Cooler Heads Prevailed

In case it wasn’t obvious, I didn’t run the Mankato Marathon last weekend. It was a good decision, for many reasons, which I will enumerate here.

  1. It was an overreaction.
    I wanted to run the Mankato Marathon because I was upset with myself for my poor performance/DNF at the Twin Cities Marathon. I was mad at myself for not achieving my main goal for the fall, getting a marathon PR. I have signed up for races on an impulse before, and I am sure I will in the future, but any time I can restrain myself from making a reactionary and overly emotional decision to enter a race, I consider that a win.
  2. It would have expensive.
    The race itself would have been nearly $100, plus I would have needed to get a hotel room the night before the race in order to safely get to and from the race. It’s an hour and a half drive from my house to Mankato, and I’d have needed to arrive there well before race start in order to get my bib and handle the rest of the logistics. We all know I don’t sleep well before races even in the best of circumstances; it’s highly likely I wouldn’t have slept a wink before the race, knowing I had to drive and deal with packet pick-up, and then I’d have had to drive home after running for 5-6 hours. NOT SAFE.
  3. I have two other races coming up.
    I’ve already paid for Icebox 480 and Mustache Run. It’s likely my performance at Icebox would be negatively affected by running a full marathon two weeks before. I can focus on trying to get a 50K in less than 8 hours and set myself up for success now.
  4. I was less ready than I thought I was.
    I ran 9 miles on Saturday afternoon and I felt pretty fatigued after the first 5-6 miles, and that’s after sleeping in! I have had a lot of stress at work lately and I think that affected me a lot more than I realized. My resting heart rate has been up, too, which is another sign of fatigue. I might have ended up crashing and burning again, but without an easy way to bail out this time.
  5. It was really, really, really, really, really, really nice to have a weekend with no commitments.
    I slept in! I ran when I wanted to! I vegged out! It was great. I enjoy running, but with a lot of commitments lately, doing nothing was far preferable to running a marathon. Of course if I’d destroyed it with a 4:55 time or something I would probably feel different.

I’m moving forward and trying to put my disappointment behind me. I hate that I have to wait until next year to get redemption at this race, but I can’t let that get me down. Not every race is going to go well, or even go decently. Time to move on.

Road to Redemption

As you might expect, I am having a hard time coming to grips with my non-performance at Twin Cities Marathon last weekend. I’m questioning my decision to drop out of the race, still wondering what happened, not sure if I’m past whatever it was that did happen, and looking ahead to what I can do to wash the stench of failure off of my body.

I signed up for the Moustache Run the same evening as TCM, but I was planning on doing that anyway. And of course I already have the Icebox 480 coming up at the beginning of November. But I really, really, really wanted to get a marathon PR this year. Early last week, I started searching for another marathon nearby to try to capitalize on my training.

Enter the Mankato Marathon, which is October 19th. No, I haven’t actually signed up for it yet, but I’m still thinking about it. Registration is still open, and the price isn’t going to change between now and race day, so there’s no reason for me to jump the gun. What’s stopping me? Two things: money and health. Pretty important things!

This race has been on my mind so frequently that last night I dreamed about it. In the dream, I signed up and then showed up on race day completely unprepared. The race started and I wasn’t even in my gear! I rushed to get ready and tried to start, and they didn’t let me. The worst possible outcome: paying for a race I didn’t even start, thanks to nothing but my own logistical incompetence! Not ideal.

Money is the most important factor in the decision to run or not. The race is far enough away (the drive is about an hour and a half long) that I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving down there on race day and would need a hotel room. There is actually packet pick-up the day of the race, but the race itself starts at 7:30 a.m. As we all know, I can’t sleep before races even when I don’t have to do much on race day to get to the starting line. Driving for an hour and a half to get to the race start with enough time to pick up my packet, drop off my finish line bag, and get to the start would be extremely stressful for me. I’d almost certainly be driving down on an hour or less of sleep, and then driving back after a sleepless night and 5-6 hours of running. That’s not safe. So it’s either rent a room for the night or don’t run. I had a third option of staying with a family member but I didn’t feel comfortable asking any of my extended family.

The other question is health. Obviously something was up on race day, and I need to be sure that whatever the problem is, I’ve fixed it. I have run a couple times since then (once at Battle Creek, and once on the treadmill) and have felt okay both times, but I’ve felt cold-like symptoms coming on a few times thanks to the cold snap (complete with snow!) and the rain. I’m not going to sign up until I can tell if I have a cold or if it’s just some allergies.

Of course this is a completely crazy and desperate idea. And of course it’s going to be detrimental to my race at Icebox. But it’s still nagging at me, even after a week of pondering it. I’ll make the final decision Thursday, based on my health and also my financial situation. If we get some good financial news this week, and I don’t have a cold, then I’ll go for it. If we get no news or bad news (not catastrophic, don’t worry), or if I still feel sneezy, then I’ll rest up for Icebox and work through my emotions in some other constructive way.

Four more days of equivocating! I’m so excited.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Weeks 14 and 15

It’s the final countdown…

Monday (9/16): 4.8 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Tuesday: 5.8 mi, road (6 x Wabasha St. Bridge)
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, road
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.3 mi, paved trail (MRT, 30 @ tempo)
Saturday: 5.2 mi, trail (Frontenac State Park)
Sunday: 11.1 mi, trail (Fort Snelling State Park)
Total: 37.4 mi

Monday (9/23): 6.7 mi, paved trail (MRT and Crosby Farms)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (Hyland)
Thursday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (30 @ tempo, MRT)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6 mi, road
Sunday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (Fort Snelling to Minnehaha Falls)
Total: 29.3 mi

I’m in the home stretch now of marathon training! I can’t even believe it. Of course now I’m also terrified.

I’ve slowed down my training somewhat, but Week 14 was my last “push” of sorts. I had some relatively unremarkable runs, although my tempo was pretty miserable as I felt oddly nauseated.

Saturday morning I volunteered at the In Yan Teopa 10 miler at Frontenac State Park. That place is gorgeous! It is right along the Mississippi River and there are some amazing views. Oh, and also some STEEP climbs. According to my friend John, this park hosts one of the steepest climbs in the whole state. I believe it since I thought my legs were going to fall off at one point. And also I thought I was going to slip on the stairs and fall to my death during the descent.

Sunday I did my final long run around Fort Snelling. I am so happy the park is open again! There’s still some sections of closed trail, and the impacts of the flooding are visible throughout the park, especially on Pike Island. I did the FANS loop and the Pike Island loop, plus just about every other trail out there, until I cobbled together enough mileage to call it a day.

Week 15, I didn’t do much in the way of quality workouts. I did do a tempo run on Wednesday which went remarkably well, but the rest of the week was easy miles for the sake of miles. And also to get steps in for the heated steps challenge I’m in at work. It’s rather aggressive. I took an unplanned rest day on Friday because I was exhausted and coming down with a bit of a cold/allergies situation. I probably could have run a few miles, but for what purpose? Oh yeah, steps. But I managed to resist the competitive spirit.

Saturday, even though I still wasn’t feeling great, I wasn’t feeling any worse, so I went out for a run on Summit. The next time I run Summit, I’ll be finishing the marathon! I was pretty excited about that. I felt better as the run progressed, although after I got home, I started to deteriorate a bit. Sunday, I wasn’t feeling any better but also not any worse, so I got back out there despite the misty weather. I started at Fort Snelling and ran to Minnehaha Falls and back, and again felt better as the run progressed. When I got home, after I showered, I felt really terrible (achy and chilled), but I rallied to go to a movie that evening.

I’m looking forward to taking it “easy” and getting over whatever this illness is during the upcoming week, and then crushing the marathon! I managed to match my September mileage from last year despite not running a marathon like I did in 2018, so I’m in a good spot to finish ahead of last year’s mileage with three months to go, despite a rather large deficit that’s built up.

And I’m really, really glad I won’t have any more bridge repeats for awhile! Although now it will be cool enough that they won’t be torture, so maybe…

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 13

Friday the 13th on week 13? Spooky!

Monday: 5 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6.3 mi, paved trail (7 x 0.5 mi, MRT)
Wednesday: 5.4 mi,
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (40 @ tempo, Bruce Vento Regional Trail)
Saturday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (3 @ marathon pace, Battle Creek)
Sunday: 12.1 mi, trail (Afton State Park)
Total: 41 mi

I took Monday off after Superior, knowing I’d need a day to recover from the hectic pace. I thought I’d be able to run somewhere fun since I had all day, but it rained and was cold so I ended up on the treadmill again. That was disappointing, but I did manage to get in a nice groove and only had to pause twice in the beginning (once because getting on the treadmill always makes me have to pee, and once because something fell off the table behind me and I wanted to make sure nothing was broken or in danger of getting stuck behind the treadmill).

Tuesday I meant to do 8 x 0.5 mi repeats, but after 2 repeats I didn’t want to do them anymore, after the third repeat I realized I needed to do them in control rather than as fast as possible (especially since I’d eaten an excess of goldfish crackers prior to the workout), and after the fourth repeat realized I wouldn’t have time to get home by 8 PM if I didn’t skip the last repeat as well as the usual mile cooldown I do afterward. Whoops. So I did seven repeats and a wimpy cooldown and went home to play HQ trivia.

Wednesday’s workout was great! I had thought I was going to be stuck on the treadmill again due to rain, but the rain passed through earlier than anticipated and I was able to get out and run around Crosby Farm and the Mississippi River Trail. It was cool and the last few miles felt effortless in a way running hasn’t felt in a long time for me. I took Thursday off due to the weather, and then did a tempo run on the Bruce Vento trail along Swede Hollow and Phalen Blvd on Friday. There were several, um, events occurring in Swede Hollow Park (especially around Swedehenge); one of which appeared to be something staged by the Life and Death Brigade from Gilmore Girls. I felt like crap during the run and my legs felt like they weight a ton each (do I write this every week? I think I do), but I did manage a decent overall pace and was happy with the results of the run even if it was miserable to do.

Saturday I had a couple things to do in the afternoon (a housewarming party for friends and a visit to see my mom’s new tiny kitten), so I needed to get my run done quickly. I went to Battle Creek because it was easy and did a loop around the dog park area, then a loop around the water park/playground area, and then another dog park loop. I tried to run 3 of those miles at marathon pace, but dialing that in wasn’t easy. It was either too hard of an effort or too easy, I couldn’t ever really settle in to 11:29. So that’s going to be my battle the next few weeks; understanding what marathon pace feels like. I’m paying for the “marathon effort” workouts done in the heat this summer!

Sunday I wanted to do a longish run, but also needed to pick up a state park pass so I can be ready for my volunteering stint next weekend at In Yan Teopa. I decided to go to Afton and did 12 miles, which was fun but also slower than I wanted to be. Afton is hilly and it was hot! I need to go back there once the weather is slightly cooler and see what it’s like to run there when I’m not baking in the sun on the prairie loop. I do love running there, although I hate running along the river when there are so many power boats roaring up and down it. It’s not very peaceful.

I was glad to get over the 40 mile threshold this week, not just because I’m in a hyper-competitive steps challenge at work, but also because I’ve been slacking on my mileage lately. For good reason, of course – spending time with my family over Labor Day weekend and spending time with my friends at Superior was far more important than an extra 5-10 miles of training.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Weeks 11 and 12

I had a couple down weeks in training thanks to a fun Labor Day vacation and an amazing weekend volunteering at Superior. Well worth it in both cases!

Monday (8/26): 3.1 mi, road
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 6.3 mi, road (7 x Wabasha St Bridge)
Thursday: 6.4 mi, paved trail (50 @ tempo, Mississippi River Trail)
Friday: 3.4 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Saturday: 6.2 mi, road (Pike Lake loop)
Sunday: rest
Total: 25.3 mi

Monday (9/2): 13 mi, paved trail (MRT and Crosby Farms)
Tuesday: 6.4 mi, paved trail (Big Rivers)
Wednesday: 6.2 mi, paved trail (45 @ tempo, MRT)
Thursday: 3 mi, treadmill
Friday: “rest” (Superior volunteering)
Saturday: “rest” (Superior volunteering)
Sunday: 4 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Total: 32.7 mi

I’ve felt pretty tired lately, so it was good to have some down time and some extra rest days. Running 6 days a week gets kind of annoying, but I just don’t have the time to get in that mileage over 5 days. #Slowrunnerproblems I guess.

The week of the 26th, my legs felt heavy and yucky. This is probably in part because on Monday, after my short run around my neighborhood, I went to see Iron Maiden and rocked out super hard. I had to take the next day off because my poor legs had taken such a beating. My bridge repeats were tough on Wednesday were tough, too. I got them done, but it felt like my legs weighed a ton apiece. My tempo run went a little better, though I wasn’t sure at the time (I try not to look at my pace during tempo runs, I run by effort). I don’t usually stack up two speed workouts back to back, but there wasn’t any other way to get them both completed.

On Friday, we decided to head up to Duluth in the evening to avoid the bulk of the Labor Day traffic, so I got in a short run before the drive. I managed to pry myself away from the craziness on Saturday (sailing, jet skis, etc.) to go for a run around Pike Lake, but I couldn’t muster the energy on Sunday so I took that as an extra rest day. We headed home on Sunday afternoon, later than planned, and by the time we got home, I didn’t want to do anything but veg out on the couch.

That rest day on Sunday was helpful because it allowed me to get in a long run (13 mi) on Monday, without having super tired legs. I didn’t realize pretty much everyone in the Twin Cities metro area had decided to descend on Crosby Farms and Hidden Falls, so it took me a really long time to find a place to park. Both of the Crosby lots were full, and there was a huge backup at Hidden Falls but I managed to snag a spot by being in the right place at the right time, when someone else was leaving. I started at Hidden Falls, looped around to Crosby Farms and then came back around Hidden Falls from Mississippi River Blvd, continued to Shadow Falls (running into my husband, who was out for his daily walk, along the way!), and then turned around headed back to my car.  It was a decent long run but I should have started sooner so that I could have gotten a few more miles in. If there’s one thing my marathon training is lacking, it’s long runs.

I had a great run on Tuesday at Big Rivers; my legs felt good for the first time in awhile, and I had a spring in my step. That’s probably because the weather was pretty good, although the wind kicked up at the end. I wanted to add some mileage so I ran across the Mendota Bridge and then came back, and the wind on the return trip was brutal. I was glad it was to my back, because it was blowing sand against my legs hard enough that it stung. I felt sorry for the cyclists headed the other way. The next day I ran a tempo run (only 45 minutes! I’m on the downward slope of my training cycle now!!!) that went pretty well despite being rather hilly. I was pretty pleased with my overall tempo pace, which included just over a minute of waiting for a light, so my actual running pace was even better! I didn’t bother to calculate it because of course a break is a break, it’s part of the run.

Thursday I got in a VERY quick treadmill run before we headed up to Lutsen. I haven’t been on a treadmill in months, which is awesome, but I was too anxious about getting everything packed up and getting on the road with plenty of time to get to the 100 mile packet pickup site in Two Harbors, so I didn’t feel like I had time to get in a road or trail run.

Friday and Saturday I was too busy to get in a run, and I needed to channel all of my physical and mental energy into my volunteer duties. Naturally I’ll be recapping all of that in its own post. I got in a short trail run on Sunday after we got home – it was nice to be out on the trails for myself, instead of just watching others run. I think I ended up with my best time on the Battle Creek ski trails! It’s nice to see my legs come back around and recover from the heaviness and tiredness I’d been experiencing earlier.

There are only 4 more weeks until the marathon! I can’t believe it! I also need to take advantage of this cool weather and get in some runs at marathon pace so I actually know what it feels like. I’m a little nervous about that sub-5 goal. Maybe it’s possible? I ran a half marathon at that pace on minimal training. But that was a half marathon, not a marathon. I do still feel like if I make smart choices on race day, I can get a huge PR, and I’m excited about that!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Weeks 8, 9, and 10

It’s been awhile.

Monday (8/5): rest
Tuesday: 5.8 mi, road (6 x Wabasha Street Bridge)
Wednesday: 3.3 mi, paved trail (Hyland)
Thursday: 6.4 mi, paved trail (MRT, 45 @ tempo)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 15 mi, paved trail (Crosby Farm + MRT)
Sunday: 5 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Total: 35.6 mi

Monday (8/12): rest
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (MRT, 45 @ tempo)
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (Crosby Farms to Hidden Falls & back)
Thursday: 4.4 mi, paved trail (Vento Regional Trail)
Friday: 12.1 mi, paved trail (Wirth Park – Brownie Lake – Cedar Lake – Lake of the Isles)
Saturday: 6.7 mi, trail (2.8 @ Whitewater State Park, 3.9 @ Great River Bluffs State Park)
Sunday: 5.4 mi, paved trail (Fox River Trail)
Total: 39.9 mi

Monday (8/19): 4.5 mi, paved trail (Fox River Trail)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.6 mi, paved trail (Fox River Trail)
Thursday: 6 mi, paved trail (Fox River Trail)
Friday: 7, trail (Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve)
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 12.2 mi, road (home to Summit and back)
Total: 35.3 mi

Sheesh, I guess I went 3 weeks without recapping my training. How will I remember what happened? It doesn’t matter that much.

In Week 8, I plowed through some hill repeats despite hot, windy weather. The next day, I headed out to Hyland on my lunch hour (big mistake, it was way too far of a drive!) to get in a quick run since I was volunteering at the final installment of the Endless Summer Trail Run Series. That race was held at Spring Lake Park Reserve in Hastings, and I need to go back there to run, it was gorgeous! After pounding out a decent tempo run on Thursday, I took a break on Friday because I was planning on running a (free to me) 5K Saturday morning. Instead, I said screw it, slept in, and ran 15 miles, much of it in the pouring rain, in the afternoon. It was a nice change from the heat! I finished up on Sunday with a short run at Battle Creek.

In Week 9, I moved quite a few workouts around to accommodate my weekend travel. I had another fairly decent tempo run on Monday, tested out a new section of trail between Crosby Farms and Hidden Falls (it had been closed for awhile since it was under water and then under river sludge) on Wednesday, barely beat out a storm during a short run on Thursday, and completed my long run on Friday around some of the chain of lakes. I did take a short detour around the quaking bog before heading across the freeway and around Brownie Lake, part of Cedar Lake (light rail construction prevented me from going all the way around), and Lake of the Isles before returning. I did see a woman get into a minor scooter accident and made sure she was okay before continuing. Dramatic! Saturday I drove down to the Chicago burbs for a work training, so I stopped twice to run along the way (checking off Winona county and two more state parks, yay!). That kind of sucked because it made my trip really long and I had to drive 4 more hours in sweaty, stinky clothes… but I suppose I could have also changed clothes if I’d been smart. Thanks to my friend Chris from Running Ahead, I got great advice on a place to run, the Fox River Trail, and ran my first segment after class on Sunday. (Yes, my training started Sunday. Yes, it was a miserable week.)

Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I ran various other segments of the Fox River Trail. It was pretty nice – mostly flat, not too busy, with some decent scenery for the most part. The final day, the route was soured a bit by detours and some grubby areas, but it was fun to try a new section each night without needing to drive too far (or pay any tolls!) before I had dinner and studied for the next day of class. Friday, I had a test in the morning and then went for a run in the late afternoon. It took me over an hour to get to Waterfall Glen Park Reserve due to traffic and due to taking a super long route to avoid tolls (yay!), but it was worth it! Crushed gravel is the best surface ever! (Besides hard-packed dirt singletrack without roots or rocks.) Plus the trail goes around Argonne National Laboratory, which made me feel right at home as an engineer. I drove home Saturday, planning to run when I got home, but there was a mixup with my husband (who was visiting his parents) and I didn’t get my rental car returned until it was much later in the day than I’d planned. I made up for it on Sunday by running from home to Summit Ave (up Ramsey Hill, woof), running down to the start of the St. Thomas campus, and then back home. It rained a bit, but wasn’t too bad.

I’m trying to get back into a normal schedule and into my normal training structure, but I’ve got more disruptions coming the next two weekends, so I’ll just take training as it comes. The weather has started to cool off, so it looks like I might actually have to start, like running marathon pace workouts at marathon pace. Uh oh!

The Existential Dread of Local Running Stores

“Support your local running store!”

What a complicated statement. Be prepared for a heavy dose of emotional hand-wringing and navel-gazing! And also some privileged whining from a cis white lady of average size who can’t get out of her own head.

I have needed a new pair of road shoes for awhile now. I put a lot of miles on my shoes despite advice (propaganda?) to replace them at 250-300 miles. I meant to replace them at 450 mi or so, but I went over the 500 mile mark last week and had to draw a line in the sand.

I hate going into running stores. I just hate it. The very things that make them unique and valuable are also what fill me with existential dread. Knowledgeable, passionate, talented runners – I feel like they can smell my amateurness and my double-digit minute mile pace and think I don’t belong in their store.

This is stupid because I have never actually received overt discrimination from a running store employee. I feel pretty fortunate because I know there are others out there who have been given the once-over by some young, fit, 18 minute 5Ker and been ignored, patronized, or straight up insulted. And here I am unable to get out of my own head and accept that I belong in these spaces.

I had a couple running stores in Duluth that I liked (Austin Jarrow and Duluth Running Company), and if I’m in Duluth when I need new shoes, I will shop there. Out of sheer laziness or cheapness I have purchased shoes online, but I try to avoid shopping online for a variety of reasons (packaging waste, pollution, big box stores that don’t support my running community) and I made a point that I was not going to give in to my laziness this time around. I was going to buy from a Twin Cities-based store and do it in person.

The running stores that are the most involved in the events that I do (trail races, especially) are also the least convenient for me to get to, so I decided to try a different one last weekend, one that I’d never really heard of and didn’t know much about, because it was significantly more convenient. Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t that great, even though it was really no fault of the store or its employees and more my own neurotic reaction to perfectly normal circumstances.

I walked in to the store (with my non-runner spouse) and there were quite a few people in there for such a small store. Probably half the people in there were teen boys, most of whom appeared to be employees, milling about and talking to each other. When I worked in retail, managers would always tell us not to stand in groups and talk, partially because they wanted us to be busy doing stupid stuff like cleaning or trying to open credit cards, and partially because it was poor customer service. It puts the customer in a position where they feel like they are interrupting. Of course I often stood in groups and talked to people, because you can only stand in silence, cleaning the same glass countertop over and over again, for so long before you go insane.

I had a moment of panic where I thought they didn’t have the shoe brand I wanted, and I would have to endure the awkwardness of either leaving right away, or listening to a sales pitch of how I would like this other brand (usually Brooks, it’s always Brooks, or New Balance) and then I’d have to say “No, I do not want to switch shoe models in the middle of marathon training” and then imagine them internally saying “You are running a marathon? Let me guess, Disney in a tutu with your mom friends,” and externally saying “Oh, is this your first marathon?” and then I’d die a little inside because I like pizza and bagels too much to ever look like I’ve run a marathon before. Also there’s nothing wrong with running Disney in a tutu with mom friends, beyond the conspicuous consumption that accompanies the Disney races. Tutus, mom friends, they are cool with me. We don’t all have to wear XXXS singlets with our track club on them in order to be considered runners.

To the store’s credit, one of the teens peeled off from the group right away to approach me politely and ask if he could help me, and then pointed me to the correct spot on the wall where the Mizunos were. I had a moment of disappointment when I saw that the shoes were the exact same color pattern as the pair I had just run into the ground. Boring! He went and grabbed a box, which took approximately one eon to find, while I stood there feeling like I was in everyone’s way, looking around and pondering why Ryan Hall felt the need to write a Bible verse on the signed photo displayed near the register.

The guy handed over the box and I told him I didn’t even need to try them on, which he was cool with. I got in line and that’s when things just got really weird for me. This customer ahead of me was being so strange. He was some kind of running coach, either for high schoolers or for a running club or something, and he was talking loudly with one of the employees about various races that his team had participated in. This woman was also some kind of coach and this guy just seemed like he was… posturing? Trying to appear dominant? Just bragging? I don’t know. It was very weird and he was extremely annoying and his constant talking was slowing down his transaction and prolonging my time in this uncomfortable situation. He filled up the room with his loud talking about how his club beat her club or he would have put together a team for some event but it was age-graded or something. I don’t even know, it was just weird competitive team running stuff that I don’t understand. I mean, I was the SLPHS cross country team manager (boys and girls, mind you) for one season in 2001, so I consider myself somewhat of an expert on this subject, but I couldn’t follow much of what he was talking about. All I knew is if this guy was a dog, he would have been peeing all over this store to mark his territory.

I realize this is unfair to the store, because it’s not their fault they had a weirdly insecure customer loudly talking and practically shouting across the room at their employee. But I really don’t want to go back there because it was such a weird experience, despite it being a relatively convenient store for me to patronize.

This whole experience is part of a larger question for me; I wonder if there will ever come a time when I feel like I belong in running-related spaces. I mean, I generally feel comfortable at trail races now that I’ve met so many people and volunteered and participated. But will there ever be a time when I show up to a race, or walk into a store, or pick up a packet, or wander an expo, and not feel like every person in the place thinks I don’t belong?

And if such a time comes, when will that be? When I reach a certain time in a 5K? When I lose a certain amount of weight? When I wake up one day and get the eff over myself? That last one sounds pretty appealing. Because intellectually I know that if I run, I am a runner, and I belong in a running store, buying running shoes to run in as a runner. Emotionally, I need to catch up. I’ve got 215.2 more miles on my trail shoes to figure that out!