Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 17 - Bonk

Today's scheduled run: 5 miles

Today's completed run: ~1 mile
Pace: Who knows?

It's a good thing I began this blog with a post about a run on which I totally bonked, because I'm now free to write another, and likely more in the future. As excited as I was to tell you about the 8:10 pace yesterday, I am equally disappointed in telling you about today's "run," which was, in the words of some, an epic fail.

It was a chilly (around 43) but sunny morning in Baltimore, and I set out feeling pretty good about getting in the planned 5 miles. However, around minute 6, every organ in my abdominal cavity began protesting any and all movement. I mean, those puppies were rolling around. I think they were playing tag, or something. I slowed, thinking maybe I could run it out, but it only got worse, turning to dull pain punctuated by sharp pangs. I stopped to walk across a street, thinking that might settle everything, but it didn't. Those organs just kept on hopping.

So, I turned around; and I did the nearly 20-minute walk of shame back to my house. The walk of shame itself wasn't so bad, even though I was dejected and plagued by more rolling organs for most of it. The worst part was that I'd dressed just warm enough for running at 43 degrees -- shorts, long-sleeve shirt, thin pullover and a hat. As you may surmise, this is not warm enough for walking in 43 degree weather, with wind, in the shade of tall buildings. Brrr.

By the time I got home, I couldn't feel my hands or my legs. Not my best moment.

I'm glad to look back on some stronger runs these past few weeks and remember that a bonk is not forever. Thankfully, tomorrow will be a new day.

Did you know that the official definition of a "bonk" is when an athlete depletes their glycogen stores in the liver and muscles? I didn't know this until this morning. Technically, then, I'm using the word bonk incorrectly, because that's not what happened here; but I like the term so much, that I'm going to keep it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 16 - Wrong Turn

Today's scheduled run: 3 miles

Today's completed run: 3.67 miles
Pace: 8:10

Although the weather has since turned, it was absolutely beautiful this morning when I left for a run. I headed out a little later than planned, because I read today's "Watch for the Light" before I even got out of bed. By the time I left at 7:15, it was a balmy 65... in November! The sun was shining, though I think the birds were too confused by the warm temperature to be singing.

My plan was to run a quick three miles. I was intending to try and run at a faster pace than normal, just to see what I could do. Well, I ran my little heart out. I ran it so far out that I forgot a turn and wound up running 3.67, instead of 3 miles. I knew I was running more expeditiously than usual, so I was really confused when I began approaching the 28 minute mark and had still not finished. I kept wondering, "Am I actually running really slowly? Do I have cement legs today?"

I needed to know what was wrong with this equation, so I headed to MapMyRUN right when I got home. I discovered that I'd added the .67 by accident. The route I ran is a portion of a 4.5-mile route I like to run. In my speed-induced delirium, I must have combined the two. Still, seeing that I ran an average 8:10 pace for the 3.67 miles was very encouraging. It makes me want to do a 5k to see if I can come in around 25 minutes. I've never come in under 30 in an official 5k, though I also haven't run one in quite some time. It's nice to see this kind of improvement. I don't want running to become a numbers game, but I like paying attention to them nonetheless.

I'm so glad I ran this morning, because Baltimore is back to yucktastic weather. It is expected to stay through the night, which is actually perfect for hiding away in the library and writing a paper.

Until tomorrow...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 15 - My Favorite Season

Yesterday was the start of my favorite season.

Well, that might be a bit of a misnomer, because my favorite season proper is actually Summer; but my favorite season is Advent. The expectation and anticipation, the active waiting -- I love it all. I am in awe of what we celebrate at Christmastime -- God Incarnate. I have to pause every time I think of that just to meditate for a few moments on what that means. Just as I did last year, I'm using readings adopted from the Book of Common Prayer. I'm also going through a book called "Watch for the Light," which has daily readings from a variety of writers. I strongly recommend both.

Today's "Watch for the Light" reading was a piece by Henri Nouwen -- "Waiting for God." Nouwen writes:
"Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled, but fulfilled according to the promises and not just according to our wishes. Therefore, hope is always open-ended. I have found it very important in my own life to let go of my wishes and start hoping. It was only when I was willing to let go of wishes that something really new, something beyond my own expectations could happen to me." (emphasis mine)
It's a good reminder that the things we so often wish for pale in comparison to the things God has for us. That is humbling. In this way, hope is risky, because it means we relinquish our control, our intentions for the circumstance. Still, we know the certainty of God's promise and have it "as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain." (Heb. 6:19, ESV)

We live our lives waiting for something. I want to live in hope and trust.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 14 - Highway Miles

Greetings from route 81 in Draper Valley, Va.!

Dad and I are headed back to Maryland after a 4-day stint with the family in the mountains of North Carolina. I didn't have any time to write this morning between my Wii workout, church, lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant and hanging out with some friends; so I'm writing now.

Yes - you read that correctly -- my Wii workout.

I did a variety of workouts, ranging from muscle-shaking yoga poses to this one ridiculous activity involving my Mii in a chicken suit and me having to flap my arms like wings. It was quite the cross-training event. I might want to fine-tune it a bit were I going to do this on a regular basis, which I'm not, but I could see how the Wii could be a good workout tool, sans the chicken suit activity, of course.

That's all for now. I'm praying for a good transition back to "real life" tomorrow. P.S. 124 requires a lot of energy, something I'm feeling a little low on right now.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 13 - Christmas Cheer

Today's scheduled run: 9 miles

Today's completed run: 9 miles
Pace: 9:27

The view for all 9 miles
Nine miles through Christmas tree country and along the river -- this was nice. As far as the running was concerned, I was struggling. It was cold, and I don't like cold under any circumstance. Plus, my route was an out-and-back, which usually means boring. Still, I finished. The finish was my favorite part of today's run.

 The rest of the day consisted of a recovery lunch at Chick-Fil-A, shopping and decorating for Christmas.

Now, we're watching The Santa Clause 2, which is one of my favorite "new" Christmas movies. As far as "old" Christmas movies, the classics, I can't wait to watch White Christmas and Miracle on 34th St.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 12 - Wide Open Like a Lake

Price Lake, Blowing Rock, NC
When something can be that beautiful in a picture taken with an iPhone, you know it is really beautiful in person.

While the siblings attempted to skip stones and make boats out of leaves, I sat in the sun, taking in the flatness and stillness of Price Lake. Over the worry of what is to come, I sang Sara Groves' "Like a Lake."
so much hurt and preservation
like a tendril round my soul
so much painful information
no clear way on how to hold it
when everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake
standing at this waters edge
looking in at God's own heart
I've no idea where to begin
to swallow up the way things are
everything in me is drawing in
closing in around this pain
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake
bring the wind and bring the thunder
bring the rain till I am tried
when it's over bring me stillness
let my face reflect the sky
and all the grace and all the wonder
of a peace that I can't fake
wide open like a lake
everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache
I am fighting to stay open
I am fighting to stay open
open open oh wide open
open like a lake
Tomorrow, I will run 9 miles, and I will decorate a Christmas tree and bake cookies, and I will love on my family and let them love on me. And I will stay open, like a lake.

Until then...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 11 - Never Leave a Man Behind

Today's scheduled run: 3 miles

Today's completed run: 4.05 miles
Pace: 9:48

Greetings from Ashe County, North Carolina, home of Christmas trees, cheese, blind sheep, and open spaces.

I had some company on my run this morning. Allow me to introduce you to them:
Josh (12), Olivia (15)

Although they refused to run, they were kind enough to accompany me via bicycle. We ran out of our neighborhood, down toward the New River, along the river and then back up to the neighborhood. The river is touted as being the second oldest river in the world, second only to the Nile. Where they come up with these things, I do not know.

The route was tricky for me because the first 1.2-ish miles is all down hill, the bulk of the middle is flat, and the last 1.2-ish miles is uphill. I don't normally run hills, and this particular hill is long and boring and not fun and filled with barking dogs and long and steep in some places. (I had some help writing that last clause from my giggling bicycle riding companions.)

However, we finished, and I finished 1-mile over the scheduled run for today, so that's nice. Unfortunately, my sister broke a cardinal rule of running and cycling with other people. She left a man behind. Two men, to be more precise. I was holding up the middle of the pack, and Josh was bringing up the tail end; Olivia was nowhere to be seen. By the time we arrived home, she was already lounging in the overstuffed chair in clean clothes.

One of the most wonderful parts of the run was being in the fresh, cold air of rural Ashe County. As an added perk, we were passed at least once by a tree truck, carrying freshly cut Christmas trees and spreading its wonderful scent along behind it.

For our next workout, we'll be heading to WalMart tonight at 10 pm, when it opens for Black Friday sales. How something can open on Thursday and still be considered a Black Friday sale is beyond me, but I don't ask these questions. We've decided to go toothbrush shopping, walking slowly, meandering through aisles with carts, stopping in the middle of the store, and asking as many questions as possible. People will love us.

To all of you, a very happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 10 - Spring in November

Today's schedule run: 5 miles

Today's completed run: 5.08 miles
Pace: 9:04

Today's running entertainment: Timothy Keller sermon, "Real Friendship and the Pleading Priest" -- I'm sure I was "mm-hmm"ing, and I know I was chuckling at some points, but I bet the passersby just thought I was a happy, content morning runner.

Despite not being able to fall asleep until 12:15 am, I woke at 5:50 am to hit the road. My dad and I are traveling to NC tonight as soon as I leave P.S. 124, so I wouldn't have had time to get a run in otherwise. I thought it was going to be raining, so I headed off to the gym, which is about an 8-minute walk from my house. There, I was informed the power was out across campus. Couldn't they get a back-up generator for my treadmill? Apparently not.

Somewhat dejected, I headed back home. About 4 minutes into my walk back, the obvious dawned on me: it's not raining, and it's pretty warm out. I dropped off my gym stuff and headed back out the door in shorts and a t-shirt (in late November!!) to run outside. The weather -- 60 degrees and humid -- had me confused as to whether or not Thanksgiving is actually tomorrow, but I was grateful nonetheless. I cruised at a pretty steady pace through Downtown, past and around Little Italy, around the Harbor and then back through Downtown. Traffic was pretty light for most of the run, as rush hour hadn't quite started yet.

About 35 minutes in, an e-mail popped up on my phone from the campus alert system, alerting me that the power was out across campus. Thanks a lot, guys.

All in all, a great morning run. I often struggle to run in the morning, but I seem to be getting better here. It's a great way to jump-start my day, and it's really nice to feel so accomplished before the day has even started.

Tomorrow I will write from the mountains of North Carolina, where sidewalks are a commodity and I use the altitude as an excuse to run pitifully, even though my dad tells me the addition of 3,000-ish feet shouldn't make a difference...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 9 - Presbyterian on a Treadmill

Today's scheduled run: 3 miles

Today's completed run: 3.1 miles (a nice, even 5k)

The yucky side of fall -- rainy and cold -- has descended upon Baltimore, so I took to the treadmill once more. I felt good and figured I'd bump my 3 miles up to 3.1, just for fun. I kept a pretty steady 9:14 pace; I'm pleased with the run.

Rather than music, I tried a new form of "entertainment" today -- podcasts. I know people have been talking about podcasts for the last decade, but I never quite got on the bandwagon. Well, I'm on it now. Today, I listened to a Timothy Keller sermon, titled "Praying Our Tears." My only regret was that I couldn't take notes while running! It was an excellent sermon, just as I'd expected, and it kept me going. Of course, I'm an "mm-hmm"-er, so I'm sure people thought I'd lost it.

Here are a few things that really caught my attention:
- Religiosity tells us to stuff our tears (feelings), and secularism tells us to dump our tears. What are we really to do with our tears? Expect them, invest them, and pray them.
- Becoming a person of faith will cause you to weep more. [Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26 - "I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh."]
- Planted (invested) tears produce joy. [2 Corinthians 4:17 - "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.] The knowledge of this frees us to involve ourselves in the messiness of the world, as well as others' lives, because we can expect joy if we plant our tears.
- Keller notes that the psalms, a majority of which are laments, end with psalms (146-150) of pure praise. He quotes Eugene Peterson: "What the psalms are teaching us is that all true prayer pursued far enough will become praise. Any prayer, no matter how desperate its origin, no matter how angry and fearful the experience it traverses, will become praise. It does not always get there quickly. It does not always get their easily. In fact, the trip can take a lifetime! But the end is always praise. This is not to say that other kinds of prayer are inferior to praise, but that all prayer pursued far enough becomes praise. Don't rush it. Don't try to push it. It may take years, it may take decades before certain prayers arrive at the hallelujahs of Psalm 150. Not every prayer is capped off with praise. In fact most prayers, if the psalms are a true guide, are not. But prayer is always reaching toward praise, and if pursued far enough, will arrive there."

I'm certain I'll be listening to more of Keller's podcasts, as well as some TED Talks, to make the miles fly.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 8 - Smorgasbord

Today is a rest day, but I actually thought about running. Alas, since I don't have to, according to the Master Plan, it is better that I make an attempt to conquer the huge pile of work I have been putting off.

Still, I promised to post everyday, and I'm not a girl to back away from a promise like that. So, my smorgasbord of random things:

1. I'm still eating candy corn, even though Halloween is well over. This is what happens when candy is 70% off at Target.

2. Last week, a student that I work with came in with her "hair did". It looked really good, and I told her so, at which point she said, "Miss Leslie, you could get your hair done like this." Hmmm... probably not, even if I had hair! It was funny.

3. That same student also told me I was light-skinned, not white. I love it.

4. A spell check on the word "smorgasbord" confirms that I have been pronouncing it incorrectly for my entire life. Anyone else always said smogasborg? Shame on me, the English major.

Sunrise in the NC mountains               

 5. I absolutely cannot wait to visit my family in North Carolina. My dad and I will drive down on Wednesday evening and stay until Sunday night. I expect it will be a great time of respite for me. It's hard to be stressed when you're visiting a place that looks like that.

6. Today I felt joy and peace in the midst of trial like I have never felt them before. I am certain beyond any doubt that they are from the Lord. I am so grateful. (See my exact thought at that moment here.)

7. I read an excellent post on Friday night by a college friend of mine, Meg @oursomethingnew. She speaks the truth we all need to hear.

Angry about these numbers
8. Over the weekend, I went to the beginning portion of a sleep-out held at City Hall, coinciding with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. I wasn't planning to sleep-out, and I could write a whole post on my philosophy there (but won't!). My politics don't necessarily align with most of my fellow social work students, but there is one bi-partisan issue on which most of us agree.

That's really all I have for today. Not too terribly exciting, I know; but some days will be like that. I'm off now to write a policy brief on Title I. Sounds fun, right?! Right...

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 7 - Cross-training and the Pursuit of Glory

Today's scheduled run: not a run. Cross-training!

I have successfully completed the first week of marathon training. Only 17 more to go!

The weather was perfect for a run, but I headed to the gym instead to get in some cycling. The gym on Sunday afternoons is just the way I like it -- empty.

I spent an hour on the bike, covering 14.25 miles and alternating between reading Tabletalk and watching the Ravens game. If you saw my earlier tweet, you know that I could see the game on television as well as see the stadium out the window. Of course, I couldn't see any of the on-the-ground action from where I was sitting, but I could see the lights and the rows of fans all decked out in their purple garb. It's a pretty sweet view, and I'd rather be in the gym watching than out there with all of those crazies.

An hour on a bike that's not going anywhere is even less thrilling than an hour running in place, so I was thankful to be able to read. I'll leave you with this piece from Montaigne (AD 1580), as quoted by John D. Currid:
"Of all illusions in the world, the most universally received is the concern for reputation and glory, which we espouse even to the point of giving up riches, rest, life, and health, which are effectual and substantial goods, to follow that vain phantom and mere sound that has neither body or substance."
 Something to think about as I pursue the "glory" of completing a marathon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 6 - Oh Say Can You See

Today's scheduled run: 8 miles

Today's completed run: 8.35 miles (double woot!)

The Fort
I'm glad to report that it is a beautiful day in Baltimore. It was in the low 40s when I set out this morning, but the sun was shining brilliantly. Perfect conditions for a fall run, and I decided to venture over to Ft. McHenry. I played around on MapMyRUN last night to figure out how to craft an 8-mile route out of that. It turned out to be relatively easy, as Ft. McHenry is just over 4 miles from my house. How convenient!
Ft. McHenry entrance

As I was approaching the Fort, I was inspired by imagining the broad stripes and bright stars, the rockets' red glare, and the bombs bursting in air. Sound familiar? I felt triumphant.

As I ran the loop and headed out of the site, however, I mostly felt the headwind into which I was running . Still, it was a strong run for me. I averaged a 9:01 mile, which is really where I'd like to be. All in all, a very encouraging run. Yay!

Good things about today's run: beautiful sun, strong pace, running past the Domino's Sugar plant (yummy smells) and lots of other runners on the road.
Less-than-good things about today's run: too many layers when in the sun, and I need a running buddy. Any takers?

And now, for something completely unrelated to running: I got a pair of TOMS today -- an early Christmas present from my mom. In her words, there could not be a more "Leslie" pair of shoes. They say "Carpe Diem" on them and -- for my favorite detail -- the insides are a world map! I'm so excited to wear them and to remind myself to seize the day, every day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 5 - Gratitude

The latter days of this week have been equal parts challenge and promise, which have been wrapped tightly together in one place -- gratitude.

When life goes topsy-turvy and something familiar become unfamiliar, it's easy to lose focus on just about everything. The issue at hand becomes paramount, and we develop a sort of tunnel vision that is nearly impossible to break. We must refocus. We must cast our gaze elsewhere, look upon something different, something greater.

This is what gratitude in the midst of trial does for us.

In her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann Voskamp writes, "Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle."

And so I thank God for sun falling through slats in the blinds. For the laughter of children. For delicious dinners and hot tea. For the encouraging words of friends. For colors. For the smell of a new book. For a blue sky speckled with clouds. For hooded sweatshirts. The longer I spend looking, the longer the list gets. These are the seemingly insignificant things.

Then the miracle comes -- the giant miracle in which I am able to thank Him for things like hurt and sadness. For things like pain and trial. For things like conviction and boldness. And in this giant miracle, in this gratitude for blessings I cannot yet see, I can know a promising truth:
"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed." -Hebrews 12:11-13 (ESV, emphasis mine)

a journal of gratitude

 And so I write down these things. I list them in a book. I look at them. I stare at the pages until I am reminded of promise.  I stare at a list of little things, things I would miss were I not looking; and somewhat magically, as if by miracle, I realize gratitude for the big things, the hard things, the good things.


My wasteland, my despair, my wilderness -- they become as a lush garden, with joy and gladness, thanksgiving and song.
"For the LORD comforts Zion;
     he comforts all her waste places
 and makes her wilderness like Eden,
     her desert like the garden of the Lord;
 joy and gladness will be found in her,
     thanksgiving and the voice of song." -Isaiah 51:3 (ESV)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 4 - Encouragement = Speed

Today's scheduled run: 3 miles

Today's completed run: 3 miles (woot!)

Today was not quite as yucktastic weather-wise as yesterday, but it was blustery and cold. The forecast called for rain, and the skies looked ominous; so I took to the treadmill once more. Of course, as soon as I got on, the sun came out for a beautiful sunset. Alas... I completed my three miles at an average 8:38 pace, which was great, though not a speed I could have sustained for much longer than that. Still, it's good to get in some speed runs. Hal Higdon always says you won't race fast if you don't train fast.

Running tunes included the same three "top hits" stations I mentioned yesterday. Today's cool down song was "Sweet and Low" by Augustana.

EmBz and me, circa March 2010
The most notable part of this run was the phone call I got .35 miles in from my friend, EmBz, who lives in faraway Cleveland. Okay, it's not that far, but it sure feels like it sometimes. I told her I couldn't chat for too long, so she told me she just needed to say one thing before we hung up. That one thing was one of the best things anyone can say to a bald girl: You look really good without hair. She said it in more words than that, which made me blush and grin terribly; but you get the picture.  I was pleased that I didn't start crying. Instead, I was grinning; by the time the two-minute call was over, my jaw hurt. EmBz, you made me run fast today; and I love you for it and many other things. (Since she mentioned her sister had a part in it, too - here's your shout-out, KBz!)

I promise you that no matter how much confidence someone appears to have, they need to be encouraged. I think it's fair to say that most of us don't encourage people as much as we should, or even as much as we want to. The encouragement burns on our tongues, but we feel weird saying it, or we don't want to offend, or we don't want to sound condescending. In my experience, genuine encouragement very rarely does any of those things.

So, go. Go be encouraging. Tell someone what they are good at, or why you like them, or even how beautiful they are. You'll feel great; they'll feel great. Win-win.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 3 - Yucktastic Weather

Today's scheduled run: 5 miles

Today's completed run: 5 miles (woot!) [Note: my policy in life is to celebrate everything.]

Baltimore had some yucktastic weather today - rainy and cold with a mix of bleh. I don't mind running in the cold, and I don't mind running in a light rain, but I hate running in a cold rain. So, off the gym I went. As an aside: I'd planned to go to the gym this morning, so I set my alarm for 6. It went off accordingly, but I decided to stay in bed until 8. ::sheepish grin::

Running on the treadmill is hit-or-miss for me. Today was pretty good, and I completed the miles at an average 9:37 pace.
The best part: finishing.
The other best part: not having any shin pain. Hooray! My week of rest paid off, so far.
The slightly torturous part: the inordinate amount of Chick-Fil-A commercials that came on while I was running. Drool.

I consider surviving runs on the treadmill to be an art form, because it is so boring. I readily confess that I listen to terrible music, i.e. a lot of pop/Billboard hits. I also readily confess that I love it. I usually go back and forth on the iHeartRadio app between three stations, two local and one in NYC. They all play the same songs, but they are the ones that keep me running. Then, I cool down and stretch to music worth listening to. Tonight's choice for cool down was Christa Wells' "On the Mountain." It's good; real good.

Other survival tricks include scheduling my runs based on what's on TV (crime shows are the best, because the suspense keeps me running), and - my personal favorite - covering the treadmill screen with a towel so I'm not watching the seconds tick away.

Do you have any tricks for making treadmilling more bearable?

Post-run, my dad came over to Cafe Leslie for dinner. I know this isn't a food blog, but you must try this recipe for paprika chicken from Jenna over at EatLiveRun. It's so simple! I was feeling lazy, so we ate it over angel hair pasta, rather than with dumplings, and it was delicious.

That's all for today, but I'll leave you with a comical picture from P.S.124 (the city school where I am interning as a social worker).

That is the boys' bathroom across from my office. I followed my normal policy: Just don't ask.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 2 - Gross

Today's run was short, only 3 miles. Since I'm coming out of training for a 15k, 3 miles should not be a big deal. The way I ran this morning, it was like 3 miles was 20 miles. I was looking forward to the run, as it would be the first after a week of rest induced by shin-splints. I don't usually run in the morning, but an unusually early bedtime last night had me ready to be up and on the road.

I started strong, feeling good, running an 8:28 mile. This is entirely too fast for me; I usually sit somewhere between 9:10 - 9:30, depending on the distance I'm running. Still, I was feeling good.

Then, I bonked.

Right around mile 1.5 I hit the wall. I was almost certain I was going to throw up. I slowed down, but I couldn't even keep a slow pace, so I walked, which is terribly demoralizing when you're not planning on it. Plus, the street crossing gods were not on my side today. Almost every intersection I came to had an orange hand, instead of my friendly little neon walking man.

I finished my planned course in a walk-run-stagger pattern. Somewhere along the way I cried, and when I got home, I threw up. (Hey - I promised to be honest.)

Lest you think, "And this girl wants to run a marathon?!," let me assure you that there are a lot of other things going on in life this week are making everything, including running, a challenge. I am discouraged, and this disappointment of a run reflects my emotions.

Still, training (and life) happens one day at a time, by putting one foot in front of the other and leaving the disappointing miles behind. Tomorrow will be a new day.

There were two things that made me smile this morning:
1. When I arrived home, I found a gnat squished on my forehead. Normally this would be disgusting, but it made me feel like I'd been moving as fast as a car on a road trip.

2. Anyone who runs in Baltimore City gets the pleasure of running along the Harbor, where mornings feature still, flat water and a beautiful view of a distant sunrise. This is a gift.

Until tomorrow...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 1

Conveniently, Mondays are a rest day, which means this blog is being kicked off with, well, no mention of mileage or mile times. Lucky you... and me!

I'm slowly collecting links to blogs related to running and Alopecia, though there aren't any I've found that actually combine the two consistently. I'm also amassing a list of people to follow on Twitter. I don't know why I didn't do this before -- it's a whole new world of people I want to know. Thank you, Internet.

For today, I'd like to share the stories of two other runners with Alopecia.

Megan at Watch MeGo Run (@watchmegorun). She recently wrote about bullying and Alopecia. Of Alopecia she writes, "I can't control it, but I can't let it control me, either." Yes.

Abby Ter Harr, a freshman cross country runner at TCU. As highlighted in this video, she is an inspiration.

Running is a hard sport, and the temptation to compare endlessly nags. We find ourselves comparing times, form, shoes, etc. etc. etc. The list is endless. Being bald is just one more thing to add to the list of comparisons, but we are so much more than we think. Competition is good, but self-deprecation is not. I'm so impressed by and thankful for the confidence Abby exudes and the heart Megan has. Run fast, girls.

In case you missed it -- a greeting from bald girl running.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Welcome! I'm Leslie, aka bald girl running. It took me months of thinking about it to decide whether or not I wanted to start a "running" blog. It took me just two days of a weeklong, shin-splint-enforced rest to say, "Well, alright then; let's do this."

The blog: I will begin officially training on November 14, 2011 for my first marathon - the Rock N Roll DC Marathon on March 17, 2012. As such, I will post each day on my training and any other reflections on that day's workout. This could be a simple, "16 miles today; I hate life." Or it could be a funny story or a thoughtful reflection. Lest you think I'll be writing solely about distances covered and mile times, which would be less than interesting to a non-runner (and some runners), I will use my "rest" days to create a space for storytelling, one of my favorite things. More on this later.

The bald: The title of my blog isn't simply "girl running," as you'll note. It's bald girl running, because that's what I am - a bald girl running. At age 4, I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack the hair, which then falls out. The condition is cyclical, meaning that since my diagnosis I've had periods of patchy baldness followed by a thick, full head of hair. Beginning in September 2010 with just a small bald spot, I began losing my hair. By August 2011, I had no hair. I've been a runner on-and-off for about 6 years now, but right around the time my hair started falling out, I began running more regularly. I don't think the two are related, necessarily, but you can psychoanalyze me later if you'd like.

The name: In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, the title phrase initially came from joking with a friend about starting a cooking blog called "Bald Girl Cooking." At the time
of the phrase's creation, I was cooking dinner in a retro kitchen in a condo we'd rented at the beach. Alas, I'm a better runner than I am cooker.

Who am I? Currently, I'm pursuing my MSW at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. I live in Baltimore City in an old row house that I love. As part of my program, I'm interning at a Baltimore City public school as a school social worker. I'm an ENFJ, a follower of Christ, and a big fan of people, and I'd never turn down a good burger.

Why blog? Well, first of all, it will be a place for me to keep myself accountable for logging the miles, as well as a place for me to look back and remember the road to the marathon. I suppose I could have left out the bald part and made this a straightforward running blog, but there are enough of those. Second of all, I think it's time to tell this story.

So, sit back, grab a cup of tea (I'm a chai fan, myself), and read on.