the machine


It’s been a while since I did a running post, and I would love to find out how everyone is doing. I know a few of you are taking it pretty seriously, and a few are still thinking about it. I’ve been so impressed with the progress you’ve made, especially since you’ve started from the very beginning. Some of you had never run at all until a few months ago. I hope you’re beginning to understand the running addiction. I don’t know how many addictions could be called healthy, but running for sure is.

I’ve been gearing up to do a few races this year. I signed up to run a 10K in Massachusetts, with Elizasmom and her mom, and probably some other bloggers I’ve never met. That will be in the end of March. I get to visit my brother nungnung as well, and it will be my first time in New England. I’m hoping to run it in less than 50 minutes, but we’ll see.

I’m going to run the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in May. It’s the biggest half marathon in the country, with 35,000 entrants. My cousin Liz and my aunt Barbara will be doing that one with me. I hope I can finish that in less than 2 hours. I finished my first half marathon in 1:47, but the first three miles were pretty steep downhill, so I’m sure I ran faster than I would on a flat course.

I’m also going to enter the Air Force marathon in September. I think my goal for that will be less than 4 hours, but again, we’ll see. I have no idea what it will be like to run 26.2 miles, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy if I cross the finish line.

I’m basing my goals on my recent running times, and on the times from races I ran before I was pregnant with Kiki, in 2005. The other day, I ran 3 miles in 26 minutes, which is better than my last 5K, even though I wasn’t racing. It probably made a difference that I was on a track, but it didn’t seem as hard as I thought it would be. Today, I ran 7 1/2 miles in blustery 35 mile an hour winds, and I finished in 1 hour and 13 minutes. I ran some hills, but the wind was really what made it hard. I thought I would get frostbite on my nose, since the wind-chill factor put it at about -5 degrees. I kept putting my mittens over my face until my nose and cheeks thawed. It was exciting. When I got home, I thought I would not be able to move the rest of the day, but now I feel fine.

So how’s your running? I’d love to hear any progress you’ve made, any races you’ve entered, any gear you’ve purchased, anything that makes you motivated, anything that you hate, anything. I’ve discovered that talking about running motivates me, whether the person I’m talking to loves running or hates it. I love running.

I got invited to a bunko group last night by some women that mysteriously think of me as a friend. I’m not saying that I’m a bad friend or anything, it’s just that I’ve only lived in this area for 2 months, and I hardly know anyone, plus, it is always so hard for me to make friends, since I’m so shy. Also, I’m a braggart and a snob, more especially while I’m being shy, so people mostly think I’m a pest.

Yet, a few women from church have really been treating me like I belong here, like there’s nothing strange about being BFFs with someone you hardly know. Mind you, I’m not complaining. You all know that I have maybe a tiny bit of chemical imbalance, with the predisposition for leaning toward the low end of the spectrum. So it always surprises me when people are nice to me.

(Interjection, this was just overheard behind me:
Derek:”What?!? Where’s all our money? We had ten gold! What did you spend it on?”
Calvin:grinning and shrugging,”We had eleven. I don’t know. Wrapping paper.”)

When I got home from the party at 2:45 am ( I know! You should be so shocked! It’s almost like I’m a normal adult), Derek and I were discussing Saturday’s forecast, which was for snow. Everybody had been saying they didn’t want to go to the church Christmas party if the roads were bad. Derek said that on the radio, the weather guy had predicted a 100% chance of snow. We snickered about how stupid it was to say that unless you had snow falling on your head.

This morning, right around the time I was gearing up for my 30 minute run, the roads were dry and the sky was dark. Suddenly it started snowing, and suddenly the whole world was white. I gave up the idea of running, even though I’ve already skipped two days in a row for rain and laziness, respectively. Then, an hour and 2 inches of snow later, I remembered that if I was going to the Christmas party, I had signed up to bring 4 dozen rolls. And bugger it if I didn’t have any milk to use in the Fine Cooking best dinner rolls ever recipe.

I was not about to brave the roads in a motorized vehicle. This isn’t Utah, and people here are even worse than Utahans at driving in snow. And they have less practice. So I suited up in two pairs of running pants, two long sleeved shirts and a T-shirt, a rain jacket, a headband, both hoods pulled over my head, and fleece mittens. I went outside, and after 60 seconds of running, I was so hot, and I couldn’t see a thing because the snow made me squint, so I went right back into the house to take off two of the shirts and add my old racquetball goggles for seeing in the blizzard. I decided that if I was going to run, I’d make up for missing yesterday, so I planned 45 minutes. I would run for 35 and end up at the market, then run the last 10 home with the milk. I didn’t have to take any money because this market lets you pay with a finger scan. I love that.

While I was there, I was subtly reminded that it is Saturday, and the American shopper will not be thwarted by rain, sleet, or snow. There were droves of people there, and all the store samples. And as Emily Pig always says, “Yummers!” It is always important to sample new things. This market has samples of things like, but not limited to: Southwest quinoa salad from the deli, crab dip, cranberry blue cheese, roasted brie, spiral cut real ham, chips and homemade salsa, etc., etc., etc. They also have the best caraway rye bread that I’ve ever had, surpassing even my own. It has kosher salt on the crust.

So I got the milk, grabbed a loaf of salt rye, and walked passed the butter that was on sale, so I got a block. I figured that was enough to try to carry while running. Incidentally, I don’t recommend this shopping method. My poor arms couldn’t take it.

When I got home, I was telling Derek we could have avocado sandwiches with swiss cheese for lunch because I’d picked up the rye. Then, I realized that, with minor quantitative adjustments, I had been to the market for a quart of butter, a loaf of milk, and a stick of bread. A quart of bread, a stick of milk, and a loaf of butter. A quart of milk, a loaf of bread, and a stick of butter.

Ten facts randomly chosen out of my brain. About myself. Thanks to the Lovely Helen, a woman of strong moral character whom I would love to meet someday.

1. I hate to be cold. I detest having cold hands and/or cold feet. My feet are cold all the time. I can’t stand it.

2. I love singing duets with my mom, but I also hate it. My mom is a vocal teacher, so I’m too self conscious, but I grew up singing duets and rounds with her and my brothers. I think I could be a professional singer if I took lessons and practiced. I think I could be as good as my mom, who, ironically, is nearly deaf.

3. I hate overeating. It makes me hurt, and it makes me feel immoral, but I do it all the time.

4. I speak fluent Tagalog.

5. I don’t think I can ever have a pet. I hate the smells, the hair/skin/slime; I would forget to feed anything that didn’t beg; I don’t like to touch animals that are mammals; they’re just too much work.

6. These are the pets my family has had: a couple of baby iguanas that died, Lightfoot and Quickfoot, an iguana that lived a long time and eventually had only about 5 toes total and a short stubby tail (you’ve heard that iguanas grow their tail back, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t always happen), Carlos, a Columbian Boa Constrictor, Jorge, a rat who died of cancer, Bubba, a mouse, Chicken Tonight (he was actually dinner for Jorge, but he was cute, so I kept him for a while), a bunch of tropical fish, a couple of goldfish, Jareth and Petunia. I can’t think of any others. Oh, yeah. My dad caught a rattlesnake once and kept it for a week or so. It wouldn’t eat, so he let it go.

7. I never leave the house without Burt’s Bees lip balm. Sometimes I have 3 or 4 on me.

8. I make really, really good bread. Sometimes I make pretty bad bread. I love to read about bread. I love to go to bakeries and look at bread. I like bread to be pretty. Derek thinks I’m obsessed with bread. I like bread. I like to smell it, and eat it. While I was pregnant, the smell of baking bread made me throw up. I made no bread while I was pregnant. Calvin likes to help me make bread, and sometimes he eats the raw dough. I think that’s yucky.

9. I’ve never had a perm.

10. I can pick things up with my toes. I can write with my toes. I cannot play the piano with my toes, although they are long enough that they look like I should be able to.

I’m tagging Liz (to give her incentive to write her first post), CW, Sketchy, Derek (yes, my Derek), and anyone else that wants some tagging action.

*randimity is a word my friends and I made up in high school, at the same time that we decided that the plural of cathedral was catharsis.

I have been ruminating over this post by CJane for a while now. It is a discussion on the body as a thing of beauty, an incomparable gift, that we (women, mostly) look at as imperfect, substandard, or undesirable. CJane had posted earlier about cosmetic surgery, and asked what her readers would change if they could. In the new post, she asked what her readers loved about their bodies.

Many of the comments, including mine, were about things like hands, feet, collarbones, things that are inherently lean. I’ve thought about this, and I find it interesting. Not many of the female commenters loved their abdominal region, though the ones who did loved it for its ability to produce a child, not for its appearance.

I left a comment:

I love my feet. I have long spaghetti toes, and the baby toe is curled on its side. Dainty little ankles, and lots of tendons poking out all over. I also have great cheekbones. When I turned 30, I lost all the baby roundness of my face, and now I almost look sophisticated, with my hollow cheeks, pointy chin, and exotic, far-apart alien eyes. At least in pictures.

My body is a machine. I can run for an hour, and hold a baby for two or three. Not at the same time. I am a milk truck. I feed a whole person just from what my body makes each day. It’s funny to think my baby is made of milk.

I have these cute little rolls on my back.

I think the parable of the talents applies not only to abilities, but to other attributes, as well, including physical ones. Maybe we knew what we’d get, and maybe we didn’t. I don’t think we cared. I believe that the prospect of birth and life was far greater than any caring we might have ever had about our physical appearance. I think we knew it would be hard, but we wanted it anyway.

I have thought and thought about this idea of liking parts of my body. I read all the other comments, and tried to imagine liking, nay, loving each of those body parts. I’ve hated certain aspects of my physique since I was a teenager. I remember being asked, as a Freshman in High School, if there was anything about my body that I liked. I replied that I liked my hands, “because that’s the only part of me that isn’t fat.” I was 13, and, looking back, not fat. My self-image has always been negative. I’ve dreamed of all the things I would change if I had the chance. By “change,” I mean surgery. I’ve always wanted breast-reduction surgery. I’ve wished I could have the floppy, stretch-mark scarred belly removed, and a flat 6-pack put in its place. I would have my hips contoured to be smooth, instead of bumpy.

For the past week or so, my feelings have been changing. I noticed it for the first time when, on a drive on the freeway, I saw a billboard advertising “non-surgical” reshaping, with a picture of a perfect hourglass shaped woman. I found myself thinking how sad it would be if everyone received this treatment. We would all be identical. There would be no variation, no interesting diversity. Nothing to set us apart from the crowd.

Thinking about this brought me to the realization that I no longer want to have anything on my body changed. My body is so unique. My shape is the only one like it in the world. I love my body because it’s strong and able, but I also love it because it is beautiful.