Hitting eleven

In this one, I'm going to gloat a little. While it may seem like that when I write about my running, that's not usually my intent. Today, however, I'm most definitely going to gloat.

I skipped my long run yesterday. I was just tired and wanted a day off. I had an appointment in the middle of the day, and afterwards, I didn't much feel like doing an 11 mile.

Being in a somewhat depressive mood, I worried this meant I'd finally decided to give up on running.

Of course, I'm definitely not going to stop running. After yesterday's day of being an Eeyore, I woke up this morning refreshed. All day, I knew a run awaited me after work. I just didn't think I was going to try for 11.

Why 11? Well, that is what I scheduled myself to run. I'm informally training for the ten-miler and or the Charlottesville half-marathon, loosely based on the program I had during last year's marathon training program. Life and injuries caught up with me, so I didn't get to complete the Richmond marathon, but I've kept running ever since.

And now I'm ramping up the miles. On April 3, I'm hoping to race the ten-miler, and then I'm hoping to run the half marathon after that. This means I need to get in at least one double-digit run a week in order to make sure I'm conditioned and have the necessary endurance. I sort of thought with yesterday's decision to relax, I wasn't going to make that goal.

Today, I was determined not to get side-tracked. I filed my story for tomorrow's newspaper at 5:00 and then got my clothes out of my car.

I'm getting better at actually planning ahead, though I seem to forget one or two things. In the future, I hope to have at least a dozen running kits so I can head out whenever I want. I need to Sean-proof my life.

All day I knew it was going to be a glorious run, but when I was actually standing outside my office, I was suddenly got cold feet, and thought maybe a 3 or 4 mile run was all I was going to go for. I was making up excuses. What if it gets cold? I didn't bring any nutrition with me. What if my watch battery dies? What if the Garmin helped aliens track me down?

Pure silliness. But, that's how my brain works at times. I seem to actively seeks ways to sabotage what makes me happy. I don't understand why, but I'm beginning to have a sense of how to slow down and stop these thoughts.

While I waited for the Garmin to synch with a satellite, I stretched and stretched and stretched because sometimes those satellites can be very hard to find.

Thankfully, after two minutes, the watch synched, and within seconds I was off and running. My goal tonight was to simply run at a comfortable pace for as long as I could.

This was the first time I've ran all year in a t-shirt and shorts. Blissful. I remember how amazing running felt last year while I discovered the joys of exploring my community through footfalls. I anticipate an amazing season ahead as I get to meet more runners and as I keep learning new techniques.

Tonight's technique paid off well, because the first mile passed so quickly despite running it at a slightly-slower-than-usual 9:20. I went west so I could feel the setting sun on my face and so I could see the horizon. I ran down the mall, down West Main Street, up the corner, up Ivy Road, right on Copeley, north up Emmet Street, past Mt. Chipotle and then up the long half mile of Barracks Road. This was mile 4.

I practically waltzed up that hill. Training in Charlottesville has prepared me for going up, and today I grinned and grinned on the way up and didn't feel even a little tired at the top. It was at this point that I realized this run was something special and I decided I would at least try for 8 miles.

I can't explain what this feeling is like, but I can say it's amazingly important to me to be able to believe in myself. I've not always been able to do that. No amount of stories in the newspaper and no amount of happy Court Square Tavern customers can compare to the feeling that comes when I'm in the middle of a run and I feel like I can go forever. My pace kept getting faster.

By the time I got back to West Main (via 10th Street) I decided I was going to shoot for 11. After all, I'm a runner, and that's what I needed to do in order to push my training forward. I didn't need to go incredibly fast to do it. I just needed to do it.

Of course, I didn't really think about my route. I kind of made it up as I went along, which is the beauty of the Garmin. I ran down 4th Street in order to get some more distance without going too far. And then ran back up McIntire Road, but got stuck at the Intersection of Doom with four other runners.

When the light finally changed in our favor, I sprinted east down Water Street, allowing myself a bit of speed at mile 8. By this point, the light was gone and I could only see my Garmin under orange lights. This somehow made me go faster.

Down Market Street. Up that big hill on Meade Avenue. At this point, thoughts began to turn to dinner. Maybe Beer Run? Maybe Chinese? The more protein the better to help my legs recover.

I usually take a right on Carlton Avenue and run through Belmont, but today I needed more miles to attain my goal so I kept running, up that long hill to Monticello Avenue.

At this point, I realized I was getting a little tired and I was concerned I was going to injure myself on a curb cut or some other obstruction I couldn't see. I finally got some light and could see I was at 8.81 miles, and I cursed a bit, confusing a poor woman who was walking her dog. But, I kept on going. Stopping at 9 or 10 was not an option. I needed to hit eleven.

Down Avon Street, not really slowing my pace despite a growing blister that was forming. I figured part of training is learning how to run past these things. I was wearing a pair of shoes that are still good, but not my usual running friends. I did stop for a second on the Belmont Bridge to see if I could somehow adjust my socks so I didn't feel it as much.

Running on the blister wasn't painful. Just annoying. I didn't let it slow me down as I approached the 10 mile mark, which I crossed at 1:26:19, a new record for me. That included at least two minutes of waiting for lights and my stop on the bridge. I crossed the ten mile mark while running up McIntire Road yet again, for the third time. I was pushing myself hard at that point so I could maintain my pace, which was roughly around 8:30 a mile at this point.

When I got to the top of the hill, I spun left and did a victory lap on the Mall. I didn't feel tired at all. Just felt like running and I were getting along great. It felt so warm. People weren't wearing coats. Music was playing. People were laughing. My feet were dancing.

When I got to my office, and I saw that I still had a third of a mile to go to reach 11, I took it in stride, and kept on past and did a loop around Lexis-Nexis and the Pavilion, and then looped back on the mall until I hit 11.

And when I hit 11, I stopped. That was it. No more running. Walking began immediately, followed by a series of good stretches. I came up with a plan for dinner and felt absolutely content with myself, which is no easy feat.

It's important to compare this run to the 7-miler from Thursday,when I was sluggish, exhausted, and didn't at all feel like going all the way, but I made myself get through it.

I do this, and I write about this, because I need to remind myself that I can achieve things, but only if I'm willing to put the work in. For so much of my life, I thought I could do anything by saying I could do those things. I could make a necklace out of the string of failures that followed from such logic. I was a slacker for most of my life, and in many ways, I still am.

But, I need to remember that I can work hard, and that I believe in what I do and who I am.

So, yes, I'm gloating. I ran 11 miles today and next Monday I'll run 12, followed by 13 the Monday after that, and then I'll run the 10-miler and try to achieve my goal of running it in 82 minutes or less. Maybe I won't make it. But, I'm already winning.

All of us can win. Each of us can be victorious if we work hard and have humility. I understand people have difficulties with so many things, but I implore people who say no to themselves to at least start saying maybe. That maybe can be turned into a yes if you try hard and stop listening to your own excuses.

We all deserve to gloat about something. What about you?


Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine said...

If you're looking for more running routes and trails in Charlottesville, check out this article in the March issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors, featuring insider picks and places from the Southeast's top running towns:


Sean Tubbs said...

I'm not, but thanks!