running

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

I ran my first race today. A five-miler in Central Park. It was for charity, to benefit brain cancer research. (Don’t worry. I have not nor has anyone in my family been diagnosed with brain cancer or anything else since we broke up. I just wanted to run a race, I didn’t have any particular affinity to the charity. Though it is a good cause. I’m glad my money went to funding something good. I’m not a terrible person.)

I have you to thank for giving me the motivation to do it. Not that finishing a five-mile race is that much to get excited about. I mean, it is only five mile. The motivation is more about having found a new hobby and stuck with it.

I started running pretty regularly when you broke up with me. I admit that I originally took it up to prove something to you, to shed some pounds and tone up again in hopes that you’d feel some regret over ending things.

I’m one of those people who let themselves go a bit when in a relationship. It got hard to make time for working out when I also had to make time for actual work and for you. I know I’d gained like fifteen pounds over the course of our year and a half together. It never really showed, though, or at least that’s the lie I tell myself. Now that I’ve trimmed back down I’m not seeing a ton of places where the old weight has disappeared. Maybe in my thighs. You probably wouldn’t even notice the change if you saw me.

But back to thanking you. I knew that eventually my spite-driven motivation would wear off. Then I’d need something else to get me up  and out running every day. So I decided to sign up for a race. My first of many, I hope. I picked a shorter distance, but I plan to expand up to a half-marathon at some point next year. I don’t think my legs have it in them to go a full twenty-six. Or maybe it’s my brain that can’t handle it. Either way, I don’t think I’ll run a full marathon anytime soon.

When I was out on the course today, I didn’t have any music. I wanted to make sure I kept my focus on the race itself. Instead I thought about you – only for a bit. I used to think about you a lot when I ran. Not so much anymore. But when we first broke up it consumed me. In a good way. It pushed me forward, made the miles and minutes slip away.

Now that I’m moving on, I think about other things – the prospect of meeting that next special guy, the fantasy of winning some major award or getting a crazy promotion at work, of meeting and becoming best friends with one of my celebrity crushes. I also reminisce on high school and the races I ran then. Basically anything that I can imagine myself winning at.

Winning motivates me, especially the fantastic kind that would never happen in real life. When we were still dating I had this whole scenario mapped out where I won an Academy Award (I know, impossible considering I don’t do anything remotely involved with the movie business) and you were there in the audience with me and so supportive and proud when I walked up to the stage and gave my speech, thanking you in the first line. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it really does make me run faster. And the best thing about that Academy Award ceremony wasn’t winning the award, it was having you there to support me. Having you to make proud.

You were always so supportive, to me and to your friends. We went to that little one-man show your friend put on, in that tiny coffee shop that doubled as a performance space. You always listened to your roommate’s web series scripts, trying to give him helpful notes even though he never listens to anyone’s ideas but his own. You even went all the way out to Brooklyn on a very early Sunday morning (made even more grueling by the fact that you’d been out until 4AM the night before) to watch one of your friends run the Brooklyn half-marathon. You were there at the start and then saw him once when he ran through Prospect Park. Then you were at the finish line to cheer him on and head back to Manhattan with him. That’s a very early and big trip to make to see someone all of three times over the course of a two-hour race. But you were always willing to give of yourself to support those you cared about. It’s such an attractive quality you possess.

If we were still dating, you would have come out and cheered for me this morning. And I would have loved it. That’s where boyfriends are better than friends. Boyfriends support you no matter what. Most friends only come when it’s convenient.

No one came out to cheer for me this morning. Not a single one of my friends. I didn’t expect them to show up. It was an 8:30 race on a Sunday morning. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed not to hear anyone cheering for me, to know that there wouldn’t be any of those little bumps of adrenaline from spying a familiar face around the corner to give me a spurt of speed, no cute and witty signs, no one there at the finish line to cheer me in on my final sprint.

It was kind of a lonely morning, actually. Getting up early and making my way out to Central Park by myself, warming-up and stretching by myself, the five miles I ran, all the time in my own head, polishing off my complimentary bagel and apple at the end of the race and then watching other people finishing for a bit, again all by myself. I even had to take my own post-race picture, proof that I had indeed finished. I couldn’t get the camera far enough back to get both my head and my race number in the shot so I had to take off my shirt and hold the number up. I looked like one of those selfie-obsessed morons.

My parents didn’t even answer the phone when I called to tell them how the race had gone. They were at church, but still. Accomplishing something, even minor, really sucks when you don’t have someone to share the excitement with. You were that person I always shared those little victories with, whether they be “good jobs” at the office or making a delicious cake.

I know that I’ll eventually find someone new to date, someone new to share all of these things with. But in the meantime I miss having you there. I miss the way your eyes lit up and the genuine smile you’d get on your face when I surprised you with some piece of good news from my day, some small or big victory I had accomplished.

And I miss having you to root for. I miss getting to be excited about your successes. Even though we’ve been broken up for three months now, I still do wish you the best, career-wise and personally. I want you to succeed in life. You’re a great guy and you deserve it.

But anyways, I just wanted to thank you for giving me the motivation to keep running. And I hope that you are kicking ass in life, even though you’re kicking it without me now.

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Sundays have become the hardest days for me to fill. Sometimes I have plans with my friends, but usually not. Sundays were always our day to hang out and relax. We’d sleep in and get coffee and donuts. We’d go to the grocery store and make dinner. We’d go for a walk if it was nice out or sit and watch TV in your apartment. It was so relaxing, and spending a quiet day with you made me feel special.

Now I have to fill those Sundays on my own. They get lonely.

This morning I woke up with nothing to do. Literally no plans. I decided that I’d bake something. Now that it’s fall, it’s pumpkin season, so I decided to make some chocolate chip pumpkin bread. I found a pretty simple recipe, went to the store, came back home and got to baking.

The pumpkin bread turned out really well. The chocolate chips gave it a nice sweetness that complimented the smooth and fluffy pumpkin loaf. It was an easy recipe, though, and only took about an hour to mix, bake and let cool. When I had finished, it was one and I still had nothing to do. So I decided to go for a long run.

(Full disclosure, I had seen one of your Facebook posts from earlier in the day, commenting on just how beautiful a day it was and how you wanted to go for a walk in the park. That might have swayed my decision to go for a run, though I knew I had absolutely no chance of running into you. It was a good idea, and I needed to get my run in for the day anyways, so I set out for Central Park.)

I ended up running for thirteen miles. I’ve never done that much without stopping before. But I was really in the zone. Sunday afternoon is the best day to run through the park. There are a ton of people around, the trees lining the drive look amazing and shade the road to create this awesome light. You almost feel like you’ve escaped the city and are out in the country, all the noise and traffic far away.

After my run I walked back through the park. There’s this huge grassy knoll on the east side. I’ve never sat there before, but it looked so cool and inviting. I left the paved path and went out into the grass and collapsed.

The ground felt so cool against my back, and comfortable, like sitting on a cushion. We don’t get many bugs in New York City grass, which is a godsend. I laid back and stared up at the blue, cloudless sky. All I could see was light blue, no buildings to frame the image, no planes flying over and breaking up the view, just an endless canvas of unobstructed sky.

It was relaxing out there on the grass, music playing in my ears as I stared up and daydreamed. I wished I could have gone on that walk with you and we could have sprawled out in the grass and shared that amazingly peaceful moment.

I know it’s silly to still want that. But you were always my go-to for a relaxing Sunday.  Now, I just have a lot of me time. Too much of it.

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

My cheek bones are coming in. Or rather my cheek fat is going away.

I’ve lost fifteen pounds now. Not that I was ever fat. Just fatter. When I stepped on the scale for the first time in forever a few weeks ago, I about had a heart attack. 200 POUNDS! How’s that even possible? It makes sense to me why you’d want to cut out after that. But with all the extra free time I have on my hands since you broke up with me, I’ve had plenty of time to hit the gym and get back into running. Now I’m back at 185. It’s a nice number to be back at. Your goal weight, if I remember correctly. Although you’re coming from the other direction, trying to gain muscle to get up to that. It always amazed me that you didn’t weigh more. You’re so muscular. And tall. Though still an inch shorter than me. I guess you don’t have any fat on your body. Or at least a lot less than I have. Or had.

But now I’m back at one-eighty-five. I’ve been working out like crazy for the past seven weeks. Five (sometimes six) days a week. Running between four and eight miles each day. I’ve even started lifting weights (I know, unthinkable) three days a week.

First I do my arms and chest on Tuesdays. Then Thursdays I do abs and back. And on Saturdays I have a day of free weights. Mostly arms and chest stuff. This is when I do dips and pull-ups. I know it’s not much. But it’s a start. I haven’t begun lifting for my legs yet. But I run so much, and I’ve always had pretty big thighs. So I’m not worried.

I also do four hundred crunches three nights a week. On some particularly starved mornings, I can even make out four of my abs. The upper ones. Nothing on the lower end yet. Though those are the ones I covet most. Who knew getting back into shape could be so hard. And time-consuming.

I’ve found that the best time to see my abs is in the morning, after I’ve gone for a run. I’ll come back all hot and sweaty, dinner digested from the night before and some of it even burned off already. Then I’ll hop in the shower – a cold one, because I’m burning up and hot water would fog the mirrors anyways. How could I see my abs in a cloudy mirror?

So after I’m done with the shower, I’ll swing open the curtain and there I’ll be, dripping water and thin, my reflection in the mirror opposite. (You know how my bathroom is set up. It’s got mirrors on two sides.) I’ll grab my towel and just barely cover up my groin. (A tasteful nude, if you will.) And there I am.

Since I’ve run that morning I already have my contacts in and can actually see myself in focus. My hair lays dark and flat, my chest and arms look nice and strong, my four abs will stick out if I crunch down a little bit, I’ll tense up and suck in my stomach to flatten it and my V (which I always had, it’s just more pronounced now) will cut down alluringly below my towel. Thank God for overhead lighting.

I wish we were still dating so I could send you a sexy pic. With my new phone, I know I’d get a good, clear image. (I’m a narcissist, I know. And so are you. That’s why we got along so well.)

Remember that time I was on vacation two summers ago? You sent me a sexy pic then. It was hot. You showed everything, dick and all. I got so excited about it that the next week I showed it to one of my friends. (Don’t worry, I covered up your dick. I just wanted him to see your chest and arms. I wanted someone to be jealous of my boyfriend because even then, I couldn’t believe that you’d decided to date me.)

I was with my parents on vacation that summer when you sent it to me. We were in Myrtle Beach staying at a condo there. This was back when my brother was married, so there were five of us sharing the condo. I had to sleep in the same room as my parents. Excruciating considering my dad is a loud snorer.

I still have the picture I sent back to you. It’s not much. I didn’t feel comfortable doing a full on sexy pic, not with my parents and brother and sister-in-law so close. So I unbuttoned my shirt and snapped a picture of my chest and stomach. I looked cute. Not sexy, though. That was in my pre-workout phase. I wasn’t fat yet, though. I just looked skinny. Not particularly alluring. You pretended to like it, even though I’m sure you were disappointed.

I wish I could take a picture now, on one of these post-running shower mornings, and send it to you. Maybe then you’d send me one back.

I’ve begun to forget how you look naked. I wish I still had that original picture on my phone for reference. I lost it when I got my new phone. For some reason it didn’t transfer over. You’re probably happy to know that I don’t have it. And soon it’ll be gone from my memory as well. Crazy since I’ve seen you naked so many times. I guess after a while even good memories fade…

But back to my fitness kick.

So (to refresh you)I’m  working out five or six days a week and lifting three days. I’m even trying to take in more protein, though I haven’t yet invested in a tub of it like you. I’m still worried about my roommate poisoning it, since she does have a history of doing that. But I buy protein shakes from the local deli. (I found a new one. It’s closer than the one on 2nd Avenue. And way better. Cleaner. Less sketchy. Which is hard to find in my neighborhood. Also, it’s staffed by Spanish-speaking employees. It makes me think of Nadal, your neighborhood deli where we got sandwiches on so many drunken nights.)

I’m slowly getting into shape. I hold a 7:30 mile pace now for a seven and a half mile run. I try to run in Central Park. It’s beautiful. The Reservoir at night…there’s nothing like it. All the lit up buildings rising imposingly behind the tops of the trees. And last night the most magnificent crescent moon. It glowed up in the sky, like someone had taken a scythe and slashed through the black canopy of night.

Why didn’t we ever do late evening walks in the park? We really missed out. The main paths are all pretty well lit, so  we wouldn’t really have to worry about muggers.

But I’m getting off topic. So many tangents today.

I guess I just wanted to let you know that I’m getting back into shape. Little by little. And it’s done wonders for me. This is the most attractive I’ve felt in a very long time…maybe ever. And it’s a good thing. The boost of confidence I’m getting helps offset what I lost when you broke up with me. So I guess I’m pretty much even now, and feeling really good about it.

Bottom line is: I look great now and you’re missing out.