Saturday, July 18, 2009

So You Think You Can Run?

After a hiatus which lasted, oh, just about 4 years, I have finally worked myself back up to running a strong 3 miles.

Let's define strong as not easily winded with legs that do not fold like a cheap card table upon reaching the finish.

Let's not define strong as fast.

It was March of 2000 when I learned I was pregnant for the first time. That week, I went out running at the slough behind Newport Coffeehouse and ran 3 miles in 26.14.


I kept that time on my watch for YEARS.

In the years prior to that time, I pulled in a 29:00 and a 28:00, but had never run as fast as a 26:00.

It has never happened again.

Following Harper's birth I ran a half-marathon for which I trained hard. I will always remember the 10 miles I put in before the race. I remember running up to Northwestern from our condo on Monroe, and thinking, "Did I really just run that far"? I remember the run back along the lakefront and stopping at the showers outside the beach to cool off before finishing the last bit of the course. Upon turning onto Monroe, I could see Harper and George waiting for me outside the condo, cheering me in. It felt great.

The race, however, was a different story. I may have felt good during that 10 miler, but something went terribly wrong on the actual race day. It was hot. There was absolutely no shade on the course. I began to get a blister. I pulled in a time of 2:30. Still, not bad for a first half marathon, but slower than I had planned.

Zane was born, and it was running that helped me get back into shape. With the help of a dear friend, I worked back up to training for a second half marathon. This one came in at a 2:20. Following this, I relayed the Baltimore Marathon to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday. I had a 5 mile leg, which I ran at 10:40/mile.

That was 2005.

Haven't run a lick since.

That is, until I moved here.

I live in a prime location for running. Out my door, down to the end of the street, up River Road, and back to my street is 3 miles. There are gobs of runners going past my door on any given morning. Seriously, as I sat typing on Saturday morning, runner after runner after runner, took their turn on the slight incline that is my block.

I hadn't run all week, due to the fact that I am a terrible morning person. A trait I have always abhorred and have tried time and time again to conquer. Thankfully, today was cool, so I headed out around in the afternoon.

It was one of those glorious runs that only runners understand. The ones where you feel euphoric, as if you could go on forever. Some call it the "runner's high". My breathing was great. My legs felt loose and relaxed, as well as incredibly strong (that's what a 3 story house with a basement will do to you). I wondered if I should push myself a bit more, or just continue to keep it leisurely.

I didn't even feel winded after those 3 miles.

No, I didn't run particularly fast.

I did run steady.

I really do believe that, barring serious injury, anyone can run.

It's not about speed. It's about stability. Mental toughness. A desire to persevere and follow-through. It's about making it to the finish line.

Remember that story about that turtle and rabbit? It seems to me as if stability, mental toughness, perseverance, and follow through were all winners in that story.

I want to have endurance. I want to feel strong and empowered at the finish - not depleted and worn down. I want to feel that "high", as if I could run for hours and not grow weary.

So too in life.

So, do you think you can run?


debbie said...

sign me up for the high.... just gotta get this kid out first! Half marathon next summer for me! You're invited if you want!

Katie said...

Ha ha! I can run. And I'm going to run my 1st 1/2 marathon in 2010. Family style...we're all logging in mileage to get us there. Woo-hoo!