Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Around late August or early September, my trainer approached me about running my first 5K. When I first started with her in late July, I couldn’t do much more than 2/10th of a mile. By August, I was up to 4/10th of a mile then to 1/2 mile. I read my journal entry for that day in August and it was a notable event that I could make one lap around the hospital where the wellness center/gym is located which is 1/2 mile. By the time she approached me, I was logging a whopping 1 mile run that I could do consistantly. One mile I can handle, 3.1 is out of the question. Then something wonderful happened that I am at a loss as to explain why. I had a significant breakthrough in late September where my mileages were seemingly doubling, from 1 to 2.1 then from 2.1 to 2.5 then 2.5 to 5 within just a few weeks. I have no idea how this happened except for just plain training hard and getting out there and pounding it out. I could also be that I finally started counting calories and dropped 10 lbs in just about 2 weeks. By the time i started running 5 miles consistantly, I agreed to the 5K (which is 3.1 miles).
About 3 days before the run, I was with my trainer and she asked me if I thought about doing the 10K instead. I told her that I would get back to her, needed to really count the cost. If I failed at my first run when I could have taken a 5K where I was safe, knew I could make it, it would have been devastating. I had to do some serious soul searching and find my core. The big struggle with me is that I had not proven to myself that I could do it and I had to take it a step farther and believe in myself and have unproven confidence that I am capable no matter what. This was a big step for me, to actually believe in myself, it would have been much easier to stay inside the box, be safe, and not to risk failure. Maybe I am not in as good a shape as I have imagined myself. That would hurt.
A day before the race, I had a workout scheduled with my trainer. The first thing she asked me was if I was going to do it. I said yes and the we shared in a few woo hoo’s. Once I had it settled in my mind, all deliberation and second guessing stopped and race day, I approached the line with a calm confidence. The mood of the group was growing more and more electric the closer it got to race time. The race started, it was like an explosion, a roar went up from the group with cheering and woo hoo’s, it was incredible, a real adrenaline rush! The weather the day of the race was miserable, almost worst case scenario for a first run. It was cold, and a combonation of rain, sleet, then snow then back to rain again. It didnt take long to get miserably soaked. I positioned myself toward the back of the pack at the start. I didnt want to let the adrenaline charge make me start out at fast pace and burn out early. Unfortunately, this also placed me with a group of runners with dogs. Shortly after the race started, I found myself in a territorial contest with a lady’s weenie dog. she had close to the same pace as I did. I would pass her and it wasnt long, here comes the lady and my weenie buddy almost tripping me up. He had this annoying habit of trying to run in between my legs. This contest of wills went on until I left her behind at the 5K turnaound point. Whew!
I found myself now running exclusively with the 10K crowd and the experience was wonderful. I quickly took my rightful place as the slowest guy in the pack and migrated to last place. As the 10K group hit the turnaround point and started heading back, I was met with encouraging words, nods, high fives and woo hoo’s. They realized I was last but were cheering me on. Talk about an affirming moment. It felt sooooo good to have total stangers cheering me on. At no time did I ever get any kind of a “look at the fat guy- hahahaha” type treatment. The mid point of the run brought me to the shoreline of Lake Superior, it didnt seem to matter what direction you were running, it seemed like you were running in an icy hurricane with the wind whipping off the lake. This was by far the most miserable two miles I have ever run in my life, hands down, it sucked, plain and simple. Soon , I found myself totally alone and into my own run now that most of the runners were out of sight. It was a mixed feeling. It was good because I felt I was no longer competing or being compared to other runners and was simply out for a run on my own. I did feel left behind a little bit but oh well, I am in this for me, not to run against anyone else. I did walk a little bit to get a little relief on the hills on the way back, probably about .3 miles max.
The best part by far was the last half mile. I was getting close and just seeing the end of it was just the charge I needed to push through the fatigue that was beginning to set in which was being made worse by the cold. Toward the end, I saw my trainer, who had also run the 10K, run out to meet me close to the finish line and she jogged with me right up to the end encouraging me all the way. After all was said and done, I am glad that I took the challenge. I was over-ready for a 5K and it would have left me feeling happy that I had run the 5K BUT still wanting more and feeling like I should have done more. I feel like this was a rite of passage for me. I believe that being obese is just as much a mindset as it is a physical condition. I have been conditioned by years of failure, teasing, and defeat to the point that I couldn’t believe anything major like this could ever happen to me. I had to push through all that to get to the place where the mental ability to have drive and focus was possible. This drive and focus is what makes long term weight loss possible. I had to press until I could actually believe in myself again and that I am worth the effort. This was a simply incredible experience.