Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lady Marathon: A Fractured Fairytale

Once upon a time, Lady Marathon entered an epic fairytale of her own making when she decided to train for a marathon to raise money for the deserving, rookie scribes of Grubdom. An unlikely heroine, Lady Marathon set off on her merry way armed with little more than the optimism of her girlish heart and a belief that miles could be bested by an obsessive focus on her magical playlist.

And while these tools served her well for the first nine weeks of her four-month Odyssey, when yesterday's training schedule called for a run that stacked sixteen long and arduous miles end to end, the weariness in Lady Marathon's legs was so intense, her running slowed to a speed on pace with that of a shuffling troll. But it wasn't just her legs that turned trolloh no. Somewhere around mile 14 that troll made its scrabbling way to her brain where it started to whisper ferociously:
Once upon a time my fairy tale ass, it began...
And just like that, the false romance of the fairytale runner's world melted away, and Lady Marathon felt, with every aching muscle in her taxed and tired body, like a wayward heroine in one of the scarier tales from the Brothers Grimm.

Or, in words less tainted by her complete love affair with John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things (readitreaditreadit), the 16 miles she ran yesterday flattened her. And to put it still another way: holy mother of ouch!

We've reached the point in our fairytale of a run where the bucolic gives way to the beastly: Next week her long run may hold steady at 16 miles, but her short and medium runs will all inch up with the tenacious force of the branch army that took down Macbeth.

And so Lady Marathon sends out a plea to all the members of Grubdom (and all the people who love those who cherish Grubdom): If you've been meaning to pledge to the Run for Grub, now would be a most excellent time to do so. With only $437.50 to go until we reach our goal, Lady Marathon knows that crossing the fundraising finish line early won't actually make the pounding miles hurt any less, but she's pretty sure it will make for one hell of a happily ever afterplus her little girl heart hopes it'll inspire a humdinger of a second wind, too.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run (and quite frankly, her second wind) at

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

And Now the Nightmares Begin....

Last night in dreamland, I missed my marathonshowed up just as all the runners were crossing the finish line. The panic I felt was palpableif I hurried up and got started now, I could still say I ran it, right?

Not right.

The roads that had once been closed were reopened. People were packing up, heading home. One old man looked at me with better-luck-next-time pity in his eyes as I stood on the start/finish line blinking down at the crumpled Dixie cups littering the pavement.

I'm no stranger to the Cinderella-shows-up-after the-festivities-are-done brand of nightmare, so I expect this particular nightmare (and variations thereof) will visit me a few more times before I cross my waking finish line at the end of July. But I can't figure out why the nightmare would gear up the middle of what has arguably been the best week of training I've had yet:
  • I ran 14 miles on Friday and finished strong (a big relief because the 13.1 long run the week before left me feeling sick for most of the rest of the day);
  • I logged 4 miles in 37 minutes and change on Sunday which included my first ever sub-9 minute mile;
  • I ran 7 miles in less than 70 minutes yesterday;
  • And when the troll who lives in my brain said, "Fourteen miles, ha! Let's see you run another 12 right now!" I shut her up by telling her that I'd be happy to follow fourteen miles up with another twelve on the day of the race, eight weeks from now. Because building up slowly is kind of what training's all about.
Maybe the dream was just my troll's way of fighting her way off the endangered species list. But I'm hoping to graduate her from endangered to extinct before she can claw her way any deeper into my brain. In fact, this morning my legs saw the troll's night terrors and raised her four miles in 39: 21not even a foul-mouthed troll can say a bad word against three consecutive runs clocked in at an average speed of sub-ten-minutes per mile.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, and independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run at

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Grub Tales: Stace Budzko

Stace Budzko is published or forthcoming in Hint Fiction: Norton Anthology of Stories, Press 53, PANK, Hobart, Elimae, The Los Angeles Review, Night Train, The Collagist, Monkeybicycle, Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Forward, Brevity & Echo, Quick Fiction, The Southeast Review, Carve Magazine and elsewhere. The screen adaptation of his story, “How to Set a House on Fire” was recently awarded Best in Show/Best Overall/Best Drama at Spotlight Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, and Westport Film Festival respectively. At present, he is a writing instructor at Emmanuel College as well as writer-in-residence at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

Gorgeous and Loved at Grub Street

And when they ask you what you mean, exactly, when you say you are gorgeous and loved at Grub Street, tell them about the nights you are in a classroom overlooking Central Burying Ground up high on the 4th floor, surrounded only in the best intention of story, in words, and for that moment whatever awaits at home (as in you) is made all the more the real, there.

Stace Budzko