A work conversation about running

I had always heard and read of how non-runners react to runners’ process of thought.

I had honestly never actually met someone who liked running more than me. I had read about it on other people’s blogs and on running magazines. I’ve met plenty of runners, but I don’t think they got how big running is for me. It’s my balance, my time, my calm, my happy place. It’s my priority on most days.

I teach ESL at a language institute, and I have amazing colleagues in this place. One of them, Roxy, happens to share my passion for running. She’s got my admiration since I learned a few things about her: she is a mom of four -including a special needs child-, she works 25-hours a week where I do, she takes care of her home and husband, and she wakes up at 4 am 4 days a week to run. She’s a marathoner who just got sponsored by her running club. I love my job, but it makes my day a bit brighter knowing that we can exchange a little comment her and there about our training. When you have children, they are on the top of your priority list, but running is at least top three.

A couple of days ago Roxy and I were discussing my upcoming trip to Minnesota by the copy machine and a third teacher, Nikki, stood by us. She asked what we were discussing, so I told her that I was traveling to Minneapolis. She asked ‘How come?’, ‘To run a marathon,’ I replied. I then added: ‘and it’s on my birthday’.

Nikki’s expression was unlike any other I’d seen.

And then Roxy said: ‘Can you believe that?’

Nikki: ‘Poor you! You have to run a marathon on your birthday.’

To what I replied: ‘Have to? Are you kidding me? I GET to run a marathon for my birthday!’

Roxy added: “Can you believe how lucky she is? That would be the best birthday present ever!”

-Now, this is someone who understands my way of thinking.-


Then, Nikki asked how long that marathon was, and I told her ‘26.2’.

‘What do you mean twenty-six? Twenty-six kilometers? That’s too much!’

‘Ehhh, it’s actually 26.2 MILES.’ , said Roxy.

‘You people are crazy. But to run all that you must be practicing a lot.’

And Roxy and I proceeded to explain about how it is called Training and not Practicing. I didn’t know that it actually made such a big difference to us runners. But that got me thinking about other things that bother me about running vocab. Like how people ask you if you went JOGGING this morning. Or how my mother in law asks we how long I WALKED yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I love walking… but man, if I ran 10 miles, I actually RAN 10 miles. Or how some people still say the ran a ’10k MARATHON’. (I was actually guilty of that when I completed my first 10k race. Someone corrected me and I thank them for it!)

Do you know anyone who’s not aware of standard race distances, such as the Marathon? This guy does: http://www.runnersworld.com/deans-blog/twenty-six-point-what


My First ‘Run’

Eleven years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of running a 5k, a 10k, or anything else. Little would I know that eleven years later, a week without running would be non-existent in my life.  Let me tell you how the story begins.

I was 23 and I had heard people talking about 10k races and about marathons -which I thought were the same thing-. I was born and raised in Venezuela and this running era had just started down there. Maybe 3-5 races per year were all we had. I heard about these people I knew who ran for 10 kilometers: ‘they must be super human!’

Then one day my brother was selling tickets for a 10k. The money would go to a wonderful charity that gave food to poor families. Always in favor of helping, I decided to buy one from him. Then he said: ‘why don’t you run the 10k? You could always walk if you get tired.’ And the more I thought about it, the less frightening it seemed. What was the worst thing that could happen? I would have to walk. The only problem was that the 10k was 15 days away.

Logging walking miles -or kms- was not a problem for me. Now, running was completely new and unknown. I searched the internet and found a ‘Couch to 5k’ plan, which had a run-walk format. The plan required 1min running, 2 min walking x5 for a week on alternating days, then 2min running, 1min W for week2, then 3min R, 1min W for week3, and so on. But with 15 days to go, I ran-walked every day and instead for weekly cycles I had to do 3-day cycles.

Come race day, I was prepared to run 5 min, walk 2 min until I could and then walk the rest. I had a very good companion by my side who pushed me from the start. I started jogging and after 5 min I was prepared to stick to my schedule and take a walk break, but he told me to push. Alright, I’ll walk after min 10. Minutes 12, 14, 20 went by and I was still running.

New plan… I will walk at the half-way mark. I was ready to stop. I was tired and a side stitch at km 6 was the perfect excuse. ‘Come on, you don’t need to stop, you’re almost there.’ I think that the moment I really believe I could do it was after km 7 (mile 4.5). After Km 7 I knew there was no point in stopping, so I just trusted and kept the pace (which I now know is called ‘pace’).

My first finish line was fantastic. Crossing it made me realize that I had discovered a new world. A new world in which people actually do something productive on Sundays before the rest of the world has woken up…