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.