I never thought I liked exercising with other people. I prefer to go at my own pace and not worry that I am being compared to someone else, or that I have to keep up or slow down to match their stride. While I still think this is true, I noticed that some days when I’m on the treadmill and I am running at a steady pace with, let’s say, 5 minutes to go, and I happen to look at the stats of other runners for the Day/Week/Month and notice that I am just about .4 kilometers away from beating Johanna, whoever that is.
So of course, I can’t let such a short distance keep me away from my “I though I wasn’t competitive” nature and so I up the km/h and extend my time a few more minutes…just to be sure I don’t tie, but actually surpass her mileage. And god forbid someone else comes in a close second right after her.
So this is the attitude I went to the gym with yesterday. It was a perfectly ordinary Wednesday. I planned to get in a 30 minute run before my German class, and even headed out of work a little bit later than I thought, still confident I’d get my time in. However, just before the day ended I spoke to my friend, Kora, who said she would also be going to the gym after work. We had a brief discussion about running which ended in a “pact” to run a certain distance. She originally suggest 8 km (approx 5 miles,) which I thought there was no way I could make in such a short period of time, so she lowered the stakes to 6 km which I realized was an uneven number of miles. She then pointed out that I have lived in Germany nearly a year and should really stop calculating distance in miles and “get with the program”. I laughed and agreed while silently thinking to myself, “Never!” So we settled on 6.5 km, (4 miles). A good run by both German and American standards.
So I get to the gym pumped up to get on the treadmill and get out all of my life’s aggression on my feet, (the blisters are still fresh,) and stand awkwardly on the side waiting for one of the 12 running bodies in front of me to pass out and fall off the machine so I can get on. Kidding – I just wanted them to finish their equally successful run and let me get my run on. Eventually one freed up and I climbed up to the challenge, determined to make it to my 6.5 kilometers, but also secretly cursing that I had agree to such a stupid thing and I like to run at my own pace and don’t want to be accountable to anyone else and what if I don’t feel like staying on that long, blah blah blah.
Because I knew that my mileage counted and my time was short, I upped the pace from my normal 10 km/h (think 10 minute mile) to 10.5. I only felt slight chest pains and like the possibility of death by heart attack wasn’t so far away, but of course I kept running. I decided, in my head, that I would give myself a quick break at 20 minutes, just to catch my breath, do a quick stretch, and get back on with more power, but realized that maybe taking a “break” halfway through might throw off my game. So
we I agreed to stick it out til 30 minutes. Then I would have only 10 minutes left to finish and it would be easier to continue. 30 turned to 32, then 35, and then finally I realized there was no point in stopping until I finished.
But when I hit the 40 minute mark (usually my 4 mile marker for a 10 minute mile) and looked down and did a quick conversion from km to miles I realized I was just .3 miles away from 4.5 miles…and that was a milestone worth hitting on a Wednesday, wasn’t it? So I pushed through til 43 minutes and made it to 7.25 km (4.5 miles)! And wait, did I just said 43 minutes? As in, under a ten minute mile? Another first achieved! And to think I wanted to cop out of my end of the bargain for no reason at all, (see post re. Schweinehund) I am so grateful I didn’t and continued my super positive, lots of mileage track record for the week. And I guess I learned that a little competition never hurt anyone.