Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tired Legs Tuesday.

At least I have the flowers of myself,
and my thoughts, no god
can take that;
I have the fervour of myself for a presence
and my own spirit for light.

~~H.D. 1917

Last night my legs were absolutely furious with me, and I have no one or nothing else to blame other than myself. I own that, as I do with all other results of my actions. Today? We made up like lovers who drifted apart, ready to reignite the fire that smoldered but for a day.

So as the sun rose, I climbed my bike and rode a fairly strong 10 miles as I tried to rid my thighs of the lactic acid. It worked, brought me comfort to know that I can endure pain but continue on, metaphorically speaking.

Now, with my Oly behind me and my gradebook set aside, it feels as though summer has finally arrived since this marks my first full week without "officially" working. Granted, I am taking a graduate course (my last for a while, unless I do decide to go for a supervisory certificate) which ends in three weeks. And I am trying to write some other material, including some sketches for a screenplay. But I need to shoehorn some time in the days for my collaborators' schedules, my training schedule, my family schedule.

I need a personal assistant, to be honest.

Quite often my friends say that I juggle too much. And that probably is true, for many people. But I really don't know how else to live. I always need to have something in the fire, something on fire, something wanting to be on fire. But that is how my presence exists. Without a challenge, I grow restless. Without a career, I feel useless. Without a goal, there is no reason to exist for I cannot be one of those women who rely on a man to keep them, to entertain them, to spoil them.

I have my own fervour. And it does not include driving a mini-van or gossiping with saleswomen in the office or mindlessly lying on a beach with People magazine.

It is rooted in my legs, which take me places that many others won't go, to try things that others cannot fathom. They are tired. But they are mine. They allow me to follow my spirit of light. And for that, I am quite thankful.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Swim, Bike, Run, Repeat.

Sunday marked a humbling experience. And that is completely acceptable to me for it served as a reminder that only I can improve my life and my body—not anyone else.

I finished my first Olympic distance at the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon, which is twice the distance of my previous triathlons. Olympic means swimming nearly a mile, biking 25 miles, and running 6.2. I’ve done all three many times, just not sequentially. So I trained pretty strongly for this event, which I needed to do before I attempt my Half Ironman this summer.

Well, first of all, the swim portion turned into a 5K run after a swimmer from the short race on Saturday drowned during the event. His body had not yet been recovered by the time Sunday’s larger race was to begin. And so the 2,000 of us had to run, bike, and then run again. This, unfortunately, was not good for me, considering that I continue to battle PF in my right foot. The longest distance I have run since March is 7 miles. And now I had to run 9.3.

The first leg went fine, considering I was not mentally prepared. I just wanted to come in under 30 minutes, which meant taking it easy so as to preserve my foot for the longer leg. I made the time, but not without pain. But I managed through it and then rode my bike on a hilly course with several technical climbs and turns, in about 90 minutes. For this, I was exceptionally pleased. Riding through the city, catching the views up and down the Schuylkill, reminded me of how much I loved my college days at Temple and my countless memories that helped shape my early days of writing. As I flew down Kelly Drive, I heard birds singing and my wheels spinning as my mind rapidly processed everything like an avant-garde film at the Ritz.

But in the end, after the wistful moments passed, I ran the slowest distance I’ve ever run in a competition. And the truth is that I did not really run it very much. Due to the humidity, the heat, and the heel, I did the “old lady shuffle,” passing some people who collapsed from heat exhaustion along the way and were now aided by ambulance crews with IV bags.

Overall, however, I was humbled not by the distance, not by the 3.5 hours it took, and not so much by the heat, but rather by the women in my age group who were phenomenally strong and physically jacked. Their bodies were tight, taut, toned. They are the women with whom I want to be affiliated.

I tried to explain to some people that you can go to running events—marathons, half marathons, 5ks—and you will see a lot of people who “run” but who are not really in shape. They say they are athletes (and they are on some level), but if you have big back-fat or a double-wide derriere, you’re just not in the same league as someone who invests in their body. Rather, you are someone who just wants to say they ran a marathon, just for bragging rights. For me, it’s not about a medal or shirt. It’s about saying I did something in the best possible shape I can be in.

And part of it is to role model for my girls, to let them know that just because I’m a girl, I’m no candy ass.

So today, as I take it easy to recover, I am about ready to climb into the saddle of my bike and log some mileage. And I scour my schedule to see when I can sneak in an extra swim this week, just because it’s what I should do to look like the strong, confident women who made me think about how much more I can do to make myself as well-rounded—physically as well as intellectually—possible.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New paths

These past few weeks had hectic written all over them. My training has been intense, my energy level feels depleted. I am in the midst of wrapping up a very trying year in my career, and I'm watching some people around me struggle.

But tonight it all seemed to hit me.

Pre-K graduation.

I didn't quite expect an emotional response. I've been through this before with the others. But as I wrote my status on Facebook, I sat back and realized the tremendous dynamics of my situation: I was heading off to watch my baby graduate from Pre-K, two years after my first-born earned his master's degree with highest honors. My life is so rather divergent.

At the ceremony, I eyed the other parents, all younger than us on paper, but not necessarily "younger" than us health- and fitness-wise. We feel fairly strongly about this since we are "older" parents, and I won't see Keni graduate from high school until I am in my almost-late 50s. Still, I expect that I will still be younger than many parents of her peers.

About two hours later, I had to run over to Christine's. We joked about the complexities of having kids. Namely, my complexities. After a while, I headed back home where I knew the girls would be waiting for me. As I drove the back roads, over the train tracks, the bridge spanning the creek, past the willows and the wild raspberry bushes which I will visit in early August, I heard The Beatles--Across the Universe. And the pensiveness settled in.

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

I felt the tears that I had held back during the ceremony creep back, staking claim to say that I remain sad about seeing her become a big girl, even though I am proud of her.

In fact, I shamelessly confess that absolutely adore the innocence of my girls, their take-hold bravado, their fearless charges and extreme wit. They truly embody qualities that make me so proud, indeed. And I know I can only do so much for them, that these passages will continue to present themselves as they begin their own journeys across the universe. I can only hold their hands for so long, but I will hold them for as long as I am permitted.