Tag Archives: cycling

Jessamyn Tackles The PART Commuter Dash 5k

In spite of my wallet/camera theft, I was determined to do the PART Commuter Dash 5k yesterday. For one thing, it was free. For another, PART is really focused on promoting alternative transportation methods in the piedmont. In an area which desperately suffers from urban sprawl (in the worst possible way), it’s great to see the transportation authority really start focusing on educating people about alternative transportation methods. I mean, the American South is not renowned for its public transportation options (this can be attributed to a myriad of reasons, ranging from the Civil War to sketchy bus patrons), but PART is definitely making the effort to create a culture of public transportation in an area dominated by single drivers.

Anyway, yesterday’s race took place at Bur-Mil Park, on the outskirts of Greensboro. It was very chilly and it misted rain through the entire race. However, I was determined not to let the weather get me down. Even though I was out late the night before (word to the wise- DON’T STAY OUT LATE THE NIGHT BEFORE AN EARLY WAKE-UP), I managed to wake up before my first alarm.  I was very excited that my dad and brother accompanied me to the race, and even MORE excited when my dad decided to race with me! Since my camera is probably in a Winston-Salem pawn shop( Sad smile), I made my brother take a camera phone photo of my dad and I pre-race:

jos papa stanley commuter dash 5k 492011

You can see that my big teeth smiles were hereditary.

Before the race, there was a veritable theatrical performance piece featuring a purple spandex clad superhero, a gas guzzler, and a kangaroo. No, I’m not speaking metaphorically or telling a riddle. Gabriel wasn’t able to get any photos of the action, but I’ll be sure to post some of the official PART photos when they are tacked on the facebook page.

At the start of the race, my dad and I parked ourselves close to the back of the pack. I wasn’t planning to run this race (“mall-walk” would be a more accurate description), and we wanted to stay out of the way of the serious runners. However, when the starting gunshot went off, I was slightly surprised to see us both weaving through the crowd of slower runners (we tried not to be obnoxious). We kept very different paces, but we both managed to run the last leg of the race. My dad finished about five minutes before me, so now I have a new personal goal- besting my physically fit papa bear.

Also, the race route was beautiful. It crossed through residential northwest Greensboro, and over Lake Brandt. There were some inclines, but nothing too ridiculous- I’m definitely going to keep this path in mind for future bike rides.

However, I’m sure doing this race was a great birthday gift for him- he turned 46 this week, and there’s nothing like physical activity to make you feel young again. Even though, for the record, 46 is the new 36.

All in all, it was a great day. Yeah, it rained through the entire race. But it felt really nice to be up and active early in the day. Earth Fare provided the post-race snacks (bananas and organic pretzels, OH yeah!), and my dad (and brother) and I loaded up on all the free gifts from the race sponsors.

Next week I’m doing the 15th Annual Hospice Hope Run in Winston-Salem, and even though it’s going to be sunny all week, it’s supposed to rain on race day. Oh well. After yesterday, I’m ready to run in every element.

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Filed under couch to 5k challenge, cycling, exercise, goals, parents, races, running, walking

FAT Attack: Being Fat in the Gym

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

So I planned to do a whole post about days 2 and 3 of the Couch to 5k  Challenge– I was also going to give updates on me and Gabriel’s joint venture to complete the 200 sit-ups training program. However, though I am a truly shameless narcissist, I need to put my self-indulgent updates on hold to talk about something which involves more than just me and my exercise demons.

(Ok, I can’t help myself: 200 sit-ups is going surprisingly well, and Couch to 5k Challenge…well, I’m still hammering through it.)

Part of why I think I need to broach this topic has to do with one of my favorite podcasts. Two Whole Cakes Fatcast features two Fat Acceptance Titans (Marianne Kirby and Lesley Kinzel) discussing a multitude of issues which affect fat people on a daily basis. As a life-long fatty who has quietly chugged away in a fat-hating world, listening to Fatcast is basically like listening to Potterwatch (just as a warning, that’s probably the least nerdy Harry Potter reference I’ll ever make, so prepare yourself).

By the way (just for the record) I am a serious Two Whole Cakes fangirl. Having a fat body has reached the point of true political activism, and I salute anyone who is willing to use their body as a vessel for change.

Anyway, one of the first Fatcasts is about being fat and exercising- more specifically, every underlying issue related to physical activity in a fat body. Since I’m on the smaller scale of fat, I won’t pretend to speak for those who experience a level of discrimination which is fairly foreign to me. However, I am very familiar with how shitty it feels to be the largest person on the row of treadmills. This was made even more relevant to me in my spin class earlier this weekend.

First of all, excuse my French, but I fucking love to spin. It can be very physically exhausting, but the emotional rewards transcend words. However, this particular spin class whipped my ass. Maybe it was because I wasn’t engaged with the music (I’m sorry, but THE EAGLES? Who wants to spin to that?!). Maybe it was because I couldn’t seem to get my bike set up properly, therefore making it impossible for me to hop out of the saddle properly (and trust me, 60 minutes in the saddle is enough to make even a seasoned spinner contemplate death). For whatever reason, Thursday’s class made me want to punch someone and I’m sure my negative ‘tude was written all over my sweaty face. However, the instructor (and every other 50+ year old Lance Armstrong wannabe in the class) looked at me like I was the baby rhino trying to make its way through the Jumanji stampede- it’s this “look at the fat girl try to do what we’re doing” expression that makes me (ME, ANGRY PASSIONATE JESSAMYN) feel both angry and defeated.

That feeling of judgment and defeat is why my fellow fats have been taught to fear the gym, or any other form of organized exercise. Because it’s nearly impossible to forget the traumatizing grade school physical fitness tests, and the mortifying waits to be picked last for kickball.

And while I implore all those who judge to get the fuck over themselves, I really want to tell my fellow fats that it’s not all bad. In general, as much as we like to think everyone is staring at us, the gym is one of the major places where narcissism is not only accepted, but widely encouraged. Therefore, it’s highly likely that no one is watching you lift weights or run or bike. No one gives a toss, because your gym buddies-to-be are too busy worrying that everyone is looking at THEM. That’s issue #1.

Issue #2 is that your life and well-being should not be compromised because of widely accepted insecurities. Exercise can be really freaking fun. Judgement sucks out all the fun. Find a source of happiness and pleasure that has nothing to do with the judgement of others. It would be ridiculous for me to ask anyone to stop thinking about the opinions of others- it sucks to have people think mean thoughts in relation to your life choices, and the judgement of others affects us all.

However, if you can find a source of happiness in the gym which involves only you (and not your exercise demons), the pay-off will be more than worth the effort.

Also, RIGHT AFTER I BLOGGED ABOUT HIM, Jack Lalanne died today (1/23/2011). RIP, Papa Jack- I’ll enjoy a juice in your honor.

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Walking for Dummies: Why My Car is Slowly Killing Me

Here’s the deal: humans are supposed to walk. Not to be both vague and obvious, but that’s a huge part of why we have legs. However, thanks to metal boxes with giant belts attached, walking is becoming more and more uncommon and ‘inefficient’. Now, for those of you who live in big cities where you absolutely must walk everywhere- keep your pants on. I’m not talking about you. I am, however, talking about people who live in cities or towns (HELLO, Winston-Salem!) which are urban planning nightmares.

What’s an urban planning nightmare, you ask? It’s a city where key locations are placed so far away from one another that walking actually is becoming inefficient. For example, how the hell can I walk to the grocery store if the grocery store is 4-5 miles away? I’m not going to go off on a rant about the many ways public transportation needs to be improved in Cancer City (though trust me, I have very defined feelings about that subject), but I will say that walking certainly does not appear to be encouraged throughout our fair city.* I mean, there are entire neighborhoods without easily accessible sidewalks. Some areas have sidewalks, but the sidewalks are so badly damaged that it becomes an actual health risk to traverse the terrain.

But let’s say that you live in a neighborhood with easily accessible sidewalks (like, um, ME). Let’s say you live less than one mile from your graduate school campus. Why in the hell would you ever DRIVE to school? Doesn’t that seem like some sort of moral boundary? Apparently I thought walking to campus was a moral boundary at the beginning of this year. In fact, I refused to purchase a parking decal because I thought driving to campus would be the utmost example of physical laziness. I rode my bike most days, and when the wind chill became a bit too perilous for my  biking patterns, I hustled my ass to campus on foot.

But…up until two days ago, I hadn’t walked to campus in about one month.

(Ok, I’m exaggerating a little. I mean, there was a holiday break- you can chop out about three of those weeks.)

BUT STILL. For some reason, I’ve made driving 1/2 mile an everyday occurrence. Um, what? Here are the reasons I gave myself for not walking to campus:

1. It’s too damn cold.

Ok, this is/was probably true.

2. I have to walk at night and this neighborhood is not safe enough for a woman to walk alone at night.

Ok, again- probably true. But on a scale of 1(Pleasantville) to 10(Compton), the South Side of Winston-Salem barely even ranks on the scale. Plus, I’ve never been scared to walk alone at night, so why am I making up excuses now? I used to do a radio show which required me to walk home after 1am, and I wasn’t afraid to do THAT.

3. “I’m SO late, I don’t have time to walk.”

Those who know me are well aware of my legendary tardiness- I usually aim to be early, because my lateness is something with which I am constantly struggling. However, I really am early most of the time- but lately, driving to school has it made it ok for me to be ‘running late’. Solution? DON’T BE LATE.

Of course, yesterday I did have to drive to campus because I was in a state which can only be described as complete mortal peril. However, the day before that I walked. And, as long as my legs will carry me, I will walk every day from here on out. If undergraduate Jessamyn could see me now, she would be horrified/embarrassed/beyond confused. I will not allow my car to continue being my crutch.

Where’s one place to which you could walk, but don’t? The Gym? School? Work?

*Speaking of alternative methods of transportations, the lack of bike lanes in the streets immediately surrounding UNCSA is a major issue. However, the Winston-Salem Department of Transportation is FINALLY proposing to add bike lanes in several key areas which will have a positive effect on alternative transportation in and around UNCSA, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. At this point, it is extremely dangerous for cyclists to travel in the city of W-S, and this is a great step in the direction of giving cyclists full vehicular rights. ANYWAY, there will be a couple of different public meetings to see the proposed plans-

Tuesday, January 25th 5pm-8pm at the Gateway YWCA

Thursday, January 27th 5pm-8pm at the Konnoak Hills Moravian Church

You can also see the proposed bike lane plans online at the City of W-S Department of Transportation Website. If you have time and live in the area, your attendance at one or both of the meetings would be appreciated.

Even if you’re not from Cancer City, please take the time to evaluate the status of alternative transportation options in your area.

Public forums are an excellent example of the tremendous influence community members have on local policy-  remember that the silence of many is always louder than the words of a few.

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A FAT Girl’s Manifesto: Why FAT Should Be a Description, Not an Insult

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

Like I’ve mentioned before, FAT is not a word I’ve ever associated with myself. In fact, I’ve had a standing policy to judge people who use FAT as a verbal weapon. However, I’ve recently begun to rethink my policy on the word FAT and its implications.

You see, FAT is a word which has shifted from being a physical description (like ‘pink’, ‘slimy’, or ‘colorful’), to being used as an opportunity for abuse and pain. Nowadays, when the average person says FAT, they are not saying it as a harmless descriptive word. They are using it to shame and humiliate any person who could potentially fit the word’s original descriptive meaning.

This humiliation has become widespread and generally accepted because it hides under the cloak of health consciousness. Ergo, when describing someone as FAT, the abuser is ‘really’ saying,

“That person is so unhealthy. I’m hurting their feelings because I care about them. I don’t want them to be horrible and FAT anymore.”

Actually, what the abuser is REALLY saying is,

“I hate the way that person looks because it makes me evaluate my personal decisions. Maybe if I hurt their feelings, I can mask my own paralyzing self-doubt.”

However, what we need to learn is that you should not have to shame and hurt others to “care” about them. The dialogue about health consciousness and beauty ideals is supported by a media-centric world which makes a profit by belittling consumers and preying on their insecurities. In reality, it has very little to do with actual good health guidelines, or self-love initiatives. By using the word FAT, humans have created a derogatory word which transcends any other F-bomb because its strength is garnered by deeply set emotional boundaries.

That being said, it is crucial that we reclaim the word FAT. Just like, as a woman who is attracted to other women, I must reclaim the word “DYKE”.

Words are just that: WORDS. The concentrated power within the word FAT will cease to exist as soon as we stop hurling it like a verbal shot put event.

Yes, I’ve never associated the word FAT with my physical description. However, it is absolutely necessary for me to start calling myself FAT so those who bully will lose their ammunition. By calling myself FAT, I’m not trying to shame myself or abuse my own feelings. I’m simply describing my physical description- I’m also BLACK.

FAT and BLACK should inhabit the same space- they are descriptions, not insults.

I’ve said all this to make it clear that my diet changes have absolutely nothing to do with being FAT. My confidence level is high, and it won’t be affected by whether or not I’m FAT. I like my body. I find it to be very beautiful and (if I may be so bold) quite sexy.

I’m changing my diet and my exercise levels because I want to be at my optimum level of physical fitness.

I want to run a marathon.

I want to bike across America.

I can’t achieve these goals if I don’t rethink my life choices. This is not to say that all FAT people are unhealthy- on the contrary, some of the more health conscious people I know are FAT. And, on the other hand, I know THIN people who think Bojangles is the saving grace of the food industry.

I can only speak for myself. I can only know my own goals, and I will not dictate the health ideals of any other person.

In truth, I hope that all people will want what is best for their body. I hope we will all learn to take of ourselves, and strive for optimum physical health. But we must understand that being healthy does not always mean being THIN. Being unhealthy does not always mean being FAT.

And by defining HEALTHY as THIN, we’re not creating body consciousness- we’re creating a civil war between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

I hope that one day health consciousness will be seen as a normal life choice, and not as a way to step behind the velvet rope of “acceptable beauty”.

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Run For Your Life: The Couch to 5k Running Plan

I’ve always wanted to be a runner. I’ve been watching runners my entire life, and I always think, “How can you be so happy?” Even when exhausted, true runners (DEFINITION: someone who runs for pleasure on the regular, regardless of inclement weather or drinking binges) tend to look totally at one with the universe. They are focusing on consistent breathing, steady pace, and whatever perfect bass beat is narrating their journey.

However, whenever I’m running, I’m usually focused on the growing stitch in my side, shuffling music on my ipod, and trying to catch my breath. In addition, I might be thinking about how clunky my water bottle is in my hand (or, alternately, how thirst is plaguing me as my water bottle remained on my porch because it felt so clunky in my hand.) Also, I’m usually trying to pull up my pants, and/or cursing my old tennis shoes and low cut socks (which are always too holey and NEVER meant for physical exercise.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m sabotaging my ability to become a pleasure runner. I psych myself out by wearing shitty socks and ill fitting pants- then I proceed to act shocked when I can’t catch my breath and my mind is racing from the agony of jogging 500 feet.

I firmly believe this must be some personal version of smoke in mirrors. During 2010, due to a pretty revelatory series of spin classes, I’ve developed a new found love of cycling. Just sitting on my bike seat gets my heart racing with excitement. Why is it so difficult for me to translate my love of cycling to a love of running?

Therefore, I’ve decided to do the Couch to 5k Running Plan. Not only will this plan help me work toward my goal of running a 5k by spring, but it will ease me into running for longer than 20-30 seconds at a time.

In the mean time, I DESPERATELY need to buy new running shoes. Does anyone have any suggestions?

 

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Filed under cycling, declaration, goals, spin class