Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Morning Report

My heart is thumping and my hands fumble as I furiously try to slam down the gate of the freight elevator. Mark is standing next to me, passive and not the least bit helpful. When the metal clangs, I manically press the buttons. I gasp, taking my first breath in what seems like hours, as I feel my belly drop and the elevator rise.

The fluorescent lights are blinding as we step off, reflecting off the white floors and white walls. I walk slowly, wary of what lurks ahead. I have a chef's knife in my right hand, and I hold it at the ready. The undead are wandering, I know, having encountered them as we rushed into the freight elevator hoping to find a haven. Mark trails behind me, unconcerned with the danger and my safety, and my fury grows.

I proceed, deciding to leave him behind. The knife is still high, parallel to my ear, as I pass jewelry stores with looters blatantly breaking open cases as store workers stand idly. The hall turns to the right ...


I reach for my phone under the pillow and struggle to turn off the alarm. 4:45 a.m. the clock reads. It is time to rise and grind.

I tiptoe downstairs as Denali bounds like a freight train down the staircase. We both go to the bathroom – him outside, me on the toilet. I use the time to put on my running gear: sports bra, short-sleeve tech shirt and capris. Shortie Pro Compression trainers go on last. The time it takes to get dressed is my insurance policy, the extra minutes to make sure I am fully emptied.

4:52, the clock reads as I head to the kitchen. "Good," I think. I have enough time to switch over the laundry I started  last night. I make the trip to the basement, where I put dry clothes in a laundry basket and move over wet ones from the washer to the dryer (I had set it on delay so the cycle had finished an hour or so before). There is still pile after pile behind me and so I throw in a load of towels, feeling like a badass mother runner and a wee bit smug.

◊ ◊ ◊

The drive to the YMCA is short but slow as I'm being extra cautious. Freezing rain had come overnight and the walkway at home had been slick. It's a shame, too, as the air is delicious – 33 and calm. It would be perfect for a pre-dawn run around the neighborhood. But the fear (and risk) of falling is too great, and the treadmill is the more prudent option.

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I am not quite sure how far I want to run. My mid-week runs have been 5 miles but I'm sure Mark will have a delay, and I could get in 6. And then there's my running log, that temptress. I am at 81 miles for the month and as I have three runs before the calendar turns, I could hit 100 miles. I have never hit 100 miles in January – never ever. I would just need to run 7 miles today.

I push it all aside and hit quick start on the treadmill. I start off at 5.6. I am not sure how I'll play with the settings but I wanted to be prudent at the beginning. The pace feels good, almost too much, and I hesitate to think what it will feel like as I inevitably bump it up. But at a third of a mile, I do – just 0.1, to 5.7. I sigh with relief that it feels good.

My eyes dart from television to television. Fox News is on one screen, reporting the shakeup in management at McDonald's. The blame, I can deduce, goes to Chipotle and other fast-casual but decidedly more upscale chains. I would shrug if it were possible. Chipotle > McDonald's. Always. The local news is on just below, and I see the delays start to flicker across the screen. The regional districts and then the parochial schools. I wait to see Fort Wayne and before I hit two miles, I do.

I could run 7 miles, my type A self thinks. The reasonable side of me tells me no. The third trimester is no time to be setting records. I'll already be running more than any other January, and I should be satisfied with that. And, after all, the treadmill will switch to cool down after 60 minutes. Do I really want to restart it to get in another mile?

No. The answer was no. I settle at 6 miles, finishing just over a 10-minute pace. I feel good but not winded, and I walk more normally off the treadmill than I have in weeks. (Thank you, Jess, for the support belt.)

◊ ◊ ◊

My mood goes from satisfied to stressed within minutes of getting home. I had gone to the bathroom, and I noticed a spot on an undergarment. Weird. I cleaned up and noticed more. I was spotting, or had spotted. A first for me in this pregnancy and maybe both.

I consulted Dr. Google as I made breakfast (a cheese omelet with a Morningstar veggie patty), searching "light spotting 29 weeks pregnant," and found a whole lot of scary stuff about bleeding. I wasn't bleeding, was I? I went back to the bathroom to check. Nope. Not bleeding. And, this time, there was nothing. I went back to Google. One message board said something about an irritated cervix after heavy activity. Hmph. If my cervix was getting cranky, we were going to need to talk.

I passed the time till I could call the doctor/midwife office by putting away all of the laundry. I swear 70 percent of it was Miles' clothes, 20 percent sports bras and Pro socks and 10 percent real clothes. It's so ridiculous, and I shudder thinking that the amount of laundry will seemingly triple come April.

At 8:20, I make the call and talk to the doctor in my practice. How much spotting? What color? How do you feel? Not much. Pink. Fine. He tells me not to worry as it's just some discharge. But I was running, I insist. Does that make a difference? Nope. It's fine. Do I need to not run? Nope. It's fine.

I hang up, relieved. Mark suggests that maybe it's time that I start dropping down a bit. From 6 miles to 5, he assures me. I gape. He didn't seem to care when we are at the mall in my dream, now did he? He can't just pick and choose when he is concerned.

And then I laugh. I probably shouldn't hold my dream against him.

"We'll see. I'll think about it. But maybe. Probably."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A New Take on Fitness: The Gathering Place

"The Gathering Place @ Community Church Greenwood," the workshop information said.

The address was Main Street and as it was in a suburb south of Indianapolis, I wasn't sure what to expect when I was making the drive for Silver Sneakers training. A community hall next to a church? A church basement? After all, I used to go to Weight Watchers meetings in a church basement and it's where I now vote. The church where Mark and I (sometimes) attend used to offer Silver Sneakers – maybe it would be in a multi-purpose room just steps from the sanctuary.

As I made the turn onto Main Street, a wide road that appeared anything but small town, I knew that any preconceived notion I had was wrong. I just didn't understand how wrong until I made the turn into a large parking lot.

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The Gathering Place, as it turns out, is not a rinky-dink community center but a full-fledged, expansive gym that is affiliated with the church next door. The church's mission, workshop attendees would learn, includes living "in unity, intentionally caring for one another's physical, spiritual, material and emotional well-being." The Gathering Place is a reflection of that mission, offering members and the community a place to further the physical care. They want people to lead a "totally fit life" so that they "can live on earth as long as God intended."

This concept, being healthy as a way of respecting God and his creation, is not new to me. Many churches have outreach programs to improve the health of its members and there are a number of books, such as "The Daniel Plan," that bridge fitness, health and diet with God and religion.

But I have never seen it done in the way that The Gathering Place is. An indoor soccer field and basketball courts provide a venue for league sports. There are traditional gym facilities, such as a weight room and an area with cardio equipment, and an expansive group fitness schedule.

And it was there, in that schedule, that The Gathering Place intrigued me more. It was packed, with early morning offerings, mid-morning senior classes and evening sessions that go till 9:30. I have yet to see a gym around me offer a 9 p.m. fitness class, much less a facility associated with the church. The classes included everything from what I'd expect – kickboxing and Zumba, Silver Sneakers and cycling. But they also had a number of Les Mills programs: BodyPump, BodyVive, BodyAttack and CXWorx.

As I eyed the schedule, one thought bubbled to the surface: how can a gym like this afford the licensing fees for these classes? Though there are deals and multiple-program discounts, the Gathering Place could easily be paying upwards of $750 a month in licensing fees.

I got a clue when I passed a representative of the Gathering Place, who was chatting with a fellow attendee, on the way to the bathroom. The instructors, all of them, are volunteers. In fact, many of the people who help operate the facility are volunteers save for a handful of administrators and referees. To say I was dumbfounded was putting it lightly.

Don't get me wrong – I don't teach group fitness for the money. The hourly rate is respectable but at four hours a week, it doesn't add up to much. I am an instructor because I love exercise, and I am at the Y because I believe in its mission and, let's be honest, I get a great deal on a family membership. Teaching opens up many opportunities for me.

But I am not sure I would do it for free. I have to pay for music, clothing and other gear. I have to take and pay for continuing education to maintain my certification. Les Mills instructors have to pay for quarterly releases to maintain certification, each of which cost $39.95. It's close to $160 a year for just one format.

Mark and I do donate to charity and volunteer in our own ways. I tutor and he delivers groceries for the food bank on breaks. My fitness endeavors, though, have never been a way to reach out to the community.

I thought about it as I drove home (listening to "Fifty Shades of Grey" – oh the paradox). At a New Year's service, a guest pastor challenged the church to think about what their gifts were and how they were going to use them to serve others in 2015. I told Mark that I have no gifts and though I feel like there's something more for me and my story, I don't know what to do with it.

Was/is The Gathering Place the answer? I am not sure. But it did make me think – I'm still thinking, obviously.