I Want To Be A Runner (Again)

A year or so ago I stopped running. I had been running 5-6 miles each time I ran back then, which was 3-4 times a week. But the reason why I stopped was because I’d had surgery and it took another 5-6 months to heal up. By the time I was healed up I was lazy and not as interested in it as before (I was also a 40% worried that I’d hurt myself too much if I ran again [if I wasn’t completely healed up], but I was 60% lazy – seriously, who wants to go outside running in the elements?).

Recently I made a strong decision that I was going to start running again, and I haven’t let myself back out of that promise. Mainly it was because I seem to be gaining the weight back that I lost while I was at my peak of running and I haven’t exactly changed my diet to reflect my lack of exercise. So, I’m basically forcing myself to start running again because I want to eat more – obviously this is a serious reason.

But dear God this is hard. I used to run 5-6 miles no problem and now I’m struggling through my 1 mile run. The speed I lack doesn’t really annoy me, but my Fitness Pal (an app that tracks my exercise and calories) seems to not be impressed with me when I run a mile without stopping. I’ll look at my app and see that it has posted on my news feed that I “walked at a fast pace” in the time I took for me to go a mile. “Walked at a fast pace”? Screw you Fitness Pal. I totally ran. We can’t all be fast runners.

Not only am I dealing with a passive aggressive Fitness Pal app, I’m also remembering starting to run again for the first time in ages really sucks. It is hard, I get tired very quickly, and I know I look like I’m dying. Here’s what usually happened when I start out on a run:

  • 10 secs in: This is great. This feels great. This is going to be a great run.
  • 30 secs in: I’m tired.
  • 1:00 mins: Oh God I’m tired.
  • 1:30 mins: Why did I think this was a good idea?
  • 1:35 mins: What was I thinking?
  • 2:oo mins: What the fuck was I thinking?
  • 3:00 mins: *gasping breaths and a slow shuffle as I keep going*
  • 5:00 mins: I want to stop. I want to stop. I want to stop.
  • 5:30 mins: I can’t stop. I won’t stop. I can’t stop. I won’t stop.
  • 6:00 mins: I want unhealthy food. Can’t stop. I want unhealthy food. Can’t stop.
  • 7:oo mins: Uuuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhh.
  • 8:00 mins: That walker just passed me.
  • 10:00 mins: Now those two elderly walkers just freaking passed me.
  • 11:00 mins: NO! I will not let this walker pass me! Speed up!
  • 11:01 mins: I. Am. Strong. And. Fast. And. Running.
  • 11:10 mins: Oh fuck it, just pass me. I know you’re walking faster than I’m running.
  • 13:00 mins: Keeping going. Got to keep going. I’m too far away from home now, so I can’t stop.
  • 14:00 mins: Almost done. Almost there.
  • 15:00 mins: Almost a mile….Almost did it…Little further….little longer!
  • 17:00 mins: yes….Yes….YES!
  • 1 mile mark reached: I did it! Oh God I can’t breathe! *gasping*

After I Have Caught My Breath…

  • 1:00 min after run: That felt amazing! I feel great! YES! I can’t wait to do it again!

Running sucks at the beginning, in the middle, and I tiny bit at the end. For me, runner’s high doesn’t happen until after the run is over. Once I completed my goal I feel amazing, strong, and have an overwhelming feeling of positive energy. It’s that feeling, that amazing, positive feeling, that keeps me going outside and doing my best.

And it’s kind of weird that I mainly get this feeling after I force myself to do this incredibly hard and draining activity. Runner can we weird, amazing people. It’s one of the reasons I wish runners where more recognized in our society. It takes a lot of mental power to go out for a run when you know it’ll be tough for most of the time.

But the thought of the unhealthy food I can eat with a clear conscience on the weekend helps too.

I Am A Veterinarian’s Worst Nightmare

This starts off sad, but does have a hopeful/happy ending (depending on who went to the vet I suppose).

Not long ago my mom’s cat, Silver, died. It’s been really hard on her since she loved that cat. He was her cat. The cat she got to replace me, her only child, when I went off to college. And while that cat and I didn’t see eye-to-eye (possibly because I would sneak up behind him, poke his side, and say “Kitty!” really loudly), I was sad he was gone. I was even more heartbroken for my mom. Luckily he went quickly with little pain, but he went so quickly that no one really had the chance to brace themselves (as what sometimes happens in these cases).

Because of the suddenness of Silver’s death I quickly made an appointment for my 10+ year old cat, Arwen. Arwen is my cat. My shadow. My constant companion. When I saw that little black kitten in the shelter’s kitten playpen I had to have her. And thinking about Silver made me worry about losing my cat as well.

There seemed to be nothing wrong with Arwen (besides a stuffed up nose that made her spew snot everywhere when she sneezed), but I wanted a doctor to tell me she was okay. This was the same veterinarian office my mom went to so they understood my worry.

But this also marked a new point in my life because this was the first time I took Arwen to the vet on my own. You may wonder how a person almost 30 years old managed to do that, but it’s mainly because when I did take Arwen I was worried about her and needed the emotional support. My mom had actually been a great buffer while at the vet because I am basically a helicopter parent at the pediatrician. I’m the type of “parent” who asks and prods when it comes to their kids, and the doctor just sits there thinking, “Damn. Stop asking questions.” When my mom went with me before she was able to interrupt me so I wouldn’t spend so much time asking so many freaking questions. Logically I knew she was right about calming down, but this is my baby. (And my emotions always win over my head anyways.)

So, when the vet walked in with his assistant, I picked Arwen up, put her on the table, and launched into this (unprompted) speech:

“So my mom’s cat, Silver, you may know about him, he died last week from cancer. I’m his owner’s daughter. Silver and Arwen weren’t litter mates but they lived together for years, and I just want to make sure Arwen is okay. Not that she could catch cancer from Silver, but I do want her looked over. She seems healthy. She’s pooping and peeing regularly. Poops every other day and pees a lot every day. She doesn’t eat much, never really has been interested in food, but I leave out dry food all the time and give her wet food every night. Most of that is gone by the morning – the wet food, I mean. She’s also had the same personality recently: playing and cuddling all the same. She does seem to get stuffy noses and colds a lot. Her snot ranges from light green to clear, and I know this because when she sneezes snot goes everywhere. These colds and stuffy noses happen once every 1-2 months. But other than the stuffy noses and colds, she seems healthy.”

By the end of my speech I realized that the vet, his assistant, and my cat were all looking at me in shock. Their faces all collectively saying, “Holy shit, what was that?”

“So yeah,” I said, glancing away from them and eyeing the floor, “That’s it. I just need to know she’s not…um, dying. Dying soon.”

It was silent for a moment. It was probably only a second but it felt like 5 minutes. After that second of silence I couldn’t take it anymore and observed, “That was a lot.”

“Well,” the vet said and seemed to be finding the right words to express his thoughts, but all that came out was “…yeah. Let’s…let’s just check Arwen out, okay?”

I watched anxiously as he felt of her body, listened to her heart, and looked in her eyes and ears. All the while I’m wondering What does he see? What does he think? What’s he doing?

But embarrassment kept me silent and when they took her out into the clinic to draw some blood for tests, I thumped my head onto the examination table. I reached for my phone and texted one of my friends who also has cats:

Totally just went helicopter parent at the veterinarian’s office. I think I embarrassed my cat too.

By that time the vet had come back with Arwen I had gotten a text back saying, “Dear god, your mom let you go alone?” My habit of asking too many questions at the doctor is legendary.

But my anxiety bounced back because the vet hadn’t spoken in 5 seconds, so I gasped and asked“Oh my gosh, is everything okay?”

“Yeah,” the vet said slowly, “we just drew some blood, so it’ll be a wek before the results come in.”

The vet began to talk about what he thought was wrong with her in regards to her constant stuffy noses and what he prescribed. He suggested a shot that would help her clear up an infection in the nasal cavity.

“Will it reduce her life and kill her?” I immediately ask.

That was not the question the vet was expecting and did a double take. “What? No. It should help clear up her nose.”

“Okay,” I said brightly, “let’s do it!”

Once he had given her the shot I began my next question:“Any side effects or – ”

“Nope,” he says quickly, obviously done with this appointment, “She’ll just sleep all day.”

When I got back into the car I look over at Arwen, who was in her pink cat carrier on the passenger seat.

“So, that went well,” I say.

She puffed up and glared at me.

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I tried to get a picture of her bald spot on her throat (where they shaved her to get a blood sample). She was not amused.

UPDATE: The veterinarian’s office called not that long ago to tell me that all of Arwen’s tests came back fine and she is a healthy kitty. The shot of medicine that she got has done wonders and she no longer sneezes snot balls everywhere.

Life Is Hard. Thank God For Hidden Girl Scout Cookies and Pokemon

While this is starting to look like a Pokemon Go blog, it really isn’t meant to be. But right now that’s a tiny bit of what this post contains. But it is also about depression, friends, and food.

I haven’t been blogging as much recently because life happened (as it does) and I started to feel overwhelmed. Here’s a list of the major 4 events:

  1. New job search. Completing job applications and cover letters freak me out, but waiting to hear if I have a shot at the job is even harder. The waiting makes me doubt myself and think the worst about myself (no matter what comforting things people tell me).
  2. My job hired one of my coworkers for a promotion, even though I have more experience and they always tell me how awesome I am.) M That hurt so badly that I curled up ball under the blanket at home and would have binged ate if I had food in my place.
  3. My sink overflowed in my bathroom because the lady on the top floor of my condo poured draino in it when it was clogged.  I had a inch of water on the floor and all my toiletries were ruined. The lady then changed her story to my landlady (saying she only used a plunger), so the damage was deemed mostly my fault because I have the most hair. Henceforth, the clog must come from me. Oddly enough, the water to that sink had been turned off for month because the faucet was broken. So the damages there and the unfairness didn’t help my mood.
  4. And, finally, when I was leaving work at 10pm (early for once) I had to pull over at a gas station because I had a flat tire. I call AAA for help and then called my boyfriend who lives nearby to sit with me, as it was late at night and I was at a creepy gas station. And then I broke the fuck down. I was tearing up by the time Mike got there because I felt so guilty for calling him (the second time this week since the flood happened earlier that week) and having him leave the house after he got off work too. He didn’t do anything to make me feel guilty, but I’m really good at guilt tripping myself. I ended up asking if I could spend the night at his place and he drop me off at the mechanic on his way to work. He said that wouldn’t be a problem, but I still felt guilty as hell. I’d pulled him away from his relaxing evening because of my problems. 

So, this week the cost of all the crap that happened to me came to $253.32. And by the time I got my car back I was a nervous wreck who hadn’t slept well in two weeks. Before I settled into a ball of blankets at my place, I went to my mom’s and cleaned out a tub of vanilla ice cream. Didn’t even bother with a bowl – I just ate from the tub. While I was eating my commandeered ice cream my phone went off. Scott, one of my friends from college, had texted both myself and another friend Travis (learn a tiny bit about them in my previous post about Pokemon Go). Scott wanted to know if we wanted to go Pokemon Hunting at the park that night.

I stared at the phone with the plastic spoon still hanging from my mouth. My first reaction was to say no, stay in that night curled up on the couch and watching Netflix. But I held off answering that text until I got home – by then I had decided to go. I figured why not? I needed to walk off the ice cream. I answered Scott back that I would meet him at the park and began to feel a little better.

But what me feel even more better next was when I went into the kitchen looking for a (yet another) snack. There isn’t much food in my place because of my budget, so snacking isn’t something I can do very often. However, I found something hidden in the back of my pantry: A box of Tagalongs from the Girl Scouts. 

I had hidden it months ago so my mom wouldn’t see it and I’d have to share (which seems really mean now that I think about the fact that I’d just eaten her ice cream). I grabbed that box, poured myself a HUGE glass of milk, just sat back to enjoy.

Heaven. It was pure heaven.

So after the cookies I definitely needed to go out and exercise, which made Pokemon Hunting a good thing to happen.Besides the fact that I also got a plate of lamb gyros from a food truck, I ended up walking 4.5 miles. And for some parts, I was running too.

Travis noticed a rare Pokemon coming up on his tracking and demanded we all spread out to find it. I was wondering off (not really understanding what I was doing) when I saw a group of people running around the lake. Travis suddenly jogged past me and I yelled out, “Wait! What’s all this mean?”

“I means follow me!” Travis yelled back.

I looked at Scott, who said, “No. We can walk. I promised I would never be one of those people who ran for Pokemon.”

I stared at him for a second, then took off running (I heard him mutter “And there she goes”), joining a group of about 10 people running as well.

Everyone was called out “Where is it? Have you found it?”, and it was actually kind of exhilarating. Like running with the bulls or something.

I caught up with Travis, who lead me to a side of the park when a a dozen or more people were all standing. That’s when I found it – a giant toad, plant thing.

Screenshot_2016-08-18-19-55-56
“Giant Toad, Plant Thing” = Venusaur. Obviously.

I truly needed a night where I gorged myself on comfort foods and then ran with a pack of nerds for a Pokemon. Reading has helped with depression before, so has writing and talking to people. I’ve got great friends to joke around with, a family that cares, and a boyfriend who is there for me (even when he is super exhausted from work and just wants to watch Netflix).

But sometimes you also need junk food and imaginary creatures to throw balls at to make you remember everything will be alright in the end.

It’s Called Pokemon Go-To-Them, Not Pokemon Come-To-You

Less than a month ago the infamous Pokemon Go game came out and the world rejoiced. Kinda. Some people really don’t like it. But I am not one of those people anymore.

I had no idea what it really was when it was about to launch. I knew what a Pokemon was even though I’ve never watched the show, and I had seen some of my friends posting about the game on Facebook. When it finally came out I heard all about the fun everyone was having and also all of the complaints everyone else had. Such as, “You kids get out of my yard!” and “Don’t walk into traffic with your eyes glued to your phone!”.

A week after the release I had dinner with my friend from college, Travis, and he gave me the low-down on the game. I began to see it wasn’t just a game you could place on your phone, but one where you psychically had to go somewhere. Our other friend from college, Scott, showed up after dinner and they both ditched me to go hunt Pokemon.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Well get the game,” Scott said. “It’s free. What else have you got to do?”

“I’m playing Neko Atsume!” I said proudly and got my phone out to show him. )If you are unaware, Neko Atsume is a Japanese cat game that is basically Crazy Cat-Lady the Game.)

“See? You put out food and these cats come and leave you fish so you can buy more food and toys! And they also leave presents ! You have to take pictures of all the cats and collect all their gifts. Isn’t cute?”

Neko Atsume
My “yard” in Neko Atsume (aka Crazy Cat-Lady the Game). Look at all the cute little kitties! 😀

Scott frowned at my phone filled with cute computerized cats and then slowly looked back at my beaming, happy face. “Wow,” he finally said, “See, this is why you actually need Pokemon Go.”

“I don’t want to go all over the place looking for Pokemon. They should just come to me like my kitties do. It should be Pokemon Come-To-Me.”

“Well its called called Pokemon Go-To-Them,” Travis added and I was then unceremoniously dumped for that evening.

The next run-in I had with Pokemon Go was at my boyfriend’s place the following weekend. We were watching TV when his roommate came home from a party looking tired and ragged, as if he’d been run over by a bus a few times, but had the facial expression that it was all totally worth it. He started towards his room upstairs, telling us he was going to sleep for a week, but then 5 mins later he came racing back through the living room looking much more alive.

“There’s a Pokemon at the mailbox!” he cried as he darted out the front door.

I was amazed that free app game could cause this much excitement, and even more surprised at the amount of hate for the game on social media. I got to see both sides of the argument but really liked how it seemed to be helping people with depression. It was getting people outside and enjoying being with a group of people that they didn’t really have to talk to since they were hunting Pokemon.

Then, a week ago I saw the results first hand. I met up with some friends that I hadn’t seen since the game came out and I noticed a huge change in one of my friends. She had been struggling with depression for most of the year, but this time she seemed to have a bit of a spark back in her eyes. She and another friend were talking about their trip to a park to hunt Pokemon and what had happened at a Pokemon Go meetup. I didn’t say anything but I was secretly excited that she seemed to be getting outside again – and she looked fitter as well.

I asked her and another friend more about the game and they excitedly told me about it – how they had gone to parks and done all this walking to hatch Pokemon eggs.

“What do I do when I get the Pokemon? Do I have to take care of them?” I asked.

“No. It isn’t a Tamagotchi or virtual pet,” they said.

“Do I have to love them?”

One of my friends thought that was incredibly amusing. “No, this isn’t like the TV show. Just throw balls at them.”

Not having to take care of the Pokemon finally sealed the game for me and I downloaded it. And then I have no idea what I was doing for a few hours. I walked around my neighborhood a bit, but no Pokemon live near me. I contacted my college friends, Travis and Scott, to see when they were going hunting again. Luckily they were going the next night and I agreed to join them at a local park.

When we got to the park I saw more people than I have ever seen playing on their phones and talking about Pokemon. And I’m not just talking about kids – there were all different ages, races, and classes of people playing. Big, tough looking guys were prowling around looking for a Bulbasaur, little kids were chasing after Rattatas and Pidgeys, college kids were looking for Charamanders, and elderly people were scanning the lake area for Magikarp.

I had never seen anything like this. I quickly took out my phone, listened to my friends’ sagely advice (“Just lob balls at the imaginary monsters”), and went hunting. And had a lot of fun doing so. Since I was level 2 I only got the lower level Pokemon, but I quickly learned to enjoy the search. We ended up walking 3 miles around the park and were out until our phones died.

That weekend, when I saw my boyfriend Mike, he noticed me hovering over my phone while he was playing a computer game.

“Kitty game?” he asked as he made multiple clicks on the keyboard and mouse to make his character attack.

Pokemon Go,” I said and then held up my phone for him to see, “You don’t live in a Pokemon infested area either.”

He looked over at me and frowned, “Damn it. Not you too.”

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My triumph, but not really. I was able to sneak a space into a gym once my friends beat it. This is why you have stronger leveled friends, especially when your strongest Pokemon is 182 cp…

Likable Trait: Awkwardness

If anyone asks what I’m like they’ll immediately say something along the lines of, “Oh she’s that awkward girl.”

Not “Oh, she’s that girl with blond hair that likes to read” or “She’s that chick who likes cats.”

Or even “She’s that drop, dead beautiful girl who stole my heart away and I simply live each day so I may gaze upon her beauty.”

Nope, it’s always: “She’s that awkward girl you met.”

Until college I didn’t realize that awkwardness could be a trait, and frankly neither did any of my friends until they met me. But awkward is the only real way to describe myself. I looked awkward up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and it said: “1.) Not graceful. 2.) Lacking skill. 3.) Difficult to use.”

I kinda frowned at #2 (“Lacking Skill”) and #3 (“Difficult to use”) because I wasn’t sure if I could be described as that. Sure, I can “lack skill” when I’m nervous and talking to people, so I’ll trip over my words just to finish my thought leaving people slightly surprised and confused. And, frankly, sometimes walking in a straight line is difficult (and sadly, I don’t drink). I lack skills in math as well, but I bake some pretty awesome cookies. I can also be difficult to deal with (as I’ve been told), but “use”? I don’t know. I’m pretty naive and gullible, so maybe that goes into my awkward trait.

I will have to agree with the “not graceful” part. For example: As I’m walking in a room with a lot of tables, this being either a cafeteria, restaurant, or even a library, I will say to myself to easily swerve around the tables. But, even as I’m carefully paying attention to my movements, I will undoubtedly hit the edge of my table with my hip. While it’s embarrassing enough to hit a table that someone else may be using, hitting it loud enough that the whole room hears it and your muffled yelp is just extra. Always followed with “Ooooo. Watch where you’re going” from a stranger.

Yes, thank you, I think as I limp away with as much dignity as I can muster.

Strangely, sometimes simply moving a few steps can be dangerous. As I’m standing in front of a classroom lecturing and move slightly to write something on the board, I have to be careful that I don’t trip over my own damn feet. I haven’t fallen in class yet, but it’s coming. And I will blog about it when it does. (Side note: You’re probably thinking Holy crap, this woman is a teacher?! And the answer is yes, yes I am. I am teach college English. That’s right – I am teaching America’s future. Terrifying, huh?)

But really the only way I can prove that I’m awkward (and it’s really weird I am defending my awkwardness) is to write about examples in my life. And that’s what the purpose of this blog is – to write about how awkward I am and how I deal (awkwardly) with life.

PS: If you scroll down further of Merriam-Webster’s definition of “awkward”, there is a section entitled “Related to awkward” with a picture of cat that has a lampshade on its head and next to it reads: “OMG. This Is So Awkward. Merp.”

This speaks to me on many levels.

Awkward Merp