I’m currently in the 16th week of the training program I’m doing to run the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November. It hasn’t always been easy, especially as the distances have been growing in order to get me ready for the eventual 13.1 miles ahead of me. Fortunately, the program does a nice job of ramping up and pulling back so it doesn’t become overwhelming: shorter maintenance runs during the week, then long distance on the weekend. And even that cycles up and down, three miles one weekend, then up to six, back to three, and so on.
This past weekend was a pretty big and so on: 9.5 miles. Granted, these longer runs are done at quarter-mile intervals of running and walking, but 9.5 miles is still 9.5 miles, running or walking. I was scheduled to do this on Sunday, but with the possibility of Tropical Storm Erika blowing into town, I didn’t want to wake up Sunday rained out. So, after my late night door adventures, I roused myself out of bed and got myself out the door Saturday morning, ready to do three and a half miles more than I’d ever done before.
I have a playlist of film scores I lean on pretty heavily when I do my runs. If I’m just walking, I can do podcasts and radio shows, but if I’m running, I really can’t pay attention to what’s being said. So I’ve pulled together a bunch of pieces from the likes of John Williams and John Powell and James Horner and a bunch of others, about four hours’ worth altogether, and I just let it go. And it works. I’ll get lost in the melodies and in imagining the scenes accompanying them in my head, and the intervals roll by, and the whole thing seems to go by that much faster. There’s nothing quite like the sensation of feeling your legs get heavy and your breathing labored, and then the opening fanfare from Williams’ theme from Superman kicks in and you’re flying.
So I sweated my way through a late summer Florida morning that started off at 77 degrees and hit 86 before long. Five miles down. Then six. Then seven. And then I started to worry. Not because I didn’t think I could physically get to that 9.5, but because I didn’t think I could chronologically get there. See, I had to be somewhere at noon, and it was already nearly quarter after eleven. At my usual pace, I wasn’t going to do a mile and a half in anything less than thirty minutes, meaning I’d be late. So, grudgingly, I settled on getting to eight and calling it a day.
At the end, I was disappointed I hadn’t hit the mark, but encouraged that I felt like I could have. And it was still farther than I’d ever gone before. The pace wasn’t the best, thanks in part to having to deal with traffic and such, but it was fast enough not to get swept at the Disney race, and for my first try at the distance, I’d take it.
The kicker was I had misread the invitation to the event I was attending and it actually started at 11:30. I was already late even by cutting things short. But it was worth it to get that distance under my belt. To think two years ago I’d get winded after a thirty minute walk, and now I’m mad I didn’t jog/walk an extra mile and a half.
This weekend I’m back down to three miles, but after that, it’s on to eleven. Only 2.1 miles from what I’ll be doing in November. It doesn’t seem real, but I’ll be out there doing it. Provided I’m not late for anything else, that is.