So, rewind to March of this year, and I am firmly doing the part of the Couch to 5K program at which I most spectacularly excel: Couch. But, I'm signed up for a 5K and I'm running it with a group of my girls and I fear their wrath if I drop out, so as soon as it gets warm enough out to run outdoors without losing a limb, I bundle up and be-glove myself and go. Run/ walk/ run/ walk/ trudge. Wheeze.
I am doing a slightly accelerated version of the program, since I didn't leave myself quite enough time (thanks, Mother Nature!) to do all 12 weeks, but I am not terribly concerned. My goals for the 5K are simple: Run the whole thing, and do not die. For bonus points, don't come in last out of your friends. (Sorry, ladies. My heart is a dark, mean place sometimes.)
Screwing around on the Daily Mile's route planner, I discover that a loop around a lake near my house is exactly a 5K from door to door, so I start run/ walking that puppy, and I can't imagine being able to run the whole thing. April seems to be sneaking up on me and visions of walking the race with a slumped sad shoulder situation begin to tease at my peripheral vision. I remember getting lapped at the MILE at a high school track meet. (Heh. Actually happened. 1993 was a banner year for me in effort.) I shoo them away but know they're there, ready to play in my head if I let them.
Then Week 2 of the Couch to 5K comes along and something clicks. Suddenly, I can do this. My brain shuts off and I, well, Just Do It. I run the whole thing, the whole 3.1 miles, and I don't stop. I am a Nike commercial. I am a person who gets up at 6 and goes out to run around a lake not just to escape the carnage that is breakfast with two boys under 5 who want to pour their own cereal and light their own waffles on fire but because she's actually running, not some run walk gasp dance. It's a breakthrough. I'm not quite there yet. I'm drunk on having done it, but I don't like it. I see the finish of the 5K looming ahead and it's the finish of not just the race, but my brief career as a runner.
I continue to get up and trudge through the runs. I log my runs on Dailymile.com and friends of mine who are For Real runners encourage me. I start flirting with longer runs, tacking on an extra loop around the block to see how far it is, and then wondering if I can run 4 miles. It turns out that I can. I run on vacation! More than once! Suddenly I'm no longer afraid of the 5K, and I run it and finish and don't die. I spend a good portion of the afternoon after I run it lamenting my time before realizing that I'm not subtracting 10 minutes from it to account for the 10K that started 10 minutes earlier and was being timed on the same course. Oh. Heh. Yes. So I am not actually a tortoise. I'm not a hare so much, either, but possibly some sort of in between animal. Like maybe a hare with a shell that hinders its movement. Or maybe just a muskrat. Will ponder this animal question further at a later date. (You have my word.)
But then I still run! I run 4, 4.3, 4.5. One Sunday I completely lose it and head out for a 5.4 mile run and I don't stop, and when I see the house I'm disappointed, because I feel like I could go on and on (but that's it. No extra ons. For now.)
At this point, I start to wonder who exactly I am. Have I been assimilated by the borg or similar thing that I could look up on wikipedia but don't because self-diagnosis via the internet is always a terrible idea? In high school, I used to run long distance on the track team and immediately hide in the woods as soon as was possible, then wait for the runners to come back and trail behind them somewhat pathetically. (Sorry, Dad. Thanks for buying my letter jacket? Er.)
Then my sister and I completely, 100% (well, maybe 70%, let's leave 100% for if we ever do the full 26.2) lose our minds and sign up for a half marathon. I pay someone 35$ so I can run 13.1 miles at the end of this coming September. What? How did I get from there to here, exactly?
And then I lose it a little extra because some chit chat with my friend Debbie leads to us deciding that it makes perfect sense to run the CIGNA Falmouth Road Race, 7.1 miles in the middle of August and to do it for charity, raising massive amounts of money on top of intentionally running in the middle of summer. And so, I'm running that race, with a fund raising goal of a cool grand, for the Melanoma Foundation of New England, to raise funds for Melanoma research and general obliteration (I'm hoping) of the disease. I'll be running in the memory of my mother, Linda Davies, who died in 1991 at the age of 44 after a long battle with Melanoma. I miss her every day.
Really, though. Running? It's like I don't even recognize myself anymore. (But I am still wondering at what point I'll start looking athletic to the casual observer. Stay tuned.)