Thoughts on Running from the DiversityNerd: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Part Three

The Bad

In my last post, I wrote about shoes and considering buying another pair for shorter runs.  This brings me to one of the “bad” things about running: shopping.  Any time one picks up a new hobby, interest, or workout, one needs the proper equipment.  At the bare minimum, this requires shopping and shopping is good and bad.  I hate running but I’ve grown to hate shopping even more these days.

I enjoy looking at new gear and the fitness industry has fantastic advertising and marketing to reach active women. But do I really need to have color coordinated socks to match every outfit I work out in?  Probably not.  And do I need to buy special laundry detergent to care for my sports bras, capris, and Drifit tops that is drastically different from what I use for my other delicates?  Not likely.  I grew up in the 80s and 90s when consumerism and designer everything was all the rage.  Buying the latest and greatest became a competition of sorts back then.  Labels were important and I was sucked into the whole shopaholic movement in my youth.

Today, I continue to try to downsize the “stuff” in my house and my life. I know there are work clothes that I don’t wear hanging my bedroom closet.  I definitely have dozens of shoes that I used to wear when I was clubbing three nights a week that just sit on shelves in my guestroom closet.  They rest in their clear plastic Container Store boxes, waiting for me to slip my feet into them and go shake my okole on some dancefloor.  I’m over 40 now and although dancing is still fun, the dudes in the club are now young enough to be my children.  I’m trying to shake off my Cougar status and do not need to pick up Pedophile status.

And who has time to shop these days? Not Pi’ilani.  I am on the road two weeks out of the month traveling to different time zones.  That time suck means I have to be very conscientious about budgeting my time and is the second “bad” thing about running.  My daughter, her life, and her school work come first.  I’ve put my physical health higher on the list since the announcement about my company moving to Texas hit.  If not, I would probably be super stressed out and fifteen pounds heavier.  Of course, I still need to manage the house:  cooking, laundry, cleaning.  Even with a housekeeper coming in twice a month, there is the usual maintenance that needs to happen at home.  Kanoe is a great help but there is always something to clean up in and around the house.  And my hobbies have suffered.  Being on the road means my days available for paddling were slashed this season and once I got injured, I was two months behind my teammates in terms of conditioning and practice.  Time suck.  Work travel usually falls from Tuesdays to Thursdays, which means I miss karate on Tuesdays, paddling and hula on Wednesdays and get home around 11:00pm on Thursdays.  Time suck.  Fridays I spend back in the office so on Friday nights I’m jetlagged and cranky.  I don’t even have time to shop on-line because I’m just tired.  So damn tired.

Maybe I don’t really hate running? Running while on the road is the easiest type of exercise for me.  Sometimes hotel gyms look more like closets so there isn’t really space to dance or do kata.  I try to make time to run at least once when I am on a business trip.  But I can’t carve out time to shop on the road.  When I do, I wind up with more Urban Decay make-up and not with practical things I actually need.

A third “bad” thing about running is the amount of water I use to do laundry and take showers. I have a separate laundry basket for my workout attire that needs to be thrown in the washer at least once a week.  That doesn’t even include the everyday clothing that my daughter and I use.  I feel like I am not helping with the conservation of water in California by keeping my gear clean.  However, I’ve run past people who have stinky running clothes on and I was just working out by a woman in the Machida Karate seminar whose gi was offensively stank.  So let me remind myself of that nasty fact every time I wash clothes from here on out.

The Ugly

The list of “uglies” that I experience from running is brief and hopefully easy for me to describe. First and foremost, I worry about my knees.  I grew up playing tennis, basketball, baseball/softball, and volleyball.  All of these sports demand explosive movements that put demands on one’s knees.  I remember talking to my college tennis and volleyball coaches about their knee surgeries to repair damage from wear tear usage.  When I transferred to UCLA, I added hula and then karate to my list of activities.  Both of these arts demand strong, low to the ground stances.  In hula kahiko, it was once believed that your energy comes from the Earth so you need to dance low to the ground to pull that mana into your movements.

As I began training for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, I reminded myself to wear my patella/knee band for protection from injury. If I thought it would help to run with ti leaf in my sports bra, I would do that too.  I wore bands on each knee for any run over four miles and avoided injury over the last three months of training.  (Knock on wood).  The crazy thing is, my knee used to hurt more from paddling than it ever did from running, maybe I need to rock the patella band if I ever make it back to six-man training on the water.

The second “ugly” about running is me. The time suck means I have no time for manicures, pedicures, haircuts, or eyebrow waxing.  Usually it doesn’t matter that much since I’m not dating or going out dancing all the time anymore.  So the people who I spend time could care less if I have naked nails or caterpillar eyebrows.  But when I go to work conferences and reach out to network with people, I admit that I notice when people are well-coiffed and have nice, neat nails.  Thankfully I have all that Urban Decay make-up I buy during moments of on-line shopping weakness so my lipstick and eye make-up looks polished.  But my nails sure look ugly when they are just short and naked.  The least I should do is toss some clear coat or sheer pink on them before I travel to avoid the basic ugly hand syndrome I’ve been suffering from this year.

A third and final “ugly” is pain. I anticipated being in so much pain after running more than19.3 miles last weekend that I took Monday off and scheduled a massage for myself.  However, other than being sleepy, I felt great.  My body didn’t hurt much and even my feet were fine.  No blisters or lost toenails to speak of this time.  But there are stories out there of runners who have toenails that turn black and eventually fall off of their feet.  That sounds so ugly and painful to me.

Pain does hit me during the act of running, which is a valid reason for hating the act of running. Around mile five or after about 45 minutes, the tiniest bit of pain is exacerbated and exaggerated in my head. I think that happens because I get bored when I run and I hyper-focus my attention on the pain.  That is the mental challenge of running that I am still working on.  And of course, I figured out a way to injure my elbow while running.  How frickin’ creative of me, right?

Truth be told, my elbow injury was probably the result of paddling, running and learning how to use my sai all during the month of June. That is a lot of wear and tear to put on one joint in an old lady’s body.  My elbow developed swelling and pain that was not alleviated through weeks of the usual physical therapy with my sports medicine doctor.  The only way I found relief was through acupuncture and a damn cortisone shot.  I felt so much intense pain that I couldn’t go to work.  The injury occurred in my right arm and that just sucked.  But to not be able to take a trip to see my long distance boyfriend blew donkey nuts.  Missing out on that trip made me angry and it was a big “ugly” to experience.  I hate injuries.  Sitting still isn’t easy for me.  I needed to ice and rest my elbow but all I wanted to do was cry because it was so hard to take care of stuff while I was injured.  That is pretty ugly, too.

Despite the “bad” and “ugly” of running, I really enjoy the racing. RunDisney events are unique because they attract Disney fanatics who run, rather than running fanatics who are pushing for PRs.  And each RunDisney race has a theme so some competitors take as much time preparing their costumes as take in training to actually run.

I hadn’t submitted a half marathon time to the race coordinators so I was placed in the last corral with runner who had a 15 or 16 minute/mile pace. Since my goal for my race pace was 12:30/mile this race, I felt I would be able to break off from the back of the pack fairly easily.  But being with the folks who were really doing the race just for fun gave me a new appreciation for fitness and health.  Waiting for an hour in our corral before we were even close to the start line, I met a few people and chatted a bit.  One woman had just turned 50 and was doing her first half marathon.  We had fun talking about being moms and taking time out for our health now that our kids had grown up a bit.  Another woman, who was probably in her late 20s, signed up for the race with her husband.  He submitted his time and was in corral B and didn’t bother to come back to the last corral to start with his wifey.  (I raised my eyebrow at that comment.)  She laughed it off and said she would see him later.  They had travelled from the East Coast so 52 degrees didn’t feel particularly cold to her.  It felt nice to chat with people before the start of the race and it helped me to pass the time without growing more and more nervous.

Once we got to the start line, I put on my headphones, started my “Avengers” playlist, and started to jog to get out of the crowd It took me a half mile or so before I could actually hit full stride and run.  For my first mile, I went too fast, I was running at 10:40 min/mile.  I hadn’t trained for long distances at that pace so I slowed myself down.  It took me almost two miles before I felt warm enough to throw away my zip up hoodie that I wore to stay warm before the race.  Two miles later, I took off my long-sleeved dark green pseudo She Hulk skin and ran in my tank top.  The course only spent two miles inside the parks and the entertainment along the route was mostly high school cheerleaders and marching bands so it wasn’t much of a distraction.   At each water station, I grabbed a cup of both water and PowerAde to stay hydrated and said, “Thank you” to the race volunteers. I didn’t realize it until we made the seven mile turn towards Angels Stadium that I was running my pace very comfortably.  Maybe I don’t hate running after all?

Between mile seven and Angels Stadium, the course turned into a single lane dusty horse trail so it became impossible to run that section. And, there was a huge cosplay group that stationed themselves there, wearing full Avengers costumes so participants slowed down for photo ops and such, some signaled by raising their hand but not everyone respected that etiquette.  I saw a couple of runners stop short and I even ran smack into one woman.  She received my apology in the wind.  In addition to the cool cosplayers and high school band, there were homeless people’s tents along the course. I didn’t see the actual residents but it was obvious that people lived under the freeway.  It made me think about the amount of money that RunDisney demands of their participants and I felt a bit sick for the homeless people.  There just wasn’t way for me to frame fairness in this picture.  It made me sad as I ran onto the Angels Stadium parking lot.

The course took us into the stadium and we were able to run the infield, which made this former tomboy baseball player smile with delight. And outside of the stadium, on my left-hand side, there was a long line of servicemen and servicewomen waiting to cheer us on and offer us high fives.  They were both active and retired and most wore their full uniforms.  I felt grateful to them for their service and I thought my grandpa who was the bravest solider I know, a Bataan death march survivor as a Philippine Scout during WWII.  Grandpa Ben brought his family to the United States as an officer in the  U.S. Army to provide them a better life than they (we) would have had in his war-torn country.  That was a boost that I needed going into mile nine, I felt pride and love for my grandfather and other Veterans in my life.

On my right, there were WWII re-enactors and a swing dance group. I felt mixed about the WWII re-enactment group because they were all white. That statement doesn’t have any other deep meaning to me because it was just a thought that popped in and out of my head at that moment.

Heading back towards Disneyland, my legs felt good, my knees were strong and I didn’t have any fear that my asthma would slow me down going into miles 10 – 13. My self-talk was, “I feel strong.  One mile at a time.  Keep your pace because you’re the shit.”  My minute per mile pace slowed to between 12:30 to 12:50 for the last four miles, which was frustrating to me.  My race pace goal was 12:30 min/mile and I felt like that goal was slipping away from me.  Rather than letting that consume my thoughts, I kept running and thought about how good it would feel to cross the line and eat some food.  Even the puny snack box breadsticks and white cheddar cheese spread sounded like a gourmet meal to me at the time.  And it worked; I crossed the finish line with no pain and received both my fancy spinning Avengers Half Marathon medal and the Infinity Gauntlet finisher medal.  My GPS read:  13.64 miles, 2:48:25 minutes, 12:21 min/mile pace, 1,714 calories burned.  BOOM.  Cross that bucket list item off my list.  Adrenaline is my drug of choice.  I may hate running but I sure do love racing.

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