I can't believe I'm writing this. Because writing it--and sharing it with others on my blog--means it's real. If I make it public, I might actually have to do it.
What is "it," you ask? I am considering training for a half-marathon.
Pause for half of my brain to screech, "Are you INSANE???" I am not really a runner. In school, I was one of those P.E. weaklings who drag themselves past the finish line of the one-mile run gasping raggedly and asking for last rites. Those kids who chose to do cross country always seemed to me like some pack of deranged animals running in formation--just running, madly running. I didn't get it. Give me a nice, tame, indoor racquet sport. Running is for the crazies.
First of all, it's painful. It's constant movement; no breaks. Over and over, your feet slap down on hard, unforgiving ground. This is Arizona, so usually the sun is turning your skin the color of sweet potato casserole and you're sweating like you're in a Gatorade commercial. Your side starts to cramp. After awhile, your breath feels like it's being squeezed out of you by a rusty accordion. The end. Gee, wasn't that fun?
That's all what I used to think. (And what half of me is clamoring that it still thinks.) But when I worked at the YMCA several years ago, it was highly encouraged that everyone on staff participate in the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k. I figured 3.1 miles was a fairly innocuous distance, and it didn't matter if I walked most of it. Then my competitive, perfectionistic edge kicked in. Walking it would be lame, I thought. I'm stronger than that. So I started to train, and by the day of the Trot, I was actually looking forward to the race. When the race began, I was near the back of the 100 or so runners, but then something magical happened. Little by little, I gained ground, passing people I checked in to the Y every day working at the front desk. This gave me a thrill, and I started passing more people. Finally, I was on the last stretch of the race with no one left ahead of me. (I wasn't winning the turkey; there was just a wide open space between me and the next person before me.) My two bosses, whom I loved, picked up the ribbon that had been broken by the winner and held it up for me to break through. Suddenly, everyone started cheering for me. I covered that last stretch in record time and sailed through the ribbon like the real thing. And a runner was born.
Well, for a while. Then I had kids, which stopped me in my tracks--literally. I finally joined a gym early this year, less for the exercise benefits and more for the childcare. I figured I could sit on the recumbent bike for a leisurely thirty-minute reading break while my kids worked out some of their wiggles under someone else's supervision. Enter once more my competitive edge. (If it weren't for competition, I'd probably be 300 pounds.) Seeing so many others pounding it out on the treadmills motivated me, and I started running again, just a little. Then last week I heard the gym is offering a free training program for people who want to do the P.F. Chang's marathon and half-marathon in January. Somehow these words have planted themselves in my brain ever since, and I find myself turning it over in my mind.
Here is why I want to do it:
1. Because I think I can't. I have always said I could never run a really long race. Well, never say never. If I've learned anything in the last few years, it's that the most difficult things in life are the ones that make us grow the most--spiritually, emotionally, and in this case, even physically.
2. Because I supposedly have fibromyalgia. Yes, I was unofficially diagnosed with this in the absence of any other answers for the pain that hops around my muscles like a misguided trolley. Running a half marathon is a way of blowing raspberries in the face of this medical hex. I refuse to allow a scary-sounding five-syllable word to keep me down. My body is capable of this, and I want to prove it to myself and everyone else.
3. Because it's a goal to work toward; it's a great accomplishment. Enough said. Can I put this on my resume?
4. Because it will keep me motivated to continue really exercising. More real workouts and less recumbent biking at mai tai-sipping speed.
5. Because it might actually be fun. When I think back to my Turkey Trot experience, I can still feel the thrill of a crowd cheering, a heart pounding, a good race completed. There is a reason so many people get into marathon running. I know it will be exhilarating.
So, dear reader, with your accountability, I believe I have decided to embark upon this journey. Call me a running fool.