Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Five-year anniversary run

As far as I know, yesterday wasn't the exact anniversary of anything important in my life.

But as I ran around Raccoon River Park, the mix of fall and summer weather, plus the forested gravel trail, I kept reminiscing about similar places I used to run — the Stone Bridge Trail in Roscoe, Ill.; Schmeekle Reserve in Stevens Point, Wis.

I rode that wave of nostalgia all the way back to 2008. That fall, I went on my first non-rain-related run since high school.

I didn't get hooked on it until spring 2009. But if I hadn't, one fall evening, for absolutely no reason at all, seen how far I could jog around my neighborhood until I got exhausted (not very far), there would've been no springtime running obsession.

So I guess it's the equivalent of first-date anniversary versus wedding anniversary, and as I have married friends who celebrate both of those milestones (and why not?), I think I'm well within my rights to declare my first five-year running anniversary.

I am also exercising a little bit of poetic license, because the run during which I thought "huh, it's been about five years now, give or take a month" was a rousing success.

Spurred by some gentle teasing, I decided to at least run the 10K my training schedule told me that I should do this weekend in a race. Going fast wasn't necessarily my intention, but it happened.

Five years after I couldn't even run half a mile, I ran 6.2 miles at an 8:25 pace. The later miles were a little bit of a struggle, for sure, but I have a hunch that they still felt better than that first quarter-mile in fall 2008.

(Which, by the way, was definitely uphill. Raccoon River, on the other hand, is beautifully flat.)

It's hard for me to say what I'm prouder of: that I've come so far with running, or that I've stuck with it through the bumps.

It's also hard for me, as an inherently unathletic person and as someone self-conscious about bragging, to acknowledge how I got to this point.

For all the credit I jokingly give to beer and pork (which I consume more now than ever), or the pointing at perfect weather and terrains, this is actually because I'm putting in the effort. Discipline and persistence is paying off.

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