Category Archives: growing old

What’s Your Ikigai (Reason for Being)?

Wikipedia lends the following definition:

Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” It is similar to the French phrase Raison d’être. Everyone, according to Japanese culture, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is important to the cultural belief that discovering one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.[1] Examples include work, hobbies and raising children.[2]

The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki (wikt:生き?) meaning “life; alive” and kai (甲斐) “(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit; (no, little) avail” (sequentially voiced as gai) “a reason for living [being alive]; a meaning for [to] life; what [something that] makes life worth living; a raison d’etre”.[3]

In the culture of Okinawaikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”; that is, a reason to enjoy life. In a TED TalkDan Buettner suggested ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.[4]

The word ikigai is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It’s not necessarily linked to one’s economic status or the present state of society. Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make us feel ikigai are not actions we are forced to take—these are natural and spontaneous actions.

In the article named Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei (“Ikigai: the process of allowing the self’s possibilities to blossom”) Kobayashi Tsukasa says that “people can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization.”[1][5]

My Ikigai is to stay active and perpetuate the rich API culture through my hobbies – dancing hula, paddling outriggers, and teaching karate.  Working out in the dojo taught me more about surviving and thriving in Corporate America as a single mom than any self-help seminar or MBA could have.  Recently, I opened a karate dojo as my passion project.  We focus on the values of Respect, Discipline, and Self-Confidence to help our students find their Ikigai.

Ikigai JaeRequiro

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#TeamTogisala #togisalashorinryu #fitlife #GirlPower #respect #discipline #focus #selfconfidence #selfdefense #dojoOhana #ikigai

Back on Track #trainmean Discipline, Respect and Humility

So far, 2017 has rolled over me.  We have lost family members and friends in our personal lives.  That means memorial services, funerals and lots and lots of tears.  At times, I’ve had to be strong enough to hold my loved ones up.  Other times, I’ve cried into my pillow or sobbed in the parking lot at work to let it out.  We hosted family from out of state after being away for a week for SuperGrands and sandwiched in between the sorrow, I’ve had to travel for business so I can network for my future career.  2017 has been whirlwind of frenetic activity.
My intention was to start training for my next race back in November 2016.  I wanted to train for 12 weeks to work on my race pace.  My goal was achievable but challenging.  In my first half marathon back in 2012, I ran a 13 minute mile and finished the race in 3 hours.  Somehow that race wound up being 13.98 miles instead of 13.1 but whatever.  A 13 minute mile for a half marathon is my race pace when I don’t prepare and the weather conditions are mild, not too hot or cold.


My best time has been a 13.64 mile race at 12:21 miles/minute and a time of 2 hours 48 minutes.  That race was the 2015 Avengers Half Marathon, which I did in conjunction with the Captain America 10K.  The two races together were marketed by RunDisney as the “Infinity Gauntlet Challenge – a 10K early Saturday morning and a half marathon the next morning on Sunday.  I took that training really seriously because I was concerned about whether my body could handle that many miles over one weekend because #ihaterunning.  That training paid off:  my body was in very good shape, my stamina was excellent, and my confidence was very high.  The root of those positive results:  fit body, better stamina and higher self-confidence, are founded in core values for the dojo, two that we carry-over from Rabago Shorin Ryu:  Discipline and Respect.  I would like to add a third core value that I want to include for Togisala Shorin Ryu Dojo:  Humility.

This word “Discipline” is defined by Webster as:  “1.  Punishment 2. obsolete Instruction 3. A field of study 4. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”  In their Children’s Dictionary, “Discipline” is defined as “Strict training that corrects or strengthens mental ability or moral character.”  That defines what we want to teach in the dojo.  My training for half marathons fulfills the role of reinforcing the importance of my own discipline in training and conditioning my body.  Last year, I focused 50% of my energy on my day job, raising Kanoe, and being a good girlfriend; 35% of my energy on opening up the new studio; and 15% of my energy on my own training.  I would never approve of one our students only putting in 15% of their energy towards training and I had been very down on myself for that.  But life was filled with many barriers taking up my time after November.  December’s calendar listed business trips, a halau Christmas concert performance, the dojo Christmas party, and SuperGrands.  Honest reasons but not good excuses for being less than  disciplined on my training.

I already mentioned what January felt like for us.  And it all led to depression and health issues for us.  We are focusing on  getting his blood pressure under control and managing his blood sugars to get off of medication.  That takes discipline on both of our parts.  I need to ensure that we have healthy meals to eat and lots of opportunities for exercise and healthy distractions.  He must resist the temptation of sugary foods and drinks and the habit of mindless, late night snacking.  This discipline is critical to his health. Our lives are so intertwined because we live together and we share the responsibilities of running the dojo.  His health impacts my health and vice versa.

Our second core value for Togisala Shorin Ryu, “Respect” may sound simple.  The word is used every day in formal and casual conversations. However, the dictionary defines this word as a noun that means, “A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” In addition, as a verb, the definitions reads as, “Admire (someone or something) deeply, as  result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”  What would that look like when one enters the dojo?  Students must bow before they walk onto the mat to train.  In addition, we bow to a photo of the late Sensei Rabago, who taught both Sensei Butch and me, of Rabago Shorin Ryu.  Before we start class to stretch and warm-up, we show respect by bowing to our Sensei and Sempai.  In addition, students must bow to one another while doing partner drills together.  If they are sparring, tapping gloves shows respect that each student will show good sportsmanship.  Winning is always celebrated with Respect.  Show-boating when winning is frowned upon.  Crying when losing is also not allowed.  We want to teach our students to Respect the lesson in each match or each drill.  Showing courtesy by using the words, “thank you” and “please” also builds Respect. Having such Respect starts with Discipline.  Many children start martial arts at such a young age that they don’t consciously understand these concepts but I trust that consistency and setting a good example will allow them to internalize these lessons.


But a more difficult value to teach and learn is the word, “Humility.”  I am going to spend more time processing this definition and tying it to our teaching at Togisala Shorin Ryu.  Look for a new blog post building on this one soon.  I need to go tend to our new puppy.  I want to name her “Kihon” (look up this Japanese word, if you don’t know what it means).


 

 

 

 

Pain and Sorrow in 2017

We started off 2017 losing the matriarch from my boyfriend’s family.  Aunty Laka passed away unexpectedly.  I never met her in person and I am just getting to know most of his cousins and such but I know my boyfriend.  He is big and tough with a heart of gold.  The amount of love he has to share with the world is rooted in his up-bringing and family background.  He’s shared stories of family get-togethers over the years with me.  They sound like the typical Islander gatherings:  lots of food and laughter and fun.  And razzing.  And singing.  And dancing.  And more laughter and food.

 

The loss hit him really hard.  For various reasons over the past twenty years or so, he hasn’t spent much time with this side of his family.  And memories of losing his parents flooded his thoughts.  We had just gotten back from being in North Carolina for a week-long karate tournament (Super Grands), took a deep breath to prepare to host houseguests over the first weekend of 2017.  Hearing the news that Aunty Laka had passed away took the little wind out of our sails that we had inhaled.

 

Before Aunty Laka’s funeral, Uncle Joe and his family came to town from Seattle to hold a memorial to recognize the two-year anniversary of Aunty Honey-Girl passing away.  This memorial brought together our martial arts ‘ohana and it was a reunion of sorts.  I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. And interestingly enough, Uncle Joe is related to my kumu hula!  They were able to spend a couple of hours together over the weekend and catch up on life.  That surprise was a nice balance to all the sorrow surrounding us in 2017.

 

But before we could pause to let the sorrow pass, I was informed that one of my friends, Valerie, had passed away. I met Val right before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Val was energetic, positive, full of love, and a fighter until the end.  Valerie was diagnosed with breast cancer, beat it and was re-diagnosed with stage four spinal cancer. Valerie passed away at the young age of 42.  The love that she and Paula shared was inspirational. Val will be incredibly missed by all whose lives she has touched. God bless your soul, Val. I am sending Aloha and light to you and Paula and Aunty Laka and Aunty Honey-girl.

 

I’m tired of all the pain and sorrow in 2017.

 

“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear.”

Cancer sucks, Life is short, and we must Live Aloha all in, every day.

September 22, 2016

By the time I staggered out of bed this morning, my daughter was already wide awake, dressed for school and eating breakfast.  She was rocking her white Chucks and her million dollar smile bright and early at 7:00a.m. today.  And my boyfriend had been out of the house for at least an hour, maybe two.  I remember feeling his butterfly kisses  across my cheeks and nose early this morning, and heard his sweet whisper, “Ok Lovely, have  good day.  I love you.  See you soon.”  After hitting the snooze button twice, I dragged myself to the bathroom to shower and get ready for a long day.

As I stood in front of my closet, draped in my pastel pink leopard printed robe, I contemplated what to wear.  How do I make a fashion decision on what to wear when my day would consist of the following:  work, conference call, funeral at St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach, a career counseling phone call with a colleague/friend, my annual visit to the gynecologist, and back to work at the Toyota Automotive Museum for an event to launch the 2016 Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks with 75 D&I practitioners from across Los Angeles.  What shoes does one wear for such a busy, action-packed day?  I opted for a chic but comfortable color-blocked tan, cream, and black sheath with a tan blazer on top.  It felt fashionable and conservative without being too churchy and boring.   During the day I wore my sensible wedges with my sexy color blocked heels safely tucked away in my car for tonight.  There is something about an evening event that just requires sexy heels.

The environment at work has been one of turmoil and change.  One of my dearest mentors and former bosses is retiring in about a week.  I’ve asked colleague to send cards, photos and notes of gratitude to me so I can paste them into a scrapbook of Memories for Midge.  I don’t know how to scrapbook but I’ve got scissors, non-acid glue, colored paper, and an album.  Hope it all turns out ok.

Thinking about her retirement and my eventual separation from my place of employment has me feeling sentimental.  My buddies at work have already relocated to North Texas so my days at work are much more subdued and quiet.  I feel like my friends are gone and that makes for a lot less fun during the workday.

Yesterday, I opened my email and read that one of my colleagues and friends who worked on a huge diversity project with me over the past ten years passed away and her funeral would happen this morning.  She will be laid to rest on Friday.  I know she has been fighting cancer for years and had spent months at a stretch on medical leave, undergoing various treatments and somehow defying her doctors’ expectations and recovering each time.   But I haven’t worked with her for several months and literally just discovered that she had passed away one week ago today.

Death is a part of life, right?  We are put on this earth to contribute somehow by living a full and productive life.  Some of us teach, some of us work, and others of us take care of the planet and the planet inhabitants unselfishly and freely.  But cancer.  Why do some people have to fight against a disease like cancer to have the strength to teach, to work, and to give freely?  It doesn’t seem fair that the people who seem the most generous and selfless have to fight against cancer.  Why don’t more assholes and racists and bigots and misogynists and murderers and pedophiles get cancer?  Why do the nicest people get hit with one of the cruelest diseases?

Cancer make no sense to me.  Wikipedia says that Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Not all tumors are cancerous; benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.  Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movements. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they may have other causes.  Over 100 cancers affect humans. I think about all of the loved ones my family has lost to cancer.  I think about my dear friends who are fighting against cancer right now, as I typed these words across my Kensington keyboard.  The article goes on to say that 15% of deaths are caused by cancer.  Cancer also increased the risk of anxiety and depression in patients who already have a propensity for it.  I hate cancer.

The funeral was filled with choir songs, as my friend was an extremely talented singer who loved all kinds of music.  The young priest talked about how even though we are mourning, today would be about the celebration of life and reconnecting with our faith, as my friend stood strong in her religious beliefs.  Even though funerals suck the energy out of me, I think it was good for me to attend Mass today.  I thanked God for my many blessings, I prayed for the health of my family and friends, and I sat still for over an hour.  A few minutes of meditation did me good today, as the world is in turmoil around us.  I sat still and remembered my friend and was reminded that cancer sucks, life is short, and we must Live Aloha all in, every day.

 

 

 

Proud of my Daughter 

Motherhood Dare Challenge Accepted!I was challenged to post a picture that makes me happy/proud to be a mom (yes just one photo collage.)

This young lady has the highest quotient of emotional intelligence of anyone I have ever encountered. Kanoe’s spirit and energy is like poorly bottled sunshine. Her heart is as big as her smile. And learning disabilities have not stopped her from wanting to go to college. That makes me proud. 


She’s grown up so quickly and still hangs on to that incredible spirit of adventure and fun. We all spend so much time laughing and smiling that my cheeks ache at the end of the day sometimes.  

My daughter keeps me young and she loves that she’s got a nerd for a mom. I know people question why I work so hard sometimes but this smiling face is the reason why. I work my ass off to pay for my house so she could have a stable childhood, even though she was raised by a single mom.

I want her to understand that anything is possible if you have discipline, respect and the will to work hard. And, as women, we need to be able to stand on our own and support ourselves and our sisters around us. My daughter makes me very proud, she’s a gift in my life. 

How Brown Gets Down 2nd Kyu Karate

  
(I never know where my blog postings are going to go.  I wanted to write about my brown belt test and instead thoughts of my two divorces pounded out on my keyboard.  The idea of having two failed marriages sounds a bit humiliating but you know what, it is a part of my life story and I am ok sharing it.  I am definitely not the same person I was 20 years ago when I started karate, fourteen years ago when I got married the first time, or even two years ago when I went back to my martial arts training at Togisala Shorin Ryu.)

December 6, 2015

Today, I passed a test.  It wasn’t a test written on paper.  It wasn’t a compliance eLearning module from work.  And I certainly have no need to take a pregnancy test.  The test I passed consisted of challenging physical exercises, open hand kata, weapons kata, and sparring against two dudes at once.  At my vintage age of 45, I went through a grueling physical challenge to earn my 2nd kyu rank in Shorin Ryu karate, better known by lay people as a brown belt.

You might ask why an old lady like me would want to train in martial arts. My dojo classmates are between the ages of 6 and 35.  I am fairly certain I am the oldest colored belt ranked student on the dojo floor.  Even my Sensei is a year younger than me.  I started training in my 20s, I worked out diligently for a few years, four days a week.  But when birth control failed and I found myself pregnant, I had to stop training.   Unfortunately, even though I was about to test for my green belt, Sensei Rabago had me stop at purple because it would be a huge liability for him to test me while I was hapai (pregnant).  I still trained four days a week until my belly started to show at four months, just like I played softball with my co-ed work team until I hit five months preggo.  They all yelled at me every time I ran the bases because my favorite way to slide was face first.  “Run!  Don’t slide!  Don’t slide!  Don’t’ slide!!!” they yelled at me as I turned toward second base.  Ha.  I still slid feet first for a couple of games.

So why now?  Why am I back on the dojo floor after twenty years?  Simply put, I love karate.  Lessons from my Sensei, the late Richard Rabago, gave me more tips about surviving and thriving in Corporate America as a single mom than any self-help seminar, book, or MBA could have.  Unfortunately, despite trying to go back to Rabago Shorin Ryu intermittently, raising my daughter alone and having a demanding career trumped the hobbies in my life.  While my daughter was very young, dancing in halau gave both of us a sense of ohana.  As she got older and I earned a better salary, I could afford to pay for childcare while I went to outrigger practice.  Now, she is almost out of high school and becoming more independent.  We both dance hula and I feel comfortable and confident going to the dojo three times a week to train now, without feeling guilty about doing something without my daughter.  The best part is, she gets along with the students and parents at the dojo so sometimes she comes to hang out and talk story with everyone while I practice.

Today, I sit in a very different position in life and at work.  Personally, I haven’t had much success with personal relationships, as I’m twice divorced.  Both relationships were based on strong friendships but not much romance or heat.  The first marriage ended when he decided that drinking the boys was more fun than spending time with his wife and stepdaughter.  He wasn’t going to stop drinking and I wasn’t ‘going to let him hurt me or my daughter.  I sure as hell wasn’t going to let him abuse me in any way in front of my daughter.  But he left without ever looking back so we both knew the marriage wasn’t meant to be.

In my experience, it is pretty much impossible to have a serious relationship while holding down a demanding corporate job as a single mom.  I never had a problem being asked out on a date but having a significant long lasting relationship became an elusive thing for me.  Because of the nature of my work, I am on the road about 25% of my time.  Planning dates and building a foundation of a relationship takes quality time, face to face.  The whole “free time” thing has felt like a luxury to me for most of my life.  Dating without a lot of free time doesn’t work out very well.  And, most of all, being a mother surpasses anything else in my life.

My second marriage looked perfect on paper.   Once we walked down the aisle and signed the actual papers, it all fizzled into complacency and a wonderful roommate situation.  He was neat and kept to himself.  He even bought his own groceries and laundry detergent separately from us.  Has anyone heard of a marriage like that?  Sad.  We had shared friends, and grew up with a common culture.  It should have been an easy relationship to nurture.  But he kept himself separate in so many ways, it was easy to say goodbye.

Why do I bring those failed relationships up?  I learned after my recent divorce that I needed to focus on my own happiness as an individual.  Tying my happiness to someone else or something else wasn’t going to bring lasting contentment or love.  And karate is an individual sport.  Karate taught me discipline as well as self-defense.  In my opinion, karate fueled my independence and nurtured my self-confidence.

When I started training 20 years ago, I worked out four nights a week and would  often stay late with Sensei Travis when his friends would come in to spar or work grappling or just do my kata.  I am quite certain I was in the best physical condition of my life.   I felt great.  Karate became the perfect supplement to hula and the values I learned through both reinforced all the lessons I learned from my parents and grandparents.  Family first.  Be humble.  Work hard.   Help others.  Give back.  Your actions represent your family, your halau, your dojo so act accordingly and don’t be a douchebag (ok, maybe I adjusted that last one a bit).

Sharing personal values with the values that I learned on the dojo floor made it very easy for me to train.  And, the more I studied and developed as a martial artist, the more I felt an obligation to give back.  Quite often, I would train as the only woman on the floor.  It was a rare occasion when I saw a female black belt.  Today, things are different but 20 years ago, I did not see many as many women at tournaments or teaching.

My rank test for 2nd kyu symbolized much more than just improvement in my training and/or martial arts skills.  It brings a large obligation to my life as I learn to be an instructor.  Although Sensei Rabago always emphasized that the color of someone’s belt is less important than their integrity and commitment, the average person will make judgments on the basis of what color a karate-ka wears.  And, research shows that people base 90% of their judgments on others based on the 10% that they see.  So, to gain credibility from one glance, a black belt earns it more quickly than a colored belt.

The rank test I passed on December 6, 2015 symbolizes one tiny step in my training.  My physical condition is excellent because I had trained to run 19.3 miles over a weekend for the RunDisney Infinity Gauntlet Challenge.  My mental condition stays strong and focused.  Much of that must be related to the miles and miles of running that I invested to prepare for both the races and my belt test.  But the best part is, my spiritual condition feels grounded and secure.  And that means my body is healthy, my heart is at peace and the possibilities ahead of me are endless.

 

 

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.