Saturday, February 15, 2014

Screw It

It's funny how life's experiences have a way of coming around again, no matter how far in the distant past you think you're placed them.  No matter how much you swear you've forgotten them.  Those following my blog for a while might remember that I come from a martial arts background.  It is, in fact, how I met my husband, and the reason I refer to him as the Jedi.  They might also remember that it has been years since my husband and I have practiced, mostly due to the lack of time and training partners that comes with moving and starting a family, but also due to the untimely death of our teacher a few years ago.  We have vague plans of starting a school at some point in the future - especially my husband who I think misses teaching.  But all things karate for me are tinged with a bit of regret and sadness, both at the loss of a friend and of what used to be a big part of my life.

This weekend brought martial arts to the front of my mind for two reasons.  First, because Lego's little guy is turning the big "0-5", and had a party in his dojo today.  I called dibs on making his cake, of course.  Unbeknownst to me, they would slice it (or try to) with a giant samurai sword.  Too funny.

Perhaps because karate was already on my mind this morning, I made a major mental connection between martial arts and swimming.  Really.  Total Immersion swimming teaches propulsion driven from a streamlined body position, weight shift emanating from the core, and their "two-beat" kick.  When I swim, I kick a lot.  It wears me out - give me a pull buoy and I can swim forever breathing every 3 strokes, but as soon as I have to integrate a flutter kick I'm sucking wind and sinking.

He just tried this, so front kick maybe?
Except I'm not anymore.  Gil had me and another student swim a lap today without kicking at all.  I did not sink, I did not break position, and I went just as fast as I do normally.  Unreal.  I laughed out loud.  Later, as Gil demonstrated the weight change coming from the hips at the switch of your stroking arm, a concept that is integrated into every TI drill that I've done, I had a "light bulb" moment.  The same weight shift that used to allow me to lock up my 300 lb training partner's wrist and throw him to the ground, using only the force of my core, is the same motion and source of power for swimming.  Not my shoulders or legs.  Combined with my increasing balance in the water, I am really getting somewhere!  My body does actually remember how to power via my hips - that "engine" is still there.  And getting stronger from my increasing yoga practice.  I said in my last post that my hope is that swimming will take the same role of active meditation that my martial arts practice used to fill.  I'm on my way.
We'll work on her hand position

My elation from this morning's swim practice was short lived, however, as Legos texted me that another storm was on it way.  It's an hour's drive to her house, putting my commute to and from the party in the leading edge of the storm with two sugar-crazed kiddos in tow.  What's more, the race course for tomorrow's ten mile race is near the blizzard zone.  It's in Foxborough (where the Patriots play.  Tom is leaving the kids with Giselle and coming out to cheer me on).  Which will be under about ten inches of snow by midnight tonight.

Light purple folks
Not an ideal situation for a race that I was already nervous for, since it is by far my longest attempt.  I hemmed and hawed at my husband, my coach, some training friends and some random bystanders at the birthday party.  Then I felt a bit of that bad-assedness I had in my twenties when I was actively practicing karate kick in.  I worked really hard for this.  My karate teacher, who was also a marathoner, would not stand for giving up because of a little snow.  He taught us:

  • The first rule of self defense: believe in something worth defending. Or as Loreal puts it, "You are worth it".   Got it.
  • The second rule of self defense: dress for the weather and wear the right shoes.
Dressing for the weather is no problem.  I have done plenty of cold runs.  (Side note: under this mantra, even on the rare occasions I went to parties in college I never forgot a coat for the walk home.  Never a scantily clad coed stumbling home in the freezing cold.)  But the shoes?  With ice and snow on roads that will likely not be 100% clear and dry by morning, my usual running shoes won't do.  Heck, I was planning on replacing them this coming week anyway because their tread is worn down to nothing and they have over 300 miles under them.  Even if every sporting goods store between the party and home wasn't sold out of YakTrax, Mini-spikes, and other running aids, the snow was coming down hard enough that side trips weren't an option.

Luckily, not only am I my sensei's student, but I am also my father's daughter.  Which means I can use power tools.

Type A labeling is genetic in our family

We were scheduled for a stop at Gramma and Grandpa's anyway after the party, so while the kids played I snuck down to my dad's workshop.  His workshop that looks like a cozier, better organized version of Lowes.  I found what I was looking for among his hundred neatly labeled drawers, came upstairs, and asked as nonchalantly as I possibly could if I could have 30 of his hex-head 1/2 inch sheet metal screws please?

To my parents' infinite credit, neither so much as batted an eye about why I felt the need to mutilate my shoes and run a stupidly long distance in a blizzard.  They adopted the calm patience I imagine they used when I was a teenager and insisted I would simply die if I couldn't wear $60 acid washed jeans to school.  Dad even threw in a hex driver for good measure.

Once we got home (a scary and long process in the building storm), I dug out the drill, my faithful yet nearly exhausted running shoes, and set about creating cleats for the ice.  I set a pattern of screw heads on the outer edges of each shoe (not the middle, which would interfere with foot strike).  I followed the places where there was the most wear on the tread.

Don't overdrill - stop once the head touches rubber


Winter storm Quintus, you've been screwed.

Today was not the best prep day for a long race.  Instead of eating clean I had pizza (with gluten crust) and birthday cake.  I've eaten so many Valentine's day chocolates that I'm seriously considering just stuffing a few Russell Stover's in my pockets for race fuel.  It's what I'm acclimated to now, right?  Instead of resting, I drove around like a madwoman with my kids in the snow.  But at least I have a better chance of staying on my feet tomorrow.  I hope.

Wish me luck and see you on the other side!!!!

Does anyone else use "aids" to run in the snow and ice?  Which do you like best and why?

1 comment:

Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes said...

I have held off on any devices for running in snow. I'm really clumsy and feel like I would totally fall and break something!!

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