The most excited I got - the closest to any sort of "runner's high" - was on the Very Rare occasion that I went past 3.1 miles. When I ran for almost an hour. When I ran for four miles. It was then that I started to entertain the outlandish notion that maybe I could run five miles... and that maybe someday I'd try a 10K. But it sounded just as crazy as suggesting I would run a marathon. Who was I kidding? I was slow, chubby, and in terrible shape. It was amazing enough that I could run a 5K.
I had signed up for Nicole's From 0 to 13.1 course very early on in the year. I had no desire or intention to train for or run a half marathon; but I wanted to be better. I wanted to improve what I was doing, and maybe aim for that 10K. But spring was a bit crazy this year, and I fell off the running bandwagon before the snow had even melted. I ended up coaching two softball teams this year, which basically ensured that I was an exhausted mess for most of the early summer months. If I was super dedicated, I could have probably found time, but there were days when it was all I could do to keep my head above water. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed it, and I knew going into it that it would be a very time-consuming endeavor. But man. Quite so. And running just wasn't that high on the priority list.
But when The Oatmeal announced his Beat the Blerch 10K/Half Marathon/Marathon, I let the same spontaneity that pushed me into BiSC push me into signing up for this one. I mean, how could I not? I'd been reading the Oatmeal for years. The Internet + running! Nevermind that I hadn't been training. There was plenty of time, it wasn't until September! Nevermind that it was in Seattle. I knew people in Seattle. I could hang out with some of my Internet friends! And then go run an Internet-based race! It was insanity! And I was totally in. For the 10K, obviously.
For those of you who are still like "Blerch? What?" - the concept of this race was based on this comic about "The Blerch" - a mythical blob of fat with wings that encouraged you to do anything but what's good for you. I am the queen of blerchly excuses, frankly. I'm tired, it's too late, I have other stuff to do, I'm tired...
He also just put out a book about running that includes this particular comic, entitled The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, should you be interested.
I clearly wasn't the only one who was eager to participate in this event. I set an appointment on my calendar and hovered around my computer waiting for the exact moment registration opened. The site kept crashing; within a half hour, it was sold out. I was bummed, but I tried to console myself with the money I would be saving and the fact that I really hadn't been training anyway. But when they opened a waitlist, I pounced on it like a rabid hyena. I didn't think twice when they opened a second day of races, I signed up and decided to sort out the logistics later.
In the intervening months, the impending 10K weighed on the back of my subconscious. Because I am a complicated being who frequently likes to self-sabotage, I did not go out of my way to increase my training. In hindsight, I have no idea why. I went out and ran, and did intervals up to six miles, but I didn't push myself.
And then it was upon me.
The weekend itself was pretty amazing - and will get its own post, if I can get my act together - and I continue to fall in love with the Pacific Northwest. But this post isn't about that, or the awesome people I hung out with.
spoiler alert: these guys
Other than this slight digression to which I will shamelessly post this photo where I got to meet The Oatmeal himself.
cue awkward fangirl moment
It's about beating my own Blerches, and conquering this race that I wasn't ready for.
shown: an actual Blerch
The race conditions couldn't have been better suited to my liking than if I was Mother Nature herself. The morning was cloudy and cool which is my perfect, ideal running weather. The route quickly went from paved roads to gravel trails, which was something I wasn't used to, but I adjusted. The park was gorgeous. The trail was gorgeous. I was in a very zen state of mind throughout almost the entire thing.
hey, look! official race photos!
I'm such a slow runner that I look like I'm walking in most of them, but whatever.
I started off like I always do, but something magical happened around Mile 3. (Perhaps it was the cake at the aid station.) During miles 3 and 4, I felt so good that I decided I was going to run the whole thing, even if I had to drag myself across the finish line.
I didn't come all that way to not give it absolutely everything I had.
And aside from the pit stop/photo ops at the aid station, I did. I ran the whole thing. All 6.2 miles.
When I crossed that finish line, I felt damn near euphoric. Better than I had after any 5K. The elusive runner's high, perhaps. But it was that moment - and for several random moments in the days afterward - that I felt almost invincible. I had done this thing, this crazy thing that I never thought I'd ever be able to do. What else could I do? What couldn't I do?
Even now, two weeks later, my heart kind of wants to explode with happy. I've been an overachiever my entire life, but I have never felt so inspired by anything I have done until now. Because nothing I have accomplished up to this point has ever felt as impossible as this thing did. It felt impossible all the way up until the point where I was doing it. And then suddenly it wasn't, and now I can't help but wonder what other impossible things I can do. (*cough* write that novel *cough*)
see that? that's the finish line back there.
I was a little confused at first as to why my finish time didn't match the official chip time, but then it occurred to me that my watch auto-paused itself when I stopped to take photos with Sasquatch & the Blerches at the aid station (because this is obviously a thing that I would do). The difference was about a minute and I'm not terribly worried about it. Mostly because (a) I didn't have a set time that I was racing against and my goal was simply to finish, time be damned... and (b) this picture was awesome. The second Blerch snuck up behind me and I didn't even know he was there until I looked at this picture after the race.
And now I kind of want to do it again. I want to recapture that feeling that I had during Mile 3, when the rest of the world outside of the path had quieted down and it was just me and my feet and this building sense of hey, I can do this. Hey, I am doing this.
That's a pretty incredible feeling.