Pendulous in the Park

Those of you who know me personally might remember that at the beginning of this year, I decided for the first time in my life to get in shape. Properly. Gym and all.

It was a hilarious adventure, but I gave it 100% effort and was pleased to feel stronger and more alert. However, a couple of health hiccups derailed my progress and things had to go quiet for a bit while those were addressed.

A few months on, I am picking up the baton again, freshly inspired by Gail, who sets a fantastic example. Also, going away to Fiji last month was another kick in the motivator pants. We made some lovely kiwi friends, one of whom was a personal trainer.
We would stand in the ankle-deep water and chat while watching the kids swim, and I would find it hard to drag my envious eyes away from her smoothly sculpted, bikini-clad form. I would catch a glimpse of my own generously rounded shape, discreetly covered up in board shorts and tee shirts (not that I have ever hankered after a bikini - sun damage alone keeps me conservative!) and wince in shame.
She squeezed twice as much out of her holiday than I did, although admittedly did not have pre-schoolers (and that, my dears, is the secret to vanishing sanity). She would get up at five am and hustle the whole family down the gym at dawn, whereupon her children would happily paddle about on the sand, or read, while Mum and Dad pumped weights and leapt about on the machines.
I however, lay like a water buffalo under the sheets, terrified to breath loudly lest I wake one of the offspring we shared our room with. On a couple of occasions, if Greg hadn't beaten me to it, I was able to squeeze out of a crack in the sliding door (as water buffalos do) and walk on the beach. Slowly though, as the rocks were sharp and I was usually barefoot, er, hoofed.

Despite what it sounds like, more than appearance is the desire to feel good, to wake up with energy and to keep being active for the sake of my kids and my future health. That was enough to see me scrabbling about in the dark for my running shoes early yesterday morning. In the quiet half dark I grabbed a bra, singlet and exercise pants. Creeping out into the drizzle, I left a note on the bench, scribbled onto the back of a paper bag. 'Gone for a walk in the rain'.

Off I went, moving limbs unaccustomed to activity and feeling jerky and uncoordinated. One of my problems is that I have very stretchy ligaments, due to oestrogen dominance. This means that the high arches in my feet keep collapsing and this makes my calf muscles tense to compensate. In turn, this pulls apart the muscle running down the shin and I get excruciating shin splints that make me stagger, despite excellent, fitted footwear.

As you know, we live on the boundary of a park fit for a King. Actually I would not be surprised to see God himself wandering through the majesty of the rising halls of oak and bough. The lines of meadow in morning dew and the slant of the sun upon the matchstick bars of fence made music in my head, and I plodded happily on, breathing in the beauty about me. It is a popular place for joggers and walkers, and after warming up I threw all sense to the wind and began to run, prodded into competative action by being overtaken by nimble granny effortlessly speeding past. Shortly after that my fleece jacket was stripped off and tied about my waist. I walked for a bit, ran for a bit. It was when a passing biker did a double take at me, nearly undoing his vertical experience, that I began to contemplate my position.

Sadly in the half dark while goping for an outfit, good sense did not prevail. I had chosen a non-sports type bra and had some wild action happening in that department, if you get my drift. In addition to this shameful state of affairs, my singlet top happened to be flesh pink. It looked for all the world like I was jauntily jogging topless through one of Auckland's prestigious parks.

Okay, maybe not jauntily, because there was still the sad case of the agonising legs, but I was looking up and the artist in me, the child in me, the worshipper in me was engaged in admiring a creation beyond my dreams. I went through glades where pidgeons, pheasants and chickens were pecking for their breakfast. Over hills that overlooked sunlit cityscapes. Passed some of the most interesting people, some of whom made me chuckle in my head. Through gates, over stiles and finally, a wet waddle through the cow patties back to my own back garden.

I probably need not tell you how I am feeling now. But let us just say that my fingers on the keyboard and my raising eyebrows are the only movements I can make without a sharp intake of breath. We attempted some Christmas shopping at a large nearby mall after my Ralk/Wun, without a wheelchair for me. Needless to say, the crowds and the fact that malls hold no scope for the imagination, leave me with no progress in this department.

But I fell into bed last night content, many parts of me aching, but another, bigger part giving thanks for a body that actually moves, unlike many others who could only wish for such a priviledge.

My eight year old has been commissioned with tracking my progress on a weekly basis. She wrote down the numbers that the scale flashed alarmingly at us, and the date, down under an impressive title;

Diary of A Cool Mum (fat one too).

Gail  – (December 13, 2009 at 8:43 AM)  

Oh so proud of you Ames!!!! And trying hard to stifle a giggle at the image of a topless you running through the park. I'm sure the cows there have seen it all before :)

And A Cool Mum you are!!! Keep it up - looking forward to hearing about and seeing your progress!!!!

Sammy  – (December 13, 2009 at 1:50 PM)  

You gave me such a good laugh! I thought I was the only person who did exercise looking like that! I generally pray no-one sees me or makes eye contact with me while walking. I usually look like the main character from "where the wild things are"....

Jules  – (December 13, 2009 at 6:30 PM)  

I've just found your blog and enjoyed this post so much! I'm like Sammy when I can be bothered to go for a walk in the morning, i.e. hoping no one makes eye contact. Usually because I've been too lazy to do my hair (which is tailbone length) and I've still got just-woken-up-creases under my eyes.

Hope to enjoy reading more of your blog, Jules

Dawn  – (December 14, 2009 at 7:33 AM)  

Hilarious Amy!! Keep up the good work - I'm off to swimming this morning, it's a little easier on these old bones :). I am contemplating a "running for non-runners" course at some stage, but haven't committed yet. I'm very proud of you!!

electro  – (December 14, 2009 at 2:02 PM)  

you might want to try out the vibrams or nikre free as well.. here's a decent comparison

Erin  – (December 14, 2009 at 4:14 PM)  

Thoroughly enjoyable read, Amy. :)

I just got the book, Slow Fat Triathlete, and am enjoying it so far. It's for all of us who are mentally slow and fat, whether or not our bodies sport a similar appearance. (Which, sadly, mine does.)

Simoney  – (December 15, 2009 at 6:52 PM)  

Wow, I am impressed Amy :)
I would be like you, aching everywhere if I attempted to go faster than a swift waddle. Maybe we can hook up sometime? I need to get more energy too :)

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