Running to Win – by Kitty Bucholtz

As you know, we’re hosting some amazing guest bloggers on Fridays lately, and today we’re fortunate to have Kitty Bucholtz, the founder of the sucessful blog, Routines for Writers. Kitty’s blog forte is inspiration, as you’ll see from the following. We know Kitty from our local RWA group, OCCRWA, but she left us a year or so ago to follow her husband to a job in Australia! We miss her sunny personality and her encouragement, but you can get a shot of it anytime on her blog!

I’m so happy to be a guest here at Writers in the Storm. Not only are these some of my favorite people <waving madly>, but they’re serious about their writing and it shows on this blog.

I’ve been getting more and more serious about my writing as time goes by. It’s been a slow road with a few wonderful moments that I thought might be THE MOMENT. But then The Moment would turn into “We almost bought it,” and I had to trudge on. There were a few times when I gave up for a while, too discouraged to think of a way to keep going.

But a couple years ago I had lunch with my friend Dwight who said he wanted to run a marathon just to say he did it. I’d been trying to think of something I could do before I turned 40 that I’d never done before, something I’d never have believed I could do. A half marathon sounded like a brilliant idea. Especially because I was a dedicated couch potato. Running 13.1 miles without stopping was definitely on my list of things I couldn’t do.

We talked my husband John into joining us and the three of us began to train. From the beginning. Meaning we downloaded the “Couch to 5k” podcast from iTunes which starts with you running for 60 seconds, then walking for 90 seconds. I thought running meant running so I ran. Before the second minute of running was announced on my iPod, I was exhausted and ready to quit. But I couldn’t because now I’d convinced John to run, too, and he wasn’t quitting after 60 seconds. Crap! What had I gotten myself into?

Over the next 9 weeks, we slowly worked our way up to 5km (3.1 miles) and the three of us entered our first 5k race. Turns out John is a natural athlete and he did well in that first race (and has done well ever since). Dwight is about 6’4” and I figured his long legs would do all the work, but he struggled more than John. I struggled, too. I made it, but I was near the end of the finishers.

We kept training. We entered another 5k race and we did better. We drove to another city and ran a 10k race. I was excited about that one because we would be running through the wetlands next to a beach and there would be ice cream at the end. I was so slow that the photographer didn’t bother taking my picture (they take everyone’s picture) and they had already put the finisher’s medals away when I crossed the finish line.

I had half a bowl of melted ice cream and thought about what an idiot I was to be doing this. At the outset, running seemed like the perfect form of exercise for the budget-impaired. After all, we had two legs and a pair of sneakers when we started. But every race has an entry fee (money). We didn’t realize that you needed proper running shoes in order to not hurt your feet (more money). We were buying running gels (money), and driving all over the state (gas money).

To do what? To have John and Dwight always wait for me because I was always at the end of the pack. It was embarrassing.

One day, because I tend to be a techno-geek, I created an Excel spreadsheet with all of our race information. All the races we’d run so far, our times, what place we came in, and a list of the races we were planning on entering before the big prize – the Huntington Beach Marathon and Half Marathon. Typing the details into that spreadsheet, I noticed something for the first time.

I’d gotten a little faster with each race.

Shocking! Because I’d always been near the end, finisher number 752 out of 827, or finisher number 1721 out of 2165, and because I’d been passed by old men and a woman with one leg, I’d assumed I sucked big time. Maybe I did in comparison to the winners. But I was beating out my best time with each new race!

I’ve now run two half marathons and several shorter races. I’ve got some great stories about how running has taught me how to be a writer who goes the distance. I came in third to last in one half marathon because I’d hurt my foot a few weeks before and basically limped for 13.1 miles. My goal was only to go as far as I could without hurting myself. I never dreamed I’d even finish that race.

But the people waiting at the finish line cheered for me! I couldn’t believe it. I asked a stranger why they were cheering when I was nearly dead last. She said, “Because you finished! We’re all standing here because none of us could do what you just did!”

It shouldn’t take much imagination to think back through my story on running and change it to a story on writing. Paul, one of the writers in the Bible, gives some great encouragement to people on a journey. He says we can take pride in ourselves without comparing ourselves to others. He encourages us not to get weary of trying. And he reminds us that when we forget the past and press on toward the goal, we will win a prize.

Next month John and I will run the City2Surf race in Sydney for the second time. It’s the largest race in the world with 80,000+ runners. Last year, I finished behind about 49,000 people. But I beat 16,000 other people! And 15,000 people never crossed the finish line.

What about you? Have you done anything in your outside life that inspired your writing? This is not an easy journey, and we all benefit from your inspiration – please share it with us!

I’ll never win first place in a footrace. And I don’t dream of making more money than Jane or selling more books than Sally. But I have career goals and benchmarks, and I’m beginning to see that when I compete with myself and don’t give up, I win a little bit every day. I hope you see that about yourself, too.

Kitty Bucholtz has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and writes light-hearted urban fantasy. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing from University of Technology, Sydney, and is a member of Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of Australia. She loves to help and encourage other writers and is one of the co-founders of Routines for Writers. Follow her on Twitter at @KittyBucholtz.

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21 Responses to Running to Win – by Kitty Bucholtz

  1. Gene Lempp says:

    Very inspirational, Kitty! Fantastic attitude and best of luck with your coming races and writing🙂

  2. Jenny Hansen says:

    I love this blog, Kitty! Our Friday guests are just knocking me out with their brilliance!

    You *almost* have me convinced to start running. Gotta go check that link out…

    • Hi Jenny! Let me know if I can encourage you to give the Couch to 5k a try. Even if you don’t do more than that, it makes you feel like you can do *anything* when you do something you never thought you could do.

      • Jenny Hansen says:

        I agree, and I’m having issues with my weight since the baby so I kind of have to get on it. Potentially I’d like running because you can get your workout in fast.

  3. Loved this! I’m responding to your “What about you?” So good to read about another running writer. Here’s my recent thoughts on this: http://believinginhorses.com/blog/2011/06/01/the-race-goes-not-always-to-the-swift-but-to-those-who-keep-running/

  4. Ooo, I have to go read your post, Valerie. Another running writer is Camy Tang [http://camytang.com/]. She and I ran in Central Park together one morning during the RWA conference last month. One of the most fun running days of our lives! LOL!

  5. Varina says:

    When I’mnot writing, I often crochet. I started near the end of college and really got into it right after I came home and didn’t yet have a job. I’ve recycled the yarn from my first attempt at a granny square, but it and many for the next year or two ended up looking more like a four-pointed star. Also, when I worked my first afghan, which was made in rows, and the instructions said to chain so many for the first row, loosely, with loosely in italics, I crocheted that starting chain loosely–in italics. I still have that afghan on the couch, and those super-loose chains have stretched, so there’s a row of big holes at that end, which is wider than the rest of the afghan, so it’s sort of a misshapen trapizoid. Just as I’ve gotten rid of some of my early crochet experiments, I’ve thrown away many of the things I wrote 30 years ago, when I first consciously realized I wanted to be a writer, but I still keep a few of those pieces around too, just to encourage me with the differences: Some of those early pieces are funny when I meant them to be serious or even tear-provoking or poetically beautiful. I could hide them, lest anyone ever see them, but I’m going to keep those early writings around not only to show myself my progress but also because sometimes those vivid mistakes did help better techniques, when I learned them, stick in my mind, or at least they made the wrong techniques easier to avoid repeating. I think what I also learned for my writing is that the years I spent writing things I can never sell, like the years I spent making misshapen granny squares, were not wasted time, because I was always learning something, which I wouldnt’ have, if I’d just told myself early that I was terrible and would always be terrible and had qui

  6. Very inspiring post.

  7. Kitty, you have written a fantastic post! I often get bored with some of the blogs I read but this one really in truly inspired me. When you wrote: Paul, one of the writers in the Bible, gives some great encouragement to people on a journey. He says we can take pride in ourselves without comparing ourselves to others. He encourages us not to get weary of trying. And he reminds us that when we forget the past and press on toward the goal, we will win a prize.
    And YOU said: When I compete with myself and don’t give up, I win a little bit every day.
    I am going to post those two quotes in my brain forever! They are perfect! I can’t say anything but THANK YOU so much. These are so great!
    Patti

  8. Just what I needed. Thank you for showing that competition starts with me. As long as I don’t quit, I win.

    Great post.

  9. Jenny Hansen says:

    Kitty,

    Thanks so much for being a guest blogger here at Writers in the Storm. I think you can tell, our peeps would LOVE to have you back when your schedule permits in the future. We appreciate all the comments and I can’t wait to hear about the next marathon!

  10. Kitty, what a treat to watch your running journey unfold…I’m so glad you decided to do the spreadsheet, because this whole message is wonderfully inspiring. Thanks so much!

    Laurie, wishing you still lived in Phoenix but Orange County & Australia sound pretty good🙂

  11. Pingback: Running on Fridays | Kitty Bucholtz, Writer

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