I think I may need to change the title of these posts. I feel like when you’ve been doing something for ten weeks, it’s not really “dabbling” anymore. They say it takes 21 days or three weeks to form a habit. And those first few weeks are often the hardest ones to maintain. One third of people who made a New Year’s Resolution will break it this week in January–which is that three week habit forming mark.
I would say, here at Week 10, I’ve formed a pretty solid habit of running. Each week when I sit down and reflect over that week’s adventures in running, I’m constantly amazed at how my attitude has changed over the course of my training. Each week I write these posts with more and more pride as I run a father distance at a faster time as I get stronger physically and mentally with each step.
This past week was a huge throwback for me. I spent the weekend in Chicago for my grandma’s 80th birthday. Anticipating this trip, I was kinda freaking out because visiting the Chicago area in mid-January is not exactly the most runner-friendly atmosphere. There’s a reason they call it Chiberia. Checking the weather the week before, temperatures were hovering around 0 degrees with an additional -20 degrees windchill. Knowing that I needed to fit in two runs (one of them being 7 miles long) did not exactly life my spirits. Nevertheless, I packed my bags with all sorts of layering necessary for running through the tundra and prayed for the motivation to actually use my running shoes once I was there.
I flew into Chicago on a Friday and had some time to squeeze a quick visit to the University of Notre Dame campus, where I went to school. After traveling for 9+ hours, I got off the airport bus and was so ready to go on a run. I changed in the campus bookstore bathroom, stashed my stuff in the children’s section (Notre Dame is notoriously safe place to leave your stuff out) and headed out. I intended to do a quick lap around campus which is about 3 miles or so and count that as my short run before picking up my stuff and meeting up with old friends.
Being on campus, not as a student, was a weird experience. I’m actually struggling to write about my experience right now because it was so surreal being there in the winter and not going to class. Also, Notre Dame campus is the most gorgeous campus in the entire world and just thinking about it makes me feel super nostalgic.
My time on campus was also unusual because my run was quite different from any run I have ever done to date. First, because it was in the middle of winter and there was snow on the ground, which I don’t think I have ever done before. And second, because I am in the best running shape of my life. Friday was the most perfect winter day and I couldn’t have been happier. The sun was out, there was blue skies, it was brisk (about 30 degrees) but the wind was minimal and I was wearing the perfect amount of layers. (Over these past ten weeks, I’ve realized that I would much rather run when its cold out than when its hot. I pity the Houston Marathon runners who ran in nearly 70 degree weather in direct sun this past weekend and am nervous for what Houston has in store for come come late February.)
It was so weird running around campus by the lakes, past the stadium and alongside the dorms–paths I have run countless times over my four years at the university. I had flashbacks to times where despite being in peak physical condition from water polo, I would have to psyche myself up like crazy to convince myself that huffing and puffing around campus is a good for me. As I ran, I recalled how I used to have to alternate between running and walk/jogging to make it through the two miles path around the lakes. It was a crazy realization to notice how far I’ve come in just a few short months.
I quickly realized a short run just wasn’t enough. I was on a roll and obsessed with the campus and the perfect day and could have probably ran for ever. My 3 mile run quickly turned into 7 miles. And I happily finished with my fastest average pace to date for a distance run. It was beautiful and I probably could have kept on going. I think since I’m at that point where I happily tack on an extra four miles, I can safely say that I’m no longer “dabbling” in running. I’m just running. #GoIrish