Today marks a year that I started running.
I was getting jiggly and had become laggard. I decided that I was going to ride my bike again to shed some pounds and hopefully extend my life. I also decided that I wanted to track how far and how fast I rode. After a quick perusal of the App Store, I downloaded MapMyRide to my iPhone and started pedaling.
After a few rides, my right hip started bothering me. I’ve had a trick right hip for as long as I can remember, and I know that I have to treat it gingerly or it will keep bothering me. Since I’d already created something of a regiment for myself over the past few days, I didn’t want to just stop exercising before I really got started.
For some reason, my brain placed a bet on my body: “I’ll bet you can’t run a mile without crying like a bitch.”
“You heard me. Bitch.”
So I laced up a pair of Nike Lunarflys and walked to the middle school up the hill from our house. It was the morning of July 11, 2013. Since it was summer and school was out, the track was absent of most people. Except two dudes. Two cut dudes. Two really fit dudes who didn’t jiggle when they ran, and they probably snorted Muscle Milk powder before pushing tractor tires through a pit of tenpenny nails. One of the fit dudes was the trainer, the other the trainee. They were on the track doing muscly fit dude things, like pulling each other with a huge rubber band, and 40 meter sprint races, and jumping really high into the air and then landing firmly on their feet, followed by duck walks. They’d probably already run a few sets of 5-minute miles before I showed up.
I was there, standing on the track at the opposite side of the field of the fit dudes with my “Body by Boomhauer.”
I wasn’t bothered by the fit dudes. I wasn’t intimidated. I was there for one thing: run a mile without crying like a bitch.
“No time like the present” I told myself. I hit ‘start’ on my iPhone app and away I went. The first 100 meters were fine. The second 100 meters were fine as well. I used to run the 400 meter and the 1,600 relay when I was much younger, so I quickly recalled how to pace myself. The first 400 meters were okay. I wasn’t crying yet, although I knew I had three more of those laps to go.
The second time I passed the fit dudes on the track, the trainer paused long enough to watch me round the end of the 100 meter bend. As I hit the straight-away, I looked at him. He looked at me. And then he said, and you’re never going to believe this, “Good morning.”
“Hhhhhhnannng mmmmmmppthhthTHHTAAAAAHHHHHH” is what I said in return as I passed.
Half a mile to go and I hadn’t yet died of a blood clot or cried like a bitch. And surprisingly my 86-year-old hip wasn’t bothering me.
I had to pass the fit dudes two more times, and I did it. I don’t think I even noticed their existence in my final half mile. I was laser focused on the light at end of the tunnel. I was halfway to my goal. Of course, I’m not discounting the notion that I might’ve been running in a complete black out, on the verge of cardiac infarction.
Before I really knew it, I was done. I’d crossed the line marking a mile and I slowed to a peaceful jog, and then broke stride into a steady walk. I tapped the ‘Stop Workout’ button on my phone’s app and immediately took notice of my time and distance.
“Eight minutes and 1 second?!?!”
I didn’t even know if eight minutes per mile was considered a good pace. I just saw that one second and I knew I had to beat it. I immediately knew that I wanted to run a mile in less than eight minutes.
And that’s the moment when I became a runner.
I ran two miles the next day. And then two miles the following day. And then I started running closer to three miles. And within a week, I ran five miles. It was when I settled on five miles as my daily exercise distance that I started trying to hone my pace.
Today I can run 10 miles at a sub-8 minute pace. And I’ve never cried like a bitch. Running’s my thing. Exactly a year after I started running, a 31-pound-lighter me ran my usual out-and-back route of 5.25 miles for a total of 1,017 miles covered over the year.
Running has turned into my thing. It’s my way of getting outside and getting inside my own head. I’ve always been a loner and an introvert. Running allows me to be both. I get up and run at 6 a.m., when it’s rare to encounter other people. I run and I think. I enjoy the time by myself. I revel in the air being forced into my lungs and my heart pounding. I love to hear the pulse in my ears along with whatever music is pulsing in my earbuds. I love to run when it’s 37-degrees outside and the sun’s nowhere near the horizon. I love to watch the barbs on the fence, and the crepe myrtles, and the rabbits, and the knock-out roses, and the Slaughter Creek, and the fallen oak and elm limbs as I run by them all.
Running is my thing.