The Will to Run

When I was in high school, I played lacrosse for two miserable seasons. In my second season, while the team was out on a run and everyone was complaining about shin splints and hot weather, I realized that I just liked running. I immediately joined cross country, and then my love affair with running started. I loved running. I love the moment when you hit “that point” when you feel everything dropping away and the magic starts. Where nothing else matters but you, your feet, and the endless distance you can run.

Then, in 10th grade, in the midst of a run, just before I was about to get to “that” point… something went wrong. My toe caught something, and as I fell I knew I wouldn’t be finishing the run. I just knew. My ankle and knee blew up to the size of melon and turned a hideous shade of purple, green, and blue. After two months of being immobilized, I shredded the bandages holding the immobilizing foam to my leg. I put my running shoes back on, and started to run. My toes would turn angry shades of purple, and my knee would turn red and throb for days… but I would run because I needed it. I needed to burn the angry and resentment and rage I felt for being so hurt and not healing fast enough. I never ran competitively again in high school. And after a few visits to the doctor and repeated “you need surgery” talks, I refused to ever set foot in a sports medicine doctor’s office again.

In college, I simply ran a couple loops around my neighborhood, or would strap on my rollerblades and speed along. Occasionally I would set myself at the bottom of the steepest hill, and sprint to the top. I wasn’t as good or strong, but I ran anyway. I continued to run, even after I started working my 70 hour weeks. I would get home at midnight, and after putting on my reflective vest, I would run in the dark. Just me, the inky night, and my feet. The silence you feel after you get into a run is amplified by the darkness, only to be punctuated by random headlights. Those late night runs got me through hundreds of hours of stress.

Then, I came to law school and continued to run. It was my way of getting to know Baltimore… and when a few people in my property  class said they were running a half marathon, I signed up too. In two months, I trained and managed to out run almost all of the students I ran with. So, I kept going. I ran another… and then another. But I never imagined that I would run a full marathon because I didn’t think my bum ankle or knee could handle it… or that I would have the time or patience. Then a month ago, I ran my fourth half marathon and then a week later ran my personal best time in a 10 mile race. I felt great. I didn’t have any joint pain… so I kept going. I ran and ran and ran when I was on vacation… and when I got home I decided to do the full.

Yesterday, I didn’t have much time to run. I started at 7, and normally it’s too dark to run safely by 8:00pm. So I decided to run a 3 mile pick up run. Basically, 1 mile normal pace, 1/2 mile sprint, 1 mile normal, 1/2 mile sprint, and then jog the rest of it out home. In the last 1/2 mile sprint, I set my sights on a guy in an orange t-shirt. He was tall… and fast. But… I was faster. I was never a fan of sprinting, but there is a moment when you get to your maximum speed, and you feel like you can just fly. Your legs are just cranking out the paces and nothing is stopping you from just taking flight. I love that feeling. I just hate stopping, because then the rest of you catches up and starts clamoring for attention. Your lungs burn, and you can’t seem to stop gasping for air… your heart is beating so hard you can hear it and your feet burn from the friction. But the moment when you feel the ground dropping away, and when everything is still while you race through time… it’s worth it.

Oh! But I didn’t get to the most basic part of running. The food. In running, nutrition is crucial. Because even the smallest changes in diet can screw you up. Just before my 10 mile race, I discovered that I was no longer horribly allergic to apples. So for the entire week before the race, I bolted down two bushels of apples. I didn’t remember apples being so utterly delicious! But then at mile 5, that weeks worth of apples was really biting me in the ass. Because I hadn’t eaten apples in over 10 years and because of the tremendous amount of sugar and fiber… well, you can guess exactly how I felt.

A few days after the race, I landed in Punta Cana (DR). And after eating random resort food and some random street food too (yes, I know… street food?!), I came home to so major gastro-intestinal distress. I’m pretty good at ignoring my body and running, but I was glued to my apartment because I just needed to use the bathroom all of the time (overshare? hahaha). But because I had decided (and committed) to running the full marathon, I was really itching to get back out running. So, I reverted to the time tested (and mommy approved) jook. It’s Korean rice porridge, and it works every single time. It doesn’t matter what ails you, it will make you feel better immediately. So, any time I need to find homeostasis with my body… this is what I eat.

Jook for Whatever Ails You (Kaprise Kitchen style)

  • 1/3 cup of rice (Korean people use glutinous rice, or sweet rice. For this recipe you can use either white or brown, but if you use brown you will need to pre-soak for an hour or two ahead of time)
  • 2 cups of good chicken broth
  • 2 carrots, finely diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen corn (optional)
  1. In a pot, bring the chicken broth to a simmer
  2. Rinse the rice 3 or 4 times. I use a fine mesh sieve and run the rice under cold water for several minutes, stirring to make sure I rinse all debris away
  3. Add the rice, and simmer covered on low for about 1 hour. Check on the rice every 15 minutes, stirring to make sure the rice does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. The rice should eventually begin to break apart to form a thick porridge and the liquid should completely be absorbed.
  4. The rice should be completely mushy… if you need, add more broth.
  5. Add carrot and corn and simmer for 15 more minutes.
  6. Serve! You can add a little bit of soy sauce or salt for more flavor… but I find that when I’m not feeling well, the plain and unadulterated jook is just perfect.

Notes:

  • Jook is normally made with just rice and water, but I think that the chicken broth makes it more substantial and nutritional
  • I just like pretty colors, so I add vegetables to my jook, but this is not traditional at all. However, if you like eating colorful food (like I do) you can add peas or spinach or any variety of pretty vegetables to this.
  • Jook takes a while to come together – be patient, and let the jook simmer on low for as long as it takes. I normally simmer mine for an hour – but sometimes as long as 2 to make it more delicious
  • You can make jook with left-over rice… but I think this way is yummier

2 thoughts on “The Will to Run

  1. I played lacrosse in high school too (though quite horribly, haha).

    I love jook, morning, noon or night, especially with scallions, shiitakes and shredded duck. Perfect comfort food!

    • haha, I was awful in lacrosse. I was always concerned that stupid ball was going to knock me out! and good idea on the shredded duck! I’ll have to try that next time!!

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