A little dab'll do ya...

 Sami Bey and Shaika Spot, faithful companions and avid travelers... My Middle East Beasts turned-to Turkish Kediler :)

As of late, I've reached into my Tiger Balm stashes, among others. It seems that the combination of yoga, running and African dance is turning my body into one big network of nerves. It actually feels a bit like growing pains.  Maybe it's just because there are so many different muscle groups being activated at various different times that no one group can find the time to relax as they're either in the spot light or guiding the other group on in some helpful way.  I just don't remember this in my previous life where I did all this, and more... lol

Fast forward to today, Easter Sunday for Christians, 9:30 am and ACTION.  It seemed like a rude interruption from my brief slumber. Brief, yes. I ended up on the party bus at 1am back to Büyükdere coming from Taksim.  Uneventful enough, but it did take some time.  Eye-spied, I think, my mysterious next-door-neighbor hopping on the bus in shi-shi-la-la Bebek (ritzy hood here in Ist where the see-and-be-seen like to dwell about and... well, see-and-be-seen).  Just adding more information to the mystery that is him, if it was him.  He is a sport coach, I think, for a campus sports team at work that shall remain unnamed to protect the innocent (me)... Anyway, American guy, I've heard.  I only know of his voice- through the walls talking on Skype... I can only assume that he wears cement blocks for shoes because that is what I hear when he is just walking up the stairs in his apartment up to his loft; I hear concrete block earth-moving tremors... So does Da Jel, who lives downstairs from this American WMD... lol. One day I'm going to run into him and we'll end up shooting the shit. I'll introduce my self as , "the purple note gal"- yes he did get a purple note slipped underneath his door once many fortnights ago... 

Coming out of the metro station, a very sparsely populated Taksim Square yesterday evening, due to the suicide bombing last weekend here...

Onward. So the reason I was on the party bus at 1am was because 4-gra had a wee/wii extravaganza at Da Kine's residence. Admittedly, the 100-pin bowling was good fun. I have birthed the 'slow mo/slow bowl form, to rave reviews from the tribe.  Slow and steady wins the race, although I didn't win.

Da Jel in an action shot

Onward. early on in the evening we all commented how we had just received the latest US embassy notice (warning) about a possible ISIL threat to places of worship today- especially churches, synagogues and diplomatic missions... Have I mentioned that I live above an Orthodox church, in an old schoolhouse?  Beautiful stone building that it is, it will become my self-exiled prison of sorts today.

Yea, it's a good day to just lay low I suppose. After running. And yoga. And a Brownie Walkabout with The Büyükdere Club Kids, our intrepid trio consisting of Ed Vice, Steve-O and myself. On our last Brownie Walkabout we ventured into an old Armenian Church further down in the hood, before trotting on to Yeniköy to down a few Teddy Beers.  Good fun.

The Büyükdere Club Kids

INTERRUPTION:  Ahhh the first sip of freshly brewed french press coffee... 

Yet I digress yet again... we all decided that 'it' (the embassy email) must concern the sites of religious worship and missions on Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal street) mainly, as that was the site of last weekend's suicide bombing here in the latest antics (from a lame group of thugs). At any rate, I won't be cutting through the church grounds today en route to my (running) route.  WOW, at this very moment the church bells are ringing, and all the neighborhood canines are yowling... I've always been so curious on what goes on with an orthodox mass... Today is not the day to check it out.

Back to running as it's on my mind a lot these days.  Recently I broke out my old Timex GPS Run Trainer- mostly to check out my heart rate activity during my run.  I'm not sure why it's taken so long to break it out, but I suspect it's because the numbers were always so depressing while living/running in Bahrain the past 2 years... It was so damn hot running there- no matter what time of day.  I mean, it was laboriously hot trying to run into a full-on furnace coming at you...

Besides that, I'm really concentrating on working on some specific things. Specifically, my gait, as well as mind/body movement control.  What I mean to say is that I am really concentrating on focusing on experimenting with 2 different leg styles while I run: firstly, I visualize my feet.  While one is striking the ground (mid-foot strike I am also working on- coming from a (not overly severe) heel-strike background)), the other leg is close to a 90º angle with my foot trying to hit my butt. VISUALIZING I say, so that the goal is really just to get that leg high, while still projecting forward.

Running-style-wise, my second task is to try to bring free leg as close forward and near knee-level of the leg on the ground- all within an aerodynamic forward motion, so not a 90º angle here but maybe 45º. With this movement, I'm thinking that the less time my one foot is on the ground, the easier it is to transform into a mid-foot striker.  I've come to realize that my heel-strike, even though it isn't pronounced, makes me take a longer time to recover and get that foot back off the ground, as well as gives more time for my body to sink into that foot on the ground or compress my spine.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"; I know, I know.  But, I'm having fun with it.  What I know is that when I'm running, I'm feeling that high, and it's so good that I don't want it to stop. So, if I want to continue this running-high into the years, I need to be logical. Prevention is the key, and I've done a pretty good job so far.

Yesterday's excursion into the world of running in Istanbul brought me to a new route, I think. I've been wanting to start training on hill sprints.  But I need a hill. Going up the Haciosman Hill I notice, while on the bus, that there is a forested area in a neighborhood just off the highway.  Bingo.  I ran up to this spot and just started walking into this village neighborhood.  There are 3 successive, steep hills to traverse, and probably more as I started to see people movement at the top of the 3rd and didn't feel like trekking further into this unfamiliar neighborhood/village. Let the people get familiar with me I think is a good plan.  After all, it doesn't look like any yabancī get up into this hood... What I mean to say is seeing a yabanci, and a yabanci runner, in this hood looks like an unfamiliar thing.  Baby steps... Happy baby steps that I found this new practice session to throw into the mix!

The hill sprints should build some more muscle, which should, in theory, propel me faster!  At this point, my Bosphorus Runs need a little kick.  I've been running up to 10k at a time now (on a great day), but I feel a bit sluggish.  I feel that I don't need to run farther, but faster.  Simply just to change it up.  The weather is getting warmer as it's now spring so why not? I have Spring Fever, and it's excellent.

An always great cross-training choice is yoga, of course. Even though I do miss the relaxed style of yoga on Maui, and Bahrain ( BaYoga ) I have found a sorta sweet spot here in Istanbul. What I typically find here, though, is that most all teachers have the same classes; the same poses, too much partner work (which, to me, means too much down time and time spent in the hands of someone who is going to possibly help one to injure themselves), and too much talking.

The last one is okay though as my comprehension of Turkish isn't too great so it is more like background noise.  I can just get into my poses and concentrate on my breath and turn out the talking. Not that I'm used to a disciplined class (well, except for House of Yoga and Zen in Makawao where I practiced ashtanga), but I guess I'm used to a more intuitive class where the body talks and the mind listens. Man, I need quiet time for this :)

African dance classes started up this week! Our drummer is from Guinea and teacher is Senagalese. High energy for sure.  Perhaps it is this newest addition to my regime that is making my body ache- good ache- since there is a lot of jumping and flinging of body party involved.  Nevertheless, it feels so good.  Drums beating my body into submission while rhythmically putting me into a trance state of higher awareness... Higher consciousness... Higher frequencies being adjusted to, thus allowing me to be me... THIS. This is the Da Kine medicine...

INTERRUPTION: more coffee downstairs...

The day is already sizing up to be a tall drink of water: the sun is breaking through the clouds and I can hear the horns on the Bosphorus ships. Birds are chirping, and there is an unmistakable quietness in the TomCat antics this morning.  As spring has sprung, so have the TomCats from near and far to the doorstep of the building nearly.  They hang out in a dude-gang and battle for unassuming females, all of which are in heat collectively.  An odd-sounding symphony plays nearly 24/7 here consisting of unnerving treble (females kitties getting raped) to all about the melodious bass sounds when it's feeding time for the extensive tribe by one of the neighborhood moms who so graciously and consistently bring food to the feeding trough of the sidewalks to the baritone sounds of male dominance behavior played out as 'let's see who will fall off the garage across the street while fighting). A true cacophany of feline life in the hood captured in a mid-spring fever tribute to life in Istanbul.

COUNTDOWN: less than 2 weeks to Sicily!

In summary, "a little dab'll do ya" serves me right.  Here a dab (neck). There a dab (right outer hip socket). Everywhere a dab dab (you get the picture). I dug into my (well stocked) Tigers Balm reserves in the past week to facilitate the healing powers of (analgesic balm on) sore muscles. I started to put some on my knee caps BEFORE going out on my run... I decided this not the greatest idea even though it feels awesome.  I'm on the preventative bandwagon, but is this preventative, or masking inevitable pain without solving the problem?  It's a fine line, and it's got me wondering.  So much in fact that I started researching effects of pavement running (who doesn't know the results of this tough). I guess I'm just looking for some solid research/data to counter the obvious (pounding your kneecaps and vertebra into eventual decay). I did manage to order a new pair of running shoes though, which faithful friend JonEe will send with his otherwise awesome care packages.

As any research endeavor with me, I spent so much time on this. Days, even weeks!  It came down to 3 brands: Pearl Izumi, Hoka One One and Altra.  After much (A LOT OF) deliberation, I ordered the Pearl Izumi's.  I decided to try this 'rocker' style out after assessing my needs (stability, wide toe box, and cushioning).  The Hoka One One was my wildcard as I've never worn a 'rocker' type shoe before and they seem to be extreme.  Altra had an option or two as well, but Pearl Izumi won out.  The sizing, of course, is touchy- especially in terms of not wanting to send shit back to America so really needing the size to be correct. Not having ever tried on these 3 brands before, it's a crapshoot, but I did do indepth research and read SO many comments.  I'm feeling pretty confident about my choice and excited for arrival time!  Until then though, my Saucony Kinvara 7s are doing me just fine.  These are definitely my GO TO shoes of the decade (3 years strong with this Kinvara series and happy).