I was going to call this post “A love note to Dave” as Randonneur Dave’s support has been key in understanding my self-imposed limits.
I’ve written about my evolving challenges this year and some pretty awesome things, like my first 70 km bicycle ride. I recently returned to running and swimming and had a good, long, hard look at my running data from 2010 and 2011. I saw that I’d always done the minimum for my running training. There’s a lot of reasons for this. Some of it is baggage from being in the military where running laps was often used as punishment. There was a particularly awful group run, during recruit term, when I had an asthma attack. My senior class-men made a member of my squadron, who also had asthma, carry me to prove that asthma was not an excuse for keeping up. Not great memories. This also makes group running very challenging for me as I easily get triggered and fear paired with exertion usually cause an asthma attack..
So I was reflecting on all of that and some recent advice to dialogue with my fear. That is a different approach for me, actually messing around in fear instead of having a hostile or ignoring approach to fear. It occurred to me that I did a lot of minimum effort with running because I was afraid to give it a proper try. I thought about how I went from a 20 km ride in September to a 70 km ride in November. I thought about Tracy’s excellent post on the seemingly impossible . I realised I hadn’t run more than 3 km very often and had few 5 km runs under my belt.
I started thinking about triathlon training and choosing races. My sister and I spoke on the phone about 2015 and race distances. She pointed out we both build muscle very quickly with training and that the sprint distance we did a few years ago was easily done again. We talked about Olympic distance in the fall. I couldn’t imagine running 10 km. I hadn’t done that distance since my college days. That would be circa 1995/6 and I ran 10 km in under an hour. While that’s a great time, I was in the bottom quintile, we were all mandated to be very fit and we were all around 20 years old.
So I decided on Christmas Day I would give myself a gift. I chose a 5 km run instead of the 20 minute run scheduled. I’d done just under 3 km the previous 2 runs of 20 minutes. I trotted off and the Nike app crashed somewhere before the halfway point, although I hadn’t noticed,. I got home feeing really good and guessed my time to be 45 minutes. It was a modest time but I’d done 5 km and felt strong at the end. That gift to myself was a good one and it planted the seed that maybe, just maybe, I could run 10 km.
I started seeing the possibilities. I realized I’d not thought I could bike more than 40 km ever. I’d done that, thanks to Randonneur Dave’s encouragement, going further than I ever thought possible in November on a bent 40 lb bike.
I stuck to my training plan over the holidays. As the next scheduled run came up I thought, fuck it, I’m going to try a 10 km run. I’ve got the whole day to do it. So on Tuesday Dec 30 I trotted out the door on a cobbled together route of two 5 km routes I’d used before. It was a cool, clear, glorious day and I had the oddest song stuck in my head. I think it was from one of my kids’ games, Band of Skulls “I know what I am”. The chorus “But it’s all-right, it’s OK, I got the time but the time don’t pay, it’s all-right, it’s OK.” kept looping through my head as well as the refrain “I know what I am, they know, but they also let me be”. I just kept going. I wasn’t afraid I could’t do it, I biked for 4 hours for crying out loud! I could surely do an hour and forty minutes of running.
I thought about writing this post, what I would say. I spoke to people as I ran by them, the environmental entrepreneur collecting empties in his bulging cart to the nice lady in her cooking apron who said she should be out running instead of cooking more food. At the 5 km point the app told me I was keeping a 9 minute per kilometer pace, exactly 45 minutes, awesome!
As I got closer to home the Nike app told me I had 2 km left. I was much closer to home then that so I had to zigzag up side streets to get my distance in. I didn’t know it at the time but this took me right in front of Anita’s house. You know Anita from Tracy’s half-marathon post, and she happened to be driving down the street! So I doubled back, hugged her as she asked “10 k? Weren’t you just posting about doing your first 5 k in 2 years?” Why yes I had! Off I went to do the last, and slowest, kilometer of my run. I got home, it took me just under 1 hour 35 minutes to do the route. I was cold but felt good. I used the Nike app to post my run on Facebook and Twitter, mentioning it was the furthest I had run since 1996. The folks @NikeRunning tweeted me back, encouraging me to keep up the good work. I felt internet famous for moment. I felt like a rock star.
I was a bit sore that night but was able to do my scheduled swim the next day. Fear can be useful, it tells me when situations are dangerous, so I need to listen to my fear, not ignore it. I also can’t be bounded by my fear. I can do a 10 km run so I can do an Olympic distance triathlon.
So thank you Dave, for your encouragement to go outside my comfort zone with supportive people by my side. You’ve really helped me shift my thinking about my fears. I’m even planning a GROUP RUN with friends 🙂
I know what I am, (capable/strong/fat/awesome), they know, but they also let me be.