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Action Feels Good January 2, 2014

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise, Goals.
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It would have been so easy to just go home after work tonight. That’s what I’ve been doing for months anyway, so it’s become my habit. Besides, it’s really cold. My back felt stiff from shoveling snow yesterday. I was tired. I could have stayed later at work, as I have so very much to do there in the next five weeks.

take-actionInstead, I took action.

I went to the Two Rivers YMCA (to use my membership for once, instead of giving a monthly “donation” via the online payment system), was surprised at the number of empty parking places in the lot on Jan. 2, was further surprised at the few number of people on the walking track and only one person on the bikes adjacent to it. So, instead of my plan to walk on the track — I’d assumed it would be the typical Jan. 2 crowd and everything would be in use — I went to one of the bikes. Yes, these are the bikes that each have their own TV and today I found a real secret to making the time go by quickly: stumble across the movie “Moneyball” about an hour into it.

So I was distracted as I rode but I pushed myself nonetheless, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the 20-game winning streak part of the movie (and of course appreciated watching Brad Pitt). It reminded me for the second time today of my previous fascination with the Oakland A’s teams of 2001 to 2006 or so (the first reminder was in reading about Mark Mulder signing a minor league contract with the Angels, and recalling his best performance as a Cardinal).

But, even with the distraction, it felt good to be there and felt good to actually do something.

My goal for the month of January is to lose 10 pounds, and to go to the Y at least three times a week. Which is why, even on a day when it would have been so easy to find so many excuses not to go, I didn’t.

I went.

The only way 2014 is going to be better for me is by me doing something about it … one day at a time.

Four Days into the 30-Day Pushup Challenge … December 4, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise.
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And I have one word: ouch.

Which is pretty much what I expected.

30-day-push-up-challengeThe good news: I have done 100 pushups every day of December so far. I wouldn’t say they are easier yet — Sunday was actually the easiest, likely because my arms didn’t hurt. Monday I struggled because they did hurt. The past two days, my muscles ache to start with but then feel OK as I go along.

Progress!

Although I look nothing like the woman in the photo when I do them. Maybe on Dec. 31. Ha!

Crazy to do this? Probably. But at least it’s some physical activity. And, as long as I was doing the 100 pushups, yesterday I did 100 crunches too. Today too. So, more soreness — but at least from something productive.

Which is good, since my gym clothes and shoes are still sitting in a bag on an extra chair in my office at work. Which is why at least doing something — and something I can do at home, without having to go elsewhere — is better than just one more excuse why I can’t go to the Y after work tonight to walk or ride the bike or do the elliptical.

For four days so far, no excuses on pushups.

Oh, Christmas Tree … At the End of a Busy Holiday Weekend December 1, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in 2013, Exercise.
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Here it is, Dec. 1. And I did not blog for all 30 days in November, although I did for 19. That’s an accomplishment in itself!

At the end of this long Thanksgiving weekend, I have more I would like to write. But it’s after 10 p.m. and today was long and hectic. So I’ve enjoyed just sitting in the light from the now-up-and-decorated Christmas tree, since that was part of today’s busyness. (And it’s perfectly acceptable to decorate for Christmas now that Thanksgiving is over — remember, I’m a believer in one holiday at a time!)

Christmas treeIn scrolling through Facebook tonight, I also found something I could do in December that would definitely be pushing myself (no pun intended at all): a 30-day push-up challenge.

Sure, it’s the holiday season and I really don’t need one more thing I have to do. But at least this one’s a positive — and one I completely control myself.

I have not been exercising at all, though plenty of intentions to do so. And this requires nothing more than just getting on the floor and doing it — plus knee push-ups (which are all I can do right now) are absolutely acceptable!

So I did four sets of 25 push-ups tonight, with not much rest in between. Going back to the Y’s fitness boot camp days, I never minded doing push-ups and back then did reach a point where I could do “real” ones. That will be my goal. Actually, just doing them consistently is my real goal.

Plus doing push-ups by the light of the Christmas tree is something I can only do this month. And anything exercise-wise to feel better during this crazy month ahead is definitely a positive.

One day down, 30 to go …

Where Does the Time Go? November 12, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise, Goals, Weight loss, Writing.
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Every day seems to go by so quickly, and every week too. The months, the years — all of it, here and gone.

clocksSo many things I want to do, all those things I intend to get to — ideas here, gone, unfulfilled.

Or started, stalled, stopped.

The novel I’ve written, rewritten and rewritten yet again that still needs work. Those other novels from past National Novel Writing Months that I wanted to get back to and revise.

Losing more weight, staying active, getting back to running.

Book after book after book after book I want to read — so many already owned, sitting on my nightstand or bookshelves or piled on a shelf in the closet.

I could go on …

(more…)

Ready to race July 3, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise, Running.
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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here, obviously. My baseball blogging at Cardinal Diamond Diaries and Baseball Digest has kept me both busy and writing frequently (and that was my whole point of this blog anyway). Running also has kept me busy. Steadily I’ve been increasing my distance, plus I started running on the hills in my neighborhood to get ready for the races this month – and, now, tomorrow is my first test. It’s the Firecracker Run.

This is only my second time doing a 10K, and the last time was this same race five years ago. The Firecracker Run is a pretty small race with the 5K version is by far the more popular of the two. So five years ago, I spent most of my time running all alone once I reached the top of the hill that the 10K participants run up as soon as they split off from the 5K course. That meant that the spectators who cheered along the course (of which there were not many) were literally rooting for me. I was the only one there at the moment. So I did the polite thing: I told them I appreciated it. And I did. I was especially grateful for the couple who had a cooler with them and gave me a bottle of water – this race course unfortunately doesn’t have as many water stops as others.

At one point, an older woman drew up even with me. I was walking a bit at this point, while she was jogging along. We talked for a few moments – no recollection about what now, other than she said she would see me at the finish line. And she was the only person who passed me. I came close to passing both a young guy and young girl further along the course. The guy looked back, saw I was approaching and immediately started running again. (He’d been walking.) He no doubt would have been embarrassed had someone who likely was around his mom’s age passed him by.

There are two moments from this race I will never forget. The first was a downhill stretch toward the end of the race. It was easier, obviously, to run downhill but also exhilarating. The months I’d spent working toward running this race – like this year, diligently building up distance and stamina – had paid off and here I was, running a longer race than I’d ever run before. It was a feeling of accomplishment I’d never felt before, or since.

The other moment was as I was approaching the finish line. Even from a block or so away, I could see the older woman had finished and was waiting there for me. Since there obviously were so few participants, especially at this stage of the race, my name was announced as I reached the finish line. The woman gave me a hug and said, “We did it!” I don’t remember then if it brought tears to my eyes like it does now as I write this, but it was special.

There’s no way of knowing what tomorrow will be like. My emotions are up and down, thinking that I’ve done all I can (which I have, at this stage) and feeling good about that, then feeling scared that I should have done more in the past weeks. Last week, one of my Twitter pals in New York City wrote about her anxiety as she approached a five-mile run Saturday. And tomorrow I need to remember the advice I gave her: “You can’t go into the race nervous. You have to feel good and know that you will just do the best you can. There’s no rule on how much you should or can walk – just do what you have to do. Some days, even some race days, are tougher than others. And it’s so much a mind game too, as you know. So just feel good about what you’ve accomplished to get to this stage and go out and kick ass!”

We caught up again last Sunday, and she was proud of how she’d done in her race. It meant a lot to me that she said, “Your words were really in my head.” And now I need to remember the words she told me the other day when I expressed my own anxiety leading up to tomorrow: “It’s YOUR race. Run it at whatever pace you see fit. You will do great. Take the time to enjoy yourself running. Enjoy the moment. Run your race.”

So I will be remembering her words plus my own, and likely thinking of Chris Carpenter and his own determination and tenacity during the race as well. (Some things are just always on my mind when running!) Yet, really, it’s up to me – and I can only do what I can do. That’s something I realized again when running on Thursday, as a younger and fitter woman zipped past me. Yes, I’m five years older and 10 pounds heavier than last time I did this race, but I’m also five years wiser and know myself and my own capabilities better than I did.

There’s one last thing I need to keep in mind tomorrow: my horoscope for today. “The worry that has been bothering you a few days ago has been replaced with a confidence that in this case, as in the ones that came before, there will be a positive outcome. Fate is smiling.”

So, I’m ready to race. And I’ll let you know how it goes.

Progress and discovery May 12, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise, Writing.
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Monday I reached a running milestone, and it was unintentional. When I started running again in March, I followed the Cool Running “Couch to 5K” program that has a final goal of running 30 minutes. By week five or six, I wasn’t sticking to the plan and increasing running times and distances on my own. On Monday, my intention was to run for 25 minutes straight with no walking.
Since it was rainy, I headed to the Y instead of the riverfront. And it’s been a while since I’ve run indoors. Going around and around that padded blue track Monday was quite the change from the beginning of March – definitely an improvement. Two months ago, most of my thoughts were “How much longer until I can walk some laps?” Monday, those thoughts never entered my mind. I kept going and going, tuning out the distractions of the bouncing basketballs and teenage voices from the gym below and instead focusing on the music from Glee playing through my iPod. Racing through my mind were writing ideas, especially on the new novel I’m planning.
Since I decided to shelve “Summer of ‘94” back in March, I’d been trying to figure out what to pursue next. I’d had an idea for completely redoing the novel I wrote last November for National Novel Writing Month, which I thought through on several runs and began working on in bits and pieces. The story, though, never really took off for me. It was based, to a degree, on a real-life local incident involving a guy I know (how’s that for vague?) and the more I thought and worked on it, the more unseemly it felt.
I’ve been happy with the amount of writing I’m doing – my whole point in creating this blog was to write regularly, although at the time I didn’t know I’d soon be contributing to a Cardinals blog twice a week too. (Check it out here if you haven’t. It’s been a lot of fun!) Yet I still want something else to work on, because my real writing goal is novelist.
As often happens, my friend Linda made a comment that sparked an idea. After reading my story of converting to Cardinals fandom on the Diamond Diaries blog, she said “THAT is the essence of what I wanted to get from ‘Summer of ’94.’” When I asked what she meant by “that,” she said it was “the feeling, the passion, energy, intensity, the almost ‘couldn’t help it’ compulsion, the pure love of the game.” OK, so a new fiction project obviously must include baseball. (Of course.)
One day last week while running, some great ideas came to mind. I couldn’t wait to get back to my car and scribble them all down. And on Monday too, I spent the majority of my workout letting my mind wander about this new story and more ideas. Not any worth sharing yet, other than it’s about a woman named Maggie who’s a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan (of course!) and the baseball season where she turns 40. Some of it will be funny, some it more serious. (Like life. And baseball.) It might take place in 2006, just because it would be fun to write about experiencing that year’s playoffs.
With so many thoughts on Monday, the running time passed quickly. I still played mind games with myself – not checking my watch until a song ended, for example – and was very surprised to see I’d been running for more than 26 minutes. Since I was already past my goal for that day, might as well set a new one: 30 minutes. The pinnacle of the “Couch to 5K” program, without any pre-run motivation. I was definitely tired, but concentrating on “Like a Prayer” helped. (I even wanted to clap along when the choir was singing, yet restrained the impulse.) When I needed more inspiration, I again thought of a Cardinal to get me through – only this time it was Trever Miller and his advice on runners needing to push themselves. (Sorry, CC.) And it worked. Looking down and seeing 30:00 on my watch was a fantastic feeling.
While walking several laps and listening to “Don’t Stop Believing” (while also realizing even this version of the song reminds me of the 2005 White Sox), more thoughts on the new story came to mind. Once again, in my car, I jotted them down quickly. Yesterday and this morning I’ve been looking back at other stories I started but never finished, since one in particular focused on baseball. But I’m not looking for inspiration. Just to see what I did before because I don’t want this new story to be anything like what I’ve written previously.
With plenty more running time coming up in the next few months, I’ll have much time to continue discovering this new novel.

Riverfront ramblings May 5, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball, Exercise.
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Spending the early evenings of Monday running and Tuesday walking along the Mississippi River gave me plenty of time to think.

Fun with WordPress searches
One of the things I like best about a WordPress blog is the stats it provides, such as the number of visits to a particular post each day. It also lets me know what search terms people used to find my blog. This doesn’t happen regularly, and most have been some variation on “when to give up writing a novel.” Then there are these two searches from the past couple days:
shirtless pics of chris carpenter
“chris carpenter” shirtless cardinal

First, it was not me doing these searches. Second: What? Really? This isn’t enough? And did you actually find shirtless pictures of him out there?

I do have these actual words in one post, but it mentions Chris plus a shirtless guy I saw running on the riverfront. Sorry to disappoint the searcher. But if you did find any pictures, can you please post the links in the comments?

Competitiveness
Speaking of my favorite Cardinal, he was on my mind while walking last night. Yesterday I realized it was exactly two months until the Firecracker Run 10K race on July 4, so I need to start adding more distance to running and walking. Along Ben Butterworth Parkway, there is a 10,000 step path – a starting point at the east end, then signs that mark every 1,000 steps to a turnaround point at the west end. Doing the whole 10,000 step path is approximately four miles and, when I walk quickly, I can do it in an hour.

As I was getting out of the car, I noticed a couple starting to walk. They were very far in front of me by the time I started – it takes me forever to get going, as I have to find the right music on my iPod, re-tie my shoes, drink some water, re-set the timer on my watch and the finally go. So I took off, walking into a pretty strong breeze but moving at a good pace.

Right after the 2,000 step sign, I noticed that couple up ahead. As I got closer, I saw they were walking on the opposite side of the path most of the time. The woman turned around several times and noticed me approaching. They were walking fairly fast, as was I, but they then started walking even faster. I would gain a little ground, but then the woman would turn around again and see me. People were approaching from the opposite direction, so they had to move to the proper side of the path. It bugged me they were so close in front of me – plus I didn’t like that the woman kept turning around – so I was determined to pass them. I picked up my pace. So did they. This was annoying. For a moment, I thought about running just to get around them, but didn’t really want to do that. No, this was now a battle – and a battle I was going to win on equal terms. Just like Chris Carpenter.

From somewhere within, my inner CC pushed me to walk at a crazy-fast pace. I pulled up side-by-side with them momentarily, then walked on by. The man said hi, but I wasn’t really paying attention. My focus was only on walking as I fast as I could, as long as I could, to get as far in front of them as possible. Then, battle won, I laughed to myself – after first having the perfect Chris Carpenter thought of “take that” with an F word thrown in (since we Cardinals fans heard for ourselves how much he likes that word). Where had this competitiveness come from? I really do have an inner Chris Carpenter. I am scaring myself.

The lesson: don’t mess with people whose initials are CC.

Baby geese!
Springtime along the riverfront means baby geese and ducks. Haven’t spotted any ducklings yet, but there are geese! Baby Canada geese fall into the “so ugly they’re cute” category. They are yellowish-green and fuzzy, plus look so tiny at first compared to the full-grown geese. Saturday morning I saw four babies, swimming in a line along side their parents on the river. Yesterday, I saw a large group with probably 10 or more surrounded by several geese.

Dancing along the path
Monday, I thought I saw a woman dancing along the path up ahead of me and coming my way. As I got closer, I realized that she was dancing – taking big steps from side to side, swaying her shoulders and her hips and waving her arms around. Then she started skipping for a couple moments, then returned to dancing. She said hi as she passed by. Later, going the opposite direction, I passed her again – still dancing.

New earrings
I had to decide what earrings to wear today. My lucky silver earrings and bracelet I’d worn each day since Saturday suddenly ran out of luck in the bottom of the 10th inning for the Cardinals last night. Yes, I’m just a little superstitious – as are Erika and Angela, my Cardinals friends and co-authors of Cardinal Diamond Diaries. Here’s Erika’s superstition post, and more on my earrings.

Slow and steady April 29, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise.
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Ben Butterworth Parkway, 4-28-10

My running is coming along gradually. I’d been a little sidetracked the past few weeks, not keeping to my three-times-a-week schedule. A look at the calendar this week and realizing how quickly July (with the Firecracker Run 10K on July 4 and the Bix on July 24) will be here got me to literally pick up the pace.

When it comes to running, though, time is needed to build up endurance. Progress has to be slow and steady – it’s the only way I’m going to succeed without injury. And I’ve been sidetracked enough with injuries in the past seven years of running!

Yet I also know I have to push myself to keep building up. There was an article in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat this week about Cardinals relief pitcher Trever Miller, an avid runner. It included great running advice, and this quote guided my running this week: “It’s jogging if it doesn’t hurt. If you want to be a runner, it’s got to hurt a little bit.” So I’ve worked harder to see how much I can do. 

At first it seems easy and I feel great, confident. Last night I ran a mile nonstop for the first time since last summer, and only took a very short walking break before running another nonstop mile. About three minutes into that second mile, I was looking at my watch already. That wasn’t going to help. Time for running’s mental game. So I turned to my inner Chris Carpenter once again – how would he handle this? The perfect situation was right there: he pitched Tuesday night and again was not dominating like in 2009. But he settled in, settled down, continued on and made it through six innings (and was the winning pitcher on his 35th birthday!) And I too settled in and just kept going, one foot in front of the other and one deep breath after another, until I finished that mile.

It always helps that there are friendly people down along the riverfront. Usually it’s the slower runners like me who say hello and smile – the faster ones typically can’t be bothered. But last night, one older and very fast gentleman did wave and say hi as he zipped past me. That gave me a little boost, since it was about halfway through that second mile. Vanity sometimes pushes me along too. I saw a high school friend of mine as I was starting out last night. During the second mile, I could see she was up ahead and we would pass each other once more. So I tried to run as quickly as I could, plus focused on trying to not look like I was dying (even if I felt otherwise) as we said hello.

When I finished last night, it was a nice sense of accomplishment. I can’t always necessarily say that I like running, but I love when I get done – especially on days like yesterday when I’ve pushed myself and made it through. Now, onward and upward from here!

What a difference a week makes April 1, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise, Uncategorized.
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Ben Butterworth Parkway, Moline, IL, 4-1-10

Last Thursday and today have one thing in common: it was very windy both days. A week ago, the temperature when I headed out to run after work was 48 degrees. Combined with the wind, that was enough to send me to the gym. Today: 84 degrees. So down to the river I went.

With a temperature like that on April 1, it wasn’t surprising the riverfront was even more crowded today. (The river was also, as several boats were out.) I dodged all the walkers — and endured all the runners passing me — and took it slow and steady. Today’s running program called for two stretches of eight minutes at a time, which is a new high. Driving to the parkway, I gave myself an internal pep talk. And, yes, I was calling on my inner Chris Carpenter to make it through the second section. Happily, I survived!

The Mississippi is encroaching onto the parkway in certain areas. Over the last two weeks, it’s risen a bit higher each day I’ve been there. Today, at the first area that floods, the river is lapping at the asphalt path and the mud shows that it has crossed the path on occasion. I believe the latest flood forecasts call for only minor flooding this year. Hopefully that’s the case. Two years ago, there were two major floods that closed Ben Butterworth Parkway for parts of the spring and summer. The unfortunate price to pay for taking advantage of such natural beauty.

Every run is an adventure March 31, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Exercise.
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Mississippi River, Quad Cities

Yesterday was the first 70 degree day of 2010, with the first 80 degree temperature on the horizon for tomorrow. After cold and wind kept me from the Mississippi riverfront at the end of last week, I was anxious to head back there after work to go running.

This is week five of my running program (mostly the Cool Running Couch to 5K program, although my inner competitiveness has me stretching beyond their suggestions most days) and I’m up to running five minutes at a time now.  My last run was Saturday, indoors at the YMCA. Since I don’t like treadmills, I run on one of the tracks. Usually it’s the cleverly named jogging track – a large blue oval that rings the large gym below. The other, the walking track, is in an area that houses bikes and elliptical machines, plus a series of resistance weight machines. It’s smaller, meaning that sensation of going around in circles is worse, but there’s a drinking fountain! Typically, it’s very crowded with walkers so running there is challenging. Saturday, there were few people so I ran there. Of all four weeks’ worth of outings, it was probably the easiest.

So my expectations were high yesterday – I was again running five minutes at a time, plus back outdoors.

It was very windy. On my running days, I obsessively check the Weather Channel Web site all afternoon for the wind speed and direction. The Mississippi River actually runs east to west in the Quad Cities, so the riverfront path does too. Typically I park at the east end, though on occasion will change because of the wind. (When it’s cool, I prefer running into the wind first and having an easier time on the way back to the car.) Yesterday’s 20 to 25 mph winds were from the south. I wasn’t sure how that would affect me, so I decided to stick with the usual. I like routine!

As expected, the lot was crowded when I arrived. A woman in a little SUV pulled in right as I did. While I was gathering my iPod and car keys, she backed up and left. Well, one less person to on the path … And there were many, far more than any other day I’ve been there. I passed the walkers and just enjoyed the weather.

There were many runners out yesterday, also more than ever before. One cute shirtless guy smiled as he ran past, which was nice. I almost laughed out loud when the song “Be Still My Beating Heart” by Sting began a moment later on my iPod. As the song continued, and Sting said “it’s not healthy to run at this pace,” I chuckled to myself again. My running pace is not harmful to anyone.

As I continued, things weren’t quite as easy as they’d been Saturday at the Y. Quickly I realized why: springtime allergies + budding trees + new grass + 20 to 25 mph winds = difficulty breathing! Approaching the end of my five-minute segments, I couldn’t help but huff and puff like Fernando Vina and David Eckstein used to do as they were rounding the bases.

But I did end up with a friendly voice guiding me along. For no reason at all, I am listening to all the songs on my iPod in alphabetical order while running. It’s kind of like having it on shuffle, since I don’t really know what will come up next. As mentioned with the Sting song, I’m in the B’s now. And I was thrilled when, as U2’s “Beautiful Day” ended, the next song was “A Beautiful Friendship” by Teraesa Vinson. Teraesa is one of my Cardinals Twitter pals, as well as a jazz singer in New York City, and I love her music. (Find out more about Teraesa and her music here.)  Listening to her sing boosted my motivation.

After the turnaround, the running stretches were more difficult as my allergies bugged me more. The usual Chris Carpenter motivation didn’t work, perhaps because Chris was not his best yesterday either when he pitched for the Cardinals. But as I started my last section of running, it was Teraesa to the rescue again as “Being Green” (the Kermit the Frog song!) began. I kept my pace even slower, just concentrating on one step at a time. When I approached five minutes, I decided to keep going a bit to prepare for Thursday – the first stretch is for eight minutes. At six minutes, I wondered if I could reach seven. (More examples of my competitiveness with myself!) And I did reach seven, and was that much closer to my car. Sweaty yet victorious, my trip was soon complete.

As I reached my car, I shut off the iPod and took out the ear buds. That gave me the opportunity to hear the conversation of the couple on the other side of the path. “So what size is your bed?” the young woman said. The guy was silent for that moment, so I never did hear what his response was. Too bad I didn’t see the cute shirtless runner again. Now I had a question I could ask him.