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. 


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….