• On running.

    7

    Try not to laugh, okay? But I just signed up for half-marathon training.

    I don’t run.

    I have arthritis in my hips. I’m nearly asthmatic. I just don’t run.

    And yet…I’m running.

    Okay, let’s be real. It would be insulting to those who run to call what I’m doing “running.” But I’m out there. My legs are propelling me forward. I’m wheezing. It’s running, damn it.

    What I want to say is this: You people who run? Stop lying. This is not easy, it’s not effortless, and you aren’t “slow.” I’m slow. You wanna know what slow looks like? Come run with me. Do not tell me you’re slow and then tell me you run an 8-minute mile. That may be slow for the Olympics, but it’s not slow.

    Yeah, I’m even looking at you 10-minute milers. And you 12-minute milers. All of you can suck it.

    Oh, I can run at a 12-minute mile pace. For about 8 minutes. Then I will die.

    And the phrase “let your legs do the work” does nothing for me. Nothing. Either I don’t know what that means or you don’t know what that means, but it’s not helping me at all. I’m not running with my hands here. Of course my legs are doing the work. I fail to see how that’s making this any easier, unless you can devise a way that my lungs don’t have to get in on the party.

    Also, that Couch-2-5K you’ve all been raving about? That is bullshit. I’m sorry, but that jump in week three or whatever where you go from running 3 minutes to running 12 minutes? That is not the stuff of couch potato land. And I’m not even a couch potato. And that’s on top of the fact that they pretend that you can do either the distance or time tracks and come out the same.

    Let me break this down for you: If I can run at a 10-minute mile pace? You’re right. I can indeed run three miles in 30 minutes. If I am, however, a couch potato, I probably cannot run a 10-minute mile, NOW CAN I? So if I choose your time method (which is by far the easiest thing to do if I’m running outside and I’ll get to the evil that is the treadmill in a second), I’m just learning to run for 30 minutes and probably ending up about a mile from the finish line.

    No thank you, sir.

    Never mind the depressing fact that I could run for 30 solid minutes and still not cover three miles. Someone get me some happy pills!

    Here are a few of things I have learned in this journey:

    1. Save for a very few out-of-the-box thinkers, there is no one who knows what a “beginner” is in the world of running.

    2. There is such a thing as running too slow, and it is killer on my calves.

    3. When trying to run with someone else, it’s possible that you just might slow each other down instead of speeding each other up.

    4. Not everyone was made for running. If you’re one of us (oh, yeah, I’m a BIG member), this will hurt more than a little.

    5. Read up on running, but then find what works for you. This whole stop/start/run/walk thing? Ain’t my cup of tea. Also, I like distances not time. See above gripe about C25K.

    6. The treadmill is evil. I am not a hamster and I do not want to run for 30 minutes and still be in the same place. No one ever ran a race on a treadmill. Grab your big girl/boy panties and hit the pavement. You’ll thank me later.

    7. Get fitted for shoes. I’m serious when I tell you that shoes are more important than…well, pretty much everything. I mean, besides water and breathing.

    8. Join a local running club. They’re usually pretty cheap, I think, and you could get some cool bonuses; coupons, advice, free races, etc. Plus, then you know there’s someone out there suffering with you (and if you think everyone else is having too much fun, drag one of your friends along). Having scheduled times to run with other people has helped me in the motivation department. Except on Saturday mornings.

    If you think you might want to start running, it’s okay to start slow. Really slow. REALLY slow. Even if you can only run for 30 seconds, you can improve. And running is built with a beautiful reward system. Of pain. No, I keed. I don’t. It’s painful. But it’s easy to tell when you’re improving. A little more time, a little more distance, a little less feeling like death? Those things are all improvements, so reward yourself. With a massage, as all your muscles will be aching.

    And not that you care, but this is my running plan (I’m starting today, so I have no idea if this will work, but I’ve tried all the “expert” advice and just feel like a failure):

    • Figure out how long I can run at my natural pace (which is about a 12-minute mile).
    • Run five days a week. Mondays and Fridays are for resting. Sorry, Christian God, I’m running on Sunday.
    • Add one minute to my time every time I run, if I can. If not, at least run as long as I did the day before. (This will pretty much equal out to me adding on 1/4 of a mile a week, which is pretty typical, and it’s just easier to measure the time outside.)
    • Walk the rest of the way, but do a full 35 minutes every time.
    • Anything I run on the back end is just bonus, and will be done after the 35 minutes.
    • Do this until I can comfortably run a 5K.

    In two weeks, I will also be starting half-marathon training. I know that I can walk 13.1 miles, if I need to, so I know I can finish, even if I’m not a super duper runner yet. The idea of me training for a half-marathon is just…ridiculous. To me. But damn it, I am going to finish it, even if I have to walk.

    WHO’S WITH ME?!

    *crickets*

    Oh, did I mention it’s over 100 degrees outside already? Yeah…death.

  • Monday Morning: DART Story of the Week

    4

    I’m sure that I’ll rant about public transportation more than just on Mondays, but I think for a while, I’ll try to share an awesome story with you every Monday morning. And let’s face it, that’s one less day I have to think about content, right?

    We should get things started off with a bang, too, so I’ll start with the only day that I’ve wished for a car.

    My boss, who can’t remember how to attach files to emails, has a really hard time understanding that the train runs on a schedule. And if I’m not there when it leaves…I can’t get on it. So he’s constantly just asking me one more thing or making endless small talk as I watch my train leave the station.

    The day in question was one of those days. I usually leave the office at 4:00 pm, to catch the 4:13 train. It takes 20 minutes to get to my stop from the office. That day, I had missed the 4:13 and the 4:28 and was running to catch the 4:43. I reached my stop just a little past 5:00 pm and went to wait for my bus. The 5:10 bus.

    Twice in the three months before this day, the 5:10 bus had not shown up at all. Every other time I had to take it, it was very late. And so I sat down to wait.

    And wait. And wait. And wait.

    The buses are on a 20-minute schedule at that time of day. By 5:30, the time for the next bus, I was still waiting.

    And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

    It was a cloudy, humid day. One of the first hot days of the year. The sky was so swollen with rain, it looked like it might explode.

    Tick. Tick. Tick.

    Finally, at 5:45, when I could have walked home nearly twice (it takes about 25-30 minutes) in the time I had been waiting for the bus, I stalked off toward home.

    About halfway across a parking lot, I saw the bus FINALLY coming around the corner. I ran to catch it at the next stop.

    Safely on the bus, I figured my troubles were over.

    At the next stop, there was a woman waiting. She was not a small woman. She couldn’t climb the two stairs to get on the bus, so the driver had to activate the handicap-person hydraulic system for her. This system is slower than Christmas. The woman finally made it on the bus, sat down and left her walker out in the aisle; she immediately starting having the loudest conversation ever with the bus driver…about coupons. As our bus was pulling back out into the street, the 5:50 bus (of the same route) passed us. It stopped at the next stop and we passed it.

    We, however, got to stop for the CAN! Academy kids. One of whom, who was at most 14, was pushing an enormous stroller with her infant in it. Cue hydraulic system again. When the kids got their kid on the bus, they found themselves at an impasse. The large woman’s walker was still in the middle of the aisle (as was half of herself), and she wasn’t really interested in moving it. The bus driver refused to go until they sorted it out. We sat at the intersection through three lights and the rest of my patience.

    The 5:50 bus passed us once again, as we got underway. We were close to my stop, so I thought, again, that my pain was about to end. I pushed the dingy-bell, requesting a stop. The bus driver…ignored it.

    I jumped up and said, “HEY! That’s my stop.”

    She said, “Well, that other bus is behind me, so I can’t stop there.” It does no good to yell at bus drivers, but keeping my mouth shut was the hardest thing I had done all day.

    I had to get off at the next stop, which meant that I ended up walking half a mile home anyway. And the guy who got off the bus with me?

    “Hey. How you doin’?”

    “Sir, you can fuck off.”

    “Why you gotta be that way?”

    “Because I am having a bad fucking day and you are just going to piss me off.”

    By the time I got home, I pretty much hated everyone. Even myself.

  • How to Comfort an Atheist

    3

    I read an article today on Alternet, written by Greta Christina.

    In a lot of ways, I love Greta Christina, and in a lot of ways I wish she would…stop it. She’s an atheist. I’m an atheist. I’m all for spreading the word of religious and non-religious tolerance, but I don’t think that the way to do that is to call all religious people stupid and crazy. That’s no more acceptable than calling all atheists angry and immoral.

    Today, her article was about a new movie, The Ledge, which she claims shows atheism in a positive light. I have absolutely nothing to say about the film or even her article. The first comment on her post, however, was this:

    Sounds like a good flick.

    This brings up the whole subject of how to comfort an atheist who is suffering. One wants to help. But what can you say? The atheist will reject anything you can say as being invalid and beneath his/her intellectual level. I guess he’ll tell you you’re irrational…and then jump.

    Atheism has its virtues. But it is of no use whatsoever during life’s major crises.

    To which I have to say a major WHAT. THE. FUCK?

    Are you kidding me? Religion is the only way to comfort anyone?

    I’m an atheist. An opinionated one. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel happiness, joy, sorrow, compassion, grief, regret, hope, and a whole array of emotions just like anyone else. Emotions are not religious, they’re HUMAN. Being an atheist also doesn’t mean that if someone attempts to comfort me with a religious platitude, I must immediately react in a thoughtless, condescending way.

    If you can’t figure out how to comfort someone, simply because that person is an atheist, I’d say you’re just not trying very hard. And as an atheist, I comfort people all the time, but I don’t do it with “that’s god’s plan” or “everything happens for a reason” or (if someone has died) “he/she is in a better place.”

    None of those things would make me feel any better, but that doesn’t mean I would be rude to the person who said them to me (trust me, I have years of practice with my Nana). I wouldn’t say them to someone else, because they would be insincere and meaningless coming from me.

    The ignorance about atheists really astounds and saddens me. Please know, if you know an atheist, he or she has feelings and emotions just like you do. If you’re at a loss for how to comfort an atheist, I’d try listening and empathizing. Be thoughtful and kind. Maybe a hug would do the trick?

    Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like how you would comfort…ANYBODY, doesn’t it?

  • Evernote: Get it, got it, love it.

    2

    My whole world has changed recently. Thanks to an app.

    Yes, I know it’s just an app and how could it change my life? It has. It’s like that little notebook you carry around everywhere to write down your thoughts and ideas (okay, I’ve totally never done that), but BETTER! Because it’s linked to the internets!

    It’s called Evernote and there’s a desktop app and an app for your phone and all your information is stored in an account. So even if your phone dies? All your shit is still alive and well, floating around in the internets sky.

    How does it work? (And no, I did not get paid for this, but I’m not opposed to it!)

    In a nutshell (Help! I’m in a nutshell!), you can create all these different notebooks and then add notes. So I have notebooks for goals, writing ideas, tasks, recipes, etc. And in each one, I can make a note if something pops in my head or appears in front of me.

    So far so good, right? Right. Not much different from an actual notebook, though, aside from the electronickyness of it all.

    Here’s where it gets good:

    CLIP TO EVERNOTE. You can add a little widget thing to your browser that allows you to clip webpages to your Evernote notebooks.

    So when you, say, come across something like this:

    You just clip that bad boy and its accompanying recipe into your Evernote app and BAM! S’mores bars for everyone!

    Seriously, try it. You’ll love it. Also, those s’mores bars are DELICIOUS, but only when they’re warm.

  • The Joys (and Sorrows) of Public Transportation

    0

    Photo Courtesy of DART.org

    Just recently, I read a post on Zen Habits (one of my favorite blogs) about the lessons to be learned from riding mass transit.

    I’ve been without a car myself for nearly six months, and I wanted to write about this anyway, but Leo has given me a good excuse. And that is: I disagree. Not completely, but on several points.

    If you haven’t read the post, you can find it here.

    So far, there has been only one day in which I literally threw my hands up in the air, used an expletive, and wished (fervently) for a car. No car magically appeared in front of me, so I’m still car free. Also, I’m just learning about exactly how hot it is in Dallas in the summer. Our fair city has had several days over 100 degrees already, which I’m pretty sure is unusual. Thanks, global climate change.

    I gave up my car, officially, on December 23, 2010. Mostly because it broke and the repairs were going to cost more than the car itself. Since I had been working on making some changes in my life anyway, I decided to see what life would be like in Dallas, Texas without my own vehicle.

    My parents still think I’m nuts.

    I live near enough to a train station (about 1.5 miles), and there are several bus stops near my apartment. Our office recently moved, and now, instead of being a mile from a train station, we are across the street from one.

    In February of this year, around the time that Dallas was to host the Superbowl, we experienced some extreme weather. The temperature dropped drastically, with windchills into the single digits. I thought, then, “If I can get through THIS? I can get through anything.” I bundled up and braved the elements and I didn’t die.

    One important lesson: Hiking boots are not suitable for the concrete jungle. Even if it’s freezing and wet, running shoes are a better choice (traction on ice is maybe the only exception). I really messed up my calves using my hiking boots to keep my feet warm. The lady at Run-On! was not happy with me, and I’m still dealing with some of the effects.

    I’m here to tell you now that I was wrong. Three months of 100+ degree weather, plus humidity, is going to be far more difficult to get through than a week or two of really cold. I’m melting out here.

    And this is where I take issue with Leo’s lessons (I’m not arguing that his points don’t apply to him, just that they’re not universal). While yes, I believe there are some wonderful things about not having a car, Leo is in San Francisco. Home to some rather perfect weather, from what I hear. Having to deal with 100 degree swings in temperature is no small feat. And it certainly adds to the number of items of clothing I have to own.

    In Dallas, we always say that layers are the key to handling the sometimes 50 degree change in temperature on any given day. However, layers are more difficult when you don’t have your own vehicle. Who wants to be carrying around 5 extra layers of clothing when it gets hot?

    Leo’s first lesson:

    1. How to wait. Mass transit isn’t always on time (surprise!). But rather than look at that as a reason why riding buses and trains suck, we learn how to see that as an opportunity. My boys climb trees while I do pullups and (admittedly rudimentary) gymnastics from a low branch. We tell jokes and I swing the little kids around. We share things with each other, make each other laugh. It’s a good time.

    I think this is super…for him. But I’m not (yet) self-employed and there really aren’t any gymnastics trees near my bus or train stops. Not that I couldn’t benefit by doing any kind of pull-up, even the rudimentary variety. But that’s a story for another day. When my bus in the morning is late (as it almost always is) it makes me late for my train, which is often early anyway, and then I’m late for work. When I’m late for work, my boss isn’t happy. When my bus is early? The next one doesn’t come for 20 minutes, and it’s usually late, causing me to…you guessed it, be late for work. See above for frowny boss.

    I have a lot of patience for a lot of things, but this just isn’t one of them. And if I were talking about two or three minutes, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. At minimum, my bus is usually eight minutes late in the morning. The afternoon bus is often 15 minutes late or doesn’t show up at all. That is a sign of a failing system and DART needs to address it. Shorter bus routes, faster hydraulics on the handicap-person lift, whatever it may be. Fifteen minutes late on a 20 minute bus schedule is just ridiculous.

    Yes, I sit and read a book. Yes, I’m polite to the driver. Yes, I know that this will probably never change (unless I move to Japan where buses and trains actually run on schedule).

    The only other of Leo’s lessons that I take issue with is this one:

    3. How to deal with humanity. We’re often shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, which is something you never experience with a car. We deal with smells, with annoying people, with those who talk loudly, with the mentally challenged, with plain crazy people. In other words, with people. And this is a great thing. We learn that we come in all shapes and sizes, that life isn’t the perfect picket fences you see on TV, that the world is real … and that that’s OK. We’re learning to celebrate differences.

    Ummm…riding public transportation is just making me hateful. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. I’m not saying that riding public transportation isn’t a huge diversity day lesson. It is. I’m just saying that I’m having a lot more trouble than Leo in this department. I’m having a hard time seeing the bright side of people who don’t shower. Men who won’t stop hitting on me. Women who want to borrow my chapstick. People who have no volume control. People who listen to their music without earbuds.

    You see my point?

    I’d love to just look at this as a bright, shiny lesson in humanity. Instead, I’d like for people to be taught manners and hygiene. And also for them to get out of my personal space.

    Maybe after a year without a car, I’ll feel differently?

    Having said all of that, I DO like not having a car. I like that I’m doing something good for the planet. It’s saving me a TON of money on maintenance and insurance. It’s a good excuse to actually be home more. I’m getting more exercise (which I’m pretty sure is just leading to eating more, as I haven’t lost a pound, but instead have gained about 10). I’m learning to be more patient (sort of).

    I can’t say it would work for everyone, but I feel really good about my decision. And you can watch this space for rants about late buses!

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