Brief update: Cape May Eastern Shore Maryland volkssport trip

Today is the third and final day of the Liberty Bell Wanderers bus trip to Eastern Shore Maryland.

These trips include volkssport walks of 5 or 10K daily and some sightseeing highlights.

Unfortunately internet and free time have both been unpredictable so I’ve been posting more on YouTube and Instagram that blogging.

On Instagram, check out the hashtag #theadventuresofPJtheBear.

This is a tractor trailer at the grain mill at Purdue Chicken in Easton, Maryland:

https://youtu.be/cLMjk0Rol7E

This is a brief video of the weird little rail system in Cape May:

https://youtu.be/rpsziLk0vtA

Now, I am just starting to edit video on my phone so these are poorly & sloppily edited but this ferry might have been my favorite part of the trip:

https://youtu.be/FbJ4SkUyiAY

This cruise on the Patriot in The Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michael’s are definitely my second favorite:

https://youtu.be/S0ZtdAtQnd0

https://youtu.be/3ZiQCLar6xM

The human experience of the Thin Mint Sprint

I have anticipated this 5K for a long time. My training started in November, paused for the Holidays, resumed in mid-January, paused in February for an illness caught from my daughter and then in March I dropped a 15-lb dumbbell on my toe, which is still a little sore and definitely swollen.

So last week, I could finally resume training, but new routines at work have made that difficult too. And my training partner and other half for this run is my almost-fourteen-year-old daughter who gave up on running weeks ago.

Three years ago, I swore I would get in shape before my fortieth birthday. And I did. At that time, I had explored some walk-run 5K events with my friend Gayle and found the Yuengling Lager Jogger. After the first year running for beer, I vowed to try and run my next one.

And two years ago (April 11) I finished the Lager Jogger is 44-minutes something.

Now, the Girl Scouts have hosted a fitness series of three events. I attended the orienteering style one at Camp Laughing Waters with Gayle and her niece and my daughter. My daughter planned to attend the second event, a walk-run through the camp, but she ended up with bronchitis and I wouldn’t let her attend the race in the race with a troublesome set of lungs.

Then Gayle registered me, the girls, and her nephew for the Thin Mint Sprint in Wissahicken/Fairmont Park outside Philadelphia. The sign “Welcome to Philadelphia” is on park grounds.

I have always wanted to run a 5K, and run it. It didn’t happen today, but I did shave two minutes off previous times for a new personal best. Well, except for the times in training that I came in at 38-39 minutes. That was when training was working.

But I want to tell some stories from the day.

And maybe start with some quick asides:

  1. The portapotties were nastier and covered with more human feces than anything I ever saw in Africa, and that includes facilities with no running water.
  2. Parking was awful but the park was so gorgeous it is quickly forgotten.
  3. There is a rustic coffee house IN the park.
  4. I’m sorry, but strollers do not belong in 5Ks.

So onto MY experience…

I love how other runners will say kind things to you.

The first half mile was physically easy but breathing was difficult. At mile marker one, I would have traded my first born for water.

I reached the road (that actually had cars on it) that the race route crossed WHILE TRAFFIC WAS STOPPED. The cars were waiting for us and backed up for what seemed like miles and I was part of that initial horde for whom officials stopped traffic. That was awesome.

I thought the first half was all downhill, so I expected, since the race was an out-and-back, the second half would be uphill. It also seemed to be downhill. How was this possible?

I had a lot of what I call “little disappointments.” I couldn’t get my new iPhone X to start MapMyFitness so I had no idea “how I was doing.” I felt most of the way, that I wasn’t performing as well as I had wanted myself to perform. I had to let go of those thoughts.

By the time I reached the finish line, pushing down that final hill, running… I saw the clock at 42-minutes something and I was overwhelmed. Not with any discernible emotion, just overwhelmed. Hot. (It was 80 degrees and I have never run in temperatures over 70). Dehydrated. (I drank 25 ounces of water before the race and the cup in the middle.) Tired. Proud. Disappointed. Happy. Crying. Smiling.

Thin Mint Sprint results posted…

Today we tackled the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Thin Mint Sprint at one of the prettiest parks I have ever seen.

I refused to let myself think too much about the competitive aspects of the race as this winter has knocked me out: first illness, than a 15 lb dumbbell falling from the sky and physical exhaustion from changes at work.

And I’m 40-something with my own health issues. And I can’t get motivated to do anything when it’s cold.

I did an average pace of 13:48 minute mile. Far cry from the 8 and 10 minute miles of the serious runners but at 42:49.5 it was my fastest 5k to date.

It was an amazing family event with so many good snacks from Whole Foods and such enthusiasm from the event staff.

My goal was to break 40 minutes. I didn’t get there; but I did improve my time compared to my performance at the Lager Jogger two years ago. I was 44-minutes something then.

The Thin Mint Sprint approaches…

I went for a run.

My 5k is Saturday. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Thin Mint Sprint happens on Saturday in Philadelphia.

I don’t have an accurate time for my run today, as I didn’t take my phone so it wouldn’t distract me. I did more than 3 miles in about 42 minutes.

The last time I tried to run a 5k, two years ago at the Yuengling Lagger Jogger, I came in at 44 minutes. I feel a little disappointed that I haven’t returned to my previous good training times of 38 and 39 minutes.

But after almost breaking my toe and weathering winter illness, training has not been part of my routine for at least a month.

I have many friends reminding me to do my best and have fun, but my competitive nature wants to do well.

And I want to actually run… but I’m still pausing to catch my breath frequently.

Less than one month out

I am not the most athletic person in the world. I am clutzy and awkward and have a gait from my cerebral palsy. I have struggled with severe anemia. And broken bones (one dominant hand, four years ago on Monday; one right ankle, two years ago come late August).

I vowed to get in shape before I turned 40 because of the lessons these ailments taught me. How quickly strength deteriorates. How weakness can sap energy and leave you a tired heap. How walking becomes impossible if I let myself go.

I changed my eating habits. My exercise habits. I seriously started weight training.

I tried to motivate my teen daughter to be active.

And in the height of my fitness craze, I admitted to my girlfriend that someday I wanted to run a 5K. Not walk. Run.

Two years later, she signed me up for one. Training started well, in my half-hearted lazy way. These were my best times: 41:47.91, 41.45.88, 38:51.28.

 

img_4480Two months out from the race my daughter and I got sick with the weirdest head cold.

Regained my strength from that, and tried to go for my second, outdoor, three-mile run. I got caught in a snow squall. Between the cold, the oscillating snow and sun, and my sheer out-of-shapedness, I surrendered at two miles.

Finally, a few days later, I was ready to get out there and do it. I dropped a 15-pound dumbbell on my toe.

It’s not broken.

img_4841But I’m not running on it.

This race is going to kill me.

In Training

My teen and I have officially begun training for our 5k in April. In the past, we have always participated in walk/runs but this time it’s just a run.

My girlfriend Gayle registered us, and I could say she tricked me. I agreed without remembering what I was agreeing to. But Gayle knew this was on my bucket list.

A lot of things are on my bucket list, like seeing Syria and Afghanistan. Learning Arabic & Afrikaans & Euskara. Cleaning my damn house. Building a stealth camping van and living off the grid.

Running a 5k was one I thought of when I was thin and in shape. Since then I’ve gained ten pounds and broken an ankle.

So my teen and I have started the LiveWell program 3 weeks to a 30 minute a day running habit. We had to repeat week one as child came down with bronchitis.

She hasn’t really trained with me in a week, so I’ve reached the interval of run 2 minutes/walk one minute x 7 sets.

We train at the local college so instead of minutes we do laps around the indoor raised jogging track. One lap = 1/10 of a mile.

The last time I trained (I ran a mile with child on rest day), I did this routine: 2 minutes running/1 minute walking x 5; then 1 minute running/ 1 minute walking x 5. The first mile I can complete consistently day after day in 14 minutes.

On my last training run, I thought, “why is this taking so long?” 30+ minutes and I wasn’t done. Then I realized, I ran 2.5 miles in 39 minutes.

And I’ve also realized I don’t do well with the cold, uneven terrain and hills. The jogging track fixes that. And even better, I like logging/tracking distance versus time.

The Wheel of Fitness

I know it’s common to witness women caught in a cycle of dieting/food deprivation. I know for a lot of women, weight melts away, plateaus, and returns. My experience with this yo-yo effect occurred due to various health challenges: cerebral palsy, anemia and anxiety, followed by an accident that broke my teeth, and two broken bones in the span of two years.

When I turned 39, I suddenly realized… my once relatively stable body had reached its lifetime heaviest and more than that, my stamina and strength had waned as well.

I vowed to myself I would get in shape before I turned 40.

Problem is, I had never tried to lose weight before. Turns out I was good at it. I started at 142 and dropped to 112 in about the span of a month.

I bought a fitbit to make sure I ate enough. I got my weight to 120. Then 125. Then 130. It didn’t stop there.  Today I’m at least 135.

But now, as I have my 43rd birthday approaching in 8 months, I have great upper body strength but I have gained so much of that weight back. I don’t have the stamina to go out and walk for four miles just as a fun jaunt. I’m afraid to ride my bicycle.

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. In college I started weight training. Then stopped.

My first job came with a gym membership, my muscles returned. And I stopped.

Then I had a baby.

My first big supervisor job, I went to the gym if the staff started stressing me out. Between that, and the fact that my daughter ate half of all my meals, I got in shape again.

And then I changed jobs.

Now I am back to being out of shape. Strong, sure, but not as strong as a year ago. But I am out of shape.

So I started logging food, exercise, water and sleep habits. Even vitamins. Because what I need are healthy habits and routine. Seeing it on paper helps. And I won’t diet. I need good food to make my body feel hearty and to fuel it for exercise.

To start: do something every day. No excuses. I’m starting small, because I’ve had houseguests, worked a lot of hours, it’s PMS week and my daughter is in marching band. I’m rededicating myself to my home weights, doing ab exercises hopefully every day, and shooting for yoga everyday.

Yoga?

I find that a great place to start. I need to stretch out those muscles and body parts and prep it for whatever to come. Find the parts of my body holding stress. And most importantly, it can be a part of my day where I connect light activity with calm and breathing. A great way to slow down and reward my body, not just push it.