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Getting Back on Track

Or trying to, at least.


Yesterday morning I got up before everyone else in the house and went for a walk.  I walk a loop that’s a little over 2 miles (2.2?  I don’t know – I measured it one time but don’t remember.) that runs down the length of the long street we live on, then you get to the end of that and go left, past the big pond, close to the busy intersection/series of one-way streets and merges that don’t seem to belong in such an old-timey part of town, around the used car dealership and loop around at that up the street past the donut place i like (I like their coffee better than Dunkin Donuts – I know, sacrilege), past the new fire station (please don’t suddenly have a fire – I don’t want to get run over as the trucks pour out of their brick house), past the entrance to the police station, which is set back a ways…past that bank, around that curve near the pond (same pond as before, just the other side of it), and up, up, up the hill and up the street to where my own street meets it, and down my street just a little ways and back to my house.  Got that? 


It’s a nice walk, lots to see, and of course looking out on the water is always good for my mental health.


So I tied my sneakers on and set off at a brisk pace.  I can’t saunter.  I’ve tried.  I guess I can, if I’m walking with the kids, for instance, and they aren’t RUNNING – since their legs are shorter, they tend to cover less ground when they walk.  Or strolling along at the farmers’ market, for instance.  I don’t like to hurry there.  But going for a walk?  Then we must WALK. 


So off I went.


I had to, you know.  Partly because I’m sick of looking like this and I’m sick of the sound of myself bemoaning my various jiggly areas because I know perfectly well that if I want that to change, I’m the only one who can do it.  So – first step is to get off my asssssstronomically huge, um, chair, and start exercising again. 


And also I had to go and walk because my sister got up the morning before and ran 2 miles after not running in months, and since I am…not necessarily competetive, exactly – I cannot call myself a runner – more like a hippo with delusions of gazelle-hood.  But if she was gonna get up and do it, then, dammit, so was I.  So I did my 2 point something miles.  Plus it’s nice to have a running/walking partner, even if she’s not close by enough to really run/walk with.


The morning was nice – a little breeze, still cool, though I could feel humidity and knew it would be muggy later on – and the walk started off fine, with me striding along, occasionally tugging on the hem of my spandex shorts (underneath the looser, nylon ones that were too short for me to go walking like that in because then people could see my thighs and I might cause small children to run and hide in fear), so that they wouldn’t ride up.  LIKE ANYONE CARES, JAYNE!  But I am pathetic like that.


I could feel some tightness in my lower back, and focused on sucking in my stomach (and the unwelcome layer of fat hiding it) to decrease the stress on my spine and hips…and I could feel some twinges in my shins.  But that was okay – just loosening things up, reacquainting various parts with the concept of moving fluidly and as a group.


Mental note:  wear a different bra next time.  (I know, I’m sharing rather personal stuff today, aren’t I?)  The one I was wearing was actually a nice spandexy bra/tank top combo thing, that, during my normal workout of running up and down the stairs several (thousand) times a day, seems to hold things in place just fine.  However.  (Oh, and over that I had on another spandexy (or whatever stretchy/clingy fabric is used in these things) tank top, kind of long, which I like because if I pull it straight down over my hips, it allows me to imagine that I look thinner.  Of course, like a rebellious window shade, it rolls right back up to my waist within seconds.)  What was I saying?  Oh, right.


So here I am, tugging at my shirt, tugging at my shorts, attempting to stride purposefully like I’m such an athelete.  And then I looked down.  I had been walking along looking forward – chin parallel to the ground – giving (hopefully) the illusion that I am confident and also hoping there’s nothing on the street that will trip me, because it’s hard to maintain a confident stride when your palms and chin are scraping along the pavement.  So, like I said, I looked down.  Just for a second, because OH MY GOD all of a sudden I felt like I was on a small boat riding the gentle swells of the ocean on a bright, hot summer day.  No, not serene and content.  One would think that, wouldn’t one?  But no, I am not serene and content when the boat and water and sun are being all nice like that.  It makes me seasick.  Give me fog, rain, and rough, choppy water and I’m fine.  Weird, huh?


So why did the looking down make me seasick?  Something to do with the bra, since I went to all the trouble to mention it moments ago?  Yes, actually.  And this was so incredibly odd and unexpected that throughout the rest of the walk I had to deliberately look down from time to time just to see if it was still happening.  You see, as I walked along – step, step, step, step – at a brisk tempo, my, um, chestal area was sort of shaking back and forth – left to right – at double time.  So it became kind of like step, step, step, step, shakeshake, shakeshake, shakeshake, shakeshake.  step (shakeshake), step (shakeshake), step (shakeshake), step (shakeshake).  I even felt lightheaded and queasy typing that.


Can you see how disconcerting that would be??  I’ve never had that happen before.  And there was no way to stop it, so the only thing I could do – to avoid seasickness and to give myself the gift of denial) was to NOT LOOK DOWN.  Just pretend THEY weren’t there, doing that odd shimmy they’d suddenly created.  I couldn’t just go home and change clothes, either.  No, I was already out there, on my way.  If I went back I might just call it a day and blame the foundation garment.


So I kept on.  I know.  My bravery and determination in the face of adversity are inspiring.


First hill approaching – kind of a steep incline.  But steep is okay – my glutes (wherever they are are under there) could use the workout.  Plus, steep = over with quickly.


Hill done, I am breathing harder, but no big deal.  I reach the end of my street and go left.  I wish people would sweep the sand off the sidewalk.  I’m always imagining that I will hit a patch of sand with my heel at just the wrong angle, my foot will slip straight out in front of me and I’ll fall down and crack the concrete.  And my coccyx.  Either one of which would be unpleasant, to say the least.


Uh oh.  Two other people out walking, coming toward me.  They are both wearing white, and I would bet they are married.  An older couple, she looks pretty slender, he’s got a bit of a gut, but nothing too scary  Nice to see couples getting healthy together like that. 


Now, since I don’t do this often enough, and because I am either shy or introverted or curmudgeonly or socially inept, can someone tell me the walk/run etiquette rules for crossing paths with other walking or running folk?  It always, for me, seems to be this timid eyeball dance as the two parties approach each other:  the brief look of “uh-oh, there’s someone coming – I have about 50 feet to figure out what to do,” and then the either looking down (which was not an option for me, as that could make me nauseous) or the looking resolutely forward while the distance between the two parties shortens, and then, at some unmeasured point in the approach, the personal space is opened up and the eyes dance back to bow and curtsey again, and at this point, it seems necessary to make some sort of “official” indication of acknowledgement.  Like say “hi,” or smile, or nod.  You know, just to be polite.


And I suppose I was raised to smile at people.  And I hate it.  There, I said it.  In my (very active) brain, when I smile like that at strangers I pass as we are walking or running on our self-appointed journeys, I look like a simpleton.  I don’t always WANT to smile.  So I try to very quickly read what the other person’s face seems about to do and try to respond accordingly.  If they are launching into a smile, then okay, I can smile.  If they don’t, then I go for a nod, or a “hi” or “morning.”  I’ve gotten pretty good at it, though I do read wrong from time to time.  And then I find myself doing a sort of half-smile-mouth-twitch thing and mumbling “hi” or “morning” and hurrying along because now not only do I look like a simpleton, but I also have a nervous tic.  Keep the children away!


So here we are, with the nice white-clad couple approaching.  TWO of them.  Which one do I read?  My eyes shift back and forth in time with my shakeshake-ing chest (don’t look down!) and helplessly I feel the corners of my mouth turn up.  In desperation I look at the woman (she is looking down – her chest is pretty flat) and then at the man, who makes eye contact and gives a quick nod AND a firm-handshake-style “Morning!” as we all cross paths.  The woman sneaks a look at me (probably terrified by my tremulous chest) and then back at the sidewalk.  I say “hi” and continue to grin like a loon and then the horrible moment (and the white-clad people) have passed and I can relax.


And then I spend the next several minutes wondering why the woman didn’t make eye contact (much) or say hi or anything.  I don’t think she knows me, so why wouldn’t she like me?  I’m friendly, I SMILED, dammit!  SMILE BACK AT ME!  Please?


Jeez, it’s exhausting living in my head.


So anyway, I’m nearing the pond – yay – and as I go marching along, I also check out other people’s flower beds and vegetable gardens and make mental notes on how they adorn their yards and houses.  It keeps me entertained, it gives me ideas, and it doesn’t require my looking straight down. 


And hey, whaddaya know?  Someone else has a birdbath like the one we just bought!  Cool!  Have to tell Bill.  I like to have something to report on when I return from the field.  I am nearing the pond, my shins are tired, my hips are complaining, and my back is still giving me twinges on my right side, and there’s a pebble in my sock, rubbing against my right heel.  But I continue to think that that’s a good thing (except the pebble).  Until I see the man.  Why are there other people out and about???  And why is everyone wearing white?  I can’t wear white – I will spill something on it.  I will also look like Moby Dick floundering about on land, so no, I don’t wear white.  But he is.  Another older gentleman, and the eyeball dance begins.  Only this time, he doesn’t speak.  His eyes dart over at me and then dart back over the wall to look at the water.  Cool.  That was easy.  No smiles or greetings.  Phew!


And now things get noisier and less pretty.  I’m at the tip of the curve of this loop – where the used car dealership place is.  As I round the turn I see the back of a sign the car dealership has set out on the sidewalk.  The back says “massage” and while most of the letters are a reddish brown, the “g” is gray.  On the other side is an offer for a free car wash or something.  Not newsworthy, but interesting.  Why does it say “massage” on the back of that sign?  And what happened to the original “g?” 


I go by the donut place, the fire station, the police station, and the bank – all uneventful.  The sun is breaking through the morning overcastness and my eyes get squinty as the sun shines in them.


I could walk faster so that I could get to the next curve in my route and then the sun would be somewhere behind me.  Only I have been noticing that my toes are a little numb and oh, yeah, my legs seem to want to stride off in different directions.  They keep going forward only because my body, pulled by an invisible wire, is forcing them to go toward HOME.  But they protest, oh yes, they do.  My right one in particular.  Occasionally as I am walking (still briskly and purposefully) the right foot will turn out to the right and I will sort of lead with my ankle.  I have no control over it.  Then it changes its mind and the toes point the way once more.  I feel like one of Julia’s baby dolls…any moment now the unseen little girl who owns me will twist one leg straight up above my head, remove all my clothes, cut off half my hair and then leave me lying on the rug. 


I reach the other part of the pond – the beach side, though it’s really not a very enticing place to go into the water.  They (whoever does these things) haven’t raked it out yet, and so all the muck and decaying goose and swan and duck poop just sort of hover there along the shore.  If you want to take the kids in for a dip, it’s MUCH cleaner over where the boat ramp is behind the police station.  In case you’re interested.


No geese or swans or ducks out at the moment, and the lifeguard (yeah, they have one, though if the lifeguard was really going to do some good he/she would STOP everyone from going near the water) isn’t on duty yet and there are no solitary people sleeping (not dead, I watched for the breathing that time last year) on the rocky sand.


And here’s the other hill.  The long, slow hill.  I mark my progress by telephone poles and that mailbox up near the top.  And up I go, maintaining my step (shakeshake) pace and trying to keep my legs from twisting all around.  No more people so far, so that nervous tic thing has subsided.


I make it to the top (yay!) without collapsing and I get my breathing back under control as I cover the length of part A of my two part home stretch.  I see the signs of the two businesses at the end of my street – almost there, almost there…ACK – it’s that couple again – they must have a looping route, too!  Maybe I can reach my street before they get to me?  No, too far.  I am tempted to cut down another street, one that runs parallel to mine, and take a slightly different route home, but no, that’s childish.


We have no need of the darting eyeball dance – and I swerve out of the way so I won’t be walking between them this time (maybe that was why that woman didn’t like me.  I came between her and her man – for a fraction of a second, but still.) and as I go by, the man says something like “we’re still plugging along!” in a jolly voice, and I smile – with no facial tics – over at him and say something like “yep, we are!” because we’re all just regular ol’ people out here getting our exercise and we should kind of cheer each other along.


The woman just keeps looking at the pavement 8 inches in front of her toes and then I am past them again.


I think, maybe if I walk earlier, I won’t have to go through this every day.


And then I’m at my street, (yay!) and I am, despite everything, feeling good.  Good about myself, good for getting up and GOING for my walk, dammit, and good with that post-exercise vibratey buzz going on in every cell of my body.


Oh, except for the blister on my heel.  I thought it was a rock in my sneaker, but no.  It’s a puffy little blister.


And now it’s the next day.  I didn’t go walking today (but my sister ran two miles again, damn her!)  (Just kidding – yay!) because I am stiff and sore and also we were up late last night and we all slept late this morning. 


But I’m thinking of doing some pilates and yoga later.  Need to strenghthen my core, you know.


And I should test drive some other bras.


That, or stock up on dramamine.

4 thoughts on “Getting Back on Track

  1. Ha, Ha! We could be related. I never know what to say when I pass people on a walk, but if I take my dog, I can pretend I’m holding her back and therefore avoid eye contact. She’s actually a sweetie, but looks ferocious. But, now, you’ve set an example. Time to buy some new walking shoes and hit the road again.

  2. Well done you for digging out the exercise gear and getting out there!

    Being short-sighted I sometimes have the problem of thinking I know someone whilst not wearing my glasses.
    In this situation, and whilst they they are still too far away for me to see their face clearly clearly, I reach my hand up to my temple and leave it there for a moment.

    If, when the person gets close enough to actually see, it is someone I know, then I proceed to execute a jaunty salute.

    If I don’t know them, then I am scratching an itchy eyebrow.

  3. Oh, how I feel your pain. Though I haven’t quite gotten myself to the point where I can take an hour or so (that’s about how long it would take me to walk 2 miles, I’m sure of it) before I go to work, but after work, I’m eyeing that bit of free time I have just sitting around, collecting dust, and launching into some sort of workout.

    I’ve dusted off the yoga tape already, and tried to be all meditative and at peace with my body (work that core!) but yeah. Maybe after a week or so of this tape I’ll be able to concentrate more on what my body’s saying to me and less on how downward facing dog really is not the most flattering pose for a woman with my posterior.

    As far as the bra dilema, I feel ya there, too. I tend to double up because I’m not comfy with tectonic shifting, if you get my drift (Ha, tectonic and drift in the same sentence. Geek, thy name is Rachel). A very supportive bra is even happier to have the help of a sports bra to really hold things down when I want to do things like.. anything active.

    Good luck to you, and congrats on the morning activity! Do it more and feel awesome! And I’ll attempt to follow my own advice.

  4. Sometimes (not often) I am glad to have never grown any boobs to speak of when I was a teenager. They wont hold up a tube top, or keep crumbs off my lap, but they don’t try to drown me when I walk 😉

    I’ve started walking again too, have you seen the couch to 5k program (c25k.com)? It gets you up off your couch and will have you running a 5k run in 9 weeks. I did the whole program last year, but there’s this problem with ICE (and Christmas cookies) here during the winter months and I got lazy. Just remember it’s like everything else, it’s more a matter of just DOING it than anything else. One day your boobs are making you sea sick on a walk, then you look back in 2 months and realize that it only takes a 1/2 hour of your day and you actually enjoy it (I keep telling myself this anyway).

    My (small) victory here this year was that I fit into my shorts from last year again, and they fit better now then they did then. Hang in there, and let me know if you give the c25k program a shot! I would even do it along with ya, if you wanted, even though you don’t know me lol don’t be creeped out, I need some motivation too 😉

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