Haven’t Done That in a While…

I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while tonight.

There are two things you should know about me before I go any further: one, I have “favorite” machines in the gym (Really. Read this.), and two, I have a tendency to get crazy ideas into my head and decide I just HAVE to do something.

Which is how I ended up running eight miles tonight … for the first time in probably three and a half years.

Now, yeah, if you’ve been reading this for any amount of time, you know I’ve been doing at least one seven-miler a week for the last several months. In fact, I used to run an 8-miler almost every Sunday when I lived in Nashville (the beauty of a gym with a movie theater inside it – I spent a lot of time running and watching bad movies). So it’s not like this is some huge feat … it’s more a case of following through on the thought I had while I was sitting at my desk this afternoon.

I worked my legs pretty hard – I thought – last night. Went up on some of my weights, felt that shake/numbness/tingle pretty strongly between my third and fourth set on the leg press. Naturally, being me, I was disappointed to have little more than a little tightness most of the day (fear not: good old DOMS has started to take hold on most of the space between my hips and knees).

Which is probably why this genius thought set in: “It’s the night for a long run. Maybe if I can get my second-favorite treadmill (I kid you not, I really do play favorites – this “second favorite” being the one treadmill that doesn’t have a built-in 60 minute time maximum … for the record, the favorite is the end one with the fan directly overhead), I’ll do eight miles tonight. I mean, I ran seven at the fastest pace I’ve ever run last week, so why not?”

Again, being me, I was thrilled to see that the “score on time” treadmill was open. I set it for 90 minutes (assuming it would take me a little over 70 minutes to run eight – I clocked in at 70:30 – and then I’d do the incline pyramid I usually walk following my runs … you know, because running 7-8 miles isn’t enough, why not walk another mile-plus?? Yes, there is something seriously wrong with the way my brain works). And I told myself there was no way I was walking until I hit that eight mile mark. Did it feel great? No. My pace was definitely slower than a week ago, but I was still averaging just over an 8:45 mile, so I really can’t complain. Yes, somewhere between miles five and six, I was praying that eight would hurry up already, cause the news stories were starting to repeat themselves, and I was getting kinda bored.

But in true me fashion, I did what I always do: Got an idea in my head. Ran (in this case, literally) with it. Rocked it. It really is all about your mindset – telling yourself that you don’t quit when you’ve had enough … you stop when you’ve reached your goal.

My First Time…

You could say it was somewhat of a defining experience. My heart was pounding. My breathing heavy. I could feel the excitement building as I got closer to finishing.

Seriously, get your heads out of the gutter! I’m talking about my run this evening. It was the fastest 7-miler I’ve ever clocked.

Tonight was the first time I’ve ever finished seven miles in under an hour… admittedly, it took 59:45, but hey, those 15 seconds kept me under an hour. Even more exciting? It was a full 40 seconds faster than the seven I ran last Monday (and last week started with a particularly hellish, self-defeating day, so that really is saying a lot. Today’s only compliant? That we were getting snow in the last week of March).

It was one of those accomplishments that really makes me think about just how far I have come throughout the years. If you’ve ever taken a few minutes to read a little about me, you know that running didn’t come easy to me. Heck, I thought the world was ending the first time I ran two miles and didn’t feel like I was going to die. Or made it down to a 10-minute mile an hour pace (for the record: tonight’s run clocked in at about an 8:30 pace).

The point I’m trying to make? You are a lot stronger than you believe. It’s all a matter of recognizing that although you may not see it from one day to the next, over time, you are capable of accomplishing far more than you may have ever believed possible. Always focus on the little accomplishments along the road to your overarching goal, because those little accomplishments? They can help you not only reach your goals … but go well beyond where you ever thought you could be capable of going. One or two seconds off your time, or running an extra quarter of a mile may not feel like much, but those seconds and quarter-miles add up.  It doesn’t happen overnight – but does anything worth having?