My 12 minute ultramarathon: the conclusion (or the beginning?)
As I indicated before, I’ve been afraid of running since I was a child, so five weeks ago I started using the 9 week Couch to 5K plan to see if I could finally run 12 minutes without stopping, something I was unable to do as a child.
Today was the day in the program where you run one 20 minute interval without stopping.
This was a big jump from Wednesday, when it was two 8 minute intervals with a 5 minute walking break in between. That wasn’t an easy time and the above toon is an accurate reflection of what it was like.
So since Wednesday I was dreading today, fearing I wouldn’t even make it the 12 minutes, let alone 20. I slept poorly last night and had a stressful dream about going to the gym this morning and forgetting to use the treadmill. Ha.
I went to the Milwaukee art museum with my oldest daughter yesterday and I became a bit winded after climbing the stairs to the third floor, so I said to myself, “Dammit, I can’t even climb three flights of stairs without getting winded, how the hell am I going to run 20 minutes tomorrow?”
I internally yelled at myself some more this morning: “What am I doing setting running deadlines for myself when I have enough deadlines in my life? If I couldn’t run 12 minutes as a child when it’s logical I should have had the energy to do it then, then why do I think I can do it now all these years later?” As you can see, I was still in the throes of my running complex, even as I stepped on the treadmill this morning.
I had planned to listen to part of a Janelle Monae song, three U2 songs and Madonna’s Celebration song (I figured if I was still running by that point I deserved to listen to a song with the word celebration in it) and guessed that those would add up to roughly 20 minutes. I didn’t dare look at the clock on the treadmill. I fussed with the TV occasionally for a diversion, switching back and forth from Today Show and Good Morning America.
What happened was nothing short of astonishing to me. The 3 U2 songs rolled by effortlessly and I felt no strain. I thought to myself, “Wow, now I finally see what they mean when they call running ‘moving meditation.'”
During the Celebration song I worried slightly that maybe these songs were falling short of the 20 minutes, but at the end of the song there was only 10 seconds left of the 20 minutes. After I hit the 20 minute mark I had the overwhelming urge to cry with happiness.
Coincidentally, earlier in my run Good Morning America had a segment on crying at work, and they concluded it was OK to cry at work but I wasn’t so sure it would be OK to cry at the gym. Ironically they also said by the time women reach their 40s they are pretty good at regulating emotions. Hahaha
I couldn’t completely suppress my tears so I went and sat in a corner on the BOSU ball where no one could see me, hid my face in my arms, and let myself cry for a while, but not as much as I wanted to. I wasn’t at all expecting I’d react that way, as I always reserve these types of tears for the achievements of my children and other people I know, and even strangers, when I read/hear their stories, but I can’t remember the last time I cried because of something I achieved.
I know, I know. Who gives a crap that I ran for 20 minutes, it doesn’t solve any world problems, people a lot older than me can run for so much longer than that, yadda yadda.
But here’s the thing: ultimately this had nothing to do with running, it had everything to do with deconstructing a fear and then overcoming it. Now that I’ve succeeded in doing this with one fear maybe I’ll be able to do it with others. And, more importantly, you can too.
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