Susan Lacke recently signed up for a mile race — even though she’s nervous about stepping out of her comfort zone.

The marathon is like a fine cognac—it’s not something you imbibe in every day. On the special occasions when you do open the bottle, you savor every second. You swish it around in your glass, smell it and relish in the complexity of each sip.

Racing the mile, on the other hand, is a shaken bottle of champagne: wild, effervescent, and will explode all over your good shoes. It goes down quickly, leaving you tipsy and giggly. Sometimes, it makes you puke in the neighbor’s bushes.

I’m a cognac gal, myself. When it comes to training, I’d rather savor my time on the trails. Nothing makes me happier than taking in the sights, sounds and smells of my surroundings during a long run.

So why, pray tell, did I sign up for a champagne race this week?

“It’ll be good for you in a masochistic kind of way,” said Coach Dude. “The mile is a different kind of hurt. Get out of your comfort zone!”

“But I like my comfort zone!” I whined. Still, I knew he was right. As a long-distance runner, I spend my weeks in predictable routines: easy day, tempo day, hill day, and long run day. Lather, rinse, repeat. I’ve been in my comfort zone so long, I’ve trod ruts in the dirt like a trained circus pony. I have a go-to challenging route to take when I want to feel like a badass, and a mostly-downhill route to take if I need to cheat some speed.

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But the mile doesn’t care about my comfort zone. There is no cheating on the flat track, and I’ve been told that the rubber oval doesn’t give a crap about my feelings. If I want to feel like a badass, I’ve got four laps to earn that title. That kind of bare honesty is terrifying to this distance runner … and, to be honest, a little bit exciting.

“I think you’re confusing ‘excited’ with ‘naïve,’” said my friend Heidi, “Naïve is the fun way to go in. Go with that one. You should skip to the start line, too.”

“I will—while whistling,” I huffed, “The mile can’t be that bad, right?”


“I did one last year,” Jennifer chimed in. “It was fustercluck city.”

Allison’s response echoed my new sentiments exactly: “That sounds … um … different from what sounds like fun?”

They may be right. Like Coach Dude says, the mile is going to be a different kind of hurt. But he’s right about one other thing, too — it’s good to put down my familiar snifter of cognac, run in a champagne race and let it explode all over my good shoes. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find myself tipsy and giggly at the finish. Or maybe I’ll puke in the neighbor’s bushes. The only way I’ll find out is by stepping out of my comfort zone and toeing the start line.

I think I’ll skip there. While whistling.

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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