So I'm kind of obsessed with my Couch to 5K app. Partly because it's gratifying to chart my progress, but mostly because I can't wait until it's over.
It feels like the time in second grade that I first climbed the high-dive at Purvis Park. I scaled the ladder with confidence and then froze when I peered over the edge at the water far below. What. Was. I. Thinking? It didn't look this high from the ground! Of course, by then everyone was staring up at me and the kids in line behind me were growing impatient. I jumped, because I had to. It was terrifying in a I'm-glad-I-did-it-but-I'm-not-doing-it-again kind of way.
So it is with my public declaration of running a 5K. What. Was. I. Thinking?
But here I am chipping away at the training program. I would have quit several times over, but I'm teetering over here on the high-dive. Stop looking at me! I started August 7 and I could barely run for one minute (literally, I mean 60 seconds). Last Friday, after running and walking intervals of varying lengths over several weeks, I was scheduled for my longest run yet without a walking interval: 25 minutes.
I was not in the mood. I had stayed up too late the night before and was dragging. I exercised earlier in the day and was fatigued. And I was terrified of the prospect of running 25 minutes straight. But I mustered up what little grit I had left and laced up my running shoes. That's another thing: the purchase of my cute pink running shoes with specialized (read: expensive) inserts was yet another reason I couldn't just say "never mind."
It was 86 degrees at 1:30 in the afternoon, but there was no way to climb back down the ladder. My new thing is to talk to myself like I would talk to my kids in the same scenario. So I told myself in that mom way that I was simply going to do the best that I could. I was going to take it slow and focus on completing 25 minutes of running without worrying about distance or pace.
Ready, go! I willed myself not to look at the app until the end of four songs. I ran my heart out to Flo Rida (My House, my jam, my favorite), Bon Jovi (surprisingly motivational), Kelly Clarkson (don't judge) and Justin Timberlake (the song of the summer!). My legs were feeling strong and my lungs were holding up and when I finally glanced at the app I was thrilled to see that I only had 13 minutes to go and my pace was better than I expected. I knew then that I could kill it the rest of the way. Again, no looking at my stats for three songs.
I pushed a little harder, cranked up the music a little louder, and actually put a spring in my step. After the third song, I eagerly glanced at the app again to gear up for my last push. I only had ... 13 more minutes to go? WHAT??
I guess I accidentally pressed pause when I glanced at the app on my phone the first time. The timer hadn't moved. The distance hadn't changed.
The numbers became cloudy through my tears. I lost it. My frustration, disappointment and exhaustion choked me. I couldn't stop crying. I was a pink, sweaty mess on the side of the road.
I could not pull myself together. I called my husband at work, even though I knew that the instant he heard my blubbering he was going to get scared that something serious had happened. And yet I couldn't get the words out.
"Ev ... ever ... every ... everyone is fine," I sobbed. "I just did some ... someth ... something so stuuuuuupid."
Now, he may not always know exactly what to say to me when I'm an emotional wreck, but this was one case where my Iron Man was uniquely qualified to calm me down. And he did, mostly by commiserating. This is a man who thinks the answer to "How was it?" after running a marathon is to break it down for me mile by tedious mile (there are 26, by the way). To say he is consumed with exercise stats is putting it kindly.
I'm still not sure why I became so unraveled. Just because my run wasn't documented doesn't mean it didn't happen. And yet, it kinda did. After all that fanfare, Week 7 Day 1 was BLANK. Empty. Unfinished. Next up.
Again, why did I care so much? I'm not exactly one who documents ANYTHING. The word "metrics" makes me want to hide under the table. I can't even locate enough baby pictures for my son's upcoming bar mitzvah slide show, and I have to take a wild guess at his age in the ones I do have. Documentation sure ain't my thang.
So why? I did the run. Who cares about my stats? I'm still not entirely sure.
There's just something about tracking my progress in a linear way that shows me, proves to me, that baby steps really can take me from here to there. A few years ago one of my son's teachers had the class open their math books to page 473 on the first day of school. The kids looked at the complicated algebraic formulas and freaked out. "We are starting on page one," she said. "And when we get to page 473 you will have the tools to understand and solve these formulas." The kids were skeptical, but sure enough, when they got to page 473 mid-year they were no longer daunted by the formulas.
I never thought I could run 2.5 miles. So when I look ahead and freak out about running 3.1 miles (5K) I just have to look back and my stats tell me that my baby steps will get me there. I know it's possible, because I went from 60 seconds to 25 minutes in 6 weeks. The numbers tell me that I can get to 3.1 miles in 3 more weeks and I need that documentation to fuel my confidence.
Even though I (think) I completed Week 7 Day 1, Couch to 5K shows I did not. So I just finished running it AGAIN, for the books. And next time I need to look back to gain the confidence to go forward, the numbers will show me that I got this. This is MY house.
And when I cross that finish line, weather I be sprinting, walking or crawling, I'm certain I will feel victorious in a I'm-glad-I-did-it-but-I'm-not-doing-it-again kind of way.
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