Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I wonder if I can still make a dentist appointment?

Many of you may already know, in an effort to whip myself into shape, I have agreed to run a half marathon. When I made this decision, other activities seemed more appealing to me, like going to the dentist, or being stuck in the eye by a hot stick, but the health benefits seemed to be greater with running than with those activities, so I went with the half marathon.

Some have asked if that distance is difficult, to which I respond, “Duh, it’s 13.1 miles!” But the truth is that the training is difficult part. The day after day, week after week of running on the treadmill or on city streets is the most challenging component. The day of the race is actually a relief (imagine hearing this at the finish line, “Yes! It’s all over! I can quit training!”). Look, my body just isn’t made to run. I watch some guys run and they look like a sports car, it is natural for them. I am more like a tractor. Have you ever gotten behind a big tractor while it is driving down the road? Then you know what it is like to watch me run. The terms, lumbering, slow, and awkward have all been used to describe my running style.

Others have asked, “Once you get in your running groove, do you feel that runners’ high?” My answer is simply, “No, I have never felt a runners’ high. I have felt runners’ pain, does that count?” Nonetheless, my training began about six weeks ago and besides some time off due to illness, I have been faithfully working out during that time. I have already seen some benefits; like having more energy and losing some weight. But, I also have felt the side effects of this big guy running; a sore back, knees, ankles, and wrist (You may be asking yourself, wrist? Well, at this point, I hate running so much, that any pain or discomfort I experience, I blame on running, so yes, my wrist).

So why do I do this if it just results in pain and complaining? Well, I’ll give you the standard answer . . . for my health. I want energy for my kids and a long life with my family. While that answer is certainly true, there is also another motivating factor. When I signed up to run this torture test (it sounded like a great idea at the time, of course, I hadn’t run a single mile in a while and the pain involved clearly had slipped my mind), I paid a $100 nonrefundable entry fee and booked a hotel room. My negative feelings about running pale in comparison to my cheapness and there is no way I am throwing away that type of money, so, suffer, I will. With my money protected, my training keeps plodding (probably the perfect word to describe my training) along.

During a recent training session on our property, my son decided to come out to join me. I took great pride in the fact that I could easily outrun his John Deere tractor (forget the fact that it was a toy and the packaging said it was 3 year olds and up). He had to adjust his strategy to stay with me (since I was leaving him in the dust) and started just cutting across the middle of the yard just to catch me on the far side and say, “Hi Daddy”. This, by the way, was the best cheering section I’ve ever had and a wonderful motivator. Eventually I hit my cool down lap and my son got off of his tractor and walked with me. I was walking at a quick pace, so he would fall back a bit and have to run to catch up. After weeks of training, my son summed up my feelings best when at the end of our cool down lap he said, “Boy, all this running sure is tiring, let’s go in the house and rest.” My sentiments exactly, maybe I can still change my plans and make a dentist appointment.

For information on how you can support me on this run and an incredible nonprofit organization at the same time, see the posting below.

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