Sunday, July 31, 2011

Marginal Road, and Q&A Answers Part One

I got lots of good questions as part of the viral Q&A (ask me anything, and I will answer, is the theme). In fact, I got exactly 30 questions! Today, I'll answer 11 of them. Apologies for the long, illustration-free post. I'm still in Cleveland. I'll get some pics in part two.

Before getting to your questions, I'll share with you how my Downtown Cleveland 18-miler went yesterday. The short answer is: the *16*-miler wasn't my greatest long run ever, but I got it done, which I figure is pretty good for a working weekend in a strange city.

Here's the long answer: It was too creepy and dark at 4:30 a.m. to go outside, so I went to the hotel treadmill and ran the first 10 miles there. A travel show on Ukraine made the time go faster. However, images from that show were a problem later, when I moved outside.

By then the sun was up but at first it didn't feel too awfully hot or humid. Thinking, "Oh, eight miles will be easy and so much more interesting since I'm no longer on a treadmill with only a TV for company" I foolishly left my new CamelBak behind (more on that in a later post) and brought only a half-full water bottle. The route I chose, provided on a little card by the hotel staff, took me past some scenic stuff at first....but the interesting diversions quickly petered out. Then, it was just me, a busy highway on the other side of a fence from me, the glaring eye of the rising sun...and Marginal Road.

It looked like something out of Chernobyl, which was featured in the travel show I had watched: tufts of wan grass growing out of potholes, a giant power plant, an abandoned aviation high school with boarded up windows, the swampy smell of Lake Erie (unseen for most of the way). "Marginal" is a good name for this road. It could have been the eponymous road in Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer-winning post-apocalyptic book. By four miles out, I felt like a Bugs Bunny character in one of those desert scenes. And at the 16-mile mark, I threw in the towel. I was so thirsty the gutter water looked tasty. But I managed to make it back to my hotel. My T-shirt hasn't been that wet in a long time.

OK! Now on to your questions:

Chris @ Heavy Steps asks...

1. What is your favorite movie?

My favorite movie(s) are the Lord of the Rings series (which are among my favorite books, too). My favorite scenes (in both the movies and books) are the ones where Gandalf slays the Balrog and (of course) where Eowyn slays the Witch King. Go Eowyn! If she were alive in our world, she'd be a runner! And if I were in her world, I'd love to be her. No ethereal elf princess types for me....Among arty think-piece type movies I love "Magnolia" and "Un Coeur En Hiver." Generally I like movies that, even if they aren't black-and-white-good-guys-beat-bad-guys type plots, nonetheless offer some hope for the human condition.

2. What big races do you have planned?

My next big race is the Top of Utah Marathon on September 17 in Utah's Cache Valley. After that, I am signed up for the Houston Marathon in January (please give to my cause, the Houston Food Bank, if you haven't yet! read more here). I may also run the Colder Boulder 5K in December (if marathon training allows; I just love that race)
and a half-marathon if needed as a progress check before Houston.

3. What is your fave about running and what do you HATE about running?

I love almost everything about running, but my favorite thing is the effect is has on my mood and outlook (I believe it has prevented me from suffering a mild form of hereditary depression). I like how it challenges me. As for what I don't like? Hmm...I wish I were better at it, that it came more easily to me. :^) I don't really hate that factor, though. It's just hard to take during those times when you feel like a plateau will be permanent.

Erin at See Mom Run Far (who I will be meeting in seven short weeks at Top of Utah) asks:

4. What would be your ULTIMATE race if money, travel, child care, etc. didn't matter?

I thought long and hard about this question! The London Marathon? The Comrades Marathon? The Great Wall Marathon? And lame as it may sound for someone who does love travel, the two races that are on my must-do list are right at home in Colorado. The Pikes Peak Ascent is the first. I will do this someday soon, I hope. I just have to get to Boston first. (Oddly, I have no interest in the marathon option for this race. It sounds like the down part just beats your body up too much.)

The second: the Imogene Pass Run. This is a 17.1 mile point-to-point mountain race in the western San Juan mountains, run along a route connecting the towns of Ouray (7810 ft.) and Telluride (8750 ft.) by way of 13,114 foot Imogene Pass. I just love that part of the state. I also love trail running. And it sounds like a great way to get an "ultra" type experience in without actually having to do an ultra.

5. If you could go back in time and change anything about your life what would you change (and no saying "nothing")? :)

Oh, there's no chance I'd say nothing! Since everyone makes mistakes, how could anyone have no regrets??

I would not wimp out of cross-country in high school. I would be on the team, even if I were always last and slowest. I would thereby discover sooner that I, too, can be a runner. (And maybe I'd be faster today. :^) )

I would have stayed and hung out with that cute banjo player in the pub in Dingle, Ireland, in the early spring of 1994. I left because I was afraid of being lured into cheating on my boyfriend back in the States. Truth is, I should have broken up with said boyfriend while I was studying abroad (I ended up breaking up with him anyway later). Young people, heed my words! Do not tie yourself down unless you're SURE this person is The One! Unless it's really truly that person, life is too short!

I would not delay my Peace Corps plans a year because of that guy I met. Yes, it's true, I got to have the Peace Corps experience anyway (after it didn't work out with the guy). But I didn't get the full two years. Again, young people, heed my words!

6. If you had to choose between (a) - making CRAZY awesome progress in your running for the next 5-10 years, smashing PRs and kicking butt, but then never being able to run again, or (b) - not getting any faster or any more endurance than you have right now but being able to run for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

I'd take option B. Option A sounds like fun, and I know I'd be sad never to improve, but what would I DO with myself if I couldn't run????

7. Have you always seen yourself as a runner? What would be your second choice sport to be a part of?

I still don't always think of myself as a runner. Kara Goucher is a runner. Expanding that definition to include an average gal like me takes a mind workout for me. But I guess I started to be able to open my mind to the idea more when I finished my first 10K race back in 1995.

Second-choice sport: hiking and backpacking. I'd love to do the whole Appalachian Trail someday.

8. Who is your most favorite blogger from WY that you would MOST want to meet if given the opportunity? :)

That's an easy one! She's this amazing person. You should read her blog (see link above)! She is *fast* and never knew it until last year! She has 12 kids! She is inspiring! And I *do* get to meet her, very soon. :^)

From my fellow Rice University alum Margot at The Faster Bunny:

9. How did you end up in Colorado?

Right before I went into the Peace Corps, in April 2001, I was a bridesmaid in the wedding of my old friends, John and Rosann. At their wedding reception, after much red wine, I ginned up the courage to approach John's cute friend, Dan, who had gone to Rice with John and me, but whom I had never met. "So," I asked him over the band, "are you a runner?" He said yes. We danced. We talked all night. We really really liked each other.

But three months later, I was leaving the country! As much as I liked Dan, there was no way I was going to stay behind again for a guy (I'd made that mistake a few times, as you'll know from reading above this). So Dan, who lived in Denver, came to visit me before I left New York City, and then we went to another wedding in Costa Rica together, and then I visited him in Denver....and then I flew off to Russia for a year.

Dan was the only person from the States who managed to visit me and see my life there before the Russian government decided to passive-aggressively remove us by refusing to renew our visas after just one year instead of the promised two. When I moved back to the U.S., unsure of what I wanted to do next professionally, it was to Denver I moved. And THAT is a decision I've never regretted. :^)

10. Running gear. If you had to run 10 miles without one of these, what would it be? Sports bra, shoes, shorts.

A bra! Being relatively flat-chested has its advantages. That said, I do like to run barefoot on soft, glass-free grass. But I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to do it on pavement, or for 10 miles. And shorts (or covering of some variety on my lower half)? Non-negotiable!

11. Favorite distance ? Least fave distance?

Favorite distance....At this point, probably the half-marathon. It's a cliche, but true to say that it's long enough to be an accomplishment but short enough that you're not wiped at the end. I don't really have a least favorite distance, unless it's to say "The one I didn't prepare for."

More to come! Hope y'all aren't sound asleep (unless you needed that sleep; in that case, glad I could help).


  1. I would be Eowyn too, she is so bad ass! I love the LOTR series books and movies. Have you read the Fire and Ice series?

  2. The one thing I would have changed about high school is that I, too, would have been on Cross Country! Sure, I would have been shown up by my brother, the 7th fastest American boy in Italy (and the second fastest at my school), but it would have been a great decision. Plus, maybe it would have kept me at 119 pounds!

  3. That run sounds brutal! I'm not sure which part sounds worse! 10 miles on a TM would be torture for me!

    What great answers! It sounds like you've had some amazing adventures and I think maybe you should talk to my son...the high school senior who is certain he has met "the girl"

  4. Playa paaaleeeze! YOU ARE A GREAT RUNNER! Yeah, Kara's pretty speedy ... but you are very speedy too! You know I'm watching your TOU progress! You got this!