And so it begins

Hello from O’Hare! We haven’t gotten very far but it’s been a journey for me.

I decided to go home for 48 hours of Christmas time at my mom’s house in Minneapolis. It was everything I wanted, but the rain yesterday turned a 5-drive to Janesville into 7-hour one. (I did stop a few times to reorganize my podcasts –recommendations below!) I’m just happy to be out of the driver’s seat for the next month.

Anxious about the prospective craziness of a major airport the day after Christmas, I insisted that we take the early bus this morning. Security line took us a whopping 6 minutes. Of course.

Here’s a barebones itinerary of our plans and our movements:

  • Dec 26: Depart from Chicago for Hong Kong (direct)
  • 27-30: Hong Kong with Kevin and one of his former teammates, Sam
  • 30-31: One night in Bangkok (Sam goes home)
  • 31: Arrive in Bhutan
  • Jan 1: Begin Bhutan trek
  • 3: End trek.
  • 4-7: See other sites in Bhutan (tour group has taken care of everything). Kevin leaves on Jan 5.
  • 7-9: Bangkok, including a dinner at Nahm “the best Thai restaurant in the world” (air quotes because chef is Australian)
  • 10-11: Khao Yi National Park for hiking and guided tours, hopefully see elephants and monkeys
  • 12-14: More Bangkok, including a cooking class (as per my request)
  • 15-16: Tokyo, with possible airbnb “experience” (a new offering that the apartment hosting site is trying): bike tour through old Tokyo
  • 17-18: Two nights at Yuzawa, one day of skiing, then relaxing in onsen
  • 19-20: More Tokyo
  • 21: Depart from Tokyo for Chicago (direct)

But first: conquer a 16 hour flight! Josh has his gameboy charged and I’ve downloaded tons podcasts and audio books (Josh got me some sick noise-canceling headphones for Christmas).

Speaking of podcasts, here are my favorites from the commute to the Twin Cities and back:

  • Stranglers – chronicles the investigation of a serial killer in Boston, and the stories of his victims.
  • Criminal – standalone stories about loosely or closely related to criminal activity
  • FreshAir (with Dave Davies) about fake news
  • Reply All – stories about the internet
  • Newest Hidden Brain episode about the issues with science research

Boarding now!


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We’re going to Asia!

hr-1144-759-207-1144759207001Merry Christmas everyone!

I’m reviving an old blog to (hopefully) chronicle our journey for the next month. Hopefully. I’m really good at biting off more than I can chew, but hopefully I can update this page each time we change locations.

Some FAQs before we shove off on December 26th.

Where are you going? We’ll start in Hong Kong (direct flight, yesss) and stay there for a few days, then we’ll hit up Bhutan for some trekking and monastery tours. Kevin will go back to the U.S. after Bhutan, while Josh and I traipse about Bangkok and the surrounding area for a week. Then, we head to Tokyo and Yuzawa, where I’ve agreed — against my better judgement — to go skiing (to do: learn Japanese for “I’m sorry!”, “help” and “watch out!”). It’s an adventure nonetheless.

Who are Josh and Kevin? Josh is my boyfriend (seen here reading the I Spy: Christmas edition) and Kevin is our mutual friend. A few people have asked if Kevin ever feels like a third wheel. The answer is no; when we’re together, I’m the third wheel.

How long will you be gone? Four weeks! We return January 21st.

Do you not have a 9 to 5? I do, actually. They’re just being really really really cool about it. Ridiculously cool. I can’t thank them enough. Josh’s work is paying for the trip as a reward for his 5 years at the company.

What’s runningpostcard? I thought I was being clever in college because I was really into running. The name also functions as a synonym for “continuous quick update while traveling,” so it’s suiting.

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The Carleton Tunnels

My senior year, I was finally able to cross another item off the Carleton bucket list: get into the school’s underground tunnels. They are currently forbidden to students, but that hasn’t stopped pretty much everyone and their mother from sneaking down there. Well, everyone except me that is.

Then, I was abruptly informed by my supervisor on a Wednesday night that I would be given a key to the tunnels to do a small photo job for the Dean’s Office. When that job was done, I took the liberty to snap a few photos for my own pleasure. I was able to explore some of the passenger tunnels that link several of the East side dorms (formally women’s housing), originally established to enable warm travels in the winter, eventually becoming a canvas for crafty and intellectual graffiti. The tunnels closed in 1988 due to security reasons, but the art is still there. Every now and then, current students add their signatures, poems, and drawings to the clandestine gallery of Carleton history.

Being down there is not only hauntingly ensnaring, but easily spooky. Pipes clang and whirl, sounding like a poltergeist, or the footsteps of an approaching security guard. Yet it feels more lived in than any of the old buildings; there’s the heaviness of spirits come and gone, and you sense that quintessential Carleton curiosity more in the tunnels than in any edifice above the ground.

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Words of Wisdom from Coaches

Track and Field Teams and Coaches,

I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be part of your program.  I particularly want to thank Bill Huyck for the opportunity to be his assistant thirty-one years ago. It changed my life in so many positive ways.  My life has been enriched by knowing each of you and having had the opportunity to coach some of you and support all of you.  I want to leave you with these parting thoughts.

Don’t just live but live for a purpose greater than yourself.  Be an asset to your family, your team, your community and your country. Always strive for perfection in every aspect of your life and you are guaranteed to achieve excellence.  And remember that the people you meet on the way up are the same people you will encounter on the way down.

My life has been better for having each of you in it.  You have and will continue to make a difference. May all your dreams become reality.

Leon Lunder

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The Carleton Women’s Track and Field Manifesto

As gleaned by my experience, and mine alone, with special thanks to the coaches and mentors who gave me this advice along the way; I hope you don’t mind if I appropriate your words.

4x800 Huddle
To the Women of Carleton’s Track and Field Team:

My thoughts, advise and observations from four years as a middle distance runner on the team.

1. Treatise On Training and CompetitionWhat I didn’t know before Carleton

  • Running in the rain/sleet/snow/wind makes you a tougher, stronger runner. On days like these, it’s less miserable with a teammate or two.
  • If you find a good route, write it down and share it with the team.
  • Pace is irrelevant on recovery runs. If everyone else is jogging too fast, you are more the wiser to hold back.
  • I hold the belief that you’re probably not going to get any homework done during a track meet, and suggest that maybe you shouldn’t.
  • Make sure to take interest in other people’s performances. Be creepy. Memorize their PRs. Ask them when their event is. Watching someone PR can feel just as great as doing it yourself (sometimes better because you’re not the one performing)!
  • If you get injured, don’t dwell on it. Do your PT. Ice. Have faith. You will recover. Don’t rush into it.
  • Race so hard that you puke. (It hurts, it really does.)
  • In still air, you gain 1 second of effort per lap by drafting. This means if the crazy girl directly in front of you went out in a 31, effort-wise, you ran a 32. That being said, be smart first, and then gutsy.
  • Middle distance races are about Momentum. Move when it feels right. React instinctually. And don’t worry about splitting even in the 800, because you shouldn’t.
  • Train over winter break, but don’t overtrain. You risk setting yourself up for a plateau.
  • Don’t strain. Run fast without running hard.
  • Weight-training keeps you from getting injured. It really does.
  • In championship races (middle distance on up), chances are that the first lead runner won’t win unless she’s ridiculously faster than the rest of the field. Ergo, run strategically if your race allows.
  • Refuel within an hour of finishing a workout, within 20 minutes if you can.
  • Foster a collaborative environment, not a competitive one. But still be competitive and want it for something more than just yourself. A part of me always wants it for myself, selfishly, but sometimes the team matters more. For others, track and field can be too individual, and they find it hard to feel like they’re doing it for a team. Everyone struggles with this in one way or another. There is no ONE way to motivate everyone. Understand that telling some girl to go out and win it will psych her out, but another will have a crazy PR. It’s important to know what motivates YOU and what gives you strength. And maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s all about finding something outside of yourself, because in the moment, you will break down and you will need to draw your strength from elsewhere, whether its the mantra inside your head or your teammates or the crowd cheering or God.
  • I maintain that running is an immensely spiritual experience, sometimes zen and contemplative, sometimes raw and fierce, bringing you that much closer to pain, pleasure and death, and bringing you back to life again. Then you cross the line and look around and realize that the girls gasping for air next to you made that trip as well. There are only a few instances in my life in which I’ve experienced communal transcendence like that. Whatever you believe, recognize the spiritual component of running, what it does to you, and imagine that maybe the lactic acid is a side effect of fleeting immortality.
  • Whatever your ability level, remember that you are doing something that not a lot of people can do or want to do. You will be stronger because of it.
  • If you could give me a year of 1000m glory, that’d be nice, but I totally understand if you break the record in at the beginning of February.
  • There is more to life than running. (Okay, I realized this while at Carleton.)
  • If you’re a runner, read Once a Runner before your collegiate career is over.
  • Start believing in yourself sooner. Especially if you think you’re not “good enough.”

2. Treatise On TraditionFuel, Fire, Hot Desire

  • Wear your banana sweats and 80’s jacket every chance you get. Never let a boy wear them. Never ever.
  • The arb is full of secrets. Ask the upperclassmen about them.
  • Quack Oles, but never high schoolers, Carls, or townies.
  • Maintain traditions and positive relations with the men’s team.
  • Create and augment more women-only traditions.
  • Continue to bridge the gap between training groups and event areas.
  • Buy tubs of ice cream and eat them together without separate bowls.
  • Participate in leisure dinner.
  • Take steps to make the Table feel more inclusive for everyone on the team.
  • If you wear all black to practice, you are a pilgrim.
  • Wear spandex/buns on Bunday Monday.
  • Relays should huddle before races. Doing a cheer helps your chances.
  • Make locker room CDs full of songs you love and add them to the archives.
  • Talk about the women who came before you. Name drop them to freshmen. Tell their stories. Clare Franco, Shannon Mueller, Kaitlin Randolph, Taylor ffitch, Alison Smyth, Simone Childs-Walker, Katherine Wingert, Anna Prineas, Kelly Lovett, Kyla Walter, Megan Erlandson, Laura Roach, among so many others.

3. Treatise On The BodyFor All Women

  • Sleep! 7-8 hours per night, more if you need it. The night before the night before a race is the most important night for good sleep.
  • Eat! Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t skip meals.
  • Take care of those who aren’t eating. Love them, tell them you care, and understand that sometimes they won’t want to change, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on them.
  • My thoughts on nudity: You should love your body! Celebrate its eccentricities and the way it breaks from what society tells you it should be. Carleton embraces this. As long as you’re not infringing upon someone else, I see no reason why you cannot love your body as it was given to you. Go free in the locker room. Take a mile at night with your teammates. Note the aspects of your body that you love, and don’t be ashamed to take pride in them.
  • My thoughts on alcohol: I waited until I was 21 to drink, not because of fear of the law but because of my fear of losing control. I learned that alcohol is not evil and that it can be enjoyed in moderation. Whether you choose to drink or not, I hope you take my lesson to heart. College is full of wonderful spontaneous moments that you’re going to want to remember for the rest of your life. So go out as if you are going to remember. Be smart. Your body is a temple. My desire is that the team would adopt a philosophy of prohibition at least a month before important competitions, whatever that means to you personally.

4. Treatise On Relationships and the TeamFriendship and Spicy Spice

  • I am always amazed by how much the team supports my outside endeavors, whether they’re related to my campus job, my academics, or my personal projects. Don’t be shy. Share other aspects of your life with your teammates.
  • Donna and Laura care immensely about each and every one of you, and they worry about you way more than you know.
  • Hug your teammates when they cry.
  • Talking about track and field can be kind of like speaking a foreign language. You’ll learn that people far and wide can speak it as well.
  • Maintain contact with your good friends outside of Carleton, but never forsake a fun group activity here for a long-distance conversation.
  • Have good friends outside of the team. They will help you when the team goes through stuff, as it inevitably will.
  • My thoughts on inter-team romantic relationships of varying degrees of commitment: The team is SO small. There is no need to rush into anything, no need to go crazy. Know that even relatively tame people will be connected in surprising ways come your senior year.  That being said, no one will understand your commitment to the team quite like someone going through the same experience.
  • My thoughts on romantic relationships outside of the team: If it’s official, you better introduce us! This can be tough, but also a breath of fresh air. Some men say this is next to impossible, but the women’s team seems to be pretty good at it.
  • My thoughts on Oles: In theory, they would be a great dating pool, but they’re either already taken or married to God. (Also some of them smoke, which is really gross.) They are fun to antagonize, however, and it can be really beneficial and refreshing to be casual friends with them.
    • You should try to befriend an Ole that you compete against. Or a Bennie. Or anyone that you’re always neck-and-neck with. Take time to shake hands and chat at the finish line. I really wouldn’t bother trying with the Tommies.
  • One night, have a conversation with someone you care about while sitting at the top of Stadium.
  • Ask your teammates about their personal lives. They don’t have to tell you anything, but they might be flattered that you asked. I wish I would have asked sooner and more often.

I love you all very much. You all have changed my life in ways you can’t even imagine. I am so grateful, and so blessed.

Work it and spank it,


On Top of The World

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I’ve updated my flickr!

and will continue to do so.

I’ve added more of my work from past jobs, projects for The Lens, and portraits.

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Love Thy Enemy

As a runner, you have the capacity to be both a lover and a fighter. I feel overwhelming compassion for the women I fiercely compete against. This year at indoor conference, more women than any year before acknowledged me as a competitor, approaching me to shake my hand and congratulate me on my race – and I was able to return the sentiment. Some days it’ll be my race, and some days it will be hers, and each day, we get stronger striving to defeat one another, all the while loving that she pushes back with equal ferocity.

Love Thy Enemy





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March 15, 2013 · 12:28 am

The Scariest Accident Ever

It was the day after our first meet of the indoor season. The night before, I’d gone 2:18.4 in the 800m – a lifetime PR. Despite my emotional exuberance, my body felt dog tired on our 7 mile long run that Saturday morning. It felt a bit fast in places, and with dismay, I realized at the end that we were only averaging 8-minute mile pace.

“My legs are sooo tired; I think I’m just going to lift upper-body,” Colette announced as we peeled off our cold wet clothes in the locker room.

“Mm-hmm,” I responded. Internal translation: “Yeah, my legs feel tired too, but I’m going to lift them anyway because I’m awesome. Yeah.”

I threw on my usual workout gear – bright running shorts and a sleeveless running top. Not because the outfit was going to keep me warm in the drafty weight room, but because it enabled me to see my muscles bulge in the mirror as I lifted. I know, I know, I’m so vain, but I figure I’ll only have them while I’m young, so I might as well enjoy them!

I tooled around for a bit, chatting with friends and other runners. When I stepped outside the weight room for a drink, I caught sight of an Ole runner stopping by to use our restrooms. So un-Kosher! What the heck! I gave him a hard time, and then darted back into the room to start my least favorite lift: step-ups. Best to get them out of the way as soon as possible.

Don’t get me wrong – step-ups are great for building leg strength and it’s the one lift that has a solid aerobic component to it, in my opinion. They just go on forever. Up-up 1, down-down up-up 1, down-down up-up 2, down-down up-up 2, down-down up-up 3…you get the idea. I put a 30lb barbell on my shoulders and began, trying to listen the the dull hum of the music over the loud-speakers, trying to watch my reflection out of the corner of my eye in the mirror.

At some point, I thought to myself, “Man, this is hard. I’m just going to do 10.” And with the last up-up of my 10th rep, I felt my right ankle give out. I fell backwards, screaming a long, slow, drawn-out obscenity. My left leg smashed into the ground and the momentum of the barbell on my shoulders threw me backwards into the weight rack. At some point, I dropped the barbell and it came crashing down, almost landing on my ankle. I then collapsed haphazardly to the ground, growling in pain.

A group of adults and my teammates crowded around me, telling me they were going to call security, that I could take an ambulance to the emergency room. I remember gasping and then slowing down my breathing, managing to sputter, “I’m sorry and no offense to security, but what are they qualified to do here?” Apparently they could call the ambulance or put me on a transfer shuttle. I refused the ambulance, and Kayla, a sweet freshman sprinter, graciously offered her aunt and uncle’s car – they lived in town and could come right away.

They lifted me on to a cart and wheeled me over to the door. My back and neck were screaming in pain, but everyone seemed super concerned about my ankle. As they brought out a pair of crutches, I started to cry. Why God, why? I have my whole season ahead of me! I just PR-ed last night! Why this? Why now?

Kayla offered to stay with me, riding with me to Northfield’s Urgent Care. It became a waiting game, filled with forms, icing, elevation, x-rays, and an uncomfortable shot in my butt that was supposed to help me relax. And all I could think was This could be the end of my indoor season. This could be the end of my senior track season. And it only just started. I prayed so furiously for this not to be the case.

And then – good news! Nothing was broken. My back and neck were only bruised – my ankle was just sprained. Here, take this brace, avoid running for a few days, and you should be fine.

Determined to come back, I managed one workout on the track the following week, made possible by SO much icing/elevating. Whenever I could, I’d put a bag on it or stick it in a trash can full of icy water. That weekend, I was able to compete in the 1000m at Mankato, running a reasonable 3:03 (no PR, but that was to come later).

At the end of the day, the lesson is: don’t lift legs if they’re tired.

Also, icing and elevating works. It really does. Oh, and my community that took care of me – so awesome. Despite this one momentary setback, I was able to carry on with my season as if nothing had ever happened.

Give it time; it will heal.

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When I ran Postcard

It was months ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

The pinnacle long run of my summer mileage – the completion of a 13.5 mile run (14 from where I started) that the team called, “Postcard.”

Technically, my coach had told me to back off on the mileage two days prior, and I had conceded – while promising myself just one more long run. It was late in the afternoon when I started, but during the summer, the sun didn’t set until 8 or so. I started at my house on Division Street, positively giddy, trying not to let my childish excitement push the pace as I had SO many miles to go.

At about 1 mile into the arb, I saw Marcus coming back from his run. I gave him a high-five and said, “Come run 14 miles with me! Do Postcard with me!” He laughed and gave his typical, “Ah, no thanks.” But I continued on merrily because high-fiving Marcus Huderle, MIAC Steeplechase champion, is a good omen. At least for me.

Speaking of omens, the week before, I had completed an 11-mile out-and-back (with an extra mile tacked on to make it 12) called Vampire. While running this route, which basically followed the first half of Postcard, I hit odd intermittent rainclouds while running on Canada, a few miles north of the Carleton arboretum. After the 2 minute shower passed over, I happened to glance to my right and see a double rainbow! Alone on a dirt road in the middle of cornfields, I cheered ecstatically. I Threw my arms up towards the heavens and screamed, “Thank you God! Thank you Lord! A DOUBLE RAINBOW!” I spent a mile or so chuckling to myself. The last time I had seen a double rainbow was my freshmen year on the 2k Loop in the arb. When I told people this, their response was this viral video. While hilarious, it sort of cheapened my experience and enthusiastic reaction.

After seeing the double rainbow, I had stopped at a small cemetery at around the 5.5 mile mark. Perusing a few of the headstones, I was pleasantly surprised to see that some were dated from the mid-1800s, right around the time Carleton was founded. There were more recent ones too, including one from 2010 that marked a hauntingly fresh mound of dirt – a soldier from the war in Afghanistan. At one point, I discovered the graves of Tom and Olive, whose house at the end of Canada marked the turn-around point for a 9-mile out-and-back (named, of course, “Tom and Olive”). The sign on their mailbox was no longer there, but seeing their grave made me feel connected to a part of team history.

While running Postcard, I stopped here briefly to walk through and examine more headstones. This has become a tradition for me – go for a long run, stop in the Red Rose Cemetery, continue with long run. I’m a bit of a sentimentalist, especially when I’m alone.

When I reached the Postcard bridge, I found a good pointy rock and carved my initials into the back of a metal sign on the right side of the bridge. Writing myself into history. It’s funny how that’s one of the things I want more than anything – to be remembered as a character bigger and quirkier than my actual self. To be a part of the stories the team passes down, to have my experience affect and influence the lives of others.

I didn’t run into anyone until I was about a mile away from finishing. Running the Ambroe mile backwards, I happened to run through my friend Kaitlin’s movie set! I’m friends with most of the creators of their feature length film, so I stopped briefly and chatted while attempting to stretch on a fallen tree (my bones were SO tired!).

I continued on, and with 400 meters to go, I was running past the outdoor track on the strip of dirt that runs parallel to highway 19. A runner was coming towards me on the same strip of dirt. He looked to be around my age, but I didn’t recognize him. I gave him a quick once-over, noting his stride, speed, and form. Conclusion: definitely a competitive runner. Of course, he didn’t move aside until the last second, and when he did, I screamed, “QUACK!” His response: “SQUISH.”

I guess it wouldn’t be an epic run without a stand-off with an Ole.

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Top 10 Things I Learned about Running this Summer

10) My thoughts on injury prevention: Kinesio tape works (no really, it does). Plus, a cadence of 90 strikes per minute per foot is optimal for speed/injury prevention.

9) Nike LunarGlides get my stamp of approval.

8) Coming back from an injury is the most invigorating feeling if things are going well and the most discouraging feeling if you regress.

7) It’s always more fun to run: a) with a buddy b) at twilight (sunrise/sunset) c) at night.

6) If you’re injured, take more time off than you think is necessary. And take a deep breath. You’ll be fine.

5) Trail running is a COMPLETELY different animal than normal running — it is dangerous and requires more attention, but the views from the tops of mountains make the risk worthwhile. Trail runners don’t get enough credit.

4) Talking about running is like speaking another language. And wherever you go, you’ll always find people who can speak it with you.

3) According to my sister Hannah and my friends Molly and Jenna, I talk about running approx. every 25 minutes.

2) Once A Runner is an amazing book that all runners should read.

1) If you run exactly 13 miles, you will see a double rainbow. Translation: I can run high mileage and enjoy it.

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