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.
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.
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,