The Kinky Green


Posted in The Physical by Joy on June 7, 2009

This weekend, I joined the 50-some-odd thousand folks participating in the Komen Race for the Cure.

And I actually ran the whole thing.

It was a short run — 5k, 3.1 miles — and I was slow as Christmas doing it, but, I have to admit, I’m all but bursting with pride about it.

It’s like this: two years ago, I was nearly 60 lbs heavier than I am today, a pack-a-day smoker, and an absolute non-athlete.

At that point in my life? You would’ve only found me running in circumstances of extreme duress. And, if I’m being honest, that’s been the case for pretty much my whole life, even in childhood. (But more about being a fat girl later… fun!)

So how’d I go from someone who couldn’t run to the bathroom during a commercial break without getting winded to someone who could complete a 5k?

In a nutshell, I dropped weight, adopted a relatively healthy diet, and began living a fairly active lifestyle. Oh, and I dropped the cigs. (Haven’t had so much as a puff in six months. Yay!)

What didn’t I do? Plan on becoming a runner.

But something odd happened while I was training for this year’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer; I kept finding myself feeling like I wanted to run. This, as you might imagine, was an entirely alien urge to me.

I’d be out on a training walk, boogeying down the street at my top speed, iPod blaring away, and suddenly my internal dialogue would go something like this:

That’s odd.
I feel the urge to run.
Are you crazy?
Ummmm… Maybe?
You can’t run! You’ll have a heart attack right here on the street!
I don’t know, I mean, I kind of feel like I could. Just for a little while. To that stop sign, maybe?
You don’t even know how to run. When’s the last time you ran anywhere?
Ummmm… field day in 7th grade? Wait, no! That PT test in JROTC… 9th grade.
What, a decade ago?!? Nice. And how far did you run?
Ummmm… Just out of Major’s line of vision…
Uuuh huuuh. And what did you do then?
Spent the rest of the time trying to catch my breath and walking with the rest of the fatties. Yay 19-minute miles!
Exactly. What makes you think you can run now? You can’t run.
You’re right. If I didn’t have a heart attack, I’d definitely look ridiculous. And I’d probably break my ankle stepping off a curb. Or trip and fall face-first onto the sidewalk, crack my skull, and spill blood and brain matter all over that pretty brickwork. No amount of cleaning would get all that out of the crevices.
See? Running is evil. It’s not for you. Just keep walking. You can handle walking.
Yeah, I can handle walking. Don’t know what I was thinking with all that dangerous running business…

And, so I didn’t do it. Aside from the occasional jog through intersections, I didn’t attempt to lift my legs any higher, put that bit of bounce in my stride.

But some friends from high school came to visit, and Denai changed my mind about running.

She’d recently taken it up, and she told me all I really needed to know. “If you’ve already been thinking about it, you’re ready to do it. Just go.”

I was skeptical at first, but I soon found that she was right.

I made my first mile on the treadmill within a week of my first attempt at running. (And, as an added bonus, I didn’t die!)

Buoyed by my unprecedented (by me!) success and at the behest of my running buddy, Mr. T, I registered for the Komen Race.

I got on Runners’ World and found a 5k training schedule for beginners.

I stuck to it religiously for two weeks. I worked up to running just under two street miles.

And then there was the wonky knee.

Everyone said rest. Everything I read said rest. So I rested.*

And the wonkiness persisted.

Come race day, I hadn’t run in weeks, and I had little hope of making it the full course.

Mr. T was there, though, checking in and encouraging me with every stride. And we made it through that finish line together in our first 5k.

So, what’s next? Well, Mr. T and I are planning to register for an upcoming 5k, and I’m working on outlining some goals for myself, beginning, generally, with:

– Adopt a regular training schedule, to include running and strength training.
– Focus on increasing stamina/endurance.
– Beat my 5k time: 36:39 (11:48/mile).

* By the way, that wonky knee? Didn’t get un-wonked until I started running again. Go figure.


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