So here are the questions.
1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
This is pretty easy. Ten years ago (when I was 32 years old), I did not run at all. In fact, it had been another ten years since I had stopped running after college. By this time I was a few years out of law school and since law school I had gained quite a bit of weight. I would not say I was completely sedentary; I would go through periods when I walked regularly for exercise (although that would fall off when the weather got bad), and whenever I was in London or travelling I walked extensively. However, I definitely did not run and had anyone asked, I would have firmly said that my running days were behind me.
2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?
My best was probably the 2007 Whidbey Island Half Marathon. This was my first half marathon and is still my PR (1:54:30). Somehow everything came together perfectly for me that day; I still cannot believe that I ran it at a pace that is still a typical 10K pace for me. The weather was perfect, not too hot, and not cold, wet, or windy; the hills didn't faze me; and I had a crowd of cheerleaders at the end (my parents, Jennifer & Sammy, Corey & her husband Neil). Also, the race ended in Coupeville, instead of boring Oak Harbor like it does now!
The worst—nothing extreme, but I have one race and one run that might fit that category. The race was a 10K associated with the 2007 Olympia Halloween Marathon (there is a running group in Olympia that stages a marathon, half, 10-mile, 10K & 5K around every possible holiday). It happened to be a very rainy day, and the race started in a dark and gloomy state park. Then most of the course was out and back alongside a busy road and highway. Just boring, basically. Also, the finish line was not in the same spot as the start, you had to turn into the picnic area, and then turn again to actually cross the line; I spent several precious moments trying to figure out where to go. Finally, I had the worst time ever in a 10K, over 57 minutes I believe. On the good side, we then went to the Country Cousin restaurant in Centralia and ate a huge, frosting laden cinnamon roll.
The bad run occurred a couple days after the Whidbey Half. Apparently I wasn't fully recovered, and halfway into my run I developed horrible intestinal problems. I actually had to pound on the door of a friend's house to use the bathroom. Then I walked home—the only time I have ever cut a run short. (Too much information? Good thing nobody reads this.)
3. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Best? Hmm, let me think. The problem is that I know so few people who actually run (and no one more than me) that I rarely get any advice. I am taking to heart my friend's advice to (in future) sign up for a faster group in the Beat the Bridge run. Nobody will know the difference and it gives you a few extra minutes to get to the bridge. (This year I signed up for the slower group and ran with the faster group, so it came out the same in the end.)
The worst is easy. Although actually it's not advice, it's more like bad policy. This dates back to my first experiences with organized running, in middle school and junior high way back in the seventies. My first experience was running "the mile" in 6th grade (and beyond). Before then I had only run in play. My first mile was disastrous, probably about 12 minutes. Later with some practice I went to 10 minutes, and maybe 9 minutes. None of this sounds really horrible now. But back then, between the P.E. teachers and the scrawny kids who were naturally fast, there was a general attitude that anything slower than an 8 minute mile was bad, and really only less than 7 minutes was good. (This is the same standard, by the way, that still divides the starting groups in the Beat the Bridge and Jingle Bell runs.) Then this was coupled with these horrible graded physical fitness tests that we had to do (different from the President's Physical Fitness Test they have now), where I am quite sure that anything over 10 minutes in a miles was an F grade. (There were also things like dips and arm hang that I just could not do.) So you can imagine how traumatic it would be for someone who was used to getting straight A's to fail on a regular basis! Somewhat related to this, with all the focus on running "the mile," I never got a taste of the beauty of long distance running. Even when I went through jogging phases, I never did more than three miles at a time. Now I know that I don't even hit my stride till after at least three miles!
But to illustrate the difference between my past and the present, here are the standards for youth to qualify for the Presidential Health Fitness Award:
As you can see, the standards are much more forgiving than in my day! I could easily meet and beat any of the standards for a 17-year-old girl, except I still don't know if I could do even one pull-up. Actually, I'm not sure about the sit and reach stuff—I'm a lot less flexible now that I used to be. (Ironically, flexibility was one thing I was good at in my youth!)
4. Why do you run?
I run because walking became too slow. I run to stay thin (or a close facsimile thereof). I run because it gives me an excuse for my big calves. I run because it is a socially accepted reason to wear stretchy clothes. I run for the cinnamon rolls!
5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
Like what? My weight? (Actually I already alluded to that in an earlier post. And I'm sticking to that number, despite recent, ahem, fluctuations.)
Honestly, there is very little I can think to say about myself that would be surprising. I took piano lessons for 10 years (big wow), was a National Merit Scholar in high school (could've guessed that), highlight my hair to keep it blonde (obvious from the roots), and currently have a messy house (which I've admitted numerous times, plus anyone who sees my stacks of files at work could predict that immediately). Anything else I could think of, I would not care to write about in a blog which is theoretically accessible to millions, although undoubtedly read by few.
So there I am, a few things about me. I guess I'll finish with another tag question from Laura's blog...
Write your own six-word memoir...
"I will think about that tomorrow." (or a variation) "After all, tomorrow is another day."
...and illustrate with a picture.
(Which does remind me of another answer to #5 above—I have read Gone With the Wind at least eight times, all when I was a teenager and capable of reading books over, and over, and over; and at one time was obsessed with the book and movie.)