The Birth of a Clumsy Runner – Part 2

Happy Friday! Now for Part 2 of my story…

As I meantioned in my previous post, even though I was one of the worst runners on the Cross Country team in High School, I’m thankful for my time on the team as it helped me develop a fun hobby that I’ve kept up with over the years. Granted, I definitely took it easier immediately after high school and during the first semester of college. Like many freshmen, I realized after the fall semester that the dining hall food and lack of organized sports were not doing my waistline any favors, so I stepped up my running and working out once semester 2 rolled around. I’d mix up my routine with running, gym sessions, kickboxing, cycling, etc. It felt awesome to be active again, and I pretty much kept up with this “mixed-fitness” routine throughout college and immediately afterwards. Running was something I did for fun so I never really timed myself or measured distances to a T. I’d be more apt to decide to go on an “X” minute run and call it a day.

In the summer of 2007, I was feeling in a bit of a rut in my job and decided I needed a fun project. I’d always wanted to run a half marathon and decided that was as good a time as any! I put together a training plan, replaced some cross training sessions with running speedwork, and signed up for a 10k and half marathon that fall. After I finished the 10k I was shocked – I finished in under 49 minutes, running at a faster pace than I ever completed a 5k in high school! I even came home with an age group trophy, which again in high school would have completely blown my mind.

About a month later I ran the half marathon, which was the longest distance I’d ever completed! I felt awesome for the entire race, but in looking at my watch at the finish time I felt like something was off. Turns out the route had somehow gotten mixed up along the way, so we ended up losing about a mile off the course :-/ Sadly, this meant that my first half marathon was not REALLY a half marathon. The plus side of this is that my officially posted time online looks ridiculous (1:36! Ha). I like to think of it as my half marathon PR with an asterisk. Just put my plaque in the Hall of Fame next to Roger Clemens and A-Rod.

I decided to sign up for another half marathon that spring in order to have an “official” half marathon experience. I ran another 10k while training for that one, and managed to cut over a minute off of my previous time. Without the benefit of a secretly shortened race, my official time in the half marathon was unsurprisingly longer than my “enhanced” PR, but I still managed to beat my average high school 5k pace with a time of 1:47.

Going to add another “To Be Continued” here… The running rambling has gotten a bit too verbose and non-comedic. Even I am getting bored. Might have to fill some space here with a story about Jersey Shore or falling up the stairs.

In Part 3 : Beating Oprah and running for fun…

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The Birth of a Clumsy Runner – Part 1

How I started running:

Back when I was three I had to see a doctor due to a slight case of scoliosis. He gave my parents the option of putting me in braces or just keeping me active and letting it work itself out on its own. As great as it would have been to be a 1980s version of Forrest Gump, dramatically running from bullies in leg braces and discovering a gift for running, they ended up chosing the latter.

The doctor also told my parents that I was slightly pigeon-toed. As much as the image of a three-year-old with slight scoliosis and pigeon-toes seems like a classic depiction of a future unathletic klutz, the doctor allegedly claimed that my pigeon-toed gait could make me a great runner. So, to “keep me active” per doctors orders and because of my “gift” of pigeon-toed-ness, my dad started taking me running from a fairly young age. We’d run around the track or the neighborhood, never too strenuously but enough to keep me active and keep the spine curvature at bay.

As I got older, the running sessions cooled off and I got into organized sports.  Like most kids I played soccer and softball throughout elementary and middle school, but my innate clumsiness prevented me from being a superstar in either sport. Once I got to high school I decided to hang up my cleats and pursue other things, but my dad remembered that old doctor’s advice and encouraged me to join the Cross Country team.

In traditional stories, this is the part where I would tell you how my flimsy pigeon-toes and years of sports training groomed me  into a star runner, winning countless meets and inspiring a lifelong habit. Unfortunately, the opposite proved to be the case. I was one of the worst (if not the worst) runners on the entire team! I stuck with it to stay in shape and hang out with the other girls, but I was definitely the opposite of a successful competitor on the team. If we had superlatives along the lines of “Least Likely to Ever Complete a Marathon,” I can guarantee that I would have been a legitimate contender for the title.

Although I failed to break any records, my experience running Cross Country did instill a love for running and general fitness that has stuck with me over the years…

In Part 2: Getting back into racing and the road to a sub-4:00 marathon…

Barefoot Running

Back in February, I read an article in Runner’s World about barefoot running. While I understand how a logical argument for shoeless running could be constructed on a technical level, I’m not sure I follow the practicality of running completely barefoot on the city streets. Do the physiological benefits outweigh the risk of stepping in garbage, glass, rocks or complete unmentionables??

Today, I actually saw a guy running barefoot on the city streets.  As someone who’s had to run with orthotics for the past 11 years, I can only imagine the disaster that would ensue if I attempted to run barefoot. Thus, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll never partake in this practice. Honestly, I have a hard enough time putting one foot in front of the other while each is comfortably shoe-ed!

As evidence and for your reading pleasure, I’ve compiled some of my most notable falls in rough chronological order. Of note is the fact that over the course of these falls I’ve never broken a bone (knock on wood, concrete, floors, etc etc etc):

1. High School (a) – Not a running story, but still a favorite: During dress rehearsals for a play, I was acting out a scene where I had to dramatically run down a set of stairs. I apparently decided to up the drama by slipping on them and literally falling flat on my face. I actually felt like a stunt woman in that moment as it didn’t hurt at all. Should have seen that as an opportunity to get into stunt work to monopolize on my “gift” of falling…
2. High School (b) – Cheating again with a non-running High School story: After getting beautified for the prom, I left my room to walk down the stairs and greet my date. As story #1 revealed, stairs are not my friend. In typical me fashion, I slipped and fleeeewwww down the stairs. Luckily I fell directly into my dad’s arms! Otherwise, I’m fully convinced that scene in She’s All That was stolen from this moment.
3. College – About a mile into my morning run, I took a dramatic spill on the city streets. Luckily this took place directly in front of a dentist’s office. All of the dental hygienists witnessed my dramatic fall and flew out the door to my rescue. They brought me inside, seated me in a chair and promptly cleaned my wounds and provided me with bandages. I am now fully convinced that dental hygienists are the world’s unsung heroes.
4. Last Month – During a run in a residential area, I noticed a rocky area and reflected on the fact that I hadn’t fallen in quite some time. I passed an older couple who warned me to be careful. The combination of the warning and the self-jinx led to the inevitable tumble on the street. Luckily, this couple proved to be as benevolent as my old friends the dental hygienists. They took me to their house where they just happened to have a first aid kit parked in the driveway. Thank you luck, chance and serendipitously placed first aid kits for preventing major roadside disasters!

There are more, but I’ll leave you in suspense for now.

Of course, the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen while running was a guy running at a strong and steady pace on a trail while reading a paperback novel. I guarantee that if I ever tried that it would be the last book I’d ever read.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen while running or working out? Have you had any dramatic falls of your own?

Triathlon = Comedy Show

Hello blog world!  After months of reading healthy living blogs, I’ve decided to start my own… With a twist.  As much as I love eating well and working out, I often find myself in ridiculous situations while pursuing these endeavors. I’m known for quirks such as getting lost on training runs, falling down, struggling with basic recipes, falling down, and falling down some more.

Despite this innate clumsiness, I’ve managed to rack up some decent race performances, including three half marathons and one full marathon (all while remaining upright!).  I recently decided to sign up for my first triathlon, which should be absurd seeing as I have never swam in open water and will be using an old mountain bike found in the depths of my parents’ shed. It’s this Saturday (August 14), so there’s not much I can do at this point to remedy these things! Overall, my main goal is to finish and my secondary goal is to have fun, laugh at myself and enjoy the comedy of the situation.

My goal for this blog is to document my general health and wellness activities while maintaining a comedic perspective on life. I promise to add more detail soon… Until then I will remain mysterious… muah hauh hauh…


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