Friday, May 08, 2009


I go to the gym three times a week. It's a really nice gym with all kinds of weight training equipment, a huge selection of cardio machines, 4 swimming pools (including a whirlpool). It's always clean and since I go in the early afternoon, seldom crowded. It's also pretty expensive and I really wish that all I had to do was pay the money and I would automatically reap all the benefits. Apparently it doesn't work that way.  Anyhow, two of my workouts include resistance training with weights and all three have an hour's time on the elliptical trainer. The elliptical trainers at my gym have built in tv sets so I can watch a program while exercising. I plan my sessions so that I can watch Law and Order in its various incarnations or Without a Trace. It makes the time pass by more quickly. Except I wish that TNT and USA would get some new episodes, since I've pretty much seen all that they have.  I don't really look forward to doing these workouts but it's become a really strong habit and at this point I would have a difficult time giving it up.

I used to be a marathon runner and an aerobics instructor but I ruined my knees with all the pounding. I've run 6 marathons in my life, including the Boston Marathon. For those who aren't familiar with the marathon distance, it's 26.2 miles. In order to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon, I had to complete the distance in less than 3 1/2 hours, which I did. I did all this in my 20's and 30's and it's now been more than 25 years since I had to stop running. Sometimes I still miss it. I always watch the Olympic marathon and it gives me chills when the lead runner enters the stadium. 

So why am I blathering on about this stuff, probably more than you really wanted to know? Because I often wonder why I do this. It certainly isn't giving me the body of a fashion model. In fact, judging from the other bodies at the gym, I'm lucky I've got the body I have. Gravity and the aging process are merciless tyrants and all we can do is hold them off a little. I always think of the quote from the Red Queen in Lewis Carrolls's Through the Looking Glass. She says to Alice: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"  That's how I feel - that I am running as fast as I can just to stay in the same place - watch the diet, take the medications, exercise regularly, wear a seat belt, yada yada yada. My doctor says I'm doing very well (although she leaves unsaid "for someone your age.")

Longevity is in my genes - my grandmother lived to nearly 100 and my mother is fast approaching 97. So I had better take good care of this body because I know I won't be getting another one. And I want to be able to watch my grandchildren grow up and have my great-grandchildren. And still be doing art.

Here is your reward for reading through all this - the azaleas in my back yard are nearly in full bloom.


Vicki W said...

I don't exercise like you do and I have never enjoyed exercising as you did, but I do SOME exercise every day. Yoga, sit ups and 5 miles on the recumbent bike. It's not making me pretty or thin but I know my asthma is better and I sleep much better. I had to choose the recumbent bike so I could read while exercising, otherwise I'd never do any exercise at all! I admire anyone with the discipline to run a marathon. I see them and say "look at all of those crazy people"! LOL!

Gerrie said...

I do not come from good genes. I have one 86 year old aunt left in my family. I walk about an hour a day. I do it so that I can be healthier and live longer than my parents did. The body beautiful, I am not and have given up dreaming I will ever have it again.

BTW, I hate the gym.

TALL GIRL said...

Great post, Cathy! I had no clue you were a marathoner. I am suitably impressed that while I was dormant the first 45 years of my life, you were a true athlete. I really love your point about all this gym time is just maintenance. I schedule my time on the machines during The View!

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lindainbelgium said...

Hi Cathy: you know about my running so I won't bore you with it here, but like your time in the gym it is a solitary pursuit and I think that is a good thing to make time to think--no phone, no computer, no studio siren to steal away your thoughts. The hard think is remembering the good stuff so you can write it down or sketch it when the exercise is done. Excited to be seeing you very soon. Linda in Belgium (PS, I just noticed there's a handicapped icon next to the word verification box here. are you trying to tell me something? )

Christine Kalina said...

I love this! Don't we all feel this way? Completely natural reaction to the years piling on..lucky you for the great genes!