living in the now

Still rambling about running. Sometimes other things.

"But I did it anyway"

Who has girlfriends in first grade? Apparently I do. And who chases girls on a playground, in first grade? Apparently I do. And who pushes a girl down on a sidewalk? Not me, but Carson may disagree … still 25 years later she’ll probably disagree. But this post isn’t about me, nor is it about Carson. But had that incident not happened all those years ago this post may not be happening. It’s a useless story, sure, but I got your attention and am now pleased to introduce Emily Grossman (Carson’s cousin) who is my second guest blogger. Emily is an ultra-runner who also coaches endurance athletes. She is currently the director of Training for the Army Ten Miler's Exclusive training program as well as a boot camp instructor. She spends her free time reading about other ultra-runners. She'd love to complete my first 100 miler but will have to wait until the spring - 26 miles on a bum ankle is one thing but 100 is just asking for trouble.

Now, on to her post:

Emily is currently the director of Training for the Army Ten Miler's Exclusive training program as well as a boot camp instructor.

So for those who don't know me, I am ULTRGRL (according to my license plates). I've been a recreational runner for almost 20 years and if your do the math, you'll figure out that I started young, around 8th grade. I did it to battle teen angst and to prevent the dreaded "chubby years" of my adolescence. I didn't really enjoy it, but I did it anyway. Once I got to college, I ran to stave off the "freshman 15" associated with fraternity parties full of alcohol and late-night pizza deliveries. Again, I didn't really enjoy it, but I did it anyway.

After I graduated from college and found myself in a strange place (D.C.), I figured I needed an outlet at the end of the work day that was cheap since I couldn't afford a gym membership. I sorted of enjoyed it and as a result, I found I didn't need to force myself out of the apartment to do it. I started doing it regularly, even in the inclement weather, always plodding, plodding along, making sure that I dried out my shoes at the end of each day and hung my cheap cotton T-shirts up to air out. After all, it was easy to get several days wear out of those on most days.

As my 20s passed by, I found myself learning not only to enjoy it, but to require it. If I couldn't run, then I couldn't sleep.  And if I couldn't sleep then I'd risk ruining my run the next day after work! The horror! As a result, like any new runner, I sustained a fair bit of overuse injuries, even on my paltry 4 miles a day, 7 days a week habit. If some is good, I figured, more must be better until that twinge hit and I found myself cursing my ego at its stubbornness. I was always a terrible patient and I recall one particular summer where my orthopedic doctor put me in a full leg cast to keep me out of my Sauconys while my knee, which I couldn't even TOUCH by this point, healed. I didn't enjoy that at all, but I did it anyway.

Fast forward to today, at 34 years old, running an average of 70-80 miles a week, racing in ultra-marathons of 50-plus miles with 26.2 races counting simply as training runs. I've had virtually every injury one can pick up and am currently nursing my longest running (har har!) one to date. You would think I would know by now. And I do. Yet somehow, that part of my brain forgets this, for it is a self-cleaning mechanism, emptying out any small remnant of training logic that dictates rest and recovery. I am now going on the fifth week of wearing a walking cast to try to correct a deformed ankle/arch caused partially by genetics but mainly by overuse. It aches. I push on, walking, trotting and hobbling through those miles every day as if each one will ensure that my weekly total doesn't fall off the radar. A drop in mileage would be unacceptable. I have my first race of the season in two weeks. So tonight I write, but tomorrow at 5 am, I'll be right back at that track, grinning and bearing it.

Because I really DO enjoy it and yes, I'm going to do it anyway.

You can read more from Emily here on her occasional, but great, blog.