Sweet relief was literally a minute away. I was 28 minutes into running and told myself that I could do one more minute. Two would be nicer, just to say I'd gone farther than I ever have, but I would be satisfied with the one. About the time I started my count-down of seconds, Daniel came up and noticed my distance on the treadmill display. I could see his smile, and he displayed his grin that only means one thing. He was going to offer me a challenge.
Sure enough, Daniel caught my gaze long enough to hold up first three fingers, then one. What? I can't do that! Stalling, I said out loud, "What? I didn't catch that."
"3.1, Karen, keep going. Go the full 3.1." My goal I've been reaching for is to be able to run a 5K race. 5K equates to 3.1 miles. Daniel was urging me to run the full 3.1 right now. Anyone who knows me well knows I can't pass up a challenge easily, and Daniel had just thrown the ultimate challenge on the table. Could I push myself to meet my goal for the first time? What, really, was holding me back?
I looked down and saw that I really only had about three quarters of a mile to go. In so many ways that distance seemed huge, yet for some reason the distance also seemed small. Life has thrown me a lot of curve-balls lately, and for so many of the situations I have been faced with I have no control. This, however, this I have control over.
"I'll try," I said to Daniel, though I was POSITIVE at that moment that I was going all the way. My plan was to keep the speed where it was until I didn't think I could run anymore. I would then drop it by a tenth of a mile increments as I need to, knowing I had about 15 minutes left to complete. As long as I kept the speed above 4 miles per hour I would be happy. I'm not a fast runner yet, but anything under 4 mph is walking for me.
It's funny how so much of working out in general, and running specifically, is mental. I knew that when I decided I wanted to focus on running. But I learn more every day and with every milestone I reach. There are not many other sports a person can compete with themselves every time they strap on their shoes. This was clearly a competition with myself.
Daniel stood along side my treadmill for the rest of my run. He really is an inspiration to me and would make an incredible coach or trainer. The whole time he offered encouragement and tips. His smile really does start in his eyes when he is truly happy. It was really neat to have Daniel there when I reached yet another goal in this journey I'm on.
I watched the distance counter roll over to 3.0. I did it, I thought. I just ran 3 miles. I have never done this in my life. What kind of weirdo goes out and does this just for fun? Apparently the kind of weirdo I am. That last tenth of a mile was a rush. I actually pushed the speed up and really ran. It felt so good to know that my body could carry me this far. The final seconds ticked by, and when the treadmill counter got to 3.1 I hit the cool-down button. It took a lot of effort to remember to keep moving and get my body back to a more normal heartbeat. I wanted to jump up and down and cheer for myself. I had done it!
My first 5K speed was just under 42 minutes. I am really excited about that. I've been looking in magazines and results reports from 5K races, and I would NOT come in last if I were to run a race today. Of course, I need to learn to run outside first. That will slow me down, as I have experienced. Daniel is convinced that if I got out of our neighborhood I would do better. We'll see. For now I am going to keep training on the treadmill in the gym. I'll give the outside workout a try again when it cools off a little bit and when I have more confidence in my ability. I can't wait too long, though. There is a race I want to sign up for in October.
For now I am pleased to say that I AM a runner!