I'm running a half-marathon tomorrow. The New Bedford Half-Marathon. So is Nik. This wasn't on our plan until yesterday.
For months, Nik's been refusing to run the New Bedford Half-Marathon because she's already run it three times. It's not a pretty course and she wasn't ready to race. She's coming off a bout of bronchitis, bruised ribs, and a shaky ankle. For months, I've been refusing to run the New Bedford half-marathon because I felt I wouldn't be ready to run 13.1 miles until the New Jersey race in May -- and besides, races make me extremely nervous. In fact, I just told Nik the other day that I didn't want to run half-marathon races anymore at all. I wanted to stick to training and short fun runs. You can't screw up a fun run. You can screw up a big race. I have one bad run in training and I'm ready to flush weeks of running down the toilet. So if you'd asked us on Thursday, no, definitely not -- we're not running the New Bedford Half Marathon. Uh-uh. No way. We're not. But you go on! Have fun!
So how'd we both end up with bib numbers for that race?
Listen: last week, I had a simple 4-miler on my schedule. Easy. I go out, take a loop around the neighborhood, back home in 50 minutes flat. Except Nik had a 10-miler on her schedule and needed some company. She said, half-joking, "Come on. Don'tcha wanna run 10 miles instead?" I thought about it a second and thought, "Why not? What's stopping me?"
I usually have to screw my head on properly for these distances. It's a whole process. I have to worry about what I'm going to drink and eat when I'm out there. I have to worry about what I'm going to eat and drink the day before. I have to consider the idea that I might go 5 or 6 or 8 miles and suddenly run out of gas, or get an unexpectedly full bladder, or get so fed up of running that I have to call someone for a ride home, even though this has never once happened or come close to happening. I have to check the weather multiple times. Double-digit runs are still a big mental hurdle for me. I like having done double-digit runs. I don't like doing double-digit runs. It's a tense problem.
But for some reason, this time I thought about it for a second and said, "Yeah, sure. Let's knock out 10 miles." And Nik and I went out, knocked out 10 miles. I felt great. I probably could've knocked out another 3 if I'd brought more water.
That's been sticking with me for a while. I wanted to go for 10, so I just knocked it out. Boom. It took a while, but I got it done and it wasn't a big deal. It occurred to me: When you don't give as much of a shit, amazing things happen. Put that slogan on a coffee mug.
This week, I had a 10-mile long run scheduled for Sunday. Nik had a 12-miler scheduled tomorrow too. She decided to pull the same stunt: "You gonna knock out 12 with me?" I considered it and said, "Sure, I'll just knock out another 12." Just like that. Don't worry about it -- just go knock that out and be done with it.
Except Sunday is the New Bedford Half. I asked Nik why I was going to do just a 12-mile training run. "If I'm going that far, I could just knock out another 1.1 miles and get a medal for it," I said.
"If you want to sign up for the New Bedford Half, I'll run it with you," she said. "We can go slow and make fun of things."
I don't know if she thought I was serious or not. Either way, this morning Nik and I came to be in a line at the New Bedford YMCA laying out $40 each for a bib number to a race we swore several times we weren't going to run. The promise that there will be things to be made fun of, and I can make fun of them, is too good to pass up.
Neither of us is going to race it. I don't expect a PR, and if she's running with me Nik definitely won't get anywhere near one. We'll be the two hanging out in back, taking it easy -- especially at the beginning, so I don't flame out early -- and talking about what a craphole New Bedford is. Except for that part by the water where you can almost see the ocean if there wasn't that concrete wall in the way.
This whole "knocking it out" thing is fun -- a trick I'm definitely going to use elsewhere in life. But I'm curious about this situation specifically: Either I'm not respecting the 13.1-mile distance right now, or I've respected it too much in the past. I'll find out the answer tomorrow.