Saturday, June 30, 2007

Second Step: Running

There is a reason I titled this blog Running into the Sun. I have a new obsession: running.

I ran cross-country in high school (all four years). I had the good fortune to be on the team during some of its very best years. We won our conference championship twice, districts once, and were district runners-up once. We won a lot of invitationals, including one three times in a row. I was a member of the "varsity seven" all four years. I was not a points-getter; that was reserved for the top five runners. I was usually the sixth or seventh runner, a non-point-scoring place but crucial to our team's success if I managed to finish ahead of our opponents' point-scoring runners. I was good, but not great. My personal best 5K time in high school was 23:21. That is a respectable time but I was never going to find myself at the front of the field. I was content with this. I enjoyed the camaraderie of being on the team more than anything, and for four months a year I was in awesome shape.

After high school I let running fall by the wayside. I would occasionally run in the summer or at college during one of my rare "get in shape" periods. Essentially, though, I was done with running. I really gave up on running once I finished graduate school and got a job in the real world. That was also when I started gaining weight in earnest.

Last fall, after losing about 15 pounds on Weight Watchers, I decided it was time for me to start running again. At the time I still weighed over 200 pounds. I was not sure how my knees and hips were going to react to the strain of running. I was not 16 any more. I started off slowly, cautiously, timidly. I ran at a 12:00 minutes per mile pace. I just wanted to make sure I could still do it. My joints protested mightily! I chuffed breath like a steam train. I still managed to make it one mile. Once I had gotten past that first obstacle, I took off and never looked back. I was on my way.

I ran my first 5K in 6 1/2 years last November. My goal for the race was just to finish. My second, but not as important, goal was to finish without walking. I achieved both that day. I ran that 5K in 32:58, one of my two slowest 5K times ever. As soon as I finished, I said, "Next time, I will be faster!"

Since November I have competed in four additional races (three 5Ks and one 5.25-miler). I have improved my 5K time with each successive race. A week ago I ran in the Michigan Sugar Festival 5K and took second place in my age group. Here I am on the final approach to the finish line:

I have my sights set on a much bigger goal, however: the Detroit Free Press Marathon & Half Marathon. October 21, 2007 in Detroit. I am going to run the half marathon. I have been training using Hal Higdon's Novice Half Marathon Training program.

This blog is about my weight loss and about my running. The two are intertwined. I started running to aid my weight loss. My weight loss improved my running. I can't have one without the other. I'm going to talk about my push towards Goal (that's my Weight Watchers Goal), my training, my races, the food I eat, everything. This has been a remarkable journey thus far and I have the rest of my life to continue it.

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