Friday, April 23, 2010

Not A Runner

For the record, I'm not a runner. I wouldn't even be described as athletic by any means; I mean, I can dabble in yoga, pilates, kickboxing, tennis, long walks, bicycling, Wii Fit, and Denise Austin, but I'm not really an endurance person. Never have been. I can do just enough to get by when I make the effort, but never take that "active" part of my life too seriously. After all, I'm a mom. I'm a working mom. I'm the wife to a busy neurosurgery chief resident. Who has the time?

In high school, I wanted to be a runner. I tried to be a runner. So I joined cross country, thinking that would make me a runner. I ran for a few months, mostly to get the attention of the boys on the cross country team, and that was the last time I ran, aside from running to catch the bus to Animal Kingdom at Disney World. For that, I have endurance. In my daily life, I'm not a runner.

A month ago, after our horrible Charlottesville winter (can you tell I'm still bitter?), it all of a sudden got warm. And spring-like. And beautiful outside. Well you all know, you read the post below. And after New Zealand's crazy weather, and this past winter in Charlottesville, I needed to be outside enjoying Spring. So I took a walk. And then I started to run.

Let me reiterate in case you don't yet understand: I'm not a runner. I thought I had made peace with that. When I run for 2 minutes, I can't catch my breath. I get shin splints after 3 minutes of running. It's very pitiful. But suddenly, I wanted to run.

I'm an accomplisher. A check-off-the-list-er. (A "make a thousand lists"-er, as well.) I graduated college early with a degree in Finance, although my grades my first year were awful. I graduated from a great law school, even though the first year I was tempted to quit. I passed the bar exam on the first try even though it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm married to a work-a-holic, and we still manage to find the time to have a good relationship; and I've become a work-a-holic myself these days. I'm the mother to an amazing little girl who has some special needs, and not only is she thriving, she is the most beautiful person I know, inside and out; I honestly think she and I can read each other's souls, and being her mom is the most incredible accomplishment to date.

But this running thing made me nervous. If there ever was a "beginner" runner, it was me. But luckily, the internet was prepared for me. I found this website which was ready for me: it's an e-mail sent to me every day that tells me what to do. Day 1 was run a minute, walk a minute, 10 times. Run a minute? Well of course I could do that! Of course as I have no endurance to speak of, it was harder than I thought; but I accomplished that first 20 minute run/walk and the next day followed day two's instructions. I'm now on day 17, and am fairly proud of myself. Today I'm running 5 minutes then walking 1 minute and then repeating 4 more times, for a total of 24 minutes. Can I do it? I'm not sure. But I've come so far from 3 weeks ago.

Why am I doing this? First of all, it's another thing to prove I can do; I will be impressed if in a few weeks I can run a couple miles without stopping, and maybe even get beyond that if I can keep up this running habit. Secondly, it is for Lilly. I've suddenly been getting old (not "old" old, but my body is getting tired and old), and I really want to have the endurance and strength for her as she grows up. She's not getting any lighter! Thirdly, the strength! That alone is a motivation that I didn't consider; my body is actually getting itself into shape - I haven't had any muscles to speak of in 10 years, and it's amazing to me that my body is toning in ways I didn't realize would happen from just running. And the last reason is, I'm falling in love with running. I love hearing my feet pounding the pavement; I love the accomplishment of knowing every day that I've run (or run walked) two miles. I love the solitude of my own thoughts and the selfishness of that time where I don't have to respond to e-mails or do something for Lilly. I don't own an ipod, so I don't even listen to music - it's just a time to be with my own thoughts, which is unique in my busy life.

So I'm not sure, but I think I may be becoming a runner.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Spring in Charlottesville. Spring in America. Spring in general. It seems like forever since we've experienced a normal spring, but I guess it's been just 2 years. Last year, in New Zealand, we didn't really have a spring: when we moved there in June, it was Winter. It rained solid for 4 months. Then in November it was hot - super hot - when it wasn't raining of course. And then December, January, February were hot and then all of a sudden it was winter again. If it had felt at all spring-like or even fall-like, I would have remembered it - because the entire year we were either wishing we had heat or air conditioning, so there definitely wasn't a clear in-between time when we were just weather content.

So this year, with the birds & what not whistling, and the trees and flowers blooming, and the pollen count, while not close to Atlanta's pollen, is high, I definitely feel spring. And here in Charlottesville we need this spring. The winter was the snowiest winter ever, and we were stuck - literally, most of the time - indoors. We couldn't even have real cutesy photo-ops with Lilly outside in the snow because what child can walk in 2 feet snow easily? But that was months ago. And now it's spring.

It's not just the dogwoods and flowers that are blooming; so is my sweet Lilly. She is blossoming into such a beautiful sweet little girl. Of course she always has been that, but recently her personality, her skills, her very soul seems to be growing exponentially each day. She is a child who is mastering every piece of playground equipment - from the rope ladders to the climbers. This especially makes us appreciative because this is a little girl who didn't walk well until she was 27 months old, and now there's not a thing she can't accomplish. Lilly is so social at school, which she always has been, but it's really taken off with her calling her friends by their names, participating with the group, and saying more and more each day. Her latest is that she pretends to burp, then says "excuse me" which is the latest thing that all her friends do at school - which of course I don't love but at the same time I appreciate that she's just one of the little 3 year olds, picking up bad habits.

She is a creature of habit, of routine, and she is so proud to be independent. We just got new carpet in the living room, and when Lilly walks in the door, she sits down immediately and takes off her shoes and socks, placing them perfectly side by side against the wall. She also puts on her shoes and socks all by herself in the morning, and is always wanting to dress herself. She loves playing "pretend" and is such a "girl" - she loves to grab her favorite dolly, a purse, a sweater (of course), and sometimes a hat, and just walk out the front door if it's unlocked. Love it! And she loves all her dolls and stuffed animals. This morning, she asked me to read her the book "Someday" (if you haven't read this children's book, it's a tear jerker). She sat in my lap quietly and listened to the whole story. Then she moved across from me, put Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck next to me, and she read the story to us - she is such a little teacher. The amazing part is, we haven't read that book very often, and she remembered so much of the story from me reading it just once before her. And each time she read it, when she got to a certain page, when a girl "folds up in sadness," (or something like that) Lilly gets so sad along with that girl. After a few times we read it, she actually started crying on that page. I love her empathy, her emotion, her huge heart.

It always hits me how hard it is to describe the magic of my little girl in words. To truly know Lilly is experience her every day, to watch her grow and develop, and to hear her little voice talk to us. It's the way she says "C'mon, Let's go!" when I tell her we're going to do something fun, or when I tell her I love her and she looks at me with the sweetest expression and says "Love you too!" But most of all it's amazing that her outer beauty matches her inner beauty, and a picture is worth a thousand words. These were taken this past weekend.