The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

May 15, 2010

Six miles

Today I ran six miles for the first time, without walking (except for the first two minutes), and with just a few stops for water. 55:35 minutes total.

I’ve never ran farther than five miles, ever. But I’ve decided to train for the Chicago half-marathon in September, and a friend of mine who’s pretty much a professional runner is coaching me, and she told me to run six this weekend. She said that if you can run six, you can run 13—that she considers six a “long run,” and the ability to do that means you can go even farther.

Apparently I can go even farther.

I won’t lie, I was nervous. In the beginning I worried about my headband sliding back, and should I have worn short sleeves instead of long? Was half a banana with some peanut butter the right pre-run snack? And, most important, was it going to be a Good Run? Anyone who runs, I think, will know what I mean—sometimes you start running and realize it’s going to be a Bad Run. Maybe it’s too windy or the weather isn’t cooperating somehow, or it might just be that your body doesn’t feel right—blocky and heavy and awkward, not smooth and strong and fast. I’ve had runs where I’ve toiled through to 3.5 miles and it’s never gotten any better; it’s been torture the whole time, and I really don’t know why.

(Of course, even on Good Runs, there’s this strange mix of feelings going on… somehow I’m hating running and loving running at the same time. I’m tired, but I’m energized. Some of this is probably the conversation, or the conflict, that’s taking place between my body and my mind. It’s an odd sensation, and I’m not sure it happens anywhere else in my life.)

Thank God, this morning’s run was not a Bad Run. I felt strong and even-paced, the weather was in the mid-50s with only a light breeze, and the sun was behind the clouds. The lakefront path was full of runners, and I enjoyed that sense of community, being one of them. I was faster than some people and slower than others. I felt good. And I reached five miles and still felt good. Toward the end, my knees began to complain a bit, but even then, and even when my Garmin announced six miles and I turned onto my street, I knew that my body has the capability to run longer. I need to train and build up my stamina, but inside me there’s this ability. I have it. I can do it.

I have never been athletic. I was chosen last for teams in gym class, and even as an adult, I don’t want to play in your softball game or line up for beach volleyball. But it turns out that I can run. I’m 34, I’m strong, and I can run.

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