Monday, February 10, 2014

About Me

I created the sub-sections of this page (photos, contact me, etc.) within the last two weeks, and absent-mindedly never really put anything on them. I’ve slowly starting to flesh them out one by one, but the most viewed ‘About Me’ page remains blank.

This void, combined with the fact that it currently is 80 degrees (so says my rowing machines thermometer on its display, its greatest feature as I rarely use it) in my apartment as air flow isn’t transpiring (such is the life of a loft) and the AC refuses to exist, my mind is slightly gooey and unable to produce a new topic for this evening, so I’ll cathartically tackle that section. Hmm, so where to begin…

It shouldn’t be so difficult to wax poetic on oneself, but it’s hard starting at the beginning. Back then, there was always running. I started running with my mom in my early youth (around age four) and apparently pouted my way through the process of varying races in the suburban Chicago countryside.  
The Brookfield Zoo Run Run was a mainstay on the Kind running circuit in the velvet hat era.

Fun fact: my favorite color is blue. Why are my mom's shoelaces yellow?

I remember that race, circa 1993. I was in third grade, and (probably by default) earned an age group award for my efforts at the Indian Boundary YMCA 5k. I was so damn proud of my accomplishments that I wrapped the light yellow tassel attached to my red ribbon around my wrist and wore it to school the following day.

I can recall always doing well in the gym class runs out on the field of my elementary school, looping out and around the metal backstop of an arbitrary baseball field out on the playground and back to the stereotypically masculine lady gym teacher. I wasn’t the fastest, but I beat some of the more popular girls. I was a tomboy and got picked to play kickball with the boys when no other girls did. Thus started my notion of being a fearless competitor.

With my older sister devoid of height (and I not much taller), potential athletic endeavors were limited to the sisters Kind, save joining the all-accepting cross country/track team in junior high. I followed in my sisters footsteps at my mom’s urging and even in my baby fat-filled, sub five foot tall days, found slight success in running 1.5 mile races or 800/mile ventures on the track.

Moving on to high school, my freshman year saw me as one of the better members of the freshman/sophomore squad. Between the middle of eighth grade until a year later in HS, I grew about six inches and shed easily 20 pounds of that aforementioned baby fat.

From that point on, I committed fully to being a runner: mentally, physically, emotionally. If cross country/track athletes could be considered jocks at a high school that loved football, I certainly was. My dream was to qualify for the Olympics. I moved up to being one of the top five-six runners on the team in my first two years of school, and improved immensely my junior year, becoming the team’s top runner. I upped the ante the summer before my junior year of setting a goal for myself to qualify for state, and had a breakout track season that year, serving as the anchor runner of the 4x8 relay that qualified for state after winning the 800 and mile at conference, both indoors and out.

While I found more success in track, my love was the uneven rustic nature of cross country. One of the greatest races of my life fell at the Niles West sectional as a senior, where after placing 10th at the regional, I finished seventh amidst some pretty heavy competition, leading the whole team to qualify for state, an appearance where I wet the bed and faltered in my attempt to earn All-State accolades in my final race at Detwiller Park .


I began seriously discussing college possibilities with various coaches and teams around this time, which continued on through the spring during track season. I turned down scholarship offers to attend the best school I was accepted to academically in Miami University, meeting with the coach who would allow me to join the team as a walk-on. The lure of photos of All-Americans on his walls that entered school with my own meek PRs at the time was too great. I wanted to wear a uniform and represent at team and get up on that wall. I could feel it being a very real possibility.

After concluding my high school career as an all-state athlete in the 4x8 as well as qualifying individually in the mile (a race that people I bump into when back home still bring up nearly a decade later, akin to how people in Texas ruminate over championship football games from the days of yore), the summer prior to my freshman year of college saw my feet begin to falter. After bashing the inside of my foot into the edge of the sidewalk during a run while still in high school (I fell off while talking about sex with my teammates, go figure), it became painful to run, hindering my ability to train. Presumed to have a stress fracture upon arriving to Miami, the coach didn’t want me until “I was up to par with his program” (a stinging phrase that really hurt at 18 and perpetually rings in the back of my mind) and it became painful merely walking around the campus I wanted to compete for. I almost failed out of school due to the intense discomfort paired with the loss of my competitive running, my sense of self.

I returned home at fall break and was diagnosed with accessory navicular, or an extra piece of bone present in my feet. Its rare occurrence (only 10% of the population has such) was known upon hitting the edge of that sidewalk, seriously aggravating the tendons keeping my feet together. I had this piece of bone removed from each foot in the summer of 2003. 

Faint and hard to see via my iPhone's camera, but the inch-long scar remains. 

Various bouts of physical therapy over the next few years never really helped. My stride and gait completely changed and I lost all fitness, not to mention my etched in stone sense of self.

Fast forward a few years, as not much transpired in between the conclusion of college and present day – athletically speaking. With minimal preparation, I’ve run in a few races, but not like I want to—I’m not competing, just a member of the masses. I felt like things were slowly coming together in the spring of 2010 before getting derailed by the presence of a bone chip, floating by my ankle. I signed up for the 2010 Chicago Marathon but couldn’t get past training runs of 15 miles during the summer due to a mental blockage. As I type this, I’m a few weeks from the Solder Field 10 miler, and I’m highly under prepared.

I’m tired of that reasoning following each attempt. This isn’t me. I prided myself on smart tactics and sheer ballsy racing, something still stuck in my brain from nearly 10 years ago, left untouched as I barely go out and hit the pavement on a daily basis, for whatever excuse or reason.

The purpose of this place is to focus my competitive athletic efforts back to a place that I’m happy with, even if it’s not at the same level I left off at when I was 18 and healthy.

That being said, there is the ultimate goal of running an official sub five minute mile once in my existence before speed is totally void in my legs (I know it’s still there. I can feel it).

Hmm, so I’m putting that goal out there into the ether. Oh well, now all that’s left to do is get after it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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