Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's A Beautiful Day

I have three blisters, two weak ankles, a shaky knee and a heel that shoots pain up my leg every time I put my foot down. And it was a beautiful day in San Diego.

I haven't trained or gone to the gym since last Tuesday. Every morning since June 19th , I wake up with a slow smile thinking my right heel no longer hurts. The smile would be quickly replaced with a frustrated groan as soon as I moved my leg, because frankly, it wasn't just my heel that hurt. Everything in my right foot and ankle ached, and as soon as I put my foot down, a sharp pain would shoot up my leg. I'm tired of thinking of insignificant aches that interfere with my ability to run but don't seem especially serious. After wearing flats and barely walking all week, I broke down and made an appointment with the Team recommended chiropractor, despite the fact that I have no faith in chiropractors. All of the TNT alumni say he is a miracle worker--so I'm going to see him on Monday. That was not going to help me on my Saturday run--which at this point is giving me performance anxiety.

I woke up this morning with the same optimistic smile. I winced as soon as I put my foot down. In case you're wondering, a formula for a bad day for me is: going to bed late+waking up very early+pain shooting up my leg every time I move+social requirement to be cheerful at Honor Team Mate picnic.

Yet, I got dressed, packed up a tub of pasta and found my team all before 7 am. I warmed up and stretched with everyone and started running. The good news is that as of today, I have found a group of people who run at approximately my pace. They have the same strong commitment to running 5-2 intervals. They love early mornings as much as I do. I think I have just found a new group of friends. And I ran. For 5 miles. Despite my painful heel, the developing blisters and the knee (which just may be my next injury in the making) I ran five miles (with mostly 5-2 intervals the whole way). I just about did the happy dance when I was done. Today, I was cheering my fellow teammates on as the got close to the finishing point. I helped one of the mentors make a bridge and cheered people as they wrapped up their runs. I wobbled my way around and tried to meet people. I felt wonderful.

The weather helped. Unlike last Saturday's sweltering heat, it was cool and a little overcast. It stayed that way until everyone was back from their run. Then the clouds politely dispersed just in time for our picnic.

All in all, it was a beautiful day. The picnic was fun and provided a chance to meet some of our honor team mates as well as the chance to talk to our mentors and coaches--most of whom have more than just a training commitment to what we're doing.

And if all of that wasn't fun enough, Manda has some good news. Hurray!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Guess Who's Coming?

My grandmother has an interview at the US Embassy next month. I'm excited for a number of reasons, the first of which, I haven't seen her in about six years. More than anything, I'm excited for her. She spent 10 years splitting nursing duties with my mom, caring for my grandfather after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. After my grandfather passed, my family tried to arrange for her to come to the US to see my youngest cousin for the first time. She was rejected by the embassy, because it seems 70-something year old women with a penchant for high heeled shoes and shopping posed a threat to the American way of life. She had to travel to Dubai to see her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Repeatedly. She kept promising my cousin that one day, she would cook for her and do all the things she had done with all of the other granddaughters.

It took a while (almost three years) but she is getting a little closer to coming.

And when she comes, there will be a role reversal--I will be cooking for her, telling her stories and taking her shopping. This makes me smile, considering how my early childhood days were spent basking in her love and attention.

There is something else that makes me smile in anticipation--knowing there will be stories. She's an amazing, smart, strong, funny, flawed and slightly crazy woman. I get a few shades of my crazy from her. I don't have to look too far to see where I got my curious hair, ridiculous vanity, insane need for perfection and occasional sense of jealousy. And while this may sound like a parade of flaws, I assure you, it makes for a delightful person. Or at least an entertaining grandmother/infuriating mother. My poor mom can't spend a day with her and not call me in desperation. I'll actually share one of the more recent favorites:

My mom went back to Iran about a year ago. Among the gifts she got my grandmother as is our tradition, were a pair of practical walking shoes. Appropriate for a fragile older lady, something my mom actually liked (even though she's in her early 50s). When she gave my grandmother the shoes, fully expecting a joyous reaction (she bought her mom shoes after all, right?), she saw tears gathering in my grandmother's eyes.

"Do you like them? Don't they fit?"

"They fit.", Mamman mumbled.

"Then what's wrong?"

"I don't understand! Why do you keep buying me old lady shoes?! I'm not old! Why do you want to dress me up like I'm too old to wear nice clothes?!"

I had warned my mom that Mamman wouldn't like them, and I couldn't stop laughing at the mental image of my Mamman crying at the insult of getting orthopedic shoes from my mom who thought she was doing something thoughtful and age appropriate.

Yes, so this is who will be hopefully visiting me in a few months. And I have every intention of writing some more stories about her soon, when I'm less sleepy.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Passive Regressive

Some time around 9:30 Saturday morning, I leaned against the public bathroom wall at Mission Bay and cried. I was so angry I ignored my disgusting environment. I was making a scene, which made me even angrier.

I had prepared to join a higher running group that morning. I was a little sleepy, but excited. Mission Bay was the least hilly run we had had yet, and if I could run the 4 mile UCSD perimeter, I could run the 5 mile path. Or so I thought. What I had envisioned as a steady paced jog, turned into an exercise in futility. My body would.not.move. I could barely run, much less keep up with the B Group that had gracefully run past me. Nor could I keep up with the A Group to which I belonged. After the first 2 1/2 miles, I could barely walk. It did not help to see a partially paralyzed, elderly man speed walk past me. Three times.

I thought after a month I would be making progress and adding miles. I thought I'd be able to run at least a couple of miles at a time and embracing the idea of a thirteen mile run. I was not ready to walk two and a half miles to join a cheerful team as they laughed and celebrated their progress. I was frustrated with my regression and inability to move; ashamed of the fact that I couldn't keep a promise I had made; and afraid I would fail. While I really don't want to be the last person to cross the finish line, I don't want to collapse and not cross the finish line altogether.

I know this is not about me, but that is why I cannot sit back and joke about being left in the dust of an octogenarian. THREE TIMES. I am running with men and women who have beaten death and laugh at pain. And I have no excuse to walk behind; even less excuse to cry about it. But I do.

I was insufferable all weekend. Poor M tried to cheer and encourage me, mostly to no avail. He bought me a Stick (which helped the soreness in my calves), made me breakfast and offered to go running with my on Sunday. I did not want to run--especially with someone who can run 8 miles through canyon trails. I wanted to hide from every single person who knew I was training. I spent Sunday sorting through papers and hanging out with my friend.

Monday morning, I woke up a little past 5:30. I made coffee, read the news, answered emails and didn't get ready to run. M woke up a little after 7 and asked if I was going to go running.

"No. I don't want to run ever again. I don't want to talk about running."

"That's ok. Maybe you need to take a few days off..."

Before he could finish, I was getting dressed to go. I ran 3 miles in about 35 minutes, stopping for three walking intervals.

I haven't given up yet.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Grace in Motion

I have officially had my first and second sports related injuries while training:

As I was buying my running shoes last weekend, I was so excited that I jammed my finger between my heel and the shoe. I bent my weak nail so far back, my finger started bleeding. In shoes I hadn't tried on yet. The look of horror on my face just made the lady next to me laugh, especially because I tried to casually brush it off as a broken nail. It really wasn't that funny. Although, on the way home, I did think it was the kind of thing that would happen to TK--which made it a little less painful.

I tried to swim today. It would have gone better if I hadn't been so enthusiastic. So enthusiastic, that I pushed myself away from the wall with all my force and scraped my chest area along the bottom of the pool. The good news is, my chest area helped me bounce a little and saved my head from hitting the bottom of the pool. The bad news is, I am sore in a place I totally didn't anticipate hurting while swimming.

This may be why I was never the athletic type.