I’m not a natural athlete. I’ve had to work at being able to compete in athletics most of my life, using the word “compete” loosely here. But of all sports or activities I could not stand, running was above and beyond the worst activity. I know I’m not alone in thinking this. Running was a chore to me and something that felt more like a punishment than it did a sport. I would try it on and off again through the years. Doing a half mile here and there with the occasional mile thrown in if I felt the need to be get my physical health back in line, which was usually around the first of the year. Of course, I could never keep it up. Running was hard. Motivating myself to get up and run was uncomfortable. Simply put… I hated it. To me, the “Runner's High” was a big fat lie. I swore that the “high” was completely made up. Positive thinking for runners… a way to dupe others into buying into it and spend money on something they’ll eventually give up. After all, the running shoe market couldn’t be that big… right?
Well, I was asked to run in an event by a co-worker. I was asked to join a small group of fellow colleagues to run a half marathon back in January of 2010. I said “maybe”… but what I was really thinking was, “no way… me run? You’re out of your mind!” A week later that “maybe” turned into a reluctant “yes”… and I was signed up on the spot. Target date was May 8th, 2010 the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. I was now locked in. No turning back now. But instead of starting my training right away, I spent the next several days thinking about how far 13.1 miles really is. I started to measure mileage during my drives. To and from work… from the house to the grocery store… to and from church. I was shocked to see how far a mile really is, let alone how far 13.1 miles will be to run. I mapped out 13.1 miles from my house and found that it is exactly the distance from my front door to the beach… I felt a little sick to my stomach considering I always thought the beach to be anything but close. “I signed up for this?” I thought… I actually tried to think of ways to get out of it. I shared my concern with my wife, to which she asked something that stuck and kind of motivated me… “Why not do it?” She was right… Why not do it? Why not go out and run a little? I’m physically able… I have all of faculties intact. I have no excuse to not give this a try… and so I started training.
My first training run was about a mile. I felt like crap… just terrible. I was gasping for air like an out of shape pig… I was drenched in sweat… my feet hurt. But I kept at it. I started running more… With every step, I felt myself getting more and more fit. The spot I could barely run to a few weeks back seemed easy to get to now. The first mile I ran soon became running two... then three... then four… etc. My lungs felt less heavy… my legs felt less fatigued… was this it? Was I really doing this? Honestly, I wasn’t enjoying the running itself. It was the feeling of accomplishment that I enjoyed… keeping to my schedule and commitment… but, still no “runner's high”… So I trained. I went from barely being able to run one mile to being able to run 10 miles straight a couple of weeks before the race. I felt great… I was doing it.
May 8th, 2010… the excitement of the morning was almost overwhelming. I was nervous and anxious. I barely slept. I didn’t know anything about starting waves or gear check and all I could stomach was some water and a banana. So there we waited at the start gate… nervously stretching. Was I really doing this? Then the horn went off… the race started and off I went. I ran almost all of the run… walked a few uphill portions of the race, but I kept going. I got toward the finish line and I started running again… I had nothing left, but the crowds kept me going… and there toward the finish was my family cheering and screaming… I was doing this… I raced across the finish tired… sweaty… aching… but I felt great! I got it… the “runner's high”… the training, the race weekend, race day, the finish, the medal… all of it led up to that feeling. I had just run 13.1 miles… and I couldn’t be happier.
Signing up and training for that event back in January 2010 led to completing four half marathons and two 5k’s by the end of 2010… this coming from a guy that could barely run a mile…
So I thought I would start to chronicle my training and events… regardless of who does or doesn’t read this… I’m willing to put it out there in the hopes I can inspire in some way, someone’s first steps to an active lifestyle…
Here’s to 2011 and beyond… my plans for this year?
January 16th, 2011 - 13.1 series Half Marathon
March 20th, 2011 - LA Marathon (my first full marathon)
April 17th, 2011 - LA Tri Series Sprint Triathlon (my first triathlon)
May 7th, 2011 - Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon
June 5th, 2011 - San Diego Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon