I’m a big fan of the Timehop app. It’s so nice to be reminded of things that happened on this day in my personal social media history. Sometimes it jogs my memory and helps me to remember where I was and what I was doing as far back as 10 years ago. It also reminds me that most of the stuff I post to social media is comedy gold.
Seriously, why haven’t I been offered a job as a writer for SNL?
Anyway… Today on Timehop, I was made aware that five years ago today, I ran in my first ever 10k. A year later (on a different date), I ran my second 10k. And I haven’t run in any races since. And why not?
Here I am five years ago. Look at that guy. No beard… less of a gut… Look at how psyched he is to have completed a 10k run. No, I didn’t run the entire way. But I did run most of it, slowing down to walk occasionally here and there. I was actually kind of proud of myself. People leaving comments were proud of me, too.
So what changed? I kept that momentum up for at least another year, right? I rand in two of Richmond’s Monument Avenue 10k races in a row. But after that…
Kids, I was never an athlete. I pretended to play baseball in middle school. If I’d actually tried to play on a level where you have to try out for the team, there’s no way I’d have made the cut. I couldn’t throw (still can’t), I couldn’t run fast (still can’t), I could hit the ball maybe 1 time out of 10… and that was no guarantee that I would even get on base. The only thing I can say for my baseball career is that I was short, so I had a very small strike zone. Pretty sure I was walked a lot.
That being said, I was never a runner, either. And I remember setting this goal for myself: that I would train ahead of time and I would run, not walk, in a 10k. What got me to that point was that I had walked with my sister in Roanoke’s Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving a year or so before. I can’t remember if that’s a 5k or a 10k. I think it’s just 5…
But I remember walking in that thing and thinking, next time I do this, I want to run it. Well, I never have been in the Drumstick Dash again. But then I found the Monument Avenue 10k in Richmond. And I got to it.
It was slow going. But I did it. Every day (only skipping Sundays), I would get up about an hour before I needed to in the morning and I would hit the treadmill or, when the sun started rising earlier and the days were longer, the path next to the New River in Radford.
Like I said, it was slow going. But I remember, several months into this training regimen, hitting a milestone. I remember how excited I was to have been able to run a mile without slowing to a walking pace. I’d never done that before.
Okay, me running isn’t exactly a burst of speed. It probably took me 20 minutes to run that mile… maybe a little less… I don’t know, it was over five years ago. But I did it at a continuous pace that, for me, could be considered slightly strenuous.
I never reached the point where I could say I enjoyed running. I never felt any kind of runner’s high that I hear regular runners claim to get. Honestly, I’m not convinced that it isn’t some sort of mass hysteria that runners try to use to get non-runners to join their cult. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I were still there, capable of running a mile or two or six without stopping or slowing down.
And I’m definitely not that guy anymore. That guy ran for a while longer. Then over the summer, after that second 10k run, that guy got a plantar wart on the bottom of his foot. Walking was excruciating for two and a half months. Running was impossible. So he stopped. He decided to take it easy.
And I’ve been taking it easy for four years now.
The thought of hitting a treadmill or the Huckleberry Trail at anything more than a casual stroll fills me with a dread that I dare not speak of. For a while, my body got used to being pushed. My lung capacity was incredible. My legs… well, they pretty much hurt all the time… but I learned to live with it. And the idea of starting over again in an attempt to reach that point, now that I’m five years older, feels like an impossibility.
But what if… just, what if… it is possible?