Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Non-Runner’s Guide to Running; or Why I Hate Myself

The funny thing about running is you have to beat your body into accepting it. Even people who love running will tell you the first couple miles are the most difficult to finish. It’s almost like you have to have a pep talk with yourself beforehand.

“Body, listen: you’re not going to like this, but we’re going running this morning.”
“Please, no.”
“Has to happen, sorry. Our increasingly-fatter self cannot continue to sit and do nothing.”

Eventually, the body gives in. “Sigh…OK, OK, OK. I’ll go.” Once I got to that point, where my body effectively submitted and accepted running, I no longer hated waking up in the morning before work to run.

Here’s why that’s important: I ran my first half-marathon the day after Halloween. Here’s why THAT’S important: my official position on running prior to the start of my training schedule in August was “No, thanks. I’d rather kick myself in the face.”

So there it is.

On Nov. 1, 2009, in Raleigh, N.C., I toed the starting line at 7 a.m. in steady rain and temperatures in the mid-50s and ran 13.1 miles. Before I started training, the longest I’d ever run with any regularity was between two and three miles.

Obviously, you’re asking, “Brian, WHY did you do that if you didn’t like running?” To which I say, “That’s a good question. Obviously, I have strong feelings of dislike toward myself.” No, here’s the deal. I’m a competitive person. I have three friends who’ve each run in similar races. I would go to support them, and I increasingly felt extraordinarily lame waiting for them at the finish line.

So I essentially dared myself not to do it. Which, of course, meant I had to do it.

And on that cold, rainy day in Raleigh, I actually did it. The training guides say not to set at time goal for your first half-marathon. Finishing should be a good enough goal. But I knew I’d be disappointed if I couldn’t finish in two and a half hours, so that was my goal. And I did it. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:19:51 – more than 10 minutes faster than my goal.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but this was not my last half-marathon. What a rush.

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