Friday, August 20, 2010

The Second Tattoo

I want another tattoo.

I got my first tattoo accompanying my friend Ellen on her way to get her 6th.  I really had no intention of getting one, but the tattoo parlor was near my apartment, there was promise of a cocktail, so I thought why not?  I had been thinking about getting one, but couldn’t quite land on the thing that would be inked—for better and for droopy/saggy/wrinkly—on my skin forever.  I wasn't going to get one until I had a clear picture of what I wanted.  Ellen was getting her astrological sign on her forearm and, as clich├ęd and unoriginal as it is (and since Ellen didn't cry out in agony) I thought it a good plan.

I am an Aries—a hot-tempered, sometimes selfish, argumentative, stubborn, and passionate Aries. My father was an Aries too, and our hooves and horns clashed in some mighty battles.  Exasperated after yet another exchange with a younger and smaller version of himself, he would ask, “Why must you always argue?!” My answer was, “The Zodiac demands it!"

Standing in the tattoo parlor a few days before what would’ve been my father’s 59th birthday, I lowered my jeans for a stranger and asked him to mark me forever—a simple Aries sign for me, and a small star on the right for the Aries that was no longer with me. Perfect.

Everyone told me, “Oh, now that you’ve gotten one, you’ll want more; they’re addictive.” It’s been four years and I’ve never thought about getting another one. I am happy with the one that represents a very pivotal moment in my life that turned me towards the path I now currently walk.

Or run, rather.

After my father died, I decided to train for a half-marathon.  Having never been a consistent runner before, this was an undertaking. Three months in, I was sidelined by a hip injury and an extra 30 pounds that were the answer to, “Is there any reason this can’t be covered in frosting?” Defeated, intimidated, and forced into physical therapy I decided to concentrate on losing the weight before training again.  Feel free to laugh at the irony of having to lose weight to be a successful runner.  I did.

For the last five years, I have called myself a runner.  Sure, there were bouts of burn-out and brief affairs with cycling, dancing, yoga, and one very humiliating hour in something called Turbo Kick, but I always returned the roads.  I haven’t trained for a half-marathon since 2005—sticking to 5K’s and 10K’s—but my sister and I decided we needed to do something great for 2010 and settled on training for a half marathon.

Honestly, I thought it would be cake.  I have almost five years of running under my belt.  I am lighter and faster.  I have found the perfect shoes and the only sports bra that can keep The Ladies in check.  I live in Los Angeles, where I can run year-round without the threat of snowdrifts and sub-zero temperatures keeping me on a treadmill.  I have months to build up my mileage to that glorious 13.1.  Seriously, what could go wrong?

The answer: I got cocky.

I figured I was in good shape.  Not the kind of "good shape" where I could do 200 squats and one-armed pushups; the kind where I gave myself permission to cut corners every now and then.  I stretched religiously after running, but conveniently forgot to strength train.  (An important component after dealing with a hip injury resulting from weak hip and core muscles.)  I ate pretty healthfully, rationalizing extra plates of pasta and delicious baked goods all in the name of Carbo Loading.

Cutting corners “every now and then” soon turned into one or two corners every week.  The cruel reality is, when one occasionally but consistently cuts corners, soon one finds they are running . . . in a very small circle.  My running times aren't as fast as they were last year.  I'm not sleeping as much as I should.  8 of those previously lost 30 pounds have slowly crept back onto my frame.  And the Devil Cherry on top of the Evil Cake of Running Highjinks is . . . MY EFFING HIP IS INJURED AGAIN!

This aggression will not stand. The Dude minds.

The good news is the injury is not as bad as it was five years ago.  My doctor told me to stop running completely last time, but I am convinced that I can tweak my running and training schedule for the next few months, add in some cross and strength training, spend some quality time torturing myself on the foam roller, and get these uneven hips across the finish line and to the nearest margarita.

In true Aries form, I am stubborn and passionate about this. I am now on a quest to finish something that I started five years ago. The motivation has changed, but I know that crossing that finish line will be the culmination of emotions, limitations, fears, and “almosts” that have lived very comfortably in that region of my brain called Doubt.

This will be another pivotal moment in my life, stemming from the previous one.

It will be documented.

It deserves a tattoo.

It's going on my hip.