FITNESS FOR OLD PEOPLE: FEATS OF STRENGTH
We're talking about getting fit in our—ahem—late thirties and early forties. This is the real shit. Don’t expect bikini selfies. We’re not doing P90X. No protein shakes. We’re just a couple adult people trying to create something workable in our lives so we don’t croak too early. Here’s Part 1 if you need to catch up. Or jump right in for—
PART 2: FEATS OF STRENGTH
Adrienne: Jeremy! In the last two weeks we both did things we never ever EVER thought we could do! I rode 100 miles on a bike in the North Shore Century and you ran 13 miles in blazing heat at the Chicago Half Marathon! I MEAN WHAT. Honestly, I still can’t believe we did it. How do you feel?
Jeremy: HOLY. LORD. I can’t even pretend to be coy about it. I feel like a MF champion. I just said to Andy…I can’t believe it happened, it feels like a weird fever dream now. I trained my ass off and then I just fucking did it. BUT LIKE…it was so hard I think my body is trying to forget it. The act itself was hard, but the heat yesterday was like…WHOA. People were passing out and shit. I’ve never been so hot and disgusting and DETERMINED in my life. It was like I was living inside a video game for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. That’s small cheese though compared to riding a bike for ONE HUNDRED MILES. What does that even mean, how did you feel? Tell me everything.
AG: I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS. And I think that was the most surprising part? I had no idea that it would be so emotional. It makes me feel like sort of a spazz, but no lie, as soon as we crossed the finish line (:::nine hours later:::) I started crying. And then I cried the whole way home and I cried the next day too? I trained all summer with an amazing group of people (shout out Team Tuff Muff!) and I just felt so much love and gratitude for them. They really brought me from a place of never riding a road bike (I had to practice in a parking lot when we started in June) to riding 100 miles in one day. And they never made me feel like an asshole for being the slowest or weakest.
But also, I think I was crying because I felt both really proud of myself and also really vulnerable? I truly didn’t know if i could do it and I’ve never ever thought of myself as an athlete. The weird vulnerable feeling lasted for a couple of days like I was really connected to my inner child who always sucked at sports, lol. What about you, did you cry???
JO: Did I cry. I cried when it started. I cried when I saw a man doing the race in a wheelchair. I cried when I first saw people with signs cheering us on. I cried when I got a glimpse of how gorgeous the city of Chicago is when you see it from the south side. I cried at the halfway mark. I cried once because someone handed me a cup of ice. I cried when another dude handed me some magic Gatorade goo shit. I cried at mile 13. I cried when I saw the finish line. I cried when the magic woman who put that giant medal around my neck. ...and then I cried when I saw my husband. BUT LIKE JUST A LITTLE YOU GUYS BECAUSE I DIDNT WANNA GET DEHYDRATED IT WAS FUCKING HOT. I was more emotional that I expected to be for sure. It’s like I was strangling all those mean voices in my head that have told me NO about … not just running … about EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE. It was overwhelming. I legit feel that anything is possible now.
AG: SO DO I! And I think that’s the most surprising part. And let’s be real, all sorts of people already knew this shit. Hahahahahaha, I don’t know what we were doing while people were running marathons and battling their demons. Probably watching the Real Housewives. But completing the 100 miles made me feel really fucking strong, capable, proud. And so much of it was about mind control! It was so hard. Like after the first 20 miles it was hard as fuck. I was the slowest of my group and my inner mean Adrienne was like, fuck it stop, they all think you suck, and saying all sorts of crazy mean shit, and like beating that bitch back to keep going was a lesson. And like the last 20 miles i just focused on chewing a piece of gum. For real. I was like, just chew this gum and think about nothing else.
JO: THE MIND GAMES. I think that is one of my biggest takeaways not only from running a half marathon, but running and exercise in general. Because you know what? I FUCKING HATE IT. I can’t pretend that I’m busting out of my panties to throw down some mileage, but I do it because it’s good for me and I can see and feel that. The way I’ve been able to overcome the negative self talk is by wrestling those negative voices to the ground. Sometimes I can shut the voices down, and sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I’m like whatever I can’t make it through 3 miles today I gotta stop. During the race I started out just saying everything is OK and you just have to finish. Then it became OK if you need to you can walk after 6 miles, no 8 miles, no 12 miles … NO BITCH YOU’RE GOING ALL THE WAY. I don’t know how that works, or what makes me more or less able to win or not on any given day, but it feels incredible when I do. One thing that really kept me going on Sunday was when some kid handed me a cup of ice around mile 11 or whenever. It was so hot that I just held the ice. That cold ass ice in my hand was a different kind of pain, and I just focused on that rather than the heat, or how my hips were starting to hurt, or how I had 4 more miles to go. This is making me sound insane. LOL.
BUT. There’s a life lesson here about doing the thing you think you cannot do. You’ve got to focus on the task, on the work, and hog tie those negative thoughts. Why? Because you really can achieve your goals, and you’re probably the only thing standing in your way.
AG: That’s definitely true. Just one foot in front of the other, putting in the work. But like anything, the lesson fades. How do we keep it alive? Do you have to run a marathon? Do I have to climb a mountain? Do we need a new goal? I mean WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO.
Also, can I talk about my body a little? So like I’ve wanted to be skinnier for like….a while. Like years. And so I bought my Peloton and that was a primary motivator. And when I joined the bike team, it was still a primary motivator. I was like, I’m going to be so skinny after this!!! And guess what, like that didn’t really happen. I know you experienced a lot of weight loss (why do men get everything???) but I would say that the changes in my body have been more subtle, sort of toning up, some new muscles. But like midway through the bike training, I was super mad / bummed out that I hadn't dropped 40 lbs. I was like, wtf, I’m riding over 100 miles a week and nothing’s happening! But somehow after I crossed that finish line, I couldn’t care less what my body looked like anymore, I’m only interested in what it can do. And dear god, please let this feeling last forever! (It's not going to, I'll be back in the hell of American womanhood soon enough.) But right now I’m like interested in pushing myself to try new athletic things and surprising myself. And just being proud of old girl and what she can do.
Also, can we talk a bit about this idea of “being an athlete”? I never ever have thought of myself as an athlete, in fact, probably my whole life the information has been that I sucked at sports / balance / breathing. I couldn’t run a mile in gym because I would get a stitch in my side. I remember there were these boxes in gym class that got progressively taller and you were supposed to be able to jump on top of them from the ground (wtf, am I a kangaroo??) and I can still hear the gym teacher yelling “C’MON GUNN!!!!!” and then being like majorly disgusted when I couldn’t do it.
So like, are we athletes now? Can I forget about all my prior sports-related humiliations?
JO: I feel you dude. I’m not sure how to keep it alive either, but I’m already planning to run the half marathon again next year. I mean I have to run that thing in weather that is appropriate for LATE SEPTEMBER. Maybe it’ll be in the 60s this time instead of HOT AF? I’ve also randomly seen a couple of race notices and was like…I need to not sign up for everything. Hi. Clearly I’m obsessive compulsive. I’m not sold on doing a marathon yet. I might be too OCD for that. I know how hard I worked on getting in shape for the half marathon, if I went for the full…I’d have to quit my life.
The body thing. Man. That’s hard. I would say I ran a couple months before I saw anything happen. Though I also changed my diet a lot. I was sorta a vegetarian and then I full on committed to it after running for a while and that definitely helped me lose weight I think? Not because being a vegetarian does anything to your weight necessarily, but I do think that becoming a vegetarian forced me to make healthier choices all around. Another thing? I love to drink. I’d be drunk right now if I could be (but I’m at work and I have to drive home and shit). I cut that way back because guess what doesn’t feel great to do when you have to get up and run 6 miles? DRINKING. There was a time not all that long ago that I’d have 6 or 7 drinks if I were out drinking with friends. I don’t do that anymore. I’m on the edge of quitting all together because I’d rather run frankly. Once I cut that back I SHRANK. None of this was the original goal for me. I just wanted to feel better and avoid high blood pressure and diabetes, but I can’t lie…I like weighing 35 pounds less than I did when I started.
I had a thought while being surrounded by runners the other day. It was a sort of AHA-Moment. There were people all over and they were short and tall and thick and thin and old an young and fat and not and everything. I thought…I’ve been lying to myself forever. Whatever I thought I had to have to make this happen for myself has nothing to do with what my body looks like, or what anyone else’s body looks like. You just have to decide you want to do this and you do it. These people aren’t special, being an athlete isn’t a special thing. It’s a choice.
I hated gym growing up, my dad always tells a story to my entire family about how I flunked PE in Jr High. I got a D, whatever, Dad. I was so ashamed and hated myself so much because of what I thought being an athlete or being athletic meant. That idea that those people, that athletes are better than you somehow? It’s all bullshit. Because you can do whatever you want, if you put in the work.
I think what I’m saying here is YES we are athletes. SUCK ON THAT.
AG: YOU FLUNKED GYM??? You must tell that story now. (Also, I signed up for the bowling section in gym to avoid any athletic activity. I was a good bowler. Always been good at bar sports. Lol.)
JO: The teacher was a jerk. I didn’t know how to play anything. I still to this day hate games. I was an only child until I was 9…I don’t wanna play games bitch I make up games for your dumb ass to play…that’s always been my thought. LOL. I didn’t participate. So I got a D. I didn’t want to play basketball or dodgeball or any of that crap. I just walked the track everyday until class was over. That got him to leave me alone and I didn’t have to feel dumb about not being able to make a basket or dodge the ball or run fast enough or whatever.
AG: Little kid Jeremy is my hero. And so is adult Jeremy! You worked really hard and you definitely inspired me as we went along. I hope we can hold on to this feeling of accomplishment and motivation until all of our damn dreams come true!