Friday, Jan. 02, 2004
Dear Diary:

Interval training is a ruthlessly efficient way to build stamina and speed as well as to sap a person's will to live. You push your body to the wall for a set period of time, back off a bit and then push it again. Each week you slightly lengthen the time of your workout, as well as the intervals of hard pushing.

Today I finished Week 3 of the interval training I've begun with the eventual goal of running a 10K race in Vermont early in June. To make my training especially brutal, I've chosen to keep the treadmill at a 5% incline, which simulates constantly running uphill.

By the end of it, I'm running purely on guts. It is an amazing lesson in how much attitude affects performance, how it's every bit as possible to psyche myself into doing something as it is to psyche myself out of a goal. Each time I realize that what I thought was my final limit was actually a temporary place and that I can move a bit beyond there.

It's quite a rush.

Normally, I would not kill myself like this by throwing a simulation of hill running into the mix, but my trainer has been talking serious smack to me. Serious smack. She's been claiming she is going to hand my butt to me on a platter when we run this race.

Excuse me? Excuuuuuuuuuse me? The woman may be 25 years younger than I am, but I am not a woman who puts up with the dissing. Now whenever I'm running my intervals, I make sure to catch her eye, point directly at her, mouth the word "you" and then point my finger downwards followed by mouthing the words "going down".

This is a source of much hilarity in the gym. Today I loudly announced that I hoped she could find a really good crow cookbook because come June she was going to be eating a lot of it.

Will she hand me my butt on a platter? Sadly, she probably will. We're the same height and general build, so even though I'm a tall woman, I don’t have a stride advantage over her. That quarter century in age difference is going to tell when we get into the final quarter of that 10K.

I refuse to roll over, though. You can bet your sweet bippy that I will make that woman work very, very hard to beat me. Our little rivalry has tapped into a ferocious vein of competitiveness, one that I'm going to channel into being stronger and faster than I'd ever thought I could be.

Or maybe I'll just end up dying in some bizarre, treadmill-related accident. If I do, I'm going to make them put "Yeah, but her resting heart rate was 58 bpm" on my stone.

Over a year ago I rejoined the gym in the hopes that I could drag my aged carcass into some faint semblance of fitness. Now, to my utter amazement, I find myself at the august age of 52 trying to become an athlete. This is just plain wacky.

Yeah, and I can squat 135 pounds.  Fear me, puny humans.Over this year I've made some big strides. At 5'10" I weigh 173 pounds which would put me close to obesity on most health charts. The thing is, my body fat measurement taken with a seven point caliper measure is 23.5. (Anything between 21 and 25 is good for a woman.)

In other words, I have built up a lot of muscle. I can squat 135 pounds, bench press 90 pounds, and leg press more than twice my body weight. In the last year I've more than doubled the weights I can handle in every exercise I do. If you look at my body you'll see I'm living proof that women don't bulk out when they get muscular. I have very powerful legs, but they're two inches smaller than they were a year ago.

But the thing that thrills me the most is that I have my resting heart rate down to 58 beats per minute. I'm not just strong. I'm fit.

I am never, ever going to have a lithe, fitness model type body and I'm fine with that. My goal for the coming year? To squat 150 pounds, bench press 100 pounds and to get my resting heart rate down as close as I can to 50.

I know. I'm such a girly girl, eh?

Even you know what? I'm fine with that, too.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 4.25 piddling miles
Goal for 2004: 1,000 miles - 1609 kilometers

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