As I rounded the corner, about a mile and a half into my run, I spotted a thin, long legged, and lithe runner up ahead. Her pony tail swung back and forth with her stride. I was instantly intimidated. She had the look. You know what I’m talking about, tall and lean with an effortless gait, and she was carrying one of those fancy handheld water bottles that the ultra-runners favor. Fact is, she just plain looked like a runner. Clearly, I expected her to pull away from me rather quickly, and it was shocking to me that I was actually keeping pace with her. I tried to focus only on my comfortable stride and not the runner up ahead of me. (Yes, I do need to go to “competitors anonymous” meetings) I glanced ahead several times, and our natural pace appeared to be identical. I have to admit that it was a bit of a mental effort to not obsess about trying to overtake the runner up ahead. (Avert gaze, continue plodding…) Before I got to the real hills of my run, there was just a slight upward grade on the road. It was on this grade that with no additional effort on my part, I not only caught up to said tall thin girl, but I passed her! I passed her like she wasn’t moving! I’m wondering if this bizarre accomplishment has any direct correlation to the fact that, just moments before leaving my house, I made the decision to stop saying that I am not a runner. Smiling to myself, I turned and headed up the steeply graded road to continue my 6.5 mile run.
I have had some conversations with “The Running Man of Brewster” about running technique and racing in general. He told me that the hills of a race were where you would either pass or be passed. Wow! He wasn’t kidding around. The most amazing thing about today’s run, is that I expected that I would be the one being passed and not the other way around.
This fitness progression is not an accident. I decided where I wanted to be and created and followed a plan to get me there. Even though intellectually, I know that these steps and methods have been proven to work, I was somehow skeptical that they would in fact work for me. If it sounds like I am being ungracious or a braggart regarding my small victory today, then let me just state for the record, less than 3 years ago, I weighed over 200 pounds. A small accomplishment for me today, given where I have come from, is all the more miraculous.
Today, I increased my mileage above my previous maximum running distance. I ran a new route that included some longer and steeper grades. The additions to my workouts felt great. I’m still constantly amazed at what my body can and will do. I feel badly, realizing how much I may have held myself back in the past just by not believing enough. This is, I believe, where natural ability steps off and persistence and determination take over. I have accomplished some truly amazing athletic feats in my life; it is not because of any exceptional natural ability, rather it is because of hard work and determination. I really do have the power to do amazing things and so do you. I want it, do you?