I’m not sure when the transformation occurred, so it must have happened slowly. But a few weeks ago, when I went to Vegas to run in the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, my friends made some comments:
“Wow! You’ve become an athlete!”
“I could never do that. That’s amazing.”
“So you’re really into this running thing?”
But I stopped them, because I didn’t run the Vegas marathon. Or the half. I ran the 10K. So I told them, really, it wasn’t that impressive. It was only a 10K.
As soon as I said it, though, I realized how ridiculous I sounded and I wondered what had happened – what kind of space-time malfunction took place that allowed the words “It’s only a 10k” to come out of my mouth. Because if you know me, if you know my relationship with exercise and healthy habits and all things green, then you also know that the idea of running a 10K – 6.2 miles if you’re math impaired – should never, ever, in the history of all that is “Adina Ciment” be prefaced with the phrase “it’s only.”
Especially since my 10K run was spectacular only in how pathetic it was. In a stunning display of agility and athletic prowess, I tripped twice. The first one was not just a little trip, by the way. This was a full-blown, flat on my face, embrace the gods of gravity and just go with it fall. Most people just ran around me or leapt over me, focused on beating their PRs. Or yelled, “Are you okay?” as they soared past. I was. I got up, brushed myself off, reminded myself that as cool as the Vegas Strip looked, it would make sense to watch out for things like, you know, street curbs, and continued moving.
I tripped the second time, but didn’t go down. This time, I ran a little too close to the gutter, my foot turned, and I lost my balance. I’m not sure which was more tragic – the first, all-out, pavement hitting crash, or the second one which I assume must have looked like I was being shoved by some invisible force while dancing the flamenco. Ever have a sputtering cough? Imagine that in human form. That was me. The only good part was that in an effort to stay balanced I covered the few feet of chaos at my fastest pace yet.
Add to that my inability to work my running app which decided, right as the gun went off, to switch into some mode that I had never used nor knew existed. I spent the first mile just running and pushing buttons trying to get back my music and my running map. I finally just shut off my phone completely, but even that took effort.
Freakin’ iPhone 6 update.
So my 10K was not that impressive to say the least. When I crossed the finish line, I was so relieved it was only a 10K, because if you’re going to have a bad run, and it’s going to be in front of thousands of people and photographers and ridiculously fit and toned 90 year olds that run faster than you, well, then, you’re pretty thankful you didn’t sign up for the half-marathon.
Still, to blurt out, “It’s only a 10K,” was kind of shocking.
Maybe my problem is that even though I ran a half-marathon last year, I seriously don’t think of myself as a runner. I get angry when I see people posting their runs with mile times that I know I will never hit. I get annoyed at the effort it takes for me to get out of bed to run, knowing that I will probably never look at it in anticipation. The way I look forward to chocolate. Or Netflix. I may think that a 10K isn’t the biggest deal, but I am so far from belonging to that crew of sprinters and long-legged runners who seem to glide over the pavement, leaving glitter and rainbows in their wake.
Running any distance makes the shorter distances a walk in the park. I remember when I ran my first mile, how excited I was, how proud I was. Now, that first mile is sometimes something I have to slog through in an effort to train for the longer distances, when in the beginning, that first mile WAS my longer distance. Having that one moment where the words, “It’s only a 10K” fell off my lips, reminds me that even if I never run another race, there was a time where something that once seemed daunting was suddenly approachable.
It’s somewhat symbolic. The harder life is – the longer you have to run – the easier the smaller challenges become. They are the 10Ks of our lives. Some people are still struggling through their first run, where hitting that one mile mark is the hardest thing they have ever done. But at a certain point, you’re going to run a 5K. Or a 10K. Or a half-marathon. And suddenly you’re wishing for that one mile finish line again. In that sense, “It’s only a 10K,” is more a statement on perspective than athletic ability.
So don’t worry about me. I might have a half-marathon and two 10Ks under my belt, but it isn’t going to my head. I’m still just running for a cause more than I’m trying to PR in the Miami Half-Marathon this January.
After all, it’s just a half-marathon.
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