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Spring is for Muscles


It’s spring!  Inspiration runs wild in the spring, bringing to mind a favorite quote (from facebook, of course):

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This spring, I am on a fitness craze.  This is nothing new… it happens every year.  First, let me tell you that I am no athlete.  I am surrounded by people with semi-surreal talent in sports and fitness, people who know their VO2 max, bike racers, professional climbers, skiers, lifestyle types who live and breathe on a higher fitness plane.

I am not one of them.

I struggle for every extra O2 molecule in my bloodstream.  I run 12-minute miles. But the happiest times in my life have come when I feel the strongest, so in the spring, when the winds of change blow and the hungry creatures of the forest come out, I go out too.

Last spring I signed up for a half triathlon.  That’s a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run.  I spent the first half of the year clawing my way out of a massive fitness chasm, the result of four years of maintaining a resting heart rate after having my daughter.  I squeaked through the triathlon in September.  It was a major accomplishment.

This spring I’ve decided to focus on my favorite activity, trail running.  There is nothing so primal and satisfying as loping through the trees like a wolf on the hunt.  For me, this feeling lasts for about five minutes, and then I am myself again, the dork in the visor, groveling and sweating and wishing I had a snack.  But that wild woods feeling is enough to keep me hitting the trails, at least for a couple months in the spring.

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My running playground

Though I spent too much of the winter hibernating, this spring I started in much better condition than last.  I’m up to 8 miles on the trails.  And… there is more.

I have almost finished Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred.

That’s right, I have almost finished Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred. For the unenlightened, The Shred is a workout video series by Jillian Michaels, Biggest Loser television show host, designed to get you Ripped and Shredded in 30 days.  When I finish The Shred, I am going to do it again. I am in love!  Though I have lost neither a single pound nor fraction of an inch, The Shred is getting me strong and it makes me happy.  The Shred has also inspired me to start working on pull-ups again.

A long time ago, I spent my mornings walking up hills carrying heavy loads and charging back down again.  I was a paragliding instructor, and I carried the gear up and then raced after my students as they took their first moon-walking flights over the rocky training slope.  Then I spent my afternoons flying thermals and perhaps heading out cross-country with my advanced students.  It was hard work.

One day, without ever having done a pull-up before, I jumped onto a monkey bar and did nine of them.  Let it be known that I was in the presence of 1) a world-famous paragliding legend (male) who challenged me to try a pull-up, and 2) a seriously hot, immaculately tanned Swedish blond (female) in spandex who had just shown she could NOT do a pull-up.  I had a lot of motivation. I did nine, off the couch, just like that. I was strong. What a great feeling.

It is now 15 years later and I am 20 pounds heavier.  I’ve spent a lot of those years sitting in a chair. I’ve done some running, some swimming, and some very serious yard work, but it’s not the same. The 30-day Shred got me eyeballing the pull-up rings that taunt me from just behind my jewelry bench.

“You were strong, once.” 

So, halfway through the Shred, I hopped on those rings and I did a pull-up.  Victory! I am on my way to being strong again. Thank you, Jillian.  During my pull-up workouts, this is what I look like:

Ha!  After giggling about that video for days, I must admit that I find the woman inspiring. Yesterday I was at the playground with my daughter and there was a bar.  How hard could it be?  I removed my six-inch heels, tossed my hair in the wind, looked around to make sure nobody was watching, and tried to do a muscle up. I just about yanked my arms off.

I did not muscle up.

Stay tuned, folks.  When I can do a muscle-up, I am making a video.

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