I can focus quite intently for short periods of time. When something gets tough or unpleasant I don't give up until the task is complete. I've often berated and bullied myself when I needed a break (or a nap or a meal) in order to complete a task in a given timeframe, only to lose all self-control once the task was reached. I can't tell you how many times I've repeated this pattern: when I finished my master's thesis, I totally flaked on doing some final housekeeping and my grade suffered because of it; when I ran my first marathon, I stopped all exercise completely for about 5 years and managed to gain more than 50 pounds; when I starved myself for a month to lose 20 pounds I promptly gained back 30 in a matter of weeks.
The theme seems pretty obvious to me now. I set very high (sometimes unhealthy) goals, torture myself into reaching them, then regress. I have been working on setting more realistic goals and it is a real challenge for me because goal-setting is how I've always accomplished things. I need that rigor.
That's one reason I've been hesitant to mention something I've been working toward for a while. I signed up for a couple of long runs: one here in Oakland and one in Washington, DC, where I have several close friends. I love having the goal to work toward but this time I've decided to train over a matter of months, not weeks, and I haven't talked about it here because I wanted to make sure I was being realistic.
Here's the point of this post: I had an amazing breakthrough on Sunday -- one that makes me certain my goals are realistic, attainable and not total ass-kickers that I will need 6 years at Taco Bell to recover from. Friends, I ran 12 miles Sunday. By myself. No coach. No mean thoughts going through my head. No organized running group that pressures you to raise a bunch of money. Just me and the sunshine and the sidewalks and the miracle that is the Nike+ sensor that talks to my iPod and tracks everything. See?
And my time was pretty decent! I finished in about 2 hours, which means I was running a little over 10 minutes per mile. Thanks, Nike+!
And in the spirit of Bitch Cakes, the blogger who inspired me to begin blogging, I took a photo of myself before and after the run.
... And after.
The coolest thing is, I don't look like I was about to die in photo 2... and I didn't feel like I was, either.
To celebrate, I bought a new running top on sale at Gap Body for $10 and I wore it today to run 5 miles. Ain't it cute?