Beat the Blerch
Once upon a not too long ago, The Oatmeal created a fantastic 6-part comic, The Terrible & Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. Now that it’s becoming a book, to promote it an actual running event has been organized (and already sold out).
This is the marathon I need to run. Until the opportunity presents itself, I will train faithfully.
Although I’ve still been dealing with some lingering ankle & knee pain, I’ve been able to get myself back to work on laying down more miles. Since last Thursday, I’ve been steadily running my usual 5 mile route and getting back to my lunch time walks/jogs with my co-worker. She herself has already started to shed some weight. Every day, I hear about the extra mindfulness she practices when it comes to eating and the activity she does on her own personal time; she (half) jokingly calls me her “personal trainer”.
Yesterday towards the end of the work day, I was approached by a woman that works in the same area that I do, but don’t ever interact with since we’re part of different departments. She told me that at one point earlier in the day, she’d been walking behind me and noticed how much weight I’ve lost. Today, I took a change of running clothes with me for the lunch break jaunt. Since my walking buddy strictly power walks, I decided to run ahead to the end of the route and circle back to wherever she was, then finish the rest of the walk by running back and forth and jogging in place. When we got back to the office, I headed upstairs to the locker room to get changed. Along the way, one of the acquaintances I’ve made on the floor above saw me heading in, and said that I looked like I was “bringing sexy back”. I replied with “I’m tryin’…” as we passed each other, and a few feet later turned and added “well, in all honesty, can’t bring back something that was never here to begin with, but it’s still something to work towards.”
While it’s nice to receive unprompted feedback from people that are more or less strangers, I get more satisfaction from hearing and seeing my co-worker’s health improve. I’m not an expert trainer or nutritionist, just a work in progress that’s still very much overweight but happens to run a lot, but even that’s sufficient to get her moving, and despite her slightly older age still try to get to the point where she can drop the extra pounds and keep pace with me.
And while I’m updating:
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been missing my target “Measurement Monday” window to update the body stat tables and check in. Normally its something I give myself a lot of grief over, but out in real life, I’ve still been keeping up on “the work” and offline logging.
After spraining my ankle on Friday of last week and spending that weekend stuck on the couch and eating Mexican food I ordered in for both days, I was very reluctant to take measurements this past Monday. When days go by without going running, anything I eat feels like it has three times the caloric value than it does. After a whole two days eating Mexican food and staying put on the couch, I was expecting to find myself set back just above the 200 lb mark and remaining trapped in that plateau. Much to my pleasant surprise, the numbers showed that those two rest days did little damage. In hindsight, it was only two burritos each day, one in the morning and one at night, with a little snacking in between.
After I regained my ability to walk on Sunday night, I spent the majority of this past week wanting to go running, but settling for lunch time walks with my co-worker. Thursday evening, I decided to give taking to the streets a shot even though my ankle was still feeling a little wonky, I still managed to keep pace within my average times. Yesterday, I went for another run after doing a quick 15 minute yoga session as warm up. I woke up today feeling a slight soreness in my hamstrings from that, in addition to the knee pain and faint ankle stiffness from last week’s sprain. But when I stepped on my scale, I was pleasantly surprised by a readout out of 195 lbs, a 2.1 lb drop from Monday’s weigh-in.
Along with the excitement at the consistent progress made, in spite of dealing with an injury, there are a few couple of other implications that this morning’s weigh-in brings to the table. One of which I’m already starting to deal with is the fact that I’m starting to run out of clothes that fit. The other, slightly more off in the distance, is that I’m only 5 pounds (2-3 weeks) away from hitting the 190lb mark, the designated target weight at which I’ll allow myself to start growing my hair out again. This means I’m going to have to start dealing with putting time and money into hair care, something I’ve kind of enjoyed not having to deal with the past few years with a buzzed head.
It’s been almost a week since the sprain I gave myself last Friday. Ever since I regained my ability to walk on Sunday night, I’ve been contemplating going out on my route and just “seeing how it goes”. All week, I’ve kept myself from doing so, choosing to be responsible and give my body adequate time to heal properly.
But all this past week, I’ve been feeling extreme feelings of legitimate jealousy whenever I’ve seen people out and about running. It’s also killed my motivation — there are other forms of workouts I could have been doing, or a lot of work on personal projects I could have completed. Instead, I’ve just been doing a lot of lounging and reading in the hours not spent at the office or sleeping.
So, today, I’m going to go for it. I still feel a very faint stiffness in my ankle, but I need to get rid of this divide I’ve been feeling from myself.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve started joining one of my co-workers on her lunch time walk. She’s an older middle aged woman of a heavy body type who’s recently started getting focused on losing weight, and using my breaks for exercise instead of hanging out making conversation at the smoking area seemed like a more judicious use of my time. On Friday, I took all of my gear – sensors, armband, headphones – intent on getting some running done. I planned on running ahead in short bursts, then running back to her as she power-walked up our route, and jogging in place when making conversation.
As we exited the parking lot, I turned and started jogging backwards while encouraging her to start picking up the pace, having given her a target walking pace of 15 minutes per mile on one of our walks earlier in the week. She was wrapping up something she was doing on her phone, and when she finally looked up, she told me to watch out for the snails. I’d been jogging backwards with my gaze fixed on her the whole time, and hadn’t registered what was behind me for a good while. When I looked down, I saw the sidewalk covered in a tiny mine field of snail shells. At the same time I noticed them, my right step happened to land right on top of one, which let out a resounding crunch as it buckled under my foot. My reverse jog became a burst of blind unplanned hops to avoid stepping on any more snails, and one of my landings with my left foot ended sticking at the wrong angle; my ankle gave way and I felt my foot fold in on itself, letting out a sharp snap that almost sounded like the snail shell I’d crushed moments earlier.
My co-worker gasped, and asked with serious concern if I was okay. She’d seen and heard how violent the ankle injury had been, and her mom instinct clearly kicked in. I took a few moments to assess the ankle, and only feeling a faint tingle of pain, decided that I’d still go with her on our route. I did my running as planned, and had very little issue with the activity. However, once we finished and got back to our desks, the more the day went on, the more I found it harder to support myself or even walk using my left ankle. After work, I struggled to get about and run errands done without ceding to the pain and maintaining a normal walking stride. On my way home, I stopped at a taco shop to grab something to eat, and was very happy to finally arrive to the comfort of my couch. I elevated the ankle and applied ice to it, fully appreciating for the first time in my life the relief that applying cold to an injury.
I spent my afternoon and evening bouncing between video games and the new season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Saturday, I woke up still unable to walk or bear weight on my ankle. I ordered in a bunch of food for the day and Sunday, and spent my whole weekend incapacitated on the couch indulging in those distractions. I’ve been a bad little piggy this weekend, and have undoubtedly set myself back some weight loss. From the feel of it, I think I’ll be back to walking tomorrow, and run-ready by Tuesday afternoon. I eagerly await being able to get back to work.
Friday night, I rolled out to the movie theater with the roommate to go catch a 3-D IMAX (all the regular shows were sold out) of Maleficent. We’d both been waiting for the movie to drop in theaters since the trailer was first released. Myself out of interest to see what they’d do by giving Maleficent the Wicked treatment, and he for Angelina Jolie. I’m not a film enthusiast or student by any means, so my fully observations on the movie are purely informal reactionary opinion.
** SPOILERS AHEAD **
Angelina Jolie sells the movie, no question. By the end of the first 10 minutes of the movie when the initial world and plot are established the nature of the story and the events that will follow become immediately obvious, especially with the familiarity with the source material and the scenes shown in promotional clips — our exact reaction to the scenario was, “Ah, so it’s like that…”,
Movie trailers and internet memes leading up to the films release indicate that everyone’s clued in on the fact that Maleficent having wings and somehow losing them was going to be a point of exploration in the film. It’s actually the movie’s strongest moment. After being drugged to sleep by her childhood sweetheart, she comes to and finds that her beloved wings were amputated in her slumber. And Angie depicts that sudden realization of loss, pain, and violation with such unnervingly precise believability that it becomes so uncomfortable to watch that I actually forgot what movie I was watching and who it was made by. There are some really obvious correlations that established movie reviewers have been all to happy to call attention to. Jolie’s recent experience with her double mastectomy channeling into her performance, and the obvious analog for that plot device serves as. However, if you abstract the scene enough, the violation of trust and person being witnessed are not exclusive to female rape victims. I’m an adult male who’s never experienced a violent sexual abuse, but that didn’t stop the scene from strongly resonating with me. She drifts off to sleep in the trust and comfort of the world and people around here, only to wake and suddenly find her world turned upside down. Robbed of her strengths, betrayed by a close trusted one, left abandoned and drowning in despair with no one to fall back on but herself, in the process growing hardened, hateful, and vengeful. As demonstrated in the movie, these are traumas can happen without the experience of sexual assault.
Though that scene may be Angelina’s strongest moment in the film, her performance carries it all the way to completion. The visual effect eye candy is set to max, but most of the time I wasn’t paying attention to anything that wasn’t Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. The pacing and editing are very brisk and stilted — I’ve read this was the director’s first time in the chair, serving in the past mostly as a visual effects director, and it definitely shows. All the whimsy in the movie that would normally exude charm in a Disney production felt forced and fell flat. With all the liberty taken with magic and armies, everything that happens feels like it does because something has to, not because the story demands it to. In the final stride when it overlaps with the Sleeping Beauty narrative we’re all familiar with, the reworked story line and its underdeveloped nature lack a real impact due to a complete disregard for the idea of consequence. It’s Disney, so things still all manage to work out for the happy and better.
Still, I very much enjoyed watching the movie. Angelina Jolie’s performance never falters and makes up for all the movie’s other shortcomings. More than that, I like the direction that Disney’s storytelling is heading lately. They’re revisiting fairytale fantasy, but through an updated modern lens. True loves with happily ever afters and good versus evil are no longer the primary story drivers. I like it.