Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 62 - Mikki Hebl - EMBRACE THE JOURNEY

And I think that’s just like runner community to like I, I’m very fond of the runners I’ve met I think you know of course there’s so much 00:13 and it grow but I would say this are people who aren’t put not the whole life of make up they’re going out and their working hard there’s a lot of like therapy that we get on long runs, you know, you’re so tired that’s just kind gotta give it up and tell the truth.

MICHELLE: And I think that’s just like runner community to like I, I’m very fond of the runners I’ve met I think you know of course there’s so much 00:13 and it grow but I would say this are people who aren’t put not the whole life of make up they’re going out and their working hard there’s a lot of like therapy that we get on long runs, you know, you’re so tired that’s just kind gotta give it up and tell the truth.

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Welcome to the smart athlete podcast I’m your host Jesse funk. My guest today as enough of all things so I’m gonna try to get all them through without making a mistake but I probably will so excuse me. She’s a 01:33 marathoner 01:34 psychology professor of management at Rice. She’s been there for 22 years now so I’m sure she’s got a lots and lots of stories and she told me she’s one numerous teaching awards for being there so many that Rice had to retire her from winning awards at.

She’s the only faculty member of Rice to give a commencement address at Rice which is pretty noble if you know anything about the school. She’s won of the marathons in all 50 U.S. states, as well as every continent, got three at least three 02:07 at home other kids and great kids and her father is one of 17 children’s so there’s lots going on. Welcome to the show Michelle Hebl.

MICHELLE: Thank you, nice to be here.

JESSE: Michelle the one thing I forgot to ask you is how to say your last name before we gonna going in and I was like “Aahh! darn it! I forgot”

MICHELLE: It’s okay, it’s Mikki and it’s Hebl


MICHELLE: But I’m okay if like whatever I’m good you know we have to… you know whatever.

JESSE: It’s really since 02:37 I tryin to be, we, like we got before we gotta go on as you said and as I said we’re both talkers. We started going down on these radicals and I get distracted 02:47

MICHELLE: No worry.

JESSE: I’ll make it sure all the little details are in place before we go in.

MICHELLE: That was really good by the way you’ve got it all and then I was like “Hey that’s your sounds interesting, so that’s why.

JESSE:Hey we will ask, you 02:58 still living your life you tell me about your 50th birthday party sorry 03:05 you on your age I guess a little bit but you’re telling me about your birthday party you invited 50 badass women over so you tell me a little bit about it a guess that you had.

MICHELLE: Okay, so i wanna do something really big and bad for my 50th and I thought about what that was and I thought well being a feminist and being like having gal pals it’s just something that is really 03:30 than part of my life and so I invited. I actually invited 64 women hoping that i would get 50 women to a place to a house for a weekend

Now that person is where in a world can you get a house that sleeps for the weekend 50 women and I would tell you 57 of them out of 64 came so it was a really good yield and we did it where else we did it in Vegas and I will tell you we always spent an hour at the casino but what we did was we just had inspirational speeches by some of these women who are just so profoundly amazing they look like anything that I’ve done is just boring and run 04:22 once in the Guinness Book World of Records.

One has a patent, one has done based camp at Mt. Everest , I mean it just goes on and on and on and they’re just wonderful people. We got together for three daysthen we really enjoy each other’s company and we had massages, we went hiking in Red Rock we had crafts but we’re really fun we had a lot of laughs and we had karaoke and it was really a celebration of kinda gal power.

JESSE: So where did you meet all these women I guess?

MICHELLE: So the women were, I have to tell you so one of the I think aside from like the births of my children and my wedding was just probably the best like weekend of my like and they were women who I have known since grade school all the way to people I met over the last two years and they just were they had one thing in common they were all badasses which I hope we can say

JESSE: Yeah its fine.

MICHELLE: Okay, okay they just are people who don’t try to their what I call power gals. You know they don’t try to win out you, one of you. They really are about sharing the spotlight and making sure like I have this analogy with running sometimes you run with people and they tried to be one step ahead of you or they’re really aware of where they are and relationship to you.

And there some people you run with and may you’re just talking so much you really not even aware and you know that you’ve just run five-ten miles and you forgot to know about the distance because you’re so into the conversation that the gal pal makes you stronger and I would just say that metaphorically is what all of these women are,

JESSE: Yeah, it’s always interesting when you find that dynamic. I feel like and you that especially probably know you know observationally more about that’s think about kind of U.S culture and like how competitive they are but it’s like we all had the ability to lift each other up like I feel like there’s this idea that things have to be a zero-sum game and it really don’t have to be a zero-sum game at all like just because I win doesn’t mean you have to lose like we can both win.

MICHELLE: I couldn’t agree with you more and that really connects to something you mention about me which is my dad has had 16 brothers and sisters and so our family get together I remember we wouldn’t sitting on the table incident the pingpong table and there is always room for one more and its just kind of a philosophy I have which is not a zero-sum game that’s you know and something I teach when I teach executive MBAs about diversity is lift when you climb.

You know like there’s we need the next generation we want the next generation to be better and stronger and we want to see that connection through the generations to the fun thing was the people who came to the party the women were age 26 to 75 so it was all cross-generational thing too. But yeah I did I really feel like its not just a zero-sum and it’s just the world happier when you know people have your back and when you know you’re doing it together.

JESSE: I wish I could remember what guess I spoke with this about. I get a little hesitant sometimes but I think you’re the right person to deal with I think about the sometimes the I guess purpose of humanity which is all little heavy but I think about it all along the lines of not being a zero-sum game about thinking that if we have a purpose that creation is it, creating something in along the lines of that you know you mentioned building up the next generation or building up each other by that vocabulary is very purposeful and what it means to say I’m building you up like you were helping create the about the conditions that potentially you know influence 08:54 peace something created then they are now.

So I guess sometimes I guess why I’m hopeful or trying to be optimistic that’s the right thing I think about is like humanity as a creative force for good of the world. Obviously it’s more complicated than that but just when like it optimistic side going that’s kind of where I certain head.

MICHELLE: Well, I actually say two things about that two is, one I went to all-women college Smith college in Northampton,Massachusetts and after studying there for four years I’ve really gained an identity about gender and about the things that pioneering women and men had done to enable me to have the rights that I have and so from me giving back and ensuring that the next generation has even more rights than we have is something that I choose to study and do my research on and that’s easy to stagnant also to raise and to other stigmatized groups that don’t have as much access and then I would just 10:00 like one of my life goals is to make the future a better place were people who haven’t, who have had disadvantages on the past but the other thing is it’s just is really hard not to think about humanity right now as we’re going through COVID and thinking about all the people who are suffering and how we can help and what are we doing to help and yes there’s big things we can do to help we can give lots of money we can do science we can do.

But for the average you know I often heard there’s the gifts of time treasured talents but the other thing is we can do 10:36 on our local communities too. So whether it’s putting a sign that says you know we believe in love then you’re welcome here as neighbors or whether it’s you know reminding people in a positive way to wear their masks or too. You know really think about just giving a hello to people or writing and encouraging people or doing some service project you know I like to say, I think there’s a good people in the world for every two bad people.

Maybe that’s, I don’t know other people might have differences so my strategy is to find a good people and get away from the two bad people and to try to spread that joy as much as possible because life really is short and i think we all need to think about how we live the world a better place then is it borrowing something when you borrow something from a friend you hopefully returned it in as a good conditioned if not better.

JESSE: Yeah, we’re thinking about you’re 11:38 to, so it’s that if that the pro-principle 11:41 and in that. I’m one of my undergrad major is Math so its kind of numbers guide so I love the pro-principle and it really shows us up everywhere so you’re probably correct to say it something like that you know whether that’s the exact number okay. But the 11:59 something like that but you know you mention like just saying hello or it’s kind of small accent kindness and there are days I wonder about that it this is like pat myself on the back but just like so there’s a running trial near me and ride my bike I go through a whole cross-section since you’re 12:26 neighbourhoods and it doesn’t matter where I am if the opportunity arise you just wave and say hi or whatever and I know there been times myself 12:39 you know matter of setter wherever it like just thought on the best of you.

Maybe if I’m out for a running somebody says hello and it kinda takes the edge off you know you’re in your own head in a song little like spending vortex and then it somebody says hello it’s just a simple as little thing and they’re not trying to get into your world and be like smile and be happy they’re just saying hello its just that tiny thing so I wonder sometimes or I trigger of my myself when I say hello I wonder about those people on it think about how is their day going you know does it matter you know those kinds of things cause it matters to me when people say hello but I can’t really ever I’m only me I can’t really know that it matters to them they’re just strangers to me you know.

MICHELLE: Yeah I just to say them like whenever I started teaching a class or whenever I have meetings with my graduate students you know I think about models that I had and sometimes you know was like get right to the work and what do you have for me and I always stop and say “Okay how we doing” like “How you doing” like you try to get that class a little bit earlier and say “How you doing, how you doing today”.

And I think we really need that in this time since that human connection because we don’t know what people are going through you know we don’t know, have they been fair load do they have children whose school had been called off and now they’re trying to figure out how, you know how there work their job and still have there child at home.

We don’t know about people who don’t have enough money to put groceries and they’re covered. We just we don’t know what’s behind the facade of the people we meet. And the act of human kindness really can go along way and just sharing that doing what we can.

JESSE: It makes me wonder sometimes how, like I mentioned really how we’ve listened to kind of North American US culture how it got to be so individualistic I mean there’s something we said especially when it comes to sports obviously were just like especially in a sport like running, or you know individual efforts or it’s like you are in control of your destiny if you work hard you will succeed but its I also think about you know “No man is an island” life-like we don’t, it would be incredibly rare just 15:11 in athletes is an example runner. It will be incredibly rare for a runner to go all the way from since they just start running when they’re young to the Olympics.

Never having been coach never having anybody drive them anywhere like having no input for anybody else ever. It will just be incredibly rare yet at the same time we seem to forget that there’s all of this inputs from all people around so maybe you know athlete they are the ones outrunning the laps but, you know, there spouse over their mother depending on their age, father whoever sister, brother somebody else’s is making dinner.

Somebody else is getting this ready for them and there’s this whole support system around them yet we idolize that you know person to that image of that person as this thing to strive for and for almost you never forget about everybody that helped lift them up.

MICHELLE: Yeah I think we living in an individualistic country where the focus is on the individual so if you look at some Asian countries that’s very different where its very much of focus on the 16:29 of aspect but you’re right like of you have children you know one of the early decision you’ll kind of like have to figure it out is “What are you gonna sign your child out for” right? And you know there’s so to different philosophies there’s like, what’s exposed the child to a lot of different things lets expose the child to something and see if they have like a real pension for it and if they do which you know most could have a pension for something then it’s like well how much do you push it and you know if you push it then that means lessons and a lot of time and a more time you know the 17:06 17:06 is 10,000 hours that at something will make you an expert and so if you give the child enough lesson you know I mean so yes there’s so much and then of course even if you do all that they’re still often not could have enough to compete on that highest level but yeah there are 17:22 sorrows a whole team behind every individual of successes is in there.

JESSE: Yeah so thinking about that I wanna talk about your I’ll say marathon 17:36 adventures run marathons 17:39 the 50 states and now every continent. I’m assuming there’s probably a team that goes along with that whole journey as well.

MICHELLE: Yeah so when I first got to Houston that was 22 years ago right? I had done I think three marathons four marathons maybe and I joined this running club and it’s actually where I met my husband and I was talking to the head of the club on a short run and there was a guy on my left it was the head of of the club John Philips and there was a guy on my right side and I was kind of feeling big and bold cause that run whatever it was four marathons and I said to the guy on the left “how many of you done” and he said some like 35 and I was like ” What?!” and he has 35 and 18:32 what have you done to the other guy and it goes “I don’t count anymore” and I was like you have I mean no so then 18:40 soon after that I try I really wanted to qualify for the bus of the marathon. And ill just tell you I did that and after I did that, I realize “Okay I can get a faster time”.

And I can keep getting a faster time but it’s gonna take a lot of work and it’s gonna be really painful and it’s like I’m gonna get a couple more minutes faster and so somebody in the club had told me about this guy who’s name is Steve Bone and he is these crazy wonderful man from north of Houston who started the all 50 states club and I thought “Wow! that’s such an amazing thing” and this four states that I had were all in different states these four marathons I have done were all in four different states and I thought “Why you have to do to join that”? well, you had to get ten different states and so I thought well that’s a good call like maybe I could do that and then spend the rest of my life travelling to this different states and trying to see the states and run marathon and so there is a group with that and a lot of times you know you would link up and see who else is running in this states that you’re going to and then they were all so always students.

So I did doing sometimes by myself but a lot of times I didn’t with another person whether its colleague a student or somebody from the 50 states club or my husband.

JESSE: Right! Did you end up as just as you say you both started at the same time or do you end up finding people where you have a similar pace?

MICHELLE: So running a marathon is kind of a hard thing because running a marathon is a really hard thing, to begin with, and anybody who’d finish a marathoning gets an ease sort of time I might head as off to them because every time I had a baby which is three times I had to stop running and then I think Bill Rogers the marathon boss of marathon winner said “Its a lot easier to stay in shape than it is to get back in the shape” and without of all my three babies you know like you’re looking at somebody who’s lost over a hundred and pounds if you count all of the three different you know and every time I had to start running that first mile again I was like “H*ly Sh*t, one mile is a long, long way”.

So what I’m saying about running marathons, marathons hard running a marathon with another person the whole way is also really hard because you’re not. it’s very rare that you find two people running at the same pace that’s comfortable at all points in the marathon at the same time that said I have run a lot of marathons with the person side by side usually it’s the case when I do that I am the stronger runner helping somebody who has a first time runner through that, that’s not always been the case I have a gal who is such a good runner her name is Melia and a couple of marathons shes called the night before and she said “Where is your race can I go to ?” and she runs at right next to me with like talking the whole time and I’m like, “You are so amazing” you know so there’s been times where I’ve also said ” You need to go ahead now” or “Will go to the race” and ill say ” Okay here’s our different plans will see you at the end”.

JESSE: I was just curious since it seems like you’re kind of bringing together a bunch of I’ll say random people obviously not random entirely but just you know even with like we were in college you know we all train together but even for you know 8k, 10k, 5k were you know we’re gonna be a desperate speed in different lines and 22:55 you know maybe I might ahead this time and then the other guy catches up and passes me and just different parts starting a different part of the course suite us differently one gal could have heels the other ones wear flats like.

So I was just curious whether you actually found people that are like everybody gonna go the whole way. I’m not done a marathon you know it’s like in that specializing triathlons similar kind of time frame but you know not done the marathon by itself so I just to know if you could find a close enough grouping to have some stock with you the whole way.

MICHELLE: Yeah! So there are two more things to say about that. One is if you know the time you’re gonna do then in almost all of the marathons they have like somebody who is a pastor group and so you can stick with that group and that’s really nice I’ve done that a few times and its really have been helpful. I will say that it’s really depressing when you lose your pastor group at the end and a marathon is so hard so I have a graduate soon, she just graduated shes, not a professor her name is Abbie and we’ve run about four or five together and we’ve run them always side by side and the are times where I bumped 24:12 24:12 times were 24:13 24:14 and we’ve stayed together and probably 24:17 is different races there are times which she hit on the head and finish well before me and vice versa.

But for us, it was like the fact that we could finish 15 minutes before the other person at best wasn’t worth the four hours of enjoyment that we have run together and as most marathoners know there’s kind of like the first 21 miles and that’s one thing and there’s the last five miles the last five-mile was so awful and in some races that to have your body their just really have a wonderful experience and that’s to me why I have a really enjoyed running marathons with first-timers because I know that they’re gonna be happy and like wonderfully like motivated for the first 21 miles and then the last five-miles they go you know “I wanna do this anymore” like this isn’t fun and that’s where it’s like ” Yes it is” we can stop massage our legs and then let’s keep moving and then that’s been fun to do with a would say probably eight or nine people.

JESSE: Yeah it seems like everybody talks about the 25:34 law at some point you hit 21 I’ve heard 23 before. It’s interesting that it seems to be is, you know I wonder if its whether its, how much is physiological and how much is psychological 25:51 since its such a thing you know people talk about it everybody knows about it so it’s like 25:58 you know there’s a thing with your mind or it’s like I’m sure you’d have races where you finish and you’re like once you stop do you absolutely cannot get going and like you’re just your done versus if you kept running you probably could have kept going for a while because your mind tells you can go.

So it’s like that interesting thing that your brain does to continue and keep you in motion so I wonder I don’t even know how I feel it gonna be almost impossible to figure out how to study this but just I wonder what is 26:31 in terms of people actually you know bucking versus psychologically hitting a wall at that point.

MICHELLE: Yeah, well I will tell you there are marathons where I feel likeI bucked in myself and then there are marathons where I feel really good at the end and I think a lot of it has to do with your fitness the course that they have, what you ate and of course there is the physiological that are aerobic and anaerobic threshold of how far are you push your self and what you’re burning and whether you start burning you know like there is really something to it, physiologically I would say.

But I also think there are races where I remember there’s a race in Indiana and it was 27:22it ended on another day in 50-yard line and I was like “What?! It ends in another day in 50 yards line?” I said to my husband and family i said “When I get to the 50-yard line, they throw you a football” and you get to run with the last lane ten yards I’m like “I’m gonna chant 27:41 and I’m gonna run the whole like 100 yards” and let me tell you when I get to the 50 yard line I didn’t wanna run one more yard okay cause I you’re just so tired and you get kind whiny in a lot of races then you feel like “How much further how much farther is it” you know and you feel like you know it’s how much farther cause there’s a mile a marker but you just you know.

And then the very first race I’ve ever ran was the San Antonio Marathon i was a graduate school and i was running and i had this like my whole idea was don’t stop you cannot walk you cannot walk you have to keep going and when i cross the finish line i was still running right pass like the finish trying to stop and this guy caught me and it goes “You can stop now” when I go “I’m trying” and so you get a little naughty in the head to well at least some of us steal because you know we get so persevering or setting a goal or just because you’re so exhausted and you know there’s a little disconnect between you’re brain and your body.

JESSE: Yeah well so you get 28:51 those muscles start firing well I mean that been firing for hours and hours at that same pattern and its like all of the sudden you’re like you don’t have to that anymore and sometimes they are like ‘No! this is what we are doing today”.

MICHELLE: Yeah! that’s right

JESSE: So I’m thinking about persevering in a tough situation, you’re telling me that you turn a cruise and run a marathon on a crew ship?

MICHELLE: I did! So well the first thing that happens is I finish all the 50 states and I did it 15 years which so I didn’t need you to know the rest of my life I started doing, one year I did eleven in a row and I had three babies during that time and so you know it was kinda like “Wow! I did that!”. At the end I really just wanna to get them done too I was like kinda eager to get that done and then once when I was done people said “What are you gonna do”. Now, when I said “I’m gonna sit on the couch and get fat”.

And I did that and a year later I got a call from a friend that’s the ones we can talk about it later if you love, but it was basically to do Antarctica and so she like 30:09 crazy friends and they said no so then she had a 30:12 30:14 crazy friend and that’s how i got 30:16 30:17 so after that you people said what we did in Antarctica then you gonna do all the states so you might just do it and so actually the last continent I had was Africa and I decided to do something that was a little bit rogue.

And that’s I did semester see I was a faculty member for a semester we took our family and took them out of school and till the round the world to 16 countries in Asia and Africa and so I had you know, about six places in Africa were I could it and it was getting kinda late and so i decided what would I do is that I would do it in, on the ship and I would do laps on the ship in Morocco.

And so that is what we did i actually have to stop in the middle of that to get my passport stamp because they come on to the ship and stamp your passport but it was 192 loops on the ship and i did it with very good friends whose family are 31:35 31:36 and they are Microsoft 31:40 and they run and walk with me and it was really amazing, crazy.

JESSE: Yeah! The loop thing it reminds me of, this is a much more minor non-achievement but just you know, so in college 31:58 like, center, which have this really old school track like built in a late 70s early 80s not a surface that’s really up to par in our days. It’s not beat up but just it’s very sleek it’s not really good for running and every once in a while, one member of the distance team, say during the winter time, would decide “I don’t really wanna go outside I’d just run inside and they have it with be like I need to do a 10-mile run like I did 8-mile run inside this building.

It’s a 160m track you’re gonna do 8 miles on this like. I know a little bit of the insanity of doing small laps over and over and over. But then you also had work was that ship moving or was it

MICHELLE: Yeah, it was moving at the 32:53

JESSE: See I’ll see I got that.

MICHELLE: And I had to remember so what I did is I wore of white t-shirt and I put next to the water bottles that we had laid out 33:05 I put a Sharpie and so I had to make a tick every time I came around coz there’s no way I could’ve remembered it otherwise. But yeah, it was a little crazy so if the ship was moving and then it docked into Morocco the agents came on and that points on time we’re still running the ship was just steadied and then we had to stop for about probably 5 minutes and go get our passport stamped and then we just run right back and did it again as if we’re like a 5-minute rest stop. Now, I have to tell you, like that’s not, that’s the only marathon I’ve run of my probably 75, 76 marathons. But was not official so that’s really not and official one but the other ones are worst so I think I’ll find myself back in Mauritius or some African country to do, to finish it out at some point in time but you know I feel like 34:06 you wanna be a being encounter and you can say, “Well, is that really official?”. But you know the truth is we really did do it 34:15 3000 or not 3000 probably 800 students observing the craziness.

JESSE: So you have people yell at you the whole, I mean it’s a loop, there’s a clearly people around, nobody’s going anywhere are you having like just like crowd noise the whole where are the whole time.

MICHELLE: I wrote on my t-shirt I can’t stop “I’m doing a marathon”.


MICHELLE: So that they saw it and then they saw the ticks. And they were cheering, they were coming out and cheerin’. Yup, it was fun.

JESSE: Yes, so you had some like pick me up so wasn’t just like you by yourself 34:54 run? at the cruise ship.

MICHELLE: No, no. The belfry 34:57 was still with me. My daughter did, I don’t how many left she did. She did quite a few and then, you know, we have some people join in for a little bit just to say “Hey! How you doing?” I think there were two other college students who did half of the marathon with us.

So you know there were some people coming in and going and then at later times that happens in marathon too where you know you have a little support on the side whether it’s my husband who run half the marathon or run the last 5 miles with me or you know I’ve had my kids join me for the last 3 miles or my son will do half a bit with me now, whatever. So that pick me up was pretty, pretty key.

JESSE: So what I wanna know is that I want you, I mean you’re done but as you mentioned you may end up doing an official one back in Africa. Once you’re done with that is it or we on to 35:55 on the level or we do one like different atmospheric levels as we get space 35:59 marathon.

MICHELLE: No. I will say that I thought I was pretty neat until I went to Antarctica. And then I realized just how plain I was and what I will say is that was a race where it was run at Minnesota by this guy’s name Steve Hibs and it was a 10-day experience and my friends 36:25 who is in a Guinness Book of World Records for running the fastest 50 states. I think she’s over 55 or something, but she’s in there And she was on the trip and was the one who said I wanna do this week come with me and I said, “Sure”.

We got on that 36:49 Antarctica and got down until we actually went to South America 36:55 arenas and we did two, so the day after, Suzy and I, did the Antarctic one we did one in South America so we can get two continents done in two days. People there were crazy I mean there was a woman there who had 37:15 Mount Everest she was the first woman from Portugal who had done that.

There were people who done like 250 that year. I mean it was just they were like somebody who was 14 and she was the first one to do all the continents and then there was a boy who was like something like 11 and he was the one who do all the continents the fastest.

It was like you go “Oh my God! When this craziness stops?” So I would say that what I wanna do now is, I fell down a mountain stupid and I tore my ACL and that was a year and a half ago and this is my first injury ever. And I’ve always said to people “Look, if you have sheer determination and you have good knees and ankles, I can help you run a marathon”, and I still believe that.

So, I had rehab on it and now I’ve run 2 marathons afterward. And they’ve been fine, I’m back. I don’t think you know as we get older, there’s another saying “The older we get, the faster we use to run”, right? Like when you were in college just so you probably thought “Oh these times are okay and now you look back and you go, “Oh those times weren’t fast!”.

JESSE: Yeah, I was actually doing, I had this workout the other day of the track my coach have been doing, it was like run on time you didn’t say run is specifically can’t and you said 200 fast 200 easy and we have 5 miles of that and the 200 fast time, like I can best only do for 200 and then like you know I wasn’t ever to keep keep it going. That’s my 5k speed, my fastest 5k speed is like my 200 fast now so it’s like I’m couple of minutes slower from compared to what my fastest 5k runs.

MICHELLE: Yeah, and it’s not gonna get better. So you know I have some goals. My husband did the Houston 39:11 marathon 20 years in a row so I was always like I’m not doing now, why would I run the same course I know exactly how far that is and it’s far. Even though it’s a same distance, it just feels like “Oh let me lead my 39:25 of work.

JESSE: Yeah, you got fresh scenery.


JESSE: You got like different people, different habit but yeah there’s a lot going on.

MICHELLE: Yeah. So now I kind of feel like I wanna support the Houston Marathon much more I’ve done than I think 7 or 8 times and I’d like to do that 20 times not to best him but to equal him. I also really like to do marathons on places where I haven’t, where I’d like to do them. I’d like to do 39:48 Bigser, I’d like to do the one in St. Georgia’s and 39:53 once we down hill the whole way.

I’d like, we have a place in Boulder, I’d like to do the Boulder 39:58 of War. I’d like to do Paris, you know, and see the city. So those are some of the things I’d like to do and then I like to do with first timers so like it’s still exciting to me because when you run a marathon with the first and you bond with them forever, like they remember and that’s a really special feeling. So those are some of the things.

JESSE: There was, I’ve made this shirt, there’s a particular year guys in college that we got along so well and you know the saying “blood is thicker than water”, so I’ve made up to saying them “miles are as thick as blood” and that was our shirt for that year. Coz it really is like that’s your family we’re together, every single day just about 7 days a week all years of very intense things. There’s definitely a bond there that you don’t find in other settings.

MICHELLE: And I think that’s just like the runner community to like I, I’m very fond of the runners I’ve met I think you know of course there’s so much 00:13 and it grow but I would say this are people who aren’t put not the whole life of make up they’re going out and their working hard there’s a lot of like therapy that we get on long runs, you know, you’re so tired that’s just kind gotta give it up and tell the truth.

And then there’s a lot humanity you know and marathon runners are special breed because they’re really determined people there’s a lot of type A you know they’re just kinda at sort to me a way of life like I think of teaching I think of my career I think of my life sort of there’s some miles that are hard and there’s some better easy there’s some that are uphill there’s some that are downhill there’s some surprises around the corner and it’s really about the journey and not just about the end point.

JESSE: So I wonder if, because you know I’ll say dissect but studying dissect people you know I mean of a little facetious with that word but I wonder do you ever when you meet all of these I’ll say extraordinary individual 42:26 about people you’ve met in Antarctica do you ever look at them and talk them and try get inside their heads and figure out what it is that motivate of this people.

MICHELLE: I think a little bit different like I think of makes me think that every single person is in their like one of my favorite shows growing up was biography, I just loved it. And I think that our job or at least my job is to figure out what makes me special like what can you teach me. Like every person can teach us something so you know you’ve been talking about me a whole time a whole a lot and you know one of things that I’m gonna do is watch or learn as much as I can about you because I like to learn about and I think for them it likes would interesting about them is a little bit outward-facing more outward-facing than it is and some people so you know I don’t think I’m arrogant but I don’t also don’t think I’m the most humble person you’ve ever met and so id say people who go on a plane and go to Antarctica are kinda put themselves out there so their stories are pretty clear right?

And when you go around rooms and you say in that same 43:44 individualistic spirit here are something unique about me its easy to say oh that’s crazy that’s makes you thick I think its more of a challenge or more exciting to take the average person that isn’t like that just say so whats pretty spectacular about you and I think when you did deep enough you find wow they got some you know like the guy down the street he grows up with monkeys like in this house I’m like what that’s like crazy you know I mean that’s just outrageous the other person down the street my next door neighbor grew up 20 mins from me and was 44:23 and here we are in this different state so it’s like and it’s not just me focus but it’s like each person has a biography and a narrative. If your willing to put enough time in there’s so many interesting things to find out about every person and to learn from.

JESSE: This is a little bit of divergence but thinking about narratives in people I was thinking about like there’s this convergence of like the story who we tell ourselves about who we are. First is the story that other people think it’s our story. Do you see like when you see these things do you does it help you kind of reconcile the story that you have about that person to the story that they tell themselves about themselves if I make sense.

MICHELLE: Yes so I’m gonna answer that a little tiny difference in say that’s a really good like there’s something in psychology that’s very similar from what you’re saying and its called the self is a narrative. So there’s sort of this like here are the experiences that look if I said to you how did you get involved in this podcast you could say oh well I always wanted to do podcast I like to talk and that’s the story that’s been proven because it kinda makes sense right and its and people don’t really wanna hear well okay. So this is the real random events that happened that led me to these things so we kind of tell over and over our narratives and they become a little bit…

JESSE: embellish

Michelle: they get better yeah they get embellished or maybe we just have like we get better stories tellers we’re better story tellers


MICHELLE: right?


MICHELLE: So we go, well that’s not really that relevant let’s drop that off and that’s kind of interesting so let’s add that to it. And so people sometimes describe the self as a narrative so it’s like how we tell our stories are narrative is a reflection of ourself and I think that’s kind of an interesting sort of things is how people talk and explain how they got you know the stories they tell us is really a reflection of themselves.

If I think of how you know my story and my narrative id say you know I can make it consistent that’s really a lot of random coincidences it’s a lot of people who handed me off to guardian light and you know guardians people who allowed me to stand on their shoulders a lot of really random luck and I’m looking forward like I’m not looking back I’m looking at you but I still have so much to do like you know oh yeah I have those publications in 2019 but that was last year what you got this year and you know what you said which is what are you gonna do now right?

Like now you’ve done this and you’re gonna go out and just 47:23 47:24 and I’m like you know I don’t know I mean I’m thinking that too I, I, I’m thinking i gotta do this races so I think you there are some people who like their narrative looking backward and that makes me a little sad because I like to think for a word there’s some who are really in the present and can be very chill about it like whatever it comes whatever it comes you know and then there’s some people who are like gotta keep achieving and I gotta keep doing things and that’s probably me and I don’t know that that’s the best place to be too maybe the present is the best one.

JESSE: The present is probably the toughest one that’s with the whole mindfulness about rights like being here right now in this moment now worrying about what happened there what’s going to happen what you’d think is going to happen just be right here but 48:16 there you go 48:18 48:20 he talks about.

So my as I mention one of my undergraduate major is Math the other one was like psychology cause I’m ridiculous and waiting 48:29 those two majors but so I’m interested in people but just like the way he presented, Is that what I mentioned the idea that their stories we tell ourselves about who we are and the source of our stress is when are actual story divergence from our expectations of reality.



Michelle: Agreed

JESSE: You’re right so it’s like you know I don’t often get a chance to speak to professors to psychology anymore. So I was like pick your brain a little bit worry her even though it’s a 49:06 divergence. We’ll say here you’re average people you know in close of course so if you’re listening 49:15 49:16 video version doing air quotes but the average people that don’t necessarily stand out with their 49:23 and there sleep about who they are and having badges on their uniforms you know. Do you, to their stories seemly get in a way what do you think could be their potential?

MICHELLE: Yeah I mean I think like just a couple of things like I always think that class reunions are kind of a sad idea for some reason. I think its because I want to believe that everybody did really well and in self actualize and doing great and sometimes people get old and I don’t mean old.

I’m actually using old in a pejorative sound and that’s a shame I shouldn’t do that but I mean like they’re 25 or 35 and they’re old meaning like it kind of giving up there content maybe that and I don’t mean content either they’ve just giving up on themselves without realizing there potential or their specialness without saying “Hey I can do something” it’s kind of like they’re just there living and going through the motions and if they are content I think that’s wonderful.

I don’t see that content on some of them and so I see this kind of 50:49 was 50:50 in highschool or those were the days and I’m like that was where the days like we’re looking forward to were still getting better.

Its that kinda useful sort of focus on ourselves as we can improve ourselves that I think I’ve always had and maybe that’s also working with students and you know working with these students who are about to go out and change the world that 51:1651:17 you know I’ve once got to see archbishop Desmond Tutu give a talk and he gave this 51:24 ship in Mauritius 51:26 while we were travelling to South Africa.

And these people were like what are you doing on this ship at 88 years of age talking to these young students like you’ve done it all you gotta know about 51:44 like what are you doing on that ship and he says I wanna talk those many young people as possible because they’re the future they can make the changes and I remember studying there was like I don’t know I was like 51:55 something and I’m like am I one of the young people too like you’re talking to me you know and I think that like so I don’t mean the old and a pejorative sense I mean stay woke to stay willing to change stay youthful in your minds believe that you’re still green and then you, don’t matter your age like but there’s still potential for you to be all that you can be you know that’s sounds like military but you know what I mean.

JESSE: Yeah it’s like it’s like the there’s idea about beginner’s mind right cause I’m 52:32 or it’s like even if you are an expert the best expert still have beginner’s mind where there they don’t lift themselves up I was like I’m this expert it’s like like you mentioned at the very beginning 52:50 in the beginning that earlier everybody has something you can learn from them that’s the essence of beginner’s mind you’re not you know. I obviously get the nice we offer to you and you got a CD as long as a book but you’re not like well I’m hot chick just look at me it’s no I wanna learn from you like that’s the whole thing right?


JESSE: Just figuring out what can I still learn not I already know it all but you’re talking about And I’m not sure how to classify else either older giving up or I dont think content is quite right but I see that from you know people I went to highschool with on social media who and this often 53:34 like the art friends I had maybe they went to college for art or they you know they really gave everything that they could for this dream and it end to this point hasn’t 53:47 how they want it to and that’s isn’t to say that they won’t I have no idea.

But they’re not fulfill or they’re not what they’re expected to be and they’ll say something like I wish I could start over or I should’ve done something different or something like that but without the idea of will you can’t start over like it’s gonna be painful it’s gonna be our 54:16 just like it was the first time but you can’t start over.

I can’t remember where I first came across this advice the idea I think it was somebody random form posting on the internet probably and speaking to their child about will they wanted to become a doctor there kid was considering do I try to go on medical school and so much school I’m gonna be almost 30 by the time I’ve done with my school.

And their parents said to them you’re gonna be 30 whether you go to medical school or not so you’re gonna be a doctor on your 30 or you’re just gonna be 30 you know I think about same thing for the people that say I would try to done something else it’s like okay so maybe that didn’t work out how that you want them to. Is there something else you wanna do like you’re gonna get older whether you pursue that thing or not.

MICHELLE: Yeah I think that’s exactly right you know what I’m gonna use a metaphor I used before which is they’re looking backwards. It’s really not about age it’s not about content because there are some people who are just happy not having you know they didn’t get the art thing they worked to there hard out the found something else they’re really like enjoying life and that’s great but it’s the people who are still looking backward and living there life through looking backwards of should’ve could’ve which I had all that was the best and it’s never gonna get better than I’m like “Oh that’s like bad that’s the no you can do better than” that like you know and it’s not just an achievement sometimes I feel like I’m too achievement 55:53 it’s not about that it’s about just believing that you can keep learning and growing.

JESSE: Well I think along with that and you’re welcome to correct me a point is it you know you mention being achieving or oriented which I’m very much that way. But there’s also all these none achievement aspects of life to be enjoyed and being a present you know just right now where yeah okay so there’s a 56:26 about you know the highschool football star that I was speak you know the highschool 56:32


JESSE: And it didn’t go to college like that was the highlight 56:36 56:37 class reunion and it’s like remember when I threw that 15 yard touchdown directly and everybody cheer it’s like yeah we remember it what 56:45 since then but it’s like okay so he didn’t become a college or even pro football player but like maybe he has a family and like he can enjoy time with his kids and there’s or a spouse.


JESSE: Or whatever even if he doesn’t have kids it doesn’t matter there’s so many other aspects. Maybe he likes woodworking and really enjoys building chairs.

MICHELLE: Yeah absolutely

JESSE: Just enjoy like do your thing you know like enjoy building chairs you didn’t have to be the best chair maker you could be a terrible chair maker but if your present and you’re enjoying that thing your no longer looking back to that 50 yard touchdown passing through 30 years ago it’s like it’s just I’m enjoying shaving wood right now and that’s enough you know

MICHELLE: Can I just say give some chairs to some other people cause to me it’s always to gain about paying it forward and making it a little bit better for the next generation or for the people around you.

JESSE: Share in the world. So we start to run down a little bit on time. There’s a question I’m asking everybody this year because it kinda transacts all of my guests. I will ask you the same question: what do you think the purpose of sports is?

MICHELLE: Oh gosh I don’t think it’s a one single thing I think you know I always tell my I always tell my kids like my kids will laugh if they hear as I always your body is a temple you know your body is a temple and what we wanna do is we wanna really eat well and be conscious and thoughtful and mindful of what we’re putting into our bodies.

And we also wanna exercise our bodies and we wanna really think about our bodies is not just as adornment so something beautiful but also as tool and so I think of sports as a way to how we find that tool or to enjoy and see your tool in action so I always I’ve done quite a few triathlons and now as I get older I realized I can’t do that anymore because there’s too many things you have to remember to bring to a triathlon.

JESSE: Oh now well. Thanks

MICHELLE: But my husband and I for our wedding for this is like our wedding where we went okay our honeymoon was the ironman 59:21 That’s just a silly, silly thing but I always start this triathlons and these marathons and something that’s not sort of more 59:39 like I’m more 59:40 close I have like a jog bra and then and some shorty shorts and I always get it in starting line and I look around I feel that thing that a lot of us feel whether were women or men which is oh look at that body that so much better than me they’re gonna win oh my god


MICHELLE: I’m so fatty fat blah blah blah and then they kept running right and then I get out of the water and I’m transitioning and then I’m on a bike and my legs are working. And I start transitioning from this belief of body is adornment to body as tool so that at the end of the triathlon or at the marathon I don’t care who’s looking at me I couldn’t care less cause my body just did something amazing and I think sports has the ability to really help women in particular with that sort of change in mindset of oh I’m fat 1:00:42 1:00:43 to say no, my body is a tool like I can swim in the ocean I can you know jump up over the hurdle I can run and you know we didn’t talk a whole lot about marathoning.

But marathoning when it’s going well and when you really don’t feel and there’s been some races were I felt runners high and I didn’t feel the bulk and that’s when you just feel like man this is such a great body I have and no it’s not perfect by any models standard but look what is allowing me to do and sports to me at least part of a big part of it to me is treating your body like a temple and realizing that it’s your temple and that’s the outlet that you’re gonna use it to perform it.

JESSE: 1:01:34 we can get down to 1:01:36 running out of time it’s not the bad thing about time 1:01:41 we could go in 1:01:43 1:01:44 which is kinda be your specialty in terms of diversity staff I guess I will say we will run a little of our time if you don’t mind. I notice one of things I notice it is started when I was in highschool one of my highschool coaches he coaches girls swim and then he also coaches cross country and then distance in track and his philosophy is I treated girls the same as I treat the guys like a workout is workout. And but what we noticed is that there are more and more winning coming out for at least those 1:02:22 in particular and less guys coming out I’m not quite sure why I mean its which is awesome they will get more women coming out but there were also somehow losing the guys I don’t if they’re going to football maybe that’s what happening but its I dont know just it kinda interesting observation I dont really 1:02:42 like super deep thoughts about it I don’t if you kind of notice that trend.

MICHELLE: I haven’t but I’m gonna look for it I mean I will say it I think that like 1:02:55 1:02:57 triathlon and a long time and I was trying to figure out what to get my husband for Christmas so I said honey we’re gonna 1:03:04 Merry Christmas were gonna do half ironman it is like 15-20 years after we did our first one and so we go and do it and we are just incredulous about how this sport has change and we do see a lot more women but this at least 1:03:29 running and triathlons you the sport use to be very well dominated you could go back to the bus of marathon where they fooled the 1:03:39 1:03:40


MICHELLE: Like women weren’t allowed to run so I think for me I was just amazed that this year number entirely and the fact that my little 1:03:51 bummer I used to call it was so aerodynamically like outdone by the all-new gadgets and by all the people 1:04:03 past and you know that to me was the most shocking as just how everybody is doing the sport of marathoning like you know they use to be marathons like you were of course you gonna do it and now there are lotteries because so many people are doing it and I think there’s certainly for me I guess what I see is the manner are not going down but the women are going up so much that it may look like the person to just are going down but that’s the 1:04:31 because we know for women its and for men sports are such a self-esteem that they can be they can also be a detriment to but there to a large extend their self-esteem builder.

JESSE: Yeah, well within my particular case or not my case but the observation of my coach it maybe there maybe socioeconomic factors that 1:04:55 like the highschool I went to is in a kind of weird cross-section anywhere like I would say now I would have to ask him but I was probably have to school on free lunch and then you also have so I mean came to cities houses are terribly expensive which we also have kids who have parents live in a 300,000$ houses which are above the medium price for Kandid City. So you have this kind of wide cross section but generally speaking economically the areas kind of I’ll say god damn but just the way that district has shifted its gotten more kids in poverty or you know parents 1:05:41 so I kinda wonder if that’s the factor as well, whether they you know maybe they’re going out and doing job after schools and 1:05:51 you know that kind of stuff we have that factors onto it but i know like with him he has a history of he grew up in a like he’s parents make anything basically and he ended going to Harvard and he’s almost have the 1:06:15 mile record there’s a reason he doesn’t have its cause he was beaten on that by the guy who does have it but he has a history of you know from his kinda background to running to building a companies selling it 1:06:30 teaches cause he wants to mentor his kids thinking about 1:06:34 to the next generation.

He has a history of taking like his swimmers he says this might my blue collar girls and you know getting them often as a portion of them to you know college scholarship would maybe that they don’t have opportunities otherwise. So I couldn’t wonder if two is like the girls seeing this could be an opportunity for me to go to college where it may be more difficult for you to know otherwise.

MICHELLE: I would definitely say that you know. One of my colleagues 1:07:06 1:07:07 how the rich kid richer and a poor get poorer and you know one of them is just how much wealthy people can afford enrichment programs for their kids right and part of enrichment programs is you know sporting teams that are city leagues and things like that and I know we put our daughter in a volleyball league and they told me the amount and I’m wow 1:07:38 I thought you meant that was for her individually but I get it is for the whole team.

You just gave a heart attack and they said oh no it’s for her individually and I was like are we buying a building like what are we doing and it’s just not a price that people can afford and this is the 1:08:01 for kids who wanna play you know like college volleyball and yes you can go to a highschool and do you really exceptionally well but that’s a school where it’s one season. And this enrichment program is all a year long and if we have the 10,000 hours tooks a 1:08:25 again it’s kinda like we got. I mean of course it makes sense that economics gonna 1:08:32 and who gets ahead and that’s really unfortunate.

JESSE: Yeah, before we get too far about this 1:08:39 maybe 1:08:40 have you back on later time1:08:42 article. If you wanna have to see research finds you, to sharp to where can I figure out where you are and kind of what’s about reasons stuff you’re doing.

MICHELLE: So I have a webpage if you go to so my last name is H-e-b-l and if you just type Hebl you’re not gonna find too many people it’s a really weird last name and if you type Rice University you’ll find me you’ll see my webpage I have a list of the marathons I’ve done for all the 1:09:18 that people who are really interested and how fast to see run and I’ll tell you its not that just my fastest time was a 747 pace which im proud of but I call myself a hamburger an I’ve run with some real steaks so thats my methapor or that so yes 1:09:38 a lots of times but I have a little thing next to each of the races that tell you who I did it with 1:09:45 say like one 1:09:46 comments about it and thats on my webpage if you’re interested reading about research on diversity and discrimination on gender issues there’s a research page there’s sort of lab page to see who I’m training and where the alumni are located that you can find me there and of course if you’re interested in questions you gonna always email me at and I would love to return as your guess anytime, I love to talk about sports, I love to talk about marathoning and basically I just love to talk.

JESSE: It’s dangerous for you 1:10:23 so i was like I watch my clock how are we doing anyway will end there for today at least we’ll probably talk in the future but thanks for spending time with me

MICHELLE: You’re welcome

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