Writing and running in Austin, TX.
You’ve probably noticed that the blog has been a bit dead lately. It’s certainly been lurking in the back of my mind, like that term paper you should have started last week.
For a while, it was easy to make excuses. I did just move to another country, after all. Not only that, but it took a full 3 weeks of living here just to get internet access in our apartment! How can anyone reasonably be expected to keep up a blog when there only time online is at work? I can’t exactly take a couple hours out of my day to ponder my running life, can I?
Then there was the fact that I had an “assignment” due. After all these months of build-up, it’s time to write the final report on Chicago–a task that feels like a marathon in its own right. I assure you, I have started the report. As a matter of fact, I have 4 double-spaced pages saved in a text file, and those just cover the pre-race festivities!
That text file has become a monster in the closet. I can’t possibly put up a blog post that long, but what if in the editing I accidentally cut out an inspirational moment, hilarious anecdote, or the quote they’ll someday engrave on my tombstone? At a real low-point, I even considered finishing my monster article and attaching it for download. It would be accompanied by a defensive sentence or two: “Here! Take it! Or don’t if you don’t want to. I don’t really care, ANYWAY!”
But I do care. And I want that post to be a good one, one that lives up to the hype, and that in some small way conveys the joy and pain of an event like the marathon. And I promise you it IS forthcoming. I think I just needed to make my peace with it first.
The thing is, most marathon runners, even the most obsessive among us, get a little bit lost when the race is over. This single event gives our lives purpose and stability for several months, and then in a few short (or long) hours, poof. It’s over. I think it’s not unlike those women who spend an entire year planning their wedding and then wake up the morning after feeling completely adrift. Sure I’m married and that’s great and all, but what will I do this weekend if I’m not cake-tasting or flower-arranging or running 20 miles?
Were I still in Austin, I would have dealt with this problem by avoiding it altogether. I would have rolled my Rogue membership over into the Austin Marathon training program and recklessly dumped my old flame (Chicago…yawn) for this new guy I met in a (running) club. (Ooh, Austin, lookin’ good…)
But that’s a little bit harder to do here. For one thing, this is northern Europe. Much like racing in Texas effectively shuts down from June to August, racing over here is a no-go from November to March or so. (Minus a few Winterlaufens that a) might require snow shoes and b) are already sold out.)
Then there’s the small, but huge, fact that I don’t have my ever-reliable running crew anymore. I don’t have anyone to guilt me out of bed when I’m feeling lazy, or to pass the miles swapping “worst alcohol-related experience” tales with. Also, it’s one thing to get up and run in the dark with 20 other people. It’s quite another to get up and run in the dark by yourself in a strange place where the streets change names every 300 meters and every shadow looks like the boogeyman about to jump out and grab you. (Whew, at least we know I’m still paranoid.)
Finally, while I’m living here in this strange new world, shouldn’t I be spending every free minute practicing the language and immersing myself in the culture? Aren’t there more important things out there than some silly sport that, let’s face it, I’m really not that good at?
Well, now that I’ve had my little pity-party, I can admit that a pity-party is exactly what it is. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself. I had a great time overall in Chicago, but my actual clock time was a bigger blow than I wanted to admit. They say you should have 3 time goals for any race: A stretch goal, a realistic goal, and a goal you can live with if forced to. For me those goals were 4:30, 4:45, and 5:00.
Forget weather conditions, international flights, or any other perfectly reasonable explanations. The fact of the matter is that I only scraped out my minimum.
To add insult to injury, I missed a PR by 3 seconds. 3 seconds! How many times since have I thought, “If only I’d walked 5 fewer steps at that water stop. If only I’d moved on when that volunteer knocked the water cup over and started filling a new one…”?
The answer: Too many times to count. And too many times to write a high-quality, upbeat race report like the weekend truly deserves.
So now, with this post, I’ve shed my virtual tears and closed the book on feeling sorry for myself about 10-10-10. Now I can move on, to new goals, to rebuilding, and to new running adventures.
I may or may not already have a European marathon on my calendar… =)