This morning, the room still middle-of-the-night dark, my husband tapped me on the shoulder.
"It's 6:30," he said.
I rolled over, tried to ignore him.
Then I remembered why he was waking me up. This is the morning, I thought. I've got to get to the track so I can finish this program and run for 30 minutes for the first time ever. (Admittedly, my thought did not link to the Women's Health running program. That only happens on the blog.) I dragged my tired self out of bed and got dressed and watered before driving to the gym.
On the track, I fiddled with my iPod for a little bit, delaying, it would seem, the inevitable. There would be no walking warm up or cool down as part of my 30 minutes (although I did do both just for my own comfort).
I gradually fell into my slow pace. I watched the clock and, for the first time, I actually started counting laps. Rate times time equals distance, I chanted to myself as if I was back in the tiny windowless math room of my elementary school. If I counted laps, I could figure out how fast I was actually running. Rate times time equals distance.
Last night we had a few friends over for dinner. Mary is a marathon runner and her husband, Brad, recently took up running himself. The conversation turned to exercise.
"Are you running, Rhena?" Brad asked.
"You should run the half marathon! I'm doing it. It's June 5th." Brad's better half is currently pretty pregnant and, therefore, not training for anything other then, well, creating a human being and bringing it into the world.
"I don't think I can do a half marathon by June 5th. I'm doing this program and I'm only going to get to about 3 miles tomorrow." It was really only a half-truth. I had no idea how far I was running, only that I was almost running for 30 minutes, but it seemed like a lot to explain.
"That's perfect," Mary said. "Most training programs start with a 3 mile base."
"It starts tomorrow," Brad said.
"I'll think about it. I'm really, really slow, though."
"We're very laid back. Very relaxed," Brad assured me.
"I get smoked by everyone on the track,"
"So do I!" Brad nodded.
The conversation turned towards how women runners are at their peak speed in their thirties, which, for me, is true so far. I mulled over the idea of a half marathon the rest of the evening and checked the website when our friends had left. Could I actually do this?
On the track this morning, mental and physical fatigue were starting to set in about 20 minutes into my run. The first two miles took me about 22 minutes to complete and I knew I wouldn't reach three miles in thirty minutes. Rate times time equals distance. My legs were getting tired. I don't think I can do a half marathon, I thought to myself. I imagined how it would feel to be two miles into a run, outdoors on the hard concrete with hills and the wind and the weather knowing I still had more than 11 miles to go. I can't possibly do that, I thought. I'm not even going to get to a base of 3 miles on an indoor, flat, climate-controlled track.
I watched the clock and then I tried to ignore it. I tried to calculate how long it would take me to finish three miles (34 minutes? 36 minutes?) and then let go of that thought. Five minutes until I hit thirty minutes. Four minutes left. Three minutes. Wait, I realized. I only have two minutes left and only a few more laps to get to three miles. Should I just keep going past the thirty minutes?
I kept going. One extra lap. Another one. Three miles! This is it! I'm done!I did it! I finally slowed down to a walk at 33 minutes.
I had done it.
As I walked an extra lap and then made my way to the stretching room, I thought again about the half marathon. Maybe I can do it. If I can make it to three, I can make it to five. If I can do five, I can do seven and then I'm more than halfway there. I don't know if I'll have the time and the discipline. We'll have to see and I'll decide in the next week or so.
In the meantime, I'm basking in the glow of passing thirty minutes, reaching three miles, and knowing that if and when I decide to run a half marathon, I will get there.