In the 1970s public school children were subjected to something called the presidential physical fitness test. It was a test mostly of strength. What I remember of the test were three events “the hang” in which you hung from a chin up bar and were timed (for girls), pull-ups for boys, a timed sit up test and a 50 yard dash. During my final year of elementary school a one mile run was added to the tests. It was in this mile back in sixth grade, in which the turtle was born. I don’t remember the time exactly but know that I completed that mile in around 12 minutes.
We had to do timed miles again in high school P.E., I didn’t get any faster I continued that 12 minute pace. When I started running with my dad to maintain my girlish figure, he never timed me. He was too busy lapping me and it was fine. Years after, following undergrad and grad school I always timed how long I ran but never did any calculations on minutes per mile because I really didn’t care about it. I KNEW I was slow. I just dug the rush and the scenery on the outdoor runs. Then a funny thing happened.
After moving to Atlanta and continuing to run I decided to enter my first race in 1995. I’m pretty sure I’ve spoken of it here before but as a refresher, the race was the Peachtree Road Race a 10K slog from Buckhhead that ends at Piedmont Park. When training for this race, time became important. I did all the recommended training, long runs, hill repeats, intervals on the track. I was properly geared up as well, but my time still averaged to around 12 minutes per mile for that first race. The second one was just under 12 and I’ve run many more races between the 5K and 10K distances since then with a few sub 12 but the majority 12 minute miles or slower, sometimes much slower because by 2004 I was walking.
After a four year hiatus I returned to running in 2008. In the last two years I reached turtle-form clocking in the 12s again. Having come back from a complete stoppage to where I am now gave me the crazy idea that maybe I could get faster. I started increasing my training, changing my diet and beating on myself for every 12+ minute mile clocked of which the majority of them are. Then it hit me. It’s time to OWN THE TURTLE. At the age of 46 the chances of me getting faster are NONE. My time is true to my genetics. I’m not a flyweight and when I was I still wasn’t fast. Fretting over time began to take away from why I really run now and that’s to ease my mind.
Sure fitness is important, especially at my age and with the health challenges that I already have. Yet the biggest thing I get from running is peace of mind. The mind that is fuzzy at the beginning of a run, is at peace by the end and that is more important to me at this point of my life than anything else.
Until next time see you on the trail, be sure to wave when you pass me 🙂