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When Life Gives You AIDS, Make LemonAIDS - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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July 5th, 2007


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10:50 pm - When Life Gives You AIDS, Make LemonAIDS
For the last five months, I have been training to run a marathon half-marathon. And, despite injury after injury after, yes, injury (now I caught patellofemoral syndrome, which hit my right knee and left me limping for a week and a half, but I'm hoping rest and stretching will allow me to recover), I've managed to run/walk longer than I ever imagined possible in January. Even though I develop a new injury each time I hit 12 miles, I can still make it 12 miles. That's just ridiculous. I didn't know I could do that.

This training program has really gotten me in touch with my body and what it can and can't do. It's never something I bothered to care about; I was not what you'd call a physically active person. I did a lot of walking since I didn't have a car, and sometimes I ran if I was trying to get somewhere faster than usual. But it's only when you start to move beyond your comfort zone that you become aware of your body as the machine it is, built of muscle and bone. When I was injured, I worked out on the elliptical, which was punishing but doable. My stupid legs could go around in circles for half an hour, straight. And by doing that, I was making them stronger. Plus, I was exercising that very important muscle, the heart. You only get the one body, and it's supposed to last you your whole damn life. It's stupid that it's taken me this long to realize I should be taking better care of it.

Another wake-up call was the fact that I inexplicably gained ten more pounds over the course of the program, resulting in an unsightly belly bulge I am now fighting to get rid of. I'm watching what I eat, and I'm adding upper body work to my weekly regimen. There's no way I would have jumped into this, but since I was already in the habit of exercising, it's easier to keep it up. And I never would have started exercising if I hadn't joined the training program and been forced into it by my shin splints. This is my body, and no one's going to take care of it but me. And, dammit, I have to look good shirtless again.

In addition to the physical aspect, there's a social aspect to the training that I've really enjoyed and appreciated. I've met people I never would have met otherwise. Week after week, we have no one to talk to but each other for the hours we're out running. You have to keep each other going, motivated, interested, and not focusing on how tired you are and how many miles you have left to go. You look forward to seeing your running buddies every week. I had one running buddy, Liu Kang, who at times was the only other person in my pace group, and he was always willing to slow down and accomodate my stupid feet. But he seems to have disappeared. Some of the adjacent pace groups merged each week, and I acquired new running buddies. One in particular, Mary Jane, I got along with pretty well. It's nice to click with random people and bond over forward motion. During that fateful 12-mile run, one of our other running mates became injured, so it was just the two of us at the end, and she was beginning to cramp up, whereas I, for once, was doing fine, and I refused to leave her behind.

The effect the training program has had on the community and the people in it hit me on Saturday, when I volunteered for a water stop on the 26/14-mile run since I couldn't actually run it but wanted to support my fellow runners on their big day. I was thrust into a group of people I'd never met before, as they were people who knew runners, not runners themselves. We cheered the runners on, and I saw many familiar faces. Some people I had run with months ago in San Francisco even recognized me and asked why I wasn't running. As we waited for them to return, some of us piled into an SUV. We were discussing the environment and Barack Obama and George Bush and Hillary Clinton and the Electoral College, and there came a point when one woman wanted us to take special note of the diversity in the vehicle. We were a black woman, a Mexican woman, a white man, and an Indian man, talking about politics without things getting heated. She pointed out the diversity later on, as she thought it very significant that such a ragtag group had been randomly assembled. None of us knew each other before, but there we were, united for a cause, supporting our friends and lovers who were in turn supporting countless strangers with HIV/AIDS.

After the run, Mary Jane invited me to lunch with her running compatriots. The six of us chatted about all sorts of things. I learned a great deal about buying a condo from one of the runners' girlfriends, which was fortuitous because I was looking into such a thing. I asked for her card afterward. Mary Jane's boyfriend, Pete, unexpectedly stopped by; it was neat to meet the person she had talked about during our runs. All of these people, all linked together.

As a collective, we few hundred have raised nearly $900,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The goal is $1 million. I, personally, have raised $2,944. My goal is $3,000. If you have not already, please make that happen. It's amazing that I was able to get all this money just by, you know, asking.

Even thought it's cost me a lot of money and given me a lot of pain, this has been a fantastic experience overall, and I'm already considering doing it again next year. I highly recommend it. It really will change your life. Look at me now, bitches.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Of Montreal - Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games

(50 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:kibarika
Date:July 6th, 2007 12:06 pm (UTC)
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Is her name really Mary Jane and her boyfriend's name really Pete? Because if so, that's AWESOME.
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From:sophia_helix
Date:July 6th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
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Hee, I was just thinking that.
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From:afrocurl
Date:July 6th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
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Congrats on the finishing this, Sunil.

I'll see what I can do about donating, too.
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From:wiscck
Date:July 6th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC)
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Ooh, patellofemoral syndrome. That sucks. I have that. Mine's bad enough that I'm not allowed to run, ever, though. Or climb stairs. I hope yours isn't that bad and that you're able to run.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 6th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
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Fuck!!
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From:miniglik
Date:July 6th, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC)
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Yay, lifestyle changes!

I know this whole experiences has been pretty difficult, with the randomly hurting body parts, so I'm glad it has brought quite a few positives too.

*And you get my Fabulous Sarah Connor Icon of Exercise.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 6th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
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Sarah Connor could kick my pansy ass.
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From:jenelope
Date:July 6th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
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Have I mentioned how proud of you I am? Because I am, pal. You rock beyond rocking. Also, I know you mentioned gaining weight on the phone, but I never put two and two together. Don't forget that putting on muscle means putting on pounds. However, the muscle burns calories more efficiently than fat, so it works out (no pun intended). I know you claim to have a belly bulge. The best way to get rid of that is to stop drinking sugar in the form of Coke and juice. Juice is the worst way to get in a serving of fruit because it has so much sugar. Drinks like that can make you feel more tired in the long run because energy from such simple sugars burn off very quickly. Knowing that you hate diet soda, I'd switch to flavored water and at least cut back on Coke.
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From:daynr
Date:July 6th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
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Your running has been more-injury prone than anyone I know, which sucks, but I'm glad you're thinking of keeping with it. It's such a fantastic thing, exercise, because of both the body-as-machine and the social. People totally forget the social aspect, but it's just so awesome to be outside chatting with random people you get to know.

The better shape you get in, the more you can feel your muscles and stuff work together, the more you can sort of appreciate how amazing our bodies are. Maybe you should join a Berkeley running group when you're done (my friend runs in a SF one every Tuesday evening and Saturday am.) Or try a short tri next year -- I bet you'll get less injured because of those exerices naturally balance better than straight running.

I also think, knowing nothing about this stuff, that you'll get injured less the longer you continue as long as you're smart. I mean, you went from nothing to regular running. That's hard. Oh, and you probably started automatically eating more because you're not use to running, but it'll level out and you'll go back to eating as much as you need.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 6th, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
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I also think, knowing nothing about this stuff, that you'll get injured less the longer you continue as long as you're smart. I mean, you went from nothing to regular running. That's hard.
Yeah, and also I've been looking at my legs, and they're stupid. Like, I'm kind of knock-kneed and my feet point outward. I'm not sure I'm biomechanically suited for running.

Maybe you should join a Berkeley running group when you're done (my friend runs in a SF one every Tuesday evening and Saturday am.)
That could work. I think first, really, I need to train myself to run continuously, because right now I only know how I perform if I'm walking every three minutes.

Oh, and you probably started automatically eating more because you're not use to running, but it'll level out and you'll go back to eating as much as you need.
See, I totally don't even know about this. Because I don't think I started eating more. I never felt like I needed more food. I don't think I changed my eating habits since January, which is weird. I think it may just be a cumulative effect of the fact that I've been eating breakfast for the past year, which I never used to do.
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From:dreamingahead
Date:July 6th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)

ROLL CALL REMINDER

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Hi! This is a friendly reminder, please make sure you comment on this post for the Doctor Who community [link]. If you've already done so you can ignore/delete this comment.

Instructions on how to never miss one of these posts are here [link].
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 6th, 2007 05:22 pm (UTC)

Re: ROLL CALL REMINDER

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Aha! Brilliant!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 6th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC)
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That works.
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From:catatonia00
Date:July 7th, 2007 02:27 am (UTC)
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Thanks for letting us partake in this journey. Who would've thought that reading about someone running would be so fascinating and hunger inducing (blame daynr.

Best of luck with this and don't let your new regiment end with the 1/2 marathon.
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From:homegoddess
Date:July 8th, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC)
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I admire how much you've accomplished since you started training and raising money for the AIDS Foundation. Sticking through it in spite of the injuries must be difficult and frustrating. Keep up the good work!
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From:pidgehuss
Date:July 9th, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC)
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I've really been enjoying reading about your running experience. Teo is training for a marathon in November and he talks a little about it, but doesn't get into the level of detail that you do. I remember running in high school, as a very slow cross-country team member, (but I never came last in any of my races!) and it is an amazing thing to be a part of, so it's neat watching you go through that transition.

I do want to caution you to make sure you include plenty of strength training in your routine, which I hope you're doing as part of your large training group anyway. Strength training may seem like it's not terribly important because the muscles you're using to run are what you're exercising when you...you know, run. But it is really important to make sure your muscles are developing at a balanced rate in your legs to avoid injury to the weaker muscles. And you'd be surprised at how much you use your upper body when you run, so I hope that you're training your whole body. I've seen lots of people get injured over this (Teo included! despite my warnings!) and I know you've had a hard time with injuries during your training, so I wanted to make sure you knew that this is important too and can help prevent injuries, though I am confident that your doctors have discussed it with you.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 9th, 2007 05:01 pm (UTC)
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...no, not really. I'm doing more training now that I've been injured, but no one ever said we had to do strength training; they wanted us to rest our muscles in between runs to let them build.
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From:eldritch_flame
Date:July 10th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
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How much longer do we have to donate? Because I've finally gotten over my fears and signed up for a PayPal account, but it'll take a few days to get my bank account verified, apparently.

I'm really amazed at how you've gone through with this despite all the obstacles you've faced. I have patellofemoral syndrome myself, and I know what a bitch it can be, although I don't think mine is as severe as yours seems to be. And to have that on top of everything else, and to still keep going is just really awesome of you.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 10th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
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I'm getting really worried about my stupid knee! I...can still kind of feel it, and I'm going to attempt to run tomorrow, but...I'm getting really really afraid I've done something serious to it and I'll never be able to run again, or something. Like, not even to catch the BART train. Or away from a psychopathic killer with a chainsaw.

As for donating, there's still time. I'd prefer to know how much I'm running for by July 29, obviously, but I think the site will take money till, like, September.

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