What Comfort Zone?

The morning I found out I got into the Broad Street Run via lottery, my first thought was, “YES!”  My second thought was, “Oh, shit- I have to run 10 miles eight weeks from now.”  I played soccer in high school and into college; I had run an average of three and a half miles a day in my teens but that was it.  I stopped running regularly when I hit 20.  I found a fast food lifestyle, college happened and I just had too much to do to fit in any type of fitness program.

I watched my brother run a half marathon at Disney World in January of 2012 and I vowed that one day, I, too would run through the Magic Kingdom one day.  I started running in February of 2013 after recovering from foot surgery and I could barely make a half mile at a steady clip on a treadmill.  Then, even a 5K was a seemingly unobtainable pipe dream.  Yesterday, May 3, 2015 I ran 10 miles through the city of Philadelphia.

It was easy to stay in the lifestyle I had, blame genetics, blame a bum foot for the weight gain.  It was comfortable to eat or drink what I wanted and not think about the consequences.  Around the same time I finally decided to motivate myself, a friend of mine was talking about running a marathon as well and further planted the seed of running a distance greater than a mile in my brain.  The same friend would push me, asking me why I wasn’t published and when I mentioned self-publishing, she asked me what I was waiting for.

Once upon a time, I had a ‘oh what the hell?’ attitude about everything.  I lost it somewhere along the way when I became complacent and entrenched in my comfort zone.  I found it again when I self-published my first book and started running again.  I haven’t felt this good since I was 20 and I’m on the far side of 30.  It feels good to say, ‘oh what the hell?’, to make decisions without fear even when those decisions are scary as hell.  Like running 10 miles when the most you’ve ever run in one shot is 3.5 miles.

The view of Center City off in the distance was intimidating, knowing full well that City Hall was the halfway mark.  But the nerves melted away with the first mile.  I found my rhythm, my feet hitting pavement in a way familiar to early mornings on the treadmill or the riverfront boardwalk, evenings on the streets at home.  The cheering, the yelling, the signs from the sidewalks encouraged and the music in my headphones kept me moving.  By the time I could make out William Penn’s statue atop City Hall, my left foot was beginning to hurt, the tendinitis in my ankle reminding me it was there.  Just past mile five, my foot was really beginning to hurt, the outer edge of it feeling like someone was using sandpaper on the skin.  Running helped, walking killed it so I ran as much as I could the rest of five and into six where I started walking next to a woman who had done an ultra marathon the day before.

“Honey, you’re doing just fine!  You’ve got just under four miles to go and you can do it!  I’ve been watching you!”  I started running again, my ankle and foot now screaming in tandem.  I hit my wall at mile eight and my tank was on fumes.  Now the other foot had joined in the chorus and I briefly, briefly debated the merits of just lying down on the sidewalk and saying, ‘screw it’.  Then I saw my brother walking toward me and that wasn’t an option.  I kept going and I finished the biggest physical challenge of my life in two hours and forty-five minutes.  I finished on my feet though I nearly went down at the finish line but I made it across the finish line on my own.

Standing at the start line, unable to see Center City and knowing my family was 10 miles away was a scary feeling.  Uploading a Word document to a self-publishing web site and getting ready to click ‘submit’ was terrifying.  I took a deep breath and I stepped away from the complacence, leaving my comfort zone behind.  I now have the medal and vaguely sore foot to prove it.

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3 thoughts on “What Comfort Zone?

  1. Dava Gamble says:

    Thank you. I am about to embark on a fitness test and rehab program AND self publish the first of what I hope are many books. Your journey is so helpful to me. I am 65 and in a wheelchair. I believe I can do this.

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