Running Fiesta

Writing and running in Austin, TX.

Halfway There

Workout (from Saturday): Run, 13 miles
Time: 3 hours
Days to marathon: 92

Once again, Saturday’s long run was the longest yet – 13 miles. Effectively a half marathon. In a lot of ways, the run was spectacularly better than I expected. It felt easier than the 11-miler a couple weeks before, and I didn’t start to feel really, seriously, “I want to stop” tired until almost mile 12. Actually, I’ve noticed that I get about that tired around the last mile of any “long run”, even if it’s just 6 miles. I’m hoping this is all a psychological oddity, and that it means I won’t get tired in the marathon until mile 25. =)

For Saturday’s run, I mapped a course that started from the house, looped into the hillier-than-I-remembered neighborhood I lived in for most of college, then passed back near the house around the halfway point before heading further down into central Austin.

I have to admit part of the route design was motivated by fear. While I’ve been incredibly lucky with my knee thus far, I still have a sense of trepidation before every run that “this could be the run that ends it all”. I know that sounds melodramatic, but it took me sooo long to get back here and even longer to let myself start believing I’m a runner again. My year with my injury was like a year in a bad relationship: I learned a lot and am immensely grateful that it’s over, but I still vividly remember a lot of the misery.

The run went great though, and I finished with nothing more than a bunch of sore muscles. (Especially the glutes — even sitting is painful!) I was on cloud nine. That is until I got to my volunteering gig a couple hours later.

I answer phones and schedule appointments at a low-cost veterinary clinic in Northeast Austin. Sometimes the phones are slow to ring, and I browse the New York Times for interesting articles. I particularly like their Well Blog, and my reading this Saturday was a post from that titled Should Running Hurt a Little? The Blogger was wondering if he should be pushing himself to get faster than his comfortable 10-minute mile pace.

Now I, of course, would love to run the whole marathon at 10-minute mile pace, but given that it took me 3 hours to complete half a marathon, I’m not exactly on course to reach that goal. My breath caught in my throat, then, when I found this reader comment:

Please, a ten-minute per mile pace is not “running”. I’m not sure what label it is entitled to (shuffling, waddling, whatever), but it is not running…Eight minutes is the top pace for “running”, as such. Anyone “running” a marathon at a ten-minute pace is, notwithstanding wonderful personal qualities including having the ability to endure discomfort, delusional.
(From nytimes.com, please don’t sue me for plagiarism.)

I know I should just write this guy off as a jerk, but his comment got to that insecure part of me I mentioned in a previous post. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I’m not really a runner after all. The only trouble is, I’m absolutely obsessed with running.

I actually only today (Tuesday) realized that I’ve become obsessed with running. I was in the gym doing squats (ick), and I heard one girl tell another she was training for a half marathon. Girl #2 replied, “I’ve never done more than a 10K. I tried training for a marathon once, but I got a month in and everything hurt. That’s just not worth it to me.”

My first thought was, You’re a wimp. My second thought was, I can’t believe you just thought that. What’s wrong with you?!? Not only am I obsessed with running, but I’m being, internally at least, obnoxious about it! Yikes. Does this make me just as bad as Mr. Mean-Blog-Commenter?

Part of me is ashamed. I want to be supportive of anybody and everybody who wants to run for any reason and at any distance. Then again, part of me thinks this is just another variation on the daily struggles of a person with morals. For example, I often see beggars at street corners and immediately want to lock my car door and look away. But even as I’m fixating on a crack in the windshield, part of me is saying, What’s wrong with you?!? You’re life is so easy compared to that person’s. You should show compassion and understanding. Give the man a dollar!

Ultimately, I guess my internal “meany” reaction was mainly about needing to feel good about myself. 10K Girl is right. It DOES hurt to train for a marathon, and for someone like me who’s going to shuffle in at the back of the pack, it may not be obvious why it’s worth all the trouble. I’m not even entirely sure why I’m doing this. Bragging rights? The ability to eat more M&Ms? Am I still just running away from the fat kid I used to be?

Actually, I don’t really want to think too hard about this. For now, all I know is that I have a goal and I’m working toward it. For unknown psychological reasons, that makes me extremely happy.

Check back on November 16th for the final word on whether it was worth it. =)

One comment on “Halfway There

  1. Rachel
    August 19, 2009

    I have so much respect for this. I have never been able to run a mile. Also, you are a good writer.It's too early for me to say anything more coherent, but that's it in a nutshell.

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This entry was posted on August 19, 2009 by in Uncategorized.
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