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"

Thursday, June 30, 2011


A BRAINSTORM: I think from now on I'm going to be reckoning my mileage in kilometers.

This accomplishes a few major things for me:

  • Allows me to run new and different (and, ahem, shorter distances). How much more accomplished does it sound to do an 8k run than a 5m run? How much easier will it be to be all, "oh, I'll just add an extra klick today, I'm feeling good," rather than committing to a full mile? So yesterday, I didn't run only 10m when I intended to run 11m. Instead I ran 16km. So impressive, right?
  • Gives me an instantaneous drop in my running pace. Okay, yeah, I know my pace won't actually drop at all. And I know that I'll catch on to the math behind it pretty quickly. But in the short term? Goodbye, 10:30 minute miles. HELLO, 6:30 minute kilometers.
  • And, once I catch on, it will make me feel superior to all of the ignorant Americans who are thrown off when their European treadmills or race clocks are in kilometers.
  • Allows me to feel like I'm running hella lot more than I actually am. Again - 50k a week? YES, PLEASE. 31m a week? Yeah, that sounds... okay. But not as impressive as 50k!

Time to change the Garmin over?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wow! Thanks!

I love all of the comments I got yesterday on my running skirts post. Bridget even brought up the topic on her blog in response! I'm not sure exactly why running skirts are so polarizing, but they are. Still, if I've convinced one person* to try one - or convinced one person that anyone wearing a skirt isn't a poseur who is more concerned with their looks than their running - I feel good.

It seems like people have different thresholds for what it means to look cute. Is "cute" a goal of getting dressed to run? Or is it just sometimes a totally okay by-product? As one commenter put it, is it the functionalists versus the fashionistas? Or maybe there are some people out there who won't feel comfortable unless they look cute? I think I might maybe be able to understand and begrudgingly respect that.

I'm a functionalist. Here's where the magic happens in my bedroom:

Shorts Skirts on the left, shirts on the right, sports bras and socks in the white basket under the shelf (pyjamas in the middle pile). When I wake up in the morning, it's one from column A, one from column B, then some socks and a boulder holder (I can't believe I just made that joke), throw on one of the pairs of running shoes I've tripped over on my way to the closet and I'm good to go. I rotate in tights and long sleeves in the winter, but the basic idea is the same: comfort over cuteness.

I hate people judging me for my skirts, obviously. So here you go: if you want to look cute to run, I won't judge you. If you put on makeup for a race, well, then I might judge you a little bit, I'll admit, but I'll keep it to myself just like I'd want the people judging me for my skirt to keep it to themselves.

But yeah, I'm still not into the tutus. Or the costumes at races. Or the juggling, or the knitting, or the running backwards, any of that. I might not have any natural talent for running, but I take it seriously as a sport - and if you do, too, we're cool, no matter how much cuter you might look than me.

*And if that one person is a guy and if he sends me photos (I WILL LOAN YOU ONE OF MY SKIRTS), I will be the happiest runner on earth.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In defense of the running skirt: it's not about looking good

I'm about to use some bold in a post, so you know I'm serious.

As you know if you've ever seen a picture of me running, I wear running skirts when it's warm out.  Exclusively.  For colder weather I wear tights, but for in-between weather I have a skapri (skirt + capri combo).

It seems to me that quite often I come across the following frequently made argument about the running skirt: "Running is not about looking cute.  Serious runners don't wear running skirts. Running shouldn't be about how you look at all." (For instance, please read this diatribe written by my imaginary internet friend the Angry Runner. Or this piece by Megan from Runner's Kitchen.)
Respectfully, I think this argument is offensive and misses the point.

I don't wear running skirts to look cute.  I wear running skirts because, after years of trying, they are the only thing I can wear in which I will be comfortable. And, as you can read on ESPNW, runners perform better when comfortable. (I do have some problems with that article, beginning with the fact that it's on "ESPNW.")

Running is not about looking cute. Not even maybe. But it has to be about being comfortable.

Let me tell you something: anyone who has made the argument that wearing a running skirt is for the "cuteness factor" is super skinny. Anyone who thinks that running skirts are about vanity hasn't had the experience of buying several pairs of shorts (and, as we know, running shorts can get expensive) only to find that they ride up the minute you start running - and that minute that you start running is also known as "the minute you can't return the shorts anymore." Anyone who has made this argument has never gone on a 5 mile run, only to spend 45 minutes with their hand up their crotch trying to pull down their running shorts as they consistently ride up.

And seriously?  I'm not even that heavy.  I'm just not super skinny.

Yes - a running skirt is ultimately compression shorts with extra fabric on top. Yes, the extra fabric is redundant. But you know what? I like it. I like the way it goes swish swish swish as I run and makes me aware of my speed. I like the fact that I'm not spending a single second thinking about my shorts creeping up or about jackass kids calling me fat, like I fear they would if I wore just compression shorts. My skirts make me feel comfortable. And when I'm comfortable, when I'm not thinking about my clothing, and I can think about things like, you know, running. Tempo runs and strides and long runs and lactate thresholds and other things that are not chafing or "chubrub" or Body Glide.*

Short skirts on construction sites
Maybe, like my blog friend M has argued, this comes down to whether or not you associate skirts with cuteness. I don't. I wear skirts about 95% of the time in my daily life - it's not a Thing, I just prefer them. Wearing a skirt feels comfortable and natural to me. Pants and jeans and shorts feel weird and awkward. Having running shorts bunched up between my legs? Also awkward.

long skirts in Cairo
I may bitch and moan about other runners. I may complain about resolutionists at the gym or about people using my treadmills and hogging my running path or using my pace to time their run/walks during a race, but anyone who chooses to snark out skirt-wearers rather than to encourage people to get out there and run makes me sad. Don't be that guy.**

I don't need to look good when I run.  I run to feel good about myself.  It doesn't make me feel good about myself to judge others for their running attire.

*I've always wondered how many people have accidentally bought Body Glide expecting a personal lubricant.
**But if you run in pants with a zipper or inappropriate shoes or sometimes even yoga pants and if I'm in a bad mood, I will probably snark.

Follow up posts: August 2011 Runner's World, and I (begrudgingly) reconsider even makeup

Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm proud to be a New Yorker.

As hoped, the New York Senate voted Friday night to legalize gay marriage (from here on out simply "marriage"). I look forward to the day in the near future when marriage equality is a right we can all take for granted nation-wide, a day when discrimination is no longer written into our legal code.

That night, a book club I'm in met at my apartment. (Relevant: we're all runners who met on twitter.) We turned on Rachel Maddow to watch the votes come in and then opened a bottle of sparkling cider - hey, it was all I had! - to celebrate.

Michelle took this photo.
The next morning, maybe sort of a little dehydrated from the wine and cider, I headed down to Central Park to run the Front Runners 5m race. I met up with Emily at the start so we could run together, and shortly after, the most amazing thing happened: I was sitting near my corral when a woman came up to me and said, "Are you Tracy? I wanted to say hi! I follow you on twitter." We had a nice conversation (hi, Amy, on the off chance you're reading this! hope to see you at Van Cortlandt in a couple of weeks!) and then we all headed into our respective corrals to run the race.

There's not too much to say about the race itself. I ran it for the miles rather than racing it, and to that end it was a rousing success. The vibe was more laid back and fun than most NYRR races I've done, and Emily and I chatted for five miles - have I maybe found a new running partner? Evidently Mz. Duffy came up behind us at one point, but I was too busy talking to notice. I talk a lot. An awful lot.

At the end, we had popsicles! Well, Emily didn't want one so I actually had two. They were rainbow popsicles - pardon the blue lips.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happiness is...

A box of Kona Cola flavored Nuun arriving in the mail from a friend.

And having a good weekend - that's happiness. So I wish one on you!

Say "hey" if you see me at the Pride Run tomorrow. Fingers crossed the NYS will pass gay marriage today and the celebration will be that much sweeter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Things that are interesting (to me)

1. Running in Central Park Tuesday night, I came up Cat Hill. There was a guy standing at the top, off to the side of the path. And he had his old school cell phone, and he was taking pictures of girls as they ran by. Creepy! Super creepy! If I could have been absolutely positive that's what he was doing, or if there were underage girls around, I would have considered calling the police. It was that creepy.

Wikipedia says that this statue scares joggers who think it's real.
2. I got BEAT UP in Central Park Tuesday night. Okay, not exactly a runfight, but I do have bruises from bumping into people running (and I really can't tell you how many times I was sworn at). The park this time of year is just that congested. You've not seen anything until you've seen the 100 person strong Team in Training group dominate the narrow path. (They were not the ones who beat me up, though. I fell victim to the speedy ones.)

3. Ha ha ha! I knew it! You've probably seen this already, but the "don't increase your mileage more than 10% a week" rule is unscientifically proven and basically doesn't hold water. I KNEW IT. Yes, caution is always smart. But my body really doesn't have any sense of what 10% is.

4. While I was running yesterday, I overheard a woman say to her friend, "I think they have beer at the end of all races. I mean, they had it at the end of my half, anyway." Oh, honey... would that.

5. The mystery of why all recent race shirts are orange deepens. When did this trend begin? I have a Chicago Marathon 2010 shirt from last October that's also orange (I'm wearing it in this photo). Are Nike, who made the Chicago shirt, the fashion leaders responsible for this orange shirt craze? How far back can it be traced?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Solstice

And if you're like me (and I rather hope you're not), you sang Dar Williams' "The Christians and the Pagans" all day yesterday (that song can get annoying, can't it?) to honor the solstice.

Or maybe you're Swedish, and you ate crayfish and sang songs about frogs (I have heard this sung and seen it danced live and it's phenomenal) while drinking schnapps.

But if you're me, you left the house at 6:15am yesterday to head to the scariest place in all of New York City: Times Square. You see, there was free yoga, sponsored by Lucy! And, as you can read in this article that Sofia brought to my attention, I like things that are free. I like them a lot. Click on the link; it will take you two seconds. (The reporter was clearly taken aback that money was my answer to the "what brings you here" question.) I'm profiled at the bottom, "Tracy from Harlem."

I'm the one half-assing bow pose on the right in the orange Chicago Marathon shirt.
Photo from Well + Good.
Okay: I'm not going to lie. I'd love to say that yoga on the solstice was an affirming life experience and a great way to start my day and that I left it with a renewed sense of peace and tranquility. Not so much. I was pretty distracted during the class and found it hard to focus. I felt like a tourist attraction as thousands of tourists clamored around us to take pictures of the yoga class and my thoughts were more on the tempo run I had planned for last night* rather than on my downward dog (I cannot be the only yogi who despises downward dog). But luckily the Well + Good photographer didn't catch me texting... not that I would ever do that during a yoga practice...

Still, it was a cool experience and I got a free yoga mat, some febreze, a bag, a bottle of herb-infused water, and a nifty smug feeling.

Oddly enough, after having gone to see a movie in Times Square with Kelly over the weekend, this yoga class was the second time this week I visited Times Square (and I think only the third time in the past eight months or thereabouts). I think I'll give Times Square a rest for another eight months or so.

*the tempo run blew up. truly miserable. I was very upset after. I'm (mostly) over it now. next week is a new week.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

amazing, amazing, amazing, AMAZING!!!

This actually happened, I swear.

On Sunday, I set out for a 14m long run. My runs last week were... weak. I was feeling the two races I did the weekend before, and this meant that on Sunday my legs were tense and a lot of the run was kind of a struggle. The 14 mile distance was slightly arbitrary, but once I'd come up with it I wanted to stick to it. Just because. I was also doing it by myself, all alone, so I wanted to make sure I was okay doing a long run alone.

Now, something you may or may not know about me: my favorite movie is Silence of the Lambs. Sure, sure, you say. Many people like that movie. Well, I kind of love that movie. I own it on VHS, DVD, and digital. I've watched it hundreds of times. Maybe more. I pretty much have about 80% of the movie memorized. In fact, this is what passes for art in my apartment:

So, back to my run on Sunday. I'm about 12.5m into my run, and I'm struggling. It's close enough to the end of the run that I'm not going to stop, obviously, but things are difficult. I have two giant blisters that feel like knives piercing my toes. My calf muscles are tense. I see a hill up ahead.

Just then, over my back shoulder, I see something flitting about and then into view. It's a moth! "Oh, like Silence of the Lambs," I say to myself (like I do every time I see a lepidoptera). "No, dumbass Tracy, it's a butterfly." But then a second later an actual moth flew by, and the voice inside my head said, "Acherontia styx - the death's head moth. Somebody grew this guy... somebody loved him."



But then - this is where it gets weird. Just then, that very second as my head went off on a reel of movie quotes, "Goodbye horses" by Q. Lazzarus began to play from my ipod. This link (sadly, I coudn't embed it) will take you to the infamous and familiar movie scene where the song is featured. NSFW.

And that gave me just what I needed to finish my run, all serial killer style!

Monday, June 20, 2011

To all the beers I've loved before... An homage.

On Saturday, after I missed running with the Van Cortlandt Track Club, I set out for an easy 5m run.

Well. That "easy" 5m run quickly turned into a miserable, terrible 3.35m run. I alternated between wanting to throw up and feeling like I was going to fall over, literally, from being off-balance.

You see, I was maybe kind of a little bit hungover. I had two beers Friday night. Two. But it was enough.

(Me, Saturday morning after getting in from running, with the offending bottle of Blanche de Chambly. It was delicious but not worth it. Sorry for the sportsbra/topless photo.)

So, for that, I've made a resolution. I will not drink beer (on weekend evenings) anymore until marathon season is over. I'm going to have to get up early for the next few months to get my long runs in, and I can't have something stupid like beer ruining my running.

So I present to you my past few months of beer drinking. You can call this the most vain post EVER to appear on ANY blog OF ALL TIME. I call it a farewell homage.

Hoegaarden. A favorite.

Blue Moon and chocolate chip cookies. Not a combo I'd recommend.

Scotch. That too will go.

More scotch. Goodbye, friend.

And mint juleps, even those with fresh mint from CSA.

Leinenkugels. No more.

UFO Hefeweizen. I like(d) the wheat beers.

Hofbräu Maibock

Coconut sorbet - that can stay.

More UFO.

I think this is the Hofbräu again?

Sam Adams Noble Pils. Not my favorite. I won't miss this one.

Another Sam Adams. A hefeweizen.

A beer named after my dog: Goose Island Matilda.

I like a beer after an evening run. Here's a Magic Hat Circus Boy.

My favorite! Goose Island 312.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I just got out of bed

And it's 9:30am already.

And I didn't run yesterday.

So, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go out for a run before it starts raining here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

(I'm scared)

I hate to admit this, but it's true.

I'm scared.

You see, I've had a streak of some fairly competent running lately.

I've been increasing my mileage slowly but surely (and not just my overall mileage, but also how many days per week I run and how many miles I run at each go). I've been incorporating strength training. I've been trying (okay, I still have a lot of work to do) to improve my diet.

So why am I scared?

Because I've also had some shin pain. Only tiny twinges, and I've been icing and stretching and compressing and doing everything you're supposed to do. But this is eerily similar to last year. After some good race times last spring, my marathon training blew out in the middle of the summer in a blaze of summer heat and shin splints.

Will the same thing happen this year?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Downers Grove 10m race report

When you think of Illinois, do you expect it to look something like this?

If so, you're not that far off. That's an actual picture I took out the car window while driving in Illinois.

Then why was the race I did on Sunday so freaking hilly? While others of my internet running friends were doing the Mini 10k in New York, I was running a 10m race in Downers Grove, IL.

My sister had told me that there were some hills. "Nothing too bad," she said. "That's where I set my PR."

I first got an idea that it might actually be bad on Saturday, when we mentioned to a friend of hers that we were doing the race the next day. "Oh, man," she said. "I'm never doing that race again. It's terrible."

And it kind of was. As we were driving into Downers Grove, the hills began to grow ominously. My sister kind of giggled and said, "I think probably the hills are more like roller coasters. It's pretty bad."

Personally, I would put the hills somewhere between "gently rolling" and "punishing."

The event had both a 5m and 10m race, organized on a two-loop course. With only about 700 participants, and only 200 of these in the 10m race, the second loop was fairly desolate. The course ran through the streets of Downers Grove - mostly shady, and actually with some substantial flat bits - and most of the streets were closed off. There were volunteers at every turn (to the point that I kind of felt sorry for how many of them there were!), police at every intersection, and more than ample water stations.

And the Buffalo Wild Wings mascot at the finish. (He's on the left. I'm on the right.)

I'm a little bit grossed out by how badly my shoulders evidently sweat. Nasty.

Overall, this was a surprisingly fast race, due largely to the participants. I don't mean it was a fast course - I mean that after we finished the first loop and began the second, spot on at 10:30 pace, we were amongst the very last of the runners. We didn't finish last, but I'll bet there were fewer than 15 people still behind us. (The official results aren't up yet, so I'm not sure.)

I wanted to take it slowly, and we did - mostly. I was extremely tight from Saturday's 5k, and the first couple of miles were painful. But we settled into a groove, walked through the water stations, eavesdropped on other runners' conversations, coughed at the pollen, and the miles clicked off. I noticed as the first loop ended that we were mighty close to my 10m PR pace, but I didn't give it a second thought. Surely we would be slowing down in the second half. By mile 8, we were still on track. By mile 9.5, when we began a sprint to the finish, I knew it would be close and a PR was within sight.

Completely unexpectedly, I finished just under 1:45 - over a minute faster than my PR. I hadn't even mentioned to my sister that it was a possibility, because I didn't want to be racing. I got another printout of my results:

Inexplicably, my sister's watch and mine both had our final times 20 seconds faster. On Saturday, the results were 20 seconds fast. On Sunday, 20 seconds slow. Still a PR. Still all good.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wheaton Run for the STARS 5k: race report

Being home in Chicago means two things: eating way too much and running with my family.

This trip has been no exception.

First up, 4m on the treadmill Thursday night next to my brother. (He was walking.)

Next up, 5k on Saturday with my sister.

Ever since I blew off wisely decided not to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon, I've wanted a longer race to kick off the summer and see where I'm at pace-wise before I start marathon training. Luckily, there was a half marathon in Chicago that coincided with my week here with family. But there was also a 5k that started down the block from my sister's apartment. Why not both?

(Now, it ended up being the case that I didn't actually run the half. We decided instead to do a 10m race that was closer and much, much cheaper. More on that tomorrow.)

My thought was: take the 5k easy, run the longer race the next day hard. My sister had other plans, though. She thought I should try for a 5k PR and then take the longer run easy. (It turns out that was because she'd knowingly picked a super hilly race for the 10m the next day. More on that tomorrow.)

After a .7m warm up to the start, we lined up in our proper place amongst the other 7 minute milers. Okay, okay, so I'm not actually a 7 minute miler. But this was a small local race, and most of the racers had no idea where they belonged at the start. We were tucked in amongst people wearing jeans and pushing baby strollers, so I didn't feel bad about the slight start pace dishonesty.

Our goal: even 9:15s for the first 2.5 and then a slightly faster last 800 to finish right around 28:30 and a nice PR. That didn't happen, as you can see:

Instead, our first mile was 8:43. Oooooops. "I swear my Garmin said 9:15s all along!" said my sister. "Um, maybe that was the uphills. Sorry!" Love the visible sweat on my wrist there. Not gross at all. The humidity was high. (Actually that's really gross.)

This is one of the few races that I can say I truly raced, as in, I was absolutely done at the end. We did slow down some - our second and third miles were just slightly over 9 minute miles - but I still felt completely spent at the end. I took a bottle of water from a volunteer, contemplated whether I was losing my vision and/or hearing because everything kind of just shut off for a second, and then sat down on the grass.

At the finish, they had the coolest thing: they had a little computer where you entered your bib number and got an immediate printout of your race results. Maybe this is commonplace where you all race, but I'd never seen it before.

But wait, what's that? 27:27? That's not how long it took me, but I'll take it!! (Later the announcer said that there was an error and that all recorded times were 23 seconds too slow. STILL. I HAVE THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROOF. I AM WAY FAST.)

Also, please note that I was 10th in my division. For reals. Small races ROCK.

After the race, we ran 2m as a cool down with my sister's friend Julie. Despite the fact that she'd just run the race as a tempo run at 6:15 pace (which she said was "hard," a lot like I'd describe 8:57, for the record), she still ran her cool down at a leisurely 10:30 pace with me and didn't complain about it being too slow. In other words, I love Julie.

We stayed for the awards ceremony and chose not to take any 5-hour energy. I mean, I wouldn't want to mess up their display.

Me and my pacer/sister at the finish. Oddly enough, I'm only about an inch taller than she is in real life.

All in all: a PR by nearly a minute. Maybe this "run more to get faster" thing really works. Too early to tell for sure.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Friday, and my week in running

As you read this, I'm on vacation. Sort of. I'm home, visiting family.

It's been almost two weeks since I last talked specifically about my running. You might not want the gory details, or you might be stalking my running log already, but here you go.

What have I been up to? More running, mostly. The last two weeks, I've run at least 30mpw, and I'm on track to do at least that this week. I've been working mostly on adding mileage to my normal runs and trying to maintain a 5-day a week schedule, and the Jack Rabbit program I've been doing has helped to add some speed, too.

But I've also done other stuff. I've gone to a Total Body Conditioning class at the gym at least once a week for the past few weeks, and I went and did yoga Tuesday morning in Bryant Park. (Lululemon sponsors free yoga classes twice a week - they're crowded, but they're also free. Mats provided, even!)

Of course, what this has meant that I've done the most of is sleeping. Lots of sleeping. The more I exercise, the more sleep I need, and the heat we had this week didn't exactly give me a boost of energy. But luckily my iron pills have. I feel much less groggy than before, even as I'm exhausted.

This weekend, I'm going to try to run two races in one weekend: an easy 5k on Saturday, and a rolling 10m on Sunday. Rest assured I'll let you know how that goes next week!

What about you guys? How is your run going?

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Miscellaneous #1: Remember my life mantra: nobody ever wants to be that guy. No matter who that guy is in your situation, don't be that guy.

At races, that guy is the one - and s/he is always there - who says cocky things at the start like, "How do these hills compare to Boston?" Or just plain obnoxious things like, "Huh. Looks like a slow crowd judging from what I see back here. I really belong closer to the start." It's not so much what s/he says as the tone of voice.

There's a fine line between being proud and being that guy. For instance, if I ever do an Ironman (which I won't, since I can't swim) you bet your life I'd wear the hat to every single event I could. It would get weird: "Tracy, please, please take off the hat! It's my wedding and I requested formal wear!" "But what if someone there doesn't realize I did an Ironman! The hat is so much subtler than having to say it! Besides, I'm wearing the clean hat."
Miscellaneous #2: I had an anxiety dream the other night about the NYCM. In the dream, it was November, the morning of the race, and I woke up and was getting ready when I realized I didn't have my bib. No problem, I told myself, I'd do race-day packet pick-up. Then I realized... there was no same-day bib pick-up. I'd missed the expo. It was too late. So I couldn't run. (And in my dream I'd just come off of an amazing training season, too.)

Obviously my first thought upon waking was, "Crap! That means I have to hurry and do the 9+1 so that I can register for the race next year, too, just in case!"
Miscellaneous #3: What up with all the orange shirts this year? I was talking to some friends a few weeks ago, and we were saying how it's quite obvious what fitness fashion's colors of the season are. Evidently this year it's orange.

Point in case: the last three race t-shirts I've gotten:

(And no, don't worry. I won't wear the Brooklyn tee since I didn't run the race. Does anyone want it? Otherwise it goes to goodwill. Size small.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mid-week diversion

This has nothing to do with running.

I mean, I could make some sort of convoluted analogy and connect it to running, but it would be a stretch.

I had a rather interesting Saturday:

What you see right there is my leg, complete with an open femur break with active hemorrhaging. But Tracy! How did you then run a 10k on Sunday? Oh, come on, you can tell that it's fake, right?

A few weeks ago, when the Red Cross emailed and said that they were looking for 200 volunteers to participate in a plane crash drill at JFK, I jumped at the chance - even though it meant waking up at 5am on a Saturday to head out to the far end of Queens. The trek from Harlem to Queens - well, I wouldn't even run that far! (There you go: your connection to running.)

Let me tell you, 5am-7am on the subway were dark hours of me regretting signing up to do this. BUT THEN! When I actually arrived, they told us that we needed to rush to register so that they could prepare our makeup. Makeup! Yes! Suddenly I was literally jumping around with excitement.

Basically, each of the volunteers was playing a plane crash victim (survivor or not) in various states of distress. The police moulage team applied fake injuries to us to give it that kick of authenticity. (By the way, don't ask the moulage team if they "do makeup full time" like I did. No. They're police sergeants by day and moulage artists as needed.)

I asked for something exceptionally bloody. Why not?

Sadly, the best injuries - torso lacerations with exposed intestines, scalp injuries - were found on the dead people, and those volunteers didn't get made up. The crew was running short on time, so the casualties just hung out.

They herded us all onto buses to take us into the secure part of the airport. Interestingly, it was the same section of the airport that I'd previously said I "really wanted to go to" when I did the runway run. Wish: granted. And boy, was it worth it.

First, they set a few test planes on fire to put them out:

Several times:

Then, they "rescued" us, slowly assessing our injuries (by reading off of the cards) and assigning us a status: black for dead or green/yellow/red, depending on the severity of our injuries. The greens walked right off. Those of us yellows or reds (woot woot!) were carried off in a sledge:

My turn! I'm sure you were hoping for a photo of my stomach, no?

Once I'd been removed from the scene of the accident by the firemen and set up with the other reds, the EMTs assessed my condition and deemed me actually a yellow. I tried to tell them that I was actively hemorrhaging, but I'm not sure they appreciated me repeatedly saying, "I'm not going to make it! I need medical attention!" I rather suspect that I died waiting for care. (All I wanted was to ride in an ambulance, which I never have.* Can you blame me?)

After the exercise was over and I'd claimed my "I participated in a drill" t-shirt (not kidding), I did what any other New Yorker would have and took the subway home, scaring children the whole way. And no, no one got up to give me a seat on the subway...

One 20 minute shower later and I was fresh and whole once more.

*Yes, this is true. And yes, my father was a paramedic until his retirement a couple of years ago. I guess it's a good thing I've never ridden in an ambulance.

One last note (and it is running related): I added a new feature to my running log, which is my rolling stats. So finally, finally I can say I've achieved a goal I've been looking forward to for a bit (100m for the month):