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Thoughts on Running from the DiversityNerd, Part II “The Good”

First and foremost, in my opinion, the best thing about me running on a regular basis is being more fit. Mind you, my level of fitness as an adult has never been horrible because my hobbies are all very active.  I love dancing hula and paddling outriggers and both of those activities keep me in fairly good shape.  The team bonding over food and drinks doesn’t necessarily help me stay slim, but hula and paddling definitely keep me fit.  Running, especially on a regular training schedule, has actually changed the way my body looks and feels.  I have only lost about five pounds this year, in December 2014 the scale read 149 pounds.  Right now, I weigh 144 lbs. and the lowest the pounds dipped this summer was 141 lbs.  Logically, I realize that the scale should not be an indicator of health and fitness but I would love to be less than 140 lbs. again.  Losing weight through stress doesn’t stick so I am back at 144 lbs.  And I am not worrying about it.  Since I’ve cut back on sugar and alcohol, I don’t worry about what I am eating between now and the race.

From a fitness perspective, I enjoy feeling healthy and sleeping well. I have to attribute these two changes to running on a regular basis.  Karate leaves me exhausted but when we have class in the evenings, I have a very hard time unwinding from the adrenaline so falling asleep is not easy.  Thinking about training and preparing for a big challenge forced me to consider nutrition in a new way.  I cut back on my red wine and brown whiskey in mid-August and just lost a taste for both.  Not drinking also helps my sleep and alleviated the mindless munching that goes along with experiencing a buzzed state of existence.  Eating clean and not drinking has really impacted my fitness but I am still not a runner.  I run to prepare for a race, I don’t enjoy running.

And I have to be honest, it kills me to admit this but I like the way I look (not a very humble Asian thing to admit).  My body is lean and still very strong because of running and karate.  After my emergency surgery in 2001, I found myself on bed rest and couldn’t exercise for months.  During that time, I gained a lot of softness in my thighs.  That softness turned to thickness and fat.  From 2001 until now, I hated showing my thighs and stopped wearing shorts or skirts above the knee.  Body image issues consumed my thought.  The shame I felt at appearance of my thighs paralyzed me.  It was completely not healthy and I am sure it was quite unnecessary for me to hide myself in any way.  However, capris became my go to attire for paddling and hula gear.  Two weeks ago, I put on some shorts with my Toms wedges to run errands with the crew.  He told me, “I see all these people looking at you and then staring at your legs.  I mean staring at them.  You look really good.”  When I admitted that I felt embarrassed of my thighs, he couldn’t believe it.  We had a long, honest talk about it and I shared how unattractive I felt my thighs are.  It was good to finally say the words out loud and to hear feedback.  I still won’t be rocking the Daisy Duke butt-huggers during workouts but at least now I see myself a little differently.  Body-shame is a bitch.

One other good thing about running is being accountable to the training schedule. That accountability gives me an honest sense of accomplishment.  It never dawned on me how far I could run in just 30 minutes or how effective such a short workout feels, when done on a consistent basis.  Seeing the light at the end of the training tunnel and reading all the posts from other excited competitors on Facebook really keeps me motivated.  I did miss my 14 mile run on Sunday because life got out of hand with work, my daughter’s homecoming, and other stuff.  However, I walked/jogged/ran my miles on both Saturday and Sunday.  And I felt proud of myself.

Time alone on a run provides an opportunity to breathe and ponder and be the introvert that I am at my core. My day to day work life is filled with meetings and questions and problems to solve.  And my personal time is consumed, as well.  The good thing is, I love my life.  My daughter is continuing to work hard and I see her maturing every day.  Karate and hula surround me with so much love and people who are dedicated to learning and growing.  They are my ohana, if not by blood, then definitely by sweat.  But being alone is a luxury now.  And I need that time to rejuvenate myself.  Sometimes I create alone time by not smiling and being quiet and people freak the fuck out around me.  If I go off in my own world for a few minutes they ask if I am ok or what’s wrong or am I mad and I come back to look at them and say, “Huh?  I am fine.”  So goes the life of an introvert who is surrounded by so many extroverts.  I know I am blessed to have so many people who care and for that, I remain grateful.

Structure is important when life becomes frenetic. All of the craziness at work and the incredible amount of change takes a toll on my colleagues and on me.  This training program became an anchor or a constant in my ever-changing schedule in late summer and early Fall.  The time change occurred this past Sunday and now the evenings grow dark much earlier.  I am hopeful that preparation for my belt test in December will keep me motivated to run three times a week. In fact, I need to outline a schedule to follow between November 21 and December 6 to get me to my belt test and then find another program to get me to the Surf City Half Marathon on SuperBowl Sunday 2016.  After that, all bets are off for me running another race, since I am not a runner.

A third “good” that I associate with running is not about fitness or alone time or a sense of accomplishment. I have really enjoyed shopping for running clothes.  That may seem shallow and superficial but running does require special gear.  Sports bras that I wear for hula do not provide enough support to the tatas for running.  So then I had to research which styles and brands work best for my cup size and buy them and try them.  Lesson learned, spend the money to protect the tatas.  Gravity is not friendly to a forty something year old woman running four times a week, even with lower case C cup sized breasts.

Another critical piece of equipment is the shoes one wears. For the last three years, I wore Brooks Adrenaline running shoes.  This style is very stable for fake runners who need the extra support.  My most recent running analysis put me in neutral shoes with level five cushioning.  I moved from needing stability to being neutral, I wonder if that applies to more than just my feet?  These shoes feel like heaven for my runs over 5 miles and not I am thinking that I want to get a different pair for runs that are 4 miles or less.  Am I turning into an actual runner?  No way, that wouldn’t be good, would it?

Zombies & Walkers & Zeds, Oh My! Why I Watch AMC’s “The Walking Dead” May 2014

TWD Cover Photo

Let me start off by saying that I am not paid by the Atlanta Movie Tours and I am definitely not paid by AMC. This blog post is an example of the “nerd” in my “DiversityNerd” self. My name is Pi’ilani and I am a big fan of “The Walking Dead”. I don’t obsess (not really) and I don’t read the comics.  But I watch the series for a multitude of reasons. I enjoy the family drama elements. Note that the first reason I listed isn’t because of the horror or gore, which I do find to be delightfully disgusting, it is because the show portrays a story of survival and relationships. When the Zombie Apocalypse happens, the remaining survivors must start over. They find themselves forced to create a new society, with new mores and social norms. That becomes an exciting foundation for a TV drama, ripe with endless possibilities for conflict. Who will make leadership decisions? What will drive those decisions, good intentions or self-preservation at all costs? What parameters will you use to determine who to trust? How will they develop the skills to defend themselves? How do they determine their weapon of choice? Where will they find ammunition for weapons? Food? Clean water? Shelter? Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs will be tested and not everyone will have the capacity to cope. Do we revert back to prehistoric gender roles and what sort of tension will arise within survival groups because of that? Will surviving humans procreate? How will they innovate to create new technologies or imitate old ones? Will they be able to “reinvent” electricity? And all of these questions come before the survivors are dealing with the impending threat from the undead. The possibilities are endless. And so far, they feed some endless good fun!

One of the other reasons why I started watching the show may not surprise you, if you’ve read my blog postings before. “The Walking Dead” has an Asian American character on the show and the production staff has wonderful ethnic and gender diversity, top to bottom. For example, Gale Ann Hurd serves as an executive producer on the show. Her producer and writer credits in film and TV are quite impressive, take a quick peek at her IMDB page. My interest in a show that has an Asian American lead character may not make any sense to some of you but seeing Asian faces on TV and in movies delights me. Especially when those characters do NOT embody Asian stereotypes. In 2014, the scarcity of ethnic diversity in media has abated. I consumed a lot of TV as a teenager in the 1980s and people of color (not just Asian Americans) did not play lead roles. More often than not, these characters exemplified overinflated stereotypes. Some of that stemmed from the lack of diversity behind the scenes in the writers’ room, director’s chairs or production offices. That is slowly changing and the shifting demographics of the U.S. drives that, as well. Not that long ago, Asian Americans could aspire to load supply trucks on “MASH,” be the dry cleaner speaking in broken English, or stand in the background as hooker wearing bright red lipstick. Those are the images I recall of Asians on TV in the 1980s. In “The Walking Dead”, Steven Yeun plays “Glenn” who is a handsome young Korean-American man who used to deliver pizzas in Atlanta. Not only does he become a badass warrior during the Zombie Apocalypse, he also wins the heart of a beautiful young woman named “Maggie,” a hot little boss with a gun. And by the way, Maggie is not Asian American. Their interrracial relationship doesn’t raise an eyebrow, which is just as it should be.

My interest in the show started during season two. When that season ended, I binged-watched S1 on Netflix and sought out a way to talk to other fans about the show. My iTunes introduction to a variety of different podcasts on the show has literally changed my life. Because of these podcasts, I have met other nerdy fans and podcasters who are now some of my dearest friends. I will name the four podcasts that I listen to, with special emphasis on two. “The Walking Dead’cast” became my refuge during the hiatus between S2 and S3 and you can find them at http://www.walkingdeadcast.com or @jasonandkaren on Twitter. That podcast is hosted by Jason and Karen, two bright and energetic fans who enjoy talking to us and each other about the show. In fact, they are big enough fans that they figured out how to play zombie extras and Jason has had major screen time getting killed as a walker on more than one occasion, much to delight of their listeners. Jason and Karen have become my friends. Honestly, we actually hang out in person, not just virtually. I appreciate how they take care in responding to fan emails and comments on Facebook. Another differentiator of “The Walking Dead’cast” is that they provide an opportunity for fans to chat with each other in real time while J&K record the podcast. Two fellow fans have also become good friends of mine, Gracie Lou and Mr. Blahg. Grace and Mr. Blahg have been a part of the “The Walking Dead’cast” community longer than me, they’ve both guest-hosted episodes and are extremely active in the chat room. Jason and Karen also interview people from both the cast and crew. In fact, if you check out Episode 117, you can hear me and Jason interview writer/producer Angela Kang. That was a treat for me!

iTunes also introduced me to “The Watching Dead” hosted by ARon Hubbard and Jim Jones of Bald Move, whom you can find at http://www.baldmove.com or @baldmove on Twitter. Much to my delight, the Bald Move network encompasses a wide diversity of podcasts. All of the hosts discuss their content with candor and wit, occasionally fueled with beer, wine or whiskey. ARon and Jim personally host a number of podcasts on a variety of television shows such as “Fargo,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men,” and “24 Live Another Day”. Their style in covering “The Walking Dead” feels direct and blunt, with no excessive fawning or fanboy-ing. “The Watching Dead” is definitely not a love fest for the show, just two hosts providing a brutally honest and quite humorous account of their opinions. In the spirit of full transparency, I must divulge that “Jim” is the man who I have written about in previous blogs. We met at a Walking Dead convention and much to both of our surprise, felt a connection that can only be described as #nerdlove. However, even if he and I were not in a relationship, I would still recommend baldmove.com. They are THAT good. Side note, Jason and Karen attended the convention to moderate panel discussions and I would not have gone if they, along with Grace and Mr. Blahg, weren’t there, so Mahalo Nui Loa to them all!

In addition, I listened to “The Talking Dead” with Chris and Jason and “Walker Stalkers” with James and Eric. Each podcast delivers content with a different personality so there is something for everyone. In addition, I’ve met all of those hosts and they’re just real people who are fans of the show. Thankfully, all those hours and hours content helped me train for a couple of half marathons and listen to opinions on “The Walking Dead,” a win-win situation for Pi’ilani.

All of this an extremely long preamble to introduce what I intended on writing about, my experience at the Atlanta Movie Tour “Big Zombie Tour, Part 2” in May 2014. Keep an eye out for another blog to cover that, complete with nerdy photos.

One photo from Terminus with “Jim” from BaldMove.com.