Short stories from long runs

This blog about my run and training

Good news. After the tail end of last week fell apart on the workout front, I’m four days in and hanging tough. Granted Tuesday night was comprised of 75 minutes of yin yoga, which is only a slight cut above restorative yoga in terms of being active, but I think it’s fair to say that sometimes being still is even more important than moving. Plus, I showed up, which has a tendency to be half the battle.

So, as this week charges blessedly towards the weekend, I’m feeling good.

Speaking of “charging,” last night required facing down my fears on the track. Yes, indeed, I ran 800s. I’ve whined before about how I really feel about 800s — I’m so not into being that uncomfortable for even three and a half minutes — but I’m willing to suffer if repeated suffering will make it more bearable in the future.

Luckily, the weather was absolutely perfect and there were tons of high school boys throwing around the football or practicing soccer, day-campers wrapping up track and field club, and kids running around racing me. I can’t even tell you how many times the kiddo with the swinging red ponytail looked back over her shoulder to make sure she was still a few yards ahead of me. Didn’t she know I was running 800s and that was my recovery lap? I also got a kick out of the boys who literally laid down, wide-ways, across the track and yelled “BLOCKED YOU!” during my last few loops. Hey, it kept things interesting.

4×800 with 400 intervals between each, plus a walked lap at the end to wrap things up nicely for 3.5 miles. The very cool thing is that my 800s averaged a 7:00 pace with splits of 3:25.2, 3:30.2, 3:35.9, 3:25.3.

On my last lap, I thought back to when we ran the timed mile in school and I specifically remember the year that we ran giant loops around the middle school property. Not particularly athletic, I was really proud to be the first girl to finish, not because I was any faster than them, really, but because most girls in my class didn’t want to sweat and I preferred to be fast than pretty… in that moment, at least. I’m almost certain I ran a 7:35 mile, pacing myself by vowing not to be more than a half lap behind my friend Chris.

During the track and field unit in middle school, I was exhilarated when I tried the hurdles for the first time, terrified that I would fall and embarrass myself, but then, not knocking over any of the giant foam set ups at all. I joined the high school track team for a little while, desperate to be a part of a group, but never really put in the work to be a real contributor and only stuck around for one season. I took on the marathon in college to pay tribute to a friend, yes, but also because I wanted to shock people and prove that I could accomplish something outrageous.

The miraculous thing is that all these years later, I’m still doing it. Even better, I didn’t hit the track last night to be cool, or prove myself, or to be part of a group; I showed up because running is part of what makes me me now. Because finishing my 800s and realizing I ran them faster than when I did six months ago makes me proud and because the first sprint feels as joyful as the first hurdle I took on in a field at my intermediate school 15 years ago.

And, as always, I run because I can.