Yesterday, in a fit of madness, I decided to see what would happen if I ran half a marathon and then just kept running. I was going out for what was supposed to be 10 miles, and I just felt really good. It was a cold, very windy day. I found myself running into 30 mph gusts. Leaves and dust blew around, but the city was clean from Saturday’s long, hard rain. So when I reached the turnaround point (The Killing River Crossing), I bypassed it and kept running into the hinterlands. Not too much further, just about a mile and a half, lest I be so far from home I could not return under my own power.
When I did turn around, I had the tailwind the whole way home, sometimes in exhilarating gusts that literally had me yelling “wheeee!” at one point. After the 12 mile mark, it became difficult. The last mile was a grim, pounding trudge. But I ended back home, having gone 14.4 miles, in less time than my last half-marathon took. I use Runkeeper to track my runs, though I’m not especially fond of it. It tends to read about 2.3% longer than I actually go, when compared against a measured course. It read both the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia half-marathons at 13.4 miles.
So, using 13.4 as my guidepost, I ran the half marathon yesterday in 2:06:33. I won’t consider that my personal record though. That remains at 2:17:49. Not knowing the precise distance isn’t enough to update my record, not for a long run. Regardless, I think it’s fair to say that I’m within striking distance of a two hour half-marathon. And that I can stretch out beyond the half-marathon and run further. Not much further yet, and I’ll be losing some weekly distance in the winter, now that it’s getting dark at 5pm, and I hate running in the cold dark.
But first I have the next half marathon in three weeks. I’m not setting a time goal. BB and I are simply going to get up and go running. My little sister will be there to cheer us on. Hopefully, we will be fit and happy and it will feel like a nice jog in the park. Of course, it’ll be November 23rd. It might be snowy or rainy or colder than Titan’s poles. I’m not a weather badass. Rule 9 does not really apply to me. But I’m trying to apply Rule 5 enough that maybe someday it will.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve decided to run a marathon in 2015. At least, I’ve decided to purchase a registration and train for one. Not sure which yet. Mount Desert Island is a possibility, but it’s pretty hilly. Chicago is supposed to be a great course. Philadelphia is fast and flat. New York is big and prestigious. Tucson is downhill and my dad lives there.
It’s almost exactly four years since I started trying to be physically active in a systematic way. I was fat and tired and lonely. I didn’t want to be those things anymore. I started by doing what I could, and it wasn’t much: 10 push-ups and 30 sit-ups a day. Shortly thereafter, I started walking, and then jogging, after work. Slowly, I improved.
I’ve said before, the only thing it takes to be good at something is being willing to be bad at it for a few years (barring exceptional circumstances, of course). That’s how I learned the piano. That’s how I learned to cook. That how I’ve become a distance runner. I was no good at any of those things when I started. And I slowly, slowly got better at them, because I was willing to tolerate being lousy. Being slow. Having middling results. And by not aspiring to become the best in the world. But simply wanting to be better than I was the day before, more often than not.
Instant gratification is awesome. I love getting a massage or eating a sundae. But I have spent my life working on long slow projects, sometimes (in fact usually) longer and slower than necessary, to achieve ambitious goals. And I think that I have, more often than not, succeeded at that. I am not one of those people who can conquer mountains effortlessly. I have to work. But I am not so bad at working, in the long run. I procrastinate. I lollygag. And I eventually finish what I start. Right now, it looks like, I’m trying to finish a marathon.