Thursday, February 3, 2011

Good to know if there are worms under your rock.

True fact: Last year, I ran Umstead 100 as a nature vs. nurture personal debate. BECAUSE I LOVE SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS. I was terribly untrained. Just prior to the race, I asked the RD if there were any slots open. There were! I thought it would be neat to see if my past running had gone well either because:

1. I train hard.
2. I was born to enjoy these certain kinds of things.

And the only way to figure that out is to run 100 miles all-out without the training to support you. [P.S. Sponsors, don’t worry because I’ll never do this again. I promise.]

Somehow I PRed. But I felt like I was going to DIE. In terms of cardio-endurance, it felt awesome, but the pounding on my legs was jarring. After I finished, I waddled inside the giant lounge-cabin to hang out with the DNFers and injured/resting runners. I stretched out by the fire, telling jokes to the people around me because I had thought-up some good ones while running. Annette Bednosky was there, and I was so thrilled to catch up, I jumped up to see her! And I promptly blacked out. (Because you don’t jump up after lying down after running 100 miles…You live, and you learn...)

The medic launched himself toward me and took my BP and told me it was pretty low, and I assured him it was always like that. “No worries. I control my blood pressure with my mind.” And then he asked me if my side ponytail throws me out of chiropractic alignment. I had never thought of that, but I answered, “Sir, I believe it is worth the risk.” Because it’s important to look like the decade you were born in.
(natural beauty multiplied by 2)

(But if I ever look like this, it's not okay. I can't work it like she can.)

Umstead was a great day, and it felt so FREE! No expectations. It was an adventure that I’ll remember forever…and more so now that I am in the practice of reflecting upon these things. Did I run in the past? Probably, but I don’t remember the specifics. My mileage log says I did—A LOT…like up to 180 miles per week in college. But I had no real plan and didn't dwell on it. While running, I never thought about running because sometimes the last thing running is running.

Running is the freest aspect of my life. It’s just there, and somehow everyday I wake up and train without pause. I never used to think about it, and that’s why I liked it so much. It was pressure-free. So I was initially hesitant to start a running blog because I didn’t want to turn my lens in on itself. When you bring your life under scrutiny, one of two things can happen:

1. You become disillusioned and feel pressured by your own normativity.
2. You perfect your skill. You become more aware of different things holding you back, and you can really start to succeed.

I was afraid of both. Because sometimes you flip over a beautiful rock and find a pile of worms. And because once you’re aware of something, you’re sort of obligated to care. And I don’t know how to half-way care. About anything. If I were more relaxed, I would not be a Philosophy student at Yale. I’d pursue my secondary passion: street rapping about thug lives in the ‘hood. Or I would have settled for Princeton. [Ohhhhh Princeton burn! Go Bulldogs.]
But the neatest thing is that I have benefitted from this reflection. Thinking about my training gives me more racing confidence because I know I’m prepared. Running teaches me a lot of things about myself, when I’m paying attention, about my perceived limitations and the person I want to be. I love being able to share my experiences with people so they can learn as I learn, and I hope others will be encouraged to start running, too.

Anyway, I’m trotting around right now, enjoying my first New England winter (NOT!). I have made final adjustments to my racing schedule [see on right side of screen). I’m really happy with it and think it’s sustainable. You guys, life is good. I hope you have a week full of joy and adventures. Homegirl out.


  1. I love the way you write these things (then again, I've been reading Paul Tillich and everything seems less dry by comparison). After failing in my first couple 100 attempts, I'd told people I was planning on doing the first of one a friend was starting (Zumbro) - it was in two weeks! - I hadn't trained for it, went from first place to last, walked the last half, but got my first finish. Discovered I am NOT a natural at the distance.

    Currently rocking the balding guy with greying ponytail look myself, whichever decade that belongs to.

  2. 1.Paul Tillich?! Oh, man. Steve we have a lot more in common than just running. Christian existential philosophy is one of my favorite hobbies. Ha! So awesome.
    2. I fully support the balding greying ponytail look. You can work any kind of hair if you do it with confidence.
    3. No worries if you're not a natural at 100s. Because training can cover a number of ills. Also, my dad LOVES telling people about how I was mediocre at all sports except distance running. Maybe you'll some day find the sport that was made for you!
    4. Thanks for the feedback! I checked out your blog and love it! Have a great week!

  3. Another classic, Homegirl! BTW, very glad you'll be at OD.

  4. I'm disappointed you didn't take the street rapper route. I ordered roclite 268 shoes for training from my local shop (sadly there stock of Inov 8 shoes is limited, hope to get them in a week) per your recommendation. I'm headed for a run. 25's the goal but sue me if I add in the last 1.2. Plan to do a few normal marathons as well this year. Hopefully qualify for boston.


  5. You're hilarious. I love your posts :)