Friday, 12 October 2012

Changing Goal Posts

Actually this is something my colleague said in a work meeting. We had a blazing telephone call with one of our collaborators. And then we were all super upset. At each other. At him. At life in general. We all said the same thing in different words for a while and in turn kept saying Oh we are saying the same thing in different words and kept arguing. Till the food came.

Its annoying, right? If the goal post is suddenly moved? Or should one work it, make it an advantage? Who knows. After much arguing and eating of food, we concluded that its all for the best. Someone spoke eloquently and very long and we concluded that its fine with us, the goal post can be wherever. It can keep changing. We will rise up to it. As long as someone brings samosas.

Like Calvinball, the fun is not in reaching the goal per-se. Its in having the creativity to make up rules, its in defying those same rules, its in arguing and fighting and calling names, and ultimately, deciding that its fun to do things this way, for us. Calvinball is just fantastic, isn't it?

My personal fitness goal post has moved now. Over the years, it has moved a fair bit, I guess. Being the world's best basketball player (1986-90). Being the world's fastest 100m runner (1989-93). Being a strong basketball player, stable under the board (1995-00). More basketball (2000-03). Being a fit pregnant person (2003-04). Losing flab (2004-10). Running (Forever-Forever).

As far back as I can recall, basketball has been an important component. I like to think that its only because I had a coach who saw some potential in me (us). We were a group who thought ourselves a team. I have never been a spectacular player, of course, but I have gotten the job done, even though I am small. And that has been very encouraging, and I have loved my time on the court.

What boggles the mind is that, if anything, I showed more potential as a runner. Why did I not pursue that with the same passion? I don't know. At any rate, its now not worth thinking about (though I do think about it a lot :-(). I just participated in races when they were there. I ran the sprints at the school level, and an open 'Road Race' that was held by the city admin every year.

And ever since I can remember, I have run to overcome frustrations. In college, I got out and ran to the gate and back, lamenting that it took me only 15-20 mins (now I know that the distance is 3.6 kms exactly, and I wonder, was it 15 or 20 minutes? Big difference, right?). In grad school, I ran laboriously on the treadmill (hateful thing), or, during spring & summer, outside when I could, and I always felt super happy after.

In the past few years I have retired from basketball fully, gone from a 2+ hour half marathoner to a sub-2 Half Marathon-er; scaled to full marathon distance; gone minimalist in my shoes; figured out GPS devices; incorporated core strengthening in my routine; discovered the pleasures of interval workouts; and learnt swimming.

My legs are in great shape. They feel strong. My core and abs are doing much much better than in 2004 (post child birth), though they do feel flabby, and therefore weak, often. My overall fitness doesn't leave much to be desired. However, my feet, have been an entirely different story.

My ankle twists, which had dramatically reduced in frequency, have come back. The noises that emanate from my ankles and feet in general when I walk, are ridiculous. I feel Plantar pain often. My toes look ridiculous. My heels hurt occasionally. Various bits of bone and muscle in my feet trouble me.  And in the recent past, I have had -not severe- but very annoying pain in my right foot. Like someone punctured something in there.

After much deliberation, and much prodding by friends and family, I looked it up on the web. It felt like it might a repetitive stress injury on one of the long bones in the foot. I was going to ice it occasionally and deal with it like that. But I got egged on to meet the doctor, and finally succumbed, because it really felt like this was going to really limit my movements, and I was miserable, and growing fat.

He does diagnose it the same as I did (I give him points for that). He recommends a whole host of things, some of which I can easily do, and things consistent with what I was planning to do anyway to manage this pain. He gave me a few pills. I thought I would resist it, but heck, I jumped on them as soon as I could. So much for knowing my own mind.

So again, the goal post moves. I am going to work on weight training for a bit, and stick to core strengthening and cross-training exercises that don't make me stay on my feet for over long. I am scaling back running mileage significantly - even below my 'maintenance mode' of 30km/week. And see how that goes.

Wait. The goal is what again? To keep on running till the end of time. This month's routine is also aimed at ensuring I can do that. Oh boy. That means the post hasn't changed at all. It has always been there in the same place all my life. Through all the basketball and horsing around with other things, and all those other goals that I have failed at, this has always been there... Heck, thats a revelation for sure! 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Insipid, lets say

I ran a race this weekend. It was not a pleasant experience, lets say. I am still worrying about my feet. There is something messed up about them. Not severely messed up enough to go to a doc about. But definitely troublesome enough to scare me into not doing anything long in the nature of runs.

So this race was not planned. I was hoping I could run the 10k version of it. Despite all the whatsapp traffic of all my friends running halfs and fulls that was very tempting, I resisted. But even the 10k looked dicey. Because of the domestic duties, lets say.

We dropped the child off at the pool. She was surly. She got a yelling as she tried to get into the car wearing her rather large duffel bag on her back, got stuck, knocked her father's mobile from his hand, and it split in two, and well, it was not fun. (Its a nokia, it survived, but barely).

I forgot my amphipod. Thankfully just about remembered the garmin and a hand-towel - two things I had actually forgotten earlier this week when I went on my run! But my mood was bad, lets say. I hate working out less than usual and things are spiraling out of control and I am not able to catch a break.

We reached about 2 minutes after the 10k was flagged off. No one was around to tell us if it was OK to just start running. At any rate our official registration was for the 5k (because I wasn't sure if we would reach in time for the 10k). So I suggested we wait for that flag off.

There were a bunch of kids, like real pint-sizes. And a bunch of what seemed like college kids with a mike. Suffice to say that I was glad when they sent us on our way. I have years of experience avoiding start-line annoyances, and I did have to pull from that experience a lot, lets say.

I wanted to set an aggressive target (for me) for the 5k, as aggressive as my feet would allow. Sub-25, for sure. I felt confident that I could pull off a couple of sub-5 minute kilometers. I felt fine, breathing was good, I was in the 4:30s in the first kilometer. But what a BUMMER!

They screwed up on the mile markers and they sent us back after just 1.4kms! Seriously. I think the water station girl just messed up and drew up our bibs and sent us back. I tried to talk to her and reason with her but it was making me cool down so I said forget it and headed back.

My husband looked pissed as I passed him. He said something about how I turned too early. I had to shrug my shoulders and keep moving. But it messed with me. I don't run short races anymore. I have completely forgotten how that feels. And I sure as hell don't want to do a 3k run on a trail...

I lost my rhythm completely after that. Hung in there and managed to do decent pace and finish in about 14 mins. At least it was under 5 mins/km pace, which was what I was shooting for. I came in third, behind a kid (teenager, I hope, at least, couldn't tell), and a guy wearing checked shorts.

I went in without really intending to run fast, but it was still very frustrating. I then ran a bit more on the trail with my husband, and we were both fighting big time. Thankfully I ran into my friend Rocket on her way back in her HM.

I foisted myself upon her, insisting on pacing her, and it was a glorious few kilometers. I love running with her and the few times we have done so, we have both done really well. She is the awesomest girl and has a super sunny attitude that I love.

My legs ached a bit, I was super sleepy when I came home, and aside from watching Rocket get her PB at 1:55, it was painful. I met all my friends at various points of their races, which was nice but I also felt a bit irritated that I was not running...

And the piece of cake was saved for later. We drove back to the pool, dragged the child out, ate breakfast, showered and were just rushing to the music class. I just stepped out of the house and twisted my ankle. The same damn right leg that has been bothering me all my damn life (it feels like).

Its not too too bad, I elevated immediately, and iced it when we returned home several hours later. But don't blame me for hating everything right now. (At least my sun burn heat rash healed after the cream and anti-histamine the doc lady prescribed me). Ugh.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Mauritian Masala

"Aamavadai" I declared as we bit into the Chilli Cakes at lunch. The chilli paste & tomato chutney that went along with the fried vada things were also heavenly. Food, in general, is not an important agenda item on our holiday planning list. This year, it was even less so. The child is absolutely forbidden from reading while eating now, and no surprise there, this has made her a much better eater than usual, and much fewer arguments related to food occur, therefore.

Stretched out on the endless sand, the Indian Ocean shining like glass, our bellies full, we spent a week in paradise. The day we were to leave from here was super duper busy with all kinds of ridiculous things to do. I was telling the child (to motivate her for the tons of holiday homework she has had to do), that too much relaxing makes me more stressed. But boy, was I wrong!

Relaxing sounds like about the only thing I did the entire week! I do feel re-charged, and was enthusiastic about getting back to office, so I guess it was all good. Very surprising if you consider that I am on reduced running mileage, still feeling pain in my feet, so I did not go nuts and wake up super early to run every single day of our stay there. Still not stressed out about that!

I ran a little bit though, its always super nice to run on the beach or even near it, we went to the gym a couple of times, it was fine, got a lot of stares as we were doing a routine written down on a piece of grubby paper. The guy wanted to help me with the exercise bike settings (warm up) which I thought was super strange. Its not rocket science now, is it? I did swim a little bit as well, and glad to note that I haven't entirely forgotten it. (The child laughed out loud watching me, though).

We spent our time on a part of Mauritius called Flic en Flac, on the western side of the island. We took some trips to the Southern part of the island one day, and to a very popular small island off the eastern coast on another. And one glorious morning, we rented bikes and rode to a nearby bird park. And a safari tour. Bikes! Like my absolute favourite thing to do next to running! All three of us!

We pored over maps and tried very hard to learn a bit of French while we were there. The tourist vans had a desi channel on the whole time and it was so strange and awesome to hear them speak accented Hindi. The hotel people were super nice, as was everyone else as we walked, drove or biked around the island. Seriously felt like we were transported into some parallel world where meanness and nastiness wasn't yet invented.

Thankfully, internet was invented in that world, and though I didn't write my blog, I felt connected with the nasty-world outside and could adjust back into it fairly easily.