Running: A history

I recently crossed an important milestone… According to my Nike+ iPod system, on November 8th, I ran my 500th mile since I started using the system back in November 2006. So 500 recorded miles in 2 years, plus some amount of non-recorded miles. Not too shabby!

Mike made me this logo in celebration of my 100 miles since his last run. Awesome what you can do with Paint and WordArt, isn’t it?

To me, what is really impressive about all of this is that amounts to approximately 475 more miles in those 2 years than in the previous 8 years. In high school, I was a runner. Ok, kind of a runner. I did run cross country for two and a half seasons, and long distance track for a season. I was consistently middle of the pack, but I’m pretty sure it was in the front middle. The important part was that I enjoyed running, and was at least in enough shape to do it regularly.

Some persistent injuries and high levels of stress during my senior year forced me to drop cross country that year, and I fell out of the habit of running. Over the next several years, I tried occasionally to run again, but I was never able to hold the habit consistently. My best attempt was during my last year of grad school. My roommate over the summer, Adam Miles, was crazy into running, and he talked me into a nice pair of running shoes, which I did in fact really use to run in multiple times. But grad school was more important, and I didn’t have a real goal in mind, so I fell off the bandwagon again.

With this in mind, once I moved to Michigan to start at Ford, I decided that for once and for all, I was ready to become a runner again. I had a good deal of time on my hands, as I was living by myself in Canton, and hadn’t really integrated myself into the ward here yet. I decided that beginning in September of 2006, after the completion of a travel audit in New York City, I would buy myself new shoes, and reacquaint myself with the road.

I did some research, being the meticulous type, and decided to use the Coach Potato to 5K training program. It is designed to ease you into running. My failures in the past were probably from trying to do too much too fast, and this program, which I highly recommend, keeps it simple by moving from walking with jogging to jogging with walking to jogging. I made my own music mixes with the timing built in, and eventually found that someone else had done that too.

To keep myself motivated, I have used running to bribe myself. For example, I really wanted a new iPod nano to replace the clunky iPod classic I had that would skip after exactly 20 minutes of running, and of course, if I was going to get the nano, I wanted the Nike + to go with it. I determined that if I could consistently make progress on my Couch Potato plan, I could have the whole setup for my birthday in 2006. It did, and I got my running bling. (Leilani once asked if I liked running for running’s sake, or for the gadgets… I’m not ashamed to say that its for both.)

I also used it to earn my Wii, which I officially earned last Saturday when I crossed the 500 mark. I decided that if I was showing adequate progress, I could open the Wii at 400 miles… which I also did, as long as I made it to 500.

One of my tricksiest motivation techniques to keep myself going, and to remind myself that I was a runner again was to take out a 4 year subscription to Runner’s World. On eBay, you can get anything… even 4 year subscriptions for less than $10. Now, I get a monthly reminder to get back on the boat.

It took me a year to be ready to run a race after I started running again, but last Thanksgiving, I finally decided I was ready for it, and talked Amy into running the Turkey Trot in AA with me, on a whim and at the last minute. She did very well, and I finished, and that was enough for me. It was possibly the best thing that happened to me in 2007.

Amy placed and I finished! Sweet Victory!

I’ve managed to run 3 5Ks this year, each with slightly better times or finishes (2nd place in my age group at the Tara Grant Memorial!) and I’ve trained myself up to a 10K finally. It took two attempts, but here I come Turkey Trot. Here I come. This may be one of the few New Year’s Resolutions that I actually keep!

That’s me, streaking to the finish line at the 2007 Turkey Trot.

I’ve also managed to conquer new distances, ones that seemed impossible. The day of the Tara Grant memorial was supposed to be my first 7 miler, and I was terrified. But once I knocked it out, those longer distances don’t really scare me anymore. You’ve seen my casual talk of an 8 miler that may have been a 9 miler. I’ve got a 10 miler on the horizon, and I’ve realized that I’m practically at the half-marathon distance. If I can keep myself healthy and running during the winter and into the spring, I’m seriously considering a 2009 half.

This was the run that put me over the 500 mile mark. Amazing!

I have found peace while running, and for the hectic world we live in, I’ll take peace where I can find it. Running has brought me a sense of purpose, as well as a sense of pride. These last 500 miles have been a wild ride, and here’s to 500 more!

So what are you waiting for? Go running!