Monday, July 2, 2007

Not a Bad Way to Start Off the Week

But first, the weekend: Neil played some stellar bocce in a tournament on Friday and Saturday, continuing his reign as the best non-Italian bocce player this side of Murray Hill.

Congrats to Neil and his bocce boys! He and his teammates are neophytes to the hard-surface circuit, but were able to kick the bocce butts of guys with names like Dino, Lillo and Vince. They fell in a later round, however, to guys like Giuseppe, Paulo and Bruno. High five, Neil & co.!

So, while the man was bocceing, I was plugging away at the thesis-related readings that will rule my summer (but it’s good stuff!). On Saturday, I took my reading on the road for a 20-mile roundtrip to and from Starbucks in Kent. And the ride is fully satisfying in roundtrip: It’s pretty much all up hill on the way into Kent, which means it’s mostly downhill on the way home. But that also means it’s one of those rides in which you start swearing at yourself about what a bad idea it was to take a “relaxing ride” to Kent with all of these hills in the way!

I followed up the ride with about 2-3 hours of yoga and another several hours of meditation, which I’ve taken to doing for the past couple months (and much more in the past two weeks). I’ve recently been in touch with a college friend who is a zahzen meditation practitioner. When I told him about my sciatic pain, he recommended some serious meditation to unthink the pain away (apparently that’s much easier when it’s a nerve pain rather than an actual injury).

And, oddly enough, I think the relaxation, concentration and breathing (between the yoga and meditation) have finally helped. Granted, my more “conservative” friends might not believe me, but it really wasn’t any sort of miracle. Meditation has been known to help your brain handle pain. In fact, when I was more practiced in meditation I was much less a wuss than I am now (but not remotely in as good of shape)!

So, what did I do on Sunday morning? I tried running, as planned. It started off with a very brisk walk—about 14-15 minutes a mile for a little over 2 miles. While it wasn’t quite power-walking, I was quite on the move. I focused on stretching my legs for long, healthy strides that used my entire foot to push along; took deep, cleansing breaths; moved my arms with an aggressive from-the-shoulders running swing. And I was fine.

Once I felt warmed, I thought I would give myself a jog. On the first several strides, I felt a little discomfort from my sciatic nerve, but nothing that would make me cry in the future. My s-l-o-w jog started with strides that were minuscule and arms held tightly into my body before I relaxed and ran a slow, stretched stride with, again, focus on my foot placement. Heel, ball, toe; heel ball, toe (which was difficult to enforce in the mind of someone who took ballet).

After 1.3 miles I was passing my apartment and decided to stop for the day. The good thing was that I didn’t hurt at all—the first time in two whole weeks—and I wasn’t tired from the walk-jog. So, I may not have lost all of my fitness after all.

Again, I went inside and did more yoga before relaxing for most of the day and eating every kind of summertime fruit that ever existed. In fact, watermelon and rainier cherries may now be extinct because I ate them ALL!

All that fruit, however, was not for naught: I used the leftover energy (and an extra chocolate energy bar) to pedal my way into work this morning. And it was awesome!

Downhill cycling sounds good...I work a little more than 10 miles from home and have long wished I could bike to work (I complain too often that I don’t live/work in a place where I can either take public transportation or ride my bike, so I’ve decided to stop being an obstacle to myself and at least make one thing happen!). After yoga this morning, I just packed up my work clothes into a backpack and just rushed out the door before I could change my mind.

What a beautiful morning! It was even a little chilly for the first half of the ride, but the constant uphills for the first six miles warmed me up a bit. This ride is pretty much the same as the route to Starbucks, so I’m really looking forward to the easier ride home. But I cannot explain how satisfying it was to get into working knowing that I had a) started my week/day off with a great bike ride; b) saved about a half gallon of gas; c) will save another half on the way home; and d) earned myself some serious cupcake action for the Fourth of July!

It wasn’t the easiest ride (I was cursing myself half way through), but I figure it will get easier as I get into better cycling shape. Just think how far I came with running! And let’s just say I’m relieved the ride home is easier than the ride here. Downhill sounds so nice right now!


Jim said...

We also are getting a bit of a reprieve from the Heat Meiser. It's only in the low 80s today, and driving into work this a.m. the temp was a crisp 64. As Ronald McDonald says, "I'm lovin' it."

Happy continued recovery.

miss petite america said...

so much to comment on:

1. i've only bocced drunk. and in the dark.

2. you are a serious yogi. when i was taking martial arts i was much more into it. and was probably better off for it. i have yoga tonight, so i will try to channel your zest for meditation.

3. summer is my favorite fruit season! and i love love love that i can get them straight off the farm now that i am back in nocal!

4. i've always wanted to bike to wokr. you have a shower in your office?

B Bop said...

There is no better way to get from one place to another than a bicyle!! Somehow, I started off my cylcing life as a commuter and ended up a triathlete.

Other than yoga I also visit a chiropractor regularly to keep the sciatica in check. My insurance actually covers 12 visits/year.

You might be suprised that you actually benefit from the downtime. Here's to a continued recovery.

Joe said...

Serious cupcake action! Now that's what I'm talking about!

TRI Vortex said...

Downhills are what biking is all about. Basically the opposite of the old "uphill bothways in the snow" thing.

I don't like climbs, headwind, bumps, chaffing, hot sun, anything else that's not downhill.