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This tortoise needs to step it up.

30 Mar

I’m half-way to goal for swimming 50 miles before my 40th birthday: Yesterday I logged Mile 25.

It almost didn’t happen. I’m an early riser on the weekends – so much so that I’m often ready to go back to bed around 7am, when my gym opens. But yesterday morning I fought the temptation to stall and trudged the 1.25 miles to the gym. All uphill. In the rain.

Apparently not EVERYONE believes a suit is mandatory.

Apparently not EVERYONE believes a suit is mandatory.

So it was with a certain self-congratulatory smugness (I’m conquering this weekend, dammit!) that I found a locker, stripped down, stepped into my flipflops and – CRAP. What is the one thing you absolutely can’t forget if you want to swim? That’s right: a swimsuit. Oh, I had my goggles and swim cap. I even had a lock for my locker and conditioner for the shower.

But my swimsuit was at home, hanging on the back of the bathroom door where I’d left it to dry earlier this week.

Clothes back on, I walked home, contemplating my next move. Should I mentally check the “gym” box since I’d made the effort, or grab my suit and take a Groundhog’s Day approach to the whole thing?

Tough call, but thirty minutes later, I was back at the gym with my suit in hand. (You don’t even want to know how pleased I was with myself for motivating not just ONCE but TWICE on a rainy weekend.)

I was able to get a good chunk of my mile in with a lane to myself, but with about thirty lengths to go, a guy climbed in my lane. The pool is fairly small – it’s only four lanes – so it’s not uncommon to share a lane. The thing that’s weird about gym-swimming is that almost no one ever circle swims (where you go up one side of the lane and back on the other), even though it would allow a small pool to accommodate more swimmers. Instead, the habit is to split a lane in half down the middle, with each swimmer sticking to his or her half, limiting each lane to a max of two people.

The lanes at my pool are a bit tight to begin with, so splitting a lane can shift my workout from great to frustrating if the person I’m sharing with has any bad habits, such as: being extra splashy, being scared to hug the lane marker, not holding a straight line, or kicking my kidneys when doing the breaststroke.

This guy was extra splashy, in no small part because he was trying to go REALLY FAST. When he hopped in and attempted his first lap, it looked like he was trying to outrun someone threatening to jam a bottle rocket up his ass. Watching him swim toward me, he was a blur of arms and feet, with splashes that would make a toddler proud.

My style tends to be really smooth and non-splashy. Not because I’m a good swimmer, but because I’m lazy. I’ve found that the easiest way to swim laps is by exerting myself as little as possible – so I rely almost exclusively on my arms and shoulders, allowing my legs to drag behind me, just enjoying the ride. I always figure I’m a good person to share a lane with, because I just move along like a sting ray, barely stirring the water.

Image Source: http://theosbornegroupblog.com/news/major-gifts-officer-fable/

However, when I’m sharing a lane with someone who is basically waterboarding me every time we cross paths mid-pool, I begin to get a bit testy. And so I’d deliberately land a few kicks on top of the water, just parallel to his face, each time we met.

At some point, I realized that although he was causing quite the commotion, by the time he stopped to catch his breath and rest at each end, I was actually out-pacing him, much like the Tortoise & the Hare.

In that scenario, I was totally cool being the tortoise – and was actually feeling somewhat smug about it – until I got home and saw on Facebook that my friend Brian just finished swimming 30 miles in the month of March alone.  Um.

Let’s do the math. I’m basically averaging one mile per week (which fits since I tend to make it to the pool weekly at best). Meanwhile, Brian’s doing a mile per day. And – to add insult to injury – somehow Brian has great hair despite the chlorine. So in this scenario, it’s kind of like the Tortoise and the Hair.

My take-away: Apparently the moral of the story isn’t that the turtle always wins. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, and sometimes slow and steady is just – slow and steady. And has bad hair. I guess that’s what I get for all my smugness. Thanks for the reality check, Brian!

 

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Thank you, Self.

18 Mar

The other night, I noticed that I have a tendency to sit in my chair at the end of each day and offer thanks for something kind of ridiculous. Unlike the profound moments of gratitude that make people teary-eyed, my nightly acknowledgement of thanks usually focuses on something very tactical and that makes me happy in a small way.

I’ve noticed it enough that I thought I should try to document the habit to see what patterns emerge. So apologies in advance, my friends – but since this blog is kind of like a journal – you’re going to get a front-row seat to my gratitude, which will manifest itself in VERY SHORT POSTS capturing my nightly thank you notes.

(Feel free to tell me what YOU are grateful for too – even if it’s just that your tongue has bumps on it. And yes – that’s actually one of my mine.)

So with no further ado, here’s my first note of gratitude:

Image Source: pithypants.com 2014

Apparently, I should be an Econ professor. Or the condo board president.

11 Mar

Image Source: Someecards.com

I’ve purchased two homes in my life. In both cases, they were condos, and that was a deliberate decision. I find no joy in my weekend being consumed by landscaping and home maintenance projects. Oh, I’ve done it (and I’m pretty sure it accelerated my break-up with my ex) but I don’t like it.

I like my responsibilities to stop at decorating and cleaning. Let someone else worry about the other bits. And by “someone else,” I don’t mean Alan. I’d rather spend my weekend hanging out with him than watching him execute home improvement projects.

My home-owning friends wag their fingers at me. “For the amount of your condo fee, you could pay someone to handle the maintenance on your home.” Perhaps, but I’d rather cut a monthly check and leave the planning and worrying to someone else.

Imagine, then, how annoyed I was to receive a certified letter from our building’s management association, informing me that each unit owner is responsible for having the exterior of his or her windows painted every five years. (Did I mention that my building is five stories tall? And historic?)

That’s right. Rather than bid out the entire building as a project and divide the bill among owners, the Board decided it would be best if each owner went to the city and requested a permit for exterior work, then found a company with the proper insurance and equipment, to paint his or her windows.

YOU. MUST. BE. SHITTING. ME.

Image Source: The Daily ShowI’m sorry. I thought I lived in DC, where 53% of the adult population had a college degree. Apparently, my building’s condo board is made up of either the 47% who didn’t go to college. Or if they went, then they clearly skipped ECON-101 and the lesson on “economies of scale.”

So I read my certified letter, in which I was told that I must have my windows painted by July 1 or I would face a fine of $500 and an additional charge of $5 for each day beyond that until I got my windows painted. And I fumed.

Then I did what any OCD person would do: I bit the bullet and added it to my “to do” spreadsheet, calling the recommended painters listed in the letter first thing Monday morning.

The challenge was that each painter responded the same way. “Sorry, we only bid out a job like that for the entire building. There’s no way we’ll come out and erect scaffolding just to do your unit’s windows.” Um…

By the time I exhausted the list, I was ready to deliver some kidney punches to the board. Instead, I dashed off an email to my upstairs neighbor, who is on the board. “Have you figured out how you’re going to get your windows painted?” I wrote, “Because I’ve hit a wall.”

Image Source: http://mediashower.com/img/213/slipping%20man%20off%20ladder.jpgNote that I kept it productive, stating, “I’ve hit a wall,” instead of, “I’m going to hit your abdominal wall. Until you pee blood.”

He wrote back a few days later, saying, “Hey – that letter was poorly worded. That only applies to the people on the front of the building, whose frames are wood. Ours are metal, so we don’t need to do this.”

HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean I wanted to punch YOU. That was a figure of speech. We’re good.

But I’m still left with a few questions:

  • How are the people on the front of the building going to get their windows painted?
  • Why did the Board spend $6 per owner, sending certified letters to ALL units in the building rather than simply those requiring action?
  • What percentage of my building’s residents have college degrees?
  • Why don’t more people put me in charge of things?

Sigh. I guess I’ll just rejoice that I don’t need to hire a cherry picker to paint my own windows next weekend. Because that would suck.

Trend-setter. That’s one word for me.

17 Feb

What’s the word for athletic pants where there’s essentially a pantyliner sewn into the crotch so you can wear them without underwear? You know what I’m talking about, right?

Well, whoever invented those should be shot.

I was half-way through yoga yesterday, doubled-over in a forward fold, when I noticed that the seams on my pants looked odd. “Hmmm…” I wondered, “Did I put my pants on inside-out?”

Normally that’s not cause for alarm because I have three pairs of reversible yoga pants. Unfortunately, it turns out this was a different pair, which I confirmed with a quick reach to feel for a tag. I had not only one but two large tags flapping on my butt, announcing “M” for anyone who wanted to check my size.

I sighed and continued my vinyasa, thinking, “Meh – not a big deal.”

It was about ten minutes later, when our instructor told us to put our feet on the outer edge of the mat, then slowly lower into a yogic squat, that I saw the problem. I was in the front row, facing a mirror, and there – winking back at me – was a bright white triangle of cloth between my legs. I quickly lowered my hands from prayer position so I looked more like a catcher to block the cotton blaze from view.

Of course, I also started quietly snickering, finding the situation awkward but also hilarious. It only got worse when the instructor asked us to sit on our mats, extend our feet in the air in front of us, grab the bottom of each foot and open into a seated “V.”

This is what we were supposed to look like:

Image Source: http://www.betterhealthliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/boat-pose-yoga.jpg

Which Alan says is comical regardless of your pants.

At this point, I just muttered a, “Oh hell no…” and flopped back on my mat, silently laughing as I watched everyone else go spread-eagle.

While convulsing, I decided that before I wear those pants again, I am going to take a Sharpie and either draw a big smiley face or write “Namaste” in the center of that real estate. That way, I figure at least it would look like I’d deliberately worn them reversed if it happens again – right?

Actually, I think that’s such a great idea that I’m encouraging everyone to go to their drawers and search out any pants with a while cotton liner, and draw a smiley face on them. Because you never know. And trust me – there will be a day when you thank me. Even if it’s just when you crack yourself up every time you tug your pants down to go to the bathroom.

Image Source: http://jezebel.com/5799608/are-you-wearing-pants-this-chart-will-help-you-answer-that-question

The walking part is actually somewhat important.

15 Feb

Lincoln - pundit.com

I enjoyed my first DC walking tour so much that when we woke up last Saturday, I asked Alan, “Want to do the Lincoln Assassination Tour with me this afternoon?”

Alan, being both indulgent of me and a history lover, promptly pulled out his  phone and reserved two slots on the 4:30pm tour for us. It seemed like a clever plan at the time, but as the day wore on, it dulled a bit.

Alan needed to work for part of the day, so we decided to meet back up at 4pm and walk down to the White House together. As we shoved off from my place, Alan noticed me taking the stairs gingerly, almost sideways, at half my normal speed. “What’s going on?” he asked.

I’d done BodyPump – the intensive full-body lifting workout – at my gym the day before, the first time since Christmas. I felt a bit sore when I woke that morning, but nothing monumental. With each passing hour, however, my muscles contracted. By the time Alan returned in the afternoon, I was a bit crippled.

“Do you think a walking tour is a good idea?” he asked as we set out. I couldn’t even answer. It had seemed like a good idea, but now that I was actually trying to get somewhere on foot – not so much. But we’d RSVP’d, so there was no backing out.

As we walked down 16th Street, Alan kept checking his watch. That’s usually my job, because I’m preoccupied with punctuality. “Are we going to make it on time?” I asked, lumbering along like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man.

Alan looked at me for a moment. “Not if we continue at this pace. Can’t you walk any faster?”

I already thought I was in overdrive, but apparently not. This was a role reversal if ever there’d been one. Usually Alan is nudging me, asking if we can PLEASE slow down so he won’t over-heat.

We eventually arrived at Lafayette Park, where a group of a dozen tourists were gathered around the guide, who was patiently waiting for the late-comers to trickle in. Rather than blend with the back of the group – as I would’ve done – Alan walked directly up to the guide (same guy as last weekend) and announced to the group, “Sorry we’re late.” Then, gesturing to me, he continued, “She did a new workout routine and can’t really walk.”

Awesome. Let’s just put it out there. I gave a feeble wave to everyone as if I were a minor celebrity and loped off to lean against a post. Alan found me and sheepishly said, “Sorry about that. I guess I didn’t need to explain that to everyone.” Um, yeah.

So the tour started – and we stood in one place. As we stared at the White house, the guide set the stage.  And we kept standing – in the same place. The guide told us about the entire cast of characters, the Civil War, the grand assassination plot – and we kept standing right there. At some point, Alan leaned over and whispered, “I thought this was going to be a walking tour?”

It’s a lot to give people a two-hour lecture while standing in only six different spots. The information was great, but the tour needed to MOVE more. Especially because it was approximately 20 degrees and windy out. Everyone was rubbing their hands together, snuggling their mates, and generally trying to create a bit of body heat while basically standing still.

And that’s when I realized: I love walking tours, but weather is kind of an important factor for enjoyment. As the sun set and the temperature continued to drop, I started to become mentally surly. Although the guide was sharing good information, I would’ve tipped double if he’d scrapped his script and bottom-lined it so we could get out of there.

Lesson learned: I like walking tours – but only under the right conditions. Like when I can actually walk.

MEOW.

MEOW.

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