Posted by: Will | September 11, 2009

He Ran With Me

I believe in Heaven. I am not sure about the image of fluffy clouds and angelic babies but I believe in a place of peace and tranquility. There has to be because I have seen bits of Hell and if there is dark, there is sure to be light.

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My piece of Heaven currently is on a paved trail that is between Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington, winding through the rolling wheat fields, paralleling I-95. It is a tough run in the heat of the day, beginning the 7.2 mile journey with a constant 15 mph wind at your front and returning with no shade on a  blazing black tar surface. I like to think of it as a gut check with an intrinsic value that is difficult to explain. It hurts and like my military training in the past has taught me, pain is the core of strength because after all, it is only weakness leaving the body.

Besides the occasional bicyclist that zooms by, there is rarely a person on the trail. At times when running through the rolling hills and the blue dome sky above, you have an isolated feeling much like being the last one on Earth. Sometimes the feeling of loneliness can spark conversations with one’s self out loud to shake those feelings of isolation. But I had one recently and I was not alone. He ran with me and though I may have looked alone, I was not. I also could not hear his words but I heard what he said.

It was a about a mile and a half down the trail and my mind fought hard to not think about a recent friend who had been mortally wounded in Afghanistan. But every step grew heavier as I fought harder and before long I was walking, hands on the hips and gasping as if I had sprinted five times the distance. The was no shaking the images of him. Of our buddies, my brothers, watching him die in front of them completely helpless to stop it. Of Carol, alone with little Zach, getting a knock at the door and her best friend and love is gone. The goddamned loneliness and dispar. The fucking agony. This senseless human bullshit we call war.

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I sat down on the side of the road and bit hard on my thumb as I collected myself. An elderly couple rode by on their bicycles and I quickly masked my grief by pretending to lace my shoes. They said hello as I graced their friendly gesture with a smirk and a nod but as soon as they past I buried my face in my hands.

But then there was a strange feeling as if someone was standing above me. As if they were saying “get up troop and finish what you started”. So I got up and brushed the gravel off my butt and started walking towards Pullman. Soon the walk turned in to a light jog and then into a regular tempo. I felt the familiarity as if it was a few years ago, after evening chow around the airbase, talking about girls or Friday night plans for drinking at Jen’s Big Apple dance club with my buddy. He was running with me. But this time we were not running and making plans for the future. We ran and remembered. And then he was gone.

It wasn’t long into our run before I broke the silence.

“You know it was pretty shitty of you to go off and die like that, B. I thought we had a pact tha no one was allowed to check out unless you were ordered to. Did you piss off someone, man?”

It isn’t too hard to imagine the macabre sense of humor us Cavalry men have. I remember watching B joke about the most inappropriate topics and to be quite honest, most of us followed suit. One time in defiance over an order to stop mandatory Christian prayer time in the platoon area, B made all the newest privates stand on an ammo box and read from the Penthouse diaries as if preaching a sermon. All of the older cadre would act as the congregation shouting “praise the word!” and “alleluia!”. We were sight to see and B would have it no other way.

“Do remember that time we hit that MP in the face with the bag of vomit?”

It was a crazy night in Savannah with a long ride back to Ft. Stewart. Making the 2nd Lt. drive was a wonderful idea of B’s because even though he was technically a “sir” he was still a “shit” and B had a way of tactfully relaying that. Well, after a long night of shooting wild turkey and every other awful drink we could think of, we climbed into the Lt.’s ’96 Camero and took off for the 45 minute ride home. And at the check point I puked in a newspaper bag nearly filling it. The Lt. freaked as we pulled close to the gate and to the lone MP checking sobriety and I.D.’s. After we came clear of the check point, B grabbed my puck-bag and threw it at the MP, hitting him in the face and screamed at the lieutenant to drive. I can only partially remember it but we made it back and three days later we were boots on the ground in Tuzla. The LT never drank with us again.

“I won’t say this in front of Carol but what ever happened to B Co. Jenny? You still have never said anything about her.”

Usually in every company of an infantry unit there is a “well known” girl that hangs around. I our’s, we had Jenny. I guess she was a sweet girl but  then again, I was naive and 19. And I had a girlfriend who’s had parents that were a full bird colonel and a major. B, however took Jenny out for a date. Apparently they passed out together. He went home and she came banging on my door at 8 in the morning with quite the handlebar mustache drawn in permanent marker on her face. B never told us what happened stating, “a Southern gentleman never kisses and tells.” Pretty ironic, eh?

“I never did say thank you before we parted ways. I always figured there would be time that.”

Before we left for combat there was a nervousness that permitted the air. But even through that nervous waiting there was still the familiar boredom most grunts can relate too. So there was a lot of card games, combat drills, napping and B’s favorite; embarrassing picture-taking. He must have taken hundreds of them and before we boarded the plane, most of us wanted to throw the camera on the pavement.

A few weeks later we finally received mail from the home front. My parents sent me a letter and in a p.s. they wanted me to thank B for sending them a letter with my picture stating ,”Don’t worry about Billy. He is with me and nothing bad will happen. I promise.” I didn’t know he had done that and I never thanked him. I didn’t know how.

“I really felt like I abandoned you guys when I got hurt. I know we went our separate ways and you left for Special Forces but I didn’t want to leave the troops. It’s funny, but just a little while ago I had a dream about you.”

I did. We were getting ready to board the plane in full gear to go off to some unknown hell. There was the familiar fear and excitement, like it was our turn to take the field. But I couldn’t find my rifle. I panicked and searched while my brothers in arms and B stood staring from the door of the plane. I told them to wait but they smiled as if to say, “we’ll be back for you”. And the door closed.

I woke up not thinking much of it. I mean, I recently had a dream I lived in Bikini Bottom with SpongeBob so the dream did not hold much weight. But I think I understand it a little more now.

The wind really picked up and we plowed a head, straight into the gust. I felt the familiar comradary as I kept the pace and tried not to let my running partner down. But I felt this chest tightening feeling as I reminded myself, B is here but not the same. My eyes began to run hot and my mouth tightened.

“You know this is going to be really hard on your little brother. I saw the way he looked up to you. And Carol…I don’t know what to say. I will work really hard to make sure that she and Zach do fine. But nobody is ready for this.”

The wind got pretty heavy and I could feel cool streams running down my cheeks as the dry air eveaporated my tears in the heavy gust. I could taste salt in my mouth and I stopped running.

“I hope it didn’t hurt when you died. I hope you are in a place where there is none of this…this…bullshit we find so important here. You let me know, somehow, what Heaven is like. I hope that I will be able to see you soon and thank you for coming here now.”

I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t there but after that the wind died down. That never happens there. Not over those wheat fields. There was a definite feeling that I was once again running by myself but I swear I could hear the word “ever” in my mind.

It must have been a funny sight to see me talking like a babbling idiot, alone on a trail in the middle of no where. You would probably assume I have suffered some sort of heat injury or dementia. I don’t really recall the journey home. Just remembered the times I had with B, my brothers in arms, the terrifically fun times and the terrifically terrible times. I am glad I had a chance to say goodbye. Even if this was all in my mind.

Later on that evening I googled “ever” and “heaven” in a coffee shop downtown.

Heaven.

Oh who will show me those delights on high?

Echo                                                                  I

Thou Echo, thou art mortall, all men know.

Echo                                                                  No.

Wert thou not born among the trees and leaves?

Echo                                                                   Leaves.

And are there any leaves, that still abide?

Echo                                                                    Bide

What leaves are they? impart the matter wholly.

Echo                                                                      Holly

Are holy leaves the Echo then of blisse?

Echo                                                                        Yes.

Then tell me, what is that supreme delight?

Echo                                                                         Light.

Light in the mind: what shall the will enjoy?

Echo                                                                          Joy.

But are there cares and businesse with the pleasure.

Echo                                                                           Leisure.

Light, joy and leisure; but shall they perserve?

Echo                                                                            Ever.

-George Herbert

Ever….

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Posted by: Will | August 28, 2009

Da Hype

I am pretty pumped. Why do you ask? Well, I am finally over myself with the whole “re-inventing the wheel” for fitness blogs and forums. I want a place to have fun, share stories and have people share theirs. I recently talked with an advertising exec, thanks to a dear friend, and they want me to add to their magazine and in return, they will throw Mac Fit some love in hard print! That’s kind of cool.

Well, please use this as a forum for stories, questions or if you have tips for others. I am personally using this for my long distance training and how I will be maintaining in a cold climate. I have no idea how this will play out but man, it will be a ride.

Run hard, run free and run like you are not planning on a return trip.

That’s what I am running to right now.

Posted by: Will | January 22, 2009

Live…

Live…

More than your neighbors.

Unleash yourself and go places.

Go now.

Giggle, no, laugh.

No…stay out past dark,

And bark at the moon like the wild dog that you are.

UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL.

THIS IS IT…YOUR LIFE.

Face your fears and live your dreams.

Take it all in.

Yes, every chance you get…

come close.

And by all means, whatever you do…

Get it on film.

– Jon Blais “The Blazeman”

Thank you Jon. You are my hero.

I also posted this on VeggieMacabre. I have comitted this poem Jon wrote to memory and repeat it every chance I get. This isn’t a dress rehearsal and if we are going to do it, let’s do it now. So with that, see you in the pool, on the road, in the gym or on the trail. Do it for the Blazeman.

Posted by: Will | January 16, 2009

How To Survive Your First Hot Yoga Class

by Crisitunity

Disclaimer: Because my experience with hot yoga is currently confined to one studio (although my browsing on the internet seems to have shown that it’s a pretty standard experience), what I’ve written here might not apply to all studios, everywhere.

As yoga in general has become more and more popular, hot yoga has sprouted up as an option for people who are looking for something a little more hardcore than the average Iyengar class. The wisdom runs that if you sweat like mad in a 100-degree room, you will sweat out all kinds of impurities and toxins and leave them on the studio floor. This, combined with the emotional/mental cleansing properties of the poses, means you will be as clean as a line-dried sheet when you walk out of the class.

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Hot yoga started because Bikram yoga had gained popularity, but Bikram Choudhury, its founder, was unwilling to allow any studio to offer Bikram classes unless the instructors had undergone training at his own hands, and unless his organization had given its blessing to the studio to do so. He even initiated lawsuits against studios that used his name without getting the go-ahead. This has caused a good deal of discomfort in the yoga community, because after all, the practice should positively not be about money and notoriety. But I digress. Bikram yoga involves a room heated to 105F and a specific sequence of 26 poses done twice over the course of a 90-minute class. Hot yoga, because it’s deliberately not Bikram, is entirely different.

I went to my regular studio for my first hot yoga class that Friday afternoon in April not really knowing what to expect, or even if what I was doing was a good idea. I was curious about hot yoga, and because I totally adore hot weather and abhor wintertime, I thought I might just take to it. After a life-changing workshop a couple of Sundays previous, I had decided that I wanted to do yoga for the rest of my life, and with this journey laid out before me, I wanted to see what different kinds of scenery the various roads had to offer. The friendly studio owner told me that for my first hot class, I should probably park myself near the door, and if it got to be too much, I was always free to take a child’s pose (a resting pose with chest between knees), or just to leave.

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What she failed to tell me was that the class was being taught by a lithe, gorgeous ballet dancer with an exotic Greek accent. Really, a ballet dancer. That’s what she did for a living, with yoga instruction on the side. So my self-confidence started a slow nosedive into the toilet pretty much as soon as the instructor started the class, and as I huffed and puffed and sweated and felt like I might faint, or fall over, or die, the surface of the water just seemed to dip farther and farther down. There were two other instructors taking the class that day, along with a woman who I think was a fellow ballet dancer, and all of them were obscenely flexible and strong. I was barely able to do one vinyasa (a specific series of poses – plank, chaturanga, upward dog – bookended by downward dog), and over the course of this class I was asked to do dozens of them, it seemed like.

Even though the instructor was challenging to the point of horror, and beautiful enough to make me avoid the mirror for days, I found that I was really enjoying myself. The heat felt wonderful, like a Jacuzzi of air, and the sweat was just pouring off me like it never has before in any situation I can remember, not even a sauna or a Louisiana summer. It was so much sweat that when I tasted it, it wasn’t even salty anymore – the water from my water bottle was just evacuating through my skin.

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Another of the named purposes of hot yoga is so that your muscles, warmed by the heat of the room, become more flexible and allow you to get a deeper stretch than usual. I’m not sure I found this to be true in my first class; it’s true that my hamstrings were playing themselves a little banjo tune for days after the class, but I think that’s because I pushed myself too hard, not because I was bending too far without realizing it. (That’s a permanent lesson in yoga: get your ego out of the way and only bend until you need to stop. Don’t compare yourself to the instructor who can wrap her hands under her heels. It’s a waste of energy.) But I did feel forty feet tall when I walked out of the studio that day, and my limbs felt lean and long and wiry.

I went back a couple of weeks later to another hot class, taught by a different instructor (the ballet dancer has since moved to Virginia, thank God). She was a little less intimidating, and I took it a little easier. I went back week after week, and soon I was doing a classful of vinyasas without grunting, without suffering. I have muscle on my arms and legs that sort of alarms me. And I can’t tell you how good it feels to sweat and sweat and sweat, to actually wring out a small towel at the end of class. I’m not sure I totally buy the toxins-out thing, but I definitely feel fresh and happy, ready for the next set of challenges, when I wake up the next morning. And, yeah, okay…a little sore.

TIPS:

-Try taking a power yoga class before you take a hot class, to see if you and “athletic” yoga are a good fit.

-For your first class, don’t lay your mat down near the heaters to try and be tough. Park near the door and accept your limitations.

-BRING A TOWEL. Or two.

-Bring a bottle of water and don’t be afraid to drink from it…but be wary of possible upchucking if you overdo it.

-Ask the instructor how hot it gets, and decide whether you can actually handle it. My studio only goes to 95-100F, and I’m not sure if I could go to a 105-110F class.

-If you need to slow down or stop, slow down or stop. No one’s judging you (the serious practitioners have all been where you are), and if they are, it’s their problem.

Posted by: Will | August 8, 2008

Sports Bras!

Looking Out For #1 and #2: An Intimate Guide to Sports Bra Shopping

Those women who not only have washboard abs but also a washboard chest don’t have the same concerns as I do when it comes to athletic wear. Unless you have a rather ample bosom, you couldn’t possibly understand the pain and injuries that can occur if you’re not properly outfitted. Running, jumping, boxing or anything that requires you to move quickly in an up and down fashion is likely to be painful unless you smash your boobs. Working out is definitely not the time to enhance them. Goal number one when sports bra shopping: make your boobs as flat as possible as the correct bra will inhibit breast movement.

Therefore, the first thing to look for in a sports bra is support. So what constitutes support? That would be the back and you should choose either a full or racer back which allows your shoulder blades free movement. If made well, the thicker the back the sturdier the bra. You don’t want hooks or zippers as sweat makes metal slippery or sticky and both are cause for embarrassing moments – trust me.

Next you should look at straps, which must always be thick. Anything that resembles a spaghetti strap is going to offer about as much support as a wet noodle. Your boobs shouldn’t be hanging low when exercising but that’s exactly what will happen if you choose a thin-strappy tank top sports bra, with or without a shelf. Rule of thumb: if it’s more of a tank top that you’d wear to the beach over your swimsuit, then it’s not the right bra to work out in. Thick straps will always stay in place and you will never pop out of one – no adjustments necessary no matter how intense your workout.

BAD                                                                                GOOD

Style and liner. I dislike the uni-boob look that short sports bras will give you, which is why I always choose the tank top sports bras. But not just any tank, one that has a double liner. Nike usually wins in this category with a tight and durable outer layer and an underlying cross-shaped bra liner with thick elastic underneath. This double bra action gives an extra layer of support and ensures no flopping around.

Material. Get something that breathes or you could suffer from chaffing or zits in weird places. I’ve discovered that anything Under Armor makes is basically mana from heaven. I don’t feel wet or sticky and sweat never rolls down my back when I wear it. You want a material that absorbs as much sweat as possible without making you feel like an old shower towel. Also, never go with any bra that is made entirely of spandex as it absorbs about as much as duck feathers in a rain storm.

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Finally, purchase a bra that’s a little too small for you. Not so small that it inhibits breathing or creates cleavage in your throat, but small enough that it keeps everything in place and doesn’t allow for free movement. If you wear a 36D and purchase a Large sports bra, chances are there will be material gaps on the sides of your breasts – so get a Medium instead.

For those of you who might be basically breastless, this doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to go braless as ALL women should protect their goods.

Be tasteful, tactful, and true to yourself.

-Pam Shep: Hey There, It’s Pammy-Girl

 

Posted by: Will | August 5, 2008

The Music To Make You Fit

Man, this website is taking forever! I am officially a week late on the launch but that’s ok. I saw a brief overview of the flash page thanks to Imagine Tech and it is really cool. So I guess I can say that it will be worth the wait. And! And the sponsors are eager to advertise and give free stuff away on here. Win Win! Ok, so here’s a random blog just to tide it over about music to train to. You may have different choices so I encourage you to share them on here. Remember, I want this place to be one big info sharing love fest of fitness and fun. So, party on and here are a few of mine.

RUNNING!

The important thing about any aerobic activity is pick music with like beats and a relatively repetitious beat. Whether you mean to or not, the pace of your run is indicative to your subconscious. If you go out for a jog with stressful issues on your mind it is almost guaranteed that the pace will not only be quick but inconsistant. Same goes for the music. Progressive rock is not the choice of the long distance runner. Too many different beats, too many tempo changes and most of the time it starts slow, then changes too fast and then finishes slow. That maps out the same as a really shitty run. So stay away from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Cold Play, The Beatles (drug years), anything new from Metallica (because it sucks) and usually any song over 8 minutes. Personally I go with Daft Punk, certain songs from Blur, AC/DC (because it all sounds the same) and so on. Here are some examples.

Daft Punk has had a long history with my running years. They stay consistent and it is fun to listen to without getting so wrapped up in the meaning of the song that you end up on the bumper of a Buick. “Human After All” is a great running song. And so is “Make Love”. That’s my trail running song and I have it on repeat for at least an hour. It sets my heart rhythm perfectly. Take a gander.

Weight Training!

This is when you need to step it up a notch. Having a melodic and repetitious beat can have an opposite effect on your mind when you are feeling the burn. It’s okay to be angry here so turn up the volume and rock on. This is especially important when you are killing the abs.

This may not resonate with many people but if you want to get the adrenaline pumping there is no greater band to help you than Slipknot. I give these guys mad props because they have been with me for every milestone in my lifting endeavour.

I’m not a huge Korn fan but I love this song. In fact, it saved me from a possible ‘episode’ at the gym. True story: I workout at a 24 hour gym and sometimes I take them up on the 24 hour aspect and lift by myself. (don’t do that) So, I had a long day and was feeling surprisingly energetic. I had a great workout and decided that it was a good idea to finish the night by pushing a new lift record on the incline bench. Well, upping the weight by 30 lbs proved too much for my over-zealous ego and got stuck on the bench with 225 lbs on me and no way to get it off. I felt like Tom Hanks in the Money Pit when he sank with the rug into the hole in the floor. I started laughing but the pressure on my chest made it difficult to breath. I had no way out. That is until I gained composure and this little ditty came up on my mp3 player and I turned agony into sheer anger. I lifted it off and quickly racked the bar. So, I owe it to Korn for…I guess embarrassment of staying at the gym until someone came in and saved me. So Thanks Korn!

Hot Dog Eating Competition!

If this doesn’t make you smile then you have no soul.

So, that is a little blurb about fitness and music. It was random and semi pointless but I didn’t want people to think that Macabre Fitness went to the way side. It’s going to be bigger than Uncle Sam’s nipples, I tell you.

Posted by: Will | July 25, 2008

Go See This Film…..that’s an order.

Ok, we all know that I am a big fan of inspirational stories that have to do with human endurance. I mean, this is coming from a guy who watched the 2006 Hawaii Iron Man documentary no less than 700 times. But this time I am really pressing the issue that you break out of the norm and see this film. What film am I talking about? It’s the one day release of 50 Marathons. Our buddy, who you read a quick blurb about a couple of days ago Dean Karnazes, ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. Read that three times over and try to digest the enormity of that. It is true that this guy is a super human but that is incredible.

The movie is only being shown on Thursday, July 31so you should get tickets soon. Go to 50marathons.com to find the theaters and buy tickets near you. This is an epic event and even if you don’t run at all I am sure this movie will inspire great things. So get off the couch, off the bar stool or out of the cubical! Bring your friends and family and go see 50 Marathons next Thursday. I promise it will be a movie long remembered.

The book reviews will be out on Sunday! Sorry that it is taking so long. My bedtime storybook reader has really been slacking.

Gives you goosebumps, huh?

Posted by: Will | July 23, 2008

From Allison

I have been a fan of That’s What She Blogged for quite some time. It is a funny look into the life of a young wife, mom, professional, and woman. The wit is something that I always take away every time I read it and try and incorporate that outlook into my daily life. And every so often Allison finds herself in positions that I thought would only happen to me. This is one of those. Please enjoy!

The unthinkable happened last weekend.  My extreme dorkitude collided with my affinity for the gym in a way so profound that I had no choice but to blog about it.  I realize that by doing so, I am risking all remaining semblance of my dignity.  However, if I can keep this from happening to just one other person, it will all have been worth it.

The imp and I were enjoying a typical Saturday afternoon at the gym’s indoor pool.  She splashed, and I hovered.  She frolicked, and I rubbed chlorine out of my eyes.  This continued until Matt signaled through the window that he had 10 minutes remaining on the treadmill.  I then forced persuaded the reluctant imp to get out of the pool and into the locker room.  We always use the same shower stall (the bench and the wand make it perfect for cleaning a small child), and I was dismayed to see that our stall was taken.  I noted that the occupant’s leg was in need of a good razor and headed back to the pool to stall for a few minutes.

When we returned, I was pleased to find our shower stall empty.  However, I noticed that the bench and the wand were missing.  I peeked into a couple of shower stalls and found one that did have a bench and wand.  I figured that there must have been a compelling reason for the gym to make the switch.  Once we were in the stall, we disrobed and started the shower.  We had our usual shower ‘conversation.’  She said things like, “Mommy, put bubbles on my belly,” and I said things like, “Wash all the bubbles off.”  This continued for several minutes until something strange happened.  I heard a very deep voice coming from the dressing area.  A masculine voice.  A man’s voice.  Then it hit me….the hairy leg, the missing shower bench.  I was in the men’s locker room.

I WAS IN THE MEN’S LOCKER ROOM.  NAKED IN THE MEN’S LOCKER ROOM WITH MY LITTLE GIRL.

“What do I do now?” I thought.  I had to think quickly.  I became acutely aware of how many times the imp had called me Mommy during the shower, and about just how loud her voice is…never mind the fact that I was talking very loudly (in my very non-male voice) about the bubbles on her belly.  My first order of business was to put my bathing suit back on in record time.  Then I finished the imp’s shower because, what difference would another half minute make?  And then we fled.  I booked it back to the pool deck and ducked into the women’s locker room.  Somehow, miracle of all miracles, I never actually saw a man in the men’s locker room.

I don’t really know how it happened.  I go there all the time.  I know which door is the correct door.  Even if I had forgotten, the doors are clearly labeled.  For crying out loud, how dorky am I?  I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t heard that man’s voice.  We most certainly would have paraded into the dressing area (where the imp and I would have certainly seen several undressed men and vice versa).

I learned an important lesson…the same lesson I’ve been teaching the imp for the past couple of months.

Always look for the skirt symbol on the door before proceeding.  Always.

PS! Send my your fitness stories!

Posted by: Will | July 22, 2008

Dean Karnazes. Thank You.

When I purchased this book at Borders the check out girl smirked and ask, “are you an ultra marathon runner?”. I quickly responded with a sturdy “no way” and an accompanying hand gesture of dismissal. “Then why do read a book about ultra marathons, silly?” I could tell there was a little flirtation in the question but still, I hope people don’t judge me on my book purchases because last week I bought a book called Useless Knowledge. No, I told her that I read these books for pure entertainment. She raised her eyebrows, smiled and said, “a book on running, sounds like a blast.” I wished she would hurry and make the transaction.

The truth is I read books like these for a very personal reason. In 2002 I received an injury to my lungs in the military that not only cut my career short but took me from a professional athletic level to barely being able to climb stairs. I had damaged over 30 percent of my lower lung tissue and with months of therapy the doctors were convinced that I would be a severe asthmatic at best. I sank into a deep depression as I watched my buddies go off to war, some returning disfigured and some not returning at all. I felt a feeling of failure for the first time and that stuck with me for years. I tried to fill the void by hopping from one relationship to the next, each ending horribly. I changed careers over and over, never understanding why I had the urge to keep moving, thinking the grass had to be greener on the other side. My friends became distant and I stopped going to church all together. It was the typical surrender to life and my white flag was tied to the end of a beer bottle.

On one a particular day, when life had a strangle hold on me I combated it the same way I had always done before; I pulled into the local pub and drank. As I sat there I looked across the bar and saw the same faces expressing the same contentment for missing their opportunities in life. I looked up at the TV and became acutely aware that I could now read the lips of the anchors on CNN because the music from the pub always drowned out the volume of the TV. The smells from the kitchen reminded me of what day it was because each day had it’s own same special. It was a Friday that day because it smelled like wings, the typical Friday special. I recognized people’s stroll from my peripheral vision and knew exactly who they were. My hands and feet went cold and I realized my life was  like two roads that diverged into the woods, and at that moment I took the one less traveled.

I threw a five dollar bill on the bar to cover my full Mich Ultra that I left and headed for the door. I didn’t say goodbye or turn for one last look, because I knew I wasn’t coming back so there was no point. I got into the car and turned off the radio because at this moment of clarity, Cinderella would have been simply white noise. Driving home is a blur and I had no plans for what to do with this ‘episode’ I was having. All I knew was that when I would got home I would know what to do. And I did.

I ran through the front door, peeled of my work clothes, pulled on shorts and a t-shirt and stepped into my running shoes. Without even a second thought I sprinted out the door and ran. I can’t tell you what I was running for but I can tell you what I was running from. I ran from the guilt of many heartbroken girls as I drug out doomed relationships for fear of being left alone with my own demons. I ran from the memory of watching my buddy in the Army who was a rock, return from the battlefield without both legs and an arm. I should have been there with him. I ran from endless nights, drinking to extremes and driving home only to fall asleep in the driveway listening to the radio. I ran from everything and felt the faster I went the further  away it would all be. And then my lung condition started to rear it’s ugly head.

It first feels like you are breathing with a sock in your mouth. Every breath is laboring and heavy as you try and fill the lungs. That repetitive struggle starts to exhaust your upper back and neck muscles, the tips of your fingers go numb and pretty soon the lack of oxygen that the lungs get, produce a build up of carbon dioxide in the muscles and cramps start to set it. For me that takes place relatively soon without the aid of a bronchial inhaler. But I never took that aid and when the doctors gave them to me in 2002, I threw them out on the way out of the hospital. Not smart, I know.

When my lungs started to contract and my quads to my hamstrings began to seize I could feel all my demons catching up. I became enraged. My breath became gasps and my strides became leaps as I ran faster. I ran without any technique and my breathing had no rhythm. To a passerby I probably looked as if I was being chased and really, I was. I would not stop until I gave the demons the slip or die on the side of the road. For the first time in years I felt like I hopped the fence of slavery, and even though it was symbolic, I was free. I had taken the wheel and now I was cruising on a road that wasn’t on any map.

Looking back at that pivotal point in my life, I have no idea how far I went. I do know how long I ran for. I ran from 6pm to 11pm. I know it was eleven because I stopped at a gas station to buy a drink and inquire where I ended up. It turns out I ran due north and I went seven exits up GA 400 through some fairly back wooded areas. My feet were torn to shreds, my ankles were swollen, I couldn’t hear very well out of my right ear and I had been coughing up blood for over an hour. Many would think I took a step closer to death but it was there that I found my life again. I was at a BP station north of Dawsonville, Georgia and that is where I took everything back again.

After I drank a few bottles of Gatorade and downed two turkey sandwiches (that was probably made the week prior) I hobbled down the road on the long trek home. I never thought about going home when I started; I just ran. Every inch of me hurt but with this pain came a new sense of self. I know that sounds like an Oprah moment but it was true. I hobbled all the way back to Roswell and at 9 in the morning I fell on the front yard. I picked myself up and barely made it to my door before I fell over again. This time I was a little nervous that I may have done something bad. I unlocked the door and crawled up the stairs to the bedroom shower, tuned on the cold water and crawled over the tub with clothes and shoes on. With the cold water running over me I drifted in and out of consciousness, cognoscente that there was blood steaming down my elevated legs from my shoes. It may have been ten minutes it may have been two hours but I finally turned off the water and pulled myself out of the tub and took hold of myself. I got undressed, peeled off my shoes and socks, revealing that I had done some considerable damage to both feet, and walked gingerly down the stairs to the kitchen and replenish what I had lost.

It took days to recover from that. I was still bleeding from my lungs days after but it didn’t deter me. I went running again. Everyday I left the comforts of the couch with Everybody Loves Raymond and Family Guy for the pain of the trail. The lungs began to burn less, the feet were constantly blistered but tougher, the legs became stronger and I started to find that I wasn’t actually running from my demons but dealing with them on my own terms.

Earlier this year I went to a pulmonary physician for a few tests to see how my lungs were. After my injury I never accepted that I had a handicap so going to another doctor just to reconfirm that I was disabled was not in the cards. But now I had a handle on life and in order to truly conquer my past I had to face things head on. He put me through every test they had including taking bronchial dilators to test the amount of air I can take in to a MRI to view the damaged tissue. After the tests were concluded I went home and waited two weeks for the test results. It was a long two weeks.

Well, the results came in and I went to the clinic to have a face to face. He sat down with me and showed me the folder with all my tests and a summery sheet. To make a long story short the test came out very good. I still only have 83% of undamaged lung tissue but with my running they expand to take in more oxygen. From what he explained, I had trained my body to adapt to my lifestyle. I can accept that.

I guess that little story would have been an overkill for the girl at the checkout counter at Borders but that is why I read books about running. It’s a sport that is the purest form of raw stamina and endurance. My runs bring me closer to God and I know myself better every time I feel that I can’t take another step because I know, I can. Running to me is a way to explain life. It isn’t suppose to be fun, it isn’t easy and sometimes it hurts like Hell, but it should. The rewards and accolades are completely intrinsic and the only person you need to impress is yourself.

I was planning on reviewing the book Ultra Marathon Man but I don’t think I will today. I will say that it is an amazing story of self determination and the will of Dean Karnazes is matched by no one I have ever heard of. Maybe Ernest Shackleton. Maybe. Anyway, I read the book in one sitting and I found myself at times pumping my fist in the air, getting caught up in the moment so I would suggest you read it from the privacy of your home. It is inspirational and the first part floored me because I felt like I was reading my own story.

So buy it, borrow it, check it out, do what you need to do. Just read it. You will take something away, I promise.

EDIT: Someone emailed me and asked what my favorite tune is that I run to.  Here it is, “Coffee & TV” from Blur. It’s on repeat for many miles. Plus the video kicks real ass.

Posted by: Will | July 15, 2008

From Romi


This very funny post is from one of my favorite (favourite…right Romi?) bloggers of all time. You can check her out at Year Of The Chick and I highly recommend it too. Her unabashed honesty and wit is rivaled by no one. It’s great to read someone’s site and say, “that’s so true! Why didn’t I ever think to say that?” Warning, don’t eat or drink while reading. Chocking is probable. So without further ado, I present Romi.

Fitness War: Wrestling vs. Interpretive Dance

It’s been 13 years since I found myself in Junior High gym class.


That seems appropriate, since it’s probably not okay for a 27-year-old woman to give out “well done!” post-game ass
-slaps to 12 year olds.

Even if it’s been a while, I’m not so old that I’ve replaced my actual memories with scenes from the “Wonder Years”.  And yet, sometimes I feel like it was a TV show…

***

Year: 1993
Age: 12
Body-Type: Tall, boyish, small amount of junk in the trunk

***

Three weeks of basketball and finally the embarrassment of air balls and double-dribbles were over.

Time to move on to something fun.

Our gym teachers (one male, one female) announced that wresting was next on the agenda.  Well…wresting and interpretive dance, to be exact (hmm…is that a new Olympic Sport?).

I quickly realized that the boys would be doing the wrestling, whilst the girls would be gyrating awkwardly to a song that didn’t match.

I had never known a thing about dancing (interpretive or otherwise), but I didn’t enjoy being cock-blocked from wrestling.

And why couldn’t I partake?

Pretty simple: it was just because I didn’t have one of those “penis” thingys (a male organ I didn’t know a lot about in 1993…I still don’t know a lot about it now, but that’s another story that I’ll save for my bottle of Prozac)…

Despite the inherent disappointment that comes from being born without a “package”, I decided to pull up my socks and give this new-age dancing a try.

The gym was split into two, with a thin wooden wall that would shield our sexy dancing from the wrestlers’ prying eyes.

Now when it comes to “interpretive dance for 12-year olds”, there isn’t a lot of technique to the affair.  In fact, there’s nothing more to it than an overweight woman in a flower-printed wind-suit, showing some girls how to move their arms to and fro.

I should probably mention that the advanced interpretive dancers got to use ribbons…and no I didn’t get one….dammit.

Though I never moved up to “ribbon” status, my dancing improved in the weeks to come.

After lots of practice, it was time to show off our skills in the end-of-term “Interpretive Dance” showcase.

And so, for the next 4 minutes and 6 seconds, we KILLED Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do, I Do It For You” with our awesome moves!

I’m not gonna lie, I enjoyed the attention of 15 males, I really did.

By the time we finished our dance, it was time for the boys to put out the mats and show us their wrestling skills.

As soon as the first pair of pasty-thighed boys locked into position, I was entranced.

The grunting, the intensity of the throw-downs, the sweat-beads…it was exhilarating!

And all the while in interpretive-dance world, I’d been moving my arms to the tune of zero aggression (and almost zero calorie-loss).

As I watched the hefty kid (who I was sure ate pizza + donuts for a living) squeeze the life out of his tiny opponent, I became  enraged: why couldn’t girls do this to each other?

These weren’t the beginnings of lesbianism I assure you, but it was the athletic aspect of it all: kick ass and get in shape…GRRR!…

…It was a dream I never realized, and I can only hope that the school in my town is a lot more forward-thinking now.  That’s right, girls should be totally free to tackle/grab at each other for sport, and I’m sure there’s no shortage of boys that would like to watch (it’s what we call a “win-win”).

On a personal level, sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened to my life if I’d wrestled at age 12.  There’s a chance that I could’ve become the top female wrestler in my region…and maybe eventually, world champion?  There’s also a chance that the wrestling could’ve helped me grow some muscles on my own (which might’ve stopped me from taking all those ‘roids in the late 90’s).

But most of all, if I had done intense activities like wrestling back in the day vs. the relative inertia that is “Junior High Interpretive Dance”, maybe I wouldn’t be struggling to lose these last 15 pounds…

Thanks for NOTHING Bryan Adams!

Romi

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