I Just Crossed #5 off of My Bucket List!

My Bucket List

1. Attend the Kentucky Derby and wear a big hat.
2. Go to Rome, Italy.
3. Go to every major league ballpark and attend a game.
4. Zipline.
5. Run a 5K.
6. Have someone award me a big check (like the ones Ed McMahon awarded)
7. Go to Napa Valley.
8. Write a novel.
9. Write a best-selling novel.
10. Take all my daughters to Vegas for their 21st birthdays.
11.  Have dinner and drinks with the Swishers.

So, I finally made a bucket list about a year ago.  For the longest time, I only had ten items on the list, but then Nick and Joanna Swisher moved to town, and I am convinced we should be BFF’s.  These are items that I know will make me feel complete; they will make me feel accomplished; they are items that will make me feel alive.

This past Spring, after staring at the list for a year, I decided I needed to work toward crossing something off the list.  Many of my items require a certain monetary comfort that I do not feel at present.  However, a few do not.  The one that seemed the most attainable was to try to run a 5K.

I know, I know.  Those of you who followed “The Year of the Blog” know how much I have written about my detest of running.  I have berated the activity, chastised those with 26.2 stickers, and scoffed at anyone and everyone who has ever complained of shin splints.  Yet, something deep in my core kept speaking to me: You should try it!  You could do it!  You should run, too.

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Then in March, I saw an advertisement for The Color Run.  I had heard of it– it is an event where you get doused in colors as you run the course.  I looked at the gallery of pictures– the smiles and laughter on the runners’ faces, and I thought, Yes!  Yes!  If I have to run– I want it to be fun.  Of course, a race that totes itself “The Happiest 5K on the Planet” could not let me down?

I texted two of my friends, Amy and Tara.  Amy and Tara are marathon runners, yet I have never been intimidated by what they can do, and they have never made me feel ashamed for what I cannot.  On the contrary, for the past five years, these two friends have seen the potential in me.  They have seen my athletic abilities lying dormant, and they have wanted for me to accept a challenge.  I have felt like I have wanted to challenge myself.  However, to commit to running a 5K, I wanted their support; no, I needed it.   I texted that if they would sign up with me, I would run this 5K.  Within three days, we were all signed up.

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Perfect!  All I needed to do was to train!

I downloaded an ease into 5K program, and begrudgingly started to run.  The first few workouts were brutal.   I did not think I would ever be able to run for five minutes in a row, no less get myself to a point of running 3.2 miles.  How do people do it?  My legs hurt, my heart muscle burned, my breathing was so labored I could barely think.  Yes, in those first two weeks, I wanted to abandon running more than once, but I knew that I could not.  My friends were counting on me.

975061_10201639220808793_1871565541_nI trained and trained and trained, and before I knew it, Saturday June 8 was upon me!  I was about to race my first 5K!  I met the girls at the location, and I felt a little sick to my stomach.  Sure, I put a smile on my face and acted really excited to be apart of the group, but really, I felt like I do when I am standing in line for a roller coaster at Cedar Point.  I know it is not scary.  I know I should not be nervous, but I think, What the hell am I doing here? 

Standing with my friends, I felt miserable, even though music was blaring and 8000 other runners were cheering and having a good time.

My nerves only lasted for a few minutes, we were herded across the starting line, and I realized, I was doing it!  I was putting one foot in front of the other, and I was running.  I was running because I had trained to run.  I was running because I was accomplishing a goal.  I was running because 8000 other people were running, and I knew I wanted to keep up.

974157_10201639698380732_352866050_nIn the end, I fell behind my friends, but I knew that was all right.  They would reach the finish line before me, but the point was for me to finish.

When I finally did cross the finish line, they were waiting and cheering me on.  So was Tom.  He got up with me at 6AM and came to the race with me because he was proud of me for accomplishing this goal.  It took me almost forty minutes.  I was not fast.  I did not break any records.

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Yet, the momentum of the day and the accomplishment in itself was a life altering event.  I had an amazing time with my friends and husband.

More importantly, I am finally able to cross something off my bucket list: at 43 years old, I ran my first 5K!

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You Know What They Say, “You Are What You Eat.”

 

“You are what you eat;” that’s what they say, at least.  Yet, I never really took heed to what some consider an ominous warning.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have always watched what I have eaten.  I’m not a glutton.  I do not scarf down gallons and gallons of ice cream, nor do I over indulge in cookies or candies.  Nope.  I try to eat sensibly, and even though in the course of my lifetime, the food pyramid has been updated seven times, changed entirely in 2005, and then altered to “MyPlate” in 2011, I have tried to be sensible about my choices (Harvard School of Public Health).

Recently, however, I came across something startling that through me for a loop.

It is not uncommon knowledge that fast food isn’t good for you.  I know that.  You know that.  Who doesn’t know that?  Assuming we are intelligent human beings who will not eat fast food three times a day for thirty days and throw our bodies so out of whack that a doctor warns us we might die (If you haven’t seen SuperSize me, click the title and watch it, and you will know what I am talking about.), I have always felt like an occasional Burger King Chicken Sandwich or Big Mac is not that big of a deal.  Sure, they are chocked full of calories and fat grams, but I am not talking about eating said sandwiches every day.  I am talking about occasionally, and that means not even once a month.

Well, I thought it was all right and forgivable up until two weeks ago.  Two weeks ago, I walked into my friend’s classroom to ask her a question, and she had a McDonald’s bag on a chair near her desk.  The contents were exposed.  I looked down and I saw a small soda, a cheeseburger, and a small fry.

“What’s this?” I asked.  “Lunch?”  I giggled.  It was only 8:30 in the morning.

Her eyes widened.  I could tell she was excited I asked.  “Class,” she said to the room.  “Could anyone tell Mrs. Huffer why this is here?”

“You are what you eat,” one boy shouted from the third row.

I felt totally confused.  What is going on here.  Jen teaches English not health.  Why does she have McDonald’s in the room?

“Look at the date on the receipt,” she said to me.  I moved closer to the food and picked up the receipt: October 6, 2012.

I did a quick calculation. My mouth dropped open as I spun and looked at my friend.  “That can’t be real!” I said incredulously.  You should have seen it.  It looked virtually perfect.  The fries had not shriveled.  The bread was intact.  The meat patty seemed fine.  I did not detect even the faintest odor of decay.  I did not detect the faintest sight of mold.

“It’s real.  I read an article about fast food a few months ago and decided to do my own experiment.”  By this time every single eye in the room was staring at that bag of food.  “I have this here to remind these students, ‘You are what you eat.’   Food that does not decompose or rot cannot be good for you.”

I left her room without even asking her what I came to find out.  I was flabbergasted.  I was disgusted.  I was horrified.  Not only do I indulge in fast food, but so do my children.  When on a road trip or at the mall, when everyone complains they are hungry, the easiest way to satisfy hunger has always been fast food.  Oh, it’s every once in a while, I told myself.  I justified it.

But what was I justifying?

I came home and told my girls about her experiment and they told me to take a picture.  I had every intention to do just that, but wouldn’t you know, Jen threw out the meal because she was going on maternity leave for the rest of the school year.  Needless to say, if you Google Image “McDonald’s Meals Do Not Decompose”, dozens of images will appear.

Image borrowed from "Can a McDonald's Burger Last Forever?"

Image borrowed from an article titled, “Can a McDonald’s Burger Last Forever?”

 

The girls and I Googled it, and they were so horrified, even Lizzie who loves Chicken Nuggets, said she did not want to eat fast food anymore.

As we perused the images, Carson added on, “Even the supposed healthy food has to have chemicals.  I mean, in a Happy Meal, you get apple slices in a bag, and they don’t brown.  When you cut us an apple, Mom, if we do not eat it, it is brown in less than an hour!”

She’s right.  My friend’s tiny experiment was a wake up call.   Fast food is officially on the forbidden foods list in our household, and as for the present, no one seems to miss it!

 

Random Thoughts Day 8: Working Toward Crossing Something Off of My Bucket List

Examining my bucket list, I realized that I will never die because I haven’t really accomplished anything on it.  That’s the way it works, right?  It’s like a bank account.  As long as you have checks in your checkbook, you have money, right?

Okay, I’m kidding on both accounts, but I do have a few items I would like to cross off this year, one of which is “To run a 5K.”  The only problem with accomplishing this goal is that I hate running.  As I have said time and again, I find running pointless.  “Where are you all running?  Why can’t you just walk or ride a bike or take a cab, for that matter?”

However, most of my friends are runners.  These people are not teenagers who run because they have nothing better to do.  They are not twentysomethings who do not yet have the responsibilities of a family.  No, my friends are in their thirties and forties.  Most of them work full-time; they all have families, and they all find time to run.

They love it.  They run for fun; they run for fitness; they run for the adrenaline rush of a race.  I listen to them talk about the endorphins, and I think, “I like endorphins.  I like the feeling when I have accomplished something.”

Then, I look at their bodies.  Not one of my runner friends has a  droopy or saggy bottom.  None of my runner friends have flabby legs.  They are lean and strong.  I want to be lean and strong.  I want firm legs and a taut and tight derriere.

So what is a girl to do?  I forked out $43.00 to sign up for the Color Run on June 8.  I am monetarily committed.  Now, I have to run.

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008Three weeks ago, I went and bought myself a new pair of shoes.  I always find that when starting an activity, I have to buy something new to help with my motivation.  Next, I reloaded Ease into 5K into my iPod.  It’s a nine week training session, in which the runner is supposed to run three days a week and work up to the 3.2 miles.  I am trying to run four days a week and get done a little faster.  I want to be at three miles by June 1st.

To sweeten the pot, last week Carson decided that she wanted to run it with me.  Like her mother, Carson is not a runner, but she likes a challenge.  I bought her a new pair of running shoes, downloaded Ease into 5K into her iPod, and we are running together three days a week.

Sadly, when I went to register her for the race, it was already sold out.  I haven’t broken the news to her yet because I do not want to lose my running buddy.  Selfish?  Probably, but I figure once she gets halfway through the training, I will break the news to her and we will choose another 5K to run.

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Yesterday, it was gorgeous here in Cleveland.  We went to the Metroparks, and we ran.  I’m still unsure whether I like it, but I’m committed in more ways than one.