“There is no use trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
I have this Lewis Carroll passage from Alice in Wonderland – about believing in impossible things – on my refrigerator door. It’s right next to a magnet with Gloria Steinem’s picture and her quote, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
I’ve been up since four. I’ve watched an Amy Winehouse documentary and am now on my second episode of Empire, and third cup of coffee. It’s not even 7:30 yet.
It’s light out, but the sun isn’t up. Looking out my dining room window, I can see a stretch of pink across the sky over the back of my neighborhood. Nobody is awake here but me. It’s Sunday, so I figure I have a solid hour alone still.
Yesterday, I was up early to run a 10K in Georgetown, Kentucky. A small collection of runners gathered across the street from the Toyota plant at 9:00 a.m. When I signed in, I asked the woman behind registration table handing out t-shirts if it was a hilly course. She looked at the guy beside her and then they both shook their head no.
“Just a few small hills,” said the guy. He pointed to sheet of paper in front of me that showed the elevation points along the run. Like most maps, I misread it. The bumps meant to represent hills didn’t look that bad on paper. They were much worse on foot.
The first text I sent after the run was my race-time. I followed it with a second text, to the same person, saying that I never would have registered for the race had I known how many hills I would be running.
But there I was on the other side of the finish line, with all those hills behind me.
The race clock had my time at 01:03:47, a record for me – so much so, I’m convinced it’s incorrect. I know my limits, and when it comes to running, a 10-minute-16-second pace for six miles straight, up a shitload of hills, feels off by about 74-seconds.
Or maybe, I don’t know myself as well as I think I do. Or, maybe I’m just a different person than I was before the race.
Yesterday morning, before the 10k, I definitely wasn’t someone who would have knowingly registered for a run with so many hills. But, I ended up being someone who ran all 6.2 miles of the course.
It’s not like I accomplished anything extraordinary. If you took all the non-professional runners in the world, and all their average paces – I would imagine six miles in just over an hour is, at most, a mediocre pace.
After the race, after texting my friend, I drove to the nearest Starbucks drive-thru and ordered a salted caramel latte. With my sweet drink in hand, I drove the hour and a half home, questioning my pace the entire ride.
I called my husband from my car and told him my time.
“It can’t be right though, there’s no way I was running ten-minute miles,” I said. I smelled sweaty, and my hair was matted down as if I was still wearing the headband I use to keep my bangs out of my eyes when I run.
For some reason, I can’t stop betting against myself – even with Lewis Carroll whispering in my ear to believe in the impossible.
I’m still waiting for the race results to post which will include my time according to the chip-card I strung onto my shoelaces, along with my car key, to track the exact times I crossed the start and finish lines.
Maybe I shouldn’t care – or, better, stop checking the race’s website to see if the runners’ times have been posted yet. Let my real race-time remain unknown, kept in Schrodinger’s box along with his cat.
Because then, I could be whoever I wanted to be. Including someone who runs up hills at a 10:16-mile pace.