Do or Do Not

Monday, September 29, 2008

“Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more"
~Louis L'Amour

On Sunday I turned 30. This won't be a post about what a milestone I've achieved, or a reflection on life lived to date. Honestly, I haven't thought a whole lot about my birthday. It was, however, a momentous weekend for other reasons. Primarily, I completed my first half marathon! Everything came together to make for a perfect running experience. The weather was beautiful - the race started at 8:00 when there was still a lot of cool fog. We ran out of Oxford into the country, so for about the first hour there was nothing but misty farmland, with cows and horses just starting to wake up. As we approached the Indiana border the sun started burning off the fog, which turned the air into a million tiny prisms. Mile 8 was the turn-around, just inside Indiana. Coming back was not as cool, since we were running east into the sun, and the elevation was definitely going up. I had never run more than 10 miles before, and when I hit the 10 mile mark and still felt great, I experienced a big energy boost. At mile 12 it finally hit me that I was definitely going to finish this race, and finish strong. One last hill, down the brick streets and under the finish arch, and DONE! Official time: 2:25:07. My goal had been 2:15, but given my recent knee problems I was plenty happy to have hit 11 minute miles. So now I'm taking some time off from running, and looking forward to my next "big" race - the Heart Mini-Marathon in the spring.

While I was running, I had plenty of time to think. I came to the realization that I guess now I really can call myself a "runner". I've always avoided that title - even though I run 15 miles a week and have completed a lot of races, I've felt that other people are runners - I'm still just a hack. I realized that for my entire life, I've felt that I was an outsider - a pretender. I'd like to claim that it is due to an overdeveloped desire for independence, but really I think it is based in fear. Fear that if I call myself "runner" (or "lawyer" or "martial artist" or "blogger"...), if I stand up and claim membership in a group, that it will encourage others to scratch the surface - to see if I really am what I claim to be. And what if that core under the surface disappoints? What if all I am capable of is putting on a good display? But there comes a time when even I have to admit that the mask has become permanently attached. I am a runner - it is who I am. Because I care, and because I try, and because I miss running when I take time off.

However, in calling myself a runner, I force myself to take running seriously. Hacks take time off because they're lazy. Runners do not. My next goal is to start increasing my speed, starting with my 5K time. So starting this weekend, I incorporate speedwork into my training. And I can't wait!

Do or do not; there is no try

Posted by oballard at 10:27 AM  
Feener said...

that is AWESOME and an excellent time. i like your idea about speed work and 5k. i agree with you about claiming the name runner.

my half is sunday. i am nervous but i do think i will finish, and i am hoping to do it in 2.30 or under. then i was thinking i might take up swimming ?? or like you lower my times on 5ks !!! you should be so proud and you are a runner to me.

September 30, 2008 at 12:12 PM  
Anonymous said...

Wow Stella -
You have echoed what has been an overwhelming theme in my life. As an "achiever," a people pleaser, I have always pushed myself to do things. I, too, am a lawyer - but stopped (at least doing it full time) 20 months ago to be a full time mommy. However, even when I was lawyering, I always was afraid someone would find out how little I knew... What a faker I was! I always did well in school - but felt it was because I had a good memory, not because I was smart. Having a daughter, though, has made me more confident about myself and not as worried about what people think! Oh well, just thought I'd share the bond we seem to have!
- Sophie's mommy, the lawyer, the entreprenuer, the baker, the writer, the crafter, ...

September 30, 2008 at 2:06 PM  
sweetpea85 said...

i'm so proud of you :)

September 30, 2008 at 3:06 PM  
Stella B said...

@Feener - Thanks! I'll be rooting for you on Sunday. I think you'll do great, and 2:30 is awesome. Good luck (you are a runner too!)

@Sophie's Mommy - how interesting! I think you and I could fill a book with the neuroses that go into lawyering!

@Sweetpea - Likewise :-)

September 30, 2008 at 8:49 PM  

Congratulations on your milestones!

October 1, 2008 at 12:38 AM  
~m said...

congratulations on your running!
i know what you mean when you tentatively make a claim about something that potentially defines you. What's the line between having an interest in something and being defined by it? I think you sum it up quite nicely when you say it depends on how seriously you take it.
p.s. what martial arts did you do? i studied hwa rang do for a few years...we'll have to talk about it :)

October 1, 2008 at 9:12 PM  

Wow. Congratulations. That is so awesome. I used to be a runner and have often thought about getting back into it. I used to really enjoy the time to myself.

October 3, 2008 at 4:44 PM  

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