Tomorrow Don and I will embark on our first 10 mile run.
I am both terrified and excited about the prospect of our first double-digit distance. It seems like such an important benchmark in running, and, while I know it will be hot and tiring and hard, I think I can do it. Had I considered the prospect even two months ago, I think I would have felt otherwise. Joining the running group has not only given me more insight into training, but it also provides me with a support system for when I feel like I couldn’t possibly take another step even if there was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting sitting juuuust out of reach.
So much of running, for me, is mental, and if I can talk myself out of taking too many walking breaks or ducking out early into the sanctuary of my air-conditioned car, I can claim victory. Seeing the other runners in our group struggling (or not struggling) with these same things puts my fatigue into perspective and makes it easier for me to talk myself out of quitting. The people who I draw the most inspiration from are Terry, a man who just celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday (yup, 70, as in seven decades of life!), and the handful of “real” runners who make running look like a breeze but offer the same complaints- being tired and out of breath at the end of a run, dreading the big hill in the middle of the run, and really looking forward to seeing Cheryl’s car along the way- as I do.*
Terry is living proof that a life of physical activity keeps you young and healthy (I would have guessed he was in his early 60s), and those “real” runners remind me that even when you train hard and are super fit, running still kinda sucks. While this may not seem all that inspirational, it puts into perspective that the burning in my legs and lungs and the sweat blinding my eyes are simply a part of running and I can either let them deter me from accomplishing a goal I have set or I can power through and make it to the end.
The old saying misery loves company has never been more true than when applied to a running group. The camaraderie that develops between people who are sharing the same pain on the way to a common goal is essential to our success as a group and individually. Some of our stronger runners, including our fearless leaders Mike and Kelly, will be absent from our 10 miler this weekend because they are competing at the Hana Relay on Maui (a 52 mile relay race- yikes! I’d join if a team could have 52 runners, but, sadly, a team is only allowed 6). At first, I was worried this would mean that it would just be Don and I doing our 10 miles together- which would really mean that it would be the two of us for about a mile, and then I wouldn’t see him again until I made it back to the car- but the rest of us have banded together to make sure we don’t have to go it alone.
My plan for tomorrow is slow and steady (when isn’t this my plan? It has been my life mantra since I first formed a coherent thought!). With all of the training we have done, my pace has been picking up a bit, but with the help of my heart rate monitor, I’m going to find a pace that seems maintainable (driving my car with the AC on full blast seems the most maintainable, but I think my teammates would frown upon that… unless I offered them a ride), and not worry about time. Don is hoping to finish in time to catch the Chargers game, so I’ll do what I can, but he could always pick me up after the game since it might take me that long to run ten miles!
Our long run last Sunday was about 7 miles (although there were discrepancies between the various gps and pedometer devices some of us use, so it was somewhere in between 6 and 7 miles and since I like to err on the side of giving myself more credit than I deserve, I’m calling it 7). We ran a loop that gave us beautiful views of Kaneohe Bay and the mountains surrounding it and then out to He’eia Pier for some more beautiful views of mountains and water. I need to find a way to bring my phone with me on runs so that I can capture some of the spectacular scenery that makes them extra worthwhile. Mike seems to be especially adept at finding scenic routes for our long runs, and this, many of us have agreed, allows us a little distraction from the heat and fatigue we feel along the way.
Sunday’s run was not my best. Don and I had some friends from Germany visiting, so, instead of eating a balanced dinner, drinking extra water and having an early bedtime, we ate guacamole by the fistful, washed it down with some beers, and stayed out later than we intended to on Saturday night. I knew that I would not be at the top of my game, but the important thing is that I still completed my run. It was definitely a “mind over matter” situation with the hardest part being when we ran past our cars on the way out to the pier- There they sat! Little metal boxes promising climate control and an escape from our suffering!- but the extra work required to make it to the end made victory that much sweeter.
Wish me luck on tomorrow’s 10 miler! I’m certainly going to need it!
*Cheryl is Terry’s wife, and she parks somewhere along the route of our longer runs and lugs around a cooler filled with ice-cold water and Gatorade. I’ve never seen a more beautiful site than the open hatch of Cheryl’s trunk, and Cheryl, arm extended, offering a cold jewel-in-beverage-form to us tired runners from her treasure chest.