The journey of becoming a runner
Monday, May 09, 2011
I want to be a runner. I love the idea of it. It can be done anywhere. It is fairly efficient way to exercise and burn calories. It doesn't cost that much. But the reality is that I got it in my head that I hate running. So, for me, running is as much a mind game to get through as it is physical challenge. I pursued the running goal once before in my life -- 6 years ago before my father died. I wanted to run a ten mile race. I was running for 70 minutes at a time and could keep a 6 mile/hour pace (more or less) and then it all broke bad and I spent my afternoons at the hospital finishing the pints of ice cream that Dad had said he wanted and only took a few bites. The "all Ben and Jerry's, all the time" diet isn't ideal for athletic activity. The training ended. I went on a couple of runs here or there after that but very quickly gave up the running and the running goal. So with a single 5K under my belt and fees paid to a few more races that were never run, running was abandoned.
Over the past 6 years I have gone through more and less active times (choosing activities including biking, hiking and some intervals on the treadmill -- these are done with a HR monitor). I am clearly not in the same shape I was in back then but I signed up for a 5K last March to try to get myself exercising more than twice a week because 40 is starting to mock the changes in metabolism that came at 27. I started the couch 2 5K just like last time but wasn't quite as dedicated as I should have been and had only gotten to week 6 of the program by the time my race came around. I had managed 6 weeks of training in the 11 weeks I had allotted. I ran the race. My goal was to run the whole thing, no walking. I made that goal but my time was considerably slower than my one previous experience and a little slower than my goal which I set when I realized I hadn't trained enough.
I won entrance into another 5K this past weekend. I wanted to improve my time but I really hadn't been doing that much training. I finally finished the last three weeks of the Couch 2 5K in about double that time. It was a very small race and everyone seemed to be runners -- there didn't seem to be that customary contingent that you see at large races who will walk the course or maybe are just starting a long journey with fitness and losing weight or who are quite advanced in age and still out there. No, there were less than 100 people and as I looked around they all looked pretty serious about the sport. My mantra of "you won't come in first but you probably won't be last either" was starting to sound less convincing.
And when I started the course after the starting gun had sounded, I changed my goal. The out and back course started down a steep hill that lasted for about .6 miles and then continued down a slight grade along the creek until the lowest point on the course -- the turn around point. The second 1.56 miles of this race would be all uphill. And a good bit of my training has been on a treadmill with no elevation. I kept the goal of no walking but decided my effort here would be to find a positive place in my head. No internal complaining. No hating the race, no hating running. Enjoy the course, the beautiful weather, the beauty of rock creek park in the spring. I was pretty sure there was no one behind me when I made it to the turn around but there were maybe 6 people who finished behind me (2 of whom I passed on the gentle uphill before it got steep). The official results haven't been posted yet but I think I added about a minute and a half to my previous time. I feel good about it. I finished, I didn't walk (although there were points of that uphill slog where I was sure I could walk faster than I was running), and I saw three deer. I wanted to sprint the last .1 mile but my heart rate was so high I decided not to risk it (like 190 high)
In two weeks I am running an 8K -- what was I thinking? My goal? to finish and keep my head in a positive place.