Sunday, December 26, 2010

Why am I the reluctant runner?

I'm a 49 year old mother of one, who's only just went off to college, leaving me with an "Empty Nest". I guess I have been trying to figure out how to "fill" the nest, once my daughter headed to Nashville, for several years. I have also battled a weight problem for most of my adult life. It's a constant struggle for me. I was afraid that my life would become "dinners out" or "carry out" once it was just my husband and I at home. In short, I needed a hobby that would give me socialization, get me out of the house and preferably burn calories rather than consume them!

After years of gym classes, and a few aborted attempts at long distance cycling, I was at a loss. Last spring was my "aha moment". I had decided to ride a "Century Ride" with my friend in October 2010. I kept getting out my bike and trying to train. In April, I took a spill off my bike (in traffic) when I blew a tire. I broke the pedal, the day before a 35 mile "Fun Ride" that my husband and I were planning to ride in. I took my bike, which I had never felt comfortable on, into the nearest bike shop and told them I wanted to sell it. The bike is a high performance bike that I was basically talked into. I have always felt unstable and unsafe on it. I just wanted a different bike.

I bought a commuter bike, a nice Raleigh with a slightly wider tire and a heavier frame. It felt like riding an old friend. However, at that moment, I knew that I would never be any more than a recreational cyclist. There would be no centuries for me. A gal that is afraid to clip into pedals because of a fear of falling is not a cyclist. I needed a new sport.  (BTW, my husband and I DID complete the "Fun Ride" and we plan on doing it again next year -- for FUN!)

During High School and College, which were light years ago, I was an athlete. I played Field Hockey and Lacrosse in high school and club Rugby in college. Running was my least favorite part of sports. It was a necessity that I did as little of as possible. No extra laps for this chick.

I had been attending group aerobic dance classes at my gym, my knees and ankles were getting really beaten up by the side to side motion. My body felt old and I didn't know where to go. Pilates Reformer, which I love and swear by, was keeping me in my clothes!

My online friend, Marsha, was starting a running program called "Couch to 5K". Being a "gadget girl", I was intrigued by the ipod touch app. I bought the app and decided "What the heck?". Worst case, I'm out $5. Of course, I decided to start my running program on July 10, 2010, right in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record. Who said I was smart? I just needed something and I needed it NOW! I had a lot of stress, getting my daughter off to college. I couldn't wait for the weather to cool. My BFF, Debbie, who is also the kind of gal that starts a diet on Thanksgiving, said she would do the program "with me". We don't live near each other, but we kept each other moving.

The first few weeks were torture. I felt like a "poser". However, I kept to the "run/walk" regime. During Week 3, I went to a running shop and was professionally fitted for a pair of running shoes. I tend of "over pronate", who knew? Once I learned not to fight my new shoes, I was running pain free. I was actually starting to like it.

The next thing that we needed (Debbie and I) was a concrete goal. My neighborhood was hosting an inaugural 5K in memory of a resident that had died from Pancreatic Cancer. Our good friend, Hugh, had just died from Carcinoid Cancer, which affected his pancreas. It seemed like a perfect fit, plus it was several months away. We tailored our training plan to get to November 6. (Oh, by the way, my girlfriend that I was supposed to cycle with, joined up with "Team in Training" and completed her first Century in October. I was very proud of her. I didn't feel even a tinge of regret, just pride for her!)

I completed the "Couch to 5K" program in September, right on schedule. My journey included running in 5 states; Virginia (where I live), Maryland (where we have a condo at the beach), Delaware (I run into Delaware from my beach place), NY (where I ran in Central Park on vacation) and Tennessee (where I ran on my way to take my daughter to college). What a journey.

I would definitely recommed the program for anyone that wants to start running. My advice is to be patient. Do the program as written. You will be stronger, healthier and better mentally for it. It has made me a runner. Hard to imagine.

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