The marketing and branding surrounding this event, or shall we say simply, the HYPE made me think that I wasn’t going to enjoy this race that much because it wasn’t “serious” enough about the running.
My sister, B, started running a couple years ago, and I accompanied her when she bought her first pair of “real” running shoes. We were shopping for shoes again today and reminiscing about that first trip, and she said I could re-post this hilarious entry she wrote for her own blog in 2011.
One thing I was really looking forward to during my trip to Austin was getting new running shoes. I bought my old ones because they were the cheapest, cutest sand-proof shoes I could find, and I needed them to wear to the elementary school where I teach. When I started walking and running, I wore them because they were my only athletic shoes. I wasn’t even sure I’d keep it up long enough to bother buying real ones. Shows you how I felt about myself!
But now that I’m planning to continue running for the foreseeable future, I wanted to spend the necessary money on good shoes. Proper shoes that fit your feet and are designed for your activity are one of the only things I think it’s worth to buy the best. DVDs, gym memberships, performance wear, heart-rate monitors, ipods and home equipment can all be optional or cheap, second-hand or improvised. But not shoes! And most people need to be fitted by someone who knows what they’re doing. Since Austin has several stores with such people, and my tiny hometown has none, I was excited to get myself a shiny new pair of shoes while I was there.
My sister, obviously in-the-running-know, recommended Luke’s Locker, a new place in Austin. I instantly loved the decor and vibe, described by Cate as “Anthropologie for runners!” Hearing I needed to be fitted for running shoes, one of the young, friendly employees directed me to “Matt”, who would be “taking care of you.” Hello, Matt.
Matt was young and good-looking, but not so good-looking that he knew it and was full of himself. Yes, I knew this just from looking into his blue-green eyes. He stared deeply into mine as he explained why it was important to wear shoes fitted to your feet and to replace them as they wore out. He questioned me about my running regime and I knew that he really, really cared about my answers. He had me run inside the store for him and praised my high arches that collapsed with each step as “ideal”. As he knelt to unlace my shoe, I began to feel my level of attraction to him ridiculous for a married woman. I tried to deflect attention off to my sister, much better suited to his age, which worked fine until she got up to go look at the clothes. We were alone in a corner of the store, with him holding different shoes for my feet like Cinderella’s prince, chatting like a good salesman about why each one was perfect for me. Finally out of shoe talk, he asked me where I was from, how long I was here, and so on. It really started to get frankly uncomfortable as I became more intensely aware of how attracted I was to him and the specialized attention he was giving me. I AM MARRIED. HE IS COLLEGE-AGED. HE IS JUST TRYING TO SELL ME SHOES. STOP IT.
In the car, I confessed to my sister and reproached her for leaving me. She laughed and said that the same thing happens to her, the feeling of intimacy caused by someone who is deeply interested in your running schedule while dressing and undressing your feet. In fact, she was once so flustered that she bought the wrong shoes! She said she thought he was cute, too, but she figured I was above such shallowness. Apparently not.
When I got home, my annoyance with Matt for being so good-looking was erased as I saw he had written me a note on my shoe box, on a fill-in-the-blank form taped to the side:
“__B__ Thanks for shopping at Luke’s Locker! __Matt__ ”
We’re BFFs again, Matt.
Alright, let’s take a break from the hamster wheel of positive image-building and get this out in the open: I mess up a lot, do bad things, sometimes on purpose with full knowledge that I shouldn’t be doing them.
I’ve been doing this Bible study lately that really convicted me about the need for honesty and openness among people in the church. And I see this with application even beyond the Christian community. What is the point of trying to hide where we screw up? We all know we do. I can see perhaps hiding it when it’s not edifying, and certainly not talking about it more to the point where it’s glorified in the wrong contexts (“omg I got soooo wasted last week” etc) but there is a time and place to be honest with ourselves and our human condition that we do bad stuff.
I try to be really positive on here and on my Facebook and Twitter pages because nobody likes to read whiny posts all the time. But positivity can often mean a lack of honesty.
Honestly: I let negative thoughts crowd out beliefs and faith, I get offended when people ignore me, I fight with my brothers, I’m late for class almost 50% of the time, I get dissatisfied instead of grateful about life, I slack on maintaining friendships, I skip workouts, and I indulge in the sin of gluttony when I surf the internet into the wee hours of the morning instead of doing homework, or you know, going to sleep.
Not getting enough rest seems to me my greatest weakness as a runner. It’s been a problem since sophomore year of college, the first year I was really on my own and out of the dorms. Not getting enough sleep makes me feel crappy for the next day, makes me miss out on social events and time with people I care about (having to catch up on sleep later), makes me not recover from workouts, and allegedly makes me fatter. It’s not a pretty picture.
What’s the point of all this doom and gloom?
Just to admonish and encourage other people to be honest. We all mess up. If everyone is transparent, it leaves us with less room for disappointment and more room for getting excited about successes.
Maybe I’m just the outlier here, the one negative runner in a sea of positive athletes. I feel like when I read a lot of runner’s blogs, they’re like “I’m injured but I’m doing all this cross training and I’m coming back stronger than ever! This only feeds my will to win! :)” This last year when I haven’t really been able to train (or, for 6 months, run at all), I was not like that. I get that writing upbeat blogs is probably part of the healing process, just announcing your intent to succeed and be positive probably helps you actually do that. Positivity is proven science… and an art. An art I have not yet fully mastered.
From December 2012 until March 2013, I avoided telling you the truth on here. I wrote about bikes, missing track and field, and not about how I basically gave up working out AT ALL and let myself slip into a negative spiral (well, I wrote about it later). At the time, it was impossible to write optimistically. If I’d have been honest at that time, the posts would have looked like “Maybe I’ll never run again. I’m living my days in a fog. I don’t feel like me anymore. Is there something wrong with me, that I can’t conjure positivity out of not being able to run?”
I honestly don’t know how I was functioning last winter… all I remember is a few freezing road bike rides, some depressed coffee shop study sessions, working at the running store, outgrowing all my jeans and running shorts, a perpetual runny nose from not sleeping enough, and an increasing distance between my coach and my teammates (weird what happens when you stop going to practice hmmm?).
There were a couple bright spots:
Close friends who stuck by me even when I was in a bad mood all the time, a new passion for mountain biking when I realized I had no longer had to worry about staying healthy for track season, acquiring a taste for the nectar of life AKA coffee, and getting to go to as many concerts as I wanted. I KILLED at SXSW this year. No need to run = stand in line and stay out as late as you want!
That was the past. What about now?
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been out here in Austin running, doing 30 minute 8:30 pace jogs (I used to do that for a shakeout run and go run 6 miles of track work later in the day… boohoo), and I’ve started to get upset that I’m still not training “for real” thanks to bothersome shin pain. I run about 15-20 miles per week which, though better than nothing, is piddly.
I ask myself what everyone does when they do something hard – why am I doing this?
I think as runners, it’s really good to ask these questions, and the answers change a lot. My answers are different than they used to be – stuff like to glorify God, because it helps pay for school, and it’s fun. Right now I’m just running (and cross training and lifting and rolling out and icing etc) to avoid getting back to how bad last year was. Seeing how much better I feel these days, even if it’s only 20 miles a week, is worth it.
I’m running with the hopes to become a professional runner because it’s still fun, because I want to live in faith (outcomes are uncertain = require more faith) and to become a stronger person.
Even though I say “Let’s be honest! Let’s stop putting up a front!” I realize that, ironically, even this post is still trying to project an image like, Ooh, I want people to think I’m honest. Whatever. You can’t avoid it when publishing online; putting forth an image, even an absence of an image, is integral to the use of online media. My goal, though, is to be as authentic as possible so you can draw your own conclusions.
Happier posts to come. I think I’ve finally finished writing out how I felt last school year. The demons have been exorcised. Summer in Austin has been beyond amazing and I’m excited to write about it in detail next! <– The exclamation points are not fake here!!!
Last Saturday, I told someone, a customer at the running store where I work, “I was on the track team at Baylor.” Past tense.
I guess I got tired of the predictable, ensuing conversation that kept happening.
Me: I’m on the track team (present tense).
Other person: Oh cool! How’s training? / Got any meets coming up?
Me: Well, uh, you see, even though I’m walking around like a normal person with no visible physical disabilities, I’m injured and not competing, not traveling nor capable of even practicing.
Them: Ooh, I’m sorry. That’s gotta suck.
Me: (putting on a smile) It’s ok, I like riding my bike! Wanna see my cool scar from mountain biking?
Or, if I was feeling particularly faithful that day: It’s ok, I know it’s part of God’s plan.
But if strangers from the running store can know the truth, I guess the rest of the world can know it too. I’m not running track anymore for Baylor. I got the stress fracture in my heel in October and since then my foot just hasn’t gotten well enough to run. At all. My doctor told me to expect to be completely pain free in walking before attempting to run again, and it took until March to get to that point. I tried the elliptical (the prereq to running, as directed by my athletic trainer) after that, in early March, and that produced a little pain. It wasn’t like, abject heel pain, but it was noticeably worse than before. By then my chances of coming back to be anywhere remotely in shape to race by May (the latest possible time in the collegiate season) seemed shot, and if I couldn’t even elliptical, no way could I run.
Even writing this I think, “Oh, why limit yourself, maybe you could get in shape by then” but runner’s delusions have to end at some point. I’ve spent this whole year in mental running purgatory of tentative preparation for a track season that may or may not happen. During spring break a couple weeks ago, I admitted to some friends for the first time that I wouldn’t compete this season. It seemed dirty, like giving up. But then I told that customer at the store, and realized I was ready to tell the world. While I’m grieving the loss of my last collegiate season, I am grateful at least to finally know, it is gone. It’s not going to happen. I won’t run any more meets in a Baylor jersey.
I used to run track at Baylor.
When I read other people’s blogs, I’m often frustrated at their lack of transparency or inability to tell the whole story, either from discretion or mere laziness. So, I figure if you’re on my blog, you might want the update on running rather than trying to cobble it together from Google, TFRRS and Facebook. Maybe you’re not all as curious or voyeuristic about other runners as I am, but if you are, read on.
The wall o’ text below can be summed up here:
- January – May: Yay track season! PRs all around!
- June – July: Tentative return to running
- August – October: Heel pain, ow. Oh, stress fracture.
- November – December: Biking and swimming galore. Am I ever going to run again?!
Last time I really wrote about this was after the 2011 cross country season. I had plantar fasciitis but I somehow managed to keep some semblance of running shape.
After two weeks off, the PF got better and I hit a really nice segment of training through Christmas break. I ran a full indoor season, slightly upping my max-ever mileage to 60 miles/week. Some race weeks were less than that. I PR’d by a little bit in the mile (4:45), 3k (9:30), and 1200 of the DMR (3:25). Not stellar but pleasing. The trip to NYC was a highlight, in terms of running fast and having fun away from school with my teammates. Running was fun again. All systems go.
Spring break was fantastic. I spent a week roaming the trails of Austin and the shows of SXSW, and had time to finish applying for summer jobs. At a Mumford and Sons concert, my right foot started to hurt, but I figured it was probably because I had worn Nike Frees and been on my feet a long time. The show was amazing, by the way.
The rest of the spring was one of those seasons you long for. Even when I screwed up on the little things, I was having great workouts and long runs. Sometimes my arches hurt, but very mildly. I kept doing massages, icing, stretching, strengthening and all the other PT that PF mandates. The miles kept piling up in my logbook, accrued from chilly, early long runs with teammates, fresh tempos, before-class morning shakeouts, satisfying track days, and carefree afternoon doubles in the shade-dappled trails of Cameron Park.
I raced about every other weekend, and finally conquered my fear of doubling (so irrational). I didn’t race well in front of my home crowd at Texas Relays, but thanks to Stanford Magic a week later I was able to drop a nice 5k PR of 16:13. Two weeks later I PR’d in the 1500 (4:24) at our home meet. I PR’d at Drake in the 1600 leg of a DMR (4:43) and even grabbed an 800 PR on a 4×8 that night (2:10).
I wish I would have blogged during this time of my life, but I was probably too busy enjoying it ;)
Naturally, I had high hopes for the Big 12 Champs in Manhattan, Kansas in May. But for whatever reason, overconfidence, underconfidence, lack of prep, I ran 16:44 in the 5k there for 6th. The race had gone out fast thanks to Natosha Rogers (who would later place freaking 2nd in the 10k at the USA Olympic Trials), and after I dropped off the lead pack at the halfway point, I didn’t hold it together well. I knew dropping off would mean I would do poorly… and it did. Sometimes I probably shouldn’t think so much.
The last race of my season was the 5k at the NCAA Championships West Preliminary Round. They said to quit calling it “regionals,” but it’s not quite making it to nationals. What do they call it? One of my coaches said this…
(@jlcap16) May 21, 2012
Anyway, my time from Stanford ranked me 25th in the region, and the top 12 advanced to nationals. Two years before, I’d ran the 5k on a whim at “half nats” and placed 19th when I’d been ranked 46th. It was at the Univ. of Texas in Austin both years, and in 2010 the heat had majorly affected the race. We all ran slow that year and I’d finished strong. I was expecting to be able to do the same in 2012. But some talented gals kicked us off this year with a 5:05 starting mile, and I was toast. Once I dropped off the pack, I completely gave up and proceeded to run the most embarrassing race of my career, finishing 17:51 for last in my heat. Giving up displays a vast lack of character that I’m not proud of and I deeply regret that was my last race of 2012. My coach was easier on me than I was, commending me for going out hard, but I knew inside that even being tired from that effort could not excuse giving up the way I did.
After track season, I took a two week break. I cooked a lot, ate junk food and didn’t sleep enough, and my body was like KTHANX and tacked on 10 lbs. People don’t believe me when I say this, but it’s true. I ran a little in June, following a typical buildup of running every other day, then working back in easy runs every day. My right foot hurt like crazy, plantar’s back in full force. But I was lazy with stretching and icing, so it was probably just kind of mad at me.
Not to worry, I landed a sweet month-long gig working at a high school running camp in Colorado. It was a dream job, as long as your dream was to go to running camp. I loved it, and working with the other counselors and high school kids was a blast. I’d never spent time in Colorado before, and it was every bit as beautiful as the facebook pictures of my friends showed me. It inspired me to be more outdoorsy.
Running at camp was pretty nice. Although altitude sucked, we ran twice a day so it was easy to get mileage. We had time built in for icing and recovery, so I was able to get my foot under control. It would hurt while warming up but not during the runs, so I patted myself on the back and kept going. The highlight of this month was finishing up the last 30 minutes of a long run by myself on the ridge trail by Western State’s campus in Gunnison. I was listening to “Winter Winds” from Mumford and Sons and looking out across the valley, though I was breathing pretty hard, I felt really good. I ran 55 miles that week, my season high.
One of the last days at camp we did a hilly run to Emerald Lake from Mt. Crested Butte, and my right heel was never the same again. It hurt so much to walk the rest of the day. From there and through August, runs were hit and miss. Sometimes it would be ok, but most of the time it hurt. I didn’t stop running entirely because I was still on vacation in Colorado and we wanted to run cool places. I got about 30 miles a week that month.
I thought once I got back to Baylor and got with the athletic trainers, I could get it under control. I tried a four mile tempo the first day back, and couldn’t walk the rest of the day. Many references were made to last fall’s bout with plantar’s and how I was able to mostly overcome that. The solution there was time off, so I did that. But even after 10 days off it still hurt, so I picked up running again. Looking back, I’m not sure what we were thinking… but I remember saying, if it’s going to hurt anyway, I might as well have the fun of running.
We did Airrosti and all the normal PT stuff you can do for PF but my heel just wouldn’t stop hurting. Some days it would be better, though, which encouraged us enough to keep trying. I averaged 26 miles a week in September. In October I finally got an x ray. Nothing showed, so I got a cortisone shot. It didn’t work, so we went to an MRI. I guess we’d put it off because those MRIs don’t come cheap. Finally on Halloween I found out it was a stress fracture! Boom.
The sense of relief was great. I was so happy to learn I wasn’t being a wuss about pain. And I had an excuse to stop running and facing pain every day! I started wearing a boot, which was great because it made walking feel a lot better. My Dr. was really cool too and let me still bike so I could work out and get to class.
However, it’s been 10.5 weeks since I ran a step and I still have heel pain. The Dr. says sometimes it just takes longer. Outside of sleeping right, eating right and not being on my feet too much, there’s not much else I can do to get this thing better. It’s become amusing how powerless I am. Not that I’m giving up, but I know God is in control and it’ll get better whenever he wants it to.