Monthly Archives: July 2015

Possible Side Effects

On Friday I had a doctor’s appointment, and I really hate going to the doctor’s office because of all the germs that I imagine are lingering in the air and on the seats of the waiting room and because, it seems, all doctors run at least thirty minutes behind schedule, but yet another small annoyance accompanying a big move is that you have to actually meet your new doctor before you can have any prescriptions refilled. Since I’m still searching for a job here in Hawaii, the longer than normal wait time wasn’t really an inconvenience and I was able to concentrate fully on my fear of all of those germs trying to float their way into my upper respiratory tract. Seriously, it should be standard operating procedure for everyone to carry a plastic bag around with them, and, if we have to sneeze or cough, we can do so into the bag and trap all of our germs inside. Or maybe I should just wear a hazmat suit to the doctor’s office. I’m generally not a germaphobe, but something about the doctor’s office turns me into one in the same way that being at the vet’s office turns me into that owner who keeps her dog on a short leash and won’t let him sniff, touch, or generally associate with the other dogs. Some might say I’m overly cautious, but, like that country song says: it’s like being too lucky, a car too fast, a girl too pretty, with too much class, no matter what they say I’ve done, I’ve never been overly cautious. Or something like that.

After I finally made it out of the germ immersion chamber  waiting room, my appointment was pretty straightforward. Essentially I just had to meet with the Doctor and have him sign off on my refill, but, and I think this is a reflex for doctors, he first took a listen at my heart and lungs and this is where an ordinary visit became extraordinary. While listening as I took deep breaths but not so-deep-I’ll-get-light-headed-and-pass-out breaths, the Doctor asked what I did for exercise. At first, I bristled because I thought he was implying that I didn’t do any, so my response began with “I do more than it LOOKS like I do…” and I went on to explain that I do a combination of weight training and cardio. He then asked how frequently I did cardio, and when I told him the truth (4-5 days a week, thank you very much), he said “yeah, I can tell; it seems to be working for you.” Apparently my resting heart rate was slow enough that he could tell that I consistently do a fair amount of cardio, go figure. Gold star for me!

This was a great reminder that the benefits of regular exercise aren’t limited to only what we see in the mirror or even to the amount of weight we can lift or speed/distance we can run. Even though I can’t see it, my heart is in there, soaking up the benefits of my active lifestyle and because my heart is stronger, the rest of me can get stronger too. This was an appropriately timed reminder because, of late, I have been feeling a little annoyed at the determined layer of fat that refuses to budge from my belly and love-handle area (maybe because I’ve been frequenting the beach my body has decided to keep this ‘inner tube’ as a precautionary measure to prevent drowning?), and it forced me to remember that health isn’t about what I look like in my bathing suit (although, custom inner tube aside, I look pretty darn good if I do say so myself) but about how my body feels and how smoothly it functions. Remember, one of the side effects of a healthy, active lifestyle is that your doctor will know, without a doubt, that you are telling the truth when you tell him you exercise regularly. Unfortunately it also probably works the other way. If you claim to exercise regularly and you don’t, I bet your Doc can tell if you’re lying, so there really is nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain but lacing up those sneakers and going for a walk/jog/bike/whatever. Not only will it make you feel good, but you’ll save face on your next doctor’s visit.

Another Day, Another 5K

View of Pearl Harbor from the finish line
View of Pearl Harbor from the finish line

I’ve just now recovered enough from Saturday’s 5K to write about it. When we first signed up for this race, the fact that it was called ‘The Grueler’ and featured a trail portion- where the world was NOT guaranteed to be flat- gave me pause, but I figured, and was backed up by others with whom I discussed the matter, how grueling could a 5k be?

The answer, turns out, to be relative.

If you enjoy running up endless hills under the hot Polynesian sun, ‘The Grueler’ was probably not all that grueling, but if you don’t enjoy running up hills and actually haven’t seen a hill since you moved to Hawaii almost three months ago, then the run was very grueling. When we picked up our race packets on Friday, I learned that the course, unlike the 5K on Independence Day, would feature several hills… Ick.

medalThe first half of the race was almost entirely uphill with an occasional small plateau. After about a mile, the course wound through the woods on a narrow, single-file-only, trail. It turned out to be pretty great that the trail was so narrow because it provided for the occasional walk break when I got stuck behind someone else who was walking! About halfway through the run, I was cursing myself for not seeking out some hills to practice on, and I was figuring that Don must feel pretty smug about going in early to work every now and again so that he could practice on the enormous hill atop which his work sits. After the course came out of the woods, it was all downhill.    Thank god.

Even with practice, Don still found the course pretty tough and admitted that he walked inDon a few places too. He managed to run well enough to get a medal for third in his age group with a time of 27:29. I didn’t get a medal, but was pretty happy to finish with a time of 35:13. We were both slower than in the last 5K, but those hills meant business! There was a group of local high schoolers who are part of a cross country running team and who ran the race as practice. Their coach, who ran the race with them, said that the course was hard enough to add 7 minutes to their average 5K running time- which is 15 minutes, yes, FIFTEEN minutes- so that is a good indicator of how tough it was. I was relieved to know that it wasn’t all in my head, and I was even more relieved to cross the finish line. I’m still in love with my Topo sneakers and Don is falling more in love with his Hoka sneakers every time he wears them. He said the extra cushioning was great for the steep downhill after the trail. I don’t see any more 5Ks on the horizon in the near future, but you never know when they’ll pop up!

"Stretching" after my run.
“Stretching” after my run.

 

Rainy Hawaiian Weekend or What are Some Fun, Inside, Air-Conditioned Activities?

This weekend, Tropical Storm Ela brought the island of Oahu a little extra rain. In between showers, the sun came out to heat up all that  moisture in the air and turned Oahu into a sauna, so Don and I have spent the weekend seeking out various forms of indoor entertainment and prioritized those that also included air conditioning.

My usual go-to, inside, climate controlled activity is a trip to the movies, but Don needed a new pair of running shoes and we just saw Jurassic World last weekend (as a side note, I’m not sure I’ll want to go hiking in the Hawaiian jungle again anytime soon), so we instead headed to Be Fit Kailua for an air-conditioned shopping adventure.

Patiently waiting for a break between showers so we can visit the dog park.
Patiently waiting for a break between showers so we can visit the dog park.

Unlike most men, Don LOVES shopping- I kind of hate it, so I guess we have flipped the usual stereo-typed gender roles here (yay us)- and his most favorite type of shopping would have to be shoe shopping. I remember going sneaker shopping with him when we were dating and he badgered the poor sales rep at a generic chain shoe store (not even a specifically sports shoe store) with so many questions about the sneakers he was trying on that even I just wanted him to pick-a-damn-pair-and-pay-for-them-already so she could maker her measly commission. Don puts a lot of thought and analysis into his shoe-buying experience, so when I bought my latest pair at Be Fit Kailua and received the extraordinary level of attention to detail in their customer service that I can only assume Queen Elizabeth’s staff puts into her lunch order, I knew Don would also be buying his next pair of sneaks there as well.

After hearing me proclaim my undying love for the minimalist Topo shoe, Don started thinking that maybe he should give something different a try. After talking with Jeff about his flat feet and the shoes he normally wears, yada, yada, yada (I tuned out and started looking at all of the cool running gear for sale), Don was presented with three very different pairs to try on. One, made by Brooks, was more traditional and similar to what he normally wears, another was a zero-drop, minimalist shoe similar to mine but made by a company called Altra, and the third pair, made by Hoka (which are the pair he ended up buying) were the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the minimalist shoe.

Don's new kicks. Go, go, gadget spring-loaded sneaker?
Don’s new kicks. Go, go, gadget spring-loaded sneaker?

The Hoka shoe, as you can see, has a lot going on. This shoe has tons of padding which helps reduce the shock of each footfall, provides a little more stability than the average shoe, and has a slightly rockered toe to ease break-over. It looks like a beast and like it would be heavy and cumbersome on your feet, but when Don handed me one of them, I was surprised at how light it was. Don waffled between the minimalist shoe and this one because I think he was surprised at how much he liked the feel of all that cushion, but after jogging around the parking lot (I stayed inside in the AC, see ya, sucker!) this was the one that felt the most awesome to him.

He took them for their first run today, and he is not yet proclaiming undying love but is proclaiming a serious amount of like. Sometimes these things take a while. I scolded him for not reducing his miles enough for such a big change (he did three). I mean, when someone recommends you run FEWER miles and at a SLOWER pace, I feel it’s a golden opportunity that should not be wasted. Don, however, has something called pride and insisted that a three mile run was shorter than his average distance. Whatever. He was already in the shower when I made it back from my three miles (yes, we started at the same time, thanks for asking).

Hopefully Don will come to love his new sneakers as much as I love mine. Change takes time. Next weekend, we are signed up for another 5k (my second!). I am feeling some trepidation about this one because it is called The Grueler (sounds super fun, doesn’t it?) and features a “grueling, trail portion.” My good friend Shawna, in all her wisdom, pointed out that the trail part will distract me from the fact that I’m running because I will have to think about what I’m doing instead of obsess over the fact that I STILL CAN’T SEE THE FINISH LINE, DEAR GOD, WHERE IS IT?????? I hope she is correct.

Puzzles! Another great indoor activity for when it is rainy and/or too hot to move. This one is pretty weird.
Puzzles! Another great indoor activity for when it is rainy and/or too hot to move. This one is pretty weird.

 

Independence Day 5k!

I completed my first 5k this morning with a totally respectable time of 29:19 (7th in my age group), Don was a bit faster with a time of 24:25 (6th in his age group), and while neither of us were quick enough to earn a medal- there were a handful of runners who made it to the finish line in about 18 minutes!!! Wow!- we had a fun time. After the race, Don made us a celebratory breakfast of pancakes and iced coffees.

Us
Here we are at the finish! Sweaty and red-faced like a redneck at a barbecue!

ListMy plan for the race was to find a pace I could maintain until the finish, and, after hearing that my 10-year-old niece, Kiera, who is part of a Girls on the Run group, recently ran her first 5k in less than 45 minutes, I made that my goal too. I got a little caught up in the excitement of running a real live race with so many other real live people, and after the crowd thinned out as we moved away from the starting line, I was running Medalsat a pace that was too fast for me to maintain for 3.1 miles. Luckily my Polar heart rate monitor helps remind me to pace myself, and I settled in to a more comfortable speed. When I was close enough to the finish to see the time clock, I was amazed to see that it hadn’t yet reached the thirty minute mark, and Don was there to cheer me through the finish line!

 

Don, having a post-run stretch.
Don, having a post-run stretch.
Patriotic pancakes with blueberries and strawberries.
Patriotic pancakes with blueberries and strawberries.
Better than Dunkin'
Better than Dunkin’

 

Inaugural Run

IMG_1698

I took my new Topo sneakers for their first run two Sundays ago, and I declared it a success.

The man who runs the Be Fit Kailua store where I bought the shoes warned me that, since these shoes are so very different from the styles I’m used to running in, I should start out with them slowly so that my feet could get used to doing their job without all the extra support. He cautioned that I shouldn’t try to set any speed or distance records during my first couple of weeks with them, and I’m finding his advice pretty easy to take. Short, slow runs are the name of my game.

I hadn’t done any running to speak of since the middle of April, so I set my sights on the easy, 1.5 mile run to the beach and back (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I live less than a mile from the beach! When are you coming to visit?). Although I started out pretty early (insanely early for a Sunday), it was still quite hot and I felt a little creaky.

My knees, in particular, protested the resumption of my running routine and my thighs politely suggested that, if I am going to continue such nonsense in this tropical climate, I’d better head back to Be Fit Kailua and pick up some Body Glide- if ever there was a time to wish for a thigh gap, it is when running during summertime! My feet, however, felt wonderful- I’ll sometimes preemptively rub a little Tiger Balm (this stuff actually works) on them just in case, but so far so good.

These shoes are so light and roomy that it really felt like I wasn’t wearing anything but they have just enough cushion to protect my feet from whatever I’m forced to step on when cars are running me off the road*, so I crossed my fingers that the creakiness I felt in my knees was a result of not running for two months, and called the Topo’s trial run a success. Three runs later, I’m still in love. After the first run, my achilles tendon felt a little over worked and I expected that since the shoe is so flat, but since then, I’ve not felt any ill effects following a run. I worked my way up to two miles on my second run, and the 2.5 on the third. My runs are taking me a bit longer than normal because I had this ingenious plan to run the entire distance on the road that runs parallel to the beach so that I had the sweet ocean breeze on me the entire time. Pretty smart, right? The only flaw is that I then have to walk the entire distance back, and earlier this week I think Don thought I passed out somewhere along the route because I hadn’t returned by the time he left for work and I had some worried text messages awaiting me (although he wasn’t worried enough to come looking for me…).

Tomorrow I’m going to head out for run number 4, and then on Saturday, to celebrate our nation’s independence, Don and I are running a 5k! Why you ask? Well, because when Don saw the advertisement and asked if I wanted to do it, I couldn’t think of any excuse not to other than “I don’t wanna,” and he didn’t think that was legitimate. So, a 5k-ing we will go. The race does have two upsides one being that it starts at 6:30 in the morning so it shouldn’t yet be ball-sweatingly hot, and the other is that it is being held on the runway at the nearby Marine Corps base, so I won’t have to dodge homicidal drivers and their big ole’ cars. The downside, of course, is that I will actually have to run the race, and since I have an almost lethal amount of pride in my newfound athleticism (anybody who has ever had to coach me in any sport probably just snickered), I will want to run, not walk it, and since Don will be there to correct me if I fail and try to claim otherwise, I will have to. C’est la vie, I suppose, but at least I’ll have my new Topos guiding my feet like Mercury’s wings, and at least I’ll have Don’s back to glare at while I will him to trip as he sprints away from me. It’s the little things that make life so great.

the-fastest-roman-god image

 

*Drivers in Hawaii are notoriously bad, and when warned about them when we first arrived, Don and I assumed people were exaggerating… but they certainly were not. So far, I’ve had to jump onto someone’s lawn to avoid a too-fast car that failed to yield the shoulder to me, I’ve waited at the crosswalk for almost fifteen minutes before a car finally stopped (and I was wearing a bright pink shirt and carrying a neon-striped beach towel so I was more than visible) to allow me to cross, and Jack and I were almost hit by a truck when out for our walk ON THE SIDEWALK! Yikes.