Sunday, February 12, 2012

Melissa Budd "Running is my own creation"

“You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.” 
Christopher McDougall, Born To run

This is the third and final interview with Melissa.  See the previous two blogs for the full story.   MB

Hey Mike

Sinister isn't raw anymore - I am a little annoyed at myself for spending that much time going there, paying the entry fee and then not getting the whole experience (like going to Disney and leaving at lunch time).  The first 10 miles at Sinister were beautiful; I was stoked despite getting an hour sleep the night before (the pre-race talk about cougars and bears was probably meant to be funny - they even had real taxidermies up on stage but it scared the crap out of me).  We ran through Blairmore and then through the haunting "Frank Slide" (the town that got crushed under a rockslide in 1903 at 4:30 in the morning).  Was having a great time coming into the first aid station at mile 10.  They didn't have much there (twizzlers and oranges) - I was expecting more like lean horse - chips, sandwiches, grapes, potatoes, coke.  Anyway, grabbed some candy, refilled water bottles (David's friend James was there cheering us on and was great helping us out with the water bottles) and got out of there.  

The next section was harder - lots of uphill, but nothing crazy.  My issues came on the down-hills.  They were steep and technical.  I trained for long distances....did down-hills at garbage hill (even the back side of the hill), but these were nothing like what I was running down.  I fell a few times, got a little scraped up (especially on my back) - but the thing that did me in was how other people seemed to "bound" down the hills.  It was like they were nothing!  I got really down on myself.  I knew if I didn't start going faster down these things I was going to trash my quads (you can't halt down the hill - you have to go with gravity).  It made me feel worse that David had to keep waiting for me.  In hindsight, we should have agreed to run with each other until we couldn't anymore - but we said we were going to run together (the cougar and bear talk REALLY freaked me out).  So, in my mind "everyone was a better runner than me" and "I can't keep weighing my friend down with my crappiness" I told him I was done.... I couldn't run anymore.  Yes I was tired.....but I could have taken so much more.  Had I gone 6 more miles, there would have been a flat section which would have lifted my spirits (I can run all day on the flats).  I just didn't want to deal with it anymore.  I told David to go on to the next aid station.  If I didn't get a ride back, he would get them to send some help.  So he left and there I sat.  I started to feel better and probably could have started again if I could have stopped being so hard on myself.  I was mentally out of it.  As you probably know, it is easier to get back up physically than mentally (for the most part).  I had parked myself on the edge of a dirt road and a truck came by with a couple who were there crewing for a friend.  They asked if I needed help.  To that I said, "Yes!  Thank you!"  Got a ride back to the next aid station and waited for David to come in.  He looked pretty strong and I told him he should keep going - but he said he had it in his mind that he was done.  So we collected our stuff and James and went out to dinner (after a shower of course).  I felt depressed for weeks after.  I never ever thought I would make a choice to stop - I believed that I would keep going until I didn't make the time cut off - I believed I would literally crawl (if I had to) to finish.

I now chalk the experience up to a "costly mistake of comparing myself to others".  I was focusing so hard on what I couldn't do I really lost sight of what I could do (which was "put one foot in front of the other"...not rocket science).  I could have put one foot in front of the other for a long time (physically) - mentally I couldn't.   This is why I don't have running goals (as for time).  I don't want to repeat this mistake.  I don't want to put it in my mind that I'm going to run this race in 3:50.... maybe that particular day I can't run it in 3:50...why focus on something I can't do?  I know I can run 26.2 miles.... I’ve done it often enough...I'm going to focus on being present in the moment.  I'm not discounting my past accomplishments - it felt pretty damn good taking 20 min off my best marathon time last year- but those times, the PRs aren't what motivate me to run more or train harder.  I run for the experience.  I run for the present.  I don't need time to make me feel good about myself.  I know this is easier said than done but it is so freeing to unapologetically run.  Part of my evolution I suppose.  

I liked your description of the cyclist - to see him "in the moment", I could almost see him myself.  I understand when you talk about feeling "giddy" when you run sometimes - I feel it too.  My best runs are not my fastest runs.  The best ones are those when I feel like there is no place in the world I would rather be than running down this country road, the sun shining on my back and reflecting off the snow....savouring the feeling - knowing that it is fleeting but appreciating it so much more because I know it will end.  Nothing gold can stay.


Hey Mike,
You asked me "Why do you run?", but not, "Why do you like to run?"  I think that reflection has to be one of my top 5 reasons I like running.

Sometimes I reflect on outward things like,   snow heavily lying on branches, why animals stop and stare at me when I run by, and why I hadn't ever noticed how windy this world is until I started running outside. Often I'll reflect on people I know - or who I've known - I'll listen to music and reflect on what those words mean to me.  Sometimes I don't reflect at all - that is when the run is purely physical - which is also a good thing.  Each run is so different.  I was thinking about that today while I was running.... how it is like an artistic expression of myself. Each run is uniquely my own....I mould it...I create it...

I looked up the definition for "art" from Britannica, it defines art as "the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others."   Immediately I thought of your blog.The way you use your skill (of writing) and imagination (in your pictures and ideas)  creates an environment and experience that can be shared with others.  What you do is art.  

Anyway, thank you for sharing your art with me.  I'm a better person for it.


Hi Melissa,
I never considered myself an artist, but the thought flatters me.  Thank you Melissa.  I so like what you wrote below. The time that running allows us to reflect.  We expose ourselves to the environment when we run outdoors and we become vulnerable to what lies before us. It's the vulnerability that makes us child-like.  Maybe that's why were happier when we run, we become more child-like, more vulnerable, more able to let our minds imagine and see. You're right, each run is uniquely my own… I mould it… I create it.  The most important thing about running for you is reflection.  I like that, and I agree.  Those are powerful words Melissa.  You have much to say.

You say reflection is one of the top five reasons you like to run.  Can you share another one? You have a wonderful day.  

Hey Mike,
It's entirely selfish... I run for myself....I don't do it to be a good role model (although if people find me inspiring - I think that is flattering), I don't run for my health (although it is a nice side effect), and I don't run to fulfill  anyone's expectations of me.  Running is my own creation.  I don't have to follow anyone's rules.  If I want to run at 1am - I can (providing someone is looking after my kids), if I don't want to taper - I don't have to.  If I want to run when I'm sick - I'll do it.  If I want to run 100 miles or more - that is my choice.  I have no rules when I'm running...

Life is filled with so many impositions.  Running is a decision I make that is free from that.  It is selfish and indulgent - and that is probably why I love it so much : ).

Some people say "selfish" like it is a bad thing - but I think it is important to have things in your life that you do unapologetically for yourself.  I certainly wouldn't want the "selfish" things in my life take over the majority of my time - but I figure an hour a day and a few hours on the weekend is not an excessive thing.  Running helps me think - it makes me get outside and enjoy how beautiful the world is - it connects me with wonderful people - it is something I  selfishly cherish.  

Melissa on why she ran every day, minimum 6 miles, for 12 months...

I wanted to see what it would do for me.  Would I be stronger?  Would I injure myself?  Would I have the willpower to do it?  Would it get easier? If I could do it....what would I do January 1st 2012?  Lots of unknowns.  I had to find out what it would be like to MAKE running a part of my way...of my EVERY day.  I never asked the question in 2011, "am I going to run today?" it was, "when am I going to run today?"  It's a change in thinking.

The really cool thing about the year is that my 10 year old daughter told me( January 1st) - she was going to run a mile a day...every day.  Wouldn't that be a cool thing for people to catch on to?  10 min a day... The cooler thing is that she has done it for 22 days now.  

Anyway....I hope you didn't think I was saying this is something you should (or shouldn't do) - everyone has to do what is right for them.  From your note I thought it was something you were thinking about.  Hope this answers the question of "why"  (I suppose I could have answered "why not?" but apparently I am too wordy of a person to use that response!

; ) Melissa

Update... Melissa's 11 year old daughter has run every day for the last 43 days, total distance, 43 miles, and counting.  How high can she go?  Now that's spunk.
Thank you Melissa for sharing some of your thoughts.  You are an inspiration to me.  I look forward to the next time our little feet cross on the trails. 

It is, would you not agree, a good day to be alive?