Tag Archives: running

Marathon Recap: Part 1

I’ve given the race highlights to the few of you I’ve crossed paths with online already, but I’m going to write out the whole story here. I have a few pictures that I managed to snap to include, but when the marathon website gets its photos up (should be the next few days), I’ll illegally screenshot them and post them all on here for you! So here goes…

Yesterday goes beyond “memorable” or “amazing” or “inspiring.” It was kind of magical.

Saturday night, I was so nervous. At this point in the semester, entering into the unknown is just everyday business, but I was full of anxiety about the details of the next day. Would I find the buses on time? Would I forget to take my vitamins? Would I get shin splints? Would I wear the right layers? Would I hear my alarm? To remedy the last situation, I set three alarms. Yep, three. At that point in my worries, I fell asleep, and ended up waking up on my own exactly two minutes before the first alarm was set to go off, thanks to my eerily accurate internal clock.

I got dressed in the dark and stumbled into Laura’s apartment kitchen for breakfast. It was: 1 container of Greek yogurt with honey, topped with a broken up fruit-and-nut bar, some slivered almonds, some Honey Nut Cheerios, and a mini dark chocolate bar. It was freezing, even indoors, and I was dying for some coffee, but coffee before a long run like that is a reeeally bad idea, if you catch my drift. I then grabbed my stuff and headed out the door, toward the Syntagma metro stop, where buses were scheduled to meet runners and shuttle us to the town of Marathonas, the legendary start.

No sooner had I stepped out the door, into the 5:15 am dark and a cold wind, wondering what I’d gotten myself into, than I saw a middle-aged couple dressed for a run, a few paces ahead of me, speaking (!) English. I wasted no time in catching up, introducing myself, and asking where they were from. They were from Miami, and this was his second marathon, and her first. A few minutes later, we saw some male, also middle-aged runners (that was the majority of this race’s demographic) walking in the opposite direction. The man from Miami stopped them and told them they were going the wrong way, but they didn’t understand. One of the guys was wearing a Firenze Marathon jacket, so I asked him, “Parli italiano?” He said no, he was French. So I explained to him in French that they were headed the wrong way, away from the shuttles. As we walked together, I served as translator between the nations as the guy from Miami made jokes about the French (which went straight over the French guys’ heads) and the French guys asked me what I was doing there (so young!) and what my time goal was. (Ha, time goal.) Oh, I forgot to mention that I met a Welshman in the city the day before, whose 30th marathon this was, and he expected to run it “in about 3:25 since the course was so hilly.” Well, okay then. You do that. Anyway, these Frenchmen were very legitimate runners and I expect their finish times were admirable. It’s too bad everyone had their numbers on underneath their outerwear so I didn’t catch anyone’s names.

There was a huge crowd at Syntagma, five buses lined up and we’d just seen about three more pass by. We made it into the same bus line (which also happened to be the shortest line) by claiming that we were all a team (what a crew! An American couple wearing neon shoes, four guys with crazy leg muscles in bright blue gear, and a girl at least 20 years younger than all of them, serving as the go-between in conversation.) The Greek guy in charge of herding us rolled his eyes but let us all on together.

Once we reached Marathonas and unloaded, it was even colder and even windier than Athens, and raining a little bit, just what we needed. We split from the Frenchmen, wishing them “bon courage” and headed for shelter. We parked ourselves under an overhang, out of the wind, which a lot of other people had also discovered. The intense people were actually jogging around the track up above to warm up. Maybe someday I’ll do that, but at this stage in my running career, the first 5 miles of the marathon are my warmup. So the group huddled under the roof began to mingle, and my friends from Miami began talking to a boisterous group of Greek dudes, and I split off to talk to some Americans closer to my own age. There was a woman, probably about 30 years old and from Denver, named Julie, a father and son who traveled together from New Jersey. The son was named Tim and we became friends. We were assigned to the same start block (5) but sadly I didn’t see him until the end of the race. I think he was ahead of me the whole time. We all had a good time getting to know each other, talking about running, talking about this race, exclaiming about the cold and wind, pinning on our numbers, debating layers to wear and leave behind, noting that the Americans were the only ones with ipods, lacing on our timing chips, eating bananas, joking around, and generally having a good time.

Eventually, at around 8:15, Julie and I left to go check our bags with the volunteers (they had this super organized system based on your bib number where they collect bags at the start and drive them to the finish, where you can pick them up… I think this is common at marathons but I wanted to compliment Greece on how smoothly this ran, considering the thousands of bags they collected. Actually, everything at this race was incredibly well organized.) It was nice to be in the crowd by the bag collection vans, because of the body heat, but Julie and I had to make our way toward the start areas and find somewhere else sheltered to wait. That shelter ended up being behind a dumpster that had its lid propped open, so we sat on the ground, under the lid, and snuggled to stay warm. There were big speakers set up everywhere playing pregame music, and when this one Greek song came on, everyone started dancing around, and the people walking to their blocks were walking to the beat. I’m not sure what it was about that song, but it put a bounce in everyone’s step. I took a hilarious video of some people dancing to it that I’ll upload soon.

Anyway, that moment, during that song, was one of the many moments when I felt so grateful to be there, among the sweetest, most fun and enthusiastic people of all ages, from all around the world, gathered to celebrate our sport at the site of its inception. It was incredible to get a sense of the international running community, something that I wouldn’t have gotten if I’d been running in the United States. At any given time, I was catching English, Italian, French, Spanish, and Greek being spoken around me. Also, I continued to be amazed by how easy it was to make friends, how open and warm people were, and how they were eager to encourage and help each other out. For some reason, that wasn’t something I’d anticipated when I was lying awake worrying Saturday night. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that I would make tons of friends at every turn during the race process. I think the miserable weather conditions added to our solidarity as well; we all stuck it out in the freezing cold at the start, and, obviously, we all stuck it out in the marathon from start to finish (which was no cakewalk, as I’ll detail in my recap part two), and shared experiences like that have an amazing way of bringing people together.

That’s where I’ll leave off for now: Julie and I huddled under a dumpster, laughing and talking and shivering, right before the start. At that point, I wasn’t nervous anymore, just 100% happy. Once I’m done with my studies, I’ll be back with the story of the race, from start line to finish line and afterwards.

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Friday and Saturday

I met Laura after my flight last night and she and I and her mom had the most amazing Greek dinner. I was starving after my peanut butter got confiscated at the airport (I’d been planning a lunch of apples and peanut butter since I always dread airport food…. but apparently a jar of PB is a huge international threat…) so I finished all of my souflaka except for the fries. It was so wonderful to get fresh grilled chicken and the tzatziki (spelling?) sauce was killer.

We got to see the Acropolis at night, too. This still isn’t feeling real.

I got up early this morning to go to the expo and registration, but not before making a stop at Starbucks for my American food fix. (+ an apple and a banana was breakfast. I’m gonna have a big lunch and a light dinner so my stomach isn’t upset going into the race.)

The expo was fun! I went early and got my number and free, really legit-looking, tshirt, then wandered around for a while. I ended up buying a warm headband to wear tomorrow, since it’s supposed to be cold and windy and I didn’t pack one, but I didn’t pick up any shoes. They didn’t have the brand I’ve been wearing, so I decided to wait and shop around back in Florence. Plus, instead of having marathon discounts, it seemed like the prices were way high. (130 EURO?! for a pair of running shoes? excuse me, that’s not gonna happen.) But in the bag I got a shirt, a hat, my number, a fanny pack (not joking), and an info pamphlet. I bought two gels and an energy bar to carry in my pockets.

Seriously, how intense is that shirt? I will not be racing in it because that would be dorky, but I will be wearing it running many, many times in the future.

So, Laura and I found this sign at the finish section with a bunch of people who look really thrilled about running 26 miles, and have done so without breaking a sweat…

…So I decided to join them.

… And then take a normal picture.

I made a note of the second door of that Adidas-plastered tent: it’s the massage area. Free massages after a marathon? Yes, please. Followed by more Starbucks coffee and some baklava? Yes, yes, please.

So that’s Athens so far! Laura and her mom and I are about to walk up to a place with a lovely view of the city, then get some lunch, then I’ll try to stay more or less off my feet for the rest of the time, though it’s hard to ignore the urge of tourism in a place I’ve never been before!

Talk to ya soon,

Jane

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18 Weeks Later

For some reason, tonight I find myself practically at the end of many months of marathon training, before my 21st birthday has even hit, and I’m living in Florence, to boot. This is surprising to me because I’ve always been the sort of take-a-jog-along-the-trails or around-the-park kind of girl. 60 minutes tops. Long enough to clear my head, short enough to have a life. Then last spring, I hesitantly signed up for a half-marathon because two of my best friends were doing it, and I fell in love with the 7-10 mile distance, and felt incredibly proud after my first 13.1. I was inching my way up, and finding it a lot easier than I thought it would be. So when Olivia and I joked about running the Athens Marathon while we were abroad, my mind got really stuck on that idea. I got determined. It became a real goal: I got funding, I talked to professors, I blocked out that weekend on my calendar, and eventually, I printed out a training plan (which I must have looked at a hundred times this summer, in agony, imagining the 18- and 20-mile runs) and registered for the race.

Now, it’s a bizarre feeling– I have all those runs behind me, and I’ve actually grown to enjoy them. I finished my first 18-miler still in Omaha and limped up the hill toward my house in tears, not because the run had been awful– it was actually perhaps the best one of the whole experience– but because I was leaving the country the next day and wished I could have spent that last perfect fall afternoon sitting on the back porch with my parents and a glass of iced tea. But I ran as prescribed, and it was fun the next day to tell the incredulous kids on the plane that I’d just run 18 miles (and that no, I wasn’t going to go out into Florence the first night, I was going to go to sleep so I could get up early and run again.)

Turns out it wasn’t just that first night I wasn’t going out. I haven’t been out to a club a single night here. Alcohol doesn’t agree with me well under the best of circumstances, and when putting my body under such physical strain as marathon training, I find that I’m sensitive to the slightest variations in sugar intake, water intake, amount of sleep, etc, so you can imagine that I stayed far away from the club scene.

My social life has suffered as a result, though. My last week in Paris was a glimpse into what humans who are not training for marathons do with their time, and boy, was it fun. I took long walks, I had amazing conversations, I cooked, I went out for dinner, I saw museums, I shopped, I road-tripped, I explored, I caught up on a TV show I’ve been wanting to watch, and I did a fair amount of just sitting/lying around. It was perfection. To give you an idea of the time commitment, I spend 7-8 hours a week just running, feet in motion. When you include getting ready, researching routes, stretching, cooling down, the extra shower, and how much longer it takes me to walk up/down stairs the day after a long run, that probably increases to 10-12 hours a week. At least. And a further hit to my social life: I run alone. I know what a difference having running buddies makes because I have the best ones in the world back at school. But I’m living in a different city from all of them, and (unsurprisingly) couldn’t convince anyone I know here in Florence that running a marathon was a sane thing to do, much less a good idea. So, it’s been a little lonely, but I really valued my social time during the school day and seeing close friends on the weekends. I’m so lucky to have Laura Thrash coming to volunteer at the race and cheer for me during the big event– I really don’t know what I would do without her presence and support. Not be able to find my way around Athens, for sure!

So that brings me to where my life is going after this race. For one thing, my friend Kirsten turns 21 so I’m going to *go out* and celebrate with her next Thursday night. This is really a big thing for me, folks. I hardly even go out at Davidson.

Then there are a few things on my goal list.

-Get back into a normal running routine. This is what my next week is going to look like, as far as easing into running: Monday: walk 20 min. Tuesday: Rest. Wednesday: walk 30 min. Thursday: run 20 min easy. Friday: Rest. Saturday: run 30 min. Sunday: run 40 min. I’ll keep it around that level for the few weeks following, though by the end of the month following the race, I hope to be able to do one long run of 8-10 miles. Then it’s Christmas break time, which has a few goals of its own.

-When I get home, I want to cross-train again. I want to be serious about weight training so I’m stronger for my next half-marathon in the spring and less liable to injury (I’ve rolled three ankles during this training.) I want to do the elliptical and the stationary bike and lots and lots of HOLIDAY YOGA. That was my favorite thing during break last year– I even got up at the crack of dawn and went on Christmas and New Year’s.

-I need to be conscious of what I’m eating again. I don’t have much control over my meals here– breakfast and dinner are served by my host family, and lunch is within the limited selection of the cafe at my school. None of it is what this girl would deem health food. It hasn’t caused much of a problem as far as weight gain because of all the running and walking I’ve been doing. But my energy is really low all the time. I’m probably super vitamin-deficient right now. When I get back home, I want to go vegetarian again (except for fish and the occasional organic chicken or turkey) and eat tons and tons of vegetables and whole grains. That’s the diet I feel best, most energized, and happiest at, and I can’t wait to return to it. In the meantime, I have to brave a whole lot more plates of pasta.

-I just want to re-center in general. Family time, quiet time reading, shoveling the driveway, yoga (seeing Lena and Lora), walking the dog, seeing home friends (Tom! Madeline! Joe!), the gym, Whole Foods trips, I just really need all that. I miss the United States. I miss my routine life.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I don’t think I’ll have time to get into the notorious post-marathon slump because I’ll be filling those extra hours in my week with term papers, trips to Rome and Venice, and trying to figure out how to fit all the stuff I packed and acquired back into my (very small) suitcases.

If you have any advice on any of the above topics, please share!

See ya later,

Jane

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Guardate!

Trans: Look! (second person plural ;) Pronunciation: Guahr-dah-tay

Yes, behold these Italian goodies. My leather purchase was a gorgeous notebook cover (whose pages are refillable) that they personalized for me with my initials. I’m completely in love with it and spend inordinate amounts of time gazing at it, smelling it, flipping through the pages, feeling the leather… you get the idea. Isn’t it beautiful, though? I’m not digging for compliments– just stating a fact. :) I’m also sporting my pair of fingerless gloves in the photo– my dad says they should have been half price because they’re only half a mitten. And my mom calls them “texting gloves” because you have use of your fingers! Aren’t they oh-so-clever.

And the other photo? You’re thinking… uh, there’s nothing Italian about a picture of you, Jane… but it’s the hair! I walked into a hair salon sans appointment bright and early Friday morning and basically said, the bangs stay, I want a significant trim to clean up my ends, but otherwise, do what you want! And I think it might be my best haircut, ever. I’ve heard it said that the best way to get to know a culture is to get your hair cut there, and that’s kind of true. Hair salons are more than just places that provide beauty services. The clients typically all know each other, as well as the staff, there’s gossip, there’s exchange of news, it has its whole own culture. Though I couldn’t pick up on a lot of what was being said at the place I went (Jean Louis David, right on the Arno), I certainly know that my hair salon in Omaha is a little world of its own (I’ve never had my hair cut in Davidson or Charlotte, isn’t that weird?) so I’m assuming there’s a similar phenomenon in Italy. Though both my parents and I have picked up on some unfriendliness from Italians, I’ve found that by going into their world with humility, trying my best to speak Italian, and letting them teach me, is how to meet some really sweet people. The idea of being open to another culture is such a cliché, and everyone thinks they are, but you have to give up some of your control and trust in strangers in order to make friends with them. Anyway, Mama, thanks for encouraging me to take the plunge and have my hair cut here! If only I was going to Paris in 6 weeks instead of one; I could have my hair cut there, too. :) P.S. Sorry for the quality of the second photo, it was on the iphone. Which I miss, wah, wah, first-world problems.

So this week, I had one tough 10-mile run after four days off, and one lovely 7-mile run two days later. I was kind of in a funny mood for the 7-mile run… I laced up my shoes with the attitude that I was just going out to move my body, shake out the tightness, and see the world. That’s the attitude I used to take to all my runs before I started following a schedule of distances, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to that after the race. This run, I actually stopped on Ponte alle Grazie (Bridge of Charms/Graces) to watch the light on the water for about 5 minutes. The gulls were circling and diving for their dinner, and they reminded me of when I saw Air Force One planes practicing touch-and-gos at some airport (Charlottesville?) a while back.

Now today, it’s 20 miles, and then I’m done with the really hard stuff. Amazing that it’s gone by this quickly and that I’ve actually stuck with it. I never thought I would be spending my semester abroad running double digit mileage every weekend, and significant runs on school nights, too, but I wouldn’t know Florence like I know it if I hadn’t done this. The need for long distance caused me to explore farther into the city than I ever would have on foot, and I feel more like a resident and less like a tourist because of it.

Off to get a pre-run yogurt and a couple bananas, and munch on them while I study for midterms a little more and wait for it to warm up enough to go run. Last time, I went in my half-marathon shirt and I think it brought me luck, so that’s what I’m gonna do again today. My Lululemon gear is gorgeous, but sometimes I need the shirt with sentimental value to give me strength.

Love to all. I’ll be sure to check back in after this run.

Jane

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So Much to Talk About

Gosh. I’m going to be a very good blogger for the next few weeks because there isn’t that long until the marathon and I haven’t checked in with you guys lately! Where to begin…

I ran 20(ish) miles on Monday. I happen to know it was a little under because I checked my route against google maps, but I’m counting it, because the run was extremely strong and I could have kept going.

I had the best recovery meal imaginable after class on Tuesday, which was: a grilled cheese sandwich from The Oil Shoppe (semisoft pecorino, sauteed mushrooms, and truffle oil, + 2 fried eggs and pesto on whole wheat bread) and a smoothie from Lovelife juice store, containing dates, mangoes, almond milk, and yogurt. They called the combination: The Marathon. I had no choice but to get it, especially considering my day had no calorie limit. :) I’ve missed my almond milk. I’ve stopped reading a lot of my favorite fitness blogs because of foods I absolutely can’t bear to look at without being able to obtain, actually. I would do anything for a soy or almond milk latte from Whole Paycheck and a bowl of pumpkin oatmeal with raisins and walnuts right now.

About fitness bloggers… I’ve noticed that they occupy a very specific demographic. College-educated, white, mostly women in their late twenties or early thirties, married or in committed relationships, with dogs, often went through some sort of weight loss / healthification process during or after college, most vegetarian or quasitarian, obsessed with pumpkin, and now, many are about to have babies. This is not fair– I can relate to the love of exercise, quasitarian-ness, and pumpkin addiction in the fall, but the rest of it is just not where I am in life right now. Where the heck is my generation? Besides, of course, the Healthy Hipster, who is fabulous. (And her tagline is genius: “too much Pabst makes you feel like crapst.”

Anyway. Other thoughts. Why has Lululemon not yet colonized Western Europe? This seems like an obvious one, folks.

My host father is singing in the living room right now, and the cat Marcello is sitting high up on a bookshelf and looking very cute. Just another day in the Bulli household. And yes, thank you news channel, in case anyone thought Italy was no longer in a crisis, you’ve set us straight– Italy is still very much in a crisis.

I found peanut butter in Florence!! Not just any old peanut butter, but organic peanut butter, and organic chestnut honey to put on crackers as much-needed fuel before my runs. Happy kid right here.

I’ve got a lot to do over the next few weeks, both in preparation for the marathon and in general. I’m spending this weekend with my parents, heading to the Biennial Contemporary Art Festival in Venice the next (!), then midterms, then fall break which I’m very excited about, then the race is the weekend after that! Can you believe it? I’m a little stunned myself. Two more long runs (18 and 20), then 3ish weeks to taper. I’ve read a lot of things that recommend getting new shoes and breaking them in during your taper, and I’m thinking that would be a good idea. I bought my shoes at the beginning of this summer, and they look like they’ve not only pounded out 500 miles, but also spent a week at the bottom of a lake and been dragged behind a train to dry off. You get the idea.

This post is very rambly, but I wanted to check in. Florence is still beautiful, especially in the evening. I ran a 7-mile hill workout today and took a Lit exam, which went pretty well, I think. I’m always nervous about the first test with a new professor. I came up with a brilliant topic for my Lit paper and my Art History paper is looking to be not too shabby, either. Tomorrow my goal is to write even a few lines of poetry. Perhaps even tonight, though I’d have to stay up until 2 to hit my productive zone again… not happening.

How’s the past week or so been for you? Any revelations, epiphanies, or discoveries? Any particularly notable Scrabble words you got to play? One of my favorites ever was “glial” as in glial cells, yes I’m a big dork, and Joe was impressed, but still managed to beat me that game. I could go for a good Scrabble showdown right now. Or Bananagrams.

Anyway.

Ciao,

J.

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Talking to Myself

Lots of times, when my friends learn that my after-school plans include 16+ mile runs, they wonder how I don’t get bored. The thing is, I look forward to those 2-3 hour blocks of time once a week when I don’t have any assignment but to jog around this beautiful city and get lost inside my head. A long period of time when being introverted and reflective is sanctioned? Yes, please.

So what I do is think. To get warmed up, I usually listen to music because the first couple miles are always the hardest. Then I just think: about my surroundings, about my day, about the Italians or tourists I see, about things my friends have said to me, about where I want to take my parents in Florence, about where I’ve been the past weekend, about anything bothering me, about anything I’m excited about. If you can release your focus on the physical and any tiredness associated with running, and let your mind take you where it will, it passes the time. And quite productively, I’ve found. I’ve begun many a run anxious, tired, confused, homesick, frustrated, or unsure of myself, and never failed to arrive home with a peaceful, centered mind.

Also I try not to blog or write to my friends/family unless I have something to say, and runs are my time for processing the world and helping me articulate my thoughts and experiences to those who I correspond with. So, here are some of those thoughts, a couple of lighthearted lists (you know I love my lists) that have been adding up in my head recently.

Things I Love About Italy

  1. The uniformity of the architecture
  2. Eating dessert for breakfast
  3. Walking, walking, walking
  4. The ease and economy of travel
  5. The beautiful language
  6. How everyone lives outside because of the premium on space
  7. Small children speaking Italian
  8. The things it makes me appreciate about America
  9. Piazzas <– not pizzas.
  10. Views of Florence from any high place
  11. The fruit. Especially the green grapes. Yes, they have seeds. Yes, the seeds are worth it.
  12. How un-intimidating / un-official-sounding the sirens are
  13. Being spoiled. My host mom sets out a tray with a mug and breakfast pastries every morning, and leaves French-pressed coffee in the fridge for me to heat up. Then she cooks me dinner every night, cleans my room and bathroom, and does my laundry. She insists on doing all of that too! It’s Italian culture. I offer to help do dishes all the time but have never been allowed. The best I can do is thank her all the time.
  14. The fact that I’m in Italy, particularly Florence. I get annoyed with its city-ness sometimes, but forget all of that when I can just walk into the Uffizi or Santa Croce or Palazzo Strozzi in my free time.

Things I Miss About America

  1. My family :)
  2. Men with manners
  3. Peanut butter!!!
  4. Soy lattes
  5. Ice
  6. Screens on windows
  7. Video streaming– both Youtube and TV episodes online. Netflix instant doesn’t even work in this country! The injustice!
  8. Cascadian Farm granola sprinkled over WF 365 organic lemon yogurt with half a sliced banana, slivered almonds, and a drizzle of local honey. Specifically. <– you know what I’m gonna be eating as soon as I return to the US!
  9. Cooking and baking
  10. Lululemon and yoga classes and my friends at Lotus
  11. The fact that I’m going to miss Thanksgiving.
  12. The fact that most of the things on this list are food-related, even though I’m in a country renowned for its food

Things Training for a Marathon Has Taught Me

  1. Your boundaries are 75% mental. With proper physical training, diet, and TLC for yourself (see #2-3), plus an unshakably positive attitude, you can do anything.
  2. My body was telling me something by loving dark chocolate.
  3. When you’re given a day to rest, rest. Take a slow stroll. Watch a movie. Eat a plate of pasta….
  4. …..Because the next day won’t be a rest day anymore.
  5. How to listen to myself. To my inner voice, to my body, to my cravings (more for protein and veggies these days… no shortage of carbs in Italia!)
  6. How not to listen to other people. That sounds odd, but I’ve found that peoples’ inclinations (even my parents) are to tell me I’m running too much, pushing too hard, etc. With peers here at school, it’s usually because if I ran less, they would feel better about themselves. With my wonderful Mom and Dad, it’s because they’re concerned about my well-being. But whatever the reason, it’s important to ignore all of their advice and keep after my goal.
  7. That around the first 18-mile run, you no longer feel surprised about long distances. The question becomes not, can I do it, but, when will I fit these annoying long things into my busy schedule?
  8. Uphill climbs make me feel strong.
  9. Downhill slopes make me feel like I could keep running forever.
  10. All foodies should be marathoners. It keeps you trim, and knowing you earned your meal gives you a greater appreciation for it.
  11. I’m more independent than even I thought I was. The possibility of traveling to Greece on my own to run this no longer scares me.

So there’s a peek into what I talk to myself about on long runs. Sometimes I don’t even try to keep up a monologue– I just observe and appreciate where I am. Sometimes those turn out the best and most beautifully surprising, anyway.

Pictured above: View of one of the towns in Cinque Terre; mountaintop yoga; sailboats on the Mediterranean at Cinque Terre

Love,

Jane

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The Value of Silence

…… I couldn’t resist. :)

So the other day I read this article, “The End of Solitude,” by William Deresiewicz, which Jeff sent to me because it was pertinent to one of our conversations.

I’d wanted to think and read and reflect a whole lot throughout this semester, and already suspected that the way to do that for real was to turn off the outside noise. Not just the radio, but the news, the cell phone, Facebook, email, even reading other blogs, and just take some time to go inside my own head.

It was the best idea ever. I’ve made little changes like driving in silence, reading more of the Bible, copying down favorite passages and poems of mine into a notebook, and asking myself what my concrete goals are and then writing them down. It’s really incredible– how much my brain will do when I stop feeding ideas conceived by someone else into it. I’ve already made progress on a project I wanted to realize this school year, finished more books in the span of two weeks than the rest of the summer, and improved my self-discipline.

And that glorious recovery run I took on Sunday? Completely in silence. If my music had been blasting, I wouldn’t have been able to hear St. Margaret Mary chime, children laugh in the park, or the “hellos” of other runners.

I really recommend reading that article; it opened my eyes to all sorts of things that can be achieved in solitude, and in silence.

More to read that will make you think:

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

The Jargon of the Novel

What about you… do you have music/texting/television going all the time or do you give yourself alone/quiet time? Is there a point when that becomes too much alone time?

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