Monday, July 5, 2010


I was standing over the kitchen sink shoving the last bite of a big sandwich into my mouth at 7:30 Saturday night when I realized it was a run day and I hadn't done my run yet. Poop. And now with a full stomach. 8:30 is about the very latest I can start and still stretch and finish before dark, so I had a little time, but it still wasn't quite enough for optimum conditions. Being the delicate flower that I am, there is a very specific mix of food, water, air temperature, wind, sun, clothes, shoes, and hair situation that I need present to have a good run.

I've been staying really consistent with my work outs - every other day since late December with very few misses - but I haven't made many gains in my running speed. I've wanted so much to run a mile in under ten minutes, and maybe I could have if I went out and just ran one mile, but my goal has been to do it in the course of my normal runs, which are usually 5k. Twice in post-surf euphoria I've made a 10:06 mile at the beginning of a run, but those were months ago, and now my miles are pretty consistently 10:50. I can stick with an 11-minute average almost no matter how far I go - 3 miles will be 33 minutes, 4 miles will be 44, etc. - but I can't get that first mile under 10. Or I couldn't. Until Saturday.

I know that a 10-minute mile is pretty slow to real runners and people who are in great shape. But I'm neither of those things. A year ago I laced up tennis shoes for the first time in a long time to see how far I could jog and I made it barely 1/4 of a mile. Since then I've tried consistently to run a mile in under ten and I've never been able to do it. And I'll never run a marathon, and I'll never be a super athlete, but on Saturday the temperature was right, there was a light wind, and the first song on my iPod was a good one, and as I finished my first lap (4 laps to a mile) and noticed 2:30 on my watch, I did some quick math and thought: I'm doing this.

I had a pretty tough week last week; there were a few difficult events that discouraged me and got me off course personally. But as I was running I was thinking how I always look to things outside of myself for inspiration - to my family, to poems or quotes, or to famous people who have overcome obstacles. That night I thought: I'm going to be my own inspiration. I'm going to accomplish my goal so when I need extra strength, I can think of something I've done. And then I did it! I came in *just* under 10 minutes for the first mile. Not much under, but it didn't matter - it was under ten. And I went on to finish 2 1/4 more in good time, even with the pause for the fist pump and the happy dance after the first one.

Next stop: 9 1/2-minute mile!


  1. Wooohooo! Internet fist pump from Seattle for you.

  2. Guess what? 4 miles tonight and the first was 9:45 :)

  3. See what happened there? The moment you looked to yourself and believed in yourself, it all shifted. YAY!

    So maybe saying "And I'll never run a marathon, and I'll never be a super athlete..." isn't the kind of talk you should engage in? So maybe you never will run a marathon or be a super athlete but what's the harm in thinking it is possible?

    Be your own inspiration. I love it.

  4. Delicious! Congrats! That was just what I needed to get my lazy A$$ off the couch, thanks!

  5. Awesome, congratulations! That rocks.

    Also, I tend to think running marathons is overrated. At least I have since a friend who'd recently finished one said, "Don't do it, Claire. Really." For him, there was no euphoria, no sense of accomplishment, just a lot of agony he put his body through that he had to recover from.

    Focusing on making the runs you do faster seems like a more useful goal, but maybe that's just me. I admit fully I'm no runner. All this is to say only that you might never run a marathon, but it wouldn't make you any less of a super athlete.

    A 9:45 minute mile and using yourself for inspiration? That impresses me.

  6. "I'm going to be my own inspiration." Now you know how the rest of us feel. Pretty damned awesome, eh?

  7. "That night I thought: I'm going to be my own inspiration. I'm going to accomplish my goal so when I need extra strength, I can think of something I've done. And then I did it!"

    I just almost started crying at work because this (because YOU) are so awesome. Love love love it.

  8. WuHOO! I would think being awesomely awesome you should easily be more than enough inspiration. Of course I'm biased, you being my hero and all. :) But so happy for you!!!