Tuesday, December 27, 2011

oh, damn

I wish I was one of these people.

"It was over too quick."

"It was nice, but way too short."

"I was way too tired."

People's comments about their holiday could easily be considered some sort of sexual double entendre. But then again, I have been reading a lot of Augusten Burroughs. My brain is tainted.

Anyway, I would agree. Christmas is way too short. This year I took a total of zero pictures, baked no cookies, and didn't play in the snow because there wasn't any on the ground. I didn't even eat too much because I lost my sense of taste thanks to a crippling sinus cold. Don't buy into Cosmo's gimmicks for keeping thin over the holidays (no alcohol at parties... only one mini hotdog a day... instead of cheesecake chew on ice cubes wrapped in salted aluminum foil). Just go into the closest preschool/hospital/mall and pick up a disease instead. You'll be too sick to eat for a week.

Because I can't remember a date to save my life, I missed the annual Christmas Eve fun run. I thought it was supposed to be on Christmas day. Whoops.

But Montana and I did get to go on a long run in the woods on Christmas Eve. The trails were pretty much clear, and the weather decided to be nice for a change. The run would've been great if I hadn't been wheezing and coughing up clods of mucus the whole time. Even though I was hacking like a cat with an intestinal parasite, Montana never dropped me. He wins the good boyfriend award of the day.

The next day, I got some shweet running shwag from the Santa-people in my life. Notably a couple pairs of cool-kid compression tights and one insanely bright sweatshirt, which I promptly threw on and paraded about the house before giving them a good inaugural coating of sweat.

Then on Monday it was back to work, where I got to sell twinkle lights for half off and listen to people complain about how short their Christmasses were.

And now I think I'll go eat some leftover cheesecake if it's not molded over yet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I want to die right now. What are my legs doing? Am I even moving? This hurts. I want to stop. Want to stop and die. Waaaaaah.

Welcome to the internal dialogue of an Ohio runner meeting a hill in Pennsylvania. It sucks. And it happens every year.

I spend the summer training at home in Western PA. Then I go to school in Ohio, where hills are about as hard to find as political extremists. The geography doesn't make running much easier, since we're busy doing a bunch of hard training sessions and racing every weekend (on courses as flat as airstrips). No matter the surface, running hard is hard. I don't quite notice the lack of elevation change.

Then the season ends, and I go back home for the winter. Then Pennsylvania punches me in the face.

To illustrate, here's an elevation profile of a typical 8 mile run in Wooster, Ohio. It starts from my dorm:


A gentle little uphill, and then a steep downhill that goes on for a while before creeping back up again. Only 100 feet of elevation change either way. A nice little jog.

Here's what I did today, starting from my house:


8 miles, out and back. Up and down the whole way, with about three miles of uphill at the beginning. Not cool. Absolutely not cool. 

And the other day I ran with my über-fit boyfriend. He directed me up a steep hill then turned around and smirked while I staggered up behind him. I was wheezing and gasping like a pug with asthma, hating myself for getting so Midwestern and soft.

"Oh, shut up Ohio," he said.

You shut up. I hate you. You're awful, said my brain to my boyfriend and myself.

Hills make everything hurt. They're only fun when you're good at running up them. Or when you're sledding down them.  How long is it going to take to turn myself back into a Pennsylvanian?

Sunday, December 18, 2011


So. It's taken a couple days to actually realize that I don't have to go back to school for quite some time. In this case, it'll be about two months until I'm off to Hobbit School. What will I be doing in the meantime? Well, I decided to get a job. That's about it.

Without anyone/thing else to distract me, I figured I'd be getting in some mad mileage over the winter.

I went on my first winter-season long run yesterday. It was snowing lightly, and there was a sparkly dusting on the river trail. I looked out down the long, straight path and started running. And running. And running. For the first 5 miles, mile markers and skeleton trees were my only company. I tried listening to Mumford & Sons to make myself feel like a rugged Appalachian wanderer. It didn't work, since the next thing that came on my iPod was Adele.

Then I saw a tiny dark figure on the horizon. When I got closer, I realized it was my friend's dad. I was so thrilled to see another human being that I nearly jumped on his back for companionship. But he "didn't want to slow me down," so he went on ahead without me.

Ughhhh. No team, no friends, not even a dog to talk to. It was a sad, numb-fingered shuffle back to home base.

And now I realize - this is going to be my whole winter. Lonely. It's not even the cool kind of loneliness, like this:

Feh. I'd give anything to be out in the Western wilderness with Clint Eastwood and that horse. Instead I'm stuck running miles and miles alone in cold, dreary Pennsylvania.

But Christmas is roaring up upon us. Maybe the holiday spirit will get me through this hump. I do love seeing Christmas lights and eating Christmas cookies. So I'll probably be hopped up on sugar enough to distract myself from myself.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I have a problem

Lululemon sponsored a gelato eating contest. To create fat people who will join their fitness club?

The first step to kicking a habit is realizing that you have one.

I know this because I've been reading Irvine Welsh's novel Trainspotting, about a Scottish guy with a heroin addiction. It's a pretty sharp, crass comment on punk society and social standards, etc, etc.

Reading this book made me realize that I too have an addiction.  To ice cream.

I think this obsession came from the insanely hot summer we just had. Since every deadly-humid day topped off at 90º, I stopped wanting to eat anything warm. Hell, I didn't even want to eat solid food. When I'd finish my 7 a.m. run delirious and drenched in sweat, all I wanted to do was lay in a tub of ice. Then I'd yank open the freezer and consume frozen grapes like a vacuum.

Naturally I gravitated toward ice cream as a day-closer. Eating ice cream helped me visualize a time when it wouldn't be a blistering three million degrees in the shade.
Caught in the middle of a violent relapse in Boulder.
During cross country season, the weather finally did cool off. I cut back on my sugary fat consumption a little bit. I'm pretty sure ice cream doesn't necessarily make you faster. And I didn't want to end up like the girl who sits alone on a couch in the student center nomming on a pint of Ben & Jerry's with a plastic spoon.

Now that I'm not in competition mode, I've relaxed on the nutrition a bit. And once finals came in full swing, I bought my own pint of Ben & Jerry's. And then I started slipping myself little bits of ice cream after dinner. And today I ate a whole container of vanilla ice cream while "studying" for an exam.

I've fed my ice cream addiction like you'd feed a stray animal - secretl,y behind the shed in your backyard. And then it gets bold. It sneaks into your house and makes a nest in your pantry. It hisses at you when you try to cook noodles.

My ice cream addiction is living in my pantry. And I want it out.

I've realized that running on the morning after a dairy binge is not fun. Neither is not fitting into my pants. I've even been cranking out extra miles these days to make up for all the nomming. Cringe.

Then I saw the above Lululemon ad in an issue of Runner's World, and it made me think. Should I really be running for ice cream? Aren't there better things to run for? Like records and medals... or charities.. or breast cancer?

If I really wanted to do something for ice cream, I'd start training for an ice cream marathon instead. (Record for 1 gallon, 9 oz vanilla: 12 minutes, Cookie Jarvis).

So my last exam is tomorrow. Then goodbye, ice cream animal. Please stop hissing at me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

this is getting absurd

After miles and miles of pounding on pavement, things wear out. Toenails, socks, knee fibers, and especially shoes. I get that. It's the magic of erosion. But I ate through SIX pairs of shoes this season.

Last year, after a lifetime of wearing heavy Asics and pronating one way or the other, I decided to join the minimalist revolution.

Believe me, it's not a gimmick when a shoe expert/magazine column/pretentious friend wearing Five-Fingers tells you that minimalist running is the way to go. Landing further up on your foot is far more efficient. Plus it doesn't wreck your ankles. Newton has a great graphic here.

But here's the problem with minimalist running shoes. Newton's "light weight" trainers cost upwards of $125. Vibram's FiveFingers Bikila (the running one) sets you back $100, and the New Balance Minimus is just as much. I even got conned into buying Saucony's Grid Fastwitch 5 (the white and green shoe in the middle of my picture) for $90. And those shoes actually made my feet bleed.

I'm over dropping a whole lot of cash for a shoe that's supposed to be simple. So I switched to the simplest shoe I could think of - the racing flat. I couldn't have spent more than $40 on any of these shoes.

But all six of these shoes have lasted me less than a year. Which is a bummer, considering my mileage is considerably less than epic. Mostly what wears out is the rubber tread, but my most recent pair suffers from advanced shoe-osteoporosis.

How sad.

The other day I had a chat with one of my professors about going abroad (I'll be off to New Zealand in the spring). He was really excited that I'd be able to run there, and told me that "everyone" goes barefoot.

That would be terrific. I'd love to be a full-time, real-life member of the barefoot running movement. But that's pretty much impossible in suburban Ohio. We've got a dearth of roads and sidewalks, but not too many other foot-friendly surfaces.

Lots of people like to say that humans were meant to run without shoes. That's how we hunted down wild gazelles and bison in the prehistoric times. But running barefoot was more plausible before the asphalt apocalypse. Imagine if the grasses and woodlands were all made of concrete. I'm willing to bet humans would have evolved with hooves.

So for now I guess I'm going to keep buying cheap track flats... until I go to New Zealand.

Friday, December 9, 2011

XC Season Wrap-up

Coach Dennis Rice, at the 2011 Wooster XC banquet:

"Overall, I think we've had a great season, and I've enjoyed being part of it. I really like what I do and I intend to be here for many, many years. You know, tradition is really important to what we do here at the College of Wooster. But sometimes you have to start new traditions. Like when we move to the Gault Recreation and Fitness Center--which everyone knows is really the Coach Dennis Rice Athletic Center--we'll be starting a new tradition that I hope to continue for at least the next thirty years. Who knows how old I'll be by then. Heh. Heh. Heh."

And with that, our cross country season officially ends. Now we enter into track season. Traditionally, I would be miserable about the transition to running indoors on the little rubber oval. Thankfully, I'll only be around for three weeks of that torture. Then I'll hop on a plane and fly to New Zealand, where it'll be cross country season again. Thank God for opposite hemispheres.

I suppose I can sum up this season in a few words: infinitely better than last year. I did a whole shit ton of running over the summer and carried the higher mileage over into the season. That helped a whole lot. My fitness is far better than Fat Colleen's from last year with her gluten problems and her slow-kid's angst.

From August to November I ran 491.10 miles (average 44.6 miles a week). That's more than the length of South Dakota. If I had wanted to, I could have used those miles to run from Wooster to Virginia Beach. And then some. I probably should have done that. Wooster is many things, but it is not a beach.

I smashed my track 5k PR by about thirty seconds. Now it's an 18:26. And my final 6k of the year came down to a 22:33 at the NCAA Regional meet in November. That wasn't quite fast enough to make it to the national meet, but it did get me a shiny metal and a signed certificate on really nice card stock.

Our three senior captains were pretty good this year, aside from a minor fiasco about ordering team t-shirts. Overall, they made sure workouts got done and kept the freshmen from getting alcohol poisoning on the weekends. But I think I've failed as a leader in training... I've only managed to collect a handful of team cell phone numbers. Oh well. It's probably just my subconscious telling me not to organize team activities.

So here's the team after Regionals this year. Looking pretty fly.

If we zoom in on this picture, you can see one of our standout performers.

Awww, look at our special teammate Miranda! We're so proud of her. Not having a body is a big issue for some runners. But she's really come out aHEAD of the adversity. HA.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

So here I am.

I've moved my blog over to this new page. It's prettier and makes more sense.

Next year for my big old college senior project, I'm going to try to write a running memoir. So I figured blogging would be the most fun way to start up the writing process.  I'm moving over to a new blog to focus my writing a little more on running and a little less on silly things that I have no time for these days. Bikes, for instance. And cookies.

Will explain more later.

A gift for your valuable time!