These athletes are Runners. They are my inspiration, the catalysts propelling me out of bed and onto the street on a cloudy Wednesday morning before work. Okay, not these two athletes specifically, but I have been reading a whole lot about marathoners and ultrarunners lately, dreaming and wondering if I could ever reach that level of achievement. So am I a runner? Someone posted that question after my last post (thanks!), and it has been pestering me ever since, hence the long post reply.
I definitely consider myself a runner, lower-case "r". I started running as a junior in high school. When I first started running on my own though, I could only run for five minutes at about a 10-minute mile before I had to take a walk lap. But I kept at it; it got to the point where if I didn't run my 10, then 15, then 30 minutes, I would feel terrible. Unfortunately, when I was running in high school, I was running for the wrong reasons, and I was being stupid about it. Basically, I was running 5 plus miles and then going to the gym for another 20 or 30 minutes on a bike, as well as some basic weight training, but I was only eating maybe 1200 or 1500 calories a day. I was obsessed with counting calories, and I am pretty sure that is the definition of an eating disorder. So senior year, I had a revelation and stopped working out like a maniac. I put on a bunch of weight, and my running went on hold.
For the next two years, it was the same sort of story. I would take long breaks between running, only to have a resurgence of motivation to go back on the treadmill or run along the Charles River. I think I was finally in a good spot, health-wise, the summer of 2006, after freshman year. I ran 3 to 5 miles a few times a week, and I was biking maybe 50 or 60 miles a week. And I was eating! Maybe not as well as I could have, but it was an improvement. After that though, life got in the way, once more. I found out I had cancer, blah blah, and I have spent the past two years after returning to Boston struggling to gain some consistency as a runner. It has been very hard for me though, because I was sick so frequently over the past two years. And then last year's face tumor? Forget it.
But now, finally, after three years of ill-health, I am starting to feel like a normal person again. I am very gradually building miles, very slowly increasing my weekly distance. This time, however, while still partially weight-motivated, I am doing this because I want to. I love running, tying up my shoes and taking off, not thinking about anything besides my breathing for at least a little while. I want to be a Runner, and I think, maybe, possibly I can do it. Maybe not ultras, not yet anyway. Baby steps. S0 here is my goal, out there on the Internet. If anyone wants to help, please, do:
In one year, I want to run in the Chicago Marathon. That is the first part. The second, somewhat loftier goal: I want to qualify for the 2011 Boston Marathon. Qualifying times for the 2010 Boston Marathon are 3 hours and 40 minutes-ish. That means running about an 8 minute, 15 second mile for 26.2 miles. I think I can do it. I figure, since the 2010 Chicago Marathon is in exactly 12 months, if I give myself 6 months to build up my mileage, I can use the last 6 months to work on speed. I want to do it, to say, Screw You, Cancer. All I wanted, the whole time I was in treatment and for the last two years, was to feel healthy, to be able to run again. So here I go; I can run again, and that damn disease ain't got nothing on me. I hope.