When I first plotted out the training schedule I wanted my sister to follow, I made a forecast. That forecast was that at a certain point during training, distances that at one time seemed insurmountable would become easy, commonplace, even routine – I was right. Two weekends ago my sister and I went for her long run, she casually, and I do mean casually, mentioned that she might be doing a three miler the following day, and the fact that she said that with ease was definitely a breakthrough point in training.
However, as those who have trained for a race know, it is a slow progression. Not every day is the best run of your life, you don’t run your fastest, you don’t feel your best, your mind and your body are taking two separate paths – in other words, it’s not easy. But, it’s in this lack of ease that the ultimate feeling of accomplishment is born, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. Setbacks and bad days are a part of the natural course of running, overcoming a setback is as important as crossing the finish line, because without that act of moving on, we wouldn’t cross the finish line. That’s some preamble I just wrote.
Anyway, this past Saturday I coaxed my sister into running a 10 mile time trial put on by the Heart Break Hill Running Company on Comm. Ave in Newton. It’s a ten mile loop that runs up Heart Break, through BC, all along Beacon through Newton and Waban, and then turning on the marathon course on Washington St, Comm. Ave and ending back at the store. It’s not an easy loop by anyone’s standards, hills and inclines all over. For the half marathon in NJ in May, while I’m training my sister, I also want to run a good race myself, with her permission, I was going to run the time trial at my speed. The ten miles was one mile longer than we had scheduled, but I assured her that she could do it. We drove over to HHRC. This was nicely organized, people milled about talking, we had polaroids taken of all participants who signed their names to them, all in all, I was excited to be part of the inaugural run. Somewhere between 10/10:30, we got going. I started off at a good speed, linking up with a runner named Greg and we paced each other for about two miles. Hills are not my strong suit, a weak-link I know I need to work on, and he went ahead of me along Beacon. I kept up a fairly good pace through Newton, but shortly before Waban, started to fatigue. It’s a mile from Waban center to Washington St. and that mile felt like 10 itself. But, once I was on the course, I felt like I was home and ran strong despite the hills on Comm. Ave. I finished around 1:15 give or take a few minutes – -still a little bit slower than my target pace, but I’m getting there.
My sister made a wrong turn and fell along the way giving herself a runner’s red badge of courage, a scraped knee. After realizing her mistake, she did a second smaller loop to tack on some more mileage, probably finishing close to 8 miles on the day. A distance any normal person would be pleased with. But, Lara (though she refuses to entirely believe it) is becoming a runner, so that wasn’t good enough. Upset with the mistake, upset with her performance, we’re heading back to HHRC this weekend to run it again. Runners may hit walls physically, they may hit them mentally, but plowing through them separates those that buy running shoes from those that need to keep buying them.
One month to go, a setback can be a synonym for progress depending how you use it.