June 2014

Run, Fat Boy, Run

21 June 2014
15:48 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

I'm not a very athletic person. I never have been. In fact, I was the kid in gym class who got assigned to a team because I was the last one in the line-up. It's true. The big, fat, uncoordinated slob and the boy with Coke-bottle glasses got chosen before me. It's ok. I'm not scarred or anything like that.

With this penchant for non-athleticism, I've always lived by the credo that one should run only if being chased by thugs or wild dogs. Other than that, I could see no justification for exerting oneself to that degree. Until recently.

About 3 years ago we watched Run, Fat Boy, Run. After the credits rolled off the screen, my wife turned to me and said, "we should do that." "OK," said I. As I typically do in situations like these, I turned to Google. There I found a 10 week program that promised to turn a couch potato like me into a Kenenisa Bekele. I downloaded it and started running the next day.

I thought I was going to die. My heart was pounding, and I was truly afraid it was going to give out and just stop beating. My feet ached from my toenails to my ankles. I looked down at my lower legs expecting to see my shins ablaze given the burning I was feeling. But, I'd done it. I had run. Granted it was only a minute, and I was now on to walking a minute. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to run the next 9 sets of 1-minute runs, but I did. I was sore; I was in pain; I ached all over. In the end, I had run 1 minute 10 times, I was euphoric. I'd never before been this physically active. It was awesome.

After that run and a shower (to remove the prodigious amount of sweat), I returned to Google to see how to relieve the pain in my feet and shins. General consensus was a good pair of running shoes. So to the store I went. What a world of difference a pair of shoes makes!

I continued with the program off and on for the next several years, but never made it past week 5. We agreed we'd never actually get to a 5K if we didn't suck it up and just enter one. About a month ago that's what we did. I, of course, hadn't run in a while, but my wife said just to pick up where I'd left off. That's just nonsense. I had a program. But time was growing short, so I took her advice. Suffice it to say that her plan was better than mine.

This morning, we ran our first race, the Cooking Light and Health Fit Foodie 5K in Fairfax, Virginia. After a lifetime of refusing to engage in any sort of sports, my only goals for today were 1) to cross the finish line and 2) to cross the finish line within 45 minutes. I'm pleased to say that met both goals. I actually surpassed my second goal. I officially clocked 34:35. I guess technically that's a personal record.

I'm truly amazed with myself that I did as well as I did. I ranked pretty low in the scores, but who cares? I was competing only against myself. I'm in awe of my wife as well, who not only crossed the finish line but also was pushing a double-wide stroller with 2 kids aboard. Major kudos to her!

We've already started talking about the next race. I'll be running in the Electric Run 5K in Baltimore in July (a day after a 30-hour flight home) with a co-worker, and I'm looking at one of those obstacle courses through the mud. Is a marathon in the future? Perhaps a triathlon? Maybe an Ironman? Who knows…keep reading, and we'll find out together.