Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


What it is to be alive and not just to survive

Filed under : Life in general
On March 12, 2008
At 9:00 am
Comments : 18

I was going to hold off on this post for a little while but you know what motivates me: Amazon and iTunes gift certificates! So I figure I’ll just time it a bit earlier and if I don’t win one, hey, I was going to do this post next month anyway. But Randa Clay, this designer who does awesome themes (not the one I’m using, but you know I’m monogamous with my theme) is running a contest to base a post on a popular advertising slogan and one of the ones in her list of suggestions is what I’ve been calling this post in my mind all the time I’ve been planning it. We’ll see if you can guess what it is.

So you all have total recall and remember that last Summer I said I walked home through the park several times a week. As I walked along, people would whiz right past me. People who were running. The same thought would always occur to me: I want to be a runner! It seemed an impossible dream. I’m so not an athlete. I never played on any teams or did any extra-curricular sports. I know, this seems odd since I love sports but I didn’t so much as a kid and as an adult I became the sort of fan that sits at Yankee Stadium with a hot dog and largass soda. I hated the gym and only did it for health, never enjoyment. Although I’m a fast New York walker, I couldn’t really run more than a block without getting winded. And I never did that unless I was late for work. See? I’m motivated by that as well as free schwag.

I’d actually never run on purpose in public and I was kind of afraid to. I feared I ran like Phoebe in Friends (see picture). I imagined people sitting on benches in Riverside Park pointing and laughing. This was easy to picture as I once did that, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m not sure what was the biggest thing holding me back: the thought that I would look funny or the fact that I just physically was incapable of doing it. Then I found the Couch to 5k program. I prefer Couch to Fridge, but that didn’t feel like as much of an accomplishment. C to 5k starts really small, like with 60 seconds of running. This may not sound like a lot but it is when you get tired walking up the big stairway at the subway station. So I got a Nike+ thingy for my iPod and put together a playlist of alternating 60 second (running) and 90 second (walking) snippets. I got cute clothes that would make me want to run. And then I just went. And then I just started running. The song was New Order’s “Everything’s Gone Green” which has a slow intro and then builds to a sort of technotronic beat. It’s the song I always used to bike to at the gym. When I hear it now, I still think of its place at the front of my Week 1 playlist and the feeling I felt that day: “I’m running!” I used to walk/run in the evening, and the song that proceeded that one was “Slow Jam,” with its line: “The early evening mist, looked beautiful to me, it was sweeter than a kiss, I wish you all could see”… well, even then I thought of this post and I wished you all could see.

Running wasn’t like the gym. The gym sucked, staring at the wall or other people, thinking about them, wondering what they thought of you. Looking at your watch. Is this enough yet? Running was movement to music as the river and the trees and the bridge and the sun streaked by. Like dancing and flying at the same time, but with ugly sneakers.

But it was slow going. There are nine weeks to the program and I repeated all of them several times. It was sort of like “Couch to 5k via the scenic route” for me. In the middle I got really sick and had to abandon running for nearly three months. When that was over, it was like 20 degrees but I went back anyway. Sometimes, I dreamed of running. That’s when I started to think about actually doing a 5k. Could I really run over three miles with no stopping? I don’t know! But I can try. Due to that whole perfect recall thing as well as the fact that you read every single comment, you will remember that I said I don’t like doing “athons” because I felt bad asking my friends for money. I think people should give to causes they believe in, not necessarily say, “I support you,” through a donation to my favorite charity. But when my friend Meesh told me she was forming a small team to do the Philly Komen 5k for Breast Cancer Research and it would be really low-key because all the participants also do other Komen runs, I considered it. And then I found out it was on Mother’s Day. Even though my Mom died of BC, I’ve never really been a pink ribbon sort of person. But this felt right. I’m not a Mom so I haven’t gotten to celebrate Mother’s Day in a few years (unless you count going to Ikea because it’s totally empty that day). Now I will. But I still put Meesh off for a while. Just the same as it always had, this phrase popped into my head. OK, I hate that it’s from an advertising campaign, but come on, it works. Have you guessed it yet? Yes. Just.Do.It. That’s been my running theme (and hey, the Nike+ has been my running companion all this time). And so, I signed up for the Komen 5k. I’m still not there yet but I’m working on it! I know the unleashed dogs of Riverside Park admire my progress as I flee from them in terror.

I’m not putting up a link to my Komen page yet because I will probably do a Hamantaschen bake sale (raspberry and Nutella flavors) for Purim which is next week. Along with that, in case Komen isn’t your favorite charity (and you know mine is Doctors Without Borders but they didn’t have a race), I might also do the Station Family Fund since we did DWB last time. That way you have a choice! But I’ll put up the link then. If you’re in the Philadelphia area and want to escape from your mother or children, feel free to come see me race! I’ll be the one running like Phoebe.

I just wanted to dedicate this post to my friend-by-Internet, Linda/Liidi, who has been my running inspiration and advisor and just lost her beloved Dad. May all the good stuff Linda sends to others return right back to her.

Title is the way I misheard a lyric from:
New Order – Slow Jam


18 Comments for this post

  1. kb says:

    I did C25K two years ago. I even did that iPod thing, with music snippets telling me when to switch it up. I did it for a couple of months, running along the half-mile road at the bottom of my subdivision, the one that parallelled the swamp, until the mosquitoes convinced me to quit for awhile, “just until the weather cools a bit and they go away.”

    I never started up again.

    Now, I’ve been suffering from Plantar Fasciitis for the past over-a-year, and while it’s abating from my left foot, it’s in full force in my right. I hate hobbling around like an old lady! I want my mobility back! So, I think I’ll focus on my biking this year, and maybe build up to 25k on wheels. And swimming. I’ll join the JCC that’s in my new backyard. Then, when the heel spurs heal, I’ll add in the running, and finally maybe achieve my dream of running a mini-tri. You’re my new inspiration.

    And then I’ll start graduate school. πŸ™‚

  2. Alex says:

    I quit graduate school.

    And running.

    Also thinking deep thoughts and wearing small pants.

  3. Soxy says:

    I love this post for a few reasons:

    1) I love when non-runners love running. I especially love when they love it through C25K.
    2) It includes all my favorite things – running, Friends, Komen & nike+
    3) The way you describe how you nw feel about running makes me want to go right out and run. Except its too cold and I’m in my PJs.

    I have a motto that I use when I run races, that you can borrow if you’d like: “Leave it all on the course.” Give the race everything you have, and you’ll know you did your best. Plus, first races are great because you always set a personal record!

  4. Becca says:

    kb, don’t forget to save the world! Actually, I had Plantar Fasciitis in both feet for like a year. It really blew but at least I wasn’t really exercising then. If I got it now it would be awful, so I feel for you. Biking and swimming are both great ideas, though. Just do it! I watched my friend Bob train for a triathlon last year and it was really hard but she was dedicated and focused and she pulled it off. You can too.

    Alex, but running helps people get into small pants! Occasionally it leads to deep thoughts too, but mostly it’s “I wonder what my pace is?” I did quit graduate school, though, so we’ll always have that.

    Soxy, thanks! But are you trying to say I’m not a runner? Because I run. Is there another definition? Maybe I jog. I am slow.

    Sometimes when I hear one of my running songs I want to run. I try not to play them otherwise or I get all itchy and want to get out there. And if I’m not in my PJ’s then I’m sitting in my office or somewhere equally difficult to ditch.

    I don’t know what sort of mental prep I’ll need for the actual race. I think of it kind of like jumping out of an airplane. It’s so out of my experience that I have no idea what I’ll feel. But sometimes when I run I think about what it might be like to run in Philly, and while I’m thinking that I feel good, so I’ll probably feel really good on the actual day. Still, I’ll be glad to have Meesh and other experienced racers.

    Oh, and to no one in particular, I should probably have said this in the post but I abandoned C to 5k at about week 6 in favor of just running as far as I could each day, walk as far as I needed, then go back to running. I’m up to two miles before I need a short walking break now, and then another half mile to full mile. But C to 5k has a really quick jump in the middle, like from “run 10 minutes” to “run 25 minutes” and it just didn’t work that way for me. But you know, tortoise and hare, slow and steady, yadda yadda yadda.

  5. kb says:

    when did you make the jump from “oh dear I’ve gotta run again” to “OMG I can’t wait to run again!” ??

  6. Soxy says:

    Ooops. I meant “former non-runner”!

    Honestly, I think you’ll be amazed by how much better/fatser/stronger you’ll feel in a race, especially if you’ve been running solo a lot. There’s so many people, and its exciting and fun, you kind of get swept up in all that, and you look at your time and say “Wow, I’ve never done that before”

    Plus, the swag is way cool.

  7. Becca says:

    kb, I never had to make that transition because I loved it from the start. This is the key for me and I’m sure it differs for other people:

    I am not a dancer. I’m too self-conscious and I don’t know, I just never liked it. But as you know, I adore music and I feel it. Running is simply the only way I have to move to music. So I put music on that I love and I’m off! The second song on Radiohead’s In Rainbows, for example, is my “push off” song. Now I simply can’t listen to it without wanting to race away. If you’re like me, finding the right music is the most important thing you can do. Music you love, music with a beat, music with energy. As I mentioned, my favorite song to run to, the one I use when I need that last little bit, is “Map of the Problematique.”

    Soxy, I hoped you meant “I love when non-runners fall in love with running.” Because that did happen! But maybe I don’t consider myself a runner yet anyway. The race will seal the deal, I know.

    I’ve only run solo, although obviously there are a lot of people in the park. But everyone’s doing his own thing so I know it’s way different. I simply cannot imagine it, even though I’ve watched a million of these things. I’m so excited!

    And there’s swag? I did not know that. YaY!

  8. kb says:

    hmmm. My natural music tastes don’t usually include “running songs.” My iPod is filled with: wistful sad songs; classical music; showtunes; crooners; karaoke; a little bit of pop & alternative. Not enough “dance beat” to keep me running for more than 15 minutes.

    Perhaps you might consider putting a sample running playlist on iTunes (do they still do that?) so that others of us could peruse the samples and buy the songs we like? I thought of this today when an Annie Lennox song came up on my iPod that I didn’t even know I owned — Pavement Cracks — and I realized how little I own that I can run to.

  9. Caren says:

    Every other year, I catch Ironman on TV, get all jacked up on the idea, set my alarm for the next morning – and inevitably hit snooze and mumble under my breath about those “crazy endorphin junkies,” and go back to sleep.

    So the fact that you actually ENJOY running, well, hats off.

  10. Becca, thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m so very moved by the dedication. That was really, really sweet of you to do, and means so much to me.

    We’re back on our way home now, just hanging in the hotel and I thought I’d check my email and fave blogs. What a lovely surprise this was!

    Oh, the whole music/running connection! Well, you know I blog about that. Well, metal music/running, that is. For me, too, running is my deepest connection to music. I’ve said it a zillion times, both on the GDT and my blog: “Running is a dance forward.” It brings me more bliss than I can possibly properly express, though I certainly keep trying to. πŸ™‚

    You know what? It’s late and I’m feeling lazy, but screw it. We’ve a locked-but-open-all-night hotel gym with several treadmills, and I’m going to go run hard there right now. (And yes, the music will be Finnish. :))

    And around my neck, keeping my old little gold runner chick figurine company, is my new little heart with a diamond that my daddy left me, sparkling like the love he leaves me always. This one’s for you, my darling Daddy. Off to kick ass.

  11. Oh, and, Becca: YOU. ARE. A. RUNNER. I could see that a long time ago. πŸ™‚

  12. In case anyone was wondering, yes, I did it, the music was a mix of The Rasmus and Eluveitie for w/u and c/d and one of Sean O’Malley’s outstanding Cardio Coach workouts for the rest. Man, do I feel good and happy and sparkly inside. πŸ™‚

    And I amused the hell out of the security guard who watched unknown by me (until he giggled) as I did a funky little pirouette thingy through a rain puddle as I boppped down the outside walkway to our suite. He gave me a “you’re geekycool” thumbs-up as I passed. Life is good. πŸ˜€

  13. Amy says:

    My “push off” song was Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. Then one day someone showed me the Viking kitty video on youtube. Now whenever I hear the song I have visions of kittens in horned helmets with axes. Tough to run when you have the giggles. Only time I listen to metal is while running, I think that is because it makes me feel tough and powerful when in fact I’m a wee woose


  14. Becca says:

    kb, what a fantastic idea! I’m going to do that. Stay tuned. Of course, it will help a lot if you like 80’s alternative music.

    Caren, I do that with lots of things, I can’t even tell you. But that’s the thing, you actually have to like doing it. Otherwise it’s just a chore and no one wants to get up to do chores.

    Liid, you’re very welcome! I had e-mailed you about it but I didn’t know if you were checking your e-mail. I absolutely love “running is a dance forward.” That is exactly how I feel and since I’m not the most graceful person on earth, it’s an incredible thing to have.

    I’m glad you got that diamond from your Dad. That is really lovely.

    And THANK.YOU. I do feel like a runner.

    Amy, that was my favorite Led Zeppelin song for years and years! It may not go with my current running mix but I’m going to add it – thanks for the reminder.

  15. Melanie says:

    Becca, I love this post. As you know, I’m doing Couch to 5k now, and I’m loving it. I’ve had a vision in my head of running the Komen race in Boston in September, and now that I’m officially registered to do it, I am even more excited and motivated. But I know it’s not going to be easy, but this post will really help me when I feel like quitting.

  16. Becca says:

    Melanie, that’s awesome! I really found that having this goal made the difference in getting over the “I can’t run more than five minutes” hump. I know you’re going to be able to do it.

  17. But I know itÒ€ℒs not going to be easy, but this post will really help me when I feel like quitting.

    If the truly worthwhile things were too easy, they wouldn’t be all that worthwhile, right? πŸ™‚

    What helps me most when I feel like quitting (other than the fact I’m usually just too damned stubborn to quit): Just pick some sort of short/quick/easy landmark. Run for it. It can be the next tree. The next telephone pole. The next guy with a red and green shirt. The next song on your iPod (and may I just quickly say DAMN the race officials who want to take my joy, power, and motivation from me Thank you. I feel better now.) πŸ˜€

    Anyway, pick whatever landmark/goal you like. You MUST run until you finish it. You can do it. Really, you can do ANYTHING for a minute or three. Then, if you wish, you may stop running. You won’t, though, unless you’re sick, injured or just way exhausted, in which case you most certainly SHOULD stop. But odds are really, really good you’ll run on at least a wee bit longer. And when you really DO have to stop, you’ll do it with a big-ass grin on your face and a loud, internal “HELL, YEAH!”

    I cannot tell you how many miles these little head-games have pulled me through. πŸ™‚

  18. Becca says:

    I do that, Linda! There are park benches surrounding the oval where I run and I always pick a park bench and say I will just go to there. And then the one two benches beyond that, and then…

    Another thing I do is to say, “just till the end of this song.” Then if I sense myself slowing just because it’s the end of the song, I’ll hit the Forward button 30 seconds before it ends so I’m tricked into the energetic beginning of the next song. It works!

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