Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Thing That Scares Me Most When Running


The Gentleman and I celebrated the fact that we were both home from work before 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night by heading into Berkeley for a fun night out, eating tater tots.  

Why did we celebrate with tater tots?  I had texted him, “let’s do something fun tonight!” and he replied, “let’s get tater tots in Berkeley and then go to half-price books!” and so we did.  


text text texting my cutie

Well golly, I am cute

These aren’t your first grade cafeteria taters.  They were crispy and dense and delicious.  But I was ravenous, at which point anything is delicious, which explains why I was very impressed by ketchup at the time as well.



The Gentleman walked around half-price books looking for good cheap records (we have a fantastic record collection that needs to get even more fantastic) while I searched for a sports section to see if any fun running books could be browsed.  I couldn't find one, so I gave up and wandered into the law section, which turned out to mostly be legal thrillers.  Everywhere else I turned was vampire books and young adult fiction (redundant?).  Everywhere I turned.  It was that or cookbooks.  Which reminded me I was still hungry, so we got pizza.  

The point of this was to say, I love when weeknights don’t feel like weeknights.  We fall into a routine during the week, and weeknights are usually a blur of eating and unwinding before going to sleep to start it all over again. 

****Running****

I visited the track this morning, and settled on 11x400m.  I haven’t done 400m repeats in a couple months, and one thing I forgot about them…is…how relative easy they are. 

They can and should hurt for those very few seconds when you hit the 300m mark, your legs burning up, and you can’t wait to hear your watch beep after hitting 0.25 miles.  But in general, 400 meters goes by so quickly that there isn’t a whole lot of time to feel them hurt.  I also find that they because they are are so short, the recovery is rapid and I quickly lose any memory of the previous repeat being anything but easy. 

81; 82; 82; 82; 80; 82; 81; 81; 79; 80; 78
(and a 12th half-hearted repeat at 83 to burn out my leftover steam)

Like whoa, I finally hit the sub-80 second 400m barrier! I was wondering when that would happen.

I intended to do 10 repeats, then needed to do the 11th because I wasn’t feeling properly spent.  I tried to whip out a 12th repeat but kind of decided otherwise halfway through.  Slow jog of ½ lap in between each repeat. 

Here’s what I think.  These splits would suggest that I am just as strong, if not stronger, than I was several months ago when I was hitting the track regularly.  I was around 80-82 seconds per repeat at that time.  But I can tell I’m not yet back where I was.  

So in conclusion, I doubt that 400m repeats are a good predictor of capability for distances like a full or half marathon.  I think they are probably helpful for getting your legs used to a faster turnover, but not an indicator of stamina or strength or any other element that is necessary for runs that last longer than one lap.

****** 

Another thing that has been happening a lot lately during runs is that I have been running into spiders.  And their webs.   People aren’t getting up early enough to walk their dogs and break the seal of spiderwebs before me.   Spiders usually start coming out in late September/early October.

I have a mild-to-medium spider phobia.  If I force myself to think logically about spiders, I think I could stay calm and not squeal and shudder when I find one in our apartment.  But at this point it feels like second nature that it’s what I do, I freak out when I see a spider.  I’m trying to change this, because I really don’t think it is a true phobia, just a freak-out habit that has been reinforced by heroes like the Gentleman saving the day with a tissue (yes, we are bug killers, I have never been that person who grabs a jar to trap a bug and set it free outside).  And I'm trying to change this because in a parallel universe I hate idiots who squeal over bugs.

oh dear nightmare

Why is this a running theme where we smile cute right before being ATTACKED by an insanely huge spider!?

Of late, when I am running outside, and I suddenly feel that stringy wispy creepy web string hit my arm or legs or face, I focus and make myself think, “IT’S OK! STAY CALM! We’re good.  Keep running.  Calmly check yourself to make sure the spider isn’t laying eggs in your ear.  Peel the web off.  It’s ok.”

That works for about 10 seconds.  Then I start to lose it a little.  

What was that I felt on my head? IS THAT A SPIDER? Swat, swat, swat.  Nothing there.  Wait, I feel something on my neck, WHAT IS THAT!? Swat, swat, swat.  

So I run and swat for a good five minutes.  Because somewhere deep inside, I know that if I ran into a web, there is a very good chance that the spider was latched onto that web, but I can never seem to figure out where on my body it is.  Never find it.  Creepy suckers. 

The honest thing that tends to help me not hate spiders with the heat of one thousand suns, is to think of Charlotte’s Web.  That spider, whether or not voiced by Julia Roberts, is sweet and wise and beautiful and has adorable swinging babies, and I empathize with her plight of having people hate her and trying to ruin her web.  Charlotte, I can deal with.  

But remember what spiders actually look like?  Monsters come to life.  Science fiction killers.

Do you have any true phobias? Have you gotten over it, and if so, teach me how….

24 comments:

  1. I hate spiders. Hate them.
    My worst spaz with spider webs was while camping in northern MN - I went for an early morning long run and on a trail going thru the campsite I got a full face wrap of a dew covered spider web. I screamed, flapped my arms around like crazy and danced like a drunk idiot...in a just waking up camp ground. My first mile was pretty speedy and there was a lot of swatting. I was convinced the mother of all spiders was rebuilding its web in my hair!

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  2. Okay...so... the garden spiders that come out starting about now are way freaky! I did a post on them 2 years ago when I first started my blog...w/ photo of my kid pointing out the gigantic spider. Gigantic. They totally creep me out. Now that we live in Disneylandia, there are no spiders.

    Have you had potato puffs at Gregoire? They remind me of super fancy tater tots.

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    1. No way? Gregoire always lets us down (we seem to keep ordering the wrong thing, or the place sucks) but I must now go try the potato puffs!

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  3. Very embarrassing. I have deadly afraid of animas with feathers- birds, cjickens, geese. My neighborhood is infected with geeses, and I will freeze if I see them on the side, I can't even walk by them. If the raise their beings, you better call 911 as I will faint.

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  4. I am de-lurking to commiserate -- I recently spent a year in Taiwan running trails in the jungle and mountains and coming up against massive, horrendous, freaky spiders and their webs. Documented here http://todayididthisforme.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/the-harry-potter-run/ is my yet-to-be-patented solution, involving "running whilst waving a stick in front of me like a twat". It works, though...

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    1. Oh my gosh this is too funny and very brilliant. I'm off to read your post.

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  5. Spiders = EWWWWWWWWW. I am with you on that. My major phobia is cockroaches though. It is so bad that I get weirdly shaky just typing the word! My first apartment post-college had three-inch-long cockroaches in it and I've never quite gotten over it. . .

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  6. Yes. Spiders. I can't look at them, can't be in a room if there's on in there, can't get close enough to them to kill them.. I just freeze up and start panicking. This morning there was a HUGE one by my bed, and I had to wake up The BF at 5:30am so he could kill it. On the drive into work I kept feeling like they were ON me.

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    1. On your bed!? I am so sad waking up to a spider is a possibility that exists

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  7. i walking into the web of the largest spider i've ever seen in my life last week as i opened my screened door and walked into my yard. i'm not kidding when i say the spider was as big as the palm of my hand and it's gross sack-like body was as big as a quarter. i screamed as if the spider was eating my flesh and stood in horror as my husband came running around the corner as the spider and i stood eye to eyes. we have a slight spider problem in our new house and tried to kill it with spider killer, but it didn't work because the thing was so damn big. eventually he knocked it down and squished the life out of it and it made a loud crunching sound, but it was touch and go there for a minute and i saw my life flash before my eyes.

    the worst part was that the web was so thick that it was difficult to pull it off. eeewww, i'm getting sick just thinking about it again.

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  8. What a cute picture of The Gentleman! Whenever I get stuck in a spiderweb like that, I like to think about the spider freaking out as well. Like, you know he's way more confused and concerned about the situation than you are, so I picture him just being like, "WTF is going on? Why am I moving so fast??" and that makes me laugh a little, which calms me down.

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    1. I love this perspective!! I will try to think of this, and of Charlotte. Poor spider's home just became a roller coaster!

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  9. Funny you mention Charlotte's web. That's what we are naming our daughter (well, just the Charlotte part). I love the quote from Wilbur where he says that not too many people in this world are good writers and good friends and how she was both.

    Sorry, just lapsed into baby world. My bad.

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  10. I'm scared of rodents, snakes, and sea monsters, but not spiders. Spider webs are icky to run through, but I'm not afraid of spiders unless their bodies are bigger than a quarter or they're poisonous.

    Where are these magnificent tater tots from??

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    1. Phil's Sliders, on Shattuck right next door to the Half-Price Books. The sliders are meh, and way too tiny to be worth the $2.50...but the tater tots? Worth it.

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  11. I love breaking the weeknight routine. Although it rarely happens. I would love to have time to relax every night, but there's only so much you can do with the handful of hours you get in the evening!

    Where are these spider webs coming from?? Thanks for the Charlotte's Web reminder. Ahhh I loved that book so much when I was a kid.

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  12. If you aren't loathing every minute of every 400, you're not doing it right.

    Though, maybe that's just me.

    Also, those tater tots. Holy shit they look delicious. No, seriously. Dude.

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  13. I keep scrolling back up to check out those tots. I think I need some.

    After a few weeks of patting myself on the back for being in the lead spot, during our early morning group runs, I finally figured it out. Tallest + First + Sucker = Spider Web Destroyer. My new running "buddies" were totally using me.

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  14. I agree that spider web strings on the skin are very annoying! They drive me crazy and then I start feeling phantom spider web strings and the whole thing lasts way longer than it should. Sigh.

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  15. Spiders are awful, I ran into a web this morning and did the exact same thing. I have a serious phobia of needles. Like just seeing someone getting a shot on TV or someone talking about giving blood breaks me into a cold sweat. It's horrible.

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  16. Fast 400's lady. But you're always fast.

    Weirdly, I'm not afraid of spiders at all. I despise and detest cockroaches, but spiders feel friendly to me. They can hang in my house if they want. I have one in my car that's been there for about a month. How is it not dead yet?! What kind of life expectancy do these things have?

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  17. those tater tots look delicious. do tell me where you got them?? plus that first picture of you is super cute!

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  18. don't laugh but I was scared of dogs. like RUN out of the room scared. Now i'm okay...it's cause Glenn didn't give me an option to run of the room...he would close the door and stand in front of it. Martial torture. Also, I use to love to go to half price books..then I got a kindle and sold out. And yes, YA romance and vampire stories are THE thing right now...

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