I ran for two hours the other day.
It wasn't the amount of time that was the major accomplishment, however. It was the fact that I did it Alone. Up until that day, I had never run for an extended period of time by myself. And up until that day, I wasn't even sure I'd be able to do it.
I like to run. I do. But the whole doing-something-for-a-couple-of-hours-straight? Well, let's just say that my attention span isn't so great. I start counting down the minutes left. I start thinking about all the other things I could be doing. I start obsessing over how the inseam of my sock is rubbing my pinkie toe. I get bored. I get antsy. I get tired. I lose my mojo.
When I trained for my previous half-marathons, I always had Hubby as a running partner. We had just started dating when I started training for my first one, and back then, the idea of running for over an hour seemed, to me, like an absolutely impossible feat. So...there we were, two twenty-somethings with not much to do and lots of time on our hands...so he ran with me. Being a bit of an extreme athlete (mountain biking, off-road triathlons, 3-day-expedition races) a little half marathon training wasn't such a stretch for him, so he became my official Support Crew. He carried my water, paced my time, handed me jelly beans, cheered me along when I'd hit the wall...and on race day? He did all of that AND ran ahead every so often to take pictures of me. No joke. (A few times, he even ran off the race course and stood along the sidelines with the other spectators to literally cheer me on and make me laugh a bit.)
Fast forward one decade and 2 kids later...if I want to train for any kind of event, it's gonna have to be on my own, because we just don't have that kind of time these days. When I tackled the idea of this race, one of the motivating factors for me was that I wanted to do something scary again, and as uncomfortable and downright painful as this training and the 13.1 race day miles is going to be, I wouldn't qualify it as scary. I've done this twice. I know I can complete the event. But what does scare the hell out of me is having to do this all on my own.
Today I went out for 2 hours and 10 minutes. I had to pack my own stuff, plan my own route, carry my own water. When I got tired and thought I was going to have to lie down, right there on the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, it was only my own voice telling me I could do this, telling me to keep going, reminding me that during long runs it's gonna hurt but I will finish.
I realize that for many people out there, doing something like running by yourself (especially if it's something you've done for a long time) is not such a major personal accomplishment. But you have to understand, I crossed my first busy street when I was 21. Yes. You read that right. 21 years old. I was on vacation in New York and my ex-boyfriend wanted to take a picture of me in front of a restaurant. I looked for traffic, ran across, and smiled "Cheeeeese!". It dawned on me immediately that I had never actually walked around amidst traffic before. (I know...WTF?!?) I've mentioned before that I was brought up extremely sheltered. Pair that with a childhood and adolescence in a city where no one walks anywhere, and you have yourself an adult who had never had to cross a street alone before.
So now you have this 38-year-old mommy of two who finds it incredibly monumental that in a couple of months she will be waking up at 3:00 a.m., lacing up her sneakers, pinning on her race number, figuring out exactly where the hell one carries a disposable camera and some jelly beans for 13 miles, and getting on a Disney bus that will take her to the start of a long distance event...all by herself. This time around, it will be Just Me. I am the only one pushing Me to train, to run, to go. I am relying only on Myself. That's a pretty cool thing.