When I was 8 or 9, I was sitting in the bleachers at a football game with my friend’s family when I noticed the lady next to me was knitting a sweater. I told her she was talented, and she answered that she needed to knit to keep her hands busy because she recently quit smoking. Knitting instead of smoking. I said that was the coolest thing ever, and my friend and I excused ourselves to go practice cartwheels behind the bleachers. About 11 years later, I remembered the woman, as I worked in a behavior modification lab in college.
Rule number one: You cannot simply desist a negative behavior. You need to replace it with a new positive one. So while vowing to consume less soda, you should have a conjunctive goal of drinking more water each day. And if you want to watch less TV, maybe couple it with the positive goal of increasing athletic activity…like…say, maybe running more. You’ll find that it is SO fun.
Anyway, try to take that into account with your New Year’s resolutions. This year, I have resolved to:
1. Be the kind of girl who consistently lets people merge into traffic ahead of her.
2. Make every training mile count. Focus.
My New Year started in the best possible way. No alcohol, but I find that the post-ultramarathon state is a lot like a hangover, without the inexorable accompaniment of the cerebellular obfuscation implicit in inebriation. Your body gets pretty trashed—but in the most salubrious sort of way—and you’ll be back on your feet full-force after some rest and hydration. I know a LOT about alcohol since I’m such a fan of Ke$ha’s music, but it’s not really my thing. However, I eat so many raisins! Raisins are old grapes, so they’re... basically…wine…
(You can get buzzed at breakfast! It's 5 o'clock somewhere...)
On December 31st, I did a sunset run around the hills of Charlottesville. I covered myself in spandex—as much spandex as you can wear before you run out of surface area. So much spandex. It was a beautiful run because C-ville is a real babe of a town. Then I heralded in 2011 with the Howard fam.
January 1st was the best. Sophie Speidel and Vince Bowman organized a trail run to meet on top of Black Rock Summit in the mountains between Charlottesville and Harrisonburg. There were lots of climbs, and it was the best day ever.
(one of Sophie's pics)
At one point, Gentry was talking about his 2011 race schedule, saying he’s keeping his 100-milers pretty casual so he can pound out his 48-hour run in May. I got all choked up and couldn’t even talk for a second because I was so thrilled to hear that—not specifically that Gentry is concentrating on the 48-hour—but I realized after all these years of living my life in the same way with nobody who really understood, I have finally found my people. The VHTRC! They live in Virginia and have normal-people jobs during the daytime, but as a hobby they run as far as they can and have an awesome time doing it. Anyway, it was SO GREAT.
The biker boys up front were blasting down the mountains, which was a neat opportunity to practice my technical downhills—less braking, more free-falls. At one point, we paused on the trail to wait for the rest of the runners to catch up. One of the boys had a Ziploc® bag of baked goods that he found on the trail, so THEY ATE ITS CONTENTS. They offered me some, and I cast a sanctimonious glare and then giggled. Everybody secretly wants to eat food off of the ground. It’s human nature, and if you say no, you’re lying or have never been a child. Plus, I was eyeing the carrot sticks in the grass alongside the trail…MMMmmmMMMMMmmmm, right?
Later, I wiped out hard. I tripped, and before my whole body had struck the ground, I was already screaming, “I’m okaaaaaaaay.” My tights got ripped, and my hand was pretty bloody. For the remaining miles, I tried to hold it as still as I could so none of the blood would sweat off before I showed it to the boys.
I said goodbye and drove off—back up north to see friends in Arlington, Virginia. The problem was, in my fall, I guess I jammed my middle finger. The middle one! The way my hand rested on the steering wheel, it stuck straight out so that I was flipping off all the cars that passed. I decided to curve my hand around the wheel to direct it back toward myself. I gave myself the middle finger the entire 2.5-hour drive.
I was sweaty and dirty and covered in hand blood, but it was the best way to start the new year. Next Saturday is my first race of the year—the MHRRC 50K, which I last ran in 2007.
Happy New Year, Happy Winter, and Happy Trails!