I can’t honestly say that I was “born to run”, certainly not in the sense of the Bruce Springsteen song, however, that song does make my play list. An athlete, I have never been, either. I was the last one picked for the sports teams in gym class. The only time sports shows were on TV when I was growing up, was for holidays at my Grandma’s house. I don’t think watching Minnesota Fats play pool counts as a sport, and I’m embarrassed to say we watched that on Saturday nights. Yes, it was a sheltered life, I know. I’m lucky to know the difference between a foot ball and a hockey puck. My husband can vouch for my lack of enthusiasm about sports, probably much to his disappointment. I’ve tried to like it, I really have. I’ve tried sitting to watch football with him. It’s torture to me. I just can’t go there.
There was one sport that I kind of liked in Jr. High and High School gym class. It was track. I could run and back then, I was even fast. That’s about as far as it went though. Once I wasn’t required to take a PE class anymore, no more sports for me.
So now we skip ahead, way ahead! It’s been many years since those track days. About as year and a half ago, my husband and I became more health conscious and started our own exercise programs. We had a tread mill, so that fit into the routine, but only for a mile or so for me. Little did I know, my husband was gradually building his distance though and had gotten it in his mind that he wanted to run a race. I was surprised when he signed up to do Pat’s Run last year. It’s a 4.2 mile race and he had never even run anywhere but on the treadmill. A few days before the run, he ran outside for his first time and he loved it. When he came home from his first race, he was so excited and that’s all he could talk about. He was hooked on running. I knew that if there was a sport that I could enjoy with him, this would be it. I also knew, if I didn’t jump in right away, I would never be able to catch up to his fitness level and run with him. So without a whole lot of thought, that next week, I started running with him.
Wow, was it ever hard in the beginning! I’m not a spring chick anymore, but not quite ready to live in a retirement community either. I remember those first few weeks of running more as a nightmare. All the heavy breathing I was doing wasn’t bringing any sort of pleasure. I so wanted to keep up with my husband and was determined to do it, but I hated the process. It was all I could do to take another step sometimes. I’ve found that when my body is working extra hard like that, I am more likely to feel rage rather then the euphoria that runners normally feel.
Why did I not quit and give up though? It’s something I really wanted to be able to do with my husband. If it was going to take this much of his time and he enjoyed it so much, I needed to do this. I liked the results from it, too. Weight was melting off my body. I had worked so hard to lose weight and this made it so much easier. I was even craving healthier foods to give my muscles the fuel they needed. I also found something in myself that caught me by surprise. I couldn’t let him beat me! For some reason, I had to prove to myself that I could do this.
It was a rough start at first. Both of us ended up in physical therapy with injuries. Most of it was from a lack of knowledge and doing more than the rest of our muscles were ready for us to do. We were signed up for our first 5K last July and thanks to the physical therapy, I was able to run.
Our first race was so much fun! It was the Gunbun Fun Run in Napa, CA. Not only was it a beautiful place to do the run, but it was my first experience to run on streets that were lined with people cheering us on. We ran across the finish line together holding hands. It was exhilarating! It didn’t suck to have the wine tasting at the finish line either. I was now hooked!
We’ve done a few races since then. The Run to Remember 9/11 in NYC was such a memorable experience. Running on Governor’s Island just across from the bay from the World Trade Center Memorial Site and the Statue of Liberty, running with family members of 9/11 victims in memory of those who lost their lives that tragic day was an honor. Our next race was the AZ Grape Stomp 5K in Sonoita, just 5 weeks after I had been in ICU and had a major surgery. I should clarify, I mostly walked. Just two weeks later I did run my first 10K. It was slow, but I ran the whole way. Seriously, regarding the hospital event, had I not been physically as fit as I was from running, I really think the outcome of that experience could have been very different. Staying on this side of the grave was a huge benefit. You can read about that in another post I wrote, “I’m Not Average”. My husband and I did our first half marathon in January and are training for our first full marathon this coming May. 26.2 miles!
We’ve had a coach for several months now. He’s a professional and keeps helping us to improve without getting injured, which is a big deal for runners. We’re up to about 40 miles a week with our training. Each week, we have a couple speed workouts, a couple easy runs and a long run each Sunday. We’re up to 16 miles on the long run now and wow, is 16 miles a long way on foot!
I’ve had several people ask, how I do it. I have to say, the answer is the same for everything else that I do in life, one step at a time. When I’m at that point where I think I can’t go on, I just take one more step, and then another and another. I keep going. Quitting is not an option. Besides, I wanna be an athlete.