What Progress Feels Like.
In the past five days I’ve run four times. On the off day, I worked out at the gym. I’ve totaled 26.45 miles in 4:12:37. With the fact that my GPS device reads a little long (about 2%), I’m probably actually a tiny bit short of a full marathon. Getting this kind of distance in feels good, even though I still don’t tend to enjoy the actual running so much. I mostly enjoy the satisfaction of having completed it.
So, I continue to stretch my mileage with the goal of completing a marathon in the fall. BB and I are now talking about doing a destination half-marathon in the summer sometime. Something on a challenging course. Trail, maybe. Hilly or at altitude. I will turn this sad sack of dough I have for a body into something harder. And I’m well on my way, I think.
Last fall, BB and I decided to try to remain “half-marathon fit”. Precisely what that means is up for interpretation, but it should mean that we can decide to run a half marathon with very little prep time. Only a week or two at most. I like the idea of it meaning that if the weather is gorgeous and I decide to take the day off work, I should be able to run 13.1 miles any old day I feel like it. Which means keeping up a minimum of 15 or so miles a week worth of shorter runs.
As I plan on stretching out for the full marathon this fall, I’m going to take it very slow. I have a weird nerve thing in my foot that acts up annoyingly when I go too far too fast on it. Which means I need to build both distance and speed slowly. Which means I need to take enough time to train correctly. Talking through the plans with BB, we’re looking to start increasing mileage around May, and spend all summer doing 13-17 mile runs every weekend. Then, as fall approaches, we’ll extend out to 20-22. This will take planning to manage hydration and nutrition. But we’ll work it out.
These forward steps remain astonishing to me. I feel like a child just discovering how my body works. There’s pain. There’s joy. There’s curiosity. Can I do this? Wow. OK, can I do this? Sometimes I go too far. Sometimes I get tired and have to rest. I know one day I won’t be able to do it anymore. But hopefully that day is not soon.
But I am moving in a direction that feels like forward. I’m building confidence and courage about what I can do. And therefore, how I can live. I remember, as a drinker, thinking about how I’d never be able to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Not because it’s so hard (apparently, it’s just a challenging week-long hike). But because I’d have to hire a donkey to carry all my booze. And I bet they don’t let you do that. Now, if I want to climb Kilimanjaro, all I have to do is book the ticket. And maybe I will one day.
I used to revel in the slovenliness of my self-desecration. There’s seduction in that. In misery. In vileness. Loneliness. I can miss all the isolating squalor. I can miss all my grim shame.
Now I run in the daylight. I step forward, one place to the next, and I breathe. No smoke. No fumes. A long deep respiration, and then I wonder: where will I go next?