It seems like everyone I know is training to run a half-marathon. It's entirely possible that most of these people are online and maybe Rebecca from The Biggest Loser talked about it during the obligatory drop-the-giant-pants-in-front-of-my-new-body at-home interview and maybe people are wanting to incorporate a race into the next Blathering which, YES, I am already thinking about, HAVE YOU MET ME, but there are also all these real life runners I know who are doing all this real life running and then even my DAD was telling me about something he read where there aren't enough organized 5k races etc. to fill the demand to run them AND WELL. It's enough to make a somewhat competitive amateur runner the teensiest bit INSECURE.
I have been "running" for a little over a year now. That is a little over a year longer than I thought I would ever keep this up. I don't get out as often as I should, or even as often I would like, and my treadmill is still broken. I still allow Jillian Michaels to bust my ass at least once a week. No one is more shocked by this than me, trust me.
As you might know if you are a somewhat regular reader of this website, and as you most definitely know if you kept up with Hot By Thirty, running has literally changed my life. No accomplishment feels as wild as the day I ran one mile without stopping, to say nothing of the day I ran two miles without stopping, and then three. I wrote more than my share of blog entries about wondering how far I could go. If I can run a full cross country course without stopping - something I could not do when I was ON THE CROSS COUNTRY TEAM - what else can I do? No really! WHAT ELSE?!
This tapered off, though. For a while I felt guilty about that, and when I had that deluge of people telling me a while back that weight loss should no longer be The Goal, I really didn't know what to do with myself. I had spent almost an entire year utterly and totally focused on The Goal. I made it a priority, just like all the Fitness Professionals tell you to do, and I found the time because I made the time. But if I'm being honest, after losing the baby weight plus another thirteen pounds, it was starting to feel like an empty pointless sort of goal.
I like running (well, I should say, the benefits of running), but I don't think of myself as a runner. I honestly have no interest in running a half marathon. I've often thought I would run a 5k if I could find one that raises money for ovarian cancer, a disease that has been particularly brutal to my family, but it doesn't seem to be a popular cause and I'm happy running my mind-clearing two-and-a-half-mile route around my neighborhood. That's pretty much exactly the amount of time I want to spend running and/or thinking about running. I've decided to be okay with this, that my lack of Running Ambition is perfectly fine.
And then I started this NaNoWriMo thing. (You knew it was coming around to this, didn't you? SORRY.) My success in the diet and exercise departments has dropped big time since committing to write 50,000 words in one month (WHICH I'VE DONE, BTW, SHALL NOW WAIT FOR THE APPLAUSE.) And sometimes, when I'm sitting here assuring myself that I have written the worst 50,000 words in the history of words, I think about what I've given up. I had to make time for this, exactly the same way I did for exercise. Many days I trade exercise for writing. Many days I trade reading or internet surfing or chatting or shopping or friends (or, let's face it, child rearing and household tasks) for writing. Nearly every night I trade at least an hour of time with Phillip to sit in front of my computer and bemoan the day I ever dreamed up this stupid idea for a novel.
AND YET I LOVE IT.
It brings me back to springtime, when I conquered my biggest running fear and ran around the stupid lake with all the other Seattle Fitness Freaks in their fancy running clothes and time warp speeds. ONLY BETTER. I never wanted to be able to run around the lake, but I've always wanted to write a novel.
I hit 50,000 words Friday night, which makes me a NaNoWriMo "winner". Yes I will be buying the t-shirt. But I figure I have at least 15 to 20,000 more words till I get to the end of my story. My goal is to keep speed-noveling until I get there, as it's the only tactic I've ever tried that's moved me past the first ten or twenty pages. God knows how ugly the next months will be, when I move in and decide I have to CUT 50,000 words. But quite honestly, I'll be shocked that I get to do that in the first place. Again with the shocking!
I'm not sure I would be doing this if I hadn't started running. One of the most basic things I learned over this last year is that I COULD sacrifice time. I could sacrifice TELEVISION! When I was thinking about what it would take to commit to NaNoWriMo I would tell myself, "Self? If you could take a half hour of naptime to run on your stupid treadmill every day, you can CERTAINLY take another half hour to WRITE." And Phillip was nervous. Phillip said, "Are you sure? Because when you commit to something you... well... you..." and I knew he was trying to think of a nice way to reference my OCD re: commitments. In other words, it could get scary.
But it's not. It's been... if I may get all Protestant youth-grouper on you for a minute, it's been life-giving. It's the thrill of accomplishment you get from a challenging run, plus the weird-yet-amazing back-of-your-mind feeling you get when you're doing what you kind of sort of think you were made to be doing. Even the days when I sit here stone-faced, hating my characters, hating their interactions, hating the fact I got myself into this mess, hating THE WORLD, I still have this lingering feeling that I'm a participant in some age-old writer paranoia which is its own kind of elation. That I am only experiencing the full brunt of what this is, which is good, because it shows I mean it. It shows I am DOING IT.
Does anyone want to barf yet? Did anyone even make it this far? I feel like such a tool for saying most of this, because what proof do I have? What do I have to show for "what I was made to do"? Nothing. And I'm almost positive that if and when I do finish this NaNoWriMo project I will most likely have to junk it and start over on something else. But even that doesn't discourage me, because I will have done it before. I ran one mile, I could probably run two.