I got the idea to run in the fall of 2006. Idea may not be the proper word. Infection may be more accurate. Somehow it crept in and I could not stop thinking about it. I dreamed about it. I saw runners everywhere and I tried to figure them out. What does it take? Does wanting to run badly enough count? Before this point I had done Absolutely. Nothing. Athletic. No sports as a kid. No sports in high school.
I walked through this park almost every day after the job I had then.
I'd come around the corner up ahead, towards where I'm standing while taking this picture and think, "it would be so awesome to run through here!" It was the infection taking hold. I really felt a pull towards it. I just wanted to run off the stress and everything else bugging me and feel free. (Is that cheesy? Whatever!)
In typical fashion for me, I couldn't actually just buy some sneakers and get out there. I had to look up running online, buy a book about running, think about it a lot etc. Some may call it procrastination. I think I'm just a good researcher. I went on a trip to Miami with my best friend a few years before that. While we were in the airport, I was shocked to find out that she hadn't really done much research about where we should go and what we should do. She laughed at me and said, "well I already knew I was traveling with you! What would I read that you hadn't already found, read and sorted?" Touché, friend who knows me too well.
I'm really trying to be a little more spontaneous.
(It's still impossible to get me to go
Actually, this hits on another point. I'm a little type A.
WHO. IS. LAUGHING?! Okay, I can be a lot type A. I hate to be bad at things. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm good at a lot of things. Or that I kill myself to be really good at things. It means that before I started running, I usually picked to do things I knew I was good at (playing the clarinet but never really practicing? Check). That was part of the intrigue. Why did I have to be that person? Who decided? Why do we carry baggage that tells us we can't or shouldn't when there are at least as many indicators that we CAN? It means that I've really had to work on my mental dialogue. I'll get to that in part two (or three. ha).
Oh, geez...I've tangented myself off into the woods. Where am I? Right.
I thought about running all fall and into the winter. Because, seriously, no one likes fall running in New England. It's much better to wait until it's closer to 0 degrees out. In December I went and bought The Complete Idiot's Guide to Running and Jogging. I love this book. I tell every new runner I know to buy it. Besides being an accomplished runner, Bill Rodgers is such a super nice guy and has a ton of information to share. This past December, I ran a fun run that he puts on every year. Not only did he mingle and chat with all of us, but he sat at a table signing pictures (or whatever you brought), chatting more and taking pictures with anyone who wanted them for hours! I had the chance to tell him what an impact he made on me in person that day. He seemed almost like he wasn't used to hearing that (it can't be true though). Unless I could show you his face and you could hear the tone of his voice when he talks about running, there's really no way to show you how much he loves it. How much it seemed that he loved seeing all of us there, newbies and veterans alike.
Besides the fact that it has a ton of information, the book gives two hugely valuable pieces of information:
1. Go slow. No. Slower. Really, I had no aspirations of speed and even I was shocked at how slow I had to run at first.
2. NO ONE is going to laugh at you. Okay, no runner will. Not even the fast guys and gals. If anything, my biggest cheering squad have been from the very front of the pack. They run because they love it. You don't train that much and that hard if you don't and they want to share running with you. If someone does shout something mean to you while you're running, I suggest doing what I do. In your head (Not out loud. People are crazy...don't actually respond to them!), you insult their manhood and then immediately forgive them because, obviously their Mom didn't hug them enough. Sorry guys, it's only been boys behind the very courageous drive-by insult. I'm sure there are mean girls out there somewhere too.
My first run was in January of 2007 through the park in the picture above. The "feels" like temperature was -12 degrees. At least the weather couldn't get much worse. It was day one of the training plan, which is similar to the Couch to 5K offered on Cool Running. I had also decided on a first race to run and I was fairly terrified. Did Captain Type A pick a 5K? Noooooo...it had to be a 5 MILER that caught my eye. I didn't really mean to pick a longer race, but this one looked great. I finished the 5K program and since I was a few months early, I used the extra time to go from 3.1 to 5 miles. The race was Boston's Run to Remember, honoring fallen law enforcement officers and benefiting youth at risk programs.
It started in the Seaport area and ran through downtown. It was so much fun to run down the middle of empty closed streets that I'm used to seeing clogged with traffic. My official time was 1:02:43, a 12:25 pace. I don't know that I had a goal time at that point. I just wanted to finish the whole thing without walking, which I did. I ran another 5 miler that fall in 59:59 and made my goal of coming in under an hour (just barely!). A few weeks later, I did a 5K and that was it for the year.
Did I feel like runner yet? Not really. Should I have? Yes.
Did I feel like runner yet? Not really. Should I have? Yes.
Here's another thing. Weight. I started running at about 175lbs and I am 5'4". I was down from my highest of 179.9 and felt awful. Just a teeny bit more and I was going to break into a weight decade higher than I had ever seen. However, people bigger than me and people smaller than me have done it. You may want to get your Doctor approval to begin running if this is new to you. I suggest it, because you just never know. While I did not use running for weight loss, it did help. Diet made the biggest difference. I don't subscribe to any certain diet, although I have tried many of them! After being up and down until the beginning of 2010, I learned that it's really just portion control, moderation and making good choices. I know, how obnoxious am I right? It's totally not easy to do this, I get that. I'm still battling the last 10lbs until my trainer and I evaluate where we go from there. I'll get into that and food more in the continuation of this post.