Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When it all changed

It was October 9, 2010.  I had been running for 5-6 weeks and stalled out on progress, trying to convince myself that three miles was sufficient.  I would just work on increasing my speed--eventually, because I really wasn't working on that either.

But on that day, we were camping in Versailles State Park in Indiana.  We had just put Jocelyn down for a nap.  Jocelyn was always my number one excuse for not doing a weekend run.  I didn't want to give up time with her.  My dad said he would listen for her while she napped in our camper.  Most likely, she wouldn't wake up in the time we were gone anyways.  I was out of excuses.  This would be my first run with Shane.

I was nervous.  I was a bit on the edge.  Let me explain why.  As I pointed out before, I was the athlete.  Shane had come over into this part of my world, and I was a little afraid of it.  I was afraid he'd be so much better than me.  I was afraid that I wouldn't be good enough.  For all my shows of a tough exterior, I am just as unsure about myself on the inside as the next girl.  One of my biggest hang ups in life is being criticized or being told that I am wrong or doing something wrong.  I knew he had been doing a lot of reading about "proper" running form lately.  He talked about it a lot.  I put myself on guard (not intentionally) and waited for him to tell me I was doing something wrong.

We walked to the hiking trails surrounding the campground, started the GPS, and started our run.  I followed Shane through the trails.  It was a hard run.  The elevation changes and the intentional steps to make sure you didn't land wrong on a rock or stick were working my legs to their limit.  There were actually steps we had to run on the really steep parts.  I felt it burning in my calves and my quads.  I knew I was getting a workout.  The scenery was beautiful though--what I could see of it when I wasn't watching my foot falls.  It was the most gorgeous fall day that I could remember in a long time.  It felt like we had been running forever when the GPS finally alerted us we had finished the first mile.  UGH!  That was only a mile?!  Seriously?!  This is going to be harder than I imagined.

Shane continued to check back to see how I was doing.  I said I was fine every time.  I was pushing harder than I ever had while running because I was going to keep up with him if it killed me!  When I got the nerve to ask our time on that that first mile, I wasn't surprised to know it was in the 12 minute range.  This was no regular run.

The GPS chimed for mile number two.  That one wasn't as bad, but we seemed lost, maybe going in circles.  We were near the campground, so I wasn't worried about that, but I was just wanting to find the trail that didn't have so many ups and downs.  I don't think we ever found it.  As we finished three miles, Shane said that we would head back to the campground roads at the next opportunity.  I rejoiced in my head, we were almost done.

We headed up to the paved road which made my legs happy.  Shane insisted we run just a little longer.  I had never done more than three miles before, and the three that we just ran were so much harder than anything I had ever done before.  I hated it, and I hated Shane at that moment. 

Then the thing I was on edge about before our run finally happened:  Shane looked over at my tired, loping gait and told me I was doing it wrong.  Well, he didn't exactly tell me I was doing it wrong, but that's what I heard.  Remember my fear of being criticized?  I snapped on him.  I reminded him that I was a runner years before and I'd been an athlete most my life.  I pointed out that him telling me how to run was like me practicing fiddle for a while and telling him that he was doing something wrong.  It was not acceptable.  More or less, I told him to mind his own business, but I didn't say it that nicely. 

I wasn't proud of my response.  I knew he didn't mean anything by it.  I knew he was proud of what he had learned about running and what he had accomplished over the past few months.  I knew he just wanted to share that with me, but I wasn't ready for it, and I certainly didn't welcome it.  I'm not sure I ever apologized.  I meant to, but right then, I had more pressing issues at hand.  We had exceeded three miles a while ago!

I started whining about how far we had run and asking how much farther were we going.  Shane insisted we go just a little farther.  I was arguing with the voice in my head telling me that I'd done more than enough.  Shane said before I knew it, we'd be done.  I didn't believe him.  He said we were going to go four miles.  I hadn't gone four miles, and the little voice in my head clearly told me several times that I didn't need to.  The stubborn, competitive side of me didn't allow me to quit though, even though I wanted to so badly! 

We kept on running. The GPS finally alerted us that we had completed four miles, and we slowed to a walk.  Even though I hated much of it, I felt amazing when it was over.  I did it!  I had so much energy in spite of what we had just done and a new sense of accomplishment for doing something that I wasn't even sure I could do.  There's something to be said for someone being there to push you beyond what you think you can do.  My whole mindset about running definitely changed that day.  The running became a reward in itself, and no longer simply a means to an end.
So, thank you Shane for putting up with me and pushing me farther than I had gone before.  It let me know that I enjoyed running new distances, and it let me know that I enjoyed running along side you.  That day changed everything from that point on.

After the run, we went on a three mile trail hike.  
I can't believe we're still smiling!

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