Thursday, August 27, 2009

Getting in shape

The older I get the harder it is to get in shape. And not incrementally harder either, exponentially harder. So for the last 4 months I have been weight training, walking, jogging, and over the last 3 weeks I ran in THREE 5K races all in an attempt to get back to a reasonable shape (round not included).

Look, 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) is a lot harder than it sounds. Oh don't get me wrong, the pace you run is entirely up to you. My dilemma is that I started running with REAL RUNNERS. And trust me, there is a difference. For example, in the first race I started at the back of the 150+ runners and was basically jogging. Midway through the race I passed a few folks and started feeling real proud of myself. However, when the race was over and the results were published I was ashamed to find that I was in the bottom 25%, overall AND for my age group. And I did it in 29:11, DAMN!

So then, I started training just for the next 5K because I'm thinking I've been working out for roughly 3 months so I should be at worst average. Well, the following week I figured I would start at the very FRONT of the race. So, I go right to the front of the 150+ and the only thing in front of me is open road. Hey, I'm figuring that all I have to do is just maintain speed with the pack. Look, this was probably the most embarrasing thing to happen to me in recent memory. The funny thing is I drastically improved my time from 29:11 to 25:46. However, I have never been passed by so many people in my life. I mean, young boys passed me, young girls passed me, old men passed me, old ladies passed me, overweight young boys passed me, overweight young girls passed, and overweight old men passed me (I don't think their were any overweight old ladies in the race). But the point I want you to get is that 2 miles into the 3.1 miles I started getting tired and my brain started telling me to quit and I started listening. But then I saw this overweight old guy running by me and I tried to pick it up and I couldn't. I repeat, I COULDN'T. I repeat, I COULD NOT. At this stage I wondered, what is wrong with me and who are all these people blowing by me?

Then I figured it out. Those are the people I see running early in the morning while I am on my way to the Burger King drive thru to pick up my 2-for-$3 Croissandwiches. I also see them around lunch time running and wonder how is it that these people can get a run, shower, and lunch in 60 minutes when I can barely make it back from Chick-fil-A. I see them later in the evening as I drive home from knocking down a tequila and some nachos at On The Border. These are REAL RUNNERS. I have been going to the gym roughly 2-3 times a week since May and here I was expecting to hang with the REAL RUNNERS in a 5K. What the hell was I thinking?

So, I tell myself that all I have to do is train harder, which I did. Then the following Tuesday (race day) just happens to be the hottest day of the year. 7pm and the race is about to start yet it is 90 freaking degrees IN THE SHADE. I thought to myself, "Ok, I have trained for this and I will break 25 minutes this time." The race starts and within the first 5 minutes I realize that breathing in extremely HOT AIR doesn't bode well for my lungs. My brain started talking to me, "Hey Troy, is that lungs you just coughed up?" At this stage I realized I haven't even reached the 1 mile mark. I started thinking about my Sister's reply when I told her I ran a 5K. "Running is bad for your knees...walking is the best exercise", she said. Thoughts started entering my mind, "Man, she is a GENIUS...I shouldn't be running...I'm damaging my knees." Then I remember, bad knees never killed anyone that I know. Heart disease killed my Father, has a strong grip on many of my family members and is already starting to come after me. And so, I finished in 25:57 which was slightly more than my previous record. But more importantly, I didn't give up or give in.