Sunday, February 10, 2013

Thinking about Numb3rs

I was thinking about numbers when I was out running a few weeks ago. When it comes to running and fitness I like to say that I don't focus on the numbers. And that is true - to some extent. It is also a lie. I am in denial if I say I don't pay any attention to the numbers that surround me. Numbers ARE significant. I am just leery of giving them more power than they deserve.

I have an Uncle who notices numbers everywhere and will draw a connection to something significant to him. He loves trains and the number 5 always reminds him of a special train. Without initially being conscious of it I realized during my run that I was doing the same thing.

I recently turned 45 years old. That still trips me up. When did that happen? The wonderfully amazing this is that I don't FEEL 45. At least not how I used to think 45 would feel. If I ever doubt that I really could BE three children, the oldest of which is 21 years old, are happy to assure me of this. I feel much younger. That is partially due to making more healthy life-style choices and even more in part due to the mental attitude adjustment that has happened at the same time.

I remembered the first day I went out running. My oldest daughter had introduced me to the Couch to 5K running app. Looking over the Week 1 Day 1 plan I figured it wouldn't be that hard. A warm-up walk for 5 minutes then run for 60 secs, walk for 90 secs and keep alternating  for 20 minutes. The number that stands out from that day is 60. I was not on a treadmill nor was I trying to run at any great speed but that first 60 second run KICKED MY BUTT. I thought I was going to die and kept looking at my phone to check if the blessed C25K app was still working. Why wasn't the dang thing telling me it was time to walk already? Well, the app was working just fine - but I wasn't. I was humiliated with myself that I could not run for a single minute. I knew I wasn't in great shape, but until then I had never let myself admit that I was in truly bad shape. Then I got mad at myself. This turned out to be a great motivation for me to keep getting up and working through the C25K program. I kept repeating days until I could get through each and every one of the run sections for a particular day without having to start walking early.
Two more significant numbers that floated through my mind that morning....3.1 & 5. My goal when I started running was to survive the Boulder Bolder (a 10k or 6.2 mile) race with my daughter. As I have shared before along the way I have been blessed with Moving Buddies. We have the privilege of getting to encourage each other along the way in our journey to more healthy living. One of them is my sister. The first "real" race I ever ran was a 5k with her, my oldest daughter, and my nephew in Rifle, CO. It was so much fun. Of course, my nephew beat all of us. Did I mention he was only 10 years old at the time? Before that he never really ran - except to play like any kid does. And he really hadn't planned on doing the race until the night before when he asked his mom if he could join us because it sounded like fun. I think the kid is a natural. That race taught me I could run 3.1 miles. And if I run 3.1 miles.....well, maybe, just maybe, I could do 6.2?

May 27, 2012 - mostly ran those 6.2 miles at the Boulder Bolder. Loved every minute of the whole experience. Farthest I had ever run in my life at that point. I didn't realize it but a huge barrier in my mind was demolished that day.

13.1 - I finally did sign up for that Half-marathon race I had been debating with myself over for months. Ironically - or perhaps divinely arranged - it is almost exactly one year after my first 10k. I have been stressing over actually being able to finish this race. After the Boulder Bolder my running got sporadic. I do NOT like running in the summer heat!! And my distances went down to a nice comfortable 3-4 miles. I absolutely love the fact that 3-4 miles is a nice comfortable run for me. Another barrier - crushed!! Then yesterday I ran 7.1 miles. Yep. There's a number that is new in my collection. 7 miles. Kathy ran 7 miles and felt great! That mental barrier nagging at me over reaching 13.1.....well, it is on it's way down. 

There will always be more numbers to think about. One set I try not to let myself focus on is how many minutes it takes me to run a mile. That one has too much potential to get me into negative thinking. I am not fast in the running world. I am faster now that when I started running. But I don't dare let that be too important.  My goal when running is "Complete-not Compete." It works for me.