Thursday, November 24, 2011

Angel Jane

I've been in Toronto for five years and lived in four different buildings...all within a two kilometre radius. Suffice to say that I am a sucker for convenience. Not only do I like being close to work, but I like living downtown. Living at Yonge & Dundas Square means that practically everything is at my doorstep - the LCBO (I swear that wasn't the deal breaker for my latest move! Ok maybe it was), the Eaton Centre, awesome restaurants like Milestones, Jack Astors and Joeys, les Trois Brasseurs (and other less awesome bars), Goodlife Fitness, a ginormous movie theatre, several grocery stores, Shoppers Drug Mart (the most marvelous place besides the LCBO), one billion food courts, every Bank that exists, Tutti Frutti candy store and last but not least, there are FIVE Starbucks, each no more than two blocks from me. No joke. There is one IN my building, one across the street, one in the movie theatre, one in the mall and one one block east of me...and somehow le Blog du Rob was smart enough to start a bet with me on who could reach Starbucks Gold card status faster. FYI Rob, there is one pitiful, lonesome Starbucks in all of Guelph. And five within two minutes of me. I thought you were a smart dude, but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps this is the real reason you are making so many trips to Toronto?

Anyway, I reached Gold Status four days ago. That's right, I am now officially a Starbucks Gold member! Holler. You may win the odd party le Rob but I beat you to gold sucka! Yea. Not sure what this will really do for me, however, as I never get any of the syrups or flavour shots that I could now get for free. And I don't have a coffee maker for deals on coffee grinds. And I don't stay inside the Starbucks long enough to get a free re-fill. But at least I get a free cuppa joe every two weeks? The important thing, people, is that I am a Gold member, and therefore a superior member of society. That makes me feel pretty cool.

I was not intending on writing this blog about coffee, but somehow my dialogue about the convenience of my condo has brought me to the topic. Downtown condominium living has other quirks and perks, however. Like concierges. They are a unique bunch. They must see a lot of weird stuff since they basically sit at the front desk for 8-12 hours and watch people come in and out - all day or overnight. I would assume the night shifts are pretty boring unless you are working on a weekend, in which you could probably witness some pretty remarkable transformations. Like one night, when I had a lab party and left my place in an innocent collared shirt and black pants with my computer strapped to my back. I got changed at the lab and went to the party in one of my typical risque Jane outfits, which I obviously had to match with a reckless drinking style. The last thing I remember was taking shots to the song 'Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots, shots, shots!' Not surprisingly, it wasn't long before I was passed out in the washroom practically dead. When my labmates found me, I vehemently claimed that the floor was the most comfortable bed there was and that I would be sleeping in the stall that night. The next morning I woke up in my own bed, and was perplexed by how I ended up there. Apparently my labmates carried me home, through the front door and up the elevator, my arms hanging around each of these dudes' necks. Now THAT is classy. I wonder what the concierge thought seeing that come through the door? Who is that, who are they and where is her computer?!

In reality, I got along well with the concierges in my last building and they always said a kind hello when I was leaving or entering the building. The only time they made comments was when I showed up downstairs dressed like I was ready to rob a bank at 5am, waiting to meet the Angels for an early morning run. 'I can't believe you are running in this weather. In the dark. You are nuts!' they would always comment. Once I came down dressed in my usual sexy way and the concierge yelled to me 'It's only -8 today! It's only -8!!! Do you want to leave your neckwarmer here?!' It was pretty funny how excited they were that I would be able to run without coming back frostbitten, as they so often witnessed when I was unable to open any doors or retrieve keys or fobs from my pockets because my hands were completely frozen. Good times.

Now I am living in a new building with new concierges. There are four regulars who each have quite a unique disposition. The first is Frank. Frank is a funny guy. I am not sure where he is from but he has one of the strangest accents I have ever heard. I can hardly ever understand what he is saying. Furthermore, his tone is extremely high pitched such that he actually sounds like a young girl when he speaks. A young girl with a weird European accent...who is in reality a grown, chubby man with thinning hair. Frank has taken a particular interest in my running (and lack thereof). After I had been off running for a few weeks, I came home from work one day and he randomly called out 'Are you going running now? Running in the morning, running at night, you are ALWAYS running!!!' At this point I had to tell him that in fact I was not running at all and I had been injured for the past three weeks. At this point, the second awesome concierge Sam (I will get to him in a moment) jumped up and screamed: 'My angel is INJURED!!! What? What can I do? What happened? WHERE ARE YOU HURT MY ANGEL?!' as if I had just been hit by a car and was about to die. After I appeased Sam's concerns and told them it was just a torn muscle in my shin, Frank sighed 'Oh that's nothing, you'll be fine! A few days, ya?' his voice squeaking with each inflection. 'Hmmmmm' I wondered, 'How is a torn muscle not something to be concerned about?!' I was perplexed by their opposing and wildly inaccurate assessments of my injury, but just rolled with it. 'Errr ya I'm sure it will heal soon. No reason to be too concerned!' 'But I don't understand why you need to run,' Frank continued, 'You are so skinny! You don't need to run. Why do you have to run?' at which point I informed him that I had actually lost weight after I stopped running, another fact that he was incapable to comprehend. 'How is that possible? Jane, you need to eat more! Eat! Eat!' I told them that I likely would gain weight eventually, since I was already developing some pretty legit biceps from all the swimming I was doing. Frank liked hearing this and now every day he asks 'Did you swim today? You must go for your swim!' I am waiting for him to ask me to show him my awesome biceps, but so far no such luck.

Sam is just as much of a hoot as Frank, if not moreso. He is a large, black fellow who always has a giant smile on his face. The first time he spoke to me he declared that I was an Angel and that he saw a heavenly glow around me whenever I entered the building. I am pretty sure that was followed by an awkward silence since I had absolutely no idea how to respond. 'Thank you? 'Same to you?' Nothing I could think of on the spot seemed to make any kind of sense. But then again, his comment didn't either. Every day it's something different: 'You bring happiness to the world with your Angelic face, my Angel,' or 'Ah! I did not smile today because I hadn't seen my Angel yet!' However entertaining his comments are, I am very flattered that I am able to bring him such joy by my mere presence. If anything, he is the one bringing happiness into the lives of others with his warm, open and endearing personality!

What Sam sees?

Still kind of a badass Angel...

One day I went to pick up a package (sent from the awesome peeps at Adidas) and he asked the resident standing next to me if he thought I looked like an Angel too. Another awkward exchange. 'Umm...ok, you are pretty smooth dude,' was all the guy said to Sam. I think Sam was confused by this answer since I am sure he wasn't trying to be smooth at all, and does in fact believe that I am an Angel. He then turned to me and asked why I always received such mysterious parcels in the mail (maybe he thought they were from God?). His direction suddenly switched: 'Do you buy dresses online?' he then asked. I reminded him that I was a runner and that I was actually sponsored by Adidas. 'These are running clothes from Adidas!' I said, 'I don't have to buy them, it's great!' A few days later when I walked by the desk he bellowed 'I can't wait to see you in your winter dresses, my Angel!' I was bewildered by this statement, until I figured that he still believed that I actually ordered dresses online (and more specifically, 'winter dresses' - whatever that entails). I guess he doesn't buy the whole 'serious runner' gig I have going. The other day, he continued on his winter-themed comments, which only seem to get even more indecipherable: 'The winter time makes you look very special, my Angel' he smiled brightly. 'Wear your winter dresses soon!' Then there was the day it rained and I came home soaking wet, looking like a drowned rat (seriously). He immediately jumped from his chair and exclaimed 'My Angel! You look like a Goddess emerging from the ocean today! Have a nice evening!' WTF? If his comments continue on their current path of weirdness, I wonder what kind of things he will be saying in the New Year...

Another one of the concierges, whose name I don't yet know, thinks I am just as innocent (and perhaps Angelic?) as the other two. He is often there late at night and was shocked when I returned home late one night in a party Jane gettup that included a skirt and heels. 'WOW you went OUT TONIGHT!!!! Good for you!' Oh, if only they knew that I didn't need to be congratulated for getting out of the apartment. I laughed at his tone and wondered what these three would do if they saw party Jane in action. Perhaps one day, I will have to invite them out for vodka chez Jane. Though that might shock them into silence, and I am wayyyy too entertained by them on a daily basis to let my cover slide.

What the rest of the world sees. Sigh.

So for now, I live under the guise of Angel Jane, domestically and athletically. But those who really know me know that party Jane and G.I. Jane are the real deal. Just sayin'.

Angel Jane or Satan???

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thinking like a PRO

I am tired of analyzing the ups-and-downs of my temperamental shin, so instead I am not going to talk about it all and instead reflect on the ups and downs of the last two months of injury. I'm sure most can relate to some of this stuff at some point in their lives...maybe not quite everything...


1. I can't run.
Duh. Running is, plain and simple, one of my greatest loves in life and she has been ruthlessly taken from me. *Sigh*. It has been a tough breakup, but I am confident we can re-kindle our relationship...when we are both ready.
2. The lack of endorphins must be replaced by hard drugs.
Running is slightly better for you than hard drugs, so I would list this as a con.
3. I am becoming soft.
I went from grinding out 100-mile weeks in icy -20C conditions to 130-mile weeks in heat and being afraid of cold buying a wetsuit to pool stopping exercise altogether in favour of warm mugs of tea on my couch...yep. That's G.I. Jane for ya.
4. I miss my friends!!!
It sucks not seeing the Angels, my favourite group of girls. Though they have made up for this with GI Jane-centred martini nights, it doesn't replace the comraderie of trucking through long runs and workouts together on a daily basis.
5. Depression.
Though I have found a cure for this (see #2), you can't be high all the time.
6. Insomnia.
Yep, can't sleep. Luckily I've found a cure for this one too (see pros #7).
7. Pitiful appetite.
One of the WORST things about not running is not getting the same enjoyment out of food. I've come to the point where I never really crave anything (besides alcohol) and often forget to eat. What the hell? My former loves, peanut butter, bananas and whackloads of candy are now only a faint memory. It is so sad.
8. Muscle atrophy.
Since my appetite has diminished along with my exercise, my muscles are starting to waste away. For a while my injured leg was noticeably smaller than my non-injured leg. That was pretty weird. Now they are equally small and my pants are getting baggier. I want my runners legs back!
9. Chlorine intoxication.
For a while when I was in the pool 3hrs a day, I suffered from some severe chlorine-induced health complications. These included incessant sneezing (co-workers loved this), teary eyes, dry, scaly skin (the worst!), plus my hair was turning into straw regardless of the amount of conditioner I used. And of course the chlorine smell never goes away no matter how much you scrub. EVER. (It's really a turn-on to the opposite sex.)
10. Boredom.
Boredom all around people! Boredom while cross-training (Why does 10min of swimming feel like an hour of running? Brutal), boredom during the hours I waste when I'd normally be running, boredom because I am less focused when I don't run. Maybe I just get bored really easily.


1. I am still a healthy, able-bodied human being.
Somehow us runners equate not being able to run to being physically challenged. We can walk fine, exercise fine, and when we get to a certain point we are likely not hurting day-to-day. Yet we complain just as much as if we were strapped to a wheelchair in chronic pain. It doesn't really make any sense (...unless you are a runner). But when injured, it is important to remind ourselves that we should be happy that we are fundamentally healthy, able-bodied individuals and we are pretty lucky not to have any serious problems. So yeah, I am grateful for that!
2. Insomnia.
Ok I realize I listed this under cons, but it can also be a pretty big pro. First of all, I can spend evening hours doing a lot more stuff, like getting extra work done, seeing friends, and of course dancing all night (in the process really helping the shin recover...yea).
3. Relief of pressure.
Even though I run because I love it, like most runners I put a lot of pressure on myself and want to perform my best. Now that I can't, a lot of pressure is relieved and I don't worry about everything that I do. It's nice to take a step back and really relax.
4. More time for work.
Yep, sadly this is a pro. I am trying to finish my degree after all, so it's nice not having to boot it all day so that I can get out and run before with all my extra energy I am more productive at work...errr unless I'm hungover. On second thought, if you balance out the number of hard workouts in a week with the number of nights I currently spend going out, it probably balances out. Shoot. Scrap that pro.
5. My toe nails are growing back!
Ha! My feet are pretty far from normal, but they are becoming more normal, and have stopped hurting me all the time! That is, until I squeeze them into four-inch heels and go dancing. Then the whole blister issue tends to re-appear.
6. I don't have to worry about stomach problems.
I have a very sensitive stomach and a gluten intolerance, which is made one billion times worse by running. Now that I'm never really eating huge quantities and not jostling my stomach around on a run, I have found I can eat pretty much whatever I want without becoming very ill. I'll admit that drunk Jane doesn't really care about my gluten intolerance, so I've consumed my fair share of chips and nachos as of late. But with far less consequence than normal. It's pretty awesome.
7. I can replace water with vodka.
Need I say more?!

8. Spending less money on food.
Again, this is probably negated by the amount of money I spend on alcohol. Dammit.
9. I am spending time with non-runners and meeting more people.
This is probably a healthy thing. I can finally go out with other friends and understand how they can live the way they do. It's incredible how much more energy you have to do things when you don't spend twenty hours a week running.
10. Yea...meeting more people. Continuation of #9. Though one of them may be a runner, sometimes it takes a non-running scenario and two runners not currently running to realize that they may have more than running in common. Best part of this injury fo sheeze!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Heels for healing part II

So my shin was pretty painful all of last week even though I stopped running and was either doing nothing or hitting the pool in a wetsuit (i.e. ...nothing). However, as I have already made clear, I was more frustrated at my inability to wear heels than to run, so I wasn’t terribly upset about the situation. Until the weekend, that is. My distress began to mount as the Deadmau5 concert approached and my hopes of being healthy enough to wear my party shoes were quickly fading. How could I NOT wear my silver, glittery heels?! It was an essential component of raver Jane’s getup! For those of you who have never been to a concert like Deadmau5, it is perhaps second only to Halloween on the list of great excuses to wear something ridiculous and fit in at the same time. Since I pretty much always wear ridiculous things, it was a unique chance for me to be completely at ease while doing so.

Party pumps!

So what does the reasonable, disciplined G.I. Jane decide to do? Find a pair of flat glittery shoes? Wear some retro runners? Skip the night of all-night dancing? Of course not! Instead I took a few midday shots of vods and put on my party outfit, glittered stilettos and all. And suddenly my shin felt awesome. We went to my friend’s house for some more non-alcoholic beverages and I raved about how great my leg felt. I clearly have astute friends, however, since they dismissed everything that came out of my mouth and instead insisted that I tape up my shin. Not sure what really happened after that but I woke up with the circulation in my leg cut off and what seemed to be an entire roll of tape around my leg. Suffice to say I did a pretty good job of compressing that sucker. (Or was it not me who taped it? Mauricio? Tim? Argean? Deadmau5?). I also must thank Tim for rudely ripping off my beautiful blonde wig and telling me it looked horrendous. I actually thought it looked pretty good but it would have been way too hot at the concert, so I’m glad it was ruthlessly stolen from me. Tim, you are a true friend.

Moi et Mauricio

Mauricio and Tim. Good friends.

So, the concert. It was awesome. I think we got there *slightly* early (7PM may have been overkill) since we danced for almost 5 hours before the man (mouse?) came on. Sheeshus talk about a climax. That was the biggest buildup I’ve ever experienced (twss). My feet were already blistered and bleeding at that point but my spirits were high since I was winning the party in every way possible. I was outdrinking men (well maybe they weren’t really men, probably couldn’t even use powertools) left right and centre, and it was beautiful. We saw some pretty crazy outfits, not to mention dance moves, but the strangest part of the whole night was this tall awkward dude that kept following me around on the dance floor. I kept thinking he was trying to attack me after he almost punched me in the face about five times. I tried repeatedly to lose him but he always managed to find me and then start to pump his fist like a crazed madman. It was very strange. He then proceeded to tell me that he had been missing out on the electronic music scene because he had taken up the fiddle. Not only that, but he actually NAMED his fiddle Ramus. Who names their instrument?! But more than that, who plays the fiddle?! I was truly puzzled. And why was he telling me this?! Nevertheless, I think the event was an eye-opening one for him in which he realized that the hard beats and high-pitched screams of a computer screen were much more creative than the coordinated strokes of a guitar string by a regular human being. I mean, duh.

Awkward guy and non-awkward girl

It didn’t take long before the intense pain of my bleeding feet overrode the numbing effect of 40% alcohol, however, and I could no longer take another second in my glitzy heels. Naturally, I ripped them off and began marching around the Rogers Centre shoeless. No one gave me a second look, of course, since you can do pretty much anything at a Deadmau5 concert without it seeming weird (except maybe stand still and be sober. That would look awkward). I woke up the next morning on a glitter-stained couch with a pounding headache, black makeup all over my face and extremely dirty feet, but as soon as I got up and stumbled around, I noticed one thing that set this morning apart from those of the last six weeks. My shin! It didn’t hurt! I was incredulous. After an entire day of zero pain, I started to get pretty excited. Perhaps it was REALLY on the mend?

It’s been a week since then, and it is still feeling good. I feel a bit of stiffness when I swim, but no pain at all even on the elliptical. It is pretty awesome. I don’t want to start back before it’s perfect so I’m doing my resistance exercises every other day and gradually building up more strength in the muscle. What’s even better to know is that my native lifestyle seems to have a curative effect on torn shin muscles. Who would have thought?! Avoiding heels for the last six weeks was clearly my biggest mistake, and one that will not be repeated. So if anyone out there is struggling with a nagging injury and doesn’t understand why it won’t heal despite their best efforts, perhaps you should try wearing some high-heels, taking numerous shots of vodka (within a shot-taking competition for best effects), listening to some rave music and spending five to eight hours dancing your ass off until your feet bleed. (Oh, but make sure you tape it up. While drunk.) Worked for me!

Woot is right. Awesome stuff!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Heels for healing

You may remember me whining about the temperature of the friggin pool. It's seriously awful. Awful getting in, torturous throughout and numbing by the time I'm finished. It got to the point where my days would be filled with dread when a pool run loomed in the evening. Finally I lost it: 'Why am I putting myself through this insanity?! WHY?!' I screamed at my poor pool running partner, Mauricio. He gave me a strange look and told me to stop complaining (I didn't). I think he was confused by how someone who could run 130 miles per week in 40 degree heat with bleeding, blistering feet without thinking twice about it could be whimpering because of some cold H2O. And perhaps he has a point. Nevertheless, that day I reached my limit. I became lost, confused, empty and wretched, not knowing what on earth I should do next. It was really quite sad and exasperating. Kind of like when you've been dumped by someone awesome and you start dating someone much less awesome. It feels good when you finally dump the less awesome person, but then you're alone, and that can suck just as much if not more. So when my physio suggested to start focusing on doing short runs instead of pooling it out in misery, I jumped at the opportunity. And it felt. AAAAAMAZING.

Unfortunately, my shin wasn't quite ready for the runs, and after 4 little joyous spurts (is it just me or does that just sound wrong?) in a week it was feeling worse than before. So last weekend I was advised to stay in the pool and strengthen the muscle until it felt 100%. Once again, a dark cloud of blue frigidness came over me and I shuddered at the thought of my first workout back. Something had to be done. I couldn't continue living this way. I would turn into Mr. Krabs in a Spongebob seaworld again. So, what do I do? Suddenly an absolutely GENIAL thought came over me (happens from time to time): buy a WETSUIT! That was the answer! I'd be cozy and warm and dry for the entire time, heck I could probably stay in there for three hours if I had one of those bad boys on! I jumped and giggled at the thought. Suddenly the world was all flowers, rainbows and sunshine.

So I ventured over to Canadian Tire and found a pretty good deal on a full wetsuit. Last night I decided to try it out. I walked out onto the pool deck and smirked at Mauricio in his little shorts. He outright laughed at me in my ridiculous astronaut attire. Whatever, I would be warm and he would suffer. I knew I wouldn't have the last laugh! We got in the pool and before I even had a chance to start moving, something felt very odd. I paused, and instead of drowning like I normally would, I just bobbed there and floated around. WTF? Apparently the wetsuit was not only a warming device, but a flotation one as well! Now perhaps a normal person would be happy about this, since pool running took virtually no effort. But to me it was an epic fail. I wanted to work HARD in the water, not waste 90min floating around! I decided to give it a shot, however, and tried to make it more difficult my moving my legs as fast as humanly possible. I think I found the answer for G.I. Jane sprint training - I had some legitimate turnover going on, which I have never come close to before. I glided through the water, moving faster than the swimmers beside us. I felt like Jesus just hammering across the surface. I looked over at Mauricio (usually when I lapped him, every couple minutes) who was panting and periodically getting submerged under water due to his sinking frame. 'It's sooooo cold today G.I.' he uttered miserably. I didn't respond. I was not happy. All the glory I had envisioned was usurped from my being. I was ready to give up my spongey suit and suffer through the cold just so I could be working as hard as him. An hour later, he asked 'Are you still warm?' 'Yes,' I answered, 'But I'm also bored. This is too easy!' I thought about continuing until two hours, but figured it would still be a waste of time. So we got out 90min later, him tired and spent, while I felt like I could go and hammer two hours on the elliptical. Dammit!

So the wetsuit idea was not as genial as I had anticipated. Hopefully I will do some triathlons next summer and get some use out of it...errr unless anyone wants to buy a wetsuit from me?

Alright, next time I blog I will not have any shin pain. What is the reason for my renewed determination, you might ask? Well, it has nothing to do with running. There are no races in the immediate future and I am in no rush to start hammering out the miles. But it is holiday season (maybe only in my world, it starts in mid--October) and for me that means party time. And party time entails party outfits which means I get to sport my awesome heel collection. And for anyone who has seen my apartment, they have witnessed this fabulous collection of shoes that lines the entire length of my wall. Black, gold, white, silver, red, strappy, glittery, four inch, six inch, three inch, eff-me boots - I've got them all. And at the moment I can wear none of them. This is very sad. Wearing one of my two pairs of flats is not a la party Jane. So, I am strengthening my shin twice a day and massaging it religiously in order to get it strong enough to withstand some heel action. Somehow I have a feeling that this is what will make me healthy. Go figure!

Heeling power!