Saturday, October 1, 2011

Challenge Accepted By Jeff Pistone (@deltwalrus)

If you had asked me 6 months ago what I thought about running, I'd have told you it's fantastic... if someone handed you the football, if you just hung a frozen rope into left field and were trying for second, or if a large bear was chasing you through the woods.

Especially that last one.  Bears are grumpy when they're hungry.

I just didn't get the appeal of running for the sake of running. It held no value to me, and I viewed those who gave it value as being somehow a little... "off."  And that's true, most runners are a little "off" to one degree or another. You'd have to be off a bit to go out and run five kilometers on a 40-degree morning with Niagara-style constant mist falling and a wind that would make anyone with half a brain step outside and utter a quick obscenity and turn right back round and head inside.

Yeah.. because this is TOTALLY normal.
But that's just what I did this particular lovely Ohio morning.  In fact, my final question to my wife as I left the car to head for the starting line was "pants or no pants?" which is actually much more commonly-uttered in my house than you'd imagine, but on this day, it proved one thing: I was officially "off."

What started me "off" on this adventure was a challenge.  More like a dare.  No, really more like a semi-doubtful statement.  "Here's this Couch-to-5K program for your phone," said my wife.  "It gets you slowly into running shape so you can run a 5K at the end of it.  Try it, but I bet you won't stick with it."  I was only half-listening to her until I heard that last part.

Challenge accepted.

My first few weeks were all treadmill walk/runs, with the TV on and the kids playing, and it was all good.  I had to repeat a week, but despite that, I ran my first 5K practice run well ahead of the pre-arranged schedule.  So when that 5K does arrive, no sweat, I figured.  But then something happened that I did not expect.  Someone had the bright idea to have a race at Oktoberfest.

Beer.  Sausage.  Beer.  Four miles.  Beer.  Wait, FOUR miles?  Oh yeah, beer.

Four miles won't sound like much to a lot of you, but I'm a rookie here.  So I planned for that.  And ran it.  And ran it well, meeting all three of my major goals (don't finish last in your age group, under 50 minutes, and NO walking).  Got my medal, got my beer, got my bratwurst.

A smile as big as my beer
Oh... yeah, that OTHER 5K.

Part of me said, "Why bother? You've already proven her wrong.  You've won."  But then, something kicked in.  I'm not sure if it was pride, the fact that we'd already paid my registration fee, or something else, but something urged me onward, to push myself harder.

So on this rainy, cold, miserable morning, I ran.  Were it not for the race today, I would probably not have even ventured outside into that mess, but I ran.

And dammit, I did it again.  I set another personal best pace for myself.  I wanted to finish under 36 minutes for the race.  I set that goal for myself, intentionally setting it high so I'd have something more to chase after this race.  I didn't want that apathy to seep back in.  I'd never finish under 36:00, but it's good to have goals, right?  Gotta have something to strive for.

So I ran the 5K.  In 35:59.

But this time, there was no apathy.  No "what now?" moment.  No wondering why I should continue or what I should try next, other than just getting out there and running.  Mind you, I still don't really enjoy running.  As someone once said, "What I truly enjoy is when I _stop_ running."  And that's true for me, both for the relief of finishing and the celebration that I did something I never thought I'd do six months ago.

And then it hit me.  When you get into it, you find your own personal bear.  And he never stops chasing you.

Stay hungry, fellow bears.

My biggest fan

About the Author:

Jeff Pistone is husband to this blog's owner, her biggest fan, and her lifelong friend.  He's a computer geek by trade, which makes his physical accomplishments all the more impressive.  When not running, you can find him plastered to a computer screen, playing Star Wars Legos with his boys, or complaining about various facets of everyday life.  Follow him @deltwalrus on Twitter.


  1. Congrats! I loved the Star Wars Lego YouTube videos by the way... So did my boys!

  2. Great job Jeff! It is something you don't think will really catch you isn't it? I'm a new runner and have caught the "bug"...

  3. Awesome job! and congrats to getting the hubby to run, wife. My husband and I are both lifelong runners but sometimes I need to challenge him to get back out there. Taking notes.


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