The stock room at my new job is always cramped, and hot. I emerge from the bathroom in my overcoat, track pants and running shoes. My shift ended a few minutes ago, 6 p.m., and a few of my coworkers sound impressed by my resolve. I am going to the track tonight.
It is black Friday, and I am finishing the C25k.
I park at Chestnut Hill Reservoir. It is bitterly cold, around 20 F. I really should have worn gloves and longer sleeves. But, I am doing this thing. As I finish up my warm-up walk, I am trying to decide whether to alter my route to go past my car, where I have a pair of gloves secreted in my glove box–a friend has already pointed out that I may be the only man on the planet who does this. I plunge my hands into the relative warmth and shelter of my track pants pockets.
When I kick off my run, I kick into a higher gear than I usually start at. I know I am a step or two above my usual pace, but I am not certain how much faster. I vow to keep up this pace for as long as I can.
By the time I hit the pump houses on the far side, I am surprised that the timer hasn’t yet told me I am at the halfway mark. In fact, I pass the point where I started my warm-up run before my phone buzzes at the halfway point. I am really surprised; I am still at my faster speed.
When I started, I learned quickly that my conceptions about running, and about myself, were all off. Running has been chipping away at some of my deeper insecurities and body image issues. I have never really liked the way I look; but I am happier with it when I am running. I know that this is a hurdle, something inside me undermining other parts of my self-confidence. Running is helping, but I still have some distance to go in other respects.
That I still don’t know how to fix the other parts kind of bummed me out, while driving from my mother’s on Thanksgiving.
I make a complete circuit, and am nearly back at the halfway mark when it finally tells me I am finished. As it rattles off my statistics, I am actually a little disappointed, but also pleasantly surprised by my run time for the final run of my Couch to 5k program. In my previous runs, I was hovering around 11:45 minute miles. Today, I ran an 11:11 minutes mile.
If I can do it, I really believe anyone can. I wouldn’t say C25k has been easy, but it has been doable. Having finally reached an end to it, I feel pretty good; considering I started 11 weeks ago as a self-described non-runner. The total distance of my final run is only 2.68 miles, about a half-mile short of the 3.1 miles of an actual 5k, but I feel up to it now–or, at least closer to it.
I get back into my car, feeling a little smug.