I am proud of myself today. Heck, I've been proud of myself all week. It's a nice feeling.
Today I ran 6 kilometres. That's not a lot for some, and for others it might as well be ten million marathons. For me, it's a bit mind boggling.
You see, I haven't run for a while. I haven't really done anything for a while. And even when I was at my ship-shapiest, daily-gymiest, nothing-to-do-on-a-caribbean-island-but-drink-rum-and-workout-iest, I've never ran more than oh, about 6 kilometres. Maybe 6.5. Right before I got pregnant I was the rock-solidest, fittest version of myself. I even liked my thighs. And all through my pregnancy I rocked the gym and the pool...and the ocean...swimming 60 laps at 32 weeks, and doing incline abs on the stability ball at 37 weeks. The first time I went to the gym after E was born I got stuck on my first sit-up. The first time I went swimming I nearly had an asthma attack after 10 laps, and I don't have asthma. So I got pissed off and got back into shape. Not quite where I was before, but breastfeeding, baby-carrying and walking all over the damn place kept the thighs - and most other parts - relatively under control. Besides, let's be honest, as a new mom I was dodging mirrors whenever possible anyway.
Then the baby turned into a kid and went to school, I turned into a working mom and our move to Ottawa left me with a lot less walking, stair climbing and grocery lugging to keep me honest. Things were starting to jiggle. And spread. But still, it's so much easier to lament your decline from health and fitness while canoodling on the couch with a vat of Breyer's than to physically extricate yourself from such a cozy environment. An environment that routinely makes you feel like garbage...but I did mention how cozy it is, right?
I guess a few things came together in the last week. First of all, I made a conscious decision on the weekend to do things differently this week. In very broad strokes. Basically to do the opposite of everything I normally do. Less internet. Less time on the couch. More water. Less junk food. More activity. More getting things done. Less thinking and more doing. I reminded myself that if this week totally sucks I have a lifetime of weeks left to go back to eating ice cream on the couch and thinking about my to-do list at 2am. It's just a week.
I also received my new running shoes with orthotics. They're grey and purple and very, very pretty.
Then I read my cousin-in-law's blog posts about her return to the land of fitness by walking her tired self into the gym for the first time in a long time. And it resonated, big time. I felt like I was reading something I had written. Except that I hadn't actually been to the gym. And one thing in particular that she wrote was especially brilliant:
"I went into the gym feeling exhausted and I left feeling great."
Yes. Because I generally feel as though I haven't enough energy to get to bedtime, let alone any spare reserves for physical activity that is not related to fleeing from life-threatening situations. But...BUT - I always feel fantastic after working out. No matter what. So why wouldn't I want to feel fantastic?
I still needed a final kick. Which came in the form of an old high school friend and her accomplishment in running a race despite body parts that would prefer to be iced and rested rather than pounded and brutalized. I've been lucky to have lived a relatively injury-free existence, and knowing that I am avoiding creating my own accomplishments out of sheer laziness or fear of failure just sounds terribly lame, now that I think of it.
So. On Tuesday, I strapped on my sparkly new running shoes with their cushioney orthotics, charged up my iPod and went for it. And I ran 5k. I couldn't believe it. I really didn't know if I would be able to run 2k. But I mapped out a 5k run, hoping just to keep running as long as I could and then walk the rest. I got halfway without too much trouble, spurred on by a good soundtrack and the fact that it was mostly downhill. But then the thing that kept me going was just plain old pride. I wanted to say that I had done it. I didn't want to have to qualify anything with "I only had to stop to walk once" or "I did 4.3k". I really wanted to run 5k. And I did.
And then. I expected to be sore. Really sore. Like, I'm NEVER doing that again sore. But, apart from some hip tightness on Tuesday night, I was fine. I couldn't believe it. So this morning, I went for a repeat. I took a slightly different route just for fun, expecting that it would be about the same distance. When I got home I looked it up and I had run 6k! A whole extra kilometre my second time out!
Here's the thing. I'm not old. But I'm not 18 and made of rubber anymore either. Let's be honest. My cousin-in-law K.D., my friend Lesley and I are all women, mothers, who have been forced to confront our aging bodies, and to accept that what was once easy will no longer be, what was once leisure now requires care and precaution and limitation. But that doesn't mean we're going down, by any means. I made a decision today, somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd kilometre when I was still feeling fairly feisty, that I will not grow old, fat and lazy gracefully, peeling myself off the couch every night and going to bed bloated on snacks. We have goals to achieve and examples to set. We have each stared down the future and decided to sweat and push and kick and fight our way towards it.
And stereotypes be damned, that's sexy.