I’m a little impatient.
Sometimes I am torn in training between upping my speed and upping my endurance. To run farther distances, I have to slow my pace. But I’m already not a very fast runner. A fast mile for me is under 10 minutes. Which is fine, because I’m just me and I only compete with myself, but it does make running longer distances just take a long time. And don’t get me wrong, I love having an excuse to have an hour and a half to myself with my headphones blaring music at the highest volume, but also, I have other things I need to do. So if I’m going to go on my longer runs in the name of training, without dropping the ball on my other responsibilities, I do need to speed up.
On the other hand, I really, really, really like racking up miles. It is hard. The more miles I do, the more tired I get of course. The first 2 1/2 miles are always the hardest for me, because my heart rate is still warming up, but once I hit that third and fourth mile, I feel like I could run forever. I get more tired with each mile, but I also get happier and more excited about how much ground I’m covering. My body can do amazing things if it needs to!
This realization led to a little impatience. After I finished my 10K and didn’t dive into the grass with total exhaustion like I did after my first three 5K’s, I realized… If I can do 6.2 miles, I can do 7 miles. And if I can do 7 miles, I can do 8 miles.
Last week I did 8 miles in one run. It felt amazing.
If I can do 8 miles, I can do 10 miles.
If I can do 10, I can do 13.1 miles.
It wouldn’t be fast. It wouldn’t be pretty. But I can do it. If cars stopped working today and I had to get somewhere thirteen miles away, I could do it without dying.
Of course the more time I give myself to train, the faster and stronger it will be. But I’m not out to win my first half-marathon. I just want to be able to say to myself – “I did that.”
A lot of people don’t care about medals, or splits, or participant shirts. A lot of people are just in it to run because they enjoy it. And I enjoy running. But it’s also been a big struggle for me. It’s been my happy place but it’s also been really hard and sometimes really discouraging.
I worked hard in college and I have a degree to show for it. I work hard at work and I get a paycheck to show for it. If I work hard on the pavement, I want something to show for it.
I want the 13.1 bumper sticker. I want to wear a t-shirt that says “13.1 – Been there, run that.” I want a really cool finisher medal. I want to frame my bib. I want, whenever I’m having a bad day or feel like I can’t do anything right, to have something I can look at and say, “But how many people can say they did that? Okay, a lot, but not everyone. Not most people.
When I signed up for the Army Ten Miler it was to make myself keep training. I paid a lot of money for the registration and at the time, 2 miles seemed like the biggest accomplishment of my life. I knew if I wasn’t going to waste my registration money, I would have to train hard. Ten miles seemed like an eternity away.
At the time, I was learning to appreciate just how far a mile was. It seemed like it took forever to traverse a mile.
I’m not sure if it’s moving, and my new course for training runs, something about it being more enjoyable to run scenically, or maybe even that it’s more difficult to run because it includes more hills, but now, a mile doesn’t seem so long and scary. In fact, now, at least after that first two and a half for warm up, another mile feels like – “well I’ve gotten this far, why not?”
I kind of get where Forrest Gump was coming from now.
All this to say, I’ll work on speed later. I’ve worked very hard on my running in this first year of doing it. I started almost 10 months ago and I want, when I close out 2013, which started off looking like it was going to go down as one of the worst years, to look back and marvel at going from the girl who sat on her butt, slept til noon, loathed exercise to the girl who ran a half-marathon.
So while I was going to accompany my friends to the Richmond Marathon weekend and run the 8K while they ran the half – I’ve decided not to.
I’ve transferred my registration. I don’t want to wait til February 2014 just for the sake of giving myself more time.
I’m running my first half marathon on November 16, 2013. See you there, Richmond.