At a job interview the other week I was asked whether I was a runner. I wasn't sure how to answer. I took up running when Teddy was an infant, since it was a way to exercise which could be done at the drop of a hat (baby's asleep? I'm going for a run!). Still, after eighteen years I think of myself as someone who runs rather than as a runner. In fact, when I gave up running entirely for a while while recovering from a herniated disk what I missed was not the running but the opportunity to start my day outdoors.
I've never been a distance runner. My normal morning run is about 5KM in length and I've never gone much further than this distance. As I reach the end of my runs I often think about whether I could push further, but I'm usually time-constrained and so have never explored greater distances. Today, despite (because of?) being a little fuzzy from having slept poorly, I decided it was time. I ran my 5K route, then turned around and immediately started running it again. I had no idea how far I'd get before quitting.
About a half mile into my second loop I started feeling like I was in an old Star Trek episode with my body playing the part of the Enterprise.
Scotty: "Ay, Cap'n, the left iliotibial band is getting tight. She'll blow if we push her much further. And I don't like the feel of those quads, either."
Kirk: "Well, Scotty, what do you recommend?"
Scotty: "Cap'n, we have to drop out of warp and stretch for a litt'l bit."
McCoy: "Damn it, Jim. I'm a doctor, not an orthopedic surgeon!"
Spock: "That statement is not logical, doctor."
Kirk: "Very well, Mr. Scott. Go to impulse power and so some stretches."
On my second loop I wound up stopping to stretch three times - such is the sad orthopedic state of my body. However, I did complete a whole second loop for a full 10K distance - the furthest I have ever run. Along the way I kept myself going via all my usual deals with myself: Just make it to the Bluemont tennis courts, then you can stop if you need to. Just make it to the Custis Trail cutoff. To the waterfall. To the next mile marker.
I didn't set any speed records and wouldn't have done so even without the stretch breaks. In fact, by the end I was barely jogging, but I made it!
Where's the ibuprofen?