Why do I want what I want? That’s a question I pose regularly on this blog. Sometimes I just shake my head at some of the things I want, but later, once I can see the situation retroactively, I find I’m able to answer that question. This month, I did something that even I thought was a little crazy to want to do, but now that I’ve done it, I see how much joy there is in just letting yourself want what you want.
Three years ago a friend challenged me to run an organized 5K. The last time I’d “run” anything was in high school, some 50 years earlier.
Now, running and me shouldn’t go together. I’m anything but a typical runner. First, I’m short. I take four strides to almost every other runner’s three. Second, I’m perennially overweight. I’ve been officially obese by government standards my entire adult life.
But a challenge is a challenge. So I strapped on my running shoes about two weeks before the 5K race and rumbled down my neighborhood streets a couple of times to convince myself I could actually run three-plus miles. I could.
The day of the race, another friend of mine, who was going to walk with his family, opted to run with me, as this was my first organized race. Great! Thanks, Joel!
Joel is a basketball player and a runner, with long runner legs that take nice rhythmic strides, and he’s half my age. But it was only three miles. How bad could it be?
I wrote about it in the June 2012 issue. It wasn’t pretty. I did a face-plant about 400 yards from the finish line, and only after Joel had caught me going down twice before. I think he just gave up on me!
But I still wanted to run. Not for the “runner’s high” or anything as noble as that. I just enjoy running outside. I appear to be in good aerobic condition, so I did some more running until 5Ks were easier. Never fast, mind you…my legs have not grown any longer. But that’s not my point. I like to run, and the prep and anticipation of organized runs give me a framework for doing it.
Last year, since I was running 5Ks and the occasional 10K, a friend challenged me to a mini-triathlon. Right! Swim 300 yards, bike 12 miles, and run 5K…in one seamless exercise. Right!
I bought a bike (hadn’t ridden in 25 years) and started to get my miles up. I could stay on, shift gears, and complete 20 or 25 miles at one sitting, so I guessed I could do that part of the race. I have a pool available to practice swimming, so the 300-yard swim was no problem, and I could run 5K. Got it.
Last June I completed the mini-triathlon.
Next? You guessed it. Somebody suggested I run a half marathon. I’m still short. Still overweight. Still old (and getting older), but what the hell!
I ran last fall, working my single-run mileages up to 10 miles. They tell you that if you can run 10, you can run 13.1. The half marathon was going to be in mid-October, and by mid-September I was running 10 miles…on target.
Then life got in the way. Travel. Birthday and anniversary dinners. Corporate retreats. I woke up and discovered I had not run in about three weeks, with less than two to go before the half. I feared injuring myself, so I withdrew.
Then the holidays, and another six to eight pounds, and little running. It was cold out there!
New Year’s Eve, my son-in-law challenges me to run in the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon in April. “But it’s cold out there!” I said. “Buy some clothes,” he responded.
Since the Christmas break, I’ve been running more or less consistently, and the weekend before the race, I ran 12 miles. Did I mention I really like to run? Not fast, of course…just run.
This past weekend, I ran and completed my first legitimate half marathon. Why? Because I wanted to…not for anybody else’s reason. Not to show off. Not to win. But to live life the way I want to. The day was fun. The course was fun. The people were fun. The chocolate station at mile 11 was a lot of fun! The finish line was incredible!
“Keep moving,” they tell my aging generation. It’s pretty much a Knower/Judger rule, and it’s one I like and that serves me well.
What do you really want to do…that’s fun…just for you…that others may think is a waste of time, or dangerous, or expensive, or disruptive? Jump in the rally car! Train for your first 5K! Enter Iowa’s RAGBRAI bike excursion! Fly a plane! Jump out of one! Life is seriously too short to decide against doing the things you really want to do.
Got two mini-triathlons coming up in June! More fun!