(Written Sunday. Today there is not much to say other than that I ran 5 miles at a pace just above 9 minutes per mile. Total miles on virtual pilgrimage: 1552.)
This weekend, those who knew NyAnn were asked to post a picture of themselves running. So, I don’t usually take as any pictures of myself as some other running bloggers do while I am running (or have friends who take pictures of me as much), but today I stopped in three places for pictures.
On my run, I consumed a Gu and I left my home and ran up York Rd, around the Towson by pass, and back onto York Rd to go up to the Charm City Run store in Timonium/Lutherville.
I stopped once before I got to the store in front of a church that has an electronic sign that shows the time and temperature. That was to show that it was actually a wonderful 53 degrees this morning when I was 4.3 miles into my run.
Then, I took a picture in front of Charm City Run—my favorite running store. I passed a Dunkin' Donuts along the way--never smelled so good. At that point, I turned more or less back toward home. Run over to Charmuth and took it all the way to Dulaney. The hill as Charmuth ends at Dulaney is coming easier now. Down Dulaney to Goucher. To Joppa. To Loch Raven.
Going down Loch Raven I had to make a pit stop. It has been a LONG time since I have had to make such a stop. But at 12.25 miles, I was not going to make it another 5.75 without stopping. Consumed my Stinger. Ran past the IHOP--more amazing smells. And much to my surprise (and delight) I was able to get myself back to my target speed (which was faster than I had run so far). I had not always been able to do that in the past. Then, at mile 16 I hit a major hill and slowed own but was able to get going again for miles 17 and 18 to be my fastest.
What did my splits look like?
7:39, 7:57, 7:52, 7:45, 7:33, 7:37
7:28, 7:28, 7:26, 7:49, 7:22, 7:22
I have thought a lot about why I run over the past few weeks. It is clearly a very important part of my life. It is clear that I care a lot about it. It is clear that it helps to keep me goal driven. It is clear that it shows my dedication and focus and drive and commitment that I like to think characterizes me in general. My work. My parenting. My marriage. Sometimes, I feel that the pressures to be as dedicated and focused and driven at everything make this tough. But it is the goal. Sometimes I fear it doesn’t shoe in other things as it shows in my running. But I try.
The fact that I was able to overcome a stop and a hill to go fast again shows that something has fundamentally changed for me. Maybe it is mental. Maybe it has to do with thinking about NyAnn and how hard she ran and the fact that she can never run again. And appreciating that I can run. Maybe it has to do with my primary running partner for three years and thinking about how hard it will be for her to come back to running at some point and appreciating that I can still run.
Maybe it is spiritual. A greater connection with my tattoo than ever. St. Sebastian never gave up. He just kept going and was essentially martyred twice. I write a lot about the women in the tattoo. She in many ways seems primary as the tattoo was designed. The area covered by her dress and the single color dominates the scene. That was be design and it is fine. But the base is St. Sebastian. He was the one who was ultimately martyred. I do not associate what I am doing with martyrdom, but I do relate to the fact that he kept going despite understanding the expected consequences of continuing on his path. Nothing could stop him. Why should I let anything stop me in my goal to reach a marathon time? Wherever I draw strength from it is there.
And maybe it is physical. That my training is being guided by a new plan. A harder plan. A more difficulty plan. A plan with more miles at higher speeds that makes a difference. I can get over the hill and not feel like I have lost the battle when I get to the top. No, I have won the battle and now it is time to press on for more. To go for the win! (To quote my boss.) Whatever the combination, it is fundamentally different than in the past and it bodes well for the marathon in Philly.
I have not commented on the virtual pilgrimage aspect in a while. I am now at 1547 miles on my pilgrimage. I am in Oklahoma. The last major town I would have passed is Guymon, Oklahoma. The Catholic church there is St. Peters. I have commented on St. Peter before. What does he bring to mind today? Leadership. He was the first head of the church, after all. And I think about being a leader. I think about the many different ways of being a leader. I think about the roles of leadership. Teaching a class is leading. Raising kids is leading. Organizing an informal running group is leading. My job is leading. I look for more opportunities. To prepare for leadership, Peter followed Jesus and was given an assignment that he may or may not have been looking for. I know that I am looking for more leadership opportunities moving forward. I hope that I will be good a them. And I hope that all the lessons I take from running—dedication, focus, drive, commitment, going for the win—show up in my leadership too.
One more quick reflection. In yesterday's readings for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (explained in detail by Fr. Sam) he talked about power coming from knowing the people--downward mobility as he called it. I hope that if I ever get to be Dean or Provost, I don't forget that I was one of the people.