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I’m Still Here!

Aside: as I type this, a neighbor is blaring the entire soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera. They started with track one, and on it’s gone; I am sort of amazed they – and no one else – is singing along. 

My mom asked me if I had been running lately.

“Just curious,” she prefaced her query. “I noticed you hadn’t written in your running blog for quite some time.”

Since she asked, and since I figure at least one other person in the world might have the same question (Dr. Dad), I thought it would be wise to get my fingers a-tapping.

So I’m here to tell you the short answer is yes!

The longer answer is I’ve been sometimes running with buddies (occasionally with Nessa, regularly with Alexis), sometimes with podcasts (State of the ReUnion! Pop Culture Happy Hour!), and always  with my imaginary dog (hey Dumbledore! I refuse to pretend I don’t imagine you anymore!). I’ve even hit up the pool again after a hiatus, helped Amara learn to swim, and spent time reading Runner’s World and Us Weekly on the elliptical. Once in a blue moon, I even lift weights. And after taking a season of soccer off, I’m back to that, too.

And now that I’ve said all that, I’ll say one more thing: I anticipate writing more about all of the above (and who knows what else) right here. Just not right now. Right now, The Diviners requires my attention.

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Remember a month ago when I mentioned I felt like I had some PF? Yeah, apparently me either. Admittedly, I’ve been trying to run less often, and am even taking three day breaks from running, alternating in swimming, spin class, elliptical (does that count?) and sometimes a weird old rest day.

Except…

The PF-like thing (why can’t I just admit that PF is what this is? Why am I in denial?) is still going on…and not getting all that better. It’s about the same. Maybe worse? Like, last night I noticed it hurt while I was falling asleep.

Besides lowering my mileage, I also stopped wearing my oldest pair of running shoes (which are a few years old and probably have seen better days) and a pair of minimalist shoes I was trying out, leaving me with one pair of shoes that are okay, but not perfect. According to ye olde Google, one of the best things I can do is get a pair of running shoes with better cushioning and support — as someone who has been running in shoes with little of both of those things for years, this is an annoying change.

So two things:

1) This weekend, I’m going to go find me some better running shoes. I have a job. I can incur this cost. And it’s going to be worth it.

2) I’m going to take a week off from running.  I know. I’m not excited about it either. But the good news is, I’m already three workouts in — Thursday, Friday, and today (hence all that rain swimming I did. Dear lord, if I hadn’t rain run last weekend I would not have been able to control myself. I almost cried walking outside this morning to hit the pool). And the better news is, I’m having a wisdom tooth extracted early next week, meaning I was going to be out of commission at least one day, maybe two of the week long no-run.

Getting healthy from an injury has never been my forte. But I want to run the Oakland Half Marathon and feel good knowing I’m not destroying my foot.

And besides, rain swimming isn’t so bad. Even if it was indoor rain swimming.

 

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At first, I thought it was my dreams that had woken me up at 3:00am last night.

See, in dreamland, I’d suddenly sprouted a new finger below my old finger, much like one gets a new tooth below a baby tooth. In fact, I also was suddenly sprouting a new tooth. Concerned, I tried to get a same-day appointment at a health center, but was told that I had to be there in ten seconds or would have to wait a few hours. With my old finger dangling precariously and my old tooth looser than a caught thread, I ran through the building’s doors…only to find that I had run into a mansion, and the fastest way to the hospital was to run through the mansion, opening doors as I went. So I did, and the mansion’s owner, who was in a wheelchair, seemed to know me and kept pace with me, saying he’d close the last door behind me. I got to the last door, which was through a closet, then turned around and said to the man, “Well, doesn’t this feel like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe?”

“Go!” he hollered me. I unbolted the door and went through, trying to shut the door behind me but managing to catch the man’s nightshirt in the door. I tried to reopen the door but he was holding it shut. “Just go on, I’ve got it,” he said, muffled. I was in the middle of the hospital — apparently this guy had a secret access door he didn’t want people to notice, lest they think it was a bathroom or an office and constantly be trying to get into it.

Anyway. I thought that was the reason I woke up. But as I shuffled over to get a glass of water, I suddenly heard something glorious. It was the very light, very familiar yet not oft heard sounds of rain tapping. On the ground. On the building. On cars below me. I stuck my arm out the window and sure enough — there was a steady drizzle.

Let’s just say trying to sleep for the next few hours was hard. I kept waking up, making sure the rain was still pattering, and drinking lots of water because darn it if the kale and nutritional yeast fest I’d had for dinner hadn’t left me parched. At 6:30 I finally got out of bed and got dressed slowly, knowing I’d want to wait until it was light out to actually go running. On went the famed tight workout pants. On went a slim t-shirt. On went a jacket and a headwarmer.

At 7:00am, I left my apartment. The hallway smelled faintly of weed. “Someone is wake and baking on this rainy morning!” I thought gleefully. As I moved down the stairs, each floor the scent became stronger until I realized that the foggy-headed people were actually transients sitting on our stoop.

“Good morning!” I bellowed to them as I came outside.

“Heyyyyy,” they replied.

“Oh my god, girl, are you going running in the rain?” the woman said, while the man took another hit.

“Yep!” I said, getting ready to start my iPod.

“Don’t get sick! Oh, you’re crazy. I’m gonna worry about you!” she said.

I smiled, assured her I’d be fine, and thought about how freaking lucky I was  to be able to take a rain run and know I could come home and be dry. She didn’t seem to have that luxury. I said a small prayer of gratitude, then let Al Jackson and State of the Reunion lead me into an hour and twenty minute run.

It was glorious. The rain fell softly. The rain fell less softy and beat on my face almost like hail. The rain fell softly again. I dodged puddles. I grinned at the very few other runners who were out. I powered up hills as though I’d been given a turbo charge. I let the rain hide my tears when a story came on about the Sacramento Kings (seriously, if you like sports at all it will make you choke up). I let the rain cool me as I got warm. I thought about how I felt truly hydrated for the first time in as long as I could remember.

And back at home, I did indeed have a hot shower waiting for me.

photo (53)

A very happy, sopping wet, post-rain run me!

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I know summer is coming to a close, and that autumn is trying to say hello (though let’s be fair, in Northern California we’ll get a second go at summertime action in another thirty days).

How do I know this? I ran into two spiderwebs this morning. That only happens in fall. Time to start running with my hand in front of my face – because as I remembered, cobwebs in the mouth and eyes, and laying across my nose is not comfortable. Nor comforting. I spent the rest of my run checking for spiders who were hitching a ride.

We’re that much closer to October Country, folks. Time to get out the running pants to put under our shorts. Or at least, look at the running pants.

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Up and Running

Gee whiz. It took almost two weeks, but I’m finally back up and running. As I’ve pointed out time and time again, I do not do injury well. Being cooped up without a means to let endorphins gallop about leaves me extra fidgety at work (you can guess how well that’s gone over with my work-wife), prone to not using time wisely (sure, I’ll have another episode of Battlestar Galactica) and underhydrated.

But there’s a plus side to injury too: I had quality time with my roommate and a few friends I don’t see very often because I was simply around more. Like, I’d wake up and not be working out, so I’d get to hang out with her and her manfriend and sing them morning songs. And I got to remember that injury is not the end of the world – it’s simply a means to the end at times (kidding!). Seriously though, sometimes it’s a bonus just to know you can recover. Annnnnd, there is a bigger backlog of podcasts to listen to since I hadn’t been spending quality time with my iPod.

Recovery went something like this:

Didn’t walk for a day – literally, just stayed on the couch.

Spent the next two days only walking to work.

Then went to the gym to use that gazelle-machine thing.

Did that a few more times.

Went to soccer exactly a week after the injury. Played, but not super hard.

More gazelley-ness.

A three mile walk around the lake with Jessa.

And today, BINGO! A run.

Felt good to be back out there. I was worried I’d lose my interest and just shrivel up into a raisin. But more importantly, I can for sure stand through the entire wedding I need to officiate tomorrow afternoon. Thank all that is right (and left) in the world.

 

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Oh hello precipitation! It’s been far too long since you and I met on the streets of Oakland. So long in fact, that I had forgotten a few key things but taking a run in the rain – and perhaps some other joggers out there were curious about how the hay to hit the pavement swiftly, safely, and without being saturated (let me tell you – ain’t gonna happen. Running in the rain means getting a bit soaked).

1. If you’re running with an iPod, bring your jacket. 

Yes, for real. And I say this as someone who literally hates wearing a jacket while running, even when it is raining. But your music-playing device, whatever brand it may be, should stay dry to work properly. You don’t want that puppy cutting out on you, and I hate worrying about a soggy sound system (mini or not). Even if you get hot, you can wrap your ‘pod in your jacket and keep rolling.

2. If you’re running with earbuds, cover your ears.

Rain + earbuds = buds getting the chance to experience a waterslide right out of the crook of your ear. A hat or a sweatband is advisable, or you’ll wind up doing what I did, which was eventually just drop the buds in my jacket pocket and enjoy the scenery (sorry, This American Life. I’ll catch you at the gym.) Side note: your head will sweat more and feel even wetter thanks to the drizzle. Don’t mind your reflection – you’re just bringing sexy back.

3. Feet. Wet. Now. 

Go ahead, try to avoid puddles. I double-dog dare you. Puddles are pranksters. They’re regular Pucks. Accept your feet are going to get sloshed (but without a hangover – squee!) and then you can stop fretting they will get sloggy. It’s much more stress relieving.

4. Brick paths are slippery. 

Stay off them in the rain. (And there is one in particular in the Oakland hills that might have made me flail like bacon this morning.)

5. What to Wear

– It’s raining. So…that means it must be cold, right? Oh no. Not at all. A long sleeve shirt is not required under your rain jacket for some varieties of rain (and for some I’m sure it’s welcome). I was overheated almost instantly this morning.

– Be bright. Be visible. This is not the time for black or grey. Grab your neon green Under Armor and go.

– And pants? Also not required – wait, let me rephrase. You should cover yourself, but wearing yoga pants is not advisable – they soaked up water down to my toes and then were plastered to my legs. Made me wish I’d worn shorts. Or something waterproof. Or heck, just my skivvies.

6. It’s Mighty Amazing

You might hate running in the rain. But if you can handle being a bit water-logged, running when the world going through a natural cleaning process is brilliant. Catch the scent of wet pavement, notice the ice-plant flowers either hiding from the water or enjoying the shower, see geese taking baths in runoff (and blocking traffic while they do), and enjoy the compliments – people are impressed when you run in the rain, doubly so if you challenge yourself to a hill or two.

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To resolve or not to resolve? Such is a question that seems to plague a good number of runners and non-runners alike when the calendar year turns (man, does anyone else feel like fate has made a flip-book of our calendars and is racing through them like if she doesn’t watch the horse run in a circle or the bunnies bounce around, or is that just me?).

In my world, resolutions aren’t limited to beginnings of years (or ends, depending on how you look at it). Just as all good things must come to an end, I also believe all good things must come to a beginning. So I suppose I don’t actually have to announce a new way to get my living on. Except it’s fun to, and I’m not one to purposefully ignore a good reason to be different and potentially be better.

With that in mind, a quick list of plausible resolutions for 2012:

– Learn to play racquetball and go to at least one evening of the game at the YMCA or anywhere else racquetball is played.

– Put air in my bike tires.

– Be honest with time I have and stop trying to be everywhere at once (which leads to me disappointing everyone instead of just a few people).

– Stand up more at work and even try exercise. (Today I did jumping jacks in my office. I’m not even kidding).

– Stop shopping at Whole Foods and make the effort to get to Trader Joe’s despite it being farther away. Just as healthy, way less pricey.

– Run in at least one new country.

Anyone else feel like they want to resolve something? It’s okay. You can. No judgement zone here. You’re lucky. It’s 2012, you’re alive, and you can be as kick ass as you desire to be.

 

 

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