Dr. Lowenstein, Roger Bannister & Me
Posted October 1, 2009on:
I am the least competitive person you know. If I were in a room with 100 people, 98 of them would be more competitive than me. The other would be my friend, Julie, who is even more uncompetitive than me in everything, especially Scrabble.
It’s not polite to say so, but I am really competitive. I can give two examples, both of which are pretty funny stories.
Last night I attended the Mind/Body Skills Group at the Franciscan Skemp Cancer Center. We learn meditation, breathing and biofeedback techniques to calm our raging minds and body as we battle cancer.
Now many of you are already laughing at the idea of me doing meditation or biofeedback. You have every right to do so. If you are not laughing, you don’t know me.
But, hey, I’m giving it a try and everyone involved – eight women with breast cancer and two women leading the group – are wonderful people. They are kind and caring and folks going through difficult times with humor. Still, I’m trying to be on my best behavior.
They gave us this hand device called Dr. Lowenstein’s Stress Thermometer, also called the Thermister, to monitor our progress. We are supposed to learn to relax in minutes and this device also can double as a stress test and a lie detector.
We attached the sensor to a finger and then repeated messages to ourselves to calm our inner souls:
- My arms are heavy. I am at peace.
- My hands are warm. I am at peace.
- My breathing is calm and relaxed. I am at peace.
- My abdomen radiates warmth. I am at peace.
- My forehead is pleasantly cool. I am at peace.
There’s more to it than that. But the idea is that our temperature would rise on the Thermister – indicating we are more relaxed and in control of our bodies.
Afterward, we went around the room and everyone told how they felt and how their temperature had gone up by three to ten degrees. Marti, one of the leaders, said, “Great. Everyone’s temperature has gone up.”
Wait, they hadn’t gotten to me. I was the last one around the circle. I announced that I am a remedial student, that my temperature had gone down not up. I then explained my competitive nature and that I was thinking during the exercise how I wanted to be the best at raising my temperature and everyone laughed.
The other story made me think of Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four-minute mile in 1954. I have this wonderful device called the Nike Plus iPod, which records my distance walking, pace, time and calories burned. When I connect my iPod to my Mac, it sends the information to the Nike Plus website, which automatically creates charts about my progress, etc.
On Tuesday, I had been explaining to a friend how inspirational it was to keep me moving.
The Nike Plus is very cool because you can have competitions between friends for all kinds of things and write little “trash talk” notes to each other. There are also challenges between runners in different states and organizations, even Mac users versus PC users. The goal is to get people up and moving.
A teacher at a middle school in La Crosse got me going on this and I’m sure it is because of the competitive nature of the thing. She has created fun challenges and tried to encourage her students to participate, not to mention various adults. And let me assure you, I don’t take walks without my iPod because I want full credit.
I’m certainly not as fast as I was before chemo, but the point is to just do it.
Tuesday, I went for a walk at the mall with my friend, Sue. We had a great time talking and walking. Walking is a big part of my coping and I want to appear strong all the time.
What makes this story is I forgot to turn my iPod off. So when I logged into the site later I realized I had just posted a 2.65-mile walk that took me three hours, 16 minutes and 37 seconds. Instead of a 16 or 17-minute mile, I had a 74-minute mile.
Naturally, with my Dr. Lowenstein’s lie detector, I can’t lie about my great walk. And as usual, my 74-minute mile is a story.
I think that mark is an accomplishment that even the great Sir Roger Bannister could not duplicate at age 80 today.
So I am officially challenging everyone I know to try and beat my 74-minute mile. Go for 75 or 76-minute mile. It won’t wear you out one bit.