Monday, October 18, 2010


It's an actual condition. It happens. LA Rock 'n' Roll is on Sunday and suddenly, my whole body hurts. My foot is bad again maybe, my shins are starting to act up again. My knees should start hurting within the next few days, and I fully expect my hips to follow. And then maybe something totally forehead will start itching and suddenly I won't be able to run properly.

Seriously, Google it. I swear it's an actual condition. And for everyone that tells me it's all in my head, well...Yes, it totally is. Utterly and completely, all in my head. Now, I could go into the question of pain being entirely in the brain (and mind, if you're a monist) because the brain has no actual pain receptors, and open up an entire line of research on the matter, but instead I'll say this: the week before the race, it IS all mental. Happens every time (well, with La Jolla I actually was injured so that doesn't count). It's completely common, and once identified, totally hilarious. What else can possibly go wrong? It's the week before the race, of course EVERYTHING will somehow find a way to blow up. Of course. 

That being said, I kept my workout light on the impact scale today. Half an hour on the stationary bike, some free weights, some weight machines. I walked for around ten minutes on the treadmill, intending to run, then took about ten minutes to tie my shoes properly. Finally got on the treadmill, and oh hello shins! So I listened, inclined it and ramped up the speed, and ran for a total of thirty seconds. Nice one, Courtney. Really. 

My schedule of Insanity got completely wonky (thank you, Fitnessista, wonky has become part of my vocabulary) from taking the week off, so I started again last Friday and just backtracked to restart Week 3. Today would have been the Fit Test again, which I did last Monday, so I just headed to the gym instead. You can bet Shaun T will be back in my life tomorrow<3

Off to study for my Neuroanatomy midterm tomorrow, and who knows, later in the week my eyelashes may turn purple. After all, it's the week before the race!

And remember, life is a beautiful thing:
Pothole Dome, Tuolomne Meadows

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let's Change it Up a Bit

I've written a lot about things that bother me, and things that worry me, and things that I'm really excited about. But I realized I haven't really spent time lately to think about what I'm thankful for, what I don't want to take for granted. So here it goes:

Health and strength.

Blending of culture.

Natural beauty.
This is the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp. Breathtaking, isn't it?







There is so much more, and I'll continue this as time goes on.

...There is always something to be grateful for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Bug

Oh, the bug. The bug that makes you forget how much long long distances hurt and how painful walking, sitting, and even smiling were after your marathon. The bug that says, hey, that was fun, let's do it again!

It bit me.

All over, really. I mentioned before that I wanted to run with Team in Training in Nashville, and finally today I said I would do it. I wanted to so badly, and I'll have adequate training before then! After all, Team in Training doesn't assume that you've done this before. I guess I'll need green&purple bandaids to cover these bites! I'm ecstatic though. I'm going to start fundraising EARLY, and then I get to run another marathon, another pin for my jacket, and I get to visit HEAB's city! Heather, you can bet that I'll be taking major recommendations from your blog! 

I'm happy about this, really happy. I've been feeling demoralized for wayyy too long. That's the rest of this post...not as uplifting. But honest.
And again, I have to postpone the rest of this. There is a Latin translation of Petronius' Satyricon staring at me as if to say you can run, but you can't hide! I don't need to hide though, I'll take the running! Sorry, cheese factor skyrocketing, but my little joke...

&&Another night and I can't sleep. I blame the naps I took today, I can't let myself sleep from 3 to 5 pm! I think finishing this post will take a lot off of my mind and let me finally sleep.

But first...
Today is my sister's sixteenth birthday. Funny how that works isn't it? I turned around and she wasn't five years old anymore. She's got the exact same hands though, I could never stay mad at her when she showed me those cute little hands!

Anyway, I've been dealing with some seriously low morale as of late. It didn't occur to me that when I started running again, I wouldn't just be able to jump back in to my old comfort zone of six or seven miles a day. I mean I knew I'd have to go slowly at first, but I thought I'd be able to jump back up more quickly. As it happens, I lost a lot of physical fitness ability. It's hard to only run a 5k when my heart is with long, long, looonnng distances. At that distance, the endorphins have barely started pumping (because I wasn't ready to speed up, I just wanted to make it) and the pain has barely left. There isn't anything truly joyous in it, and there's no addiction factor.

I never faced the idea that it would take such small steps to come back I guess. I don't feel quite like myself yet. It's completely and utterly demoralizing to not be able to do what I could yet. I'm working on it, but honestly, it's been hard. I got on the treadmill again, and it was like I had never run on one before. I'm only doing ten minute stretches of intervals, which are between six miles per hour and around six and a half, with a few seconds of seven. The first time, I just hopped on the treadmill thinking I would do five sets of 3x2 with my slowest speed at 5.9 mph (always averaging six mph). Well, let's just say I'm not there yet. But then I remembered that when I started playing with treadmill intervals (last year, because I was always scared of the treadmill!), I started with walking and running, not just running with varying speeds.

It really is back to the beginning. I want to get back up to at least a few six mile runs before training for Nashville starts, that way I can still feel a bit like my old self. It's difficult. Thoroughly difficult, because I'm letting my thoughts and expectations get in the way of true improvement. I know I'm not the only one who has felt like this, which is why I'm sharing this now. This is me, at this moment in my life, trying to face one of my demons. And it's hard. If there's one thing I know for sure though, it's that the rush of long distance running is completely worth the wait. I'm going to try to be grateful.

Speaking of being grateful, here is something I hope to never take for granted again:
May Lake (Tuolomne Meadows, California)
Exquisite and pure.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

No Big Deal or Anything, but...

Yes, a real human brain. In my hands. In my twenty-year-old, Disneyland-loving, gluten-free, coffee-obsessed hands. 

The day started with my statistics class at 9, in which I fell asleep. Then my MATLAB class at 11, fell asleep again. Long week for sure. Then I got to my Neuroanatomy discussion section at 12 (while frantically studying for 1 p.m. Latin), where I not only found out that I didn't do quite so horribly on my quiz last week, but my TA also said okay, today is a LAB day. For this lab, we basically had to label brain structures on printouts of coronal, lateral, and sagittal views, and then describe some of the structures in a few sentences. All of this can be done outside of class (I'm 70% done anyway...), but then he held up a brain. A real brain. Just like that. Someone asked if it had gotten smaller because of the drying/preservation process. Only 10-20%, he said, not much. Then, as if it was nothing at all in his hands, held it up to his own head as a comparison. Just like that. 

There were other brains at the front of the classroom, a macaque brain, rat brains, and a few others I didn't pay attention to. I wanted the human brain. The animal brains were all soaked in formaldehyde, so I didn't get to pick them up as we were running out of gloves. Like I said, I wasn't paying any attention to them to begin with. The human brain was just...there. No formaldehyde, a different process. 

Part of me was grossed out, but the MUCH larger part was excited. This is what I study, this is what I love! I'll say it again:


Convinced? Me too. I used to be a Political Science major. I wanted to be a Civil Rights Lawyer. And now, I might still want to, but I found something to study that just thrills me. I never thought I'd be a science major, that's laughable. But I just love the brain! I love learning about it, I love neurons, I love the lobes, I love CT scans and EEG recordings and TMS research! TMS stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and one of my professors does a lot of work with it.

So there I was, holding this brain. This thing that was so unassuming, so...well, so ugly actually, color-wise. It was this tan/yellow/dull shade, not the pink I had imagined. Then again, it was a dead brain. No blood flow or anything, no action potentials, no neurotransmitters, nothing. But the structures were there, the nerve fibers, oh my gosh the nerve fibers! All tangled, and the cerebellum, with its striations, was just sitting there! Just chilling out I guess. Chillin' like a villain. Cool.

And this unassuming organ, this ugly-colored dead organ, was once the key to someone's entire life! Still the key to life, just now in a more universal sense. The most electrifying, brilliant, incredible machine, and it was just sitting there waiting for me to pick it up at the front of the classroom! It's hard to even grasp the experience, the idea that I was holding something so complex, the key to the evolution of cognition, the neural processes underlying behavior, and the reason I can even approach this level of thinking! And I was holding it in my hands. 

...I'll never forget it. Ever.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock...

What you waiting

What you waiting
What you waiting for!? 
Thank you, Gwen Stefani, this pretty much hits the nail on the head. So here's the deal:
There it is: honesty, brutal honesty. I'm scared to run again. I'm scared because I love something so much, and I can't have it taken from me again. This sounds dramatic, but here's the deal. Before running, I was a mess. I had just come out of my senior year in high school, after dealing with some intense issues (can't go into it yet, the blog isn't mature enough yet), which cost me my friends, my understanding of the way the world worked, and my knowledge of who I was to begin with. Not to mention, it KILLED my last soccer season, which prior to that had been everything to me. I played for twelve years, and the last memory I have of it is not being able to do what I used to be able to. Not being strong, not having any power in my body and watching my skills deteriorate, hating myself, wondering what was wrong!
So I needed something. I needed a new passion, something that would be mine. Soccer was over for me, swimming was a totally different story, and I was unhappy. Trying to adjust to a new, MUCH BETTER (I have the most amazing friends anyone could ask for) life, and I realized that all through life I had been uncomfortable with my body. I had always been active, but never took a liking to the idea that running was really effective! So I finally told myself to suck it up, because I was NOT about to gain the Freshman 15, thank you very much.

I'm finally tired, it's time for bed. I'll finish this off tomorrow, as it won't save properly.
I'm truly horrible sometimes. I know this isn't the next day, or the day after, or even the day after, but a full THREE days later and I'm finally finishing this up. 
There it is. Honesty and clean: I started running because I was unhappy with both my life and my body. I ran/walked two miles: running everything but crosswalks. I did this every day, and then added more distance so I was running three miles a day, eventually without any walking! 
Somewhere along the line...I fell in love.
My body changed, my mood changed, and my self-respect shot through the roof. It was wonderful! Sure, it was hard. There were days when it just didn't feel anything close to pleasant. But hey, that's love right? I think? Not every day is perfect? Right.

...So that's what I lost for four months. And now, I know I'm okay, but I'm scared to lose that again. I feel like I'm hiding behind Insanity, if that makes sense at all. I use Insanity as an excuse to not run, and it's not like I'm not getting exercise, quite the opposite. But I go to bed thinking about running. I'm just...scared. Clearly I'm healed, and healthy again, because I can do intense plyometric workouts, and I can run a couple miles at a time. It's only fear now, that's really all it is and I know it. Baby steps. Okay, I can do this.

I'm taking the week off of Insanity because I didn't have proper shoes (I know, I know, you think this wouldn't be an issue) for it: I used old running shoes in place of cross-trainers. Bad idea, because my left ankle is now very unhappy. I rolled it at Disney, but haven't had any pain running, just doing plyos. So I think I'll get my butt on the treadmill again :] Let's get rid of this fear k? K.