Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cool Running

I like running.  No, really, I do.

Up until February of this year, I think I was like most people who believe that running is an activity best reserved for trying to save ones life from immanent danger.  And only that. 

When my husband suggested that running was a form of exercise that he might like to try and that it would be great if I would join him in this little endeavor, I was less than enthusiastic.  But he got to me in a weak moment.  He was recovering from a true near death experience and I felt I should support whatever it was he wanted to do with whatever time he has left on this planet.
I realized he was going to be fine for another 50 years or so, and that this running thing was a suckfest of epic proportions when it was too late.  I was already on board and that ship had sailed.  After 5 years of watching a yearly event that involved a parade & seeing runners finish an 8k and listening to my husband talk about wanting to do the run 'some day', we were going to start by training for a 5k run.  Don't get me wrong.  I am no couch potato.  I like all kinds of activities.  I love dance in all forms from ballet to ballroom and even belly dance.  I have a job that puts me on my feet most of the time.  But running?  Seriously?

Like most people, over the years I had put on more than a few extra pounds.  And the idea of hauling my overweight butt down the street for no good reason just didn't have any magic appeal to me.  But running seemed to be the only activity that my husband was even remotely interested in doing.  He has a sit down job and doesn't get a whole lot of regular exercise.  I was worried about his overall health, so I gave in.

I should have known better.  When we first got started, it was excruciating just to get down to the park at the edge of our development and back.  This one:

Sweat would pour off my forehead and it was shameful how far down I had come from my college level ballerina days.  It was only after a couple of weeks of doing this short 1/2 mile run, a few times a week, that I was finally ready to up the ante and increase the distance.  This is when my husband chose to admit that his family had a natural aptitude for running and that he & his siblings had done some cross country back in high school.  Yeah, I wanted him near death again.  But only for a little while.  (Then I found out that this 5k was really 3.8 miles, not 3.1.  I could have just screamed.....)  By this time I had fully committed to at least doing the 5k.  I wanted to see if I could really do it. 

I did do it.  Just barely.  In March, I did the actually 3.8 miles in 50.48 minutes.  13.23 minutes per mile.  Not great, but I survived.  I had to walk most of the last mile.  My legs felt like jello and I thought I might collapse right there on the spot.  Still, I was happy that I had followed through.  I had gotten to the point where this was actually getting easier.  So I readied myself for the event in July.  After all, 3.8 miles was pretty close to the 4.97 miles in the 8k, right? 

It turns out that there is really a pretty major difference and a real reason many people enjoy doing 5ks for years and feel no need to do 8ks.  But the 8k was what my husband always wanted to do, so that's what we did.  It was totally worth it.  Along the way, I learned some stuff about me and running that I never would have learned if I never would have pushed myself to this point.  I am a stamina runner.  I am not fast, but I am steady.  A hill in front of me doesn't much slow me down.  I just plug along and do what I need to do.  I can get faster over time and have learned a lot from doing sprints just to test myself and see what I've got in me when I give it my all.  Running is about the only time that I don't multi-task.  I don't even listen to music when I run.  It's pretty meditative for me and that's about as close or as comfortable as I get to meditation.  Running makes me feel free.

Shortly before the 8k race, it became apparent that I was now the motivator for our practice runs.  My husband is still faster than me and he would rather run than do other activities, but I seem to enjoy the process more than he does.  (He ran the 8k in 54:34, running & walking alternately/ I did it in 1:04, non-stop running because I don't have the running/walking thing down yet and I wanted to see if I could do it.)  He feels exhausted when a race is over, I feel exhilarated.  I have learned to love the miles that stretch out before me as a unique gift of that day and no other.

We are now preparing to do a 5k on December 4th.  I am now 25 lbs. lighter, due in part to running and mostly a lot of dumping personal baggage.  I am excited to see how much faster I will be over my time back in March.  I am even more excited about the fact that I am still enjoying running and learning more about myself in the process.

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting that your running is coinciding with your moving and all of your other changes. You are doing this huge overall shed. Shedding a home (moving). Shedding a career (at least your husband is and you are helping in a major way). Shedding pounds with the running. Many people who enjoy running say that it takes them into a special zone that allows them to think, sort, achieve balance, etc. I think that if there were ever a time that you need balance and a time to really get a handle on things, it would be now. So, I am not at all surprised that running is working for you. The fact that you feel exhilerated afterwards indicates that you are pleased with where you are going. That is awesome.


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