Save some for the way down

Save some for the way down

Running a 5K is a reasonable distance , one that encourages a developing runner to strive for speed.  By design, you are on the road about 30 minutes (+/- 10) , and for that period of time, you can take the pressure of the push — the push for speed.  My approach to the 5K was to break it down into 3 one-mile increments.  The first mile was about testing how I was feeling.  Some days I felt slower than other days, sluggish, heavy on my feet.  Not always sure why , But it is what it is.  Other days I was on fire, like the Olympic God Hermes running with wings on my sneakers.   The second mile was about reserving energy.  Slowing down on purpose, storing up some fuel for the end.  I had to make myself do this, which is particularly harder when you are feeling on fire.  Ever try to slow down a burning fire??  Tough stuff.  But the third mile of the 5K, well this one is the Punisher.  If you are successful at mile 2 and have created the reserve, mile 3 becomes about anticipation, the delicious taste of victory in your mouth.  You can survive mile 3 because you are sooo close.  However, if you were less successful in mile 2, less able to slow down the burner of your over-anxious engine, mile 3 becomes hell.  It’s like running down the street dragging an old broken-down car tethered to a belt around your waist.  Suddenly your body feels like a thousand pounds, and you can feel every inch of that mile.  It’s mental and physical anguish.  So training teaches you how to survive the entire race.  Sometimes you have to create a reserve, and not forget the beginning, middle and the end of what is in front of you.

Moving from training for a 5K to training for a 10K is like night and day.  A totally different ball game.  At least it was for me.  If a 5K is about speed, then a 10K is where a runner experiences for the first time the real meaning of endurance.  To ENDURE:  to suffer patiently.  WOW.  OMG.  That is so profound, and kinda perfect.   To suffer patiently.

As you begin a 10K run, you are crossing the threshold of an endeavor which will require you to suffer patiently, for 6.2 miles.  This distance requires you to remain in perpetual movement forward, step-by-step for between 60-70 minutes.  (I’m hovering between 10 and 12 minute miles right now, so these times reflect my pace – if you are faster – Go with God, I am in awe of you 🙂

For a moment, I’m going to allow myself to feel the full weight of this ½ Marathon commitment I have made.  The distance is 13.2 miles from start to finish, and will require my patient suffering for between 2-3 hours.  I am striving for a time somewhere between 2:30 and 2:45, but right now – that seems like an INCREDIBLY LONG TIME To SUFFER, period.  But let’s not focus on that right now.  That’s April.  This is today.  Today, I am tackling and enduring the 10K, and besides…..I plan to be a different person, capable of different things in April. 🙂

April is an interesting month.  April lures my mind off to thoughts about another fascination I have had most of my adult life.  Each year in April mountaineers from around the world gather in Base Camp in Nepal to begin the arduous adventure of climbing the highest peak on our Earth – Mount Everest.  29,035 feet above sea level.  Every year, I’m fascinated to read about and monitor the efforts of these amazing athletes, who ENDURE a step-by-step trek straight up the face of a mountain, into thin air where the oxygen levels are only 1/3rd  of what a human requires to maintain normal brain and body functions.

The point that I wanted to relate about Mt Everest is this – It IS a Trial of Endurance to make it to the top of Mt Everest.  People lose their lives trying to accomplish this feat.  The fascinating statistic to understand about climbing Mt Everest is that the majority of people who die attempting the climb lose their lives on the way down!  They make it to the top.  They celebrate at the peak, snapping photos with their frost-bitten fingers, and tie flags to the memorial up there and spend precious minutes (while slowly dying of suffocation) taking in a view of the planet that only a scant few of us will ever see.  The unfortunate ones who lost their lives….I think…..lost sight of the fact that their journey was only 50% done.

I told you before that I had turned off “Jim” on my Bridge-to-10K iPhone app, so he’s no longer chattering in my ear about how many miles I have left to run.  The one notification I left on is the one where Jim tells me, “You are half-way done”.    My personal visualization as I am running a 10K is this:  The first half,  I am climbing Mt Everest.  I am RIGHT THERE with Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, putting one step in front of the other, one breath in, one breath out.  Each step is tentative, each step needs to make the next one happen.  I swear sometimes I keep going simply because it requires energy to stop.  But once Jim says, “You are half-way done”, in my mind, I feel myself on top of the peak of Mt Everest, and I’m looking over the other side at the way down.  I made it to the top, and now I have to make it home.  Because I am NOT going to be one of those frozen corpses left on the trail because I forgot that success is a ROUND TRIP!

And so I take my steps in the 2nd half of my journey with the wind in my face, as I am “visualizing” myself running my way down the mountain.  Having been to the peak, having seen the view of the world that only 10K runners have seen, and now I’m running home to the finish line, and to a hot tub and a cup of coffee.   Whatever it takes…..bring it!  I’m a 10K runner!

Ciao for now….Diane

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