Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Runday: In which I run the whole damn thing

I did it. I finally did it.

I ran 3.1 miles straight, no walking, outside.

I recently signed up for a 5K in the next town. There's a runners division and a walkers division, and I figured I could run/walk it at least. But I needed to attempt another 5K, now that I've been running outside and building up my road strength and endurance. I just had to convince myself and The Hater In My Head that I could do it.

After last week's run around my neighborhood, I decided to run the race route this week. Practicing on the route would help prepare me and, most importantly, put my always-half-empty mind in check so I wouldn't be a wreck on race day.

I got up this morning and it was gorgeous out: 55 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, flowers and trees blooming all over the place. Armed with the course printout, I first drove the route so I knew where I was going.

Everything seemed pretty doable until about halfway through the drive and I see A Huge Hill. Seriously big. As I drove up the hill, The Hater In My Head was in full blast:

I dunno, this hill is reaaaaaally steep.

Maybe you could walk it.

Are you sure this map is right? This seems like more than 3.1 miles.

I tried not to listen and drove back to the race starting point, parked and set off on the course.

The course was beautiful: scenic countryside, thick woods, rolling green hills, giant McMansions and an 18-century graveyard.

Pretty soon I was surprised when I heard my Nike +iPod note, 1 kilometer completed. Already? All right.

I got to the end of the longest road on the loop and heard, 2 kilometers completed. Nice! And, amazingly, my balky right hip felt fine.

Going in I thought I would try to run 2K, then walk for about 10 minutes, then finish the course. But since I was already 2K in and felt great, I decided to keep running.

Then I turned a corner and saw The Hill. I am a serious wimp about hills. Even a slight incline will cause me to hear klaxons in my head and think, Noooooo! But, I assure you, this was A Hill. If you look at my running graphic up top you can see exactly where it popped up.

But, luckily, right at the base the Nike +iPod noted, Halfway point, 2.5 kilometers completed. Halfway point? Screw this hill, I am going up.

Shortening my stride, slowing down and keeping my eyes steeled to the top of the hill, I thought about it:

I have lost 85 lbs.

I started C25K.

I finished C25K.

I started bootcamp.

I finished bootcamp circuit testing.

No hill is going to stop me anymore.

I'm sick of being afraid of hills, literally and metaphorically. I am stronger than they are and I can conquer them.

If losing weight has taught me anything over the past 8 months, it's that you can do anything you set your mind to. So I'm setting my mind, no hill is gonna stop me anymore.

Like the Little Engine That Could, I slowly chugged up that hill. Freddie Mercury sang in my ears about "Radio GaGa" and I told myself, By the end of this song, you're over this hill.

By the time "Radio GaGa" segued into "Under Pressure" (Queen, especially live Queen, is great running music), I was over the hill and heard 3 kilometers completed.

Then it hit me, I am running this whole thing. I can do it.

There was another significant hill in the last 2K, but compared to the first it wasn't that bad. I kept running and felt smooth and compact. My stride was good, breathing was fine and my hip didn't hurt.

Soon I was on the home stretch and as the I heard 400 yards remaining, 300 yards remaining, I was so happy. I did it, I really did. What started on Dec. 30 has progressed, finally, to this.

I overcame my fears of running outside (because running outside is hard and this event), stuck to it and have made it this far.

When I came home, my kids wanted to know where I was. Running, I answered. "Did you win?" they asked.

I told them it wasn't that kind of run, but the more I think about it, yes, I did.

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