It was hot. Very hot. And sweaty. Oh so slippery sweaty. And it hurt...
Minds out of gutters, please! I'm talking about the first time I ever went running. And here you thought my blog was going X Rated. No. Not yet...unless there's a "Naked Marathon" somewhere that I can use for an N. Although naked running is likely bad naked, I'm pretty sure!
Jokes aside, I want to talk about the first time I ever went for a run. Yes, I have been for many, many runs. Thousands, maybe. But the very first run? It is etched in my brain forever and holds a special place in my heart.
I had decided that it was time to get the bod back into fighting shape after several years of neglect. I was a competitive swimmer in my misspent youth, and years and years of two practices daily and the pool had kept me in great shape. Unfortunately, I moved onto university and decided that I was going to focus on other activities and wasn't going to spent my twenties going back and forth and back and forth in the pool, so I quit. And discovered beer. And parties. A lot, a lot of parties. And late night chicken fingers and pizza delivered right to your residence room. And $5 pitchers at the Den. I think everyone can see the picture and it's certainly not a pretty one. Needless to say the weight gain was rapid and I was left with more than a few extra pounds to lose.
The decision to run, truthfully, was not one that I put much thought to. I owned running shoes (cross trainers, actually) and I had two legs. Done. I had all of the necessary equipment. So, one fateful, sloppy, warmish spring afternoon, I set out on my very first run.
This is what I was wearing:
1. Adidas men's cross trainers. Really. Men's cross trainers. Apparently that salesperson knew exactly what was going on the day they sold me those. And I knew exactly what was going on that day because I purchased them.
2. A T-shirt- an old and likely over sized one. Recall, I had gained a few pounds. And I wasn't super pumped about it. Nothing like an over sized cotton tee to hid the jiggling. Ugh.
3. Sweat pants. No commentary needed. And men's tube socks.
4. A large, red O'Brien fleece. That's right- polar fleece. The stuff that gets HEAVY when you sweat. And then makes you cold.
5. My earmuffs, also known as my earphones that went with my equally awesome bright yellow Sony Sports Walkman. Have I mentioned that I am not cool? At all?
Anyhow, I set out to run from the top of McKenzie Portage Road, around Keewatin, and then onto Keewatin Beach Road and back to McKenzie Portage. This is likely about a 6km loop- nothing too crazy, perhaps 25 minutes in total? Or maybe even 30 since I was a newbie. I ran one lap and then, because I'm crazy like a fox, I ran another one.
And guess what? It was NOT awesome. Not at all. It hurt. My muscles ached like they had never been used before and my knees felt kind of funny. I was winded and breathing like a rabid dog. However, all was not lost. Despite the extreme physical difficulty, I actually felt a sense of accomplishment of my two loop run. I had decided to do something about the extra pounds gained from all the Den beer and I had just gone out and done it. And that felt pretty great. It didn't feel great the next day when I was so sore I could hardly walk, but mentally and emotionally, it felt simply awesome. And that was enough to keep me going. To put one foot in front of the other again and again and again. Soon the 25 minutes didn't feel so terrible. I was able to go for longer, tackle hills and run at a faster pace. Then I ran just a bit further, to the Dairy Queen in Norman, in fact. And then I ran a bit longer a bit more often. Until one day, I suddenly found myself at the starting line of my first half marathon, and almost one year later, my first full marathon.
If you are thinking about starting running, if you are training for a race, or recovering after a race or just running for fitness, it really doesn't matter. Because you, yes YOU, are running. Amazing, fabulous, awesome and totally cool. Please take a moment and think of yourself as a runner. Maybe even say out loud, "I am a runner." Not a person who runs to lose a pound or two or person who might run a couple of times a week or a person who runs but can't fathom running in a race or a marathon or a 10k or a 5k. YOU ARE A RUNNER. Wherever you are in that journey, be proud of it and honour yourself by referring to yourself as a runner. Running is not an easy endeavour. It is a tough, physically and mentally demanding activity. To run and then to keep on running is not for the faint of heart, so be proud of that!
Since that first time, I have acquired some actual running gear (I think I am single handedly supporting lulu's running line), gone through umpteen pairs of actual running shoes (first Nike and now Asics for a long time), have a GPS watch that uploads my routes, pace, calories burned and endless other running information to my computer, and have several marathon bibs. I have figured out the ins and outs of marathon training (but I still have much, much more to learn), have joined running groups, started running groups, trained half marathoners, volunteered at races and travelled with amazing friends to amazing races in amazing places. I have taken up yoga to prolong my running life, gone back to the pool for some great cross training, hit the trails with new found running friends and am a lululemon running ambassador.
And all because one day, in the not so long ago past, I laced up those cross trainers, threw on the red fleece and went for a run for the very first time. You just never know where the path will take you. You just have to decide to take the path.