Sunday, December 5, 2010

If someone says RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN TO PHILADELPHIA, then you just go.

Thursday was a dream. It was a cross-train day, so I woke up and biked to the gym. I lifted a bit and did some swimming. I’m becoming an excellent swimmer. I hardly ever crash into the wall these days. I figured out breathing. I can use my legs and arms together in uniform motions, etc. etc. Then I biked home, cleaned up, and made it to school by 9.

Study. Chapel. OT Section. Lunch/Presbyterian meeting. Study. Class.

I was leaving my final class of the day (Ethics of St. Augustine) when I saw a football flying across the quad. I ran outside, and threw my books into a pile. My friend, Alex, chucked the football my way, and I joined the game.

In a skirt. In a button-up shirt. In high boots. With my hair down.

My friends and I ran around, and I made amendments to my outfit as we played. I threw my hair into a ponytail. Then my boots had to go. I tucked in my shirt. Pretty soon, I was running around with a grass stain on the side of my skirt, and my tights were covered in mud. No worries. It was the best time ever! Plus, I needed to practice. I told the Episcopalians I would play on their football team…Bad idea, yo.

The afternoon grew colder as we played, and my friend, Gracie, and I excused ourselves to head back to the gym. Core work. It is easier to do everything when you have a strong core, which, I think, is a pretty solid metaphor for life (?).

Yesterday morning, I got to play with the Yale Div School Episcopalians in a football tournament in NYC against two other schools. Oh, my gosh. It was terrifying. There were not many girls, and the boys were sassy and corpulent and had bad attitudes. I thought for sure I'd get smacked down. Plus, it was freezing. SO COLD. Today I’m sore, not from football but from shivering. Also, it wasn’t a free-for-all-tackle-to-the-ground-run-around-in-your-school-clothes kind of game. There were plays to think about. There were running patterns and blocking strategies. It required a lot of thinking.

Please just let me stay inside of my head when I play sports. I like abstractions...material particulars kill my spirit. Let’s have meta-convos about football and the strivings of human endeavor. Let’s operationally define and re-define our terms. And please, let’s have all of our movement be forward-movement, none of this side-to-side wiggling stuff, which, I think, is a pretty solid metaphor for life (?).

I did learn that football is a lot more complicated than it looks, so I give it props. I just think a lot of the beauty of a sport is lost when there are too many plans and rules. I like raw sport, pick-up fashion. Like, maybe someone will say to me, "I dare you to run to Philadelphia. You have ONE DAY. Go." ...Then I will run! I'LL RUN AS FAST AS I CAN! I won't say, "No, I'm sorry, but I need a taper and to map out where I'm getting my electrolytes." No. No. I'd just go.

Anyway, I heard someone on the field yell out “Blitz!” I had no idea that was a football term! But it is, and I am very happy I could expand my lexicon.

blitz—(noun) A sudden charge upon the quarterback by one or more of the linebackers or defensive backs when the ball is snapped. Also called red-dog.

To me, “blitz” is a group of runner boys at W&M. They were my team in undergrad, and I loved them. I still do. I still love you, Team Blitz.

College was nuts.

I lived in a house with my best friends, and everywhere I went, I saw friends and potential-friends and people I admired because they cared about the world. I love W&M and the type of people it attracts. Everyone is passionate about what they do.

I started ultrarunning in college and worked really hard at it. I woke up everyday at 4 for a quick breakfast and then a long run before classes. I spent hours out before the sunrise, trotting around Colonial Williamsburg. Just me and the sheep. I thought about life and the things I believed. I planned for the day ahead. Then I’d clean up and head to classes. Sometimes I cleaned up. Sometimes I just headed to classes…Baggy sweatsuits cover a number of ills—like the running clothes underneath. You know, you know.
(asleep, riding back from a race weekend...still clutching my race number)

My afternoons were Blitz-dominated. I’d meet up with the guys to go for faster runs, to make sure I didn’t become a slow-poke. All of my memories of those runs are positive. We had flower day, when we’d pick flowers and give them to people as we ran by. There was a lot of speed work and smack-talking. We once ran in the ice-cold pouring rain, just to prove that we were intense enough to do so. The boys went shirtless and wore their shortest shorts that day. I wore several layers of water-resistant clothing. They ran in a pack around me and called me their queen. It was AWESOME. Like 15 brothers! We hung out and ate meals together. They taught me how to play video games.

(This is our score card. I was ranked 9th, just above the controller with nobody using it and my little brother.)

We all had nicknames. I was “S Mo” or “The Shark.” My brother Teddy was “T-Pain.” We had a boy named Andrew on our team, but he got a girlfriend and stopped coming to practice. Another Andrew transferred in, so he became Andrew 2.0. Then he got a girlfriend and stopped showing up. We picked up an Andrew 3.0 my senior year, and he is a beast. He runs like a G.I. Joe and is indefatigable. If you run with 3.0, you know you’re going to be sore the next day. Deal with it.

Blitz also crewed for me in my first ultras. They were wonderful friends to me, staying up through the night, driving me around Virginia. My running community showed me what it means to believe in someone and support their goals. They definitely did that for me.

Anyway, I don’t think I have a future in football, but I’m excited about the miles of running I have ahead! Happy trails, everyone. Have a great week.


  1. Brilliant! Plus, the kid who shares my office just asked me if I was OK because I snorted out loud twice. :-)

  2. Haha, thanks, Gentry! Time to update your blog!...It's good stuff! Hope you are running well and that life is good. Have a Merry Christmas!

  3. Biking to the gym... Swimming once you're there... Are you planning on being in a triathalon?

  4. Haha, noooo. I just cross-train to take the pressure off my running legs sometimes. Miss you, Grady! I might be at the camp reunion again this year. Hope you go, too!