Wednesday, October 13, 2010
******** I believe it's worth noting that the boy ABOVE is my little brother, NOT the man below. Several people asked me if the man below was my brother. NO. Gosh. I just think it's funny that if you misspell moron, you get Moran. It's especially funny when I am making moronic decisions, like running on an injury.
My little brother is a runner, too. He is a junior at The College of William & Mary, a genius, and an all-around great kid. This past summer, we had two weeks together at home before I went off to grad school and he left for a year of study abroad in Germany and Argentina.
During that 2-week span, every evening, Teddy and I would throw on some sneakers and head up to Vernon High School to run some miles together in the cool of the day. And every day Teddy would run for exactly 50 minutes.
In the beginning, this didn’t bother me. It didn’t affect my own mileage, since our evening runs were always my double. (I did mountain training during the heat of the day.) But seriously, why 50 minutes, no more and no less? A twenty-year-old is too young to be calcified in a routine. The final night of our Vernon runs, I asked Teddy how long he was running for.
Teddy: 50 minutes.
Me: Okay, well I’ll be running for 51 minutes today. I hope you don’t mind waiting the extra minute.
We ran together for a while, then split up so my little bro could pick up the pace. He’s a speedster. At 51 minutes, I returned to the track. In the distance, I could see Teddy bounding toward me with a huge grin. “I decided to run for 52 minutes today,” he announced. “I hope you didn’t mind waiting the extra minute.”
Teddy smiled the whole way home, thinking he had won. But really, I WAS THE WINNER in this situation. Because that was the day Teddy’s imaginary mileage wall was broken. The joy of my heart is discovering that you can do more than you think you can. That is why I ultrarun.
In Cleveland, I got injured. I’m still not exactly sure what I did, but I really hurt my leg. And I think the fact that I took ibuprofen blocked some of the pain and allowed me to do more damage than I would have. All that to say, I will never take ibuprofen during a race ever again. It’s not really “pro fun.” That’s a FALSE PUN. I remember reading about a tribe of people in Africa (?) during Cognitive Science class in college, and the people were unable to feel pain. At first, I thought, wow that is totally awesome. But it’s not. They would step in fire and never sense it. They would cut off the circulation in a limb while sleeping and never feel it, so they would never adjust. The limb would die! And even small things like adjusting your posture while you stand or sit in a chair so that your bones don’t break through your skin…All of these things are not possible if you have no sense of pain. Pain is a good thing because it tells you when you are doing damage. I don’t want to soften the insight my nervous system is providing me. So I am serious. I’m IbuproDONE.
Since I haven’t been able to run as of late, I’ve been taking care of other details of my training life…lifting, stretching, nutrition. That way, it will be easier to return. The gym at Yale is very nice. The website calls it a “fitness enthusiast’s dream.” It’s NICE, but not really like any of the dreams I—a fitness enthusiast—have ever had. First of all, there is no lava. It’s a lot less fantastical, and I would expect my grandma and maybe my third grade math teacher to be on treadmills side-by-side or something. It is nothing like my dreams. But still…it’s nice.
One thing I like about it is that there are very few mirrors. Okay, get this: Psych studies have shown that the presence of mirrors in a gym increases the self-efficacy of men and lowers that of women. Seriously. Somehow, men look in the mirror while lifting weights and think they can accomplish more. Women look in the mirror and think, “Oh, I forgot I looked like THAT. Nevermind. I am less capable than I thought.” So if we just remove all reflective surfaces from the world, we would even the self-esteem playing field. Girls, what is the deal?
The other day, I went home to see my parents, sister, and nephews. I was folding some laundry and watching my mom knit a scarf. One of her knitting needles snapped, so she left the room to look for another. A few minutes later, she bounded down the stairs, proclaiming, “I fixed it!” The needle was sloppily taped and slightly bent. It was a big mess, but she tucked it back into the scarf and continued to knit. I looked down at my own leg—also wrapped in a sloppy tape job for a quick fix. “Oh my gosh, is this an object lesson, Mom?” I asked. It wasn’t. But I realized I was going to let my leg heal completely.
I am letting my leg get better! And then I am never going to get injured again because I am not going to train like an idiot. I got hurt twice this year, and both are a function of not taking care of small issues. I have two runner friends at Yale. Both are injured. Alex displaced fat in his foot and broke his heel while marathoning. Elise hurt her IT band in her journey to become an ultrarunner. We have bonded over this. We’re hyper-competitive bench sitters. And it really stinks! I used to think that Taylor Swift had a song to express every emotion I have ever had, but she has no song about not being able to run 100 miles because of injury. Get on that, Tay Sway or Beyonce or Michael Buble. I want to sing a song about this.
And that is all I have to say about that.
1. NO MORE INJURIES EVER. Two is too many. I’m done mourning the miles I’ve missed over this unexpected vacay. I’m learning my lessons and moving forward.
2. I am going to try cross-country skiing. It would be a great low-impact break from running during the winter.
3. I want to focus on the 24-hour run during 2011. It’s my favorite distance.
Happy trails. I have homework to do. Uhhhh. (Just kidding. I love homework.)