Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thirteen-point-one miles....maybe

Thirteen-point-one miles.

Oh, I haven’t actually run it yet. But I think I might.

The idea began germinating last Thursday when my friend Nicole joined me for my usual weekday two-mile run. One of the many things we had to catch up on, having not seen each other in nearly a month, was the half-marathon she ran last month in St. Louis, and at some point in the conversation she mentioned there was one coming up next month in New Hampshire.

“Send me the info on it, if you could,” I said.

She was surprised and actually so was I. I’ve been in the same running pattern for several years now: two miles on weekdays, four or five, and very occasionally six, on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s been working well for me.

My daily running streak is more than six years long. Why change anything?

But as soon as I told Nicole to send me the information, I started noticing omens.

Just a couple of days earlier, my friend Leigh had given me an unexpected gift, a pair of fancy padded running socks. Late last month I’d gotten together with a former co-worker whom I hadn’t visited with in over ten years. She told me she had recently become an ultra-marathoner, completing distances of 38 to 52 miles per race. “But how do you do that?” I kept asking. “First I ran a marathon,” she said. “Then I realized after 26 miles, there’s no difference in what you can do physically; it’s all psychological."

Well, I began to think, if she could make the psychological jump from 26 miles to 52, then I could probably make the same jump from my usual six to a little over twice that.

There was the fact too that I’ve been thinking a lot about aging lately, and this felt like something that might make me dwell a little bit less on what it meant to be just a few years from fifty.

It just started to seem like something I might be able to do. And once I started to think that way, I began to feel like it might be something I really wanted to do. 

I’m still not fully committed to the idea. For that matter, I’m still not even registered for the race. At the time Nicole and I first discussed it, the race date was six weeks and two days away. I knew I could do six miles. So with five weekends before the race, I reasoned, I’d do eight miles the next weekend and then build by one mile each week, which would bring me to twelve miles the weekend before the race. If I could manage to do each of those distances as the respective weekend arrived, I’d feel like the half-marathon was worth a try. If I found the training too difficult along the way, I’d stop. Six weeks isn’t really long enough to train for a half-marathon. If I couldn’t do it, I’d reconsider in the spring, when there would be more races to choose among.

But I did do the eight-mile run last Sunday. It felt good, and not all that difficult. Now I’ve told a few people I might do the half. And I found the race website myself even before Nicole sent me the information.

So it could happen. I’m not sure yet. I probably won’t make a decision for another two or three weeks. But the idea is somehow tantalizing. The possibility of conquering a new challenge is close at hand. Little lies at stake; I won’t feel bad about it if I end up backing out. There will be other chances for other half-marathons.

But this just might be the one. All those omens, after all. Time will tell just what they all signified.

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