Climbing the walls

February turned into a pretty good month.

For the last five years, during the weeks leading up to my annual mammogram, I get a little bit crazy. My sleep – which is never good – gets horrible: a series of short, light naps interspersed with a dozen or more full-wake-ups every night. I become forgetful, mishap-prone, anxious, edgy, weepy, and short-tempered (or should I say, shorter-tempered?). The final two weeks leading up to the mammogram date crawl by so slowly I wish I could just hibernate through them, and awaken on the day of my exam. I have been especially eager to hit this five year mark (which was, for me, February 21, 2019), which is when many medical professionals consider a cancer survivor to be “cured.” All this anxiety is overkill, really, for a prognosis that was as good as one can get… after the initial shock of a cancer diagnosis.

Would you let this person hold your belay rope? Cuz the red card says she can.

As I said in my last entry, everything is peachy keen. My mammogram was clear, and all I have to do now is trudge through the final three months of the chemopreventive anastrazole. To celebrate on the 21st, I took on my climbing gym challenge: the spouse and I went to Kendall Cliffs in Peninsula, Ohio, cashed in a Groupon for a climbing lesson, and spent two hours – you’ll pardon the phrase – “learning the ropes.”

I’m not going to say it was easy. After two trips up the wall, I was panting as hard as if I’d been running wind sprints. I’ve clearly got some endurance work to do to get ready for a series of walks I’m lining up this summer, culminating in a 50-miler in October!

But I am thrilled – and, tbh, relieved – to find that I could actually do this. I was convinced that I’d become so unfamiliar with my current physiology, and so estranged from my athletic self, that I might not be able to hoist myself onto and up the wall. I did, and it felt great!

A zillion thanks to everyone who responded to my “paver” fundraiser. We funded the paver within a few days! It will be installed in the walkway at The Gathering Place’s Westlake location, the Sandy Borelli Center. The balance of funds raised – and anything else anyone wants to donate to help keep the Gathering Place services free – will go to my Race for the (Gathering) Place team! (Sign up here, for the 5K Race for the Place, June 2 in Beachwood, Ohio.)

A few good links…

“Just run.” Here’s how the current over-70 age-group marathon world record holder stays in competition shape.

And here’s some great advice from trainer Nia Shanks on getting started with a strength-training program. This might be especially important, because it touches on a superficial snag that keeps people – usually women – from ever entering a gym:

Looking the part. Countless people feel like they must look like they lift before they even step foot in the weight room. I get it — social media is inundated with half-naked images of people in the gym squatting and pressing and posing with half their butt exposed. It can be an intimidating, if not somewhat strange place, to enter for the first time.

Choose not to care about what anyone thinks of you. Don’t dress to impress anyone or be self-conscious. Know why you’re there. Know what you’re there to do. Then do it. To hell with what anyone may think about what you wear, how you look, how much weight you lift, what exercises you do. Trying to impress people is overrated and fruitless, because you’ll never get everyone’s approval; impress yourself. (Friendly tip: most people are overly concerned about what everyone else thinks of them — they’re likely not even looking at you, unless they’re looking at you to see if you’re watching them.)

Lastly, here’s what I’m up to this month (fueled by a Forks Over Knives meal plan): a 30-day squat challenge, and a 30-day push-up challenge. Between the two, I’ll cover all the extremities, and strengthen the core!


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