My article for Running Times is up on their website:
Would you admit to there being symbolism in your novels?
I suppose there are symbols since critics keep finding them. If you do not mind I dislike talking about them and being questioned about them. It is hard enough to write books and stories without being asked to explain them as well. Also it deprives the explainers of work. If five or six or more good explainers can keep going why should I interfere with them? Read anything I write for the pleasure of reading it. Whatever else you find will be the measure of what you brought to the reading.
There is no salvation in elsewhere;
forget the horizon, the seductive sky.
If nothing’s here, nothing’s there.
I know. Once I escaped to Tangier,
took the same face, the same lie.
There’s no salvation in elsewhere
when elsewhere has empty rooms, mirrors.
Everywhere: the capital I.
If nothing’s here, nothing’s there
unless, of course, your motive’s secure;
not therapy, but joy,
salvation an idea left behind, elsewhere,
like overweight baggage or yesteryear,
The fundamental things apply.
If nothing’s here, nothing’s there—
I brought with me my own imperfect ai.
The streets were noise. The heart dry.
There was no salvation elsewhere.
I came with nothing, found nothing there.
It had been about two years since I picked a race, trained for it, tapered for it, and stood on the line with antsy legs and a queasy stomach to chase down a goal. I have always run better in low-pressure situations. None of my high school or college PRs came at big meets, and, as it turns out, I ran a hilly, frigid 20k nearly 10 seconds a mile faster in February than I ran the half on Sunday. I’m a little sad, because I was on pace for 1:28 through 10 miles, and somehow forgot the advice I know I should know–that the last three miles are half the half–and went from psyched, visualizing myself crossing the line in sub-1:30 euphoria, to barely moving (I ran a slower mile than I ever have in a race from 12-13) in a matter of ten minutes.
I was a little frustrated with the obvious inaccuracy of the mile markers (which of course, had me wondering, in spite of how sore-sport I know it sounds, if perhaps the whole course had been off) and I was frustrated with my own chronic impatience (check out these splits: 6:26, 6:51, 7:12, 6:28, 6:48, 6:44, 6:40, 7:01, 7:09, 6:31, 8:11 (!!!), 7:06, 8:43 (!!!), :48). Looking at my splits, I do think there was something up with miles 3/4 and miles 10/11, if not also mile 12-13, though I will never know if I ran a 1:32:50 half marathon or a 1:32:50 13.3 mile race, so I’ll have to make peace with having put it all on the line, and having come up short of my expectations.
Nonetheless, the weekend was a good one, and the week I’m taking off running now is much-needed and well-timed. I had a good time with the friends I met each Sunday for long runs, and I got to see fellow Oiselle teammate and long-time friend Amanda Scheer finish her first marathon (in 3:14!). Also, I really wish races would stop sending me pictures of myself running. These are about the most depressing thing of all time. I don’t think I have a particularly poor self-image, and I don’t consider myself to be very appearance-conscious (I often forget to wear makeup or brush my hair!) but I see these pictures, my face contorted in pain, arms flailing, thighs looming large, shirt flopping, and I start to think I should run in a potato sack in the dark of night. While the race pictures from Providence have not yet appeared to haunt me, two recent 5ks I ran featured sports photographers. After seeing the first set, I assumed my choice of shorts had been the problem and tucked my spandex shorts in the back of my drawer. Unfortunately, after seeing the pictures from the next week’s 5k, I feel unjustified in blaming my outfit for the horror of either set of photos.
I’m excited for some new adventures: my brother graduates from college in a few weeks, the school year here is wrapping up, I’ll be in Portland for a writing conference this summer, and will get to meet some of the Oiselle women at See Jane Run in Seattle, Nick has been running and we’ve got plans for a 5k and baseball-themed road trip this summer. I’d like to focus on some shorter stuff for a bit, since it looks like I’ll be coaching cross country in the fall, maybe try to tackle my 5k PR as the girls I coach tackle theirs. As for halves, I know I can break 1:30. I ran my PR (1:30:20) at the end of a 70 mile week, in the pouring rain, on a hilly course. I ran the first half of my first marathon in 1:31 (admittedly, this was a disaster…) so I’m looking for a flat, driving distance, cool, accurately measured late-fall option. Suggestions?