Improving my self-confidence is high on my To Do List, and there’s no better way to achieve that goal than by kicking ass at something new.
When I was in the shower yesterday, I had the brilliant idea that I should try to run six miles this morning. Let that be a lesson to you…taking a shower can be incredibly dangerous if you let your Deep Thoughts run wild.
I’ve never tackled the Sweaty Six before this morning.
Sure, I’ve done six miles at the gym, but that isn’t the same. The treadmill is a totally controlled environment. I can stop any time, and not have to worry about how I’m going to get home if I’m three miles away and simply run out of energy. There’s air conditioning to keep me from overheating, and my water bottle is just an arm length’s away. And when I need a distraction from the tedium of the road, I can stare at the perfectly toned buns of the women working out on the machines in front of me.
Running six miles out on the road is a completely different challenge.
Without a doubt, I was excited to see if I could do it. Running has this strange effect on me. It’s like the way I’m drawn to women who I know are bad for me. I try to fight the attraction, but before I know it, I’m hopelessly in love.
My stomach was still gurgling a bit this morning, but there was no way I was going to back away from this challenge after I’d gotten myself so pumped for it.
So stomach bug be damned!
Aside from not knowing if I had the stamina to survive the Sweaty Six, there was the little problem of my running route not being long enough to accommodate the distance.
My current route can be stretched to a little over five miles with some creativity. It runs along a busy stretch of road, but the shoulder is very wide, so it’s safe for running. I turn around at the point where the shoulder gets perilously thin, the speed limit increases, and there are curves that prevent oncoming vehicles from having a clear view of me.
In fact, going all Good Will Hunting and trying to calculate how to find six miles of open road became the distraction I needed to keep my mind occupied.
Because as I have long known, if I don’t keep my brain busy during a run, all it will focus on is how much I hate running, how much pain I am in, and how no one would probably care if I just curled up in the fetal position and cried on the next front lawn I passed.
Like any new adventure, I approached my quest to conquer the Sweaty Six with caution. On my previous runs, I knew I could set out at any pace because I was certain I had enough in the tank to get me back to The House on the Hill.
Today, I throttled down, eased my foot off the pedal, and slipped into the slow lane while my body got a feel for how long six miles really was. The stupid thing would be to sprint out of the gate too quickly and be running on fumes by mile five.
This was all about surviving the distance, proving that I could go six miles, and not failing at the challenge I’d set for myself.
This run was about proving it could be done. There will be another day, in the not so distant future, when it will become about how fast it can be done.
And so I ran. At each mile, the voice from the Map My Run app interrupted complex mathematical calculations to let me know I was one mile closer to achieving my goal.
At every new mile, I did a quick systems check. My stomach was behaving. My bladder was still empty. My lungs, heart, and legs were in working order.
I knew at about the two mile mark that I had this one in the bag. It was a cool morning, so I wasn’t going to pass out from the heat.
My heart rate was in the target zone. My legs felt like they had an extra spring in them, even though I was refusing to let them go as fast as they wanted. I was singing along to Pandora, which meant my breathing was fine and the neighborhood was being properly entertained.
Once the mystery woman inside my app told me I had reached the five mile mark, I finally let slip the dogs of war (shout out to Shakespeare!) and found that extra gear. You see, I knew I had survived because running one mile is like a walk in the park for me now.
So I hit the afterburners, and ran like I was being chased by my machete wielding ex-wife.
Just a little running tip from someone who knows: Know what your reward is going to be for achieving your goal.
I was able to zip through that last mile because I knew that when I got home, a giant breakfast awaited. I had fresh eggs courtesy of my friend Julie’s chickens, and the plan was to scramble a few with ham, cheese, and mushrooms.
After that, I was going to collapse onto the couch and watch the Yankees game.
Pure bliss. Well worth the six mile price of admission.
When I made it back to The House on the Hill, I did not collapse in the middle of the driveway and kiss the blacktop like I never wanted to leave it again. Instead, I took several selfies to commemorate my achievement. There was a big smile on my face in all of them.
That means I had more than enough in the tank to go six. Which begs the question:
Why the hell haven’t I tried to run that distance before today?
Five miles has always been a magic number for me. Being able to complete that distance has meant that I’ve gotten myself into good shape, but why did I always settle? How come I never pushed for six?
Perhaps this sums up one of the biggest problems in my life. I just get to a certain point, become complacent, and lose my ambition to go any further.
That’s going to change, Modern Philosophers. It’s time to finally discover what’s waiting for me at the next level.
I survived the Sweaty Six, so now I know that the glass ceiling that’s held me back was apparently installed by me for reasons I might never understand.
You know what happens when you set a new running goal and totally kick ass?
So what’s the message of all this, other than that I am an out of control running machine?
Just go for it. Pick something that has always seemed to be out of your reach and see if you can do it. If you fail, what’s the big deal? You didn’t think you could do it anyway.
And if you surprise yourself and get it done, pick another goal and try to conquer that.
What’s your Sweaty Six? When do you intend to go out and get it done?