Jul 22

Joining the Flock

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I’ve run off and on since college, but I became more serious about it almost three years ago (August 2011) when I decided to train for my first half-marathon. Several factors went into that decision including a desire to do more for myself and my health. I had a couple friends on the Twitterz who were serious academics *and* athletes (looking at you Lori Emerson & Kathy Harris) who not only raced themselves (cycling and triathlons respectively) but who also warmly encouraged me to give it a try. As a result, #13orBust was born, and I probably annoyed my Twitter feed for three or four months with my training. By the time I reached the finish line, I had learned a very important lesson: “or” was the wrong conjunction for the hashtag. That is, it is/was possible to do both–finish the course and bust in the process (thank you per anserine bursitis). I finished the race and got my medal. And landed myself on crutches for a few weeks thereafter. While the outcome of that first race left much to be desired, I came away from the experience determined to get myself healthy and keep training so I could do it again, better this time.

Since then, I’ve run four more half-marathons and one full 26.2. I’ve also run lots of 5Ks and few 10Ks (I like 10Ks quite a lot, there just aren’t many of them where I live). I’ve also battled shin splints off and on and flirted with other overuse injuries, most recently a mild quad strain. Last year, my brother gave me a pair of Oiselle arm sleeves for my birthday (the ones he gave me are black, but those aren’t currently available, it being July). I had heard of Oiselle (pronounced wa-zell) before, but none of my local running stores carry the line, so I hadn’t seen any of their clothes in person.

I fell in love with a pair of arm sleeves. Yes, I know how weird that sounds.

But it wasn’t just about the arm sleeves. It was about the fact that the company was driven by women and dedicated to supporting women runners. I’m a professor at a women’s college, and two of the five things I care most about in the world are female empowerment and running (the others being rescue animals, books, and pizza). A few months earlier, Molly Baker, the woman behind Girls on the Run had delivered our commencement address and gotten me especially fired up about girls and women and running, so Oiselle seemed a logical complement.

Soon thereafter, I learned that Oiselle had a team of ambassadors, the Volee: a group of women who represent the brand, especially at races, and I wrote to the team manager to get more information. I had missed the application window but hoped to participate the next time-around. In the meantime, I read more about the company, its mission and personnel, and I began to follow the athletes: the high-profile Lauren Fleshman and the many other members of haute volee, the Oiselle elite racing team. The more I read, the more I liked. And then they pulled off the unthinkable: they signed Kara Goucher, a marathoner whom I’ve long-admired. My transition to full-on fangirl was complete, as evidenced by the 2.5 hr drive to Atlanta last weekend to attend a meet and greet with Lauren Fleshmen, Melissa Lawrence, and Caitlyn Comfort at West Strides running store (they were in town for the Peachtree 10K on July 4th). The night before, I was having some serious second thoughts about driving all that way for maybe a half-hour in the store, but that morning, the sun was shining, and the road was calling. Plus, I was under doctors’ orders to rest my strained quad for a couple more days. Driving would keep my from running, which had increasingly been tempting me especially on that beautiful morning . . . Anyway, the meet and greet was great. I can easily and honestly say that all of the Oiselle athletes were really cool and friendly. I am happy to have had the chance to meet them. AND: all Oiselle gear was 20% in the store. There wasn’t much left in my size by the time I got there, but I did get a Lesko Bra, something I’ve been eyeing on the web. As an extra-special bonus, I managed to not get a speeding ticket despite the heavy police presence on I-85!

Earlier this week, Oiselle announced an opportunity that I had been waiting for: the Flock. Different from their previous brand ambassador program, Volee, the Flock has a one-time membership fee ($100), which includes a racing singlet, a track bag, $20 towards racing bottoms, (I went for the Roga in Graphite) and a $25 contribution to the Emerging Runner fund that offsets expenses for the Oiselle elites.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about paying the membership fee, but ultimately, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and pony up the support for one of my favorite companies. So now I’m a member of the Flock. It’s been really cool to see such excitement from across the United States come across my Twitterfeed. So many women who share my enthusiasm and excitement! My local running community is awesome, but it’s predominantly male. I treasure my female running friends (Hi Cate!), and it’s exciting to be a part of a larger community of women who share a passion for running and actively support each other.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Pranav Yaddanapudi]

Jul 11

Weekend Reading: Umbrellas in Portugal Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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Happy Weekend, ProfHacker friends!

The title and image for today’s Weekend Reading comes from the Ágitagueda art festival, an annual tradition in Portugal this month that was recently featured in Bored Panda.

If you have even a fleeting interest in the digital humanities, it is well-worth your while …read more

Jun 20

Weekend Reading: Walking a Cabbage Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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Happy weekend, ProfHackers!

For many of us, summer means spending time outside, whether walking our dog (or a cabbage–see below!), taking kids to the pool or mowing the grass. But summer is also tick season, and with ticks, increasingly, comes …read more

Jun 19

A Quick ProfHack: Kindling the Presentation

By Erin E. Templeton

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A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria. If you haven’t attended (and didn’t have your Twitter stream flooded with #DHSI2014 tweets), DHSI is a week-long Digital Humanities extravaganza, which <a target=_blank title="DHSI 2014: On …read more

Jun 13

Weekend Reading: Strawberry Moon Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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As the summer heats up in many parts of the world, we here at ProfHacker hope that you are keeping cool whether by visiting the pool with the family, hitting the stacks in the library (bonus points if you’re in a temperature-controlled archive!), getting some writing done in your favorite …read more

Jun 10

DHSI 2014: On Building

By Erin E. Templeton

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I was one of some 600 people who gathered at the University of Victoria last week to participate in this year’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI). A couple years ago, Natalie wrote a great post about DHSI that is still timely. I won’t repeat …read more

Jun 06

DHSI 2014: Birds of a Feather “The Next Generation”

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Me, Laura Mandell, and Laura Estill at DHSI 2014 Birds of a Feather (5 June 2014) Photo by Michael Ullyot.

The question:

What responsibility do we have to prepare emerging digital humanists for careers in and out of the academy, and how are we working to meet those goals?

The mission: “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Oh wait—that’s a different “Next Generation” . . .

More seriously, to my mind, there are three things that we can and should do (and I should add that my remarks here are colored by the fact that my “we” is speaking from a specific subject position: a tenured English professor who works almost exclusively with undergraduate students at a teaching-intensive institution—your “we” is probably different in some key ways)

The first is actually related to the Star Trek mission that I opened with, and that’s to trail-blaze. To venture off the beaten path and explore new and uncharted territory. To try new things both in our scholarship as well as in our classes. The most obvious example of this pedagogically speaking, it to develop DH classes, but not everyone might have the opportunity or the interest in doing a dedicated DH course.

But we might incorporate digital tools into our history or literature courses—word clouds for example. Equally important here, for all students, is for us to encourage the kind of critical thinking about technology that Aimee Morrison talked about in her keynote on Monday—thinking about how digital interfaces shape our relationships and our thinking in subtle but fundamental ways—like the way the status update construction encourages a particular subject position or the implications of have a “like” button but no “dislike” to counterbalance.

But trail-blazing, at least in the hiking sense, isn’t only about exploration. It’s also about marking the way so that others can follow in our footsteps and not get lost. In DH terms, we might think back to Vanevar Bush’s 1945 essay, “As We May Think.” Bush imagines not just a system of knowledge that is hyperlinked (a la HTML and early WWW texts) but a system in which readers blaze trails for others who come after them to follow. I want to see this happening in a few ways: the practical—actual documentation of our practices whether in essays, articles, blog posts, or even (gasp!) the monograph (hat tip Jentery Sayers!) and maintenance of our projects (making sure that links work, for example, the the web domain is still viable). But in addition to these documentary practices, I’m also thinking in terms of the personal. Sharing our work and making it available and accessible to interested parties. Having conversations with people and making connections between people with mutual interests..

But trail-blazing is sometimes more successful than others. Sometimes we hit dead ends. Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of a patch of poison oak, not that that has ever happened to me. My point is that we will make mistakes. We will fail. Everybody does. But failure makes many academics very uncomfortable. At this point, it’s worth acknowledging that there are plenty of occasions where failure can have serious consequences. But it’s also, I think, important to point out that failure, in a strange way, can be a kind of privilege, a luxury. So those of us who have that privilege need to exercise it. And here, to return to the hiking metaphor, is where the terrain gets technical, so I want to trend carefully. To be clear: I’m not telling you all to go blow stuff up, either figuratively or literally. I’m not talking about being careless. To admit that we have made a mistake is to admit vulnerability, and certainly, as a woman, I’m familiar with the presumption of technological incompetence that is so frequently attached to my gender. We talk a great deal about our successes, our accomplishments, and our expertise. But we also need to acknowledge that failure is a very real part of innovation, and we need to talk about it. This is one of the features of ProfHacker of which I am most proud. We talk about things that have gone wrong. As academics, many of us don’t like to be wrong, and we are hard on ourselves when we make mistakes. Moreover, failure is perceived differently for men and women, so in advocating failure, I am running the very real risk of reinforcing stereotypes about women and technology. But at the same time, making mistakes is an essential part of learning, and it’s important to confront these expectations.

And that brings me to my last point: we need to be willing to be uncomfortable. We need to be willing to have difficult conversations about issues like gender, race, and disability. We need to be able to disagree with each other in ways that move a conversation forward instead of shutting it down. And we need to be willing to listen even if certain things are hard to hear. One of the critiques of social media networks like Twitter is that it can often function as a kind of echo chamber where we only engage with those who are already share our perspectives or world-view. We need to make a concerted effort to broaden our networks to include difference.

May 23

Weekend Reading: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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Happy Memorial Day Weekend, ProfHackers! Before we launch into the Weekend Reading, we wanted to take a moment a remember those who have served our country both at home and abroad. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

Laura Miller, writer for Salon.com has broken up with Amazon. …read more

May 19

Summer Reading: 2014 Edition

By Erin E. Templeton

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Commencement on my campus was on Saturday morning. Colleagues at other institutions in my town of Spartanburg, SC celebrated last week or today. Now that the exams are marked and the grades are in, or will be in soon, perhaps you will find a bit of time for pleasure reading. …read more

May 11

Big Sur Race Report

13974633540_a68cc7cac6_zThe 29th Annual Big Sur International Marathon was my first 26.2–what a fantastic experience.

It took a lot for me to get here, and Big Sur was a race that I’ve been wanting to do since grad school–well before I was ever an actual runner. It’s a notoriously difficult course, but I figured that if I only had one marathon in me, I wanted it to be this one. I also figured that the first one would be really hard no matter what, and I’ve always been a “go-hard or go home” type. I registered on July 10th as part of the Runner’s World Challenge. It cost more (like $200 more), but in return, I could register a week early (in retrospect a very good thing since the full marathon sold out in under two-hours once regular registration opened). In addition, participants had a dedicated Bib pick-up at the Expo, special events like a shake-out run Saturday morning with the editors & writers for the magazine, a dedicated bus to the start that left at 4:15 rather than the earlier 3:30 for everyone else (plus they were chartered buses instead of school buses), a dedicated & heated pre-race tent with coffee/tea, Gatorade, water, bananas, bagels, and most importantly, private porta-potties–NO LINES!). There was also a post-race tent with a nice spread of food and drink including Jamba Juice!

I trained for the race using the Hansons’ Beginner plan, which is a bit unorthodox in that its long run peaks at 16 miles (that’s 10.2 miles less than the full race length). It prescribes 6 days a week of running including one speed/strength day and one tempo day in addition to the long run. The other 3 days are easy pace of varied lengths. I opted for Hansons after reading as many reviews of different plans that I could get my hands on. I liked the idea of spreading mileage out over the course of a week rather than piling it on on the long-run day, and their philosophy of cumulative fatigue made a lot of sense to me.

Things were going great until the first week of March when I sprained my ankle (either rolling it out in the woods or falling down my back stairs, or both). That meant that on March 18, I got a cortisone shot, which hurt like a son-of-a-gun, but it worked. All in all, I logged 800 miles in training (an even 800, which is weird, but whatever) over almost 4 months.

I flew from CLT to SFO the Friday of race weekend. The flight was the best I’ve been on in a long time–1) my row had an open middle seat, and 2) the guy on the window was a runner (his BAA jacket gave him away) who had run BSIM 3x (but wasn’t running this year). So we reeked out talking running, and he gave me two particularly useful pieces of advice:

  • Be aware of the cantered roads and aim for flatness when you can to save your ankles (notably, my ankles are possible the only part of my legs that weren’t sore after the race).
  • Be aware of the relay exchanges over the course of the race and don’t freak out when a runner goes flying by you at mile 17–they’re most likely running the relay so are running 5 miles instead of 26.2.

He was very nice, and I wish I knew his last name so I could thank him for the tips (again)–so if you’re out there Chris from San Fran, thank you!

Our flight got in early, but I lost those 20 minutes plus another hour waiting in line at the Hertz counter. I ended up with a good car–a Mazda 3, which I liked because it’s just like my Subie, so I knew where pretty much everything was–came in handy immediately since it was raining that day. I had hoped to get to the expo & hotel by 3:00, but that didn’t happen thanks to the line. Finally made it there just before 5:00 (the expo was only open until 6), so I parked and went in to get my bib before checking in to the hotel. Check-in was painless & the expo was empty. I had planned to go on a pizza adventure for dinner, but as soon as I left the hotel, it started raining again, so the 20 minute walk without a raincoat or umbrella seemed a bad idea, at least it seemed a bad idea to my iPhone & Kindle . . . so I had dinner at the hotel bar, which was very crowded, but fine.

I went to bed at like 8:00 (pacific time, & I had been up since 4:30 est), but I didn’t sleep well. I woke up at midnight feeling like it was morning and had a hard time falling back asleep. I could feel my heart pounding with anticipation for the race. I read a bit and eventually calmed down enough to get a bit more sleep.

The next morning was a shakeout run w/ the Runner’s World Challenge. I donned my Oiselle favs (Flyte ls in fresh green & Mac Rogas in indigo) and headed out to the meeting place. I immediately met Tish Hamilton, one of the editors, who complimented me on my top and Meg Hertzel, one of the staff writers–they are both fellow Oiselle fan-girls! Meg and I ran together, and she really made me feel welcome. There was a nice spread afterwards with water or gatorade, bagels, granola bars, etc. I also met some of the other challengers whom I had been chatting with in the forums previously. Erin Ankle–that’s me :).

I had already been to the expo, but since it was right there, I figured I would walk around a bit more. What a difference a day makes! The energy in the room was palpable, and there were a LOT more people there. I ended up at the FlipBelt booth where I tried one on. It was really helpful since I was between two sizes. Not only could I try them both, they had all kinds of stuff at the booth to load up the belts–such a great idea since nobody wears it empty on race day! When all was said and done, I had several gels, some ShotBloks, a phone and some other bits and bobs stuck in the belt, and I jumped around the expo like I had ants in my pants. But the belt didn’t budge! I bought one–the hardest decision was the color (I ultimately went with basic black).

I went back to my room, showered, and changed. I then went to find Gianni’s pizza for lunch (pizza for lunch the day before has become a race-weekend ritual). I found the restaurant, placed my order, and then went across the street to CVS to buy sunscreen (which I ultimately didn’t use). I ate in my room and then walked down to the plaza when I got a call from Nick, my college President’s brother. He and a group of friends from Spartanburg/Greenville were also running the race, and they had invited me down to Big Sur to hang out with them and have dinner.

Before driving back down, I made one more stop at the expo. I had seen a travel-sized foam roller earlier, but I didn’t buy it before. I thought that maybe I would wish I had after the race, so I decided to pick one up.

I got in my car and began to make my way down Hwy 1 (the course, but backwards). I immediately started to panic since everything I had read had described the Carmel Highlands as “rolling hills,” but the first hill I came to was anything but rolling. It was steep! And long! But, as I soon learned, it was also not part of the course. Whew!  It was a beautiful day, and after my initial fright, none of the hills seemed too bad. Of course, I was in a car and going to other way . . .

When I got to Big Sur, I was supposed to call Nick so he could come meet me, but I had a very hard time finding a signal. Eventually, I pulled off in the right place, and thankfully I was going slow when I got back on the road because a deer darted right out in front of the car! Had I been going the speed limit, I would have hit it. Disaster averted, I found the turn and finally met Nick and his friends. They were very welcoming, and I felt at home almost immediately. There were 6 of them participating in the race–5 doing a relay, and Nick was running the marathon. I was the only first-timer in the bunch, so I got a lot of good advice on the course and they all weighed in on my questions about whether to wear sunglasses or a visor (I ended up skipping both since the forecast called for clouds and a passing shower). We had a great dinner of pasta & salmon with pound cake and blueberries for dessert. After a breath-taking sunset (the compound was right on the ocean), I drove back up the coast to get ready for a 3AM wake-up call.

Between pre-race jitters, excitement, and being nervous that I would oversleep and miss the shuttle, I barely slept at all on Saturday night. I was up in plenty of time to have a Mojo bar (peanut butter pretzel!) & a cup of tea. I did double-duty with the anti-chafe wipes and then got dressed in my race day outfit (Winona tank, CWX compression shorts, Zoot compression socks, Oiselle arm sleeves, purple LunarEclipse 3s, my FlipBelt, and a throwaway fleece).

I was pleasantly surprised to see that we had really nice buses for the hour-long ride down to Big Sur. I had a row to myself and chatted a little with the couple behind me, who were also from Pittsburgh. The bus was dark, but there’s no way I would get any sleep this close to race time. I just tried to relax and breathe.

When we got to the start, it was really crowded & there were people everywhere! The lines to the porta-lets were really long, and supposedly there was coffee, but I didn’t see anything but people. The Runner’s World Challenge had its own tent, which was really great. It was heated & there were separate porta-lets for us to us with NO LINES. They also had coffee, tea, bananas & bagels. I was to nervous to eat much, but I did have a bit of raisin bagel.

Finally it was time to make our way to the starting area. I went out with other Challengers, but we got separated in the crowd pretty quickly. I lined up between the 3:45 and the 4:00 pace groups and tried to bounce around a little bit to stay warm. There were people darting off into the woods right and left despite warnings from the announcers about poison oak. Soon, someone sang the national anthem, and Deena Kastor wished us a good race. The announcer said that it was as close to perfect course conditions as they’ve seen in years, so people who’ve run before should expect a course PR (no pressure!).

The first wave started right at 6:45. I was in the second wave. We waited 3 or 4 minuted, and then we were off. I made my way over the line at 6:49, and I was pretty emotional to start. I couldn’t believe it was finally here! And I couldn’t believe I was going to be running for the next several hours . . . I went out slowly, which wasn’t easy since everyone around me was going faster, and we were all going downhill. I have always been a come-from-behind runner, so I let them go as best I could. It got harder when the 4 hour pace group went flying by before we even got to mile 2. (I had hoped to break 4 hours–my A++ goal was 3:47. My pace chart was for 3:48, but I would be happy as long as I was under 4 hours). I thought I might have to adjust my goals, especially because I had a bit of a side stitch in those early miles, which meant that I couldn’t speed up at all.

I let them go. I let lots and lots of people go, including Dean Karnazes. I wasn’t too far behind my pace chart, which I had calculated to have a conservative start, so I wasn’t too worried. Before long, we were out of the woods and the course opened up to views of the Pacific. Hwy 1 is one of my most favorite drives in the world, and it was amazing to be there as a runner. I tried to take in as many of the views as I could, but I didn’t want to stop and take pictures–many, many people were stopping all along the course, and I completely understand why–it was one big photo op from start to finish! But I figure that if I wanted to take pictures, I could drive down again later (ultimately, I didn’t). Initially, runners had both lanes of the road, but by mile 4 or 5, the race narrowed to just the left lane. The right was to be kept open for traffic. I basically ran along the right lane. This turned out to be a good strategy since it was usually pretty easy to pass people, the photographers were mostly on that side, and the road wasn’t too steeply cambered there.

I drank at all the aid stations and took a Gu (Salted Caramel!) every 5 miles or so. The aid stations were well-staffed and well-organized, and I really don’t remember any problems with traffic jams or anything, which isn’t always the case. There were also musicians stationed along the course–sometimes students sometimes adults. My favorite was probably the Taiko drummers at the bottom of Hurricane Point. They were very cool. I caught up with the 4 hour pace group at the bottom of the climb, as as I went by them, I heard the group leader tell his runners that he was going to burn a few minutes on the climb. I just kept going. I actually felt pretty good all the way up, though the hill is misleading because it is so winding

The first course photographers were at the bottom of the next hill, and I feel a little bad about darting in front of some random woman who had basically moved right in front of me, but she was going slower than I was, and I wasn’t just going to hang out behind her. There’s now a photo of us with my arm in front of her face. Oops.

We never did get the passing shower that was called for, and it was wonderfully overcast almost all morning. I felt good and was keeping a very steady pace (though I didn’t know it at the time–I only checked later) through mile 16, when it occurred to me that I was entering “Never run this far before” territory. It felt strange and pretty awesome. I was still a couple minutes off the pace card, which I had tucked in my arm sleeve. I was fine with this, however, because it meant that I was still well ahead of the 4 hour time. I felt good at that point, and I decided that I would put the card away and just run the last ten miles as best I could without worrying about what the card said.

I came upon two of the relayers between mile 21 and 22. Gordon and John had apparently decided to run the rest of the course as a training run. I said hi to them as I went by (I didn’t have much energy to say more than just “Hi”), but Gordon sped up to my pace (it didn’t require much) and asked how I was doing. I was starting to get pretty tired at that point. He ran the next hill with me and then told me to keep going, that he was going to drop back and ask John something, but that he’d catch back up. So I was on my own again for a little while, and then he was back, and he coached me through the rest of the race. We finally got to the famous strawberry station at mile 23, and I grabbed a few. They were really good, but I’m pretty sure I would have felt that way about cardboard at that point. These were definitely better than cardboard. Gordon stayed just ahead of me, and that was both great because it forced me to work to stay with him and possibly very annoying for other people on the course since we were all trying not to pass out, and he was Mr. Energy! He kept telling me that I had just a little farther to go and compared it to the Rail Trail where I run all the time. At one point, I asked him “Are we at the Dog Park yet?” (The dog park is about half way). He looked at me like I was delirious until I explained that I was comparing it to the rail trail.

Finally, we saw the finish line area, and that gave me a boost. I felt like I finished strong, and it was very cool to hear my name over the PA system–and the announcer told everyone that this was my first marathon. I crossed the line, remembered to stop my watch, and got my finisher’s medal. I got my picture taken and got separated from Gordon. I found the sneaky Runner’s World exit and then wandered around that area for a few minutes trying to find my bag (I had walked right past it twice!). When I finally got my bag, my first priority was the Wet Wipes, which were awesome. Then I wanted to find a place to change since both my bra and my tank were soaking wet. I was directed to the port-lets outside in the Finshers Village, and that’s when I wandered into Nick, who took me to the VIP area. The VIPs had fancy porta-lets with running water & flushing toilets. I changed and met up with the rest of the group, all of whom were very happy for me. I had run a 3:52, which wasn’t the A++ goal, but I was thrilled.

I sat down, and Nick said that we had to text his sister (my college President) and tell her how I did. I didn’t have her number, so I basically unlocked my phone and gave it to him. He wrote the text & we sent it on. I also texted my parents & George & my Spartanburg running friends Cate & Ben & Ned.  I was pretty out of it, but it felt really good to have finished.

Eventually, I got on the school bus to go back to the hotel, where I showered and bonded with the new foam roller, which I was grateful to have. I then got back in the car and went back to Big Sur for dinner. Driving back down Hwy 1 was an amazing experience. By now, the sun was shining, and I couldn’t believe I had run that whole way just a few hours earlier. It was a lovely afternoon, and we capped it off with dinner at Nepenthe, where I had the best cheeseburger possibly ever. I drove back up to Monterey as the sun set, and I stopped a few times to take pictures of the view. I also stopped at the grocery store, where I wandered around in a daze before making my way back to the hotel.

It was a different place with so many of the racers gone already. Much quieter.

I woke up the next morning and, since both of the doctors I had talked to the day before had suggested it, I went for a run. It was more of a shuffle, but I had my iPod, and the bike path along the Monterey Bay was beautiful. After the first mile, it was okay. I stopped at Starbucks before heading back to the room to check out. I spent the next few hours in the hotel lobby. I called my parents, and caught up on email. I also registered for another marathon: Paris in April 2015.

 

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