The other day after I had my big run I went out in my car and drove obsessively all over my neighborhood measuring each block so I could know how far I was running. Using the app Bradley told me about might be a simpler, more precise measurement tool, but I prefer the car. Of course.
The other brilliant suggestion my husband had was to go run at the track that is two blocks from our house. Brilliant! I had decided that my next running goal was to run a mile. A mile on a track feels farther to me than the mile that goes from my house to the cul-de-sac on the opposite corner from me. A mile on a track repeats four times before you make it. A mile in my hood allows me to see each house once before I need to stop walk the rest of the way. Anyhow, a mile on the track feels like a quantifiable distance. Inarguable. An accomplishment. It feels real.
Let me just say first, though, that this is only the second mile I have ever run in my entire life without stopping. The first was in ninth grade. Ninth grade was the year where I look like a staff member in the school yearbook – fat makes you look a lot older and I had gained a lot of weight the summer in between 8th and 9th. Mr. Parrat was just the nicest man. He was able to be the PE teacher of a girl who was ballooning in her weight and not applying herself to her fitness with total encouragement and kindness. He was able to kindly encourage me and never humiliated me. (I do have to give credit to the MJHS PE teachers- they were never the stereotypical set of PE teachers shown on movies making teams of shirts and skins dodgeball. I was never humiliated or felt less than because of my fitness level). However, it came to the point when I was the only one in class who hadn’t passed the fitness test. We needed to run the mile in less than 12 minutes. It was my fourth attempt. I was annoyed because softball was starting and that was my forte. I could hit, pitch and do it all. But I wasn’t allowed to play ball until I got this running thing out of the way. Mr. Parrat chose a girl named Stacy to run alongside me while I took my fourth and final run. I think she was encouraged to not let me stop, to talk me through my fear, to playfully bully me over the finish line. She did and it worked. I exceeded the twelve minute goal and made a nine minute mile. I was astonished -I didn’t know I had this in me, how did Mr. Parrat know?- and I briefly adopted a goal of running in my day to day life. I tried. I ran around the block a few times wearing ridiculously cobbled together workout outfits (picture long-johns under summer shorts with Keds- yup. A serious athlete folks). But I never took to it and the goal faded.
Now I know that to train to run doesn’t mean to go outside, start running and don’t stop for 30 minutes. Now I know it really does start with ridiculously small baby steps. I started with running for a puny little thirty seconds. But just like the baby’s initial steps, they are wobbly at first but quickly they build fluency and momentum. Running is like that. You conquer thirty seconds, and within 14 days there you are running a complete mile. Or maybe you won’t be running a mile. But you’ll be a heck of a lot closer! (Or perhaps you’re like my friend who will remain nameless who can just get up and run a 5k without even training thakyouverymuchOMG!).
So, today I woke up and I knew that it was going to happen. We ate a light breakfast of yogurt and scooted down to the high school. There was baseball practice, but that didn’t deter me. We walked one lap, then we were off. As I hit the end of lap two I wondered if this was going to be too much. Then I remembered that was just fear telling me I couldn’t do it. But determination said I could.
My family ran with me the whole time. I run really slow right now, so at times they were able to keep pace with me by walking. I rolled my eyes and told them that NO, walking alongside me is not acceptable. For realz, yo. That’s humiliating!
Really, though, I’m not running for speed right now. It’s all about endurance. So I endured my butt around the track and at the last straightaway Jude decided to join so Gigi and Bradley fell back with him and left me out in front, running ahead to meet my finish line on my own. I swear to you, I could hear the music (Chariots of Fire in my head, Madonna’s Music in my ears) and the world seemed to slow down for a minute while I stared straight ahead at the finish line coming closer and closer and closer. As I came up on it I started sprinting, pushing myself as hard as I could just to show myself that I still had juice. I could keep on going if I wanted.
I crossed over and had to fight off the tears again. I wanted to throw my hands in the air and screech that I did it. I wanted to do a touchdown dance and raise a big fat fuss, but I didn’t. Instead I smiled big, took the next step and squeezed Bradley’s hand when he caught me. We finished the 5K to train in steps, if not in speed, then headed home.
I think I’ll just start adding a quarter mile each time now until I get to the 3.1 miles needed to finish a 5k. I know I’m just beginning, but I’m wondering if a 10k might be a fun challenge sooner than later. We’ll see.
I asked Bradley to take the scale and hide it until next week. I’m going nuts working hard and not losing so I’m going to focus on my fitness and caloric intake for now and I’ll allow myself to weigh again next weekend. Right now, the lack of movement on the number line is making me feel frustrated and at times I’m feeling like giving up. I refuse to let something as stupid as that number and that measurement tool dominate my brain and energy. I refuse to give up or give into something this silly.