Friday, July 23, 2010

In the Nude ...

The next adventure begins. An unlikely happenstance: finding myself at a socialite party with a man who is definitely a soul mate, Ame. The men were handsome - tall, influencial, confident, some dark haired, some light, all with good shoes. The women glittered in beautiful dresses, were long and leggy and had salon-perfect hair. Glass candle lanterns adorned with glowing faux diamonds shimmered across the outdoor patio casting perfect shadows on perfect faces. Ame fit in completely: he's handsome - messy hair in a sexy, just woken up kind of way - tanned skin, and unnaturally big nose, which creates character in his face.
Before we go on, perhaps I should share some back story on Ame: since the first day we met, I've cared for him beyond what I can describe, in some instances, at the expense of my own needs. We share a connection that I hold close to my heart, however, due to a variety of life challenges, both his and mine, we've never explored a functional romantic relationship together and, frankly, I'm doubtful we ever will. This particular evening was delightful: it just felt right.

Shortly after making our entrance, I bee-lined to the bathroom, leaving Ame to mingle a little. The bathroom was rich with stunning marble and attractive women who evaluated each other's outfits through sideway glances. Making my way to the sink mirror assured me that Miss Mascara Racoon Eyes and Lady Lipstick Teeth had spared me thus far. Face and hair in place, the last thing to check was my outfit - there is nothing worse than not knowing that your dress is caught in your underwear and that the "ass"ets are fully exposed! Confidently approaching the full length mirror, the surrounding ladies graciously stepped aside to let me, athlete-woman-doctor-tigress, step into view. Thanking them, I flicked my hair and met my gaze ...

Let me begin by saying that the outfit wasn't that bad from the shoulders to the waist: a cute, frilly, blouse with short puffed sleeves that flattered my flat chest. The ensemble fell apart further down however! Lets start with the XL board shorts .... yes, you read correctly .. board shorts - the type teenage boys wear. This atrocity was coupled with compression stockings in a horrifying shade of nude, finished with a pair of purple Converse high tops! Humiliation moved through me like a wave of lightning as I fled the scene, all the while thinking that Jeannie Becker is going to put a hit out on me for this!

This was simply the beginning of my nightmare ... I pushed through the crowds to find Ame with the intention of exiting as quickly as possible. Sitting on a couch, overlooking the city, his arm was draped over the shoulder of possibly the prettiest woman I have ever seen in my life! As I approached in my pathetic state, tear-stained and defeated, he said, "Oh, hey Gail .. this is Samantha. We've decided to travel to Europe together in the fall! Isn't that great?!"

That was pretty much all my brain (and ego) could handle and .. yep .. you guessed it, I woke up. Instead of psychoanalizing my dream (a process I have already exhausted), let's focus on the important part of this image: Gail in compression stockings! I'd be lying if I said I don't wear them in real life. I do. Although less than becoming, I have been known to wear them in public when I am required to stand for long periods of time.

So, how do compression stockings work exactly? Well, when "venous return", or blood moving towards the heart, is compromised either by prolonged standing, endurance athletics or structural impairment, blood tends to pool in the veins and capillaries of the legs. Over time, this can lead to decreased integrity in the veins and capillaries of the legs, varicosities, swelling, pain and fatigue. By compressing these tissues, blood is forced back into circulation returning to the heart more efficiently which helps maintain venous integrity, aids in muscle recovery by clearing lactic acid and inhibits swelling and edema (lymph fluid accumulation).

There are varying degrees of compression ranging from 8-15mmHg to 30-40mmHg (the larger the number the more compression the stocking offers). The rate of compression required is determined by an individual├Ęs needs and what they are attempting to correct or prevent.

Because I recommend these to clients and have access to them, I have had the pleasure of evaluating them. In my personal experience, I've noticed a measurable difference in both relief from fatigue when using compression stockings with the addition of an improvement in next day recovery when I endeavour on my ride or run 24 hours later. Since there are contraindications to compression stocking use, safely choosing an appropriate pair requires a consultation with knowlegdeable health care professional. However, if you're simply trying to compliment your sassy, little cocktail dress, be advised of the following medical warning: "Adverse reactions may occur with this combination. Please avoid as this interaction may lead to laughter resulting in asphyxia and death in onlookers and humiliation resulting in social phobia and isolation in the wearer"!

Monday, July 12, 2010

How It All Began: My Brother the Pimp

It all started when my older brother said to Drew, "I betcha my sister can beat you in a running race"!

Drew was our nemesis: a complete ass of a kid, a year older than my brother and three years my senior. He bullied his way into our street hockey games, soccer games and tennis matches and sapped the fun out of each one!

My brother has always known how to monopolize on a potentially lucrative situation so here I was: 7 years old in rolled-up, hand-me-down bell-bottoms, being pimped out as Speedy Gonzalez to win a bet (a percentage of which I am still waiting for)! .. with this innocent bet, my life as an athlete began .. and my brother's life as successful entrepreneur was, apparently, already well on its way!

The race was scheduled for Friday morning before school. Starting line: at the light post, finishing line: the corner of Galsworthy. All the neighbourhood kids gathered to watch it go down. Some lined the finish to marshal a possible tie, others lined the course. My pimp-ass brother was in charge of the start.

I remember feeling pressure - a sense of expectation, as if all the onlooking kids were depending on me to get back at Drew for all the childhood bullying he had inflicted - but after a quick "READY, SET, GO!" the feeling of obligation seemed to disappear and all I was left with were my legs, my breath, the moment and the goal: RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN AND COME IN FIRST!

As I came into the home stretch significantly faster than my opponent, my mind began to register the cheer of the crowd, the fatigue of my poor little legs and my heart pumping out of its small chest cavity! Winning was both gratifying and. frankly, unbelievable!

Its fun to recall being a kid: there are no obstacles. Running doesn't mean personal bests, heart rate monitoring and training regimes. Running is just running. There is no such thing as performance anxiety, there is just the moment; there are no limitations, only possibilities.

If we are able to embrace it, athletics can be a forum to practice being in the moment: a run is simply one step at a time, a ride is simply one pedal stroke followed by another. The obstacles that I have experienced in athletics (and in life) have, more often than not, been a result of my perceived shortcomings: perceptions created in my own mind rooted in insecurity and fear. Surpassing these obstacles means recognizing the capacity to achieve, celebrating talents AND weaknesses with the ability to feel secure in each moment with each challenge that presents itself. Perhaps simply staying with the next step or the next pedal stroke and allowing all of our anxiety and insecurity to fade away into what is now, will allow us to live in the world of our unlimited potential: just like we did when we were kids.