Thursday, June 26, 2008

Running! (Okay, jogging)

After a very long hiatus, I have decided to start jogging again. Last week I started running a mile on the rubberized track at a nearby college campus. A mile is a short distance but I thought it best to start slowly so I can really make this a habit. I did four days in a row! Now I am in Boston, but when I get back today I will start up again. Not sure how I will continue this new routine when I am out at Brushwood as it is hilly and tends to be very hot during the day, but I did used to go for jog-walk sessions there (before I broke my leg) so I will try it. I am eager to get back to it, actually.

I used to be a runner, you see.

Starting as high school was ending, all through college and graduate school and beyond, that is to say, from ages 17 through 35, I was a regular runner. At my peak I was running 5-6 miles every day. Not much compared to marathoners, but it kept me in very good condition. At one point in graduate school, when I had taken up smoking after a bad summer studying abroad, I was a jogger and a smoker! (William Hurt in Body Heat anyone?) Then, I started to get injuries. Not running-related ones: clumsy accidents that resulted in sprained ankles broken toes, etc. And then the running would stop, to maybe be replaced eventually by brisk walking, maybe careful jogging, hiking, cross-country skiiing and augmented with yoga and Nordic Trak. I always thought I'd get back to my regular habit of 3 miles a day, six days a week. Then I broke my leg in two places, requiring surgery. That was in 2004, and since then jogging has been only very tentative and brief, and only after a year and a half had passed. I hope I will be spared the early onset of arthritis, but this is always a danger with broken bones.

But I finally feel like my bones have fully healed, the occasional pain and swelling I get at the injury site is minimal (except in winter), and I am ready to add some high-intensity exercise to my life. The last couple years, commuting between Albany and Boston, I have found myself doing less walking just as a mode of travel. So I have added walking for exercise, plus my usual gardening activity, and also occasional use of my Nordic Trak. But it has not been enough. Damn this post-40 metabolism! I recently read about "postman's plateau" or something like that. It refers to the fact that postal carriers who get a fair amount of daily exercise (say, 3-4 miles of walking per day) reach a point where the activity becomes the norm for their body, and they start to put on weight. A sedentary person could add 3-4 miles of walking per day and drop pounds and firm up quickly; but poor postal carrier then has to add extra exercise, and usually of a much higher level of cardio intensity to see any difference.
I just read an article in The New Yorker by a Japanese novelist who wrote about running and writing. He said he was thankful he was someone who tends to put on weight because if he was naturally thin, he would not have started running and might be living a much less healthy life. That made a lot of sense. Some of the naturally thin people I know are not very healthy: they smoke, eat fatty foods, and are inactive. And when we get older and our metabolism slows down, we have to add new lifestyle habits to maintain our level of fitness.

I realized that the postman metaphor was where I was at. My daily walks, gardening, etc. which I considered part of an active lifestyle, were not intense enough to jump-start my metabolism. And despite enjoying the occasional challenge of fasting on fruit for a few days, I do not in general think dieting is a good way to lose weight (it lowers the metabolism). I just try to eat right as well as I can. Of course, I am sure I still eat too much of the wrong stuff, but I'm not going to become a vegetarian again. But despite trying to be healthy, I still managed to put on 15-20 pounds in the last 2 years. Hence, adding jogging back to my life.

I had forgotten how much I missed it. Of course, right now it is painful and horrendous. But I have missed the rhythmic, meditative quality it has, the raised amounts of energy it gives me, the satisfying muscle tightness in my legs. It will take a while but the raised levels of endorphins will kick in soon, too. They say you have to do something 21 times (or every day for 3 weeks) for it to become a habit. So I am working on jogging 4 days a week for the next month. If I keep that up until we leave for Brushwood, I will get myself some new shorts and a jog bra (my running wardrobe is pretty much non-existent right now). And if I keep it up until September, I will get new shoes. I have some walking shoes from New Balance that are decent and working for the moment, but a bit small (I got them on sale), so I want to get something better fitting and designed for running. Don't expect me to get matching outfits or anything! I used to run in polypropylene leggings in winter and nylon short shorts in summer, and gods help me, I used to jog in these heavy cotton tube tops I had in high school. They worked fine, then again my breasts were smaller then. Being older and heavier now, I need to be a bit more comfort and decorum in my gear.

Anyone else out there have experience of jogging or running after 40?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Blessings of the Summer Solstice!

Tonight at 8:59 pm EDT will be the summer solstice.

We've already had some very summer-like weather this year, temps in the 90s (even up to 103 in Boston!), so this weekend's chance of showers and cooler temperatures makes for a gentler experience of summer. Ah, summer! Cookouts and pagan festivals and bounteous flowers.

Of course this time of year also makes me recall fondly my times spent in England at this time of year, including the memorable trip with B. where we attended the first open summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge in more than a decade. We also went to a private sunrise ritual inside the stones with a druid group that reserved the space; we got to meet Emma Restall-Orr (aka Bobcat) and Greywolf. Also spent time in Banbury (where we attended a conference on sacred landscapes put on by ASLAN), including a night spent sleeping outdoors at the Rollright Stones (where they held a wonderful celebration with the Wild Hunt Morris and Damh the Bard performing) and Glastonbury, where we met some cool people at the King Arthur Pub (which has since been sold to a new owner).

This is one holiday I have not written about for the "You Call, We Call It" series on Witchvox...I guess this would have been a good year to do it. I also have not done one for Lammas, since there is virtually no observance of that day in the mundane calendar...Still, it would be good to have the series be complete.

Todd and I will be utilizing the energy, weaving our handfasting cords for our Big Day next month, and finally opening that nice bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne our realtor got us for a housewarming gift..and maybe eating a nice juicy steak.

Blessings of the summer sun to you and may your fires burn bright!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


The online poetry journal Goblin Fruit has agreed to publish my poem "Atlantis" in their Spring 2009 issue. They must be getting a lot of submissions if they're now accepting work so far in advance...the first poem I had published there was featured in a review of the website by the Endicott Studios blog which, sadly, has decided to cease publication...but they're keeping the archives active.

I am happy for this poem to find a home. An earlier version of it was published on which went belly-up several years ago. I have been reworking a couple of older poems lately, and also working on some new ones. Most of the new pieces are at the idea/scribbling stage so far, I hope to do be able to finish them this summer.

The title comes from a bottle of nail polish. I was bored at my office job, decided to do my nails. I was into blue and green polish then, which was very widely available in many many colors! Not so much now, I mainly see pinks and reds in stores. This color was a pale blue with a gold sheen. The idea for a few lines of verse hit me and I started writing there at my desk and finished it within a few days...I like it when the muse arrives at unexpected times and places.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Unicorn Deer!

I thought this was a charming story, about a deer with a single center horn who looks a bit like a unicorn. Interesting that it is a naturally occurring phenomenon, unlike the goats that Otter and Morning Glory Zell turned into unicorns by grafting their horn buds together when they were babies...

I was quite obsessed with unicorns when I was younger; of course they were very popular images in the 1980s an 1980s. But I recall having lots of books and illustrated calendars, etc. My mother made me a really nice statue in ceramics. The base is broken and Id like to find a way to fix it so I can display it.