Indy Mini: 3 Days Out

Tomorrow night, I’m flying home. To Indiana.

I’ve lived in DC for a couple of years. I love it here and consider it my home, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get excited as all hell to head back to the Midwest. I’m super excited to see friends and family, and I can’t wait for Saturday: the 2013 Indianapolis OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.

Confession: I like to say it exactly like that in conversation because it’s such a ridiculously long title for a half-marathon. Example:

Mom: What time does the race start?

Me: What race? You mean the 2013 Indianapolis OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon?

Mom: Um, yes. When does it start?

Me: The 2013 Indianapolis OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon starts at 7:30, I think, but I’ll have to check. Let me get on the 2013 Indianapolis OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon website to be sure.

Mom: What’s the web address? I can look it up.

Me: I’m not sure. I’ll Google “2013 Indianapolis OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon” and let you know.

Mom: It’s fine, I’ll just ask your brother.

Me: Which brother? The one who is also running the 2013 Indianapolis OneAmer–

Mom: STOP.

See? It’s fun.

It’s called “the Mini” for short. Now you know why.

In actuality, it is anything but mini. I’ve heard in the past that this race is the biggest half-marathon in the United States — probably because there is no full marathon offered, just the half, and it fills up every year. Forbes had a piece on it last year, if you’re so inclined.

The Mini starts downtown, in the heart of Indianapolis, where you line up with 40,000 of your best friends:

Holy wave start.

First, you head west and run past the Indianapolis Zoo, where sometimes you’ll see an elephant or seven hanging out as close as to the road as possible, course-spectating LIKE A BOSS.

Actual photo from Indianapolis? You decide.

Then you tromp through the west side, passing through Haughville, I think (I don’t really know, I just run it okay?) and then through Speedway — which is both a town and a thing — for 2.5 miles on the track of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Yes really.

After that there are some shaded, winding streets, then a straightaway through a neighborhood with lots of nice spectators cheering a lot and playing instruments poorly. And then you head back downtown, crossing The Bridge That Feels Like The Longest Bridge In America But Is Actually Just A Normal Bridge.

And then you’re in the home stretch, finishing on another straightaway that spits you out in Military Park.

Pretty, right? This might be an old photo…

I. Am. Pumped.

So I’m going to get my head straight and lay out some Poke-tastic Mini goals:

1. Don’t go out too fast. I am aiming for a 2:05, but I’m feeling overconfident because I’ve apparently become a cocky asshole. I’ve had several confidence-boosting LRs in recent weeks, which are giving me all sorts of crazy high hopes. I juuuust might get a little too hopped up on Starbucks and stranger danger (it gets super crowded at the start) and bust out of the gate like Seabiscuit. I need to run consistent 9:30s to go 2:05, but I’ll probably feel like starting with 8:45s and 9:00s. I need to remember to hold back a little and save the juice for a kick at the end. Ain’t nothing like a good kick at the end.

WHAT YOU GUYS I’M KICKING

2. Hold the pace steady and stay confident. I think part of the reason I ran so well at RnR USA is that I ran with a friend and didn’t overthink it. I wasn’t thinking it at all. I just ran, smiling at the crowds like a pageant girl and high-fiving everyone in America (I get excited). The closer I get to a shiny new PR during the Mini, the more panicky I’ll probably become, fearing that I might not have enough gas at the end, that I might hit a wall, that I need to slow down and save energy. NICHT! This will not happen. This is the first time I’ll be running with a GPS watch, so I’m going to monitor my pace without letting it psych me out. Slow and steady wins Pokey the PR.

This guy has Podium on the brain.

3. Let myself be excited; have fun. I signed up for this race in 2010 after watching my little brother run it in 2009. The energy in downtown Indianapolis on Mini morning is contagious, and I was so insanely jealous of all the runners. I want to keep a vice grip on that enthusiasm and enjoy the atmosphere. Hoosiers love the Mini. It’s an incredibly fun day. You get to run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and kiss the brickyard, for crying out loud! (Which is fun, but can also make even the strongest runners feel like a trash bag: no shade, no variety, just one giant, two-and-a-half-mile loop like you’re running a high school track & field nightmare come true). It’s a celebration for the whole city, kicking off the month of May and all the Indianapolis 500-related festivities that come with it. I plan to revel. Those are my people; that is my home.

4. 2:05 or bust. I really enjoyed SkinnyRunner‘s recap of her experience at the Eugene Marathon last weekend, and I’m going to try to remember this part if and when the going gets tough:

The last 4-5 miles were trying to control the panic that comes from self-doubt.  You’re in pain and all you want to do is make it stop.  I’m constantly trying to reassure myself that I can handle it, but my mind was panicking thinking, “I can’t do this for 2 more miles; I’m going to have to walk. I’m going to have to tell Mason that I can’t do it.  I can’t make it.”

photo (630x464)

Of course, you can and you do.

Words. To. F#$*ing. Note.

Of course.

You can, and you do.

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“Live Like A Clock”

I recently picked up Again to Carthage, the 2010 follow-up to John L. Parker Jr.’s 1978 novel Once a Runner.

(Are you a runner who likes reading? A runner but not a reader? A reader but not a runner? Neither a runner nor a reader {okay but then what do you do? I’m confused}? NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, stop what you are doing, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars, go get your grubby paws on these books, read them, and then come back to Pokey so we can obsess together. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.)

I’m only forty pages into Carthage, but just like I was when I read its predecessor, I.am.hooked. And I was already so struck by one passage that I want to share it here. I’m not even going to be nice and set you up with context. Just READ:

[Bruce Denton]: “And remember what Jumbo Elliot used to tell the Villanova guys.”

[Quenton Cassidy]: “What was that?”

BD: “Live like a clock.”

QC: “Live like a clock.”

“Right.”

“Live like a clock.”

“That’s what I said.”

“Okay, I give up. I find Jumbo opaque at best. Where did you get this anyway?”

“Liquori. What Jumbo meant was to keep your schedule. If your morning run was always at eight A.M., you go out and do a token run at eight A.M., even if you’re tapering for a big race or on summer break. You’re not really training, you’re just keeping your body on the same routine. Eat at the same time, sleep at the same time. Live like a clock.”

“Like Mussolini’s widow.”

“How’s that?”

“After the war she’d go work in the fields from sunup to sundown. People would say, Why do you do that? She’d say, It’s good hard work and when you do it all day you can sleep at night.”

“I guess.”

“So this is like I’ve just seen my spouse strung up upside down with his mistress by an angry mob after losing a world war? That what you’re saying?”

“No, I’m saying live like a clock.”

The passage goes on for another page before closing the chapter with a thump:

[QC:] “I lived like a clock for nearly four years in college, through quitting school and racing Walton, through the buildup for the trials, and then right to the finals of the goddamn Olympic 1500 meters.”

[BD:] “Right.”

“And you’re telling me–”

“To keep doing it.”

Thump.

This passage made me ponder the value of routine. (Oh yes, Pokey ponders, my dear readers — this big dome under all my hair? Not just a hat rack.)

Honestly, the exact same sequence of thoughts occurs to me before every single run. It’s quite literally a routine:

  1. Yay, I get to run later! I can’t wait to run later!!!
  2. [Later] Woof, I don’t actually want to do this.
  3. Okay, just go, and if it really sucks you can stop.
  4. Yeah right, you know you won’t actually let yourself stop.
  5. Okay, go anyway, and if it really sucks, you can really stop this time.
  6. No you can’t.
  7. Yes you can
  8. Noyoucan’tyesyoucan
  9. UGH FINE WHATEVER WHO CARES I’M GOING THIS ISN’T THE OLYMPICS
  10. [Hours pass]
  11. F&$*ing Garmin. “Locating satellites,” my ass.

And, generally speaking, the same thoughts occur to me on every run. I get the same sensations in my legs and feet, the same irregular, then regular, then irregular patterns of breath. I listen to the same playlists, the same big questions tumble around in my head, and I think about the same things: Friends. Family. Work. Races. The future. Plans. Problems.  Things I Want To Eat For Dinner. Things I Need To Sift Through. Things That Are Stressing Me The F$#% Out.

It’s good, but if you’re a runner, you know this already. This routine of thinking through my shit is one of the biggest reasons I always return to running. Running is, metaphorically speaking, an empty place that I get to fill with whatever I want. And that is holy.

I want, and need, to continue to build my running life into my routine life.

And If I get distracted, I’ll tattoo Bruce Denton’s advice on my forehead, and be a clock.

Tawk to me: Do you live like a clock? What is your running routine like? HAVE YOU READ THESE BOOKS (so good, right?)?

Failing to Plan and the PENN RELAYS CARNIVAL

I did not post my running plan earlier this week because I was not sure how things would shake out on my calendar.

That, my friends, is what we call setting yourself up for failure.

This is what an endorphin deficit looks like.

I didn’t run on Monday because I took a nap coma instead.

On Tuesday, I blazed through Capitol Hill at an 8:47 min/mile average pace for 5 miles.

!!!

I am not saying that I looked like this. I am saying it is possible that I looked like this.

That is a pretty quick clip for ol’ Pokey McGee. I celebrated by high-fiving another runner, a couple Capitol Police, a homeless dude, and myself.

And then I got lazy. Yesterday I had a laundry list of things to do (seriously, I had to do laundry, the clean britches situation was reaching desperate hour) and not enough time to do them.

And by that I obviously mean I cleaned my apartment until 10:00 and spent the next three hours clicking around indiscriminately on the internet before finally going to sleep at an unnecessarily late hour. I don’t even know what I did! And I will never get those three hours of my life back.

I just made myself sad.

So anyway, here we are, Thursday. Tonight I am running an easy 3-4 outside. Tomorrow I’ll be hitting up the Crystal City 5k with friends.

Non-DC people: Doesn’t Crystal City sound like a beautiful place? Well…

You’re in for a rude awakening.

Because Saturday is crazy-bananas packed, I’m bumping my LR to Sunday and shooting for a steady 8 miler. It will be my last LR before next weekend’s half.

Ultimately, though, I’ll have three rest days by the time this week is over, and that’s pretty lame.

Mikayla trying to pretend she doesn’t know me. (She doesn’t.)

My mileage will be pretty low again next week, but that will be intentional. I want to taper for the Indianapolis OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (how’s that for a title?) so I can be as ready as possible to PR MY BRAINS OUT.

Is tapering actually necessary for half-marathons? I should look into that.

Change of subject. Is anybody watching the Penn Relays right now?

WHAT’S THAT? You want me to talk about the Penn Relays?!

I’d be glad to.

  • The Penn Relays, officially known as THE PENN RELAYS CARNIVAL (no lie), are hosted by the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field (their home stadium) in Philadelphia.
  • The event was first held in 1895.
  • It is the oldest track and field competition in the US.
  • It is historically credited with popularizing relay races.
  • The first Penn Relay was a 4x400m relay between Penn and Princeton. Princeton won in 3:34.0.
  • In the event’s early days, tents were set up around the perimeter of the track as dressing areas. The “festive atmosphere” provided by the tents lent itself to the term “Carnival,” which was officially adopted as part of the event’s name in 1910.
  • The events include high school, college, and “Olympic development” level races.
  • The event attracts 15,000 participants from the US and overseas (most notably Jamaica).
  • One world record has been set at the Penn Relays: a team that included Marion Jones ran the 4x200m relay in 1:27.46 in 2000.
  • Attendance surpasses 100,000 over all three days of racing.

Dope, right?

Sources: Penn Relays website and Wikipedia. Check out the schedule of events if you want to catch your favorite races on the tube. There are 200 to choose from; go crazy.

Back in my high school track days, I was a middie. I ran the 4×8, 800 open, and 4×4. I always wanted to run the 400 open instead of the 8, but I was never fast enough to make the cut for that one! Still bitter. But the 4×4 was far and away my favorite race to run, and it is still my favorite to watch. The 4×4 is the epitome of TRACK.

Honestly. Just look how happy these guys were after winning a 4×4:

High on life.

And this was at the Commonwealth Games. NOBODY EVEN KNOWS WHAT THAT IS, but by the looks on their faces you’d think they just discovered the God Particle.

Track = happy.

Tuesday Food Day: Don’t Talk to Me about “Clean Eating”

Last week was bananas. (In case you missed it, America’s Finest News Source has an apt summary.) Personally, a hectic week and weekend caught up to me last night. After several days of overtime, overnights, a 24-hour last minute #whynot #YOLO trip to Chicago, two 6am flights, and a standard Monday at work, I came home to an apartment resembling the End Times (thanks to the fact that I’ve completed NONE loads of laundry in recent history) and collapsed into bed at eight o’clock.

And I slept.

And it was good.

I didn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t cross anything off my to-do list, and I didn’t run, even though my legs could have used a few recovery miles. I recovery slept instead.

Today I feel better, like I’m pressing reboot. When I do that, sometimes it helps to focus on how I’m feeding the lean, mean, fighting machine that is My Amazing Body.

PSYCH. My bod is average to the bone, but sometimes (occasionally… rarely…), I try to treat it like I’m preserving the Palace of Versailles. Or the type of body worthy of leg insurance to the tune of a couple milli.

Or at least the type of body that wants to run a few miles tomorrow and not feel like a lethargic pile of goo while doing it.

This DNF brought to you by Velveeta.

So let’s talk food! People love food. I love food. You love food. Runners go ape shit over food. I think we should talk about it, maybe all the time, but at least on Tuesdays. Because that is the day of the week that best rhymes with Food Day. I guess I could be alliterative and suggest Friday Food Day, but that would make too much sense, and I already started this, and today is Tuesday, so go write your own alliterative blog and make it cleverer than mine.

Shouldn’t be hard.

I’m going to kick off Tuesday Food Days with something negative, because I do what I want, and tell you about a food-related term that I really dislike. Loathe. With the fire of a thousand suns. Are you ready for it?

“Clean eating.”

Blech.

Ew.

Get it away from me.

I hate “clean eating” for a very simple reason. What’s the opposite of clean? Dirty. So apparently, if I’m not eating “clean,” I’m eating dirty. (Dirtily? English is hard.) Not only am I doing it wrong, I’m a dirty person.

That is a lot of pressure, and since my head is already a dark and twisty place, I reject it.

Yes, Mer. Yes I am.

For most of us, it is probably a tall enough order to feed, clothe and bathe ourselves regularly. Some of you have to do all that AND manage it for other, smaller people too. Holy time management skills, am I impressed. (I’m talking to you, mamas and papas — I know you’re tired; try to keep up.)

Let’s be clear. This list represents my understanding of foods that don’t fall into the “clean eating” category:

  • Anything fried
  • Anything processed
  • Anything with cheese
  • Anything with milk
  • Anything with alcohol
  • Anything with sugar
  • Anything with sugar substitutes
  • Anything white
  • Anything enriched
  • Anything with multiple ingredients
  • Anything with ingredients I can’t pronounce
  • Anything in a box
  • Anything in a can
  • Everything on my plate

Have you guys been to a grocery store? These suggestions are like a f$%ked-up version of What Not to Wear where the horrifically appalling wardrobe is my kitchen pantry, and Stacy London is throwing out my perfectly good bag of Tostitos with the tags still on it.

I get the concept of “clean eating,” I really do, and I’m not against the food choices it promotes. Personally, I like this quote from Michael Pollan, which I think encapsulates a similar approach:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

There is no asterisk to add “and p.s., feel guilty for eating a cupcake.”

Do we really need pressure to eat “clean”? Do we really want to call ourselves and our food “dirty,” like it’s something shameful if it’s been cooked or combined? Do we want that idea rolling around in our heads, when we already know well and good a healthy choice when we see one?

NAY, I say.

Relevant side note: my friend baked cake batter blondies this weekend, and they were out.of.control. How have I survived 25 years on Earth without them? One of the world’s great mysteries.

Back to the batter at hand (see what I did there? I slay me).

I hereby propose that we — that’s a collective we; I need all speakers of English to band together on this if we are ever going to be able to stop considering cupcakes “dirty,” and that is a cause we can all get behind — hereby do away with the term “clean eating.” Let’s fuel Our Amazing Bodies instead with food that is energizing, delicious, and nutrient-dense. And sometimes food that just tastes good. These foods are neither clean nor dirty, and the same goes for you and me.

Okay, maybe just you. I ran two hours ago, and I have yet to shower.

Real talk.

And That’s All I Have to Say about That

So I guess, sometimes, you say you’re going to do something, and then you do it.

Magic!

My typical schedule was flipped on its back this weekend. I came home from work at 8 in the morning and slept until after lunch. I woke up, ate “breakfast” and drank some coffee, and poked around for a bit. I knew I had 12 miles to run, but my inner sloth really wanted to call uncle on the week and give myself a free pass.

However, I’d already said I had 12 miles to run — on the internet, to nobody in particular — and apparently that was commitment enough. So I went for a run. Low 60s, breezy, blue skies and sunny. Perfect running weather.

I wound through Capitol Hill, up Pennsylvania, past the White House, up Pennsylvania some more, down to K Street and the Georgetown waterfront, up to M Street, across the Key Bridge to Arlington, down the Mt. Vernon Trail, past Roosevelt Island, back across the river to DC, down Virginia Ave to Constitution, past all the monuments, and back to Capitol Hill.

Did you actually read that? I’m impressed. I will reward you with my favorite Nike commercial:

Killer! (Get it? I really hope you get it…)

I love the part in that clip where the gymnast vaults and lands on her face. Because you KNOW that wasn’t the last time she vaulted.

So anyway. I finished 12 miles in 1:55, including stops on stops on stops… for stoplights. Damn city running!

It was fantastic. I think the unintentional back-to-back rest days prior really helped. I felt good the whole time, no music, just my feet and the road. (Plus a couple hundred thousand other people crowding my sidewalks. Yes, mine.)

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms. Joyce Carol Oates

Goals Are Like Ketchup

Yep, goals are like ketchup. Not a typo.

Cristiano Ronaldo, SING IT, soul brother:

“The goals will come. They’ll come naturally. It’s like a great player once told me: goals are like ketchup… you keep on forcing it, then it comes all at once.”

Sidebar: How much do you love ketchup?! Numero uno, best condiment ever. Just try to imagine your life without it. STOP, you can’t.

Ok, so Prettyface Loverboy was talking about actual, literal soccer goals. I know. But let’s stretch the takeaway and talk non-soccer goals, shall we?

Having a goal is motivating. Achieving a goal is really motivating. (How many of us can be caught thinking “I am never f$%king doing this again” during any given race, only to cross the finish line and ride that endorphin wave all the way home, where you immediately sign up for another half-marathon, a full, and a backwards three-legged race up Mount Everest while you’re at it? The MasterCard is already out, might as well…)

If achieving a goal is motivating, blowing that goal out of the water is like your birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, hitting the lottery and making out with Ryan Gosling all at once.

How apropos, Ryan.

And THEN your boss gives you a promotion, a raise, a Shar pei puppy, and a cupcake.

Imagine this AND A CUPCAKE. I just died.

When I set out to run the Rock’n’Roll USA Half last month, I had one goal: to get my friend across the finish line. This friend is a gymnast/cheerleader by trade. Not a runner. Less than a month before the race, she decided to join me at RnR USA. We were kinda sorta maybe hoping for a 2:30.

This worked out just swimmingly for me because my lazy ass hadn’t been training at all, and I felt muy underprepared. In December I had big goals, but by early February I’d laced up my Asics — maybe — five times in the two months prior.

STOP JUDGING.

(Am I the only one who still wears Asics? Where is their spiffy #runhappy #gofasttakechances #brilliantrun social media campaign? Hey Asics, call me, I’ve got ideas. And feet.)

Okay, yeah, these are kind of tragic.

So when Cheery McGymnast decided to run the half with me, I revised my plan: just finish. Frankly, I was relieved that I no longer needed to impress myself.

Fast forward to race day. We laughed our way through the course. My Garmin died about three miles in (awesome), so I focused on enjoying the fact that I was running with a first-timer. By mile ten, she was spent, so it was my turn to be the cheerleader. With the finish line in sight, I asked if she wanted to kick it into high gear. She almost throat punched me.

So imagine my surprise when we crossed in 2:15, obliterating my previous PR (can we call it obliterating if it’s only by seven minutes? Roll with it). And I had energy to spare. Legs for days! So I immediately set my goal for Indy on May 4. 2:05.

Back to wise, pretty, wise Ronaldo: “you keep on forcing it, then it comes all at once.” (#TWSS.)

For the past four years I’ve been running out of necessity. I burnt out on competitive sports in high school and ran my first half in 2009 in a sad attempt to reignite the spark. Fail. But I kept signing up for halves anyway, about once a year, hoping to find the motivation to get faster.

It didn’t happen. I was in fake-it-til-you-make-it mode with running for years. I hit the streets and the treadmill sporadically, never followed a training plan, and simply survived the races.

But then, last fall, I found myself in a different work environment that afforded me buckets of free time in the evenings. So I ran. Track, treadmill, outdoors. By November I’d regained a modicum of respectable fitness… at least enough that I could apparently half-ass training for a half-marathon four months later and PR by seven minutes, no problem.

Immediately, my attitude changed. Avalanche of running motivation. It’s like I crossed the finish line at RnR USA and flipped a switch.

I’m excited to push. I’m excited to see how fast I can go. I’m excited to actually follow training plans and see where it all takes me.

And after all the frenzy surrounding Boston this week, I’m considering more and more what it might mean to run a marathon some day. I’m not there yet. But I think I want to be, eventually. So until I am, I’ll just keep forcing it.

Footer: Thursday was my rest day, and today was an unintentional rest day. I planned to run this evening, and then thunderstorms happened. I had to cancel this weekend’s trip unexpectedly, so my long run will take place tomorrow! I am running 12 miles tomorrow. I am saying it out loud (er, online) so that I have to make it come true. Wish me luck!

You’ve-got-to

First things first. Does anyone have suggestions for upcoming races within driving distance of DC? I have nothing planned after my half on May 4. I’m thinking about looking for a trail race, because I have never run one before, but I’m also open to road races! TAWK to me.

Second things second. This is a quote from Kurt Vonnegut (a Hoosier!) that I love (stay with me, I’m going somewhere, promise):

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.  -Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Today I was thinking about the three babies I know who were born in the past week. Two are in my own family — I have a lot of cousins! — and the third was born to a friend. All three babies made their debut within the last ten days.

My older brother was born shortly after the Challenger exploded. My younger brother was born at the height of Desert Storm. My mom says she remembers these events vividly because they were major, sad news stories during an otherwise happy and momentous time in her life.

Likewise, my cousins who are new parents will probably remember the attack on the Boston Marathon with a particular and acute nostalgia. They brought precious new life into the world, and the attacker(s) stole their thunder. It was a sharp reminder that we are here to love and protect those around us, to cherish and respect each other, to be kind.

Tonight I had planned on running easy treadmill miles so I could knock them out after work and head to a kickball game with friends (yes, I am in second grade. It should surprise exactly no one that professional adults in DC behave like children).

Instead I set out for the National Mall. I felt like running with strangers.

Image

Half mast.

The mall is therapeutic. I love running down the crowded (SO CROWDED UGH) paths between monuments and watching the tourists’ faces as they take everything in. I love reaching the Lincoln Memorial on the west end at the close of a long day and seeing the evening light bend between the pillars. (Yes it was overcast tonight, shut it, I’m painting a picture here.)

Tonight I kept going, crossing the Roosevelt Key 14th Street Memorial Bridge for a trot down the Mt. Vernon Trail.

Image

By the time I was done, I clocked 6.2 miles in 56 minutes, roughly 9:00/mi. It felt much more pokey than it was, because I somehow faced headwind every direction I turned — but Wednesday, I am le tired! — so I was very happy to be done.

Many runners posted online about going for a silent run yesterday in honor of the victims at Boston. I was busy raging to Puffy on the treadmill yesterday, so I ran without music tonight instead.

It’s been so long since I ran without headphones that I forgot what happens when I do that: I get a word or phrase stuck on loop in my brain and it repeats, over and over, with the rhythm of my breath or feet, sometimes both. (Does this happen to anyone else?)

Tonight Vonnegut’s “hello, babies” quote rolled around in my head until the last line echoed like a drumbeat: God-damn-it you’ve-got-to be-kind. You’ve-got-to be-kind. God-damn-it you’ve-got-to.

Be-kind, be-kind, be-kind.