I grew up in rural MN…think corn fields and snow…ya, ya-betch-a don’t ya know, lots of corn fields and snow. Here I spent a lot of time in violin lessons, practicing for said violin lessons and outside playing games with the neighbors. These games typically involved a bat, various projectiles and, on occasion, window panes. I also think I was being secretly groomed to be type-cast into The Big Bang Theory by the time I was 4.
In high school I was a 3 season athlete (not a 3-time state champion athlete mind you, but I had fun and was good enough) and I took every science and math class that I could…I took every Spanish class too now that I think about it, but that basically died on graduation day. Ironically, I swam, played tennis, did gymnastics, cross-country skied (you’re still thinking of those corn fields and snow….right?) and played softball, but I never really ran for the sake of running until much later. The BBT (work it out) grooming totally stuck though and as I headed off to college I already could hardly wait to get to medical school. Over the course of undergrad (as so often is the case) that plan broke down…What if I’m not good enough? What if I can’t get into a good surgical residency? How will I survive practicing rural pediatrics or family medicine just to pay off my $250K in student loans?
**Disclaimer: NO OFFENSE to either rural pediatricians or family practice physicians, I just know that these would not be my cup of tea. Also, just for the record, not one time have I claimed to be a rational decision maker.
Over my 4 years in college I slowly and inconsistently picked up running, just to run. To get outside, to be active, to be by myself with just my thoughts or my music. Next came a 5k here and there, then a 10k or two, and a 10-miler, and finally a half marathon. I also took up road biking. 60-70 mile rides on the weekends…some at a break-neck pace and some at speed that would frustrate small children. All done with my beautiful baby Celeste:
Fast forward 5 years, and I am trying to keep my head above water in graduate school. Somehow, I managed to land myself a spot in the Chemical Engineering and Material’s Science PhD program at the University of MN. I took it and ran before anyone with authority thought better of their decision and started asking too many questions. I joined Yiannis Kaznessis research group and have been part of this dysfunctional family ever since.
Unfortunately anything resembling an extracurricular activity was all promptly dumped at the beginning of this
abyss lovely endeavor. And my running and biking were totally sidelined. By some act of god I passed my qualifying exams and began producing publication-worthy research results. (I also found myself to be increasingly clumsy, in desperate need of a personal stylist and head-over-heals in love with an exclusive board game collection…BBT here I come!!) After my third year I moved out to CT for a summer internship and to live with Dr. AnneBelle, my idol good friend from grad school who I have looked up to HARD (not in a creepy way of course) for years. Now Dr. AnneBelle was not a runner…running is SOOOOO BOOOORING…running is stupid…why would anyone ever run for “fun”?!?! So, you can imagine my near stroke-inducing surprise to hear, “We have to turn me into a runner in 5 weeks, we will start tomorrow,” (albeit over our second bottle of wine) the very night that I arrived. Yes Anne. Sure. Whatever you say.
And run we did. We ran together 6 days a week all summer (I think we literally missed ONE run all summer) did a speedy 5k and signed up (upon Anne’s insistence) for the Monster Dash half marathon in October.
The rest is history. I moved back home at the end of the summer and kept running whenever I wasn’t
slaving away happily work away in the lab. Anne came in October and we ran the Monster Dash Half Marathon as a fantastic pair of lady bugs.
As these two lady bugs were still making their way through the finisher’s shoot the one lady bug (Anne) said to the other lady bug (yours truly), “That was awesome! We will run a full marathon next year!” The other lady bug thought that either her friend had developed dementia over the last 13.1 miles or that her lady bug ears were failing her…
Dr. T: “WTF?!?”
Dr. AnneBelle: “You heard me, that was awesome and we will do a full marathon next year!”
Dr. T: “Ok Anne, whatever you say.”
Dr. AnneBelle: “We will.”
Dr. T: Non-subtle-eye-roll.
Dr. AnneBelle: “I saw that…and we will.”
For the time being I let it go as there were more important issues to tend to. For example, the lady bugs’ transformation into…
(In case it has escaped your attention, the Monster Dash is a Halloween run — not that I’m above dressing up as a lady bug for any run, but it did happen to be Halloween. And, just so that we get off on the right foot, I need to make it clear from the start that Halloween is the very best, second to none, holiday of the year. I’m glad we all agree on that.
After recovering from our rather epic holiday festivities, Dr. Annebelle went home and did her homework. She found that the Chicago marathon (conveniently located between the two of us) is one of the best marathons in the world. It’s fast, entertaining, along a beautiful course and at the time of year that is conducive to training in MN and CT. She also found that it is in hot demand and the 45,000 person capacity fills up fast. Starting in January she went to work making comments here and there about how we were going to sign up the day registration opened in February! Right….right Annebelle…
Then came the fateful day in February when I got the email forward of her registration confirmation! What?!?! She is actually doing it?!?! I couldn’t believe it! I can not I decided. Training takes way too much time and I have soooooo many other things to do. I decided that I would go and cheer her on as the good friend that I am *insert Annebelle nodding here*.
But that damn email kept staring at me, it started calling my name and at times I swear it was even
laughing cackling at me! I did my best to fend it off, I even archived it! (It is very unlike me to archive an email pertaining to an event before said event takes place). Even so, the mother kept creeping back into my mind, taunting me, until I could not take it anymore! I registered.
My god. What have I done?!
The 18 weeks of training weren’t so bad after all. It was a lot of time of course, but it was fun finding new beautiful running routes through out the city. My awesome friends would do relays, each taking their turn to keep my company for a different part of my long runs. And then August rolled around, and brought it’s group of friends. They go by The Shin Splints and I was definitely NOT a fan! Dealing with shin splints in the high mileage phase of marathon training was not something that I was prepared to do. Luckily, my AMAZING chiropractor, Dr. Jenny, came to the rescue and put me back together. I spent the last two months of training running 5 days a week and hanging out at Dr. Jenny’s office for the other two.
All preparations were well worth it in the end. Come October, Annebelle and I found ourselves in Chicago with our faithful entourage ready to run. The pre-race expo was fantastic and the forecast for race day was warm but beautiful.
Anne and I ran the first half of the race together at a conservative pace of ~11 min/mile. Unfortunately Dr. Annebelle had come down with appendicitis at the end of our training and was still wrapping up her battle with it. Yeah, that’s right, Anne ran her first marathon with appendicitis! Did I forget to mention that she’s a serious bad ass? She is.
Anyway, being the great friend that I am, we split ways after the half way point and I picked up the pace a bit to finish in 4:43. It was in the mid 80’s and sunny as I hobbled through the free beer line. I was so totally covered in a layer of salt crust (yummmm…) that they ought to have been serving tequila instead!
So now we are hooked. The goal is to do one run a year together. Next it was Chicago again, and again it did not disappoint.
Although, it was a VERY different race from last year. First, and most importantly, Annebelle and I purchased a number of identical running outfits over the summer and could dress as the twins that we are.
Yes, we do know that we’re adorable, but thank you!
Also important is that we were both in much better health than the first time around and could both run hard. We used the same strategy, running the first half together and then going our own paces for the second half. I bettered my time by 30 min to finish in 4:13 and Dr. A came trotting in just a few minutes later.
Marathon #3 was in Philadelphia. Again, we were most adorable in matching outfits…
and more importantly, we have managed to recruite a whole slew of
crazy adorable team mates!!
Again, Dr. A and I both smashed our PRs, and all but one of our team mates did the same.
And now things are spiraling out of control…
I want to see 3:xx.
I want to run all over the US (both the half and full marathon distance) and all over the world (on 6/7 continents, I’ve lived in MN all my life, I need not to run in Antarctica). (I ran the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon in Moshi Tanzania in 2013, undertrained and unprepared. Maybe the next 5 can be done using a slightly less idiotic approach.)
Dr. Annebelle and I want to run the Top 10 Marathons in the world together over the next (many) years:
1. London Marathon, April
2. Berlin Marathon, September
3. New York City Marathon, November
3. Chicago Marathon, October (2012)
5. Boston Marathon, April
6. Stockholm Marathon, June
7. Rotterdam Marathon, April
8. Paris Marathon, April
9. Honolulu Marathon, December
10. Amsterdam Marathon, October
1 down, 9 to go.
Our Team CEMS wants to do one group run a year (in fabulous team uniforms of course).
One of the main subjects clattering around up in this
thick-skulled beautiful noggin of mine as I’ve done all of my running is the other topic of this blog: science/biology/engineering/all-things-wonderfully-nerdy. Over the last 6 years that were my PhD I’ve been a slave laborer designed, built, tested and characterized synthetic biological systems at the protein, DNA and whole organism level. During this mess of a wonderful time I have:
1) Develop a framework for developing unique synthetic biological devices that control user defined gene expression patterns via protein and DNA interactions
2) Develop functional devices using the aforementioned methodology
3) Engineer probiotic bacteria to inducibly express antimicrobial peptides with activity against Gram-negative pathognic bacteria.
I finally wrapped up my PhD in the spring of 2013 and moved on to a shiny, new post-doc position with Dr. Mark Brynildsen at Princeton University. I started with Dr. Mark in May and will spend the next two years studying persister cells in the context of terminal electron recetpor availability and biofilms. I’ll be working to identify the molecular mechanism that sets this small fraction (often <0.1%) of a total bacteria population away from the bulk and then identify and test potential antimicrobial targets based on this mechanistic information. This will be my opportunity to prove that I do actually have something resembling a clue as to what I’m doing in the lab (and in research and science more generally). If I can actually do this, it’ll be off to scary, big kid, professor land for Dr. Trot. Yikes! 😐
While I’ll try to stay away from the nitty-gritty of what I am actually doing ALL. DAY. LONG. I will be subjecting you to news bits and popular science articles that I find entertaining and informative as well as very important messgaes from the soap box that I
always occasionally like to stand on (I’m 5’4″…a girl can’t be blamed for wanting a little extra height some times 😉 Good luck to you.
When I’m not blabbering on about any of the above I’ll also try to keep you in the know about my most recent grand success (and failures) in the kitchen,
Thanks for sharing the ride with me!