I didn't start running immediately. In 2003, I remember running into a college friend of mine, Karen Oldham, at the YMCA downtown. I was swimming to try and loose weight (for the 50th time in my life) before my wedding in late January 2004. She was training for her first half marathon. I remember thinking that was cool, but she was certifiably nuts. Running is what "other people" did. I'm not a runner, nor could I be. That was for "super athletes", people really in shape. I did loose about 25 lbs. swimming (I also put it back on and then some later). The point is, I think most people think of running as a sport you have to be a super athlete to do, and it's really not.
Fast forward to December 2008. I didn't even consider running. Not even on the radar. By this time in my weight loss journey, the weather had turned nasty and I wanted to join a gym to meet people to keep me motivated, check out classes and use their weights. After about a month of the elliptical machine, I was growing tired of it. It was starting to become mundane and I wasn't looking forward to it. Then, every day I would notice this guy running on the treadmill in the gym. He looked like he was relaxed and it seemed effortless. Later, I would learn his name is Brent Plummer and he worked with my husband at Toyota. Anyhow, I would watch Brent jog. Not in a creepy stalker way, but I really admired how easy he made it look. So, one day I spoke to him and asked how far he ran each day.
"4 miles or so," he grinned as he kept on trucking on the treadmill.
I'm sure my mouth hit the floor. Wow. He must really be in great shape I thought. I climbed back on the elliptical and continued to watch. He was sweating, burning calories.... why couldn't I do that? I bet it would be neat to say I could run a mile. The next thirty minutes on the boring elliptical were consumed thinking about the idea of being able to run a mile. I had lost about 30 pounds at this point... why couldn't I do it? Yes, I would try. Tomorrow I would try and run .... let's try a quarter of a mile? Who knows how hard that could be? I would just go to the treadmill in the corner and try to do that. If I can't, well, I can't.. but I just want to see if I can.
The next day came and I was excited to try something new. I got to the gym and spotted the treadmill towards the corner. I didn't even know how to work this damn thing. Great. Already I feel dumb. But, I stepped up onto the machine and looked around. Nobody was looking at me. Good. A little weight was lifted. There was a "Quick Start" button. That sounded sensible, let's try that. I pushed the Quick Start button and the machine roared to life. It was a very slow shuffling pace. There was an up button for speed. I pressed it until I was doing what probably appeared like Kermit the Frog jogging. I saw a "distance" screen that displayed 0.01 on it. OK, I was moving. Still no one was staring at me. Good. This isn't as bad as I thought. I clipped along as a cat with tape on it's paws.... then, my chest began to swell with pain. This was hard. Could this fat girl have a heart attack?! That's all I could think was, yes, I'm going to have a heart attack... GOD IS PUNISHING ME for doing this! I looked down and the distance read "0.15". WHAT? No way! Now, my heart is beating in my ears, my arms look like I'm swatting gnats, I'm gasping for air in huge gulps and I'm sure at any time, even though nobody was paying attention to me, when I projectile vomit on to the next row of treadmills... it might draw a little attention. I slammed my hand down on the "stop" button and clenched the death machine. The distance blinked up at me and displayed "0.20". I couldn't run a quarter mile. Here I am holding onto a machine that just tried to kill me, trying to get my respiratory system to distinguish snot from air, sweating like a pig and reaffirming I was not going to have a heart attack... over a pissy little quarter mile. This was bull shit. I may have even said that out loud. Why in the world could a young woman in her 20's not run a quarter mile? Unacceptable. If I could loose 30 pounds, I could do this.
I wiped down the machine and continued with my weight lifting for the day. I had another project. I was going to run a mile. Damn that machine, this - THIS - was not over. As a matter of fact, it just began. I would come in here tomorrow, get on that same machine and attempt to run that same quarter mile. To hell with that machine, to hell with letting myself go to this point and... if anyone wanted to give me crap about trying to run this quarter mile.. to hell with them too! Tomorrow, this was happening!