Look At Me, I’m Sandra B.*

*Sung to the tune of Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee, the catchy Stockard Channing ditty from 1978’s Grease.*

However, the Sandra who I know and am fond of, Sandra B., is likely not “lousy with virginity” considering that she has five adult children and several grandbabies, but I digress . . .

Sandra B., who I have now known for nearly five years, is a woman I not only respect and appreciate, but I admire her and aspire to be like her in one particular way.  Sandy is the epitome of the expression:

fountain

Sandy is a REAL runner!  <~~BTW, this is not me downplaying my abilities, but I am describing her this way to provide some insight into my perspective and image of her.  Sandy has been running for years and years and years; a “leisurely” eight-ish miles is how she begins most days, and I doubt she even breaks a sweat, tbh.  As seasoned and capable a runner as she is, from day one, Sandra B. has been one of my supporters.  When running 1/4 mile non stop was an accomplishment, when I finished my first 5k, even though I walked most of it, and when I did my first Torch Run and had to ride part of the way in the struggle bus, Sandy was supportive, encouraging, and motivating.  When I entered my first Dempsey Challenge 10K in 2016, I kept pace with Sandy and her sister for the first mile or so, and I use the term “kept pace with” loosely; when they finished long before me, they waited for me at the finish line.  When Sandy and I went running in the park together a few times last summer, during breaks, and the heat was so oppressive that I had to walk, she never once made me feel bad about myself, nor did she make me feel like I was holding her back.

Sandy is a force to be reckoned with as far as fitness and athleticism, but in addition to this, she is truly a model of empowerment.  I wish to and strive to be that person to others.  I doubt that Sandy envisions herself in the same manner that I visualize her, but I hypothesize that nobody sees themselves from the viewpoint of others.

Last week, while in my office, I overheard a colleague say that she didn’t want to go for a walk outside because it was torrentially raining.  I stuck my head out from my doorway and told her that I was going to go downstairs and use the gym if she wanted to join me.  She exclaimed, “No way!” and indicated that she can’t keep up with me; as of late, she’s been pushing herself harder and harder to get her 10k steps in before she goes home for the day, and I always give her an attaboy for her efforts.

Just this week, I received an email from my best friend, Callie, that reads, “You are the only reason I have been pushing myself.  If not for you, I would have been much lazier this summer 🙂 Glad to have you beside me :)!”

Holy shit!  I’m someone’s Sandy!

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Mainely A Stereotype

I reside in a small town.  Not only do I live in a small town, I live in THE stereotypical small town.  Think: Mayberry combined with Cheers (yeah, the bar) ’cause my residential township is quaint, peaceful, and the locals know everybody’s name (exception: seasonal tourists, but many of the locals are nosy / social so they know the tourists’ names too!).  So, for the sake of my privacy, all the while giving my home a name, I shall refer to this quaint land of familiarity as Cheersberry . . .  or Maycheers . . .  or . . .  ORRRRR . . . I will use these interchangeably.

I have various run routes established.  There’s one route that I like to do either very early in the morning or later in the evening because 1.5 miles in, I reach a very small beach, and to witness the sunrise or sunset there is breathtakingly beautiful.  Plus, there’s the added bonus that if it’s a wicked hot day, one can jump in the lake for a little swim!  The picture I have does not depict the rise or set of the sun, but it’s still a glorious view, even at midday.  Also along this route are fellow Cheersberry residents who have become familiar with me and will oftentimes whoop words of encouragement or offer me water.  The Friends on the 4th 5K is mapped along “downtown,” but there is a portion of the run that is residential; many people sit on their lawns to cheer and lightly spray runners with their garden hoses – this is my favorite!  The garden hose incidence is less frequent during one of my “regular” runs, one that isn’t a big to-do / event, which makes it even more special if it should so happen, and once in a while, it does.  Small town livin’ is the tops!  . . . at least for eight months of the year.

Narrows

Summer is now in full swing, and the tourists have come from near and far!  Adding to the small town stereotype, the locals are not always so fond of the tourists, and by this, I mean I am not so fond of the tourists.  The environment changes when the out-of-towners flock to Maycheers in gaggles.  Just last week, I was pushed around and rudely cut in front of at the farm stand, and all of the commotion was caused by non locals.  When running, the out of state cars do not move over to share the road; in the last few days alone, my Radin and I have had several close calls with vehicular modes of transportation.

Yearly, I am prepared for the sudden change in environment at the grocery store and other shopping venues.  What is typically a friendly and patient setting becomes a climate of superiority and brouhaha.  When it’s the off-season, patrons of the grocery store chatter with one another as they wait in line, say “excuse me” if they need to reach something that is in another’s personal space, and offer to help those who may need helping.  Now?  Now, it’s a free for all.  Overall, the from-awayers are impatient, crashing their shopping carts into others because they’re ceaselessly using their cell phones, they loudly insinuate and make certain that we, the townies, are aware that their vacation time is valuable and that they cannot be bothered to wait, and the number of people that aggressively invade personal space is utterly galling.  My intent is not to generalize because I am certain that there are just as many delightful vacationers in our area, but I’m just indicating that the poor behavior is noticed.  I can adjust to the sudden influx of strong personalities, but what I tend to have difficulty acclimating to are nightly fireworks and unleashed dogs.

I love fireworks, but I much prefer them when they are appropriate.

  • Q: So, when are they appropriate?
  • A: Holidays such as the 4th of July or New Year’s, and on Friday or Saturday nights should the desire be to launch the works of fire just for the pure sake of doing so.

I wish beyond all measure that my town ordinance did not change, that fireworks were still banned and illegal.  The nightly fireworks wreak havoc for the wildlife, not to mention the pets who are terrified of the loud noises and riddled with anxiety over the ruckus.  *I am not a parent, other than fur babies, but I imagine that it is exceedingly arduous for those with babies, toddlers, and young children.*  The late night annoyances are also not appreciated by those of us who get up at 0400.  I understand that many of the temporary residents are on vacation, and I acknowledge that they should enjoy their vacation time, their relaxation time but not at the expense of those who live here full-time, year-round.  Cheerberry is not The City That Never Sleeps; we sleep . . . or at least, we used to.  I’m not requesting that the fireworks and drunken carousing cease altogether, I just ask for the commotion to wrap up at a sensible time.

Finally, leash your dogs!  How do I know that the offenders of the leash laws are out-of-towners’ dogs?  Just like with the humans, the locals, especially those of us who are actively outside and running about the town, have familiarly with the local yokel puppers.  Sunday evening, I took Radin for a long walk.  *Radin and I are not able to run together because we are equally clumsy and end up in calamitous, though comical, conundrums.  So, when Radin accompanies me, it’s for the slower paced meanderings.*  About a mile from home, during our return expedition, an unleashed dog bolted toward us.  I have no doubt that this dog was friendly, but my Radin and I were recently attacked by an unleashed, not-so-friendly dog, in our own yard.  It is fair to assert that Radin and I are now a little suspicious and mistrustful of foreign dogs that come darting at us.  Stranger danger is real, folks!  I should note that Radin does not get along remarkably well with other dogs as a rule, and because I know this about him, he is always harnessed, leashed, and kept close to me.

During our aforementioned adventure, I pulled Radin close to me and commanded him to stand between my legs.  Because my thighs are much stronger than my arms, I know that I can hold him still and protect him that way.  (Hey, I’ve been credited with saving his life during our attack, so I know that I could (and would) do so again).  We began to simultaneously walk backwards, taking slow and steady steps, but the dog continued to dart toward us.  To my horror, the unleashed dog scampered into the road and into oncoming traffic.  Now, I don’t want problems to arise between this dog and my own, but I also don’t want to see harm befall this visiting dog.  I’m typically the person pulling over and rescuing dogs (and cats and turtles and whatever else I find in the road that needs an assist).  Meanwhile, drivers are annoyed because traffic is slow going – Radin and I were nearly hit by two or three vehicles that refused to move over!  Out of approximately seven passing motorists, only one man stopped to help us.  Coincidentally, the other six vehicles had out of state and out of country (Canada) registration plates, respectively.  The man who stopped to help me, he was a Mainer.  Summer folks, enjoy your stay in Vacationland, but please, consider the residents of your interim abode.

. . . I don’t want to be the stereotypical, vacationist hating, country bumpkin so please, do your part in not turning me into a stereotype . . . just sayin’.

Venom of the Greenery Variety

Before deciding upon Venom of the Greenery Variety as a title, I was also contemplating Bitch of an Itch.  Each are accurate.

I was born and raised in Maine, and I have never lived in another state.  Other than a brief stint of city living, I’ve lived the majority of my 33 years in small towns, enjoying the quiet and beauty of country living.  I’m not so country that I own dairy cows, nor do I drive a dusty and rusty pickup truck stereotypically depicted in most cowboy-esque twangy country tunes.  However, I do live rurally, surrounded by nature and woodland creatures; it is abnormal to not see deer or turkeys in the yard, and just last night, there was a fox hanging out under one of my ancient and ginormous oak trees.

It is most surprising then, that for the first time in 33.5 years of life, I’ve recently encountered my very first bout with poison ivy or poison oak or poison sumac; whatever it is, it’s poisonous.  What began as a dot on my neck Thursday, became a line by Friday. On Monday morning, I was peppered in it: neck, chest, arms, legs, wrists, and hands.  Now, just because I live near the woods does not imply that I spend a lot of time in the boscage.  In fact, this is the summer that I have devoted to spending more time out of doors with the purpose of becoming more accustomed to the heat and humidity, and also because I find most aspects of nature to be beautiful, and I miss out on much of that allurement by spending the majority of my time inside.

Though I have spent more time outside this summer, I know for certain that I have not traipsed through the venomous greenery.  So, just how did I get the ivy of the poison variety?  Radin.  Radin gave me poison ivy; it is the only feasible explanation.  Oh, how I do wish my unfortunate tale has an exciting backstory, but alas, it does not.  I got poison ivy from my dog.  However, in all of its lackluster, the true story maintains that I’m “that person.”

I’m “that person” who, if it’s going to happen to someone, it’s going to happen to me.  Over the course of the last year or so, I have been dealt an absurd hand of cards:

  • An allergic reaction to facial cleanser that resulted in my eyes being swollen closed for the better part of a week or more.
  • A tumble on the pavement when my parents’ boxer, Gracie, caught a bout of the zoomies.
    • Q: What was in it for me?
    • A: Battered and bruised bones and scrapes and skinless patches.
  • A freak and unprecedented fainting spell whereby I hit my noggin and was left with a concussion, which I still face symptoms from to this day.
  • And now, bitchin’ itchin’.

Probably the most disappointing, other than the itch and pain and overall frustration, is that I had to opt out of the 4th of July 5K I had been so looking forward to running – I had such an awesome red, white, and blue tutu picked out for the event!  However, the rational Amy concluded that the 98 degree weather, coupled with the humidity and my streaming, salty sweat (A+ for alliteration!), would make me feel even worse and allow the rash to spread even more.  I’m almost finished with my Prednisone, and the poison laced patches are now dry so I think I can start to exercise vigorously again.

I have not had a decent run or workout since last Thursday, and while lying in bed, doped up on Benadryl, I remembered that the David Payne Memorial Run (7.2 miles) is July 23rd, and Beach to Beacon (10K) is August 4th.  I am now in full blown panic mode as it’s my modus operandi to doubt my ability, especially when I’ve been forced to slow down in my training.

It’s amazing the havoc a single week down-and-out can wreak on one’s confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

No Payne, No Gain

LETR 2.0 – FU

FU in this case can either mean eff you or follow up . . . maybe a bit of both, but more follow up than anything else, I promise.  According to my Fitbit, I ran 5.25 miles of the 6 miles that comprise our leg of the LETR.  I did take a water break, in what I have dubbed the “struggle bus,” but I don’t think I was sitting out for .75 miles.  However, even if it was only the 5.25 out of the 6 that I did run, I am extremely proud.  My main goal was simply to perform better than I did last year, and I certainly accomplished that!

My next endeavor may be the David Payne Memorial Run.

The David Payne Memorial Run is on July 23rd, annually.  The run is 7.2 miles so I figure that with a little more practice, I can do it.  There is also the comfort of the cruiser escort and the “struggle bus,” as outlined above, so, if I need a break, I can take one.  FYI, the “struggle bus” is our critical incident response unit – it’s not an actual bus.

On July 23rd, 1988, Officer David Payne was shot and killed in the line of duty.  The run begins where he died, and it ends at his grave.  I was hired July 22nd, 2013, and I remember observing several of the department’s employees returning from the run.  It was pouring that morning, and everyone came back drenched with sweat and rainwater.  In July of 2013, I was 50lbs. or so overweight and not even in the mindset to change that.  Furthermore, I wasn’t even close to starting up with running, and I could not and did not envision myself as a runner.  However, I knew then that I one day wanted to join that group, albeit  a small one, that I saw on my second day of employment.

I think 2018 is the year!  I have yet another opportunity to continue to push myself to step outside of my comfort zone.  Ironically, the discomfort at the prospect of trying something new has its own uniquely comfortable feel.  Nearly five years ago, I half-heartedly committed to “maybe one day.”  I’ve had quite a few “maybe one day” tasks on my perpetual to-do list, and I seem to have found a fondness for ticking those maybe one day to-dos from the bucket list.

In 2013, I was still two years away from beginning my weight loss journey, from finding my love for gym time and fitness, from becoming a “real” runner.  By Urban Dictionary’s standards, the appropriate ones anyways, I am indeed a real runner:

“A true runner is always in one of four states: 1. thinking about the next run 2. thinking about the last run 3. running 4. talking about running.”

Fast forward to 2018, particularly today.  As of today:

  • I’ve lost 52lbs
  • My goal, as far as my desired / goal weight, is 91% complete
  • I’ve participated in numerous 5Ks and 10Ks, improving my performance dramatically, given my very first 5K was completed in 42-45 minutes.
  • I have a gym schedule that, for the most part, I’m fastidiously abiding by
    • 30 minutes at 0900hrs Monday – Friday
    • 30-60 minutes at 1100hrs Monday – Friday

I think it’s only appropriate that I delve into new territory this upcoming July and try the David Payne Memorial Run.  In addition to honoring Payne’s life and EOW (thirty years ago this year), to tick off another one of those “maybe one day” goals, from so many years ago, feels like I’ve come full circle.  Five years ago, when from my office I saw the runners return, I never dreamed that being part of that group would ever be one of my realities.  I never dreamed the four aforementioned bullet points would be my reality, but here I am.

No Payne, no gain.

 

 

 

Fitbit Faux Pas

In looking back over my previous posts, there are a whole lot of I’ve been sucking, but I’m ready to not suck type posts.  In fact, these are the majority of writings housed in this here blog.  In keeping with my newfound mentality that I need to be kinder to myself, it’s about time I start writing about the (what I deem as) small victories, the battles I win within the war.

I was absolutely exhausted yesterday.  I am no stranger to poor sleep, but after a stretch of sleeping well, the poor sleep is hitting me with a vengeance, harder than ever before.  However, despite my complete and utter exhaustion, I worked out.  Granted, it was a short workout, but it was exercise nonetheless.  I’ve been sticking to only cardio as of late, and I know that in order to become a better runner and to get toned, I need to throw in some weights.  So, I busted out the kettlebell.  Side note: while I am fueling my rejuvenated desire to establish a fitness routine AKA working my ass off literally and figuratively, I am also mid-remodel.  So, I’m awake by 0430 hours each day, commuting approx. / more than 1.5 hours each day, I am working my FT job, exercising like a fiend, and at the end of the day, I’m doing manual labor / construction projects in the rental home on top of keeping my own household afloat.  Yeah, I’ve just blown my own mind in regards to the time I’ve wasted trying to figure out why I’m so tired these days.  Thank you, blog, for making my fatigue obvious.

As I was writing . . .

Despite being extraordinarily tired yesterday evening, I busted out the kettlebell.  The workout was difficult, and I was panting like a laboring dog, but I know it’s not supposed to be easy.  I was encouraged, motivated, and inspired when I began to feel that familiar burn.  IMO, there are some pains that are pleasurable, and the burning and aches from exercise fall into this category.  I was proud of myself just because Hey!  I did it!  However, there was a tiny piece of me that remained disappointed in myself because I did not obtain 10,000 steps yesterday.

I have realized that to gauge my success 10,000 steps at a time is a Fitbit faux pas.  I need to focus less on the numbers (Fitbit, scale, etc.) and focus more on my feels.  Right now, I feel pretty proud of myself because Hey!  I’m doing it!

*P.S. Any recommended kettlebell exercises are welcomed!

Progress Not Perfection

For shame!  It has been seven months since last I’ve written.  Between my last blathering in August of 2017 and now, I’ve been knocked down again and again and again, but hey, this is me getting back up.

In September of 2017, I fainted.  My last thought before the episode was I feel dizzy, as I placed my hand on the door handle to enter the bathroom.  I apparently was able to open the door, for when I fainted, I fainted into the shower, hitting my head.  My Mum drove me to the hospital after I made my way across the street with tears spilling from my eyes.  My best guesstimate, as far as the time I was “out,” is no more than 30 minutes; this estimate is based on two times: the time it was when I last looked at the clock and the time I arrived at my parents’ house.

At the hospital, I underwent EKGs, CTs, so on and so forth.  I was thrilled when the ER doctor indicated that I have one of the healthiest hearts she’s seen.  Shout out to running!  Long story short, there was nothing in any test indicative to the fainting episode, it was just my luck of the draw that day.  As a result of the whomp to my head, I was out of work and all physical activity for over a month because I had one heck of a concussion.  I had the typical symptoms: headache, forgetfulness, impaired speech, light sensitivity, nausea, and emotions ranging from sadness (full on with tears) to rage (also full on with tears).  Luckily, I recovered relatively quickly, and I was cleared to start exercise (slowly, progressively) by the end of October.  Since October, I’ve been gunshy as far as getting back into my normal routine.  Though I could not participate in my last 10K of the 2017 season, I was indeed able to enjoy my vacation to NYC, albeit difficult at times – that’s a lot of lights and sounds for someone still nursing concussion symptoms.

While in NYC, I used the hotel’s gym only once, and I only ran one mile when I did.  However, this was still a win in my book because a) I did it after over a month of running zero miles and b) I used an unfamiliar gym in an unfamiliar atmosphere in an unfamiliar state.

Now, here is is March of 2018, and I am just getting myself together again.  I have had some stern chats with myself as of late.  Though I have gone on short walks during short breaks and used my gym’s work intermittently, I have not yet established that routine, that sweet spot I was once accustomed to – when my body craves gym time and my mind and heart are set on making it a reality, not just a brainstorm.

After many setbacks, many of my which were of my own doing, I am finally ready to really and truly work hard again.

Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying

I have just made my way up from the belly of the beast.  The beast being the (somewhat) abandoned basement floor of the building and its belly being the gym.  See why it’s abandoned?  However, no matter just how neglected that lower level is, it’s nowhere near as jilted as this blog.

When perusing my past posts this morning, I discovered that in May was the last time in which I wrote.  May!?  How can this possibly be!?  I’ve fallen victim to the “tomorrow” or “I’ll do it later” mentality, all the while, the passing days grew in momentum.

  • I vaguely remember writing that 2017 . . .  this is going to be the year that I make a concentrated effort to take pictures during events.
    • This has not been an entirely successful endeavor, but A for effort?  Do I get half credit?  My lack of photos is mainly due to the several events I have run alone.  However, I do have a handful of photos:
      • A before photo of my best friend, Callie, and I at the Safe Voices 5K to End Domestic Violence
      • A selfie of myself (duh) after Color Me Rad
      • A before and after photo of Callie and I at Tough Mountain.
    • Considering I have ONE before picture, ONE after picture, and ONE before AND after set of photographs, this is clearly a progression in the right direction.  If only I could hone in on and perfect the craft of consistency.  However, that is another battle.
  • When I began this blog, I pledged to lose those pesky last 10lbs., thus leaving me sitting prettily at my goal weight.
    • I still have those pesky 10 lbs. that I would like to lose.  Over the course of the past few months, I’ve been half-assing it fairly regularly.  Half credit for consistency in this scenario?
      • Though I am NOT where I planned to be all of those months ago, I am not beating myself up over my “failure” because it’s not a failure.  My lack of “success” is a mere bump in the road along what has been a long journey.
      • I am simply trying harder and recommitting myself to the following: drink more water, track calories (-1000 deficit), and stay active.
      • I am finally at a place where I do not define myself by that number featured on the scale.  Though I do indeed have a number goal, and though I am disappointed I’m not quite there yet, I measure my successes in other ways . . .
        • . . . I can now run a 5k without stopping / walking.  At one point, running .25 nonstop was an accomplishment exceeding any other.
        • . . . I’ve maintained my weight, and though I’ve experienced fluctuations, I have not gained.
        • . . . My clothes fit properly and are flattering.
        • . . . I’ve adopted habits such as using the gym for half of my lunch hour.  Remember the quip about the belly of the beast?  I’m slaying said beast.

So, why the lengthy absence from Cupcakes and Canter?  Two reasons.  1). I’ve struggled the past few months with making time.  This struggle is not only applicable to writing, but it’s something I’ve faced with just . . . ev-er-y-thing.  2). There is a part of my psyche that did not want to face my lack of triumphs; once written down, said lacks feel more real than when floating around lackadaisically in my brain.

So, what has happened between May and today’s date in August?

  • I’ve run 3 – 5k events, improving my overall time by 5 minutes.
  •  I ran in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, and even though I had to climb into what I have lovingly dubbed as the “struggle bus,” it gave me confidence in my ability to put myself out there and try new things.
    • In my defense, it was more than a 10k, the pace was a 7-8 min. mile, the shirts didn’t breathe, and it was hot. as. balls and humid.  Am I going to participate in the LETR next year?  Why, YES.  Yes, I am . . . because I know that the evidence van struggle bus will be there to pick me up if I fall, or in this case, just slow way, way down.  Furthermore, I felt relieved that no one made fun of me, nor was I the only one who needed the four-wheeled assist.
  • I completed Tough Mountain, a 4 mile obstacle course with 21 obstacles.
  • Most importantly, despite all of my self-perceived failures that are really non-failures, discouragements, and disappointments, I’ve kept trying.  I’ve never given up.
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Safe Voices 5K
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To Do: Tough Mountain
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To Done: Tough Mountain