Ten weeks ago, I went for my first short jog after a long break from running. (Long is an understatement. I haven't consistently run since before I was pregnant with my first child. She's six now.)
Over the years I've kept up with exercise, most frequently the form of Jillian Michaels barking through the television as I shreded myself in the comforts of my family room.
Running is different, though. It's equal parts physical and mental, an experience that unfolds in my head as much as it involves my body. I listen to no music -- only to the tread of my shoes on the pavement, the rush of cars passing, the wind in the trees, the inhale and exhale of my breath.
A few weeks after I started running again, a friend mentioned that she was entering a half-marathon. "It's scheduled in the fall. You should do it."
Insanity, I thought, yet the invitation lingered in my head.
I looked up the race details online. It was scheduled for November 20, which gave me ample time to train. Despite my doubts, the next time I spoke with my friend I told her to count me in.
Fast forward to this conversation a few weeks later:
Me: "What are you planning to wear for the race? Layers? I don't want to be too hot, but it could be pretty cold at that point in November."
Her: "You mean September." I shook my head while she quickly continued, "The race is in September."
Me: "But I just read about it online." As if repeating it would make it true, I continued, "It's November 20."
Her: "Oh, no, no, no." She brought her hand to her mouth. "That's an entirely different half-marathon. The one that we're running is in September. September 18."
And that is how I, a novice runner, came to lose nine potential weeks to train, and how I came to be scheduled to run a half-marathon three weeks from today.
You may question my judgment. I sometimes do. But there are thirteen point one reasons (at least) why I'm doing this, very few of them physical.
I want to accomplish something challenging. Ten weeks ago when I trudged through my first few runs, with lungs and legs burning and the thought of a half-marathon never even grazing my radar, I couldn't have imagined that I'd be capable of running the twelve mile practice run that I finished early yesterday morning.
Running is such a life metaphor. There are days when you simply don't know what to do, other than to place one foot in front of the next. Again, and again, and again.
As a way to document the experience, each weekend until race day I'll devote a blog post to how it unfolds. Join me. It's quite an adventure.