Sunday, June 22, 2008

How I Became a "Runner"

Yesterday I ran my first 5k race. It was the Mike Timlin 5K Race for ALS. Actually, to be completely honest, I ran about 2/3 of a 5k race and walked the rest.

--Mike Timlin could be a movie start, don't you think?--

My journey from couch potato knitter and Red Sox fan to sort of road race runner occurred almost imperceptibly over the last few months.

It all started in February of this year, while traveling with my friend and co-worker Vicki, I found myself walking on the treadmill at the hotel gym before a day of sitting in a trade show exhibit booth. Because I'm a people-pleaser and can't ever say no, when Vicki asked if I'd "work out" with her, I went to the gym.

On that first walk, I huffed and puffed and got very, scary red-faced. Vicki and I couldn't find two treadmills side by side, so I was on one side of the gym and she was on the other. I stepped onto the machine and fiddled with the buttons to program my workout, having no idea what I was doing our how this was going to turn out. I remember setting the time for 30 minutes, and the level at "1", thinking that would be more than long enough. 10 minutes into the walk, I was breathing hard, but I continued. 20 minutes in I was getting scared I'd have a stroke. At 30 minutes, as my machine beeped that my workout was complete, I looked over to Vicki, who was still easily jogging along on her machine. So I added another 5 minutes to my walk, thinking we'd be finished soon. At the end of 5 minutes, there she was, still jogging. Oh my God, I thought, will she ever end? I could barely breath at this point, so I stopped, got off my treadmill and wondered around the gym for a bit, stopped to get a bottle of water from the reception desk, and read the spa brochure. Still, Vicki continued jogging. I found a seat in the reception area and waited.

Finally, she found me. I was so relieved to see her. That is until she said, "I'm going to go do some crunches now". Was she crazy??!! She wanted to do more! At that point this people-pleaser had had enough. I headed back to my room and watched the Today show.

Slowly, the weeks passed. Vicki said she was thinking about joining the gym near our office and asked if I'd be interested in checking it out. I said sure (people-pleaser). I thought she just wanted to go and walk around, look at the treadmills and weights, maybe take a peek at the sauna or steam room. I thought it might be fun. Then she casually mentioned that she'd brought her gym bag and we could try out the treadmills at lunch. Duh! She wanted to actually TRY the new gym, not just look at it. I'm a little slow sometimes.

So we went. I wore big sweatpants and an old ugly t-shirt. She wore a matchy matchy little gym outfit and looked adorable. She jogged. I walked and got red-faced. We did crunches. Well, more often she did crunches. I did one or two and groaned. We stretched. We lifted little hand weights.

We joined the gym. We began to go 3 or 4 times a week. I walked more. I increased the speed on my treadmill. I found I was sleeping better at night. My skin started to look clearer. I stopped eating lunch from the candy bowl on the receptionist's desk and started eating a piece of fruit and yogurt instead. I started to eat breakfast every day. I drank more water.

Then the day came when Vicki told me about the Timlin Race. She'd done it before. It was easy. People ran, jogged, and walked. It was just over 3 miles. It was easy she said again. I wasn't sure. Could I do this? I wasn't a runner, I only walked. ButI was walking 2.5 miles almost every day, and that was almost 3 miles, and if I really tried I could probably run some of that. I wasn't sure. She told me that there would be Red Sox players there. She told me that Jason Varitek was there last year. Maybe I could get an autograph. That was the clincher. I went online and registered.

And now I am a "runner", sort of. The day was hot and sunny. People were laughing and excited. I started off running with Vicki and her young son, but after the first mile, lost them in the pack when I had to stop to tie my shoe. No worries though, I continued on. I ran a bit, walked a bit, and ran some more. Strangers and fellow runners cheered me on. Little kids on bikes and elderly people in lawn chairs applauded me as I ran past driveways and front yards.

Jason Varitek was not there to cheer me on, but I did stand very close to Mike Timlin and Justin Masterson at one point. I also saw Tim Wakefield for a quick moment. It was wonderful. I finished my first "race" in 42 minutes. I wasn't first, but I certainly wasn't last. It felt great.

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