I wrote a little piece on some great places for waterfall jumping around the world over on radseason.com! Check it out if you like:
I wrote a little piece on some great places for waterfall jumping around the world over on radseason.com! Check it out if you like:
Well, it’s been a whirlwind season. About eleven days after my race I moved to Japan, crammed a TEFL course, and spent lots and lots (and lots) of play-time with my niece and nephew, which is A+++.
Here are some things I’ve been into this past fall:
Club de Cuervos
Recommended by my sister-in-law, Club de Cuervos is Netflix’s first Spanish language series, originally a web series, about a family warring over a football (Soccer in North America!) club legacy. Not my typical subject matter at all, but I was sucked in immediately!
Mariana Trevino and Luis Gerardo Mendez are outstanding as a feuding brother and sister, two characters I found myself both disliking and empathizing with completely. It’s fast-paced, exciting, and completely addictive, everything you could ask for in a Netflix-binge. Only drawback: My sister-in-law says the Spanish subtitles are a weak imitation of what’s actually being said; simplifying and dumbing-down the dialogue quite a bit. If nothing else can push me to learn Spanish (and there are plenty reasons why I’m dying to learn), all the great television afforded to me might do the trick.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
There was plenty to like about this, and plenty to (ungratefully, yet gleefully) hate. Here are some quick free-form thoughts now that I can lift my media blackout:
Walk Off the Earth
My niece and nephew are bananas for this Canadian band that has perfected the art of the YouTube cover-song genre. Fun, fresh, and inventive! Some favourites: their cover of Adele’s “Hello” and “Closer” by the Chainsmokers.
Listen, I’ve been a study email-hater basically since I became an adult. But if there was one single thing that’s improved exponentially in 2016, I’ll make the case for email. I get news, articles, poems, and hilarity all in my inbox these days. It’s mostly thanks to tiny-letter, but, I dunno, I think everybody’s stepped up their email game lately. Here are some standouts:
Awesome Email Services & Publications that have broken out in a big way:
A sparkling, stream of consciousness newsletter from a Buzzfeed writer, this one is chalk-full of pop-culture recs.
Hanna Ettinger – Sleeping With Monsters
Alternately personal and political musings, with a side of poems.
Recipes, and whimsy.
Helena Fitzgerald – Grief Bacon
This one is a longer, more dense set of personal essays from an incredible up-and-coming Narratively writer.
So, that’s what I’ve been into this fall/winter. I’m thinking of changing this online space up a bit. I mean, that 50k loomed large in my life for nearly a year, but a lot has changed over the past couple of months, and I want to remain true to that.
So, I’ll still talk running, but I might throw a bit of pop-culture and travel rantings into the mix. I tend to be a little random and all over the place, so Run Like a Cheetah will reflect that. I’d like to keep the Devil Wears Prada gifs though. Those are truly universal!
For a short but delightful season, I worked at a publishing house and we used to have these rowdy, wonderful meetings where the team decided whether to pursue a manuscript or shoot it down. We had a series of running memoirs come our way all of a sudden, and I remember a co-worker wondering “why do people who are into running think everyone wants to hear all about it?” Maybe that’s why I feel compelled to write this journey down; I’m afraid of boring everyone around me to tears by blithering on about my 50k experience. I mean, if I haven’t already!
First of all, this race was a weekend-long event. We were BC-based, and the Baker Lake 50K is in Washington. So we camped, which was ridiculous fun. It sounds a bit outlandish, but there was something comforting about a post-race campfire with hot-dogs and our stash of junk food from the nearest convenience store.
Second, the Baker Lake Trail is a gorgeous monster. I’m serious. Even before our race we had heard all about how breathtaking it is. The entire gut-wrenching 25K, and the somehow-not-as-grueling-but-still-actually-disgusting run back to the campsite was filled with an almost eery enchantment. It was a bright green fairy-land leading to a waterfall and views of a crystal-clear lake, then a mountain hike leading to a lane laced with October tress that looked like it would bring us straight to a gingerbread-house. Bonus: we got to enjoy the scenery twice! #glasshalffull
Third, everything went wrong and also went off without a hitch. We didn’t train as long for this race as we should have. It took us a year to get to where we were, true, but by race day we had only been made it to 25k, and even that took six hours of blood, sweat, and tears (I’ve probably said it before but I would never have made it even that far without a running buddy. Never, ever, ever. I am NOT made of that kind of grit). We were technically not trained enough to handle this race, but we ran anyway. Mostly for the medals.
We wanted those medals so bad that even by the halfway-point when we weren’t sure we could face heading all the way back again, we ended up BOOKING IT to get ahead of the sweepers. They had taken off already not knowing that we were still in the bathrooms. If we finished behind the sweepers we wouldn’t get a medal (or so the story went), and we were sick at the thought of going through all this without a medal to show for it. I’m convinced the fact that we had to run to catch up with them was the push we needed to finish the whole dang race. We ran (in intervals) to the finish-line and, indeed, did get our coveted medals.
The whole thing took us eleven hours. ELEVEN. HOURS. An acquaintance had told me, with a straight face, that I could probably do it in 4. Yeah, buddy.
On the other hand, we crossed the finish line, we weren’t dead-last, and, most importantly, we had no sustained injuries. It’s funny how different our metrics for success are. We felt pretty discouraged by the amount of people flying by us, but, then, I had friends and family who were genuinely astonished that I finished the whole thing. There’s a metaphor in here somewhere.
My theory that the beginning of the race is hands-down the worst part still stands. Don’t get my wrong, the last 15k was Jesus-take-the-wheel-we-know-not-what-we-do brutal! But, as I’m sure other long-distance runners have discovered, some kind of magic happens by that point where your muscles are so warmed-up and exercised that running truly doesn’t feel like that big of a deal. It was only when I was walking that I felt I had been in a minor car-accident. Of course, by that time I was hopped-up on jelly-beans and chocolate-chip trail-mix, without which I would’ve been lost.
The truth is, I was dead set against doing anything like this when the idea was first floated to me, but, honestly, it has turned out to be the single most defining event of the past year, or at-least my favourite one to talk about. Training for the Big Run, and especially following through with it, turned out to mean a great deal to me. Cliché as it sounds, this journey has changed my perspective on myself, my perspective on my body, and my outlook on life. It’s been a breath of fresh air in so many ways.
So, what next?
In celebration of #Inktober2016, a sketch of Fitzwilliam Street in Nanaimo, British Columbia, by John Hofman.
Guess what? We did it! 50K….
I’d like to thank my running partner Audrey for daring to think I could join her in her big, huge audacious goal! All I have to say is, her optimism is truly inspiring.
Thanks to my friends and family for all their love and support, even when I know they thought I was bananas.
I also have to thank Winners (no ad! I wish!) for stocking some truly life-saving pastachio-berry blend trail-mix. I shudder to think what I would’ve done without it.
And last, but certainly not least, thanks to all the kind souls who volunteered at the Baker Lake Ultra trail run for your merciful aid-stations and magnificent finish-line cookout!!!! Angels of mercy, every last one of you.
When I was a little girl, I had this fantasy that I would wake up one day and go to school looking immaculate. Pretty, with just the right hair, and just the right clothes. I would get perfect grades, be popular, and generally fly through life. I would turn the current state of things around, simply by putting the effort in. I felt sure I had the power to do this.
I had a good life, a happy childhood as far as those go, but there were some dark spots. I had a lot of unchecked anxiety, an invisible disability, and, as a result of these things combined, demoralizingly bad grades. I got a lot of support for my disability, but nothing really helped and all the special support I was getting deeply embarrassed me.
It’s a weird thing to look back and try to diagnose your childhood, but I think as a result of feeling no internal locust of control I desperately wanted to do things perfectly on my own, without anyone’s help. This desire bred an obsession with getting everything just perfectly right, and the impossible belief that I could just turn this whole, disastrous ship around by myself if I tried hard enough. This attitude toward my neurological differences affected my life – especially my interior life – in ways I’m not even prepared to write about yet.
Nothing’s really changed. I’m still overwhelmed by my own constant mediocrity. If I can’t do things perfectly – without any help or practice – then what’s the point? Running has profoundly challenged this assumption I don’t mind telling you.
This running project I’m knee-deep in forces a person to face their limitations in a truly visceral way, and it’s been humbling. Confession: I got sick and missed a few weeks of running, and I paid for it.
I PAID FOR IT IN SWEAT! (Fame? Anyone?)
We had a long run to Mill Lake Park in the Fraser Valley that made me a little rage-y. It was hotter than I can describe, my leg muscles felt like they had 20-pound weights attached to them, and I was ready to literally bite somebody. Fortunately, my friend was spared!
It was downright brutal, embarrassing, and, for someone who struggles with intense shame around not doing things perfectly right, deeply freeing. It did NOT feel freeing at the time! Believe me when I say there was nothing right or good in my experience in the moment. But, this whole idea that I can do things, I can try my best, I can be bad at it and the earth won’t crash into the sun is absolutely revolutionary.
Now, I need to carry this with knowledge with me this Saturday when I conquer the beast.
Ok, so I guess in order to properly document this challenge I should get into the nitty-gritty right?
Here’s what I’ve been doing for training: For my first race (a 10k! That seems like nothing now! Was it really such an ordeal?), my running partner and I were doing interval running three times a week.
We started with baby steps. Intervals three times a week, starting with thirty second run/1 minute walk, and building up to an hour of straight running. I did NOT run the whole race I assure you! But, anyway…
Then came the next phase: extreme running. After our 10k, we thought we were too cool for intervals. Man, oh man!
It’s one thing to jog for 45 minutes straight. It’s a whole other thing to spend several weekends attempting to run 14k straight. Needless to say, we flew a bit too close to the sun with that goal, especially on Saturday afternoons in the heat of the summer! We wound up walking several kilometers, followed by sad attempts at what Audrey calls “fake jogging”, i.e., jogging at a slower pace than mostly walk, followed by walking the rest of the trail. So embarrassing!
Our pride wounded, we went back to intervals, and I don’t mind telling you that one minute break after seven minutes of running is fabulous! I’m a better woman for it…
So, for several months our training has looked like two short (half an hour to fifty minutes) runs, and a big, long run on the weekends. We try to keep to early mornings or evenings because, hi, it’s summer. I should note that this formula has in no way been set in stone. It’s summer, we’ve both done our little trips, and we’re nothing if not flexible (I’m trying to be positive about our progress, so I’m using the word flexible rather than lazy.)
For more context, this New York Times article covers the basic method we’ve been following.
More Soon! We’re at 25k and staring down our big race in just a matter of weeks!!!!!
Well, I’m just a ball of tears and feelings now. Check this out:
This is so, so, so relatable!
….And also why I’m so into running these days (even if we have a love/hate thing). As the article mentions, it’s FREE.
Have you felt like there was something you were meant to do, but you just haven’t gotten around to it yet? Even if you were laughably ill-equipped to handle it? I used to watch lithe runners gliding effortlessly along White Rock beach, their sleek ponytails whipping in the wind, their legs practically floating in the air, and I would think – without a shred of evidence to back me up – “that could be me, man.”
Spoiler alert: I don’t look like that now. Not a snowdrift’s chance in hell. I maintain a super-slow, hunched-over running pace, with some pretty aggressive mouth-breathing (attractive). But we made our way to Vancouver’s Frozen Forest to do our 10k anyway!
My personal goals for our race, in no particular order:
Thankfully, all goals were met! Also, if you’re going to run a race somewhere, you really can’t beat the Lower Seymour Conservation Forest. Feast your eyes:
Image from metrovancouver.ca via averagejoecyclist.com
According to travelandleisure, basically every X-Files forest scene was filmed in this reserve!
My friend Audrey handled the logistics, and training details, for our first race together. She handled everything, actually. Every team needs a leader, right? I suspect she only kept me around to cheerlead and keep her company, which, I mean, fine by me!
Of course, this meant that I did virtually no research before jumping into something this major. In retrospect, I think I was afraid reading too much about it beforehand would make Continue reading