Search

foodfoodbodybody

eat, move, think, feel

Month

April 2013

Running and Candlelight for Boston

15206_405292342911918_415026311_n

So, the exhale after such a tough, painful, exhausting and wrenching week. I started this post yesterday but it feels so much different writing it now, today. Of course there is still ongoing grief and healing ahead, but still. Whew.

On Thursday, I attended a run and candlelight vigil for Boston, the Boston Marathon bombing victims, the runners and spectators, the whole community, well all of us. It was co-organized by See Jane Run and the Oakland Running Festival, two organizations that I love and feel so connected to. I have run two See Jane Run 5k races here and here, and am registered to run in their half marathon in June (and hopefully the See Jane Tri in September also!).  I have also participated in the Oakland Running Festival three times: the marathon relay, the 5k and the half marathon. They are like my “home” races and I feel such affection for them.

It was fitting that the 3-mile run start at the See Jane Run store and finish at Snow Park, where the Oakland Running Festival began and end. I was not so sure that I’d be running any or much of it. Until the day before, my hip had been really, really bothering me, ever since the Oakland half. I tried to get a physical therapy appointment but there was nothing available until the end of May. I was sort of resigned to the fact that I’d be walking, or maybe jogging super-slow.

I took an Ibuprofen before I left the house. By the time I got to the start of the event, I was actually feeling pretty good; ie., pain-free. Shock. There were hundreds of people milling about in front of the store. Most people were wearing blue and yellow, the Boston Marathon colors.

photo credit: Christine Wong
photo credit: Christine Wong

I actually arrived there about one minute before the run began. Before I could get my bearings, people took off. At first we had been told that we would be running on sidewalks only, but there were so many of us, it turns out we got to run down College Avenue for quite a ways, and there was a police car escort complete with flashing lights. I was running with my buddy/coworker/boss Stacey, and I realized I would have to keep up a slow running pace if I was going to stay ahead of the police car. I didn’t want to get swept for the first time in my life! If we were going to stay in the middle of the street (as opposed to on the sidewalk) we were going to have to run. I figured I would go as long as I was able, then I’d slow down, walk, or hit the sidewalk.

the last runners ahead of the sweep car :-)
the last runners ahead of the sweep car 🙂

And here’s the thing. That moment never happened. When we turned from College Avenue onto Broadway, everyone pretty much got on the sidewalk. The police car stayed nearby and actually blocked all the intersections so we could cross them.  Stacey kept asking me how I was doing. I was sort of amazed that I was doing just fine. My hip wasn’t hurting! And suddenly I thought, maybe this was just the therapy I needed: RUNNING. Because walking has been none too comfortable in the past couple of weeks.  It was fun running with another physical therapist as we discussed the possibilities of having tendinitis vs trochanteric bursitis or whatever. But the best part was that it was NOT acting up during this run!

I actually hadn’t anticipated running much, or at all. I was wearing a big clunky backpack thing that I had loaded up with my wallet, jacket, a bunch of Runners United to Remember race bib printouts, some packaging tape and safety pins and a pair of scissors. This would have been fine to amble along in, but running.. not so much. Hah. Awkward.

me and my little boss
me and my little boss

Three miles felt just right. We got to Snow Park just as it was getting dark. There weren’t enough candles to go around (how awesome that there were way more people than had been anticipated), but a woman near us was handing out little blue clip lights, and she gave us each one. (thank you nice person!) It was really nice that the neighborhood Trader Joe’s for donating bottles of water. Much needed.

IMG_1485

A minister from First Presbyterian Church of Oakland stood on a bench and spoke some comforting and inspiring words. It was so moving. She led an interfaith prayer, my favorite kind. As we were dispersing, I saw another little knot of people gathered around someone who was leading a cheer for Boston. Turns out it was my coach Al from Team in Training. It was so good to see him and give him a team hug.

After the run, we carpooled back to the starting point. Convenient that See Jane Run is located just steps away from Zachary’s pizza. 🙂 I hadn’t had Zachary’s stuffed spinach and mushroom pizza in like… years. There were lots of other runners in there (great minds, etc).  There were a few of the Boston Marathon runners in there (who, unlike us, had run round trip six miles!). We were going to buy them a pitcher of beer but, being marathon runners, all they were drinking was water. 😉

All in all, it was a really uplifting and moving event. I was happy to be part of it. I wonder if the positive nature of it had something to do with the miraculous healing of my hip. One never knows!

Later , exciting to see that we were on the news! (see us running at the very back o the pack, 1:43 mark – you can see my crazy bouncing backpack!)

IMG_1482

Thanks again to See Jane Run and Oakland Running Festival for putting together such a meaningful and uplifting community event. We needed it.

Finish Line Heartbreak (for Boston)

Boston. Oh Boston. Boston MARATHON. The finish line of the Boston Marathon. Seriously? Really? I’m shocked and hurting and outraged and upset. And taking it very personally.

The finish line is… oh, I can’t even describe it. It’s that place of such overwhelming emotion. Every single time, no matter how long or short the race, no matter how painless or excruciating, how much of a struggle it was or how joyful. Because that finish line is the exact spot of DAMN. YOU DID THIS.  You finished the thing you set out to do.

I’ve shed many a tear at finish lines. I’ve renewed belief in myself at finish lines. I’ve shocked and stunned myself. I’ve been heart-explodingly moved by the support of team, friends and family at finish lines. I’ve cheered others on and screamed and jumped and cried on their behalf. At the Oakland Running Festival a few weeks ago, the race was organized so that the half marathon starters got to see the 5k race finishers right before we lined up to begin. It was so exciting. The adrenaline, the joy, the YEAHHHHH! Of the people who crossed that line – sprinting or dragging themselves. It was wonderful to be there and a very energizing way to start our own race. To me, finish lines are sacred spots where amazing, miraculous things happen.

So the bomb attacks at the finish line of today’s Boston Marathon hit me right in the heart. I read this on Twitter.

I agree that bomb attacks anywhere in the world are terrible and tragic. And I also agree that having this experience in our own midst is a way that maybe we can wake up to the fact that many people in the world have to live with this on a regular or daily basis.

And yet, this feels very personal. Someone intentionally set out to hurt runners, and runners’ loved ones (spectators), and race volunteers and other people close to the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

It’s as if someone had specifically targeted a conference full of physical therapists, or writers, or adopted people. Or my family. Yeah, this was like targeting my family.

I didn’t ever have plans or dreams to actually run the Boston Marathon myself. It is an elite event for runners who are much faster than me, and 1) I don’t think I could ever qualify; and 2) I also don’t think a full marathon is in my cards. But I have such profound admiration for so many of my friends who have qualified, and who were indeed running today. I was especially thinking of my Weight Watchers leader-colleague buddy Dani, whom I met at Fitbloggin’ last year.

holding up our blinking ActiveLinks!
holding up our blinking ActiveLinks!

She has had such an amazing transformation in such a short time, and I am so inspired by her and proud of her. Just this morning I saw this awesome photo of her posing by the Boston finish line. It gave me goosebumps.

Dani Finish
photo credit: Dani Holmes-Kirk

In the afternoon I started peeking at Facebook and Twitter, hoping to see a photo of her victorious finish. But then I started seeing posts, like “My ❤ is with Boston” and “So sad about the #bostonmarathon” and was like… whaaaaa? I soon found out.

It really is too distressing, to upsetting to comprehend. For a while I was completely frantic trying to find out news of her safety, as well as the status of one of my old college friends and his wife. All were accounted for. What a relief. But the tragedy. Incredible. Dani’s wife, who was standing just a few feet from the explosion, wrote this frightening blog post about her experience.

The idea is for people who are part of (or who stand with) the running community, to wear a race shirt tomorrow. Or running shoes. Or ANYthing to show support. Blue and yellow anything, which are the colors of the Boston Marathon. I’ll be wearing this.

Oakland-to-Boston love
Oakland-to-Boston love

Improv Workouts from Beach to Forest

I’ve been traveling for the past couple of weeks. Working out has been severely curtailed, although I’ve tried to keep up with the minimum of “twenty minutes of something- anything!” as much as possible. I feel my body sort of weakening.

I got on a plane just a few days after finishing the Oakland half. My hip was already feeling pretty wonky. But then sitting on a plane for 6+ hours, then sitting in a car for another day, then a bunch of writing – and more sitting – it’s been orthopedically tough. I have only really had one run since I left California on March 28th- a shivery cold run in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Brrrrr. But pretty.
Brrrrr. But pretty.

Since then, a few hikes and many beach walks. The first beach walks on soft sand were kind of excruciatingly painful for that hip.

IMG_1284

I tried to get an appointment with the local physical therapist but that didn’t work out. I ended up going to a sports store, one of the few little shops open during the winter season. Near the front door, a wire basket with a sign “Used Softballs $1.” That was pretty much one of the best one-dollar investments I ever made. I brought that baby home and rolled the heck out of my hip. OWIIIIEEEE. But good owie. Necessary owie. The ball rolling has made a huge difference. After the softball sessions, the beach walks ended up being a lot less painful.

Insert under hip, and ROLL. Ow! Yay!
Insert under hip, and ROLL. Ow! Yay!

This week I’ve made a complete change of scene – back to California. I had one day at home and I was so glad to get back onto my “home” trail a few blocks from my house. Ahhhh.

IMG_1309

Then on Thursday, I relocated to a friend’s remote cabin/barn/cathedral in the woods. Kind of amazing. We are miles from anywhere. The forest here is stunningly peaceful, beautiful. Yesterday I took a hike and explored around. Today I took another one. I was feeling like, this is nice, but it’s just not ENOUGH. I found a little clearing and did a bunch of 100-set invisible jumpropes on the soft pine needle floor. It was really cushy and comfortable. I worked up a tiny little sweat. I hike along a deserted logging road. Did I mention there is nobody around here for miles and miles? I took off my shirt. Because of that. The sun felt so nice.

Little trees growing in the road
Little trees growing in the road

I am not normally someone who walks around in a sports bra. Yeah, you can do that if you are young and buff and such, but not if you are an over-50 somewhat mushy, haven’t-done-weights-in-too-long kinda gal. I poked at my upper arms as I walked. This did not make me happy. I picked up some thick branches that were almost logs. Maybe 5-10 lbs or so. I lifted and pressed as I walked. That felt good. I put it down and did some more invisible jumpropes. I did some hill repeats, carrying the log thing. I was having fun jumping and hauling logs around in the woods in my sports bra. Hahaha.

IMG_1380
I got back to the cabin (after getting just semi-lost and bushwacking my way back) and felt better about my level of activity today. It was fun, improvising it up out there in the forest.

I’m looking forward to getting back home next week. To doing some night swimming at the pool with my buddy Lily. To getting back to seeing my trainer now and and again.  To having some fun at a Nia class.To working my way back up to another half marathon in June.

Traveling is good. It brings you out of yourself and the dailiness of it all, to seeing things in a new way. I’m grateful for my forest workout today, for feeling free under the trees and the sun.

Book Review: Craving

IMG_0902

As I read Craving: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough, by physician Omar Manejwala, MD, I found myself nodding like a bobble head doll, and also reaching for my pen to underline something on pretty much every page. This is a topic I can relate to. It opens with the question, “What explains the mysterious urge to do something that has caused so much damage in the past?” In other words, haven’t I learned YET?

I read this book to see if I could learn something new for my blog readers, my Weight Watchers members, friends and family that I care about, and of course myself. And while much of the content of the book wasn’t NEW, it was certainly reaffirming and validating of many of the steps I’ve taken that have helped me (and explained how and why I’ve had setbacks).

The book opens with a definition of what craving is: a strong desire that, if unfulfilled, produces a powerful physical and mental suffering. They can range from a passing urge to an all-out, consuming addiction.  The author mentions something called “apparently irrelevant decisions” that can lead to a relapse. Then he explores why cravings matter: because they are uncomfortable, because they cause us stress, and because people who experience cravings are more likely to relapse into behavior that isn’t good for them or aligned with their goals. (nod, nod, underline, underline)

It deals with all different sorts of cravings – from alcohol to food to gambling, smoking and sex. He addresses ways in which these are universal issues, no matter what the substance or behavior.

There’s a big chunk in the book on brain science – the neurobiology of cravings, why they happen and how our brains lie to us to make us do things that we know don’t benefit us. I happen to be a total geek for brain science, especially when it relates to this topic. I find it both reassuring and encouraging – it takes it out of the realm of “I suck because I can’t get a handle on this” and sheds a light on exactly WHY it can be so hard sometimes. The studies that are cited are fascinating.

The good news about our brains leading us around, is that we can actually re-draw the map and get our brains to work in ways that are more beneficial to us. Again, this isn’t new news, but for me, obviously, it is something that I need to learn and read over and over again, and this book does so in a way that is so straightforward and nonjudgmental.

The other good news is that a lot of things that I am already doing, are the things that are proven to work. Group support is key. KEY! (yay Weight Watchers, yay online blogging community, yay friends) Writing things down (i.e. tracking, food journaling etc) is KEY. Forgiveness is key. (One of my favorite, and most startling lines in the book: “Only love can neutralize shame.”)

What can I say? It’s a good book. It’s SOLID. It’s filled with good science, which I find both illuminating and reassuring. It’s filled with concrete, positive suggestions for addressing the issues of craving. It’s also compassionate at its core. It’s like, Give yourself a break. There are reasons you do this stuff, and it’s not your fault, but it’s not helping you, so here are some good tools that can give you a way out.

It so happened that I finished reading this book while alone on my writing retreat. I’m away from home, and out of my normal routine. A little excited (vacation mode), a little anxious, a little lonely here and there. Perfect breeding ground for cravings! I could feel myself veering into potentially dangerous territory. Reading this book was like a little life jacket being thrown my way. It was a voice saying, “You know how to do this. Remember?”

Some of my favorite underlinings:

  • Cravings… are deeply personal. Comparing your cravings with what other people experience is a losing game and can only serve to undermine your success.
  • There is no such thing as a permanent craving; all cravings eventually go away, whether or not we act or act out on them.
  • The ideal time to address your cravings is when you are not actively craving.
  • Another important brain function is to lie to you.
  • Health, happiness and even longevity benefits come from being helpful to others.

It’s good stuff. Check it out! You can pre-order here.

Disclosure:

I was fortunate enough to recently receive a copy of this book for review. For the record, I often get offers to review a product for this blog. My policy (and I am up front about this) is that I will accept things to review, but unless I really like it, I probably won’t take the time to write a review. I don’t really have time for negative reviews. Unless I really, really really DON’T like something. 😉

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑