Growing wings

It started snowing on friday. Not a lot, but by sunday and time for the second of my twice-weekly runs, we had about 10cm worth of soft powdery snow. I only started running in august this year, so I’ve never tried running on snow. I was feeling uncertain about it – will it be very slippery ? Will I slip and fall, possibly hurting myself in the process ?

This time, the plan was to “run with the brakes on”, to deliberately keep the speed low, and see how far I’d get. My old record for endurance is 5500 meters of continuous running, which at my pace of around 7:25 means 40 minutes of running. The snow had scared some people away, there where fewer people than normal at the Stokka-lake. It fit. The snow lies as a soft blanket over everything muffles all sound and makes the landscape softer than it normal is.

I’m slightly careful at first, testing out my grip, but it’s more than sufficient so I quickly relax. Glancing at my GPS I can see that I’ve come a kilometre, and that my pulse is at 165. For me, that’s about 82% max, and is “easy”, normally when I run the pulse climbs gradually, at 170 easy turns to moderate, at 180+ it takes determination to keep going and I start feeling the acid in my muscles, and there’s no way I can sustain 190+ for more than a very short distance.

Having started, I put the GPS in my pocket, and run while listening to music and letting my mind wander. 4 months ago I started fixing my fitness. I signed up for Fitocracy, and started doing sports, mostly running. Since then, I’ve become friends with some very nice people. Every step of the way there’s been encouragement, good advice, friendly support and gentle prodding.

On Fitocracy, you don’t “Like” a comment, you “Give props”, but it amounts to the same thing. In 4 months I’ve been propped more than 900 times. And that’s nothing out of the extraordinary there – it’s simply how everyone is treated. Being encouraged 10 times a day is a powerful thing. Feeling like part of a group, even when you’re out running alone, is super. There’s some people more fit than me, and some people less fit than me, so whatever I do, there’s someone who’s done it before, and someone following behind.

It’s christmas soon, and we’ve ordered christmas-cards to send to our friends. I start thinking about who would deserve a thank-you for christmas, and quickly discover the list is long, there’s just so many that’s been such a nice part of my autumn.

Most of all Israa. Of all my friends, she’s perhaps the one most different from me, and yet, also the one most similar to me. Then there’s aorwig85 who is working her way trough c25k, facing so many of the same challenges I did a month before, yet always keeping her optimism. Johnr_39 which is my age, whose weight has been closely tracking my own. BackwardsRewind always have kind and encouraging words for everyone and is Canadian to boot which is always a plus. BeeCaveRoad does her own thing, which just happens to consistently be the kind of thing I aspire to be able to do. She’s in a sense my trailblazer.

Scout-Field – my usual turn-around point. I glance at my GPS again. Wow ! 4 km, pulse 168, still feels easy. I’ve run this far perhaps 20 times before, but it’s always been exhausting, at this stage I “should” be tired, and with a pulse at least more like 175-180. But this doesn’t feel similar at all. I’ve been running for 4km and feel as if I could do this for much longer. I decide to turn around, and run as far as feels comfortable, but not to push myself. It’s already clear to me that the 5500m record is a goner.

My mind wanders back to my gratefulness and my friends, Israas latest message contains lots that is worth pondering. My feet keep running as if that’s all they can do, as if it’s easy. As if distance is irrelevant.

The path is mostly flat, but there’s 3 or 4 steep uphills, each one lifting the path perhaps a dozen meters before dropping back down to the level of the lake. When I’m tired what tends to happen is that my pulse climbs as I go up, then -fail- to fall after I’ve completed the climb. By now I’m curious, curious and awed. So I glance at the GPS more often.

Foot of the hill; 171. Top of the hill; 178. A minute later, 172. This never happens. This has never happened. This is not how the world works. I’ve been running for damn-near my personal record, and should be dizzy, light-headed and out of breath. But reality is that I’m fine, and my pulse is falling. Downhill. Pulse 168. Distance 6km. Damn. Damn !

I want to say that again, to scream it from the rooftops. To dance and shout. I’ve been running for 6 kilometres, I’m fine, I can keep doing this forever my pulse is down in the “easy” area, I’ve never seen that pulse after more than 2km before today, yet here I am. I don’t intend it, but I can feel my step-lengthening, my shoulders untense, my back straightening up, and I’m dizzy, but it’s the -good- kind of dizzy.

Some of you may remember I’ve told you my goal is to be able to run for 8.05 km, since that is the distance around lake Stokka. This is also the reason my turn-around point is slightly more than 4km away from home: to give me enough room to hit 8km once my fitness is up to it. I wanted to be able to do that by next summer.

I finish my run at my doorstep at home. This also never happens, the last uphill is a killer. GPS says 8.6 km. Pulse 174. Not tired.

I contemplated making an extra circle of it, to run 10k not even to see if I could do it — the way I was feeling that didn’t even feel like a question, but rather out of curiosity: to see how far the legs will truly go before starting to protest. I’m still in awe. I don’t know what just happened.

I’m nervous about my next run: is this my new reality now, or will the next run feel like a setback ? Compared to having wings, must not everything feel like a setback ? But what if ? What if ! The distance around Hafrsfjord is 22 km, which just happens to be pretty accurately a half-marathon.

With wings, anything is possible.

4 months ago, I put on my brand-new jogging-shoes and went out to do Week 1 Day 1 of the Couch to 5k program. I ran for one minute then. Just one minute.

Yesterday, i ran continously for 65 minutes. I would not, and could not have done it without you. All of you. I know only a few are mentioned by name, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about the rest of you.

Thank you !