Sunday, December 18, 2011

How This All Started

I never liked running, EVER.  As a child and teen I preferred water sports and computer games. When I joined the Coast Guard I had no problem with any of the swimming trials, but I only just squeaked by on the qualifying run; something like 11:20 for a mile and a half.

So why did I start running?  Well after the military and on my second corporate America job I had noticed that I had gained quite a bit of weight.  As a matter of fact, both my wife and I had put on the same amount of weight when she was pregnant with our first child.  Then she had a baby....I didn’t.

When it got to the point where I needed to buy the next size up in pants I drew the line.  There was NO way I was going to be buying the same size pants that my father wears (sorry dad), while I was still in my 20‘s!!!

One of my co-workers would always go out run during our lunch break at the office and I thought to myself “well, he’s got a good idea here,” as I, like him, didn’t have a lot of free time before or after work.

Jack (my co-worker) was running around 3.5 miles 3-4 times per week.  So I decided I would tag along and see what I could do.  And what could I do?  Not much.  Not much at all.  There was nothing I could do to keep up with a man nearly twice my age.  My first run I think I made it about 1/4 of a mile and that was it, I was sucking wind.  I alternated between jogging and walking for the remainder of the distance.

Jack was relentless though and as soon as he realized that he had a quasi-running partner he was on my case every day he went running: “Did you bring your gear?  We going today?  How are the legs?  How are the lungs today?”

So I got better and after a few weeks at it I talked myself into signing up for my town's 5K.  I remember thinking, “Holy crap, does this make me a runner?  But I don’t even like running!”  When I shared this thought with my wife she half-joking, half-serious said “yeah, yeah, you’re probably going to want to start running marathons soon.”  I’m sure I shot this notion down, but this blog is yet another way in which she was right, and I was wrong.

Well, I ran that 5K and didn’t do too bad (or so I thought shortly after crossing the finish line).  I managed just over a 10 minute mile, finishing in somewhere around 31:12 I think.  As I’m enjoying the revelry  I started talking to this older gentleman who informed me that he was 68 and that he had just finished the 5K in 25:18.  This old guy was averaging between 7-8 minute miles?!?!  I think it was at that point that the running bug really bit me.  How could I possibly live with myself knowing that some retired old guy beat my time by several minutes in my own town?!  Truth be told there were a lot of people who were older than me and some that looked like they were in worse shape than I, crossing that finish line before me.

Moving On

After reading Christopher McDougall’s “Born To Run” I really started to feel like not only was I doing something good for myself by running, but that I had been missing out on something amazing that was always right in front of me, but I never saw it.  It is this feeling that has made me want to run an Ultra.

Why not just be satisfied with a marathon?  Well that’s just it, I don’t want to be “satisfied.”  I don’t want to get to that point and say, “Okay, I did it, I’m going to move on to something else now.”  By setting this goal I’m pushing myself beyond a normal and easily recognizable comfort-zone.

Why Running? 
I’ve been asked this before, and it’s really an easy answer.  Even though when I started I hated it, running is arguably one of the easiest sports to get into.  Lets look at the facts:

Supplies: You, shoes (optional), clothes (for the love of all that’s good NOT optional), outside (treadmill for inside).

That’s it!  What if it’s raining?  Snowing?  There’s a saying that goes something like this:  “There’s no such thing as bad running weather, just bad running gear.” 

You set your own pace, there are no strict rules, you don’t need a membership, you can spend as little or as much money as you want, you can do it just about anywhere at any time.

So there you have it!  The next post is probably going to be on Vibram Five Fingers and minimalist (natural) running.  There will be some cool videos and pictures to go along with that one!

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