Thursday, October 29, 2015



I've been bad about posting lately because, despite the fact that I ran a half marathon last weekend, I'm still very lazy.

Nellie and I both finished the race in under two hours (me, barely; Nellie, faster).  It was super fun, actually, although we both questioned it right up until the start and felt ridiculously tired and sore afterwards.  We timed our meals really well the day before/morning of, which was great.  We were sitting having breakfast at around 6am on race day and Nellie said, "I can't believe we're doing this by choice...humans are so weird."  It's SO true!  Why do we do these things?  There are plenty of other ways to be healthy and get exercise.

Anyway, it doesn't matter.  I definitely am glad that I did an actual training program, because I felt totally fine until around mile 7 or 8.  At the halfway point as I turned around, I was even able to coherently talk to Mike (Nellie's husband), who, with my parents, did an AWESOME job zooming around to various points on the course to cheer us on (even taking time to stop for coffee, my dad is always quick to add).

I had set myself a super duper easily attainable goal of under a 10-minute/mile average.  By the time I got to 5 miles, I knew I was going to beat two hours.  There was a little timer thing there, and I was WAY ahead of pace.  At that point, I knew that if I just kept it up I'd be fine.
Right after I finished -- going into the tent for snacks!
It's an interesting psychological thing that goes on in long runs like that.  Physiological too.  You just kind of shut down, and your body goes into survival mode, not releasing any fluids or anything.  I didn't really feel like I was sweating that much during the race.  At the finish, it was very emotional and awesome.  I got all choked up when I crossed the line, and found out later that Nellie had a similar response when she finished.  It's a pretty big accomplishment!

I spoke to someone a couple years ago who told me she wanted to train for a marathon.  I asked her if she'd done any long distance runs like that before, a half marathon or anything.  She said no, but "nobody does half marathons.  They don't make a big deal out of it."  So not true haha!

Nellie also said, after the race, "we did it!  Now we never have to run ever again!"  I'm totally on board with that.  But I just went for a run today - just three miles and change - and it's really hard to make yourself run when you don't actually have to!  So we'll see.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

My One-Year Anniversary: Part 2

Part 1, if you want.

I feel like I left things off a little gloomy in my last post.  Well, let's get one thing straight: I'm doing fine.

At first, it was really hard.  It felt completely out of the blue (although looking back, it had been around for a while -- 5 years or something -- there just wasn't enough evidence/symptoms to do all the testing we did this time around back then), because we hadn't even really considered that it was actually something serious, especially after the neurologic exam went so well (before the MRIs).

I think what was hardest for me was that there was no way to have prevented this.  You know that phenomenon where people try to explain bad things that happen to other people in a way that makes them feel less at risk of those bad things?  Like when someone finds out that a person has lung cancer and they say, "oh was he a smoker?" so they can tell themselves they're not at risk because they don't smoke.  Of course, this is largely subconscious, and seems like a natural reaction to have.  Here's the killer for me: I didn't do anything wrong.  MS isn't something that can really be predicted or prevented.  Modern medicine knows a lot about the disease today, but there's also still a lot that's unknown, so...Anyway, because of this lack of explanation for the cause, it felt like my body had betrayed me.  That's one of the worst feelings in the world.

Ok, ok, hang on.  I told myself that this was going to be a more uplifting post.  On to that...
Look at me, being positive!
So, while it was a very emotional, difficult time for me, there's also a strange comfort to be had in the fact that there isn't a cure.  I know that sounds weird, but when you can't get rid of it, you just have to deal with it.  But here's the other thing: with MS, what I've learned from various doctors is that everyone's experience is different, and nothing is sacred -- meaning that, in theory, the disease could affect any part of my body to any degree.  So, how do you process something that hasn't happened yet?  ....or something that might never happen? ....but maybe will?

The answer, as I've been slowly learning, is just not to try too hard.  There will never be some moment where I'm completely at peace with everything...because what is everything?

I got a therapist back in New Orleans who was affiliated with the MS clinic I went to there.  Actually, I have to say that that was one of the most difficult things to leave - that medical community.  Everyone there, the nurses, the neurologist, the PA, the social worker, was so awesome and compassionate, and everything had such a personal touch.  Anyway, having a therapist was helpful, so I could talk it out and all.

Here's another thing that I did that I had a good feeling about beforehand.  I'm happy to say that I was totally right.

It sort of came to me one day that a tattoo might be a good way to help me process a little bit.  I'm really into tattoos.  I have a lot, and I already have plans for more.  I thought that having an MS-related tattoo would help, because then I would have something that was very definitively positive, and something that was so definitively associated with MS.  But what could it be?  I thought about an orange ribbon, which is the awareness ribbon for MS, but that was a bit too cliché for me.

For the first few months after being diagnosed, MS was basically all I could think about.  It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thing I thought about when I went to bed.  When I was with people who didn't know, I felt stranded, because I had no allies.  Not that I actually needed any, but it was just nice to be around someone who was aware of what I was going through.  So sometimes, in those moments of feeling like I was in a bubble, if I felt like I could make it work, I would tell someone.  I know that a lot of people with MS choose not to tell anyone, because you totally don't have to.  It's a "silent disease."  That is, most of the time, other people can't tell that anything's going on with you -- or they never can tell.  (You probably already know someone with MS, even if you don't know it.)  I came up with an analogy for why I'd decided to be open about having MS and all's an elephant in the room.  Period.  The thing is, when I'm the only one who knows about it, it's only my elephant in my room.  If I could just share the elephant with other people, we could move into a bigger, shared room, where the elephant could still hang out, but be a little less oppressive.

I was contemplating that analogy one day, and happened to also be contemplating what my tattoo would be, and it hit me!  So I got the tattoo 2 weeks later.  That's the smallest amount of time I've ever taken to think about a tattoo, and the most confident I've felt about one when I got it.  I had the artist put it in a place that wasn't super visible, so I could choose to show people or not (just like I could choose to tell people about MS or not), so unless I've shown you, you don't know about it.

OK fine you can see it.

I'm kind of in love with the little guy.

As I said, the tattoo had exactly the effect I thought it would.  I smile every time I look at the tattoo, and if I was feeling bummed or gloomy about it, I just took a peek at my elephant.  He was inexorably tied with my MS because of my little analogy above; he was also a super positive symbol for me in general.  I had successfully tricked myself into changing my attitude.

That whole, talking-about-things-to-feel-better-about-them principle applies to other things in life as well.  It's sort of the reason I'm writing this whole blog in the first place.  Writing about the fact that I'm training for a half marathon (one week to go!) in a public forum gives me a bit more accountability.

Speaking of the half marathon, I didn't decide to do it for any reasons remotely related to MS.  But it definitely became a part of it.  My therapist in New Orleans told me to try not to think of the MS as something I hated, because it's a part of me and who I am now.  That said, I feel ok about my mindset surrounding MS and this race.  The running definitely became a vendetta against my body, for my body, if that makes any sense.  If I'm going to have a chronic illness, I want the rest of my body to work pretty damn well.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, despite a continuing occasional negative psychological state, and despite any misconceptions about MS.  There is this one thing that happens when I get really hot (a super common thing that happens with MS patients) where my legs and, depending how hot I get, other parts of my body get this weird, tingly, sort of electric feeling through them.  It's called Uhthoff's phenomenon.  It doesn't mean I'm having a new MS relapse (a.k.a. exacerbation, a.k.a. flare-up); it just means I'm having symptoms.  Whatever.  It doesn't mean anything terrible, but it doesn't necessarily feel good.

Anyhow, everything's fine.  I'll probably write more about this soon, but later.  I've had enough for now, and I think some of you guys might want a break from the heavy stuff.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My One-Year Anniversary: Part 1

Hi folks,

I have to tell you something.  Exactly a year ago today, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  I apologize if I know you, and you're finding this out for the first time through my blog; but it's one of those things that, while I would have liked to get it out in the open with everybody I'm close to right off the bat, I can't just drop on people randomly at a party or something.

Here's what my day was like last October 15.  I remember it, because it was the worst day ever.  Recently, I've noticed this tendency I'm developing to internalize my feelings.  So, when I'm experiencing something profound, be it positive or negative, I often have a physical response, because I don't otherwise openly admit that I'm feeling what I'm feeling to the extent that I'm feeling it.

Actually, let me go back a little further than 10/15/14.  I had been feeling weird tingling sensations (for lack of a better word) since July.  It had started in my fingers and moved through my arms, legs and feet.  My dad had told me to keep tabs on it, but we didn't do anything about it at first.  Then I got this thing where, when I dipped my chin to my chest, an electric, buzzing sensation shot from my lower back, up my spine and out to my hips and all the way down my legs.  Then I called my dad and said that I'd like to talk to a neurologist about it.

Here's the thing.  I passed the neurologic exam with flying colors.  I was even feeling less tingly by the time I got the exam (a couple days before the 10/15), and I felt a little bad -- like a boy-who-cried-wolf kind of thing.  The neurologist said I seemed ok, but that we should do a neck MRI, just to check (I was having some achiness at the time and she thought it might be a pinched nerve or something).  We seriously thought all was well, but then the neurologist called and said there were some "irregularities" in my neck MRI (cervical spine), and she wanted to get images of my brain and thoracic spine (the rest of the spine).

It was so weird, I looked at the images from my cervical spine, and there were literally these three, blurry little white things that I guess weren't normal.  Looking at it with an untrained eye, I thought, "really?  That means something?"  However, after I did more MRIs, a few blood tests and a lumbar puncture (a.k.a. spinal tap), it was clear that those little white dots (also called "lesions") meant a lot.  We tested for a number of things that the dots could also have meant: celiac, lyme disease, etc...came back negative.  There was something specific they were looking for in my spinal fluid that would confirm that it was MS.  They're called oligoclonal bands.  Google them if you want.

One of the most powerful and scary moments that I remember from those couple of days was when the neurologist showed me my brain scans.  Before she showed me, she said, "the grey is your brain, the black is spinal fluid, and the white is the irregularities."  Then she clicked through all the images, and I just remember thinking, "that's a lot of white..."

"Is that a lot?"  I asked.
"'s not a little," she replied.


So flash forward a couple days.  We were still waiting for the lumbar puncture results to come back, but I had to go back to New Orleans (oh yeah, I was in Maine for all that stuff -- I went home for Fall break).  There was a crazy weather system somewhere, and my connecting flight got cancelled.  I got on a new flight for the next day, and a room for that night in some hotel in Charlotte, NC.

That night, I started getting sick.  The next day, for the first (and only) time, I threw up in a barf bag on the plane.  And it was after we'd landed for God's sake!  So here, I'm getting to that whole, internalizing-feelings-and-then-having-a-physical-response thing.  I had had talks about the potentials of having MS with my parents and Sam and Nellie and Mike (her now husband), who were visiting home that weekend as well.  But we hadn't actually confirmed it yet, remember?  Because we hadn't heard about those oligoclonal bands yet.  That weekend, after I got all the tests done, we went out to our place that we have on an island off the coast of Maine and spent a couple beautiful Fall days playing touch football and reading and hiking and all that.  It was fun, despite potential gloominess back at the hospital.

Anyway, I got a cab from the airport.  I threw up in my water bottle in the cab.  The driver asked me if I wanted to stop and I said, "please just take me home.  I won't get anything on your car I promise."  I got home, stripped off all my clothes, and fell into bed.  I called my mom (because I promised I would when I got home), crying because I just felt so miserable and tired.  I slept for a couple hours.  I woke up, walked to the little corner store by my apartment, bought some gatorade, went back home, and slept for a few more hours.  I was woken up in the late afternoon by my phone ringing.  It was my neurologist (oh, we're at October 15 by now, by the way).  She said the spinal fluid results had come back and the oligoclonal bands were there.  So it was official.

I promise I'm going to write more about this in my next post.  I'm going to talk about the more psychological side of things and the experience of telling people, going to school, symptoms, my doctors, why my blog background is elephants (it's relevant, I swear).  But this is a long post, and there are no pictures, so I feel bad.  I'm also, more soon. I promise.
Here's one picture though...because I need a thumbnail image for the's not my brain; it's the internet's.  I don't think I want you to see my brain.  It would be like seeing me naked or something.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Well, I'm off my running schedule again, but I have a good reason.  Anna got married!

It was a great weekend, although the week leading up to it was ridiculously stressful.  It's weird- I didn't get quite as stressed out by Nellie's wedding, but I think that's because I didn't take on quite as much responsibility in the planning process; I just went where people told me.  This time, I was the one telling people where to go.

I also had to have what I call my "extrovert face" on for longer than I'm used to.  I definitely consider myself an extroverted introvert, and I'm not a big fan of small talk and stuff like that, especially with almost 200 people, two thirds of whom I don't know.  It's exhausting.  That said, I made sure to get a good amount of sleep the night before the wedding (I was running on 4 hours the day before), and I ran four miles in the morning, so I could be at the top of my game.
It was a beautiful wedding and a wonderful reception afterwards.  Now, I'm still in Maine, working on the Boston housing hunt and processing the let down from the outrageous amount of emotions that happened last weekend.  Weddings do that.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Well, I guess this was bound to happen at some point.

Nellie and I, according to the training schedule, were supposed to run 12 miles yesterday.  Neither of us did.  Nellie has been dealing with a hip that has given her issues in the past.  She, understandably, was concerned about aggravating it by over-exerting.

The other day, I was playing frisbee in Boston, and I made a really hard cut (1:05, for you non-frisbee folk), but I just got a little too into it.  My foot jammed into the front of my cleat.  That's never happened before, so I think my cleats are just getting old or something.  After the point, I went off to survey the damage.  I was seriously expecting a bunch of gushing blood and only half a toenail.  Nope!  It just hurt....really badly.  I could tell that the nail had been jammed into the cuticle at the bottom, and it wasn't going to survive.

I slept on Sam's couch that night and was awoken in the middle of the night by a throbbing pain...

The next morning, I took of the nail polish I had on my big toe, so I could really see what was going on.  It was alllll blue under the nail.  Poor toe!  So when that happens, there's a whole lot of pressure under the nail because of all that blood, and it's not uncommon to just have it drained.  I've actually seen my dad do that for my mom with a little burn-y thing that puts a hole in the nail and lets the blood out.  I obviously didn't have that kind of thing at my disposal, so I just had to treat my poor toe very tenderly for the day while I apartment hunted in the city.

Of course it was raining, and of course I was completely unprepared and was wearing the slipperiest flip-flops that I own.  I slipped, caught myself, somehow nicked my toe, and started bleeding everywhere.  Luckily, I had a huge first aid kit in my car.  I gauzed my toe and taped my toe, and crisis was averted.  Over the course of the day, blood started seeping through the tape...I have to admit that having a bit of pressure off was slightly relieving, but still pretty painful.  Pain is tiring!  At the end of the day, I called my dad, and he told me that I could soak it in the tub and try to keep draining it from wherever it had bled from before.

So anyway, my poor toenail is all white and dead now, and still oozes periodically.  I turn into HulkTessa whenever Oscar (or anyone) accidentally steps on my foot.  I'm hoping it isn't too much to wear heels next Saturday at Anna's WEDDING!!

Needless to say, though, I did not run 12 miles yesterday.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Why I'm Running

Let's get one thing straight: I do not like running.

It's tedious and boring and uncomfortable.  At least when I'm climbing or playing frisbee, there's a more concrete goal in mind -- getting to the top or scoring...with running it's just about finishing the run.  It's not great to be doing an activity when the goal is to not be doing that activity anymore.

So why would I decide to train for a half marathon, of all things?  Well, first of all, I'm doing it with my sister.  It helps to have someone to commiserate with/swap training tips with.  At one point, all four of us were going to do it (my brother, two sisters, and me), but due to other various commitments (e.g. a wedding), Sam and Anna decided not to.

Originally, I wasn't going to do it, because when Nellie (the sister who's still doing it) first proposed the idea to me, I was still living in New Orleans with no plans of going back to the Northeast with any permanence.  It would be hard to train for a half marathon together when we didn't even live in the same city, let alone the same region.  Where could we do the race?  But then I had my little epiphany about leaving the South and realized that we could in fact do a race together!

We caught it just in time.  Nellie made the good point that late October was about as late as we would want to do a race in the Northeast, and lo, there was one on October 24!  We had 10 weeks (two weeks shorter than what I gather is the more standard, 12-week training period, but we found a regimen that accommodated our poor planning).

So here I am.  There was more, as I started training, that cropped up for reasons to keep training, instead of giving up.  For example, after I paid for registration ($81 after tax -- yikes!) and bought nice, new running shoes so I wouldn't die of blisters and broken ankles, there was really no going back.  Financial investment is a good motivator.

Also, it's kind of cool just to be able to say I did it.  I mean, I ran 11 miles last Saturday, and I'm getting faster!!  2.1 more miles doesn't feel like much...

There's some other stuff that kind of came to me as I trained that made a good motivator, but I feel like I'll save that for another post, partly because I'm tired.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


This is a tricky one to write, because whenever I try to, I always find myself feeling a little bit over-dramatic.  I don't have a hard time talking about it; I actually am pretty open about it at this point.  It's just that I sometimes feel weird talking about it because I know that my experience doesn't even come close to touching what others have been through, and then I feel selfish.  So I write this with humility and under no illusion that I have been through the worst of what's out there.

Basically, back about 4 1/2 years ago, I starting going through some pretty intense stuff surrounding my body image and eating habits.  Today, I kind of joke that I liked food too much to stop eating, but I had a therapist a couple years ago that pointed out that there's a difference between an eating disorder and "disordered eating."  That said, neither of those things are healthy.

Back then, I also had serious guilt issues.  Guilt was a deeply potent, highly destructive emotion for me.  To be honest, it still is, but I am much less out of control now than I was then.  I didn't hyper-analyze the catalysts behind it or what effects it had on me, but it was bad.  And it felt bad.  All of it felt bad: hating the way my body looked, dealing with it poorly, being on a hair trigger with guilt and anger (the two went hand in hand).  I was never suicidal, although looking back, I see that there was, at the time, a definite risk of more self-destructive behavior.

I was seeing a therapist back then who helped me realize that these things weren't actually the problem; they were symptoms of a bigger problem that was a lot deeper seated.  Ultimately, because there is no other word for it, I realized that I was dealing with a certain amount of depression.  It was never actually diagnosed, and I never took medication for it, but it was real.  This realization was the main reason I decided to take time off from school; I wanted to leave Emerson before I didn't want to come back (that, of course, was moot, since I decided to transfer schools and programs anyway, but that's another post).  I needed to clear my head, and so there I went.

It worked remarkably well, actually.  I worked on a boat for 7 months (again, for another post), took some classes, made some money, logged a few life experiences, etc.  I came back from it feeling much more self-assured, self-aware and no longer quite such a flight risk to myself.

Since then, particularly in the last year or so, I've been through some very real shit that has brought me pretty deep down into the dumps.  As with many things in this post, this is also for another post.  I'm going to write more about it in October, but I decided that it would be good to give a little precursor post for context.

Friday, September 18, 2015

GUEST POST (PART 2): Moving, As Told By Oscar the Dog

Day 1: Can someone please tell me what's going on?  Why is Mom doing that thing where she carries everything outside?  Bark bark bark!  Why is everyone yelling at me?  Bark bark bark!  My world is crashing down around me- I must escape!  Ok, here I go...oh hey there's Mom!  Hi Mom!  I love you I love you Iloveyou!!  I'm so happy you're here- you can save me from the end of the world.

Things seem to have stopped moving around...but I have no things anymore.  My toys are gone.  My crate is gone.  My bed is gone-CAR!!!!  Yes my favorite!  I will jump in now.  Oh, the car just turned on-I'VE MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE.  MUST GET OUT NOW.

Day 2: I slept well last night.  5 hours of yowling and getting shoved into the back seat will take a lot out of a dog.  Although I was unclear on why Mom and Elena put my crate up in this weird room with them.  It smelled a million different people and that stuff Mom puts on the floor when I pee.  But my things are back, so that's good.  I see my water bowl and my food bowl...lots of my toys-CAR!!!  Here I go again! .....OH NO!

What is nature?  What the-?  Why is it so dark outside- INTRUDER! BARKBARKBARK- oh.  I'm definitely not allowed to do that.  But did my bark just answer me?  What is that about?  What is this rustly thing Mom and Elena are playing with?  It's dark guys!  Don't you know that terrible things happen in the dark?  Well, I might have just made that up- INTRUDER! BARKBARKBARK- stop yelling at me Mom!  I heard a noise I've never heard before!  It was scary...

Day 3: So it turns out that rustly thing was a sleeping place.  Mom didn't make me sleep in the crate and I got to snuggle with her.  That was good because it was cold.  It felt like outside...but it looked like inside.  I was confused.  I also got to meet lots of people today!  That's my favorite.  One of them gave me a "kornkab," I think.  It doesn't matter- it was tasty!

Day 4: Well, as it turns out, the best way not to die in the car is to lie down. Huh.  I must say, this thundershirt Mom gave me is pretty comfy.  The way it works is that it's a shield that protects me from all the bad things.  I slept a lot in the car today.  Mom seems calmer than usual too.

Hey!  It's Aunt Anna!  I know her!  And look- she even brought another dog for me to play with.  Oh- well I guess he's not into that.  I don't understand that -- I always go up to dogs and say "hey- wanna play?" in my growliest, barkiest way, and somehow almost none of them like me.  Sometimes they'll growl back at me and I say "awesome! Do it again!"  Then they get really mad at me.  Someday, someone's going to have to explain dogs to me.

Day 5: The car is no longer my enemy.  I fell asleep in what Mom calls "DeeCee," and when I woke up, we were in "Boztin."  I don't understand, but it was pretty great.  Uncle Sam!  Aunt Nellie!  Finally, I'm seeing all the people I know!  This is great.  I'm happy.  No stress here tonight.

Day 6: Well today was easy.  Not only was the car time short, but I got to have Elena in my seat with me!  AND I got to see Jamie!  THEN I saw my Gramma and Grampa!  They love me, and I love them.  They also brought dogs for me to play with.  They're much nicer to me...but they're also teaching me about dogs.  When was someone going to tell me that growling was a bad thing??  Come on, world, help me out here.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

GUEST POST: Moving, As Told By Fluffy the Car

Hi, my name's Fluffy.

I'm an '09 Honda Civic hybrid, and I belong to Tessa.  For the last few weeks, she's been preparing me for a trip.  I'm actually pretty amped about it, because it meant that I got a new tire, trailer hitch, and all sorts of cool stuff!  I think she was so preoccupied with making sure I could handle the trip that she sort of forgot to pack.  I think that's how people get the stuff ready that they put in my trunk.

This is me today:

I guess I'm kind of appreciative of not having to have some giant bed strapped to the top of me or whatever...but I mean seriously.  I'm a hybrid.  That giant thing is going to cancel out any fuel efficiency I have.  This is the 21st century here, people.  Cars like me are supposed to be saving this climate.  I'm not being pretentious or anything...I'm just concerned about gas prices for Tessa.

Things I'm looking forward to on this trip:

1. Showing the world that I can pull that motherfucker for 2000 miles!

2. Seeing parts of the country I've never seen before.

3. Hitting 100k OH YEAH!!!

Things I'm not looking forward to on this trip:

1. Oscar.  That creature is going to ruin my seats, and can we talk about how WHINY he is??!  I mean I know Tessa loves him or whatever, but honestly...

2. Bottoming out under all this weight.

3. Having the fuel efficiency of a Hummer.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Great Music Dilemma of 2015

Week 3:
4 miles; 3 miles; (6 miles tomorrow)

For the last few weeks, I've been carefully constructing my running playlist.  My taste in music is pretty widespread, although sometimes I'm really picky.  A lot of the time it's to do with my mood, which is fine most of the time because it doesn't matter what I listen to...unfortunately, my mood often doesn't sync up with what I physically need to listen to so I can run.  OK, I know that sounds silly, and I could run without music, but I'm telling you, I'd probably average 15 minutes per mile.

Here's the thing about mood vs. activity when it comes to running with music.  I wake up at 6:30am because there's no other time to do it at this point.  Even today, it was already 77° and about 80% humidity when I woke up.  That time of day is so peaceful and quiet, and I always find myself in a corresponding mood.  So, the last thing I really want is to turn on my pumpy-uppy running playlist, packed with hard beats and all that.  I'd rather listen to something like this or this.  Actually, I did try the other day to start my run with some Hurray for the Riff was a complete failure.  My body rejects it if I try to make it run at the same time.

That said, when I play my "pump up jams," that early in the morning I want to vomit (almost literally).  So what on Earth am I supposed to do?!  I've already paid for the registration for this half marathon, so I can't back down now, although a problem with my music is obviously a valid reason to do so.  Wasting $80 isn't, "free" t-shirt aside.

Basically, I just have to push myself through the first half mile or so, listening to my grating, fast, loud running playlist, wanting to die.  After I wake up and get into the run a little more, the music isn't so bad.  Usually, it takes one, really awesome song (I just have the whole playlist on shuffle) to get me into the "I'm running on pavement, not mud" feel.

I feel like I'm making my running playlist sound like it's just full of horrible music.  THIS IS NOT TRUE!! I love the songs on that list, but they serve a very particular purpose, and if I'm not ready for it, well...

So what IS on my playlist?  Well, I'm not sure I want to share all of that.  Some of the music, I feel a bit guilty getting as into it as I do.  It feels a little bit appropriative.  Either that, or it feels like I'm supporting misogyny.  But what can I say?  The beats are sexy!  And some of those chord progressions though...Some songs, I don't feel guilty about, but just embarrassed about, I guess.  I AM NOT A FANGIRL!!!  But I?

NO!!! I refuse to let myself go there.  I just know how to appreciate certain musical elements of these people's songs...OK I've noticed this trend in my musical tastes where I'm driving around, listening to the radio, when a song comes on that I've never heard before, and I think, "this is a good song," or, "I should put this on my running playlist."  And I would say 5 out of the last 6 times it's happened it's been One Fucking Direction.  I just...stop it, Tessa.

Alright, that's enough ranting for today.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I'm just going to talk about my dog

Begin week 3:
3 miles

I don't feel like talking about my run.  That's just going to get boring if I do that every time, and this blog is already kind of dull.  At this point, my dog is the best thing in my life.  Meet Oscar.
As I mentioned in my first post, I like to do my cool downs with Oscar.  I get up, feed him, run, and then walk him.  When I come in, he's sitting in his crate, looking at me, at the ready, like this:

Then I let him out (he still has trouble calming down enough to sit and wait while I put on his harness and open the door), and we walk a few blocks, about a half mile.  I don't actually know what the prescribed distance or mode of cool down I'm supposed to do, but this has been working out so far.

When we get back home, I sit on the porch and stretch.  In Oscar world, when I sit on the ground to do butt stretches, it means it's time for snuggles.  It's a pretty common occurrence for him to need as much of his body touching as much of my body as possible, no matter what.

I actually found a description of temperament in bull terriers, which I think Oscar has in him.  It basically describes exactly the way Oscar is: "The Bull Terrier is a fun, comical, people-loving dog.  They are known to be courageous, scrappy, fun-loving, active, clownish, and fearless.  They enjoy being around people, sometimes a little too much, and can prove positively dangerous to people of a delicate nature, not through malicious intent, but rather through their exuberance."  That's basically Oscar to a T.  He's a good buddy.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


I didn't realize at first that my training program wasn't as strict as it seemed.  I had to call my sister once to make sure it wasn't a bad thing for me to do an ab workout or go climbing on a "rest" day.  She said, "no - that's called cross-training!"  Perfect.  My brother even explained that the training programs for things like a half marathon are meant to be a general buildup of distance, so there's one long run every week.  That makes it less of a big deal if you skip a day or something.  In my brother's words, "modifying the plan will not screw you over. It'll just modify the plan."

So I went climbing today, because the local bouldering place had free climbing.  I destroyed my hands in the process, which is what I get for not climbing in months, but that's always been totally worth it when it comes to climbing.  That and ultimate frisbee are my two favorite forms of exercise.  It's weirdly satisfying, actually, to get those horrible wounds on my hands from climbing, because I like to think of it as one step closer to those tough calluses that make every climbing route easier!  I'm actually already making plans to climb and play frisbee as soon as I get settled up in the Northeast.  Just today, I told my bro that I would play on his Fall ultimate team, which gives me the first actual concrete thing waiting for me up there.  Baby steps.

In Which I Get Lost in City Park

End of Week 2:

Yesterday was my first five-mile run...for the training program I'm doing, yes, but also probably ever.  It was pretty great actually; all of my runs in the last two weeks have been absurdly beautiful, because I've got Bayou St. John and the Jefferson Davis Trail AND City Park, all accessible to my house.  That's what I'm the most bummed about leaving behind in New Orleans at this point.  The runs can be miserable because of the heat, although lately, if I get up early enough, I can get back home before it gets too far above 80.  But the scenery on my runs really makes up for all that.  It's glorious.

Anyway, with the added mile from last week, I had to venture into City Park today, instead of stopping just short of it.  I like to end my runs close to home, so I can walk my dog, Oscar, as a cool-down.  Because of this, I just run half the distance I need to go that day and then loop around.  Running on the bayou, that's easy; I just cross the nearest bridge and go back down the other side of the water.  Things weren't so easy once I got to City Park.

Once inside City Park, it's a labyrinth of randomly criss-crossing paths and roads and bridges and water that have no logical pattern whatsoever.  It doesn't help that the park itself has no concrete shape and is slightly angled Eastward.  You think you're running around the edge and then suddenly you're on the other side of some body of water looking at a monument you've never seen before, and you don't know how to get back where you came from.

Perhaps those of you who have better senses of direction than I do don't have this problem, but I find it ridiculous.  Anyway,  I ran around the sculpture garden and NOMA and wasn't at the 2.5mi. mark yet, so I had to keep going before I turned around.  There's nothing more monotonous than running around in circles until you hit your mileage's the same reason running on a track sucks.  I crossed a bridge, found what seemed to be a running trail, and suddenly had no idea where I was.  I just kind of had to keep going until I saw something I recognized.  I hit 2.5mi. and tried to loop around instead of just running back where I'd come from.  Big Mistake.  After several minutes of this disorientation, I finally had to stop and ask some strangers, "does anyone know where the sculpture garden is?"  If I got back there, I could get home.  Of course, it was about 100 feet from where I was, blocked by a building and some trees.

I felt like I'd gone super far into the park because of how long it took me to get out, but when I looked at the map, I realized that I hadn't even scratched the surface.  I'm really glad I won't have to deal with the whole park when it comes to the longer runs a few weeks from now...