img_1520In high school I think I ran of my own volition one time. In college it might have been twice. During my last few years in Germany, I would go for sporadic runs, and I started to find some enjoyment in jogging, but it never became a regular thing. I still didn’t really understand why people would run together in groups or why they would ever, ever run a marathon.

Nevertheless, I brought running shoes with me to Indonesia with the intention of nurturing the enjoyment that I had started to feel in Germany. Originally, I thought I would start running when I moved to my permanent site, but the other volunteers in my training village started running together, and after some friendly peer pressure, I joined them. We would get up early and start running at hours that you can count on one hand. I felt good on those runs, and I had fun. It finally made sense to me that people would run together in groups. After a while, I even started warming to the idea of running a marathon.

IMG_1516.JPGLast weekend, I participated in my first race since elementary school field day: a helluva half marathon: 21 km (13 mi) through beautiful mountains and past the volcanically active Mt. Bromo. Most runners were from Indonesia, but people came from all over, near and far, to participate. I ran for most of the race, but I definitely walked a bit as well. I can’t imagine that anyone but the top runners ran the whole way. I’d like to know what the villagers thought when they saw people running up and down their mountains with a banana in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, plus the odd selfie stick tucked in somewhere…

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img_1519After I finally crossed the finish line, I felt relieved. Then hungry. Then physically drained. I forgot to look for my time, but I didn’t care. I thought to myself, I never need to do that again. The following day, however, after looking up my time online (2:47:56), a different notion crossed my mind. I reckoned I could probably shave off a minute or two next year. Considering my less than rigorous training, I think I did pretty well, plus no injuries to speak of. Maybe, just maybe, that wasn’t my last race.


Would you eat already?!

Every once in a while, but not all too rarely, one teacher will bring food to school for the rest of us. Everyone loves it. Except me. Within milliseconds of entering the teachers’ room, I’m entreated to eat.  Everyone gets at least a friendly reminder that there’s food, but I’m always bombarded from all directions. It’s not quite as bad as the title might suggest, but it can sure feel that way.

The food is good, but I can’t enjoy it, because whatever I take and however much I take, it’s always wrong. Don’t you want this and don’t you want that? I try not to answer that I would have taken some if I had wanted it, but I can’t always help myself. Today I said—with a slightly stressed smile on my face—Everyone must think I’m too stupid to eat by myself. My colleagues were quiet after that. I understand why everyone thinks they need to hound me into eating (and that they don’t think they’re hounding me), but that doesn’t make it less stressful.