I don't always remember being heavy. In fact, when I think of myself as a very small child, I remember myself as being skinny. That all changed, however, when I started spending summers across the country in Massachusetts. My grandmother was the best cook in the world. Who's wasn't? She showed her love with her food, and she lavished her affection on me. So much so that I was unrecognizable by my father when I returned home and got off the plane. I didn't know any better; I was only six or seven at the time. But since that early age, weight has been an issue throughout the rest of my life.
I came to running as a means to and end. At first, it was to supplement my body building program, then as that got old, it became my primary form of workout. I needed to lose weight, and every year for the past several I'd start the "Couch to 5k" program, and make it up to about week 8, then lose interest. Not because of the program, or the most excellent podcasts created by Robert Ullhrey. Quite the opposite - they helped me run, and lose lots of weight. All of this was done primarily with running on the treadmill, which may be why I was having such trouble staying motivated. The weight would drop off during those weeks of running, then slowly creep back on until by the end of the year, it would be time to start again...
This year I knew I had to do something different. not just start a program again, but set a goal that would be within reach, but difficult enough to effect real change, and important enough that if I didn't accomplish it, it wouldn't just be me that would feel it. I decided on training for a half-marathon. The Disneyland Half-Marathon fit the bill just perfectly. It far enough in the future that it was a realistic training goal. I enjoy Disneyland, so doing the run itself would be enjoyable (at least the surroundings...) It was expensive, so I was invested financially. I told the kids that we would be going to Disneyland in early Sept, so I couldn't let them down. So I registered, and was committed. But now what?
I figured I'd train for a 5k, then 10k, then 1/2 marathon. But after looking at various training plans, I decided to skip the 5k and do 10k training, and then slide into a 1/2 marathon schedule. I don't know how I stumbled upon Reno Running & Fitness; it was probably linked from Active.com. Regardless, I am so glad I did. After looking over their training plans, it seemed that the 10k would be ideal to start with, and because they'd help adjust the half-marathon training so I could target Disney, that would work as well. I again made the financial obligation, and because I was now committed to running with a group of people, there was a personal obligation as well.
The first meeting we had was good - and two things said by the folks running the group stuck with me.
1. Michael said that by making the decision to get out and run, we're already doing more than most people. Distance didn't matter; speed didn't matter. Just doing it is doing more than most. That got me motivated.
2. Lynn said it was going to suck. It was going to hurt. I was going to be sore. But if I could stick it out, by the 6th week my body would start to adjust, and it would get better. Week 6 became my benchmark. I would stick it out for 6 weeks. 18 sessions. If I did, I knew that it would get better.
Well, that was about 16 weeks ago. And I stuck with it, and then some. Not that it was easy; far from it. Those first few runs were pretty brutal. I was sore for 3 days after the first 1.75mi run at the Sparks Marina. The runs I did solo on Thurs were often punctuated by stopping and walking. The Sat trail runs while fun, were especially difficult. But after meeting some of the other runners, sharing their pains, their advice, and their support, the running got easier. The 4 mile long run I'd dreaded was fun. The next few longer runs were something I anticipated, instead of just dreading.
Running had become the end. The means became irrelevant. Now, not only am I looking forward to my tri-weekly fitness runs, but I am planning my calendar (and finances) around races. I'm setting new challenges. I'm finding new places to explore while running.
And this is just the beginning.