no jetpack

the chronicle of one girl's ill-advised decision to run a really, really long way


I reside in the one-blog-for-one-reason camp. It's a sparsely populated camp. But I like to do something, and write about it, and then the doing and the writing are done. This is not my online journal.

Consequently, there was the Burning Log for Burning Man and the Balkan Blog for the Balkans and Marathonorama for the marathon and you get the picture.

The point being that since the marathon is over and since I have not, as some predicted, become a Running Fanatic, this blog is old news. And the new news is in the new blog. But I'm not going to put a link to it here, for reasons that I am also not going to put here. Let me just say that with the tiniest amount of Blogger initiative, you can find this new blog. Or you can ask me and I'll point you there. Sorry for the seemingly unnecessary complication. I promise I have my reasons.

Bye now. Happy Running.


Here I am again with ice on my knees…

I guess it might be true that at some point I may have said something to the effect of, after the marathon I am never running again. But post-injury that was amended to after the marathon I am never running another marathon. Because, well… I don’t hate running. Certainly not as much as I once did. And while I have not become an up-at-five carbo-loading speed-freak race-or-die runner as some of you (who mostly fit those categories) suggested was inevitable, I have come to appreciate the portability and stress relief and scenic value of the sport.

So when I showed up at Joshua’s place in Portland for the week, and he announced that he is now training for his first marathon (p.s. go Joshua!)… well, it seemed about time for my first post-marathon run. It’s been two weeks. We went three miles. I guess I’m still running.

More later. Now: Mediterranean food.


(so i wrote this Saturday, and i'm posting today, and i'm disappearing into alaska now for a few days. more soon.)

5 a.m. Nik's alarm goes off. I shimmy into my gear: sneaks and little socks, black bike shorts, purple jersey, sunglasses, and Goo belt - a black elastic waistband that, holster-like, holds my energy gel and assorted other race needs. Five is not usually my time of day, but the early sunlight helps my mood and I feel awake and alert, but calm. We munch bagels, bananas, and pretzels, and bus to the start line with the rest of the Oregon team.

Bags are checked, water bottles are filled, and songs are loudly sung by the Oregonians, to the nervous surprise of the other teams. Turns out that our crew of 20 or so Portlanders and Eugenians is just about the most joyful raucous bunch amongst the 3,800 racers stretching and sighing and pacing about wearing trash bags.

We go to the start line. We sing We Are the Champions. And then I run a marathon. And though I am writing this from my post-cold-bath, ibuprofen-laden, immobilized-in-bed position, dare I say it was - fun? Or if not fun exactly, at least not as horrible as I expected? And there was a moose at mile two!

The course wound through woods and over streams, on pavement and dirt gravel trails, and for quite a while by the highway. The crowds were sparse but cheerful. The hills were numerous but thoughtfully spaced, and the other runners came in all ages and styles. The weather was perfection, 60s and partly cloudy.

I ran half way without music, listening to the footfalls and the wind in the trees and the well-intentioned cheers of sideliners misreading my jersey, Go Jean Go! My goal became: run a whole half marathon without walking. My body felt strong and my mind felt clear and there I was at mile 13.1, popping in my new earbuds and cranking up the mixes that my friends had made. The music, like all the other things I tried for the first time today, worked like magic. I just kept running, downing water and sports drink at each two mile station, squeezing foil packets of frosting-like gel into my mouth every four miles, and adjusting my pace to the ground and the beat.

My body creaked and groaned at times - sore toes, tight shoulders, swollen fingers - but most things either passed or were wholly ignorable. All the things that might have gone wrong didn't. My stomach never churned, my sides never stitched, my knee never stabbed.

The miles ticked by. For some I watched the changing terrain, the green and the streams and the distant mountains, or the other runners - their gear and their form and the dedications written on their jerseys. Other miles I spent in my head, thinking about friends and plans. And more miles than expected I spent wholly but happily in my body, relaxing shoulders, holding up my head, pumping my arms straight. I repeated a million times glide glide glide and it all felt like it was supposed to feel, and the surprise of that buoyed my mood. I expected serious pain, nonfunctional legs, and quiet desperation. But at each mile marker I thought ecstatically, It doesn't feel like shit yet!

Since it kept feeling good, I kept running. I decided to run for as long as I could. The uphills were slow and full of panting, and the downhills were slow and full of caution. I think my legs were tired, but as long as I kept moving they didn't feel it fully. The music and the cheering were a constant feed of energy. It felt almost automatic. Fuel in, motion out.

The last four miles were long. Long. But I was so happy to still be running, so high on the long list of unlikely circumstances that conspired to provide a good run, that I was equal parts spent and thrilled. I ran around the lake, and up the much lamented bluff, and around the West High track. And I crossed the finish line, and an announcer read my name, and the clock said 4:11. Works for me.

So there it is, whatever that means. I ran a marathon. I'm going to think about it some more and add these thoughts in a few days.

Until then, congratulations to all the Oregon runners and walkers and run-walkers, especially Nik, Emilee, Courtney, Jamie, Emily, Jane, Amy, Rachel, Ashely, and Vicky; and superhuge thanks to Traci from TnT and kickass Portland coach Priscilla. Many more thanks to follow.

(Next day p.s.: Traci called from the airport to say they put the top 100 men and top 100 women finishers in the Anchorage newspaper and holy shit! I just made it in at 98. Yeehaw.)


Greetings from Anchorage!

After a short sweet Seattle waterfront run yesterday I headed to the airport and caught a nonstop flight north at nine p.m. The hours passed and the sky grew disorientingly lighter, until after eleven when my little window was full of bright white dawnlike sky over a snowtopped dark craggy mountainscape.

I landed to find one message on my mobile phone. It was my dad, frantically urging me to check the status of my expiring student health insurance. Quite the vote of confidence.

And here I am in my first Anchorage morning, pleasantly cool and cloudy. My classmate Nikki – who hatched this whole idea with me back in January, but has been living & training in Portland ever since – is due in at one. According to the Anchorage Daily News’s Alaska Weather page, which is found just after the articles “Rascally bears evict Denali campers” and “Bears? Wait till you see Kodiak bumblebees,” predicts a Saturday in the sixties, with intervals of clouds and sunshine. Hoo Rah. Two days to go.


Yesterday I had a run of regret, zipping around the river path in one of Eugene’s perfect summer evenings, 8:30 and the sky still full of light, bikers and dog walkers and kids on swings and the smell of honeysuckle and the sound of rapids and my head full of wondering why I am leaving here, this surprising little city of liberal bumper stickers and buttes full of blackberries. And while I’m at it, why didn’t I bike this path every week? Why didn’t I spend even one day taking photographs of this place I’ve lived for four years?

And this is how I get about transitions, and it’s terribly sad and it’s part of why I appreciate them. Every time I try to do it a little bit better, so it will be a little less sad. But it’s always sad.

Last night Ty and Talley and I were sitting in Talley’s livingroom decompressing from the third and final yard sale, and we realized I was leaving in two days, and in the span of five minutes Ty and Talley called all our local friends on two cell phones so that tonight after a day of boxing my stuff and stacking it into a 5’x5’ unit, Ty and Talley and Melissa and Nopporn and Deb and John and Paz and Liz and Adrienne and I ate vegetarian Chinese food and made one last long pilgrimage to Sweet Life for cake and tea and stories. Some of these stories had to do with marathon vomiting and marathon underwear and marathon flesh wounds, but some of them were entirely pleasant.

And now every one of us is off to somewhere new, except Liz who is doing her something new right here, and I know that’s what needs to happen next. But wow, you sit at a table with eight inspiring kickass people and you just wish you could sit with them once a week forever to hear about the inspiring kickass things they’re up to.

But for now I’m packing. To the many many folks who have sent good wishes, song lists, tiny notes, and donations this week, thank you SO VERY MUCH. I hope you understand how deeply I appreciate this support, and how it has shaped this whole experience. Right this very moment, thinking about the run, I feel thrilled instead of nervous because of all of you. I promise to return the unanswered calls and messages just as soon as I can… so, as soon as I cram the rest of my stuff into the storage unit, drive to Seattle, fly to Anchorage, and run 26 miles. Next week, perhaps?


One week from right now, from RIGHT NOW, I will be running. More accurately by this point I might be jog/limping.

One of my friends who reads my blog keeps his own blog, and one of his friends found her way onto my blog from his blog, and wouldn’t you know? Her mom used to run marathons, and the very first marathon she ran was the Alaska Midnight Sun Run. So yesterday I got an email from my friend’s friend’s mom with a mile-by-mile chronicle of what to expect. This is the kind of magic that has been happening around this whole event.

I will here reprint her description:

Miles 0 - 4 are on a paved bike path running parallel toAlaska's major N/S highway, with a slight incline up to theoverpass, across the overpass to the otherside of thehighway. Don't get caught up in the rush of the first fewmiles. Take it easy and you'll feel much better going the next 13.

Miles 4 - 7 are on a two lane paved service road, mostlyflat. Good cruising opportunity.

Miles 7 - 17 are over the dirt trails of the Chugach Mountain foothills. Rough in places, hilly, and ending on adirt road taking you over to mile 17. Grueling. Watch yourstep.

Miles 17 - 19 are on the sidewalk/bikepath right next toTudor Road, a major E/W arterial 5 lane paved road. Cough,cough, gasp.

Miles 19 - 25 take you through neighborhoods to run along Anchorage's beautiful greenbelt, including Chester Creek inplaces and a paved bike trail that features tunnels underthe N/S roads of central Anchorage. Some small hills hereand there. Another good cruising opportunity, but don't befooled as you circle around Westchester Lagoon. Notice thebluff straight ahead.

Miles 25 - 26 include a steep climb up the bluff (Oh No!),a weary jog along neighborhood streets, and finally a laparound West High School's track (arghhh!) to the finishline.

Let us take a moment to note a few key words and phrases: Foothills. Rough. Grueling. Cough, cough, gasp. Bluff.

In my junior year of college back in the last millennium I spent a semester in Australia. I knew a guy there who wore the same thing every day: kaki pants and a blue button down shirt. He didn't wear the exact same clothes every day. But in his closet were ten or so identical pairs of kaki pants and ten or so identical blue button down shirts. He just didn't like to waste time thinking about what to wear.

I'm not that extreme. I have a whole closet full of clothes of varying colors and shapes. I can go to a wedding or an interview with only minimal borrowing from my friend Talley. But clothes are not something I think a whole lot about. If it's warm I wear a skirt and a tank top, and if it's cold I wear pants and a tank top and a sweater. And the pants are probably torn around the back of the cuffs. And I like when things have pockets, and I like fabrics that feel interesting. But that's it. So it is really alarming how long I have been planning and shopping for this one particular outfit. The marathon Day Outfit.

Now as I've mentioned, the general rule is not to do anything on marathon day that you haven't been doing for months before. But oh well. I've been working out in mid-length meshy shorts, and that's just not going to cut it. Extra material on shorts = deep marathon sadness, because everything you wear in a marathon is rubbing against you for many consecutive hours.

I tried to solve this problem long ago. I worked my way through several options.

For a while I was going to wear a running skirt, because it seemed like it would feel really comfortable. I ruled out the running skirts from the site that refers to the built-in underwear as "spankies" on principle. And right around then this big running skirt debate erupted on several running blogs I visit, and the general tone - reflected on all the running skirt sales sites - was, running skirts are a great way for a woman to be athletic but still be cute and feminine.

There ended the running skirt appeal for me. Cuteness is great and all but seriously, is that really what a woman is supposed to be thinking about when she's running a marathon? Because I don't anticipate getting to mile nineteen and thinking, "I sure hope I still look feminine!" This whole understanding of the word feminine really pisses me off, though that's a different blog entirely. Let's leave it at this: running involves strength and stamina and sweat and you can find that cute or not, but it's not really about you now, is it?

Next up: the feathery light runner shorty shorts. These have little material and are good when it's hot. They are the item of choice at Eugene Running Company. But they're just not for me. Putting aside the fact that when the wind blows your ass is exposed to all behind you (which granted, in my case, will not be very many people) these just don't work for people with thighs. The average chicken-legged runner is safe and sporty in shorty shorts, but for me the lack of material would cause as much chafing as an excess of material. Next!

At this point I put aside my shopping ethics and stopped in at the Nike store. With optimistic glee I bought a pair of black-and-pink spandex shorts with super wicking dri-stuff and a perfect little pocket in back for an mp3 player. Alas, these were not designed for distance. After only forty minutes of running the legs had rolled themselves up and the numerous seams where all the magic fabrics met were making themselves abundantly apparent. Nike may not have any sort of production ethics, but at least they have a good return policy.

Last stop: REI. Final choice: "compression shorts." Basically, black spandex. Black spandex with a wide flat nonabrasive waistband and legs long enough to stay in place. No pockets, but I'm working on some amendments.

So now I just have to pick out my makeup.