100 miles

Lately, I have been trying to do one thing at a time.

Sort of. Well at least less of 20 things at a time. Less texting while driving. Less playing while working. And less trying to improve everything in my life all at once. So, I took a little advice ala Gretchen Rubin and focused on one area or thing a month.

This month’s goal was specific.
Run 100 miles.

And I’ve been a runner for years. Even though that doesn’t roll off the tongue too easily…the “I am a runner” part. Because someone who wears double digit pant sizes and runs double digit minute miles hardly seems to qualify as a runner. But, I have lost count of the number of races I have finished, I’ve taken ice baths and lost a few toe nails…even before this month’s undertaking. So, I’ll say it again. I am a runner.

 However, I doubt I have ever logged that many miles in thirty days.  Partly because it isn’t just me -there are little kids and afterschool pick up lines and getting to work before the sun and soccer practices and dance classes and knees that don’t belong on a treadmill and a husband who needs to log his own miles to try and balance.  I also chose the busiest month of my professional year to try and cram all this in….making for one tired girl.

Today is the 30th.  And this morning at 5:15 am, I crawled out of bed on a weekend when I usually get to leave the alarm unset. Made a cup of coffee. Ate a muffin. Filled up my water bottle. And drove downtown.
I pinned on my bib and finished a 10 mile race. In the rain. That easily put me over the top.
100+ miles.

 Most those miles have been alone. Just me and some good songs and my thoughts, which was probably just as good for me as the exercise. Last week, I got to run a few with my husband while my kids were at church. Shockingly,  I kept up. Today, a little past mile six of my race, the distance started to get to me. My pace slowed and I was ready to jog it out for the last four or so miles. Instead, I looked up and saw an old friend from high school (that I have seen maybe twice in the last decade).  Dressed in jeans, sipping his venti coffee cheering on his racing buddies. I shouted his name and he immediately fell in beside. Running. Pushing me to go faster. Telling me how to pass the crowds in front of me. And he ran just like that in his button down and denim for almost a mile, never even spilling his coffee. Eventually he stepped off the trail at the turn around and told me it was all downhill from there. To finish strong.  And I did. 10 miles in 96 minutes which is flying for this girl who has run a steady 11-12 minute mile for the last decade. 

Over the last 30 days, I have been chased by dogs, gotten drenched, ended up smack dab in the middle of a huge bicycle race, overheated, had a run in with a horse, gotten lost, dropped at least a pant size and worn the soles off my Nikes. Because 100 miles is a lot of concrete. You notice things that you don't normally notice. Like when someone paints a mailbox, good sidewalks, roads I have never been down before. Big dogs and that distnaces between the places I usually drive seemed to get shorter. Feel closer. If I could cover them on foot. Most of all, I have gotten stronger. And not just my legs. As my muscles carried me further and further each day, the rest of me seemed to get stronger too.

Endurance isn’t just for jogging.

 On the mornings after long runs, my muscles would ache. But the good kind of ache. The kind after a good workout. The kind that reminds you that you pushed yourself the day before. That you are getting stronger. And faster. (And probably skinnier).

100 miles didn’t happen all at once. They happened one mile at a time. And sometimes I wanted to quit. To walk. To sit on my couch and cry through another episode of Parenthood. But I kept running. Hoping that when I woke up in the morning my legs would burn a little.

 The heart is also a muscle.
And I am all too familiar with a different kind of ache there.
But what if I saw it a little differently. As proof of working it hard.
Pushing it.
Loving much. Loving well. With endurance.
That my legs and my heart were made for distance.
One mile and one person at a time.

one last important piece of advice. don't wear brand spankin new shoes on a long race. unless you think blood stains are cool. and don't like the skin on the back of your ankles.


Margie said...

Michelle, I REALLY love this post. I was thinking of your accomplishment today when I walked. You are worthy of praise and emulation. Great job - kudos from my side of town. You are remarkable.

Susan said...

I'm so proud of you and loved this post too! And oh, soo soo true (the legs and the heart part!) I'm way behind on blogs (like almost a year, but stopped to read a few of yours today. LOVE YOU! We need to get together!