This weekend, GOALS Girls Gone Wild will be entering into the world of endurance orienteering, when Ali, Bess, and I travel down to southwestern Virginia for the Odyssey AR Ogaine. For eight hours on Sunday, we’ll be running, trekking, and scrambling around in the woods, relying on our maps and compasses to guide us from checkpoint to checkpoint.
Originally we’d planned to tackle the 24-hour event, which Brent will be running, but after having the realization that none of us is particularly comfortable with navigation (though Ali is at least competent), we thought it might be safer to start with the shorter race. At least with that one, it’ll still be light out when we get lost in the woods.
Then, in a few weeks, I’ll be tackling the Philly Marathon.
No, I hadn’t planned on running it.
And yes, the race has been sold out for a couple months.
So how did I manage that one, you might ask.
I guess it all started when my parents decided that they wanted more garden space…
Last summer, while Brent and I were backpacking around Germany, my parents sold their house. When we got home, they told us that we had to meet the new owners – they were a young couple, both marathon runners, and both working at the school where I’m finishing my Ph.D.
Fun coincidences, I thought, but other than making a mental note to stop by and drop off a map of our local trail system, I didn’t really dwell on it.
A few weeks later, Natalie
and I were out for a run. “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed all of a sudden. “I know who bought you parents’ house!”
It turned out that Laurel
– another Philly running blogger – and her husband, Jeremy, were the proud new homeowners. She and Natalie had been emailing about some sort of giveaway that Laurel had won, and when she sent along her new address, Natalie recognized the street name (my parents lived on the same street as me, one block up).
I had read Laurel’s blog a few times but had never interacted with her. Of course, as soon as Natalie told me about the connection, I got completely flustered and contemplated forgetting about the map and avoiding my new neighbors altogether.
By the end of our run, though, I was over my anxiety, and when Brent and I walked up to their house later that day to introduce ourselves, Jeremy put me right at ease by bringing up – and laughing about – the virtual connection.
We’ve seen Laurel and Jeremy a few times since, and when they came to our monthly dinner co-op last week, we began talking about the Philadelphia race. Jeremy, it turns out, does research on marathons, and is currently working on a study about gender dynamics and racing trends. When I mentioned that I was surprised that the race had sold out so quickly and was slightly bummed not to have signed up, he told me that he might be able to use my help.
Jeremy is running the Philly marathon as part of the qualitative phase of his study, but his research assistant, who was supposed to complete the half, was recently injured. I’m not sure whether he was planning on finding a substitute, but once we started talking about it, he asked me if I might be interested in transferring the registration to my name, and helping out with the project.
I was hesitant at first, unsure of whether I’d be ready for another marathon so quickly, but by the end of the night, as I lay in bed thinking about it, I started to become excited. I emailed Jeremy the next morning, and this afternoon, I officially registered.
So, one more marathon to cap off the year, and a fun new project to boot. As Laurel said of my brief hesitation, “See, Abby? No need to worry. You’re doing it for research – for the good of all runningkind!”