Archive for April, 2009

You’re Only Wet Because of the Rain

I intended to run 30 miles on Saturday and 20 on Sunday this weekend. Or maybe a 25/25. Whichever. This was supposed to be my last weekend of intense training before I start to taper for my 50 mile race on May 9th.

Well, lo and behold I got a little too dehydrated on Friday night for various reasons (some of them legal, some of them not so much, but all of them in the name of self care), and even though I was asleep by 11pm with all of my running stuff prepared for 30 miles the next day, once my head hit the pillow it didn’t want to rise for a really really long time–like, until 9 the following morning. And I so didn’t feel like starting a 30 mile run at 9am–it’s just too late for me. Saturday was a BEAUTIFUL day, too. I actually ended up running 4 that afternoon–in my sports bra and shorts. It was that fucking sunny and nice out.

Alright, so we’ll do this double-long run shit on Sunday and Monday. It will be fine.

Insert – Rain. Lots of rain.

Not flooding rain, and not just a drizzle, but a steady stream of slightly more annoying than just light rain, rain. Dumb rain.

I’ve always told myself that it doesn’t matter if it’s raining when I need/want to run–I should just run anyway. After all, come race day, the race won’t be canceled just because of some water. It’s good training to run in the rain, just like it’s good to run into the wind. And actually, I’m not completely sure of what people’s aversion is to running in the rain. Getting wet? Um, hello? Don’t you sweat? Can’t you just get dry later?

I remember this summer when I was training some high schoolers with Team M3 to run the Chicago marathon, we were scheduled to run a 14 miler one Saturday. We were actually supposed to run it the previous Saturday, but it had been lightening, so we rescheduled. This following Saturday, it was still pouring, but no life-threatening lightening. So we ran. I had a 3 mile bike ride to where we started, and by the time I got there, I was completely drenched. Not just sheets of rain–we’re talking fucking quilts. Heavy. Constant. Pouring. Soaked.

It was so much fun. The youth made a game out of it–try to jump into the middle of every puddle. Most of these puddles were calf-to-knee deep. Whatever. They were already soaked. Why not have fun?

So while the youth were having a blast–splashing, shouting, laughing, and stomping around in this 14 mile downpour, what are the adult mentors doing? We’re running in the grass trying to avoid the puddles. Huh?!? Because we might get our soaking shoes soaking wet? And while all of us adult people were smiling and laughing at the youth, not one of us jumped in on the fun.

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At what point does this shift? Does it have something to do with a forced sense of responsibility? Have we lost the sense of why jumping in puddles is fun?

What are we hoping to hold onto by trying to keep dry in a downpour?

So Sunday–it was raining–and I was like, fuck it, I need to do this long run. Plus, I had ran those 14 miles in a downpour this past summer, so why not 30 in a light shower? Or, how about 20? As I set out to do 30, I knew that distance wasn’t going to happen, so I settled on 20 with the thought that I’d do another 20 or 30 the next day.

The first 10 miles were absolutely fun. Running in the rain makes me feel like a bad ass and a free-loving kid all at the same time! I was going a steady pace, and I took to my strategy for how I got through this past Chicago winter–don’t resist the weather, just accept it for what it is and celebrate it with every step.

And that worked for 10 miles.

Then I turned around and headed back up North to my house.

And then I realized there was wind, and now I was running into it. Plus, the wind was carrying the raindrops special delivery right into my face. It was cold, windy, rainy, gray. And hard to keep my eyes open, too.

I change my mind. Running in the rain fucking sucks.

How easy it is to instantly change your perspective.

I finally, finally got done with the 20 in a time of 2:46. Not bad. Besides, I honestly think running 20 miles in the wind and rain is as emotionally taxing as running 30 miles in perfect weather. I’ll take it.

I was so not looking forward to doing another 20 in the rain this morning. So not looking forward to it to the point that I had packed all my shit up in preparation to get to my gym by 5:30am, so I could run 20 miles on the dreadmill. How. Boring. When I woke up (an hour late, but still an hour before the sunrise–as if you could see the sun in this gloomy weather), it sounded like the rain had let up a little.

Yeah!

Just kidding. By the time I got out of the door, it was still raining. I ended up doing 11.5. In the rain. Again.

I’m trying to stay positive about all of this. I was telling myself earlier that I could do another 8 tonight, maybe when it stops raining. After the past two outings, I just can’t handle any more drops in my face. But now I see it’s going to rain (and snow–WTF?) for another two days. This hating-of-the-rain development in my life is something I’m really curious about. Shouldn’t I just be able to do what I do–enjoy myself and be prepared for running in any kind of weather–and not be so affected by the elements?

One thing that I did keep telling myself during the last few miles of the miserable-ish 20, is that at least my eyelashes weren’t freezing together–something I experienced while doing a 26 miler on Christmas this year.

That thought helped me to pick up my pace for a bit, until I thought, “yeah, my eyelashes were freezing together, but at least I was dry.”

Seriously. What is this aversion to wetness? Even when I was soaked and running in the last mile of the 20, I was still dodging puddles–skipping around barely visible pools of water in shoes that were making sloshing noises because I’ve been running in the rain for almost 3 hours. God forbid I step in that tiny puddle.

I shake my head at the absurdity of it all, and yet I smile. Although, I’m probably only able to smile now because I’m dry, drinking coffee, and I won’t be running again until Wednesday–when it’s going to be warm and sunny. At least there’s a smile shining through something.

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After 35 Miles, You’re Still in My Head

What did I think about for 35 miles on Saturday? Honestly, I have no fucking clue. I do know that I sang “Back In Your Head” by Tegan and Sara for at least 4 hours. And I don’t even know all of the lyrics to that song. But every time I said, “Chelsey, you have GOT to get this song out of your head,” the lyrics “I just want back in your head” kept replaying in my mind. Such a vicious cycle. I wanted to be thinking of something beautiful and grand. Inspiring thoughts that are born while giving myself the space to run for 5 hours and 19 minutes.

But, I just want back in your head!

That’s all I got.

And tiredness. Really fucking tired.

I ran 10 miles yesterday and then worked from 11-6. When I got off of work, my co-worker and I had some beers at a bar while we each read a different April Sinclair novel. It was so calming–pleasant–amazing. But by 8pm I was ready to pass out.

At 9:30 I was dead asleep.

And now it’s 2am as I write this. I’m wide awake. Well, not so wide awake that I’ll go bike riding or something like that right now, (although a night time/early morning bike ride through the streets of Chicago does sound amazing and briefly crossed my mind as something to do), but awake enought to work on writing a personal essay I have due for Make/Shift soon.

So I’ve been writing for the past hour and a half.

And something came up for me.

I’ve been needing to write this for well over 6 months. But I just haven’t found the space that I needed to be able to sit myself down and write this out. I didn’t know how to.

What space does running 35 miles (or 45 miles in two days) do for me? It helps me to create. These are things that I’m constantly thinking about, not just when I’m running. But when I am running, especially for more than 2 hours, I get this amazing mental space in which I can think without having thoughts, sing without having lyrics, and feel my emotions without being overwhelmed by them.

And this is what that kind of space can create:

An Open Letter to My Ex-Girlfriend

(written at 2:51am)

When you didn’t let my best friend support me after I was sexually assaulted, that was abusive and traumatizing.
When you violated my sense of security by logging into my email account while I was at an extra therapy session because I had been sexually assaulted two days ago, that was abusive and traumatizing.

When you told me the day after I was sexually assaulted how horrible of a person I am and how I done you so wrong, that was abusive and traumatizing.

Yes, I broke up with you in a very harsh and traumatizing way. I can own that. I can recognize that that was wrong of me. But skip ahead 10 days from my breaking up with you–10 days in which there were too many hours of fighting, and of course another break-up discussion because once is never enough to end a four year relationship–and I’m being sexually assaulted by a stranger on the street.

When you came over to support me that night, I saw judgment in your eyes. I felt it in my heart.

And yes, during our break up I admitted to you that my best friend and I had talked about our mutual attraction for each other. But you couldn’t understand that while my attraction to her might have been a reason why we were breaking up, it was not because I wanted to ditch you for her, but it was because with her I finally got to understand what it felt like to be seen as a whole person. To be listened to. Honored. Supported.

So to deny me that friend, that type of support after I was sexually assaulted was traumatizing. After someone is assaulted, the most important thing to do is to give them back their power. When you are assaulted, your ability to choose is completely taken away from you. So I don’t care if you don’t like me getting support from my best friend because you see our friendship as threatening to you. I was assaulted. I should be able to make these decisions for myself. And you and everyone in “our” “community” should not judge me for them.

How could you deny me my power to choose?

Where was your humanity?

Where was your compassion?

Can you still identify as a feminist after the way that you acted?

We broke up. You are not able to make these decisions for me any more. They actually shouldn’t be for you to decide in the first place.

The day after I was assaulted, I said that it was okay for me to hear about what you thought about our break up. I broke up with you 10 days ago. And 5 days before my assault we stopped talking. I wanted to know what was going on for you. How you were feeling. What was hurting you. Instead of taking care of myself after I was assaulted, I wanted to take care of someone else. I can recognize this as an unhealthy pattern in my life, and I’m working on it.

So while I did agree for you to tell me what was on your mind, as my initial support person after being assaulted I hoped that you would have supported me and not further assaulted me.

Yes. It was too much. I wanted to hear what you were thinking so I could get my mind off of the fact that I had been sexually assaulted last night. But to have you stand there and tell me how much I had hurt you and how horrible of a person I am is not support. Even if I asked for it.

I need for you to take responsibility for these actions. I can’t sleep until I know that you won’t do this to someone else.

My sexual assault was traumatizing. I continue to have flashbacks and panic attacks.

But the assault that you did to me in the days following my attack have caused more emotional trauma in my life. Worse than panic attacks or flashbacks, I deal with this trauma on a daily basis. And while you are not the sole reason why I am or continue to have this trauma in my life, you are a part of it, even if you are not a part of my life now.

And sometimes I don’t deal. Sometimes I can’t even face it.

I need you to face it.

I need you to look at your actions–your abuse–and be able to name it. To take responsibility for it.

To live with it every day.

Like me.

_________________________

While I didn’t have these thoughts when I ran 35 miles, I did wake up in the middle of the night–exhausted from my exhaustion–and finally had the space to name them.

Maybe I’ll be able to sleep now.

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Woke Up, It Was a Chelsey Morning

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That’s right. I ran my name this morning. The route is a 12-mile spelling of my name, but I ended up doing 14 miles on account of the fact that I had to run from where the 155 bus ended to the start of the C, and I missed my turn on the H, because sometimes maps lie. (FYI–Devon and Central Park do not, in fact, intersect due to a CVS Pharmacy roadblock).

The running back and forth and around and what not to spell my name was actually more entertaining than I though it would be. It wasn’t until I got to the Y that I started to ask myself, Why? Why run my name? Eh, why not? I first mapped this run out with the idea that I would run it on my birthday in celebration of myself. But I had the Lakefront 50k race to run on the 4th (the day after my birthday), and I didn’t think that doing a 12-14 mile run the day before a 31 mile race was that good of an idea. And then I was tired Sunday, it was snowy and gross on Monday (and who wants to wait for a bus to go on a run in that?). So alas, four days after my birthday I finally do my birthday-celebrate-me-run.

When I woke up and checked to see how close the bus was (which, FYI again–CTA bustracker does not track the 155 yet, so I had to resort to looking at the pdf file schedule, which just seems so damn old school now), I debated if I wanted to run with my iPod, because music and public transportation go so well together. Especially at 6:30am. But my iPod was drained of battery, so no music on this run.

But that got me thinking. Which got me singing. I totally should have made a Chelsey playlist to go along with my Chelsey run!

How far can I take this shit?

But what songs have Chelsey in it? There’s the obvious Joni Mitchell one that was immediately stuck in my head before I actually even started running. There’s also that really amazing Belle and Sebastian song, but I couldn’t remember any of the lyrics and only knew that my name was somewhere in it. Which then got me singing “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child (of which I only know the chorus, and that got real annoying real fast). What else?

So I challenge you, my little blog readers, to come up with a Chelsey playlist, or a “my name” playlist. The length of this list needs to be between 1.5 and 2 hours to cover the whole run (more, if you want to include the bus ride from my house). That’s a lot of songs.

Set go.

Who says you can’t spice up your running? Which brings me back to the question of, Why?

I don’t know. Why not? If I need to run 14 miles, might as well spell something with it. Maybe I’ll start running haikus with my long runs. Would that require a haiku playlist? Now, that might be boring. I wouldn’t really suggest running to audio books, let alone audio haikus.

Then again, I’m pretty much game for anything new.

Ok. Make me that playlist!

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Running Into Myself

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Awake now. Not awake yesterday morning. Felt so dead. Dehydrated. Eyes puffy past recognition. Seriously debated if I wanted to run my 50k race. Had puked all day on Friday. It was one of those days when nothing would stay inside of me.

Get out.

I got up. Decided, what the hell? Could always quit if it was horrible–even though I never would do that, the possibility of it was comforting enough to get me out of bed.

Start. Go. Just go. I’ve said those words before in protection and self defense. To my attacker: You need to leave. Just go.

There’s a feeling of fed-up-ness behind it all. As if going is the only thing there is ever left to do.

Just. Go.

Just go, Chelsey.

I went. I knew I was speeding too fast pass people. But it felt like the thing to do. Didn’t know how long I could keep it up for, so I just kept going. Let two women (one in pink and one in yellow) lead me with their pace of excitement for the first 7 miles. Why stop at aid stations when I can grab the fluid and sip while running?

The pink and yellow women got too slow for me. Guess it was the wind when we headed back north that kept them back and pushed me forward.

I could feel the wind. Feel it pushing against me. Felt strong. I felt strong. Leaning into the wind and pushing through it. No, not pushing–cutting. Something I’ve realized lately more and more that I know how to do in my life. Slicing through the hard to get to a place where I’m numb to it all. Cutting through the pain and possible barriers. Letting go of that fear and just gliding with it. The only thing the wind made me feel was a bit chilly.

And strong. There was no other way to be.

10 miles. Refuel on gu. Keep going.

Thought one of my previous female pacers (the pink one) had snuck ahead of me at the turn-around. So I went after her. Kept pushing. Kept feeling stronger. Knew I was running too fast. But again, there was nothing else to do. I wanted it to be done with, so why not get done as fast as possible?

Seriously.

Serious–felt serious–still trying to figure out if there was even some enjoyment present in the seriousness.

Mile 15. Turned around and realized I wasn’t going to catch up with woman in pink, because she was at least two minutes behind me. What was I chasing after? What am I running against?

Kept telling myself to just Run YOUR Race, Chelsey. This was my race. This was my pace. Not to follow or challenge people, but to run for me. To run in me.

Mile 18. Friends there. Cheering me on. For the 4th time I gave them my little smile, told them I was going to keep going, and sped up a bit.

It felt weird to not stop and soak in their encouragement. But I had to keep going.

At mile 21 I realized I was running an ultramarathon race. Something in me awoke.

Oh yeah.

This is what I love.

I was running an ultramarthon.

This–this right here–is what I enjoy.

And now I only have 9 miles left of it.

Go–but don’t “just go” Go.

Go because you want to.

Mile 22. Friends again! Stopped. Kissed. Smiled. Laughed. I just woke up. And I SO have this shit, I grinned at them. Running hard again because I can. Because I want to.

I’ve never kept a pace up like that. There were no walls. Or, if there were any walls I sped by and through them too fast to even notice their existence in my life.

This keeps happening.

I keep surprising myself with my strength.

Maybe one of these days I’ll start believing in it. In me.

Or, maybe it’s the not knowing it that gives me the freedom to go.

Passed the #2 woman with 3 miles to go. Knew #1 was way ahead. So I kept strong and kicked it in for myself.

Because this is what I do.

This is what I do when I find space for myself and can move in it–with it. Part of me was not there for the first 20 miles.

Or.

Maybe it took 20 miles to find myself. To run into her, give her a big hug, and invite her to open up to me and to kick it in with me. To find and recognize what was in me.

And I think I might have found something new.

Emerging.

Lakefront 50k, 4:02:51, April 4, 2009

Lakefront 50k, 4:02:51, April 4, 2009

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