Fun with Colonoscopy

What better way to celebrate a rough week than to get a colonoscopy?

No one wants to get their colon checked. But my wonderful primary care doctor, Dr. Etta Frankel, told me that I’d hit the age where I needed to. Besides, I’m losing my health insurance in a couple of weeks and wanted to get all my preventative care procedures done. Nothing like the thought of impending doom to get your house in order.

In early November, I got a postponement on my first colonoscopy due to Hurricane Sandy’s reshuffling of patients in New York City hospitals. All elective-type surgeries were canceled or rescheduled that week.

Happily, no NYC hurricane hit this week. Although the concoction I had to drink the night before the procedure worked like a Hurricane Sandy on my digestive track.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 2 bottles of coconut vitamin water
  • 2 bottles of green gatorade
  • one whole container of MiraLax

I mixed my concoction in a pitcher and in under two hours, I finished it. (Much like the 5K!)

a book that helped me through the night before my procedure, The Cookbook Collector:  A Novel by Allegra Goodman
a book that helped me through the night before my procedure, The Cookbook Collector: A Novel by Allegra Goodman

Everyone warned me, and so I was prepared, that this was hardest part of the colonoscopy — the drinking of the concoction. That, and the endless time in the bathroom to clean your bowels. To get through the evening, I reminded myself  that, “If I can run a 5K without stopping, I can drink 64 ounces of some sugary mix and spend an evening on the toilet.”

Also, I had a good book, Allegra Goodman’s Cookbook Collector, to keep me company.

The night of my internal storm in the bathroom, my son was very caring. Holed up in the bathroom for hours, occasionally, there’d be a gentle knock on the door, “You okay in there, Mom?” I truly loved that kid then. (I know I’ve complained about my kids on this blog, but they are basically kind and wonderful souls.)

Earlier that day, I’d fasted, which made me very crabby. (Yes, this is where the kids get their low-blood sugar crabbiness!)

The procedure itself was not a breeze. Everyone told me, “It’s the easiest part.” But I remember twice, half in a twilight sleep, coming to, in order to complain, “That hurts!” It felt like someone was poking me internally with a pool stick. Irksome, but not deadly.

Also, last night, the night of the procedure, I was very crabby. I felt my husband was not solicitous enough. Yes, he has his own health concerns. And yes, when he did ask, I told him, “I’m fine.” But when will a man realize that when a woman say, “I’m fine,” the day of a surgical procedure, what she really means is, “Please baby me the way I baby you when you’re sick! Bring me soup in bed and say, ‘Poor baby! Good that you’re taking care of your health!'”?

So, to reward myself for taking care of myself and surviving the storm of a colonoscopy, I went to a fun, girls’ night out, a jewelry sale to benefit a public high school. I bought some pretty little earrings. I giggled and had deep discussions with my girlfriends. That indulgence made the whole crappy week and day of the colonoscopy a little brighter.

Working Out for Thanksgiving

Holidays are for fitness.

While we’re in Chicago for Thanksgiving, the kids and I have signed up, along with cousins and aunts and uncles, for a TurkeyDay-5K. A couple of years ago, we ran the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks Run for another holiday, St. Patrick’s Day.

That was fun. That March morning was freezing, and no one wanted to get out of bed. But we ran any way. I was damned if I was going to go it alone. I was so proud of myself, because I ran (didn’t walk) the whole way. I aimed for a 13-minute mile.

I run slowly enough to snap pictures as I go. On today’s run, this sidewalk art made me smile. Big Bird Lives!

That’s right. I run in the slow lane. Every one passes me, 89-year olds and toddlers alike. I don’t care. As they say, I’m lapping every one who’s still sitting home on the couch.

Besides, I’m fixing to have a big dinner Thanksgiving night, which includes dessert. And I’m going to be eating my meal slowly too.

Family meals and family fitness should be savored.

When I work out the day before, of, or after a holiday, I feel I can eat or drink anything I want. Guilt-free and happy! That’s what I run for.

Loneliness of the Short-Distance Runner

I exercised for the first time in two weeks, swimming my eight laps at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Montreal. I zigzagged kickboards and babies in floaties.

Exercise is my anti-depressant. Swimming made me feel great.

Since my basal cell surgery two weeks ago I’ve had to lay low. I don’t like that. The winter doldroms set in. My overall mood is down if I don’t exercise (or write!)

It is better for everyone if I work out (and write) a few times each a week. So the other night I considered running a 5K on New Year’s Day in Ticonderoga.

I still had a bunch of stitches on my chest (where the basal cell was removed) and was not supposed to exert myself. I didn’t want to pop a stitch like an overstuffed teddy bear (which is how I felt after eating and drinking my way through Christmas). I hesitated. I had a lot of housework to do.

I had to pack up my family after 10 days in the country. That’s at least as much work as running a marathon. I had a cappuccino (also an anti-depressant) and had an idea. 

“Kids, we’re going to have our own race — to the old school house. You could win! It’s a race against me!”

At my 15-minute mile pace, almost anyone could beat me! But my kids are lazy. Yes, they are lazy, lazy, lazy. And it’s my fault. I’ve spoiled them. They’d rather goof off on Facebook than run.

The girls did walk/run for the first five minutes then they turned around and slogged back to their computer screens. It wasn’t even cold.

I had a weird experience as I ran. There was no wind. Yet I heard a flapping near me, like someone snapping clean sheets while making a bed. I looked around. Nothing. Not a breeze. It happened again. I kind of wished I wasn’t alone so I could ask someone, “Did you hear that? Wasn’t that weird?”

The front runner is the lonely (and possibly delusional) runner.

I came back, declaring victory, like Rocky on the steps of Philadelphia. When you’re the only runner, chances are good you’re the big winner! But I received neither a medal or champagne. Instead, I made myself some more coffee and folded the laundry.

3.2 miles in 39 minutes

Yesterday I ran at lunch time. Riverside Park was so beautiful. The muted oranges and burnt reds of late fall against a Robin Egg blue sky.

On Fridays I am either incredibly productive or slightly lazy. I can push myself. Or I can push paper around my desk, “Well, this can wait until Monday.” 

Unless it’s Friday before a week off! Yes, a week off. And then I must clean off my desk top, water my plants, tie up all my loose ends. Nothing can wait. Everything must get done.

So I was psyched to get away from my desk when Liz facebooked me in the morning about a lunchtime run. We met at Riverside Church, ran down to Fairway and along the new trail beside the Hudson. Then we ran back up at around 99th along the upper promenade.

My last run was with one of my 11 year old daughters last weekend. She joined the Running Club at school. On that run, we kept a pretty good pace. Then she complained of an earache. It was cold.

My experience running with my kids is that they either take off fast ahead of me or slow down to a snail’s pace with an ailment.

Adult friends have outgrown that. Adults can set a pace together. Although Liz and I run, then walk, we always can talk and never run out of things to say. On Friday’s run, the endorphins really kicked in. By the end of our run, I had new ideas for housecleaning, writing and work projects.

I love Friday workouts before a long week off.

Bonus: there’s no guilt if over the weekend, I’m slightly lazy. I have done my work out, thank you very much. Or if Thanksgiving is coming and I can eat as much as I want. Yay.

I did it!

I got up early on Sunday and ran (and walked) my first 5K. Joanna had invited me to join her and we’d run together (and walked together) before. I believe I’ve mentioned that I love working out with friends. Such a great, cheap way to be together, to talk, and to encourage one another.

We were a part of the (You can still sponsor me. I had to raise $100.)

The run benefited Rogosin, this kidney disease foundation. My friend Lois at work has been hospitalized with serious kidney problems after a world church meeting in Scotland. So I ran for Lois.

But honestly, it’s like the moral of last week’s episode of Glee. You say you’re helping someone, but you’re really helping yourself. The something in it for me was brunch at the end of the run. I love the West Bank Cafe, the run’s sponsor, on 42nd Street. After signing up, I realized I wouldn’t be able to stay for brunch. I’d have to book up to Charlotte’s soccer game in Central Park upon finishing.

It was a beautiful, clear day and the run was lovely, easy. (I will admit that we were slow). But I just liked getting out there, running along the West Side highway and the Hudson River. There were probably 50 of us.

My goal was simply to finish in less than one hour. I did it! I ran 5K in 41 minutes. That’s 3.1 miles, giving me a 13:17 pace. Next time, I can strive to beat it. I was thinking of Lois when I ran.

I have worked with Lois for a long time, since the early 90s. I think it’s fair to say both she and I can get impassioned, and therefore, occasionally, a little difficult. Yet I have always had a huge and deep-seated respect for Lois. Her intelligence, her wit, her kindness!

She has always fought the good fight and stood up for people who are marginalized — mainly, women and children. And maybe not just stood up for them, but run with them. Walked with them. Befriended them. Because they are us. And there’s something in it for us.

I really should sign up for another 5K, before I lose my mojo. And my goal is sometime, to run the whole way.

Peace of Me

I am trying to run a 5K. It’s a small goal. But, as I like to say, low expectations = high results;  high expectations = low results. (I might have made that up.)

I like to write down this goal, because some Harvard study says CEOs who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. (I like to throw in Harvard studies on this blog to show that I am erudite.)

Let’s face it, a 5K is doable. I will never run a marathon. I will never win, place or show in any major sporting event. I just hope to occasionally beat my kids – or simply, keep up with them — at tennis, swimming, and dancing.

Living an athletic life is not that hard. My biggest hurdle is something within me that says I am being selfish if I pursue physical activity simply for my own well being. How can I go for a run when I should unload the dishwasher or declutter the top of my dresser?  

It seems to me there is always something better or more family-centered or more productive to do than work out. 

You don’t actually need much to do sports. Running requires a pair of shoes (and for me, a really good sports bra). Tennis requires a racket, balls and an opponent. Swimming? A suit and a body of water.  

But the thing I need for any sport is gumption or stick-to-it-ive-ness. I need the ability to leap over my Mental Block (my MB). MB is standing by the front door, tapping her toe, barring me from my exit. She looks like the SuperNanny. She says, “Stay home and do housework. Who do you think you are? You’re not all that. You can’t even run a 5K.”

And this is when I have to slip on my headphones, tune my Pandora to Britney, baby, and slip on past my pissed-off SuperEgo. Tune my SuperEgo out. Turn my Inner Britney up.

Britney sings, “You want a piece of me?” And it’s really a good song to run to. Because it feels so right. Everyone wants a piece of me and if I don’t run or work out on a regular basis, I will have no piece to give them. I will get crabby. Then they’ll get a piece of me all right. And it won’t be cute or funny.

When Will I Learn?

I got the kids together — all 8 of them (kids, cousins, friends, nephew) — and set out for a run on Camp Dudley Road on Memorial Day. I just got this new app for my droid — cardio trainer. Will not only tell you how long, how far, but will map our your run for you as you’re running. All righty. All set. Got everything. Except the kids are not into the run. Hayden was going to try barefoot running but did not last with that. (And the other shoes he had in hand were his Mets slippers which work for lounging, not running.) Some of the girls kind of hung back, chatting. The boys gave it a good go of running to the 1819 School House.

The view there is just too delicious. The tree is right there for climbing, as is the creaky fence. Who wants to run when you can lay in the grass? or turn cartwheels by the School House?(See the picture above.)

I know I’ve said this before. I should stick to running alone. Or run only with adults. Liz and I ran on Friday. We did the 5 sets of 5 minutes of running then one minute of walking all the way to the Riverbank park from Riverside Church. Really fun.

Last week, I also went on Runner’s World website and learned about fartlek running. I don’t know if it’s fun to do — short bursts of full out running — but it’s super fun to say. It’s a Swedish word. I think it means “Never run with children. Run alone.”

4.5 K in 39 mins.

around my corner

Today I ran for about 39 minutes and I made it about 4.5 K. Last weekend in Miami, I did 4.5 K in like 36 minutes.

Today I was hampered by running with my Number One Son. We were running him to baseball practice at 10:30 am.

Hayden complained that his joints ached every morning for the first half an hour after he woke up.
I wondered, “Maybe it’s growing pains, but honey, keep running.”
“I can’t. I’m tired.” He’s 13! How tired can a 13 year old be! I’m tired and I’m a million years old. I must say I feel proud of myself.
My friend tells me, if you give to your body, your body gives back. If you run, your endorphins kick in. You feel good.
When I’m running I don’t always feel good. But I can’t believe how energized I feel the rest of the day.
I’m trying to give to my body, so that I get back.

On my way to 5K

Jen, the gorgeous lunchtime exercise teacher, told me all I really need to do to achieve my 5K goal in a couple of months is carve out six out of seven days of 20-minutes everyday of cardio. So no problem that was Mon. Jen’s walking class got my heart rate up as we walked in Riverside Park. That night the girls and I did our usual Monday night work out of swimming lackadaisical laps and synchronized swimming at Open Swim at the JCC.

On Tuesday, I did lunch-time yoga/pilates/exercise. Okay maybe it’s not as cardio as the walking class but Shane (equally beautiful and inspiring as Jen) does make us do five series of 15 Jumping Jacks. That counts.

Wednesday, I joined the Global Ministries Walking group. For 30 minutes we walked down from 120th to about  106th. Nice group, fun.

On Thursday, I did four intervals of running for five minutes and walking for one. Felt I could’ve gone more but I was taking a Comp Day and needed to get on the Communications Conference Call.

Friday was the most strenuous of exercises, one hour of tennis after work with Dan. Even with the generous handicap Dan gives me, it was exhausting and I lost.

Saturday may have been equally strenuous. Dancing Salsa at the PS Dual-Language Fiesta Latina. I got a little choked up at that party, remembering that I’ve been celebrating Fiesta Latina for eight years. I worked the drinks table this year. In previous years, I’d emceed the performances. Tough crowd. Doesn’t matter how I contributed. The point is I always dance at it. And this was my last Fiesta dance.

So there you have it — six out of seven days of cardio. So point me in the direction of the Finish Line. What? Hunh? You have to run a race before you grab the trophy? You can’t just run through the tape and call it a day?

In other words, I have no idea (although I have my doubts) whether I could really run a 5K in a couple of months. People say you can walk for a few minutes in the middle.

And the other night when my bro Brendan and I were walking together in Riverside Park, he suggested that I not start in the front of the pack.

But hey I’m not doing this exhausting training just to cakewalk the 5K or launch my race with the riff-raff in the back of the pack. I am in it to win it. Just cue up the Salsa music, please.

Apples to Apples: Who’s Competitive

I talked to Joanna, her mom, and her sister about my four blogs, while we played Apples to Apples at the Snack Bar. Joanna and I agreed we’re going to do a 5K in 2010. The waves were still lapping (like at night, they don’t have to roll like that, no one is watching, but still, the waves do their thing.)

I played Apples to Apples, oh, about 10 times on this vacay. My advice is to throw down the Barbara Walters card for any category – Sophisticated, Scary, Funny. She’s really a great multi-purpose celebrity.

Last night, young Chris and I almost came to blows. We both thought we had the winning card. The adjective was American. So, Chris threw down Bald Eagle. I threw down watermelon. Unfortunately, someone else (Jeremy?) threw down John Glenn. And you can see where this is going. Ernestine picked John Glenn. Okay, he is American. It was E’s prerogative to pick the answer she thought was best. But Bald Eagle is not necessarily more American than watermelon, nor is John Glenn.

I simply cannot believe I am not the best player at Apples to Apples. I am so good with words and so good at reading people. I lost every single time I played. I am not as good as I think. Not really.