Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Motivation South of the Border

Ever wonder if ad clients fully think through the pitches from their ad agencies?  Do they really mull over all the implications of their publicity or do they just go whole hog with the ideas from the folks in the funky glasses?  I think I have my answer here:

Now you may be saying, "Rachel, I don't know Spanish."  To you I would say, "Wow, I hope that French is coming in handy to read all that academic theory and sing that song in The Little Mermaid.  Good job on that choice in middle school."  Regardless of your ability to, oh, function in today's global marketplace, you can tell that there is a pig.  In a tanktop.  With a towel thrown over his shoulder.  He also appears to be winking (or wincing).  The helpful message floating above the wincing pig's head says "In the name of hygiene and respect for others, it's important to use a towel while working out."

Yes, the obscenely overpriced gym in Mexico City that I patronized because I wanted a treadmill is calling its customers wincing pigs.  Or maybe they're saying you will *poof!* turn into a wincing pig if you don't mop up after yourself.  I did mop off my face during my run.  But I didn't do it too much.  Because the towel smelled like it had been marinated in distilled Downy and, from previous experience, I know Mexican fabric softener gives me a rash the likes of which I haven't had since the night before my comprehensive exams in grad school.

The gym looked impressive on the website and I marveled that it was only 6 blocks from my hotel.  There are lots of gyms in the ritzier districts of Mexico City but the historic downtown has none (or, as it turns out, one).  The bank of treadmills glowed on the Urban Fitness website, check it out here.  However, I should have known.  Mexican gyms, as I remembered as soon as I paid the obscene entrance fee and got on the treadmill, use mirrors with the wiliness of my grandma in Florida.  

The gym was not so palatial as it looked online.  But that was ok.  I really only wanted the treadmill.  So I got on one.  It made a screechy sound.  I got on another.  There was a hole in the belt.  I got on the last one.  Things got started ok.  I had to adjust to km measurements but I was cruising along easy (because of the altitude -- we're at 7300 feet here) and then, just to keep me on my toes, the belt of the treadmill would seize up every once in a while.  Kind of like I was tripping over a big a** rock.  So I guess it was a trail running treadmill.  

While I was running there was an infomercial for the "Bioshaker" on one of the televisions.  Now I have posted about the fascination with shaking things I witnessed in Mexico before. The belt that wiggles away the fat that disappeared from most reputable fitness facilities in the 1970s?  Still going strong in Mexico.  Today I discovered there is a NEW way to made your waddle waggle.  Yes, the Bioshaker.  I tried to drag my eyes away from the jiggling rear ends, jiggling thighs, jiggled upper arms, and jiggling bellies put into motion by the Bioshaker but I just couldn't.  The rhythmic motion was hypnotizing.  Clearly this woman is enjoying whatever the Bioshaker is doing to her netherregions:

To fully appreciate this fine fitness device, you really need to watch the video.  When I googled the Bioshaker there was an entire forum of people who claimed the Bioshaker detached their retinas.  Wow.  I guess they really were blinded by science.  If I didn't like Walmart before, I really despise it now.  This baby is available at Sam's Club.

After I finished my 35 minutes, I asked the guy at the front desk if he could take a picture of me for my blog (I'm sure all of that came across in my post-workout Spanish).  "You want ME to take a picture of YOU?" he asked.  "Clothed," I wanted to say.  "A clothed picture."  So I got back on a treadmill, confirmed to all the Mexican gym patrons that pale faces are crazy, and posed:

I like that one because you can tell the guy behind me is thinking "That pale face is crazy."  This one also features the guy backing away slowly so as not to agitate the pale face.

Will I go back to this place?  Sadly, probably.  Running outside is not an option here for lots of reasons and I'm hoping to find more posters with wincing pigs on them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Red shirting the pink shirt

So in the best tradition of soccer legends who defend their familial honor with a head to the ribcage of the offending party, my pink running shirt has knocked the air out of me for the last time this summer.  Red card, pink running shirt, red card!  Get your hooligan/ not-at-all-breatheable self on the bench.  You are not doing the great galumphing tradition of this running outfit proud.

You all remember the pink shirt.  I am wearing it in nearly every photo on here.  I ran my first half marathon in it:

Wait, no that's not the pink shirt.  Here, you will surely remember the streamlined cut of the pink shirt:

Damn, that's not it either.  The seams of the pink shirt hugged my surfboard-like figure to create the illusion of curves:

Gargh!  While that shirt(dress) is certainly pink in the awfullest way, it's not the garment under the microscope here.  Here, here is the clothing item I'm looking for:

And here again:

I should have known when I returned from the above run that it was not just the humidity that was causing me to dump gallons of water through my cavernous pores.  It was the cute but suffocating shirt I was wearing.  Does it wick sweat?  Yes.  And there is plenty of sweat to wick.  Does it breathe?  Let's just say the sweat suits my husband wore to drop weight from Hot Strapping Hunk weight to welterweight in high school breathed more.  I do believe that the "sauna suits" pictured below would have allowed me to catch more of a breeze than the stifling pink shirt:

These people look refreshed.  Maybe it is because they have absolutely no more fluid in their bodies and their eyeballs are on the brink of shriveling up.  But still, they look sharper than I do after moving half the distance they did in this photograph in the pink shirt.

Pink shirt, you have served me well, time to mothball you until the temps dip below 70 again.  Now on to the search for a breathable tank top.  I'm eying up this one, but I don't know if I'm as "Hip Hop" as the very street guy wearing it:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The carrot or the stick?

Well call me schooled.  I always thought this phrase originated in Mexico with Porfirio Díaz before the Mexican Revolution.  But maybe that's because I'm a Latin American historian and all I know are facts (or apparently falsities) about Latin America.  According to Wikipedia, arbiter of all things true, it originated in 1948.  In The Economist, for the love of all things holy.  How boring.  The theory behind the carrot and the stick is that a person (or donkey) can be motivated by either positive (carrot) or negative (stick) reinforcement.  In today's post I'll debate the benefits of both.

The Stick:
Yesterday I picked up a Stick of my own.  Both Maddy and Alice are very jealous that I am allowed to bring sticks inside and they are not.  Of course,  mine don't splinter and get caught in everyone's socks.  And I'm not a dog.  So, well, I win.  The Stick is a rolling thing that you can roll.  All over your body (with the exception of your shins!  NEVER ROLL IT ON YOUR SHINS!  Or at least that is what the enclosed literature says).  It mashes out kinks and knots and I hope it loosens up my calves a little.  You know what would also loosen up my calves?  Stretching.  But that's free and not nearly as interesting looking.  So let's scotch that idea.

Here I am applying the Stick to my calves:

As you can see, Maddy is wondering if this Stick is worth wrapping her old lady choppers around.  What Maddy is not wondering is how this will feel passing through and out of her digestive system.  She never thinks of that when sizing up sticks or mulch.  Instead she happily chomps away and then grimaces and yelps when I need to pull a lumber yard's worth of kindling out of her butt on our walks.  But I'm not bitter.  Really.

The Carrot:
Here I am applying a baby carrot to my calves.  Note Madison is not around, which is surprising considering baby carrots are her favorite snack.  Actually everything is her favorite snack with the exception of bananas (not crunchy) and lettuce (crunchy but flavorless).  In terms of effectiveness for loosening up the calf area, I would have to go with the Stick. 

With the baby carrot, I have a pleasant and relaxed expression on my face.  By contrast, with the Stick I have an oh-God-this-thing-is-turning-my-lower-legs-into-chopped-meat/ wow-this-is-really-working-out-the-knots expression on my face:


So, advantage Stick for stretching out lower calves.  How about in terms of appetizers?  Which would make a more impressive crudité at your next company event?

The carrot: a tasty and crunchy treat.  Note: do not serve carrots after rolling them over your calf.  They are slightly salty.

The Stick:  Not such a mingle- or dental work-friendly kind of appetizer.  Perhaps would be better after a long braise.

So, advantage carrot for tasty appetizers.

Overall, I think the Stick takes the lead though with its other superpowers.  

Can be used as a cheerleading baton.  I know I look more like a soccer hooligan here or like I stepped out of a Clockwork Orange but this too is an advantage to the Stick.  It is more menacing than a baby carrot.

Can be used in your sunset years after you are crippled by running.  And by my sunset years I mean about 6 months from now.  On a good day.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The next one!

Hills here I come!  I've signed up for my next half marathon -- the half marathon portion of the High Country Triple Crown in Boone, NC on August 27.  I'm not doing the 10k or the 2-miler mostly because we are not driving up to Boone 3 times.  But driving up to Boone once will be cool!  And being in the Asheville hippie orbit, Boone has a vegan-friendly restaurant I have already tapped as my post-race brunch.

The training program will be largely the same with some more speedwork and lots more hills.  I've contemplated running our stadium steps...but then again I'm not Rocky.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Getting Buff

For the past dozen years or so I have been running with the same set of running head gear -- two patterned Buff headwraps.  You can see them both here (one, um, on my head and the other on my wrist as a snot spot):

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to change my style -- as I do every 15 years or so (the 90s were a good time for tall lanky girls!  Chunky Mary Jane shoes are cute!) -- and ordered a new Buff.  This one is fancy and Coolmax and makes me look like I headbutted a Hawaiian luau.  I only realized this after I got it.

Front view of Hawaiian luau on my head

More deferential view of Hawaiian luau on my head

Friday I debut my brand new No Meat Athlete shirt at the gym.  Is it goofy?  Yes.  Does it have a sprinting carrot on it?  Yes.  Did they get me with the "Runs on Plants" tagline?  For sure.  

After these two purchases I can heave a sigh of relief.  And go shopping again in 2026.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blowing chunks (mango chunks)

I had a great run today that became even better when I got back and figured out my pace -- 9:55 miles for 7.5 miles!  Woohoo!  That is the first longer run I've done under 10!  

It didn't feel good the whole time (the Amphipod water belt is great...but still a sloshing water belt around your waist) but by the end I was finally hitting a good rhythm.  I ended with a new hilly loop through a beautiful older but posh neighborhood.  The shady trees and big rocks and trees distracted from the fact that I was running hills.  It almost felt like I was on a trail it was so tranquil.

When I got back I made a smoothie with these guys:

I didn't take a picture of it because, well, it was yellow liquid and wasn't terribly exciting.  It was tasty though.  Alice stayed home today and is going to come on a run with me on Monday.  Judging by her tornado dog disposition today, she could have come a long this morning...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A new humidity PR

97% humidity at 7:22 this morning, ugh!  It may have been 68 degrees...but it felt like hell.  Apparently the stickiness made everything long our route smell delicious because Alice was not in a mood to stay on course.  Time to watch my hair frizz...