso when you lie down.
Try it. Press your hand right above your belly button, down to the muscle. Some of us (ahem, me) might have to press a little more, but you’ll feel it. I don’t know what blood vessel is right there, but it pumps hard enough to move your hand up and down. It’s kind of weird.

You can also put your other hand on your neck and see how the pulses are just a millisecond off of each other. It’s kind of cool, if you’re curious about that sort of thing…

2.) You notice it in your hands.
I’ll never have a thigh gap, but I have a finger gap. Am I pretty yet?

Has my hand always looked like that?

Has my hand always looked like that?

3.) You lose all ability to regulate your body temperature.
Since my teen years, I’ve been someone who is basically always wearing at least two layers of clothing, even in the summer. I guess I just like the layered look (and have a pretty high amount of body shame, but whatever). Now, though, this has a lot more function. I’m freezing when I get home after working out, but I may wake up sweating during the night. I’ve also become someone who doesn’t understand why people walk into her office and comment that she and her officemates are basically sitting in a furnace. And if the A/C is on, I start to wonder if it would be weird for me to be wearing two sweaters and my gloves.

I imagine it’s like a much, much lesser version of being bipolar–but without meds. That being said, I still (and will always) prefer winter to summer. I’m just going to need more sweaters.

4.) If you’re a lady, you become more…um…regular.
I considered not including this one, but this is supposed to be the start of a list of things no one tells you, right? Well, a lot of overweight women don’t menstruate regularly. When some of that weight starts to come off…well, you get the idea.

Okay, talk about normal, healthy body functions = over.

5.) You start to feel more comfortable answering “What if?” with “Let’s find out.”
Two years ago, I never would have considered running, even for a minute at a time. But what if I did? I swore I would never own skinny pants. What if I just tried them on and maybe just got some on to wear with boots? Or, what if I referred to menstrual cycles on my blog? And, of course, the big one–what if I joined an improv class and built some comedy skills?

This might be where you have the urge to congratulate me on the self-confidence to try new things, but let me stop you there. I see this as more the result of thinking, “Hey, I did a thing I thought was impossible (i.e., going thousands of miles)–I wonder what else I can do.”

As you start to test your physical limits and discover what you are capable of, you get curious. And if you’re a lifetime daydreamer like me, you have lots of what-ifs to choose from.

Unfortunately, you can’t test them all. I mean, I don’t really foresee a scenario in which I should find out what would happen if I decided to start parting my hair on the other side or something. Let’s not get crazy.

This journey ain’t over yet, folks. More revelations to come.

Mile 2122: So Water Intoxication Is a Thing

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“You know you got the power
To make me weak inside.”
–Backstreet Boys, “Drowning”

Miles Last Week: 65.5
Total Miles: 2122

I think we’ve covered this before, but I drink a lot of water–like a lot. In the last couple of months, I’ve even upped it to about ten 24-ounce bottles a day during the week (less on the weekends) because that’s the max you can enter into MyFitnessPal in a single day. It seemed like a good number.

The only side effect I really noticed was that my increased consumption of ice water seemed to be making me feel a bit colder (of course, that could also be due to the sub-zero temperatures in my office at work), and I asked people on Facebook if it was possible to give yourself hypothermia from the inside out. The general consensus was “no, and you might be crazy” (the second part felt implied)–but I started to wonder, is it possible to drink too much water?

To the Interwebs!

IMG_0024.JPG

I’m sure you’ll be as excited as I was to discover that not only can you drink too much water, but it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE to kill yourself from it.

Basically, you can get water-wasted when you drink so much water that your blood becomes diluted, which can cause an electrolyte imbalance, which messes with your sodium levels, which can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, which can send you into a coma or a grave.

Feeling a little bit cold doesn’t seem as bad anymore.

But wait! There’s good news–and bad news…

Good news: According to most of the articles I found (like this one and this one and this one), casualties are typically people in some sort of consumption contest and are purposely drinking tons of water in a short time, or they are marathoners/intense exercisers who drink too much too quickly for their bodies to replace electrolytes. There’s also torture, but we don’t talk about that.

So, you’re probably more likely actually drown than you are to die by diluted blood. I couldn’t find any actual numbers, but I’m assuming.

Bad news: Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule about how much water you’re supposed to have in a day. You just have to be careful and listen to your body, especially if you start to notice nausea, an altered mental state, vomiting, headaches, muscle weakness, etc. (according to those same articles) if you’re drinking a lot of water.

Hydrate, but don’t overhydrate.

Hope you aren’t a hypochondriac…like me…

Mile 1560: A Bug’s Life

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“Nice to meet you.
Now go away.”
–Weatherbox, “Pagan Baby”

Miles Last Week: 59
Total Miles: 1560

At my gym, the cardio equipment faces a line of windows. On Saturday mornings, there’s really not a lot to look at other than the guy cleaning the litter out of the parking lot and birds scavenging for a meal.

Yesterday, though, I spent much of my elliptical-ing watching a beetle on the sidewalk outside. (There’s really not a lot to look at, okay?) This particular beetle’s back leg on the right side stuck out an angle I could kindly describe as “wrong,” and the poor thing was having trouble balancing its little black body. After I noticed it, the beetle took a few wobbly steps and promptly tumbled onto its back.

Now, I am not typically sympathetic to the plight of the beetle. (I have sort of a ‘live and let live’ philosophy about a lot of bugs. As long as they stay outside and leave me alone, we’re cool. If they come inside or into my space, then we’re not cool–unless they’re across the room and I don’t want to get up. That’s okay, I guess.) But I couldn’t help but feel sorry for that disgusting little creature on the other side of the window as it waved its uninjured legs around frantically, fighting to correct itself.

And it did. I’m not sure how, but it pulled itself upright. That lopsided beetle took approximately three tiny steps before it toppled again.

Then it got up…and fell again. This up-and-down went on for a while. So long that I lost track of (or, if we’re being honest, interest in) the ongoing struggle, but a grasshopper sat in judgment about two feet away on the sidewalk–you know, as grasshoppers do.

By the time I finished working out, the beetle was gone.

If this insectile parable is not a metaphor for a lot of things in life, I don’t know what is. You wobble around, take a tumble, flail around blindly, get up, make a little progress, and fall over again. Meanwhile, some douchebag grasshopper is watching like, “Oh, I never fall over because I’M A GRASSHOPPER and my legs are far more stable than yours.”

I’ve never seen a grasshopper on its back–I’m assuming their legs prevent that sort of thing–but I have seen several fly into windows, which probably isn’t much better.

I digress.

The point is, if a physically unbalanced, five-legged beetle can make it in the world, so can the rest of us.