I had a glorious run this morning. Ya I can’t believe those words came out of me either. It wasn’t that the distance was anything special, 2.5 miles, as per week 5 in the novice 5K training plan, which I have reset to after running my first 5K on Sunday. The speed was a training pace, not setting any records. For the first time I felt like a runner, and the first time in 35 years, I felt like an athlete. So why this run was so glorious, let me explain.
It’s been a long road to be able to run a careful 2.5 miles, because you see on Jan 30th 2016 I walked into a Weight Watcher meeting, weighing 341 pounds and could not walk up a single flight of stairs without being winded. I worked the program for 5 weeks losing 20 pounds, without any added exercise. Then came the first day of walking, the goal was to last 20 minutes, two laps around my neighborhood, just about 1 mile. I did it, sweated, I panted my legs where tired. I walked 6-7 days a week for the next 6 months and steadfastly followed the program. The weight came off, every week, by the end of July I had lost over 100 pounds. The walking and healthy eating was doing wonders. My walking was ever increasing, two miles, three miles per day, and even though the pace picked up, what started as a 20-30 minute daily investment as turning into 60, 70 minutes or more per day.
However, as the pounds melted off, the value the walking while still good, was diminished, as the effort for a 220 pound guy walking is way less that it was at 320 pounds. So came the decision, to try running. It was hard, harder than when I started walking, even despite the abysmal shape I was in. My walking for six months had truly set a great base to start running, I didn’t realize it, nor did I feel it at the time.
I had to change my venue, the neighborhood walk is awesome, it has some hills which truly aided my walking, but was an impediment to my starting running. Plus I needed some measureable short distances to work a plan for walk some, run some. I moved to the high school track and found at 5am, there was sufficient security light and I had the track to myself. So it began about 10 weeks ago. Jog 200 meters, walk 200 meters, jog 200 meters, walk 200 meters. I felt like my chest would explode, my legs felt heavy, my goodness what the hell am I doing. But every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday me at the track, increasing the distance each week, jog 400 meters, walk 200 meters, jog 400 meters, walk 200 meters. Then jog 800 meters, walk 200 meters, and so on. To motivate myself on September 18th I decided that I needed to run in a 5K, there was one in my area on November 6th, 7 weeks away, signed up done deal.
Whaaaaat did I do, why did I sign up for that, how in the word am I going to run 3.1 miles in 7 weeks.. Saturday October 1st, I was in Grand Haven Michigan for a family wedding. I woke up early to exercise, to do my walk run, but something inside clicked and I decided it was time to see just how far I could now run. So I walked over to a strip mall parking lot and started running. I made it just over 2 miles before I had to stop and walk that was the first I thought I think I can do this.
Well the how I was going to do this, was really not the complicated, I downloaded an eight week training plan that would take me from where I was to 5K in the seven weeks, now it was on me to execute the plan. I have learned I can execute a plan, I was already doing it, for my eating, the WW plan. So religiously up every morning at 4:45am, down to the track, don’t think just do what the plan says. 1.75 miles, 2 miles, working up to 3 miles the last 3 weeks. I was making progress, but was it enough ?
Suddenly it was November 1st, just a few days until the race, well who am I kidding, it’s not a race for me. A race means trying to win, goodness no, I’m trying to survive, to make it without stopping, to actually finish. Then my mind was flooded with logistical questions, what time do I need to be there, how cold was it going to be, what I should wear??? I emailed a very empathetic race director who patiently answered each of my emails, even after a brief scare that my registration wasn’t on file, but it was.
Race day, nervous, but need to eat – English muffin, some light peanut butter, water. Out the door with my extra warm clothes, but decided to run in shorts and long-sleeved pull over in the 45ish degree sunny weather. I was 90 minutes early, registered, got my race number, 795. Took me 20 minutes with nervous hands to pin it to my top. Trip to the restroom, start warming up, quick walk around part of the course, making sure I wouldn’t make a wrong turn, restroom again, stretching, rest room again, some people are nervous eaters I am a nervous pee-er. 8:45 time to move to the starting line, 9:00 waiting, seems like forever, let’s get this thing started. 9:05 the race director makes some nice comments, and some thank you’s. Color guard of two brings out the flags, the national anthem is sung, I’m feeling emotional now, it’s been a long time since I have been the athlete as the anthem is sung. The starter explains the start and the finish with the electronic timers that will be triggered from the chip affixed to the back of my number. Next runners set, bang….
To be honest I don’t have great recollection of what happened during the race, I took off way faster than I intended, but I needed to get clear of the walker, strollers and the dogs in tow. After the first half mile I settled into a pace, but it was a quick pace, but I was interesting was no one was passing me, and I was keeping up with those in front of me. Around the park, around the high school, mile one done, up the road to the football field and middle school, down hill first, then up the big hill to the stadium, I almost made it running up the hill, but the initial fast pace caught up to me, I had to walk for about 100 yards, still, in the middle of the pack, still no one passing. Start running again, around the middle school back down the road, down the big hill, back up the second hill, 50 yard walk, ughhh, wanted to run the whole way, pushed the negative thoughts out, running again, I can see the finish, but first back behind the ball fields and back, just a bit more to go, up around the corner and strong the finish line. Just like that it was done, over, I was winded, someone handed me a bottle of water, and I made my way to the restroom, (nervous pee-er you know). I was a little disappointed that I had to stop twice, but I really hadn’t prepared for the hills, but I did finish! I went back to the course and started to cheer on those that were still running and walking. Not long after the results were posted, I finished just about dead middle of the pack, 60th out of 125 runners/walkers/stroller pushers and dog walkers. My time 27:06.79 my fasted time even faster than on the track with no hills, and no stopping. I did good. I stuck around for some of the post-race festivities, and was proud that service members will get holiday care packages with the money raised.
So back to my run this morning, after taking Monday as a rest day, it was now Tuesday, without a plan and scared to slip back into old non-exercising habits I had a choice to make when the alarm went off at 4:45. Yes must get up, must go run. But how far, how long, my legs are still sore from Sunday, can I do it? Well I decided to target one more 5k in 4 weeks, so back to my novice 5K plan, pick up at week 5, which says Tuesday run 2.5 miles. Get to the track, headphones on, walk one lap warm up. Deep breathe, slow jog, training pace go. First lap I little tight, second lap all is good, breathing is good, legs are good, lap 3, 4 one mile in feeling like a runner, laps 5,6,7,8 two miles done, feeling strong, 9, 10 should I keep going, no don’t think, follow the plan, one lap cool down walk. Yes back on plan, back on track. A Glorious run.