When I read or hear news confirming the possibility of preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s I am renewed with hope! The idea that my future can be influenced by the choices I make today is pretty powerful and it helps me stay the course of being an Alzheimer’s Warrior.
That’s why I love this recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune titled “10 Ways To Keep Your Brain Sharp.” It offers clear and simple ways to love your brain, with exercise being the top two. GET MOVING is #1 and says, “If you do only one thing to keep your brain young, exercise.” This is my motivation — nothing has given me a better reason to lace up and break a sweat. PUMP IRON is #2 on the list. I don’t pump iron. Yet.
The bonus? A healthy brain is just ONE of the benefits of following this list.
The 10K almost took me out this morning, but I persevered and came down the stretch under my goal time with a 1:08:45 finish. I have never been more grateful for a finish line. Things were humming along pretty smoothly until I hit mile 5 and the thought of walking started creeping in on me. But I decided before I started, that stopping was NOT an option. So I hung on, and even managed to pick up my pace on the last mile when I saw how close I was getting to my 1:10 goal.
Here are some photos of our morning from my generous and beautiful friend Laurie Orr who graciously agreed to get up early on a Saturday morning to capture this event. Thank you!
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival 10K
May 5th, 2012 Winchester, VA
Dear 10K Course,
I’ll admit it. You intimidated me after my practice run and I was a little nervous when I arrived at your gates this morning. But I tried to keep calm by reminding myself that I was in charge, not you. I had my run in my head, and I wasn’t going to falter. Oh sure, I know things got a little shaky around mile 5 — but you never had the upper hand. Because what you don’t know is the level of determination that resides in this 49 year old body — and I was determined that you would not win this one. So thank you 10K Course, you did your best today, but you helped me learn that I can do anything I set my mind to.
You would think going from 2 miles to 3 miles would be easy enough. It’s not. It’s almost like starting over. It’s how I felt going from 0 to 1 mile. The wall is hit, my body is done. Even as I write this, I’m feeling a little embarrassed because I’m still talking about RUNNING ONLY 3 MILES!
Sheesh! How hard can it be?!
I used to think that everyone could run 3 miles, except me. Kind of like the way I think everyone knows their times tables through the twelves except me. I mean, I know them, but I need extra time with the middle 8’s and 9’s because I was probably daydreaming about Shaun Cassidy that week in 4th grade, and I’ve struggled with them ever since. I’ve come to find out that not everyone can run 3 miles. Why? Because it friggin far! Don’t believe me? Set your odometer the next time you’re in the car. Find a landmark, and start counting.
Now imagine running that!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m cutting myself a break lately. The idea that I “should” be able to run 3 miles has changed to, “Holy shit this is hard! If I can do this, I can do just about anything!”
So yeah, I’m doing my half ass training and 2.5 miles feels like my first mile.
3.1 is in sight, the only question is will I finish ugly or strong?
I agreed, on a handshake, to run a 5K; and I have less than 3 months to do it.
I know. Three months is a long time to train to run 3.1 miles. I get it. But I am new to this running thing, and for someone who can barely run 1 mile, 3 miles may as well be across the country. I am weak and out of shape and have almost no muscle tone to speak of. Can you say FLABBY? Oh sure, I exercise here and there — take walks, ride my bike, lift groceries, lug laundry; the basics. But to exercise to exhaustion? No. Not really.
I used to think that I didn’t sweat when I exercised. The truth is, I never worked hard enough. Oh sure, I’d break a sweat. But it never got in my eyes and rolled down my body like the Mississippi River.
I can sweat! And. I. Get. Soaked. Who knew?
This running (and sweating) thing is new territory. It’s exhilarating and satisfying and hard work. I don’t have a training plan and am winging it instead. Why? Because I don’t like following rules. And because I figured I could run every other day and gradually extend my distance until I hit 3.2. Simple enough, right?
Jake fell in love with running a few years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. He can run 40 or 50 miles a week with his eyes closed. Well, not really. But HE CAN RUN. Me on the other hand, I enjoy WATCHING him run. And feeding him when he’s done.
I am not a runner.
Then one day almost a year ago, upon returning from yet another run, my son asked, “so what are you doing mom?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, for exercise.”
“Nothing…?” (Said in a guilty, I know I should be doing something voice.)
He asked, “Why not?”
My stupid answer, “I don’t know.”
Then my son asked, “Why don’t you start running?”
“Me run?? I don’t know.” Then something came over me. I don’t know if it was a need to impress my runner son, or that it felt like a dare, but he was right, and he called me out. I was a flabby weak thing and I needed to do something. So without thinking it through, I said “Okay.”
I started “running” (if you can call it that) in May 2011. It was brutal. Pure torture. Running was so uncomfortable for me that I was honestly nervous about having a heart attack. I couldn’t run a mile and barely half a mile. During one of these grueling, huffing and puffing one mile crawls with my (by now) son the coach, I somehow agreed to run a 5K by the end of summer. I don’t recall how this happened, but I remember we shook hands on it. And there it was. I just agreed to run 3.1 miles in a few months. I must have been oxygen deprived. I don’t go back on handshakes, so backing out or giving up was not an option. I will do this even if it kills me!
Dear God, please don’t let me die running. Thank you.