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November 19, 2014 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-11-19

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014 The Statement 7B
Personal Statement: Knowing my nose
by Erika Harwood

my first time: my leg-up on pheidippides
BY IAN DILLINGHAM

It's like running a marathon.
This fall, I found out what
that phrase really means
when I signed up to compete in
my first real marathon. on a brisk
morning, just before 7 a.m., with
Eminem's "Lose Yourself" blasted
over the loudspeakers, I crossed
the starting line and headed out
onto the streets of Detroit in my
26.2-mile quest.
The story of the marathon's ori-
gins is widely circulated among
the running community. As leg-
end has it, the Greek messenger
Pheidippides ran the 26.2-mile
road to Athens after the Greeks
defeated the invading Persians
at the Battle of Marathon in 490
B.C.E.
After proclaiming the good
news to the city's assembly, Phei-
dippides collapsed and died.
Today, more than half a million
people per year complete mara-
thons in the U.S., competing in
well over 1,000 events nationwide.
Everyone knows that mara-
thons are long, but it's hard to
understand just .how long until
you complete one. Median finish-
ing times are about 4:16 for men
and 4:41 for women. That's over
four hours of moderate to severe-
ly strenuous physical activity -
enough to inflict serious damage
on the bodies of even the most
seasoned athletes.
In no uncertain terms, let me
say that I am not a seasoned ath-

9w,

lete. I am, however, a neurosci-
ence major currently enrolled in
courses covering animal physiol-
ogy and cell biology, and this is my
leg-up on Pheidippides.
Modern marathoners begin
training programs months in
advance of race-day, slowly build-
ing up miles and allowing their
bodies to adjust to the strain of
high-mileage running. For my
October race, my first training
run - a two-mile jog around my
neighborhood - took place in
May.
It takes approximately four to
six weeks for bone and muscle
to adjust to the load of running

U!
B
z
-
impacts. While this makes for
an unpleasant start to marathon
training - indeed, the reason
many individuals fail before they
start - the gains made in early
months pay massive dividends
later on.
But the body is just a vehicle for
runners. In order to successfully
run a marathon, you need energy
- namely glycogen derived from
carbohydrates consumed before
the race. The problem for runners
is that the average human only
stores enough glycogen to run
half the distance of a marathon.
This results in the lengthy
process of "carb-loading" during
training and in the days leading
up to the race, essentially tricking
your body into taking on more fuel
than it would need for any normal
activity.
Such understanding of human
physiology is the result of decades
of research by doctors, ath-
letic trainers, nutritionists and
athletes. In my preparations, I
benefited from their work and
successfully completed my first
marathonowhile avoiding the Phel-
dippides' ultimate fate.
Clocking a time of about 4:30,
I was nowhere near the top of
the standings, but having never
run a competitive race in my life,
knowing that I had the ability to
even finish was reward enough.
All it required was planning and
determination (and a little bit of
science).

z
0
J
0
J
0
G:

Mob-

My nose has always been
a very literal standout
physical feature on me.
It really isn't that spectacular
or much of an anomaly - yet it's
been the cause of conversation
for as long as I can remember.
To be fair, it's sizable. And
I can thank genetics for that.
There's that little bump beneath
the bridge - thanks to my mom -
and it balloons outa tad above my
nostrils (credit: Dave Harwood).
Growing up, I never thought of it
as anything but an average nose
- everyone has one and they all
look a little different.
I was a fairly awkward and
weird child, with lots of potential
for ridicule. I was tall - very tall
- as a kid, prompting my curi-
ous seven-year-old peers to fre-
quently ask me if I was held back
(I wasn't, I was just a 5'5" grade
school kid who also happened to
be smart). I was lanky, too, with
a particularly boney backside. In
addition, I wore glasses and was
debilitatingly shy. Oh, and my last
name is Harwood, which if you
haven't noticed is one letter away
from sounding like a not-so-sub-
tle euphemism for a boner.
I rarely got made fun of
though, and never for any of the
aforementioned reasons (OK,
people still make fun of my last
name). When I did get made fun
of though, it was for my nose. I've
been called Pinocchio more times
than I could ever imagine count-

ing, and my obtrusive schnoz
became my calling card when I
moved to Michigan in the sec-
ond grade. One of my best friends
since then still tells the story of
talking to one of the other kids
during recess about "the new girl
with the big nose." She's also the
friend who advised me, 13 years
later, not to get a nose ring (I got
one anyway).
I was never really insecure
about anything in elementary
school aside from constantly
wondering if my patchwork jeans
looked good with my bubble shirt
(note to past-self: be wary of any-
thing that is "one size fits all").
And I certainly never thought
of any part of my body as being
out-of-the-ordinary. But as that
certain facial appendage gar-
nered attention, I started to see
its flaws; the bump, that balloon-
ing. Plus the fact that it was on my
face, impossible to conceal, didn't
help.
Confused, I started to inquire.
"Is my nose really that big?" I
would go on to ask friends and
family more than once. My mom
would always reassure me with
"everyone in this family has a big
nose" and friends would attempt
to do the same by telling me I
would grow into it, as if they were
talking to a pubescent boy about
church slacks.
Growing up as a very single
but very eager teenager, I won-
dered if my nose would ever cause

problems with potential suitors.
Not necessarily that the size of
my nose would drive boys away,
but rather, that it would physical-
ly get in the way of any romantic
prospects. I concluded that guys
with noses equal to or greater in
size to my own were probably off
limits, as I imagined that making
out takes on a new level of diffi-
culty if your lips can never meet.
Fortunately, my assumption
has been proven incorrect (and
a little melodramatic) - but that
doesn't mean the relationship
between me, boys and my nose
has been smooth sailing.
Recently, to the sheer delight
of a teenage me, I was making
out with my boyfriend, nose as
out of the way as it could be. I'd
been getting over a sinus infec-
tion and noticed that things were
... damper than usual. But being
the noble and dignified woman I
am, I marched on.
I could feel the snot increase
at a concerning pace. My boy-
friend started to pull away, and I
went on the defensive.
"I'm snotty, OK! Sorry!" I
admitted.
"No, Erika, you're bleeding!"
This actually made more
sense. Another joy my nose has
brought to me over the course
of my life has been frequent and
occasionally violent nosebleeds.
With a big nose comes big respon-
sibility - and big amounts of tis-
sues and blood loss. Credit for

this one goes, once again, to Dave
Harwood.
I can essentially track my
life's milestones through the
times my nose has encountered
bloodshed: middle school play
practice, my first day of high
school, one of my first college lec-
tures and most recently, macking
on my boyfriend.
I shot up, grabbed a tissue
and bolted toward the mirror. In
short, blood was everywhere; my
cheek, my forehead, my chest, my
hands (literally and figuratively)
were all covered. My boyfriend
suffered a similar fate as my gross
nose-blood was all over his face
as well.
"You bled in my mouth!" he
told me.
A modern-day blood oath,
united in romance.
I checked the pillowcases and
sheets to make sure they were
stain-free and as luck would have
it, they were. I sat on a chair and
"tweaked the beak" as my mom
always urged me to do in these
situations, pinching the bridge of
my nose to slow down the flow of
blood. And sure enough, my nose
was back to normal in a short
while - as normal as my nose can
be anyway.
I've heard people talk about
their noses a lot during my 21
years on this planet - maybe
because they're the cause of a
universal insecurity or maybe
mine is just a good conversation

starter. During these discussion
I've listened to an unsettling
amount of people talk about how
much they wish they could just
get a nose job - a simple solu-
tion to fix a little bump, or shave
it down a bit. I've never been able
to join in on the conversation.
Because for as much trouble as
one very small (but slightly larg-
er than normal) part of my body
has caused me, it's been pretty
crucial to my development as a
human being.
Thanks to my nose, I've
learned to have a sense of humor
about things, and to admire some
of my physical quirks (aside from
that weird bump on my head that
I'm pretty sure is harboring some
shit). I now have a million stories
to fall back on at parties when I'm
feeling too shy to just hop in on
the conversation; from the time
I gushed blood on my boyfriend,
to that time when my old col-
lege friends made a video for me
before I transferred to Michigan,
titled "Behind The Nose," featur-
ing more than enough embar-
rassing pictures and videos of my
time at Illinois.
Everyone has the right to
change what they want about
themselves, and I'm definitely
not here to tell people otherwise.
But I'll take an extra large pro-
trusion on my face (and probably
an iron deficiency) if it means I
can have a little bit of character
and some outrageous memories.

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