Throughout my life, I’ve been a lot of things—wife, mother, financial consultant, ninja—but never a jogger. I knew people who jogged and claimed it exhilarated them.

What liars.

I’d read numerous articles that revealed the nastiness jogging does to the body—wearing away every cushion between every joint from the toes to the hips and jostling delicate female organs. I was unclear as to what damage this jostling actually does to the female reproductive system, but didn’t want to experience it. Thus, without ever trying, I hated jogging.

IMG_1157This notion was tested three years ago when my friend Kathleen suggested we train for a sprint triathlon. I agreed before I knew exactly what that was—a half-mile swim, 21.7-mile bike ride, and 5K run. I tried to renege, but Kathleen wouldn’t let me.

Six months before the race, I embarked on a rigorous training schedule that began, obviously, with my hair. I got it cut man-comb short and highlighted. If I couldn’t get out of the race, I could at least give myself a chance to look good—without benefit of hair products—in the after photos.

The hair was the easiest part of training. A far more difficult challenge was keeping up my whining to Kathleen—“We’re too old for this.” “We don’t have enough time to properly train.” “My uterus hurts.” “We’re going to die.” She’d smile and say “We are going to do this,” before she swam, biked or ran away.

For my first running session, I set the thingy on the treadmill to 3.0 and walked at a comfortable pace for a few minutes. I gradually increased to 4.0 which forced me into a baby jog. I struggled for air and battled against vomiting as I pushed this pace for a full minute. I went back to 3.0 for a couple of minutes and up to 4.0 for another minute. Coughing and sweating, I shut off the treadmill and limped to my car.

In between two biking and two swimming sessions a week, I was forced to jog. Each time, I cursed the treadmill and the damned triathlon. Then something strange happened—I was able to add 30 seconds to the baby-jog time before the barfing sensation kicked in.

It got weirder. Within a few weeks, I found myself yearning to jog.

At the end of week three, I pushed myself to run half a mile. It took nine minutes. At that rate, I could finish a 5K in just under an hour!

Whenever my heart felt it would burst, I’d start to cough. (I once read that you should cough whenever you feel you’re having a heart attack.) I released sporadic grunts and groans and whispered, “You can do it. You can do it.” I ignored the eye-rolling glances of those around me.

A month later, I was able to increase my speed to 5.0 for an entire mile. I jogged outside once a week. I learned the virtues of stretching, ice packs and ibuprofen.

While I hoped for an injury that would take me out of the competition, the only mishap I encountered was waking one morning with a rather large, alarming blood splat in the outside corner of my right eye. The doctor explained that it was a harmless hooty and it’d go away. I asked her to write me a prescription against the triathlon. She declined.

triathlonThe six months of training paid off. I finally learned how to spell triathlon and finished the race in about three hours.

It was exhilarating.

Over the following two years, I continued to run, but often skipped a planned session in favor of inertia. Then my friend Jackie challenged me to do the March 2014 Whale Run (merely by telling me she was going to do it).

I wish I could say the second round of training was easier than the first. But every aspect of running is a chore—from thinking about it, to getting dressed, to leaving the house and actually doing it. It’s only after, when I’m so flaming exhausted, euphoria kicks in and convinces me that it’s a good thing.

The Whale Run began at 8:00 am on Saturday, March 15th. I rarely venture outside at that hour, let alone on a Saturday. All day Friday I twitched with anxiety over making a respectable showing so early in the morning.

At 7:30 the foggy race site teemed with people. A Soroptimist reported that a record number—nearly 800—registered for the 30th annual event. The excitement of the crowd fueled my enthusiasm. My friends MW and Kathleen arrived to act as cheerleaders. (Kathleen sustained a knee injury and is no longer able to run.)

I was able to jog most of the race, slowing to a walk only a couple of times. When I crossed the railroad tracks near the finish line, I noticed the clock showed 34:something minutes. My best training time had been 36 minutes. If I kicked it, I could possibly make it in 35.

I crossed the finish line, my friends cheering me on, at 34:26!

5KThe moments of celebration that followed—hugging my fellow competitors and taking my cheerleaders to breakfast—made all the miles of agonizing training worthwhile.

I guess I can now say that whatever else I am—owner of Lucy-puppy, blogger, whiner—I’m also a jogger.

Bucket List

1374220_10152031548311844_1507168159_nNow that the light is slowly returning to the northern hemisphere, I’m able to keep my eyes open for longer periods each day. One of the first things I’ve noticed is the appalling condition of our yard. This is due to long-term neglect, but I prefer to blame it on lack of rain and the demolition efforts of Lucy-puppy. Since I don’t enjoy gardening, I hunker down in my office and entertain myself with things I do enjoy—like updating my Bucket List.

It’s important when writing a Bucket List to include only those items that are within the realm of possibility. For example, don’t write that you want to die with dignity. Only three people will ever accomplish that, and you and I aren’t one of them. This goes along with wanting to avoid dementia or becoming a burden to your kids. Let’s face it, our kids already think we have dementia, and we are a burden to them.

Over time, your Bucket List will change. As you check off what you’ve accomplished, you’ll discover new things. For example, a few years ago my Bucket List looked like this:

Visit Washington DC.

Visit Boston.

Enter a quilt in the Fort Bragg Quilt Show.

Participate in a flash mob.

Participate in a triathlon (actually, this was not on my list, but on that of my friend Kathleen who forced me into the torture of helping her realize it).

Start a blog.

I have since visited Washington DC and Boston.

quiltI didn’t even know I had the desire to enter a quilt in the Fort Bragg Quilt Show until I made two quilts that weren’t horrible and received compliments from long-time quilters. They assured me I wouldn’t be humiliated—so I entered. I didn’t win a prize, but let go of my grudge against the judges after only a few months.

I organized and participated in a flash mob.

triathlonI lived through the triathlon (although while training I sometimes wished for death—with or without dignity—so I could get out of it).

I started a blog.

The items currently on my list:

Get a license to carry a concealed weapon. (Upon hearing this, my husband hid the guns and ammo.)

Find the guns and ammo.

Be a juror on a murder trial.

            Get appointed to the Mendocino County Grand Jury (because I am terribly nosey want to be of public service).

Train Lucy to become Fort Bragg’s first bomb-sniffing dog.

Some consider my current Bucket List to be dark and bordering on violent. They may be right. Perhaps the list is reflective of how I subconsciously feel about the approach of another birthday—one that will propel me into a new decade.

DSC_0014BI tend to get this way—dark and violent—whenever the second digit of my birthday is a 9. Once the number officially becomes a 0, I settle down and stop threatening to hurt people. By the end of this month, my Bucket List might look a whole lot different than it does today.


So tell me, what’s on your Bucket List?