Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Run From Heck, and the Dorky Running Wardrobe Grows!

So I have an exciting new addition to the dorky running clothes. I now have dorky running sunglasses. Previously, I felt these were quite unnecessary because I wear transitions lenses in my prescription glasses and they get pretty dark these days. However, I have realized I really can't wear my glasses when I run because they tend to bounce off my face. Likely at worst this would result in a lense getting scratched if they landed badly, but I admit I have images of them getting run over by a car or something, leaving me stranded, badly nearsighted, out somewhere in the back roads of my town when I don't have a very good sense of direction to begin with.

I have contacts. In fact I used to wear them basically all the time, until I attended law school and spent much of my time reading. They tend to irritate my eyes after a while, so I got used to the glasses again. I still have lots. They're a prescription behind how bad my vision actually is these days (but the lenses themselves, thankfully, have not expired). But for running, that's fine as it's mostly driving distances that are affected. So I figured, heck. Better to spend like nine bucks on a cheap pair of runny-no-slippy sports lenses than it would be to replace my glasses if something happened.

Running without some form of vision correction is quite out of the question. I have only slightly better vision than a blind person. Perhaps you feel I am being insensitive to the vision impaired by being flip. I am, in fact, accurately describing how nearsighted I actually am.* I am surprised I can find my way out of my bedroom and into my bathroom at two AM when I have to pee without ending up in Tuscon or something.

I got nifty little pink Ironman Girl sports glasses at Target. Okay. So they're not so nifty. They make me look like a deformed dragonfly. And I wore them out today, mostly to make sure they'd stay on my face.

Today, in what was quite literally the RUN FROM HECK.

I expected today's run to be a weather challenge, honestly. We were supposed to get heavy rain and strong, gusty winds, but it wasn't supposed to be dangerous if I got out early so I went, well, I'll just get out early. There's no guarantee the weather will be perfect at Disney, after all. I mean, it is in Florida.**

My first attempt to get out the door--when it was in the mid sixties and raining--failed. I had forgotten to charge both my iPod AND my Garmin. I can run without them. I refuse to do so unless there is somebody present to talk to and pace me. Yes, yes, probably it would build character. Still not doing it. So I went in and let them charge. I had a phone appointment, though, which meant I didn't really get back out until about one PM.

I checked the forecast before I stepped outside and I was a bit concerned because we were under a high wind warning. I was also assured the high would be something like 72. I decided to run around the block, just in case a tornado should appear or something and try to suck me to Oz.


Wind? What wind? It was still, which was a shame about half the time, because it was exceedingly humid, so the air felt like it was trying to squish me. I felt rather as if I was running through jello, except hopefully the jello would have been cool and it was, in fact, eighty, not seventy-two. So I was not cool. I felt like I was running in a steam room.

Except, of course, when it was gusting up over twenty five miles an hour, and I therefore felt like I was running in a wind turbine.

I normally don't have to blackmail myself to stay out. Today I did. Toady it was "I'll just do one more interval. Well. No I'll do two because I'm more like two away from the house. Oh. and now it's breezy. Okay. So I'll do one more. Oh $#!% the wind stopped. But now I'm like two intervals away again."

I was drenched. I was hot. I was even slower than normal. I lost an minute per mile off both my run and walk speeds.

I am pleased to report I finished the workout and the dorky dragonfly glasses stayed on my face, and did not bounce off. But that was abnormally exhausting, man. I need a nap.

* I worked, as one of my many, many, many college jobs, as an optical assistant. This was a handy job to have as I am quite nearsighted. I used to listen to people with little -0.25 mild vision correction needs whine about being blind as a bat. I wanted to sock them, because at the time I was already more than a -6.00 in both eyes and it's only gotten worse; I'm above a -7 now and I'd have to check, but I think I might have cracked a -8 in my left eye. For the record, the "average" strength of your average myopia corrective lense is a -3. I am notable for wearing large, black frames. This is not because they are frequently trendy. This is to ensure I can see them if they are not on my face--if, for instance, they have bounced off from the sheer force of my running and are now laying on the grassy strip by the cocker spaniel leavings. Yuck! Yuck!

** I have a very good friend who's a native Floridian. His tales of running ten milers in high heat AND high humidity are frightening, and he's a dude, which means he can take his shirt off at least. I can't. Well. I could. But we already established I don't want to get arrested for public indecency. He has also never seen snow, I might add. Some day when I am a rich and powerful attorney I will fly him to Vermont in January so I can hit him with a snowball.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dorky Running Gear Extravoganiza!

I found the camera cable to my digital camera a couple of days ago, so as soon as I can con Howard into acting as my camera man you will all very soon get to see pictures of me in my Dorky Running Getup. I know you are all very excited by this idea.

My Dorky Running Getup is certainly something that must be seen. Many running getups are pretty dorky, but I honestly believe that mine is quite special.

1. I run in baggy capris or pants (nylon, of course--for reasons perhaps I will explain at a later date, I--and most runners--NEVER run in anything cotton). Most runners run in shorts unless the weather is cold (and then they wear running tights. UGH.). I do, in fact, own several pairs of running shorts. I have a running skirt, too. They have not seen the light of day since I weighed twenty pounds less than I currently do. I am sort of afraid zipping down the streets of my town in them might get me arrested for public indecency. If nothing else, the little kids playing in the parks and in the schools I usually run around would be scarred for life by my blinding white legs.

2. I run in a vest. This is one of my more moronic pieces of running gear. It isn't that other runners don't wear vests, they just usually save them for days when it is a bit cool, very windy, or very wet. I wear mine ALL THE TIME. I do this because it has a breast pocket I can put my house keys and iPod in. I could, of course, get a little shoe pouch for my keys and a different holding-rig setup for my iPod (though the latter might be difficult, as I have a 1st G nano and they don't make much in the way of accessories for them anymore). The vest, however, also functions as a running security blankie. That way when people look at me funny as I huff past them (or at least when I think they do), I can make believe they can't really see me because I have the MAGIC VEST on. There are an assortment of tek shirts I wear beneath the vest, depending on the weather, but nobody will ever really see them because of the magic vest.

3. I always wear a hat. I have three running hats: my TNT running hat, a plain blue one, and one branded by some athletic wear company or another I found on clearance this spring. I look amazingly dorky in all of them. I have sort of chin length, nail-straight hair, so when said hair is under the hat, I always feel like a dorky 16 year old boy with a mullet in a trucker hat.

4. I wear a Garmin Forerunner 305. I love the hell out of it, but there is no escaping the fact that it is HUGE and CLUNKY. I find this acceptable because this is basically how I feel when I run: huge and clunky. It is also, as I have already stated, giving me a totally gnarly tan line.

I am considering adding a gigantic pair of wrap around sports sunglasses to the deal, as sun glare and I are not friends. This will require me to wear my contacts, however. And probably also a moisture-wicking headband either under the hat or instead of the hat. So you can see, I am working VERY hard to find ways to be still more entertaining to those I happen to cross paths with as I plod around the neighborhood. And this is also not to mention my water belt, which holds a bottle of water firmly attached to my butt for when I am going to be out hoofing it for more than an hour. It's a fanny pack for runners. It's every bit as fashionable as you think.

This is what you all have to look forward to pictures of! I hope you're really looking forward to the fashion show. I know I am.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Mystery of the Left Wrist

Since I moved away from home and settled three states away from my mother, our meetings a few times a year in the flesh kind of go like this:

We hug.

She holds me out at arm length.

She says "Alicia, you're so PALE!"

And I say "I know! I know!"

I am pale. This is in part because I worship at the alter of sunscreen. Nobody would ever accuse me of having flawless skin, but the esthetician I saw back in July exclaimed that I had absolutely no sun damage. "You've got the skin of a nineteen year old!" she exclaimed (sadly, this occasionally means I break out like one, alas.) If I'm going outside, I'm wearing something with sunscreen on my face. Foundation. Moisturizer. Something. Count on it.

I'm not as diligent with the rest of my body, I admit, which became apparent last night as I was staring down at my arms because my wrist looked odd. Specifically, my left wrist.

It's been kind of weird looking for a few months because I burned myself taking a pizza out of the oven back in February, and despite the fact that the burn was not particularly bad, it scarred dark. It's fading. I don't quite get why it scarred, and the really bad burns I got last year getting boiling hot simple syrup down the backs of my fingers didn't scar at all, but hey, I don't make the rules.

So here I am, trying to figure out why my wrist looks weird.

And then it hits me.

It's a watch tan line.

That kind of confused me at first because 1. I rarely wear my watch and 2. my watch is pretty small, whereas this is a BIG FREAKING WHITE BAND on my wrist.

Yes, dear readers. I have a gigantic tan line on my wrist FROM MY GARMIN 305!

I piked up the Garmin Forerunner 305 about a year and a half ago, when I was first with Team in Training. I am gadget obsessed, so it and I get along great. Basically what happens is that when I go out to do my intervals I tell it what I want to do (currently, warm up for 5 minutes, run a set number of intervals in which I run for 3 minutes and walk briskly for two, then cool down for five more minutes.) It beeps at me when it is time to make these transitions. It also tells me how fast I am running (or perhaps more accurately it exclaims "Look! Look how slow you are!"), how far I am going, what direction I should run home in (now that I have told my Garmin that the house is a set point), how fast my heart rate is, whether my heart rate is too high, how many calories I have burned, and more I haven't figured out how to use yet.

Apparently it is also the source of the huge white band around my left wrist.

Hilarious. Just hilarious. Memo to self: remember to wear biggest watch you own next time have to dress like a grown up professional person.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Which Alicia Explains Why She's Crazy Enough to Try and Run A Marathon Despite Being Very, Very Slow

Cancer, man. Cancer sucks. Cancer is the number one killer, near as I can tell, of people I am related to by blood besides sheer old age or accident. I have lost two great-grandparents, one great-aunt, and an uncle. My grandmother is more than, gosh, fifteen year survivor of cancer that is either classified as bone cancer and breast cancer (it was cancer of the breast bone, you see--I'm pretty sure the final word was that it was bone cancer.)

My father lost a little brother to cancer when that brother, who would have been my Uncle Dean, was just a baby. Dean was sick when he was born. It was the early sixties. There wasn't much anyone could do. With modern medical advances, I'm still not sure how much could be done if he was born today. Thinking about that absolutely breaks my heart--that a child can be born that sick, and with fifty years of medical advances, I'm still not sure we could have saved him.

No baby should have to face death before his life has really started.

And no parent should have to face watching their child's life flicker out that fast.

We had a lymphoma scare with one of my brothers two years ago. Thankfully, they were able to determine that while what he has is almost always associated with lymphoma, it isn't lymphoma--and that while it is irritating and painful to him to have it when it flares, it's not life threatening. They don't know why he has it and they can't really treat it without resorting to drugs that have a host of side effects that may be worse than the condition itself--they can only really watch and study it right now.

That's the crux of it, isn't it? There's still so much we just don't know, so much we just can't effectively treat and so many people we can't save. We don't even fully understand what makes cells go haywire.

I think I have a special empathy for how it might feel to have your cells turn on you because I have an autoimmune disease. I have Hashimoto's hypothyroidism, which is thankfully easy to treat, and I respond extremely well to treatment. Effectively, my immune system destroyed my thyroid. Doctors don't know why my white blood cells suddenly decided my thyroid is the enemy and began to turn it into a non-functioning lump of scar tissue. They can't stop it. All they can do is give me a supplement to replace the thyroid hormones my body no longer produces. Every day, for the rest of of my life, I will take a pill first thing in the morning. Every six months to a year, I will need blood work to determine whether my dosage is still correct. Most of the time I shrug this off as not being a very big deal. Hashimoto's, in its most severe forms, is a pretty scary illness but it almost never gets that bad in the developed world these days because it is easy and inexpensive to treat. I got pretty sick (and I put on twenty pounds, which I am still fighting to get off) but I also got better pretty fast. Even when my insurance has not covered my medications, it's ten dollars at Target for a three month supply. Almost anyone can afford that.

It still bothers me that it happened. It bothers me that the system that was designed most intimately to protect me instead betrayed me. In my darkest moments (thankfully rare) I have wondered if my immune system decided I wasn't worth protecting anymore; that I should be attacked instead. You can't live without thyroid hormone.

Those moments are rare. Most of the time, I know what I am, and what I am is very lucky.

I am lucky that the condition I have, although it can't be reversed, can be treated with ease. I am lucky it is cheap to medicate. I'm lucky that although my immune system misfired, what it decided to attack could be compensated for. I'm lucky it probably won't get any worse than it already is, I'm lucky that I will live a normal, healthy, long life despite it. I'm lucky that my brother wasn't facing death at seventeen, although I had to watch him try to deal with the fact that he might be while I grappled with those dark moments of wondering why my own body had turned against me. We were sick at about the same time.

In all the ways I'm lucky...those are the ways that people with leukemia, lymphoma and blood cancers are NOT lucky. Their medications, if they even work on them, are not available as a cheap generic at Target. Chemotherapy SUCKS. Doctors don't know how to stop what they have...and for them, that's a matter of life and death, not a matter of "Gee, popping this pill is really annoying."

I decided that I wanted to try and help cancer patients because of my own experience with an autoimmune disease. I decided on the Leukemia and the Lymphoma Society because of my brother, and our scare that he might very well have lymphoma.

If I can raise a little money and the slightest bit of awareness for LLS by agreeing to run 26.2 miles, I consider it an easy bargain.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tom, Jerry, and Alicia Run In Circles In Your Living Room

I was never a great fan of Tom and Jerry when I was a kid. I like cats more than I like mice, frankly, and I always thought it quite unfair that Tom worked very hard but never got to eat Jerry. Jerry was obnoxious. I forgave Road Runner, for instance, for not ever being eaten by Wile E. Coyote because while coyotes are pretty neat and I admired Wile E.'s determination, road runners are awesome. Plus Road Runner wasn't a little twit. He was just crazy prescient. The Force is with Road Runner, dude.

It was therefore rather odd that I had a lengthy Tom and Jerry flashback while running today. You know how the scenery in those cartoons just loops and loops and you see the same lamp flashing past you a dozen times in twenty seconds? I was pretty sure I'd looped that yard with the swing set in it five or six times already. And also I was seeing so much of this particular backyard barbecue that I was starting to feel slighted that I wasn't invited.

I was pretty certain I was running in circles.

Sometimes I do this on purpose. When I am doing a daily short run and don't feel like going out too far, I run around my block (reversing directions every loop to keep from putting too much turning strain on one leg--I don't know if this is actually doing me any good but it seems to make sense.) My block is just short of a mile (.88--I checked) so this is a good distance to run in circles around for a pretty short run. I just run around for between twenty and forty minutes.

Today I was not doing this on purpose. I was also, sadly, not running around my block.

I did my first longerish run today. It would not be accurate to call it a true long run, as I went just shy of five miles, and I only ran for an hour (well. Fifty minutes. I had a five minute warm up walk and a five minute cool down walk). I'm still fifteen weeks out from Disney. When I do long runs on my own rather than with my TNT group, I usually do them by time-on-feet rather than distance. I'm a little behind. According to my schedule I should've run for an hour and fifteen minutes today (or, well...and hour and five of intervals plus five minutes cool down and warm up) but as I signed up kind of late, I didn't think it was a good idea to jump my time that far this week. I'm not that worried about it--it'll even out somewhere.

I almost didn't go out. It was supposed to be hot (for late September) and tomorrow is going to be cool, but I also have plans for tomorrow early afternoon and I knew if I didn't get my run in first thing in the morning (which I could be better about...) I wasn't likely to get it in later. I therefore suited up and went out anyway. I was pretty sure the heat was going to be my biggest problem.

It wasn't. I was in the shade most of the time, it wasn't too humid yet, and there was a good breeze. Yes, I sweated through my hat (gross.) Yes, I looked like I'd worn my tek shirt in the shower. But I wasn't too hot.

Nope. I was lost!

HOW I managed to get lost running where I was--in the residential neighborhoods nearby--is a testament to my legendarily poor sense of direction. Usually when I am going to run in that neighborhood, I just pick a direction, run for half the time I need to run for, then turn around and run back exactly the way I came. This won't work for longer runs, because the residential is actually not that big (it's super-densely filled--no green spaces here except lawns, lawns, lawns--but not big.) So to get the sort of distance I knew I needed, I sort of had to run around in squiggles.

While doing those squiggles, I got disoriented.

I can get lost in a paper bag. If you tell me "It's very simple. Just go straight out my front door to the intersection of sixth and Main, and then turn left onto Main and then walk down Main for two blocks" I will STILL get lost and somehow manage to make two rights (that makes a left...right?) and end up in another town entirely, if not in another state. I am usually pretty calm about getting lost. It happens so often that the novelty has sort of worn off.

I was not calm about the idea of getting lost on this run. I was thirsty (I had not brought my water belt with me, mostly because I can't recall where it is at the moment--I've moved since I last used it.) Nature was calling. I wanted to be at my doorstep when my time was up, not walking around swearing and having to ask strangers "Can you tell me how to get to Shop Rite from here?" (I live right next to ours.) God only knows what they would've thought about the sweaty, sorta pudgy woman dressed like a total dork (my running outfits do not define chic, I fear) asking where Shop Rite is.

My husband, who almost NEVER gets lost, has absolutely no fear about asking for directions. I, who get lost all the time, will usually wander around in circles for a while before I even think of it. This has less to do with pride and more to do with the fact that I don't follow "how to get there" directions very well. Often they leave me more confused than ever. I could tell you epic stories about me getting lost. Suffice it to say that when we lived on base and I was little, I walked to school, and for the first few weeks we lived at this one particular base I got lost walking what should have been nearly a straight line to school and had to be brought home by the military police. And that while those instances became rarer as we lived there, I never entirely STOPPED using the SPs as a taxi service.

Well, I thought, my Garmin can trace my route. I'll just tell the Garmin I want to run home! I didn't want to run all the way I'd come, of course (although maybe running the squiggles in the other direction would've un-disoriented me?) but the Garmin can remember set points and tell you what direction they're in. On my next walk interval, I therefore pulled up its map function and confidently went to the "set points" function.

It was then that I realized that I had forgotten to mark my front step as a set point.

A few moments after this unhappy realization, I was plodding down a street whose name looked familiar but I swear I didn't recognize any of the houses on, I saw a slow-schools sign. That's appropriate, I mused. Go slow. I feel like I'm running so slow I'm actually moving backwards.

Then I smiled.

There's only ONE school in that area, and I run past it all the time. So, it stood to reason, if I just RAN AROUND THE SCHOOL I'd eventually figure out which way to RUN HOME towards.

This was a brilliant and foolproof plan! I plodded in the direction of the "school" signs. Hurray! Saved by an elementary school!

Or, I thought on lap two around the school, perhaps not. Because while I definitely recognized the school, I was SO turned around and I'd run past parts of these neighborhoods so many times today that I still wasn't really sure which way home was. Finally I figured out that if I ran down a certain street past the school either I'd hit a dead end I knew was a bit past, or I'd hit the road that would take me back to the street I actually live on.

I almost wish I'd hit the dead end, because then I would've known for sure that I was on the right way. I didn't, so I was starting to panic until I saw the familiar town park looming before me and knew, finally, after twenty minutes, exactly where I was.

And I was right in front of my apartment the very moment my Garmin beeped the end of my cool down!

Long run one down! Only eleventy-billion more miles to go before Disney!

Alicia the Very, Very Slow Runner

In the beginning...

I started with the Team in Training program over a year ago, you see. The timing was typical me, which means it was bad and I suspected it was bad but, caught up in my enthusiasm, I tried to make it work anyway. I just graduated from law school. I was getting married smack in the middle of the training cycle. I got sick, though, and that was pretty much that.

I felt good that I'd done something good, but it nagged at me that I didn't finish the program. So when I got a call in August from my local Team in Training chapter encouraging me to get involved again, I thought "What a wonderful idea!"

And then I sat on it for a month.

This is not to say I am generally lazy. I'm not lazy. I am however absentminded on occasion, and when the call came I was visiting my family in New Hampshire for two weeks, not at home in northern New Jersey. As soon as I got home I had a number of other things to turn my attention to. It therefore took me until I was walking around trying to brainstorm Things I Could Do With Myself Besides Pace About In A Circle And Occasionally Kick Things In Frustration while I am in that fun transitional period where I both wait for bar exam results and prepare to sit the New York Bar that I went "Right. Team in Training. Excellent idea!"

They got me set back up pretty easily and now I am happily (?) training for the 2011 Disney Marathon in early January, the timing of which is excellent since it's not too close to the February Bar Exam.

There are a few things I think I should clarify about me as a runner at this time.

I've been running for close to two years with some consistency. So it would be, perhaps, incorrect to say that "I am not a runner." What I am not is a very good runner. Knock on wood, I am not prone to injury--I stretch, I take rest days like a good little girl, I do other fitness things to keep my little joints nice and limber, and such. What I am is slow.


At least, I'm pretty sure I'm slow. I have a nifty Garmin 305 with a heart rate monitor, which I use. My current blazing top speed that I can both maintain for a full interval (I tend to run-walk when I do distances) is between a ten and eleven minute mile. I'm pretty sure that's a snails crawl. I know people who run slower than that. I also know people who WALK faster than that (or close enough to.) I can hit faster speeds. I've clocked myself being able to hold a eight minute mile pace for half a mile or so. But I can't safely maintain that; my heart goes thuddy-thud like a hummingbird's. Maybe I will be able to, some happy day far in the future. But, uh, not so much right now.

When I was a little girl my mother used to tease me gently about being a slowpoke. I was a slowpoke not because I was particularly low energy (anybody who's had the pleasure or misfortune of meeting me in person can't possibly believe I'm low energy.) It was because I liked to amble about staring raptly at things. I was slow because I liked to linger to look at fascinating street debris. Alas, this is not why I am a slow runner. I am a slow runner because my feet just don't carry me that fast.

I was not encouraged to run as a child. I was encouraged to be active (thanks, Mom and Dad!) but not to run, exactly. I biked. I roller-bladed. I skateboarded. I skateboarded down a big hill and knocked out half of a tooth when I was nine, in fact (they put it back together. Modern dentistry!). I wore a helmet, and it's a good thing, because I was a daredevil and frankly without a helmet and padding I'd probably have scrambled my brains and broken all my joints before I hit puberty. I've had some epic spills.

Then I got into martial arts. I am the world's most advanced beginner martial artist. I hold late intermediate colored belts in both major styles of Tae Kwon Do and in a large New England school of Kung Fu. "Get black belt" (which is really only an advanced intermediate degree, but never mind) is on the lifelong to do list; I never have because invariably either I move or my teacher does after two years, and it generally takes three to make it to black. I can still kick higher than my head. It helps that I am a freak and I have, in the words of one doctor, "the legs of someone who's five seven and the torso of someone who's five one"--buying pants is always an adventure. My freaky limberness in the kicking muscles is a good thing, since I'm not sure I could outrun an attacker, even if I was wearing running shoes and they were teetering after me on six inch stilettos that were two sizes too small.

So yes. Not much running, except what they made us do in gym. Since I was "made to" run a mile and I generally resent it when large, mustachioed men in obnoxious shorts with a whistle (a particularly memorable gym teacher) order me to run in circles for no discernible reason, I generally did this in the slowest amble I could get away with.

"Alicia, it took you half an hour to go a mile!" Mustache-with-the-whistle said to be in exasperation.

Me, blinking. "Is that slow?"

Him: "A one-legged seagull could hop it faster than that!"

He then began to whistle at me every time he caught me drifting off to the side of the track to stare at dandelions (some things don't change). This negative reinforcement did not help.

Eventually he gave up and let me go play field hockey and lacrosse with the other kids. I was decent at such things not because I am all that skilled, but because I have relatively little fear of getting whacked or knocked down thanks to a childhood spent falling off wheeled things at "woah that's a big hill!" speeds, and lots of healthy sports aggression not often encouraged in females who are not athletes. I'm sure when he saw me run down the budding high school freshman basketball star, finagle the floor hockey puck away from him, and run away, he probably rolled his eyes. That or wanted to strangle me. Possibly both.

I got into running in my late twenties because my friend Amber did. That's pretty much why. She seemed to enjoy it a lot. I was bored with the elliptical. I discovered much to my pleasure that I did like running. I am just not very fast.

This is part of what fascinates me about distance running. In distance running, how fast you go matters less than how far you go (or so I keep telling myself; obviously the actual, like, athlete people can run 26.2 miles at speeds twice as fast as my little ten to eleven minute mile shuffle, and even most serious amateurs go a LOT faster than me.) I am not fast. What I do have is endurance and that counts for a lot when you're talking about distances in excess of five or six miles. You learn endurance when during the course of a two hour class a crazy martial arts teacher makes you do drills five hundred kicks per leg with a resistance band holding you to the wall, and then immediately starts to chase you around the martial arts studio with a bokken (that would be a wooden practice sword used in kendo, and since that teacher didn't know kendo, I don't know what he was doing with it exactly besides chasing me.)

The first time I did a five mile run it was a revelation. I ran five miles! And it didn't even take all that long! And I felt good after! And my legs didn't even fall off!

And I like to finish what I start. Especially for a great cause (more on that soon). So here we go again.