Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Spice of Life

I ran a half-marathon, once.

I was a junior in high school, and I’d run exactly two other races: my first, a 10k; and my second, the annual New Year’s Eve 5k in downtown State College. I drove two hours with my dad and my cousin with the pressure mounting, because some of the guys my dad worked with had a bet that I would win my age group.

I knew I was pretty fast. And I had regularly run the distance. I just hadn’t done them both at the same time. But I still made myself keep pace with my cousin, a six-foot-something track runner. (In fact when we got done and looked at the results for the 5k, he informed us that he would have been in the top three or something ridiculous like that.) I think we both brought out each other’s competitive sides. Neither one of us would let the other pass, and neither of us could put on that extra burst of speed to leave the other behind. So we kept going, and whenever one of us sped up the other would push a little harder, and when one of us slowed down a little the other would relaxing relief (for the time being, until the cycle started over again. We finished around 1:45. We reached the turnaround (halfway) point at exactly half of that. Wow.

Which is why I always said, after I finished that race, that I’d never do another one. It was really hard. And yes, it sucked...but I would give anything to do it again.

I bring this up because my dad is off doing a half-Ironman this weekend, and it got me thinking about whether I will ever be able to run that distance again. Today I ran 4 sub-8-minute miles, plus the extra distance I needed until my 34 minutes were up. That’s a start.

It also got me thinking about triathlons in general. A year ago (well, more than a year now) I knew nothing other than running. I couldn’t go two miles on a bike, or swim more than three lengths of a 25-meter pool. Now, if anything, my running is my weakest link. It’s strange how things turn around.

I decided it’s a good thing. Running is hard for me now, and it’s actually not something I would want to do every day. So it’s great to have more options. Variety is the spice of life. And just to prove it: my protein shake this morning? Well, I was at the end of my Cinnamon Swirl tub, and the only other one I had was Birthday Cake, so I threw in a scoop of each and had a...Cinnamon Birthday? OK, maybe Cinnamon Cake is more descriptive. Whatever. It was really good. So get out and try something new. It’s good for you. :)
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