I’ve shared a few blog posts with you about my past, present and future with running. I touched on my youth when my family went through the “Will Run For T-Shirts” phase that had us scrambling early Saturday mornings to get to such famous races as the Windsor Zucchini Festival Fun Run. I’ve reflected on the lesson on pace that I learned during my first childhood race… and I’ve mentioned this Saturday’s 5K that’s being hosted by Mickey Mouse Incorporated.
However, I’ve been using the word “running” in the loosest sense.
For a man dancing around the 250 pound mark, running isn’t the same as it was when I was a kid. Back then a pair of Converse All-Star High Tops (with or without socks) was all that I needed to sprint gazelle-like through the crowds of old people. Imagine my surprise when I tried to run like I used to as a kid. At some point I’d changed from sleek gazelle into a water buffalo- sloth hybrid.
For the last couple months I have been slowly ramping up my gazelleness. It started with walking. Then I added some walking. Then, just to mix things up a little so I wouldn’t get bored, I added some walking. After a while I started adding short little, 20 yard shuffle-trots that looked less like running and more like an injured zombie. To complete the image, I’d complain and moan: “Straaaaiiins… Paaaiiins…”
Over time the 20 yard jogs hidden in the middle of the walks became longer and longer. I would jog until I couldn’t give my body the oxygen it needed to stay upright. Then I would slow to a walk and try not to seem too much like a panting dog in August. When the tunnel vision subsided and my lungs were capable of breathing again I would try to jog a bit more.
Shannon has been on this adventure with me from the beginning. When we started our 5K walks there was very little clock watching going on. It took us just under an hour to walk-shuffle that far, but it hardly mattered since the exercise was the only goal. After signing up for the Disney 5K and learning about their 16 minute per mile pace minimum, we started caring a lot more about how much time it took to cover 3.1 miles. No matter how fast we walked (and mini-jogged) we seemed stuck in the 50+ minute range.
Slowly over the last few weeks we’ve seen the minutes slip off of our time and the jogging portions of our run elongate. Then we reached a tipping point and everything seemed to click into place.
Now I’m pleased to say that the constant shuffling has really paid off. Just this week I completed my first 5K run without walking any of it. I jogged the entire way- like a boss. It wasn’t fast, but it was more than a shuffle. I kept waiting for the tunnel vision and oxygen deprivation to remind me it was time to walk for a while, but it never reared its ugly head.
And the time… 39 minutes, 30 seconds. I was amazed. Pride, joy, accomplishment- these mere words can not do justice to the elation I felt. Granted, I was on the verge of collapse by the end and my runners high may have influenced my mood but even now I’m rather amazed by the accomplishment.
With the Disney 5K less than 48 hours away, I am confident that I will not need to get on the pace bus that picks up the stragglers not keeping pace. This type of stress made the race seem less fun when I first learned about it, but I’m not sure if I would have accomplished this amazing reacquisition of running without the carrot and stick system offered by Mickey Mouse.
I am proud and still a little surprised that I can actually call myself a runner again.