Saturday, January 14, 2017

My Half Marathon Journey

This morning I completed my second half marathon. I spent most of my life mocking  runners, so I’m as surprised as anyone. I grew up playing sports which kept me in decent shape, then college happened, then seminary happened, then life, ministry and kids happened, and I look up and I’m 34 years old and close to 260lbs. That was four years ago. When we moved to Florida, I decided it was as good a time as ever to reform my lifestyle. It’s been a long journey that’s far from over. Somewhat reluctantly, I’ve decided to do a short write up in hopes to be an encouragement. Truth be known, I’m not all that good at being healthy. But if my story encourages a few who may be in a similar position and tired of feeling junky, read on, you may find a push in a good direction. 

My journey started with finally saying enough. It was time to join the gym. I went to the closest gym to my office and took a look around. I discussed goals with the trainer and toured the facility. When it came time to sign on the dotted line, I balked at the price. We went back and forth, I got a few bucks off but still was hesitating. The trainer looked at me and said, “What do you want? You want to go home and gain another 30lbs?” I don’t know if he uses that tactic with everyone, but for me, it was what I needed. Time to make some changes. 

So I started running. I never got so out of shape that I couldn’t run at all, but running a mile  was intense at that point. Slowly I built up and decided to try a half marathon. I needed a challenge. So in November 2013, I ran my first half. It was miserable, in almost every way. I woke up the morning of the half with the flu. I didn’t realize how sick I was at the time. I came home and Mindy had cooked me a big breakfast, I couldn’t even eat, I showered and crawled in bed for 3 days. Looking back, it’s amazing I actually did it with a 102 degree temp, but I had paid the money and I wanted to finish what I started! My time was 2:39 — hardly a land speed record. I had dropped some lbs over the year, but not what I was hoping, I ran the race at right at 240lbs. In terms of my excess weight, the issue was my diet. I wasn’t eating all that differently, I had just added some running. Minus soft drinks, and opting (occasionally) for the grilled sandwich and fries, I was still eating a lot of garbage. You can’t run enough to lose weight if you’re overdosing on processed carbs. 

After the half, I got away from running for a little while and started using my gym time to lift and do HIIT cardio. Running got me exercising initially, but I started using the whole gym, not just the treadmill. Running probably isn’t best for all around fitness, but I enjoy it. If you really want to hit your fitness goals, resistance training is an important piece of the equation and diet of course! I stopped planning so many lunch meetings and hit the gym during lunch hour. 

In 2015, I decided I wanted to try and get a better time for my half. I trained pretty hard and felt good, then 4 days before the October race, my grandfather passed away. I was gone for the funeral so that race never happened. There are only a few halfs in J-Ville, and Sunday races don’t work for me. There was not another option that year.

In 2016, I registered for the Marine Half in October, again. This time, we had this little storm called Hurricane Matthew that weekend. The race was moved to the next Sunday. I was out.

After that, I decided to shoot for the one in January 2017. Now, having something “bad” happen 3 out of 3 halfs for me, I was fully expecting something to go wrong, but it didn’t! This morning I completed the race, running about 15lbs lighter (225) and 31 minutes faster (2:08). As runners tend to do, I now have an ongoing competition with the stopwatch. It’s amazing what goes through your mind running a distance. About mile 9, I thought, “Why in the world am I doing this to myself?” At mile 11, I’m thinking, “They moved the line. This is a cruel joke.” Then I crossed mile marker 12 and think, I’m gonna do this! I glanced at my race time and and realized I was on track to have a much better time than 2013. The last half mile, I was thinking back on the race and how I could have broken 2:00 if I had pushed harder early! So maybe I’ll get that 2:00 barrier in the fall, anybody want to join me? 

If you’ve been on the fence about getting a handle on a healthier lifestyle, let me promise you two things: it’s not easy and you won’t regret it.