Monthly Archives: October 2011

R-E-S-T-T-T find out what to means to me…

“Runner have to understand that they won’t be fat by Thursday and or lose their fitness by Sunday”

~Janet Hamilton, exercise physiologist

 

Pain. Pain is what rest means to me. So, I went for my long run on Sunday (not that long… it’s only been a while) and loved it. I really wanted to continue, but decided not to. Came back feeling great, actually stretched properly (with my personal-trainer-certified husband guiding me no less) and ate some lunch. Then, up kicked the old knee pain. I blame my running schedule, which several people mentioned might be too much, but I stuck to because I downloaded it from a reputable source.

Knee pain has kicked up before, I have had custom orthonics made, scans, doctor visits, osteopath visits, painkillers, anti-inflammatory and so on. It has always defeated me, and my running, in the end.

Why? Because when I start to run again, things normally go like this:

-Start couch to 5K. Take it slowly (sometimes completing the 3 month program in 6 months).

-Mostly dislike the program, but stick with it, skipping the odd workout and adding in a few others (kickboxing, weights, boxing… whatever).

-Get to the end, run 5K. Love it.

-Get the bug.

-Scream ‘I am a runner’ and immediately start clocking up serious miles.

-Get painful knees.

-Try to run through them

-Don’t run for 6-12 months

Repeat.

 

“The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over, and then expecting different results.”

~Einstein (probably)

So, things have to change. I did some reading. OK, OK, I fairly obsessive, I did  A LOT of reading. I need immediate rest, with regular icings and NSAIDs, lots of stretching and myofascial release. Then I need to drastically cut back my mileage: running long runs only every other week, and being careful of too many sprint sessions. The lack of mileage means I need to cross train, which will have the additional benefit of giving me more workout time to build up my leg muscles to stabilize my hips and knees. I can do all this. I hate icing my body, but I can do it. I can cross train – I had a mental block about doing it, and using the bike not the track for my HIIT, but I did it (and was worn out), I can swim if I have to (I love it but the endless hair washing), I can even use the dreaded elliptical. I can remember to take my NSAIDs and I can (just about) suck up less long runs (especially if I get another bike and can go for long bike rides).

 

But. I. Can’t. Rest. Or, more accurately, I can, and I will until this seems healed, but I hate it. No more active rests (Just a quick hike! Just keeping a friend company for 20 mins on the track! Just a zumba class!). Nothing. But sitting, for a while day, with zero wear and tear on my knee. I literally spent ages yesterday staring forlornly out of the window thinking how nice a run would be. Today I had to restrain myself from ‘a quick 20 mins’ on the elliptical. I have no fitness goals I have achieved today, no nice tired legs, no remnant endorphins to love off. Meantime, I have seen all my friends’ status updates about their gym visits, their progress and how much they loved their run. I have read their blogs about how today was perfect.

Sigh. I do know that there is a positive spin on this: I have some more time to get things done. It is indeed a challenge to learn to enjoy rest and eat well for rest so that you do repair and recover. Mental fortitude is required for all the stretching, massage and rolling. It’s semi-fun to look up alternatives. I will probably end up a better athlete for more weights, and some more cross training.

But none of that compares to a lovely long run… Soon…. soon.

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3 new races… and my first and truest love.

Geniunely. the shoes recommended for me, were bright pink. What could I say?

Ah… I knew you would never do my wrong. Every so often I would stray from you, be tempted by others… romanced by alternatives. These flirtations were fleeting as I always returned to your warm embrace and regretted my transgressions. I am, of course, talking to my shoes.

One of my all-time favourite pairs of shoes

I just bought a pair of proper running shoes and all I want to know is: why didn’t anyone tell me that they can freakin’ change your life? OK, so maybe a few hundreds thousands of you did, but I didn’t listen. Today I stopped running in Wally-world trainers (oh the shame), that were apparently a full size too small (Fleet Feet, who were wonderful and gave top notch service and advice, even begged me not to wear them out of the shop) and started running in proper-sized support trainers. What happened? Well, before it was hard for me to run a full 5K without walking. I could *just* about do it. But I would have to talk myself through it, keep motivating myself, and then walk-jog the rest of the distance. Not anymore. 10K, no walking, no batting an eye lid. Even felt I could continue (I REALLY wanted to, but didn’t as my tendons are a bit ropey). THANK YOU NIKE.

So, here is an update on my upcoming races. It all happened at once.

My friend invited me to run a 5K in December with her, for arthritis research. And as you have to dress up all Christmassy (let’s not forget that I spend the 1st – 24th December one year as the human advent calendar adding a bauble each day) I agreed.

Then I signed up for my first trail run. I want to try trail running, and am aware that unless I force myself to get off my butt and go to a trail, I won’t do it. Which requires significant motivation to do so… which requires a race. So, on October 22nd I am running the XTERRA MONTE SANO STATE PARK TRAIL RUN in Huntsville. Quite nervous for my first trail run! Also, it is at 8 am – 2 hours’ drive away. I’ll either get up early, or camp overnight at the park and road test the brankd spanking new tent and thermarest I have had since Christmas (!). I was nervous about getting there in time, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and certainly, you gotta stop making excuses.

Finally my friend Sasha emailed me fairly last minute to do a 5K road race next weekend. You can’t say no to (1) a dear friend, (2) a dear 10 year old friend, who I love like family and (3) a cause like Diabetes Research when your day job is… diabetes research. So, I am off to do that!

This is going to require some shifts in my training schedule, which is a good thing. My training goal for my next training week (starts on Thursday) is probably to work on being more flexible (mentally, although physically is not a bad thing 😉 ), and to take a rest from long distance running, subbing in swimming and cycling (if I can get hold of a bike after mine was stolen). This should help me step out of the injury zone (my old IT band syndrome is flaring up), should make me stronger mentally (I find it so hard to relax and no stick 100% with what I perceive to be the toughest training plan), give my body a chance to generally recover from a tough step-up in training, and finally, allow me to focus some on my strength training (although no squats!) which has taken a serious back seat, and hence, a serious dip in form.

Finally… a note on fundraising. I do not intend to fund-raise for many of my events… hardly any in fact. I will pay all fees myself and only raise money for causes that seriously close to my heart. That being said, 2 have come up:

Next week I am running for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). I am member of the ADA, attended their annual conference, and the last 2 years my research has been focused almost entirely on insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. In December, I am running for Arthritis Research, which I am happy to fund-raise with my friend for as it is one of her main research focuses. Some great friends of mine at UAB head up a research group based on understanding arthritis. If you would like to donate to either (and PLEASE don’t feel obliged) you may click these links:

Diabetes Research (ADA)

Arthritis Research

I doubt there will be many more. Thank you for any help 🙂

AND… I would LOVE company on the trail run… it is only 5K, and you could join me in the morning, or camp out with me (UAB rent cheap tents and equipment people…). Email me if you’d like… or drop me a comment. The more, the merrier 🙂

Oh look, a picture of a pretty shoe I own. How did that get there?

A few thoughts on the new immigration law….

It is a sad day for me. There are so many things I love about Alabama, I even wrote a post defending it against the popularized view. But slowly, I have been faced more and more with the stereotypes, and I have had to give in. I no longer want to live here, and I certainly don’t want to raise children here. I have met many wonderful people here, and I have learned many wonderful things from them. But this new immigration law was the final straw, and here is why:

The new law states that if there is “reasonable suspicion” about someone legal status to be here, the police can stop them and request they show their immigration status, and can hold them “without bond”. All non US citizens are required to carry their immigration papers with them, at ALL times, by law. This overrides the previous requirement that we carried our passport; now we have to carry forms such as our DS-2019, which can only be replaced twice EVER.

Clearly this is deeply impractical (I go hiking in Alabama for several days and I know it is going to rain and I am supposed to carry this with me, when it will likely get damaged? I go to a music festival and I am expected to carry around several flimsy pieces of paper?), but I *guess* this could be circumvented if the US produced some card like the US State ID that was more practical. But, it is not about practicality to me. It is about making anyone who looks, or sounds ‘different’ a second class citizen.

Let me explain. Currently, in the UK and the US there are laws to protect individuals from law enforcers discriminating against them because of how they look, or how they speak (and actually for many other reasons, including in the UK, their sexuality and religion… the US is not universally quite so… enlightened). You cannot be stopped and searched, or detained for these reasons (hence in high areas of knife crime in the UK, where stop and search is legalized, law enforcers are legally bound to stop and search a racial distribution approximately equivalent to the racial distribution of the area. I don’t believe that has ever caused any problems). You are basically protected from the following scenarios:

“A policeman pulls over a pretty girl to tell her she needs to fix the tail light on her car. He likes her cute foreign accent. He asks her on a date. She says no. He takes offense and decides to make her life difficult. He asks her to show her papers… she can’t, so he detains her for 24 hours. Perhaps when she realizes what is happening, she will change her mind about that date?”.

“A policelady’s husband comes home, furious. An man of Indian descent has smashed into his car and didn’t have car insurance, so could not cover the damages. The police were called but the Indian man was here illegally, and so could not be prosecuted. He drove away (something similar actually happened to my husband with a different racial group). The car needs some $5,000 worth of repairs and the policewoman finds this out at she leaves the house to go to work. 10 minutes later she sees a group of young Indian men standing on the street. Her blood boils. Why are they just hanging around? Don’t they have jobs to go to? One of them drops a piece of litter. Ah ha! She pulls over and starts giving them a hard time, and asks them to prove their right to be there. She detains them for 24 hours. That will teach them a lesson”.

Whether these are far-fetched or not, the problem is that US citizens who are white, and sound American, are protected from this. Foreigners (and, admittedly any US citizen who does not) are not. Therefore, all legal immigrants have lost what I think of as a basic human right: To be free from persecution due to the colour of their skin or any other factors reflecting their origin. Why would I stay in state that mandates persecution because of how you look? We have become second class citizens, and why the heck would I stay in a place that has legally made me so? Why the heck would I stay in a place that does that to anyone?

What has disgusted me most of all, is the response of some Alabamians. Here are some examples:

-“Well, I don’t know why you worry, it’s not going to affect you [because you are white, blonde and female]”

They don’t realise that, in eyes, that makes it effing WORSE.

-“But our state really needs help with this issue”.

Then put something across the board. Instead of police being called when there is “reasonable suspicion” if someone wants to enter high school, make it a law that EVERYONE has to prove citizenship when they enroll. Make it that when the police come to the scene of a crime, everyone has to show ID that shows their citizenship. Yes, it would be a hassle, but if your so desperate to save help your state, you can do it. You are supposed to do it anyway, I believe, although the police have no enforcement method. And even more importantly, I strongly believe in the following quotation:

Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power” ~Benjamin Franklin. Often interpreted as:

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”

-But, we need to save our state from The Mexicans. We need to keep ‘The illegals’ out.

I don’t think I even need to discuss these ones. If my child openly used language like that, without seeing anything wrong with it. I would think I had failed as a parent.

I will concede that this is not even the worst of the law. It is just what touched me. The law also says you can be prosecuted for transporting or helping an illegal immigrant. So, if a young child gets very sick, you can be prosecuted for giving him or her acute care. The cries of ‘oh, but you won’t be’ leave me cold in a state who is happy to sanction such actions by law.

How disappointing Alabama. And how tired I am of seeing people who are wary, or unsure, of me and my friends because many of us are foreign. How sad I am to go out and about in Alabama and find such insular people that they have never really interacted with ‘foreigners’. It may well not be their fault, but perhaps that just makes it all the sadder.It seems clear to me that Alabama needs much more integration. It breaks my heart what a segregated society it is (seriously, different racial groups hang out in different areas; I have had places described to me as ‘the black area’. I am not sure I have ever even seen an African-American in Whole Foods). Laws like this are only taking away an enriched and enlightened life from you and your children.

And you are losing some of the very brightest and best people. I know excellent scientists who are (American and) leaving because they don’t want to raise their children in such a climate. I know some amazing Scientists who don’t even want to move here because of it. You are shooting yourselves in the foot.

When I first commented on the segregation between blacks and whites here, I was once asked “well, whose fault do you think that is?” and I replied that I thought it was the fault of both blacks and whites. I now do not agree. The attitudes and responses I see from white Southern people (and yes, sorry, you have all been from The South), that I so far have not seen from black people, lay the blame squarely on one side of the divide.

I would say I have met some Southerners who are very sorry that this has been passed, and some who agree that a universal law (i.e. ALL show citizenship, regardless of race) is absolutely the only way forward, and some who simply want to reasonably discuss and learn. And I love these people. But that is not the majority. Let us not forget that I left my old church because at Bible study group, people went on a rant about foreigners and when someone said ‘but many of them are here legally’ I genuinely heard the response:

“Oh you don’t know. You don’t have to smell their cooking. They are not in your backyard”.

Sad.

I don't approve of this cartoon. But Alabama, this is how you are forcing the rest of the world to see you. http://theperplexedobserver.tumblr.com/post/6800089685/interfaith-march-planned-against-alabama