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You may have wondered – and rightly so – just where the hell I’ve been this past month. I mean, I haven’t oinked, in like, forever. It’s true. And I’m truly sorry. I’ve been guilt-ridden about falling down on my responsibility to you, my dear readers, so much so that I’ve gnawed my fingernails down to their quicks. My thumbs look more like mini-hotdogs wrapped in prosciutto than digits. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to post, I’ve thought about it endlessly and even composed pithy vignettes in my head – I just haven’t had time to sit down and write. The reason for this? Every spare moment has been consumed with exercising, eating, and thinking about exercising. It’s ridonkulous, I agree, and you can blame it all on my brother-in-law.

Last January, my brother-in-law (we’ll call him Corrado), asked our family to run the relay in the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. OinkDaddy, an optimist and a member of the 26.2 club, was all for it. The other four family members whom Corrado approached were less enthusiastic, including me. 

I am not a runner. At best, I’m a shuffler. I can appreciate that lots of people get jazzed about hitting the pavement; I’m just not one of them. OinkDaddy, on the other hand, is at least conversant in fartleks, Kcals and energy goos. When he signed up to run his first marathon, Large was still rockin’ a stroller; OinkDaddy ran his third marathon six months after Medium was born. Come to think of it, when Corrado started running, his twin girls were a month shy of their one year anniversary. Hmmm. I smell a social research project: Is there something about babies that inspires men to become long-distance runners? But I digress.

The KeyBank Vermont City Marathon is a huge event in Burlington, Vt., traditionally held over the Memorial Day weekend. It’s an inspiring, uplifting, sweaty spectacle. I’ve spent quite a few mornings in May ogling exhausted-yet-determined people ascending Battery Street Hill to the rhythmic thumping of Taiko drummers. Each time, I’ve been so impressed that I’ve uttered the words, “I should do that,” only to have my motivation disappear faster than my kids’ Easter candy.

KBVCM relay teams are selected by lottery in February and are notoriously difficult to get. I never thought we’d get in, so it was quite a shock to hear that we were lottery winners. What were the odds? And more importantly, in the cosmic way of things, might this have reduced our chances of winning PowerBall?

OinkDaddy and Corrado gave me inspiring pep-talks, “You can do it!” “Stick with the training program. You’re going to be great!” “Go slow; just keep running!” The week after I received the “good” news, I hauled my butt around the track 12 times. I walked more than I ran. An old hamstring injury flared up. Ignoring it proved unsuccessful. With trepidation, I made my first-ever appointment for physical therapy. I don’t know why I waited so long. My physical therapist, Kim Ellsworth at Essex Aquatic and Rehab Center, was (and is!) awesome and had me up and running in a jiffy. I could have saved myself weeks of pain if I had seen her sooner. Therapy behind me, muscles and ligaments and tendons strengthened, I bought new Brooks running shoes and ran 3x/week for two whole weeks. And then I kinda…just…stopped running.

One reason I don’t care for running is that I’m not good at it. I never have been. I run like a duck. My knees are knocked slightly from doing w-sits as a child (Mom, you were right. If only I had sat criss-cross, apple-sauce!), thus, the lower half of my legs swing out as I run and the outside edge of my foot strikes the ground first. It’s not very efficient. Or comfortable. As far as exercise goes, I much prefer practicing Tae Kwon Do or going to a Les Mills Body Combat class (where a different Kim kicks my ass). I find running monotonous; minute after minute, mile after mile of the same forward motion. Breathe in, breathe out. It’s like being in labor all over again.

Mid-April, I got my poop together and started to train semi-seriously. Running outside helped motivate me to run farther. I ran two miles, then pushed myself to run three. I continued my cross-training workouts and a couple of times I ran with a friend who is so fit she bounds along Gazelle-like, talking continuously, while I huff and puff and nod occasionally. I welcome any distractions from my screaming quads.

Two weekends ago, I ran with Corrado. He generously let me set the pace (my pace is off his by a good three minutes), and for the first time since high school, I completed a five mile run. Huzzah! In spite of the fact that I’m not setting any speed records (11-minute miles, hello?), I trumpeted my accomplishment far and wide.

I’m now cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to complete my leg of the relay without expiring on the trail. Look for me. I’ll be the one in a red Team Deep Fried Bacon high-performance t-shirt stumbling over the finish line. Don’t be offended if I don’t stop to chat. I’ll be headed for the beer tent.

Things I’ve Learned About Running

  • Eat breakfast or be prepared to bonk
  • Run un-caffeinated or get the trots
  • Good sneakers really do make a world of difference
  • Injuries will not go away on their own; go to physical therapy
  • When doing crunches off the track at the gym, face the same direction as the runners lest they get an eyeful of sweaty underwear
  • My brother-in-law not only runs faster than I do, but he writes faster too. Check out his fitness related blog and be amazed by how many calories he can consume.

The marathon is coming. Bring it, baby.

It’s my least favorite time of year again. Swimsuit season.

Unless you are a woman in competition for your own reality TV show, you know what I mean. I will venture to say, without scientific research, that most women are critical of how their bodies look in spandex. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you weigh—even bikini clad women (how I envy you!) think they have trouble spots.

I am an average height and have a medium build. I like to eat. I don’t like to exercise. I have a horror of aerobic classes due to a marked lack of coordination and an aversion to perky people. I look decent enough in regular clothes but am reluctant to let myself be seen in skin-tight scraps of fabric that are supposed to simultaneously conceal my problem areas and flatter my assets. Call me a skeptic but that does not seem possible. Catalogues and internet sites are full of “miracle suits” for sale; women’s magazines have swimsuit style guides for all body types. Who do they think they are kidding? Am I really asking too much for a suit that makes me look good, is comfortable, is appropriate for chasing children and yet stylish enough to wear on a cruise? Let’s not forget that I’d prefer it to be affordably priced. My three children may aspire to higher education.

I have been wearing the same swimsuit for seven years. It does not meet any of the above criteria except one. I have tried others: the swim mini (can you say grandma?), the boy short (there’s a reason they call them “hipsters”), and, in desperation, the floral halter top (sing it with me – ‘Do your boobs hang low, Do they wobble to and fro’) but I keep coming back to my plain old one-piece. Now that I am really thinking about this, there were two summers that it stayed bunched in the bottom of my sock drawer. Those summers I was nursing babies and my bosom was a size that could not be constrained. What a shame it was that my stomach was uncontainable too.

About every six months, I swear to myself that I am going to get into shape. It usually lasts a couple of weeks and then I am too (insert any of the following adjectives: tired/busy/lazy/bored) to continue with the program. My biggest success thus far was in January. For my birthday (at my request!) my husband bought me three sessions with a personal trainer. My trainer was awesome and for a month, he really motivated me to work hard. I saw results – my jeans fit better, muscles I had forgotten I had made an appearance, my mid-section started looking less muffinish and more pancake like – and then we got the dog, deconstructed the kitchen, and I just…stopped working out.

This time, too embarrassed to contact my trainer, I joined a gym. Tomorrow is day one (for the 47th time) on my quest for less squishy abs. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.

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