Wednesday, October 30, 2013

FTT Off-Topic: Six Days, Thirty Six Miles

How Far I've Run In 2013
I make my living with words. But I make my life with numbers.

Numbers such as the percentage of work that ships on time, or without errors. Numbers for the spreadsheet, months in advance, that point to the bills due, and how I'm doing in making the college savings nut. Numbers about how I'm doing on side ventures, how much mileage I'm getting per gallon, what I weigh, how my fantasy teams are doing and the odds. Most of the things in my life have a scoreboard, and I usually know that score.

One of the bigger numbers in my life, now, is 90. That's the number of miles that I run every month, usually in 6 mile chunks. The idea is to do that every other day, so most weeks I'm there on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday night, then mixing in a weekend session depending on what else is going on. There's just enough leeway and flexibility to let me manage injuries, other commitments, travel and the like... but by the end of the month, I've got to get to 90, and I ave to do it at faster than six miles an hour.

By the way, I'm 44, have only been running for the past 18 months or so, and I suck at running. Well and truly. I can stand some pain and can keep my brain occupied during sessions enough to keep going, but I cramp up something fierce, usually need a bathroom break, have recurring tendinitis, my feet aren't good, and my form is meh at best. I spent my first 25 years grinding out miles on bicycles, and did that for years on a commute to the train station for trips to NYC. I run because it's good for me, and because when you get to 44, you start thinking about doing things to make sure you will be around for your kids... not because I'm good at it, or even because I enjoy it all that much.

Now, October has been tough for gym days. I took a trip to Florida that didn't help matters. I had a basketball draft that took a ton of free time. Work is in its third straight month of flood, and October will set a new production record. And the month was going to end early for me, since Wednesdays are booked for the Shooter Wife (we only have the one car, and that's her night out with her knitting group), and Thursday is Halloween.

So six days ago, I was 36 miles away from getting the monthly number, and knew I had to, well, run for six straight days. Whether they hurt or not, whether I wanted to or not, and, well, no matter what. Because the nature of number like 90 miles a month is that when you break them, you don't get right back to it very easily.

I got it done. I throttled down my speed, took more time in the whirlpool, and by day five, it was actually starting to not suck. Tonight, it even got good; I finished the miles strong, even high-stepping it a bit like a showboating NFL CB or WR going in for six. I hurt tonight as I write this, but no more than normal, and I've earned four days off before I get back to it on Saturday.

Because, well, that's the thing about running, and numbers, and fitness goals. You can think about them all you like, make them big and scary and beyond your ability to manage. Or you can put one foot in front of the other, tell yourself a different story, and repeat until the number is gone.

Two more months and 180 miles to go, along with 15-odd weightlifting sessions.

And then, in 2014...

Well, I'll have to up the numbers. (And yes, my brain really hates my body for rules like that, with cause.)

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