29 April 2012

India and I Are Friends Again

After a rough few days, India redeemed itself to me. Last Wednesday night we got a babysitter so Mike and I could go out and we had one of the more fun times I've had in a while.

We stopped at the Mango Mela and bought 7 kilos of mangoes for about 6 or 7 dollars.

We went to the mechanic who's working on Mike's motorcycle. It was just after sundown. We were in the Old City standing on the side of the road drinking chai. It must have been an auspicious day for marriage because we saw at least four wedding bands marching through the streets. One of them was headed to the temple around the corner from the mechanic's shop so I stood on the corner and watched. As I waited for the band to go by I looked up and saw a group of bats fly overhead. I thought of "Giant vampire bats," from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The Old City was so busy with the hustle and bustle of evening business that, dressed in my khurta, I could stand in the middle of it all and be nearly invisible. The white guy fixing up a classic Indian motorcycle--Mike--drew more attention than I did. The brass band went by and Mike and the other men had to raise their voices to be heard over the noise, but it didn't phase any of us at all, we've become so used to it. This is the kind of India I like.

Then we went to dinner. We went to 4 Seasons, which is an old Hyderabadi institution. It's simple, with an upstairs "family dining" section. (Many restaurants have a downstairs area for men only; couples and mixed groups go upstairs.) We had delicious fresh pineapple juice with Middle Eastern and Indian food. It was the perfect end to the evening.

My last few runs have been better. I went to the gym twice to use the treadmill and since I'm the only person there every time I go it's nice and relaxing. I've also been back on the roads, being sure to wake up early enough to avoid most of the annoyances from my last post. I miscalculated my training program for the half marathon so it starts a week earlier than I expected. The 10K race I'm doing in a couple weeks is  the first long run of my training schedule. I kind of like how the timing works out, since I certainly won't be tempted to skip it or cut it short. The hardest long run is that first one.

Muffin enjoyed our haul from the Mango Mela.
Our housekeeper juices mangoes while Muffin sucks on the pits.

23 April 2012

There Was a Naked Man Walking Down the Street and Other Issues With My Run

Yesterday was one of those runs where a lot of things got me down. Mentally I just wasn't there and it proved to be a difficult morning in India as well. Every day for the last week I'd been waking up naturally at 5:30, but with Mike being out of town I was spending my time enjoying early morning quiet time rather than going running because there was no one to stay with Muffin (and she was miraculously sleeping until nearly 7:00 each morning -- I didn't want to wake her up for a stroller run). Yesterday, though, when the alarm went off at 5:25 I rolled over and fell asleep for half an hour. Not an in-and-out, thinking-of-getting-up sleep, but full-on totally conked out. When I did get out of bed the sun was already up. I quickly pulled on my (stupid) leggings. As I tip-toed past Muffin's room I heard her saying "MOM-ee, MOM-ee," and I ignored it with a twinge of guilt. I had to get out the door before she knew I was awake.

I opened the front door to a wall of heat. It was hot and dry, a bit like a Santa Ana day in Southern California. I looked at my watch. 6:15 am. I had planned on 5 to 6 miles but if it was already this hot and sunny I didn't want to be outside an hour later finishing up that last mile. I decided to test out a new route to see if it was in the 3-to-4-mile range for the easy runs of my upcoming training plan.

At first I was amusing myself pretending I was running in San Diego on a Santa Ana day, not running in India. I ran through the back roads of my neighborhood. There wasn't too much traffic yet. I approached a busy intersection at the main road where the traffic was surprisingly light. I crossed the intersection easily. Then, on the sidewalk of the main road, right out there for all the early morning traffic to see, was a guy walking along with his loincloth pulled up, fully exposed, scratching himself. Not just for a quick second, but several minutes. And I lost it, mentally. No one is yelling and honking it this guy for walking around fully exposed, yet if I'd been wearing shorts I would have been the center of attention. And that is not fair! I was really mad at India for that. I stormed along for awhile, fuming over the sight I'd been forced to see just by trying to enjoy a public road. (As I wrote that, I realized maybe that's how people feel when they see me. Blerg! Twist! I stand my ground in that double standard not being fair though.)

I entered the park and jogged between two parking lots, then exited for a different route home. By my Garmin, it looked like the route was going to be just three miles by the time I got home. Hilly, but not too bad. It's impossible to completely avoid hills here. I turned onto the last road before my street and wondered why everyone was driving so quickly. Then I realized the road had been paved recently, so instead of having to drive slowly to avoid potholes everyone could speed along and lay on the horn to alert everyone else to get the hell out of the way. I was so crabby at this point I did one of the most provocative things I've done on the road here -- I gave the evil eye to an auto-rickshaw full of people who stared at me as they drove by.

And a few minutes later when that auto stopped near my house, I booked it to run past and avoid those people. (It was thankfully only an old woman who got out -- and she gave me the evil eye back.)

My run was only 2.86 miles, which was the last straw of the day. How hard can it be to find a stupid three-mile route? Why are they all either over five miles long or just short of three? Why can't I just open my door and go for an easy three-miler? It's the cornerstone of every stupid training plan and I shouldn't have to spend an hour driving back and forth between treadmills or parks just to run an easy three miles.

When I went inside and heard Mike talking to someone on Skype, I immediately went to my room and cried. Stupid video phone where you have to look as cheerful as you sound if you want to convince the person on the other end that everything's fine. Muffin found me in my room and cheered me up. She brought in her bottle of milk and we laid on the bed together. Mike got off his call and joined us. I told him all about my run and said that I should have continued sleeping and then stayed home to drink coffee with him and Muffin. I didn't feel accomplished to just be out there. He said the distance didn't matter. He said any one of those obstacles, either physical or mental, would have kept a lot of people home but I ignored them all and went out there anyway. It didn't immediately make me feel better but I appreciated the words.

I will not be braving the streets today. I decided to hide out with the treadmill at the gym today rather than hide out at home and not run at all.

19 April 2012

This Week

This week I posted at What I Eat and I forgot to mention that last week I posted about Muffin's Easter frock at We Sew Retro.
Coloring eggs!

17 April 2012

ChiRunning: Running Like Donnie Darko

This is the last morning I'll have free for myself for a few days, but I didn't go running. After running on Sunday and Monday (including Muffin in the jogging stroller on Monday) I decided to rest. I feel like I should have at least done some reading about running, but instead, while I drank my coffee as everyone else slept, I caught up on the overnight Facebook goings-on. Being so many time zones ahead of the United States means that I have a lot of friend activity to read each morning.

I'm reading ChiRunning and I think I can get behind most of the philosophy and the physical changes it requires in running. If it's going to help my knees I'm willing to give it a try. Here's what I visualized, though, every time I start reading: You know that scene in Donnie Darko that shows the energy tube coming out of people's chests, and that's what people follow, that's what pulls them through their actions? That's what ChiRunning is to me. I'm looking for my Donnie Darko tube.

I've been concentrating on my posture and trying to align my feet. I have a problem, though, in that one of my legs turns in. I turn out one of my feet in order to prevent my knees from knocking together. Aligning my feet brings my knee in. I used to to strength training to correct it and I really don't want to relive those strength-training days. I must turn to the internet to find out if focusing on my posture and alignment will eventually self-correct my knee or if I really do have to strength train. If I have to lift any weights, then I feel gypped by ChiRunning.

Monday was a mother running day combined with a running in India day. Getting Muffin dressed, getting myself dressed, getting Muffin to eat some breakfast, eating a bit myself, brushing Muffin's teeth (and mine, of course), saying "Good-bye" to Daddy as he leaves for work, packing up two water bottles, two pairs of shoes, iPod for the car ride, snacks, hair clips and hair elastics, Garmin, my phone, the stroller... Doing all that on its own isn't so bad, but we were doing it to a ticking clock because the park closes at nine o'clock in the morning so you have to get there early enough to run a decent amount before then.

I have childcare set up for my date with a treadmill tomorrow. And if I'm lucky the air conditioner in the gym will be working; it wasn't last week. Yay India!

13 April 2012

"Mother" and "Runner" Don't Have to Go Together

This week I read Train Like a Mother. I'm sorry ladies, but the previous book, Run Like a Mother, motivated me to avoid the term "mother runner" as much as I avoid the term "mommy blogger." This book, while motivating me for my running, it still makes me want to be a regular runner, without the "mother" part. Why do I need to be defined as a mother? Sure it's a huge part of my life but it's not the only part. That's why I have hobbies, like running. I get the female bonding and companionship part, and some of the things you just can't talk about with non-runners, non-women, or non-moms. I like some of the online communities and chats and sometimes turn to them for support. But I turn to running to escape from motherhood for a few minutes. I don't necessarily want to be reminded of it every single second of the day.

I'm eyeing the Hyderabad Half Marathon in August, with training starting two days after my 10K in May. I'll probably use the TLAM training plan because it fits with my lifestyle, goals, and attitudes about running. I found some useful information in the book and downloaded three more books from the recommended reading list for my Kindle (not mom-running books).

But at the end of each day, I either ran or I didn't, and that's life. That's life for all runners.

09 April 2012

Running Rerun

I've been here before.

I signed up for a 10K race in May so I'm in running mode right now. It's a bad time of year to be training outside; if I don't finish my run by 8 o'clock in the morning it's too hot and sunny. Clouds have moved in over the last few afternoons, with thunderstorms far off in some other parts of the city; I'm considering trips to the park during that cloudy time even though my driver advises against it. (It's just a little wind and distant thunder in our neighborhood; it hasn't even rained.) Every once in a while I can use the treadmill at Mike's office, but it's a long drive. I spend more time on the road going back and forth than I do on the treadmill.

I read all the books, articles, and blog posts about moms who run, searching for motivation and for the key to success. A friend and I have surmised that the key is to wake up at a ridiculously early hour to get your run in. (And then hope that caffeine and a quick cat nap if the baby takes a nap will pull you through the rest of the day.) After learning that secret, I still spend more time reading about running in the comfort of my air-conditioned home after Muffin goes to sleep at night than I do waking up at 5:30 in the morning and hitting the pavement. I'm waking up at 5:30 but heading straight to Muffin's room and then the coffee pot, since she's been waking up at that early hour recently. I know I should be putting her in the  jogging stroller and taking her with me or not feeling so guilty about leaving her at home with Mike. If I don't get out the door within nanoseconds of waking up, though, my motivation drains away. (I sleep in my running clothes to make it out the door as quickly as possible.) Every second counts in the morning.

To wear shorts or not to wear shorts remains the question of the day, every day. Among my friends, reports of harassment, regardless of what they are wearing, seem to have increased the last few months. I still feel safe going out for a run in our neighborhood and Mike feels it's safe, too. As much as I'd like to yell back or flip someone off, I just look straight ahead and keep running, knowing it's best not to engage with anyone. I never bring my iPod and I always carry my phone. I stay alert and I change routes frequently.

I know that running in the United States presents its own challenges and there are some parts of life that are deterrents to running regardless of where you live. But I can't wait until we're on vacation and I can wear shorts, run in nice weather, and have grandparents around to help with Muffin-care.

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