The Dream of the ’90s is Alive

Finally Netflix got on the ball to add Portlandia to the mix. If you haven’t seen this as in the words of Will Ferrell playing the dude on Inside the Actors Studio:  “Go to where films are sold or rented and buy it or rent it and watch it”. Another helpful hint when you have a spare weekend go visit Portland to get the real sense of the word.

It’s true the Webbs are no longer a part of this “alternative universe as if Gore won and the Bush administration never happened” as we’ve relocated to Cville. Yet it still hits a soft spot when I see my old neighborhood as the skit location or when Fred Armisen marches up the bridge chanting “Alive in Portland”- the feelings come back from the dozens of tempos I’ve run along the Willamette.
What really made this show hit home is when I realized I had envisioned myself back in college living this sort of fake life. The song “Dream of the 90s” – {YouTube video here}- brings it all together in what might be pursuit of the majority in Portland. Obviously a different place from your typical American city.

They talk about “Remember when people were intent to be unambitious, sleep til 11, hang out with friends.. Work at a coffee (insert running) shop a few hours a week”. My favorite because as many of my friends say I can be a little odd.. “Remember in the 90s when they encouraged you to be weird? It was just an amazing time. You could grow up to want to be a clown! People went to clown school.” Trust me my college roommate and I had discussions.

I look back at my job career and wonder what path I was taking. I didn’t know and couldn’t look beyond how awesome the now was. When I discovered running late as a senior in high school I knew I couldn’t get ripped off with only 4 more real competitive years.  Most of my college years i was learning and paying for amateur mistakes. At UW-La Crosse there was a small group of runners (all guys and me) who would joke half kidding about how awesome it would be to go out west. To live in a beat up college house sharing bedrooms with cheap rent, working just enough to get by and train. Basically postponing reality to just live simple and run.

Not that any of us really believed that if we made this commitment we would magically take our D3 level of excellence and be transformed  into an Olympic caliber athlete making 6 figures. We just loved what we did – the daily grind of mileage and workouts -and couldn’t seem to realize this could one day pass. None of us wanted to be transformed into the dreaded 40 hour work week slave- bored out of our minds inside a cubicle staring at the clock watching our lives pass us by. Why couldn’t we prolong this; stay young and play until at least our late 20s?

Of this small talk I believe I was the one who actually followed through. I put off graduating until my eligibility was over in 5 years and set up my next step in a humble setting in Indianapolis. I was fulfilling my dream of running with a post collegiate team and doing the only hard working thing I knew I loved. I didn’t know how I could find satisfaction in something bigger with a real paycheck. How could I commit to something without passion? This running could only take me so far and the lack of funds definitely were challenging with limited hours at a running shop. But from this I gained so much- the experiences, the people (meeting my husband), places and perspective of hard work which lead to getting a great full time job I loved in the running industry.All the hot girls wear glasses..
Now that I’m older I look back and laugh at my ambitions on how i was just like one of the “young people who comes to Portland to retire”. I’m fully accepting of my limits on speed and where my running will take me. That itself is not my future goal but more being the best at my current job and soon to be future mom. Will I ever stop running hard to give in to society’s definition of a fit person who exercises moderately 30 minutes, 3 days a week? If my body says its OK- no way. Even in this pregnancy I’ve been told by many I can start to back off but at this point there’s no harm in running 50-60 mile weeks or jumping in races and speed work- so once again that answer is also a big fat no.

My aspirations for the future still include a PR in the steeple at age 30 with lots of toughness training from pushing a baby jogger and the drive from pure enjoyment of sport. I’m also hopeful that this baby business has been the right change that will bring me to the marathon; finally putting my skier’s shuffle form into good use.

So in closing, when I go back to Portland and see the 20-year-olds sleeping on the sidewalk as I run by I am not going to judge. Thankfully I never had to beg for money to pursue my passion (unless you count asking for comped race entries- Alan will never understand that one!) But honestly I hope that somewhere along the way I have taken my running passion to inspire others or in another life not too far off I may have been a Burnsider (that’s code name for bum in the NW).

One comment

  1. I like this post! Former steepler here as well… do you mind elaborating a little on your pregnancy training? There is’t much out there on the subject, unless you’re a 4 hour marathoner or a 30 min 5k runner. How much did your training change.. and what kind of racing have you been able to do?

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