Monday, November 5, 2012

Karate Purple Belt Test and Two Cities Half-Marathon – Part 1

This was an intense weekend: purple belt test in karate on Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday.

I had known my purple belt test was coming up.  I just didn’t know exactly when it would be.  If I had still been planning to run the full marathon, I would have asked ahead of the announcement that it not be scheduled within two weeks of the test.  I did my orange belt test in February a week and a half after one half marathon and two days prior to another, and that was hard.

The biggest thing I was worried about was how long we’d have to stand in square horse stance.  For my orange belt test, I had to hold the stand for two sets of probably 10 minutes and 15 minutes.  But to my surprise, he refocused the testing.  We only had three sets of two minutes, two minutes and five minutes.

I was also nervous about the sparring element of the test.  Sparring is difficult for me.  I just don’t seem to have great instincts in defending, or finding an open shot.  I took about six punches to the side of my head from Bryan S. in our one-minute round.  In all of our practice sparring, we had never been allowed to hit the head, so while I was used to keeping my guards up, I wasn’t used to having to block shots up there.  My ears were ringing by the end of it.

But Bryan S. was testing for his blue belt (the next level up).  His test involved stripping an attacker of a weapon.  Three of us went in there (one at a time) with a two-foot padded training stick.  First, he took it away from Bryan L. in 17 seconds.  Third, he got it away from Dan W. in 24 seconds.  But I went second, and I beat him front and back nonstop.  He couldn’t get it away from me!  Finally he knocked me over and braced my striking wrist with his knee.  I was trying to twist around and use my left leg to slide him off of me (because he weighs nothing), when our Sensei called it a truce at 31 seconds!

The rest of the test wasn’t easy, but was pretty doable.  We were on the mat for three hours, and there was about an hour of dead time within that from all the individual testing vs. group testing.  Everyone earned their next belt.  Three were promoted to yellow belt, about six to orange, seven of us to purple, and one to blue.

I then hobbled out to my car, stopped at Arby’s for some sustenance, and then went home to prep for the race.  I had never tried it, but I heard an ice bath works wonders for rapid recovery from intense workouts.  I didn’t want to lug a bag of ice home, so I just ran a cold water bath.  I was able to survive that for about 15 minutes, and I do think it helped.  I had some pasta at Amy’s to carb up for the race, and chilled out the rest of the evening at home.

I also had to set all my clocks back.  I was nervous about this.  Last year I had a new phone and I wasn’t sure how it handled DST.  My prior phone didn’t turn back/forward until you slid it open to reveal the keypad, so I always had to set my alarm assuming it wouldn’t reset.  So last year, deciding not to trust the phone’s ability to handle this complex time change, I turned off the “auto update item” option and manually changed the time back.  Not a good move.  It still rolled the time back an hour at two a.m. (but didn’t “auto-update” to the correct time) and I was an hour late getting ready for the race.  Thankfully I give myself a lot of lead time for races.  I recall that I had even set a clock alarm but I don't remember why that didn't help.  So this year, I knew I could trust my phone to handle DST.

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