In about 6 weeks, I will run my first 5K, and since committing to do it a few months ago, I’ve been training quite a bit, and up until last week, I had a routine of doing 45-60 minutes on an elliptical twice a week and doing 15-30 minutes on either the treadmill or the elliptical three times a week on my lifting days. (I also walk a mile or two from work to the ID or in Seward Park several times a week, too.)
When I hit the treadmill though, I rarely ran. I’d start with a walk, then a fast walk, then a slow jog when no one was looking. Someone seeing me running felt like someone seeing me pooping. All that breathing and body moving should be a private affair, not something I’d do in high socks with band-aids over my nipples. But now that has all changed.
And while running and then jogging and then fast walking and then just walking, I kept thinking, “When will this be over?” So I forced my mind to wander to work, to being an almost-dad, to the NBA Finals, the NFL lockout (ESPN was on!), to how great Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad” was (Just finished it!), and ultimately, to these five things:
1) I hate running. Some people, like my friend Steve, were “born to run.” I am not one of those people. (If you come see “Fat Fuck” in its full form (Yes, that pun was bad, I know.), you’ll learn all the things that I was born to do, but here’s a sample slide to whet your appetite.) Running bores me. Even with an iPod and a gaggle of flat screens to choose from at the gym, I can’t focus on anything other than how much I hate what I am doing and how much I’d just like to stop running and, well, end up like any one of these people.
2) My mind can run this 5K, but I’m not sure my groin can. Last week, I ran–and jogged and fast walked and, ultimately, walked–my first 5K on the treadmill, but before I could even get a mile in, my groin began throbbing–and not in a good way. So, I kept repeating to myself…
3) I am a champion. As my groin was spasming, I wanted to quit. I stopped. Stretched. Spread out on the floor and sweat and then pushed play on the audio version of one of the most inspirational speeches I’ve ever heard, delivered by a high school coach, Coach Flowers, before a big game, and got my ass back on the treadmill. The speech is Barack Obama meets “Remember the Titans,” and despite my pain, I knew “surrender was not a champion’s word.” And who am I? I am a champion. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself.
4) Running this 5K isn’t about exercises and fitness; it’s about proving to myself that I can do it. Okay… I’ll be honest. After putting 80 of the 140 lbs. I lost back on, my confidence level took a major hit. (For anyone that knows me well, you probably find that hard to believe.) Now that I’ve lost 50 of that 80, I am feeling like a beast again, but not quite as much as before. The 5K, though, is the kind of challenge that will truly convince me of what every mother tells their child: I can do anything if I set my mind to it.
5) Thighs were meant to rub together. If you are one of those people whose thighs have never rubbed together, consider yourself about as rare as Bigfoot. I am not one of those people. When I run–or jog or fast walk or just walk–my thighs rub together like they are trying to start a fire beneath my crotch. In my really heavy days, my inner thighs looked like the Elephant Man, bumpy and gnarled and oddly discolored (No, I did not have an STD.) from all that friction. In my less heavy form, my thighs aren’t exactly Siamese twins joined just above the kneecap, but when I run, they do touch, and after running a mile, it feels like my loins were extras in “Backdraft.” Unfortunately, Kurt Russell wasn’t there to save them.
With six weeks to go, I have more running ahead of me. And more groin pain, more thigh burning and definitely more time to whisper “I am a champion” to myself while trying not to commit suicide by treadmill.
And I will tell you all about it.