Happy Wednesday, Readers!
Here is your bonus, mid-week blog post.
There is so much going on at the Lamp Post this summer,
I can't fit the week into just one story.
Challenge Erie 4 has ended. To complete my requirements for the wellness challenge I signed up for in May, I needed to complete an Endurance Challenge of my choosing last weekend.
The bullhead at the bullhorn is Dr. Steven Krauza, the mind behind the development of Challenge Erie. Doc set the bar high for his participants. He rode his bike 300 miles around the peninsula during a 24 hour period last weekend to challenge himself as well as raise awareness and money for Cystic Fibrosis.
We can't all be as fit as Dr. Steve. But we all gather a few times a week to challenge ourselves, just the same. Last night, we just didn't run sprints--we could choose to do so carrying another person while we ran.
I've learned that's what friends do.
They are right there to lift you up when you are feeling weak.
I ran the Erie Half Marathon at the peninsula last Sunday. I had been training for it all summer--throwing in a long run or two each week to build my endurance. That seemed logical enough to choose for an endurance challenge by definition, or was it?
Eloise is a word girl. Most teachers are. I decided to look up the definition to read what it actually means. I looked up several, but will post the people's definition from wikipedia because I like that one best. It reads:
Endurance (also related to sufferance and resilience) is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. In humans, it is usually used in aerobic or anaerobic exercise. The definition of 'long' varies according to the type of exertion – minutes for high intensity anaerobic exercise, hours or days for low intensity aerobic exercise. Training for endurance can have a negative impact on the ability to exert strength unless an individual also undertakes resistance training to counteract this effect.
Many personnel consider endurance to be an indicator of progress, when strength and cardio training. A person is able to accomplish or withstand a higher amount of effort then their original capabilities means their endurance is increasing expressing improvement. In looking to improve ones endurance they may slowly increase the amount of repetitions or time spent, if higher repetitions are taken rapidly muscle strength improves while less endurance is gained. Increasing endurance has been proven to release endorphins resulting in a positive mind. The act of gaining endurance through physical activity has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and stress, or any chronic disease in total. Although a greater endurance can assist the cardiovascular system it does not imply that any cardiovascular disease can be guaranteed to improve. "The major metabolic consequences of the adaptations of muscle to endurance exercise are a slower utilization of muscle glycogen and blood glucose, a greater reliance on fat oxidation, and less lactate production during exercise of a given intensity."
Endurance may also refer to an ability to keep going through a tough situation involving hardship, stress, etc. (see patience)
Two weeks ago, on a 6:00 am practice run at the peninsula, I made it a point to begin my endurance challenge. I could have cared less about the miles I put on my smurf shoes that day. The run became a matter of the mind.
It was a gorgeous morning--the sun was coming up as we set out.
There were too many photo ops, and I quickly fell behind the group of runners and bikers.
I waved them ahead and told them not to worry.
It was all part of the plan.
I happily ran solo that day, capturing 127 beautiful images of nature and the people who chose to interact with it. I found some significant numbers:
My birth year.
I got to see the Perry Monument up close.
Eloise was green with lens envy over this bird watchers equipment.
I photographed this rare robin that was sitting behind him.
It was all blue skies and a calm lake.
The lighthouse does look pretty from the beach.
Once I hit the sand, I decided to stay there and try some beach running.
Talk about an endurance challenge! Whew!
I was enjoying my solo run and just before I hit the beach, two friends on Bike Rescue found me. My friends knew that running alone was now outside of my comfort zone, and they came to make sure I was OK. I assured them that Eloise was fine, had enough water and food with me, and told them to send a message to everyone that I was going to do some exploring and not to wait for me.
As much as I love the motivation of a group, these women have become a safety net.
Now I'm afraid to run without them. As strong as they are making me physically, I was weakening in going it alone. My fears in some areas were getting worse, and I put it in my consciousness to address that along my path.
The girl in the center in yellow is Leslie. I've nicknamed her Alcatraz, and she is my dog scout. She's a tough athlete, ten years my junior and my favorite person to chase. She's been babysitting me on runs all year long, running ahead of me to scout for dogs, then running back to tell me what's coming and runs next to me while we pass one. Because of this, she usually gets the best workout of the group.
I fired Leslie a few weeks ago. Eloise fired her personal dog scout. It was tough, but I did it way most teenagers break up with one another---I sent her a facebook message to tell her that I was downsizing. Position closed. No hope of a rehire. Unfortunately I was not offering a severance package either. As much as I liked having the security, it wasn't doing me any good. I have a lifetime ahead of me with outdoor fitness, and I am bound to run into a loose dog or two. I had to face my fears.
No sooner than I snapped photos of the lighthouse, I headed down the beach to find one lone man standing at the water's edge. The rest of the beach was vacant, and Eloise in smurf shoes came to a screeching halt. I looked for a path to head back up to the road, but there really wasn't one. Deer ticks and poison ivy also crossed my mind and I had to weigh the options of one fear over the other. Risk a skin rash or being drowned by a stranger.
As I contemplated, I heard splashing. The man has his dog with him and was throwing a stick to it to retrieve. This canine was no Labrador Retriever, though. It was a German Shepard--the dog I probably am most afraid of.
There was Eloise, stuck on the sand with fears all around her. I had to rely on my senses--gut instincts--not learned, habitual thoughts. I cleared the idea that this man was an escaped convict and the dog a rabies infested hell hound. I would cautiously proceed and trust my instincts.
I took Tim McGraw out of my ears and made sure my shoes were laced up tight. I scouted a path through the beach grass that I would readily take if I felt uncomfortable even for a millisecond. I kept a good distance between us, and came upon the pair, man and his dog, laughing and splashing at the water's edge.
I yelled to the man, and asked about his dog. I commented that I had never saw a German Shepard swim before. It turns out the dog was young and very energetic, more interested in the stick than taking a chomp out of my calf muscle. I even called the dog to me, and tossed the stick for him. Looking at this photo as I type this, I still can hardly believe I did it.
I felt as if I could conquer the world after that encounter. The mental charge translated into physical energy. I took off down the beach faster that I normally would have. It was approaching 9:00 and the sun was shining brightly. Eloise got hot! A few beaches down, I decided to go in for a dip, shoes and all!
It was liberating to say the least.
I emerged from the lake cooler and clearer. I sucked down the last of my water, figuring I couldn't be far from my parking space. I was soaking wet, my two ton pony tail became a three ton pony tail with all the absorbed water. It hung loosely to the side, curls escaping left and right. My mascara had smeared and I resembled a cross between Medusa and the Swamp Monster.
Knowing I was out of water, I decided to run the road the rest of the way back, knowing I could stop at the Ranger Station or a bathhouse for a drink if I needed to. There is a reason I don't work for Rand-McNally. I'm not the best at figuring distances and reading maps. I was out a little farther than I had thought. I still had some running to do to get back to the car. I gritted my teeth and just kept moving, one soggy blue sneakered step at a time.
I got a few sips of water as I need to, but I was wishing I had another boost of sugar. I had eaten all of my raisins and cranberries, and had a decent breakfast, but runs do burn a lot of calories.
Rather than focus on my weakening legs and growling stomach, I wanted to bring something motivational to my consciousness to fuel me to the end. I decided to think about all the strong women in my life. Not only my exercise partners, but also my family.
My mom is strong. Kenyan, my sister is tough as nails. My daughters Natalie and Ellen are dauntless as well. I started to think about my grandmothers, Millie and Billie. Both lived out their lives into their late 90's with really no physical health problems to speak of.
Both of my grandmothers had different approaches to health. Grandma O was a life long patient of chiropractic, kept a close eye on her health with regular check ups, and ate like a champ. Grandma Heasley avoided the doctor like the plague and had a steady diet of Cheeze Nips and circus peanuts.
Maybe it was environment or maybe it was all in the genes, but each lived full lives in relatively good health. I was thinking that was how I wanted to be--just like them. I want to be able to endure my time here with the ability to run like I was running if I felt the desire. My thoughts were on my Grandmother and I was wishing for a Cheese Nip. I was running on fumes.
"Dang, I wish I had a Cheese Nip!" I said aloud.
"Dang, I wish I had a Cheese Nip!" I said aloud.
Not ten steps later I looked up to find these. Do you know what they are, Readers?
They are mulberries. Grandma Heasley had a tree of them in her front yard on Station Road. My cousins and I would eat them in the summer time when we came to visit her. We would sit with fistfuls of mulberries along side of the wooden fence that bordered Station Road. I'd make us signs that read:
My cousins and I would count how many honks we'd get and high five with mulberry stained hands every single time.
"Thanks, Grandma!" I said as I discovered the tree smack dab in the middle of the peninsula car path. I ate some and felt the sugar rush moments later. It was enough to give me the last little kick I needed. I ended up being only minutes from the park gates.
I forgot about the stains when I wiped the sweat from my forehead.
There was a lot of it. I was out there 3 hours and 11 minutes and covered more than 15 miles of the park as I hit the beach and some nature trails, too.
When I reached the parking lot, I was surprised to see the cars of a couple of friends. I knew they were out there looking for me, so I left them a message. I teacher ALWAYS carries sidewalk chalk in their car.
Because I usually finish last on any group run, I tell my friends to help themselves to drinks in the cooler. This time I left what was in there from the Cherry Festival picnic the night prior.
I'll have you know that moonshine was FULL at 6:00 am. Lushes. I run with a bunch of lushes.
I've been facing my fears everywhere this summer, only to find they were not really fears at all. They were just bad, behavior habits that my mind locked in to. Poor thinking patterns that have been holding me back for decades.
I now ride Ferris Wheels.
And corkscrew roller coasters.
Do I like them now? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But I can do them, and that is important knowledge to have.
I've gotten up close and personal with the neighbor dogs:
and Fangs, whose real name is Bandit, I've come to learn.
A new frame of mind was key.
But these helped, too.
I'm not a fan of horses, either, but I went down to introduce myself Lily.
From talking with the owners, I learned the names of their two dogs I'm terrified of. Ace is the pit bull mix whom they described as a "big baby." Skylar is the Husky mix and answers to Sky. Good to know.
Do I like being chased by dogs now?
But I know I can face them, and that again is good information to know.
Unleashed dogs are no longer a limiting fence for me,
I see them as a challenging obstacle to get by.
I have a few more of those to get by this weekend. Eloise and friends are headed on quite an adventure.
Don't miss a Friday MORNING pep rally/blog post. I'll have some more information about that challenge as well as my official list of the ACCUSED. As it stands I have a six pack of suspects that are moving on to the finger pointing stage. Finnoula, you will have no choice but to reveal yourself afterwards.
Enjoy the video of one spectacular Lake Erie sunset. I set the pictures to The Cup Song by Anna Kendrick, made famous on the movie Pitch Perfect. If you would like to see what is making the sound, click here to see video. It is an amazing piece of music.
See you Friday,