Recently I was asked about my blog's title: "What's the deal with your blog title? How'd you come up with that?"
Well, here is the story about 5 Miles Past Empty.
Long, long ago my blog was actually titled 5 Miles 2 Empty. As my training became more consistent and my mileage increased I felt 5 Miles 2 Empty was a little bit negative, restrictive if you will. It sent the message that 5 miles and I was done. Empty.
This was not the case, no sir-eee my amigos.
You see, I hate buying gas. Always have, always will. When my gas light would come on while driving my beloved Jeep I would look at the warning: 23 miles to empty. I would push the limit, I can make it. I would watch the warning, the mileage decrease, 20 miles to empty, 15 miles to empty, 10 miles to empty, 5 miles to empty.....0 miles to empty. Yes, I would push on, rolling into a gas station miles after the warning would read 0 Miles to Empty.
One day as I was driving across the Narrows Bridge, my gas light was on and the warning read 0 Miles to Empty, it donned on me, this parallels my running. Let me take you back to August 2, 2008, my first half marathon. I started this half marathon with confidence. My longest run had been 10 miles. I was ready for what was ahead of me, or so I thought. At mile 7 I began to doubt myself. My calves were tightening up, my shoulders screaming. It was hot and I was tired. I couldn't will my legs to move, it was like I was running through mud with cinder block shoes. At mile 8 I was thirsty, cursing myself for ever getting into this stupid sport. I was running on empty. By mile 9 my tongue was dragging, hanging out so far I was tasting the pavement. I couldn't possibly go another step, another mile, much less 4 more miles. By mile 10 I hit the proverbial wall head on....that's it. I had never gone further than 10. How the heck would I make it to 11? If it weren't for AN the RB I never would have made it. This was her second half marathon and she was by my side, pulling me along. Somehow I managed to make it to mile 11. I felt like I was well past empty, beyond empty. I needed a tow truck, or a medic. I had no energy, I had goose bumps even though I was hot. I was dying of thirst. I couldn't feel my toes, or my nose. Why was I doing this to myself? What is the payoff? Death? Will this be the end of me? Will my tombstone read: Here lies Amanda. She tried to go 5 Miles Past Empty. No, not this time. Before I knew it I was at mile 12. Wow, a distance PR! By the time my brain was able to do the math to calculate that I only had 1.1 miles left I actually only had .6 of a mile left. Me, running, and math-it's a train wreck (your brain need carbs to think, so when you are carb/energy depleted it is hard to think, hence difficulty calculating mileage and paces). I was moving slow, but I was moving. I saw the 13 mile marker and said a prayer of thanks...but that last .1 of a mile was seriously at least a half a mile long. I had no kick at the end. I stumbled across the finish line.
When I crossed the finish line they handed me my Finishers Glass. Smart. I was shaking so bad I almost dropped the stupid glass (that is now a prized possession). I had goose bumps but I was hot. I finished. I said, "Never again. Never doing that again...." That was my first of 14 half marathons and counting.
Back to my Jeep. I coasted into the gas station, miles after my warning flashed 0 Miles to Empty. I realized that often in my running, like in that half marathon, I feel like I'm empty, done, down and out but the truth is I have a reserve. I have something in the tank, enough to get me to the finish line. I felt like I was empty at mile 8 and managed to make it 5 more miles to finish 13.1 miles. Could I have gone 6 miles? 7? I don't know. Maybe. But probably not. The point is when you feel like you've given it your all there is usually still a little bit more to give. Our minds play terrible tricks on us, telling us we can't, we are tired, we need to stop, to give up. But deep inside there is a reserve, a little bit left that says "No! You can do this!" In that compartment is where we store our thoughts about our training, our experiences, our why. When we learn to tap into that compartment we then realize that we can push through, push farther than we have before. We can and we will....go 5 Miles Past Empty....or more.
So there you have it. That is what 5 Miles Past Empty means to me. It symbolizes my ability to go further, faster, harder than I thought possible. When I feel like I'm on empty, I just remind myself I can go a little bit further. Have you ever gone 5 Miles Past Empty?
Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas Eve!!!