Friday, October 22, 2010

From 1 Minute to 10 Miles

*Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, 
you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.*  
-Mark Victor Hansen

Last Friday I completed my first double-digit run since high school. And only the 2nd or 3rd in my entire life! I ran on the trail along the lake in Chicago and I'm thankful I had Navy Pier to distract me for the first third of my run. It seems that the most daunting part of a long run is the first few miles. When you've been running for 5 minutes, realizing oh man I have 9.5 miles to go... is not the most encouraging thought.

So I turned my thoughts to other things. I was alternately excited, worried, zoned-out, questioning my sanity, and euphoric.  "Excited" and "euphoric" were in short supply and really only filtered through my mind the first 5 minutes and the last 5 minutes of the run. The rest of it was, to be honest, uncomfortable. I was running s l o w l y so the miles seemed to be taking forever to tick by. The wind off the lake was chilly and my legs got stiff and sore pretty quickly.

I started to wonder why I was running a marathon. My mileage only goes up from here. My first official half marathon is one month away and that seemed scary enough. But, by the end of the run, I suddenly felt great and capable of anything... including 13.1 miles!

I finished my run at the Buckingham Fountain and the glitter off the bricks added to my euphoria. I couldn't help but smile. Gosh darn it, I'd just run 10 miles!

As I finished my run, I discovered another love song that now applies to running. "White Flag" by Dido came up on my iPod and it was a great song to finish with:

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender

There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

(I keep putting random playlists on my iPod and when I reach a song like this that gives me more energy, I move it to a marathon playlist. I'm hoping that listening to all the songs I've loved and that have improved my runs during training will help with nerves on race day.)

I didn't quit. I ran 10 miles! I'd say "if I can do it, anyone can," but I hate it when other people say that. Instead I'll say this: If you are reading this and you want to be a runner but you're afraid you can't do it, try. And then a few days later, try again. You'll never know until you try. 

A year ago, I had just traded my friends, my amazing workplace, and a city I loved for night shift at a new hospital and a long, dark, cold winter. I felt like I had no control over anything in my life, so I started running. One minute at a time. 

I'd run one minute and then walk for 2 minutes. It took the full 2 minutes for my wheezing to stop and allow me to catch my breath. I'd do this for 20-30 minutes and call it a day. After a week or two, I decreased my walking so I was running 1 minute and walking 1 minute. Once that was comfortable, I upped my running to 2 minutes and continued to walk 1 minute. I worked up to 3, 4, and 5 minute intervals. Each week I started a new interval, you can bet I was staring at my watch waiting for the moment I could walk again!

It took me 7 months to run 3 miles without stopping, and 8-9 months to increase the mileage of my thrice weekly runs above 3 miles at a time. I still have some really bad workouts. I continue to struggle with motivation, the occasional aches and pains, and proper fueling. But I'm SO GLAD I started running.  When you have a good run, there's no better feeling in the world!

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