Thursday, January 26, 2012

Running With The Big Dogs

I am not the kind of person that looks at other people and thinks, "God I want those thighs, or ass, or chiseled arms." My response is more along the lines of "I wonder what I need to do to be in that kind of shape." But today was different.

Today's run was one that just killed me emotional. After a long day of meetings, I grabbed my running shoes and clothes and headed over to the Columbia gym. I usually go during the mid-morning or lunch time when the undergraduate attendance is low because they are still sleeping or in class. Today I went around 4:30 pm. Big mistake. The place was packed with Columbia athletes (track members, crew team, cross country, baseball players, etc); it was the epicenter of fit, fast, and chiseled bodies.

This wouldn't have been a problem if I had a treadmill to stick to. But the way the gym is set up is centered around a track that is located on the third floor. The inside of the track looks down on the bottom floors where you can see into yoga rooms and a basketball court. On the same floor as the track is a rowing room completely enclosed by glass, so you can see in. Along the walls of the track are top to bottom mirrors. Everywhere I looked were perfectly fit and beautiful people, until I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The mirrors were straight from the circus, they did an amazing job making me look short and fat. I know I have a skewed idea of what I look like, but this mirror couldn't be my real reflection.

Up until now, I have been pretty happy with my progress. Today crushed me (thankfully it wasn't my first run because I would have probably given up). Running with all of these amazing athletes who have impeccable form, perfect foot strike, and look like models for the cover of Runners World made me start to second guess how good of a runner I am. I probably wouldn't have been as aware if I had remembered my music and had something to distract me. At my fourth lap around the track my watch died. GREAT! Now I am running with no time or music. I started to count my laps and made note of the time on the wall. At my 20th, I threw in the towel. I couldn't handle being passed four times by the same person in just one of my laps. I had to go home. This was the first time I didn't push through and I gave-up. But it was either have a break down in the car or right there on the track. After 7 months I had thought that my progress would be further along, and today made me feel like I had been standing still.

When I got home I took care of my mommy and wife duties; changing dirty diapers, making dinner, giving a bath, and putting MG to bed. Through it all, today's experience sat in the back of my mind festering like a sore. After I put MG to bed, I reluctantly went to my computer and typed into google, "How many laps around the track = a mile".... answer 4. But the Columbia track is half a track, so 8 laps makes a mile. Then I opened up Dailymile and typed in my time 25 minutes and 58 seconds for 22 laps. As I entered in all my data, the average pace was calculated at the top. WHAT THE HECK!?! A 9:26 pace? Could this be right? This was 2 minutes faster compared to my fastest time.

The truth is I sucked it up and I ran with the big dogs. And even though the actual run had killed me emotionally and almost sucked out all motivation for any more runs in the future, in the end it had pushed me to do something I didn't think was possible. I ran fast (well, fast for me). And even though I know I could never be 4 minute man, like the guy who passed me a million times; my 9 minute miles were probably just as rewarding and that is some pretty awesome motivation!


  1. Not to rain on your parade, but tracks aren't all equal. Basically the outside ones are 4laps:1mi (like around a football field). But a lot of inside ones are 10:1 or 6:1. Your track probably has a sign up somewhere telling you how many loops makes a mile.

  2. This one was 8:1, I checked when I went back the next day. I know that I had pushed myself way too hard that day, because I am still in pain. Was not ready for that. But it's nice to know that I have it in me and that it will come out sometime hopefully in the future.