I have been running.
I know those of you who know me well are probably in shock at hearing this. But I have wanted to become a runner for a long time. I first got the bug when we swapped houses some years back with a wonderful English family, and they participated in a New York City half-marathon while they were here. I was impressed, and I corresponded with them about it. They recommended to me the book that had gotten them started: Running Made Easy by Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson. I read the book and was hooked. I did the book's little ten-week get-started plan . . . several times.
Then one of my daughters dabbled in track at school, so I tried to run with her, to see if I could keep up. I couldn't.
Now, she's sixteen and I'm forty-five, and I have all kinds of other excuses that I could detail here, but I won't. I had some legitimate physical issues this past year that seemed like really good reasons not to exercise, so I let it lapse.
But the bug never left me, and lately, I have been getting back into it.
I said to myself, "It doesn't matter how far I go or how fast I go. No one knows about this but me." Indeed, it was one of the few things about my life that was truly all about me. It doesn't cost a cent, other than a decent pair of sneakers and a little stolen time from a busy day. And I don't know any runners who have weight problems. It seems to me like an ideal way to exercise.
So, after the kids were off to school in the morning and before I settled in to work, I took myself for a walk. I started in the park down the street, which has a nice running track and is frequented at that hour only by two or three dog-walkers and a little old lady who does tai chi by herself near the monkey bars. I gave myself a half hour and just said, "Let's see what I can do."
It turns out that I can walk a pretty nice distance in half an hour, if I keep up a good pace.
Encouraged, I went home and downloaded the Nike+ GPS app onto my iPhone. This is an app that tracks your speed and distance, gives you challenges and encouragement, and plays the music of your choosing while you go. I love it. I told myself, "The app is for runners, but it doesn't need to know you're just walking. Let it think you're the slowest runner in the world. Who cares?"
I walked and walked. I bumped up my time gradually until I had reached an hour every other day. And then something weird happened - I just started jogging. At first, I jogged just once around the track, and then walked the rest of the way. It broke up the monotony, and I wanted to see if I could do it. I could! I was thrilled! Then I challenged myself to jog once around for every eight loops. Then, four loops for every mile. My outdoor track is eight loops to a mile - that meant I was jogging half the time!
The weather got colder, so I took it inside, to the smaller indoor track at my gym. The indoor track is sort of boring, so I spent a few minutes one evening making my music more interesting. Also, there are more people there, and passing people on the track - or not passing them - makes me inexplicably nervous. I also hate the thought of people seeing me run - I am not the most physically fit person on earth. But I have been persistent. I set a personal best for a 5K yesterday afternoon, right before I went to pick up the kids from school. I felt a strange combination of euphoria and exhaustion.
I know you're thinking this must be a guest post, someone other than Jennie writing. I'm the queen of knitting, baking, blogging, criticizing other people's grammar and driving habits, and other sedentary pursuits. But there's another side to me. I secretly long to be athletic, and though I will never be a real athlete, it has made me very happy to know that I am not totally out of the game yet.
Today's a rest day, and my shins are thanking me. But I am very much looking forward to tomorrow - and that's always a good thing, right?