Sunday, November 7, 2010

Running without a net


When I was twenty years old I first tried my hand at running, I ran because I felt overweight when I was probably the lowest weight of my adult life. At the time my running consisted of a two mile run that was mostly downhill for the first half and then uphill home. Regardless to say I ran the first half and walked most of the second half home. Two miles seemed like a good distance and I was still overcoming those horrible Junior High PE moments where they had you run a mile and you came in with the embarrassing 12 minute mile. So to run that first mile in 8-9 minutes was a major accomplishment and I strove for nothing more than that. After awhile my running routine fell off and it became that always trying where you would run for a week or two then four months would pass and you would try again. Soon I became so heavy that the running turned to walking and then the walking turned to nothing.

Fast forward a decade and I found myself seriously obese maybe morbidly so and out of shape so much so I could barely run the ninety feet from home plate to first base in a kickball league I signed up for but despite this I began in earnest once more. I didn't start with running instead just like a toddler I had to master walking again. Walking a mile and half left me with such bad shin splints that I was incapacitated for a half hour afterwords. But I kept on plugging and moving forward determined to lose the weight once and for all and be able to run once more. My running began with me just sprinting the last block home of my then daily 1.6 mile walk. Then it progressed to not just running to my door but running an extra block to check the mail. Eventually after watching an episode of the Biggest Loser and seeing Michael a contestant managing to run a 5k well over 100 pounds more than I weighed I managed to master the mile once more. Running that whole first mile and then managing my first 5k ever on the treadmill. The pride in finishing a 5k was enormous and left me with a taste for wanting to do more, not longer distances but just to have better and faster times at that 3.1 mile distance run. I even dared several 10k's and soon found myself addicted to running, I had never run more than two miles when I had been at my peak physical condition and weight of my adult life and here I was still a little heavy and I was running 3 miles and 6 miles and learning the metric system to boot.

I signed up for my first 5k, the Washington County Fair 5k and ran it with a time of 32:16 what a great feeling it was like walking on clouds, gone was that fat man who struggled walking a mile and half and now here I was an official 5k runner. After finishing they handed out fliers to the Peach Days 12k in just 3 weeks. What are you thinking there is no way you are ready for something as long as a 12k in just three weeks, that is 7.44 miles, these thoughts bombarded my brain. But I had been running a 5k 4-5 times a week now and while it was exciting to run my first official race it really hadn't challenged me. I ran a few more 10ks in the upcoming weeks to my first real running challenge but because I had not ran that distance yet I found myself super nervous the morning of. I managed to eat half an apple and that was it and around mile 7 I came down with some mild muscle spasms but I wrote them off as charlie horses or something else not really knowing what they were and I was so close to the finish line I finished with ease in an 1:25:03. This was my first foray into running without a net, training on my own, and with so little knowledge that I had no idea why my muscles felt like that.

Still addicted to running I found myself signing up for another 5k the Swiss Days one in 3 weeks. While 5k's had became fairly easy someone I had run the 12k and 5k with suggested it and I couldn't help myself at shooting for the goal of under 30 minutes. I ran that 5k with a 31:15 and while my time was a whole minute better than my previous official 5k I was so mad at myself for not getting under 30 minutes I wanted to rerun the race the moment it was over (I have since ran my first 5k ever under 30 with a time of 29:49 and running 2.85 miles of it and only having to walk a .25 mile) but since the 5k's had become so easy I wanted a challenge again and I wasn't about to sign up for another 5k just so I could finish it in under 30 minutes, I decided the next 5k I would do would be the following years Swiss Days 5k again when I would shoot for an under 25 minute time or even better yet a 22 minute time.

Now I wanted something longer a half marathon, something so challenging it was daunting. I looked at several and decided to give my self a full six weeks and sign up for the Snow Canyon Half Marathon on November 6h a mostly downhill race like the Saint George Marathon I want to run in 2011. My training began with 5 mile and 8 mile runs and extended to a 10 mile run until abruptly after an 8 mile run I found myself limping and an even shorter run of 3 miles two days later left me almost incapacitated for nearly four days. I had never thought about running shoes, I was running in a very nice pair of Nike shoes and they had done so well for me. Who knew that improper shoes even if they were nice shoes could leave you limping for days, I found myself once more running without a net, not trained and not nearly knowledgeable enough. So we went out and bought me a nice pair of Nike running shoes and the difference was night and day, it was so fantastic that I ran the day I got them even though I had the flu and found myself throwing up on a business two miles into my run. But the shoes were great and made such a difference.

Because of injuries and then the flu I was only able to fully run only once in nearly ten days so after a long lay off I went for my first good run in a long time. I had planned on 3 miles but I had so much energy after 3 miles I could not stop and did 5 miles instead. Even after 5 miles I had so much energy that I found myself dancing in my living room and a wife telling me I should go run some more to burn off that energy. This taught me about tapering, wait what is tapering, it is time to recover before a long race something most runners do and something I had not given myself in months and because of my injury I had stumbled upon it like a blind man. Where is my net once more as I fall again and again.

Now with a little knowledge and preparation my half marathon quickly approached and I felt I was ready for the first time, heck I had the shoes, I knew about tapering and took three days off leading up to the race. Race day is here and I am so excited and nervous I sleep in fits and finally give up at 6:20am and get up despite the race being at 8:30 and me not having to be there tell 7:30. Very nervous and excited I find myself again without an appetite but I had read a good breakfast is important so I force down half a bowl of cereal and a banana. The race begins and I am feeling really good, I fly through the first 5k of the race and in just under 30 minutes and even after 6 miles I am still around a 10 minute mile pace. At way station at mile 7 I grab a GU, something I had researched online the day before when I saw they were offering them not knowing what it was, where oh where is my net, but having read that many people find them disgusting I pocket the GU instead thinking I will try it after the race and not throw myself off during the race. Pain sets in around mile 11 but I am still good, heck I am two miles out and feeling ok still I can fight through this. But at around mile 12 those muscle spams I got during my 12k return and not mildly like before but with a vengeance. At this point I had likely burned through every calorie in my body and my body was screaming FEED ME SEYMOUR FEED ME. So close to the finish line I am not about to give up, I run in spurts until the muscle spasms force me to walk as other runners encourage me on as I am visibly struggling. I manage to finish with a time of 2:30:35 which is great as I had been shooting for two and half hours all a long.

I am a little disappointed though as had it not been for those spasms I might have got a time under that two and half hour mark instead of just barely over it. Tired and grumpy and hurting a little I try that GU and yes it was like licking a slimy toad but the effect is almost instantaneous and I feel better like a light switch being switched on. Here I was struggling and the whole time the solution was in my pocket, where oh where have you gone net.

I am not done though not done by far, I am learning as I go and running without a net but I am loving every minute of it. I still plan to run the full marathon next October and am looking forward to my next race. I am a runner now, maybe a runner without a net but a runner still. Gone is that 415 pound man that could barely walk a mile and a half along with the 170 pounds I shed in becoming a runner. I AM A RUNNER, now help me find my net I seemed to have misplaced it somewhere.
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