A friend of mine took up running and hated it. Then she ran with a few friends who helped her find her pace and she said, "I think I get why people like running!"
My reflexatory response is, "...well, I wouldn't say we like running. We like the effects of running."
And this past summer, I trained for a half marathon with another friend, Nej. We ran once a week and we ran far. We loaded ourselves with carbo gels of all flavours, filled ammo belts with Gatorade and water and we chatted ourselves into the oblivion of 18 kilometre treks. We headed out early in the morning, but we still sweated out bucket-loads and we often stared dehydration square in the eye. Did I mention we had to fight off terriers too?
All this to say, we drove up to Owen Sound and ran the Bayshore Half Marathon on the hottest bloody day in August. It was maybe my fifth or sixth half marathon and I finished in 49 minutes longer than my fastest half-marathon time. Not much faster than a shuffle.
But we did it!
And when I got home and walked up to the front porch, there were two beautiful perennials, a yellow one and a pot of lavender, with a little sign on construction paper that said, "WE KNEW YOU COULD DO IT, MOM!"
Now that the satisfaction of a fait accompli is fading along with the scorching temperatures of summer, Nej has encouraged me to commit to my next goal. So we signed up for the Chilly Half Marathon for March.
And instead of just forcing myself to plug through a stupid amount of mileage once a week, I've decided to train FOR REAL this time. I found a notebook and set goals for myself - at least three workouts a week.
And on Saturday, I went to the gym. I got on a treadmill with my ipod and I began to run. At first I told myself I was slow and overweight and I had to run very, very slowly. But my music told me to go faster, so I did. I cranked up the numbers to the kinds of speeds I used to do. And I ran and ran and ran until I found my groove! I found it!
And the guy next to me, two treadmills down, he didn't see it coming. He didn't see me overtaking him on the left and he didn't see the determination in my brow. And when he finally realized defeat and stepped down, the competitive side of me felt like crying out, "Wait! I'm not done racing you!!!"
Perhaps it was the music. Perhaps it was the treadmill with its inarguably tangible settings. Perhaps it's just a new goal and a renewed resolve. Who cares what it was!
And she's found her groove!