Monday, July 20, 2020

Quarantine Goals – Couch to 5k

The last time Byron, Bob and I were out in a crowd of people was Sunday March 1 for the Washington Heights 5K (3.11 miles) run in New York.  Byron ran it with his brother Ryan and finished it quite respectably. 

And then the pandemic began in earnest.

As we quarantined at home, even though it was relatively cold outside, I encouraged Byron to continue his running training.  Byron had mentioned that he might want to run track next year at school so training would be important. Every few days Byron would go out and run with the dog. One day I went with him.  I found out his “training” consisted of running full speed for about 100 yards and then stopping.  I knew that if another 5k or longer was in his future, we needed to develop a proper training regime.

I found an app called C25K which stands for “Couch to 5k.”  It promised to get you from sedentary to running a 5k in 8 weeks and what’s more, it was free!  I decided to not only encourage Byron to do the program, but that I would do it as well.

I ran track while in school but always the fast, short sprints.  I had tried to take up longer runs many times, but like Byron, I would run for 100 yards and then give up.  Now I was going to give it one last try.

Byron and I started the program on May 1, just as we were getting the most intense cabin fever after 6 weeks of lock down.

On our first day we were both euphoric.  It was so fantastic to be outside moving our bodies under the wide blue sky and just being with each other.  If you have a 13-year-old, you know how hard it is as a parent to spend any meaningful time with them in this digital age.  So this first outing was full of win-wins.  We talked.  We walked for 5 minutes, ran for 90 seconds, walked again and on like that.  The running part was tiring, and after the short runs we were both so grateful for the walks.  

Each week the training program upped the ante.  Byron and I both have apple watches so we could run the program on our watches.  The program would tell us via the watch, when to run and when to walk.  One day the program surprised us by introducing an 8-minute run in the middle of the week.  We both thought it was a mistake but sure enough, it was upping our game.  It went on like this for a few weeks. Along the way, I had many setbacks.  Not having run like this, ever, my knees ached, my ankles ached.  I almost gave up at least three times.   A couple of times we repeated a week.  Byron never seemed to have any problems and he was patient with me.  Finally, I found the right combination of knee “sleeves” (laced with some heat producing elements and mild support) and a single ankle wrap that alleviated all of the pain and discomfort.  We were now moving briskly through the program.

The eighth and last week was about to begin.  I looked at the map they were giving us for our first 23-minute run and realized that even by the end of the week, we would not really be at a 5k.  I wanted to be sure we could make it all the way.  Byron and I traced a solid 5k on the map, and at 6 am one morning, even before the app was calling on us to run such a distance, we took a leap and ran the course.  And we made it!   We ran our first 5k.  From then on, we ran without the app, and now we run a 5k before breakfast three times per week. We no longer speak on our runs, we both have our music, but we smile and cheer each other on.

One of the most rewarding things for me is watching Byron run ahead.  

He is a bit faster than me, yet even with his slightly awkward hemipalegic gait, it is a wonder to behold.  Flashing backwards 13 years to that fateful diagnosis day, wondering if he would ever talk, walk etc, I could NEVER have imagined I would be running with my 5’7” thirteen-year-old with the deep voice.  And running an entire 5k race three times per week!  

After our first 5K Run

Byron continues to be a wonder and I am so grateful that he is taking us on this great journey with him.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Pandemic Thoughts

This morning as I was making my bed, a wave of sadness swept over me.  I thought: here we go again, another day inside, dark times around the world with no end in sight.  And then very gently, a quotation bubbled up inside “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  I don’t usually think in Psalms, so I sat down and let its message wash over me.  And in that reflection, I realized, This IS the day the Lord made.  This particular day, in the middle of a pandemic, is still God’s perfect creation, a glorious day full of wonder.  How I rejoice and be glad in it will depend on how I choose to approach it.  What will I learn today?  How will I find beauty?  How will I hold on to the sweetness of morning meditation?  How can I serve more fully?

Then I remembered when I was pregnant with Byron, my Spiritual Teacher Gurumayi gave me a red bracelet that said “Choose Happiness”. So I went to look at it. As I was remembering the joy of that interchange, the day she gave it to me,  I realized that these times right now, are the exact times when I must choose happiness.  Even when it’s really hard.   

If I look for it, it is there. The birds in my yard are so happy right now.  They are flitting around building nests, preening in the sunshine.  The squirrels are happily munching on seeds from the feeder.  My dog is snoozing in a warm patch of sunshine.  Perfection.  Happiness.  

Byron is flourishing in his virtual school.  He continues to be on honor. role, is healthy and strong, and a typical 13 year old. Our house is warm, comfortable and easy to be in for long periods of time.  We have abundant nourishing food.  And I am so spiritually renewed by the satsangs live streamed from the Ashram where I offer service. 

I realize that I also can pick and choose what I focus on in the news.  There is so much goodness everywhere right now.  Heroes are being made from these times.  True leaders are emerging. The creativity of the musicians, artists, actors is staggering.  And the sweetness of calls and Zooms with friends and family can’t be beat.

I was taking a walk with Byron the other day and I was truly enjoying the sun on my face.  A feeling of warm bliss overtook me.  I hadn’t remembered being so present to myself and my surroundings on a walk in a long time.  And on that day I realized that I am changing. I am slowing down. I am appreciating the tiny movements of life in ways that I hadn’t so much before.  I am appreciating my family, good health, and moments like these.

So onwards! I will Choose Happiness.  Every day, Each day, This day!


Sweet Byron, who has lately been a very healthy guy, will be having a heart procedure called an ablation on Tuesday August 24. In February ...