In July when I took a health policy class at the beginning of my year-long Masters in Public Health, I was writing papers while my classmates were starting rotations at hospitals and clinics across the country. Seeing their adventures made me question why I chose to step away from my identity as a med student, postpone the match day that will basically determine my fate as a physician, and let my classmates graduate without me. Two months later, I couldn’t be more grateful for making this decision.
In pursuing an “off year” from medical school, (I’ve been instructed to call it an “on year” by one of my professors--I’m still in 21 credit hours, have TA responsibilities, a fellowship, and hold a national leadership position) I was prepared to have much more unstructured time and excited to focus a ton of energy on training. I told my coach I wanted to run some 100 mile weeks in the buildup for Indy. I replied “PILE ON THE MILES” to one of his weekly schedule emails--and the rest is history!
I’m one month into the fall semester and my class and training schedules align almost perfectly. Hard training days happen when I have time to recover, and easy miles fit around everything else. I’m a full-force grad student three days per week: taking the bus to campus in Chapel Hill and discussing topics like biostatistics, clinical epidemiology, prevention, and urban livability. Wednesday is my favorite day because I get to wake up early, tackle a workout, hit the gym, eat tons of snacks, and sit on the couch finishing schoolwork for my online class and writing research papers--a lot less physically taxing than rounding in the hospital or assisting with c-sections! (I still have to peel myself off the couch to fold laundry or put my dishes away or take out the trash.) I feel like a bum sometimes, but I remind myself that my body is working hard and deserves a break.
Bumping up my mileage has really empowered me as an athlete. I feel fit, strong, and confident. My long runs have gotten easier and my workouts (with a few exceptions) have gone super well. My body is changing too--leaning out and becoming more refined. But in reality, I’m keeping the Two Roosters Ice Cream pop-up shop (less than a mile from my house) in business!
I’m super thankful for RDP resources--I couldn’t sustain all of my 95+ mile weeks without my teammates and my PT Brian at Run Raleigh!
Heading into the VA 10 Miler, I have some lofty expectations. Hills are my jam and I’m running 40 miles per week more than I was a year ago. But I want to be cautious and not get ahead of myself. My fitness has improved exponentially, but I have a ways to go. Looking further into the season and this academic year, I have high hopes that a 2:44:59 marathon is in me somewhere. An OTQ time at Indy would be a 16 minute PR--I’m not going to count it out just yet. Whatever happens, I’m excited to keep running miles, eating ice cream, and chasing my teammates this fall.
-Erin Clark, RDP