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Monday, February 17, 2014

Oh, How Sweet!

Over the years I’ve pushed our stroller all over San Diego. People often peered into the stroller, exclaiming over the baby’s hair or cooing over tiny feet and peaceful, sleeping face. I do the same. When I pass a stroller I can’t not look inside.  
Yesterday I surprised a few people when they glanced at our stroller. These baby gazers peeked into the stroller, their mouths ready to exclaim, “Oh, what a darling baby.” But they kept doing double takes. One woman said, “Oh, how hilarious” after she looked into the stroller and saw no baby. I could almost hear them thinking, Look at the cute…cement block?

Yes, sitting inside the stroller were two half-sized cement blocks. Allow me to explain. Recently I decided I wanted to try to push cement blocks up a long hill. Not just for kicks, mind you. I wanted to turn my workouts up a notch, and this seemed like a good experiment. A few weeks ago a scene from a movie flitted across my mind. Did you see Vision Quest? It is a 1985 movie about high school wrestling. In one scene, a wrestler climbs stadium stairs while holding a log across his shoulders. This image came to mind recently when I was pondering ways to add intensity to my workouts. Having no spare logs handy, I decided to add the challenge of pushing extra weight. I wanted my whole body to work harder as I pushed the stroller up hill.  

I had a good hill in mind. When I Googled my intended route I found that the road was two miles from the bottom to the top. It isn’t in my neighborhood so I planned to drive to the hill, get the stroller and cement blocks out, and then climb. I left the house later than planned and in my hurry I decided to bring two small cement blocks with me. I’d thought of bringing more, or bringing larger ones. But looking back, I’m glad I started semi-modestly. (Upon returning home I weighed the blocks and was surprised to learn that each one was 14 pounds, so I was pushing 28 extra pounds--plus the stroller--up the hill.) That’s plenty for now.

At the beginning I felt great! I worked up a good sweat—noticeably more than when I walk my neighborhood without pushing cement blocks around. My heart was beating at a fastish pace and I felt strong and glad that I was pushing myself. On the walk downhill I felt a bit tired. The high of conquering the hill had faded and now I just wanted to be finished. The total distance was exactly four miles, according to the gadget I borrowed from Hubby, which measures distance, time, elevation and grade.  Four miles was a good amount for me right now. I am trying to lose ten pounds that stubbornly hang on, and this hill challenge felt like a good step up from my daily walks. I’m no Olympic athlete but I pushed myself and I like that feeling.

If I gave passersby a laugh when they saw cement blocks instead of a baby in the stroller, that’s great, too. I’m not expecting to transform back into how I looked at twenty-one, when I had a lot more energy and time for working out. But my experiment yesterday reminded me how hard I worked out at twenty-one. Results take work. It may seem comical that the tweaks to yesterday’s workout were inspired by a scene in a movie I saw nearly thirty years ago. But hey, inspiration is everywhere, especially in unexpected places.

We’ve been watching the winter games televised from Sochi, Russia. All of those Olympic athletes inspire me. When I see Olympic skiers over forty, I identify with them now that I am two months into my forties. Attempting to keep up with people two decades younger takes physical strength and stamina. But it also takes courage to compete against athletes who are younger--and hungry for glory. The Olympic athletes inspire on so many levels. Their dedication is amazing. I’m humbled by the commercials showing Paralympic athletes and how hard they work. Same for Special Olympians. The athletes who train hard enough to become Olympians—especially if they have a family—really inspire me. I relate to them because trying to be an awesome parent while following your personal dreams is always a tough juggle. Perhaps it’s an impossible juggle, because you want to give your all to your family without abandoning your own goals, but you’re human, which means you make mistakes.  And you never have enough time or energy to go around. But all these Olympic competitions encourage me. None of these athletes claim victory is easy. They all work really hard. It’s a good reminder for me with the everyday things I juggle. The things we want rarely are accomplished easily. You have to keep pushing. Yesterday’s experiment pushing weight up a hill had its comical elements but it is not in vain. Sure, sometimes I feel like Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down. But my effort is not useless, and slowly, it will get me toward my goal. I will find more hills, more challenges, and more goals. If you’re out and about in San Diego and you see a lady with hot pink sneakers doing something unexpected—possibly involving cement blocks, a stroller, a boulder or a log—you can bet it’s probably me. And odd as it may seem, there is a method to my madness.    

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