A couple of weeks ago I was reading dooce's account of giving birth to her second child (be warned all who click here for there be vaginas) in which she mentions that the last 12 minutes of labor were the worst and that 12 minutes doesn't seem like that long of a period of time but that it totally felt like forever. I could immediately sympathize because I have recently confirmed that 12 minutes is an eternity specifically if you spend that 12 minutes running (or, apparently pushing a child through your loins, something I have not done but which sounds almost as painful as putting foot in front of foot in front of foot at a 10 min/mile pace).
It turns out I'm not so good at running. This is no surprise having been a remedial runner since developing asthma in junior high mostly to avoid the mandated 10 minute mile tests, but it was a bit discouraging. I had kind of hoped that losing 30lbs and spending some time at the gym might have somehow turned me into a running savant or at least a somewhat mediocre but totally passable runner. No such luck. Yet.
The running thing was actually going OK for a while there. After work I'd head over to the gym and do my prescribed Couch to 5K run on the treadmill while listening to Dan Savage rant about all things moist and tantalizing. There were plenty of days when running felt only slightly more fun then being waterboarded but despite the constant messages from my feet, legs, heart, lungs, etc warning that I was killing them I managed to finish all of the runs up through week 7 and was feeling mighty proud of running 25 minutes straight.
Then a couple of things happened. Firstly, I decided to try running more outside -- after all I live near a very nice park and the 5K I was targeting in October certainly would not be run on a treadmill. All of the runners I knew swore that running outside was the super bestest thing ever that I'd feel so good and run so much faster and love love love it so much. Right. Actually running outside was great at first -- and by at first I mean for the first half of the first run when I was whizzing around the park rocking out to I Don't Feel Like Dancin by the Sissor Sisters and feeling light on my feet and speedy. That lasted right up until minute 9 when I lied down on the pavement and died because apparently outside+rocking tunes+running like the wind can be sustained for exactly that long before my whole body revolts.
Then things really started to go downhill. I was sent out of town on a week long business trip where the hotel gym was a sad little room in the basement which couldn't compete with walking around beautiful downtown Seattle. Then I went on vacation to California where it was routinely 97 degrees and where I did go on a 12 mile death march of a hike with my family but did no running.
And now I'm back and summer has finally arrived in New York City so I'm pushing myself to run in 85 degrees and air just wringing with water and... it's hard. I'm finally back up to 20mins straight without any walking but man am I dying for it.
I can run about 5 minutes before I have to start bargaining with myself. I make promises of brief stops at the water fountain, I do math in my head comparing the remaining time to the length of TV programs, movies, airline flights, etc in an attempt to trick myself into believing that the time will just fly on by no problemo ( "Only 15mins left! That's only a quarter of one True Blood episode, that's NOTHING! AND that's only 68% of your average 22 minute TV program-- just imagine if you were watching The Soup right now? You'd wish it was longer!"). I keep waiting for the time when running comes easy enough that I'm distracted for whole stretches of time not noticing the pounding of my heart, the aching of my calves, the constant complaining of my thoughts. I've been telling myself that it's good to do things that are hard, that it will feel so great to run that 5K, that even if 20mins of running doesn't sound like a very long time very few people are actually out there running anything at all. I'm not sure any of these pep talks are working -- it's a good thing I really hate being a quitter.
And yet I still dread the 5K. I fear that not being able to run the whole thing will be a sign that I am meant to be fat -- that today it's walking part of a race and tomorrow I weigh 500lbs. I fear that all of my really awesome supportive runner friends will be fake clapping for me at the end of the race when I finally drag my ass over the finish line eons after them. I fear that my ass will be drug over long after my friend who will be 6 months pregnant has pranced over it, gotten some water, stretched, yawned and decided to run back down the route to find me. Hopefully she won't have to carry me but I can't make any promises.