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.