She’s far more than a runner and a blogger. She’s a scholar constantly looking over her shoulder fearing her haunting dissertation. She writes epic parodies of classic stories using a cast of blogging personalities.
She shrouds her identity in mystery and we don’t even know her name. Put her all together and she has to be the most fun-loving, sarcastic, well-traveled, starving doctorate student and anonymous, irreverent blogger on the planet.
This week’s guest opens up to share her running, blogging, and life story, yet never reveals her identity. The pics she shares are deliberately not of her, but of the places where she lives and runs. Welcome Xenia!
Walk us through your journey of how you ended up a doctoral candidate in archeology in England.
As with my running, it was done on a lark. I was finishing my masters degree in the states and applying to a bunch of US doctorate programs when I thought, well why not apply to one of the best archeology programs in the world just to see what happens. I did, they accepted me and I’ve been in academic hell ever since.
What would be your dream job after completing your degree?
You’re all expecting me to say Indiana Jones, aren’t you? Well, I have no skill with a bull whip nor do I have a particular fondness for being shot at, though I do look pretty fetching in a fedora. I just want to be a staid university professor. Get paid peanuts, achieve tenure, bully undergraduates. You know, the usual.
What’s the story behind your choice of virtual name Xenia?
Xenia means ‘hospitality to strangers’ in Greek. It was the name I gave to my one and only car, a blue 1996 Chevy Corsica. She wasn’t pretty, but she got me from point A to B for four good years. Then she tried to commit suicide (bad brakes) and take me with her, so I donated her traitorous carcass to PBS before I moved to England. Yay for tax right-offs!
Your running career began after you’d begun your doctorate. What running experiences will you miss when you leave the UK?
I live in a very scenic small town in England with plenty of parks and trails. I’ll miss the beautiful scenery and especially the history I get to pass by every day on a run.
What running experiences are you looking forward to back in the U.S.
I’m a superficial soul, so I can’t wait to rake in the race swag that everyone in North America seems to get. I’ve only scored three shirts after having run in eight races and it’s not like registration fees are cheaper over here. I don’t even want to wear the shirts really. I just want them to clog my dresser drawers as a reminder of how bad-ass I am for being a runner.
Way too long. As someone pointed out, I probably could have written another chapter of my dissertation in the time it took me to write WoB. Next time I’m going to use a much shorter storyline.
Can you give us a preview of what your next epic story will be?
I never properly skewered Vanilla in WoB, so he’ll definitely play a primary role in the next story. I also want to torture Nitmos some more, mostly for taking such a long blogosphere sabbatical. What will the story be? Well, Hansel and Gretel comes to mind but I’m open to other suggestions too.
Best race experience?
The Asics British 10K London Run. There was no official timing, virtually no race swag, and it even rained for part of the race, but it was so much fun running with 25,000 other people through the streets of London. At least half the runners were in costume too which just added to the enjoyment of the day. Particularly when those costumes called for significant amounts of nudity. I’m looking at you, Mr. G-String Man.
Any quirky running traits?
I have to chew gum while I run. It’s mainly to show off my mad multi-tasking skillz.
What gets you excited about running?
A day when the temperature isn’t at or below freezing, new running shoes, seeing the number of miles I’ve accrued since I first started running, stress, happiness, seeing other people run, reading other runners’ blogs.
What’s your secret to running success?
Being a cheapskate. Slapping down money (whatever the currency) for a race registration ensures that I’ll be there on race day. And since running is one thing I can’t b.s. my way through, I’m definitely going to train for it.
My favorite race was my first race—the Blenheim 7K. Not only do I love that it’s such an odd distance for a race, but I also enjoyed the fact that I got to trample the grounds of the Duke of Marlborough’s beautiful estate, Blenheim Palace. I get to repeat this desecration in May. I can’t wait!
Current running goals?
In general, it’s to be faster which shouldn’t be too difficult since I currently run at a pace that just barely passes for running. Ultimately, I want to run a sub-30 minute 5K, a sub-60 minute 10K and a 4:30 marathon. All reasonable goals and ones I hope to achieve within the next year or two. I also really want to run in a Turkey Trot, but that’s not going to happen until I’m stateside again.
Greatest running moment?
Most people would probably think it’s completing the Florence marathon last November. Even though that is one of my proudest accomplishments, my greatest running moment occurred on February 28th, 2008—the day I first ran two miles together. I will always remember how happy I was that day. It still brings a smile to my face.
Who are some of your virtual running friends you would like to meet up and run with?
I’d love to meet up with everybody. The RBF community is responsible for my running addiction and it wouldn’t continue as strongly as it does without them. Fortunately, I get to meet and run with Chia next month at the Bath half marathon. Out of everyone else, the two people that stick out most in my mind are Lily On The Road and Marcy from I Signed Up For This. Lily graciously provided me with a training plan when I was preparing to run my first half marathon. She’s the best coach a girl could have and I really want to thank her in person some day. And then there’s Marcy. She’s hilarious and quickly succumbed to my desperate pleas to join me as a guest on the Runners Lounge podcast so I didn’t have to face the big boys alone. Also she’s super speedy, so I figure if I just lash some ropes around her and hang on, I’ll be a faster runner.
Most embarrassing running moment?
On a long run I had to stop for a loo break, so I headed into the woods for some coverage. Right when I was about to drop trow, I noticed a sleeping bag-covered figure off to my left. I realized I was about to pee next to a snoozing homeless man. Needless to say, I tiptoed away and found somewhere else to do my business.
If money could buy you a running dream, what would it be?
To go back in time and start running earlier in life. I had no idea how much fun I was missing out on.