Thursday, September 18, 2008
Inspired by a friend who's walked daily for years, I start walking several times a week. It took me a while to swallow my pride. I figured walking was wimpy, walking was for old people. But after false starts with running in the past, where my lungs burned and my muscles screamed and I wanted to die, I thought maybe walking was all I was meant for.
I'm briskly walking the 1.25 mile loop five days a week. I quickly get over the "wimp stigma". Guys roar past me in their big redneck trucks and give me funny looks. Hey, at least I'm exercising. Go chug another beer, dude. I'm no longer cooped up in my office all day. My walk becomes my favorite part of the day.
During the winter I switched to an old Nordic track ski machine I bought on ebay. I figured I'd be in even better shape when the weather warmed up again for walking. What a joke. The Nordic track is a fine thing, but whatever muscles it exercises, they aren't the ones you use walking! It takes me a few weeks to enjoy a fast pace again.
No funky machines this winter. I'll take my exercise in the great outdoors, thank you. My wife buys me some traction aid thingies that slip over my hiking boots. These things are magic--I never slip once. I walk almost every day, all winter long. I walk on pure skating-rink ice dusted with light powder. I walk on crunchy snow and ice. I walk in two-foot-deep snow in the loop section that isn't plowed. I walk in the middle of blizzards. I walk no matter how freaking cold it is, as low as zero degrees. I covet my daily escape to fresh air and motion and outdoors. I feel seriously alive.
Early morning in springtime is intoxicatingly wonderful. Birds are amazing, and this place is loaded with them--meadowlarks, robins, mountain bluebirds, chickadees. I love being out in time to see Venus, Sirius and the last stars of Orion fade into each glorious sunrise.
One morning after only a few steps, I feel the urge to run a little. I think, "I'll just jog down to the corner." A mile later I complete the whole loop, tired but feeling good. The next day I run two miles. A few days later I hit three miles and break through the mental barrier from my pathetic season running high school cross country half a lifetime ago. Soon I'm up to five miles. Running completely replaces walking.
My cousin Miriam convinces me to come down for the Clackamas River Runoff 15K. The race ends up getting canceled, but I take a page from Captain Kirk where he says, "The word? The word is no. I am therefore going anyway!" Miriam recruits her friend Marlin (Uncle Craig's evil twin) and the three of us run our own little 8.25 mile race at the Stone Creek golf course in Oregon City. I have my best experience so far and learn a ton running with Marlin.
Afterward I tell Miriam I'm really enjoying running, I feel great, but I have no plans to take this much further. I'm not going to do anything psycho like a marathon. No way.
I consistently run at least 25 miles each week. I read Galloway's Book on Running as recommended by Marlin. Jeff Galloway sets me straight on some issues and my confidence and enjoyment of the sport increases.
Last fall my friend Joe was running 5 milers and it sounded as impossible to me as flying to the moon. Now here I am, enjoying 10-milers each weekend. Out of the blue a switch flips in my head. I want to run a marathon. I will run a marathon!
I have a lot of training ahead of me. I will enjoy every minute of it. Next May 30th, look for me in the Newport Marathon at the Oregon coast.
P.S. - Yes, of course I'm out of my gourd!
P.P.S. - If I have as much fun as I'm hoping, it will only get worse.