Everywhere At Once

So then this happened...today I ran a 7 minute mile. 


I know. You might be wondering how that came about. Was I being chased by a bear? Was I fleeing zombies? Was I running to catch a bus? 

No. None of the above. What I was doing is what I've been doing for these last several months. I was training for an upcoming half marathon (and for the New York City marathon this November). And I have never run a seven minute mile at any point in my life, let alone these last two years I have been running. Until today. 

What made today any different from any other day? 

Nothing really. I didn't run at a special time or wear special clothing. I didn't alter my morning routine of two cups of coffee and a banana for breakfast. I didn't even use my ipod which plays the Plimsouls and The Cult. In fact, today was a scheduled "48 minute lactate threshold" run-which is just my coach's way of saying "for about 18 minutes you are going to run as crazy fast as you can for 5 minutes until you cry, then you will jog for a minute, then you will do it two more times. It's fun, really!" A training run I don't particularly like to do, in fact. I think the only different "thing" about today was that I knew I needed to clock a 5k to support my friend Megan P.'s Fox Trot for Parkinson's Virtual Run. I also thought that my coach, Scott Fishman (of Team All American) would be a bit peeved that I ran a wee bit faster than the 7:30 pace he set for me. He wasn't. In fact, he thinks I can run a 6:30 mile. 


And I actually eeked out close to a 10k today, running a total of 6.08 miles. That's pretty cool too. 

Well, maybe it is because that as a member of Team Fox, with a goal to complete the New York City marathon in 3:30:00 (I believe this is more than possible, even with a mid-summer trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro on the schedule-you can read about that over at I AM LIVING BIG) and it also happens to be Parkinson's Awareness Month, I just was more in tune to how important my miles are in a grander scheme of things. I've been thinking a lot about Michael J. Fox and his statement statement "our challenges don't define us, our actions do." And while I have friends who like to call me a rock star, I am not a rock star by any means-I am just fortunate to have the time (and support) to train to achieve some pretty specific goals. If I were a musician or a painter, I'd be putting in the time to hone my skill at my craft in the same way. 

The number of miles in the marathon never will change, but how you run the course will always be a variable in which some conditions are out of your control. 

At the Anthem 5k, first race of the "Triple Crown"
Since January I have been working with a trainer to not just improve my running times, but to make sure I don't over-run and injure myself. My initial goal was to be able to run an upcoming local half marathon (the Derby "mini"-marathon) in 1:45:00. This means running each mile under 8 minutes. Now I ran my first marathon of the season in February and although there were only 32 of us running (it was a snowy day after all and temps in the twenties), I was the first woman across the finish line (and the 8th runner altogether) with a time of 1:54:19. My fastest mile for that race was an 8:06. With each race though I quickened my pace. 

  • Running a 5k in 23:44.5 at an average pace of 7:31/m and coming in 4th in my division (486 in the division);
  • Running a 10k in 48:13 at an average pace of 7:40/m but with my fastest mile at a 7:15;
  • Running a 10 miler in 1:20.39 at an average pace of 7:58/m and a terrible cough-as well as this race was the weekend after my mother had passed away;
  • Running a training run of 48 minutes where I logged my fastest 5k ever at 22:25.3 and yes, my fastest mile ever at 7:01.7
with WHAS 11 Anchor Ben Pine before the Rodes 10k,
after an on-air interview talking about Team Fox
And the Triple Crown total results came in placing me in the TOP 2% of all runners in all three races. 4th in my division overall and there were 334 in the division (305/3935 runners total, 46/2312 women runners).

Since January of this year I have also travelled to Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Arizona, Washington DC, and Arizona (again). I have run in snow, in rain, during a sunrise along the bank of the Potomac, and during a sunset in the Tucson desert. I have run races, laps, sprints, and strides. I have run for twenty minutes. I have run for two hours.  I have run in the bitterest of cold temperatures where my eyelashes have frozen and run in the hottest of days where I have stripped down to the bare minimum I could get away with without receiving a citation. i have run with a raging migraine. I have run with a horrible head cold and cough. I have run during the darkest of my grief. I have run with a ridiculous "can't wipe the grin off my face" look. I have run alone. I have run with friends. I have run with celebrities. I have #run3rd for a long list of friends I have and for people I have never met. I have run using Charity Miles for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Shot@Life, and in March I ran 138.40 miles. 
With #run3rd team members at the Louisville Chocolate 5K,
including Sean Astin, Linda Iroff, and Matt Killinder

I have run a total of 407.64 miles this year. 

And the only thing I have learned in all of this is this: the challenge of my every day is no different than anyone else that I know.

We all have hardships. Struggle. Sorrow. Fear. We all question, sometimes constantly, "Am I living my best life? Am I being kind and caring to others, even when I don't feel cared for by others? Am I making the most of my "dash" of the space between the hour when I first awake and the moment I fall asleep? Am I saying "thank you" and "please" and "I love you" in all appropriate and needed situations? Am I looking to the future with hope and optimism or am I holding onto the past with sorrow and regret?" 

Finally, "Am I making sure that the challenge doesn't define me, but that my actions do." 

Because whether you are running a seven minute mile or spending seven minutes advocating for a cause or seven minutes hugging and laughing with your child, you decide what those minutes and moments are. You control them. You craft them. If you want to write a book, start by writing a sentence. If you want to be a painter, start with drawing. If you want to run a seven minute mile, get off your couch and start walking. 

And do it every single day. Your miles in your marathon never vary, but the circumstances around your marathon do. But that's why you train, why you endure, and why you don't give up. 

And that's the challenge. 

Now what's your action? 

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