Thursday, June 19, 2008

Run Ning

Um. Seems I've been tagged.

I don't usually do tags (how pretentious does THAT sound!), but it's really just because I'm woefully bad at posting on something within, ya know, like three years of it actually happening.

Unless it has to do with food. Then I post immediately.

But since I hearts Erin and I've been focusing on solving my run issues this year, I thought I'd jump on this wagon. Or catch this train. Or look for an appropriate running metaphor.


So, without further adieu...

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Running? Ten years ago? (Cough, cough) Sorry, I got something caught in my throat. It might have been a box of wine or a carton of cigarettes. (COUGH) Okay, it's gone.

What were you saying? Ah yes, my running at 24. Let's see, at 24 I was a fresh face in Philadelphia, having just moved there from the DC area and following a disastrous break up with 30-something adolescent and the death of my Mom the year before. Having just started an excellent new job with my best friend working down the hall, living in my FAHbulous apartment that came with free mice and permanent risk of break-in, and a lot of nervous lonely time to fill, I spent much of my time, well...away. Out. Doing "things." I went out all the time with friends. I would dine (and drink) alone to pass the nights without plans. I ate very little and weighed very little, too. I wore leather pants. I could hang longer than most of the guys. I played a mean game of pool and knew every bartender in the Art Museum area personally. I was a size 4 hottie with a fancy party life and disastrous emotional life. Great to hang out with, but seriously, dude, not one to date.

Don't get me wrong. It was fun. For sure. But it was also taxing. Physically, emotionally, financially. While my well adjusted friends found well adjusted partners and married and moved on, I continued to search...for something.

And I had no idea yet part of it might be found in running. Not a clue.

So, me? Running? Ten years ago? Pshaw. Pass the chardonnay and I'll meet you at Rembrandt's at 8.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?

I'm going to stick with my best, because I'm feeling all positive like today.

My best run may have been my first half marathon. I had no idea how momentous the day was going to be because I was incredibly naive about all things sport. I had signed up for a trail run that was NOTORIOUS for kicking people's arses up one side of a mountain and down another. I've since gone back for more pain, but it was my first experience on this course. And I was blissfully unaware.

But it wasn't just that I didn't realize what thousands of feet of climb feels like over 13+ miles. I didn't know what 13 miles felt like. Most people do their first half mary in a formal way, with chips and spectators, carrying signs. And maybe a training plan. I had just signed up to do a cool trail run I read about on a flier at the gym, and since I had been hitting 9, 10, or 11 mile runs during the week I figured doing 13 would be no big leap.

Such. A. Fool.

I totally finished that day. I barely made the cutoff at the halfway point, but I slugged it out through craggy, rock infested paths and across fields, and up the random 100 stairs that "help" hikers make their way through the woods. I completely and utterly thrashed my legs. Upon arriving home, still relatively naive about recovery and nutrition, I layed face-down down on the floor in the living room to "rest." Ten minutes later I was dizzy and nauseaus with low blood sugar and seeing spots. What a rookie.

I have no idea what my time was. I don't give a darn, to this day. As with many things, I just randomly crashed into my first half mary sideways without much thought or planning. But it remains one of my best runs ever.

3. Why do you run?

I run because I don't want to die.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

But it's honestly the reason I do. My mom died at 51 years old. Fifty-one years old. She had little choice about it in the end -- it was a cancer she had staved off for eleven years. Eleven years. So she only had 40 years of disease free life.

I'm 34. You do the math.

And, while it may sound dramatic to most (unless you've lost a parent young, then you'll totally understand), I expect to die early and from cancer. I do. When you spend your entire youth and young adult life linking CANCER to MORTALITY, it tends to affect your own predictions of your own life.

I could get hit by a bus or a car. I could drown. I could leave this earth many ways, but I don't expect those ends. I expect that I will leave too early and because of cancer.

So, I put a lot of energy today into removing that possibility from my future. No smoking and no drinking. Whole foods and lots of sleep. LOTS of exercise. Because I'm doing everything possible now to stick around as long as possible for my children. Yup, the one's I haven't had yet. Because I love them to bits and pieces and I don't ever want them to parse out their emotions on mortality and longevity, personal responsibility and loss, at 13 years old. I want them to remain blissfully unaware of the fear of loss.

So each and every time I run in a race and come in dead freaking last (which is often), I consider it a victory. I'm doing everything I can to be alive at 80. So see my children trip and fall their way through their own adult lives and chuckle with Mighty M about how we were like that one day a long, long time ago.

There you have it. I run so I won't die.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you’ve been given about running?

The best piece of advice I've heard about running -- and, frankly, pretty much every unpleasant training activity -- is to get out of my own damn way.

You blog? You read blogs? You've heard that everywhere. I know it, because I've read it everywhere. But it's damned powerful stuff.

I get in my way all the time. I spent a DECADE of my life bouncing around so fast I couldn't slow down enough to achieve my own potential. I bartered and cajoled myself into and out of just plain doing it -- the test, the promotion, the relationship, the future.

And I held on hard to that habit with triathlon and running. For every run, ride, or swim I had a million reasons why I didn't want to, I couldn't, or I shouldn't. I mapped out scenarios of well laid excuses to pave my way to the lazy alternatives. I resisted so much. I got in my own way.

Soon I figured out my why of resisting -- why I tried to pull out early or accept the shorter/easier alternative. And once I did, it became easier to get out of my own way. Soon, with a little insight, I started adding to the picture a little acknowledgment ("Of course you don't want to get out of bed to swim, because you know it's unpleasant and you could just roll over and 'forget' you had that 3,000 swim planned for today") and the good kind of denial ("Ha ha, that's funny how you're so damned predictable. Now get the hell out of bed, beyotch. It's time to HTFU!").

Don't get me wrong...the dark side wins sometimes, too. Last night I opted for a dinner out instead of my run. But I'm wiser now, so this morning I listened to the inner voice that got me out of bed for an AM make-up run.

Cause now I try to get out of my own way.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

I'm terribly neurotic about certain things, while others can lay in waste on the side of my attention span. The fridge, for example. The fridge needs to be organized. There is a place for everything in my fridge, and it better damn site be in its place! The bed is another good example. I cannot stand an unmade bed! (My father just cheered outloud on that one!) I have to make the bed every day, with the corners tucked and the sheet smoothed. I secretly believe that Mighty M's only character flaw is that he is unable (or unwilling? huh? you be the judge...) to make a bed properly. Or, like, ever. And while we're in the bedroom, I can have a pile of dirty laundry in the corner, but the top of my dresser MUST be orderly and clean. The perfume bottles must be aligned properly and there should be no dryer sheets/random hair ties/handkerchiefs/assorted crap there. Incidentally, it's funny to actually look at our dresser because Mighty M does not ascribe to this neurosis. No need to draw a line down the middle, it's pretty clear already.

Other things keep me just shy of crazy, like folding laundry properly, keeping a mess-free car and purse, and having my coffee made just right in the morning.

But I like my kind of crazy. It works, you know? Anyway, what's 40 more years of making the bed?

6. Passing it on.

This is where I will fall flat on my face. Because I'm not passing it on. I know! I'm a total stick in the mud! Shoot me! Actually don't. But at least give me a break. I deserve one...I made the bed this morning.


LBTEPA said...

I think we are twins!
So with you on the bedmaking - and my first half marathon was a glorious, hooking-me-forever-on-big-scary-projects debacle too!
You'd hate my fridge though.
Great post!

someday tri said...

Wow, I had no idea other people who'd lost a young parent to cancer assumed they'd follow the same trajectory. That is absolutely me -- not that I dwell on it or think it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, I just assume that's what happens in life -- it's what I know.

That was powerful for me to read, so thanks for sharing.

Megan said...



Leather pants?


Since you were in your twentys, you get a pass on that.

Moving on.....

I get the whole mortality thing too. I say it to my family all the time - they get so mad, but its true. I really think that's how I will go out, especially after my dad.

And getting out of my own way? It's my daily mantra...though sometimes the other voices in my head - you know, the ones that tell me to be a crazy neurotic b word - try to silence it....

MAJ said...

HAHAAHAHAH!! I have the same neuroses. It's good to know there are more of us out there.

triguyjt said...

nice post...yes i laughed at the leather pants..but why did i laugh?? ihave no idea.... i didn't know you then....anyway.....

ohh yeah... good luck making up on the noodle eating the next many years

Jennifer Harrison said...

I had to stop reading at leather pants. But, I loved this post....I learned alot about you! :) Jen H.
PS always make the bed? Oh, you would HATE ME!!