Archive | October, 2011

Vicarious Racing

30 Oct

It’s a strange feeling walking to campus on Sunday mornings…the sun is just rising, the world is still sleeping, and everything is eerily quiet. As I walked out of my apartment this morning, I passed the remnants of last night’s HARD Halloween festival and a few of downtown LA’s many homeless people searching the trashcans. It’s always a mixture of fear and sadness when I see them and wonder what they’re thinking about. I decided to warm up with a loop around campus, and as I rounded the corner, I was suddenly face to face with hundreds of runners coming straight towards me! Apparently this morning was the Rock n’ Roll LA Half-Marathon, and I was just in time. Two young kids who were heading over to watch the race spotted me and started cheering. No matter that I was going the opposite direction and didn’t have a race bib – I was still a runner in their eyes. I was suddenly overcome by a wave of energy and excitement…it was the runner’s high, a feeling I haven’t experienced since the LA Marathon last March. I was still smiling when I met up with my team and continued smiling until I arrived back at the Lyon Center after a successful 8 miles – the longest I’ve run in 6 months.

It was brutally hot, and I started to get low on glycogen and salt, but I focused on my stride and kept my pace steady. Definitely not the most enjoyable 8 miles of my life, but I was happy. I knew I was back to the running community.

Author and runner Leslie Haywood sums it up perfectly – “The Marathon is now a cultural event, an activity that has now become communally based. I love the endorphins, the sense of well-being, the boost to brain function, and the sense of immersion. And I love belonging to a world and community that is larger than myself.”

The rest of the day has been filled with stretching, physics, smoothies, physics, napping, physics, oh, and did I mention, physics? The wise Giancoli (author of my physics textbook) describes in detail the static equilibrium of muscles as they bear weight, and I have a feeling I’m going to be calculating the torque of my quads in my head next time I’m at the gym. Maybe ignorance IS bliss sometimes.

Back to work 🙂

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People Watching

29 Oct

The gym is a fascinating place to people watch. Here are a few things I’ve learned since I’ve begun working in the fitness industry.

  • It is essential to carry your “Blender Bottle” protein shaker with you at all times in order to appear legitimate.
  • Monster and 5-Hour-Energy make great pre-workout “fuel.”
  • “Fit Brownies” are an excellent substitute for meals.
  • Spending several hours socializing with the Membership Counselors counts as a workout because, technically, you’re “at the gym.”
  • Jazzercise and Zumba on the stairmaster are not considered unusual occurrences.
  • Looking “swol” (as in swollen) should be taken as a compliment and not a reason to see a doctor.
  • You can’t begin your workout until you’ve downed some neon concoction with a name like “Hemo-rage,” “Jack,” or “No-Xplode.

A little background on this last point…a few weeks ago, I had just started my shift when my coworker rushed over to ask me if I had tried the latest “pre-workout.” (I’m always amused by the constant conversation over the latest and greatest supplements among staff and members). I told him I hadn’t, so he offered me some, insisting that it was amazing. Never mind the fact that I would be sitting at a desk for the next 5 hours making phone calls – I should still try some! I stared at the bright green liquid fizzing in my water bottle, looking like something from outer space…it was definitely about as far from “natural” as you can get. I took one sip and poured the rest down the sink, wondering how anyone could possibly stomach a whole bottle before working out. Curious what was in this lemon-lime flavored concoction, I asked my co-worker to see the bottle. Caffeine, taurine, blue 30…I read the back of No-Xplode….caffeine, taurine, red 40. Hemo-rage? Caffeine taurine, red 40…enough said.

Aside from the fact that there is no magic bullet to weight-loss, muscle-building, or health, here is what I’ve actually discovered at the gym:

  • People come to start fresh, to banish insecurities, and to find acceptance.
  • People stay because they have become part of a community that accepts them and all of their idiosyncrasies.
  • People change because they push each other to be better and hold each other accountable for friendship and for health.
  • People make lasting impressions without even knowing it.

I was sitting at my desk yesterday when I heard my name. I looked up to see a member walking towards me and immediately dreaded the inevitable complaint I was about to receive. Instead, he greeted me with a smile, asked me how I was doing, and said he had just wanted to stop by and say hi. I don’t remember signing him up, but apparently he remembered me. I felt bad that I didn’t even know his name, but I was reminded of the fact that one small gesture can be bigger than you know.

Off to bed…long run with the team tomorrow! 🙂

A New Perspective

28 Oct

I’m currently taking a research methods class, for which I’m designing a study on the link between body image and running… but today I had the opportunity to look at research from the side of the participant. This morning I took part in a study called Emotions, Genes, and Health, which was considerably more thought provoking than expected. While I’m not entirely sure what the goal of the study is, or what they are hoping to find, the questions definitely provided me with some interesting insight that I wanted to share. The survey (which took a whopping 2 hours to complete!) asked about everything from drugs and alcohol to emotions, but the most interesting questions in my opinion were those that touched on life’s simple pleasures. I was asked to rank experiences, such as watching a sunset or listening to the rain, on a “pleasure scale,” and then do the same with photographs ranging from puppies and kittens to guns and starving children. While seemingly a bit abstract, this task reminded me of how important it is to take time to enjoy the little things, even amidst life’s craziness. For the rest of the day, I was noticeably more mindful of my surroundings – the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair, the squirrel chasing its pal. It seemed as though things had slowed down, not a lot, but just enough to notice. When life gets overwhelming, I often find myself forgetting the little things, but I was reminded today that it’s those little things that get you though in the end.

I was just reading the Runner’s World quotes of the day, and one of them ties in perfectly:

“There is no better way to experience a place than to run it. You get to experience the deep crevices of an area, the sense beyond the visual, something you would never do if you didn’t run.”
-Tawna MacNeil

Another totally random tidbit of information from today…just in case you were hoping to bring your grandfather clock to the moon, it won’t work because the period of oscillation changes due to the changing gravitation force. Gotta love physics. ☺

A Quote for Inspiration

25 Oct

Taking a break from studying for my Theoretical Principles of Health Behavior midterm and thought I would share a Runner’s World quote of the day:

“Running has helped me process it all. The old photos, letters, and papers, the potholes and speedbumps along memory lane, the realization that my children are indeed growing up way too fast, it’s sometimes too much and I need to get out of my head and house and into the fresh air. My run recalibrates me, resets me, and refreshes me to return to base and keep working.” – Kristin Armstrong

Love this 🙂

Starting Over

24 Oct

I’ve been wanting to write for a while, and I figured the first day of the season for the USC Marathon Team would be a good time to start. I cannot describe how grateful I felt to be leading a run today, not only because I am lucky to be part of such an amazing group of people, but also because I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to run this season. For the past 6 months, I’ve been struggling with IT band syndrome (near the top of the list for nagging running injuries), and as I counted down the days until the start of the season, my hopes of training started to dwindle.

BUT, after 6 physical therapists, countless nights of stretching, strengthening, and foam rolling, and a little determination thrown in, I’m back on the roads.

Days of gingerly testing out the knee and waiting for that telltale shooting pain have taught me to appreciate running more than I ever knew I could. It is a part of me now, and one that I know I will never take for granted.

As I ran through the streets of LA this morning, listening to good music, catching up with my friend Esther, and soaking up the beautiful Cali weather, I felt alive.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy my thoughts on running and life as I follow my dreams of becoming a vet and running a marathon on every  continent. (But for now, I’m just hoping to make it though undergad 🙂 )