A Gamer’s Journey to the Marathon (Part 1)

It’s been 10 whole months since I leaned forward from my Mountain Dew hang-over and agreed to join some friends in a go to do a Marathon. What really possessed me? I have no fricken clue. Someone must have sprinkled cocaine on my Doritos that afternoon.

Myself around mile 12 in the 2010 Chicago Marathon

I took up the goal and kept to it. In all fairness, I’m not athletic, I’m not even able to be motivated if I don’t want to. The fact that I didn’t even just bow out after spending the money is actually far beyond what I ever imagined. I, in all honesty, expected to abort once reality set in. For whatever reason, I can’t really look back and tell why, but I kept running. Even after not really making progress, after getting shin splints, after basically being questioned by everyone, I can’t see what keeps it going. The following is a recollection of the first 4 months.

Keep It Quiet, Keep It Safe

I start my journey as a mid-27 year old, beat down and depressed, over-weight, spends all free time gaming and overall, a sad shell of person. I so happen to end my journey at the same point, I’m just now 28. I was at the fattest point in my life. 6 foot 3 inches at 278 pounds, the last girlfriend was very depressing. Anyways, here you have a kid who basically hasn’t done any physical exercise in a decade. Add on top of that, for basically 8 years of that decade I had been smoking a pack and half a day. So … picture your practical worst case scenario for running marathons.

I made my declaration for running the Chicago in December of 2009. I made a small road map for what I needed to do and how to do it. First couple of months were to lose some weight and change my diet. I quickly changed my diet and my drinking habits practically over night. Of course, if you change how you eat, everyone will notice. “Why are you doing that?”

You’ll explain, then say you are going to run a marathon, to which you will be looked from head to toe and given a shotty smirk. Not just a couple of people, like everyone fucking person you tell. Anyone … everyone. Friends, good friends, co-workers, family, all of them. The most polite of which are able to put on their bull-shit face and go without being able to look you in the eyes and say “good for you.” In hindsight, there is really no reason to tell anyone, anything, ever.

I really can’t stress the above. It wasn’t 4 or 5 times, it was everyone. Every single person that I told. In better hindsight, instead of not telling anyone; you should record their reactions, come back months later, show them their reactions on video, as they start to stutter and back pedal, as the first syllable leaves their fat hypocrite lips, you reach back and smack them in the face with your medal. Some may call it assault, I call it hilarious.

The Wall is at Mile 1, Not Mile 22

By the end of January, I was trying to run and failing hard. Like … a mile was difficult. I went weeks battling that mile. That’s all I could really do. 1 mile at a time. Each night I’d leave the office, go to the gym and run a very slow (like a 13 minute) mile. By the end of February I had moved up to walking for a half mile, running a mile or more, and walking another half. Reality was setting in. Doubt plagued me. I started going to the gym with a couple of people from work. One of which was very discouraging. I know she thinks she is encouraging, but far from it. She noticed that within a month I had made no real progress, and really lost no weight, and was happy to cram that down my throat.

At the same time I had a friend planning to run the marathon too that I thought maybe was in my boat. Instead he was quick to boast about any success he made. His first night on a treadmill was a breezy 7 miles. I still remember the Facebook post like it was yesterday. There is just no room for encouragement. You wanna know how people find encouragement? It’s simple, find someone worse than you, feel better about yourself. I just couldn’t find my lesser.

The Muse

In the beginning of March, a girl from work starts having conversation with me. She turns out to be a long time distance runner. Not marathons, oh no, she does 50 to 75 milers. She runs 15 miles on a treadmill when she has steam to blow off. I was honest about my pitiful upcoming failures, I was doubtful and willing to bow out now if it meant less shame down the road. In all forms I couldn’t find one bit of sarcasm or discouragement in her tone. She encouraged an immediate run to do an 8K with her to start the running season.

My daily runs now turned into being ready for the 8K. 5 miles. “I just have to do 5 miles.” Right before the race, I was finally able to do 5 miles on the treadmill. Barely, but I did it. First time in my life, I think.

Saint Patrick Doesn’t Run

I showed up to a cold very large 8K event in D.C. in celebration of Saint Patties Day. Apparently, you don’t go to races alone. Because you’ll just stand there for a long time … alone. I didn’t mean to go alone. I was supposed to go down with the encouraging real runner from work, who didn’t answer her phone all that morning. Fake stretching and kind of acting like you know what the hell you are doing was what I had for about 45 minutes till race start. It was cold.  I wore and old green stripe shirt (to be festive) and cross patterned long shorts. I was so nervous and I was panting before it started. But I ran; with my keys, wallet and phone in my pocket. They were dancing about and clanging like Santa just decided to run. It was cold, did I mention that?

The course was designed in such a way that it made a ‘Y’. Just perfect for you to pass the 1 mile mark and watch all the real runners to the side of you reach their 2.5 mile mark. I stared at the ground most of the way. I never stopped to walk, I think I was too afraid to. My mind was focused on almost nothing. To the degree that on mile 4, I hear the following “Hey, I like your pace. Mind if I run with you?” Granted, it’s a large race, we (even us in the back) are taking up almost all the road. There is no running alone, you are surrounded. You could only take this one way. And I, I am an idiot of many proportions. I say “Sure,” with a smile. However, I then go, because I’m thinking in my mind, I can run faster for this last mile; I say “I’m going to try to run faster.” She, with a not so uppity voice anymore says, “Oh, okay.” I then am forced to gallop off, I could go faster, just not that fast. How often are you going to get hit on during a race, or even at all? You are reading the blog of a full-blown idiot.

As I cross the finish line, my idiotic move finally seeps into my brains. If there were pictures of my crossing the finish line, it would be the face and reaction of someone just realizing how stupid they were. I wasn’t wearing my glasses of course. So all I saw of her was she was wearing blue fleece and seemed tall. I’m blind, leave me alone. I get my water and look around for her, to no avail. I assumed she died. Fair assumption, right? So … instead of feeling good about my first event type thingy, I then get to take the train home, sitting there thinking about how stupid I am.

Part 2 gets better,


17 thoughts on “A Gamer’s Journey to the Marathon (Part 1)

  1. Okay, what you’ve tried to do and remember this, is make a change in your life. If it was bloody easy everyone one would doing it.

    Take the positives from what you have so far achieved.

    When I tried for a half marathon, I did it slightly different. I did all of it on the road, because I felt that running machines make things slightly easy !!!

    But I just did

    1min run
    1min walk
    1min run
    .etc for about 30 mins

    Then a week later
    2min run
    1min walk
    2min run

    and so on until about 10 mins run 1 min walk at which point I could run the 30 mins and after that it was just a process of increasing the distance.

    As the lady at work basically said, small races inbetween are vital. They’re good way points in your journey and get you used to running in with a large group of people, which isn’t the same as running on your own. You have to be careful of that initial burst of enthusiam at the start of the race. What’s nice about big races with lots of people, is if your training has gone well and you’ve stuck to your training plan, then you’ll be passing people as the run goes on and that’s a sweet boast.

  2. Good for you, I love the fact that you are sticking with it. Even when faced with all the naysayers, you are an inspiration! Love you blog btw.

  3. Seems quite a few people have been taking up running recently. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do and tried for a couple of weeks but diddn’t keep it up due to laziness/time constraints. Been meaning to try again but need to knock smoking on the head first :-/

    I loled at the last two paragraphs :-)

    • Do it.

      Actually running might make you stop smoking once you hack you left lung up.

      Also, as an old smoker, years later, the effects and hacking are still there. It took months to clear the lungs.

  4. Hahaha… thanks for the reading.

    The bitter anger combined with flat-honesty is exactly my style of humor.

    And, I must admit, (pathetically, perhaps), you’ve given me some inspiration to start running again.

    I’ve always been bad at it, I can do a mile or two tops, and then I’m pretty winded. I keep going to do it, then dropping it because, well, I’m a lazy ass. So… yeah long story short, your tale of gruelling torture has given me drive to do some gruelling torture of my own. Thanks!

    • Exactly. My story must be shared.

      Otherwise all you’ll find are inspirational happy bullshit tales of non-sense, which will then make you feel bad about the situation. The truth must be told.

      Get to running buddy, it’s addictive.

  5. Great read man! I can’t wait to read part 2. Two things..

    1. Is that you in the red? If so, that’s a far cry from 278! Gratz!

    2. Not sure where your from, but you mentioned running in DC. I’m from that area and have done a couple of runs in DC. If you ever need some company give me a shout, I’d run one with ya.. as long as we could drink fancy, overpriced bears after!

    Keep it up man!

    p.s If you see Muckfoot on Badlands.. don’t kill me, I’m terribad. Besides, I’m a fan of the blog so that would just be wrong!

    • Yeah that’s me in the top pic. I figure, throw one up of the recent to build up to a happy ending.

      Oh. I’m always up for run and brews. It’s how it should be. Sounds like alot of us like to game and run.

      Getting ideas for a Mr Meh run around DC day. Now to find a good cause.

  6. I was in much the same place you were last year (coincidently enough considering the age similarities). Until I was 25, I was a pack a day smoker. When I got married, it dropped some, but I kep smoking at least 3 packs a week until 27. When my wife got pregnant I quit. I was always also a very out-of-shape, unfit person, at my heaviest, I was hitting 265 @6′-0″ (pregnant wife making cookies every other day ftw!). After our daughter was born, wife and I looked at ourselves and said, “fuck this, we’re fat-asses” and started dieting. I’ve lost ~40 pounds, and she’s lost ~35 (post pregnancy weight).

    We’ve toyed with the idea, but neither of us are runners. Hell, neither of us are athletic. And the fear of the run is fucking monumental. We both would like to do a marathon someday, but have no idea how to get over the hurdle of starting.

    So, fuckin’, more power to you man. It’s a hell of an accomplishment, maybe this time next year, I’ll be able to say I did the same thing, but I’m doubtful.

  7. Pingback: A Gamer’s Journey to the Marathon (Part 2) « Mr. Meh

  8. Dude!

    Had to laugh about you missing the chance to connect with a friendly sort in the middle of a 8K.

    Can’t tell you how many times I did the same thing – and I wasn’t oxygen deprived at the time.

    Rest assured that you have not cornered the market on those sorts of moves. I could fill a blog with my stories…

    I was a regular runner until I left the Army five years ago. Now I am trying to get back to it. My problem is the injuries that come back – sore shins here, hurt knees there, etc.

    Curse this aging body!

    Keep swinging!

  9. Pingback: Self cross-promotion « Shadow-war

  10. Pingback: A Gamer’s Journey to the Marathon (Part 3) « Mr. Meh's Supplication

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