Training - Week 3

Pretty ho-hum week. Forced myself to have a pullback week, which mostly just means my longrun was a bit faster paced and only 13 miles. Up to 19 next week, then a race, then 20 after that. But truthfully, once you get up to 19, you really could run a marathon if you wanted to, so after next week my base will be fully built and I will spend the rest of training on pacing and racing.

Hit 2:51 on my 800s this week. I believe my very fastest is 2:43, so I'd like to get back there by September. 

Miles this week: 66.34

Miles in training: 260.2

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Training - Week 2

Got new shoes yesterday. Haven't run in them yet, aside from the treadmill at the store. Will debut them on the bridge tomorrow. Exciting.

The shoes should last me through the marathon tune-up in late Sept, when I'll get the pair that will take me through the two marathons.

I really feel good about this summer and fall. PRs? Maybe, maybe not. I'm running happily and without anxiety, and not finishing races feeling ill. Finally managing to be fast and feel good. Hoping to get back to my fastest while still feeling this way.

Broke 70 this week for the first time since 2016 (when I did it a lot, just punished myself).

Step-back week, then another 70, then a race week, then my first 20.

Miles this week: 70.76

Miles during training: 193.86, in 20 days

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Marathon Training Begins - Week 1

I'm not going to write one of these every single week, but I'll check in if I'm free.

This was week one. I took it easy between Brooklyn and my vacation, including Reunions and my birthday. And this was the first full, regular week, with two "hard" workouts (1 bridge, 1 track), two easy but solid pace (7:45 or so) 10 mile midweek runs, two easy shorter runs (6.7 and 7.5), and one longer run (15.74).

And that's basically how it's going to be. What I do on the track each week will change. And the length of the long runs will gradually grow until it hits 22ish in late September. I'm about 5 weeks from hitting 20 on the first Saturday of August, after which it will just be about getting faster.

So, July will be endurance built back up with a bit of racing (Team Champs mixed in).

Miles this week: 68.47

Miles in training: 123.1

 

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Urges and Wants

This might sound stupid, but focusing, when you're given a choice, on your wants might make you a less selfish person.

I'm not calling you selfish. I'm calling all of us selfish. And I think a lot of the time it's because we drift from urge to urge rather than sitting down and thinking about what we truly want.

Sometimes our urges can match our wants. Then that's fine.

But much of the time, our urge, that pressure, be it internal or external, comes from another place. It certainly doesn't come from a reasoned decision. This is not to say emotion has no place in decision-making. Just that it can't be the only one flying the plane.

So, of course, I came to this after doing some thinking.

Most days, I eat lunch quickly at my desk and then go outside to sit and read. I like to read by the water (since I can), and that leads me to be surrounded by workers at American Express and other financial firms. And these workers look like I once assumed I would, and have enough money to buy the fourteen-dollar salads the food court sells. 

Lately I've had to refocus my spending habits (not so much that I was spending a lot but that I needed to reprioritize), and I realized I've been sort of mourning a person who never existed, and who absolutely should not exist.

You all know my little story by now (Fast forward version 1. Insecure and isolated high schooler 2. Well-connected best friend whom I desperately wanted to impress and thus started becoming more broadly party-centric 3. This repeats itself in college to a much greater extent, and friends this time choose to distance themselves from me in ways that I didn't understand and I thus blamed my character and self-worth for it 4. College ends, I don't know what I want to do, but i know I can't work with the type of folks who didn't really like me 5. I spend most of my 20s figuring my career out, treating every weekend as the only thing to look forward to, while lamenting I never had work friends and happy hours and the other things I saw people doing 6. Finally get to a path I wanted, but now I work near these folks and I feel pangs of sadness for the life I chose not to lead and frankly never wanted to lead).

Ultimately, in my life, the big choices - after college - have been what I actually wanted. The smaller choices, it's been harder to avoid what I've felt pressure to do - by others, by society, by my brain - and so I still sit there, enjoying a book but also telling myself I'm not so great because I didn't get to have the Coworkers and Happy Hours and Rooftops mid20s that others had.

"Well don't go over there," you're saying. Okay maybe. But I still have to function in the world. It's best I acknowledge this for what it is - a bit of mourning, some irrational anxiety stuff - and  understand that, like almost all of my urges, it's best it didn't happen since it's not actually what I ever wanted.

What would I have become had I opted to force myself into those interviews? It's been the biggest question of the last eleven years. I think I would have been successful, yes, and miserable, abjectly so. Now that I am actually working on the things in my brain, no six-figure bonus would have been enough to make me feel better, and I already felt pretty crummy. Yet I only felt bad in my actual life because of the pressure I felt to be this guy. Forget about actually having those jobs: what would I be like if I just didn't care about what society thought of my "success?" Because that would be something to truly want.

Hopefully I am getting closer to not allowing such things to have an impact on me. This is my goal, especially before school starts: to be free of caring about what other people want me to do.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Crazy Rich

So my wife picked up "China Rich Girlfriend" and brought it with us on our vacation. It's the sequel to "Crazy Rich Asians," and I wanted to support the latter as it will be what seems to be a fun movie later this summer. I'm kind of spoiling the ending for myself of course, but still.

My god, everything about these peoples' lives seems so empty.

When I first started reading it, it seemed intoxicating and exciting. I've never liked shopping, but the travel? The homes? The restaurants?

But the more I read, the more I realized how little any of that would do for our happiness. Author Kevin Kwan is clear that much of what the people in the books care about is impressing and outdoing each other, and I know that feeling, certainly having been overjoyed the first time I brought people to nice things I enjoy.

I've been thinking a lot about my dreams in life, and despite what the President will tell you, being a tacky and ostentatious fool doesn't actually seem... fun. Fun for a minute, or for the length of a trip. But for life?

Money buys relief, sure. I want my theoretical children not to want for much if I can help it. But beyond the level of relative privilege I have now (I'm not complaining), all evidence shows that just lusting after MORE doesn't actually bring you anything but agony.

Let's be clear: our country is turning into a corrupt developing nation because it's being run by absolutely miserable old men who only derive joy from crushing their enemies.

It was never likely I would be a Captain of Industry, despite what... others have wanted for me. But I think even if I won a powerball or something I'd do whatever I could to give most of it away and only keep enough to pay for schooling and retirement of the closest people to me.

(Okay, probably a nice home and season tickets to the Yankees).

It's a privilege to be able to be somewhat exposed to these things - I know people like that - and know it's not a dream of mine. And to have the support of the people around me, especially my wife, as I realize that the dream has to be meaningful achievement much more than capitalistic enemy-crushing.

I don't need my name on anything. I'm happy just helping adult learners achieve their goals.

 

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

32

It's been an interesting year. The first birthday-to-birthday period since I was 26 that I didn't complete a marathon. Posted some of my worst times last fall and this winter, due to injuries mostly. And then there's my head, both the skull fracture and the stuff going on inside it.

I won't go too far into it, because you know already, but as jarring as it has been to realize these things are true, it's helpful to understand that the way I've occasionally felt for the last sixteen years hasn't made me bad or broken.

And speaking of my brain, in this past year I got into school again, something that wouldn't even have excited me years ago. But I'm going to go back, I'm going to do my own original research, and, many years hence, I will truly be an expert.

Frankly, one thing that has made this feel better is realizing how much I've managed to do with what is a form of disability. I'm no hero, but on birthday 32, I think I can feel a little proud of how hard I have tried to improve with this weight around my ankles. I will reach my fastest speed again, I will excel at my new degree, and all these years when I was confused why I felt the way I did will just recede into the past.

Marathon training begins next week. But first, a vacation, and even before that, MOAR CUPCAKES.

Seeing how dangerous these diseases truly are, every day I move along is a day to be proud of, and I will continue to tell myself that.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

On Achievement and Mental Health

I am going to write this without getting too personal. If this is triggering, please skip, though it's not at all graphic.

 

 

I think a lot of us have the idea that if you reach the top of the mountain - whatever your conception of that mountain is - you will instantly feel like a champion and all problems cease to exist.

We make fun of the many athletes coming forward lately to admit their struggles with mental health, and we say, under our breath or in private, having millions of dollars must be so hard.

Or we speculate, when someone harms themselves or attempts to, that this shouldn't have happened because of their many achievements.

We have a lot of problems in human society (and this is not really an American thing), but this idea that the only thing to strive for is achievement is harming us all. It harms the ones who don't achieve in socially acceptable ways, and it harms those who do achieve by denying the validity of their struggles.

It's hard to get out of this mindset. We spend tons of energy (and money, so much money) on keeping up with the Joneses. If we don't manage to keep up, we feel bad. And if we do keep up - or if we become the Joneses others are chasing - then we feel bad because we still can't shake what we feel.

Mental health is health. Or, to paraphrase a quote about something else, health is mental health's last name.

Any of you who is over the age of, I dunno, twenty knows that you will not see your health remain exemplary without effort. Your choices matter for your physical health, even if you are lucky enough not to have a serious chronic illness or injury. You know if you eat certain things your body will feel pain. You know if you don't exercise that walking up stairs will be a challenge. And you are free not to care (I am not judging anyone). 

Yet we don't prioritize mental health, making choices specifically to improve how we feel, unless we absolutely have to. And then we play catch up, and it's harder to win when you're coming from behind.

I make no proclamations here. Literally none of you know what leads to another person's health struggles, be they external or internal.

The only thing I can say is, unless they tell you - or, perhaps, unless you tell yourself - we can never assume someone feels the way they want to feel. Depression lies, and it never stops lying. You definitely know someone who is being lied to by their brain, even if they haven't told you as much.

Be as kind as you can be, within the limits of what you as a non-professional can do. That's really all you can do.

And for anyone who has struggled, whether or not you are what society would consider a high-achiever, just know that although the fight may never truly end, it's worth it to keep going, even if it doesn't seem that way.

I hope this is useful to someone.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Fiction

I always wanted to be a writer. I suppose I still do, in a way, just that, if I pull it off, it will likely be due to my more professional work in adult education.

But I really wanted to be an author. I just couldn't get out of my own way.

I did manage to finish two novels.

The first one was, basically, a fictionalized version of my post-college life, which I thought was just true, emotionally, but I re-read it recently, and boy, there's a lot of ugliness in it. Not just in the prose, which is pedestrian but better than EL James, but I had no idea how down I was clearly feeling at the time, and my despair was all over my writing.

I am not sure what I hoped to get out of it. Really unpleasant stuff happens in the book, and I can say now that I was trying to condemn it, but I'm not sure I did so strongly enough.

If I had ever been published, I might have been seen as a gross Brett Easton Ellis type, even though I was trying to critique that sort of thing (and failed).

But anyway.

I wrote a second novel in Korea (well, I wrote most of the first one there too. I had a lot of free time).

That one was better, but I ran out of gas. The first 100 pages is pretty good, aside from my Big Ideas being kind of simplistic (I was still only 23).

I should have explored the world more. But I tried to put every idea in it, on top of trying to be more clearly progressive than the first novel.

It's good they never saw the light of day.

But I want to write again. Really just for fun, I think. I feel I've got something to say, perhaps more in the fictionalized real life vein of the first novel but without the unexplored anger and sadness that squeezed the joy out of reading it.

I know I'll soon be in school and out of time. But if I can manage a few pages a week, and work on it over several years, it might end up being the work I always wanted to create.

We'll see.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Mileage Check

Haven't been writing much. That's probably good, means no wild swings in anxious thoughts? But also I have no races for a while, and school is still months off.

Anyway, so it's the last day of May. That's five months into the year. Let's see how many miles I've run.

Miles in May: 233. Highest of any month thus far this year, which is great since I had two races and thus ran less those weeks. June will be lower, as I intend to deliberately back off a bit, also going on vacation where I really only plan to run just once at most, and also, birthdays and such. Marathon training can begin on July 2nd.

Miles in 2018: 1093. You know, it's not the insane 3,000 mile pace I hit in 2015, but now that I know so much more about my body and what I need to do to be both faster and healthier, this is good. Far above 200 a month (indeed I only need 107 next month to stay above 200 a month for half the year), and this is before my higher mileage training begins. I only need 2000 a year (well, 2018, but still) to feel like I'm running enough, and consider the year began with a series of injuries that jacked me up into March, I'm running well, and going to get faster through the summer.

Will I hit my PRs? I want to PR in the five mile, the 5k, the 18 mile, the 10 mile and the marathon this fall. I won't succeed at all of those, but that's my plan. And I think, by never skipping a week at the track (aside from the week I'm away), and then gradually adding my longer runs back in in July, I should be all set to do at least some of that.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Teachers

I am not sure I knew I wanted to teach until I stepped into my first classroom in South Korea. I went there to try and change my life, but I wouldn't have had to fully pursue a career in education for that to be the case. I could have done what many of the people I knew there did and used the time primarily to travel and party.

(I certainly did those things, of course.)

I mention this because I went to my 15th high school reunion on Saturday (yes, after the race), and while it was nice to see my classmates and some of the staff, and also to hear the way that things have grown and changed, I was, and this is always true, mostly struck by how much I had learned from my teachers without even really knowing it.

I have known how much influence my professors in grad school had, since that was a professional degree and I remain engaged with them on a regular basis. And I regret how little I reached out to my professors in college, but there isn't much to be done about that now.

Yet those fourteen years beforehand, I was really being shaped and guided by exemplary educators.

I spoke to a few of my teachers, and, as usual, they remember some very specific things that used to astound me. But of course, I've been teaching (one way or another) for ten years myself, and I sure do remember many of the things I did when I first started doing this, and probably always will.

Not to get heavy, but I was going through a lot emotionally, like a lot of kids. I was smart but I lacked confidence and was very hard on myself when I didn't succeed. Indeed I often wouldn't put full effort in when I thought I'd fall short.

My teachers saw things in me that I couldn't see in myself, things I'm really only coming around to believing these days. So many people aren't lucky enough to have teachers who believe in them, especially not students of color, and I think, or I hope, that my belief in my own students, even though they're adults, means as much to them as it once did - and does - to me.

I just want to be as good of a teacher as the teachers I had. It's why I want to keep learning, reading, and writing, and eventually to make a real impact in the field. Whatever I end up doing, none of it would have happened if I hadn't had teachers who saw a kid who couldn't stop making jokes and goofing off in class and figured out that underneath was a fearful boy who just wanted acceptance. And they accepted me, annoying as I'm sure I was, even if I didn't realize it at the time.

 

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality