Seventeen weeks ago today, April 12th, I began my latest running career. The goal was to train for and run the Warrior Dash on July 23rd with Sara, my wife. We had registered for it in December of last year and were really looking forward to it. We found out the week before we were supposed to start training that Sara was pregnant with our second child. She was hit with morning sickness (lasting all day) about two days later and dealt with that for weeks. I decided that I was going to train and run the dash anyway, and my office manager Terri ran in Sara's place. I was disappointed that Sara wouldn't be able to run since it was something we were going to get to experience together but I wasn't just going to give up, and Sara encouraged me to get training. (Here is a re-cap of the Dash if you missed it.)
I downloaded a program from Jeff Galloway and got moving. The first run was supposed to be 10-15 minutes. Jeff is big on run/walk intervals so I decided that I would do three intervals of four minutes, broken up by one minute of walking in-between. I made it, but it wasn't pretty. I had started though, which is sometimes the hardest thing to do. My shin splints returned immediately and I started icing my shins after each run. I won't re-hash that whole story so go here if you need a refresher.
The main point of this post is this: at some point I have begun to enjoy running, and I'm getting pretty good at it. I'm not good at it like some people, but I'm having a lot of fun and I think that is what makes a good run. I still have goals, but the goal on top of it all is to have fun and enjoy it. All of the other goals come secondary to that. The run for fun idea is again attributed to Jason Robillard, the mentor I've never met. After reading a post on his blog, I stopped doing intervals, and timing everything, and mapping everything, and posting each run to Facebook. I'm just enjoying the process now. It is the process of becoming a better runner with more strength and endurance, transitioning to all barefoot running, and hopefully inspiring someone else to believe they can do it too. I will confess that I do still map my runs after I get home, but mostly because I get a charge out of seeing the distance increase.
Tonight I went out about 9:00, wearing my Merrell minimal shoes due to the impending darkness and completed 2.5 miles. Never stopping, no shin pain, no stitches in my side, no foot pain, just a lot of fun and a little time to myself. I've come a long way in the last 17 weeks. I finished a 5K in June. I did the Warrior Dash in July. I've lost 16 pounds. My lungs and legs are stronger. I've discovered barefoot running. I sleep better. I eat less. I feel better. The idea of going out to run excites me now, rather than annoying me. It's just fun.
Fun or not, I still need a goal. The spirit to complete things still lives inside me. I love to check stuff off of lists, but I'm also a procrastinator of the worst kind. The next goal is this: I registered for the Med City Half Marathon next May! I registered this early for two reasons. I figure I need to start training now, plus by registering on the first day it was open I saved ten bucks. I'm cheap. Thanks to Vanessa at Vanessa Runs for the heads up on the deal! You can check her out here. I'm also reviewing a couple of books for her as a guest reviewer so keep your eyes glued to her site for those. (I promise I'm not procrastinating on those reviews, Vanessa! I'm 1/3 of the way through the first book.)
My plan is to do the half-marathon barefoot. There is already a group of barefooters signed up, though I think most are doing the full marathon so I'll be on my own after 10 miles when the courses split. I just figure that means I get to hit the after-party first! Doing it barefoot will be a challenge. I worry that I won't have my feet ready in time after the Winter months. I'll just have to ask for advice from the pros and semi-pros and do what I can! One cool thing has already come from registering for the half marathon. I was talking with my friend Dave just before I registered about how I was planning on signing up. I saw him a week later and found out he had registered too! He told me I had inspired him to do it. I'm quite influential, you know. Now if only I could get him to ditch his shoes...