Monday, November 07, 2005

Still not dead (but thanks for checking, Scooter)

Me? I had a great weekend, thanks for asking. How was yours?

What did I do? Well, the weather was spectacular, and:

I ran with a new (to me) running club, went to Target, bought new running shoes, had dinner with friends, PR’d at a 10K with Bex and Jeanne (Bex ran, Jeanne cheered), had a scrumptious cookie and a free 10 minute massage, went to my West African dance class, bought delicious produce at the Farmer’s Market, napped on the couch, read on the rooftop deck, cleaned my apartment, and slept in this morning.

What about you?


So one of the things they tell you when you’re training for a marathon (they, in this case, being people who have already done at least one marathon) is that if you can run a marathon, you can do anything.

This was very encouraging, when I was training for the marathon this spring, because, and I think most people would agree here, the ability to do anything seemed like a cool superpower.

In as much as I examined that statement critically (as opposed to my usual response of grinning and thinking about how cool I am/was), I figured that they meant that certain skills acquired or perfected during the training for said marathon would be applicable later in my attempts to do the previously mentioned “anything.” But once I went and did all the training, it became clear to me that training for a marathon leaves you with just one skill, and that is the ability to run for a really, really (really) long time. Which is surely useful sometimes, but didn’t seem to guarantee my ability to do “anything”.

So I decided that they must mean that the accomplishment of a marathon was a sort of litmus test. Like, there are people who can do anything, and people who have run a marathons are a subset of that group. Not everyone who can do anything will choose to run a marathon, but if you do run a marathon, you have proved your membership in the “can do anything” set.

(In my head, this whole idea was a lot funnier and less math-nerdy than it seems in print. Just saying. Also? You can blame anybody who asked me about Peace Corps for this post. Because, eventually, I will get to my point, which is about Peace Corps.)

Right. I thought I had a point.

I did!

It was this:

At 24, I didn’t feel ready to rest on the laurels of one relatively unspectacular marathon performance and the proven ability to do “anything”. There are a couple more instances of “anything” that I’d like to accomplish. Like becoming a journalist. And writing about Africa.

So I thought I’d return to the original interpretation of marathon-training having real world applications.

The key to being able to run a 26.2 mile race is to train for it. And the way you train to run a lot is to run. A lot. Even when the runs suck. Or when the weather sucks. Or when you’re still a little sore from the last time. Or when you don’t have any clean socks anymore, so you just wear the dirty ones again (or is that just me?).

And sometimes the runs are great and the weather is lovely and you have super cool new running shorts and you fly through the miles. But either way, if you keep running week after week, you’ll become stronger and more confident and then one day it will be marathon day and you’ll run the marathon.

But you can’t train for a marathon without running. You can ride your bike a lot, and that will get you into really great shape, and that wouldn’t be a bad thing to do before training to run a marathon. But eventually? If you want to run a marathon? You have to start running.

So (here’s the connection to Peace Corps): I want to be a journalist in Africa. And Peace Corps is a great thing to do, and wouldn’t be a bad thing to do before being a journalist in Africa. But eventually? If I want to write articles for newspapers and magazines? I have to start writing. And, talking to journalists who have the careers I envy, they’ve told me that if you’re willing (and financially able) to gamble—to go a place you want to be, and you start writing about it—it pays off and people will start publishing what you write.

There’s more to it than that. There’s work you need to do ahead of time, to make sure that you’re in the right position to succeed when you get there. But even though it sounds terrifying, it also sounds exciting.

And this is how come, all of a sudden, I’m grateful to Peace Corps for taking so damn long to send me somewhere. Because it gives me a good option for something to do, starting in June. But in the meantime, I have a little time to try something different. To go somewhere and start writing. For a few months. After which, I’ll re-evaluate based on what I’ve accomplished and what I want to do next.

So that’s today’s plan.

And actually, that doesn’t really answer anybody’s questions about the Peace Corps interview and what the process is like. It’s not particularly exciting, truth be told, and I have no idea how typical my experience is. The interviewer was an enthusiastic woman who had served as a PC volunteer in Nepal. The interview was a long questionnaire provided by the bureaucracy, and whenever I looked stuck for an answer, she would suggest something based on something else I’d already said.

I had been under the impression that Peace Corps didn’t care where you wanted to go, they would send you wherever they felt like, but the day after my interview, the woman emailed me with two options (not specific placements, just a region and a general area of expertise) and let me choose the one I preferred, and promised to send on as many details about my specific preferences as possible.

Now I’m doing the medical evaluation (I have a physical tomorrow, the dentist next week) and assuming there’s nothing wrong with me, I imagine I’ll get my official invitation to serve within the next two months.


Okay, so I still need to update you about my incredible swimming progress (true story! I float!), and about my spectator-turned-bandit run at the Marine Corps marathon, and about the 10K this weekend, but for now I’m going to go do some work.


Oh, but before I go, does anyone want to redesign this web page for me? It’s a pretty two-bit affair, here at 26.2 vs. Me, and I’ve been meaning to change it since August at least, but my skills in the web design are not exactly advanced. I can work with HTML, but I don’t know enough to create my own blogger template. Plus? Where do you all host your fancy banners and background images? Because I don’t have server space anywhere, so what do I do?


Blogger a.maria said...

omg. i'm wondering the same thing (referencing the last paragraph... lemme know if you get any answers!

congrats on the PR

2:12 PM  
Blogger jeanne said...

halleluiah! I'm so glad you are NOT dead.

you host your fancy banners with your ISP; they usually give you space for a web page; you know, that's the place you have your internet connecti... oh wait. nevermind.

and you are ROCKIN' the world, girl. Who could keep up?

Photos of your 10K to follow...

6:15 PM  
Blogger Mica said...

Try this site -

They have some nice free blogger templates.

You can host your banner on your own blog. Thats what I did, anyway. Just post the graphic you wnat to use and publish. Then view your blog and click on the picture - it will open by itself on a webpage. Use that url in your html. That's it!

7:07 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Congratulations on the PR. After running my first marathon I stood around for a few days waiting to be transformed into Super Jack, able to "do anything"! Then it finally dawned on me that I already was Super Jack because I finished the marathon. Then it was just a matter of finding the next dragon to slay with my newly realized super powers. I think you have found your dragon to slay and are on the right track - remember the discipline you learned running all those miles!

1:36 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

You could write more about Botswana! :-) Practice on us!

1:39 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

What you say about slugging through the unspectacular bits to reach a spectacular place is so true. It inspires me!

I have no insight into the techno questions, sadly. But do share once you figure it out.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Noames said...

Mica, don't you need to host the pictures somewhere to post them in the blog? That's why I upload my pictures to Flckr, which I suppose I could do for a banner, but didn't work with the background image I wanted to use.

Hmmm... Looks like I need to set aside some time to work on this, since nobody is offering to do it for me for free. Oh what a tough life I lead.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Elle said...

You're a complete riot! Congrats on the marathon. I'm having similar problems with my own HTML sills...wish I could help.


3:12 PM  

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