Back At It
A Good Start and a Frustrating Stop
After a seemingly strong start, and then a bit of a setback, I’ve been pounding pavement again. July and August were a bit frustrating, but on Labor Day I was able to run the Nike+ 10K (on a treadmill, on vacation, but I did it.) Ten kilometers – just over six miles – is the longest distance I had ever run, and one that I hadn’t touched since high school. Unfortunately, after that, I found myself unable to run more than a once or twice a month.
Around Thanksgiving, I realized that my goal of running the half-marathon in the Gasparilla Classic would slip away if I didn’t start training in earnest. And so I did. I learned the importance of weather, as my runs in the cool fall and winter air felt easier, faster, and longer than those of the brutal summer. The calendar told me I had only a few short weeks to add to my long run before March 1. Adding a mile per week – ambitious, but not crazy – would put me where I needed to be.
Longest Run Ever
Last night, driving home, I felt good and the weather felt cool. Almost on the spur of the moment, I decided to skip my planned six-mile run (postponed from Sunday due to the holiday) and go straight to seven. There’s a straight shot from my house to a nearby car dealership and back that’s exactly seven miles, a route I’d measured before but never actually run, and as I drove home, rock music blasting from my iPod, I decided to give it a shot.
I made it.
The run was challenging without being too punishing. I tried to keep a slow, steady pace throughout, figuring that was my best shot at avoiding a flameout after mile four. A bit to my surprise, the third mile was the hardest – that’s when my calves and quads hurt the most, when my energy level seemed lowest, when I seriously began to wonder if I hadn’t made a colossal mistake. Then just after finishing that third mile, I rounded a curve and saw the lights of the car dealership in the distance. The pavement slid quickly under me as I reached the halfway point… and then, I was just going home.
A Personal Best
Just a year ago, if you had told me I would be running seven miles before 2008 closed, I would have laughed, or at least rolled my eyes. Not only had I never done it, I had no reason to think that I even had it in me to try.
Now? I’ve checked off that box, well on my way to my goal of 13.1 on March 1. And in the process, I’ve achieved something that I had never been able to accomplish in my entire life.