For pretty much my entire life, I never understood the appeal of running. Sure, I ran when I played soccer or tennis, or to catch a bus or my deceptively fast three-year-old daughter, but running for its own sake? Why bother. Boring and painful – a combination that could only appeal to the masochistic (or possibly to those for whom an immensely dreary and marginally painful activity would be an improvement over the alternatives in their life). But then, a funny thing happened to me this year…
I’ve always enjoyed staying active, but I have to admit that by the time my second child was born last year I had quit going to the gym and playing sports. And it was beginning to show. My wife, on the other hand, had gotten hooked on triathlons as a way to recover from the physical trauma of pregnancy. She trained hard and began to compete. I dutifully loaded up the kids and some lawn chairs and showed up to her races to watch. After her third race this summer I began to feel less than athletically adequate. All these people, no different from me except for motivation, were working and sweating and accomplishing goals (arbitrary goals, I know, but not worthless ones). I, on the other hand, had become a couch potato. Something had to change.
I knew I wasn’t up for triathlons yet, so I picked one sport to start with – running. My wife suggested training for a half-marathon. A half-marathon? Thirteen point one miles? It was obvious that all of her training and physical activity had affected her powers of reasoning (or at least her sense of distance). But, by this time my physical ego was so downtrodden that I agreed rather than admit that such a goal seemed to me both unrealistic and unreasonable. She found a training program for me, and a new runner was born.
It was July (not the best time to start running in Austin), and after two weeks of sweating on my own I could meet the three-mile minimum requirement for the Galloway
training program. I then discovered something very interesting. Running is not boring when you run with a group. It can be fun. And as I watched my endurance improve (and my weight drop), I actually came to like it. I also saw my heart rate decrease for the same level of activity (I run with a heart-rate monitor), convincing me even further of the long-term benefits. And since I had specifically joined a training program that emphasized injury avoidance (don’t overtrain!), I was beginning to feel like a half-marathon might be possible.
And so yesterday I ran the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon. Not only did I accomplish my primary goal (cross the finish line vertically), but I also accomplished my secondary goal of running it in under 2 hours. My time was 1:59:36 (no need to over do it), which amazingly put me in the top 1/3 of male finishers (there were a total of 33,000 participants in both the marathon and the half-marathon, with over 17,000 half-marathon finishers). And this from someone who had never run as a sport until this past July. It was great running with my coach, Bob, who pushed me at the end when I was ready, willing and able to slow down (“We didn’t train to give up at the end!”).
Oh, and if it makes any difference, I’m 48. If I can do it, anyone can.
As even a cursory look at the posts will show, this blog is anything but political in nature. But after a long, long campaign and an election that everyone describes as historic, let me just say this: