Last weekend, Eric and I did something that I never thought I’d do. We paid money to run.
I have been a runner for a long time, but I’m not totally in love with running. It’s a thing I can do, and I like it well enough so long as I can run when I want (early afternoon), where I want (in a gym where it is climate controlled), in the way that I want (while watching television on my iPod). If I can control all of those things, then I like running well enough to make it my primary form of exercise.
But I never understood running a race. I have to get up and run at a specific time, and I have to do it OUTSIDE? Regardless of the temperature? And I have to pay for the privilege of running with a group of people? What exactly is the appeal?
But, Eric has decided he wants to run a half marathon next month. What Eric really wants is to run a 100 mile race through the desert, but a half marathon is the first step toward that goal. Since he was a rockstar during NaNoWriMo, I decided I needed to step up and be Supportive Girlfriend, which means joining him on some outdoor runs (in January–Bonus Supportive Girlfriend points!) and running a 10K with him.
At the rate that I was running–lots of 30 minute runs on the treadmill while watching Gilmore Girls–I probably would have felt ready to run a 10K in about 3 years. But the thing is? I knew I could do it. I just wouldn’t have done it without signing up for a race.
I surprised myself by being actually excited as the race day got closer. I told people, and their excitement got me pumped up too. I was also a little nervous. Shortly before the 10K, I first heard the term “DNF” which means Did Not Finish. It was applied to the National Cyclocross Championships, but suddenly, I had a new goal.
“I don’t want to be DNF,” I told Eric. “I’m going to track my run on my phone and even if they shut the whole thing down, I’m gonna F.”
“You’re going to F this race?” he asked.
“This race is GOING to be F’ed.” I insisted.
Eric ran the race in 1 hour and 4 minutes, and I finished 10 minutes later, which surprised me because he is pretty fast, and I had to walk a bit. I didn’t run as many long runs as I should have to prepare for a 10K, which meant that my hip, and one foot were starting to hurt a little bit around mile 5.
When I finished, I wanted to run another one. I realized how long I’d been sort of coasting at the gym. I was working up a sweat, but I wasn’t really pushing myself because I didn’t have a tangible goal. But now that I’ve done a 10K, it seems entirely possible and I realize how much more exciting it is to have a goal. And that’s why people (or at least people who are me) get up early to go for a six mile run on a brisk January morning.