Giving it a chance

I've loved to run as long as I can remember, but rarely done it regularly. I was always winning the grade-school races that most of the kids hated, and I relished the competition and sense of winning. I have a distinct memory of jogging the 'mile' they defined for us by dropping seemingly random orange cones out in the field, around and around, and coming in first for the girls in my grade ... then promptly puking up my breakfast in the grass. I didn't particularly care, I liked that I'd pushed myself so hard. I believe my time was under 7 minutes, which reinforces the impression that the course wasn't exactly a mile!

In 6th grade, at the school they bussed me to because mine closed, there was a field day near the end of the year. I competed in as many events as I could, and was extremely pleased to have the 'scouts' there that day from the junior high tell my teachers that I should sign up for the track team as soon as I got to 7th grade. As I suspected, this didn't happen due to my parents' dislike of events that would regularly make it impossible for me to attend church. So I didn't run, but envied the kids who did.

In high school, the story was the same. I was encouraged to join running at school, but told at home that it wasn't a good idea. My best friend there was on the cross country team, and I vicariously enjoyed her successes and stories of what it was like. I joined the yearbook team (which met during the day) and put my heart and some of my soul into it, and managed to make a few late nights out of it when deadlines loomed.

In P.E. class, I tackled most everything with more energy than most of my classmates. It was my chance to prove that I was athletic, and could run, sit-up, and play basketball with some semblance of skill. I set a school record for sit-ups/min, and was absurdly proud of it. In grade 11 we had a unit on running and weight training, and I felt great! They told us that we were in the best shape we'd ever be in, and I didn't believe them. They were right, alas ...

At the end of my Senior year, they named the "Outstanding Senior" for each of the classes we were required to take. Courtesy of my brother 'sweeping' 3 or 4 of the titles two years before, they limited each student to one title, and I won the one for P.E. I found it enjoyable and ironic, as I was a pretty serious contender in most of the academic areas, but managed to be recognized
for my sports instead. In reality, I knew they wouldn't give it to any of the team athletes, and I was the only one who took gym class seriously, but wasn't on a team.

I tried to run my first year out of high school, and managed to run the 3 miles to work several times a week, at least for the first couple of months, but it was hot, boring, and I stayed up too late reading novels at night to get up in time to get moving.

I tried again, after college, with my friend Su. She and I would meet in the morning, late at night, or whenever we could find the time, and it was bliss. She gave me the goal of running 100 miles, which I eventually (cumulatively of course) managed to pull off. I still have the shirt she gave me to commemorate it. But after I married and moved into the city, that stopped cold.

Almost 20 years after high school, I'm determined to change their claim about being in the best shape I ever would be. I've lived in NYC for over 3 years, and become more fit than usual just because I walk almost everywhere, use subway stairs, schlepp strollers and kids all over the place, and don't rely on a car for anything. I still don't run, though I've often dreamed of running a marathon. My ultimate challenge. Watching it in 2005, while only a few weeks pregnant with my second child, I determined to run it as soon as I could.

I was talking with a friend (this one, actually) last month, the reasons to get off my butt and start running crystalized. I was avoiding it for many reasons ... when can I find the time? What if I fail? I don't have any good place to run ... etc. But when she helped me see it as a way to prove something to myself while having fun and getting time alone, I bit the bullet.

I started running at the beginning of this month, if you can call run/walking in sub-freezing weather 'running'. But I started. In 3 weeks I'm up to 2.5 miles at a 11min/mile pace, 3x a week. The goal is running 26.2 miles on November 4th in the NYC Marathon. I have a long way to go, but I'm going.

See you there :)