Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Letting Time Go Lightly

I let time go lightly when I'm here with you, 
I let time go lightly when the day is through.
I keep a watch on time when I've got work to do, 
I let time go lightly with you.
- Harry Chapin

The men in my life gave me the watch shown above for my birthday. It has a 24-hour dial. Each number, from 1 to 24, has three ticks in between. There is one hand which makes one revolution per 24-hour day. I have seen it advertised as the "slow watch." It is impossible to tell a precise time using this watch. The norm becomes "It's between 3:00 and 4:00" or "It's getting close to 1600 hours" (4:00 p.m.). Using the watch to arrive somewhere at a certain time really only works if you're willing to get there early. 

The men told me that they hoped this would help me to slow down a bit, something I occasionally say I should do. Two weeks in, their plan may be working. Today, I put on my old watch so that I did not miss the proper time to leave to take the dog to a 3:30 vet appointment. As Harry said, "I keep a watch on time when I've got work to do." As soon as we got home from the appointment, I swapped the watches out. I'll put the old watch on again tomorrow morning so that I can time the run(s) I will be doing. After that, it will be back to the new watch.

I am enjoying letting time go lightly. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Run-On Thoughts on Running On

Around 58 years ago, I learned how to walk. Now, some 58 years later, I am learning how to run. I have a mixed history with running. In high school, I was one of four girls to go out for cross country when the high school athletic league ruled that if there was not girls team then girls could run with the boys. I did pretty awfully, but I did it. For the most part, though, I have thought about running without really doing it. There have been significant periods in my life when I did not run simply because I did not want people to see me run. I was embarrassed to be seen running, because I felt so gawky doing it.

When I started working out with SEAL Team Physical Training, people there started to offer me advice about running, "Did you know that your shoulders hunch over when you run?" "You need to straighten your back." "Don't look down. That decreases the amount of air you can take in." "Don't swing your shoulders from side to side and cross your hands in front of you." I tried to do the things others told me I should, but there were just so many of them that I wasn't sure where to start. Almost a year ago, the gym to which I belong for martial arts, had a special with a trainer whose specialty was running. I did about half a dozen sessions with him before a shoulder surgeon told me I should not be doing any activity in which I could fall. People at SEAL Team were starting to tell me that my running looked better. It very occasionally actually felt better to me, but I still most of the time felt very clumsy if that's an appropriate way to describe one's running.

I was unable to run while recovering from shoulder surgery; there were people who told me I should not even be walking given the effect of the impact on the shoulder. The sources with whom I checked informed me that walking was quite okay and asked why was I emailing them instead of taking a walk on a perfectly good afternoon. During those walks, as well as the ones with the family dog, I tried to do all the running things I'd been told or instructed to do. I figured getting used to doing them walking would make them easier to do when I got back to running. Toes up to help land mid-foot rather than on the heel. Feet picked up as I walked, and no scuffling my feet. Back straight to help my airway stay as open as possible.

I tried to continue to keep those things in mind when I was finally able to start jogging and, even more so, when I went back to doing SEAL Team run options in which we run for an hour, non-stop. I also signed up for a running clinic sort of thing (the gym calls in "Running Club") led in part by the trainer I worked with last fall. I've done eleven one-hour sessions and have five more to go. The warm-up exercises really focus me on getting my feel up, keeping my back straight, and keeping my shoulders back and square on to the front.

The epiphany, though, is that I am learning to run with my arms. I would have thought that the legs control how one runs. They are, after all, connected to the hips which constitute pretty major joints. The arms connect to the shoulders, which are not quite as major size-wise. There are various ways to think about moving one's arms back and forth while running. "Hips to lips" is the one that works for me. And it does work, in quite amazing ways. When I remember to start moving my arms hips-to-lips, my feet get lighter and no longer scuff the ground. I have played with this, and it is truly amazing. Move my arms faster, and my pace picks up. I can make myself run faster without thinking about it just by pumping my arms more. Who would have thought it?

I still enviously watch those people with long legs who make running look beautiful. I don't know that I will ever get to the point of thinking my running looks that way, but I at least no longer feel uncomfortable running with people watching. I still get advice at SEAL Team PT, but I also get comments on how much my running has improved. The moments in which I realize that I am getting it all done--feet, legs, hips, arms--are getting more frequent. I may never make my running look beautiful, but "pretty" isn't all that bad a way for it to look.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hello, Birthday, My Old Friend...

I'm heading to the gym for some shoulder rehab and my post-workout shower. If you show up on your birthday, they give you a coupon for a free smoothie. After that, I could, if I wanted to, pick up a free pastry at Panera and a free coffee at Starbucks before heading to the quilt store for 20 percent off my entire purchase of regularly priced items. All of those are good all month long, so I don't need to pack it all into one day.

As for the day, I'm not at all sure how to interpret The Washington Post horoscope's "if today is your birthday" item. In case you don't get or read the Post, here it is:

This year you might find yourself on the fence. If you jump off it, you can see how to merge opposing ideas by focusing on the root of the issue. There will be a push-pull in relationships. You will need to establish your boundaries and deal with issues suck as resentment and guilt. You will appreciate the process when you look at the results. If you are single, you will meet someone of importance after August. Get ready! If you are attached, you will be sharing more of yourselves with each other.

Sounds like a pretty ordinary year to me, but ordinary can be good. So can adventures, but they run more of a risk than ordinary does.

I usually spend some birthday time assessing whether I'm meeting the resolutions I made seix months ago for the birth of the new year. I looked, and I didn't really make any, which means I'm right on track to meet all of them.

For my 49th birthday and the advent of my 50th year of life, I made a list of 50 things to do. I managed to accomplish most of them. I'm honestly not sure if I could come up with a list of 60. I decided, then, to go for quality rather than quantity. A dozen things, or one per month, seemed a lot more doable in both  creation and execution. Because the first dozen I jotted down were all in the artsy-creative vein, I decided I need to expand my horizons with four things in each of three areas: Artsy-Creative, Physical, and Not Artsy-Creative nor Physical. So here they are. Making them public makes me accountable for accomplishing them or having a good reason why I didn't.

The Artsy-Creative things are all things I haven't really tried before. While I have needle-felted and felted items I knitted or crocheted (technically, this is fulling, not felting), I have never wet felted. This means starting with fleece and finishing with felt. This seems like a good year to play with that. I would like to make (bind) a decent book. The few I've done weren't really bound; the pages came from folding and there was no binding. When I reorganized my studio, I realized just how many wine corks and labels I have saved over the years. I'm going to have to do something with them. I also have a box of things I have picked up, mostly on trips. A lot of them are spoons. I kid you not, I found a spoon in the street just about everywhere we went in our 2009 adventure in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Europe. I'm thinking I should make a sculpture.

The Physical areas is where I reserve the right not to do something if my shoulder will not permit it. The two that fall into that category are doing a pull-up, just one, though more would also be nice. I'd also like to climb a rope, which can be done mostly using one's legs. Still, if doing it would be shoulder-risky, it's not gonna happen. Younger Son suggested that I climb to the tallest point in the three states in which I've lived. Granite Peak in Montana is a technical climb and carries the warning of possible death. No, thank you. The one in Kentucky, Black Mountain, is on private land and requires a special permit. Too much trouble. I'll stick with Mt. Rogers in southwest Virginia. It's supposed to be doable as a day hike. Finally, I want to run the Charlottesville Ten Miler in the spring. That should be very doable if I can manage to run through the winter without injury.

Not Artsy-Creative nor Physical things start with reading (for the third time) George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, aka Game of Thrones. I'll probably do this late in the year, though if a release date is given for the sixth book in the series, I'll time the re-read to lead into the new book. I am almost embarrassed to say that despite being a second degree black belt in Myo Sim kendo, I've never watched Seven Samurai, Sanjuro, or Yojimbo, three classics. We actually have all of them on DVD, so I'll be watching them this year. I do like writing but do not make time for it on a regular basis. I'm going to try to put up one blog post per week and include with it a photo I've taken. Yeah, we'll see how many weeks I make. Finally, I have The Art of Zentangle, a book with various zentangle exercises. I may not manage one per week, but I will manage one for each month. You can see what a zentangle is here. I know that these last two are perilously close to the idea of Artsy-Creative, but it's my list, my rules.

And now, after a quick proofing, I'm off to the gym!