There’s the route for my upcoming 4-miler (the dotted pink line)… Eight months into living in NYC and I’ve yet to run in Central Park. I’ll change that this weekend, given the 50 degree weather awaiting us.
Wrapped in our silver capes and adorned with medals and salt streaked caps as our crowns, we were princesses of pain, loving every minute of it. Isn’t it the weirdest thing? Something so damn hard, so humbling, so fickle, so painful, is also the thing we seek on purpose? Sitting there, surrounded by my friends and cracking up, I had a flash of myself at age 70.
Kristin Armstrong, after running the 2011 Boston Marathon
I was in Vermont this weekend at Killington Resort with work friends. We skied, ate incredible food (I tried game — venison, moose, and elk — for the first time!), and drank loads of beer. I can’t tell you how calm and relaxed I am after this weekend. It’s been a long while since I was this content. Despite identifying strongly as a city mouse, I have to give credit to the awesomeness of nature and its ability to shut up all the unnecessary noise in my mind.
This was my second time I skiing (the first was nearly ten years ago), so Saturday was pretty scary. I was that girl sticking my ass out while silently screaming in her head (and sometimes aloud) all the way down the hill. But I only fell once! Luckily, we were staying at a condo with a ski-on/ski-off trail right next to it, so me and a colleague’s girlfriend (the novices of the group) had a private bunny hill to practice on. As if getting down the hill wasn’t terrifying enough, I quickly had to come to terms with my intense fear of heights on my first lift ride. I think I gripped the bar so hard that I made a dent in it. I definitely sweat through my mittens thanks to my nerves. How the hell did I do this ten years ago???
But just like most things, every single time I went down the hill and faced my fears with the encouragement of good people, it got easier, less scary, fun even. And most of the time while I was skiing, when I wasn’t thinking about whether I was going to crash into the woods and lose an eyeball or whether I was going to fall to my death from the lift chair, I thought about how everything I was thinking and feeling related to my running experiences: It’s scary to think about completing a double-digit run, or not being fast enough when running with a group, but every time I’ve said, fuck it, I’m going in, I got better. Recognizing the effect of my colleagues’ encouragement to keep practicing and not run back to the condo with my tail between my legs made me realize just how important it would be to find a good running group this year if I wanted to successfully prepare and get through the two marathons I’ve signed up for. I was really humbled and relearned that I couldn’t do it alone, all over again.
When we took a break for lunch, my colleague was telling me and his girlfriend, that he was proud of us for not giving up. “Think of how much harder it would be tomorrow if you gave up today.” And you know, he’s totally right. Sunday morning, we were zipping around like pro ski bunnies. I even rode the lift by myself and was breathing at a normal rate.
After a five hour drive back to the city, my legs were pretty restless, and despite my exhaustion from all of the weekend’s fun, I made good on my intention of running across the GW. I’ve been wanting to do this since last summer. The handful of times I tried to get onto the bridge, I’d always end up right under it, on the highway. So tonight, I ended the have-no-fear themed weekend by seeking out the GW and running it once and for all. I screamed when I almost stomped on a dead rat while trying to figure out how to get on the bridge, but I got up there! I ran to Jersey and back, before picking up a deli sandwich on the way home.
I feel so fulfilled tonight. I love going to bed feeling like I can do anything that comes my way this week…
The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is that I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, but if we get on a treadmill together, there are two things: One, you’re getting off first or, two, I’m gonna die. It’s really that simple.
Today’s run: discovered a huge cemetery & mausoleum in the opposite direction of my usual route + tried out my new face mask, which seemed to have scared my coffee guy but didn’t stop the guys from cat callin’ + thought about a friend’s recent move to California and how she’ll never have to deal with snow again + the hip feels better the more I run, strangely enough…
I didn’t plan on going further uptown than I’ve ever been before on today’s long run. I typically like to run in a long straight line south because I get really irritated with twisting and turning routes. Maybe my feet pointing me north today was my subconscious acknowledging the fact that this will be my last week as a resident of uptown Manhattan! Better make use of this time to see the things I’ve been meaning to see… I’m so excited to move to Brooklyn, by the way!
So anyway, after trailing a guy running with his dog unleashed (adorable), I found myself in the Cloisters, which was really disorienting for some reason. I don’t know, I was so confused by how a space like this existed in the middle of Washington Heights? Anyway, the spring flower photos are trite and cliche, but the blossoms had me in awe, and seriously distracted for a good two miles.
I thought I’d try to navigate a nearby trail before some shady figures warded me off. I made my way back to civilization, ran to Jersey via the George Washington one last time (who knows when I’ll be this far up north again), and finished off my route on Riverside.
Two more long runs before we begin to taper — crazy! Is this really happening???
Friends who aren’t runners will often look at me like I just admitted to killing a baby when I tell them how much I ran last weekend. I can barely run one mile, they’ll tell me. But, I still consider myself a novice at this running thing, and make it clear that I am equally as shocked. I still can’t believe I ran 13 miles the other weekend. And I’m scared as hell just thinking about having to get a 15 miler in this weekend.
Lately, that seems to be my main motivation for running — because it scares me every single time. I’m scared I won’t be able to finish the mileage I set out to complete. I’m scared I’ll injure myself, or make existing weaknesses worse. I’m scared other runners will think I look silly in passing. I’m scared of judgment when I tweet or blog about my mileage and time — that it won’t be considered “fast” or “good” or “whatever” enough.
These are the very thoughts that win on days I deliberately choose not to run. But on days I consciously fight them and take a few steps outside, the fear subsides, and I just do my thing. Talk about release and relief… By the time I’m home, I’ve squashed those fears, paid gratitude to my body for doing what it just did, and am one run closer to self-realization.