I am looking out of the window at our first significant snowfall of the season–over 6 inches so far, with more on the way–and realizing that the run I had planned this weekend won’t happen. I am just 13 miles shy of my goal of running 1,000 miles before the end of the year. It will happen, but not today. Today is a good day to stay inside, do some housework to get ready for Christmas and catch up with some blogging.
It’s appropriate that I am writing my next entry this weekend, as it has been exactly 5 years since I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. I took the diagnosis very seriously, and immediately made changes in my diet. The issue of my activity levels, though, was interesting. I have always been an active person, and that didn’t really change too much–I still walked and hiked and even bought myself a mountain bike and started riding again. For the next couple of years, I kept my blood sugar levels in check, but I had the feeling I could do more.
But not running. That just didn’t seem to be in the cards for me. In high school, I was more of a sprinter, and absolutely hated the long cross country runs that we would occasionally have to do in gym class. In my adult life, I tried running every now and again and, with the best of intentions, managed to huff and puff my way through a mile or 2 for a couple of weeks before abandoning any notion of getting into any kind of regimen.
The journey from the couch to the street was gradual, unintentional and with no obvious tipping point, though 2 moments do stick out as pivotal. The first was accompanying my friend Linda Rowinski to New York to watch her run the 2009 Marathon. Observing my first race day was a fascinating experience, from seeing Linda get up at 4 in the morning and join thousands of runners boarding buses in midtown to head out to the start line at Fort Wadsworth to watching the runners come in later in the day. The runners were, as Dryden observed about the characters in The Canterbury Tales, “God’s plenty”: all shapes, sizes, ages and physical abilities seemed to pass my vantage point in Central Park. Out-of-shape middle-aged runners vied for honors with lean retirees; beautiful physical specimens glided past while others hobbled and limped their way to the finish line. Each one had a story, and each story was an inspiration.
Linda’s own performance, struggling as she was with pretty severe knee problems, was equally inspirational, and when she made it to the finish line, exhausted and in pain after 5-1/2 hours of intense exertion, I could not help but admire her achievement. And I noted, too, with a hint of jealousy, the respect she earned from total strangers as we made our way back to the hotel with her draped in the coveted thermal blanket.
The second event occurred that Christmas. In a moment of macho bravado, I accepted my son’s challenge to run The Boilermaker, the famous Utica 15K road race, to celebrate my 50th birthday. I duly registered for the race, and that March, with no program and nothing more than a pair of beat-up sneakers, the adventure began.