My achilles seems to be healing nicely — phew, that's good — so I'm slowly picking up the mileage again. I'm trying not to pick up the pace — I know I need to run more slowly in order to train to run farther. But when I get in "the zone," I tend to speed up. Running slowly is surprisingly hard, and I'm loathe to fixate on my watch, even though it displays my pace.
I'm very grateful that my body seems to be cooperating — for now — with all the activities I do: walking, hiking, running, weightlifting, yoga, swimming. But I'm also really aware of how precarious all of this is, particularly as my birthday rolls around. Again. I have a race coming up in a few weeks — a 5K — so hopefully my achilles (etc) will be in good shape by then. … But not too good a shape as I'm using this race to set my goal pace for my half marathon, and I'm freaked out by the thought of going for 13.1 miles at anything other than a nice stroll. (I haven't even started my training yet, so everything over the farthest I've ever run — about 7 miles — is daunting.)
As the paragraphs above suggest, I've been thinking a lot lately about how my becoming an athlete (hahahaha!) has introduced a new series of datafied routines into my life. In theory, I don't like tracking — with or without technology — but in practice, I seem to be doing quite a lot of it. How far did I run? How fast did I run? How much did I deadlift or squat last week, and how much should I try to lift this week? How many reps of calf lifts am I doing? I write a lot of these numbers down in a little journal, but I made a note to myself to think about how I can make it less about numbers and more about narrative. I don't know… It's very hard to tease out when tracking becomes toxic — I say this having just finished reading The Eating Instinct by Virginia Sole-Smith, which is about food not fitness per se. But "fitness culture" and "diet culture" are deeply intertwined, and the toxicity of both are evident. Eating is biological — instinctual (Sole-Smith's book really interrogates the extent of this) — but it's also deeply emotional, social, cultural and as such incredibly "problematic." I don't want to track calories. I don't care about my weight (except for the part where I was raised in and live in this fatphobic diet culture, so of course I do). But I'm also hyper-aware of how eating affects and fuels my activities, and as a post-menopausal athlete, I have to eat a lot — particularly a lot of protein, something I don't seem to do "instinctually."
And yet, I spend a lot of time thinking about food. Is that good? Is that bad? Society certainly wants to label it some way or another. It makes me happy: cooking, eating, thinking about cooking, thinking about eating. I mean, you know what's good to cook and eat? The mushroom mushroom bao from Milk Bread and Mooncakes — mushroom-shaped, mushroom-filled bao. I made them on Saturday, and they were fun to make and eat. I'm also looking forward to my birthday dinner this weekend at Wapehpah's Kitchen; and I've scored a reservation for Kaia's birthday dinner at San Ho Wan, which is very, very exciting. So much good food in the coming days and weeks! Speaking of which, my mom bought me a grill for my birthday — one we can connect to the RV's propane — and I'm excited for our next excursion and all the things I'm going to cook and eat while we're out and about.
Certainly there's a tendency for our culture to punish the joy of an unruly body — even if that body is in many ways a culturally-sanctioned one. I'm thinking here less about my body — an old lady body now, so hardly exalted — about more about Elvis's. Kin and I watched the new Elvis biopic this weekend. I didn't love it, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, particularly since it stars the wildly overrated Tom Hanks, who was no doubt the worst thing about the movie. The actor who plays Elvis, Austin Butler, is brilliant. There were plenty of scenes where I had to squint to see if I was watching acting or archival footage. (The closing scenes are precisely the latter, and it's an interesting attempt from director Baz Luhrmann to signal that his over-the-top style — and Elvis's legend — is actually the capital-T truth.) The film lets you love Elvis, which in this particular moment in history, with what we know and think we know about appropriation and exploitation, is quite a feat.