This morning when I woke up I had the day all planned out. My big plan, of course, was to run my first 10K (the Nike+ Human Race) in the morning before going to church. 10K, or 6.2 miles. That was the plan.
I definitely wasn't planning on running twice that distance. But sometimes things don't go according to plan, and in the end, that is exactly what I did.
I set out on my morning run in good spirits, despite the fact that I haven't been feeling great in the past week, and my muscles and joints were giving me some grief. I paced myself well.
I ran past another runner with a familiar Nike+ sensor packet on her shoe, and then another, and a third with a Nike+ wristband. (See, hundreds of thousands of runners were running this race today all over the world right in their own neighborhoods. It's the coolest thing.) I ran past a smoker and tried not to breathe in his puffs. I ran past a picket fence ablaze in gorgeous blue morning glories, and thought that it was indeed a glorious morning. I ran past a skunk odor... most unpleasant. I ran by the house of one of my piano students, Ysabelle. I ran by two churches, four cyclists, and a woman walking her dog. I was running a loop and was well on my way home, somewhere between 7K and 8K, when suddenly my iPod, which records my run distances and times (and then sends that information to Nike+ as evidence that I participated in The Human Race), froze. I held my breath, said a prayer along the lines of "Oh no no no no please no," and pressed a button. Nothing happened. I pressed multiple buttons frantically. Still nothing.
I walked towards home for a while, dejected. A few tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought of a summer-long goal that, through technical problems, I had failed to meet. I was so ready to run that 10K. I had run 6 miles last Sunday and felt great; I knew I could do 6.2 today. Somehow my frozen, useless iPod whispered to me, "You can't finish what you start. You'll never meet your goals. You're just not an athletic person. This is the final proof." (Who me, dramatic?)
I walked past two more runners outfitted in Nike+ gear, and I felt even more dejected. I got bored of walking and started running again - not because it counted in the race, but because I just wanted to get home. I ran past a man being arrested. (He looked even more dejected than I.)
I got home and called Nathan (already at church), who promised to make every attempt to fix the iPod when he got home, and even offered to walk, jog, or drive part of the way with me if I wanted to try the run again in the evening. (My hero.)
I called my Mom and Dad, who also made me feel better, as parents have a way of doing. I dragged myself, soggy eyes and all, to church, where we sang the words,
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
After church I read some help files online and found out how to reboot a frozen iPod. It was successfull, but of course my morning run was lost.
Naturally, I had to start over and do the run again.
Around 6:30 in the evening I set out: sore shins, achy hips, and all. I didn't worry about my time too much. In the end it took me over an hour, and that's okay with me, although my morning time would have been better.
I ran past families having barbecues on their lawns, children roller blading on the sidewalk, and the remnants of a yard sale winding down. A woman smiled at me from her porch rocking chair, and I smiled back. A group of children shrieked happily from a yard decorated with "Happy Birthday" banners. Cars zoomed past me, and cyclists glided along the roadsides.
My legs stopped protesting soon enough, and settled into a dull ache that was almost numbness. When I wanted to stop running and walk for even the briefest of moments, I told myself, "Keep running. If you stop, it will only hurt more to start again." So I ran the 10K all over again, without stopping. It hurt, but I had a wonderful and eclectic playlist on my restored iPod that kept me going, including:
"I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan
"Deliver Us" from Prince of Egypt
Frank Sinatra favorites
Pieces that FavoriteBoy and I had in our wedding (lovelovelove)
John Denver and Placido Domingo (Yes, the two of them together in a duet!)
A tango that reminds me of friendship and shared musical experiences
Oldies like "Brown Eyed Girl"
And as I was somewhere in the ninth kilometer, the soothing voice of Tommy Dorsey came on in an introduction to a piece I love, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand."
"I am tired, I am weak, I am worn."
I was exactly that.
Well, I finished my run. My first 10K. Surprisingly, I had enough energy left to sprint the last 100 meters in a last attempt to improve my time.
And when I stopped running, I found that I could barely walk, and then, could barely climb the stairs to our apartment.
Like I said, I wasn't planning on running about 12 miles today.
During the run, I found myself thinking about a childhood school reward system. When I was a kid, my Mom (who was also my teacher, as I was homeschooled) had charts featuring categories like "Creativity," "Diligence," "Respectfulness," and "Concentration." When one of us displayed a certain desirable trait in the course of our studies, we got a sticker in that column. One such column was labeled "Perseverance," which my Mom defined to my young ears as "Stick-to-it-ive-ness."
I may not have the longest, strongest, fastest legs, but you know what?
I'd give myself a sticker for stick-to-it-ive-ness.