Friday, August 31, 2012

Running with Fido

Two years ago, when I was training for the half-marathon, I started jogging or running intervals: first just between lamp posts, then I worked up to whole blocks. One block walking fast, one block running, one block walking fast, one block running. I should have started this by telling you I hate running. Hate it. Love walking. Just love it, love it, love it. Then why did I do this, start running? Because I knew it would be good for me. Good for my marathon training. Yes, I can make myself do things I don't care for in the name of "good for me." It's a sickness, really.

But, as much as I hated doing it, I really think it helped me prepare for the half-marathon and get me in better shape. But another but...then my dog got sick and died, then my other dog got sick, and just after I got him healthy, then my cat got sick, and a year and a half had gone by before I knew it with no interval walks.

I started my old exercise routine again May 1, the day after Lalecka died. I'd kept up with the regular walks, even some long race-training walks on the weekends with The Awesome J, my friend who does 3-day cancer walks, but no running.

Then last month I started the interval running again on my Tuesday/Thursday walks (direct fallout from the "Oh my goodness!!!" reaction to seeing my naked body in a full-length mirror in a dressing room. I don't have such a thing in my house, and now I know why. In some sense, it's my own fault for not having bought any new clothes since the year 2000. I might have been better prepared for the shock had I slowly watched my body fall from late 30s firmness to late 40s flabbiness.). Tall Ginger Boy gets taken out for another mile-long walk those two days so that he can walk faster without Mr. Big strolling along. Don't worry, Mr. Big has walked the first mile and gets to relax and cool off at home while Doodle Bug and I go out again. I started this last year when I got Doodle, thinking it was a good way for us to practice loose-leash walking and bond. He loved it.

I thought for sure I'd be gasping and shin splinting before the first lamp post hove into view. But no, I sprinted straight past the post to the end of the block, no extra effort needed. What?!? Could this be muscle memory from a year ago? Maybe. Or maybe the stars were aligned. Who knows? But not a single gasp, not a single shin splint in sight.

Best of all? Doodle Bug loves it! The first block he wanted to take off, and I had to hold him back. The second block, he changed his pace up and down, trying to sync with me. The third block, we were in perfect striding harmony. We ran three blocks (or three-tenths of a mile) that first day, and now are up to running 7 blocks (or seven-tenths of a mile). And you know what? I can't believe I'm going to write this "out loud," but I'm loving it.

Maybe because he loves it so much, his enthusiasm is infectious. Maybe it's the fact running creates a breeze to mitigate the dang 85 degree heat at 6:30 a.m. Maybe it's because I was in better shape than the scale and my clothes and that evil, full-length, dressing room mirror told me I was. Who knows?

But starting September 3, I'm switching my exercise routine from M, W, F--walk the dogs and weights, T/Th--walk the dogs + second walk/run to M, W, F--walk the dogs +second walk/run, T/TH--walk the dogs and weights.

Who woulda' thunk it?

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Scourge of Spurge

It's been a while since I last posted because I've been battling the above--spurge. You see, two years ago, we had a nasty winter storm that hit the Old Town with three days of bone-chilling, well-below-freezing temperatures. Desert plants can survive a few hours of this, maybe even one really cold night, but not three days of nonstop frigid air. So that spring, a lot of plants and trees died. Even a year later, last summer, the local verdure hadn't come back. It was sad, seeing the wilting cacti and dying trees all over town.

I was amazed, nay, stunned, that the freeze managed to kill my Bermuda grass. Bermuda grass is known for its indestructibility. It can survive droughts, it can survive floods. Apparently it cannot survive several days of freezing temperatures, so last summer, my backyard grass was pretty thin; it never came in with its usual lushness and growing-so-fast-I-need-to-mow-twice-a-week-ness. Read, large expanses of dirt, just dirt. Dirt that was tracked in the house by two very large and furry dogs. I hate that.

So this spring, I got out my thatcher, scored the ground, laid grass seed, even spread fertilizer. While manure works great, a certain big white fuzzy dog (BWFD) likes to eat it. Uumm, yummy! BWFD does not care that manure gives him dairrhea. It tastes good! Big-haired human (BHH), however, does care.

Well, after all that careful gardening, the whole southeastern portion of my backyard remained a dirt oasis. I watered it. I spread more seed. Then, a little sprout, and another. My grass was back! I was happy. I encouraged it. I nurtured it. I sent it good growing vibes.  

Then Old Town received over two inches of rain last week. Great for the aquifer, not so much for my lawn. Because instead of lush Bermuda grass so thick you could sink your happy toes in it, I got spurge. Nasty, dense, instantly spreading overnight spurge. The spurge that takes over the world. It forms a thick mat that is impossible to mow, because it's so low, so you have to hand pick it out. By hand. See that valiant little Bermuda grass spike trying to fight its way through the cloying spurge in the second photo? Grow, little grass, grow! 

I hate spurge.