THE BEGINNING OF MY STORY
I am now midway through the first week of my taper before the Towpath Marathon on October 8. With the additional time on my hands, I have been thinking quite a bit about how my running story began two years ago.
During the lead-up to the Chicago Marathon in 2015, I was a bundle of nerves. My running journey had begun with a spur of the moment registration for a 4 mile run for my friend’s non-profit, Drink Local Drink Tap. I remember sitting on our couch on a Saturday afternoon when I received The 4 Miles for Water Race invitation. For some reason, the thought of kick-starting my running again felt right. I hadn’t done a lot of running since the 1990’s. During that time, I was quite an avid runner even attempting the Chicago marathon once. The four-mile distance seemed achievable even if I walked quite a bit. Plus I would be helping to raise some funds for DLDT which does amazing work for water-starved areas of Africa. So it began.
At some point later that day, I downloaded a Couch-to-5k app and told my wife that I maybe this could be the spark to get in shape.
Throughout my life there has always had the shadow of being overweight following me since I was young, I had moments of being at a healthy weight like in college when I did not have any money to buy food — weight loss by poor college student diet. As I mentioned above, I also really got into running in the 90’s when I was in my early thirties. Though I ran about three times a week, I was also a smoker and a somewhat heavy drinker at the time so at this time I would not exactly be mistaken for being in top shape.
The couch to the 5k app was a pretty good motivator for me to start my training. It began with short walk runs a few blocks away. These were harsh experiences. Everything seemed to hurt while I ran and even more so, the next day. I tried to maintain some positivity about the experience even though I was full of doubt.
The training was beginning to pick up when my head had a close encounter with the sidewalk. Towards the end of one of my runs, I was not paying attention to the uneven sidewalk ahead of me. I can recall the feeling of falling in slow motion and trying to raise my arms to brace my fall. Thud. My head hit the ground, and I was stunned for a few moments. I was lucky that I came away with only a big sore on my head and some skinned knees. The experience did propel a change for my running program from the sidewalk to running paths.
In hindsight, this change had a significant lasting impact on my running story. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone on the sidewalks but surrounded by and passing by runners of all shapes and sizes. The path and its runners proved to be so helpful — a new silent support group full of people that would wave hello and provide a more communal experience for my new initiative.
Meanwhile, the race was getting closer. I had also been working hard raising money for Drink Local Drink Tap. It was so surprising and moving as friends and family pitched in to support the fundraising campaign. At the same time, they were so supportive of my efforts to jumpstart my running. I was also so humbled by everyone’s outreach to me, but no two people were more supportive than my wife and stepson.
Our little family is a beautiful and quirky trio of humans and two dogs. We aren’t a very stereotypical group — we kind of fly under the radar. I am the only one who is athletically inclined, but Ebie and Tom wholeheartedly support my running story. There would not be a story without their understanding, patience and caring for me since I started this journey. From understanding why I am gone every Sunday morning to my nonstop chatter about running. They have been fantastic.
Well, the 4 Miles for Water Race day came and I was as ready as I could be. The course was a few laps around the fields near Edgewater Beach in Cleveland. The route then proceeded up a pretty steep hill followed by some running at the top. The finish was at the bottom of the hill. I struggled throughout the race. Due to the logistics, there were no water stations in the first half so by the time I made it up the hill (walking btw), I was pretty overheated. There were more than a few times that I wanted to just stop and walk the rest of the way. I ended up finishing by doing a mix of running and walking.
It was a great feeling crossing the finish line. Even though it is more than two years later, I can still recall the pain and soreness that I was feeling as I finished. After the drive home with my family, I struggled just to get out of the car.
I had finished my first race in so long. I believe my final time was around 53 minutes — but I took great pride in being out there. Through social media and quite a bit of badgering, I was able to raise about $700 for Drink Local Drink Tap.
To be continued…Part 2 – “You are going to do what?” coming soon.