Friday, March 23, 2007

Independent Women

Upper body workout today. No workout or run tomorrow, but I have plans to fit in a 16 mile run on Sunday.

Women Who Have Shaped My Life - #4

My interest in fitness and running didn't come into the picture until I was in my 40th year of life, almost 41. I had always been active, but I hadn't set foot in a gym since I dated my hubbie, and I was probably about 20 years old back then. I had always been active and did things like hike, go on long walks, swim, snow ski, beach activities, and a lot of other outdoor activities, but nothing in the way of a set workout. I thought I was doing okay, so I thought...

About a year earlier, I had met CN in an AOL gardening chat room. I can't remember exactly what plants or gardening tips we were discussing, but I took a peek at her profile and it turned out that we had our jobs and family in common. We were both opticians, had kids about the same ages, and we shared the joy of gardening. We both lived in coastal cities, however, on opposite coasts... We began e-mailing each other and hit it off. We were soon sharing our work issues and office dramas, little bits about our families, gardening stuff, and so on.

A short time later I had quit my job in optical and took a job as a manager for a transportation company because I could make a better pay check. The doctor I worked for wasn't willing to raise my cheesy little pay check. About 2 months after taking the new job I was in a car accident. A 19 year old kid did not yield the right-of-way at an intersection in my neighborhood. This was the same day as my son's 5th grade graduation and my 39th birthday. I wasn't seriously hurt but the left hand small finger was shattered and there was a spiral fracture in the bone right below my ring finger. Less than a week later I needed surgery to repair the bones. Father's day was right after my surgery and my brother flew down to visit for the day. It was nice seeing my brother and getting together with my dad for a nice day. We took plenty of pictures. The next week our pictures came back from the developers. There's a picture of me standing next to my very thin and fit brother. Keep in mind that I'm wearing a surgical cast on my arm, so I'm wearing clothes that are easy to get in and out of. In the photo, I'm wearing black overall shorts. I looked tubby and frumpy. My legs looked like tree trunks. (Sorry, I can't find the photo!) In my mind I thought I was looking okay, but the photo proved otherwise. My husband tried to assure me that it was a bad photo, but I knew better. The doctor's scales put me at 150 pounds, and I'm only 5'3". Ideal weight for someone my height is about 110 to 125, depending on frame. Life goes on and I had to be back at work. I was fortunate to have a sympathetic new boss, and he helped me to get settled at the new job, even with my temporary limitations. I spent time at physical therapy to regain grip strength and "normal" use of the left hand. I was taking walks at lunch, but I wasn't paying close attention to my eating habits, so the weight never budged. My 40th birthday came and went. Life was good and I was happy with everything. I still looked pudgy in my birthday pictures, though. Was this how I was to be for the rest of my life? Still, I didn't think it was that bad. My hubbie didn't complain. He liked by big behind...

In the Winter of that same year (1999) CN wrote me an e-mail about a fitness book that she was reading, and asked me I've I had ever heard of it. It was the Body For Life book by Bill Phillips. She said that it was a weight training and way of eating plan - a lifestyle, not a diet. This was probably the first time I had discussed fitness and nutrition with CN. She was excited about the book and was on week 2 of a 12 week "challenge." I figured that I would buy the book and give it a try. Since I felt funny about buying any "diet" books, I ordered it on-line. I read through it and decided, since CN is doing this, that I could do it too, it wasn't all that complicated. In April of 2000, I took the plunge and signed up at a gym. I was totally clueless in the gym so I signed up with a personal trainer. I kept in touch with CN about my slow progress, and she e-mailed me back about her fantastic progress. We shared workout tips and ideas for recipes that followed the BFL "authorized foods" list. Everyone around me thought I was nuts because I wasn't athletic or that much into fitness prior to reading BFL at CN's suggestion. I was surprised that my own family didn't support my new path to fitness, since I no longer ate all of those "fun" foods and drank one margarita after the next, all weekend long. I was on a mission to change. CN was the only one who understood what I was doing, since she was doing it too. It took me 3 back to back 12 week "challenges" to lose 30 pounds, and CN was right there with me, on line. We even sent each other greeting cards of "congratulations" when we hit our fitness goals.

2001, I'm toying around with the idea of running my first 5k ever. All of that high intensity interval training on the treadmill got me running, really running. I began to run outside, and it was a tough transition, but I stuck with it. I ran my first 5k event on July 4 of that year. Because I ran my first 5k, it got CN into thinking about running again, as she did before she had a kid, but she set the bar even higher. She was going for a marathon before her 50th birthday in the next couple of years. I followed along with her training and those long, long training runs. I coudn't imagine running any further than a 5k. CN completed her goal, not just with one marathon, but with three marathons right before turning 50 in 2004. Wow. I thought to myself: "If she can do 3 before 50, I can do at least one, and I'm younger than her." So I did some quick research and decided to shoot for the San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon for 2005, which was also a few days shy of my 45th birthday. CN guided me to "Marathoning For Mortals" by John Bingham. It wasn't too long after I signed up for the marathon that my hubbie said he would participate as well, and he really doesn't run. My brother, already an avid runner, found out about us running in the event and decided to run in it as well. CN encouraged me every step of the way and gave me great tips, especially for those really long training runs, and offered words of advice and sympathy when I was diagnosed with arthritis in both knees in March of 2005 ~ right in the middle of training. My brother, Hubbie and I completed the marathon ~
and it was tough but exhilerating at the same time. We finished and felt a million years old the week after, but we thought that it was such a rush to complete something like that, so we decided right away to do the marathon again in 2006. I e-mailed CN with full on, marathon-length, details about our day. CN sent me a wonderful card of congratulations, which I still have.

CN and I continue to correspond on line and share our work issues, family dramas, working out and running regimens, gardening happenings and everything else. My hope is that some day we actually meet in person, and maybe even run in an event together. Yes, it's true that it was up to me to get fit and start running, but it was CN who sparked the idea with BFL. I will be forever grateful to her for being my first supporter and cheerleader when everyone else gave me negativity in this fitness and running lifestyle. My quality of life has definetly changed for the better.

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Cathy said...

I am loving all of your stories of the women who have touched your life. Simply terrific and inspirational.

shopper said...

I've always admired your dedication to fitness. You do such a nice job and it definitely shows. CN did a great job passing her interest on to you. I think it's neat that you've had such a neat relationship for so long and have never even met. I am SOOOO impressed that you have posted a swimsuit shot. You GO girl! ;)

The funny thing is, by looking at pictures of you, I've always thought you were very tall. Don't know why really.

I enjoyed this post. As they say....keep up the good work! ;)

Anne said...

It's been fun reading about all the women that have influenced you in different ways. And I'd do Carlsbad if I were you. It's so busy, it's hard to PR anyway. You'll have a lot of fun.

P.S. Thanks for all the advice on my afterchills. You might be onto something with the thyroid. It's worth checking out.

leslie said...

Loved reading about your fitness journey, Irene! And how great to have someone influence you in such a big way, even though you've never met! (You gotta work on changing that, you know!)

sister smile said...

Yet another fabulous story about a fabulous woman, by a fabulous woman. Thanks for sharing.

Irene said...

When I first started doing this "assignment," I only thought about my mom -- but once I got going with it I realized that there are so many women in mylife who I am thankful for.

Thanks. Oh, those icky "before" bathing suit pictures... To even have those pictures taken was hard. Did you notice I didn't put any back side photos? Those were scary! Back fat and a chunky butt -- I didnt' want to scare anybody. I must admit, though, that the before pictures do help as "slap in the face" reminder to stay on track. LOL about the height. I guess I look taller on print. ;)

We're thinking that we'll do the Carslbad 5000 next year, not because of wanting to be prepared, but it's just a busy time right now. I'm glad the article from Runner's World. helped. I was looking for an article about analgesics and it cross-referenced to after-chills.

CN doesn't travel much, just up and down the east coast, so if we do meet, I'll have to go out there. I hope we're able to work something out in the not so distant future.

Sister Smile,
Thanks. :)

NotSoccer Mom said...

another great woman story. i'm having a tough time deciding who to write about this last week!

Irene said...

That's the hard part -- choosing who to write about!

barbie2be said...

destiny's child.

if you are at all willing to try something other than running, this book really made a difference for my training. and it was written by one of my coworkers wives.

Transformed Triathlon - Making an Inprobably Athlete.

Irene said...

I'll have to look at it! It has been suggested that I try a tri. Perhaps it is in my future.

Irene said...

Oh yeah, Winner!