So, the time has come, ladies and gentlemen. The time has come for me to really start getting my shit together.
Actually, the time has come first for me to blog about getting my shit together. It’s like a pregame. Immediately after this though… It’s on, you guys. Shit. Together.
Believe it or not, I’m actually not talking about running for once. I’m talking about my field work. I head to Brazil in mid-May and I come back at the end of July. This trip will be for me to collect data for my dissertation research on nonhuman primate spatial cognition. As my dad likes to say, I’ll be following monkeys around in the woods. Yes, really.
There is so much to do to prepare. I have to make sure I’m completely ready and packed, and that my undergrad mentee is too. I have to mentally prepare and make sure I know my data collection procedures back to front. It’s a mental and physical process to get ready to go and I’m not there yet. Not at all. So much to do, so little time.
I’ve been investigating different ways for me to maintain contact with my family while I’m away. It is next to impossible considering the lack of internet or cellphone coverage in the location where I’ll be. However, I will have occasional access to internet (think maybe once or twice in the 2.5 month span) and I will try to send messages through an intermediary more frequently. This process requires writing emails, putting them on a flash drive, and sending the flash drive with someone who is going to town and can email them out. It’s like the pony express, but with motorbikes.
Believe it or not, I actually like parts of the idea of unplugging. I like not having/needing to check email 800 times per day. I like being quiet and concentrated on my work. There’s no facebook or twitter notifications. It’s blissfully peaceful in a way.
Actually, it can also be pretty unnerving at times. I do, however, like the exercise of unplugging because I think it does my brain good. But being out of contact with Sergio and my family is not fun. It just plain sucks. It’s the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. You know what though? I’m going to live. It’s only 2.5 months out of a whole big life. And being in the field is awesome. You get to see monkeys up close and personal. You get to see the most amazing night sky that ever was (I’m not kidding). You get to live somewhere most people have never even heard of and have conversations with some amazing folks. It’s pretty cool.
I will have lots of pictures for you guys when I get back. Who knows, I may even try running while I’m there. Then I can recommend some running routes if you ever find yourself following monkeys in the woods in northeastern Brazil.
Shit together time starts…. NOW.
So I spent 10 days or so in Hong Kong and while I was there, I did a little running. I also did a LOT of walking, which explains why I didn’t do a lot more running. But the running that I did was so so so much fun.
This awesome route goes right along the harbor and features some amazing views, some nasty fishy smells, and the most fascinating people watching ever. You know what’s great? The fact that, in Hong Kong, folks of all ages are out being active at all times of the day and night. By active, I mean that they are out there running or dancing or swimming or doing calisthenics or Tai Chi or WALKING BACKWARDS (because why the hell not?). They’re doing this while all of us Americans are sitting around on our couches watching The Biggest Loser. That (plus genetics) may explain why I felt so fat in Hong Kong.
Now, being active is great. I fully support it. I do not, however, think it’s such a good idea to go swimming in Hong Kong harbor. I saw lots of giant boats, oily spots, and jelly fish in Hong Kong harbor. Not my idea of an ideal swimming pool. But that didn’t seem to deter some folks.
There was definitely air pollution out there, but a lot of the gray in the air you see in my pictures was because of the humidity in the air and the fact that it was still kind of early in the day. I didn’t feel the air pollution too much while I ran. I wondered whether or not it would affect me, and it turns out that it didn’t.
I got back to Athens about two weeks ago, but I’m only now starting to regroup since I left for a conference in Baltimore soon thereafter. Crazy times means I’m not doing as much running as I would like. How is every one shaping up for spring? Are we ready for the hot weather that is coming, Georgia? I don’t think I am.
First let me say that I’m not here asking for reassurance about my body. I promise. But I have a confession. Being in Hong Kong makes me feel fat…
This is more of an observation of my own mental processes than me asking for someone to reassure me. I just think it is interesting that I’m thinking these things here, but at home (at least most of the time) I don’t think about it hardly at all.
My guess is that I’m always comparing myself to the other people around me (here and at home), and now that the other people around me are significantly smaller than me, I feel like a giant.
I’m training for the Rockin’ Harbins Park Half marathon in Dacula on April 21. Even for runners from the area, when I say I’m running in this particular half marathon, they get a vague, far-away look in their eyes that says, “I have no idea what or where that is, but it sounds sketchy.” I don’t care. It fits my schedule and that’s all I’m worried about right now. The course could be completely awful, but I’ll deal with that when I get there (I guess). I just had to put it on the calendar otherwise I wasn’t going to get motivated again. But I registered, and I AM motivated, and that’s a pretty awesome feeling.
Last week I ran 5 miles on Monday, 5 miles on Thursday, and 6 miles on Saturday. I also taught Zumba for two hours on Tuesday, like I do every week. Sunday, out of the blue, I got this urge to give swimming another go. I used to swim in high school. I wasn’t great at it, but I did it. So I put on my suit and headed to the gym to go swimming. It was good to be back in the water, and I think it’s a really good workout for me when I’m not running, especially considering the pounding I subject my body to with running and Zumba. Swimming is smooth. Swimming is, for lack of a less obvious descriptor, fluid. I’m terribly slow, but I really don’t even mind because before I wasn’t even working out at all on the days that I’ve now dedicated to swimming. So it feels like anything I do burns bonus calories, even if it is slow, ugly, and I refuse to do flip turns.
Flip turn fail. Mine are way uglier.
This week, I ran 5 miles on Monday. Have I mentioned how good Gone Girl is? WELL, I just got to that part, which… if you’ve read it, you know exactly what I’m referring to, and if you haven’t read it, what are you doing with your life?? I ran with my mouth hanging open and I could not even process what was happening. Major portions of my run are completely deleted from my memory. I just ran. And listened. And it was amaaaazing. Tuesday, more Zumba. Two hours. There are a couple of new songs I want to start doing in class and if I ever find time to choreograph again, I’ll have plenty to do. One I want to do is from the latest ZIN video (the Bhangra song). Yesterday, I went back to the pool for a short swim. When I say short, I mean it (650 m), but it’s bonus exercise, so I just have to do better than nothing. This morning I did another 5 miles. I don’t normally run in the morning. I wait for the end of my work day and reward myself for making it through the day with a run. It’s sick and twisted, I know. But that’s the mind of a PhD student for you. But running this morning was pretty good. I’m just tiiiired right now. Saturday, I’m going for 7 miles.
Next week, I’m going to be facing a major workout challenge. I’m going to Hong Kong with my mom, dad, and brother. It’s an amazing opportunity. I can’t even begin to process that one week from tomorrow I’ll be in China, but I guess it will hit me when I get off the plane. I’m totally stoked, but I also can’t figure out exactly how I’m going to keep up with my training. I can’t even imagine trying to run in Hong Kong on the streets. I’m way too scared to try that. My dad’s apartment has treadmills, I think. So if I have enough time and energy for it, I suppose I’m going to give running indoors a shot. I know I’m going to be zapped for energy though, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll be sure to send pictures. My dad and brother are already there and they sent this picture of the harbor.