I Was Runnnnnn-ing.

I know, this isn’t a blog about working out.  It just so happens that i’ve been pretty focused on that area of things for the last few months, and what can I say, it makes for good copy.  I’ve never been a runner.  In fact, my lack of exercise for the first 30 years of my life is well documented, and truthfully, the running thing was never something that appealed to me.  Exercise, sure, I’d give the gym a go here and there.  But running? Ummm…..no.  No thanks. That’s not really what I “do.”  My wife, prior to our meeting, had always been a runner and had run 5/10K’s, half marathons, and even a finished a triathlon.  She’ll swear it wasn’t a real triathlon and downplay it but i say if you do anything with running, swimming and biking in the same day, you’ve earned your badass card.  And for that, I’m envious of her.  She is a card-wielding badass.

Once we jumped back into the daily exercise regimen, for whatever reason, I began to supplement our morning exercise with runs with her in the evening.  And when it was I decided that yes, I would in fact run, I’m not sure. Call it a whim, or maybe the momentum of our morning workouts, but the idea of pounding the pavement 30 minutes at a time suddenly wasn’t so bad.  And then I started running.  And the moment i put one foot in front of the other, i realized this wasn’t a great idea. The difference between a needing to stop and catch my breath and an oncoming heart attack was blurred. I was clearly not a runner, but a walker who decided to trot every now and then. This. Sucked.

That was two months ago. Since then, with the help of my wife, my sister who also runs, and two dogs who pull incessantly and make running more of a chase than anything, I’ve reached a bit of a milestone. Jessica and I set out on a run on Monday, a modest two mile loop that we’ve done a number of times in the past, but still involves a stop along the way for me to catch my breath and ward off the potential complete shutdown of my respiratory system.  It was also a day i which the pollen count hit over 8,000 so running outside felt akin to jogging while smoking a cigarette.  I’m not sure if that’s actually ever been done, but if so, it has to feel like yesterday.

Halfway through our run my mind was drifting to weird places-wondering what exactly concrete is made of, if the people grilling on their porch were REALLY going to call 911, their faces were drenched with a look of concern.  No, no, I got this, I waved. As I turned the corner to the last half mile stretch of the run, I  thought about all the times I’d heard runners talk about “runners high”, or breaking through the “wall” and finding a place on the run where you aren’t necessarily thinking about the act of running.  Cute, I thought.  That’s not something I’m going to reach, that’s reserved for the folks who put in 8-10 miles a day.  As I kept going things got a little easier with each step, and i realized that I in fact, was there.  I wasn’t thinking about the run.  I wasn’t worried about trying to make it to the next landmark.  It was almost as if I took my hands of the steering wheel, and the car was still going straight.  This was what they were talking about.  This is why people run. This I can sign up for.

I crested the hill that marks the final push of our route and as I hit the finish line, my wife was just a few steps behind me, equal parts happy for the run, and mad at me for pushing past her a mile back.  Having a badass card usually means a competitive card, and she’s got one of those, too.

It’s entirely possible-actually, likely-the next run will be completely devoid of any kind of runner’s high.  I’ve been given a taste of it, and now I’ll expect it every time.  But it’s alright.  Just once was enough, and for now, i’ll keep trying for it.  I’m laced up.  I’m just hoping that at some point, stopping to catch my breath isn’t an actual heart attack.

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The Big Kid In Gym Class – He’s Turned 32

I’m not going to spend alot of time explaining why I’ve made the decision to join a crossfit class with my wife.  That’s a whole other blog.  I needed something to do physically, and the gym wasn’t cutting it.  So there.

Waking up at 5:30 am, going out into the frigid cold to work out with 25 strangers in a crossfit class isn’t exactly a blast. But it’s what I’m doing. My wife did it as a pre-wedding weight purge plan, and it worked.  And it worked well. Meanwhile, my pre-wedding workouts at the gym were less a workout and more a couple of routines I probably comparable to bringing in big bags of groceries.  I wasn’t exactly pushing it.

I’ve never exactly pursued physical fitness.  It was always one of those things i figured I would get around to at some point.  I’ve never gotten around to it.  I was the fat kid in gym class.  And to understand what that’s like, well, it’s a little difficult to put into words, but try this on for size: When you’re at your must fragile in the self conscience department, when kids are really at their nothing-is-off-limits meanest, gym teachers would do the annual weigh-ins for physical fitness testing.  They’d start telling the class about it a week ahead of time, and it was the most horrific day of the school year for me. When you’re the biggest kid in class, getting up on a scale in front of 35 of your classmates was like going to school naked.  Looking back, it was probably the worst possible way to do it, but i don’t think the fragile psyche of an overweight 12 year old was at the forefront of gym teachers’ minds.

So here I am, at 32 years old, 20 years removed from that trauma, and I’ve consciously decided to join a group of strangers for exercise 4 days a week first thing in the morning.  There are what they call burpees, an unholy little exercise that on the surface, looks harmless.  It involves dropping to the floor, doing a pushup, and lifting yourself back up and ending the whole thing by clapping your hands above your head.  Despite it’s non-threatening look, it is absolutely as painful as it sounds, and as looks just as ridiculous.

Burpees. The root of all evil.

There is of course, running. Which, even those who run marathons will say isn’t exactly an “enjoyable” exercise.  I’ve never understood the appeal, and my wife has tried relentlessly to explain it to me. And here we are……..running. Great.  I’m 15 yards behind everyone.  I’d done what i had always done, which was scan the group beforehand and try desperately to find someone I thought I’d finish ahead of.  I’d found him, and we’ll call him Marcus.  And now Marcus was 15 yards ahead of me.  I was last.  It was 1992, and I was in 6th grade all over again.  It’s ok though.  There’s a difference this time, it seems.

In years past, I may have bailed out. I’d have done a few laps, found a reason i needed to quit-you know, because it’s getting cold-but here there’s some sort of push from the trainers that kept me  moving.  This isn’t boot camp, and there’s no screaming. It’s a positive, methodical approach that I realized is why so many of these people have come back. It’s why my wife has been raving about it for months, and telling me that going to the gym after crossfit just wasn’t the same.  These trainers are as encouraging to me as they are to the first person to finish the warm up run.   So this, this might be the environment I’ve needed for so long. It’s an even playing field for everyone, at every level. I think I speak for most of the big kids in gym class-that’s really all we’ve ever wanted.