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Feeding the streak

Well-chosen, realistic but challenging goals, once established, have a funny way of sticking — of taking root in your heart. I didn’t really know what I was signing up for when I set my somewhat modest running mileage goals for 2013. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was really signing up for a joint commitment with CFL to be active every single day for… who knows how long we’ll last?

I think I figured out I was hooked on the streak before the end of the first week. It’s now 35 days into 2013 and I have accumulated the following mileage:

  • 89 running miles
  • 61 walking miles
  • 4 hiking miles

That’s a total of 154 miles!

At this rate I’m going to blow my modest goals (730 running miles, 1200 total miles) out of the water.

I’ve run/walked/hiked those miles in Washington, California, and Oregon. I’ve run on pavement, gravel, rocks, mud, sand, surf, and grass. I’ve walked inside an airport terminal and I’ve done laps around shopping mall parking lots — just to keep the streak intact.

Along the way, I’m discovering that as I get stronger and more accustomed to this increased level of activity, my self-imposed challenges get bigger and my response to them gets better.

Just over a year ago I set myself some big hairy audacious running goals:

  1. Sub-30 minute 5k
  2. Sub-60 minute 10k
  3. Sub-2:30 half marathon

#1 turned out to be rather easy, and I’ve now done it several times, although never officially in a race. I’ve also surprised myself by hitting #3 handily in my last three races. My current half marathon goal is 2:10, which would be a sub-10 minute pace.

Goal #2 still eludes me. I haven’t really set out to do it, but I’ve glanced at my watch several times at the 6.2 mile mark during longer runs. The best I’ve been able to do is just under 1:02. Well, the other day I started out to run 7 miles on a hilly trail (paved) and noticed that I was hitting my first few miles at a comfortable 9:50 pace. With just a bit of a push I had a shot at the elusive sub-60 minute 10k! I didn’t quite make it, but I clocked that distance at 1:00:45. The sub-60 minute 10k will be mine, the next time I give it a real attempt on a flat section of trail!

Even more impressive (to me) is the fact that I’m regularly running longer and recovering faster. Over the past five days, I’ve run that brisk 7 miles on pavement, 6.5 miles on a steep rocky trail, and 8.25 miles on pavement. On today’s 8.25 mile run, I backed off the pace to a comfortable 10:15 (which I used to consider a blistering pace) and finished not even feeling winded. It wasn’t so long ago that I would have needed four days or more to recover from any of those three runs. Now I run them, chafe on my “off” day when I might only walk 4 miles, and can’t wait to run them again.

Part of the “problem” (or the thing that keeps luring me on to try longer and more frequent runs) is the fact that CFL has been coming along with me to ride his bike. And you guessed it, he wants to ride longer and longer distances (we are learning that team streaking is a highly addictive activity).

We typically do out-and-back runs and agree to turn around at a given time, which theoretically gets both of us back at the car at the same time. He’s not really satisfied with anything less than a 90-minute ride. So I find myself agreeing to run longer distances… and I find myself loving the distance and feeling great afterwards.

I warned him today where this is likely to lead. When an “easy mid-week run” has me going 8+ miles, how much longer will it be until the mileage creeps upward into double digits? How long until I tackle a 15 mile long slow run? And once I’m doing “fun runs” that exceed the half marathon distance, can a decision to attempt a marathon be far behind?

I confess that I am playing with the idea of running a marathon.

Dad, don’t faint. I’ll be intelligent about it, I promise.

It’s still just an idea at this point.

But I know when and where I’ll try it, if I decide to try it.

Feeding the streak… what shall I do tomorrow? It’s the stuff of sweet dreams…

One step at a time!