I Would Run 500 Miles

I entered the lottery for a spot in this year’s New York City Marathon. I didn’t mean to. I wasn’t really even sure I should enter. I was peer pressured into doing it, actually.

Even though running and I are frenemies.

I pushed the button (with some hand-over-hand support from my husband) and then didn’t think about it for WEEKS.

My brain, on the other hand, was working on it at least a little. Because it remembered that the lottery would take place on March 3. And in the few days preceding it, I started to think about how cool it would be to get in. How much training I would have to do to make it at least an OK day. How much I would really…REALLY like to get in. Screaming at myself for the notion of wanting to get in.


And then March 3 actually rolled around and I started checking my email at regular intervals. Like stalking the inbox. Hoping I’d get the congratulatory email. Not sure I would. And texts were flying back and forth among the four of us who entered the lottery. We ALL were waiting to hear.

And the work day ended with no word.

I called one of my running peeps on the way home and we agreed that if one got in and the other didn’t, the other would charity run it. That, my friends, means raising $2620 between now and October 1.

I got home and my evening went like it usually does with family and dinner and WHAT THE HELL IS THIS PLAN FOR MAKING UP SNOW DAYS YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME and watching something on TV. During which I finally had a chance to check my email again. It was about 8:00 at that point, and I knew they would send emails until midnight.

It had come in at 7:15.

I won the lottery

I’m in.

Holy shit I’m in. What the hell was I thinking but how freaking cool is this that I’m IN.

And one of my other peeps is too. Now we just have to make sure at least one more raises that load of money for a charity. Stay tuned for bake sale information.

Six Little Minutes

For long distance runners, the Boston Marathon is the stuff of legends, dreams, and running bucket lists. In some ways, it’s the Super Bowl of the running world…not because it’s a competition–though it is–but because of the excitement and camaraderie that unites everyone at the start line. It’s a race you have to work for…because the only way in is to qualify or raise money for charities. Period.

Last year, my best friend worked her butt off to qualify for Boston. For the first several months of the year, she ran a marathon a month to make it happen. Each time the race started, I held my breath a little and waited for texts from her husband or some other form of live update. I waited for her to cross the finish line and see if she made it in time. And each time, I started making plans in my head for being her support staff on race day in Boston this year.

She missed qualifying by six minutes.

When the story broke this afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of her and her efforts to qualify…to say nothing of the people I know who live in Boston, the people involved in any way in the race, and the city itself which I so desperately love. I sent my friend a text to say how thankful I was that she didn’t qualify last year for this year’s race. Her response was, “Me too! 6 little minutes!”

In a world where things change in a matter of seconds, I am thankful for the time that has been extended because of those six minutes. I am thankful for the beauty of the running world and the ways in which we all find hope and peace and clarity and excitement and enjoyment and camaraderie in the sport. I am thankful for the ways in which people have responded. And I am thankful to love and be loved by such incredible people…and that I get to hug some of them a little tighter tonight or the next time I see them. Because of six little minutes.

I’m Only Half Crazy

A few weeks ago, my marathon dreams died on the Tobacco Trail.

It wasn’t because of any major injury. It was just the accumulation of weeks of long runs that weren’t so long or so good. And I was doing so well…for so long. I even did 15 miles around Lake freaking Johnson. But I just can’t seem to break that 15 mile barrier.

And so I contacted the race directors and found out that I had two days to make the switch from the full to the half…or I’d have to wait until the expo. SIGN ME UP…er…MAKE THAT CHANGE. So they did.

And so, instead of doing a FULL marathon on March 18, I’ll be doing the half. I’ll still get to see the best parts of the race course–the parts I really wanted to run. It has helped with the stress that has come from the discouragement of the crappy long runs. And made me realize that I have MILES to go before I’m ready for another marathon. But I learned a few things. And I trained better for this one.

Now I just have to squeeze in a few more long runs before this half. And yes, I’ll be jonesin’ for another 13.1 PR. We’ll see what happens.

Running is Cheaper Than Therapy

I started running–really, seriously running–the same time I started this PhD thing. Well…really it started that summer when I incorporated more running into my workouts. It escalated when I was sitting on a balcony in Mexico with Robin and a copy of the Endurance Magazine. She looked up from the article about the City of Oaks marathon and said, “We could totally do that.”

It was August. The race was the beginning of November. I was about to start a PhD program. T minus three months to race day.

Sure. Why not?

A few weeks later, I discovered why not. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to train for a marathon that semester. I was barely doing long runs on the weekend. In fact, I did one 8-miler…on a treadmill. (Have I mentioned that it’s blazing hot around here until Thanksgiving?) I was putting up 12-14 miles during the week (also on a treadmill). But we opted to switch our registration to the half-marathon.

***It should be noted right here that my husband opted to keep the marathon registration and get ready for it anyway–since it was a mere two weeks before his 30th birthday.

Anywhoooo. I ran most of that half-marathon and was hooked. So I set a goal for another one. It happened in March of 2009 in VA Beach. While sitting in the hot tub after that one, Robin again looked up and said, “I’m doing the Disney marathon next January.” She even spit out the date. “Who’s in?” This time, she meant business. And the people in the hot tub with us were not ready to be outdone. It was kind of an all or nothing thing at that point because we all wanted to do it together. And Robin was in. And so were the rest of us.

If you’ve read this blog for any time at all now, you’ll know that I like racing. And I LOVE a good half-marathon. Especially when there’s good beer at the finish line. (Good swag helps, too.) As I keep rolling through this PhD program, I can’t help but draw some parallels.

Getting a PhD is a (perhaps THE) test of perseverance. It’s an endurance contest…a marathon…at times a Warrior Dash. In both arenas, you have to train…hard…and then trust your training on race day…or proposal or defense or prelim day.

For me, one doesn’t necessarily inform the other…it’s the running that gets me through school. It’s the running that helps me process the events of this semester–just as it has in semesters past. It’s, in part, the long runs on the weekend that are keeping me sane as I keep hitting bumps in the academic road. It’s the running that helps me stay healthy and sane most days of the week (and when not running, it’s yoga).

Running is cheaper and more accessible (i.e., can be done at 6:00 AM) than therapy.

Because let’s face it. This getting a PhD thing is bananas.

2010 Year in Review

My 30th year (or the 2010 year in review)

This year seems to have passed by, quickly and under the radar…and when I think about all that’s happened, I shouldn’t be too surprised. So here goes the 2010/age 30 round-up:

I did my first marathon…got my first tattoo…survived a semester with two practica…attended soccer games for my child…ran my first 10K in Charleston…smashed my 10K time in VA Beach…finally got my child the resources he needs to catch up and be successful in school…took a family trip to Williamsburg…took another trip to DC…finally went to the Holocaust museum (I’d been wanting to go since it opened my junior year in high school)…saw the Newseum…revisited powerful monuments…took in the city…navigated my family through the metro…went to the beach…survived the hottest summer on record of late…lost some weight…found some muscle…read some really good books…started a dissertation…had it scrapped four months later…fought (and lost) more dissertation battles (I’m just hoping to win the war)…was introduced to Anusara yoga by my sister in love and have gone to a class almost every week since…sent my child off to high school…got ready to attend wrestling matches and then he broke his arm…cleaned out the closet in my home office twice (and it needs another two rounds)…had a lot of family time…squeezed in a half-marathon…did a total of five races this year…celebrated Thanksgiving in a different way…had work done on our house…broke the book embargo…started shifting my taste buds away from coffee and to hot tea…discovered the beauty of Brooks shoes…made new friends…renewed bonds with old friends…finished my last required class for this degree…met a lot of new babies (all girls)…left church…found church…saw my husband get a job that went along with his calling…did honest to God therapy in a university counseling center…beat my head against a wall…and a desk…posted links…shook my fist at the Wake Co. school board, NC voters and Westboro Baptist Church…increased the tweeting…started Insanity…had the best birthday (31st) I’ve had since Mom died…got selfish…reached out…prayed a little more…opened to grace…mellowed a bit…borrowed books from others I have yet to return…did a Warrior Dash…contemplated giving up football…discovered the beauty of the salted caramel hot chocolate…had only one pumpkin spice latte…broke bread with some really great people…spent more time in the kitchen…realized my level of competence…and how far I have to go…

Races and a Racing Bucket List

I think I promised this a month or so ago…finally I have a chance to write it.


I’m getting together with Robin next week to have lunch and shop and do what we do…but we’re also pulling out calendars to talk about next year’s races.

On my docket for spring:

Krispy Kreme Challenge–even ESPN gets in on this action. Run 2 miles, scarf a donut or 12, run 2 miles back. The challenge: Keep it down.

American Tobacco Trail 13.1–the inaugural half/full marathon was this past March and it got great reviews from folks. The t-shirt design could use a major improvement, but the course is flat and pretty fast…perfect for that 13.1 PR.

Cooper River Bridge Run (10K)–if you’ve never run this race, you should. It’s one of the largest races in. the. world. And taking out that bridge is a great feeling.

Tarheel 10-miler–ends in Kenan Stadium…enemy territory. Fortunately, they let supporters of other ACC teams crash the party. You can bet I’ll be blowin’ in with my red, white and black.


And that’s all I got right now. Which means, according to Rob, that we gotta find a January race…and another one in May. We’ll see about that. I like that I’m keeping it local-ish for the spring. And I guess I should start registering for some of this nonsense.


And now for the list of races I want to run some day:

The Goofy Challenge: Run the Donald Duck 13.1 on Saturday and then run the Mickey Mouse 26.2 the next day. The pay-off: THREE medals…one Donald, one Mickey and one Goofy. Oh…and I think you might even get three shirts, too….


The Flying Pig Marathon (Cincinnati): you get a t-shirt with a flying pig on it. Why WOULDN’T you?


The Portland Marathon (Oregon): mostly flat, the city’s waterfront, cool temps, a bridge (surprisingly, I don’t hate them after this year), Mt. Hood, Mt. S. Helens, and really great schwag. And maybe I can work in a Kane concert at Dante’s, too.


Army 10-Miler (Washington DC): It sells out in about 30 hours. That’s saying something. Start at the Pentagon, cross the Potomac, run the mall, see the monuments, head back over the river. And it’s only 10 miles, unlike….

The Marine Corps Marathon (also DC): I really like DC. And you get to see more of the city on foot this way. And a marine drapes the medal around your neck at the finish line.

And speaking of medals…

Nike Women’s Marathon (San Francisco): The finisher’s medal is a Tiffany necklace. It’s put around your neck by a fireman in a tux. Hills? What hills?


ING New York City Marathon: “If there’s a chance you’ll run only one marathon, it has to be New York.” Well, I said that about Disney, but EVERYONE says that about New York. Guess I’m gonna have to make it happen some day. Besides, I’ve never been to the Big Apple.

***Note, I will not qualify. I will fund raise or enter by lottery. May I remind you all that I’m an ox?


Boston Marathon: I thought I’d never be able to run this one. Ever. (See previous note about qualifying) But then I learned you can fund raise your way in. Score. I’ll be sure to hit all of you up for donations.


The Publix Georgia 13.1. It’s sponsored by Publix and it’s in Atlanta. I call that a no-brainer.


Myrtle Beach Mini-marathon. By mini, they mean 13.1 miles. But the medal this past year was a surf board that doubled as a bottle opener.


Virginia is for Lovers 14K: it’s part of the J & A Racing group‘s race line-up in VA Beach. It’s flat and they have REALLY good schwag.

Speaking of VA Beach: I’m thinking one year I need to do the race challenge: Wicked 10K, Surf-N-Santa 10 miler, VA is for Lovers 14K and Shamrock 13.1 or 26.2. You do all that, and the prize this time around was a cooler and a pint glass.


I will run for some schwag. And beer. There has to be good beer.


Men’s Health Urbanathlon: Road race meets obstacle course from hell. It looks AWESOME.


And maybe some day I’ll tackle a half-ironman. Maybe.


So there’s the list. And there may be more to come. I have some people trying to suck me into the USMC Mud Run in SC and the Tough Mudder (Google that SOB…unh uh).

Any takers?

Starting with Goofy

I ran my fifth and final race of 2010 this past weekend: the OBX Half-Marathon. While standing with one of my running buddies in the corral waiting to start, I struck up a conversation (like you do when penned in like a herd of cattle) with an Amazon woman standing next to me wearing a shirt from the 2009 Goofy Challenge. You know, the one where you go down to Disney World and run the Donald Duck 13.1 on Saturday and the Mickey Mouse 26.2 on Sunday…and walk away with 3 medals and two very sore legs. And she’s done this not once, not twice, but FOUR times…and will likely do it again in January. According to her, once you do it once, you are addicted. She has also run the Boston Marathon–not because she qualified, but because she raised funds. She, like me, admitted that she’d never be fast enough to qualify. But she got my hopes up, especially when she said running Boston was everything everyone said it is. And this woman, mind you, has an average 13.1 finishing time that is slower than mine.

Somewhere in the first couple of miles of this race this weekend, I started thinking about why it is that thousands of people pay money to run lots of miles on a Sunday morning–and do all the training leading up to it. And I realized that every runner has a story. And every runner has a reason.

For some, it’s to make an extra couple of grand on the weekend when they finish 13.1 miles in 62 minutes.

For some, it’s to commemorate the birth of a child–and getting that pre-pregnancy body back.

For some, it’s the only thing that keeps them going…because focusing on 13.1 or 26.2 is way more fulfilling that that stupid number on the scale that never seems to budge.

For some, it’s proving something to someone else.

For others, it’s proving something to themselves.

For some, it’s showing the world that 42 is better than 35, and almost-31 is better than 21.

For some, it’s the feeling you get when you finish faster than you ever did…or just that you finish at all.

For some, it’s about letting go and trusting–really letting go and trusting–the work you’ve done and the hours and miles you’ve logged training to get you through a few hours in a day where so many variables can make or break your race experience.

For some, it’s the feeling of knowing that you are loved and cared for when your favorite people are at the finish line.

For some, it’s the feeling of knowing that the people bundled up in their coats and drinking coffee(?) are there to cheer you on–even though you are all complete strangers. But a stranger’s encouragement can be the thing to get you over the bridge.

For others, it’s about reclaiming–or claiming for the first time–one’s identity as an athlete…or as a runner.

There are many reasons to run. But whatever got you out there to the start line pales in comparison to the feeling you get when you cross the finish line.

And that’s why I run.