VEGA GIVEAWAY WINNER
First things first!
Emz got an additional 5 entries on the Vega giveaway for his exam advice. And the winner of the Vega giveaway is……
Congrats Todd! Email me your mailing address so I can send your free stuff – firstname.lastname@example.org.
MY BEST MOMENTS IN LIFE
Last year to celebrate my birthmonth, I posted a series on 28 reasons I’m glad to be alive (I was turning 28). It turned out to be a pretty enjoyable walk down memory lane, recounting all the great moments that have made up my life. In the end, most of them were simple pleasures. And over this past year I have learned one very important lesson:
Life is too short not to. Every day, good things happen. Even when we think we have crappy lives. Did you see a robin? Did it smell like spring? Did you avoid a red light? Celebrate everything. Look around. Pay attention. Life is awesome but short.
This month I thought I’d go back and re-post some of my favourite moments. Partly because I have a lot of new readers this year, but mostly because I just want to remember them again.
Here are 3 of the best:
1. THE CHEETAH AND THE IMPALA
My friend Michael once told me a story about something he saw in Africa. I’m not sure if he meant it to motivate me, but I think about it every time I have a tough run.
Michael told about a day when he went on a safari and witnessed a cheetah chasing a baby impala. As we know, the cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, and I’ve often wondered how it could NOT catch any prey it wanted. Certainly the baby impala’s fate was sealed.
But Michael says the tiny impala started running in tight, continuous circles. This prevented the cheetah from achieving any kind of speed or distance, paralyzing its greatest strength.
Still the cheetah kept chasing and the impala kept running. So around and around they went…
The chase lasted a while, until ultimately to everyone’s astonishment, the cheetah gave up and ran away. The baby impala survived.
I love that story because that’s what long distance running means to me: perseverance and determination and never giving up. I may not be able to run fast, but I can run forever. And I know that if I can do that, it doesn’t matter how small I am. I can run with giants.
2. DEAR PUBERTY, I HATE YOU.
As is normal for any developing girl, I started growing hair on my legs around the time that I was supposed to.
My dad didn’t understand the concept of female grooming, so he refused to let me shave my legs. His general reasoning was that this would make me a whore and God would be displeased.
Every year I tried to wear pants for as long as possible. When it got too hot, I would shamefully wear shorts. I was already socially awkward to start with, so my hairy legs just further confirmed my status as a freak.
Every single day I begged my dad to let me shave them. All my pleading fell on deaf ears, until finally I annoyed him enough that he said yes – but only under one condition.
I would only be allowed to shave ONE strip up the middle of my leg. One razor strip and nothing else around it.
My dad’s explanation was that this would show me how horrible shaving was. He told me that one strip would grow stubble so thick and so black that I would never want to shave again.
In retrospect, I struggle to understand what I was thinking when I agreed to this. Maybe I was just excited by the fact that he said yes in some way. Or maybe I didn’t really believe he would let me walk around like that.
But for whatever reason – I grabbed the razor and shaved one strip straight up my leg at the very front from my ankle to my knee. Immediately afterwards my dad took the razor away and it suddenly dawned on me: I might as well be dead.
I had gym at school the next day and I had to wear shorts and play baseball. I realized that day that there IS actually something worse than a pair of hairy legs – it’s a pair of hairy legs with two strips of non-hairy parts.
I wanted to crawl into a hole and set myself on fire.
It was so beyond humiliating that nobody even made fun of me. It was just way past that. People kind of looked at me, and I think they were scared. Only a mental deficient would do this to their own legs.
I walked around this way for a couple of days, and then I decided I’d had enough. I didn’t understand at the time that my dad was all about control and intimidation, and this really wasn’t about shaving all. So I braced myself for the worst punishment of my life, and took a razor to the rest of my legs.
That single act for me represented true bravery, and I think that was one of the first moments in my life where I really took a stand for what I knew was best for me. I was scared of my dad, but I was ready to face him anyway. I walked out of that bathroom expecting a full-blown fight.
My dad, who never really paid attention anyway, didn’t even notice.
3. THE SPRINT
At a gym, not every trainer is created equal. They have regular trainers and they have what I like to call supertrainers. The supertrainers don’t get the clients who are just starting out or who just want to lose some weight. They get the athletes, or people who are in great physical shape.
At my gym there are two supertrainers notorious for pushing their clients to the max: some Russian guy (rumour around the gym is that he is guaranteed to make you cry on your first session), and my own trainer.
While the regular trainers stick to the machines and an exclusive trainer-only room, it is actually part of a supertrainer’s job to use the entire gym floor. If they hide their clients away in the trainer room, or among the machines, they get in trouble with management. Management wants the clients of the supertrainers to be seen. It’s good for business.
While a regular trainer might use a treadmill, as the client of a supertrainer I must instead sprint across the wide aisle right in front of all the treadmills. Sometimes I do my entire workout across this central aisle – lugging weights and pulling ropes and dragging or pulling myself across in difficult ways while everyone on the treadmills watches me sweat.
When the gym does tours for new members, my supertrainer and I are supposed to make the gym look good. I’m supposed to look awesome sprinting past anyone considering a membership, making them wish they could do what I do and inspiring them to immediately hand over their credit cards.
At first this was strange for me. But I know that my trainer pushes me much harder than a regular trainer would, and I’ve gotten used to people staring. It helps me work harder.
The gym tries to work it out so that there are rarely two supertrainers working simultaneously (only one awesomely fit and very attractive person dominates the floor at a time), but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes there are two.
Two weeks ago on a Monday this was the case. That was also the day that my supertrainer put me through hell and back in the hardest workout of my life. It was so difficult that the next time I ran 30+ kilometers, it felt easy. And when my runs do get hard, I often think back to this workout and feel thankful that at least I’m not doing THAT again!
My trainer had me doing intervals, and my breaks were severely limited. Even my water was limited (in an effort to teach me to be properly hydrated beforehand). And we were using the wide central aisle.
My hellish routine involved doing some sort of difficult exercise, and then immediately sprinting across the aisle from one end of the gym and back, as fast as possible. Then repeating the first exercise. After that it was another exercise, and another sprint, exercise, sprint, etc.
Because it was immediate and non-stop and because it was more focused on legs, my leg muscles were highly confused. Every time I did that sprint, I felt like my legs were just seconds away from collapsing. They felt shaky and unstable and they were starting to make me moody.
For the record, we were using the aisle first when the second supertrainer came over with her client – some guy who is at the gym all the time with calves the size of my head. She made him do something similar, but alternating so that we were never both sprinting at the same time.
He was still in my way though. As I was sprinting, I would have to maneuver around him as he completed his exercise. It was an additional obstacle to watch out for when I could barely concentrate on just running. It was annoying.
As I was nearing the end of my workout, we synched up. And we started to sprint at around the same time. The aisle felt tighter than ever and I didn’t like it. As the client of a supertrainer, I was used to having a lot of space to myself. Plus I was already slightly pissed at my sadistic trainer and the torturous inventions she was calling exercises.
Near the end I was basically crawling, and as I took off for one of my final sprints, I heard my trainer yelling, “Hurry up! Don’t let him beat you!!” I turned to see Mr. Calves sprinting right beside me, taking up my aisle. What an asshole.
My legs were burning and I could barely think straight, but I sped up. So did he. We quickly glanced at each other… and just like that it was ON.
To our trainers who were still yelling from the far end of the gym, it must have looked like an engine just kicked in. We simultaneously took off in the fastest sprint we could possibly run.
My rival was just a little bit taller than me, definitely more muscular, and his legs were more developed. I was thinner though, with more of a runner’s body, and I had a stronger core. We both crashed into the far end of the gym wall at exactly the same time. Then turned.
At this point our trainers figured out what had happened, and they were each cheering their own clients, screaming across the gym at the top of their lungs. All the less-fit people on the treadmills turned to watch the drama unfold.
For several seconds (felt like minutes), we were head to head. Who did this guy think he was?? At the very end of the hall there was a glass wall blocking off the room where the spinning class is usually held. It wasn’t something we could crash into without serious repercussions. I have never run so fast towards a glass wall in my life, and it was starting to look like we would go right through it. But at the moment I was only worried about strides.
His stride was longer than mine, so I suddenly realized that my only hope was to move faster. I took a quick gasp of air and pumped my arms harder. My legs – in a way that I will never fully understand – miraculously followed.
I pulled ahead of him in the last few seconds. Then, unable to stop, I was forced to do a quick turn and immediately crashed face first into an empty treadmill. I saw my trainer cheering but I didn’t really hear anything she said as I collapsed on the floor, nearly dead.
I did, however, manage to hear my competitor’s first words to his disappointed supertrainer who just saw him get his ass kicked by a girl. He was bitching about some pain in his calves.
Celebrate people. Celebrate everything.