I don’t like leaving questions unanswered. One of the main reasons I decided to attend West Point was that I didn’t want to later regret turning my acceptance down. If I didn’t like it, I could always leave for a civilian school, but not vice versa; if I didn’t accept the initial offer, I couldn’t change my mind and transfer there later.
Same with running. I never want to wonder “what if” or wish I had given it one more go while I could.
When I last wrote here on Salty Running, I left off with lingering doubts about continuing my competitive career, wondering “am I good with good enough?”
But I don’t like open-ended debates, so I decided I wasn’t. I decided to keep racing, committing to giving it my best shot. This wasn’t an easy decision to make, given my limited time, resources, and energy. I was no longer at the stage in life where running could be my top priority (or even close) and had to fit in what I could around three kids, a husband who’s always gone, and a new job that ate away any extra time I had without anything else in life giving to make room. Could I make a comeback? I wanted to try and see. Read more >>
Sass: Hi friend! Welcome back! We first met around the time that you were doing your first marathon, back in 2012. Since then you have done everything from 5Ks to 100 milers to stage races. How would you describe your runner identity now, in three words?
Cilantro: Ultrarunner for Social Justice (oof, four words, can the “for” not count?). The older I get and the more I learn, I can’t separate who I am as a runner from who I am as a person. That’s why I still want to run across America to raise awareness of gender violence and open the discourse regarding prevention. Running empowered and empowers me, and I believe it has that same power for good to help others, and I want to start paying it forward, whether that’s through my own efforts or by bringing running in an accessible way to others.
Is this thing on? It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged. Er, actually, about five years. If you remember me from before: congrats! You are a true Salty Running devotee. If you don’t, that’s okay. My MO was pretty straightforward, maybe even trite: qualify for Boston, but ya know, keep it balanced. I felt like I had a good perspective.
Running is only a part of my life, not my whole life, she wrote, presciently.
Even after I left the Salty-verse, again and again, Boston was my goal. If you don’t do that, at least PR. If you don’t do that, why show up? I shaved some time off my 26.2 mile journeys. I teetered on the right side of overtraining. It was working.
Balance is a funny thing.
And then it wasn’t. First I bonked a race, hard, then I dropped out of another due to heat and a cranky hip. I didn’t even start another. I did run the Flying Pig Marathon in Spring ‘16, but DNFed again that fall, and then again last spring. If you are keeping track, that would be a DNS and three DNFs. That last one really stung because I felt like it would be a big one. I had hired a coach and was nailing my workouts. I wasn’t going to qualify, but I had a solid time in me.
Sometimes running is just a thing, and sometimes it seems like the only thing.
What was going on with me? The truth is, I had crossed over to the wrong side of the edge and a lot of things in my life were going wrong. People had cancer. My dog was really sick and we weren’t sure why. My career was a mess. Why couldn’t running be what went right?
Sometimes, you don’t realize that running has become your only thing.
Last spring, everything changed. I got a new job. Actually, The Job. Pretty darn close to my dream job, only there are neither puppies nor free ice cream. Slowly, and then all at once, something shifted in how I thought of running.
Just a few weeks into the job, I decided to downgrade my fall marathon to a half. Life needed to come first. This was a big career change for me, and I wanted to be sure to get it right from the outset. That meant passing on the stress and struggle of marathon training while I got settled; I didn’t want to ever say no to an opportunity because of a run.
A few weeks after that, I was t-boned while driving home. I was mostly okay – just some cuts and bruises – but my car was not. After taking ten days off and still feeling pretty shaken, my goals for my annual Fourth of July 10K were completely different. Nothing like your car doing a 180 to change the way you look at things. It was my slowest 10K ever, but who cares?
Throughout the summer and into the fall, I kept missing runs after having to move them around several times. Before, going for a run was a top priority because it provided stress relief, an escape, a bright spot in my days coping with a job I had outgrown, among other Big Problems. But now I don’t ever want my job to be the thing to give.
Finding balance takes practice.
What I envisioned as a fast fall half turned into an easy run alongside a dear friend, our only goal to run the whole way and to spend a fun weekend together. Check and check! I felt spent after and pulled out of the half I’d planned a few weeks later. I needed a break. I wanted running to be fun and not a to-do list item.
Y’all, I needed to hit reset on my relationship with running.
So I ran when I wanted to and slept in if I wanted to. I went to cat yoga (twice, actually!) and also normal human yoga. I listened to what my body wanted. Then, one day, as they do, a Facebook memory sparked something in me when it popped up. It was a photo from the 2012 Monumental Marathon.
And I’ll admit, my first thought was how good I looked. But what really hooked me was how happy and fit I seemed. I remembered the race and how so many things had gone wrong, from missed connections to a dead iPod to hail (HAIL!), and how I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Eh, I’ve got this.” And I did. I was well trained but not overly so. I wanted a certain time, but it wasn’t the end of the world when I didn’t get it. It was the last race I could remember that seemed like I’d had it truly right, and I wanted that again.
I’ve struggled to explain this to some people, because I had PRs after that. As if they want me to put a clock time to this easy way of being that I’m after. But I can’t, because there isn’t one. It isn’t about time.
It’s about attitude. It’s about balance.
So that’s the story of how, in the past year, I have reclaimed my time and redefined my relationship with running. And really, truly made balance A Thing I Do. I’m not just paying it lip service or doing it just enough to come back from injury. Balance is now firmly ensconced in my being. I go to yoga 1-2 times a week. I row 1,000 meters and track my progress. I lift weights. I have some races on the calendar, but I’m keeping it wide angle and making a long slow build.
I can’t prescribe a formula for how to get there. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the path I took.
It’s easy to say you want balance when you have it, but you don’t really appreciate it until you’ve been knocked off kilter.
Finding balance takes practice. It is my practice to find it.
I’m back! A LOT has happened since my last update so methinks it would reasonable to start from there and fill in some of the blanks. Back then I shared that my two main running goals were to run a 5k PR and to run a marathon under 3 hours. These weren’t just two ideas that I pulled out of thin air, either. Both were goals I had been working toward for over three years. I wasn’t sure either would be possible.Read more >>
So I’m reading this book, 12 Rules for Life, by 4chan hero Jordan Peterson. It’s a pretty decent book if you can ignore the fascist-y undertones. The book doesn’t have anything to do with what’s to follow except that I have lobsters fresh in my mind. Mmm, fresh lobster.
Besides being territorial little fighters with an ancient social hierarchy, lobsters are delicious. No, hold on … What was I going to say? Oh yeah.
Besides being delicious, lobsters moult, or shed their shells. They grow a new, soft shell underneath their old, brittle shell, then climb on outta there. For a while after shedding the old shell our lobster friend is mushy and vulnerable, but soon enough she’ll be as strong as before and ready to do her lobster thing. Her new shell is not the same as the old one, but the process gives her the potential for change and growth. Neat!
Note of vindication for metaphor haters: snails do not moult. I looked it up.
In the last pile of words I heaped onto the Internet I hemmed and hawed a bit about the potential fate of Salty Running and whinged some about my own potential fate, should I take on the responsibility of keeping it afloat (heavy is the head, woe to the burden-bearer, blah blah). I have often found whinging to be a fruitless enterprise, but in this case there were fruits! Also neat.
Not only have people pitched me potential new contributors, a few of our former contributors said they would be interested in writing more stuff for SR. Very neat!
Here’s where the lobster business comes in:Read more >>
Running has a metaphor for everything, amirite?
My post last Monday stirred up some activity. In a perfect world I would say, “The response was overwhelming!” I would be moved to breathe life back into the site, to have an open call for contributors and put it all back.
But it wasn’t. And I can’t, at least not the way it was. Although several people unexpectedly came to my aid with emotional support (thank you!) and lots more responded and told me they loved SR and missed it, the overall response wasn’t overwhelming. It was enlightening though, and moved me to give the decision to completely shut down a re-examination. Here’s what I learned:
I am beginning the process of shutting down Salty Running.
Most of you have moved on with your lives and left it already, but every day I’m fielding emails and checking comments and staring at this huge body of work we created trying to figure out what to do.
The word ‘body’ is the right one to describe it, for sure. I feel like I have to be an undertaker to my own friend. I am staring at a giant body, now hollow but once vibrant and full of activity. I loved it, and now I feel an incredible amount of sorrow because this thing I loved has died. I’m at a loss, unsure if I have the ability to make the right decisions.
I made so many friends here. You changed who I was. You gave me something important to pursue, a dream to chase. You made me expect more of myself. You made me push harder and try for more. When you were cheering for me, I did my best.
I don’t want to put it away. I want to build it up bigger than it was, but I can’t do it by myself. Alone, I don’t have the ability or vision to carry it forward and I am uncertain if there is even a need anymore. We set out to create room in the world for a certain kind of woman, and in the last seven years, space has been made. I think we helped a little, and that feels good. Maybe it means the mission is complete. Maybe the good things we gave can be enough to say I did a good thing here.
This has been a really special, life-changing, identity-changing thing for me and it’s hard to let go. I would welcome any input you might have about what to do with the amazing body of work we created together and how to move forward.
I may update, I may not.
This review is in partnership with Rockay, which provided products for testing.
Rockay is a new kid on the block in the running apparel world, and is using fabric made from recycled materials to create two products, the Accelerate socks and calf compression sleeves. Their accelerate socks retail for $14.95 and come in several colorways.
Like many runners, I can be picky when it comes to my socks. No squinching in my shoes or bunching up around my toes, please! They have to be thick enough, but not too thick, and they absolutely must fit over the collar of my shoes. I do like fun socks that look good, but comfort and performance are the queens of the sock department.
How does the Accelerate stack up?
It’s that time of year again. Runners all over the world have nailed their fall races after training hard for the last six months. Woohoo! Time to start training for the next race…
…except maybe you can’t. Maybe your coach says you need to take a month off. Or maybe it’s your body piping up with all kinds of aches and pains that mean your life is one giant rest day right now. GAH! Not only do you not know what to do with all your spare time and energy; without running, you don’t even know how to Life. What are these non-stretchy leg-shaped items you’re expected to wear? What happened to all the laundry? WHITHER THE SHOWER?
We feel you. Here are the most common questions faced by runners on a break, and our best suggestions for how to deal. Read more >>
I am a picky-ass mofo when it comes to running shorts. Historically I have only run in compression shorts because everything else leads to the dreaded chub-rub. Even with compression shorts, I have been known to try on 15 pairs and still leave the store empty-handed because nothing fits right. I still run in an ancient pair that I keep patching because the company that made them went out of business.
So when I opened my surprise product review package from Salty Running and found shorts I thought, oh crap. My first chance to review something and I am going to have to write about how I don’t like the product! I received three pairs of Cabrillo Mariposa trail shorts – two size M and one size L – and when I tried them on, the size Ms fit and the L was too big. Read more >>
Okay, maybe the word “blissful” is not the best way to describe how I felt running in the earliest weeks of my pregnancy. In fact, I fluctuated between joy and pure anxiety about my lack of control over my body. This is my first pregnancy, so I have no prior experiences to compare with the way I feel right now.
I didn’t have the worst first trimester experience, but I definitely was not experiencing that pregnancy glow. In fact, I wanted to punch anyone who told me pregnancy was a beautiful thing, a feeling I attribute to the hormone surges. A lot of changes were going on in my body, and it definitely changed my running routines, as well. I had good runs and not-so-good runs. Slower paces and more frequent walk breaks became the norm.
It wasn’t easy adjusting to this change. Running has always been my stress relief, my therapy. When it felt like it became much more difficult, it was frustrating. Being pregnant has already made many things more difficult; why does my running have to be so hard, too?
So here it is, in all of its glory … my experiences running in the first trimester!
We runners are an impatient bunch. After a year or so of downshifting our running due to pregnancy and childbirth, we’re raring to find that running identity again. But physical changes mean physical challenges. Runners who’ve ever been pregnant often joke about peeing our pants – just a little! – on the run. Is it sweat on those gray shorts, or is it pee? Tee hee. And we laugh at the outdated medical advice that women shouldn’t run because their uterus might fall out, but pelvic organ prolapse is a real phenomenon (read Poppy’s guide to pelvic floor 101!)
I’m 42 and have been running since junior high school, so I’ve seen a lot of ups, downs, and plateaus with training and racing. Last week, though, before the Müggelsee half marathon in Berlin, I got all nostalgic remembering that I’d run the same half marathon exactly ten years ago in 1:40. That was a great race. It was a PR by eight minutes. I felt wistful knowing that this year, I wouldn’t have a chance in hell of running 13 consecutive 7:40 miles; my goal this year was 8:12/mile on a good day. Read more >>
Welp, the dreaded plantar fasciitis has come back to bite me in the heel. It’s the other heel this time, for some reason. I’ve fought this monster before and emerged victorious, but it took a long time. This time around, I’ve started fighting it more quickly and more seriously, rather than trying to run through the pain before giving up and starting treatment weeks or months later. Hopefully this will let me get back to running as quickly as possible. In the meantime, since this is not my first rodeo (to switch fighting-animals-metaphors midstream there), I’ve got some coping techniques at my disposal. Not gonna lie, I am seriously unhappy and dealing with injured-runner-rage over the return of this injury. But the advantage of having to fight again is that I know what to do. Read more >>
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