I learned something important about myself yesterday:
And Twitter is officially my news source for everything.
I was wearing my new red cigarette pants with four-inch black peep toe stilettos, walking around pretending my feet didn't hurt, like I was Joanie on "Mad Men" or something. I'd just turn the cubicle corner to ask a coworker something -- and a senior person in my office had just stepped out, heading in my direction -- when the whole dang Pentagon began shaking.
I froze, my swinging arms (the way Joanie does it) suspended in the air. So did he. We locked eyes, searching for the answer from one another to what we should do. Anything that was on a surface was rattling violently, the printer threatening to fall on top of me, but I didn't move a hair, didn't even teeter on those ridiculous heels. I just stared at him, not thinking for a second that it might be slightly awkward. At first I thought, "Earthquake?" but in a nanosecond my mind went to "TERRORIST ATTACK." It felt like at least a full minute (what was it, 10 seconds?), and I didn't hear anything but the rattling...
When it stopped I came back into reality. I heard sirens, people shouting to check for smoke, dozens of feet running in the hallways. I darted to my desk and pulled up Twitter. I knew Twitter would tell me what had happened. "Uhh, did an earthquake just hit DC?" I tweeted. Moments later I got the responses -- YES. And my friends in New York and Philly were tweeting about it just as quickly as I was.
We were evacuated a few seconds later, which provided a nice sunshine break while everyone chatted and laughed nervously about what had just happened. Once we were allowed back inside, I had to rush off to an offsite meeting, so I walked to the Metro, waited for a while and finally got on a very crowded train that was reminiscent of the first day back to work after the Snowpocalypse of 2010. The biggest difference? It was sweaty, which in turn made it smelly, but the really cool thing about an event like this is people seem to come together to help one another out, and everyone was laughing, cracking jokes and freely talking to strangers.
While on the long Metro ride to my meeting (the trains were running very slow, but kudos to WMATA for keeping them going!), the emotional aftershocks hit me. I'd been reading funny tweets for the last hour and enjoying the comaraderie, but suddenly it began to sink in that I thought I was in the midst of a terrorist attack. Not only do I work in the building in DC that was struck almost exactly 10 years ago, I work in the hallway, by the memorial, where the tour guides stop every hour and announce, "You're standing where the plane hit on 9/11."
And then I realized, if it had been a terrorist attack, I would have just frozen, like when that dude pulled out a gun and I thought I was being shot. What did I do? I stood in the middle of 14th Street and waited to be hit. One of my readers commented that it's called being "galvanized." So now I can't get that Chemical Brothers song out of my head, which is stressing me out even more. (Why can't I have "I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet" in my head like normal people?)
What's even more disturbing is I didn't even think about poor Noli until I'd thoroughly freaked my own self out. (She was okay, just pooped on the floor. Apparently the asinine emergency situation responses are passed down from mother to pup -- this is how normal animals react, and it doesn't include pooping!)
In the interest of not freaking myself out any more than necessary, here are my favorite tweets from yesterday:
@docshuga Can we start looting yet? #dcearthquake #allyourfriendsaredead #sunnyafternoon #lavaeverywhere
@KJinDC7 I can't believe I did that. With my MIND!!! #earthquake
@Gunservatively: BREAKING: OBAMA SAYS IN STATEMENT THAT VIRGINIA EARTHQUAKE WAS BUSH'S FAULTLINE.
@heylovedesigns I feel the earth (woo!) move (yea!) under my feet!
@rachaelgk My #DCquake thought process: 1. TWEET!!! 2. Oh crap, hide. 3. CHECK TWITTER!!!! 4. Damn, my @klout's gonna rock tomorrow.
@ALLIEgDC MSNBC says the Washington monument is leaning to left. Fox news says its to the right. #earthquake
@malitzd new york - don't even. this was our quake. #dc
@iDineDC I just survived an earthquake...damn right I'm eating the rest of my dove chocolate bar!
@cheeky_geeky BREAKING: Owen Wilson gives all east coast earthquake victims a Hall Pass to do whatever they want for 24 hours.
@DCQuake: East coast: "Holy crap." West Coast: "Amateurs". Midwest: "You still can't drive in the snow."
(Yeah, that's right, someone set up a Twitter account just for the DC Earthquake.)
Lastly, Californians: Quit bustin' my chops already. It was traumatizing, okay?! I'll be interested to see how all of you fare the next time a hurricane or tornado hits your coast. Hmph.
My days of being lazy are over. I had wonderful reasons why I shouldn't exercise -- like a sprained ankle that wouldn't heal, chronic bronchitis, fatigue, stress, and boobs, apparently (a friend reminded me of that excuse a couple of days ago, a classic one I used years ago when we lived in the same state and she'd try to get me to go jogging with her).
But I was caught off guard by a woman in an Army uniform who I work for -- intimidating, right? She basically ordered me to begin training for the Army PT (Physical Training) Test in November.
"Mary El," she said, menacingly. "The Army PT test is coming up and you're eligible to take it. Maybe we can get a few of the other girls in the office to participate too." The glint in her eye shot through me like an arrow. Take the Army PT test? Is she crazy?! I had a flashback to the last time a soldier talked me into doing PT with him and a bunch of drill sergeants. Sure, no one made fun of me, but goodness gracious I was terrible.
"Uhhh..." I cowered, trying to buy time and form a response that would get me out of it. "My ankle." It's all I could muster.
"I thought your ankle was better? You wear heels all the time now," she said, sneering at me.
"Uhhh...it's too hot."
"Then use a treadmill! And anyway, the heat wave is supposed to break in a couple of days. Come on, you can do this," she insisted.
"I, uh, you know, stress and all, uh, and my neighborhood isn't as nice as it used to be, and uh..."
"Just run through a park, there are trails everywhere! Isn't there a trail near you?"
What is this, an interrogation?! I thought. "Oh right, I'll just run through the one Chandra Levy was buried in. No worries."
"I actually run through that park all the time," she giggled...I mean cackled.
I finally agreed, thinking that I could just say yes and then not train and when PT Test Day arrived I'd say, "Whoops! TOTALLY forgot to train for this. Maybe next year!"
But later that day, after returning from a meeting, I found a training schedule lying on my desk with the words "START AUGUST 15" written on the top and circled in yellow highlighter, not to mention all the chiding comments written throughout, like "You can do this!" and "Take this part easy, you'll build up to it!"
That night I considered it, and then I realized that my sole New Year's Resolution for 2011 was to get back in shape. Ugh. So I dug out my Nikes, which are still in good condition because two months into running last year I sprained my ankle and stopped wearing them, bought a new, cute t-shirt from Target as an incentive, and on August 16th I went for my first run in a year (hey, I was only one day late, that's acceptable).
Turns out picking up running again is just like picking up riding a bicycle again. Almost immediately I felt strong, powerful, energetic and skinny, and a dull headache that had been bugging me all day disappeared. Back at home I had to do as many push-ups (the girlie kind) and sit-ups as I could in 30 seconds (it was about 10 each). Training is every other day, which means today I go again. This afternoon a familiar feeling came over me -- I was looking forward to getting home to change into my little running shorts, cute Target t-shirt and running shoes and pound the pavement. And miraculously I feel less fatigued after one just one day of running than I usually do when I take it easy catching up on "Toddlers & Tiaras" (that Eden Wood is such a Mean Girl in training) and "Design Star" (I lurv making fun of the obnoxiously fake host) in the evenings.
Another thing I was reminded of, which is a big lesson I learned from last year's ankle injury, is to listen to my body. A running guru works down the hall, and I filled him in on my first day of training earlier.
"Did you have any pain?" he asked.
"Just in my right shin, I get shin splints so easily. But I just ran through it." As soon as the words came out of my mouth I realized that's the same thing I did when I sprained my ankle last summer, and then it took 10 months for the dang thing to heal.
"Don't do that again," he said. "Next time you go for a run, warm up with a five-minute walk then run for one minute only. Walk for four minutes then run for one. Do that until you finish. You may feel like you can do more, but hold back until you build up the muscles you need to support this new activity."
So tonight that is the plan, as well as more push-ups (still on my knees, but hopefully I'll be able to crank out one real one by PT Test Day) and sit-ups. I also plan to treat myself to something yummy, like chocolate covered peanut brittle from Trader Joe's, and a delicious (and pretty!) sports drink, whichever color I'm in the mood for. I recently got turned on to Neuro Drinks, but due to lack of calorie burnage I thought I shouldn't drink them too much (champagne, on the other hand, is always acceptable). I'm a total dum dum, because they're only 35 calories each and are loaded with vitamins, plus different elements that support whatever mood you're in.
Aren't they pretty? Yummy too.
Tonight I'll be drinking Neuro Trim, in case you were wondering, because the other selling point on beginning training now is I forgot I'm in Ashmi's wedding in less than a month and I have to wear a midriff-bearing saree. SCARY!
If you'd like to follow my training schedule, you can download it here.
And if you'd like to try Neuro Drinks for yourself, you can buy them here. I'm also giving away a case of them to one fitness-minded reader! Here's three ways to win:
1) Tweet about me (@CupcakesDC) and Neuro Drinks (@DrinkNeuro) -- something good, you're not gonna win if you tell me I'm going to fail miserably, even though I probably will.
2) Comment below on why now is a good time to get in shape, or how I inspire you to do so.
(If you're wondering, yes, this is a ploy to get all the encouragement I possibly can so I will actually go through with this.)
I'll announce a winner next Friday, August 26, 2011. Spread the word!
Due to technical difficulties during the non-hurricane in DC, I wasn't able to update this on Friday. But I'm happy to announce that we have a winner! Chosen at random from everyone's names written on folded up pink Post-Its (I'm Old School, what can I say?), the winner of the Neuro Drinks Giveaway is...
Email me with your contact info and I'll send you a case of Neuro Drinks! Enjoy!