I hit a milestone last night, me and Mr. Treadmill.
A full 5K running at 11 minutes a mile. I'm not a pro, folks, and I know that's a pathetic time, but I finished it.
Swimming has always been my thing, but lately, I've been happier without my head full of chlorine. The treadmill and the Prospect Park loop have been where I've sweated out my afternoons this summer, trailing behind my guy who is training for his first full marathon.
I'm a run/walker - always have been. Running is fine, but I always savored the word "walk" in the President's Physical Fitness run/walk mile challenge in elementary and high school. It was a torturous endeavor to run a mile in a time allotted by a president (Bill Clinton or George W. Bush) who I knew had his share of sitting behind a desk and eating cheeseburgers.
In fifth grade, I remember distinctly that I couldn't finish the mile in less than 10 minutes. I was one of the last red-faced kids the gym teacher shamed with a "Run it in!" as we pumped our way across the finish line two or three minutes longer than expected.
But things have changed. It's not all woe-is-me. In high school, I was forced to run with my swim team for pre-season conditioning and tried to run and keep up with my athletic cousin during summers. I was slow then and often had to stop and walk. I was a beast in the pool, but, it seemed, I didn't have the lungs for land. And then I twisted my knee skiing and swore off running for more than a year.
Then I met Rich. A runner who has several triathlons under his belt and years of training, he suggested I start with the elliptical trainer and I did. Smooth and steady. And then he said I should try out the treadmill because it has shocks to absorb some of the pounding. And so I did - for about five minutes. I hated it. My knee - screwed up from my ill-advised Shackleton adventure at Seven Springs - literally crunched with every step. But I eventually worked through the pain and began extending my runs to 10 minutes and then 15 and then 20.
Now I'm up to running a 5K in 35 minutes. It may not seem like much to all you runner folk out there, but it's a big deal to someone who thought she would fall on the treadmill and get her hair stuck in the mechanisms if she tried such a feat.
The best part? I wasn't dead by the end of the run. My legs felt a little jelly-fied, but not insanely so. I think next time I'll push a little farther and go four or five miles. Who knows - maybe I'll do my own half marathon or marathon someday.
And, just in case you're wondering, I have a feeling I can meet the President's Challenge these days.