A new pace

The most I’d hoped for when I began to recover from sinus surgery was no longer having constant nasal drip.

(Wow! This blog is sexy! SHAPE magazine may totally be rethinking this lovely honor!)

I had no idea what an immediate difference it would have on my workouts.

Or, really, the rest of me.

For as much as I have considered myself to be an athlete the past eight years, it’s been difficult to reconcile that feeling with the fact that I never had much improvement to show for it. Sure, my 5Ks in 2003 were much slower than they were in 2007, but I’ve always topped out to a certain degree. Held steady at “respectable,” never surpassing into “remarkable” territory. There are people for whom the fruits of years of labor beget many tangibles, but for me it’s always been the generally intangible – just being able to run has always seemed enough. I train because I like being someone who says she does, not because it necessarily produces remarkable results. I’ve always said that working out has been more about the mental than the physical, and I don’t think there is anything shameful about that.

As soon as I got the go ahead from the surgeon, I got back into training.  September was rough, and I don’t like being out of commission for that long. I didn’t expect much – I also wanted to make sure I eased myself into things, for fear of injury or burnout. Getting back to the boot camp studio was great, though I haven’t yet made it into yoga (maybe tonight). Running, I knew, would be different. For as much working out as I have done these past few months, and despite losing more than 20 pounds since May, I hadn’t been able to run a complete mile.

I’ll cut to the chase: I went out as slow as I could that first time. It was faster than my training guides recommended for someone like me, but I couldn’t go as slow as they wanted. The next time? Well the next time I just opted to run. And you know what?

I ran an 11:03 mile pace.

To some, that’s nothing. But for a woman who traditionally struggles to run a 12:45-13-mile pace, I almost fell dead in front of my house from shock. But not exhaustion. I felt fine. Great, in fact. And the next morning, I wasn’t sore. I wanted to dance. I kind of did, truth be told, and I think my husband wanted to find a tranquilizer gun to calm me down from the high I was on when I walked back in the door after.

I didn’t expect much for today – I had a 3-mile-run scheduled, and I was sore from Cardio Strike (basically lots of cardio with boxing moves) on Friday. Wouldn’t you know it? I ran those 3 miles. And I ran them with a 10:46-mile pace.


When I walked in the door this morning, I recalibrated the run. Nike+ is sort of infamous for being the vanity sizing of running tools, so you need to mess them with a little bit to make sure you’re using it correctly. It’s only a slightly annoying glitch in an otherwise gem of a running app. Originally it had me running 3.27 with 9:46 mile pace. I knew that couldn’t be right, and was prepared for it to be otherwise.

I wasn’t prepared for it still to be faster than I’ve ever run before. And for it to be right. I mean, really, really right. So not as long and as fast, but still three miles, and still super fast for me.

I don’t mean to be too introspective about this but who in the hell am I if I am not the chubby girl who tries really hard but isn’t really that good at this hobby she loves? Who am I if I am the woman who might actually be above average?

As of this moment, I don’t have the answer. I have a baby who is napping. A husband who is working on fixing the back porch stairs with his dad. I have a dog at my feet and I’m about to jump in the shower to meet my sister so we can take AG to the pumpkin patch, a sorely needed day of fun in a week that’s been a little on the rough side.

And I have this knowledge that maybe I can be something a little bigger and better than I thought I could be when I woke up this morning.