Monthly Archives: March 2015

Cooking, gardening, travelling, and …. running?

The body is an amazing thing. At least mine is, and yours probably is too, if you pay attention. So I turned 50 about six months ago. I know there is a lot of talk that “50 is the new 40,” but it is still considered old for women. It’s the time, plus or minus a few years, where we become invisible. I don’t just mean invisible to potential male partners because we are past our reproductive years, but invisible to society in general — to store clerks, restaurant servers, doctors, people on the street. Many try to delay this with hair color, skin treatments, or even plastic surgery, but the delay is temporary and fleeting.

Thus, my attitude about turning 50 was not very positive, even though MY life at 50 is dang good. I am retired, in good health, and have a fabulous husband who doesn’t think of me as “old.” Yet, my attitude about 50 was pretty grim. I felt my metabolism changing despite a pretty healthy mostly vegetarian diet and regular walking, Zumba, yoga and some cycling, swimming and weightlifting. All of this wasn’t enough to keep a few unwanted pounds from creeping up and stubbornly clinging to my abdomen. And while peri-menopause hasn’t been a huge deal, the hormone swings are not exactly fun.

Then I saw a Facebook post by a former colleague. She ditched the full-time career even earlier than me (she’s five years younger) and is now pursuing education for a new focus. She also works part time at a running store and is a serious long-time runner. I’ve always admired runners and am married to one. I’ve never been able to run, with lungs that are (according to the pulmonologist) “small and scarred up” from childhood illnesses. So when my friend posted about a “beginners running group,” I immediately felt I couldn’t do it, yet the big 5-0 was telling me I needed to step up my game if I didn’t want to be a older fat lady who gets more and more debilitated each decade. I asked her “how beginner is ‘beginner’?” and then I showed up.

I ran a few minutes, then walked, then ran, then walked. I couldn’t get my breath. My legs hurt. In the car on the way home, I felt hot and weak. I doubted I could do it, especially the next day when my legs hurt with every movement. But I got out and did it again. And I went back to the group, and it got a little easier. After two weeks, I could run six minutes before I stopped. My legs were sore, but not too badly sore. I looked forward to the next time I could run, not because it was exactly enjoyable, but because I wanted to see how I could do.

Right now, I am discouraged, slowed down with a cold and cough. But I know I am going to keep at it, and today I ran a mile without stopping. Will I ever be “a runner?” I dont know, but I know I am going to keep going out there and trying. I am amazed at my body’s response, so willing and quick even at 50, and I am going to give her every chance I can to keep amazing me.

Do you read when you travel?

Reading on a trip is a fun indulgence for me. I read more than usual and quite enjoy it. Yet, I feel like I should instead be doing, experiencing or at least observing eveything during the short time of my trip. Things like:

– Watching people on the beach and quickly determining whether I look better or worse in my bikini than every other woman here. I have determined, more or less, that I look better than 50% of them, which I consider quite good. My husband, on the other hand, looks better than 80% or 90% of the men. I am a lucky woman. Although, women who are overweight can still look good in their bikinis, curvy, but men who are overweight, well it’s usually just a big belly hanging over.

– Listening to music at open mic night, where the worst musician is the one exhorting everyone to fill up the tip bucket as “we are all broke.” When clearly, he is a well-to-do hipsterish guy from Oakland who is carting around a very expensive-looking electric guitar set up. And the other musicians, all much better than him, are older, hippie type guys who are wearing well-worn clothes and at least one of them is camping in a tent on the roof of a run-down looking house. And only one of them, the camper, has the balls to tell Oakland to stop playing while he is trying to do a song.

– Watching tourists climb in and out of water taxis on the beach, many who are clearly unable to follow simple directions and end up quite wet. Watching things being unloaded out of boats, such as large sheets of fiberglass roofing material that is made to look like red clay tiles.

– Watching the frigate birds in late afternoon doing touch-and-go swoops into the lagoon to dip their chests, followed up an upward flight and then a a downward shake-shake-shake flight where they dry themselves off before going wherever they go for the evening.

– Watching comerants swim underwater, hunting for fish. Discussing with my husband whether they are related to penguins, giving the swimming and also the way they walk when you catch a glimpse of one on land. Knowing you could Google this information, but not doing so, and instead and discussing it at some length.

– Walking upriver and seeing, in no particular order: parrots, chachalakas, hens, roosters, the ATV repair workshop where the mechanic has about 8 of them in the queue and is listening to techno, good-looking dogs, horses, mules, friendly people, school kids in uniforms with backpacks, houses in various styles of construction, most of which Americans would find appalling but are probably quite comfortable and appropriate for the climate. Oh, and mean girls in the schoolyard compelling another girl to put a bucket on her head, within spitting distance of the “No Bully” sign.

– Buying and eating ice cream from the fellow who walks through town and on the beach carrying a styrofoam cooler covered in gray duct tape. The vanilla that is covered with chocolate and then coconut is a good choice. There is also mango, strawberry and cream, other flavors, and sandwiches made from vanilla ice cream and graham crackers. For 15 pesos, do not pass this up.

So, I did these things and still managed to read quite a lot. A quiet balance.