Friday, October 10, 2008

Run for your life...

Running is hard. Why didn’t someone remind me of that when I made this ridiculous commitment to train for a marathon? It’s been over a decade since I’ve been in really good running shape. Let me tell you how things change in ten years:

Weight. It’s higher now. In high school, I could tip the scales north of 130 only after a large meal. Shortly after high school I had skyrocketed all the way to a buck fifty-five. Yahoo. No longer afraid to go outside in a stiff wind, I left distance running in favor of street hockey. My weight stayed pretty consistent until a few years ago, when I left the active retail floor for a job in a cubicle. In eight short months, I had found an extra thirty pounds. Then another ten or so snuck up on me and planted themselves on my midsection. So now, as I go thud-thudding down the road in what we used to call a “piddle jog”, my significant weight pounds my skeleton with every step. Places hurt. Places I was not previously aware of. I think my spine may eventually give up and leave me in an invertebrate puddle on the side of the road.

Speed. I no longer have any. At all. Mile pace? Try ten minutes. Last time I kept track of such things, it was closer to six minutes. I was never a speed demon, but good enough for mid-pack finishes in high school. 5K races in the 18’s were the norm. I would be thrilled to bust out a sub 20-minute 5K at some point before I die. At this point that looks unlikely.

Pace. Here’s a problem. You know how riding a bike is like…well, riding a bike? Your body remembers how to pedal, balance, lean into turns, etc. Well, a runner’s body remembers its pace. It’s that magical rhythm you fall into. It’s comfortable, safe. You can speed it up or slow it down some, but I’m convinced there’s a fundamental pace your body wants to follow. My brain would really like to settle into that pace. My body says “sure” but only for twenty seconds. You have any idea how embarrassing it is to be heavy-breathing after half a block?

Endurance. Again, I no longer have any. It is building slowly. Very, very slowly. I can make it about two miles now. Once I even pulled off a 1.5 miler with an 8.5 minute mile pace. Wow, we’re blazing now! Strangely I haven’t even been able to repeat that performance. A marathon is 26 miles folks. Do the math. At this rate I’ll be ready to go in roughly 254 years. I wonder if Noah was a runner.

Kimberly has started running now too. So the pressure is on. I have to stay in better condition than my non-runner wife. Although it would be extremely cool to run together. A friend of mine and his wife recently did the half-ironman in Boise. She kicked his butt. I don’t mind admitting, that would really freak me out. Kimberly is an artist. Her beating me in a race would be like me beating her in…painting. Can you beat someone in painting?

We’re taking turns running tomorrow morning (someone has to stay with the kids). If she goes farther or faster, I promise to lie about it in my blog.