Days 113-114 – Thunder and Pilates

24 04 2010

First, a report on Thursday’s 8-mile run in crazy spring weather… Heavy thunderstorms pounded us all morning, threatening to ruin my afternoon running plan…but the sun and clear skies showed up around noon. I headed west amazed at the beautiful Earth Day it turned out to be. Went on my long, straight route to Highway 2, and when I turned back to head east I had no idea how quickly the black clouds in the distance were blowing in behind me from the southwest. I was met at my neighborhood entrance by cracks of thunder and bolts of lightning that had me sprinting the last half-mile home. I made it home just in time…crazy rain, hail and a tornado warning came within the hour and the skies poured for the rest of the day and night.

Wow – what luck to find that window of spring when I had my best 8-mile so far! I averaged 10-minute miles in spite of the hill at the end. Friday morning in the still-pouring-rain I was happy to have Pilates class safe and dry inside.

I walk around telling anyone who might have any interest at all about how Pilates has changed me. According to this bio, it was created by German born Joseph Pilates who was “living in England, working as a circus performer and boxer…” He had a bit of a crazy life into the 1960s — smoking cigars and wearing exercise briefs around town. “Many dancers and well-known persons of New York depended on Pilates method training for the strength and grace it developed in the practitioner, as well as for its rehabilitative effects. Until exercise science caught up with the Pilates exercise principles in the 1980s, and the surge of interest in Pilates that we have today got underway, it was chiefly dancers and elite athletes who kept Joseph Pilates’ work alive.”

I am so upset that I didn’t try Pilates sooner that I want the whole world to know (and to be less stubborn than I am and just TRY it – whether you’re a runner or just looking for no-impact ways to strengthen, stretch and tone!). After 8 miles, I normally would be stiff the next day. Stretching my quads and hips really makes me feel like I didn’t even run. The core and muscle strengthening from Pilates workouts leaves my muscles quivering a bit for a while, but then totally relaxed. A good sign — along with a pain-free 8th mile — that it’s working.

This Wellsphere post on How to Be a Better Runner explains Pilates’ benefits:

* build up core strength
* improve your posture that increases your lung capacity,
* teach you to breathe more efficiently,
* provide rest for your joints (no high impact exercises) and improve joint mobility,
* improve your balance (this is true for standing Pilates exercises).

Did a recorded Classical Stretch today, which borrows a lot from Pilates, along with ballet and Tai Chi. Now, a hot bath to get ready for a l-o-n-g pain-free, and hopefully rain-free, run tomorrow.


Day 53 – Fitter than a second grader

22 02 2010

It was only 11 degrees driving home tonight. We are having a phase of real winter here in Colorado, but the sun popped out for the afternoon promising to melt it all away this week. I’m heading back out to the sidewalks tomorrow in hopes of getting my 15 miles in by Sunday — winter or not. Today I stayed warm inside with my favorite of the FIRM DVDs — Hard Core Fusion.

I decided I like this one not only because it’s a nice blend of cardio and strengthening, but also because the instructor looks and sounds exactly like Anna’s second grade teacher who I really liked! Both have all the energy and genuine smile it takes to enjoy an hour of exercise — or to maintain control over 28 seven-year-olds.

Just like a second grader, I need to be entertained and motivated by the teacher. Otherwise, I might as well be on the stationary bike…bored and watching the clock.

I am quite excited that my blog had 23 readers today – a record! Thanks to all of you who continue to read faithfully and to those who just stumbled upon it in blog-land. You are adding some pressure for me to find something important or funny to say each day in addition to exercising. Interestingly, they go hand-in-hand now giving a new purpose to my random thoughts while I workout.

There are people like my husband and my sister who haven’t read my blog, and I find this so odd. Total strangers have clicked, so you think that two of my closest relatives (is your spouse considered a relative?) would be a bit curious! My sister said she is waiting for the book… okay – and she has two kids under three, so she doesn’t read much beyond the rice cereal box. Scott, I think, is just frightened by this whole idea, although he promoted it heavily at his surprise party Saturday. That must be where I gained 23 readers!

And for anyone interested in more stats… I have fallen woefully behind in the “750 miles in 2010” challenge on the Buckeye Outdoors Training Log. With 98 miles logged, I’m nearly on pace to get to 750, but several runners moved ahead of me last week including eviltwin, zenrunner and triathlonpaul. That motivates me to step it up even more than the 23 readers and the second grade teacher!

Day 29 – Fitting fit in

29 01 2010

There are days like today when all busy moms know the best laid plans have to go awry to accommodate your family and work. Scott’s day trip to Wyoming was cancelled, but not in time for me to make it to Pilates class. The pediatrician could fit my daughter into one small window during her lunch if I could hurry and get there. And Zach was really hoping I could make it back in time for his 100th day of kindergarten party in the afternoon.

So after a morning of homework with Zach (learning to spell Wednesday!), a quick trip into the city to see the doctor (en route to which we saw THREE coyotes frolicking by the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in broad daylight!), counting 100 Fruit Loops with 5-year-olds, rushing home so I could walk back to school to walk the kids home in the sunshine, responding to a dozen work emails and pulling my hair out refereeing two over-tired kids after school (whew)…I tried desperately to squeeze in the FIRM DVD (no pun intended there).

Does it still count if you pause it 6 or 7 times? An hour-long cardio fusion workout turned into 85 minutes by the time I stopped to get Zach dressed for karate class, answered the door, yelled at my children and dog several times and got things boiling for dinner…

I never, ever, ever would have worked out today under normal circumstances. That is why this 365 day plan is seriously working to make me fit it in – no matter what. I’m sure there are extenuating circumstances when I would opt out for a day, but “it just didn’t fit in today” does not seem like a good one.

29 days equals enough momentum to not want to stop for silly reasons…I’m making allowances, however, for briefly pausing the DVD player!

Day 18 – A firm family

18 01 2010

The kids had today off, so we had all sorts of projects going. By mid-afternoon I decided to try out my new “FIRM” video and weights. Much to my surprise, the kids thought this was fantastic and wanted to join me…

Sharing one pound weights between them, they tried to follow the instructor in the “hi-def sculpt” video. Anna lost interest pretty quickly, but Zach got through the whole 55 minutes with comments like, “I’m really into this!” and “This is really helping my muscles!” What?? He’s five. It was hysterical! Then there were questions and comments like, “Why is she smiling at us?” and “Her arms look like a man’s!”

Zach has learned to love sports over the last year – playing baseball, soccer, flag football and now basketball through his school. I think he is realizing that strength is a good thing. We worked on his push-up form during the video, which should help him in karate class and help tone my sad arms.

I was not quite as enthusiastic or talkative for the workout, but sooo entertained by Zach that it passed quickly. I hope he will join me for the other three DVDs!

Day 13 – Fitter than a 5th grader

13 01 2010

Mr. Linville, the P.E. teacher at my kids’ school, hosted a challenge tonight to let parents test their fitness level with the assessment program he uses for grades 3-5. (Check out FitnessGram at:

Good news: I am as fit as a 17-year-old girl. I’m pretty sure I’m more fit than I was in 5th grade too. While our children counted for us, we had to do 20 meter laps across the gym paced by a recorded tape with music and bells to signal that you should turn around.

At 40 laps I was feeling today’s earlier 4.3-mile run – at least that was a good excuse for stopping. Then 40 curls/modified sit-ups and 20 push-ups followed to safely earn my certificate!

It was fun to see what the kids do each quarter for this progress report. Anna is proudly in the “healthy zone” for 3rd graders. The teacher gave a great slide presentation about rising obesity rates in the U.S. over the past several decades. (See Day 12’s nasty soda link for related info…) He’s doing his part to teach kids (and now their parents) about being active and eating right. With limited recess and P.E. time,  lunches — not to mention the nasty sodas — today’s kids need more Mr. Linvilles and parents on their side.

I hope that my own kids see Scott and I exercising as a regular way of life. (Yet another good reason for this project of mine…) My own parents ate healthy foods and my dad loved being active when he had time, but they certainly didn’t incorporate regular exercise into their days.

We are lucky to live in Colorado where the sun almost always shines and so many people are into fitness and health. (We are almost always near or at the bottom of those obesity charts.) There are so many runners, races and health-conscious people here, that you are inspired by friends and neighbors.

On a national level, it’s frightening, but we can at least control what happens in our own homes and be role models for our fitter-than-a-fifth-grader kids.

Day 7 – Boot camp is not a vacation

7 01 2010

Patti is the mom of one of Zach’s best little friends. And she is the most fit person I know. She is my age, does Olmpic triathlons, has four kids and is a personal trainer in our neighborhood. I hadn’t been to one of her boot camps in about a year, so it seemed like a good indoor activity for a 5 degree evening. (Thanks Jo-Anna for being a good sport and coming along on the camping trip after already swimming today!)

I know I need strength training. Really I do. I have never been able to lift weights or do push ups. All of my favorite running blogs talk about the importance of strength for long term wellness and injury prevention. The good (?) thing about Patti Camp is that it forces me to do some weights, sit-ups, squats and other terrible things. The worst part is I immediately flash back to the Greenmont Elementary School gymnasium, where I was usually picked last for kickball teams, froze at the chin-up bar and played hookie on field day.

Patti has stations set up that you do for one minute each involving exercise balls, aerobic steps, and some very heavy things. The last 10 seconds of lifting a 12 lb. bar I just have to stop. Like that rope they made us climb in school. I just COULD NOT go more than a few feet and had to stop — much to my humiliation as the whole class watched from below. In reality I bet they weren’t even looking, but I think the embarrassment led to my destiny of individual sports. No pressure to face but my own.

So I did the best I could with Patti’s stations and will feel the pain in my arms and thighs in the a.m. for sure. Just in time to try my new Pilates class. I have no idea what to expect, but I know it includes breathing and stretching and that just HAS to be more relaxing than Boot Camp!

Day 6 – Hiding from coyotes

6 01 2010

Temps in the teens and snow flurries sent me to the gym today. It was hard enough to get my butt into the heated seat of my car — so no way was I going out there to run or walk. 40 minutes of stationary bike – going nowhere – had me staring at the closed caption TV. “As the World Turns” was on! My favorite soap from college (thanks Wendy for introducing me to those people…Barbara Ryan, Lilly and Holden are still there – same actors 20 years later).

“Let’s Make a Deal” followed as I headed into my toughest uphill interval. How would I survive 20 more minutes? And why do I just get so bored at the gym…so aware of each minute passing, the burned calorie count and miles slowly rising on the screen?

The positive thing I discovered was that I can check my Blackberry while cycling indoors. That entertained me for a bit – anything from keeping my eyes off that machine in front of me or the game show.

Finally – 40 minutes was up and the other two people with New Year’s resolutions were gone. Alone in an empty gym, I was compelled to stretch in front of the giant mirrors. Then Patrick, who runs the Rec Center, came in and felt compelled to tell me about the coyotes that he’s seen on the trail and in the park several times recently. My running trail. Lottie’s walking trail. The trail that goes right by my house where my kids play! Jo-Anna saw one in the neighborhood a few weeks ago, but I had convinced myself it was a German Shepard.

This news – along with he sub-zero forecast – may just have me committed to the gym for now. Maybe Patrick is trying to drum up business? He’s got mine!