Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.
With the decision to participate in the half-marathon sealed and declared, I am now at the part where I am trying.
Trying to concentrate, trying to learn the proper running and breathing technique, trying to run the entire distance … just trying. But only if I could get over that burn sensation I feel within a minute or so of hitting the ground running. As it does, the first thought that comes in my mind …
“Uh oh! OK, how far do I have to run? I can’t do this, I can’t do this!”
Yet I continue to run at my pace, slow as it may be. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Or in my case, will cross the finish line at least.
Once my initial anxiety subsides, and I have talked myself out of stopping and quitting right then and there, I make myself remember the techniques our coach, Alex Contreras, taught us in the class: Deep breath from belly for three steps and then exhale at two steps. Eventually, I settle into a rhythm and think, ”OK, this is good, this is OK, I can do it, just keep it steady.”
I try and remember to keep my posture straight and head high, but it’s just so easy to look down. I try and distract myself by noticing the surroundings around me and realize that I do enjoy running outdoors, soaking in the constantly changing scenery. The time ticks by.
Then when the feeling of exhaustion starts to hit me, I try and push myself by setting mini goals. I talk myself into running at least to a signboard I see in the distance. When that starts to get closer, I change it to one just a little further up … and so on and so forth.
At times, a running buddy comes along and gives me an encouraging cheer and helps me keep going longer, helping me push my limits.
Being new to running — I realize running on treadmill doesn’t equate outdoor running much — and almost a month into the Mill Race Marathon training program, I have not yet started to pace myself but just concentrated on finishing the mileage for the day and run as much and for as long as I can.
I am not sure if I have improved much, though. Somehow I am not yet able to achieve a consistency. The early morning runs are better for me vs. the Tuesdays and Thursday evening runs we do as part of the program.
At the end of each session though, I feel like I am dying. I will crumple, but when I glance over at the distance I covered and approximate calories I burnt, I do a little happy dance … albeit in my head because my legs can’t support me any more. I feel accomplished and satisfied for the day.
Just then, I hear the sound of my growling stomach and the urge to eat anything and everything that’s in sight. What to eat, how to resist … eating right is another aspect of this journey I am trying to learn, but I will leave that discussion for next time.
Ritika Shah is a first-time runner in an organized race. From that perspective, she will write a column every other week leading up to the Sept. 24 Mill Race Marathon’s half marathon. She is an analyst at Reams Asset Management, Columbus.