Thursday, March 27, 2008

Conquer the Distance

I finally got out last night. 3 miles. Slow. No walking.

It was good. No, it was great. It was the first *real* run I’ve had since Valley of the Sun, and it felt good be just be out (first and foremost) but it was also good to feel strong. I love runs where I feel strong.

As I mentioned already, yesterday Micheline and I spent a long while on the telephone, combined with internet surfing, trying to find a race to run together sometime later this year. Our intent is to try and meet for a race once a year – following in the tradition of Big Sur. An interesting comment was made during our conversation, and I pondered it quite a bit last night during my run.

Micheline knows me well enough ~ and may not even visit my blog enough ~ to know I didn’t take this comment the wrong way…so I’m okay with sharing it.

As some background, Micheline is my pie-in-the-sky-friend. She truly believes that nothing is out of the realm of possibility. She isn’t deterred by physical or mental limitations; she’s ready to throw her hat in the ring for just about anything. She doesn’t share my disdain for the prospect of finishing last in a race ~ she’s all about just going for it. In some ways, I wish I was like that ~ but I’m much more conservative.

That being said, I choose my races carefully. I know my physical limitations, and try not to put myself in a race situation where I know I’m setting up for failure. For example, Micheline wants to do the Wild West Trail Marathon….and doesn’t think anything of walking it if necessary. I, on the other hand, don’t think that my very first marathon should be one that is rated with a 9+ degree of difficulty ;)

So obviously we have some differences in opinions about the races we should consider ~ specifically given my adversion to HILLS. (Yes, we’ve covered that topic already, so it really needs no more explanation.) So in our search for suitable races, the degree of elevation change is an item for consideration. At least for me.

So yesterday as we are perusing the internet, Micheline finds a race (I can’t remember which one) ~ I look at the elevation chart ~ make a grunting noise, signaling my disapproval ~ and I can almost see Micheline rolling her eyes at me over the phone. So she chides me: “I’m sorry….I wish I could just run a search for races labeled *easy.*”

To which I promptly reply: “ummmm, I don’t recall any of my half-marathons being easy for me.”

And she got my point. I’m not about searching for easy ~ I’m searching for do-able. I’m searching for a race ~ and a distance ~ that I can conquer. Up to now, for a variety of reasons, my first three half-marathons have conquered ME ~ not the other way around.

I want to conquer a race. I want to conquer a distance. And then I can move on.

And as I was running last night, I realized that is what makes me enjoy some runs more than others. When I am out there, running ~ feeling strong ~ conquering the distance, without it conquering me ~ I love the run. And as is human nature, when I am on the other end of the stick, I don’t feel quite as warm and fuzzy.

There is something amazing for me about looking back at the completion of a run ~ whether it’s 3 miles or 13.1 miles ~ and knowing the distance didn’t defeat me. That was what last night was for me: 3 miles of Pokey versus the Pavement ~ and I came out strong and victorious.

THAT is what keeps me running.

And it gave me a new sense of focus. I’ve completed 3 HM’s lately, but I still have so much work to do. I have not yet conquered the half marathon. And I won’t move on until I do.

My plan is to complete at least 2 more HM’s this year ~ and conquer the distance.


Running Knitter said...

And you WILL conquer the distance! Hopefully I'll be running with you so we can conquer it together!

J~Mom said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I hear you saying that you won't do the full with me. ;>P LOL j/k

No, really I totally understand. And I do believe that race is coming girl! It's coming! :>D

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

The only problem is that the definition of "conquered" has a bad habit of changing on you. I still haven't done the perfect half yet, and I've done a ton of them. I don't know that anyone is ever truly "ready" for their first marathon. At some point you just say f#$% it, let's go, and let the chips fall where they may. I jacked up my first 24-hour big time...but I learned more from that "failure" than I had from any of the other races I've ever done. Sometimes it's the only way to learn.

Bev said...

You'll get it. It's just all about consistency and determination.

Mendy said...

I haven't been pleased with my halfs either and feel there is some unfinished business to do with that distance.

GREAT post, Karen! I love that you LOVED your run. It sure is a feeling that can't be fully explained, isn't it? You're gonna find one. What about Virginia Beach RnR (it's flat and on the beach), in Aug? What more could you ask for? You and Lisa could come out together... Just a suggestion. :-)

Nat said...

Great freakin' post.

I don't think we ever conquer a distance, I think we tame it. You still respect it's wild side, but you know you can make the most of it and get through it. I have had some great halves, they all have their high points and low points. I still need to work on them.

My advice for the what it's worth. The marathon will screw with your head at The Wall. Unless you do a lot of trail running now, I'd stick with something easier (not easy). The goal is to finish smiling. I'd also pick a big race with walkers (this is how I get over my hate of finishing last.)

Wes said...

In my book, you have conquered the distance :-) That's why I love reading your blog. Everyone is a unique individual, yet we are all bound by love of the same thing. Totally cool :-)

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Nice post. I know what you mean. I've finished one, but don't feel I've totally conquered it. I do feel this way a lot after a run that I thought I couldn't make it through

robert said...

Great post. I think the dam to dam 20k you mentioned in an earlier post is about as flat as any course out there. Or at least that I've seen. Go forth and conquer.

Chief Wahoo said...

I think we can all relate to the way you are feeling.

Now you just need to find that next half marathon to do battle with!

WADDLER26.2 said...

Great post. I love the half distance. I've done 3 fulls and do not feel like I am near conquering that. You can do it.

Viv said...

Great post, Poke! I believe you have conquered so much :-) Sounds like a great plan. I know what you mean about the 26.2. It feels like the big enchilda for me. Maybe one day. You can do it!! I am looking forward to you conqer your goals.

Michelle said...

You can do it!!!

I'm going to be attempting my first HM in May. You have already done so much more than me!! Keep it up!!!

Jeff said...

What defines conquer? Is it something that you will know when you do it?