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.|
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.
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|
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.