Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The (Kind-Of) Runner that Could.

I do not look like a runner. I’m not shaped like a runner. I’m average height. I enjoy wine,

cheese and ice cream way too much, and my physique shows it. But I've turned myself into

a runner. Not a graceful, fast, or record-breaking one, but a runner nonetheless. And since I

was matched with The Wheezy Runner for this annual blog-hop, I decided to share my

story of how I got into this crazy sport.

I do not play well with others.

I am not very coordinated and I get frustrated to the point of quitting if I’m not immediately

super-good at something. My memories of school Phys Ed class involve hiding somewhere

near the back of the pack of whatever team sport we were involved in, exerting barely

enough effort and motion to stay off the teacher’s radar.

I wish I could say I’m a great “team player,” but I’m really not. I never got the hang of

working together with other players all to ward the common goal. On group projects, I

would purposely select people who I know wouldn’t participate at all, just so I could do the

whole thing myself, my way, without interference.

Then in college, I studied abroad in Germany.  I certainly was not a sheltered kid, but living

abroad introduced me to all kinds of new and different foods and drinks, and OMG I

WANTED THEM ALL. Being 19, I kind of had the metabolism of a 19 year old,  which is

really just to say that my metabolism has never been impressive but it was certainly faster

than it is now that I’m in my 30s.  I knew that if I just kept chowing down, I pack on pounds

fast. I decided to take up running, because why not.

So I went to the nearby German version of Target, got myself some (ill fitting) running

shoes and some workout appropriate clothes, and I hit the pavement. I pushed myself to go

out each day. My first goal was to run around the block. It actually took a couple weeks

until I could do that. Despite me eating every last edible thing that had the misfortune to

cross my plate, I started losing weight. My friends noticed I was losing weight, which

encouraged me. I upped my goal to running 20 minutes nonstop, which by the end of the

summer, I accomplished.

When I got back to the states, I kept up with the running. I signed up for a 5k. Then a 10k.

Then I took the plunge and (in a surprise even to myself) announced to anyone who would

listen that I was going to run a marathon. I signed up for the LA Marathon, and said “here

we go!”  I ran it SLOWLY (5:24 gun time). But I ran it. I crossed the finish line holding hands

with my running partner. It was the first marathon for the both of us. Then I ran the

Cleveland marathon a couple months later. That’s when the magic of running with another

person wore off.  Our styles were too different. Then I completely burned out on running.

I eventually got back into it. My race distance of choice is 10 miles.  It’s long enough to be a

challenge, but not so long that it takes over your life. I like half marathons well enough too.

As long as I keep up a fairly steady pattern of running throughout the week, I can run one

without too much stress or injury. And the running gives me some nice alone time to listen

to audiobooks.

Way back when, I puzzled and marveled over distance runners. How on earth did they do

it? All that distance and effort and sweating. If you’re interested in running, here’s how you

get started: with one step after another. Get out there and run until you’re tired. Then the

next day run just as far, and a couple seconds more.  Even if you, like me, can’t make it

around the block, you will eventually. The first few weeks are brutal, there’s no way around

it. But after those first few weeks of pain, that crazy want and need to run develops.  You

don’t have to be fast or thin to run. You just have to have feet (or appropriate prostheses, or

a wheelchair, or whatever it is that can make you go from one place to another). See,

running’s for everybody.

But I still don’t play well with others.

Follow Elizabeth here!
You can also follow her on twitter @BeezusKiddo

1 comment:

  1. Melissa, you look fabulous! Your blog inspires me to keep fit and healthy. Thanks so much! You've created such a wonderful world for me and my family. Now I'm so happy! Thanks again.