Today’s post is a treat for all of us who are less-than-athletic. You know who I mean. We are the ones who love the rain because it means we get to forego our walk/run/whatever we were going to do. After all, it’s a bit fanatical to get wet, on top of out-of-breath and sweaty! Really.
(Phil and me)
I started running three years ago after a 20-year hiatus. And to tell the truth, I never ran a whole lot even way back when. My first bumbling attempt at running was just weeks before my wedding in 1978. Phil persuaded me that even I could run. So I pulled back my waist length hair, pulled on my shorts, donned my Keds, and set out.
I didn’t get very far.
But still, I’d done it, and my incredibly compelling fiancé was impressed.
Eventually I choked out the fist full of cash necessary to buy real running shoes and clocked in some regular two and three milers. I never really liked it, but since I loved to eat even more than I hated sweating and huffing, I kept at it a few days a week.
Then my first baby came (that would be John Mark, for all you Solid Rockers), and with him came a funny flap on my stomach and extra pounds on the scale. And, since I loved eating as much or more than ever, that meant laps around suburbia. When we moved to Portland for Phil to go to grad school at Multnomah, a friend and I jogged ‘round and ‘round the one mile square block that encompassed the school as we tried to memorize Proverbs 31.
More babies came in the ensuing years. First Rebekah, then little Elizabeth, and eventually Matthew. Somewhere in there I gave up on running with the exception of occasional bursts of “starting again”. It was just too hard to figure out when and where with four little ones at home and more work than I could sanely handle.
The kids grew up and I grew out… out of those tiny sizes I once wore, out of my idea of what I thought my body ought to look like.
I walked a lot during those years. I love to walk. But by walk, I mean stroll. There’s just something that seems to me sort of sacrilegious about walking fast. And when I did have a walking partner who challenged me to a pace that induced a little sweating, I actually gained weight! Those were the years when my two oldest kids worked at Noah’s Bagels and at the end of each day they brought home a big bag of extras. Just the thing after a long morning walk!
But as the years went by and the pounds crept on, and walking the dog didn’t seem to make a dent, I kind of woke up one day and thought, “Maybe I should try jogging.” And I thought about it… and didn’t.
As my 50th birthday approached, however, I had a brilliant idea- I decided to have a really fun, absolutely out-of-character mid-life crisis. I’d spend my entire 50th year doing stuff I’d never done before.
Like adventurous, wild, oh-my-gosh-is-that-really-you kind of stuff.
First on my list was this crazy idea of running (well, jogging) a ½ marathon with my fitness-crazed daughter, Elizabeth. I’d never even been to a race of any sort in my life! The idea intrigued me for months before I decided to sign up.
I am NOT an athlete. In fact, I am about as couch potato as they come— a true bookworm who relishes a long rainy afternoon to curl up and read. I hate to sweat, have perpetually sore feet, and panic a little when I get out of breath.
Not exactly the Jodi Stilp triathelete type!
And then I did what bookworms do whenever they start something new- I got a book about running. Right about now some of you are flabbergasted that anyone would go out and buy a book about running. But this book was wonderful! Full of charts (I love charts) and tips and how to try.
My first day out I carried my kitchen timer with me to time my according-to-the-chart walking and running. Something like two minutes running, then two minutes walking, for a total of thirty minutes. Phew! After pouring my bath full of Epsom salts, and spending twenty minutes soaking the pain away (and reading), I emerged triumphant.
I had run!
For the first few months I called my daughter, Rebekah at least once a week and moaned that something must be wrong with me to hurt so much. She, medical professional that she is, assured me that my body would adjust and the soreness was no reason to quit. Take some ibuprofen, stretch, and keep up the Epsom salts.
After a while, I even bought myself something cute to wear (it really helps!) and felt full of the possibilities. I could do this. I didn’t have to be a skinny athlete to put one foot in front of the other and get in shape.
Two years later I’m still at it. I’ve added lots of cute running clothes (I tell ya, it does help!), replaced the kitchen timer with a watch (which I don’t look at, since I don’t time myself, since I don’t really care how fast I go), and I’m working up to attempt the Helvetia 1/2 on June 11th. It’s my goal to run a ½ marathon every year ‘til I’m 60.
I’m still slow. Some women could walk faster than I run. But that’s okay, because I like slow. Out on my runs I think and create and de-stress and figure out stuff. I nod at other runners and feel sort of proud of myself.
Not bad for an old lady.
I wish I had had Jodi coaching me and encouraging me as we all have her now. She knows what’s normal and what’s to be avoided. She believes in us. No, she can’t make us get out there and walk or run, but she sure can make it fun for us while we do. So listen up… and PLEASE sign up for the Helevetia 10k or ½ marathon on June 11th. I do not want to be the only non-athlete out there!!!
From my very slow self,