Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm Slowly Becoming a Runner Again

Yesterday I attended the Chicago Marathon, working as a correspondent for the website Letsrun.com. It's very technical and geared more towards serious runners, but it can be found here.

I spent most of the day watching the race from the media center, but did hustle out to catch the start of the race. It's always an exciting moment to watch people head out on such an amazing journey.

I have to admit that I was very jealous of the people who were walking (or hobbling) around downtown wearing their finisher's medals after the race. After my debacle at Chicago in 2008, I had decided not to run another one until I felt that desire in my heart again.

It's there now, and we are all systems go to run on October 6, 2013. In the meantime, there is a lot of work to do!

For right now I am still getting ready for the Hot Chocolate 15K on Nov. 4. I haven't made it out to run as often as I would like, but I'm still making steady progress given my goal of just finishing the race.

Last week, I did a long run of what I thought was 6.4 miles but when I drove it in the car it measured at 6.6. Bonus! The better part of that is that it didn't feel like a death march at the end. I was hurting, sure, since that is probably near the extent of my range now, but the next day I felt good.

My last couple of runs have been 3-milers, but they have both been very encouraging as it feels like I am getting a bit faster. I need to start taking a watch along for official reference, but on my run last week I guesstimated that I covered the distance in about 30 minutes.

Getting under 30 minutes for three miles is a nice milestone. I'm not thinking at all about the past, when I could crank them out a lot faster, I just keep focusing on getting better every time I go out, and feeling better too.

I'm feeling like I'm changing. The scale isn't saying so: I haven't eaten well and still hover around 245 pounds, give or take. But what is changing is my general attitude about myself.

Running has a lot to do with that. I've discovered when I run and am happy with my running I don't worry about how I look or what the scale reads. If I'm running farther or faster, that means more to me. It means that my fitness is improving and that I am getting closer to my goals.

Of the seven marathons I have run, I'm going to guess five of them came when I weighed 205 pounds or more. Now, my best have come when I was much lighter of course (I weighed 190 when I set my personal best of 4:07:46 in 2005) but when I run I don't let my weight define me like when I'm sitting around like a slug.

Because it is making a difference. I was at the doctor last week and they measured my resting heartbeat at 60, which is down from about 72-75, and my blood pressure (thought I don't remember the exact number), is down about 10 points. I think it was 118/70, but don't quote me.

THAT'S progress too! Maybe the scale doesn't say it (and yes, there is still a lot of work to do), but my body is, and that is just as important.

I don't know why, but running is my thing. It was something I hated when I was younger -- then again, suicides in basketball and other types of "running" that are intended to make you throw up at the end don't necessarily encourage participation in the sport -- but I picked it up at the age of 31. Like many, I always thought that the running community was made up of skinny folks who went fast.

But that changed when I turned on the television and caught the start of the 1999 Chicago Marathon and realized that many of these people were just like me. So I happily joined them, and have never "looked like a runner" yet. In fact, I was changing clothes in a locker room after the 2005 Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn. and a skinny runner guy said "you sure don't look like a marathoner". Of course, that was after I beat him by 30 minutes.

I like the way running makes me feel, and it brings a certain amount of confidence that I carry on to other areas of my life. It's fun to be a runner again!


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