Growing up, I was never one of the "fast" kids. In middle school, we had to run a mile in gym class, I believe it was four laps around the school. My best friend lapped me, all my friends made the track team; I was one of the slow kids. They all got out of class every few weeks to go participate in track meets, I got stuck in math class. I was never overweight, I played sports, but my legs were just never in a hurry to take me anywhere.
A little over two months ago, I decided to be a runner. Or rather, I got accepted to run the New York Marathon in honor of my father, a stroke survivor. The opportunity to cross something off my lifetime bucket list, all while raising money for a cause I hold dear to my heart, was too much to say no to. I decided to become a runner.
I bought a Garmin running watch and set out running. Lo and behold, I was still slow. My average mile pace was 8:47. I ran every day for three weeks, my average pace was the same, and then I ran my first NYRR race in Central Park -- a four-mile course (I know, its a weird running distance). With all the competition and the clock ticking in my head, I ran with a 8:14 pace and a total net time of 32:56. I was happy, but not ecstatic. I was average at best.
I kept training, running four to five times a week after that race. I clocked in as much milage as I could, and then a month later it was time for my next four-mile race. The same course. The moment I crossed the starting line, I realized that I wasn't being passed, I was actually doing the passing. At the one-mile marker, my watch beeped: I had just run a 7:10 mile. That was my pace, and I repeated it each mile. I finished with a 7:09 pace and a total net time of 28:36.
In one month I had shaved one minute, four seconds off my average pace and four minutes, 20 seconds off my net time for the four-mile distance. I was thrilled, for the first time ever I felt like a true runner -- maybe even a faster than average runner. The thrill of chasing the PR ("personal record," in runner's terms) was self-fulfilling and euphoric.
The point is, as John Bingham says, "Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself."
If you want to be a runner, or you want to be faster, the solution is simple. Just get out there and run. It's summer, the trails and pavement are waiting to meet your feet. I'll be out there chasing another PR in my quest for the marathon. I hope to see you out there, and maybe even pass you!
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