Thursday, November 27, 2008


One of the best things I ever learned in school was from my highschool spanish class, of Mr. Millanov. We never got homework on the weekends, on the agreement that every monday we would share with the class how we chose to Stretch Our Comfort Zone.

I never understood the point then, but I now realize how the greatest enemy to human potential is the comfort zone.

So I ran the 5K (3.1 miles) this morning!!!

It was the longest distance I have ever ran without stopping. I ran it in about 31 minutes, a 10 minute pace, a full minute faster than my middle school time...3 times over!

Amanda, Annie and I got in Detroit downtown at about 7:00 am, we had 45 minutes to register and we were just under a mile from the registration table in Cobo Hall. Seems like ample time, but traffic was not moving at all!

Amanda and Annie got out of the car and ran to the registration table, and registered all three of us. 55 minutes later, I still had not completed the mile long stretch in my car. The race was starting in 20 minutes and I still hadn't parked. EEK!

All of a sudden traffic started moving, we parked, and jogged over to the starting line. We got there and the crowd had already taken off. Well we didn't wast any more time and got right into it.

As soon as I crossed the start line, I realized how big this thing was for me. I was so excited I just wanted to go all out, full speed and finish the three miles. My habit of conservation, be it with money..or energy(fossil fuel related and also the one we need for a 5K)...are bad.

For the first time in my life, I decided that I will conserve my energy. My initial goal was to go really fast for 3 miles. Then I got my head back in order and realized I wouldn't ever finish. So then the goal was to Finish...strong.

In order for me to do this, I had to be smart. I remember my track coach's running speeches. "Short ceiling, quick steps, lean forward". 

I made sure to:
  • pretend there was a short ceiling, so as to minimize the up and down motion many runners exhibit
  • lean forward, to enhance the forward motion
  • keep the swing going with my arms (its an upper body workout too)
  • immediately create a rythm between each breath and each step
I made sure that I got into a groove, really fast. I maintained this rythm. The pace...I kept up with Amanda and Annie, avid runners. Pretty soon into it, I started breathing heavy. I was getting tired and the race had just begun!!

I looked around, there were people on the sidewalks, cheering us on. There were bands playing and gigantic speaker systems blaring music. This helped a lot.

Before I knew it, I had passed the 1 mile mark. I saw the turn around point, the halfway mark in the distance. We made it to the turn around mark and I decided that I'd take the next 10 or so steps while walking. I slowed down, took a step or two in a walking pace, and realized that it would be too hard to get back in the groove, so I continued running.

I was really tired now, my mouth was dry and my saliva was really thick. I wanted to walk, but I knew if I did that I wouldn't start running again.

I looked around, I saw an old lady, speed walking. In front of her was a little kid, 5-6 yrs old, running with his dad. In front of me was this couple, and they were holding hands and strolling. There was a group of kids 14-15 yrs old dressed as turkey hunters. In the distance I saw Mario and Luigi, the whole deal, big white hands, the overalls, appropriately colored hats and shirts. I realized that this is a fun event and if I just look around it will go by a lot faster. I looked up and I saw the detroit skyline, with the sun coming out from behind the buildings. I was getting some energy back, and thats when I remembered that this is totally a mental thing.

The runner who does a 8 minute pace, a 9 minute pace and a 10 minute pace are all going to be exhausted when they are done. The difference in them is the mental capacity to push harder.

I saw the start line, thinking it would also be the finish line, so I ran faster. It was not the finish line, I was totally devastated. We got closer to Cobo Hall main entrance, I saw a sign saying "5K runners only" and I was sure that was the finish line so I ran faster, and it was not the finish line. By now I was ready to totally stop. I saw the same 5 year old kid running with his dad...the dad told his son they are a quarter mile away. This was the biggest blow to my energy reserves. Again, I remembered it was in the mind. So I decided to keep running for the last quarter mile, and finished strong.

It was the greatest feeling Ever!
I started walking, and my thighs had never tightened up so bad ever before, I stretched out for a minute and we all got food and bagels to eat. Walked to the car, took some pictures and drove home.

When you Stretch Your Comfort Zone, you develop new skills and broaden your horizon. I am going to start training for my next 5K and hope to finish it in 24 minutes!

I think I can finally call myself a runner now:)

1 comment:

Khalid said...

I absolutely love this blog. You should really keep it up. Maybe you could talk about your comfort zone stretching every Monday.
I hope NYC is fun. See you soon.