It’s so easy to forget how far I’ve come in such a short time. 3.5 months ago, I had never gone on a run in my life. Today I ran for the 44th time.
But I felt like I was starting all over.
Well, not exactly I guess. My first running interval was 10 minutes, compared to 1 minute on my first day. My total distance was 3 miles, probably 10 times the distance of the running portion of my first run. But it sure as hell didn’t feel like I’d done it 44 times. I was sweating like crazy, my legs felt like lead, and I remember distinctly thinking that I wanted to quit when I was 13:00 into it. I was going to have to huff and puff for 37 more minutes before I hit the three mile mark. My average pace was 16:53 per mile. There are many people that walk faster than that, but I was running.
The rational part of me knows there are two, possibly three reasons for this. One, I’m running on a treadmill with an incline. For some reason, I find this much harder to do than running outside. Seeing as how the current temperature is right around zero degrees, the treadmill is where I’ll be.
Two, I have unrealistic expectations of my pace. When I got to the end of my beginner 5K training program, I was using Nike+ to measure my runs—but the GPS never worked. I kind of wondered why it never showed me a map! 🙂 Instead, it was using the accelerometer in my phone to measure my distance, and it was grossly over-estimating it (which is why it clocked my first 5K at 3.55 miles—I later found it was a perfectly measured course). It had gotten me used to thinking I could go for a 3 mile run and stay in the 12:00 – 13:00 mile range. That’s not true. I know I can run a mile in 13:30, but I can’t run three in a row at that pace. So now that I know my true pace, I feel slow. Also, I wasn’t really racking up the mileage I thought I was in December, since I was using the Nike+ numbers (I’ve since updated my iOS and reinstalled my app, and everything seems to be working correctly).
Third (maybe), I ate a steak dinner before I ran. I always eat dinner before my weeknight runs, so that may or may not have anything to do with it.
Anyway, after minute 13 when I felt like quitting, I just kept thinking about how I had to make it to three miles. Not only had I tweeted that I needed to do three miles and asked folks to hold me accountable, but I know I need to be comfortable with regular 3 mile runs so I can start my half marathon training next month. This is completely mental. I know I can run three miles. It’s just so much easier to run them when I have a 3-mile loop outside than when I have to run in place for 45 minutes.
Tonight I had a mental image of me completing my half marathon in May (this is easy, because when I work out at night I stare at my reflection in the glass, so I know exactly what I look like when I’m running). The image was not pretty. I pictured a sweaty mess that could only run in short spurts and finished in well over 3 hours. That might be reality…but I need to start focusing on the fact that I will finish. The time doesn’t matter. How graceful I look doesn’t matter. What matters is that just over 7 months after going out for my first run, I will run 13.1 miles. And I will take a smiling picture when I’m done. It might look something like this, but with a sweet race medal around my neck.