Thursday, October 31, 2013

"The circus arrives without warning..."

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

My knee injury has been lingering awhile, so I finally got to see a physical therapist yesterday about it, to see exactly what was wrong. Basically, I still can't bend my knee into a deep squat, and I can't kneel on my knee.

My PT, Nicole, surprised me by asking me right away what my derby name is! It turns out, she's a derby fan, and she was excited about me coming in because it was in my file that I'm a derby skater (because that's how I got injured). It was really great that I happened to get an appointment with someone who is familiar with my sport and who has an appreciation for the kind of impact and injuries that result. (Of COURSE I invited her to our bout.)

After a few assessments, she determined that there's nothing WRONG wrong with my knee (like, my ligaments are fine and all that) - my IT band and the surrounding muscles in my knee have healed really tight and my knee is out of alignment with the rest of me. My homework is to foam-roll a whole bunch and to do some strengthening exercises to get my other muscles to pull my knee back where it's supposed to be.

Even though it may take a few weeks before I really start to notice any improvement, I'm really happy about this, because I now feel like I have some modicum of control over the situation. Before, I had no idea what was wrong and no idea what to do about it. Basically, all I could do was just sit around and WAIT for my knee to feel better. Which sucks - I am the worst when it comes to waiting and being patient. But now I feel like a little of it is back in my hands (or, rather, legs), and I can actually be proactive about healing and getting back on track.

Small victory, but I'll take it!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


What's MY excuse? I'm busy knocking people to the floor.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's MY excuse?

Before I start, I want to make it clear that I am NOT criticizing this woman or women who look like her. Nor am I criticizing anyone who draws inspiration from this photo to make positive changes in her own life.

But I AM about to get a bit ranty. I've been seeing these "fit mom" memes everywhere for a long time, and in truth, they rub me the wrong way, and here's why.

If you ask me who I think the fittest people in the world are, I would have to say Crossfitters and endurance athletes. Whether it's your first marathon or your fiftieth, whether it takes you five minutes to complete a WOD or fifteen, it takes a certain baseline of fitness. But if you show up to ANY start line or ANY CrossFit box, you will notice that not everyone looks the same. SOME people look like the woman in the photo - feminine, conventionally hot, tanned, non-cellulite-y, smooth-skinned with nary a blemish. But many other people do NOT look like that, and before you interject to tell me that it's because those people are not as fit as the woman in the photo, let ME interject to present you with a couple of photos:

This is Paula Radcliffe. She is the WOMEN'S WORLD RECORD HOLDER in the marathon. You can't get more elite than that. She does not look like the woman in the first photo.

This is Camille Leblanc-Bazinet. She's an elite Crossfitter, and she's become a majorly recognizable face for CrossFit because she's really pretty. But even she does not look like the woman in the photo.

You want to know what's also different about these two photos I shared versus the Fit Mom picture at the top? They're action photos. They are photos of athletic activity. I'm sure they have their fair share of posed photos as well, but they also have lots of action photos, photos of them DOING something other than looking pretty.

What's my point? My point is that fitness looks like many different things. Fit people take many different shapes and forms.

AND YET... through this whole Fit Moms thing, we are consistently presented with only ONE way to look, one way to BE. The underlying message of the "What's your excuse?" meme is "What the hell is your problem that you don't look like this person?" and that makes me ranty.

Let's talk about the "fit" part of "Fit Moms." Fitness, as I said, looks like many different things. That is because fitness isn't a LOOK at all. Sure, there is a "glowiness" that unhealthy people lack, but aside from that, fitness and health don't involve your looks at all. They are about how your body functions and how it accomplishes certain tasks.

But I've never seen a Fit Mom photo that displayed someone's spectacular blood pressure or their half marathon PR or their one rep max back squat. I've never seen a Fit Mom picture that said "Boston Qualifier - what's your excuse?" (God forbid we make people feel bad about the things they can't do!) In fact, I feel like I only ever seem to see Fit Mom photos that are photos of a woman who fits society's definition of "hot," and she's always thin with a light touch of muscles (GOD FORBID she have muscles that are too big), and she's always posing prettily instead of displaying her athletic prowess. (I've seen pictures of Serena Williams where they photoshopped her fantastic thighs SMALLER so she would look more "feminine.")

And truthfully, we are not all genetically-programmed to look that way. Even if I were able to shed all my excess bodyfat, I still wouldn't look like the Fit Mom up there. My body just doesn't work that way. And I am okay with that.

Now let's talk about the "Moms" part. The truth is that being an athlete, even a non-elite one like I am, takes a lot of time and a lot of money. I have a fairly strong support base of people who watch my daughter while I'm out for a run or at derby practice, and there is not a single day that I don't feel guilty about it. Not everyone is as lucky as the woman in the photo - they don't have the time, money, energy, or ability to achieve a HOT BOD. Like, they LEGITIMATELY don't, because maybe they're still healing from a difficult pregnancy, or they work for a jerky company with a lousy maternity leave policy, or they don't have other people in their lives to watch their kids, or their kids have special needs that require all their focus. Societal mom-shaming deserves its own blog post, but there is no shortage of people ready to make women feel bad for not dedicating every second of their lives to their children, so can we lessen the burden, please? Let's not add to their guilt by making them feel bad for not looking like models too.

And it shouldn't go without saying that I have never seen a Fit Dads meme. There are no photos of hot men with their children with the caption "What's your excuse?" (I know, I know - many women would not object to seeing such a thing), because society doesn't emphasize men's bodies and appearances NEARLY as much as women's. The Fit Mom meme implies that women SHOULD aspire to look a certain way, and if we don't meet that standard or even care about doing so, we're failures somehow. Men are not subjected to that kind of pressure.

And in case you've decided to write me off as simply being jealous of the Fit Mom, I have to tell you that I'm actually not, and that is the truth. There was a point in my life when I would have been, because there was a time when I bought into society's message that I needed to look a certain way, and I thought I was being inspired, but really I was being told to hate myself. Looking back on it now, I was desperately unhappy EVERY DAY because I did not look like a fitness model. And now I'm not. I still don't look like a fitness model, but I'm a two-sport athlete (I stopped Crossfitting because time and money) and I feel satisfied and fulfilled, while at the same time inspired to do better. (And "doing better" is not about how I look, but how I perform.)

It's taken me a long time to get to this point where I don't get jealous of other women's bodies anymore. I get jealous of people who can run fast enough to qualify for Boston. I get jealous of people who actually CAN skate 27 laps in 5 minutes. I get jealous of people who can do pull-ups. But I do not get jealous of people who have a thin body type. A body type is what it is, just like your hair color, and while it's possible to change both things if you wanted to, we shouldn't feel pressured to do so. Society doesn't shame me for not wanting to bleach my hair blonde, and I'm sick of it shaming me for not making "being hot and thin" my number one priority.

To reiterate, I'm not criticizing the woman in the photo, nor am I criticizing anyone who is inspired by her. I AM saying that if we're trying to encourage fitness, we should be actually focusing on FITNESS and showing all the ways people can be FIT, rather than this one narrow definition of fitness (that is more about being hot than being fit) that not everyone can meet. So if we're going to have Fit Mom photos like the one above, let's not stop there. Let's show a variety of Fit Moms, doing fitness-y things, and let's change the cultural discourse surrounding fitness, and moms, and women in general.

*Updated to add*
I wrote this post BEFORE I read more about this woman and her fauxpology... yeah, I'm just not going to go there right now. *facepalm*

Monday, October 21, 2013

Race recap: Morgan Hill Half Marathon

Who shows up to a half marathon with a knee injury and zero base mileage and does it anyway?

*raises hand* Me.

There's a fine line between gutsy and stupid, and I think I pretty much live on that line. I own REAL ESTATE on that line. I have claimed it on behalf of my mother land.

I injured my knee three weeks ago, and while it's mostly better, it's not 100%. I had hoped to be able to run SOME of this race, but as it turned out, a few 3-minute repeats brought on some sharp pains behind my kneecap, and I knew that it was going to be a looooong morning.

It's hard going from averaging 3 hours for a half (with a PR of 2:44) to knowing that I would be taking longer than 4 hours. It's a definitely blow to my ego. I haven't taken that long for a few YEARS (not counting last year's Summit Rock half which took me 5 hours because it was hilly as f***. I climbed a damn mountain.)

Add to that the fact that Morgan Hill was my first FULL marathon, and here I was, hobbling through the half all by myself, and I was not a happy camper. The only thing keeping me going was the fact that I am running out of opportunities to finish my 13 in '13, and I really wanted the Bay Area Running Series medal.

And also, I missed running. Not that I got to run much yesterday.

It was interesting doing the half this time. At the start line, I overheard many excited people talking about how this was their first full, and it made me a little emotional because that was me last year. I'm no grizzled veteran of marathoning, but I can relate to how it feels. (Maybe that feeling never actually goes away.)

The half course was so much easier than the full, and not just because of the distance. Far less hilly, though the downhills were pretty brutal on my knee. Still the same stench of cow poop though - that is less fun.

I finished in 4:12:37. Oi. It sucks not being able to run.

But at least I finished? I don't know, it still doesn't feel like a victory in my book.

Next up: my thirteenth half marathon on the year, the ZombieRunner Halloween half marathon on November 2nd. TIME TO WRAP THIS UP. Then the Mermaid Sirena 10-miler on November 10th. And... that'll be it for 2013. So far.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Down for the count

It's been a while since I did a real, legit blog post, so I thought I'd do one now, since I have a lot of time. Why do I have a lot of time? Because I'm INJURED.

Last weekend, I skated in a team-on-team scrimmage against the BAD skater pool, and I was super nervous because it was my first THING since returning to roller derby, and I know as well as anyone else that BAD skaters aren't ones to mess with. I had ONE goal, and that was to not get injured. (Well, yeah... you can see how well that turned out.)

So it's been over a week now, and I'm ALMOST back to normal. I'm not limping so much anymore, and most of the pressure/swelling has gone. I still have a hard time walking down stairs and I definitely still can't kneel on it without pain. (Which would be a big problem if I were to skate and then fall on it.)

I've been off it completely, which is really hard for me. Ironically, I haven't been running or doing anything other than skating lately anyway, but of course, as soon as I injured myself, I suddenly wanted to do EVERYTHING. I like having the option. I don't like having a body that limits me.

Since my knee has been feeling better, I was hoping to get back to running and stuff, and then this past weekend, I was hit with a really bad cold, and I'm still sick right now. Sore throat, stuffy nose, head spinning -type of sick. Yesterday was actually the first day I've taken off work so far this year (which is a record for me), and I really should be home today, except I can't bear the thought of leaving my kids with a sub for two days in a row. (It usually ends up being way more work to have things ready for a sub than to actually just GO to work.)

So, here I am. Trying not to pass out in the dark while my kids watch The Odyssey. Wish me luck.