I’ve always liked to push my limits – mentally and physically. It’s almost a tradition for me at this point. Thousands of challenges await us in this world, yet most run from them. I prefer to embrace them.

Two weeks ago, I had never run more than five miles in a single go in my life. I hadn’t even thought about it. Yet on Tuesday, I ran 13. With a 10-pound pack. This isn’t a big deal for runners, sure; I’m not exactly a runner.

The first few miles were a breeze even though my pace was entirely too fast. By mile 5, I felt terrible. And then a mile into my second lap on the Chinquapin Trail everything came together. I’ve heard runners talk about “runner’s high” but I had never experienced it before Tuesday. It was quite a feeling and I didn’t wanna lose it. I blazed from mile 8 to 10.5, feeling wonderful and jamming out to The Rolling Stones after finishing Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods.

But just as quickly as the pieces melded together and propelled me through the woods, they broke apart and spread along the dirt path like fire ants on a mission. The last 2.5 miles of the run was absolute hell. I was probably walking as much as I was running, at least during the last mile.

That’s not the important part, though. I finished the 13 miles in 2:00:00 (my original goal) exactly. That comes out to 9:15/mile and I’ll happily take it. I learned a couple things over these 13 miles. First, I need to learn to hold a steady pace. I’m sure this is a skill that will come in time. Second, I might need to consider wearing my Injini socks with the Five Fingers because I finally developed a blister that bled through the stretchy material of my barefoot shoes and left a rather large red stain.

Off to run another 6.