Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blame it on the Boogie

Magical runs happen every so often.  They are the runs that make all the un-magical ones worth it.  Saturday brought in our first inclement weather of the year.  It almost even felt like winter, but may have been mistaken for a summer squall.  Never the less, the ground was dampened by the overnight, early morning rain, and the wind howled in swirling circles, blowing palm fronds and leaves into my path.  The air was still moist and had a bit of a bite, but the sun began to peak through as the cloud broke.  On the surface it didn't look like a day for a magical run, but one never knows how these things develop.

On Friday John and I woke up early, deathly early for me (5:00 am) so that we could attend the Strength for Running class.  I had no idea how much pain could be inflicted upon the body without the use of external weights.  All of our moves were done using body weight and gravity and by the end of the hour I thought I might have to crawl out because my gluts were left quivering on my pink mat.  It was awesome.  I have no doubt that my strength was built because by evening time I could pinpoint exactly which muscles were worked.  I decided, since I was half asleep from a lack of morning sleep, and sore in places I didn't know existed, to not go to the pool for my planned swim.  I slept instead.  I hoped my Saturday run would make up for the laziness.

So Saturday brought less than ideal weather, but lots of energy from a day of recovery.  Saturday also brought the birth of a new play list for my little iPod Shuffle.  For years, as in four years, I have had the same songs on my Shuffle.  They were great songs, but after hearing them two hundred and fifty times they had gotten a bit flat.  They became noise in my head that helped only to take my mind off the pain.  What they lacked was the ability to put a spring in my step and a jolt in my heart.  They were decaffeinated and lukewarm.  And lets face it, even at his best, Jack Johnson isn't exactly energizing.  So despite the technical difficulty of figuring out how to strip and reload my Shuffle, I spent an hour and a half doing just that.

I am a new Iphone user.  Traditionally very late with new technology, I recently bought a 3G Iphone (I'm always one model behind every one else) for one penny, and now have a smart phone that essentially makes life easier and more fun.  I began building a small play list of inspiring songs.  When I listen to the tunes I can't help but beat my foot to the rhythm and groove with the melody.  Granted I have only compiled about 13 songs but it is the beginning of hours of running music.

I loaded my thirteen songs, almost an hour's worth of music, onto my Shuffle.  Enough to get me through most of my 10 mile run.  I can say with conviction that although I went into my run rested and ready, it was the music that made the magic.  My first clue was in the first mile.  Whereas I typically take my time warming up with a 7:30 to 7:45 mile, my watch beeped out a 6:59 first mile.  Oops.  That wasn't a very disciplined warm up.  From there I headed straight into the wind for a two mile stretch, and although my face was flapping in contorted arrangements, like a high powered leaf blower was attacking me, I was rocking out and my magical run continued.

Onward went the run and the tunes, into the wind, with the wind, wind swirling all around me, pushing against me, pushing me forward, knocking me off my path, wet, slippery dirt threatened my footing, and finally that home stretch.  It wasn't the fastest run, but it was fun.  My final overall pace flashed across my watch in a 7:06, and I had to smile when I checked my final mile time.  It was a 6:41.  I had to run that last one hard because Bon Jovi told me to "live while I'm alive."  So I did.  Doubled over from the final effort, I walked the pain out of my legs and watched the palm trees give way to the strong gusts.

I wanted to share with you the songs on my new play list, and ask anyone who might be willing, to leave a comment with a few examples of your favorite running songs.  I'm sure everyone has their favorites, and clearly my play list needs help to be built up just a bit.

Cindy's Running Play list:
In the category of sappy and inspiring:
The Climb by Miley Cyrus
One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston

In the category of slowish but meaningful:
Bad Day by Daniel Powter
Because of You by Kelly Clarkson
Superman by Five for Fighting

In the category of old school upbeat:
It's My Life by Bon Jovi
Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

In the category of edgy upbeat modern:
The Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga
Raise Your Glass by Pink
Viva La Vida by Coldplay

In the category of mellow inspiration:
Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
Drops of Jupiter by Train

Please share your favorites.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Battle of the Bulge

Months ago, sometime over the summer I think, I noticed that my injured Achilles, which had become my re-injured Achilles, had a notable bulge to it when my foot was in a flexed position.  This was ... un-nerving.  I hadn't noticed this bulge during the previous 5 months of injury.  Last year when my other Achilles was injured, it never featured a tell-tale bulge.  What could this mean?  Why the bulge?  I promptly did the smart thing.  I went online to self diagnose. 

Mission 1 was to find out if this meant a partial rupture.  Mission 2 was to find out if this was a symptom of some other problem.  Perhaps there was a condition called "Bulging Achilles."  Maybe I would discover that this was actually a sign of healing.  Maybe bulging is good, although it looked like a deformity.  There was not much information to be found, but the sum of what I did discover was: It was a symptom of Achilles Tendinitis (wow, a revelation), and, it indicated ankle instability.  What?  This was ... not helpful.  So there was a bulge and I didn't know what it meant, if it would ever go away, or if it would get worse.

During today's church service, we were singing one of my favorite songs, "Blessed Be Your Name."  The lyrics explain that God is to be praised during the good times and the bad.  Whether we are walking through a desert or basking in a land of plenty, praise God.  This song always causes me to be immediately introspective, so when I was singing, "Blessed be Your name, when I'm found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness, Blessed by Your name" I looked down at my injured foot.  Yes, in running, it has been a desert and a wilderness.  A battle of the bulge.  It was dark in the auditorium but in the illumination which remained, I flexed my foot and looked at the bulge.  I despised it so I rarely flexed and looked.  But you know, the lyrics and movement of the song compelled me.

Here's what I saw.  Almost NO bulge.  I was looking at an almost fully healthy Achilles tendon.  I flexed harder.  Where's the bulge?  All I saw was a slight bump that indicated one thing:  the desert was healing me.  The wilderness toughened me, and I was headed back to the land of plenty with the sun shining down on me.  I even snapped a photo when we got home.

I don't mean to be over dramatic about it, and I don't want to belittle the power of that worship song.  Life, as in running, is comprised of journeys into and out of deserts and streams of abundance.  And when I go introspective, running is not the only thing I ponder, but today the bulge, and lack there of, captured my attention. 

Thank you for reading.