“I’m just going to do an easy mile and a half tonight to get ready for the race.”
Yes, that string of words escaped my mouth last week and I never thought I would be able to say them. I spent decades avoiding the run with the following misguided logic, “We are finite creatures. Therefore, we have a finite amount of run allotted to us in our lifetimes. There exists the possibility that I will one day be chased by an aggressor with a knife or an angry dog and I will need to run at that point. To succeed in that task, I should save up as much run as possible to be sufficiently prepared in the event of such an occurrence.”
I saved up all my run.
But now I’m using it!
A year ago this week I started running. I literally ran 30 seconds at a time and then would walk for two minutes. After each set of 30 seconds, I’d be winded and sweaty and need a break. I built up the running time slowly, but surely and shortened the walking time in the same fashion. Every week was a new challengeA few weeks ago I competed in the Everest Challenge, a 5K (3.1 miles) with obstacles and a scavenger hunt along the same course. So I’d estimate the entire race was about five miles. I’m pleased with my performance. I made it through, no injuries, in a solid time. I’ve never achieved the “runner’s high” where people describe some sort of euphoria where they forget that they’re even running. No euphoria for me — I feel every step hit the pavement.
But I’m totally addicted to the sense of accomplishment!
I enjoy the training. Seeing the difference in my time and my energy level and seeing months of preparation pay off. I enjoy the anticipation of standing with several thousand compadres in the starting chute, all of us wondering if there is time for one more bathroom run. I enjoy the first mile, where my legs feel strong and my lungs untaxed. I enjoy the second mile where I’ve hit a rhythm and the running playlist on my iPod helps me keep the pace. I enjoy the third mile where it is a head game. My legs and lungs are strained and I plod along, one step at a time knowing that my training is paying off. And I really enjoy the last .1 miles. It is a magical place. The last straight away to the finish line where I gather the last of my energy and sprint, fists thrust over my head in victory as I cross the finish line.
Every race is a victory for me. It doesn’t matter if I beat anyone. The victory is in a battle against myself to know that I am strong. That I can do it. That I no longer have to save the run. I’ve gotta go run an easy mile and a half now.
See you at the finish line.