Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Surviving an Urban Legend

There's an urban legend (and many variations thereof) where a traveler's drink is drugged and he wakes up the next morning in a strange hotel room immersed in a bathtub full of ice. Next to him is a telephone and a note that says, "Dial 911 immediately." Turns out his kidneys had been removed cleanly and professionally to be sold on the black market. Gasp! (cue ominous music)

It's absolute rubbish, of course. No one has ever come forward to say they were a victim. So let me be the first .... IT'S HAPPENED TO ME!!

Minus the travel. And the drink. And the drug. And the phone. And the note. And I still have two kidneys. But darn if I didn't sit in a bathtub full of ice!

Yes, my friends. It's called an ice bath. And given my latest IT Band troubles, it's become a necessary evil for me after long runs. The idea is to reduce swelling, stiffness, soreness and to create "fresh" legs. I call it torture. How does one properly take an ice bath? Read on.


  • Run. Cycle. Whatever. Do something to completely wipe out your legs. This is imperative because otherwise you are in an ice bath just for fun. Which is insane.

  • Buy ice. Lots of it. In the average tub you'll want four to six bags. Seriously.     
  • Before beginning, I would advise putting on some sort of undergarment. This is ice water in the Nether Regions after all. That's all I'm going to say about that! And you might want a mug of hot chocolate or coffee to try and fool your brain into thinking you are warm.

  • Get in the empty tub. I've tried the whole plunge-directly-into-ice-water bit and I couldn't get my ankles in much less the rest of my body! This way, you're more likely to actually do it AND you'll get the benefit of the ice water without the extreme shock to your system. 
  • Fill tub with cold water. Turn it all the way to the coldest setting. I have to admit I'm somewhat glad I don't live in, say, Vermont, where the water coming from the tap is beyond frigid. Since Florida is just a big swamp, the water is only about 10 feet underground and is nowhere as cold as my northern neighbors.

  • Once it gets just about to the top of your thighs, turn off the water. Here comes the good stuff.

  • Dump the ice in. All of it. Every last bag you bought. If you have kids, or a significant other is mad at you, let them dump it in. They will enjoy hearing you say, "Holy crap that's cold!", and seeing you squirm and shiver.

  • Don't worry. Your toes are supposed to feel like that. Aren't you glad you're wearing undies? And don't you wish you had a duck to keep you company?

  • Now sit. Yep. That's it. For ten long, long minutes. The shivering will go away after about 1.5 minutes and your legs will go numb around three minutes. At the five minute mark, move your legs a bit. Feel that? Brrrrrrrr.

If you survive the 10 minutes, congratulations! I promise your skin will go back to it's normal color. Now hit showers! You've earned it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Three Dog Night Got it Wrong

The band Three Dog Night has a song that goes
One is the lonliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the lonliest number since the number one

In November of 2008, I would have readily agreed with both statements. I was pretty darn lonely as part of a "two" but thought that being a "one" would be worse. A year later, I've learned that I was wrong and have discovered I am much happier as a "one". Don't get me wrong. It's hard, it's tiring, it's stressful, and some days I wish there was another "one" to make me a "two". But for the most part, I'm happy.

I am 37 years old, and realized this is the first time in my adult life I have lived entirely on my own. Responsible for all the bills, all the cleaning, all the cooking, all the errands, and the kids when they are with me. Understand I'm no shrinking violet. I have my own tools, know how to change a tire, am willing to get sweaty and dirty, and am not afraid of hard work. I can even remember what day the trash and recycling needs to get to the curb! I've been pretty indepedent my whole life. But there's something different when everything rests on your shoulders; a sense of empowerment and freedom.

Something else I've learned to do on my own is run. It's only since 2006 that I've been running and competing in marathons and triathlons. I'm still relatively "new" to the sport. I've almost always trained with Team In Training and within that group found someone that runs about my same pace, or I've run with my ex mother-in-law. This is helpful when the long miles come - an 18 or 20 mile run is a heck of a lot easier when you've got company because they can get you past the "wall". And having someone with you on race day helping you remember everything from Body Glide to your sunglasses is invaluable.

I'm not so lucky this time training for the Miami Marathon and I'm okay with that. I challenged couple high school friends to race with me and, surprisingly, they both agreed. But I won't be training with them because one lives in Texas and one lives in Nebraska. And, as men, they are most likely faster than me anyway.

This time I signed up with Team Hendryx for my training because they are amazing athletes and coaches, and I believe they can help me achieve my time goal in Miami. However in my training group I have no friends or family and I haven't found someone on my same pace. This has forced me out of my comfort zone because I have to run the miles on my own.

For some, running alone for two or three hours could be lonely because there's no one to talk to. But I've actually found it to be quite enjoyable and that I'm not lonely at all. I like hearing the solitary sound of my shoes hitting the pavement; the way my feet and breathing create a rhythm that somehow keeps me going. I'm quite a good conversationalist too - the talks I've had with myself are very enlightening.

But the most important thing I've discovered running by myself is an inner strength I didn't know I had. The strength to keep going when I'm tired and want to stop. The strength to keep up a certain pace even when it's uncomfortable. The strength to dig deep and push myself to be better, be stronger, be more. The empowerment, freedom, and strength I've gained over the past year wouldn't have been possible if I were a "two". It's only as a "one" that I've discovered these things about myself. 

Lonely? Nope. Not this "one". I'm too busy finding out new things about myself  to be lonely. Hello new Terri ... it's nice to meet you.