Saturday, February 4, 2012

Making amends with my lungs

My lungs and I haven't always been friends. I haven't been very kind to them, you see. Until the age of 10, they grew up in a home with a smoker. So while other children's lungs were developing into healthy organs that look like thick, juicy cuts of ribeye steak, mine probably resembled dirty, shriveled yams. And to add insult to injury, it was just four years after leaving a home with a smoker that I took my own first puff behind the Bowl Mor Lanes and Lounge in Fairmont. Being an "invincible teenager" and all, I smoked for a solid couple of years in high school and then dabbled again when I turned 21 and discovered how very well ciggies pair up with beers and liquors of all colors and flavors.

Of course, then a few more years past. By the time I hit 25, feelings of "invincibility" turned to fears of dying tomorrow, and I was horrified thinking about what I'd done to my poor, helpless lungs, which, at that point, probably resembled burned and blackened baked potatoes.

Recently, though, I'm happy to report that I've made amends. This past year, through tons of exercise, I've been pumping a lot of healthy oxygen to my little buddies, and they've really come along nicely. They've perked up, seem happier. I'd venture to say we're friends again.

But then we hit a little roadblock this past week. I went crazy and decided I was going to train for a 5K. Never ran in my life, but I thought I'd give it a go. My lungs were angry. Too much exertion. They burned. Bad. Cried out in anger, a feeling reminiscent of that first drag behind the Bowl Mor. Honestly, I was ready to quit the running program, especially after I hurt my hip from not having the right shoes. I was feeling quite defeated, like my body was working against me.

As I was writing the blog entry that outlined this very situation, I got a text from Jackie, my personal trainer from last year. It was out of the blue. She and I don't text that often. And it said how happy she was that I was training for a 5K, and that she would love to train with me and run with me when I'm ready.

Now, that wonderful girl coached me through quite a few moments when I felt like I wasn't up to the physical challenge that lied before me. She told me I could, and so I did. Whatever it was. When that text came at exactly that moment when I needed it most, I swear to you it was like a sign. It was like she knew. It was truly incredible.

That very night I went out and I bought women's Nike running shoes (at Plato's Closet for only $18!!), women's sports under things (heehee), and a waterproof watch with a stopwatch function. And the very next morning, I went back to the gym, up to the track, and I tried again.

And you know what? I did it. I ran 60 seconds, and I walked two minutes, repeating the pattern 10 times. And my lungs were completely on board. No burning. And then I went down to the life center and did 20 minutes on the bike, just for that added fitness bonus and to prove to myself that not only can I train to be a runner, but I can train and then some.

But my biggest sense of accomplishment came this morning. Today I ran 90 seconds, walked 90 seconds, and repeated the pattern 10 times. Only my last bout of running, I ran two minutes without even realizing I'd gone over. To those who haven't ran before, two minutes sounds like nothing. But seriously, try it. Running is HARD. It's hard! So I felt in-cred-ible. And then once again, I went down to the Life Center and did 20 minutes on the elliptical.

I feel good today. I can do this, I think! Woo hoo!

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