9 Miles

I was looking through my workouts this past week and saw that my coach scheduled a 9 mile run for Monday. I got scared. I’ve never run 9 miles before. It seemed like an impossible thing to do. Plus, it has been so hot and humid outside. I get inspired to run when it’s about 65. I get inspired to sleep in the air conditioning when its 95 with a dew point of 75… aka rain forrest miserable. My asthma makes it impossible to breathe in those conditions.

I thought about this run all week and all weekend. I was dreading it as I sat on the couch for 5 hours on Sunday watching the race from Indy. Guilt started to creep in for skipping my workout that day. Thankfully for me, I use guilt as motivation for the next day.

I knew that 9 miles was going to take a long time, like over 2 hours, so I set my alarm for 5am. When I woke up Monday morning it was dark and raining. Probably would have went anyway, but then I heard thunder as well. Not good. So I did the only reasonable thing: went back to bed for 3 hours.

It kept creeping into my head the whole day… 9 miles.

By the time I got home there was no doubt in my mind. I was going to finish all 9 miles if it was the last thing I did! I love the days when there is no doubt, no internal battle over whether or not to go run. Those are the worst battles for me.

I laced up my shoes and headed out. I had Gatorade and Strava ready to go. I had also mapped out a route and knew exactly what it would take to complete all of the miles.

Before I hit the first half mile there is a busy road that I have to cross. In the town where I live there are crosswalks with signs that people are supposed to stop. Most don’t. But some do. A few cars blew past and then one in the lane farthest from me started slowing down. I assumed he was stopping for me. Not so much. I took off to cross the street and realized the moron was turning left (without a turn signal). He almost ran over me! Then looked at me like I had done something wrong! I hope he learned his lesson. I sure learned mine! That run was almost over before it started!

Keep digging.

I had a particularly rough day at work. Five minutes before 5pm my boss sends me a message. “Don’t leave yet. I need to talk to you.” Never good. My first thought:

“Oh hell. What did I do now?”

The conversation wasn’t so bad, but our communication styles are so different that we constantly run into issues. He’s OCD particular about EVERYTHING and I’m more laid back. In theory it sounds like a good combination. It’s not. And of course he said something that bothered me and I took it personally. I always do.

This incident was on my mind for the first 6 miles of my run. I tried everything I could to push it out. But it kept coming back. I planned every snarky, sarcastic, nasty response that I could think of. In my head, I yelled at him for why he was wrong and why I was right. I had some great arguments for why he was being ridiculous and why the whole thing was so not the issue he was making it.

I’m great at telling people exactly what I think about them… in my head, way after the confrontation is over. I’ll tell them again and again until I feel like I’m going crazy. But the good thing that comes out of it is that I usually know how to respond better, at the right time, the next time.

I wrestled with this issue for a long time, but I came to a sensible solution. One that didn’t involve snark or nastiness and that lowered the rick of me getting fired. Thank you endorphins!

It’s not easy to run 9 miles. Everything is telling you to quit. My head is the worst. So many negative thoughts. I struggle to breathe after about a mile so I have to walk for a couple of minutes to catch my breath. At those times my legs start to hurt and my head tells me things like, “It’s ok. You ran 4 miles. You can totally walk the rest of the way.” On this day, I pushed those thoughts aside and kept plugging away.

About mile 5 a lady on a bike passed me and said, “You’re doing a great job! Keep going!” God bless her! I think she was an angel. I love those people who can say things like that to total strangers. When I grow up, I’m going to be like them!

The last 3 miles were the worst. There was a dog (I hate dogs) and people in the way and sweat mixed with sun screen lotion running in my eyes. In the middle of this I realized what a nice day it was. Beautiful even! The temperature was perfect and the wind was blowing just enough. I was more than inspired to keep digging.

I don’t think I have ever felt so good about finishing something. Not for a long time anyway. It’s a high that I can’t really describe. I suppose you would have to do something really crazy to understand it. Something like running 9 miles. It’s the same high that I get when I’m standing on pit road at the race track and realize that I’m living my dream… and getting paid to do it. It’s pretty amazing.

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