Fin 2012

I have just come to the startling realization that I do not own Wuthering Heights.  My favorite of the Bronte novels, the quintessential Byronic, I-just-want-to-hole-myself-up-with-lightning-in-the-background-and-rage-at-Cathy’s-moronic-actions-and-then-cross-my-arms-in-smugness-because-now-Heathcliff’s-available novel.  Or at least, that’s how it is for me.

Anyway, I dug for about fifteen minutes, came up with six other books I should read in the near future (Les Miserables unabridged; Life of Pi; The Last Lecture; This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen; The Wit of Oscar Wilde; This New and Poisonous Air, in case you wanted to know), but no Wuthering Heights.

Presently, I’m not sure what to do about this problem except to pout about it.  Easy enough, as I’m already missing Dick Clark and dreading my New Year’s 5K tomorrow.

All that aside, the true purpose of this post should probably be to lay out the future of Eight Days a Week.  After all, this blog was created for a 2012 New Year’s resolution, and the resolved duration was only a year.

However, although I’ve shirked, and although this is only the 293rd post (is it possible that I dropped that many days??) and not the 365th, I love the darn blog too much to drop it permanently.  I hereby resolve, then, to keep things going indefinitely, to blog even more in 2013 than I did in 2012, and to generally whine less about paper writing and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Happy New Year, friends.  Thanks for reading.

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Why I Will Never Be “Athletic People”

I’ve been watching my mother run races and triathlons for years now.  I arrive with my dad and sister, crusty-eyed and cold in the early morning.  I almost always feel self-conscious amongst all of the “athletic people.”  They flex in their spandex and their calves ripple.  They pinch their bike tires, calloused fingers feeling the subtle swell and fall of the air inside, like a rubber heart beat.  They laugh and smile with their families, but soon, they are determined, and they are focused.  They do not pause, and they only smile again to encourage a fellow racer, and at the moment of their final stride under the balloon-marked finish line.

But this morning, albeit still bleary-eyed and chilled, I ran amongst them.  I ran an entire 5k, with a little bit of walking because I was stupid and ate half of a Lara Bar this morning, and then had to throw it up in the tunnel along the route.  That was gross.  It also made me feel slightly tough.  As in, my stomach is pretending to be Shawn Johnson right now, so I’m simply going to toss my cookies in a corner of a public pathway and continue on my merry way.

Despite the pause, and despite the attained toughness, the last mile was hard.  There were hills, and there were 85-year-old men passing me (humbling and awe-inspiring), and I was sweaty inside my oven of an Under Armour shirt.  But as I rounded the last bend, behind the grocery store, behind the dentist I switched from because he was a little drill happy for my taste, behind the car wash, the crowd came into view.  It was parted, and a narrow path — the path I was on — lay in the middle.  Let me tell you something I learned today: it is difficult to stop and walk when your mother is holding a camera, when people you know are cheering your name and people you don’t are simply cheering.  It is difficult, also, to pick up your pace and hurtle toward the finish with the best form you can muster.  But that’s what I did, because I have a — often deeply-buried — competitive streak.  I also just wanted to finish quickly so that I could stop running.

And so it’s over, and my legs are sore, and my running tights are streaked with vomit, but my friends, I ran a 5K.

Happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for bleach and for legs that can carry me farther than I ever thought possible.  And for pie, of which I partook with a relish that surely further deepened the gorge between me and “athletic people.”

A Last Minute Confession

I have to tell you something.

I’m running a 5K tomorrow morning.

And I’ve never run a 5K before.

I don’t mean that I haven’t run an official 5K race before: I mean that I’ve never run 3.1 miles in my life.

Gretchen and I have been training using the Couch to 5K (C25K) program, and we’ve only had time to run through to the beginning of week eight.  Which means that we’ve only worked up to 2.75 miles of running.

I know that a quarter of a mile more is nothing, and that I very likely can do it.  I just think my mental stamina would do better if I were going into this race with the confidence of having run such a distance dozens of times before.

Regardless, I’m running my first 5K tomorrow, and I will run the entire thing, even if it hurts and I want to stop and walk more than I want Anthony Hopkins to win the Best Actor Academy Award for Hitchcock.

Drafting

Senior seminar seven page draft complete!  I emailed it to my professor, who will be reading it over tonight and talking about it with me tomorrow at our meeting.  I can’t wait.  I know it’s dopey, but I cannot wait.  This draft is the first time this professor will get to see what I can do as a writer and as a researcher, and I am obnoxiously proud of it.  Christmas comes twice a year, folks.

Additionally, my room is clean and my laundry done.

All that’s left to do is to workshop two peer papers, read The Waves, and do the pile of dishes that I (clearly not of sane mind) volunteered to wash.

I apologize about the study-centric posts, but you see, studying is all I seem to do these days.  That will change, of course, come Thursday, when I will be running a 5K, and promptly gorging myself on all sorts of delightful Thanksgiving foods.

The Madness Begins

Ran 2.5 miles today.  Who am I?

Also nearly fell down an entire flight of stairs.  Oh. That sounds more familiar.

It’s funny that I can write quippy things like this, because the truth is that I have so much on my plate right now that I can barely breathe:

1. 10-15 page senior seminar research paper.

2. 10-12 page Virginia Woolf research paper.

3. 10-12 page Grammar and Language paper.

4. Teach for America interview prep/forms.

5. MCSA student organization representative retreat planning.

6. Student Services Committee project coordination.

7. Research with a professor.

8. 5K training.

9. Writing Room work.

10. Social Science Office work.

11.  Plus two pending final exams, a two page history paper, several books to read, etc.

There’s probably more that I’ve pushed it to the back of my brain with the most acute denial.

The semester is coming to a close, and with it, the usual madness is descending.  I’ve been trying to decide if this semester’s finals week will be worse then last semester’s.

Last semester I had five papers due within two weeks, which meant that I wrote 40 pages in 16 days.  Plus research, final exams, etc.

This semester…well, see above: it’s looking pretty monstrous as well.

Just to Pass the Time Away: A (Haphazard) Running Manifesto

I run not because I like it, nor because I’m good at it.  I run because it makes me feel strong, because I imagine my ancestors ran 5Ks every day, chasing deer across the savannah.  I run because I want to be able to keep up with them, even in my daydreams.  Spear throwing I may never master.  Running is attainable.

I run next to Gretchen at the gym.  We do our three warmup laps round the track, and then   reserve treadmills three and four.  We stretch on the blue mats in the corner, dangling our arms helplessly in the general direction of our toes (neither of us is particularly flexible).  We press our hands against the wall plastered with 80s aerobics posters-I’ll never be able to unsee the drawing of a woman in a leotard doing the butterfly stretch-and flex our calves.  I take care with this one, remembering when, a month ago, I woke up at five a.m. to an agonizing shin splint radiating through my left leg.

The usuals are in place already: the fellow treadmill runner who always wears a green shirt, the two women with calves of steel on the stair steppers, the scattered junior boys who watch themselves lift weights in the mirror that spans the back wall.  Gretchen and I take our places: she on the left, me on the right.  She flicks the TV to Jeopardy, which coincides happily with our run.  We look at each other, do some encouraging eyebrow wiggles, and hit “start.”  And then my track lets out its customary whine, as if it’s preparing once again to be trampled on by a clumsy twenty-two-year-old.  It starts to move, faster as I click the arrows up, and soon I’m running and taking care (as I do at the start but neglect at the finish) that my shoulders are straight and my gait even.  I feel as though I could run ten miles just like this, with Alex Trebek outlined in blue above me (benevolent as a god amidst a bright sky), and the vinyl road circulating comfortably below.

I am obligated to mention here, as I tried to disclaim at the beginning, that I am by no means a romantic, one-with-the-road runner.  In fact, a few weeks ago, when I closed my eyes while running in an attempt to attain some sort of zen enlightenment, I unconsciously slowed my pace and flew off the back of the treadmill, almost crushing an innocent passerby.

I can’t hope to provide much advice for those of you who want to start running.  All I can say is to do whatever Runner’s World tells you to, no matter how ridiculous it sounds.  I read an article about mantras recently, and scoffed at it.  George Harrison may have had a mantra, but I’m more down-to-earth than that.  And then I had a hard run, and there were five minutes left, and I was this close to faking a sprained ankle and telling Gretchen that we absolutely had to stop or I would never walk again.

In that moment of exhaustion, I decided to adopt a mantra.  “Pain is a state of mind” was first.  I mouthed the words, trying to match them to my pace, and thinking about the source: Freak the Mighty, a magnificent book I read in 6th grade.  As noble a quote as it was, however, it wasn’t working.  The next mantra that popped into my head was, inexplicably, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”  Over and over I sang that childhood song to myself, making up lyrics when my memory failed.

I’ve been working on the railroad

All the livelong day

I’ve been working on the railroad

Just to pass the time away…

And the tune seemed to meld with my footsteps, and before I knew it the five minutes was over, my ankle was intact, and Gretchen was looking at me like I was crazy:

“Were you singing, Holly?”

Event Planning

More Mental Health Awareness Week events going on today.  At 6:45 the big World Cafe event my committee has been planning will actually take place.  It’s actually happening.  Actual people will show up and eat actual pizza and talk about actual campus issues.  Seems strange.  I think we’re ready, though; I made a game plan for the event this morning, and it has made me feel infinitely more prepared.  I always love a hard copy plan.

In other news, have I told you that I’m running my first 5K in November?  On Thanksgiving Day, to be exact.  I’ve been training with a friend for the past three weeks, and having run a few (relatively) easy two-milers, I think it’s safe to say that we may finish this thing in one piece.  And promptly head home to stuff ourselves with all manner of healthful foods, of course.

Sadly, I must now leave this quiet corner of the library to do more event plotting in the MCSA office.  Talk to you tomorrow!