Running Headfirst Into Mediocrity

April 18, 2017

Not pictured: The alarm going off at 6 am

Instagram has gotten a lot of crap lately for creating an idealized version of life with all the hard parts edited out. Of course it does exactly that, but that means it also makes the improbable seem attainable.

Take running, for example. For the past month or so, my Insta feed has been post after post of runners training for the Boston Marathon. Ordinary, every-day sort of runners. The kind who aren’t professional, who have families and day jobs, and don’t live anywhere near Boston. It seems improbable that a thirty-something mother of three would spend dozens of hours every week away from their loved ones, focusing on a self-centered goal, and paying for the entry fee, the plane ticket, the hotel room, the running gear. But according to Instagram, there are hundreds of such people, making the improbable seem attainable.

That sounds like I disapprove of what they’re doing, but I don’t. If anything, I fear that they will convince me to join them. And I don’t want to run 26 miles. I really don’t.

It’s hard not to get swept up in big goals when I see them everywhere. But I think for running, that’s not where I want to be. That’s not to say I don’t have a new goal now that the Cherry Blossom race is done, because I do.

Here it is: I want to run an easy 10 miles.

That, to me, seems improbable. It certainly wasn’t easy when I did it two weeks ago. But according to Instagram, an easy 10 miles is totally attainable. I see it in statuses daily, usually accompanied by a sweaty, happy selfie.

So that’s my goal. I want to build my running base so that 10 miles isn’t a race, it’s my long run twice a month.

I’ll make sure to Instagram it for you. Because if I can do it, then just about anyone can.


Try Not To Die Out There

April 11, 2017


You probably can’t tell from the picture, but at that exact moment I was experiencing a wee bit of pain. A few moves prior, I had slipped and bashed my left knee into the rock. By the time I was back on the ground, it was hurting enough that I considered spending the rest of the day belaying. But it was my first outdoor climb since last summer, the day was gorgeous, and I had really, really, really been looking forward to this.

So I sucked it up and kept climbing.

After my fifth climb, I was noticeably limping.

“Let me take a look at it,” a friend offered.

“I think it’s better not to know,” I told him.

I probably should have gone straight home to ice my knee, but instead I went out for pizza with another friend.

“We’re climbing tomorrow, right?” she asked me.

“Absolutely,” I said.

(At this point you may be wondering how I have managed to stay alive this whole time, and also who let me have kids. Excellent questions.)

I couldn’t avoid looking at my knee when I took a shower. It was swollen and a terrible shade of purple. I immediately freaked out, sent a ton of pictures to a medical friend of mine and called him, shrieking, “It’s broken!”

Spoiler alert: My knee is not broken, since I can both bend and straighten it, and it bears weight. It’s just super banged up.

“You’re getting older,” my friend told me. “You can’t do this shit anymore.”

I thought he meant climbing, so I went on a good five-minute tirade before he stopped me, because what he actually meant was all the stuff that came after climbing, i.e., the part where I pretended I wasn’t in god-awful amounts of pain.

Obviously, injuries are not just for old people. Accidents can happen to anyone. But if I want to be climbing and running and skiing and whatever else when I’m seventy, then I need to take care of my body now. That means maximizing my health and safety to prevent injuries, and minimizing the damage when I do get hurt.

So I cancelled climbing for the rest of the weekend and spent Sunday on the couch with an ice pack. When I woke up on Monday, the swelling was gone and my knee was a lovely shade of green.

That’s good enough, right?


Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Race Report

April 4, 2017


You might notice that this picture is a lot like the picture I posted of the 2015 Cherry Blossom race, but with fewer cherry blossoms. I was really hoping that the professional pictures from the race would be done by the time I wrote this post, because other than this one picture I took at the starting line, I got nada. Not even after the finish line, when I met up with my friend (who did an awesome job and then proved to be an awesome person by waiting for me), or when I got my medal. By the time I crossed the finish line, I was deep into “fuck this shit” mode, and you know what I don’t do when I’m in “fuck this shit” mode? Take pictures. Because fuck that shit.

That being said, it was an awesome race and I had a hella good time running it.

To start with, I broke the cardinal rule of never doing anything new during a race. I wore new arm warmers–I never wear arm warmers, so this was a first for me. I tried the Stinger Cherry Cola chews, also a first. I was also using a brand new hydration belt; usually I run with a CamelBak, but it didn’t fit the essentials, so I figured I would give this a try. This should have set me up for a disaster or two, but it was fine. I chafed a little, but I already knew I’m sensitive, so I prepared with Body Glide and that kept the worst at bay. The Cherry Cola chews were nice and didn’t hurt my stomach, but I only took two of them, so YMMV. The belt is a winner; review to come when I get around to it.

Sunday was a gorgeous day for a race. The weather was on the chilly side, which I prefer when I’m running. Blue skies, very slight breeze. I couldn’t ask for a better day to do something painful.

The race started out really well. I had my Garmin on, but I didn’t want to focus on anything other than finishing, so I didn’t check it frequently. The first time I looked was when I hit 4.5 miles. That was a lovely surprise, because I thought I had only gone three. There are volunteers holding signs at various mile markers, but I hadn’t been paying much attention, due to the interesting podcast.

At mile 5, I ate two of the Stinger chews. They do, in fact, taste remarkably like cherry cola. I was still feeling strong, and kind of surprised about it. It felt so much easier than the treadmill runs I had been suffering through lately. Then I remembered that I usually set the treadmill to an incline, and this was a flat race, mostly.

At mile 6, I realized that I had been running at a much faster pace than what I trained at (9 minute miles, as opposed to 10.5, if you want to know the embarrassing truth). And I was all, “What, like it’s hard?”

At mile 7, I wanted to punch mile 6 Lynn in the throat, because yes, bitch, it’s hard. I slowed waaaay down. I walked through the water station, even though I wasn’t stopping for water. Mile 8 was more of the same. I don’t know my pace, because it didn’t occur to me to check, but I figure I was running 12 minute miles at that point. I saw the 11 minute pacer behind me and rallied a bit. If you were there and heard someone yell, “Not today, Satan! Not today!” that was me.

There is a hill at mile 9.5. In all honesty, it’s probably more of a slight incline, and absolutely nothing compared to the hills I run around my neighborhood. But at that point my legs hurt so much, and even though I was expecting it (because everyone warned me), I wanted to cry. I also wanted to walk, but I couldn’t. There were too many witnesses. They were yelling and cheering and holy hell, but I hated every single one of them.

But they served their purpose. I didn’t walk. I ran up the damn hill. I crossed the finish line. I’ll be honest: It was kind of a letdown. Normally, when I do something this hard, when my body aches this much, there is a fantastic view to reward me. Mountains and self-actualization and all that shit. This time there was only pavement and strangers. Where was my goddamn view?

Then my phone buzzed. I’m on your left. 

And all was right in my world. Friends are good like that.




The Final Countdown

March 28, 2017

Cherry Blossom 5k, 2015


My last week of training is here–actually, it’s a little late for that. I’m not training this week. I have a four-mile run and a three-mile run, followed by three days of nothing, and then FINALLY the race.

I’m feeling okay about it. I haven’t had the chance to run outside as much as I would like the past two months, so I’m weirdly looking forward to spending a spring morning running around the monuments. Hopefully the weather behaves. Last year it was freezing and so windy one of the tents blew away. That sucked.

The cherry blossoms have hit their peak, but there is only about half as many blooms as usual, thanks to the blizzard that hit the northeast. So at least my allergies won’t kill me, unlike two years ago, when I barely managed to drag myself across the finish line during a fit of sneezing. That was fun.

I’ve been focused just on finishing the race, so I haven’t really set a time goal. That being said, my super tall, much fitter friend is also running. He just finished a half marathon in less than two hours (many hills, in the rain). We’re meeting at the finish line, and I don’t want to keep him waiting more than 30 minutes. So, that’s basically how I’m setting this goal: Finish, and don’t take too long about it.

See you on the flip side.




Why I Don’t Weigh Myself

March 21, 2017

Not my actual weight.

I do not weigh myself. I have a very good scale that dates back to when I first brought my second daughter home from the hospital. She was born 7 weeks early and spent three weeks in the NICU. Weight was a serious issue for her, so a few times a day I would weigh myself and then weigh myself holding her. It was probably the only time in my life where I didn’t give a damn what I weighed, because I had more important things on my mind.

Now the scale gathers dust under the bed, except when my daughters find it. They think it’s fun to weigh themselves. No matter what number they tell me, I say “That’s awesome!” And back under the bed it goes.

Weight is supposedly a critical piece of the overall health of a body. But it doesn’t feel that way, does it? Running four miles makes me feel healthy. Bypassing the ten pound weights for something heavier makes me feel strong. Climbing that goddamn mountain makes me feel like a badass. Stepping on a scale, seeing that number? It doesn’t make me feel healthy, or strong, or badass. It makes me feel wrong, and the worst part is, I’m not entirely sure what number it would have to be to make me feel right. I don’t think that number exists.

Logically, I know weight doesn’t change anything. I’m still the same person I was before I stepped on the scale, health-wise and otherwise. But there’s nothing logical about the way women feel about their weight.

What the scale can tell you: You weight, at that moment

What the scale cannot tell you: Whether you are healthy, what you would look like with a ten pound loss, what you would look like with a ten pound gain, whether you should ask out that cute single dad, do people even like you.

For me, weight is one question I don’t need answered.