[If you haven’t read Part 1, go back and do it. This will make more sense. We’ll wait.]
I started to get faster and go further. About the time winter was arriving, I did 5 miles in 66 minutes, then at Christmas I did 7 in 82. One day I decided to go as long as I could, which turned out to be an hour and 45 minutes. I don’t remember how far I went. When I got home, my wife was frantic. I’d been gone so long, she thought the people at Bally Total Fitness must have sent me off in an ambulance.
One day when I was feeling really strong I decided to try to run a 5 minute mile, just to see if it was physically possible. The machine shook and wobbled – apparently I was pushing the limits of more than just me. I labored, but I did it. So now I knew it was theoretically possible to run 12 miles in an hour.
Around Christmas two terrific things happened. One day I was gliding along with my eyes shut, as I often did, when a pat on the back made me jump. It was our local Bally amazon. “Working hard!” was all she said. A couple weeks later I was limping toward the door after a workout (“Just limp,” my wife had advised. “You don’t look drunk that way.”), when a guy my age met my eyes. “Man, you work out hard,” he said. “Yes, I do,” I replied.
You can go a long way on encouragement like that.
What about my goal of 12 miles in 60 minutes? Um, not so much. Yes, it was theoretically possible, and I’d made great progress on both pace and distance, but that goal was shooting at the moon. Around mid-January, I gave up on it. There were still too many days when my legs just wouldn’t move anymore and I’d have to quit after a mile or so and go trudging home in despair.
Plus, as a healing modality, this hadn’t been my best idea. My feet and legs were getting worse, not better, although it was hard to tell if that was because of my new exercise regime or not – they’ve been getting worse for awhile. But despite that, I was feeling better – inside at least. My heart and lungs had to be loving it – especially my heart, in more ways than one. So I kept on.
And then one day, maybe a month or two after I gave up on my goal, I got a new idea – another totally crazy, wild hare idea: “I wonder if I could run a marathon on this thing?”