Lap 1: I Am Lets-Do-This-Stephanie. I start my run as I always do, feeling no more a runner than I did when I first attempted to become one last May. I start at a pretty good pace. 1:01.3

Lap 2: I am Not-A-Runner-Stephanie. For some reason my calves hurt. They don’t usually hurt anymore. In the beginning, it wasn’t a matter of if I’d get shin splints, but whether I’d get them during my run or after. I feel the start of my heavy breathing and wonder how I’ll make it even a mile in my current condition. I forgot to hit the lap counter button on my stopwatch. 1:17.9

Lap 3: (see Lap 2) 54.4

Lap 4: I am Shakira-Stephanie. Spotify has stepped up. My Hips Don’t Lie plays inside my crappy ear-buds giving me the pep I need to forget about my sore calves. I turn up the volume to drown out my increasingly heavy breathing. 1:07.5

Lap 5: I am Warmed-Up-Stephanie. I’m making alright time. I don’t even realize it’s lap 5. I see, as usual, several ladies on the track who seem to be older than me but with a bit less weighing them down. They are all walking. Do they not believe they have it in them to run, just like I did 8 months ago, and for the 37 years before that? I begin fantasizing about how much of an inspiration I must be for them. 1:06

Laps 6 & 7: I am Writer-Stephanie. I begin composing this very piece of writing. I have the most amazing and profound thoughts that I intend to write. I only hope I will remember them all. I feel like I will, but I know I will not. 1:05.4, 1:06.5

Lap 8: I am Quantifiable-Stephanie. I start doing the math on my laps to predict my mile time. Math makes me forget that I’m running. 1:06.3

Laps 9 and 10: I am Turtle-Stephanie. I am suddenly aware the middle-aged women have been replaced by middle-aged (and younger) men. All who are running. Some who are part cheetah. 1:06.6, 1:05.7

Lap 11: I Am Pushing-The-Envelope-Stephanie. Oh, shit. Sprints. Spotify gives me the Florence and the Machine song I once, spontaneously, decided I would sprint through its chorus. It’s going to really hurt my chances at running 2 miles straight tonight. But unfortunately it’s non-negotiable as it starts before I have an adequate chance to talk myself out of it. 56.7

Lap 12: I Am What-Was-I-Thinking-Stephanie. I’ve completed my mile but that song isn’t over. More sprints. These ‘sprints’ put me still slightly slower than most of my fellow runners on the track tonight.  I cheat and stop sprinting before the 3rd (and final) chorus ends.   57.5

Lap 13. I Am Exhausted-Stephanie. I feel the strong urge to walk after those sprints. Almost a painful yearning. Instead I force myself to recover while running, a new experience. I struggle to maintain my ‘normal’ slower pace. 1:04.4

Lap 14: I Am Quitter-Stephanie. I. Must. Stop. I know I have it in me to run 2 miles uninterrupted, but not tonight. I stop for a drink. I try to be considerate to my fellow runners and walkers as I get off the track, stoop at the fountain, and get back on the track, ever mindful that my stopwatch is still ticking away. 1:51.8

Lap 15: I Am Crochety-Stephanie. Why can’t people follow the rules?! Walkers walk in the left lane. Runners run in the right. Us slow runners/joggers stick to the middle. You don’t group walk across multiple lanes! I pick up speed to go around track-hogging-walkers while another (a real one, though) runner is at my heels. I lose my pace. 58.5

Lap 17 (or is it 16? Or is it both?): I Am Wise-Motherly-Stephanie. I look down at the gym below and smile at the very young children playing basketball. A little boy jumps for a rebound but misjudges its trajectory. I wonder when my son might start playing. I see children running in quick spurts. They do that on the track, too. With their first step they take off as fast as they can. Not understanding pace. Not always staying in their lanes. I ponder wonderful metaphors while I walk. 1:11.2, 1:39.5

Laps ???: I Am Auto-Pilot-Stephanie. I try not to think about running. I try not to think about how many more laps until mile 2 is complete. I fail and look down at my stopwatch and lap counter. I see the big timer is almost at 20 minutes. I can’t see the lap count, in smaller font. I don’t run with my glasses anymore. I walk a bit. I know I’ve gone past 2 miles and that if I stop thinking I might be able to get to 3 tonight.

Lap 7000: I am Historian-Stephanie. I drift into thoughts of the book I’m reading, set during World War II in Paris. I think of those who faced so much struggle, thirst and starvation. I think of my grandfather who landed there the day it ended. My thirst doesn’t feel so strong. Slowly, I keep running. 1:07.9

Lap 7001: I Am Tired-Stephanie. I’m proud I pushed through that last lap. My head feels hot. I wonder about running terminology like ‘hitting the wall’ and ‘runner’s high’. I’ve not felt the latter, but feel the former the instant I start the stopwatch. I walk some but then tell myself, only one more song. 1:31.4

Lap 30: I Am Delirious-Stephanie. I feel drunk. I’m weaving between the lanes. I’m forgetting to look behind me before moving over to get past walkers. I keep trying to read my lap counter but am unable. Maybe it’s not even lap 30. Maybe it’s just 28, but probably 29. 1:03.1

Lap 30: I Am Weary-Stephanie: Okay. It’s gotta be at least lap 30 now. Maybe even 31. 33 would be three miles. I’ll just make it through this last lap. I wish I could see that lap counter. 1:06.7

Lap 30: I Am Spent-Stephanie. I am done and I am walking. I am aware of my breathing again as it slows and quiets. I am again made aware of my painful calves. I am hoping this is lap 33. 1:33.4


One thought on “35:36.4

  1. Girl we need to get together again soon, I can’t believe it’s been over a year since we had dinner over here! And I had no idea you were running all this time. You go girl! Your descriptions cracked me up.

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