First Hill Training: Winded and Windy!

A four week hill training workshop is hosted this month by a local running store to prep us for a race coming up April 29– with monster hills! I had missed last week.

I was STOKED for my first run in a t-shirt and shorts, too. It was gorgeous, around 65.

For the first time I pulled up to Four Seasons Park in Shorewood, Illinois. I’ve run often nearby, as it’s been my neighborhood twice. But I’d never ventured that far up Seil Rd. I was happy to find the place teeming with people and sports in progress. I drove around and spied a large group of adults in neon colors, who seemed in running attire. That was my crew. But by the time I parked a little bit farther up, they had all turned and began running toward the street!

So I broke out into a full run, trying desperately to catch up. I recognized two ladies from my training class near the back.  I had to stop and breathe several times. “WAIT!” I called to my two classmates. They turned and saw me. They slowed down and I was able to get nearer, at least.

I thought we were here to run hills, not go on a run?! Apparently it was a warm-up. Finally I caught up to the group as they gathered for dynamic stretches and some verbal instruction and demonstration on how to run hills.

So many adults around, all in a great mood! I recognized members of the local running club I’ve joined, people I saw at the Shamrock Shuffle or who post frequently. I knew some people. I was so dang happy to be outside. I even put on my Warrior Dash 2016 finisher shirt: hills are serious business!

Our leader explained there were three levels of hill-running: advanced (all running), intermediate (run hill, jog down, walk back,) and beginners (run hills only at pace/extent they are capable.) I put myself in the intermediate group.

The first pass was brutal! But still, I loved it. I seek out hills in my own runs but have never known a strategy for them. He demonstrated strides for us. I may be slow, but I was reminded that I *am athletic. I was able to muster more energy than I expected.

I wasn’t counting at first but he said we should do a minimum of six passes. I believe I did, if not seven. Our leader stood and gave us encouragement and feedback. He said my form was good– hearing I was doing it right spurred me forward.

After I turned on my running app, I got probably the last 4 or 5 passes.

I got stronger each time.

Afterwards, we all did a team cheer where we put all our hands together and yelled, “HILLS!” Like in middle-school. 🙂 A group of people did some shots to celebrate. Some went back out to run more.

I went home! The wind was getting to me. I didn’t want to get sick. I could feel it in my legs today, but I wasn’t uncomfortable. Those leg muscles must be getting more tolerant.

This is going to be my new favorite place! I will do hill repeats on my own. I will explore the park and find a new running route. I might go back with a friend.

I feel like a whole new aspect of my community opened up to me. What a gift!

My Bernie Journey

I just phone-banked for the second time this week in our new Joliet field office! I am SO stoked that there’s finally something happening in my hometown. The closest other events are between 20-45 miles and it’s just too dang cold for that.

Man, I love it.

Tonight I got a few answers and left a lot of messages. I was calling confirmed Bernie supporters trying to get them to come in and volunteer.

And I got a decent amount to sign up! Most people were excited I was calling. I answered some questions. I even got a few people to commit to specific shifts within the next couple weeks. I got e-mails, from people who wanted more info but were busy at that moment or unsure of when exactly they can work for us.

Tonight I called a woman who was getting married this weekend– and then will be honeymooning in Colorado–skiing!!– until March 15, the day of Illinois primary elections. We kept interrupting each other, so excited to talk about Bernie! I asked if she was marrying a Democrat and she admitted he was a Republican– that she was “working on” him. I laughed and said I’ve dated a few Republicans myself– it certainly makes for interesting conversation!

She joked that she was trying to convert him and if he doesn’t, “it may be a short marriage.” But clearly she’s smitten, I’m not worried about the state of their union.

I teased that in lieu of volunteering in a field office, she’ll be “working every day” with her her future-husband, and she got a GOOD laugh out of that!

I talked to people of all ages.

When I asked if they were voting Bernie in the primary, I often got an enthusiastic response and maybe a good-natured, “Feelin’ the Bern!”

And really, phone-banking brought out the best in me. I remembered that actually, I’m pretty outgoing and comfortable with myself. I connected with everyone who answered except for one who hung up on me right away. My sales background came in handy!

I have a passion for Bernie Sanders’ campaign and sharing that with people is exciting.

Towards the end, I made it a game. How many people can I call in the last nine minutes??

I filled out a sheet about shifts I will commit to working. The field office organizer said I did a good job signing up volunteers and gave me a bunch of extra shift sign-up sheets to pass out to friends. I’m going to make copies of those and just hand them out to people I see around town. Why not?!

A Mini-Vacay: Two Tortoises, a Cat, and a Clawfoot Tub

Some close friends of mine asked if I would watch over their apartment and feed their pets while they took a short holiday to see a friend out of state.

And they offered to pay! Of course I said yes.

I never expected how much a little change of scene would benefit me.

First, I must say that I adore older buildings. I would love to find a small one for my own, when I have the financial freedom to allow it. Modern homes are wonderful. But I like places with visible history.

I think they have character and charm. It was laid out entirely different than my little abode– with double the space. The light fixture in every room was different, pretty. Built-in shelves, wood floors, lots of dark wood and heavy doors. A small kitchen with cabinets and a porcelain sink.

I had four keys, three of which I used. It took me a bit to figger out which ones went where, but once I did I adjusted quickly.

I loved the foyer. Dark, quiet. There was only one other tenant in the building– the landlady. The stairs were carpeted a dark mauve.

It had all the trappings of a Chicago apartment! I love the city, but feel peacefully rooted in my hometown. It was wonderful to realize I wouldn’t have to move to find a place with the same qualities.

My friends’ unit was wallpapered– different patterns.

And all the windows!! So much light.

I loved the sound of trains nearby– distinctly a Joliet feature.

My friend offered to have her boyfriend explain Netflix and TV to me via phone– but I didn’t need it. I just enjoyed the peace of being in their space. Of the luxury of a different setting for a few days.

Best of all– the creatures.

After living without a pet for years in a building where they are verboten, I forgot how calming it is to be greeted at the door.

Their cat was always there when she heard the key in the lock.

But my favorites were the tortoises!

I followed my friends’ instructions for feeding to the letter– several different types of lettuce and leafy confections, piled high on a plate. These little guys eat well! And the cat eats the brand of cat food I sell– she took my recommendation and it’s worked out! Validating.

One tortoise is larger, the other small.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the simple routine of coming over to take care of these little guys. How satisfying it was to have them not just depending on me, but also being able to interact with and hold them.

The bigger tortoise was my favorite. He was more affectionate than the cat!!

I took them out of their wooden home, and let them crawl around– keeping careful watch so they didn’t get stuck in a corner or into another room, underneath furniture.

The larger tortoise and I sort of cuddled. I held him by the sides and set him on my chest as I laid on the couch. He just chilled out there. He stuck out his neck and allowed me to pet him a little bit there. I definitely felt a little kinship!!

It’s all wonderful motivation to move forward. I enjoy my current apartment, but a little change is due.

And holy cats! You haven’t LIVED until you’ve taken a bath in a vintage Clawfoot tub.

I’m hooked! If at all possible, I want my next place to have one, too.

The deep basin made me feel like I truly WAS on some exotic vacation.

Simply bliss.