Photo by rskoon

Today’s run was hard.

First, I psyched myself out.  The training for today called for running two shorter intervals and two intervals that were twice as long as I’d run previously (three minutes – not very long at all, unless you happen to be a non-runner starting a running program).  Also, on the advice of a more experienced runner, I decided to run outside today.  I really struggled with pacing.  Without the crutch of a mechanically-set treadmill, my body naturally matched the fast-paced tempo of my music. After my first short run interval, I was already feeling winded, so by the time I got to the first “long” run I really struggled.

I ran straight in one direction, crossed the street halfway through and came back on the other side of the street.  I’ve never quit a training session on the treadmill, but there is comfort in knowing that if I had to, I could.  As the blocks passed, I realized that if I collapsed into a puddle of quivering sweat in the middle of my run, it would be a long crawl home.  On the plus side, the second half of my session was easier since I was physically coming closer and closer to the finish.

At one point during a running interval, I approached a corner at the same time as a little blonde girl on a bike.  She was on the sidewalk and her dad was riding next to her in the street.   I slowed down and jogged in place to let her pass (which, by the way, seems a very runner-like thing to do, but I couldn’t really think about that because I was busy willing my legs to keep moving).  Instead of passing, she stopped directly in my path, put her foot down and gave me an open-mouthed smile, her tongue pressing at the back of her top teeth.  Her dad laughed apologetically as I circled around her and kept going.

After I’d passed them, it all clicked –the absence of training wheels, her dad trailing along, the back-and-forth shimmy of the handlebars as she stopped.  This is a kid who had just learned to ride.  She has worked and wobbled and now, she is a bike rider.

I’m realizing I need to draw a distinction between what I have done and what I am able to do.  I got intimidated by the fact that this run was twice as long as I’d previously run, but I was capable of running it.  It was double my previous accomplishments, but it wasn’t  double my capabilities.  My life is not static like a dusty record board etched with names on a gym wall.  In slow, small ways, my abilities increase.

She rides a bike.
And I run.