Yesterday I woke up tired. I continue to struggle with getting a full night of sleep and will often go days stringing together three to five hours of broken sleep. Add to this two extra middle school girls in the house, an impromptu sleepover, and it was a foregone conclusion that I would wake up exhausted. And I did. But in an effort to regain some of my intensity and commitment to working out, I forced myself out the door. I had new running pants, a gift on Christmas, and I told myself that at the very least I would walk. Maybe run some. We would see. I didn’t work out either Thursday (planned rest day) or Friday,(just no.) so it was imperative to me that I get out the door.
I did. It was cold. My legs hurt. I felt old. I felt sorry for myself. I felt fat. I tucked my hands deep in my sleeves, wondered why I hadn’t brought my gloves and continued walking, my warm up. Around the corner up the next block and to my traditional starting point. I turned on Runkeeper, futzed with the volume while letting seconds tick by. I would never have done this two years ago. I would have cancelled the session and started over. I felt a little petulant as I adjusted the volume. I’m gong to just let those seconds tick away, garbage time not real time on my run, so there! Clicked on my watch and started a slow jog. I decided to run the route I use to run when I first started. It had more hills but since I haven’t been able to run for longer periods, very little past ten minutes, I was nonchalant. I would run as much as I could and then walk. Unlike previous runs I had no set plans of running for at least twenty minutes, or only walking for one. I was just going to do what I do. I started slow, as always.
In the beginning of some runs, I set a goal that I lay out like a bargaining chip with the universe. It goes something like this, If I can run a mile, then the Eagles will win the game. Or, if I add two reps to each exercise in my work out, my son will get into the college of his choice. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like habit, on the day of a big playoff game for the Eagles, the thoughts came on immediately. But this time I pushed them aside. It was too much pressure. I didn’t want to be the reason the Eagles lost or my son didn’t get something he wanted. And yes, I know this is a peak into my own little bizarro brain, but there you have it. Don’t judge. If you are any type of sports fan or have ever struggled with the lack of control you have over your life, this makes perfect sense. But on the day when the Eagles, the top seed in the NFC, were home field underdogs and I have been struggling so much to go a solid mile, it seemed ridiculous to take on this responsibility.
So I ran. And the first thing I noticed was that I didn’t have the almost immediate sense of tiredness in my legs. They weren’t perky, I wasn’t going to start sprinting but they felt okay. They felt like they could keep going. At six minutes I realized that if I was going to make three miles I was going to have to run for thirty more minutes. This seemed like an eternity and seemed insurmountable. It also meant I was pacing a twelve minute mile, which just made me feel sad. But I kept running, starting to measure distances. I was surprised by how quickly space was going by. When I reached a mile and a half I was pacing closer to an eleven minute mile. Not great, but I was still moving so that was something. Many times when I looked at my watch I was sub eleven minutes, but I worked to maintain pace. Distance became more important to me than time. As I reached one point seven five miles I started to feel as though I could do it. I could run for three miles. Not fast, but I could do it. I started bargaining. If I can run three miles the Eagles will win. This flipped back and forth with three miles or thirty six minutes, whichever comes last. I was worried that I jinxed myself. But I kept going. It took thirty four minutes, but I did it. I ran three miles.
I kept going for the last two minutes. At thirty five minutes an Eagles fan drove by. I know this because they were in a camper painted in Eagles green with the throwback Eagles insignia on the back. Coincidence? I think not! We won didn’t we.
Fly, Eagles, Fly!