As I round a bend on the far side of the reservoir, my phone finally tells me I am halfway through my track. The sun hangs low, lighting the path in front of me. My feet are aching as I step onto the thin strip of grass between me and the bank of the water. My legs are burning, and which is staving off the chill in the air. I tell myself to push through and to keep going for at least a little while longer. I have already made it further than I had last week. However, not making it through the 22-minute run that makes up week 6, day 3 of my C25k program would be kind of a disappointment–I have already given myself one mulligan.
This is the same bend that threw me for a loop on my last reverse-course run, and it manages to do it again for a moment. There are three bends, and I always think the one I am on is the last. I start thinking that the last time I pulled off a 20-minute run, I had driven to the track first. Perhaps I had saved some of my energy in doing that, and this would be impossible because I walked today.
The phone starts to ring. It’s my mother, who hears the panting breaths and effort in my voice and apologizes for calling during the run, and asks me to call back when I am finished.
She hangs up and I focus again on the call ahead. I realize that, during the distraction of a phone call, much of the pain and discomfort of running seems to have disappeared. My pace remained the same, but my brain was distracted by the forewarning of a request for errands.
I have only a few more minutes to go. Seven or eight, perhaps. A distance I have covered in the past. I can do this, I tell myself. It will be over soon.
This is when it starts to hit me. Sure, I have rethought my preconceptions about running before, but the doubts keep coming back. The doubts about myself. This is a recurring thing; it isn’t just when I am running. While I have set out to prove something, to a certain extent, I am still unable to prove it to the ever-judging part of myself. A voice in my head that is never satisfied with what I do.
That same part of myself that is watching me type this blog skeptically, reminding me that I am not really producing anything. The part of me that questions my identity as a writer, makes me uncomfortable around others of my craft, despite this blog and a handful of other creative projects I am working through.
I come up to the point where I started running–doing a reverse course around the track again–and have about two minutes left. I know my pace is slower than when I started, but I am still running. I am still running as I pass two girls–trying hard not to think about whether I cross their minds as they pass.
To a certain extent, I know that my self-esteem has gone a long way. Five or six years ago, I feel my self-esteem was at its lowest point. I was nursing some emotional wounds, and had never quite recovered from others. Today, I am starting to see some changes from that point, even in interactions I had over the weekend. I can assert myself, am trying to put boundaries on some relationships, and even shrugging off slights with ‘the other person simply doesn’t know me’.
Same time, I have got some distance to go. My notion of myself as a non-runner seems impervious to the reality of me actually being capable of running. In my head, running for 20 minutes straight–the longest I have ever run–is an aberration. It is an unrepeatable event; I got lucky. In reality, I am about to have my phone buzz to let me know the run is nearly over.
I am starting to like myself, to trust myself, to actually believe in myself. It was somewhere after the phone call on this run that I realized I could make this. Perhaps having my mother pop up reminded me that I am loved and a capable person–something she has always strived to provide in me. Perhaps the distraction stopped the self-doubt for just long enough to get my brain back into its positive groove. Perhaps something clicked, and I just started to believe it.
I don’t know.
What I do know is that I chose to believe that the girls I passed were staring at my ass, which is looking fine in the crisp fall morning around Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
Shin Status: Hurried.
Shirt of the Day: “It Came out of Nowhere” (Back to the Future/TARDIS collision), under a long-sleeved shirt.
- The Fraud in Gym Shorts (unsurerunner.wordpress.com)
- Why Am I Doing This? (unsurerunner.wordpress.com)
- Trail Fail (epynephrin.wordpress.com)