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'Cat in the Stacks: Beat the Blerch

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I’m Michelle Callaghan, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.


This past weekend, I “ran” my first 10K in Morristown, NJ. Scare quotes explained later. All things considered, I beat the Blerch. And if you’re not familiar with the Blerch, well, I’d link the comic but it is via The Oatmeal and is a little NSFW. If language and crude humor doesn’t offend you, feel free to Google “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances” and The Oatmeal’s portfolio. I’m sure you’ll leave motivated.

rsz_blerchThe run, literally called “Beat the Blerch” a la the aforementioned web comic “Why I Run Long Distances,” was organized through Matt Inman (Mr. Oatmeal himself), a graphic artist, creator of the card game “Exploding Kittens,” and all-around amusingly cynical dude. For Inman, the Blerch is a fairy-like manifestation of all the worst motivational habits. It really, really wants you to eat cake and take a load off. It is, according to Inman, the sound food makes when it is squeezed from a tube.

We are approaching midterm, so I’m sure you know your personal Blerch quite well.

The 10K was really a pretty hilly trail run with narrow paths, rocks, roots, hills – you name it. To say I didn’t really train is an understatement. I was comfortable with perhaps a 5K on flatland prior to this run – probably why my legs still feel like noodles. The geography of the course did not always safely permit actual running, and I had moments when I felt like Mufasa clawing uphill. All things considered, I think I handled it pretty well. I didn’t turf it or get injured. I was not victim to the bordering ravine or Sasquatch. And I only almost lost my breakfast once, which is a pretty solid accomplishment. Then, just a few minutes after finishing, I felt good as new again. And as many a writer-type like to do with physical activity and metaphor, I aim to craft this experience into a motivational story applicable to academia.

You might sometimes feel the next project on your syllabus is the 10K you haven’t trained for. Do it anyway. Contrary to what every procrastination muscle in your body would like you to believe, this isn’t forever. Maybe you don’t feel ready, maybe you’ve fallen behind, maybe you’re scared to start, but for just this event, this moment in the semester, you can summon the focus and motivation. You can put aside the self-indulgences that are typically your sources of sanity–Netflix, etc.–and use those hours studying. I promise you Netflix will still be there when you’re done. You’ll make it to mile 3, 4, 5–and that fifth mile, that late-night study session, will seem to last forever. Then, bam, you’re at the finish line. Beat the Blerch. Run that race you didn’t train for.

You might be exhausted and your legs might feel like noodles but wow, would you look at that? Fall break comes up right after. How convenient!
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Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.


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Last Modified: October 1, 2015