We’ve got time spent inside, at home, to just think and feel and be. It seems like a curse that I’m trying very hard to turn into a blessing.
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We’ve got time spent inside, at home, to just think and feel and be. It seems like a curse that I’m trying very hard to turn into a blessing.
Jeanne Mack reflects on her New York City Marathon experience and the one encounter that stood out to her during her race.
David Blaine’s dark eyes stare unblinkingly into yours, reaching out stoically from the confines of your computer screen and intoning the type of quiet, serious concentration you’d expect from a man whose profession is listed as magician.
That’s not David Blaine. That is Mitch Stilpa, an actor/comedian from an improv troupe in LA (what a terrible combination of words) whose parody videos of David Blaine’s street magic made a big splash on Funny or Die for a while. Stilpa does a hyperbolic of course, but pretty good impression of Blaine’s trademark destruction of the fourth wall, as he gazes directly into the camera after completing a trick.
The four parody videos have amassed over 78,000,000 views on YouTube, and as HuffPost put it back in 2011, Blaine’s “aesthetic and demeanor make him a pretty solid target for parody.” Magicians in general are rarely respected for their craft, and usually the butt of some jokes or at least emphatic eyerolls. And Blaine’s “Street Magic” concept, where he interacted with apparent strangers on the street for his breakthrough documentary in 1996, was especially ripe for riffing off of.
But while the world was chuckling to itself at David Blaine’s expense, Blaine was reinventing himself as more than just some sort of street vendor illusionist. He was becoming an endurance artist, a career path that involved him existing suspended in a block of ice for 62 hours straight, and spending 44 days sealed inside a glass box 30 feet above the ground in London. The accomplishment of these feats is the crux of my argument. Anyone who can put their body through such physical pain and suffering, who willingly endures extreme discomfort for long stretches of time for no real reason other than to prove that they can was practically born to be an ultra-marathoner. There is a very fine, pretty much nonexistent line between endurance artist and endurance athlete and I for one would love to see how Blaine’s talent as the former translates into his promise for the latter.
Blaine has transcended the realm of magic with most of his acts recently. There’s no real trick or deception going on in the feats he’s managed to pull off. The “magic” is just that he is able to force his body to do completely unnatural things. For example, Blaine’s trick where he eats glass–is actually him eating glass. The man is truly, physically consuming glass. He takes a bite out of a champagne flute and then chews. He bites down again and again, cutting his mouth all over, desecrating his poor chompers, and reducing the glass to little specks until he can swallow it. This type of mind-blowing pain tolerance lends itself easily to the kind of mentality a person covering almost four times the distance of a marathon without really stopping to sleep, and barely eating.
Not only is Blaine capable of withstanding pain over a long portion of time, but he also has a certain level of insanity that seems to be a prerequisite for becoming an ultra runner. He has done tricks that are downright stupidly dangerous. He’s caught a bullet in his mouth on stage, an actual bullet, from a real gun that he caught in a metal cup that he held in his mouth. The amount of confidence Blaine must have in himself in order to believe he can catch a bullet with a cup in his mouth without killing himself makes me think he would have the kind of self-belief important for running up and down steep, rocky trails by yourself for hours on end.
Blaine’s resume does also hint toward an innate aerobic ability. After training and working on techniques to do so, he successfully held his breath for 17 minutes underwater. Which makes me confident in his lung capacity to say the least.
As Ira Glass recently said of Blaine in a This American Life episode, “He works on these things for years, trains his body to do this stuff.” Sounds a lot like the life of an ultra runner to me.
Johnny Gregorek with one of the biggest stunners of the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The NJ NY Track Club boy is headed to London.
Nick Symmonds ran his final track race at the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships and the running community paid tribute to a U.S. great.
John Nunn, Maria Michta-Coffey and Miranda Melville is the star of the United States racewalk. Can anyone else join them in London?
We’d be remiss if we didn’t broach the serious topic of eating disorders during our food-themed week. They’re extremely prevalent in distance running.
Runners love seltzer and there’s studies out there that say it can be bad. There’s also studies out there that say it can be good. What to believe…
D.J. Principe has come very close to breaking four minutes for the mile but fallen just short each time. The LaSalle senior opens up about the chase.
After this weekend, we can still aim to break two in other ways. It doesn’t just have to be two hours. We explain other Breaking2 scenarios.
I have been intrigued and enchanted by running skirts since my sophomore year running cross and track in college. I specifically remember stumbling across a neon lime green and white patterned skirt with a bright aqua blue waistband and the same blue spandex shorts underneath during the summer beforehand and snatching that ensemble up like it was going out of style (when in reality it was never in style to being with). I returned to school that year excited about my purchase and eager to wear it out and about along the banks of the Charles River, only to realize that I was alone on the island of running skirt enthusiasm. Teammates wrinkled their noses and squinched their eyebrows together. What is that? they asked, as if I’d shown up to practice with dog poop smeared across my legs. I don’t blame them for this reaction. They’d been programmed by society to look down their nose at running skirts, we’re all a product of the world around us. And I could and possibly should have stood tall and proud with my thighs be-skirted, but instead I eventually pushed that skirt to the bottom of my running drawer until I lost track of it, or gave it away. I no longer have it.
So when Nicole Bush and I planned to call each other one day while we were both running, I knew exactly what I wanted to chat with her about.
We decided to record the phone call for posterity, and so that we could later bring snippets of it to you, if it turned out that we were able to be the least bit coherent while running. She explained to me a technique she used in order to talk into the mic on her headphones while running, which basically consisted of holding the headphone wire between her teeth, and we were off. What follows is a shortened transcript of our conversation, in which we consider: is the running skirt dumb?
Jeanne: Hey Nicole we’re recording now.
Nicole: Is it a second call that comes in?
J: Yeah I had to merge them. I also really hope it works because I tried Google voice and that was great but then I couldn’t get the call out of google voice, like to download the recording or whatever.
J: Ok I’m getting my shoes on. I’m also in a room with a parrot right now. Because I’m pet setting for a professor. The parrot’s name is Arnie.
N: That’s awesome. Much better than pet sitting a dog or a cat.
J: Yeah and there’s a tortoise too. Named Windsor. Hey Arnie, will you talk? I’ve learned that it’s really hard to get parrots to listen to you or do what you want. Alright, I’m ready to head out for a run. How far are you going today do you think?
N: Mmm. Undecided. I’ll see how I feel.
J: Yeah, same. Bye, Paul, wanna say hi to Nicole? She can hear you but you can’t hear her.
Paul: Hi Nicole. Just tell her I say hi.
J: She says hello. And now I’m leaving.
N: Cool. Me too. I have my key on my little ratchety headband that I put on my wrist and tuck under my watch when I go running.
J: Nice. You don’t ever want to just leave it somewhere in the yard? Under a rock or something?
N: No I’ve been doing this for too long. Plus I live in an apartment, so it’d be like public space too which would be weird. I’m outside now and it’s actually a really nice day in Michigan.
J: Ok me too. Wooo! What’s the weather?
N: It’s about 40 but the sun is out which it doesn’t like to do a lot in the Winter. But also a couple of weeks ago it was 60. Are you running yet?
J: Well shoot Nicole, the wire in my mouth thing really backfired and I’m pretty sure it ended the call!
N: Did you hang up on me with your mouth?
J: Yep. Exactly. Hit some weird button or something.
N: Do you have the regular iPhone headphones.
J: Yeah the ones with the volume adjuster thing on one side.
N: Yeah, so I have the mouthpiece on the right side. Then I put the end of the wire past my lips and just kind of hold it there.
J: How do you talk while you do that? I have no idea how someone could do both!? You don’t need to open your mouth? You can talk with your mouth holding a wire?
N: No wait now. I don’t know. This doesn’t seem like it. I don’t know how I did this. Maybe I just got my friends to talk most of the time.
J: Yeah that’s the thing about calling people when you run, you need to find someone who can talk pretty much uninterrupted so you can just say like, “mm, mhm” and grunt and stuff. But anyway. Guess what I’m wearing right now Nicole.
N: Are you wearing shorts?
J: I’m not. Good guess. But I’m wearing a running skirt.
N: I didn’t see that coming.
J: I know! But you should’ve. Because I asked you pretty cryptically a few days ago, what do you think about running skirts?
N: It would’ve been great if I had been like, me too!!
J: Hah. Do you own any running skirts?
N: I got one for free once. I never wore it. I think it was like a size too big.
J: Yeah. It’s hard to roll the top.
N: I was just gonna say–I probably wouldn’t have been able to roll it. I have a shirt that looks–well, cause I have like no torso–so because of that I have a shirt that looks kind of like a tunic/skirt thing when I wear it. It was when I was at Furman and Jeff See was like you are probably the only person of your caliber who is running in a running skirt. And I was like I’m just kidding, it’s a tank top.
J: So basically it was a running dress. You started the running dress trend?
N: Yeah it went below my shorts. I could’ve belted that shit.
J: Ok. Well. Two things. I just found like the bottom half of a dollar bill on the road. Which is so weird, it was torn in half so now I have from George Washington’s chin down in my left hand.
N: Oh! Like the long way?
J: Yeah isn’t that so surprising? I’ve never seen it torn this way.
N: I’ve seen em, but they’re always like the short way.
J: I don’t know if this will even work. I’ve heard that you need like ⅔ of a dollar in order for it to count as anything.
N: No no no no. You rip it and then you just have two.
J: Ok. Well anyway. The second thing I was gonna say is that, we need to talk about this. What you just were saying about how Jeff said running skirts don’t go hand in hand with high caliber athletes.
N: Yeah! So I was thinking about it a little bit. And yeah, I understand that running skirts serve a purpose. But for me, I’m like, they’re dumb. I think they’re dumb.
J: Well wait. What is the purpose? I’m intrigued about whether there’s a purpose that’s not obviously apparent. Like I gotta tell you. I feel bouncy and buoyant. And maybe that doesn’t have anything to do with the skirt. But there’s some air getting in under the skirt part and it feels nice.
N: If it was like buns under the skirt, I wonder. I might like that but maybe not with the shorts.
J: I wonder if they make them like that. To be clear, this is probably just a tennis skirt. But Ok. Here’s the thing. Here’s the argument for running skirts. Why they’re not dumb:
I think it reminds me of what I would imagine the draw is for wearing kind of long shorts if you’re a guy. Like even if you’re still good, wearing longer shorts means: ok. I’m taking a step back and going to fully embody a runner dad and just really relax, maybe go 8:30ish pace. And that’s what it feels like, wearing a running skirt to me. Subversive.
N: Ok, so short shorts are for like, when you’re gonna go fast or hard you’re gonna fully step into the role. And then the longer inseam… is when you’re more relaxed…okay…
J: Yeah I think so, right?
N: I guess my big thing is maybe I think they’re stupid because I think it’s too feminine so it’s for like wimps who want to look nice. And that’s totally unfair. Like, I’m a feminist, why am I thinking that!
J: Oh no! Shit!
N: I know! I’m not perfect.
J: So I used to work for a company that would send me to the Disney half and 10k in Orlando, Florida. And I’d be at the expo and race registration and oh my god. There. That was the running skirt mecca. If you didn’t have a running skirt on, get the fuck out.
N: Like all ages?
J: Yeah I think so! Most of the women were a little older. But yeah you’re right, I didn’t see many girls. Or like women in their 20s wearing running skirts. But also tutus. Tons of tutus there, not just running skirts. And that’s kind of where I draw the line. I’m pro running skirt, but I don’t know about a tutu.
N: Ok. Now I’m rethinking this. I have run in a tutu.
J: Wow! For what?
N: It was for Halloween. I decided to be a ballerina. So I made one and then ran through the woods with my friends.
J: Were you the only one wearing a tutu?
N: Oh definitely, yes. Just me.
J: And maybe that’s some of the allure of the running skirt, too. Sure anyone can wear shorts, men, women, boys, girls. But it takes a certain kind of person to wear a running skirt.
N: What kind of person is that? I think there’s a demographic of people who want to be a little more covered up. And not be just in like straight up spandex short shorts.
N: But then beyond that. Beyond that- what is the appeal? I guess you could feel really feminine while you’re running in a skirt. And I’m like no – I don’t want to.
J: Yeah that’s true. I think that’s part of it. I feel like yeah, running usually involves hocking loogies or maybe pooping in the woods. and I guess it can be hard to equate that with femininity. But it can be! And maybe that’s part of why people like them, to put together two parts of themselves that are usually seen as separate. Feminine and athletic.
N: Yeah I think for a while when my friends would put makeup on to race, I’d be like, what are you doing. I disapprove. But not that much. And now I think, you know what, people can do that and that’s cool. It’s like you get to step into a race persona.
J: Yeah! That’s the thing. It’s like the running skirt is a persona! Regardless of whether it’s for the purpose of a race–and granted I don’t see a lot of people doing that. But for an easy day, maybe it’s like–I want to be able to get into a different persona? Or embrace a different part of my persona that’s already there. I don’t know.
N: It isn’t necessarily just racing, like work out day, too. And also going out in public afterward, and you’re all gross and you can’t change, could be nice to cover up with a running skirt.
J: Yeah. I wonder if anyone has ever raced a pretty fast time in a running skirt. Definitely something I should research.
N: Except for the fact that there’s no “ran 2:50 in a running skirt” asterisk in race results.
J: True. You’re right, there’s no way we’d ever know. We’d have to get on some of that Derek Murphy internet detective shit, where he cross references pictures from the race and stuff.
N: I guess you could find finish line footage from Chicago or Boston and watch until you saw someone cross in a running skirt and see what their time was.
J: I could. Maybe I will. Would you ever consider racing in running skirt, personally?
N: I think I would consider it. I don’t know if I would actually do it. I’d have to be like either really killing it at running for a while, or just be like: uhh, this is basically my last race ever. It’s interesting though, I just keep coming back to thinking, being in a running skirt just doesn’t feel like or seem like you’re tough. And that’s so stupid.
J: Yeah. That is stupid! I don’t think it should be that way. That’s why, part of me thinks I really want to race in a running skirt. But I also wonder if it’s just that the only reason I want to race in a running skirt is to be able to say: I raced in a running skirt. Which seems backwards.
N: Yeah. Maybe if it was a running skirt that you really liked and you would wear it anyway, like if it was a cool material. And you liked that look and you would wear it running or not running. That might be the answer.
J: Yeah I’ll have to think about it.
N: What color is your running skirt?
J: It’s navy blue! and I was also just checking around for a pocket to put this half of a dollar bill in and unfortunately, I don’t think this skirt has a pocket. Which really makes me think it’s not a running skirt at all and instead is probably for tennis.
When we hung up a while later because my phone’s deformed battery was on the verge of dying, whether or not my skirt was intended for running or for tennis, I was happy to be wearing it. I’ll be the first to admit that I at times have enjoyed doing something different just for the sake of being different. But, with running skirts, it’s about bucking the trend in a larger way. It’s about defying expectations of what it means to wear a running skirt, and doing my best to free this pigeon-holed item of clothing from the category of only being meant for not quite super competitive or maybe not even serious runners. Free the Running Skirt.
Fashion and style aren’t normally associated with running or track and field, but we’re here to finally tackle these intersections for running fashion week.
Female track and field reporters share their experiences, challenges and hopes of covering the sport in a male-dominated setting.
January 21, at 6:21 AM, Alison Désir and her fellow Run4AllWomen runners arrived in Washington, D.C. and raised over $100,000 for Planned Parenthood.
Rio 1500-meter Bronze medalist Jenny Simpson is a lot more like rapper Nicki Minaj than you might have guessed. Here’s why.
When you have bed bugs, you suffer in a very similar way to when you’re injured and unable to run. Jeanne Mack explains the feelings that go along with both
We’ve all fallen in love while running. Here’s a chance to let those missed connections know.
The Harvard women will go for their fifth consecutive indoor Heps championship this weekend in New York City. Here’s a quick preview of their chances.
Rachel Schneider, the former Georgetown Hoya discusses her rise as a professional middle distance runner based in Flagstaff and her breakout indoor season.
We’ve all fallen in love on the run. Now here’s your chance to try and find that perfect stride that you admired.
Some thoughts on running a long time and going nowhere with indoor marathons, treadmill marathons and a 3,100-mile race.