Friday, April 08, 2011


I made an observation this week. It’s pretty abstract and probably hard to articulate, but I feel like exploring it and sharing so let’s give it a shot.

I’ve been reading back through my blog the last couple of weeks- I did a post for Aron’s blog about my first Boston Marathon, so I was reading back to April 2007 to refresh my memory. It was interesting to see what was going on with my running and in my life in general. It kind of hooked me, and so during slow times at work I read more old posts.

A few things jumped out at me. First, a running observation: I run the same pace now as I when I was a new runner. I started my blog in November 2005 after running my first marathon. I may have done some slower training runs back then, but my race paces were identical to times I have run in the last two years. My fastest and slowest times in all distances are super close. I think the more interesting part of this is that I was kind of fast from the very beginning. I got a little faster, but never made those double-digit PR’s that most people get in their first years of running. My focus has changed a lot and I would say that technically, looking at the numbers, I have “peaked” but that is mostly because I am not as motivated to push myself as hard and suffer as much in racing. I decided it’s not that fun and I’d rather pursue other goals. (for more on this topic, see all my posts over the last two years)

My other observation is a bigger, more universal-truth type thing. (This is where it’s going to get abstract and kind of stream-of-consciousness so buckle up.) Reading back over 5 ½ years of blog entries, I had this weird sense of recognition. I felt a familiarity with the writing and the stories. I remembered writing them, and I remember the feelings I had. I saw where I had perfectly articulated the emotions of a certain event, and I vaguely recalled that some of my sentiments were actually lies.

I saw a trend in openness, a real range of the availability of my true self. At first, I was super cagey and didn’t even allow comments. I never even hinted at where I lived, and never posted pictures. Hey, it was early in the blog trend and I was paranoid! This was pre-facebook and people still had a sense of privacy. Clearly, that dissolved and while I’ll never post my address or pictures of me in my underwear, I’m pretty open. But beyond that, I used to hide an enormous portion of my personal life and feelings. I only blogged about running and running-related things. Maybe some vacation pictures here and there, and I would hint at big events in my life, but that’s it. Eventually, the line between my “personal” and “running” life became blurry and I shared more. Then I took a big leap last year when I changed the name of this blog and opened WAY up about all the stuff going on in my life. You still don’t get all the nitty-gritty, and believe me, you don’t want to. This will never be a Stress and Anxiety blog. That would be no fun for anyone! I like this as an outlet to share the highlights of my life, the big accomplishments and beautiful places and good times. But, I’ll never hide the truth when I’m going through a rough time.

No matter how I presented myself and my life through all those posts, there was a true voice there. As I read through them, I recognized myself.

I sensed my personality coming through in every sentence. I laughed at my jokes, and remembered thinking that was hilarious when I wrote it. I felt my pain as I read about struggling though a tough race or a scary event in my life. I recognized the pride I felt… the pride that was sometimes so completely pure and sometimes entirely manufactured and false. I recognized times when I was absolutely sure of myself and times when my identity was hanging by a thread.

I guess what I’m saying is that reading back through my blog gave me a pretty good idea of who I am. It sounds weird that I could learn such a valuable thing from a silly running blog, but maybe not. I mean, it is essentially a journal, which is of course a brilliant tool for that. It is a tool for introspection, and then later, retrospection.

This blog has served different purposes through its life- at first as a just-the-facts running log, then a place to seek out feedback and advice, and finally just an all-out mind dump. To be honest, I don’t really care too much anymore about the feedback. I know this isn’t the most popular blog and I don’t get tons of comments, but that’s fine. I love sharing pictures and stories and posting about whatever I want. The true and only audience of this blog is me.

The one thing that has been present and obvious from the very beginning is that I love to write. I don’t want to be a writer or have to meet any standards whatsoever (ha!) but I just want to write. It’s a creative outlet, it’s fun, and I love it. And I’m good at it. More than anything, when I was reading back through all my posts, I was just enjoying the writing. I guess I never really gave myself credit for that before.

I realize that I never gave myself credit for a lot of things, really.

I learned a lot about myself through this exercise of studying the blog archives. I got a sense of myself, of my personality. I’ve always struggled with my self-esteem and maybe this is a bit of a breakthrough? I liked the person I read about. She’s got a good sense of humor, a generous spirit, and a sense of adventure. She’s a good athlete and a good writer.

If I can accept that She is Me, that would be everything.


Beth said...

Jen- This is such a wonderful post. I have struggled with self esteem too so I know how hard it is. For the record I like the girl from the blog too.

Rachel Wasserman said...

I have followed for going on two years, I think. I've never commented. But I read regularly. Its easier to comment on races and workouts than honest and open personal content. Perhaps your audience isn't as small as your imagine.

bob said...

Hey, really great blog post… I've enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy you put into each post. I actually run, a blog of my personal research and experiences. If you're interested, I would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail: bob.mauer65(at)gmail(dot)com, and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.

kristen said...

I feel you on this post. I love the honesty your bring. I'm so glad you allowed yourself to open up and 'reveal' parts of yourself to us. She is somebody that I would hang out with if we lived closer. She probably has a better sense of herself than the women around her (including myself). And She is a really cool chick.

And I agree. You are a good writer. I'm always happy when I see your blog in my google reader.

KK said...

Great post, Jen. You have just articulated what we readers knew all along :).

And dude, you ARE funny!

savvyfitchica said...

I've noticed the same thing Jen! I read thru old posts and notice sometimes that I was exaggerating or maybe leaving things out. Why, I'm not sure. I think it's something we just do as we grow on a blog. I like the writer!

Ewen said...

Enjoyed that post Jen. I only came across your blog in the middle phase, but have enjoyed it for its openness. I'm intrigued now to look back and read some of the earlier posts.

Writing to please yourself will please your readers and as Rachel said, small comment numbers doesn't mean a small readership. I like blogs - there's a permanency about them - FB isn't a place for permanent writing.

Sun Runner said...

I am approaching four years with my own blog. Every once in a while I read through some old entries, but I've never done a fully comprehensive tour through the archives. I think the time may be right for just such a rereading.

I am also running the same paces now as I was 4 years ago. Except back then I was slow. I worked hard to be not slow, and managed to BQ in 2009. I had two years of rapid improvement and then I hit a plateau, and then the plateau started to fall away and now I'm back to running 9:30-10:00 miles. And I think I'm okay with this. I had a really awesome couple of years which culminated in running Boston in 2010. I know it would take a TON of work to get back there, and as you said, I'm just not motivated enough to take on the suffering. :)

This was a great post. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I missed reading your blog. You are such a smart girl and now a homeowner. Keep up the good works.


Aron said...

Definitely things all of us readers knew already :) such a great post Jen - I am glad you put it out there <3 someday you will come back and read this post like you did the others and be glad you wrote it.