Monthly Archives: April 2009

Movement for Life

For two days I sat in the hospital room with my two year old as they re-hydrated him through an IV. Sitting is not something I am very good at. I am a mover. Even as I write this I am standing in front of my computer. So, to be honest, other than when I had to sit there holding him or had to lie beside him, I was standing and pacing. When he would sleep I would take a quick walk down the hall to get the blood flowing. On a good day I find sitting hard. On a bad day I find it nearly impossible. Combine a baby who had been ill for a week with the fact that I hadn’t worked out in more than a week and you end up with a very bad day.

I paced and I fidgeted and I worried. As though Stephanie at was feeling my pain, I received an email asking for an article for the upcoming newsletter. Suddenly, I had something else I could do. I went on a search for an idea for that, well this, article. I didn’t have to go very far. As I stepped outside of my child’s hospital room, I literally ran into the mother of the child in the next room. Both of our children were in for the same virus and the same symptoms. We had checked in within minutes of each other the night before. I admit to being tired and hungry and in desperate need of a shower but this mom was a wreck. As I compared the two of us, I knew I had my article.

I have come to be known among family and friends as the “fitness freak”. I am in constant motion and always looking for the next adventure. I am also pretty good, though not a t-totaller, about my diet. I know how to read the labels and make conscience decisions about what I am going to eat. Even when I eat poorly I have made the decision to do so. But comparing myself with this mom, I realized how much the health and fitness lifestyle I live has affected the way I feel everyday but especially on the bad ones.

This mom was obese. I find it hard to use that word because it has so many negative connotations as to physical beauty or lack there of but I am using it here because there is no other way to describe her and I didn’t look at her as not being attractive but as not being healthy. She was clearly too big for the cot they have in the rooms to sleep on so she was unable to sleep that night. I had noticed that when the nurses performed any procedure on her child they had to call in an additional nurse because she didn’t have the strength to hold her child in the positions that were needed. Beyond that, even though she was in her late thirties, it was clear she had difficulty breathing because of how heavy she was and that even the way she walked was affected. I later heard her discussing her upcoming knee surgeries with one of the nurses.

All of this made me think back to those surveys I receive about why I exercise. I think most of the time while exercising about how it makes me look. I do feel like I look better when I am more fit but that isn’t why I started exercising. I started exercising because my mother was diagnosed with cancer and everything I read about the disease attributes at least a partial cause to being over weight. In the process of learning more about my health I was amazed to learn about all of the diseases and health issues that are attributed to being overweight – diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, hip and knee issues, even colon cancer. The list goes on and on. In the twenty years since my mother’s diagnosis I have spent a lot of time learning more about the importance have staying active and eating well. I want to be around for a long time but I would like to spend those years healthy so I remain active and healthy now.

Though the rest of my day was still ahead of me, as I thought through the reasons for maintaining my health I felt better about the fact that I couldn’t sit still. I thought of all the pacing and all of the standing and watching my child as another form of movement that represents my health now and in the future.

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The Runner’s “Christmas”

I have always loved that first day of spring. Not the official first day of spring but that morning when you wake up and it is over sixty degrees and the weatherman tells you that is it going to get above seventy. You look outside and there is still snow. Not covering the ground but in the piles left by the snow plows. But you know you can put on your shorts and tank top and head out for a run.

I love these days. I love knowing that it is a gift. There won’t be another day like this for a few more weeks. There will probably even be another snow or two before I can put my shorts on again. But today I can be in my shorts and I can run and enjoy the idea of spring.

I love these days because we are all surprised by them. The weatherman calls for them every so often but fifty percent of the time he is wrong so we haven’t dared to believe him. We don’t set out our shorts or change our plans to paint the basement but we do think about it. It is like going to sleep hoping Christmas will come the next morning but not knowing for sure. And then we wake up and there’s the sun and the thermometer reading sixty two degrees and we know it is the runner’s Christmas. It is our day.

We cancel the basement plans and we tell the kids to get there shorts on and go outside to enjoy the day and we make our plans as a running couple to tag team our runs. This year I go first, my husband staying behind, playing soccer in the street with the kids as I head out for my long run on the warmest day of the year so far.

Even the birds get in on the action on these days so there are no headphones, nothing to take away from the total experience of the my first unofficial day of spring, of my runner’s Christmas. Last weekend I ran on this same path. I was all alone as I picked my way over the icy patches left by the latest winter storm. There was total silence. Peaceful but lonely.

Today, it is social. Every runner has the same smile on his face. Even those in their own worlds have the smile that says they know the joy of the moment. They get the rarity of such a day. Those who are not in their own heads wave as they pass by. They greet each other with statements about the beautiful weather. The group runner’s laugh and chat instead of running their normal silent winter stance as a huddle of runner’s using each other to brace against the cold and wind.

These are the days when I feel as though I can run forever. I soak in the sounds and the sun through every pore of my body. These are the days I am most grateful to be a runner. Not just because it is beautiful today. Not just because I see all around me in the piles of snow the proof that it wasn’t supposed to be beautiful. But because I know it won’t be beautiful tomorrow. Because I know they are calling for another winter storm tomorrow and that tonight the winds will change, bringing in the cool air again. I know that it is a gift that I was given earlier than expected. A preview of all of those beautiful spring days to come. Something I can store away over the next few weeks as the winter weather continues to haunt us and pull out of my memory on next week’s long run where I pick my way once again over an icy trail left by old man winter.

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