23 June 2012

This Week

This week I had the Comment of the Week at Salty Running.

Also this week we won a major award. As a joke I entered this photo of Muffin and Mike in a local magazine's Father's Day photo contest:
Our disgusting little Muffin won us dinner at one of the Taj hotel restaurants!

And we both forgot that yesterday was our anniversary, so that dinner will be a nice date night next week.

19 June 2012

One of the Dangers of Getting Out of Bed

This morning, unlike yesterday morning, when my alarm went off at five o'clock I got out of bed, got dressed, and went out the door for a run. An easy three miles. But after a half mile, as I was passing a house I've run and walked by a hundred times, a dog ran out and bit me. I'd heard dogs barking, but there are always dogs barking. I was on the other side of the street so as not to bother the dogs that I know are always at that house. For some reason one of the dogs was spooked this morning and my usual stomping feet and yelling and waving didn't scare the dog off like it always has to dogs in the past. And no one seemed concerned about a dog barking and a woman screaming in the middle of the road early in the morning.

It's just a scratch. My ankle feels pretty bruised though. I couldn't turn around and go the short way home; that would have me passing the dog again. So I walked and then ran slowly along the next-shortest route home. Since my run was so short, just over two miles, I was home before Mike and Muffin were even awake.

I woke up Mike and asked him to take photos of the bite to email to the doctor, to see if I'd need to come in for a booster shot. I've had the rabies vaccination, but booster shots are supposed to be given after a bite. Yup, any breaking of the skin, even a little scratch, should be filed under "Better Safe Than Sorry." So I got one shot this afternoon and I'll get another one on Friday. I brought Muffin with me so she can see Mommy being brave and getting a shot; maybe she won't freak out quite as much at her next vaccination.

I am aware of the risks associated with running on the road in India and in many countries throughout the world. I'm not going to stop running. I'm not going to hide on a treadmill. I'm not going to drive to the park when it's only a mile from my home and I'm training for a half marathon so need the extra mileage anyway. I'm going to take the risks under consideration and decide that it's not likely I'll be bit again. One time in thirty-six years of playing and running outside isn't bad. I might start running with pepper spray while we're living in countries with a high risk of rabies.

I'm not setting my alarm tomorrow morning. I might even have a second glass of wine tonight. Dog bites -- even little ones -- warrant some rest and relaxation.

18 June 2012

Born to Run Happy

Mike and I both devoured Born to Run while on vacation. We are suspicious of trends, but this barefoot running trend seems to have something going for it. He's switched to New Balance Minimus shoes and I've started running regularly in New Balance 730s, a transition shoe. We owe it to Muffin. She picks up and runs, screaming "Run!" and giggling with every step. We want to love running as much as she does.

In case you're not familiar with Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, from Amazon.com:
An epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? Isolated by Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe. McDougall’s incredible story will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

It's mentioned in both Born to Run and ChiRunning that children are the inspiration for lots of barefoot runners. Children run for fun and they don't care about form. If you watch children carefully, their running form is what most runners consider terrible. But they are laughing the whole time they are running. Born to Run also points out that the best way to find your form for barefoot running is to imagine you are playing barefoot in the grass with a child when she runs toward the street and you have to run after her. Your body naturally snaps into the best running form without even thinking about it. Mike didn't have to imagine that, as one afternoon Muffin made a run for the parking area of the vacation cottages where we were staying. (Thankfully there were no moving cars, so she was scooped up and deposited safely back on the grass within a few seconds.) It really made Mike think about barefoot form -- after Muffin's safety of course -- and later that afternoon we went to a park so he could actually run barefoot.

I like wearing shoes. There's too much broken glass and pee on the sidewalks here, when there even are sidewalks, for me to run barefoot. I think there's definitely something to wearing minimal shoes rather than thick-heeled running shoes though. My calves have loosened up yet strengthened. I'm still having some toe problems, but Mike says he had the same problem and just like the calves, the toes will work themselves out.

And I'm thinking about running happy. I still have my Garmin to track my final time and distance but I rarely look at it while I'm running. I tell my mind to run seven miles and not worry about the time and I just do it. I watch kids play in the park. I admire women in their khurtas and running shoes. I have to admit that I get grouchy when large groups of slow walkers are blocking the path and seem to think I'm the rude one for saying "Excuse me" so I can pass by them. But I'm working on that.

Born to Run is about ultramarathon running and while I doubt I will ever reach that level of running (I'd love to try but it takes up too much time!) there was one incident in the book that inspired me more than anything else. Two people are head-to-head to win something like a 100-mile trail race. One is running with science, timing the pace, the rests, every snack, down to the second. The other runner is just out there having fun. The first runner gets pissed when the second runner passes for the win, with a smile on his face. The first runner is bitter because after all that hard work, he's supposed to be the winner and you're not supposed to be smiling after such a hard race.

After reading that, I decided I want to be the happy runner, not the bitter runner. Making that decision really seems to have taken off the pressure I'd placed on myself to be a "good" runner. What is a good runner, anyway? It's all in my head.

In related news, I downloaded the free sample of Scott Jurek's book, Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness. I'm glad I read the sample before buying the whole book. I couldn't stand his writing style. I found him to be much more sympathetic and likable in Born to Run.

(Image from ChrisMcDougall.com. I was not compensated for this post in any way. Books were purchased by me for personal reading.)

Motivation Monday

I should have gone running this morning. When the alarm went off, after a night of tossing and turning because the air conditioner is not working, I decided I was already hot and sweaty and didn't want to be even hotter and sweatier so I stayed in bed.

But when I got up an hour later with Muffin I discovered it was refreshingly cool outside. Rats. Now I have to decide if I'm going to hit the treadmill later or try again tomorrow morning. That decision will be a little easier to make if they fix the air conditioner today.

I'm not one for inspirational quotes (if you're spending all your time reading inspirational quotes, you're not actually out doing what you're supposedly inspired to do) but when I saw this photo and quote on Pinterest over the weekend it reminded me of something I might have cut out of a magazine and hung in my locker in high school.

I didn't run, but I did get some work done this morning. And my motivation for that is a dirty little expat secret. Mike and I hate washing dishes so we are more than happy to pay a housekeeper to do that chore for us. On Monday mornings the kitchen is a mess from the weekend. As much as I like our housekeeper, I hate being home when she arrives on Mondays to see the state of the kitchen. So I pack up my laptop and my Kindle or a book and sit in a coffee shop all morning while Muffin is in school. By the time we come home for lunch, I have a clean house and I've gotten some work done.

And boy did our housekeeper have some cleaning to do -- lots of laundry today. Muffin's school wants us to start toilet training and we had two accidents in the span of an hour before leaving the house. I'm pretty thrilled that Muffin and I both left the house with a bit of breakfast, having brushed our teeth, and wearing clean clothes. What a victory for parenthood.

17 June 2012

Happy Father's Day -- Intestines Edition

Mike ate intestine curry for dinner last night which sort of spoiled his appetite today so we decided not to go out for Father's Day pork chops. Instead we made triple chocolate cupcakes as a family and after Muffin went to bed we started watching Game of Thrones.

Happy Father's Day!

16 June 2012

11 June 2012

Review: Spark & Hustle by Tory Johnson

A few weeks ago I had an idea. It popped into my mind suddenly and it will mean a complete career change if I decide to go through with it. I had just started doing some research when an invitation to review Tory Johnson’s Spark & Hustle came my way. Part of my research includes how to start a business so I took the opportunity to read the book. I’d never heard of Tory Johnson but I couldn’t turn down a free book that might have some good advice.

 It turns out that Tory Johnson worked for national television news shows until she was fired and decided to start her own business networking companies with job-seeking women. From there she started the Spark & Hustle series of conferences to help women start their own businesses. Johnson is a contributor on Good Morning America and to Success magazine.

I admit that the mass-market look of the cover turned me off at first. The writing is full of cliches and the kind of motivational-speaker language that I find silly. (Johnson is a motivational speaker, after all.) Many of the testimonials and examples in the book come from businesses that I don’t understand, like social network consulting. Also, many of the real-life examples seem to be full of the business owner’s own marketing copy rather than Johnson’s writing, which makes the overall quality of the book seem copy-and-pasted rather than smoothly written.

But I also admit that my little idea of a new career opportunity kept growing as I read. Johnson carefully explains the nuts and bolts of starting a business, which is exactly what I was looking for. I mentally filled out the worksheets and figured out where I need to fill in the gaps of a business plan. I honestly feel like now all I have to do is decide when to pull the trigger.

And that’s the tricky part. We don’t know exactly how much longer we’ll be in India but it will probably be about a year. We don’t know if we’ll be in the United States between assignments for a long enough amount of time for me to get the training required of my career idea. I can do a lot of reading from India but I can’t complete the necessary training. I have more than one plan in mind, depending on the where and when of our next assignment.

Many expat partners know how I feel. We know about the importance of the “portable” career but continuing one or starting a new one overseas presents even more challenges than starting a business in the United States. We have different labor laws, tax issues, and work permits to contend with. (We have to figure out internet access in countries that don’t have electricity running twenty-four hours a day.) This book won’t help with those issues but it does give a good foundation for getting started. I feel like I know what questions I have to ask.

I have my “spark” but it feels like my “hustle” might be on a treadmill for a while until we have solid answers on our next move. Until then, I’m reading like crazy and taking a few more courses toward my master’s degree. One my plans is to finish that so I have it in case we end up with a domestic assignment and I need it for getting an office job – then work on the side career in preparation for an overseas assignment after that. So many options and possible outcomes.

You can order Spark & Hustle on Amazon: Spark & Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now  (affiliate link -- paperback and on Kindle) and see more about Tory Johnson and her events at the Spark & Hustle website. Johnson is going on a national tour this summer, so if you're looking for inspiration for your starting or growing your business, check it out.

(I received a free review copy of this book. I was not compensated in any way for this post.)

07 June 2012

Jet Lag Is Like Vacation Hangover

We arrived in Hyderabad early Tuesday morning after more hours of travel than I care to calculate. It was actually our easiest trip yet. We arrived at the airport in Providence, checked in with our extra baggage without hassle, received our boarding passes for all three flights, noted that all of our seats were together on all three flights, and got on the plane. For the longest flight, thirteen hours from Dulles to Dubai, Muffin slept nearly ten hours. Mike and I felt better than we expected to by the time we boarded the last flight to Hyderabad. And when we got home at five o'clock in the morning, all three of us fell asleep in our own beds. The easiness ended there.

Muffin has not been adjusting well to the time difference and the jet lag. With night and day being flipped, she's drowsy all day and night without actually wanting to sleep much. Mine and Mike's older, more experienced brains can rationalize jet lag but Muffin is confused. She's trying her best. I also think a stomach problem plagued her yesterday, which added to her discomfort. It seems to be plaguing me today.

Today I feel hungover. At one point during the night I woke up to relieve Mike of sleepless Muffin duty and I felt drunk. The headache I've had since we landed has finally disappeared, but I still felt fuzzy upon waking up this morning and all I want is coffee, water, and toast. (My gluten-free bagels survived the trip in my suitcase, so I have a few more days of toasty yumminess.)

Muffin starts school next week. I feel like we're in suspension for the next few days. We're not quite on vacation but we're not quite on a normal schedule, either.