I ran with my sister today. That is to say, she pushed me well into the territory of the nine-minute mile that has proved so elusive to me the last nine months or so.
Meaning: I charted our course for a swell 16 km/10 mile run starting at 10 am this morning, before (not by much) the heat would reach its zenith. And we did the lakefront trail so we had a great break from the hell of the concrete/hot air/people/noise while we ran.
Let this be said: She smoked me.
I hit the wall at mile eight. (Mike reminds me that mile eight is not wall-hitting, mile eight is a run well-done, but ...but..I'll explain).
I brought a water bottle, which we shared, although my sister, the camel, didn't seem to need much.
When we ran single-file along Queen St. on the way to Kew Beach, I admired her stride, not duck-footed like mine (I am duck-footed. I'm working on it, but my shoes are done-done-done, and I need new shoes to really work).
Into mile one, cruising along, we were running side-by-side, and we caught each others' eye.
We switched off our ipods.
Her: "Your right foot bothering you?"
Her: "Yep. I could tell. What's wrong with it?"
Me: "Turf toe. Hard to explain".
Her: "Your stride is weird right now".
We switched our music back on.
The run was a good one, make no mistake. My sister pushed me, and not in a bad way. But walking two humiliating miles home (my sister "I just want to sprint home", me, "Go, godspeed" in my head "WHAT!!") was not in my game plan today. It occurred to me that my sister could run that half tomorrow, without alot of fuss or muss. I, however, will need the next four-odd months to continue to train, refine my body, lose the last of the winter-weight, and generally moan and whine about the fact that when it fundamentally comes down to it, I do not, and will never, possess a classic "runner's body".
Meaning: lean. Meaning that, when it counts (and in running, everything counts), I can't always pull it out of my hat.
My back absolutely screamed today. My feet were okay (except for the grumbles about new shoes, can't blame them for that). Arriving back at my three-storey-walk-up loft the first flight of steps was agony. I quickened the pace after that because I needed water so badly.
But here I am, post-run, wanting to do it all again tomorrow.
Yes, that's how crazy I am.
I think about my friend K.'s daughter, training for her first half end-of-August (she's in her early twenties). About all that time to become better. For me, my entry into the Toronto half marks my first and last year as being classified as a 'young' runner.
Then I think about my friend H., who is about my age, running at amazing times, not taking it too seriously, and just loving the hell out of running.
My other friend K., who I worked with back in the day, a recent running convert, has pictures on her facebook wall that show her with an enviable physique, and she has two little ones (as does my sister).
I keep them all in my mind as I run--as inspiration.
I remind myself, when I get down--on my times, on my own physique (not great this year), that it's the joy of the run. I know it is, I know, I know. I don't force myself out for these insanely long runs, I anticipate them. They have the power, as that wonderful quote I read says to "lift me out of my life".
So I keep running.
In the heat.
In the morning (instead of lying in bed reading).
In the shade.
On the track.
On the trail.
On the street.
Not because I have to--because I want to.