Deb Elise’s Weird Compulsion for Self-Torture… a.k.a. Deb Elise’s Hobby

Disneyland Half Marathon!

Consider this my 12-Step Group intro:

Hi. I’m Deb Elise, and I have a sick penchant for running marathons.

All together now:

Hi, Deb Elise.

I know for many people, running isn’t strange at all. There are people who love running, gazelle-like people built for speed who float out the door and glide along for miles without a care in the world.

I am not one of these people. I come from hardy Russian peasant stock. I’m built for toiling in the fields and popping out children. After ten years in the sport, running is still as much of a hideous grind as it was when I began. More of a grind, in fact, because for the past two years I’ve been dealing with a nagging pain in the butt I can’t seem to shake (insert your favorite joke here). Even a single mile for me is torture without the distraction of very loud music and/or great conversations with my running partners. The truth of the matter is I actually hate running…

…but I love doing marathons. It seems twisted, but my main reasons are pretty simple, and have a lot to do with writing.

1) There’s instant gratification. Everyone who finishes gets a medal. Usually a really cool medal. Writing can be a pretty solitary experience, without a lot of pats on the back. When we do get our work out there, it’s nerve-wracking. I can pour my soul into something I adore, but that doesn’t mean anyone else will respond to it at all. In a marathon, it’s cut and dried: you put in the miles, you get the reward.

2) You can’t give up. Okay, you can, but not if you want to finish and get that medal. You have to keep going, even though you’ll have moments when you dream longingly of cardiac arrest, purely because it’ll get you off the course. You have to fight the pain in your body, the tedium of 26.2 long miles, and the voice in your head that screams the whole process is madness, and if you had half a brain you’d be doing something easier, like bringing peace to the Middle East. For me, writing is a similar struggle. I have to fight against a lack of time, passages that don’t work and need to be wrestled into submission, and the insidious voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough and I should just give up. The beauty of those hurdles is that in both cases, when I do push through and finish, I feel like a superhero.

3) After running 26.2 miles, you feel completely justified in eating whatever the heck you want. This has nothing to do with writing, I just like it. A lot.

So here I am, fifteen marathons down and no sign of stopping. The picture above is from this morning’s (I’m writing this on Sunday) Disneyland Half Marathon. I hadn’t trained, and a lot of it was tough to get through, but in every picture I have a big smile on my face. My next race will be the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World in January (I have a major thing for Disney). Come join me! We’ll absolutely loathe it… and we’ll have the time of our lives.

~ Deb Elise

18 Replies to “Deb Elise’s Weird Compulsion for Self-Torture… a.k.a. Deb Elise’s Hobby”

  1. Wow. I used to run to the candy drawer (yes, we had a candy drawer growing up and my Dad is a retired orthodontist, go figure) to see if Mom had bought any Marathon bars. Remember those? Long, looked like a woven pretzel, all caramel covered in chocolate? Cadbury still sells it as a “Curly Wurly.”

    Color me impressed, Deb Elise. Your hobby is amazing!

    Deb Kim

  2. Now that’s interesting. I had always thought people who ran marathons actually enjoyed running.

    I love your parallels between writing and marathons, but I still have to say that the only way I would run a marathon is if I were being chased by a pack of starving, feral wolves. With really sharp teeth. And AK-47s.

    But I think you are awesome. Congratulations!

  3. I appreciate your honesty about the running! My hubby just ran a triathlon, and he said the running was the worst part. That’s why they make it the last leg, so that you can tell yourself you’re almost done to keep yourself from quitting.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the hubby does a 1/2 marathon sometime, though. I would SHOCKED if I ever did, though!

  4. I refuse to run unless I’m being chased, but I admire the heck out of you for doing it! Love the parallels to writing, too.

    How about I greet you at your next finish line with a big glass of wine?


  5. Great recap. I admire your dedication to continuing to run even though you hate it. Luckily for me I have a doctor’s note 🙂 Reading your post made me immediately think of Clay Travis’ recap of the Country Music Marathon. His post is hilariously titled “The Half Marathon of Doom”.
    It’s long (mile by mile recap) but it will have you laughing out loud. He perfectly captures my thoughts on running even if I could. It’s definitely inspirational to watch though. Congratulations for finishing your 15th marathon…what an accomplishment!

  6. Since writing a book has been compared to running a marathon, your physical hobby seems the perfect complement, Elise. Besides, “hitting the wall” and running on must make brainstorming or rewriting feel like a walk in the park!

  7. Kim — I don’t remember Marathon bars, but they sound yummy. Snickers makes one now with that name, but it’s just an energy bar — nowhere near as tasty.

    Eleanor — have you read the Hunger Games series? Those creatures might be in our dystopian future.

    Jen — it’s all madness. Last January in Florida they were having an INSANE cold snap, and thousands of runners huddled outside for hours in a windchill of 19 degrees, despite radio warnings to stay inside and avoid hypothermia… just to run the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half-Marathon. Even crazier? We all paid a couple hundred dollars for the privilege of nearly freezing to death. Awesome race.

  8. Tawna — Giant glass of Chocovine. It’s a deal. They say chocolate milk is an EXCELLENT post-race drink… shouldn’t chocolate wine be as well?

    Monica — Totally going to read the post — thanks! Yeah, the whole process is insane, but finishing is such a high you have to do more. There might be cocaine in the energy drink they provide along the course…

    Larramie — I swear, I beat myself up way more in the book-writing process than in the running process. Maybe I’d do well if I wrote like past-Deb Joelle and had a treadmill desk. If I were running (or even walking), I couldn’t fall into despair and go raid the pantry several times per chapter.

  9. I’ve heard so much buzz about The Hunger Games trilogy – they are on my TBR, as soon as I’ve made it through this ridiculous pile of books I swore I would read before I moved. Then I will decide on the AK-47-feral-wolf scenario.

    Jen – Please do go ahead and continue to confuse me for pretty, petite marathon runners. Someday we will meet in person and you will be painfully disabused of this notion, so I am going to enjoy it for now.

  10. I love your honesty about running. As for me, sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. I had a perfect beach (barefoot) run over the holiday weekend that was absolutely dreamy. Then again, the boring 4 miles I did all last week weren’t that fab. I would LOVE to join you for a Disney run sometime in the future. Always been a Disney fan! xoxo

  11. P.S. I should also note that my kids and I saw your Dinosaur Train episode about “Tank” and loved it. I was so proud to know you watching Buddy and Don and Tiny and Tank! 🙂 xoxo

  12. Sarah… how about Disneyland Half Marathon ’11? I do it every year, it’s a fantastic race, and most years even though we live reasonably close and go all the time and have an annual pass (showing my inner Disney geek)… we stay over and make a family weekend of it — great excuse for that. It’s also perfect for kids because the day before the half-marathon there are kids’ races THROUGH DISNEYLAND! It’s awesome — short dashes for kids from birth to 11 years old. They get medals, too. Really, really fabulous.

    What do you think? A year away gives you time to have the new baby and train with him/her in the jogging stroller!

    Oh — LOVE that you and your kids saw one of my Dino Trains! I’m particularly in love with Tank — wrote 3 or 4 episodes with him in it last season, and on the docket for 2 more so far. They even made toys of him!

  13. My husband loves to run (and works for the NYC marathon!). I swim. When I tell him running hurts, he says he just runs through the pain! I guess it’s just a runners thing.

    Welcome to the ball, Elise!

  14. zomg, authors should get medals for finishing books! Somebody start a website selling them, hurry! Can you imagine what your office would look like? “Oh, look at all of those nice ribbons!” “Thank you, I’ve written some books in my day…” (humbly, of course)

    For the record, yes, I do think you’re crazy. But that’s probably a good thing for an author.

  15. Meredith — Okay, the NYC Marathon is the best race EVER!!!! Can he get in any year he wants to do it? The obvious next question would be can he get OTHER people in? 🙂 How many times has he run it? As for swimming, I admire you for that. I’d love to do tris, but the swim completely intimidates me. Do you do ocean swims?

    Katie — Loving the medals for finished books. I think medals should be given out for pretty much anything difficult. Back when I was pregnant, everyone told me pregnancy was like a marathon, so for the first week of my daughter’s life I was crying out to anyone who’d listen, “WHERE’S MY $&#& MEDAL?!?!” They tried to tell me the baby WAS the medal, but I didn’t buy it — labor merits both.

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