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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stop Making Fun of Ryan Lochte. A Totally Unrelated Rant.

This morning as I drove work listening to the radio, the hosts were making fun of Ryan Lochte.  The story came about because he recently appeared on a television show where the anchors made fun of him after interviewing him.  He appeared to promote his new show, --“What would Ryan Lochte do?”   I am here to say, stop making fun of Ryan Lochte. 

I know, I know, it is super fun to make fun of him (as my co-worker pointed out during lunch today).   There is something about that shiny grill and the fact that he says some horrifying things that makes a girl cringe.   But, why do people feel so justified in making fun of him?  He is a very successful athlete, a public figure, and let’s not forget, smoking hot.   His athleticism propelled him to the forefront of our television screens along with his determination to beat out his adversary, Michael Phelps.  A feat, he was ultimately, unsuccessful in accomplishing.  But, if an Olympian can’t be confident, who can?   Perhaps what makes us so quick to laugh at him is what we perceive as his “overconfidence.”   Our belief that his abilities begin and end at the pool and that he should not delve into other areas for which he has failed to prepare adequately.  His prowess in the pool speaks to innate talent combined with extraordinary perseverance and an astonishing work ethic.  But, I have heard him called “talentless” and "dumb" (the radio host this morning’s words), a douchebag (Jezebel), and a golden lab turned into a human (Gawker, although I am still not entirely convinced this would be a bad thing).  Overconfidence has certainly resulted in worse things than a reality television show.  (If there are in fact worse things than reality TV shows.)  Therefore, this is an insufficient justification.

Some assert that Ryan’s (we are on a first name basis now) idiocy cannot be real and liken it to Jessica Simpson – the early years.    Well, Jessica rode that tuna fish train all the way to the bank and Ryan likely will too if that’s the case.  But, perhaps that is not his game.  What then?   What if he is just a human being, with a particular skill, who also happens to be astonishingly good looking, that someone put on TV?   It wouldn’t be the first time.   It is how Kim Kardashian became famous (having not seen her video I cannot comment on the skill involved, but think the comparison is valid nonetheless.) Alternatively, perhaps we are looking in on a world, a world of an elite athlete, that really is foreign to us and judging it for its' otherness along the lines of “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding?”   We live in an age when people tune in each week to watch a little girl drinking Mountain Dew engaging in crazy behavior, so it should come as no surprise that watching an alarmingly cut athlete do the same would end up on television.

Maybe we accept that if someone is willing to put himself or herself in the public eye, they are then fair game.   Regardless of what else they have done or who they may be, they have opened themselves up to the ridicule that comes from occupying that space.  Once they are in that space we can insult them and call them names.  What does that say about who we are?   I'm no angel.  Just yesterday I called a total stranger a douchebag.   In my defense, he was a cigarette smoking hipster wearing a toddler backpack, but the point is I should know better.   I should be a better role model.   I teach my toddler not to call people names, not to hurt other people's feelings and to never ever use the words stupid or dumb.    

Recently, at Oliver's preschool, a student introduced the word stupid.   I don't know who it was, -- heck, if they used the word in Finding Nemo, it could have been Oliver.  Since that time, Oliver has repeatedly called himself stupid when he has done something wrong.   I assure you, he is not.   In fact, he is deviously clever.   He has called me stupid.   I also, am not.   Although, I suspect that, to him, many of my rules are.   His teacher reports that he called one of the boys in his class stupid.   When informed that it wasn't a nice thing to say, his response was:  "but he is stupid."   This is the most disturbing.   The teacher indicated that the classmate in question was somewhat less mature.  So, Oliver knew exactly what he was doing when he called the student stupid.    Apparently, I had not done enough to prevent this kind of behavior before it started.  It is not at all acceptable that he thinks it is okay to make that kind of statement.   We have spent a significant amount of time in recent weeks, talking about his use of words and the damage that words can do.   

Which is why the radio show and the viral video bothered me so much today.  When did it become okay, ever, to publicly laugh at someone behind their back as the news anchors did?  When did it become okay to call people names?  

I will probably never watch Ryan’s show; it’s not my thing.    However, as I was thinking about that radio broadcast this morning and the television broadcast that precipitated it, I did a little research on him.   As I waded through the articles listing the dumbest things he has said, I came across one thing that really stood out.   He said, “With swimming I've been known to cut out everything. The crowd, everything.   Just focus on me and my lane and what I need to accomplish so I can do that pretty much in life too."   I genuinely hope that anyone and everyone who is made fun of, mocked, and laughed at, has the same presence of mind, to focus on themselves and shut out the noise. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Two Weeks to the LA Marathon ...And my 5K!

I finally went out for my first run since my little experiment in half-marathoning.  I waited a solid week and a half before doing my recovery run.   I realize that this is not consistent with most individual's training methods, but considering that walking hurt for the first four days, I felt it an appropriate amount of time.  I kept it short, about 2.5 miles.  I kept it slow.   In addition, my knee hurt like a bitch.   There is no question that my lack of training wrecked havoc on my IT band.     The pain forced me to break out the dreaded foam roller.   For those of you who don't know about the foam roller count yourself lucky.   It is a device of torture, if King Henry VIII's court knew about it; it would have put the rack out of business.   Obviously, I exaggerate, but only slightly.   When selecting a foam roller, you can select a "softer" or a "harder" one.   The sports injury doc that I visited for my IT trouble back in July recommended harder.      He assured me that it would eventually stop hurting when I used it.   It did not.    Rather than endure the ongoing misery inflicted by the foam roller I chose instead to stop running.   Okay, that's not actually true; you all already know the story.    Regardless, the point remains, the foam roller is back, and so am I.  

On the heels of my recent adventure, I decided to commit to something that every year I wimp out on.   I am on the resource board for Sojourn Services for Battered Women and their Children.  I joined the Board in 2008 and participate in fundraising activities for the organization.   One of their major fundraisers is the Los Angeles Marathon, but I never participated in that one.  I always thought a marathon was impossible (until last year) and it just didn't seem quite worth it to get up at 6:00 a.m. to go run a 5K.  However, this year, I decided to bite the bullet and run it.    It is a great cause and I am proud to be a part of it.     There are no fundraising minimums, there is no team to help you train.  It is just people from all walks of life getting out there and raising money for a good cause.   Some people run the LA marathon itself, others run the 5K, as I will be doing, and many walk the 5K.  

I know that my friends came out last year and offered amazing support when I trained for the marathon to run in honor of my Dad.   I raised $3,200 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.    There are only two weeks left until the 5K, as opposed to the four months I had to raise money for TNT, and I know the economy is still tight.    But, if you have the funds, and want to end domestic violence, I encourage you to donate.   Those of you in Los Angeles, I would welcome you to come out and run with me for Sojourn.

Monday, February 18, 2013

13.1 The Greatest Number of them All

As some of you may know by now I decided to go ahead and run the Pasadena Rock and Roll Half Marathon on Sunday.    Prior to this race and since October 1, I ran exactly four times.  I had not run more than five miles since June.   My training scheduled looked like this:  Sunday, December 30, three miles; Wednesday, January 2, three miles; Sunday, January 5, five miles; and Sunday, January 14, three miles.  That's it.   I might also add that in addition to not running, I also wasn't walking, doing any sort of aerobic activity, or even doing anything of any kind.  I believe my only aerobic activity was one Saturday morning of Wii dance and while I whipped my three old at the game, I'm still  pretty sure it doesn't count.    The point of all of this is to say that I was woefully out of shape heading into this race.  But, as explained in my previous post, life simply got in the way.   

Now, it is true I abused my body before.  I completed a marathon.  But, I trained for that, - a lot.   So, as I thought about the half-marathon, I knew that I needed realistic expectations.  Running, or even run/walking the entire race was out of the question.  I knew I simply wasn't in the shape to manage that.    But, I paid my $90 bucks to register for this thing, and I had friends running, so it was worth it to hop on board.  I told myself the night before that I had to run at least the first three miles.   If I made it to five miles, I could walk the rest of it, and at seven miles I would be more than satisfied with my performance.  

The first three went pretty dang well.   There was one hill that definitely slowed me down, and I did take a brief stop to cheer on the elite and wheelchair runners.   One of the coolest things about this course was that I could see those runners.  Deena Kastor won the women's division.   I saw her twice before at events but I had never seen her run anywhere except on T.V..   Watching someone keeping a five and half minute mile pace is pretty impressive.  Knowing she is forty also keeps me inspired to keep my twelve minute mile pace (we have talked before about how slow I am, no need to rehash it here.)   The wheelchair competitors were also amazing to watch.   This race is full of crazy steep hills.  I can't even imagine the strength in these competitors' arms.   Damned impressive.  (Oh, and btw, when you stop to cheer for other people, no one realizes that you are also taking a break, -they just think you're a really enthusiastic nice person.  Fools.) 

I made it five miles on pace.    But, during mile four I knew I was already tired.  Oh, and at mile five my friends who started behind me, passed me!   But, I kept going and was still going okay until mile seven.  Mile seven sucked.   I am pretty sure you can't even call that running or even jogging.  It was more like some weird painful shuffle.  I think my pace for mile seven was actually slower than when I gave up and just started walking.    But mile eight turned out to be my favorite.   Sure, I was walking - but so was an amazing little boy.   Team Hasc, with which I have no affiliation, was just awesome in general.   The runners were a group of young Jewish adults.  They ran to raise money for Camp Hasc, a summer camp for special needs children.   Several of those special needs persons were with them on the course.  The young people walking and running were enthusiastic and took turns pushing the special needs children in wheelchairs along this difficult course.   During mile eight one of the boys got out of his wheelchair and started walking the route using his crutches.  Needless to say I had to stop and cheer for him too.  It was truly an amazing moment for me in the race.     

But, I knew I had to keep on walking.    I walked eight and nine.   But, at the end of nine I was feeling really good and wondered if I stopped running too soon.   In retrospect, I think that was just the high of seeing that boy getting up.    In any event, I  knew the next mile was mostly down hill so I decided I would see if I could do some short interval runs (2:1) down the hill.   But, as I finished mile ten, I felt pretty confident my legs were toast, so it was back to walking for those last three miles.   

The thing about walking a race is that is where you really get to see stuff.   The first thing I saw was, myself, getting smoked by the geriatric set!    That's right.   Races are full of the over the over seventy set and they can speed walk like nobodies business.   The first to leave me in their dust was an obviously older gay gentleman and his two female besties.  They were gossiping like crazy as they shimmied down the course.  Let me just say their calves were so thin and muscular that if I put all six of them together they might make one of my flabby ones.   It's not just the older set getting their walk on, people on the course come in all shapes and sizes.   Now, I'm not exactly what one would call a small girl, but there are some folks out there who are carrying some pounds, and more power to them, because they were out there getting it done!    My favorite was a shortish, chubby African American man, who just happened to be wearing a jacket from a previous race -- the hot chocolate 15K!   HA!  Thinking about how cute that was helped me giggle right through that thirteenth mile.

As I crossed the finished line, I felt pretty great.    It was a huge contrast to when I crossed the finish line for the marathon.    At the marathon, I didn't even make it to the festivities afterward.   Here, I stopped, drank my chocolate milk and water, and even grabbed a piece of a Slater's 50/50 burger (Yum, but one piece was more than enough!).    

The reality is that even without training, participating in this half marathon was way more fun than the San Diego marathon.   Doing San Diego was an overall amazing experience as you can see from reading my previous posts about Team in Training and running in honor of my Dad.   But, this was just more fun.   I attribute that to a variety of factors, including the shorter distance and the fact  that I didn't train.   Not training for this race meant that there was no pressure.   If I had to call for a ride to pick me up after the third mile - so what I didn't train!   I didn't make it in under 2 1/2 hours.   Who cares?    I didn't train.   No, PR, no problem!   Because there was no pressure I stopped to cheer for strangers (and friends), I listened to the bands playing along the route (who were also better than in San Diego, btw), I noticed the amazing people who were out there on the route, and I made a decision not to push my body any further than it could be pushed.    That's not to say that I didn't push; I did, and I am paying the price today.   My legs and back hurt like crazy.   My body feels substantially worse than it did the day after the marathon and that was twice the distance, -- but a distance I trained for.   So, I have no intention of ever running another race (over a 5K) without training ever again.   

But, I'm glad I did it.   I think it gave me a fresh perspective and renewed my interest in running another race.   When I signed up for this I did it to keep myself running after the marathon.   That clearly didn't work for me.   Life got in the way.    But now, now, I want to be a part of that collective experience again.   I want to experience the inspiration that comes from watching elite runners, the strength of the diversity of the participants, the joy of people who get out there and do it for fitness, and the amazing gratitude I have to those who run for people who can't run themselves.  People run because it is their life with all its joys, successes, messiness, and interruptions.   That's what running should be and that's what I want I want my next race to be.    I encourage everyone to get out there and to run a race that way.    Run with abandon,  -just maybe don't abandon your training altogether……   

Monday, February 11, 2013

Training? Who needs to train when you can just whine? Or wine.

When we last talked, and by talked I mean I told you all about how I have a half marathon coming up that I needed to get in shape for, I had six weeks left until the start time.   Well, that was about five weeks ago and I haven’t run one-step.   I have lots of excuses.  The first was the cold spell that we had here in Los Angeles.   And, while this is without question an excuse – it’s a good one because I hate cold.   That is why I live in Southern California and pay an outrageous amount in rent.  That’s right, I rent, because it is also too expensive for me to buy a house here.   Which leads me to my next reason for having not run, - my job. 

I have my job so that I can pay my rent and I have been working extremely long hours for the last month.  My job, as some of you know, I find to be extremely stressful.   Oh, I know what you are all thinking, you’re thinking, “well then you should definitely go for a run!   Exercise is such a stress reducer!”   Bullshit.   That’s right.  I said it.  I realize that it is what the medical industrial complex has been telling us for a long time, but it is Bullshit.  

Going for a run at night after a long day of work involves me waiting until Justin gets home to take care of Oliver, changing clothes, running in an area that although not unsafe, would not necessarily make it into the “safe” category either, coming home, somehow magically getting all of the things that have to get done at night done, and getting up and repeating it all the next day.  Oh, yeah, and I am supposed to spend quality time with Oliver as well.  You know, actually playing with him, not just sitting him in front of the iPad to raise himself (although, considering his aptitude with the device, he might be better off.)     So, in effect, going for a run does not actually decrease my stress.  It increases my stress about my parenting, housekeeping, and cooking skills.  Oh, and let’s not forget trying to be a good partner (because to be honest, I usually do, - forget that is.)   Once again, I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking, “well, what about running in the morning?”   To that, all I can say is, you have clearly never spent time with me in the morning.    Do you know what does help me de-stress?  Wine. 

Do you know what wine doesn’t do?   Help me train for a half-marathon.   So, this weekend, I am participating in a half-marathon without any training.   My current plan is to run about the first five miles, I am pretty sure I can do that without training and then walk the rest.   Alternatively, I may just not show up and just start drinking early.   Sparkling wine with a little bit of orange juice seems like the perfect alternative for this stress.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Going Downhill

So, after my three mile run last week I was what one would call less than enthusiastic about heading out to run five miles on Sunday morning.  There are so many other things that I would rather be doing.   Quite frankly, there are a lot of things that I typically don’t like doing that sounded better to me than going for a run  (Washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.)  But, I went anyway.  

It had rained here on Sunday morning and there was still some cloud cover.   As those of you who previously followed my blog know, I do not like running in the rain.   That was motivation for getting out the door, -- getting the run in before it started again.  

I started off on my usual route, which is a gentle incline heading up into Bronson Canyon Park.  At the entrance to the park the incline steepens, then a little further up it steepens again.   That is exactly the point I decided to turn around.    If I turned around and went straight home I would have only run four miles on a day when I committed to five.  (Trust me, I was doing my best to inch my arm out as far as possible to get the most mileage on my MapMyRun app.   I think I managed to turn my 2.0 distance into 2.03).   After my turn around, the run is actually quite pleasant, -- what goes up must come down.   Which leads me to this…. I love running downhill.    In fact, everything is better going downhill.  People sled down hills, they ski downhills, a variety of different things roll down hills.    “Rolling” just sounds fun.   Everything is better down hill.   In fact, if we could all go downhill all the time the world would be a happier place.   Why then when we talk about getting older or getting sick do we talk about life going downhill?  As my toddler would say:  that doesn’t make any sense.  

I eventually reached the flatlands again and did a loop before heading back to my house, putting in that last mile (okay, it was only .85 of a mile).   In and of themselves, the flat lands aren’t good and they aren’t bad.   But, the whole time I kept thinking to myself, “dang, I wish I was going downhill!”   That’s not something you hear people say everyday!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

7 Weeks to Half Marathon Day....better start preparing!

Some of you may remember that a few short months ago (6), I was stupid enough to attempt to complete a marathon.   Complete it I did…. however ugly it may have been.    In September, in an effort to keep my momentum going, I signed up to run a half marathon in February.   I thought to myself, hey- that’s 5+ months away, that’s plenty of time for me to prepare.   Silly, silly, me.  I didn’t really start ramping up in September, because why would I?   Then October rolled around, Justin had surgery and Oliver developed pneumonia.   Both are fine (although, Justin’s nose may be a bit crooked now).   Clearly, I could not possibly go for a run while either of them were sick.   November came and went before I could blink.   It was here just long enough for me to contract some horrible disease, also called a virus of unknown origin.   That lasted through December.   So, we are down to 7 weeks until I am supposed to run a half marathon.  I know what you are all thinking:   “good luck with that [insert pejoritive term of your choice!].”  To that I say, thank you kind sirs and madams, I will not need luck because I am resurrecting the blog!

I realize I attempted to resurrect the blog one other time, unsuccessfully.   But, this time it is different.  Much like when I was training for the marathon, I take extreme pleasure in sharing my misery with others and it is time for me to do that again.  

My first run was on Sunday.  I figured why wait until the New Year when you can get a jump start on things. (I did not, however, take the same approach to food, booze, organization, cleaning or anything else that people make resolutions about).    I thought I was going to die.   That’s right, die.   I was gasping for air and barely putting one foot in front of the other.   I am way too embarrassed to tell you the pace of my three mile “run.”   When I got home, Justin looked at me and said “What’s wrong with your face?  It’s all red.  The sun’s not out.”  I responded by growling.  

Wednesday’s run was only slightly better.   Tonight I shall try again and this weekend I will be attempting to make it five miles without collapsing.   Tune in next week to find out whether I survive to run another day.