On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

About me.

First off, before you read anything else, here is the explanation for my blog header. Yes, it's a joke. No, I don't think I can make the Olympics.

I grew up in a running household. My dad, an avid runner, ran the Chicago and New York City Marathons back in the '80s, and my early memories of him include having to put opened cans of pop in the mailbox at the start of his run (so they'd be flat by the end, when he got home).  My sister started running around the same time I did, and before long she was an ultramarathoner, a competitive runner, and even had sponsors for a while.

I always thought that if I exercised, I'd be a runner - but instead I was a chubby kid, a total bookworm.  Until college.  The summer before my senior year of college, I was living in a small town in New Hampshire, bored out of my mind, and I took up running.  By the end of that summer I was regularly running at least 25mpw and was addicted.

My first injury, predictably, came a few months later, as I was testing the limits of my new-found sport and developed a tibial stress fracture.  I healed from that, started grad school, and got talked into training for a marathon with a friend of mine.  (I told her I'd train with her but probably not run the race - I finally committed right around a 20 mile long run.)

A new training partner got me into speedwork and consistent training, and I started to think of the marathon as more of a race and less of an endurance challenge.  I also got another stress fracture, just as our miles started creeping regularly upwards (scandalously for a runner! - I didn't keep good logs).

I then spent a year abroad in an area where running was very, very difficult.  When I got back I immediately got back into it and was training for the Paris Marathon when I got a terrible case of pneumonia that had me sick and unable to take deep breaths for months.  I didn't run Paris, sadly.  The act of climbing the stairs up to my 2nd floor apartment knocked it out of me - there were times when I literally crawled up the stairs because of the pain.  Just over a year later, with my running still totally miserable, the doctors realized that this had actually been a pulmonary embolism.  Unfortunately they realized that when I was diagnosed with a second clot.

Some people bounce back from these things quickly.  I didn't.  When I moved to New York six months after my second clot, I had gained weight and could (still!) barely walk up stairs without lung pain - climbing out of the subway would take me several minutes.  Long, excruciating, frustrating minutes.

Now I'm completely healed. I was never fast before I got sick, and I recognize that I may never be even that fast again. In fact, strictly by the numbers I kind of suck as a runner and my tenacious dedication to it despite this fact is impressive.

Here are a few of my most popular posts, if you want to catch up with me:
-Some freelance running journalist made some comments on twitter and I blogged about them
My most popular post, thanks to the magic of social media.
-In defense of the running skirt
Yeah, I wear a lot of running skirts.
-My runs are not a "journey"
But good on you if yours are.
-The 2010 Chicago Marathon, in pictures
It was bad.
-I climbed Mt. Washington
It was good.
-And also the Empire State Building
It was hard. 
-I ran a 22k (yes, 22k) race in Luxor, Egypt during the Egyptian Revolution
I got stranded.
-I love Running Times, but they're using sex to sell magazines
And it's kinda hot, kinda sexist.
-I hate bloggers who give life advice.
Come on, guys, you're not pro athletes.
-Have you ever thrown up after a race?