Fine tuning: the week before

I am nervous like you wouldn’t believe, and it’s coming out in my body.  It’s revealing itself to me in many ways.  I’m sure my friends are sick of hearing about it.  Or maybe they aren’t.

I know Frank isn’t sick of hearing about it.  He is revved about this.  Excited for me.  As a seasoned runner, he knows the ins and outs of racing.  He has run, in his life, the distance of going around the world a couple of times.  At 59 years old, he is in fabulous shape.  He is still able to wake up in the morning, put on his running shoes, eat breakfast, and go out and casually run a half marathon.  Just like that.

Come to think of it, how many women, soon to turn 53, can run 5K?  Hey, 53-year-olds: Just about all of you have less than 50 years to live.  Go for it!

Okay, I’m nervous. Wicked nervous.  I wish I wasn’t.  Get this:  Thursday night I got so worried about the teeniest sensation in my back.  Heck, it didn’t even hurt and I was fretting over it.  I went and looked it up on the Internet and found out all kinds of things.  Causes of this sensation: everything from m*sturbation to cancer. (can’t write it cuz this site is googleable).  Frank said, “Take some Advil, stay away from the Internet, and for Heaven’s sake, quit worrying, go to bed, and get some rest.”  I did.  And felt fine in the morning.  Not that I ever didn’t feel fine.  Nerves.

Nervous about my body.  Wanting it to be absolutely perfect.  Wanting every muscle, every joint, every organ, my mental state, my attitude, my emotions, the food I eat, the amount of sleep I eat and when I sleep–everything–to be right on, not just for the race, but every time I run.   So every time I find the stupidest little thing wrong, I make it into this big deal.  I took yesterday off to “rest” my back.  Of course, a day off did me some good anyway.  I had run nine out of the past ten days.  The lure of the track…yeah, every runner knows it.  And when I wasn’t at the track, I was on the treadmill at the gym. I run 5K or 13 laps, just over 5K, every time I run.  I am totally ready for this experience, which is coming up in a week and a day.

And I’m reminded of other times I was faced with big accomplishments.  Graduation at Goddard, for instance.  I was nerved up for that for a long, long time.  The whole semester, my “culminating semester,” the last, that is, I was gearing up, approaching the finish line.  I wanted my thesis to be as close to “perfect” as it could be, and at the same time, I knew I couldn’t make it perfect.  Nobody’s is perfect.  It just doesn’t work that way.  But I wanted it the best it could be.  I worked my butt off that last semester.  And starved myself the whole time.  This was the beginning of the really intense hunger trip.  And it only got worse, not better, after graduation.  Yeah, I was very nervous.  Maybe a better term for it would be “pressured.”  Intense.  And what you might call flying.

My T predicted a letdown afterward.  There is a letdown predicted after Nano as well.  You kind of fly the last week of Nano, and flying is often the word they use to describe the last week.  Starvation can stave off the letdown.  You just don’t feel anything anymore.  Nil.  You’re on another plane.

When I prepare for my run on the track, I’m very nervous.  This has been the tendency all along.  Do I have my keys?  My cell phone?  My medic alert information?  Am I dressed properly for the cold weather–not too much, but enough?  Have I remembered to go to the bathroom?  Have I timed my food and coffee just so?  Is my body in good working order?  Are my shoes tied properly–not too tight, not too loose, and have I remembered to double-knot them?  Is the battery in my MP3 player okay?

Okay, I’m ready to go.  But this morning, my stomach didn’t feel right.  It was like suddenly I felt like my food wasn’t timed right, or I’d had too much, but I knew I had done everything correctly.  Hmm.  I went to the bathroom again, and had diarrhea.  Dang!  Nerves.  I am sure of it.

I went out and ran 13 laps, and felt fantastic.

My body is a delicate machine.  I have learned a few things.  I need to be very, very careful when I stretch.  I have to do it slowly, carefully, gently, and not too much.  I have better luck stretching out in the cold than I do after coming inside.  From now on, no leaning into my left hip when I stand.  This overstretches my left groin muscle.  It is a bad habit I need to break.  I need to stop crossing my legs, too.  It’s bad for my back.  It also puts stress on the quad muscle of the leg on the bottom of the crossed legs.  I am able to double-cross my legs, and of course I can’t do that, either, because it twists my knee joints.  I need to be careful with my back and do nothing weird or unusual with my upper body, but I do need to stretch my back a bit now and then, just lean forward gently.  Gently.  Do not stretch my adductors.  Ever.  Only my feet, calves, hamstrings, and quads.  Relax my shoulders after running; do not tense them.  Do not stop abruptly after running.  Do not stop to put on my outer shell jacket; just keep on walking home.  Abrupt stopping is bad for my heart and muscles.  Nose breathe–in through my nose, out through my mouth.  Do not rush while running.  Keep my eyes ahead.  Make sure I do not drag my feet, ever, or I might trip on them.  Double-knot my shoes, and double-check that I’ve done this, and make a mental note that I’ve done this, so I won’t peek at them while running and “worry” that they might come untied.  Make sure my shoes are firmly tied, because in cold weather, my feet will shrink, and give plenty of time to “test” the way I’ve tied my shoes, and do not retie them immediately before running, as I may tie them wrong.  Let’s see, what else…I know exactly what to eat before, how much to drink.  I eat peanut butter on bread, a banana, and a small amount of orange juice, maybe 35 minutes before I run, and for godsakes I’ll go to the bathroom after I eat–every time from now on, just in case.  I drink my water, not much in this weather, much, much earlier, and drink very little with my food, otherwise I will have to pee while running.  There will be plenty of opportunity to drink afterward.  I drink about 20 to 30 oz after a run, spread out over maybe 45 minutes.  I must, must, take complete care of my body.  Everything has to be fine tuned, well polished, just so.

I need to be much, much less nervous, because the nervousness is consuming me.  I will try to relax.  I do relax while running.  Totally.  I am awesome out there.  As I turn around the beginning of each lap, I face the rising sun, and I know everything is just fine with the world and me in it.  Peace, peace, peace.

Mostly, I need to enjoy myself at the race.  I promise I will.  Promise.

***************

My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available  from Chipmunkapublishing–click here to access.  To read more about it at my home site, click here.

What helps me not binge – ideas to help binge eaters by Julie Greene

Hi!  As it turns out, I was about to go to bed, but now, I’ve got this idea, and I’ve turned the computer back on again to write to you yet another article on eating, this one on binge eating that I hope helps those afflicted with this problem.  This is what has helped me over the years.  I’m going to put this in list form.

Well, first of all, before I begin, I’d like to say that I had this problem for many years.  It started in 1980, after I developed anorexia, when no one had even heard of eating disorders; certainly I hadn’t!  I was 22 years old.  I had what I guess you would call binge-fast anorexia.  After a year the bingeing got so bad that I begged to be hospitalized.  No one would even consider this.  I sought intensive treatment.  There was no ED treatment at the time.  It was regular psych treatment.  Nine months later I was even worse off.  I had gained a fair amount of weight.  Finally, I was hospitalized–not for ED, for psych.  They didn’t believe I had an ED even,though I tried to tell them and begged them to stop the bingeing, and I restricted in the hospital right before their eyes.  I was released.  A year of bingeing and fluctuating weight passed.  My situation worsened.  I was 26 years old, and I no longer wanted to continue living.  That’s what bingeing did to me, in three and a half years.

Okay, let me stop here.  I won’t go through my whole life story.  I’ll say that there’s hope.  First of all, this is 2010.  Thirty years have passed.  Thirty.  A lot has changed since then.  Everyone has heard of eating disorders.  There are even therapists, programs, group therapies, and hospitals that specialize in eating disorders; none of this was available to me in 1980.   There are a trillion more effective medications out there on the market that are safer and better than were available to me in  1980; not only that, but doctors know now that medication helps bingeing; in 1980 this was unheard of; they would not give me meds, though I begged for them.  There are more therapies available, not only eating disorder-type therapies, but other sorts that help people with a variety of problems that might also help people with eating disorders, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, and many other new therapies out there.  There are new books and new theories and new research sprouting up daily.   More and more money is being poured into the field.  More dissertations are being written on the subject.  It is a growing topic of concern.  But no, eating disorders are not like whooping cough; there will never, ever be a vaccine–sorry!

Okay, so you may ask…”How does this help…me?  All this research and I’m still bingeing my brains out!  What good does it do the individual?”

I don’t know.  All I can tell you is that what happened to me won’t happen to you because you have avenues of treatment not available to me in the early 1980’s.  So take advantage of what’s here.  Use the Internet and see what you can find.  I know you can use the Internet because you found my site.

Okay.  I promised you a list of what helps me.  I will deliver what I promised.  But first, I must say that even for this desperate 26-year-old, there was an answer: medication.  This I stumbled upon quite by accident.  The answer was Lithium.  Yeah.  Really.  Once I got on Lithium, the bingeing completely stopped.  It was amazingly effective.  There was absolutely no evidence, no research that Lithium stopped bingeing.  Not only that, but never, ever in my life have I met anyone for whom this medication has been effective for this disorder.  Ever.

This instantly changed my life.  I mean, Lithium Carbonate gave me life.  They say there’s no such thing as The Magic Pill.  Bullshit.  Magic had happened to me.  Take away my bingeing?  Yeah, I was a free person, free from eating disorder slavery.

One thing that really hurt for years was that no one believed me.  Not a word I said.  They said, “Lithium doesn’t do that.”  Well, it did it to me.  Anyway, I know you believe me.

So my first instruction to you: Get on medication.  Get on the right medication.  Chances are, you will discover the right medication, or combination of medications, unexpectedly and by accident.  The one you think won’t work will be the one.  Give them all a chance and don’t give up.  Try all the classifications of medications, not just the ones the doctors think will help.  What helps me is mood stabilizers.  This is unusual.  Many people are helped by antidepressants.  Antidepressants make me binge.  Again unusual.  Yes, it is highly likely that a medication will cause bingeing or make your bingeing worse, you you need to be tuned into this, too.  Be sensitive, vigilant, and above all, keep an open mind.  And find a doctor you feel comfortable with, is competent, and whom you trust.

Another note I have about medication:  This is a weird theory I have on meds: I don’t think they work so well when you take them with a binge.  So if you binge at night and take them at night, they probably aren’t going to work as well as they would work at a time that you’re not bingeing.  Please take this theory into consideration.

I have found that in addition to being on the right medication (s), I need to do other things, though these things are much further down on my list.  These are as follows, not in any particular order of importance (it depends on the individual and his/her situation):

There are trigger foods and foods you binge on.  There’s a difference.  Know the difference.  Keep both out of the house.  Never eat your trigger foods.  Don’t even experiment and eat them.  You are not ready to do this.  So if you binge right after you take your first bite of cookies, candy, or cakes, for god sakes don’t eat sweets. You’re asking for trouble if you do.  I’d keep foods you binge on out of reach as well.  Just try doing this for now and see if it helps.  If not, tell me I’m full of it.

Next: know the times of day that you binge.  Nighttime is the most popular time.  For me, it was after dinner, after I was done eating everything I had planned to eat for the day.  Shut the door to the kitchen and stay out.  You’re done eating and you don’t need to eat any more food.  In fact, bingeing by definition is eating food you don’t need, which means you’re eating at a time that you don’t need to eat it, right?  So you’re eating after a meal, or between meals.  Stop your meal when you are done and stay out now.  If you are at risk for bingeing, what’s more important: not bingeing, or getting the dishes done?  Think about it.  Dishes can wait.

If you are hungry, and it is not time for a meal or snack, find a “safe” food or drink to have, and keep it on hand.  I mean like a glass of milk or juice, or a half of a piece of fruit, or Jell-o, or a carrot–something safe.  Have this, say, at night, maybe a warm cup of milk, which is great for sleep anyway.

Don’t try to lose weight if your bingeing is really critical.  You need to stop the binging.  Dieting will only bring on more bingeing.  Concentrate on stopping the more troublesome behavior, and the weight will come off.  Trust me.  You will be so free.

Get enough sleep.  This is essential.  If you are not sleeping, talk to your doctor.  Make sure he/she listens to you and DOES something to help with this problem pronto.  NOTE: if you are bingeing late at night, this is going to affect your sleep, too.  Think: your body is really suffering from all the food in your belly.  How can you possibly sleep?  Some are really knocked out, though.  So exxperiment ans see what works.

Keep you r moods in check.  I have to watch my mood swings.  Talk to your doctor about it and get on medication of you have to.

A word about therapists: No therapy has ever helped my bingeing. Nothing.  Nada.  No therapist has ever given me any kind of therapy that has been helpful or worked, or even given me decent advice.  It was medication that was the number one thing.  After that, I had to reinforce with my own tactics to keep on not bingeing such as described above.  But many people find therapy, especially what’s out there today, a lifesaver.  So here’s my take on therapists:

You need to find one that understand 1) you, and 2) your eating disorder, and 3) you and your eating disorder.  Get it?  It’s rare.

Of course, the person has to be a good therapist. Good therapists are very, very hard to find.  There just aren’t too many good, talented therapists out there.  No amount of training will produce a good therapist.  Even brains will not help.  Compassion does not make a good therapist, either.  Mostly, the person has to understand the concept of boundaries. This is the most essential element of therapy.  If your therapist shares with you personal information about him/herself; if you find that you’re getting to be more like a friend to your therapist; if you feel like you’re helping your therapist more that he/she is helping you–stop seeing this person NOW and go to someone else.  Don’t waste your time with this person.  It’s your quality of life and your treatment.  Remember this.

The best therapist for you is not necessarily an “ED specialist.”  I wasted my time with an ED specialist for five years!  She didn’t understand me and she didn’t understand ED’s at all!  Oh my god!  As far as I’m concerned, I wasn’t getting “treatment” for my eating disorder.  Nada.  Nor was she a good therapist, or maybe, she just wasn’t the right therapist for me.   Maybe–or maybe not–after the best therapist in the world that I had, Dr. M, any therapist would have been a huge disappointment to me.

That is my experience; it may not be yours.  Find a good therapist.  Trust is very, very important. The person should know about eating disorders and have some training in them–this is essential–but doesn’t need to be a specialist. There’s a difference.  I am beginning to wonder if maybe my new therapist is too focused on my eating disorder and maybe we should divert to other topics.  I have been told that I am much more than my eating disorder and that I need to learn this, so why do we need to reinforce this and talk about it all the time?  I need to bring this up with her.

Now, you are probably wondering why I have talked so much about therapy when I have stated that therapy did not help me with bingeing one bit.  I should amend this.  Therapy helps me with life.  Secondly, I also have anorexia.  I need help with that. So far, therapy hasn’t improved it–“non-treatment” things have helped, but we’ll see what the future holds.  Medication has not helped me with anorexia, though it has helped with the bingeing side of my ED.  If  you have an eating disorder, you are under stress, a lot of stress.  Therapy is good if you have a stressful life.  Therapy teaches you coping methods, and gives you a place to talk about what you’re stressed about.  Also, if you’re on medication, it’s really important that you get some  monitoring by someone experienced and professional who can report to your meds person exactly what is going on, so adjustments can be made if necessary. You will be seeing your meds person less frequently than you see your therapist.  So that is my opinion.  Take it or leave it.

Okay, what else…self-help groups–definitely give these a try.  There are a lot out there.  Look them up on the Internet and you will find many, including many online groups that are very good.  Use your resources.  Overeaters Anonymous is one; though it is not for binge eaters per se, but for overeaters, many, many find it helpful.  Not only that, but there are a lot of resources for men in OA that you don’t find in other groups.  Personally, I’ve had very bad luck in OA, but I’m an exception.  Go and check it out.  Even people who don’t believe in God can benefit.  Just ignore the God stuff for now and go.  Remember, you are desperate and will try anything, right?  Not only that, but you need to try out all the different types of OA meetings.  I strongly recommend against “Gray Sheet,” but there is “HOW” to consider as well as other types sprouting up right now.  Try many meetings before deciding if it’s for you or not.  And again, remember, the focus is to stop the bingeing, for now–this  comes first, before losing weight, if you need to lose weight. Healthy eating should be your focus.  If you are in the situation I was in, and need to gain weight or if you are at a good weight for you, that is another story entirely–by all means, let’s face it, you don’t need to lose any more weight–get real.  So although OA is a good program to stop overeating, I wouldn’t worry about your weight right now.  And when people talk about how many pounds they’ve lost, cover your ears.

Okay, another big thing I need to mention: Don’t call your friends if you’re afraid you might binge or if you feel like bingeing.  It doesn’t work.  It puts your friend in a very, very tough position.  Not only that, it won’t work.  That’s how you lose friends.  And right now, the last thing you need is to lose any of your friends.  I don’t think think it even works if you call another friend who has an eating disorder!  Anyway, chances are, you won’t call your friends, anyway–your ED is very powerful and it will stop you from making any phone calls in that moment.  As for calling you therapist, this probably varies from therapist to therapist, and I doubt it works with any therapist.  Sorry to disappoint you here.

Support means something else entirely.  Support means talking about it but not leaning on the other person too much.  Support means sharing.  Support means talking about other issues.  Support means companionship and love.  Support and love are unconditional.  Find real friends.  Hold onto family and hopefully they are more supportive and understanding and loving than mine were.

Okay.  I will add to this article when/if I think of more things that have supported me–what hasn’t worked and what hasn’t–and what advice I may have, for what it’s worth–take it or leave it–I have been immersed in this for 30 years and I may–or may not–know anything about the subject…have a nice day.

My Run on the Track – December 2, 2010

I was always the slowest runner in the class, never an athlete.  I always got laughed at.  Always picked last for the team.  Even though our family put emphasis on physical fitness, it wasn’t the competitive kind, like baseball or soccer.  We did hiking and skiing, canoeing sometimes.  We stayed in shape, but I felt like I was the wrong shape in the puzzle of the schoolyard.

When I left home, I rode my bicycle out of necessity, frequently riding ten miles or so to my destination, and this kept me in shape.  Over the years, I used my bicycle on and off for transportation, and found it an effective way to get around.  Never was I bothered by the mess the helmet made of my hair, or the street grit on my face and clothes, or the biting wind and salt and sand in winter.

But when I took up running, at age 40, late 1998, I discovered Heaven.  It started at 3am.  I told Joe the night before, “Honey, I’m going to try running tomorrow morning when I get up.  Just around the neighborhood.  So don’t be alarmed if I make a little noise coming in and out.”  He was staying over that night.

I recall he said, “Be careful, Jules.  Are you sure you want to go out in the middle of the night?”

“Yep.”

So I did.  I ran around about three blocks in maybe an inch of snow.  I carried no cell phone, no whistle, nothing.  Just the silence of the night and the sky above me and the whiteness below me and the cold of the air kept me going.  I came back in, showered, and got to my writing and school assignments, and worked until Joe got up.

“Did you actually go running,” he asked, “in the snow?”

“Yep.  It was awesome.  I’m hooked.”

I increased my mileage after that, running a mile, then over a mile.  It was easy, because I was already in shape from bicycle riding.  I brought my dog, Tiger, until I found that she couldn’t keep up with me because of her age.  The vet recommended that I leave her at home, so I did.

After a short while, I wore out my running shoes, and bought a new pair.  Then I wore out the next pair, and the next.  By then, I had established a route that I liked, and had enough sense to run at a reasonable hour.  I ran every morning, early, for a half hour, showered, then walked the dog.  It was my favorite exercise ever.

Then, on November 1, 1999, I broke my leg.

I was walking down the street and tripped on a crack in the sidewalk.  I was just unlucky, I guess.  I was carrying a heavy load on my back.  I hit my knee the wrong way, at the wrong angle.  My bone was sliced clear through.  It didn’t help that I had osteoporosis from years of having an eating disorder.  I ended up with three screws in my knee.

Eleven years later, I am running again.  The parallels kind of freak me out.  When I took up running in 1998, I had just come out of a really bad time.  It had been a year since my amazing turnaround on my 40th birthday.  When I discovered running in 1998, I felt like I was very, very young, like I was just learning to live again.

You all know, readers, that this is exactly how I feel now.  And I am running again.

So when I started out on my run today, I kept thinking of all the runs I did when I was 41, and the fact that I am wiser now for sure, and am taking more precautions, perhaps out of necessity simply because of my increased age.  I thought of where I was then, and where I am now.  I thought of Joe and I asked myself if I had ever grieved for him.

I thought about what I had eaten before my run.  I felt okay with it: peanut butter on whole rye bread, a banana, and orange juice.  My digestion seemed to be working all right and my energy level was high.  It was 44 degrees out.  I was dressed in two fleece jackets over a t-shirt, a hat I knit myself (non-wool), and leggings.  My running shoes, Adidas, are new.  My shoes were tied just  right.  I had my cell phone in my pocket and my keys.  My MP3 player was loaded with music I had chosen especially for a 40-minute run.  I planned to play it loud!

I arrived at the track and set my watch to “chrono.”  I adjusted my clothes.  I started my MP3 player and adjusted the volume, then clicked on my watch and began my run.

I was surprised at my first lap speed.  It seemed faster than usual.  Generally, I like to take it easy at first, but this time, I couldn’t help but run a little faster than I usually move.  Ffran May’s “Stered Aour” was playing.  It is in French and English.  I can’t understand the French, but I know the song is joyful.

Next song: Vertical Horizon’s “You’re a God.”  I discovered Vertical Horizon by accident while surfing for something else entirely.  I’m still hooked.  All this was around 2005.  Oh, 2005…this was when I was on 900 mgs Seroquel and gained so much weight that I could not walk without gasping for breath.  I gained 50 pounds in six months.  I hated my body.  I wanted to hide myself and never be seen.  I remember 2005 was when I met Simon, via the Internet.  I flew to England to meet him.  When he saw me, and saw my overweight body, his face fell.  I will never forget this.  “You deceived me,” he said.

But now, I can listen to Vertical Horizon’s music and not think of Simon.  I can run and think of the feel of the track underfoot and the coolness of the air in my nostrils.  I can feel my body parts flexing and working in synch.  I can feel the beat of the music propelling me forward.  I can remember all airplane trips I’ve taken–not only to England, but to Seattle from Boston to attend the Goddard residencies in Port Townsend, Washington, twice every year while I was studying for my MFA.  While I was on the plane, I knitted dog sweaters for Puzzle.  Vertical Horizon’s music means “journey” to me.  And as I ran the next couple of laps, my journey moved on.

The next song, Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” I find deeply disturbing, and I’ve heard cover versions of it that brutalize it because they trivialize the song to the point of rendering it flat and lifeless.  At this point, I was at a slower point in my run, or so I thought.  But when I heard, “I can see you…your brown skin shining in the sun…” I thought of Joe and my speed picked up.  I remembered how he introduced me to Don Henley, how he had his favorite music.  I thought of the early days of our relationship, when he would pick me up in his Buick, and we rode to old abandoned parking lots….I felt the strength in my body and the lightness in my step at that moment as I rounded the far end of the track, and I sped up.

There weren’t too many other runners on the track today; there never are, really.  I suppose it is more populated on weekends.  Today I saw a racewalker; or, rather, she was walking fast, and a woman runner, and a man runner, both slower than me, and a young sprinter, perhaps 17 years old, male, awkward with a shock of black hair and sunglasses and a sweatshirt.  He kept going back and forth on the track, very fast, checking his time, stopping, dashing, glancing, darting this way and that, but always vigilant, so I wasn’t afraid of bumping into him.  It is some of the more idle walkers that worry me, the ones that do not seem to stay in lane.  My concern is that they’ll weave into my lane and I’ll crash into them!  Needless to say, it hasn’t happened yet.  I see young mothers with strollers sometimes.  There were a couple of them today.  Also, there were two elderly women who walked several laps each.  The most annoying problem I encountered today was some sort of athletic team warming up on the track.  They decided to seat themselves right on the track, leaving only one lane open for runners to pass through.  What was their coach thinking?  Why didn’t he have them warm up in the center field inside the track, instead of right in the lanes?  I ran through the one open lane, hoping no one faster than me was passing through at the same time, and ran on.

When I reached the end of four or five laps, it was just that–had it been four, or five?  I wasn’t sure.  I couldn’t recall if perhaps I’d forgotten to count the last lap I’d done.  Frank, who has encouraged me and helped me so much and in many ways is my cybercoach, has suggested that I count off the laps on my fingers.  I find I lose track if I don’t do this, especially since I listen to music.  But now, I wasn’t sure–had I run four, or five?

Thankfully, I had my watch to tell me.  I swung it around my wrist, while running past my start point, to check my time.  This would tell me.  To my shock, I had run four laps–a mile–in under twelve minutes. It was 11-something.  This was the fastest I’d ever gone.

All my “self-doubt,” as Frank says runners call it, went out the window at this point.  Into the second mile, Tom Petty’s “Here Comes My Girl” came on.  The sun came lower down on the pavement, reddening it, building it up, making me fly further and higher than ever before.  You may think this song is misogynistic.  I grabbed at this notion and immediately stated my opinion to Joe.  “No, you don’t get it, Jules,” he said.  “It’s about one person appreciating and loving the other.”  Joe, perhaps my ways have softened now.  Perhaps I’m less angry.  Perhaps I’m more angry.  Perhaps I just don’t talk about it anymore.  “Hey, she looks all right…she is all I need tonight….”

I sometimes get a surge of confidence once I’m past the halfway mark, into the seventh lap.  Here, I’ve run a mile and a half.  But my pace sometimes falters here.  Bruce Hornsby’s “Every Little Kiss” helped speed up my pace.    Always aware of my breathing, I had gotten nose-breathing into synch now–in through my nose, out through my mouth.  Frank and I had discussed this earlier.  He said this was the most advisable method of breathing for runners.  Today was my first time trying it, and I’m sold on it.  In…out…in…out….It takes focus, kind of a centering, like using a magnifying glass to focus sunlight and burn a leaf.  Slowly, it burns, and a great fire burns and warms me, and fuels me on…”and the day goes down on the water town…and the sun sinks low all around….”

The beginning of my ninth lap, that is, the beginning of the third mile, and also the beginning of the tenth lap, are the time of the big surge for me.  My pace begins to take off  here, as does my energy level.  I am really soaring now, as I do on every good run.  Nothing will stop me now.   I am moving and the track is moving me along, pushing me forward, and my body is doing just what it is supposed to do.  Dar Williams’ live track, “As Cool as I Am” comes on and I feel the joy of my present-day life and I push forward and leave the past behind.

I eat now.  I eat to live.  I live and I feel the joy of life and I run and hold onto this moment, for life is short.  I eat because I want to live.  I do not starve myself anymore.  I will be kind to my strong, powerful body with all its incredible machinery, at least for today, at this moment, here on the track.

Faster and faster now.  I know I am breaking all my records.  Dar Williams comes on with another song, “I’ll Miss You Till I Meet You.”  Why the heck did I put this sad song in here?  Then I think of the sadness I feel over the miles of distance between Frank and myself, the way we have to rely on the Internet for contact, that I cannot look into his eyes for real, or hold him, or hug him for real, and how much I want to keep him from harm’s way through my touch….Maybe that’s why I put a sad song in there, even though I’m close to the end now, and I’m flying ’round the far end of the track, pushing ahead, and hardly anyone’s left walking or running up here now, just me and the waning sunlight, now farther and faster than ever before.

The third mile is nearly over.  “Big Love”–Lindsay Buckingham–live.  Faster and faster furious guitar.  You can hear the sweat on him as he strums, the sweat on me as I run.  Brief pictures of Joe flash through my head–the night dreams I had of him after he passed away.  I remember my favorite of these dreams.  I don’t recall when I dreamed it.  Maybe two years ago, but it’s like yesterday.  He’s wearing his red shirt.  He says to me, “Jules, Jules, you gotta see this place!  The food is great, and they have shows every night!”

He’s talking about Heaven.  And now, running, I’m the one in Heaven.  Because here in the third mile, my body is doing just what it’s supposed to do.  I am cooking on pavement.  And Joe, I know I never grieved for you, I know I never had a chance to say goodbye, I know I just ran off to grad school, and tried to forget, and tried to be strong.  Perhaps my anorexia is a way of stuffing that grief.  Perhaps my anorexia is something else entirely.

What would Joe have said, if he had seen me, shriveling up, not eating, wasting away?  I do not know.  Maybe he would simply have ordered a large pizza, eaten half, and made me eat the other half.

Back in those days, I was so lost that I pretty much did anything anyone told me to do.

Joe, I have to lay this to rest.  I miss you, but I must finish this run.  I must move onward.  At the end of the eleventh lap, I start to run faster.  I am going to burn now.  Everything I ever believed I could do, I can do right here, right now.  At the end of the twelfth lap, I check my time.  Thirty-five minutes!  I have one lap to go.  This will make it just over 5K.  Here, Rockapella sings, “Eye of the Tiger.”  But I don’t care what the music is.  Fuck the music.  I am going to fly.  I am going to make this lap the fastest I can go.

I lengthen my stride.  I imagine it is December 19th, at the Winter Classic 5K, in Cambridge.  People are cheering and clapping for all the runners.  I am wearing a bib with a number on it.  A very lucky number.  The cold nips at my face and my eyes tear up from the wind but I’m wondering if maybe I’m crying a little, just weeping from the excitement of the moment, and knowing that it wasn’t long ago that I was starving myself, and now I feed myself, and what a miracle this is.  And then I take another last few leaps, and cross the finish line.

My time: 37:47.

The Winter Classic 5K is on December 19, 2010 in Cambridge, MA, at 10:30AM.  I’ll see you there.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available  from Chipmunkapublishing–click here to access.  To read more about it at my home site, click here.