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lisa marie corley | greenville, sc

Month

May 2008

Neverdone #6 :: A breath of fresh air, artificially generated

While kickin’ around downtown Greenville today, a friend and I noticed a new store called Healthy Lounge. We strolled in to check out the place…..it had a minimalistic, contemporary vibe, happy and peaceful. They had a few products along one wall, but it turned out that their main business is “rapid recharge” — stress-relieving services which include high-tech lounge chair massages, foot baths, and oxygen therapy.

Ahhhhh, an opportunity for a neverdone, I thought to myself. What joy! I can pay these folks some money to breathe their fancy air.

A hip young dude led us to a corner where an end-table-sized machine awaited. He dialed in our aromatherapy choices — I chose mint rosemary and my friend chose orange peppermint — and left us to hang out in their comfy chairs and chat whilst wearing colorful oxygen tubes hooked around our ears and shoved up our noses.

Sexy, huh? Yeah, yeah….I felt a little silly. But that’s not an unusual feeling for me, so I leaned back and embraced it.

I don’t know if it really DID anything. Maybe it did. I think it did. At least now I can say I’ve been to an oxygen bar…..it’ll make me seem really groovy and sophisticated to people who think trendy therapies are groovy and sophisticated.

I think I’ll go back to experience one of their superduper shiatsu chair machines. One of them will do your ass. I asked.

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Neverdone #5 :: Extra pretty toes

Almost every single time, I get the same reaction. When I tell a girlfriend — or any female acquaintance, for that matter — that I have never had a pedicure, she will throw back her head, roll her eyes toward the heavens, and exclaim, “Ohhhhhhhhhh my GOD! You HAVE to get one! It is the BEST THING EVERRRR!!”

So I decide on my beach trip to make an appointment at a day spa, and I punctuate the package with a fun little treat for my toes. My reaction to the pedicure?

Eh.

Oh well. I suppose not every neverdone can have an ecstatic outcome. Yeah, the accompanying foot/calf massage was pleasurable in an anticlimactic sort of way, and my toe cuticles are now in primo condition. It makes my tired, deserving feet feel pampered and really pretty, and the super-spa-quality polish will probably last a long time. But, from an aesthetic point of view, it’s not a much better job than I could have done myself. I doubt I’d pay for another one.

Don’t get me wrong…..I’m glad I did it! I had a multi-fabulous 2-3 hours at a place which made me feel like a princess. It was cool to go from soothing-back-room to soothing-back-room wearing one of their soft, comfy robes, carrying a cup-and-saucer dose of lemon-ginger green tea. Later, when I asked for some water, they brought it to me in a champagne glass. Melinda herself (the place, located in North Myrtle Beach, was named Melinda’s Day Spa) did my pedicure, and she was a fun, interesting person. I never got the courage to ask her about the dainty gold pendant hanging from her neck — it featured a naked couple, embracing while facing each other on their knees. Sort of like this but without the pentagram design in the back. Was it a symbol that she’s into….something unconventional? Maybe just a loving gift from her husband? Or a subtle suggestion that they may have other services besides those on the published list? Hmmmmmmm. I tried not to stare at it.

Anyway…….

Did you catch the ‘anticlimactic’ part a couple paragraphs ago? Don’t think this post will be without a fun story. Let me tell you about the massage I had beforehand.

I signed up for an 80-minute full body integrated massage. Upon your arrival, you’d have a conversation with your therapist about your aches, pains, and goals for the time, and that person would decide which special techniques, if any, would need to be integrated. My appointment was with a dude named — um, let’s call him Tony. He sort of looked like a Tony.

When I first started getting massages back in the mid 90s, I said I’d never go to a male therapist. It would be too weird. But every so often I wouldn’t have a choice because of schedules and availability, and I eventually discovered that, in general, I liked the men better. I don’t know if women just don’t have the upper body strength or if they are just afraid to employ heavy, therapeutic pressure, but rarely do they get in there and… ahem, satisfy me. Maybe I just haven’t found the right woman. Or maybe I’m masochistic, and men are more willing to slip into the accompanying sadistic role. Ha!

So I wasn’t too nervous about Tony. I would’ve been more comfortable if he’d been unthreateningly gay, but I suppose I can’t always have everything I want. He was very professional and went to great lengths to ensure that I felt a high level of trust and comfort.

“Now, I don’t want you to give me one of those girly massages,” I laughed as we exchanged pleasantries in the lobby. “I want therapeutic, not relaxing.”

What I wanted to say, which I think would have been a little clearer: Do it hard. Use every muscle you have to do it hard, and I mean HARD. Do it so hard that you will need a massage after you’re done with me. And go deep, buddy. Go deep, all the way to freakin’ China. Don’t let a tiny ligament stop you. Get in between whatever you need to. Just GO DEEP. Hard and deep, baby, hard and deep. Do you understand? HARD and DEEP.

But that would’ve been awkward. I hoped my ‘therapeutic’ comment would suffice.

“Let me tell you what I need,” I began, as we headed toward the back. “You know that neck problem you get where you can’t turn your head? I’m beginning to get over that, but would like some help working the rest of it out.”

“No problem, I’ll fix you right up,” he said, as we entered a little room filled with ocean waves, classical music, and soothing scents.

“But, way more important than my neck is to loosen my lower body. I’ve been trying,” I chuckled, “to become a runner, and my lower body is feeling abused and tight, tight, tight. The worst parts are my hamstrings, IT band, lower back, and hips.”

“You’ll walk out of here feeling like a new woman,” he assured me as he slipped out so I could undress and get under the crisp sheet and fuzzy, light blanket.

He started with my calves and worked his way up, one leg at a time. Just as I suspected, when he got to the backs and sides of my legs, he found knots. Still trying to find a delicate way to convey the amount of pressure I wanted — and of course the word ‘pressure’ never occurred to me during the whole 80 minutes — I said, “you can go harder if you need to.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yep.”

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t. I’ll holler if you do, but, trust me, you won’t.”

He chuckled. “Well, just don’t yell too loud. My boss will wonder what’s going on in here.”

“Well, you won’t hurt me, I promise.”

So he went deeper into my hamstring, and it felt gooooooooooood.

What I wanted to say: Ohhhhhhhhhhh, yeeeeeeeeaahhhhh! Oh my god, that feels sooooooo gooooooooooood. Go harder. Deeper. Don’t stop. Whatever you do, don’t stop. Goooooooooood LORD, that’s wonderful.

“That’s the spot,” I said, “and it feels awesome.”

“Good.”

So, after a glorious 15 minutes or so, he abandoned my legs and hesitated. “I have to ask,” he said. “We have rules. Do you mind if I lift the sheet to reach…. ?”

He meant my ass, but stopped short of the end of his sentence. If I’d known him better, I would’ve said: Good lord, of course you can lift the sheet. Get on with it. You’re wasting time.

“Nope, I don’t mind.”

So he folded back one side of the sheet and got to work. And I am here to tell you, my friends, that NOTHING feels better than an ass massage when your glutes are tight and knotted, and the area deep inside your hips is sore and out of whack. A couple of times he acted as if he would stop and move on to the next body part, but I wouldn’t let him, asking him to move up or down or deeper…anything to ensure he wouldn’t stop.

“I can feel I’m breaking up a lot of knots,” he said. “Are you beginning to feel better?”

“Oh, yes, you were right — when I leave, I’ll leave brand new and feeling great.”

I kept asking him to press harder. And harder. Finally, I guess I convinced him he could do his maximum, because he stopped those annoying I-don’t-want-to-hurt-you comments, and even let out a grunt or two.

When he happened upon the spot in my lower back/hip that my chiropractor’s been working on……ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! This time, I couldn’t help it. I actually said what was on my mind.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” I wasn’t as eloquent as I would’ve been a few minutes earlier. He must’ve massaged my brains out.

He laughed. “That feels good, does it?”

“Yeeeeeesssssss.”

“You should get your husband or boyfriend — or both — to massage this area for you every day.”

“Hmmm. Yeah. I’ll see what I can do about that.”

Eventually, sadly, regrettably, he told me that we only had 10 minutes left. Wow, he must’ve spent more than half of our allotted time on just my ass! He did a quick job on my back (I mean he massaged my back, for those of you whose dirty little minds produced a different sort of picture) before moving, finally, to my neck and shoulders.

“You should see another massage therapist when you go back home,” he advised. “Your neck is full of knots, too, and we don’t have enough time to work them out today.”

His finale was a scalp massage which felt tingly and nice, but — oh my goodness — it was just no comparison to the afternoon’s ass crescendo.

That’s why the ensuing pedicure was anticlimactic.

Neverdone #4 :: Running on the beach

I imagined I’d post a few times during my weeklong visit to Sunset Beach, but ya know…..there always seemed to be something a little better to do. :) Right now I’m sitting at a cute little bagel shop on my way out of town, and I don’t want to leave. It’ll be good to get home for a lot of reasons, but I don’t want to leave!

I scored a couple neverdones this week….I’ll go ahead and tell you about the first one.

Official neverdone status
I have a text document in a tiny little corner of my hard drive entitled “Lame Neverdones.” In it I’ve been saving a list of things I’ve never done, but which don’t seem significant enough to rate official neverdone status. It’ll eventually be a post, so you guys will be able to read them all. At the beginning of this week, I’d added “running on the beach” to this list.

I mean, enough about running already….right? You guys have GOT to be tired of reading about it. I know you rolled your eyes when you read the post title. Don’t deny it.

BUT during my second-ever beach run — on Monday, my second full day at Sunset Beach — I decided it was so beautiful, so enjoyable, so wonderful that it deserves a place of honor on mm. You see, my recent obsession with exercise is all about that feeling I get afterward — the kicky endorphins, the ohhhhh-so-gooooood physical exhaustion. While I’m running, there’s an occasional “I’m-a-machine” moment which feels good, but mostly I’m just sweating and gasping and praying that there’ll be an anomalous time warp so that 30 minutes will seem like one.

I realized on Monday, though, that I was actually enjoying the run itself. What a bejesus-inducing surprise!

A little history
Before this past year, the only time in my life that I actually enjoyed running was during recess in grade school. I accidentally discovered that I was pretty fast one day when an obnoxious, grubby little boy named Robert chased me across a field with a wet, ugly toad wriggling in his fat, dirty fingers. I left him in my proverbial dust. After that — left mostly to our own devices with an old, deserted baseball field in our play area — I’d convince a few young classmates to run impromptu races. I usually won….but only if we were racing to the dugout. If the distance were any shorter, I wouldn’t have enough time to make up for my slow start. Any further, and I’d run out of steam before the end. I loved to go fast!!

In ensuing years, though, I forgot that I enjoyed running. More than that — I learned to hate it. In high school when I was on the basketball team, our running mostly consisted of those evil wind sprints that hold your lungs hostage, and you were NOT allowed to quit in order to catch your breath. Then there were those days when you had to run five laps every time you missed a basket. Then occasionally we had to do twenty laps around the gym right after practice. No reason, really. Just because.

After I graduated from high school and stopped playing team sports, I never thought about running again…..until last year when I was looking for efficient ways to burn fat.

Back to 2008
Anyway…..back to Monday when I actually enjoyed myself.

It wasn’t the obligatory C25K workout. I’d done 30 minutes, per the program, the day before with one of my beach buds. On Monday, I decided to just get out there alone and do whatever I felt like doing, my happy little Shuffle clipped to my tank top. I wound up playing a heart rate game — first slow and easy, then speed up to a medium pace, then slow and easy, then sprint, then slow and easy again. Etcetera. It was fun, fun! The view was extraordinary, the breeze ensured I never dripped with sweat, and I felt like a member of an elite club as I smiled and waved to the occasional fellow runner. And the cute little gray birds — sandpipers, maybe? — made me laugh. They chased the tide in and out, in and out, in and out, in and out, with tiny, superquick, determined legs, pecking at yummy bird-candy morsels in the shallow water.

As I neared Bird Island on the south end of the beach, the people became so scarce that it was easy to pretend there was no one else in the world. What a feeling! I decided to climb over the rocks at the end, and it was even MORE beautiful. Ahhhhhhhh! I went back with my camera the following day, but I don’t think I did the place justice. I’ll post more pictures later, but, for now, check out the photo above. That free-and-happy dude is approaching the tip of Bird Island.

I ran almost every day this week. Yesterday, I think, was better than Monday. I didn’t mess around with medium paces at all. I’d walk, then sprint….walk, sprint….walk, sprint…walk, sprint… I love to go fast!!

Bliss. We all should follow it. :)

Guess I should hit the road home now…..

Sigh.

Neverdone #3 :: 5K!

I did it, I did it, I did it!!

It wasn’t the run I’ve been training for — that one’s not until June — but on a whim this past week, I signed up to run a 5K on Friday evening. It was an easy commitment since a lot of coworkers were participating, my employer paid the entry fee, and the race director even hand-delivered an entry form to my office. It was written in the stars, man!

How did I justify the run with my falling-apart body, you ask? My Sunday and Tuesday training runs went pretty well, so of course I felt invincible again. And, hey, I figured I had to do my third training run of the week anyway…..I may as well pin a number on my shirt and run with a hundred or two others. I could always walk a bit of it if I petered out, or if something started to hurt.

Honestly, I was expecting to have to walk part of it. So in typical Lisa fashion, I made it a personal goal to NOT walk at all. Geesh, it’s boring to have realistic goals, don’t you think?

There was a bit of lag time between registration and the start of the race, so I stood around getting advice from the people who had run and/or walked this particular 5K in the past. One coworker touched my arm and laughed, “You are so cute! You’re really excited, aren’t you?”

Ha! I didn’t ask what I said or did to make her think that, but she was right….not the cute part, but the excited part. :) This would be a big neverdone for me — I’d never entered a race, not even during my lazily “athletic” days in high school.

They announced it was almost time to start, so the crowd converged. I said goodbye to my pre-race bud because she was walking and was supposed to stay at the back. I moved forward and found an empty little spot to stand where I could prep my Shuffle, which I’d brought to help me with pacing. All the songs are in order of beats per minute, so I found the section I’d been playing during my recent training runs. I queued the first song to “Unmarked Helicopters” by Soul Coughing. 128 bpm.

The horn sounded, and we were off. It was a slow little jog at first, but very quickly the speed picked up. It was incredibly difficult to run at the slooooooww pace I’d pre-determined with my first song….in fact, I just couldn’t do it. I had energy, I was ready to go, go, GO! Plus I felt a ton of pressure to keep up with the other runners around me. I kept forwarding my Shuffle to the next song, looking for something just a little faster.

Finally, I ran across an hour-long Podrunner mix I could live with, adjusting my speed down just a tad. I fell into stride with the beat. It still seemed slow, but, knowing I had to last awhile, I shoved that nagging peer pressure to the back of my brain.

At mile one, they called out “10:58!” when I passed.

I tried to distract myself from my tight leg muscles by watching the runners around me. There was a speed walker who glided nearby. Up ahead, there was a skinny bald guy with whom I was keeping pace. There were several women and teenagers who passed me, then later I passed them, then later they passed me again….we zigzagged like that almost the whole way. My self esteem fell backward a notch when a young woman jogged steadily past me, pushing a baby stroller.

At mile two, I heard “22:29!” shouted at me above the funky Podrunner medley. I was convinced I’d not be able to run another mile, but at the same time I was determined not to break stride with the song.

It was not easy. But, in a perfect example of mind over body, I did it. I ran — OK, jogged — past the large digital timer at the finish line just as it flashed “36:13.” Not great, but not shameful. And NOT ONCE did I walk!

At home about an hour later, parts of my lower body were throbbing in disconcerting ways. I stretched for quite a long time in front of the TV. An hour after that, most of the throbbing parts had decided to hurt. I mega-dosed some ibuprophen, took a loooooong hot shower, and went to bed.

I’m fine today!

So far, anyway.

An impressive banana

Wow. I never would’ve thought this sales pitch would actually snare a couple takers: “Hey, guys! Isn’t this the biggest banana you have EVER seen? Who wants to have their photo taken with it? I’ll post it on my blog.”

I certainly wouldn’t do it. :)

On a totally unrelated note, are you aware that May is National Masturbation Month? I am not making this up. You can, ahem, give yourself a hand all month long. And there’s a huge celebratory fundraiser in San Francisco on Sunday, May 25th. I know we are on the other side of the continent, but don’t worry — you can participate online.

Please click on the links. Please, please, pretty puh-leeeeeeese click on the links.

Should I exorcize that devil?

Dammit, dammit, dammit! I may be forced to abandon my 5K training.

I actually started running about eight or nine months ago. I was taking it easy, following a standard Couch-to-5K program on the treadmill in my gym, even repeating weeks here and there as I felt I needed to. But then I started to have knee problems. I scaled back the running and did some research. I found that many people’s knee issues are improved by amping up core and general leg strength, so I concentrated on that for awhile. After a month or two, I started running again. It went great at first. Then I started to have feet problems. I stopped trying to improve my distance/time, and just maintained for awhile, hoping my feet were just protesting what they considered to be uncalled-for abuse. It seemed to work, but when I advanced to another week in the C25K plan, they got worse.

A LOT worse.

So I caved and went to an orthopedist specializing in sports injuries, and he sent me to a physical therapist and pedorthist. Turns out I have Morton’s neuroma in both feet. But a lot of people — I know they are out there, I googled them — run with that condition, so I stayed positive. After following treatments suggested by the smart people I paid, I started the gradual running thing again. Slowly but surely, I started to improve. Again.

I was doing so well that I joined a running group. Yay! I was very excited. You remember the post, right?

Then, during a run about three weeks ago, my hip started freaking out. It was a familiar feeling from the days before my current gym obsession. It began as a “presence” in the side of my lower back, but within ten minutes or so, it had turned into a disconcerting pain with every stride. Shit.

Still not willing to give up, I found a chiropractor with awesome experience treating athletes. He got me feeling better pretty quickly — I only had to miss about a week of running. I hit the group’s training schedule again, committed to catching up.

But within only a few days, the neuromas started plaguing me again. Fuck, and doublefuck.

So, on this beautiful Sunday, I sit on my butt-sucking blue couch, Powerbook in my lap, feet not exactly hurting but throbbing with a weird blend of numbness and electrical impulses. They feel better today, and I think I’ll go to the gym this afternoon and attempt a treadmill run. I’ve tried to maintain my fitness with high-intensity workouts on the elliptical and the spinning-class bikes, but it’s not the same…..at this point, I’ve missed so many runs that I’m afraid I won’t be able to catch up. I’m going to try, though. Again.

I’m very close to admitting defeat, however. I mean, geesh….if the universe whacks me THAT many times with a warning, perhaps I should listen.

Grrrrrrrrr. I’m pissed. I’ve grown to really like running — it boosts those happy endorphins like no other activity, and it makes me feel strong and healthy. But…..I suppose if it doesn’t work out for me to run hard, perhaps I can at least do one or two easier runs a week. That’d be better than nothing, which might be what I’d end up doing if I hurt myself trying to push through all my body’s failures.

And maybe I can view it as an opportunity to try something new. A few people I know keep encouraging me to take up cycling — my new chiropractor, especially. Spinning class has made me curious to tackle it in the “real world,” and I’ve even heard about an organization in Spartanburg that loans bikes for free. When one door closes, another one opens.

Hmmmm. A neverdone! My bike-riding has been limited to recreational, lazy outings. I’ve never tried to kick my own ass with it. Now if I can remember how to change gears….

But I’m ahead of myself. Maybe this afternoon will go well. Keep your fingers crossed.

Yummilicious no-mayo chicken salad!

Just for future reference, if you make fun of a potential magicalmonkey post, you pretty much guarantee it’ll be published. :)

I started playing with this recipe after having a similar version for dinner at a friend’s house. She served it with croissants to make sandwiches, but I like to eat it by itself. A couple of posts ago, I said it was fat free, but then I realized it’s not because of the chicken…..but it’s close.

All you do is prep the ingredients and mix in a big bowl. Easy! Makes 4-6 servings.

1-2 apples, diced
shredded carrots, a pile equal in size to that of your apples
celery, diced, a pile slightly smaller than the previous piles
chicken, 2 6-oz packages
Wishbone fat free Italian dressing, 1/2 c or a little more
thai blend seasoning
fresh ground pepper

Notes:

For best flavor, don’t buy just any apples….use your favorite. I like honey crisp, pink lady, or sonya….they all have texture like a granny smith, but are sweeter. Yum! I don’t think an apple with the texture of a red delicious would work, but don’t let me stop you if you’re feeling experimental.

I use the bagged, pre-shredded carrots. They’re crunchy. Seems like when you shred it yourself, it’s too soft.

I’m waaaay too lazy to actually cook the chicken myself, like my friend did at her house. I buy those pouches of oven-roasted, 96% fat free white meat. You’ll have to chop up the meat a little more. But not too much….chunks are good.

Don’t use Kraft dressing, unless you want it to taste like a Pizza Inn salad bar. Ewwwww.

Use a LOAD of thai seasoning. Use it until you think it’ll be nasty…..then use more. Adds a tastebud-tingling kick! Who needs mayo? Spoogy white substances are no match for kickass spices, baby.

Nuts (almonds and walnuts, in particular) are also very good in it….they will add more fat, but at least they’re healthy fats. My friend used raisins, and they were good. I’ve thought about trying oranges, pineapple, or pears.

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