I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Last post of summer

Bellingham Bay yesterday

Our rain started later in the day on Friday, and it continued all night long. Bellingham had a record amount of rainfall on Saturday, after a summer of below normal precipitation: 1.82 inches fell before I got out of bed yesterday. But then the skies cleared and it was a glorious day. Melanie and I walked a little more than six miles along the South Bay trail beside Bellingham Bay, into Fairhaven and down to the ferry terminal and back. The rain returned sometime last night, and it should be damp today. I don't mind, really, since I consider Sunday my day off and I don't even try to close the exercise rings on my Apple Watch.

Usually I try to get some exercise in every day and manage the three rings on my Watch fairly easily. By walking to the bus first thing, I get around a third of a mile in, and then when my friend John drops me off at a trailhead, after coffee, I get about three miles total before I come home before 10:00am in the morning. I also have a daily routine of my Five Tibetan Rites (which only takes about ten minutes to accomplish), and I am trying to get in at least three days a week of yoga, and a long-ish hike on Thursdays. It's not a huge exercise regimen, but it's enough for me to feel pretty good most days.

I happened across an article about exercise the other day, with the intriguing title, The Exercise Routine That Can Make Your Body 30 Years Younger. It sounds great, right? It's a hook that made me have to read it, and of course I found out that you also must have begun that routine thirty years ago! The study found that older adults who began getting fit during the exercise boom of the 1970s, and continued into their seventies and beyond, were far fitter than "normal" septuagenarians. They studied three groups, people in their twenties and older folks who exercised and those who didn't.
The muscles, capillaries and enzymes of the exercising older adults were similar to those of the younger cohort. However, while their aerobic capacities were lower than the younger folks, they were 40% greater than the group of older adults who did not exercise regularly. When compared to the national averages, they had the cardiovascular health of someone 30 years younger.
I was one of those people who got hooked on exercise in the 1970s. I well remember standing in the doorway of my apartment, looking down at my brand-new running shoes, before heading out for my very first run. Back then, I didn't really care that much about aerobic fitness, but I wanted to lose about ten pounds and thought this was the ticket. Well, within three days I was almost unable to walk, with shin splints that were agonizingly painful. 

I went to a sports doctor to find out what I was doing wrong, and he analyzed my gait and said I am a pronator (my feet turn slightly inward) and fitted me with orthotics, which I wore inside my running shoes. I kept it up, and before long I had experienced the fabled "runner's high" that came from vigorous exercise. I also realized that I could walk and run and still get the benefits, as long as I dedicated myself to a daily regimen.

Before long, I was strapping on my running shoes and hitting the trails behind my workplace on my lunch hour. I found other people who were just as dedicated as me, and I found others who would join me on what we called "fun runs," just going out and enjoying being outdoors. What I was able to do is not exactly what some would consider actual runs, since my pace was around nine miles an hour. But I got better, and I did lose those pounds. My best race was a 10K (6.2 miles) at an 8.5-mile-an-hour pace.

I also got into bicycling long distances. Living in Boulder, there were so many opportunities to just get onto my bike and go, plenty of places with little traffic. My friend Donna and I decided, one summer long ago, to ride our bikes from Boulder to San Francisco! And we did it, taking six weeks, camping each night in city parks or the equivalent. We crossed the Continental Divide five times, riding through Yellowstone, up and down country roads. I got pretty good at changing a bike tire quickly. The only drawback was that, after being with each other for so long, we were barely speaking to one another at the end. (We did reconcile eventually.)

I fell in with some friends who were attempting to climb all 52 of Colorado's mountains of 14,000 feet or higher. We would head out for a weekend adventure, always with the hope of summiting a peak before returning home. Before that period was over, I had managed to climb 26 of them. Some memories of those days still pop into my head occasionally, usually when we had gotten lost, or looking up at a rocky climb towards the top and wondering if I could make it.

And then, in my fifties, I got hooked on skydiving, and all the rest of my world was completely fixated on jumping out of airplanes. Nothing interested me except getting to be a better and more accomplished skydiver. Since I could still jog and learned that packing my parachute several times a day was plenty of exercise, I still kept fit during those years. I made my first jump in 1990, and my last in 2015. It was where I met my life partner, and we were married in freefall in 1994.

When I look back at the journey I've made into the present moment, I am amazed at how different my life has been because of exercise. As I peer over at my dear partner sleeping next to me right now, I realize that he wouldn't be here if I hadn't become a skydiver, so that is probably the one activity that has changed my life the most. But today, here in Bellingham, I am fortunate to be fit enough to walk up to around eight miles at a time, and knowing that I am doing quite well for a really old lady, thanks to having started this fitness journey so many decades ago.
You’re only one workout away from a good mood. —Unknown

 And here I am, finishing up my Sunday morning meditation, having been brought into the memories of all those years of different types of exercise by that article, and realizing how different my life would have been without it. I am incredibly fortunate to have the life I lead today, and with the ability to make friends around the world through the magic of the Internet, I can also learn about others like me.

I do hope, dear friends, that you will have a wonderful week ahead, and don't forget to mark the new season that begins in three days: autumn. It begins here around noon on Wednesday, September 22. And now, it's time for me to begin the rest of my Sunday. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things. Be well.


Anvilcloud said...

My feet pronate the other way, which led to heel spurs at a pretty early age. I gave up my attempts at jogging fairly early. Daughter's feet go the way way, and she has spurs too.

Barbara Rogers said...

Wonderful for you...I've been one of those fair weather exercisers and guess that's why my legs are not up for much except daily half hour walks these days.

Linda Reeder said...

As I look back, I realize that most of my "exercise" has been physical work. From crop picking to gardening to maintaining a home and raising kids, then running a classroom full of other people's kids, my life has been active. Walking has always been my preferred way of exercising as well as relaxing. I still do what I can. I inherited the tendency for arthritis and my "work life" has contributed to the wear and tear on my joints, and now I have a heart issue. Those issues are not from neglect of my body. They just happened to me.
Your life has been quite amazing. You can be proud of all you have done and all you do. You should also feel fortunate that you can.

John's Island said...

Eye on the Edge has become a regular part of my Sunday morning routine. Your post this morning sent me on an interesting mission. I wanted to see when I first discovered DJan, and that would be when you first left a comment for me on my blog. I started looking in 2015 and kept going back, month by month, until the fall of 2013. So, it looks like we’ve been on each other’s radar for about 8 years. While looking back, I noticed that you’ve been publishing Eye since December, 2009. You titled your second post Authenticity. When you wrote that post you had just arrived in Bellingham, and you said, “…the first thing I needed was to find a way to get exercise every day.” So, see, even way back then, you were way ahead of the crowd, and on the way to the good condition you enjoy today that allows you to walk 8 miles with ease. When looking at your archive it’s neat to see 52 or 53 posts every year … you’ve maintained your weekly schedule, without fail, and that is quite an accomplishment. And, for me, I now realize I can go back and enjoy some of your very early posts for a first time. Thanks, as always, for sharing your blog.

Arkansas Patti said...

Your early start will let you have a late and healthy finish. You made me smile with the shin splints and how that LOOOONG bike ride wore on a friendship. Not amused at the results, just in your way of telling them.
Always thought about becoming a runner but never made it. I regret that. I did get a good dose of exercise with my life style of sports, caring for livestock, gardening and a bit of bike riding. I miss the Florida flat lands for that and just couldn't handle biking here in the Ozarks. I've said it before, you set the bar high for the rest of us. Keep it going.

ApacheDug said...

Y'know DJan, there's no denying you've experienced loss in your life that not many can lay claim to (or want to) with the passing of your first husband and two sons before their time. At the same time, when I read of some of your adventures like in your post today, I think you're also going to be one of the few who move on with few regrets of not doing more when they had the chance. Your 6 week bike & camping trip from Boulder to San Francisco--wow. That's the stuff people write books about. Well this may be the last post of summer, but I know your adventures are far from over. :^)

Elephant's Child said...

I really look forward to your Sunday posts (which I read early on our Monday morning). You make me think, and you often make me smile.
I really admire your determination, and which that I had the exercise bug earlier. Much earlier.

gigi-hawaii said...

I am glad that exercise has been a part of your daily life. Blessings to you. I wish we all could be like you.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Summer is here today it is 80 plus degrees and it chased me inside from cleaning the garage and cleaning up the car! Tomorrow it may rain...we need it so that will be a good thing:) You are a go getter with the exercise program:)

William Kendall said...

Rain here has been hit and miss this summer.

Red said...

I like to say that I have lead an active life. It would have been better if I had a routine or goal that would have kept my activity at a higher level.

Marty said...

After a life of sporadic attempts at exercise, I’m now in my later years much more conscious of it. I try to do a good walk or hit a low impact aerobics class. I feel well and move well, I think, for 72. Meanwhile, I see my husband reap the results of too much sitting and no exercise with his inability to walk even a half a block. Result: our activities together are really limited.

Betsy said...

I'm always amazed and impressed when I read of your feats of athletic abilities. I've always been a clumsy, fall over your own feet kind of girl. That hasn't changed.

Rita said...

We called it pigeon-toed and I am one.
You have kept active all these years and are therefore doing better than most of us. Kudos, my friend!

Rian said...

You have done more exercise in your life than I can even imagine. I never cared for sports and although I did ride horses and loved to walk, have never done half of what you've done. Even now I feel that we don't walk enough. I would have loved to sky dive, still would... although I'm not sure it's safe at my age (although I see people older doing it in tandem). But I do believe that keeping fit and agile as you age is important.

Marie Smith said...

Such a great read, Jan. Exercise has been a way of life for you and you still see the benefits of it.

Twenty plus years ago we began walking/hiking. Sixteen kilometres or ten miles a day were common. We do some form of exercise most days, my husband is more dedicated than I am. However, I feel great after a walk or bike ride and only missed one day in the last while because I worked in the garden. Exercise enough with that for sure.

We are happy to see our daughter make exercise a priority in her life now too. It is hard to make it a priority, especially when you are so busy with children and career, but the benefits are so worth the effort.

Glenda Beall said...

I admire your adventurous spirit. "We crossed the Continental Divide five times, riding through Yellowstone, up and down country roads" I am in awe of this. I have been to Colorado and crossed the Continental Divide in a car. You are not so old, DJan. You can't put yourself in that box. You have too much life ahead of you.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, you are, as I've said before, such an inspiration. You've exercised all these years and you seem to see all of it as just "normal." It's the very opposite of the idea of being cavalier about something. You've been dedicated and I suspect that when talking with others and sharing exercise and fitness stories you listen so well and your understanding must be so appreciated by those who are just starting out on fitness or have lagged in their commitment. (As I have!). Thank you for sharing such a rich background and always doing so with a richness of expression. Peace.

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

I am new to your blog and "met" you in the comments at Island Musings. I'm just turned 70 and until I developed TMJ and ear problems in my early 60's I practice yoga, weight lifting classes, walking, Zumba etc. Unfortunately, as I've aged I seem to be more limited. I tried pickle-ball and injured my knee so now I'm in healing mode.So much for exercise for me. Hoping to get back to at least a good morning walk I do enjoy your writing style and your stories. They are inspirational and enjoyable. Thanks,