I once ran twelve miles in my sophomore year in high school. I ran track that year and thought I was in good enough shape to handle it. I took part in a walk-a-thon and decided that, since I ran track and cross country, I’d just run the route. I was showing off. I paid for it the rest of the week with stiff knees and calves so sore I could not practice. I left track that year, but not cross country. Might have been a mistake. Cross country was my sport, and I’d have probably made varsity with that extra season of structured practice.
During my senior year, I vowed I would run a marathon someday. At first, I thought I’d run it by the time I turned 21, but that didn’t work out. Then I thought I might train for it by 30. That also did not happen.
At age 38, I weighed 310 pounds, had ringing in my ears, and pain in my knees whenever I stood. Breathing for me took an effort, and my blood sugar could have been used to sweeten pastries. A long walk would probably kill me. Well, so would sitting on my ass, and I wanted to go down swinging. I don’t exaggerate when I say that, in 2004, I probably was dying. Literally.
So I took up long hikes. I discovered the Little Miami Bike Trail and began walking it in sections. I took vacations in Ohio’s Hocking Hills and eastern West Virginia, where I would take long hikes in the woods. In 2010, I bought a cheap bike and started riding long sections of the Little Miami Trail. I’d dropped about 40 pounds and fluctuated between 260 and 280 from then on.
And then I remembered that promise I made. I wanted to run a marathon. I picked a date on the calendar and decided I would run the Flying Pig Marathon here in Cincinnati in May of 2016. This year, I found a deadline really motivating. Over the summer, I’ve trained to run the Loveland Half Marathon. This past weekend, my Sunday long workout reached 12 miles. That picture above? I was every bit as proud as I look when I reached the end of the route. I also had to force that smile. I hurt.
But I’m smarter about it now. I’m training. This past week saw me log 30 miles. In less than a month, I run my first half marathon in Loveland, Ohio. Beyond that?
It’s the Pig, baby. I’ll have 6 1/2 months to prepare. That promises to be grueling. Fortunately, the early training regime is easy. By the time it gets tough, I’ll be used to it.
And then I’ll have to figure out what to do next.