Tuesday, March 22, 2011

100 Miles

Actually, it is a bit more than that. But "100 Miles" just has a better ring to it than "132 Miles."

That is roughly the total amount of miles I have run since I began training for the St. Louis Half Marathon. I will be flying to St. Louis in two weeks and running that sucker on April 10. My lovely girlfriend, Andrea (who is quite a talented writer and just started a new blog which you may enjoy reading), and I will be joining a few more of her St. Louis posse to tackle the beast.

If you have followed my blog for long you may remember a post I wrote over a year ago about wanting to start exercising. I did start running last year but couldn't pull the trigger on a big running project. After "seeing" Andrea run one in Nebraska and reading Donald Miller's "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" I decided it was time to commit to doing something crazy.

A moment of slight panic began to set in when I was nearing the end of the registration process. There is this point where you hit the final button. It is the point of no return. No backing down.

In reality, all that happens is they take your money.

But it FEELS like you just enlisted in the army or something.

I hit the button and was registered. I had my "inciting incident." It was time to start training. And this was the part where I started learning things. Hooray!

When you commit to something, it re-orders your priorities. I found a 12-week training program that seemed reasonable and decided to use it. Three short or medium runs a week and a long run on the weekend. I realized pretty quick that running was going to be the first thing I did those days or it would likely not happen at all. This meant getting up earlier. That 45 minutes I spend running takes 45 minutes away from something else. Waking up earlier is the only way to not lose the time.

Also, it rains in Oregon. Not sure if you knew that but the rumors are true.

I am not a fan of rain. Name one thing you can do in the rain better than you can on a sunny day. There is only one: stomping in puddles. So not worth it.

But if I am going to do this thing, I have to learn how to run in whatever weather gets thrown at me. I remember a 4-miler where it was pouring. I was soaked about a half-mile in. But it didn't matter. I was training.

I have also been noticing that I never want to go running. Every time I would rather stay in and read the news. But my commitment pushes me out the door. And every time I run, I am glad I did it. I have probably had more moments where I felt a sense of accomplishment in the last 2 months than I have in a long time.

So What?

I am writing this after running 5 miles. I feel great. It was tiring but it honestly doesn't feel like a big deal. Last weekend I ran 8 miles.

I NEVER thought I would be able to run 8 miles without stopping. But I did. And this weekend I will run nine.

There is a change happening. It is small. Day by day and week by week. The first time I ran 4 miles by myself it kicked my butt. I felt like this: I just ran five like it was nothing.

Commitment changes you. You aren't sure what it will do to you but you dive in anyway. And little by little you begin to transform. I can run farther. I am probably in the best shape I have been in since college. Andrea hugs me and notices that it is a little easier to wrap her arms around the midsection.

That feels good.

13.1 miles still feels terrifying. But I am committed. Every little step I have taken in this journey has mattered. When I got off track, I just jumped back on. And in less than three weeks I am going to do something I have never done before.

So this begs the question: What else am I capable of?


  1. What an inspiring post. I seriously cannot wait to cross that finish line with you! It's going to be ridiculously fun!

  2. Good for you Ben! This is much how I feel about working out - it's always hard to start, but I always feel good afterward.

    I am particularly struck by the paragraph about commitment. I wonder why?