A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try and shave 2 minutes off my mile run. We never had anything like the Presidential Fitness Challenge at my school growing up, and I feel horribly robbed of an opportunity to commiserate with kids all across the country. All I remember about middle school gym was the archery unit, which strangely, our teachers opted to hold inside the gym rather than on the sprawling outdoor field next to it. Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like a safety hazard? The point is, while I may run a shitty mile, I could maybe take out a dangerous criminal if they were at very close range and happened to be robbing the bow and arrow store where I’d dipped in to use the bathroom. So even though shaving off this time was my idea, I’m finding the process miserable. I don’t practice by myself, so the only time I actually run the mile for time’s sake is at the twice a week sessions I have with a personal trainer. I show up, bloated and a little nauseated from the 20 oz bag of M&M’s I’ve been meticulously disarming at work, and I think back to the last session and how bad I felt while I was running. And all I can think is, well, Hallie, you’ve got to beat that time today, so however bad last session felt? This is going to be WAY worse. My complaints run a cycle you could set your archery schedule to. About a 1/4 of a mile in (on the treadmill of course), I tell my trainer “I’m so hot. Can you please turn on the fan?” A 1/3 of the mile, there’s an edge of desperation in my voice when I tell him, “You have to talk to me. You can’t just stand there.” By 2/3s in, it’s, “I really don’t (gasp) feel well! I’m going to (gasp) puke!” Then I start thinking,, I’m not going to puke. I’m going to shit my pants all over this treadmill, and then slip in my own waste and go hurdling into the dumbbells, which will find some way to knock out my front teeth. See, Hallie? This is why you don’t spend 5 years living in a city without nailing down a fucking dentist! And where are you going to get the milk you’re supposed to use to soak the teeth the dumbbells just knocked out on the way to the dentist you don’t have?! At this point in my hysteria, I’ve only got a 1/10 of a mile left, and my trainer has put the speed so high that my brain shorts out like an old appliance. My legs feel like they don’t belong to me. This is the hard part about having goals. Reaching each week’s milestone doesn’t make me feel strong. It only highlights the gurgling stomach and the burning legs that say, “This wasn’t easy! Remember how ugly it could have turned out?!” And present week’s self looks back at last week’s scoffing, “wow, you thought that was hard? Pathetic.” And then I peer down a tunnel of training sessions, and I want to yell at the external force driving me to do this, “When is it enough?! When will I be fast enough for you to leave me alone and let me enjoy my workout mix without constantly cranking up the speed?” Of course, there is no external force. The external force is me. And the answer is 2 minutes, 2 minutes is enough because that’s what you set out to do. And when you get there, you can jog in peace, and maybe channel some of that residual angst toward that “reviving the old blog” goal you set. But for today, be a writer who can run a 7:30 mile. For today, that is quite enough.