Distance

Distance

I’ve been wondering what my next post should be about on this blog. In my last post, I wrote that I wanted to transition this space into one that encompasses more about life in general, with not necessarily such a narrow focus on running. There are still running-related things I want to write about: plantar fasciitis, how to work out when you can’t run, playlist recommendations. I will write about these things and I will also write about other things.

My parents were writers. Not published authors, but I would consider them writers. My mother’s frozen-in-time twitter bio reads, in a surreal present tense, “I write; therefore, I write.” She kept a few blogs throughout the years – none had many readers but she didn’t mind, as long as she had places to record her thoughts. In 2011, she began a project of writing a poem a day for 1001 days. She self-published two books of poetry.

My father was an English teacher, a lover of language, a master of grammar and syntax, and would never hesitate to gently correct me if I used “less than” instead of “fewer than.” I credit both of my parents for not only my linguistic preciseness but for my love of reading and writing.

In the months before his unexpected death from COVID-19 last April, my father had been talking about starting a blog. He had unofficially retired from teaching and found himself spending more time at his home in upstate New York, with more time on his hands than he was used to. I encouraged him to start a blog on WordPress, using whatever knowledge I had gained over the years with this one to give him tips on starting his own. He said he wanted to write about his travels. Mostly I think he just wanted something to do.

Last January, right after the start of the new year, he emailed me a draft of a blog post. He wanted to make sure it was a good length, writing, “What do you think of the length of Blog 1? It’s about 460 words.” I told him the length didn’t matter. I read it, of course finding no grammatical or spelling errors – not that I was expecting to. I told him I thought it was perfect.

I regret that he never got around to posting it. He never started his blog. So today, I would like the world (or as much of it as I can reach) to read his post. I want people to see what a fine writer he was, and maybe gain a deeper understanding of what drove him to build a house in a small town called Andes in the 1980s, a place he loved dearly, a house that my family and I will continue to cherish.

Here is my father’s first and only blog post, in its original and unedited form. (Porch photos taken by me at his house last March, while he was in the hospital.)

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The following was written in January 2020 by Charles W. Scott in Andes, NY.

Voices from Andes: Blog 1

Distance has a finite measurement: twelve inches equals one foot. Except in Andes.

I discovered Andes, New York when I was looking for a future retirement place. Life on Long Island, New York was a necessary evil because that’s where I was employed. Divorced, I wanted to remain close to my daughters. The evil part came with the taxes, the traffic, and the encroaching urbanization of this finger of land, 118 miles long and just 23 miles wide, jutting into the Atlantic Ocean from Manhattan to Montauk. If you traveled by car on Long Island, odds were that you were going East-West or vice versa, torturing that commute into hours. You planned your journey not by your timetable but by the hour of the day. Rush hour meant all of daylight, into night.

One day I found myself free of traffic congestion in Andes. Distances were measured in miles, not in minutes, because I was no longer pressed for time. In the car were my daughters. As we drove down Main Street, one of them asked, “Dad, where do people buy food?” Suffice it to say that this Main Street had no supermarket, gas station, or other emblem of civilization. In truth, the nearest supermarket was a 30-minute round trip.

I turned off Main Street onto a backwoods road just to give my kids a sense of the area. As I drove, walking on the road toward my car was a man who smiled and waved at us. There was silence in my car for a few moments until my supermarket-asking daughter wondered out loud, “Who was that?”

More brief silence. Then I responded, “I don’t know.”

My daughter insisted, “Why did he wave at us?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he was being friendly.”

Clearly, my daughters were confused. Like me, they grew up in a suburban environment often venturing into New York City. When you rode the subway, for instance, you avoided eye contact. Sitting across from a stranger in the subway car was not problematic since you had the overhead ads to scrutinize. You pretended to be mesmerized by anti-acid remedies. You never actually looked at anyone across from you. You never stared. You never smiled. You certainly never waved.

So here I was in my car with my kids trying to justify why this pedestrian stranger in Andes (157 miles from Manhattan) was being friendly. Odd thing was, he started waving when my car was a good distance from him. On Long Island, you never acknowledged a person until he was right up close and personal. In Manhattan, you kept your head down and just kept on walking. In Andes I can’t imagine anyone would do that. Here, distances are personal, whether close or far.

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Chasm

Chasm

Last month was the first time since I started this blog back in 2017 that I didn’t write a single post.

There are a few reasons for this. I haven’t been running. I didn’t feel like writing. I haven’t had much to write about. I don’t know about anyone else, but the national discussion following the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day took hold of my attention to the point where, for a few weeks, it felt tacky to post anything about myself.

I haven’t written much on this blog that isn’t about running. I mean, it’s been a “running blog.” It says – well, it said so, right at the top. Until yesterday, it said “Ari Scott’s Unfunny Blog About Running,” a tag I came up with back in the fall of 2017 when I thought the only people who might read any of this were people who knew me as a comedy writer from UCB Theatre. At the time, I wasn’t sure what direction the blog would take. I just knew I wanted to be a better runner and I wanted to document my journey.

My life was very different at the time. I had a full time job, a full race schedule, two living parents, and inhabited a world that had no firsthand experience of a global pandemic. The beforetimes. Several lifetimes ago.

I’ve done some writing on Instagram these past few months. Nothing long, as the app limits the number of words you can write (and I never want to hit the “continued in the comments” threshold). I’ve written about my father, my mother, their relationship, my childhood, life in NYC, my dog. Some normal posts, some not.

For a while, I’ve had the urge to write longer posts about… stuff. I never know where to put them. Writing about things other than running on my running blog felt weird. There is Medium. I posted one thing there, once. There’s my Tumblr, an old site that feels like a foreign desert at this point. Medium seemed like the best bet for more long-form content, but it was another website. I like the idea of having my own site. I considered starting a completely new WordPress account solely for other writing.

The main problem with all of these solutions is that there are some posts that are about running and other things. My post about the 56 miles I ran while my dad was dying might be a good example. I knew I would create posts and not know where they should live.

So it seemed easier to just change this blog to be a place where I can write about anything I want.

Once I made that decision, it felt right. I decided to change up the visual theme for the first time in years so it would look different and, as a result, feel different – even if just to me. It felt like a fresh start. It felt good. I am keeping the title. “My body is a machine” started as a race mantra, but there’s a dissociative aspect to it, beyond running, that appeals to me.

There is a lot going on right now that might feel like an ending. It can be hard (for me) to remember this, but endings always lead to beginnings. Maybe this is a time for beginnings. New roads, changes in direction, and paths we never expected to take. It’s only scary because we haven’t gotten there yet.

A couple of days ago, I posted a photo of my dad to Instagram and wrote about how the line that mentally divided my life in two was no longer my move to NYC at 22, but instead the day my father died in April. Everything leading up to that point was the first act. The second act will be everything else. Whatever is next.

This “new phase of life” is a feeling I had after my mom died, but I think my dad’s death cemented it. The death of my mother was heartbreaking, but still having my dad was like having a sturdy rope I could cling to whenever I felt unmoored or lost. I still had a living parent. That made all the difference.

The weird thing is, that dividing line wasn’t one day long. I think I’m still inside of it. I haven’t come out the other side. It’s less like a line and more like a deep, dark chasm. I’m not sure how wide it is or when I’ll make my way through. I’m not even sure what it looks like on the other side. There is another side. I am sure of that.

How Much Does Running Cost?

How Much Does Running Cost?

With the recent shutdown of [gestures to entire universe], I found myself thinking about how much money I’m saving by not buying things I normally buy. Unlimited MetroCard for $127? Don’t need that anymore – I have nowhere to go. I’m not renewing my membership to the NYC Rec Centers (which I mainly joined for the pool) so that’s $150 saved. Road races? Remember those? I’m getting refunds for the cancelled ones I already paid for, at least the ones NYRR has offered to refund so far.

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56 Miles in Andes, NY

56 Miles in Andes, NY

Wednesday, March 18

This is my first run upstate, ever. I’ve been coming here since the late 80s so this feels like a major achievement. Here I am. A city gal running in rural upstate New York.

I head in a direction I know, making a right onto Route 28 toward Main Street and its one stop light. From there, I’ll turn left four times until I’m back at my dad’s house. Google Maps says it should be about 6.5 miles, and thank goodness for Google Maps because otherwise I would not know how to get back.

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This Is Fine: 2020 Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K Race Recap

This Is Fine: 2020 Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K Race Recap

And now, for something completely normal.

If you read my last post, you’ll learn that there have been times during the past month I’ve wanted to write in this blog. One of those things was a recap of the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K that took place on Sunday, March 1, 2020, which was exactly seven and a half years ago (or does it just feel like that??). Now that every race is being cancelled in the coming months (and, I am predicting, for the remainder of 2020), I might as well write this recap because who knows when the next one will be (2021, if we’re lucky).

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This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

How do you write something you want to write yet have no idea how to write?

I’ve been asking myself this question for the past three weeks. I’ve wanted to write so many times. I could have sat down and started typing words with no idea what was going to come out, like I’m doing right now, finally, because the pain of not doing it has finally outweighed the pain of doing it.

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2020 Boston Marathon Training: Week 3 of 12

2020 Boston Marathon Training: Week 3 of 12

Here is week 3 of my training for the Boston Marathon! At the end of this post I have a little story about a running route fail, which might be amusing to anyone who has ever run an unknown route for the first time.

Week 3 wasn’t initially supposed to be a down week, but after fatigue set in at the end of week 2, I decided to make it one. I only ran three times this week: a speed workout, a tempo run, and a long run at an easy pace. Plus a few strength training workouts. I’ll link to all of it below.

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2020 Boston Marathon Training: Week 2 of 12

2020 Boston Marathon Training: Week 2 of 12

Thanks for hanging in there as I get caught up with writing about my training for the Boston Marathon! Which, as far as I know, is still happening!

Week 2 was actually my sixth straight week of increased weekly mileage and, by the end of it, I was feeling pretty beat. This was actually a blessing because it gave me permission to take it down a notch the following week.

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2020 Boston Marathon Training: Week 1 of 12

2020 Boston Marathon Training: Week 1 of 12

Since I’ve gotten behind (again) on posting about my weekly marathon training, I’ll keep this and the next few posts short until I’m caught up. Sometimes I ask myself why I feel the need to post these at all. I’m not sure. I love training. I enjoy writing. I like to keep track of stuff. Maybe one day I’ll look back on this blog and be glad I had it.

So! The Boston Marathon! I am running it! For the first time! And possibly the last!

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The Aftermath: 12 Weeks of Regaining My Strength

The Aftermath: 12 Weeks of Regaining My Strength

I appear to have fallen behind on my blog once again. Apologies to the few people who read this regularly. I have had other priorities lately and they always seem to take precedence over writing about running. But I miss writing regularly so here’s hoping I can be a little better about fitting it in, even if I do have an ever-growing pile of clothes on my bed that need folding.

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