Sunday, April 13, 2014

"He's so old that when he orders a three-minute egg, they ask for the money up front."

I woke up this morning and dragged myself over to the bathroom.  Anyone who had seen me at the time would have thought that I was a man in the twilight of my life.  My achy legs and joints prevented me from moving effortlessly to relieve myself.  Sadly, this is an all too common occurrence.  I often rise in the morning and feel like I am 80 years old -- hoping that my muscles warm up quickly and I can walk around normally.  The sensation is heightened if I completed a hard session the day before.  For example, I had a tempo run yesterday (which went horribly) and this added some extra soreness to my limbs.  Fast forward to this morning and I am sore all over -- even in odd spots where I thought I could evade fatigue.  Every now and then, I flash back to when I was in college and could bounce back quickly after tough workouts.  While I am not super old, my body has been having trouble recovering in between sessions lately.  If I do lots of easy running then I am fine and the legs feel good.  However, I need faster reps in order to prepare myself for competitions.  All in all, it has and continues to be a frustrating phenomenon.  I so desperately want to lower personal bests and compete at an elite level but my body continues to choose otherwise.  How long can I keep this up?  I just don't know.  I have a long run scheduled today and opted to try and go later in the day when my legs will hopefully feel better.  I guess we'll see.

I keep having moments where I become lost in my thoughts and wonder what the future holds for me.  Work has been work, but this has not been providing the mental stimulation necessary for me to see it as a long term option.  I almost see myself as a babysitter, but instead of giving treats I hand out fatigue haha.  Big Bad Mr G.  The only thing I am truly looking forward to is my upcoming trip in a few months.  I have this deep desire to get out and see the world -- and this will be fulfilled!  To be out of America and caught up in a daily life that is foreign to me is fascinating.  The weeks tick away and I will soon find myself in Mother Africa.  I can't wait to see more of my culture, people and country.  Various people have told me that I'll be bored and should bring along plenty of reading material.  While I do plan to read some, I generally want to fill my time by taking in as much of everything around me as I can.  I do enough reading as it is.

This week finds me away from the school and on spring break -- yeeeeee!  It will be nice to be away for a bit and relax.  The only goal I made for myself was to get as much sleep as I could.  Ambitious, I know.  I have a low key race lined up next Saturday and I hope to get in a solid effort.  I wouldn't be surprised if I lost, although I will do everything in my power to prevent this.  Other then that, I will read a few books and spend some time with family.  

Bonus points if you know who said the quote above without looking it up!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Doing What's Right

Today was going pretty well up until I walked down the center of the gym and noticed one of the 6th grade students.  He was eating his food like usual, but I noticed something on his face.  I headed towards him and saw that he had fresh cuts and bruises.  The first thought that crossed my mind was "He probably got into a fight with another kid after school yesterday."  I have a fairly good relationship with him and casually brought up his new face ware.  He immediately responded and said "Oh, I was fighting my step dad last night.  He was mad that I was wearing his hat."  I then asked him how he got the cuts, one being especially deep above his left eye.  He calmly said that his stepfather used his nails to scratch him up.  Man, kids can be brutally honest sometimes.  I tried to control my shock and dug a little deeper.  I asked if this was a regular occurrence or a one time thing.  He was like "Me and him fight all the time.  My mom screamed at him after he did this and he stormed out."  That's all I needed.  I knew I had to act and help this little guy out.  It's interesting how kids that have been assaulted can sometimes be so calm and at ease.  He mentioned the fact that he always fought with his step dad as easily as he asks to play basketball during PE.

I fought a little mental battle while climbing the steps to the school office.  I in no way condone child abuse.  However, I do believe parents should discipline their children to make sure they behave and remain on the right path.  This was definitely a case where the parent was in the wrong.  To wail on a little kid because they're wearing your cap -- I just don't have words for that.  He crossed the line and who knows how many times he did so in the past.  I shudder to think about it.  I also imagined the kid being taken out of the home and placed into foster care.  He did say that his mother helped clean him up and screamed at his father, but is this enough to remove her of fault?  If this has been going on regularly...I'll leave that to you.  It's crazy how fast these, and other thoughts flashed through my mind.  I eventually made it up those steps and chatted with the principal concerning the situation.  We both agreed that we needed to file a report with Child Services.  I filled out the necessary forms and spoke with a representative of the county explaining all of the events.  I did in fact feel better after finishing up and believe that I did the right thing.

I bumped into the little man while heading out to my car after school.  He was in high spirits and trying to catch the bus a few blocks away.  He didn't seem sad or hesitant to be heading home.  I have no idea what was going on inside his mind but it was nice to see him happy.  I hope everything ends up ok for him and his family.  Only time will tell.  One Love.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Underdogs are the best

It has been an eventful last few weeks in the life of Gil.  Last weekend I had the opportunity to compete in the Oakland Running Festival.  I know I said that I wouldn't race for a while but I couldn't pass up the opportunity of a trip to Hawaii!  A friend hit me up a few days before the event seeing if I would be interested in being a part of a marathon relay team -- the first place prize being a round trip ticket to the land of volcanoes.  I thought to myself "Why not?" and told him that I was down.  We ended up fielding a coed team comprised of three males and one female.  However, our goal was still to win the event and beat all teams entered.  I hadn't worked out since injuring my left leg and viewed my portion as a hard, tempo effort.  I ended up going first and handed off with a sizable lead to my teammate.  We held and extended that all the way to the finish.  It was super fun and I definitely had a big smile on my face walking around post race.  I enjoyed feasting on a few free samples, listening to some live music and sipping on a few beers.  My spirits were also high because I was able to run a good pace on the road pain free.  I felt the effort on some uphill segments but was smooth for most of the leg.  I will now try to build upon this and string together some quality mileage and workouts.

I had the opportunity to travel to SF yesterday with a friend in hopes of picking up a pair of the Adidas Boost running shoes.  I had been reading about them for the last year and was curious to try them out for myself.  Nearly everything I've read and seen has been positive about the Boost technology.  Instead of EVA foam on the bottom of the shoe, Adidas created a cushion system consisting of thousands of small bubbles stuck together.  The result -- a bouncy, cushy ride that is ridiculously responsive and durable.  I'll see how they hold up to pounding on the trails.  It was also nice that the store had a two hour spring break sale that started right when I walked in.  This saved me a lot of money and upped my spirits!  I'll keep you all updated on how these bad boys feel over the coming weeks.

Lastly, I woke up this morning to the news that Eritrea won the world 1/2 marathon team championship!  I was amazed and proud when I saw the results and how closely bunched the team was.  While Zersenay Tadese wasn't able to defend his individual championship, he was still able to come away with a gold medal.  I've often wondered where Eritrean distance runners train in the country and hopefully I can answer this question when I get over there.  More and more guys keep popping up on the international scene with quality performances -- I need to know how and why!  This is a special day for Eritrea and shines some positive light in the area.

I've had a slight cold so I'll be trying to get as much rest as possible this weekend.  No craziness for me.  I posted some pics of the Running Festival below.  One love.

                                                                               Some of the relay team participants

                                                                    Jim Hines -- first man to break 10 seconds in the 100!

                                                                                             AIPCS representin!

                                                                                Sheila E. -- The Glamorous Life

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Take me Higher

A bright yellow sun pounds on my face as I sit on the back porch.  I've got a cup of tea in my hand and my eyes focused on the deep blue sky.  Besides a few loud sea gulls, the situation is calm and serene.  There is a slight breeze in the air and not a cloud in the sky.  My mind wanders and I feel completely at ease.  I love starting mornings like this.  I have nothing hanging over me and can look forward to a relaxed day.  No work, an easy run to do later and lots of sitting around are on the menu.  I might throw a little reading into the mix just to be semi productive.  I can't think of a nicer place to spend early spring then the Bay Area.  The weather is perfect and there are many cool spots to check out within a close radius.  I'm slightly sleepy, but ready to see what this fabulous day has to offer.

This past week began with my mind constantly focused on my aching left leg.  I diligently used my foam roller and soft ball to ease away tension every night before sleeping.  Gradually, the pain subsided and I was able to enjoy running again.  I ran 8 miles Monday morning and 10 Tuesday through Friday.  I plan on running a little longer later today and hopefully adding some strides at the end.  I have removed all thoughts of racing and just want to get to the point where I am fully enjoying running every day.  Yesterday's run was particularly nice and I felt like I had an outer body experience.  I strode out in the fading sunlight and felt amazing.  There was a specific time when I was heading into the sunset and I felt as if I was looking at myself from afar.  It is so hard to put into words but it was a special, memorable experience that I will not soon forget.  I felt like I was floating and superhuman.  This further showed me how much I love the simple act of running.  Racing and training aside, I enjoy being out in nature and listening to the pounding of my own beat.  I've decided to head out the door with the only thought being to enjoy the run and nothing else.  I need to get back to the point where I feel good while running before I can look to compete.  One thing I need to focus on are my workouts.  It seems like every time I do something faster then threshold I strain a muscle or acquire some other sort of injury.  I'm sure the fact that I do my hard sessions early in the morning and then rush off to work afterwards doesn't help the situation.  There are times when my legs are so sore and tight yet I'm at work and on my feet for 8-9 hours.  It's frustrating but it's also life.  I need to be able to provide for myself and so I need to work.  Therein lies the obstacle, but it's one I must find a way in which to hurdle.  For now, I just want to have some nice runs and feel healthy.  The rest will find a way of coming together.

I had a chance to watch the film Fruitvale Station  a few nights ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I remember when the whole Oscar Grant episode took place but was living in Arizona at the time.  My siblings had told me what happened and I was shocked.  It is a sad story and a situation that should never happen.  The fact that the guilty party received such a light sentence is outrageous.  There are some serious problems within the US justice system and this story exposed some of them.  The acting was good and I would recommend the film to all.

Time to go relax for a bit before having another nice run.  I love days like this.  One love.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Twisting Screwdriver

That's what the sensation feels like on my left outer hip area.  I've experienced this sort of discomfort before, but on the opposite side.  I'm sure I wrote a blog cataloguing that pain back in May of 2012.  The chiropractic appointment Thursday addressed a few imbalances I was feeling but didn't fix the issue with the leg.  I think that my muscles in the area are extremely tight and need to be loosened up.  I took Thursday and Friday off from running and started back up again yesterday.  The run went well for the most part but my leg still bugged me off and on and a lot more towards the end.  Once I finished, I stretched and then grabbed my handy softball and rolled out the area while holding back some curses.  When I got up, I felt instant gratification.  I felt like I was walking around smoothly and my spirits skyrocketed. I ate, showered and headed out the door to spend some time with family.

The day went well and I had some good times with my sister, brother, niece and a few others in Berkeley.  We took in a few sights, grabbed some food, then went our separate ways.  Later that evening, I attended a surprise birthday party for one of my friends.  Everyone had fun snacking, having some beers and listening to some music.  However, my leg started acting up again.  I had a lot of discomfort walking around and constantly shifted my weight to gain some relief.  I massaged deep into my muscles while rolling on the softball and and I think the area was just a little sensitive.  I went to bed later that evening in hopes that I would awake and my leg would feel better.

Instead, my night featured little sleep.  I tossed and turned -- but it wasn't due to my leg.  My mind couldn't rest.  I was caught up in thinking about my life and this set my thoughts off.  Anxiety over my current situation, future prospects and still not knowing what I truly want to do professionally racked my cranium.  However, I wasn't alarmed.  I think it's normal for someone in my position to experience bouts such as this.  Throw in my injury issue and that little extra bit of uncertainty probably tipped me over.  I am 30, chasing a slowly dying dream of running and reaching the Olympics, and working at a job that doesn't bring me total satisfaction.  While I am grateful to be earning a salary and able to support myself and family, it just doesn't feel like this is the road I was meant to go down.  Instead, I am on a side country path constantly going over divots and bumping all over the place.  How long will I continue to travel down this uneven pathway?  When will I finally reach that crossroads that is supposed to point me in the right direction?  Only time will tell.

I'm not discouraged about my leg and know that it will heal up in time.  I am also not too worried about my inability to find the right path.  This will also become clearer in the coming months and years.  That greatness up in the sky has guided me fairly well up to this point and I know it will keep being my guiding light.  Here's to some positivity!  Peace.    

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Some Potholes

I was gonna title this entry "Some Bumps in the road" but these feel more like potholes.  Training had been going solidly up until this past Sunday.  I had a long run scheduled and completed a solo 18 miles.  It was during the last bit of this excursion that discomfort hit.  First my left hip started to bug me.  I then began running a little funny and my right knee started to hurt.  Thankfully, all of this occurred with the majority of the run already complete.  When I got home, I focused on getting in a good stretch and used my foam roller later that night.  I was a little confused as to why I had these kinks because I had a massage the day before.  I went into that session with some slight soreness but no major problem.  The only different thing that the therapist did was have me lay on my back, tuck my heel near my butt, and then she pulled on my knee to try and release my hip.  I had told her that I was dealing with off and on hamstring soreness and she tried to ease tension in the area by working on my hips.  Unfortunately, I think this might have popped my hip out of place or something.  I continued to run the last few days but pain had been shooting up my leg at random moments.  Being the genius that I am, I continued to keep running to see if I could "run off" the problem.  Surprisingly this amazing strategy has not worked.  I will instead head in to see a chiropractor tomorrow and take a few days off until I figure out what's up.  Frustrating, but I'll get through it.  These are the bumps.

On a brighter note, I purchased my ticket to Eritrea!  I will officially be in the Motherland this summer to take in all the sights, culture, dirt and everything else I can get my hands on.  My mother will also be coming along and I bought her ticket as well.  Damn I spent a chunk of money!!  It will be worth it, though, and I have a few months to save up a little cash.  I'll be there from late June to mid August and plan to make the most of each day I am there.  It will be such an amazing experience and will also help me to figure out a few life moves I want to make in the near future.

Other then this, things have been moving along steadily.  Work is work.  The time has been flying by this school year and I can't believe I will finish my third year soon.  It has been interesting to see some of the kids I started with growing up and maturing into young adults.  Most have continued to be hardworking and respectful.  However, a certain handful have decided to go down the road of being a nuisance and causing multiple problems.  What's a school without a little juvenile delinquency, right?  I have been using various methods to try and steer them back towards the higher road -- I have succeeded in some areas and failed miserably in others.  At the end of the day, I hope they come to realize their mistakes and grow and learn from them.  We will see what happens.

Until next time, peace.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Breaking Through

February is nearly over and this is the warmest month I've seen out here in quite some time.  I was actually a bit shocked at how much I was sweating during my workout yesterday.  I've got no complaints, though, and have enjoyed the beautiful days and cool nights.  I know California is going through a drought but I can't remember when training conditions have ever been this perfect.  I have a feeling there are some big rainstorms hiding out there and we will all be in for some damp times.  However, I'm not going to worry about that.  I am too focused on the present and it feels damn good.

My training these past few weeks has been solid.  My first race will be on the 15th of March and that has given me a little fire in terms of focus.  I will be out in San Francisco competing in the Emerald Nuts Across the Bay 12k.  I've never had the chance to race across the Golden Gate Bridge and I look forward to this unique experience.  It has been ages since I last competed and I am extremely anxious to get out there and test out the fitness.  I have mainly focused on strength lately with lots of threshold work and solid long runs.  The 20 miler I ran this past Sunday was pretty draining, though, and I even had to take the next day off because I was still fatigued.  I had a session of two mile repeats Wednesday and a good 6 mile tempo on the trail yesterday.  I'm not a fan of solo tempo runs but I feel they have helped harness my focus and get me locked into a nice rhythm.  My goal is to knock the pace down a bit over the next few weeks and get in a little interval work.  I think I may try to do faster stuff Saturday and stick to threshold work on Wednesdays.  It's just too hard for me to get it going early in the morning.  Also, going fast that early in the day would probably make me more susceptible to injury.  I'm excited to get out there competing soon and having some strong performances this spring.

I had a pretty chill weekend...hey I still have a few more hours to go I guess.  I am sitting here wasting time before heading out for a long run.  It's hard for me to get out the door knowing how far I'll be going and so I like to relax a little beforehand.  What's better then listening to some good music and typing my life away?  Anyways, last night I had the opportunity to watch a great documentary.  It detailed the experiences of the Central Park Five -- a group of kids who were wrongfully tried and convicted of a crime they didn't commit.  They ranged in age from 14-16 and were locked away and forgotten.  They were accused of raping a jogger (a young white woman) one night back in 1989.  There was no DNA evidence and they all had alibis,  yet they still suffered the ultimate consequence.  I don't want to give too much away but I do recommend watching this film.  I couldn't stop thinking about it once I was done.  I felt so bad for those kids, now adults.  There are so many things wrong with the American Justice System and many changes need to be made.

As I finish writing this blog the sun is breaking through the clouds and blanketing everything in a powerful glow.  I look forward to heading out the door and journeying through the trails of UC and Fremont.  I've got my Gramatik Pandora station blasting through the speakers and my mind is moving ever forward.  My trip to Eritrea continues to play out in my mind as I continue to search ticket prices.  I've hit up some travel agents to see if they can get me a better deal but I have a good indication of what it will cost.  My two big goals in the coming months are to win Bay to Breakers and travel back home.  Hopefully with a little luck, I can check both of those off.  Here's to another great week.  Peace.