Tag Archives: Fitness

A Race Against Myself – It’s Marathon Time Again

Untitled-1 copy

After I ran the marathon last year, I was on a high. For me, it wasn’t a tick-off-your-bucket-list kind of thing. I enjoyed running and despite finding the 21 K quite challenging, I wanted to do it again. I really did.

Except, I didn’t expect that time of the year to come rolling by so soon. Because no matter how much you run otherwise, training for a marathon requires dedicated focus for at least 10 weeks (if not more). The fact that I ran last year has no real bearing on this year, because I have to build up my stamina again.

So here I am, almost a year later, wondering if I can do it again. I mean, I know I can do it again, but this time, it’s not that simple.

Why? Because, as they say, I have a rep to protect. And it’s all about the timing. Last year, I was baggage-free. I was a novice, a mum who’d decided to run because she needed to do something that made her feel a little better about herself (let’s face it, that’s always a part of it) – I needed to get away and do something for myself and do that whole stereotypical thing about feeling a sense of accomplishment and getting the high of having pushed your body to the limits. All that good stuff that runners love to say. Yes, it’s all true and I felt all of it.

That, however, was then – a year ago. This year, it’s a whole different ballgame. Now I am racing against myself.

If you are a runner, or if even if you vaguely know one, you will know that there is one thing that is of supreme importance – and that is the timing. Anybody who tells who that it does not matter is basically fooling himself or herself. It matters big time. I cannot possibly take longer to finish than I did last year. I mean I can, but I am not going to be thrilled about it, especially when all and sundry ask me what my timing was.

And it’s really not about other people either – I have a benchmark, and most people don’t like to fall short of it.

So I have little choice but to train hard again. And it’s not that I don’t want to, but this year has brought a big change in my life – I have started working, which leaves me little time to run. Yet, I will try, because running changed me in many, many ways. Not physically (though toned legs are always welcome) but mentally. I feel it made me stronger mentally – I learnt to push my mind to believe that I could do it. And that’s half the battle won.

I am not sure I can repeat last year’s magic. I want to, but it’ll take work – more than last year in a way – because, as I said before, now it’s a matter of reputation 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under about

Ran the Marathon again. Only this time it felt even better

Untitled

I ran the 21 kms (about 13.2 miles) marathon recently. Yes. I did it. And I can tell you, it was the most incredible feeling I’ve had in many, many years. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to portray myself as this obscure mommy plodding away at home with little to feel accomplished about, and the marathon as having given me that oh-I-can-do-it too feeling that I so lacked in my life.

I am a regular mother who pretty much centers her life around her three children – you know the type – stay-at-home, life is mostly about the house – the usual – dropping the kids, picking them up, only to drop them again, then pick them up, again; getting them to eat right, read right, talk right, play the piano right; clear up their room, do their homework before the owls come out, learn to appreciate what they have, not argue, etc etc – like I said, you know the type..(and you can probably relate to some, if not all of it!)

I am not going to get into why this is how it is (yes, I know taking breaks is healthy and that ‘Leaning In’ is hard but vital). This is the reality and that’s that. I don’t work (if you discount freelance work) and I like to be involved with my kids. There are both upsides and downsides to that.

Anyhow, I was telling you about my running. When I started, I suddenly felt like I had a purpose (for lack of a better word) and pushing myself physically felt very, very good. I trained pretty much by myself. I became extremely focused and loved the high it gave me. This is not what I had expected, because I am not the sporty-sort really. I thought I’d do it to see if I could really run, or how far I could go before I ran out of steam. It was a process, of course, and I am not going bore you about it. What I will say is that I did not give up, and before I knew it, I was running ten kms (a little over six miles) a day. The first time I ran a ten km marathon (without stopping), I felt on top of the world, like I had done something that deserved mention. It meant a lot to me, and I didn’t care what anyone else thought of it. That is when I decided to give the 21K a shot. I started to run every morning and it felt good (the weight I lost and the thighs I toned were a extremely happy byproduct!).

Physical exhilaration apart, one of the main reasons why I loved running so much was because, surprisingly, it didn’t mean that I was out there, unfettered, alone with my thoughts, free to take them to any direction that I wanted. The truth was that I didn’t want to think, period. It was really about reaching a no-thought point. Not sure how I can describe that better, but the fact that I wasn’t thinking while running was refreshing in many ways. I didn’t want my time alone to be contemplative where I started to over think and over analyze everything, because that can happen easily. I wanted to be free, mentally free, with nothing clouding my mind, nothing at all- if you can ever reach that point, it’s extremely liberating, especially when you are the sort who turns things over in your head till they acquire a life of their own. I didn’t expect this to happen, but it did.

I would put on my music and just run. It was me and the music in my head (made a mish-mash playlist of songs, everything from Taylor Swift and One Direction to Micheal Jackson and A-ha!). I cannot begin to describe the feeling. Kids safely in school, me on the track and Shuffle playing my songs. It was simply magical.

At the marathon, when I reached the finish line, I wanted to cry. Not because I ever doubted that I would reach it, but because it simply felt great and overwhelming. So yes, maybe what I said earlier about that whole feeling of accomplishment, maybe that’s true. Maybe that’s why I loved this so much, because I haven’t felt like this in a while. I don’t go to work where someone pats me on the back and tells me that I did a good job. Sure people always say the right things when you tell them you are a SAHM, stuff like “kudos to you, I could never do it”, or, “it’s so much easier to go out and work than to be at home with the kids constantly”. Ya sure, it’s nice to hear but honestly, it does not do much for my self-esteem. For one, (and this could be me) I always detect this, oh-you-don’t-work-so-let-me-make-you-feel-better-about-yourself tone when people say this. I know, what could someone say when they ask you what you do and you say “er, I am at home with the kids”? There’s always this uncomfortable silence which then gets hastily filled with somewhat forced laudatory remarks about the trails of motherhood and all the rest of it. I don’t care for it much. And two, even if it is genuinely said, it somehow does not have any uplifting effect on me. I would rather be applauded for something I did that did not involve being a mother, a wife, a daughter, or someone who has great taste, who keeps a good house, who has a green thumb, whose garden is never without seasonal plants etc etc. No, if I must be applauded, I want it to be for something that had nothing to do with the house and the life I lead around it. I know I keep a good house and am raising three wonderful girls, and I get told that all the time. But maybe right now I am in a place where what I am doing is already a given, and anything that I do over it is the one that brings me that feeling of accomplishment. (Oh Lord, this post has turned out to be exactly what I did not intend it to be about – analyzing my running!!)

The truth is (and I know this is true of many women around me) that mothers don’t do anything much for their own selves, really. I mean something that is exclusively for them – that involves no other family member. I can’t think of anything else that I have done in the past many years where I have pretty much been on my own while doing it. No I haven’t. And it’s not because I could not (well, that too, but that’s for another post) but because I simply did not. When you are in a zone, you tend to stay in that zone, till something pulls you out of it, or something changes – like when your kids start full-day school. That’s when you get the time to notice the world around you a little more. So I could say that I’ve been in this mommy zone, one in which there is little time (or mind space) for anything else (except, of course, if you are my mother who has some magic wand hidden away and refuses to give it to me, or admit to its existence).

Now, with my running, I seem to have opened a small window and looked out into the world, from my little domestic preoccupations. And it’s a refreshing feeling. I don’t want to open a door yet, because I am not ready to let too much come in between me and my home, but I do want to step out once in a while and see what life beyond the house is like. When I first went running (to a nearby stadium) I realized that there were all sorts of people, from fat middle-aged men (and women) to taut, muscular boys and super-fit and equally taut women who were out, having taken out that one hour from their chores and devoting to themselves. I fit right in, because there was no real “type” there. A runner, I realized does not fit into a mould – a runner could be a man who (just like a women) needs a new purpose in his life, or a girl who wants to tone her legs, or a seventy-year old man who has been running since he was thirty and has never stopped. A runner could be the person I meet in a bank, who I would never picture on a track. Runners, I now know, are not always recognizable from their appearances, but that has nothing to do with their abilities. I would meet women who would have woken up at five in the morning and cooked a whole meal just so they could spend those forty-five minutes for themselves. That was inspiring. I find such women – who work at home (I don’t because I am fortunate enough to have a lot of help) and still manage to get away from it all – very inspiring. A man works and he works only, but a woman, she does it all. No, it’s not a statement fraught with feminist tones, it is the truth. A man can focus on his work to the exclusion of everything else, a woman (mostly) does not have that choice. Even is she works, the home is still her domain.

Anyway, back to the marathon, I ran in 2 hours and 31 minutes. It was not great and not bad (for a first timer, they say it’s pretty decent – blush, blush). I loved every moment of being out there. I felt like an athlete (which I am not) and it was extremely uplifting to be there among other runners. The atmosphere was electric and it rubbed off on me instantly.

My husband and kids were waiting 400 meters from the finish line. The last few kms were a bit hard and all I wanted was to see their happy faces. I kept thinking of what my five year old had told me a night before “Mama”, she’d said looking at me with her large, innocent eyes and heartfelt words “if you tell yourself you can, then you can. So just don’t give up”. Her words and their faces where in my mind as I kept going (non-stop). My husband (who is the real athlete in the house) was so proud that he was beaming at me with his charming smile (the one that I fell for when we met) and giving me a high-five in his mind (he’d never do it in public). That night he told me that I had done something incredible. I cannot begin to tell you how great that felt. He’s given me compliments before, but this one, don’t ask me why, felt so good that every ache that I was feeling in my body seemed completely worth it. It was like I had done something remarkable (which it really wasn’t – there were thousands out there). But he had that “my-wife-ran-21kms” look in his eyes, and my daughters shared it in reflection time in school the next day.

Nothing, no other encomium can ever match that. I am runner for life.

2 Comments

Filed under mommyrage

Marathons, Mid-Life, and All That Jazz

Apparently, I am smack in the middle of a mid-life crisis. That’s why, it seems, I ran the marathon. It’s got to do with hitting forty (no one lets you forget it, it’s almost like you’d be disappointing your generation if you declare you’re fine).

It’s when the whole mortality, existential stuff hits you, and needless to say, you can’t deal with it. You search for meaning in your life and look for answers, but there aren’t any (or they are, but you don’t like the sound of them). So you panic, somewhat. You wonder if there’s anything more. You wonder if you were meant to do something else, or if you should write that book, go for that start-up idea, learn a new language, or take a trek to figure things out – you need meaning in your life. The whole, if-not-now-then-when syndrome biffs you on the head pretty hard. Then you panic some more. Now you need motivation and positivism, so you read about people who did incredible things in their forties, fifties and sixties. That encourages you, but you still don’t do much about your angst. You start running and it makes you feel better – them endorphins do the motivational job. They fool you into believing that the crisis has passed you by, when all they’ve done is sedated it (but it helps). All this, of course, conveniently comes at a time when your children are young and they need you, when your parents are old and they need you, when your work is not that exciting (or too tiring) but you need it (to me, this is precisely why it comes)

So, if you have the money, you buy a Porsche, as they say. Lesser mortals like us run marathons, or get a dramatic, image-altering hair cut, or just die it blonde. I think what you do and how far you go is directly proportional to the level of the crisis. I am guessing the I-am-going-to-be-blonde ones are the hardest hit. Either that, or they just really want to be blonde. Actually, I take that back. Maybe it’s ok. I mean, who am I to judge why someone should or should not dye their hair any colour; if someone wants to pretend to be somebody else, who am I to pronounce it as a character flaw or wave it away as a mid-life identity-crisis? Who can say that I am not going to be that person in the future? The one thing that you learn by the time you’re forty, is that life has a strange way of coming around. Never say never (or forever) – it’s pretty darn true.

Anyway, I’d wanted to talk about my marathon (you know, blow my trumpet a bit). I still feel good about it, but I have to admit, linking it to mid-life is a bit of a mood killer. I didn’t realize it could be a sign of the crisis that I am pretending has passed me by.

I called my mother the other day and asked her if she had had a mid-life crisis when she was my age, or is this one of those new-generation things that she laments about often – you know, like children were better behaved in those days, parents didn’t agonize over minute details of their kids and just let them be, they didn’t splurge as we do, rents were low, politicians were less corrupt, there was no tawdry display of wealth, teachers taught for the love of teaching and the like.

She said that she was too busy for it. Now, that wasn’t the answer I was expecting. I wanted to be told that she had had it too but it really wasn’t that bad and that it passes (without taking it’s toll). It left me wondering if I am feeling this way because I have too much time on my hands. But then, I thought of my husband, who has the reverse problem – too little time and too much work. He’s not running any marathon (because there’s just no time) but he is turning to philosophy, doing yoga and questioning why he’s working so hard. So, I don’t think it’s about the time one has to ponder over things. Having said that, if you’re neck deep in work or anything else, in a strange way it helps, because you then focus on the task at hand and leave the larger questions for later (the definition of later is not a constant)

I don’t have the answers to the questions in my head. I am not sure anyone does. That’s why, I guess, there’s faith. That’s what my mother told me – to just have faith. It’s what, she says, is gong to help me through my anxious moments – it helped her raise three kids with not much money.

I am not sure I can be my mother. Actually, I am pretty certain I can’t, but I can try and take her advice and learn from her. Have faith, bury yourself in something and keep going – it’s a tunnel, this age, you just have to keep going till you reach the other end. Just focus on the light at the end of it, because it’s there.  This is our rite of passage.

So I am going to continue running. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. And if it’s a sign of the existential torment in my head, then so be it. I am forty-two and I am going to act my age. Besides, there were some twenty-somethings who I left behind in the dust at my marathon and it felt good.

Now if I write that book, I’d have put my angst to pretty good use.

1 Comment

Filed under mommyrage

Marathon Moment

My heart is beating faster than in did when I got married. Ok, maybe not faster, but fast enough. Why? Because tomorrow morning I am going to run my first marathon. You heard me. I must be nuts. I haven’t trained too much and am just jumping into the deep end. One part of me is exhilarated and the other is terrified.

It’s a 10 km (roughly 6 miles) marathon and for those of you who’ve done the full – I know, I know, piece of cake. Right. Doesn’t feel like that right now. Got my number, et all today and husband and (older) daughter will be here to cheer me. I wish they would not come because what if I, you know, faint, give-up, come last, slip, die. I know – breathe deeply. I am trying, not a big deal, only 10 km – piece of cake. That’s what I am going to tell myself all the time – piece of cake.

Anyway, I can’t write much and if I survive it, I am going to update you all soon. It may not seem like it, but I am quite thrilled. Just have to focus and keep going. Wish me luck.

Piece of cake.

5 Comments

Filed under mommyrage

I found my old wardrobe. Now for my old self.

Can there be a better feeling in the world than fitting into old jeans? And I mean, old, old, jeans, like the ones you used to live in before marriage, let alone kids, were anywhere on your radar. Nope. Few things beat that.

Ok, there can be better achievements, I know, but for me, right now, in my limited world (yes, I admit it) this is a great milestone. I say milestone because it represents the larger, I-will-get-my-life back outlook that I am trying to instill into myself these days. I wasn’t really fat-fat earlier, but thin is something else. And I’d forgotten what it feels to be thin – to not think about bulges (it’s not like I never think about a bulge here or there now, because you can’t be too thin now can you?) But, I can walk into a store and have the lady lead me to the small section. Priceless.

How did I do it? The gym. I go to the gym four days a week, never more, because I don’t want to. I do forty minutes of intense cardio – mix of treadmill, stepper and cross – trainer, then sit-ups (45, three sets of 15), back stretches, knee exercises, a few weights (not much) and out. So it’s about an hour spent. I drink on weekends, eat what I want – I want to have a life and while I may not be setting the town on fire, I do like a good movie and a good meal. So husband and I eat out most Saturdays and I don’t bring my weight to the table.

I know I could lose more if I really watched what I ate, but that’s not worth it. I am not shooting for the ramp. Am happy just to be thin and to stay so, because harder than losing weight, is keeping it off. I think I’ve said this sometime in my blog before!

Now, all I need is to get a great job with an understanding boss, and a publisher who’d jump at my book. Then I am all set – thin, accomplished and successful. That’s the aim.

1 Comment

Filed under mommyrage

So far so good..

When you start working out, even if it’s twenty minutes a day, you feel a sense of achievement. By day three you even feel like some of those stubborn love handles have started to relent, and that’s a great feeling. It’s what makes you go on, because the last thing you want to do, is put the weight back on that you tried so hard to shed!

So, that’s where I am right now. Apart from the weight, I feel better about life in general too. No one can tell the difference and the first few pounds will not make you look a whole lot different, but that’s not the point at that moment. You’ll move past that soon and then people will start telling you what they observe.

I am doing these couple of things apart from the exercise.

1. Walking when I can and not getting into the car, if it’s a short distance and I am not pressed for time.

2. Snacking healthy: Am munching carrots as I write this!

3. Drinking a lot of water.

4. Have made my meal portions just a tad bit less, not a whole lot, but you know the point when you know you’re full and you have that extra bite – I’ve killed that extra bite I thought would hardly affect me. It’s helped

5. This one I am not doing but it’s great if you can: Eat by seven and nothing after that. Drink water if you feel like something, or eat a fruit.

Like I always say, it’s great when all is going well, then you can do all of the above but when you let go even a little, it all kind of crumbles. Am hoping it won’t get to that again!

1 Comment

Filed under mommyrage, Shape Up

Getting into shape -2

It took a lot of will power today to do my spot-jogging, but I did it, and some stretches after that too. Felt so much better. I’ve found that watching TV while jogging works quite well for me, the time passes by more quickly and I don’t keep staring at the watch to see how long it’s been, only to find that some three minutes have passed!

Mornings would be ideal, but I’ve learned not to expect anything quite “ideal” when you are the mother of a toddler, so I’ve told myself I’ll do it when I can.

Evening was really the only time, before I fed my daughter dinner. We came back from our walk – she and I – and then I left her with the maid telling her that I had to do something. Sometimes she clings to my leg and pleads me to take her too, and when she does that, I give up all that I was intending to do and stay with her. Don’t know if that’s the right thing to do, but that’s what I do. (And vent here later!)

Today, however, she let me go, and I didn’t push my luck by looking back. I ran. Thirty minutes later I was a happier mommy and wanted her back in my room.

Twenty minutes of spot-jogging or forty minutes of brisk walking they say is a good start. That’s what I am doing, let’s see how much I can shed!

And yes, I’ve been very good about the no-snacking too. Ate some carrots when I wanted a snack, and drank some water – made me feel very full, really worked.

Not sure how long I can be good. But today was great. Now, if only I can repeat this everyday. (Big) Sigh.

Leave a comment

Filed under mommyrage, Shape Up