The old joke goes: What do you call the person who graduated at dead last in their class at med school? DOCTOR.
Yesterday's long run was designed to show me what I can reasonably expect of myself in my upcoming half marathon on November 6th. The Amish Half is a very hilly course - last year I biked some of those roads in the MS Bike Ride and let me tell you, those hills are constant and fierce. Up down, up up up level up some more...tough on a bike for this newbie. But, I was feeling fairly confident of running this course.
The goal I had set for myself in this race was to finish in 2:20, maybe - dare I hope for it? - 2:15. This was a real, achievable goal, I thought, when I set it two months ago. Then, I lost a couple weeks of training, and after a painful return to running doing 7 miles in the hilly and beautiful Valley Forge Park, I thought, "Uh oh."
Yesterday, I drove away from my flat neighborhood and headed to the hillier part of the county. The topography matches Lancaster County, and I thought, this run will let me know what I'm reasonably capable of. The first 5 miles were good enough - even if I didn't run all the way up the non-stop hills, I kept my walks to less than a minute. I was feeling strong. I took my gu at the right time, was hydrating well. A good run. That all fell apart.
Suddenly, my legs just didn't want to go too much more. A little more than an hour in, and everywhere I looked was an uphill and my quads were cursing me with words that would make a trucker blush. I realized that I was delusional when setting a 2:20 goal and a 2:15 hope. In fact, I was delusional to think that I should even race in 2 weeks. Better, I thought, that I delay my registration til next year. I quit. In my head, I was done. Not prepared to run the race I wanted, just not gonna do it.
That thought process lasted for about 2 minutes...maybe it would have lasted longer if I had any clue where in God's country I was and just how close to my car...but I was several miles from anything, so I couldn't quit running at that moment. And then I thought, "Well, someone's got to come in last." Maybe that someone is me. While that may sound like Loser Lurgy, really it was comforting. There's no reason to quit. My goal just needed to be adjusted (and thank you Runner's World for your November issue whose theme is just that).
I plugged on, taking walk breaks every 7-9 minutes, a slow little turtle trot. I began to enjoy the incredibly beautiful scenery again. Blue sky blanketed the rolling farms, Holstein cows out grazing, the stumps of corn stalks poking like a five o'clock shadow out of the dusty fields.
My cranky hip decided it had enough my last mile or so. And then I remembered. I'm not sure how these words didn't stick with my my whole run, but they were said and then instantly lost. Just as I began my ten miles, a woman in her 40s in a motorized cart was out with her dog, moving along the opposite side of the street for me. As she saw me, I did that courtesy flip wave, and she said to me, "Wish I was doing that."
Wish I was doing that. Too many people's bodies won't let them enjoy the simple freedom of walking down an autumn street, never mind attempt the challenge of a ten mile run on a Saturday morning. I was humbled, no, chastened, for my quitter's thoughts.
Later that night, Glenn told me that if I want a 2:20 then I have to run my half as a runner who will get a 2:20. And he's right. I love his confidence in me and the way he pushes me to be the best person I can.
This morning, I read this quote on my friend Heather's facebook page (she's aiming for a 1:50 half time this morning).