I ran 8 miles with my friend Kristine yesterday. That's what our training program (for the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon next month) called for, but I wasn't sure I was up to it, to be honest. I've been having some pain and problems with an old ankle injury, I have been busy at home and am doing some work for the firm too, I have a new kitten I'm caring for, I got lazy.....in short, I started making excuses. I don't know why I started doing this, but I'm glad I'm back on track!
I think, subconsciously, I have some apprehension about doing another road race. I haven't done one since last year, since Brian was alive and cheering me on from the sidelines. It will be a strange experience to run a half marathon and not run right into his arms for a congratulatory hug. However, that makes it all that much more important for me to run the Des Moines Half this year. I need to get through what I know will be an emotionally difficult experience so I can get on with enjoying my life. Besides, I've realized that sometimes the fear of how hard it will be or how much it will suck is greater than the actual challenge before me.
I suppose one can compare my approach to life to the way some people get into a swimming pool. Some people just jump right in, instead of starting by dipping a toe in the water, then stepping in up to ankle-height, and so on. I've never really been one to just jump into a pool, but I did just that the last time I went swimming, and guess what? It wasn't as much of a shock to the system as I had anticipated. In fact, I kind of liked it. That's what I need to do with running. I just have to get back into it. If this were a normal year in my life, I'd probably be running a half marathon this fall. That's just something I frequently do. So I need to do that again. I can't "put my toe in" by sticking to a shorter race like a 5k, where I wouldn't miss Brian's presence (I wouldn't ask him to put the time and effort into meeting me at a crowded finish line for a 3.1 mile run; it just doesn't mean that much to me).
Anyway, I met Kristine yesterday morning and we embarked on our run, both a little hesitant about our training progress and unsure about how far we should go. We were thinking about a 6 miler, but a couple of miles in, we realized it was feeling pretty good, weather conditions were ideal for distance running, and that we'd really be back on track and feel proud if we went for the full 8 miles. So we did, and we were right. Our pace was even better than it has been for shorter runs, better than it's been in a while. It felt great to have knocked it out, and to have done it so well! When we finished, Kristine commented that if we had not pushed ourselves, "we would have cheated ourselves." She was so right -- the day I stop pushing myself to go a little further, to reach toward the next step to get me where I want to go, is the day I cheat myself out of what could have been.
It's time to run those extra miles, to face those totes of stuff, to take a chance on a stray kitten, to move 1,000 miles away. It's time to stop cheating myself out of opportunities because it's easier to not put in the effort and time, or because it seems like I'm not ready. I'll adapt, I'll get it done, and I'll feel better in the end for having done so.
Come October 17, I'm going to be glad to have tackled those 13.1 miles!