I think I’m supposed to feel a certain way about turning 30. The cliche seems to be that I should dread the fact that I’ll no longer be in my 20s. I think I’m also supposed to have a list of things I wanted to do by the time I turn 30. And then I think I’m supposed to mourn the fact that I’ve accomplished so little and vow to do better in the next decade. Truth is, I’m excited to turn 30. I’ve have been for quite some time. For at least eight years now, I’ve said that I’m going to make a list of all the things I have done by the time I turn 30. So, here are some of the high, low, and just plain immature moments from the past 10 years.
“It takes 21 days to form a habit.” How often have you heard that? I’ve stated it to other people as fact. I’ve believed it. According to studies it actually takes between 18 and 254 days to form a habit. If you’re interested in all the science behind this, I’ve included a few links below that cover the basics and will likely lead you down a rabbit research hole if you allow them to.
Based on these readings, it seems that how long it takes you to form a habit depends on the habit you’re trying to form. Quitting smoking perhaps comes to our minds first when we think about habits. I don’t think I’ve known anyone who has successfully quit smoking in twenty-one days. As though if you can get through that three-week period, you’ll be emancipated of any bad habit you’d like. So, is forming a healthy habit or getting rid of a bad one about repetition and consistency, like the twenty-one day model appears to suggest? Or, is it more about being able to realize the benefits of a healthy habit (or ditching an unhealthy one)?
On Monday morning, my day off, I pulled myself out of bed at 5 a.m. to get ready to workout. My friend Aimee and I had made plans to meet up with the November Project group for their Destination Deck workout.
Haven't heard of the November Project? Get ready to be inspired. I'll give you the basics, but you should really check out their website to get all the facts about them and their many locations. Or, for a brief overview of the local chapter, you could check out my Races and Places page. I describe the November Project under my Weekly Workouts heading.
The Boston edition of the November Project is a group of people who workout every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 6:30. On Mondays they do what they call the Destination Deck, where they meet at a different location each week and do pushups and situps to the luck of the draw from a deck of cards. Black cards are pushups, red cards are situps and the number of either depends on the card. Jacks are 11 and Aces are, sorry, 14. On Wednesdays they meet at Harvard Stadium in Allston to run the stairs. Fridays they meet at Summit Avenue in Brighton for a hill workout. And it all costs is a little determination. Sounds pretty cool, huh? There's just one more tiny thing though, you're expected to run to the workouts if you live less than six miles from them.
I would do well to take a writing tip from my niece. In her spare time, she sits at the kitchen table and writes stories in a notebook. It doesn’t matter if she can write for five minutes or twenty before she’s interrupted, she just writes. So here I sit, at the kitchen table and write.
One of my favorite parts of Runner’s World magazine is the Rave Run. It’s a small spread, no more than two pages in the print edition, but it always makes me want to put on my sneaks and go out for a run, even if I can't have the same backdrop as the one in the magazine. Then, one of my running buds posted this on Facebook the other day.
Trail Porn might be my new favorite website, though I find it difficult to spend much time on the site before I become jealous of all the people who got to soak in those views. I want my own trail porn, my own rave run. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long. I’ve spent this past week in North Dakota, in Fargo, where I lived for several years, and Bismarck, where I grew up. I haven’t lived in my hometown for about ten years. Whenever I go back, I stay with one of my aunts (note: my parents haven’t lived in my hometown in about twelve years). My aunt lives a bit northeast of town, just outside the city limits. Which meant back country road running, though I don’t know that any tried and true North Dakotans would have considered my route “country.” Bismarck is, after all, the second largest city in the state.
Like last year, one of my goals for this year is to run a race a month. Whereas last year, I didn’t get around to signing up for a race until March, I’m already off to a better start this year. I ran the Wicked Frosty Four in Salem, MA yesterday. And followed it with quick dip in the ocean.
Yes, I might be crazy. But, there’s nothing like a little, or a lot, of cold weather and water to remind you that you’re alive, right? And maybe we can say that resolutions are cliche and possibly cheesy. Why do you need a new year to make any changes? But then again, what better time to do so? I probably have as much of a fail rate with resolutions as anyone, but I still make them and try to keep them.
I rang in the new year at Les Zygomates, the restaurant I work at. As the clock struck midnight, I was frantically speed-walking across the restaurant with three champagne flutes. Somewhere, there were at least three people without champagne. I wasn’t going to get to them on time, but I was still trying. After making my way through at least six couples who were kissing as the band played “Auld Lang Syne,” I got to another server who was also trying to get those three people champagne. The bartender poured the glasses as fast as one can pour glasses of champagne and the server disappeared to the still-kissing couples. I abandoned my flutes and reached for two port glasses, and dumped splashes of bubbles into them and handed one to the bartender. We hugged and said happy new year to each other and swallowed the champagne like it was a shot. Two other servers came over to us with more champagne and we all toasted again. Then I made my way to the kitchen where one of my managers handed me a glass of champagne and wished me a happy new year. This was the carb-loading phase of my night.
According to a small collection of official race organizers throughout New England and their chip-timing technology, I ran about 95 miles this year. I'd never thought to add up my miles like this before, and now that I have, I can't believe I came in just under 100 miles. I guess I already have one resolution set for next year. I do know that I ran more races this year than I have in any previous year, so perhaps that counts for something.
Looking back, 2013 was a great year for running. Here's a quick recap of my year in terms of races. I can tell you right now, there will be some repeats in 2014.
March: Rás na hÉireann 5k, Somerville, MA
This race is known for its ridiculously wonderful costumes and the copious amounts of beer available. I run this 5k every year with a group of friends, and this year marked the second year for me (but third and up for many of my friends). My friends and I have our post-race strategy set in stone, because let's face it, this race is mostly about what happens after you cross the finish line. Ours goes something like this: run, finish, get to Redbones ASAP. There are several bars in and around Davis Square that runners and spectators can frequent, and most people go to The Burren. I get it. St. Patrick's day and you want to drink at an Irish pub. We go to Redbones because their free beer offering is usually something I actually want to drink (like Harpoon IPA, or Jack's Abby). Besides the free beer, Redbones also offers complimentary BBQ pulled pork sandwiches to runners. Need I say more?
In case you're wondering, the 2014 race is set for March 16. This race fills up fast, and you can guarantee that I will be there.
When I was a junior in high school, I bought a one-month unlimited tanning package and tanned every day for an entire month. Each day after school, I would dart to my car without saying a word to anyone, and drive the four blocks to the tanning salon. I only had about 50 minutes before cheerleading practice started and the salon would be closed before practice was over. I wanted to hide my pale flesh and look good for prom. Nevermind that I didn’t have a boyfriend or a date for prom. But all my friends were going, several of them twice because their boyfriends went to a different high school. As the days got longer that spring, no one asked me to prom, and try as my friends might to find me a date, it just didn’t happen. I don’t know if I thought that being tan would help my chances of getting a date, but I must have. I was obsessed with lying in that plastic tube of artificial lights daily, believing that I only had 30 days to make myself beautiful.
I tanned again for senior prom, though not as aggressively. Again, I never got asked to go by anyone and was mortified by the thought of missing out on a social construct as important as prom. My friends came through for me and set me up on a blind date with a guy from another high school. I didn’t meet him until prom night. As many stories as there are about awful blind dates, I’m sorry to disappoint you all, but mine wasn’t horrible. His name was Matt; he was good-looking and nice and was sure to dance with me whenever the DJ played a slow song, or the prom song (Extreme “More Than Words”). I never spoke to him after that night. I graduated high school never having had a boyfriend.
Chad Stafko had a thought-provoking opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day. “OK, You’re a Runner. Get Over It” his title proclaims, followed by the subtitle “Running a marathon is hard enough without also patting yourself on the back every step of the way.”
Initially, I wanted to retaliate, and defend myself and my fellow runners. Stafko starts his post by criticizing the “26.2” and “13.1” stickers that litter the bumpers of vehicles belonging to runners. I’ll give him that one. I’m not a fan of those either. But I don’t have a car.
In the days following New York City Marathon, I’ve been happily overwhelmed with stories, images, and videos from fellow participants about their experiences during the race. I’ve found many accounts to be rather captivating and inspiring. And they’ve made me think how to best frame my personal race experience in a way that might be equally meaningful to others. In the end, I still don’t know what I have to say about it, or, at least it feels like I don’t have anything important to say about it. That’s not because it didn’t mean anything. Or because I didn’t learn anything. The New York City Marathon was such an important date on my calendar, one I’ve been anticipating for close to two years, and something I knew I had to write about.
One of the many articles I read in the days following the race was from Competitor titled “2013 New York City Marathon By The Numbers.” As expected from the title, the articles uses a series of graphs and charts to break down various facts about this years race. What I found the most significant was the field size. The 2013 NYC Marathon was the largest marathon in history to date with 50,740 starters and 50,304 finishers. That’s the size of my hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota in the ‘90s. An entire city ran the New York City Marathon this year. Another series of statistics from the article that stand out are the average finish times overall and between the men’s and women’s fields. The average finish times from this years marathon when compared to the 2009 NYC Marathon are slower. We aren’t running as fast, but more of us are doing it. Onward! I say. It’s arguable that the running boom that starting in the ‘90s hasn’t reached a plateau.
I'll be traveling to New York City this weekend for the New York City Marathon, a race I've been thinking about since April of 2012, when I learned that I had "won" the lottery entry. Back then, I couldn't believe my luck. I knew that the NYC Marathon field was huge with 47,000 runners, but I also knew that over 100,000 people put their names in the lottery each year. Most people I've talked to about the lottery since have said that it usually takes 3 tries to get accepted to the NYC Marathon.
I didn't think I was special because I got in on the first try, but I did see the race as a chance of a lifetime. And I saw it as my opportunity to qualify for the Boston Marathon. How cool would it be, I'd thought, to qualify for the world's oldest annual and arguably most prestigious marathon at the world's largest marathon?
Training for New York in 2012 was rough, to say the least. The heat and humidity of the summer months in Boston made running frequently a challenge. I knew what to expect from the weather; I had trained for and completed a fall marathon the year before, but I also had a significant amount of base training from a triathlon I'd done in August of 2011 to carry me through that marathon. In 2012, I only had running because, though I had completed another triathlon, I wasn't diligent enough with the training and struggled through most of the race. Still, on some level, I guess I felt ready for New York in 2012. I had logged most of my schedule long runs with a few other runs in between.
Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast a week before the marathon. The days that followed were a stressful back and forth--weighing options, gathering facts, determining how bad it might be in New York City, checking the New York City Marathon's Facebook updates incessantly, considering how selfish I might be if I still made the trip to New York anyway. In the end, after an emotional breakdown in the server station at the restaurant I work at, I decided to pack my bags and go to New York. Amtrak had resumed service by the start of the weekend, though lower Manhattan, my hotel included, was still without power.
I had been in New York City for maybe 5 hours when I heard, from my roommate back in Boston, that the marathon had been canceled. I was aware of what the community response had been, that the city was still recovering and unable and unwilling to host over 40,000 runners in a race through a city desperately needing resources. I knew my roommate wasn't lying, but I didn't believe her, didn't want to. I was at Whitehall Terminal in lower Manhattan when I heard the news. I had wanted to see where I would go to take the shuttle to the start. The entire area was desolate, like something out of a zombie movie where buildings streets are left barren and filled with debris and garbage. We clearly didn't belong there.
I'm a casual runner, who can't help but geek out (read, research, write) over topics that interest me; running just happens to be one of them. See my posts for my running-related musings on pounding pavement.
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