This will be easy, I thought to myself. I'll be done in an hour and forty-five minutes. But after my first five miles, I hit a hill. A big one. My pace slowed to a crawl. One foot, then the other. Left, right. Step, repeat. Just keep going. Don't give up. Very slowly, but surely, I overcame the hill. Then there were some glorious downhill moments when I felt like I was flying. I stopped into gas stations to refill my water bottle twice along the way, thinking of Cheryl Strayed in Wild needing a water source. I felt like a warrior, like her, despite the fact that she hiked for 100 days in the mountains and I ran for two hours and I am nothing like the warrior Cheryl is.
Distance running is a matter of endurance, both physically and mentally. If you think about running, you will quickly get disheartened. In fact, half a mile in, I almost turned back because I thought, I'm not even 5% of the way done - this is going to be endless. Instead, I thought about other things - what I had written that day, what I would write tomorrow, the books I've read, the books I want to read. I quickly learned not to worry about speed (by the end of it, my 8 minute miles had slowed to 11 minute miles), but rather about finishing. This is a feat. I equate it to graduating college - no one cares what your GPA was, just that you did it.
After that big hill, I ran by my old apartment, by the route Steve and I used to walk each day. I ran by the spot we were at when we got the call that we had won the bidding war and this house was going to be ours. I recounted our excitement, our jumping embrace. Then I ripped open my GU and sucked it down. It felt natural to be eating near that apartment I had so many meals at earlier in my life. And I kept running. Down more little hills, up more big ones. I ran until my phone died, then I kept running until I made it home.
I did it. I ran a little over eleven miles. Although that isn't a distance run like real distance runners do, it was a good starting distance run for me. Without training for it, I did it. And if I add a little each time, competing against myself in distance rather than speed, I can keep going farther and farther. My legs are jelly now. Last night I made a comment about getting a chair lift for the stairs to Steve that he thought was a joke but I was mildly serious about. But the pain is an inevitable result of the pushing. I pushed myself into new territory that I had no business being in, but I faked it until I made it. Today, I recover. Perhaps I'll go buy myself a S'Mores frappuccino.