In 2022, like in years before, the writers of The Michigan Daily Arts are stretching out their hammies to participate in a grueling challenge of mental fortitude and physical fitness: the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon. A little pretentious, a little weird, The Daily team is a mix of ex-trackletes. For the sake of journalism and prestige, The Daily’s tenacious review-writing gremlins are closing their laptops, tying up their Brooks and hitting the Ann Arbor pavement. Non-gremlin but marathon-interested University of Michigan students can sign up for the marathon with the discount code “Goblue25.” Individuals in the Campus or Ann Arbor community interested in volunteering at the October 2 event should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Kaya “I’ve Got One Thing Going For Me” Ginsky
Since the first day that I could stumble over my cleats, I have played sports: basketball, tennis, lacrosse. Yet sports never came easy. I was uncoordinated, never a “natural athlete,” and I resented myself for that. At some point in my early teens, my angst and growing pains pushed me to run, and soon I had one asset: I was faster than most “athletes.” Even on days when my pace lagged or my legs dragged, I felt myself strengthen. When I run, I find the pride and confidence I thought could only come with the world (and my inner critic) considering me “athletic.” When I run, everything I do is up to me, and I trust myself wholeheartedly to do what is best. I can push myself or take it easy, run fast or slow for long or short distances. I can listen to any music as the beat pulses through my racing heart (an unfamiliar feeling, as I never had a sense of rhythm). Mt. Joy, Mac Miller, Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, The Who, Rihanna, Fleetwood Mac, Kanye West and Flume all tell me what I need to hear, even if the lyrics (or lack thereof) don’t quite apply to my life. I bound, leap, stride, duck and dance along sandy beaches, wooded trails, city streets and sunny neighborhoods (or with an empowering Peloton instructor or comforting sitcom blaring on the treadmill). I can think freely and not speak. I can feel my body, which I once hated for its lack of coordination, enjoy movement. Running keeps me grounded and reminds me that I am moving forward. When we run, we can acknowledge all our body can do, past, present and future, even if we are not “athletes.”
Rushabh “Ready to Run” Shah
Unlike many of my childhood experiences, which have become blurred and morphed over time, those that I had on my elementary, middle and high school race track have stuck in my mind. Track and field wasn’t my favorite sport, nor was it necessarily the thing I was best at, but I still remember my first medal and my last. I remember lifting the house cup as an 11-year-old kid and as captain of the house. I remember throwing up after the one-mile run, and I remember realizing I had a crush on my high school girlfriend when we were together on the field. All these memories, and more, were made on the same running track.
However, like many high school extracurriculars, running was something I gave up on completely when I came to college. With all the self-doubt that college brings, I guess the Ann Arbor Marathon is my way of proving to myself that I can still do it. I wasn’t convinced that I should participate, simply because I knew I wouldn’t be able to live up to the standards of my past self.
“Why tarnish old memories by going back to something I will most likely not be able to excel in?” I asked myself. However, when I begrudgingly stepped onto the running tracks at the Intramural Sports Building, I thought to myself — “Why not make new ones?” 16 minutes and 35 seconds of stride after stride, eight rounds of deep breaths and hearing the sound of rubber on clay, and my indecision vanished. I am ready to run again.
Lillian “Please Be Proud of Me, Dad” Pearce
You know that tweet where people express their fear of marrying into a morning 5K marathon-running family? Unfortunately, that was my family from 2012-2015. God bless my father’s herniated spinal disc that brought our family 5Ks to an end.
For four consecutive years my father and I woke up at the butt crack of dawn on Thanksgiving Day to drive to Detroit, run three miles, get back in the car and feast on a bird the size of our heads. I would wear my Turkey Trot shirt to school on the following Monday, yearning for someone to ask me about it, not yet realizing that no one cares about runners (and they often thoroughly dislike those who make running our entire personality).
When my dad stopped running and I no longer harbored the fear of him sprinting past me, I too gave it up. With no one beside me to laugh when I tripped or to yell at me to pick up the pace, I lost interest; sharing the activity with my dad was sort of the whole point.
Though he’s still not running races — it turns out herniated spinal discs are pretty serious — I knew he would like to see me shivering at a starting line once again. (Funnily enough, he won’t be in the country on race day. Anyway, this one’s for you, Dad.)
Erin “This Was A Toxic Relationship, But Now It’s Half My Personality” Evans
Running is something I do alone.
I was alone at 6 a.m. on the treadmill in my senior year of high school. Any endorphins I might have gained were firmly stomped out by my hatred for that machine and the triumphing hatred of my own body that drove me back to it. It was a hate I kindled alone.
I briefly ran with my mom when the pandemic closed the gym. She ran five miles every other morning when it was so dark we had to wear headlights. I could see her light catching up to me as I stopped to walk or ahead of me as I forced myself to start running again, wrapped in darkness. I learned to tolerate running on my own, found a three-mile loop to take instead of the five-mile and went by myself later in the morning, quietly coming to the conclusion that I wasn’t cut out to run far or to enjoy it.
The track at Palmer Field was too repetitive for my freshman self, so I took to running haphazardly through the streets of Ann Arbor, going four, sometimes five miles. By the time I was sent home for a second semester of virtual classes, the connection between exercise and body, tied tightly in my mind for years, was broken. Due to that or to increased endurance (or probably both), the dread had seeped out of running.
That winter, I spent mornings running farther, ignoring the pain in my feet from shoes I didn’t realize were too small. I loved running alone. It was a state of existence to let my thoughts go undirected and see what I could do. It was a part of me that I couldn’t fully explain the appeal of to my non-runner friends — and it seemed to annoy or bore them when I tried — so I kept it to myself. It felt intended as a solo act.
As much as the act of running feels personal to me, I’ve wished I had people to talk to about it. Joining the marathon team is a way for me to be with other runners who understand the feeling.
Lizzie “If I Don’t Text, Assume I Slept Through” Yoon
I am a late riser by habit and tradition. While school and obligations keep me on a tight schedule, physically, my body can sleep for more than 11 hours straight. Emotionally, a decade of poor sleep habits has softened the sting of waking up past noon (or even after 4 p.m.) and I am no longer fazed (but yes, I probably should be more bothered). However, my favorite time to run is before 7 a.m.
Mornings are romantic, rare and exciting for me — like time travel. The pre-dawn glow makes the pavement and city look raw and unfinished. When running past South Quad, I am still myself as a college student but am also resonating with every version of myself that deigned to leave the house pre-sunrise. I am in lower elementary school, boarding the bus in the early morning darkness; I am a middle schooler watching the season finale credits play, preparing to feign post-sleep drowsiness as I clamber downstairs for a breakfast I usually sleep through; I am a high school senior, standing on a beach with my entire graduating class, watching the sun rise and a life chapter close. This year, I am a senior again.
Given my preferred running time and my sleep schedule, you might expect me to be terrifyingly, woefully unprepared for the marathon. This is true: One glance at my most recent, sparse Strava history shows a pitiful mile time and distance.
But I love running; I love cutting through grass and passing ongoing construction; I love water breaks with the Arts section and seeing the city of Ann Arbor in blue tones. Thus, with my very best writerly friends, I am committed to seeing this marathon relay through, bright and early 5 a.m. on race day.
Drew “Perhaps Peaked Last Year” Gadbois
Last year, I cautiously said that I might be able to join the Daily Arts marathon relay when it was announced. By the time I stopped tiptoeing around the decision, the spots had been filled. I’ll admit, I was disappointed to lose the opportunity to prove myself, but I went about my life, still running because I liked it, but certainly not training. Only two weeks out from the race, I was panic-called and asked to join the lineup. My only solace was that there truly were no expectations of me. I hadn’t even been timing myself during training. In any case, I decided to make a go of it. And I absolutely crushed it.
Running has been an aspect of my life that has evolved over time. Early on, it was easy for me to get frustrated and discouraged by literally anything when I was on a run. It could be my feet hurting too much, sweat getting in my eye or that I wasn’t going as fast or as far as I wanted to, and my brain would call it quits. Whoever said that running was 95% mental could not be more correct. But then over this summer, something really fundamental happened: I started running with other people. All of a sudden, I was able to go twice as long and twice as fast compared to my prior solo efforts. It became clear that I needed other people around me to kickstart my progress. There was a certain amount of accountability that I felt, which pushed me forward. At the same time, simply being in the presence of others allowed me to take my mind off the actual labor of running. Almost immediately, my solo runs improved as well. Confidence was all it took.
Now the pressure is back on. I did better than I ever expected on the last relay, so now I have the expectation to crush it once again. Time for round two, I guess.
The Daily Arts section can be reached at Arts@michigandaily.com.