A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
Last weekend, I was staying at my boyfriend’s house and I had a six mile run on the docket. Normally, I get up and run at 5 AM, but since I tend to be a rather slow runner and have been averaging a 12:30 min/mile pace, I did not want to run before 5 AM to get my miles in before I had to get ready for school. My six miles were supposed to have happened on Friday, but I rescheduled them to Saturday. The boyfriend did not want to run with me, but was willing to drive the route that I wanted to run to make sure that the road wouldn’t run out before my miles did with me. While we were driving, I told him that I expected to finish in about an hour and 17 minutes. He told me that if I could finish my run in less than an hour and 20 (there were some concerns about hills I would be running), he would buy me a book.
This is some pretty serious persuasive material when you’re a book nerd like I am. To give you an idea, I received a five shelf bookcase for my birthday and I have only one shelf yet to fill. When I received it in October, I had only enough double shelved books to fill a shelf and a half. I was determined to keep my average pace, in spite of what looked like some pretty daunting hills. Victoria Aveyard’s The Red Queen had been calling to me for quite some time and I realized my opportunity had come.
Out I went on this run with the plan that I would take the first 3 miles a little faster than I usually do so that if I did start to slow down at the end of my run, it wouldn’t kill my time and lose me my book. If I finished over an hour and 20 minutes later, I would owe my boyfriend a movie. I ran at what I thought was a slightly faster pace than my usual 12:30, but I ended up running my first mile in under 12 minutes, in 11 minutes and 45 seconds. I worried that I set out too fast and that I was jeopardizing my finish time; that I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. I slowed down and finished my second mile, up a hill, in less than 12 minutes too. I didn’t feel awful or like I was pushing too hard, so I relaxed and just ran. The third mile took less than 12 minutes. NPR’s This American Life was keeping me company as I both marveled at the story they were sharing about a woman who diagnosed her own diseases and disorders by looking at pictures and caught the same disorder in an Olympic athlete, and at my own running pacing and ability. I had never run this fast before. The fourth mile went by in under 12 minutes and it had been up a hill too. Normally, I’m having a great day when I finish 5 miles in just under an hour; my record being 59:47. I hit 5 miles at 58 minutes exactly. I finished my 6 mile run in 1 hour, 9 minutes, and 15 seconds, completing my last mile in 11 minutes and 15 seconds.
My boyfriend and I were both absolutely stunned by this run. It was so much faster than I had ever run before! The streak continued as I ran every single run faster than my average 12:30 this week. My 8 mile run today was my slowest and I ran it with an average pace of 12:05. Every other run was under 12 this week. With only one more run and one more day until the end of the month, I am 4.6 miles away from my 100 mile goal and I guess all of that running paid off in my unexpected gain in speed. I’m not really out to run fast; I certainly don’t have any time goals. I just run because I love this sport, because I love seeing what my body can achieve and do, because I love the quiet time to catch up on my thoughts or some podcasts, because I just love the feel of knowing I’ve accomplished something. I just simply love it, even on the not so fast days.
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No One Here But a Writer Who Gets Up and Try
Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
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Stefan Falke photographs artists who live and work along the 2000 miles long U.S.- Mexico border to document the vibrant culture of the region on both sides. All photos © Stefan Falke (use with written permission by the author only)