Instead of doing a 25K ski tour, I ran 10 miles this morning. I feel like repeating that. I ran 10 miles this morning. Yep. Just went out of the house, ran to Mackworth Island and around it, ran back, ran up to Back Cove and around it, ran home. I didn't stop running, even though I wanted to on the way back from Mackworth Island (about mile 4) and again on the far side of the cove (about mile 7). I've never run that far before, and I'm pretty proud of myself. It was very do-able. I'm definitely tired and I can feel my legs, but there was no specific pain or sensitivity. I think weightlifting has helped me a ton. I felt strong the whole time. I have been running 3.5 miles once a week, and last weekend ran 5 miles, but I haven't been running distances or with any kind of training focus. Last time I was doing training runs I ran 4 times a week and built up to my longest run of 9 miles before shin splints stopped me. All that running was never as pain free as today -- there were always little quirky pains in a hip or a knee that I had to watch. I'm not running frequently anymore but I'm doing squats and lunges and deadlifts, and I'm sure it's helped me. These legs are strong enough to do 10 miles.
My friend B joined me. She's a relatively new friend, on the Board of Directors. She's also never run 10 miles before, but was excited about the challenge. We talked about various athletic goals we want to set for ourselves and outdoorsy things we want to learn to do. She's looking for someone to learn whitewater kayaking with her. I suggested we start going to the rock gym together. We talked about triathalons, which I'd like to start considering after I run a half-marathon this summer. Until I know I can run a half-marathon I have kind of a mental block about setting other goals. "Let's run a half marathon next time!" she said. "Let's just go 13 miles. If we can do 10, we can do that." Hmm. It hadn't occurred to me to run it outside of a formal event. But of course we can.
Somewhere in that conversation I said something about coming late to athletics, and still feeling unsure about what my body can do, or how to muster the discipline and the courage to learn new things. I feel like other people are more outdoorsy and tougher and more athletic than me, and I'm more the bookish type. She said, "Oh my god. You're so much more outdoorsy and athletic than bookish! You completely come across that way." The vehemence with which she said it surprised me. It's so foreign to my self-image. "I'm pretty bookish, you know," was all I could think of to say.
It made me think about a conversation I had not long ago with a gentleman I was on a date with. He asked me whether there was a 'type' of guy I tend to date. I must have given him a puzzled look, because he said, "You know, do you only date tall guys? You're pretty tall, so you probably do, or is there some other feature you go for?" I was distracted by the idea that I'm tall. I'm not tall. I'm medium sized. 5'7". Is that tall? I don't think so. Anyway, I confessed to this guy, who was plenty tall and had a full head of hair, that I don't care too much about height but have a thing for bald men. But they're not the only ones I date. I turned the question on him. Any commonalities in the women he dates? He said, "Not really. Well, I guess they're all athletic." I rolled my eyes and grinned sheepishly and looked down at my plate. I'm the obvious exception to that. This guy was a serious athlete -- sponsored by athletic gear companies serious, earning money in events serious. But he said, "Come on, you're athletic. That hike we did? A lot of women couldn't have done that. You're strong. And you're really comfortable outside." I could see that he meant it. Me? It seemed so strange.
Athletic. It's not an adjective I'd use about myself. I'm bookish. Just like I'll always have some trepidation about going for a "hike" and I'll never use that word to describe the walking I do. I'll walk all day, up or down or through anything. "Hiking" is something that other people do. People who own lots of gear. People who are athletic.