Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

 

 

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…enjoying the sunshine and breeze while I work from home.

…checking my calendar to try to remember what day of what month it is, then getting excited about the fun plans that are on there!

…slacking off! I have updates on my Spring To Do List and I have a Summer To Do List to share!

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…getting my butt kicked at bootcamp (and Friday Fitness Challenges!) while I struggle to find a running routine that fits into my suddenly busy summer.

…making (too many) iced coffees over the course of the day.

…thinking about this talk that I watched yesterday. (You should make an iced coffee to sip while you watch!)

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…laughing at the goofy places I find that cats sleeping throughout the day. Who wants to sleep next to Pete’s dirty laundry?! Champ does.

Number 1: Get back into a regular workout routine

You have probably figured out by now that I’ve managed to create a running habit. Unfortunately, that’s about where my fitness habits usually end, and that means that while I’m in okay shape cardio-wise, I have the wimpiest muscles there could be. Last spring some of my co-workers put together a wellness challenge, and part of the challenge was to work out more, while another part involved weight loss. I knew that if I was going to earn my points in both of those aspects, I needed to get strong(er, at least) and I figured that the boot camp class I used to see sometimes when I was meeting my running club would probably get the job done.

Google-fu led me to A Healthy Balance – and lucky me they had a deal on one of the local voucher sites so I could attend eight boot camp classes AND get a massage for cheap. I heart cheap, and the timing was perfect, so I signed up.

Let me digress for a second. You guys, I really love to support my local community – the more local and close to my home, the better. I love to find local, small business that are doing great things. Then I love to spend my money there, tell everyone I know about them, and do whatever else I can to support them. I especially love to do this when I get to interact with the people running the business and they are cool people. I ESPECIALLY love to do this when I interact with the people running the business, they are cool people, and they are women. You see where I’m leading you, right? A Healthy Balance is run by two women, and one of them runs the boot camp classes. That’s Alicia, and I think she’s awesome.

I also think Alicia’s boot camp classes are awesome. I have never, in my life, stuck with any strength-related fitness routine…until I found A Health Balance. Here’s where I come clean: Alicia would almost certainly argue that I haven’t exactly “stuck with” boot camp either, and she’s not wrong – I have arthritis in my knees, (because I am 33 going on 80) and I let a flare-up last summer lead to a far-too-long hiatus. I put this on my Spring To Do list because I need to get this habit jump started and deeply engrained. I’m getting there! The knees have been flaring up again lately, and I’m trying my best to balance work and life and boot camp as best I can. You know what makes it easier? Having a class that is fun (even when it’s kicking your ass), where you laugh far more often than you would expect to while working out, and where you are constantly meeting other women that you think are pretty cool.

There are a few other bonuses, as well. I’m definitely stronger than I used to be. I can see muscles where there used to be none (specifically in my arms, although Pete is a jerk and does not agree. Pretty sure he’s jealous.). I’m also running faster, which is fun even if I’m not exactly competitive. You know what else? Even when I can’t make it to boot camp I end up doing all those things that magazines and TV shows and trainers and Pinterest all tell you to do: planks and squats and lunges during commercial breaks, wall sits while I wait for the microwave to finish, push ups when I’m working from home and waiting for a report to download. I think I can cross this one off the To Do list*.

* …even if I’ve got no pictures to prove it…there is video evidence somewhere, but I haven’t come across it yet. I’ll let you know when I do, as I suspect that may be what launches my future career as a fitness model. ;)

How I found my people

I have been wanting to blog about this for a long time, but every time I sit down to write it gets looooooong. Here’s the shortest version of this I could manage:

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I’ve got great people. My family is amazing, although for the most part they are 500 miles away. I’m incredibly lucky to have a group of friends that I’ve known since high school – twenty years now! – and am very close to. I mentioned our Boston Posse friends when I posted about out trip to Melbourne. They filled a gap that I don’t think I realized I had until I met them: they were my city family. We all lived within a quick T trip of each other (and in some cases, a short walk from each other), we were all up for just about any adventure, and we were all ready to get drinks or dinner without much advance planning. When contracts started expiring and our Boston Posse friends started moving back home or somewhere new (London, Amsterdam, Rome, Brisbane, Melbourne, Oregon, Atlanta), Pete and I really felt that empty gap.

But Boston is a notoriously hard city to meet people in, and I actually think it’s that much harder for someone like me: I grew up locally and have a social and support network….in the suburbs. When transplants meet each other, they have that much in common, but that missing link isn’t there for me to build a friendship on. Pete is a transplant – although he has been here for twelve years now – but he’s also an introvert. With the deck stacked against us, I spent a while trying to figure out where to find the community I was looking for.

4.7.2013_R4C_1It wasn’t until we moved to Quincy that we did it. I was trying to form a running habit that had long escaped me so I went looking for a local running club. See…I’m inherently lazy, I need the accountability of meeting a workout buddy to get off the couch. In other words, I’m a dog runner. A google search turned up only one option in Quincy, but it was a dormant group on meetup.com: The Quincy Running Dawgs I emailed the organizer, Harvey, asking if he would be willing to let me post events – I was planning to run a few nights a week after work, so why not just post them and see if anyone showed up? He was happy to oblige, so I quickly mapped out a short route that met somewhere public that was within walking distance of our new apartment.

I’ll skip the entire Quincy Running Dawgs history lesson and jump to the present…you guys! I found my people! When I first posted those runs there were only four or five of us that showed up. It took about a year for the club to turn out regular, sizable attendance, but as that happened I quickly realized that we were super lucky: everyone that joined and started showing up was friendly, easy going, encouraging, and had a good sense of humor. Our group has grown from four to forty regulars. We run together four times a week, we race together monthly, and we get drinks or brunch together in between.

More importantly, this group has spawned a lot of relationships that don’t rely on an event posted on meetup.com to bring people together. Pete and I have made friends who we sometimes text on a Sunday afternoon in order to make plans for Sunday dinner. One of them was awesome enough to cat sit for us while we were in Australia for two weeks in April! Sometimes during the football season, when I leave the house to avoid having to watch it I come home and find Harvey drinking beers and watching football with Pete. When we had no heat and power during the blizzard, it was one of our running club friends who took us in, made us coffee and frozen pizza, and let us soak up her heat to get warm.

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This running club was the community I was looking for all along. They are my people, and I’m repeatedly grateful for having found them!

Wollaston Beach: unsafe for swimming

Rocky Wollaston Beach

Or is it? Swimming is totally permitted at Wollaston Beach, I just…well, I wouldn’t! I talked about why last summer when I visited Nut Island (totally need to get my bike to the shop already – dying to do that ride again!). In reality it’s nothing personal against Wollaston Beach, it’s just that I’m more of a wide-open-ocean girl. When I’m on a bay or a small pond or lake, I feel like…well, like any gross stuff in that water is so concentrated that it grosses me out. Take me out to Nantasket where the water goes on forever and ever and anything that’s grossing me out is quickly swept out to sea, and then I’m happy to jump in the water! Is it just me?

Under Wollaston Yacht Club

Even if I’m not willing to swim at Wollaston Beach, I love that it’s so close by – almost exactly a mile from my front door – and that I get to enjoy it often. Our regular running club route takes us along the beach, and it’s so cool to see it through all the seasons, all kinds of weather, and lots of gorgeous sunsets. On top of that, I love to hunt for “beach treasures” (much to Pete’s chagrin) and am happy to fill an empty weekend afternoon with a loooooong wander looking for sea glass, driftwood, or pretty rocks.

Wollaston Yacht Club

Squantum Yacht Club

These photos are all from one of my recent weekend wanders. I was not the only one out enjoying the beach, there were plenty of families out for a walk – some of them even playing soccer and building sand castles – and there were more than a few adorable dogs racing about. I came home with a few small treasures, and when I pulled them out of my pocket and showed Pete he looked at me like I was crazy and said “why did you bring those home?”…when really he should have been happy I didn’t bring home this piece of driftwood that I thought was awesome! Don’t you think it would look great on my front porch?!?

Driftwood on Wollaston Beach

Number 7: Ride my bike to Nut Island on a beautiful day

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It’s on my life list to visit all of the Boston Harbor Islands (NPS site, more informative site), which is going to be tricky as there are 34 of them and less than half are open to the public. I’m still trying to figure out how to solve that problem, but in the meantime I’m trying to hit up at least one new-to-me BHI each year. Last year I made it to Long Island (not open to the public!), the year before I dragged Pete and a friend out to World’s End, and the year before that was when I first discovered the Harbor Islands with a visit to George’s Island while we had friends visiting from out of town. This year I’m hoping to add more than one island to me visited list, so I started easy with a bike ride to Nut Island.
I told you guys earlier, I’m riding the heck out of my bike! Nut Island is about 6 miles from home, depending on how you go. I was planning on a route that seemed like a compromise between scenic and direct…and brought me past Starbucks, because I hadn’t yet decided if I wanted an iced chai to kick off my ride or not. ;) I mostly followed that route, aside from missing a turn somewhere and then just guessing at turns – at one point leading me down a super fun hill (internal monologue: “weeeeee! This is going to be AWESOME, I’m gonna go SO FAST flying down this hill!”) that led to a dead end (internal monologue: “craaaaaaaaap! This is going to be SUCKY, I’m gonna go SO SLOW back up that hill!”), but that mistake was easily corrected and I was back to roads whose name I recognized soon enough. Then there was another giant hill. At which point I hopped off my bike and walked it, I’m sure significantly faster than I could have pedaled up it! Finally, on the other side of that hill, was that big, brown, National Park Service sign telling me I’d made it!
web_2012_05_12_NutIsland_6Nut Island is one of a handful of harbor islands that is no longer an island. It’s been joined to the mainland for some time now, and is home to a sewage screening facility. You can read more about that here, including a paragraph which I’m going to start quoting whenever people question my refusal to swim at Wollaston Beach: “The old Nut Island primary plant, which had been in service since 1952, has been demolished, ending more than 100 years of waste water discharges to the shallow waters of Quincy Bay.”
Nut Island isn’t huge, but it is beautiful. There are a number of trails for walking, running, or biking. There is a pier for fishing. There are benches with amazing views to the Boston skyline, Quincy’s adorable Hough’s Neck neighborhood, and a number of the other harbor islands. There are also stairs that lead down to a very rocky beach, where you won’t want to swim (see above) but you can easily spend a lot of time skipping rocks and searching for sea glass and shells. Or, if you’re the crusty old man I saw, you can spend a lot of time hiding amid the rocks tanning yourself while chain smoking. Small island, plenty to do! I was kicking myself for not having packed a snack and my Kindle so that I could lie in the sun and read for a bit before heading home. I was also kicking myself for not having packed lunch so I could enjoy a mini-picnic!
web_2012_05_12_NutIsland_8In fact, that’s what I think you should do! You can drive to get there, by the way, you don’t have to ride your bike. ;) Pack yourself a picnic lunch and a good book, and head to Nut Island. Don’t pack dessert, because rumor has it that Ginger Betty’s is pretty amazing and you’re going to pass right by it, so just stop in there to pick up dessert on your way. After you park, walk up the hill a bit to the big, grassy, open area with a great view of Downtown Boston, throw down your blanket, and enjoy your picnic lunch (and dessert). Maybe read a bit, maybe nap a bit, and then once you’re ready for a stroll drop your picnic leftovers at the car and head along the trails until you find the stairs down to the water. Practice skipping rocks, find a few pieces of sea glass and a few teeny tiny sea shells to take home as mementos. Then go home, happy to have found such a beautiful little slice of nature hidden in Quincy, of all places.

**You can see a few more photos I took while I was there over on Flickr