I hate to admit it, but I haven’t been running for two weeks. Well, not running on land, anyway. I’ve been pool-running and, once, I even used the elliptical, as monotonous and dreadful as that was. So what did I do to myself, again? It’s so frustrating that I keep getting sidelined, but thankfully this latest episode is not like the previous one, in which I was unsure if I had a stress fracture or if it was just a soft tissue problem. I’m pretty sure I know what caused this latest problem, though that doesn’t mean it’s been resolved, or is in the process of being resolved, any quicker.

Several weeks ago, I did a few outdoor runs (well, they’re all outdoor runs) on snow, both loose and packed. And I know that at least once, my footing wasn’t very firm and so my feet slid and torqued. Shortly after that, I noticed some weird feelings in my lower leg, near the ankle, but also near my Achilles tendon. Thankfully it’s NOT any Achilles tendon issue, but my best self-diagnosis is that I strained my lower tibialis tendon. Well, in my typical smart behavior, I’d kept running, not wanting to believe that I’d been brought down again, and I even did a 21.25-mile run, even though my leg was aching even before the run. I remember feeling all sorts of pains running up and down along my calf, and I just knew it was going to hurt explosively afterwards, but stubborn ol’ me had to get this long run done.

Well, not surprisingly, I was in a world of pain afterwards, like so much I could barely drag my leg along. It was like fire. That intense pain has gone down, and I’d hoped that ice, heat, acupressure, compression, and stretching would make things feel better, but nope. I’ve still had this achiness that I can’t shake, and seeing as how I now have only two weeks till my marathon, I really need to get serious on fixing myself.

There’s physical therapy, but because it’s the start of a new year, I’ve got to start all over again with my health insurance deductible, and the practice I was going to previously would charge me $200 for this first visit. So that gives me pause… even though running is very important to my happiness and well-being, is it worth $200 for a single visit, where it’s very likely a single visit would not resolve my issue? And isn’t this minor enough that I should be able to take care of it myself?

Agh, so frustrating! Well, here’s hoping I just knock the inflammation down with ibuprofen, taken regularly, which I started today. Although I’ve also noticed that my tummy has been feeling a bit weird today, though that could be due to the food I’ve eaten.

I’m just going to stay hopeful that I can beat this, and beat it in time. At least the weather has worked in my favor by being consistently cold and miserable the past two weeks. The last time I ran outdoors, two Sundays ago, the weather was relatively mild. I ran in the morning, when it was still a on the chilly side, but people who ran later in the day were comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. But these past two sidelined weeks have seen a few snowfalls and lots of awfully cold mornings. Although I’m glad to not have to get myself out there for runs, I also wish that I could, because I want the challenge of running in negative windchills, in single-digit actual temperatures, of using my balaclava again.

Maybe I’ll get to experience that fun next winter. For now, I’ve been trekking to the pool to do some hard-core pool running. Like today, for instance, I “ran” 22.5 pool-miles. The way I counted it is that 200 yards took my slightly longer than it would on land. So, given that I was working at a higher intensity in the pool and that I wasn’t dealing with hills or wind, I feel like it was fair to equate 200 yds in the pool with one mile on land. Though I did get faster as I went on, but I was working really hard. And it gets monotonous to go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Still better than an elliptical machine, though! This mental and physical feat took over three hours today, and that’s not including the break I took every 300 yds.

Mind over matter. I’m going to make myself better, stronger. I’m going to enjoy this race. I’m going to enjoy the fantastic Britney Spears show afterwards. I’m going to have a great mini-vacation!

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Just another post about Britney….

And Charlie!!

Charlie Ebersol, I’m sorry that I didn’t even know about you until a few months ago, when you and Britney started dating, but I have to say that you are one amazing person. You and Britney are so lucky to have found each other. Britney Spears, obviously, is a catch. Not only is she hugely successful, but she is also sweet and humble. And I know that you recognize that and are attracted to that, as you stated in your recent interview with People magazine. And I am so very happy for Britney, because she’s finally got a man who treats her right and respects her. She’s had more than her fair share of misfortune with it comes to love, but you, you, Charlie, seem to be the real deal. You’re very successful in your own right, you’re attractive, but, like Britney, you’re also humble and don’t like to be showy. You’ve been raised well by good parents and you work hard in your everyday life to spread the message of positivity.

Do you have any idea how happy this all makes me????!?!?! It makes me VERY, VERY HAPPY!! :-) And, it being Valentine’s Day, you know what would make me even happier? If you were to propose to my lovely lady. We all know that you’re perfect for each other and that you’re crazy about each other. Just looking at your Christmas photo, you four (including Britney’s kids Preston and Jayden) truly look like a family. And I want you to help fulfill Britney’s wish of living a happy family life, having more kids (especially a daughter), and just letting her be herself.

The perfect family <3

Regardless, I know you’ll make this very special day for Britney :-) And Britney, I look forward to seeing you in three short weeks!!!

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Review of “Holy Cow”, by David Duchovny

Holy Cow! I just read a great, fun book with a very important message!

“Holy Cow”, by David Duchovny, is the author’s first novel. Now, it will come as no surprise that I am a HUUUUGE fan of David Duchovny, and that is how I came to learn of his book. The summary provided online said that it was centered on a cow who escapes a farm to find a better life. I felt that it would have some good animal rights topics in it, so I knew I had to get my hands on this book ASAP. It was just released—on February 3rd— so it’s still new and still may be a little unknown to the masses. So I hope that, with this review, I’ll have done my little part to spread the word (spread the word (Sorry, Britney song reference, hehe.))

“Holy Cow” is a novel, but a short, easy-to-read one that looks like it could be a kid’s book, but there are a few potty words in there, so maybe a kid’s book for those with liberal parents. But it’s also a good book for adults! (Adults are the intended audience, in case you get confused.) The story of “Holy Cow” is narrated by a girl cow named Elsie Bovary, who lives on a small family farm (Now those are definitely a dying concept!). She seems to enjoy life on the farm, not having known any other way of life. One day she finds out some shocking information, and knows, just knows, that she has to leave.

It takes some time to manage this escape, but she finally does it. And she’s not alone; she and Shalom (a pig formerly known as Jerry) and Tom Turkey fly the coop, so to speak. They’ve got some plans for international jet-setting that they hope will bring each of them happiness. Do they meet success? Do they meet doom? You’ll just have to read the book to see what happens!

Although it’s an easy read that’ll take you only a couple of days, the message of the book is so very important. Just because an animal is a cow, a pig, or a turkey doesn’t mean that they’re less deserving of life than, say, a cat or dog. Why should anyone have the right to take animal’s life away, or take her milk or her eggs, just for their own pleasure? That is just outright stealing, and it’s not right. Having been a vegan and an animal rights activist for nearly a decade and a half, I am well-versed in the injustices committed against animals, and how much work still needs to be done. Although Duchovny is currently a pescatarian (formerly a vegetarian), he does a great job of informing the reader of these issues. But what is unique to his novel is that it’s done in a humorous way. When you’re narrator is a girl cow, how can it not be humorous???

So I urge you read this book, especially if you’re still eating animals. Duchovny gives a voice to the animals, quite literally, and this different perspective may be just what you need to see from the animals’ point of view. Even if you’re an ardent “I like my meat!” kind of person, at the very least, try to understand what it’s like for the other side.

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All lives matter, but only if you’re white.

I am extremely saddened by the recent killings, and by the dearth of both media coverage and public outrage over this terrorist act.  On Tuesday evening on the campus of UNC, three people were shot and killed.  Three young Muslims were killed by an older atheist white man.  Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Barakat, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha- three bright young stars who had such promising futures- their lights extinguished allegedly over ‘parking disputes’.  Is it just me, or does that seem like an extremely petty excuse?  Well, there is never an excuse to take someone else’s life, but the few media outlets that have reported this story tout the motive as issues concerning parking.  It’s ludicrous, to say the least!

A visibly hostile atheist executes three young, innocent Muslims in their home… and how is this not a hate crime?  How is this not terrorism?  Islamophobia?  Now let’s suppose that an older Muslim man had executed three young white atheists.  They don’t even have to be atheists, just three young white people.  The media outlets would be blowing up, it would be all over the news, and we’d be inundated with the likes of the “Je Suis Charlie” nonsense.  Where are those people now?  I mean, here’s another hate crime, and this is supposedly what all the “Je Suis Charlie” folks are all against.  The hypocrisy of the media is revolting.

When the Charlie Hebdo attacks happened, they happened because the people working there published satirical cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad.  The thing is, they weren’t just satirical.  They were disgusting, highly offensive, tasteless, insensitive, you name it.  Freedom of speech is one thing, but this went way beyond that.  These “cartoons”, if you want to call them that, were intended solely to make fun of Islam, to make Muslims feel like the butt of everyone’s jokes, and just to be hurtful.  When you do something incendiary like that, how can you be shocked that someone might want to retaliate?  As I said above, there’s never an excuse to take someone else’s life, but there’s also no excuse to assume superiority over another group of people.  Oh, but the outrage!  Every single person and their dog was toting the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag, there was all this hoopla about the attack on free speech, and on, and on, and on.

But sadly, overwhelming public outrage for the North Caroline killings is absent.  This morning’s Washington Post Express relegated this hate crime to a small article on Page 10, stating that the police maintain that parking issues were the reason for this crime.  It’s heart-breaking, that the public can’t just admit to what this clearly is, a crime stemming out of pure hatred towards a specific group of people.  And I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this all is for their parents, their families.  As a Muslim, I really feel for them, I feel for us all, because Muslim lives matter.  #MuslimLivesMatter

All lives matter, but you wouldn’t think so, living in America.  It’s more like: “All lives matter, but only if you’re white.”  Why else would the media rush to post a video in which the wife of the killer defends her husband and talks about how he’s “not a racist”?  Sanctify the killer, forget the victims.

I hope to learn more about this hate crime in the next few days, despite the difficulty in obtaining this information since the media has decided that they don’t care.  I care, we care.  To Yusor, Deah, and Razan, I hold a light to you three.  Inshallah, may you rest in peace.  Allahu Akbar.

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Review of “A Beautiful Mind”, by Sylvia Nassar

This is the biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr. a mathematical genius who was gripped by an illness for decades and was finally able to emerge and regain a sense of his old life.  Nassar has done a wonderful job of capturing so many details about the life of John Nash, and this biography reads almost like a novel.  And I mean that in a good way.  It’s riveting, it’s powerful, and it’s very effective in allowing the reader to empathize with the plight of John Nash and those around him.

Even as a young boy, John Nash had an affinity for mathematics, which only grew in his college and graduate school years.  A prodigy, he received his Ph.D. and became a professor before the age of 30.  But the very thing at which he excelled brought about his downfall.  I don’t think we, the human race, will every truly understand the full workings of the human brain.  Nash was able to make connections and leaps that were impossible for his fellow mathematics colleagues to make.  His mind worked at such a high level that perhaps it was just too much and he began to show signs of mental illness.

These signs would get stronger, but not progressively.  Nash would begin to show improvement, then worsen again.  Nassar describes the years of effort put forth by Nash’s mother Virginia, Nash’s sister Martha, and Nash’s wife Alicia.  I can’t even imagine how frustrating and trying this prolonged ordeal must have been– to deal with the schizophrenic behavior that Nash exhibited, to make the decision to have him committed to a mental hospital, to keep up hope that something good will come of all this– but their efforts are to be applauded.

Within the mathematics realm, there were those who were quick to write Nash off as crazy and forget about him, but there were also those who would not give up, who understood that this powerful man needed the help of others, that they could not just abandon him because caring for him was inconvenient.

Even if you haven’t heard of John Nash (and I hadn’t known of him, although I’d heard of, but not seen, a movie titled “A Beautiful Mind”) this is an important book to read.  It’s about the power of perseverance, and how a mental illness can make you a prisoner in your body.  It was haunting at times, and emotional, but what’s absolutely the most wonderful part is that, after nearly 30 years, he emerged.  John Nash recovered from schizophrenia, or it may be more accurate to say that he is in remission, and he was finally awarded a Nobel Prize in 1994, something of which he had been deserving for a very long time.

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Finding the right words…

Something happened to me Saturday night.  Something… unexpected.  It’s taken me a few days, but I think I’m finally ready to put it, or at least some of it, into writing.  Although I was in a compromising position, I want to make clear that at no time was I ever in physical danger.  I was once, long ago, in a similar type of situation, but from a different perspective.  At that time as well, I knew I needed to write out my thoughts, but what I didn’t know was that it was too personal of a situation to be written in detail for the public to see.  And so goes here.  I’m going to try to write what I can, without giving in to specifics, or any kind of details, because people can get hurt.

What happened Saturday night is something I had never, ever seen coming, and I was shocked beyond belief afterwards.  That night and the following, I had trouble sleeping, and I would keep waking up throughout the night, thoughts running wild in my head, and try to get back to sleep.  I needed this to end.  On Monday, I asked a good friend if she was free to talk that evening.  That evening was busy for her, so we agreed to the following evening.

Monday night, I will admit that I cried myself to sleep, but then I slept all night long, peacefully.  I think it was just knowing that I wouldn’t keep this terrible secret to myself anymore that helped me.  On Tuesday evening, we finally talked, and talked at length.  My friend assured me that I had done nothing wrong.  Ever since then, I’ve been able to sleep peacefully.  I have told my story to a couple other people– so now two know the detailed version, and one knows just the basics– and I think I’m fine now.

I think that I can get past this now, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still think about it.  All I mean is that I don’t feel guilty, or held back, or caught up in “what if”s anymore.

When it comes down to it, I didn’t do anything wrong.  The other person didn’t do anything wrong.  Will we still be friends?  Will things be awkward from now on?  Who knows.  All I do know is that there is nothing to be angry or sad about.  We’re all human, we all make mistakes, we all sometimes act irrationally.

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2015 is going to be FANTASTIC year!

Just a little over three weeks into the new year, and I am 100% confident that 2015 is going to be absolutely fantastic.  In fact, I might even go so far as to say that it might be my best year yet.  Here are a few reasons (in no particular order) why I’m excited for what this year has in store for me:

  • Red Rock Canyon Marathon, March 7- it has be so long, so very long, since I’ve run a complete marathon.  Nearly three years, and that’s not like me at all.  Unfortunately, I’d been battling some injuries that just wouldn’t go away (and that I would go and try to run before I was completely healed, exacerbating the injury, and landing right back at Square 1).  Even before that, when I was running marathons, I think that I had lost some of my passion, which is bad.  I felt like running marathons was now just something that I had to do, since it’s who I was.  I was a marathoner.  Marathoners don’t stop running marathons. The passion was gone, though.  But now…. it’s back!!  I am SO excited for this super-tough marathon and have been tackling hills without batting an eye :-)  Here’s today’s arduous solo training run:

It was supposed to be 20.15 miles, to belatedly ring in the new year, but I stopped my watch a few seconds too late. Oh well…

I made sure to smile and say, “good morning” to nearly everyone on the trail.  Although some were too cool to respond, most did, and it definitely made the run more enjoyable to have this interaction with other people!

  • Britney: Piece of Me, March 7- yes, I’m going to see her again!  And yes, this is the same day as my marathon!  I totally planned it that way.  OMG, these are going to be THE most amazing 24 hours ever.  Marathon, Britney, and yummy raw, vegan food in between.  (Here’s lookin’ at you, Simply Pure!)
  • Aunt Hina, around March 29- I’m going to be an aunt!  My sister is having a baby girl.  My parents are very excited to be first-time grandparents (maybe this takes some of the pressure off of me?  One can only wish!) and I’m not really sure what I’m in for, but I just know that it’s going to be good :-)  It’s going to change our family forever and I hope that my sister will become warmer towards me and towards our parents.  I mean, it’s got to happen, right?  Isn’t that the magic of babies?
  • Backstreet Boys documentary, January 30- To refer to this group as a “boy band” is a misnomer now.  I mean, TWENTY YEARS AGO, when they started out, yes, they could be called a boy band.  But now, in 2015, they are grown men, and they are still together making beautiful music.  They’ve got some pop songs, they’ve got some ballads, they’ve got R&B, it’s like they have it all.  I have so much respect for them and am really looking forward to their documentary, because I know they’ve had their share of struggles, but they persevered and succeeded, and I couldn’t be happier.

As you can see, that’s only the first three months of 2015.  I believe that this momentum is going to continue and I’m excited to see what else this fantastic year has in store for me!

PS- and who could forget that…. THE X-FILES MIGHT BE COMING BACK?????!!??!?!

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