Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Arjen Robben and Me

The Dutch football (soccer) player Arjen Robben and I have something in common. What could it be? He's a man and I'm a woman, so that's not it. I have a thick head of hair and he's bald. Arjen is 26 and I'm.................a little bit older. He's one of the best football players in the world and I'm a middle of the pack runner. So what can Arjen and I possibly have in common? The answer is that we both have hamstring problems.  Arjen tore his hamstring during a pre-World Cup practice match, while mine has been bothering me for the last month or so. I'll have to figure out how Arjen recovered enough to be able to play in the later matches of the World Cup. I would think that the stopping, starting, and diving in football (Arjen is a big-time diver) would be worse on a hamstring than running at a steady pace. 

My injury is funny. The muscle is very tight during my first kilometers of running. I have to go very slowly or it will bother me. Once I get past the first couple of kilometers it loosens up and the rest of my run is fine. When I do long runs, I walk instead of stopping to drink. Stopping tightens the muscle again. It doesn't bother me after a run except when I overdo it. I've tried all kinds of things to get it to heal properly. Like the old ads for Wisk detergent and "Ring Around the Collar" ("you've tried soaking them out and scrubbing them out and you've still got ring around the collar"), I've tried stretching, rest, cross-training, massage with my hands, and using my massage stick. I'd really like to have my hamstring at 100% fitness before the Munich half-marathon in October. I've pretty made up my mind that I'd like to do the half-marathon that accompanies the Munich Marathon. 

Onto the World Cup....what's with the players wearing girls' headbands? A lot of people out there already think that football is a gay sport because of all of the dives and fake injuries with their accompanying theatrics. I used to wear those types of headbands when I was in elementary school. They were good for keeping hair out of my face. I'm sure the players wear those headbands for that reason. But you'd think they'd find something a little more masculine. 

I'll be cheering for Uruguay, even though I think that the Netherlands will beat them tonight. I always like to cheer for underdog teams. Even with his girlie headband, Uruguay's Diego Forlan is "easier on the eyes" than the Dutch duo of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben (I guess I shouldn't say that about Arjen if I want to know his injury recovery secrets). That's as good a reason as any to cheer for Uruguay. Uruguay is a country of just 3.5 million people and the only South American team to make the semi-finals. Germany is storming through the elimination rounds and looks like the team to beat for the overall title. They should beat Spain tomorrow night, though Paul the match-predicting octopus says that Spain will win. Paul has predicted Germany's wins and losses in this World Cup with 100% accuracy (and was 80% accurate in the 2008 European Championships). But Spain would win easily if the match was decided by which team had the best looking players. Both matches should be interesting, whether or not the teams with the better looking players win. Maybe Arjen will block out the pain in his sore hamstring and score the winning goal for the Dutch. 

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