This past week was my last full week of training for a road race I signed up for back in January.
Who cares? Why is this even a topic worth exploring or pursuing? Well, for starters, I have not pounded miles on pavement with any regularity since my 40s — and that was not yesterday, by the way. And even though I’ve run, off and on, from the time I was 17, I’ve never really thought of myself as a runner.
At 5’2” with short, stubby legs, I probably look more like a bunny hopping slowly down the street rather than one of those long, lanky types who appear to just glide along, no apparent effort required. Yeah, that’s never been me.
A Contentious Relationship:
“Putting one foot in front of the other, covering miles of streets or trails — I can already feel the resistance.”
I have had a contentious relationship with running my whole life, not going to lie. It’s hard for me, quite challenging in fact, as compared to other modes of physical exercise. Ask me to bench press, or jump rope any day of the week, and I’m game. Kickboxing? Sign me up. But, running? Putting one foot in front of the other, covering miles of streets or trails — I can already feel the resistance.
The road race I’m training for is the Charleston Cooper River Bridge Run, held on the first weekend of April. It’s a popular race, very beautiful as you run through Charleston, South Carolina, over the bridge, ending up in the heart of town. I hear it’s a happening party with live music and festivities to boot.
Originally, my sister and a couple of her friends signed up. They invited me to tag along for the weekend. What’s not to love? A full weekend in the super-cute town of Charleston, with some dangerously fun friends. The invitation was too tempting to not accept. None of the ladies suggested I actually run the race — just tag along for the festivities. I said, Hell yes!
“The problem lies in how I am hardwired.”
Then I began to process the real meaning of saying “yes” to the weekend for me. Could I go away for this amazing, fun, girl’s weekend centered around a 10K run, and skip the run? After all, a mere five months ago I was still down for the count after breaking three vertebrae in a skydiving accident. Add to that the fact that I’d stopped running many years ago, opting for more weight training and high-intensity interval training. Long bouts of cardio aren’t really what’s hot for me right now. Given my post-menopausal state, I focus more on functional movement and weight bearing to keep my ever-declining muscle mass and bone density from disappearing altogether.
The problem lies in how I am hardwired. After saying yes and sending my sister the payment for the lodging, I began to process the actual weekend events. What would I do as my friends prepare for their hour-plus adventure on the streets of Charleston? How would I feel eating a bowl of pasta that Friday night, knowing that I didn’t really “need” the carbs? What about the early morning scurrying to eat, hydrate, and use the potty? Would I just stay in bed to avoid the glaringly obvious “you’re not running this race” hullabaloo happening around me?
The more I contemplated the machinations of how the weekend would unfold, the more it became obvious to me that there was really only one choice for me. Well, two. I could back out of the girl’s weekend entirely, or I could sign up for the race.
Making A Decision:
“It’s not as if one can just show up and run 6.2 miles out of nowhere. You have to start at zero.”
And just like that, without much more thought, I put down my $55 and registered. So, now what?
I found myself in a predicament. Now I had to train.
Sadly, there was no way around it. It’s not as if one can just show up and run 6.2 miles out of nowhere. You have to start at zero. So that’s how in early January I found myself waiting for my Covid symptoms to subside so I could begin the journey.
And journey is exactly what this has turned out to be. On Day One, January 11th, I finished one mile using a combination of jogging and walking. The goal of completing just one mile, without stopping, was a target for some future date — which I also soon accomplished. Easy-peasy, right?
But I was going to have to string together more than six of those miles, by a deadline 11 weeks in the future, April 2nd. The question became, Is this achievable? Am I capable, and what do I need to implement to make this a reality?
This has become a case of We Can Do Anything, if: one, we want to; two, we develop a practical, doable plan of action to get there; and three, execute on that plan, no excuses. And just knowing that is incredibly empowering — for us all. We can do hard things. We can make different decisions, outside our comfort zone, and succeed.
I proved that just yesterday, in my last long run before the race: I ticked off six (.2) miles, no stopping.
So the distance between flat on our backs and running a road race gets shorter, one tiny executable behavior at a time. See you at the finish line.