Cinnamon’s WTF-Is-Going-On Racing Story (Part 1)

I hate writing training logs. I always have. But now I’m like … the fearless leader or something (ha! fearless. *coughcoughbullsh*tcough*), so I’m feeling the need to lead by example! So I went to write a training log, but it just felt so … out of context. Things have changed a lot for me since I last posted anything about training!

I’ve been encouraging other Saltines to write updates and catch you readers up on what’s going on with them, but totally forgot that I haven’t posted anything about training in like … two years? Three? When I write it’s about the swirls of thoughts in my head, not usually about training. My wheelhouse is the feelings about running, and the mindset and willpower. Stats are boring to me, like talking about highway directions at a family function.

Isn’t it funny how much mindset and willpower and your feelings can affect your stats, though? And vice-versa?

The last few years, running has been really … uh … weird for me. I ran a lot of marathons in a row; NYC in November 2015 (3:55 with a perfect, relaxed race), then the Flying Pig in April 2016 (4:05 with mad food-poisoning bonking), then Erie in September 2016 (3:48! A perfect-perfect, hard-effort race!), then the Flying Pig again in April 2017 (4:03 with a host of physical and emotional bullsh*t). It’s exhausting just thinking about that! And it’s no wonder that, while training for the last one, I found myself unable to think about going for a run without hating the very idea.

After that last disappointing marathon—I was so ashamed of not at least squeaking in under 4 hours—I decided to take a sabbatical. I had to move anyway, back to New York, and re-focus on my career. I backed away from all running stuff; from racing, from Salty Running, from training. I still liked running with the hash (my awesome/weird drinking-running club), but that’s it. I thought about that: what do I get from the hash that I don’t get from training? Always-new routes, off-roading, mental stimulation, time with friends, a feeling of exploration … oh yeah, and fun.

Back in NYCThe 5th Avenue Mile came around in September of 2017. I remembered how much fun it was the last time I did it, which I think was in 2012. I signed up! I went. It was fun! I lined up in my little heat – remember heats? Heats are fun! You know what else is fun? Running BALLS OUT as hard as you can for one mile. So much fun!! I was even sad when it was over, so I ran more miles! So racing a mile was okay … good news. Still, I kept to my schedule of no schedule – just working a lot and only running when I felt like it. But I definitely felt like it a lot more often.

Cinnamon bouncing, working at the NYC MarathonThen I got hired on a movie called Brittany Runs a Marathon (congrats on the deal, Paul!). Guess what it’s about? An unathletic, overweight woman with no direction or control over her own life who starts running and trying to make her life better. Hey, that sounds familiar to me! On the outside, it was pretty much just like any other job (with the bonus that I got to work at the NYC marathon). But on the inside, I was remembering what it was like before running. I was remembering how sad I was all the time, what a victim I had always been, feeling powerless and at the mercy of the others around me. And I was remembering how running changed that! Long before I realized it, running gave me space to cope with troubles, offered a positive outlet for my explosive emotional energy and helped me learn to control my life. I remembered that it’s a process, and that race results are just numbers from one day in the process.

I thought about goals. What were my goals? What were my values? How did running fit in?

For story purposes, it would be convenient to say shooting a movie at the NYC Marathon is what made it all click in my head, but that’s not true. It was really really really fun to shoot a movie at the marathon! But honestly, as much fun as I had, I was still unsure of whether or not I would be okay if I ran another marathon.

The next spring some friends invited me to run a women’s only half marathon that’s sponsored by the antithesis of Salty Running, Shape Magazine. I’ve never run it before because beauty tips and bikini bodies. But hey, my friends were doing it, and having brunch after. That sounded fun! I decided to jump in on no training, a little unsure of how a half marathon was going to go. I committed to having fun and running it easy and not caring about my result, but after I crossed that starting line, out the window that went! Not having trained, my pace gauges were all completely wacky, so I went out too fast, with a 52:20 10k (on pace for a PR 😂), but still managed to finish in 1:54. Not too shabby! Plus, I had a great time too, and was excited to try racing again.

I got caught up with working full time on a TV Series (watch Ray Donovan! It’s great!) and sorta forgot to race for a while, but in July, when my team had a few guaranteed entries to the NYC Marathon, I didn’t even hesitate. I said yes! I was excited to try training while working full time.

How did that go? Well you’ll just have to wait for Part 2!

Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. By day she's a camera assistant for films and tv in New York, and by night she's on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is a mix of satirical humor, finding wholeness as an average runner, cheering for runners at all paces and more.

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