Sunday, April 29, 2007
I'm actually very happy about the results. Because as I've mentioned earlier, this race course is notoriously brutal. Nearly the entire first half of the course takes you through some steep hills (I've dubbed them the "Redlands Alps"). Not that this is a bad thing. In fact, because it is the hilliest race (I hesitate to also say 'hardest' because somehow, every race is hard in it's own way) I run, it also makes me the proudest once I've completed it.
Everything about today's race was perfect- the weather (blue skies, warm sun, cool breeze), my continued positive attitude (just have fun!), my time (I improved by 17 minutes from last year), even my body (I didn't get the intense, nervous stomach pains I've had at the last few races...probably because of new attitude)!
One of the best things about each race is the diversity of the people around me. Running is one of the rare sports where your immediate companions are often nothing like you (in my case, 30-something females). In fact it's quite common for me to run alongside a 13-year old boy, a 55-year old woman, a hobbling 70-year old man, and if I'm lucky...a 6'3 275-lb. male fire fighter. Who is sweating. With no shirt on. Who laughed at you even though you tossed the remainder of your water all on him at the aid station (whoopsie). Who might even have allowed you to passionately embrace him if only I were single and he were blind, had no sense of smell, and didn't mind premature graying. But I digress. My point is, the diversity of runners never ceases to amaze me, and I thought I'd seen it all...that is, until today.
Because today, I saw...'Homie'. Homie appeared to be a Hispanic male, around 19-21 years old, had a shaved head, was covered in tattoos, and was wearing a white, wife beater tank top, long, baggy shorts...and Keds. Yes, Keds. I half expected him to whip out a forty and some tobacco at some point. I was fascinated. Fascinated and amazed.
I wracked my brain trying to figure out what circumstances had led Homie to start running. Was he turning his life around? Did any of his friends run too? Or did they just gang bang and shoot old, white women? Why did he run and not play basketball? Was this his first half? Did he not have the $$ for running gear? I was dying to ask, but never found out because A) I couldn't keep up with Homie and lost him after a mile or so, and B) It would have felt rude to ask.
In any case, because one of my running books recommended dedicating each race to someone meaningful in your life that inspires you, and since I've forgotten to do it each time (I prefer singing and air guitaring as a way to pass the time...and no, I'm not joking), I'm dedicating today's run to Homie.
Homie...you inspire me. I hope you run forever you bad a**.
Friday, April 27, 2007
On a recent long run I found myself day dreaming about other runners I hope to befriend during the marathon, who like me, are trudging along in the back of the pack. And just like magic- this article appeared in my inbox from The Penguin on that very subject (I've edited it a bit to make it shorter)-
Sometimes, though, if I go to a race I've never done before, I don't see any of my old friends, so I've developed a system to help me make new friends. This system has been thoroughly tested at running events around the country. I pass it on to you for your use.
- If the temperature is below freezing, don't talk to anyone who is wearing only running shorts and cotton gloves.
- Don't talk to anyone who is wearing a shirt from an impressive event. They want to tell you about it.
- Find someone who is standing alone near the back. They haven't done many races and will welcome the company.
- Look for people near the back wearing new shoes.
- Look for someone wearing a shirt from some other sport, like a professional bass fishing tournament. They've got stories to tell.
- For races over 5K, get into a sprinters crouch. If the person next to you looks over and does the same thing, they know less about running than you do -- and you've found a partner for that race.
I make new friends at almost every race using this system. I met a stroke victim who could only really run with one leg while he dragged the other. I met another man whose arthritis had twisted his back so severely that he almost ran like a crab. I have laughed myself silly. I have cried my eyes out.It doesn't matter what the location or distance, these interesting folks are there. They are among the most interesting people I have ever met. Their stories are as fascinating as they are. Because it takes us so much longer to run the races, we have the time to tell each other our stories.
I love the idea of relying upon total strangers to help push and inspire you through the most difficult physical challenge of your life. Running a race can be a very unexpectedly emotional experience. I have practically teared up when accepting a simple cup of water from the outstretched hand of a volunteer or the friendly nod of a race official. And I always wonder...why are they there? What made them wake up at 5am to hand out cups of water to famished, often grumpy runners? I'm always a bit pained when I see runners wordlessly grabbing water from race volunteers and quickly taking off. I think they become so competitive and focused on their PR that they forget that volunteers are what makes these races happen. Not one penny of that $90-100 entry fee goes into their pockets. So if you forget or don't have the time, don't worry. I got your back. Because I'm waaaay in the back and I've got PLENTY of time for laughs, thanks, and sweaty embraces.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
*This is not a joke.
But all that's changed.
Because lately, I'm all about the feel good. The mush. The hugs. The kisses. The unconditional loooove. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my job. I love my laptop at work. I love my car. I love how I feel after a run. I love plain yogurt. I love Bosc pears. I love laughing. I love the universe! I've basically become one of those semi-annoying people that walk around saying "Gosh, I'm just so lucky!!! I LOVE my life. Does anyone need a hug?!!"
I can't say I feel that way all the time (earlier today I nearly crushed the phone on my desk at work into a million little pieces). And I can't say that I've stopped having food issues. But I can say that I've never felt such clarity and peace about where my life is headed.
I don't believe it was any one thing, person, book, place or event that has led me to this amazing place. So regrettably, I cannot offer anyone else a silver bullet. It's cliched, but true- we each have to forge our own path. And in my case, this path involved a fairly embarassing amount of epiphanies and a whole lot of corn chips. But more importantly- it was the stubborn belief that I would get better. No matter how motifying it was to have to admit I'd fallen off the wagon again...or how pathetic I felt writing about how helpless/depressed I felt...I knew I was NOT pathetic because I wouldn't stop fighting to get better.
I have even chosen two words that describe this amazing feeling (which I have totally ripped off from The Secret)- 'joyfully abundant.' It even comes with a cheesy, dramatic, accompanying hand gesture (as many of my taglines do). Anytime I feel sad, frustrated, irritable, victimized or afraid- I say the words out loud- "I am joyfully abundant. Joyfully abundant."
Though I sometimes feel a little bit silly saying it (the accompanying hand gesture makes me look like I'm a member of the Praise Team at church), it does bring a smile to face. Everytime.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
(Please note that this does NOT mean I advocate passing gas in group exercise classes. I do not. I prefer that you hold it in, even if it means restricting your range of movement and suffering from severe stomach gurgling/pain in order to do so.)
The second was that the class was a little too easy for me. One of the hardest things we had to do was run a lap and then immediately drop and do some crunches, then repeat. Some people were about to pass out. A year or two ago, I would have been one of them. But now? Not so hard. We also did a lot of crunches, lunges, squats, etc. but again- nothing harder than I what I do on my own. So at the instructor's recommendation (and my own desire to save the cash for a much needed running bra...$50!!!), I passed on signing up for the next class.
The very coolest part about the whole experience, however, was that it made me feel like a stud (which trust me, is a VERY VERY RARE experience when you're a short, dishelved Asian with bad skin and a penchant for nuts). Even though racing through the workouts with ease made me feel a little embarrassed and a bit like a show off, it was neat to be the person in the best shape. It's certainly much more common for me to be pathetically trailing behind pregnant 70-year olds with prosthetic limbs and seeing eye dogs whenever I run in races.
Speaking of which, I have a race this Sunday! I have an 8-miler today, will lift/cycle tomorrow, and do a light 2-3 miler on Friday before taking Saturday off. Can't wait!
Monday, April 23, 2007
Because... I. love. nuts. Possibly even more than movie theatre popcorn or fresh granola from Costco. And for that reason- they are generally not allowed in our house. Because nuts in my house last about as long as cocaine in Courtney Love's house- seconds. But because our friends had a large pantry filled with a wide assortment of nuts from Trader Joe's (candied pecans, pistacchios, cashews, candied walnuts, mixed nuts, etc.) and because I have the self restraint of a 3-year old- I went over the edge. Let's just say if you were to cut me open right now, I would bleed cashews (but I would be salty and very delicious).
Thankfully, I did get to go on my long run while I was there. It was a simple 13-mile out and back course where much of the first half was mildly uphill, which made the second half...downhill! This made me feel energized, weightless and free! At one point I was gliding down the road so quickly that I was quite confident that all the cars idling alongside me had to be impressed by my speed, agility and grace. That is...until a tall male who looked like he was out for a casual, relaxing run whipped past me so quickly and effortlessly that all I could do was laugh. ;-)
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
My long weekend runs should be pretty interesting since I'll be on the road for half of them (Santa Barbara, Palm Springs & Phoenix). I'm really looking forward to just enjoying the runs rather than stressing out about how long/hilly/warm they'll be now that my whole attitude toward the marathon has changed (don't stress...just have fun).
The marathon is the kick in the pants I needed. I'm back to eating healthier (still not counting calories!), exercising harder, and feeling better about myself and my body. Basically, I feel like an athlete again (rather than a 'former athlete who's been puttin' on some weight').
To keep myself motivated, I've also signed up for a twice weekly, hour-long Camp Cardio class at the gym. It sounds a bit like Boot Camp, which I'm really looking forward to since I've always wanted a trainer to scream and spray spittle across my face, calling me AND my mother a pu**y while my weak, jiggly arms struggle to do a single push up. I have great discipline when it comes to the frequency and duration of my workouts...but the intensity? Fuhgeddaboutit. I always wimp out once the going gets tough. I harbor a secret hope that once I get through the classes I'll be so ripped that I'll finally have an excuse to shave my head (a serious, serious dream of mine since 9th grade) and get fatigues (I almost bought a pair from Aeropostale a few months ago but chickened out).
The one other thing I've just started doing is continuing to erase negative thoughts from my mind and replacing them with positive ones. So instead of walking around and feeling sorry for myself for having eating issues, I've started to catch myself and instead say out loud any type of affirmation the contrary (I would list them here, but I think you probably have a pretty good idea of what types of things they are, so listing them out would just make me embarrassed and make you giggle).
The way I see it, if I believe I have eating issues, I will. And I will be sad. If instead I say out loud 2-3 times a day that I am a confident, healthy, happy person with a kickin' body, I will. Thoughts control emotions...so if I can control my thoughts, I can control my emotions.
Monday, April 16, 2007
After I got hurt in March, one of the races I looked at running was the San Diego Rock 'N Roll Marathon. However, I remember thinking it wasn't an option simply because it was only three months away, and my a** might still be broken.
In any case, I completely forgot about the race until today. As you know, I've been searching for a race, and for whatever reason, the name entered my mind today while hiking with Roy. Once we got home, I excitedly logged on see when it was- June 3rd, seven weeks away!!!
Have I been training for it?!
Am I confident about finishing it?
Will I have a decent time?!
Am I still gonna do it?!
Roy is gonna look into all the logistics for me tomorrow and if everything looks good, I'm going to fax in my application tomorrow night! As we say in da islands-I no sked, brah! I going do 'um!
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Between no longer having to count calories and not forcing myself to work out as hard, I think I've found a better balance. It does still feel a bit odd and scary, but I know that if I continue to choose to de-emphasize the importance food and fitness has in my life, it will eventually help me to become a stronger, happier, and more spiritual person.
That being said, here's where I'm at with the running-
- I reduced my running from four days a week (that didn't last long!) back down to three. It feels so much more manageable and enjoyable, and it allows me more time to enjoy the other pursuits I started to miss (walks, spinning, weights, etc.)
- I still try to do one short (4-5 miles), one medium (6-8 miles), and one long run (10-13 miles) each week.
- Whether I run 2 miles or 13 miles, my pace is exactly the same!!! Pokey!!! (9:45/mile) I've accepted that unless I start doing speedwork, this is just my natural pace. Which I'm very, very cool with it. I'm just happy that I can run, period!
- I went walking with two friends this weekend, one of whom needed to time her pace, so for the first time ever, I timed myself in the mile. Because I only ran one, I ran it in 9:08. But since it wasn't at a 100% effort, I realized that if I had to, I could probably run one in sub-9 min! Very neat for someone like me!
- I'll be doing my long run next weekend in Santa Barbara. We're going up to see friends and I'm excited about being able to run in what I consider to be a little piece of heaven... Though I absolutely LOVE running in my hometown (clear blue skies, plenty of trees, flowers, beautiful mountains, soft trails), it's always invigorating to run somewhere new.
- I'm entered to run a half-marathon in two weeks that I've been uh...'training' for (you know...not sticking to the training schedule and gaining weight). Because of that, and because of the hilly race course, I expect my time to be kinda lame, but I'm still very excited about it because: 1) it will be my first race since January, 2) just getting through those hills is such an accomplishment, so I'll feel like champ for the rest of the day, and 3) it will also be my first truly 'solo' race (since my two former race partners are not entering- Joseph lives in SF now and Roy has to work). I know I could invite friends, but I'm really looking forward to the 'alone time.' Running can be both such a grueling and spiritual experience that it's quite enjoyable doing it solitary.
- I am still determined to do a marathon. Last weekend I had this grand idea of staging my own race and inviting all of our friends and family over for a party afterwards. Before long, I had drawn up guest list of about 30 people and figured I would need to start inviting people, rent tables/chairs so everyone could eat, cater the food, etc. And then I remembered that I'm NOT running a marathon to show off (which honestly, that's what I would probably be trying to do...), I'm running a marathon to challenge myself. To forever banish the negative thoughts I've had toward running and myself. To celebrate what I have come to accomplish. To share an intimate moment of personal triumph with Roy, the one person who has steadfastly and patiently supported me through it all... All of which really...is a more personal experience that does not necessarily require such elaborate self congratulation and celebration.
- So in the next 2-3 months, I will run a marathon. It will be a little slower than I'd planned, and with a lot less fanfare, but it will happen. I'm don't know when, how, or where...but I'll do it when it feels right, and I will finish it.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
So naturally, I gained a few pounds that initially panicked me. However, I have noticed that it is has been liberating to not have to count calories. I've been able to dramatically reduce so much of my anxiety simply by reducing the level of importance food plays in my day! So for now, I'm sticking to the plan. I figure that at some point the thrill of being able to eat anything will eventually wear off*.
*Famous last words before you see me weeping on Oprah about how I managed to gain 96 pounds in four weeks.
A bigger change, however, is that I am determined to completely change the way I think and live my life. Without going into too much detail, after reading Eat, Pray, Love & The Secret, I have realized a few 'truths':
1. Being blessed does not automatically = happiness.
2. Daily meditation, positive affirmations, being true to yourself, good decisions = happiness.
3. Midgets DO look funny no matter what anybody else says!
Okay, so that last 'truth' was not from the books, but I DO believe I am hardwired to be very organized and goal oriented. My greatest fear is of dying before I'm able to DO EVERYTHING. So to counter that- I live my life as though I'm on speed. I don't like wasting my time on sleep, so instead, I make endless task and goal lists, order poor Roy around (mow the lawn! help me find a better airfare! call your mother back! help me fold the laundry! come walk with me!) and make sure that each and every single minute of my life is spent in the pursuit of productivity or 'greatness' (I want to travel the world! become a master chef! run a marathon! buy a BMW! adopt a child! write a book! become a millionaire! start a charity! plant a garden!).
This means that at any given moment during the day, I am usually so intently focused on cleaning, organizing, exercising, strategizing, planning, calculating, brainstorming or orchestrating something that I'm often too exhausted and anxious to enjoy whatever it is I've accomplished. Obviously, I want to change that...and I have to say, I don't think I've never been more excited and upbeat about changing the way I think, and therefore- live!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I read an article yesterday where a woman writes in and asks:
My pork chops always come out dry. What am I doing wrong?
The columnist writes back:
The problem is more likely the pork, not you. Years ago, some hungry marketer decided pork should be "the other white meat" and growers began to breed pigs to be like chicken. But that strips the pork of the marbling that provides moisture, flavor and tenderness. Thankfully, growers are again raising pleasingly plump pigs.
Hmm...very interesting. I've had quite a few dry pork chops myself, although when I did, I didn't think to ask why, I just reached for the gravy boat. However, if the above information is true, then I'd better avoid Papua New Guinea (where human flesh is still sometimes considered deee-lic-cious!!!) at all costs...because this homegirl is at her all-time juiciest.
- For starters, in an effort to eat 'more normally,' I have gained 6, maybe 7 pounds (and we all know bigger is better).
- Secondly, I'm Japanese...which means I'm practically hairless (if you're not impressed, consider this- at the tender age of nine or ten, I witnessed my father and some of his friends kill, clean and prepare a pig for roasting, which happenned to include the need to manually shave off the pig's thick, black hair with a Bic razor). So suddenly a hairless animal sounds pretty damned good, huh?
- But most importantly, as my brother Joseph likes to point out, thanks to some cursed genetics, "We're a VERY well marbled bunch." Even at my lightest, I managed to have the chubbiest thighs ever (i.e.- there would be absolutely NO NEED to spray Pam in the pan if I were cooking in it...I'd be dripping and splashing fat all over the place).
However, for every argument I have made that I would be the most delicious of our family, my brother Joseph is able to trump me, as he claims he's not only better preserved and pickled (due to all the alcohol he's marinating in at any given time), but also much better fed, which makes him the equivalent of a Kobe steak, or veal.
And you know, I really can't argue with that. So if I want to avoid roasting on a spit anytime soon, I should probably go for a jog after work today. Yesterday's PF Chang's lunch and Japanese dinner is not making me any less desirable.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Anyway, prior to the trip, I had been down in the dumps for weeks. Part of me assumed it was because of work-related stress/anxiety about the trip (trips home tend to be exhausting). But because I had been so irritable/miserable for weeks I was starting to think I was actually depressed (which freaked me out). Thankfully, the day I arrived my mother gave me three fresh tubs of Hanalei poi (it does wonders) and a book she had just bought called 'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert. After first lecturing her for paying the full retail price from Borders (Mo-ther! You know you can get it cheaper at Costco!), I dove right into it and was...utterly amazed. Transfixed.
Essentially, the book is a true story about a writer who faces chronic depression, a traumatic life-altering event (divorce), quits her job and follows her bliss for a year. I know, I know...new age hippie crap. But after reading it, I was inspired. Not so much to get on anti-depressants, divorce Roy, quit my job and move to Italy, India and Indonesia like the author did- but to live my life more courageously, daringly, and in the moment.
And so...I have.
For the first time in nearly two years, I have stopped tracking my daily caloric intake. The food journal is officially gone. I wish I could say I felt an immediate, tremendous sense of relief, but it's still so new and feels so odd that I catch myself doing this all day:
Josie: That was delicious...yum!
Head: That was a healthy meal! Good job! Since it was so health, it wouldn't hurt to tally them up, would it?
Josie: No, no, no...I won't do it! I can't! If I do it for this meal, I'll want to do it for the next one! I'm kinda obsessive, remember? It was delicious, healthy, and filling. Let's just leave it at that and try to be a 'normal' person!
Head: But it wasn't that many calories! So what's the harm?!! This way you'll know if you can eat more tonight!!! So let's see, the apple was about 75, and the yogurt was only--
Josie: Eek!!! Stop it!!! Stop it!!! Just trust yourself! You've really got to stop this, you're gonna be okay.
Head: Are you sure you don't need the accountability? I mean, c'mon! You can eat a bag of chips in one sitting, and you lost 55-60 pounds this way...surely you're not going to ditch something that worked so well! Are you suuuure you want to do this? C'mon! Let's just tally 'em up! You can have cookies later!!!
Josie: COOKIES?!!! I'll go get the calculator!!! No wait!!! I can't! I mean, yes, counting calories has worked for me, and it continues to work so well for others. But it probably hasn't worked for me for the last EIGHT MONTHS, but I was just too scared to trust myself and stop! I've got to try something different, and I'm thinking that if I make my food intake, weight and exercise exertion less of a daily focus in my life, things will feel more 'normal.'
So it's been too early to notice any real change, but I'm going to hang in there and try this for 2-3 weeks and see how things go, maybe longer if I have the courage. I've read that it's common to gain a little weight at first (which I have done...oh yes! I have done), but that you eventually taper off once you realize that nothing is off limits/you're not deprived, and that your newfound love/trust in yourself will eventually reduce your reliance on food. Of course I'm awfully nervous about this, but I'm going to give this a go. And if that fails, then that bald-headed, hippiesh hare krishna with the bad B.O. you see begging for coins on the side of the road is probably me.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Though he tried to convince everyone that he had the flu, after a week of observing his behavior, some of us we were able to deduce that most people with the flu do not leave the house at 11pm each night, come home at 4, and then lay in the bathtub all morning, leaning out every 30 minutes only to puke into their Snoopy trash can. I say "some of us" were able to figure this out, because of course, yours truly was not one of them. Apparently...he had done this exact same routine the last time he was home, so everyone with the exception of myself was on to him.
Though I've always assumed part of my aversion to the drink was due to my father's excellent parenting skills (namely lots and lots of screaming and threatening to beat me into a pulp), that my two younger brothers drink definitely pokes holes into that theory. Yet I have to admit, their fondness for the drink is part of what makes them so fun to be around. Case in point- I was telling Jake how I've been paralyzed about what to do for our upcoming anniversary, and he kindly offered (serious as a heart attack) to fly up and perform the ceremony in an Elvis suit. For two days the thought of having a young, thin, short, mohawked, pierced, drunk, Japanese Elvis impersonator perform my ceremony had me completely enthralled, and I seriously considered paying for him to fly up and do this until I floated the idea past Roy, who stared at me in complete silence for a full thirty seconds before walking away (should I take that to mean it's a no?).
In any case, Jake has assured me repeatedly that despite his occasional drinking, that his grades are going to be better this semester, so I do have some hope that he will graduate faster than his older brother Joseph (whose own degree took SIX & A HALF YEARS to complete...and yes, he was a FULL-TIME student the entire time, and NO, it was definitely not a graduate degree).