Friday, March 03, 2006


In my quest for personal challenges I began running. I had gotten up to 35 minutes on the elliptical and figured that perhaps it was time to shift to the treadmill.

I have never been a runner. I have never had to run. I was never involved in athletics that involved sustained movement. In school I played baseball and football. In baseball I was first baseman - the most movement you make there is walking 5 steps at a time. You don't even have to throw well, you just have to be able to catch. In football, I played Center. There's no running in that position either - it's all blocking (but it has made me able to navigate through a crowded bar at warp speed). So adding running to my exercise regimen is a big deal for me.

Chicago is a big "running city". Everyone runs here. There's a race, like, every weekend. And there are people running along the lakeshore all year long, more so in the summer. Most of the people I know in Chicago are runners; the BF is a runner. So it's more than just exercise, it's also a social outlet. They all stand around and talk about the "Shamrock Shuffle" or "Hustle Up The Hancock" or the "Turkey Trot". At first I thought these were all dance moves or something. And then I caught on. I'm slow like that sometimes.

I attempted running on a treadmill once about 4 years ago. Not sure if it was the acoustics in the gym, the location of the treadmill, how much I weighed at the time, or a combination thereof. But when I ran, the sound of BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM reverberated through the gym. People actually stopped and turned, thus ending my running career. And I never tried it again. Until last week.

"Can you hear me? Can you hear me running?"
- Mike & The Mechanics

My original goal was to run for 15 minutes. I figured that if I could last 35 minutes on the elliptical, I should be able to last at least half that time on the treadmill. So I gave it a whirl. My iPod was blaring Annie Lennox in my ears and I felt good. Around minute number 11 though I started hitting my wall. I looked at the monitor and I had run 7/10 of a mile at 5 MPH. Suddenly it became more important for me to complete the mile than to last 15 minutes. So I pushed. And I made it. First time in my life, I ran a mile.

This fulfilled many goals and began some new ones. For one thing, knowing I can run a mile without needing to stop means that I am in better shape than I was before my heart surgery in August; and certainly better than the months following it. So the emotional impact of this was huge for me. I actually had to cry a bit on my walk home from the gym. There is nothing like personal fulfillment.

Second, if I can run one mile, then in no time I should be able to run two, then three. My plan is to continue to run one mile every day for a week, then on every Monday to add an additional 1/4 mile. Once I am up to 3 miles, I will then start increasing my pace and speed. My ultimate goal is to run in the
Race to the Taste 5K in July. And then I will be able to stand around with my friends and discuss local races.

And perhaps a few dance moves.