I started drafting this blog at around mile 3.5 of a six mile run this morning. It was a simple out-and-back 10K, and I had just made the turn and started back towards the finish. I felt strong. I was maintaining my target pace pretty well. And I KNEW I was going to be able to finish, and finish it running.
At mile four, I started playing. My confidence was high (hell, it might have been “stoned”), but I was sober and at least a little cautious. I started trying to pick off the runners ahead of me. But only if I could do it without breaking a 9:15 pace (really 9:00-9:15 pace because, as I said, my confidence was getting a little silly). I had set out to keep a 9:30 pace throughout and I was doing a decent job of that, so I started moving up. It was fun.
At mile five, I could tell I had been pushing myself. Five miles was the longest I had ever run before starting the race, so I was in unfamiliar territory physically, but I felt good. I had passed a half dozen or so runners and was coming up on a few more.
At about 5.5ish miles, I was gaining on a couple running together that seemed to have been keeping a pretty solid 9:30ish pace and running very steady. But they were also starting to pick up their pace towards the last stretch. Instead of trying to pass them, I settled in right behind them and decided that following their push would be a strong enough finish for me as well.
Just before six miles, the gentleman ahead of me looked back at his friend/wife/girlfriend/running partner and asked “You got a sprint in you?” After a few seconds of silence from his companion, I answered “No.”
She exhaled a “not yet.”
With so little distance left and the finish line in sight, I stepped up my pace and my knees and my stride and finished strong a few second before both of them. (crossing the finish line at an 8:36 pace for that very short duration)
Was I “racing” them? Nope. I was racing me. But it was fun to have a game to play during those last couple of miles. And we ALL “won” that game that no one else knew was being played. If it’s not fun, why do it?
I ran my longest distance ever today. EVER. I finished with an unofficial GPS time of 58:32 and an average overall pace of 9:24 minutes/mile. My pacing was a little sporadic starting off but I was able to find another runner that I could pace myself behind for a couple of miles and even after I lost her in the turn I was able to maintain it. I had a less than fantastic run on Wednesday that left me sore and with a slight pull in my groin, but a couple of days rest had relieved that and I felt fine today. It was a good run.
Five months ago, if you had asked me to run a 5K (or to the mailbox for that matter), I probably would’ve laughed the “no fucking way” out of my mouth. And there is a better than decent chance that I would have done it with a small amount of arrogant snark in my tone. “I only run if I’m being chased. And whatever it is had better be bigger than me.”
I was so enlightened. I was so wrong.
About a week ago, I met some friends to see a movie. It doesn’t happen very often, but I needed to get out of the house and a movie sounded like a great idea. I was running late (as always) and got to the theater at 6:30 for the 6:30 showing. I walking into the lobby and immediately got into the first line I saw for the concession stand.
It was a near three hour movie. I was going to need a drink. My friends and I stood there chatting for a minute at about fifth in the slow moving line before my buddy said “I think that register is open” nodding to an adjacent register with no one being served.
I seldom go to the movies, but I can never really tell how the concession line works. The employees always seem to be moving around slowly and haphazardly enough that I can’t tell who is doing what or whether they even know where the line is.
I was in no real hurry. I didn’t move.
After more than a few seconds, we saw someone approach the register and place their order. Then another, and another. Sure enough, that register was open. I didn’t care. I’m patient. We wasted more than a few minutes standing there waiting to pay five dollars for a bottle of water and missed at least some of the MANY previews. But then, the umpteen previews that we did have to endure were maybe the worst things that I had ever seen.
WOW! Another Scary Movie? Are you serious? How many times can you drop a bucket into a dry well?
Life is not a race. Time is without question the most valuable commodity any of us will ever have. And I don’t want to waste a minute of it. But if you rush around looking for the “shortest line” all of the time, you risk missing some pretty wonderful things along the way. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
I didn’t move.
Did my concession line decision make any sense at all? Nope. I should’ve gone to the other register once I realized it was open. But you have to admit. I sold it pretty well.
All decisions are permanent. But they’re only permanent in the context of the singular time-line of life that we all get. So we can always make another one. Sometimes that means catching the first of eight movie previews that will further destroy your already waning faith in the movie industry. Sometimes that means finding something in yourself that might possibly change you forever, help you discover parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed, and maybe move you one step closer to becoming the best you that you can be.
Sometimes you’re right. Sometimes you’re wrong. Sometimes it matters. Sometimes it doesn’t. But don’t forget that changing your mind can sometimes change your life. It changed mine.
I’m glad that I started running.
Oh! And I’m still totally loving this band. Happy Saturday.