Week 2 was rocky. Tuesday night was fine; Wednesday, I worked in a noontime session at the gym. During this session, I shaved about 25 seconds off my 2-mile pace (still over 39 minutes). I got passed by a few grey-headed saints, which gave me a laugh and a dose of humility. I later passed a gentleman in his sixties, who was overweight and breathing heavily, walking hand-in-hand with his wife. I gave him a respectful nod as I passed.
The next two days were difficult. Rest on Thursday, and an attempted gym session Friday. However, I didn't give myself enough time to eat and digest on Friday, so after about 1/4 mile, I felt like I was going to be sick and had to stop. It was incredibly frustrating to miss a training day for something as stupid as not timing my dinner better.
Saturday morning came. I had planned to get up at 8... which became 9... which became 10. I didn't get to the gym until about 11:30, and didn't get checked in, stretched out, and on the track until almost noon.
I hit a good pace from the start, and kept it going for the first mile. I finished the mile in 19:10, which is huge for me. This is the fastest I've ever woggled (waddle-walk-jogged) a mile, and I was feeling really good about myself.
As I started into the second, however, I was hit with a wave of fatigue. The first Mile 2 lap around the 1/8 mile track was brutal. I just ran out of gas. I crossed the "line" (I use the overhead digital clock as my start/finish) with a 2:30+ lap pace, which would put me over a 20-minute mile. I started thinking of reasons to just stop. As I walked Lap 10 (Lap 2, Mile 2), I was feeling just beaten down. I wanted to just chalk it up to a bad day and finish early. It'd been a rough week, and I wanted to rest.
Oddly, as if to counter all this negative thinking, I began thinking about things The Penguin wrote in "No Need for Speed," a beginning running book I just finished. About how you should focus on being YOUR best, rather than THE best. At that point, common sense hit me like a volleyball to the face. "What do I care about speed right now? I'm not a racer. I don't need to worry about pace, I just need to finish!"
It was as if weights had been lifted off me. I don't have to set paces or win races. My goal, every time I work out, and down the road when I start participating in races, is just to finish. I'll save the pacing worries for the fleet of foot, and focus my flat-footed self on placing one in front of the other for as long or far as I have to.
So I kept at it. Finished 2 miles, dropped my chrome clicker-counter (what are they actually called?) in the basket, and decided to add a half-mile walk as a cool-down, to extend my distance. Then, at the end of Lap 3, I got a crazy idea: after 2.5 miles (20 laps), it's only another 5 laps to finish a 5K distance (longer, technically). I thought, "Why not give it a try?"
So once I hit that fourth lap...I kept going. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. That's three miles. On the "last" lap, I started questioning my mental count, and really wished I had hung on to the clicker. So to be safe, I tacked on one more lap.
After just over an hour of woggling, I finished 26 laps, out of breath, parched, dead-legged. And proud.
I slowly walked downstairs, checked out, and staggered to my truck. Sitting there in the seat, waiting for the air conditioning to kick-in, I had a startling but pleasant realisation:
"Holy crap, I think I can actually DO this."