Converting Hot Flashes into Athletic Prowess


I’ve joked about losing my grip on the slippery rope of youth. I ride my bicycle because I love it, but deep down I want it to keep me young. I swim because I love it, but deep down, I want it to keep me young and slim and lithe. When I run, I don’t really love it, but after the first mile or so, I forget about the twinges in my ankle, the knees don’t bug me as much, and I sink into my zone of breathing and keeping cadence with my feet, lost in my thoughts. Before I know it, I’m done, and I’m very glad I’ve done it. Why? Because I think it will keep me young.

I want to fill my ring with event numbers!

Running hurts. It hurts an hour or two after I’m done, it hurts for days. But, because I’m in Brad Gansberg’s #10kin100days program and run every other day, I get back out there whether I’m hurting or not. Once I find my groove, the pain fades. I like that. I am starting to like it a lot.

As I write this beads of sweat are forming on my skull, beneath my curls, and dripping down my forehead and into my eyes. My arms, including my hands, are sparkling with sweat. My torso is generating so much heat I wish we could convert it to reduce our electricity bill. And all I’m doing here is sitting at my laptop typing.

A year ago, I was getting hot flashes but then they stopped after about four months. Frankly, not getting a period all that time was pretty awesome. When I did get it, sometime last summer, I remember I was in the bathroom at work.

“Oh, SH^T.”

I’m pretty sure whoever was in there knew what was up. I was gravely disappointed. That monthly cycle sucked from the time I was 13 when I first got my period. I never had cramps, but I did get horrendous headaches, so it was nice not enduring that, too. And sure, I had a heck of a time conceiving and holding on to babies, but eventually that all sorted itself out.

Four years ago when John decided to pursue his marathon dream, I encouraged him but I had no intention of participating. He got me on a bicycle and I was happy with that. I didn’t want to do anything else. But then, I was a pretty good swimmer, so I got back into that. Then, last summer when I was in the swim and spin in the Na Wahine Festival, and won my age group, I thought that MAYBE, just MAYBE I’d see if I could start to run.

Baby steps. I was in no hurry. If I wanted to compete in triathlon events, then I figured the training would help. And I would enter to complete, not so much to compete. But many people know I’m quite competitive. To a fault.

This month I’ve done a 5k and an 8k, thanks to John and my friend Stacy Hernandez, a woman who runs like a gazelle and always places on the podium. This year I’m going to be in another 5k, a 10k, a half-marathon, the ANA Lanikai Triathlon, the Haleiwa Metric Century, maybe some rough water swims, the Na Wahine Festival, and the Honolulu Marathon.

This year of liberating change, when my body sheds its maternal purpose, I can convert it into anything I wish: Healthy and athletic, sexy and fun, wild and crazy, inquisitive and inspiring. I’d like to think I’m already all that! The last period is not the end.

Author: lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer is my new opponent. Writer, super sub teacher, triathlete, awesome cook, ocean girl with head-to-toe sun protection.

5 thoughts on “Converting Hot Flashes into Athletic Prowess”

  1. Aw, Paula! I am deeply touched! I am so happy that I have contributed in some small way to you becoming a runner. I’m proud of what you’re accomplishing! I can’t wait to see what you will do this year.

  2. I excersize daily, no where near what you acomplish. But the same thing happeneds to me, if I just keep on going, the pains actually subside for a while. Sounds like you are doing great!!

  3. So, on the keeping you young thing… My 85 grandmother goes to Curves 3 times a week, has for YEARS. For Christmas my dad got her personal training sessions and she was so excited. As a result, when we go on family vacations, Grandma hikes along with the rest of the family like a much, much younger person. I’m convinced that staying in shape has kept her young! Keep up the good work, Paula!

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