Sunday, January 29, 2012

I've got your back...

   On December 11th, I noted two things about myself that I wasn’t happy about.  The first was, in thirty-three years of running, I was about to finish a full year without running more than 1,000 miles.  Overall I’ve run more than 40,000 miles in those thirty-three years, but, in 2011 the total was barely over 900.
   Within minutes of noting that disturbing fact, I made my second unhappy observation: I saw myself in a full-length mirror and was slammed in the face with the obvious.  At least half of my running problem stemmed from carrying at least forty pounds of excess weight up and down the road.  
On the spot, I made a decision to run more and eat right.  In case you didn’t notice, that’s not a decision – that is a cop out.  Anyone could run more than I’d been running.  More than next to nothing is simply a bit more than next to nothing.  And, don’t you love the eat right one?  Cokes and Twinkies have nutritional information stamped right on their packaging. 
   Immediately after “making that decision” I missed two nights of running and ate everything I could catch and overpower.  That’s when I revamped the plan.
I committed to my idealized, but never stuck with for more than ten days, running plan.  It’s a simple plan.  I run three days and take the fourth day off.  Each run must be at least four miles.  That means, on a week with two off days, and running the minimum of four miles per run, I would be running at least twenty miles every week.
   My dietary objective was to weigh 165 pounds.  I’m 6’2”.  When I was a high school junior, I weighed 168, so 165 seemed a worthy objective.  I turned my dietary plan over to Christina when I said, “I intend to weight 165 by the end of April.  You’re in charge."
   She smiled and said, “You can do that.”
   So, how am I doing?  I don’t know how much I weigh today, but I know I weigh a whole lot less than I did 33 days ago.  I can look in the mirror that panicked me last month and note that a whole lot of me is no longer present, and I can tell it every time I get dressed, undressed, or go for a run. 
   Last night, I ran for the 33rd consecutive day (including off days).  So far this month I’ve logged 129 miles.  With two more running days left in the month, I expect to finish January with 144 miles of running.   I wear a Garmin runner’s watch with heart rate monitor and GPS, so I know that I’m getting faster and running further.  I don’t need the watch to know that I feel better, a lot better.
Early on, I had my most severe test of the commitment.  On the fifth day, a day that I was scheduled to run, I was on the road headed for Columbus, Mississippi.  Christina had packed plenty of the right things for me to eat, but rain was in the forecast for the evening and that little voice in the back of my head was suggesting that I skip running and restart the commitment when I got back to Huntsville.
   I had an idea that this might be my last chance to get in the kind of shape I’ve wanted to be in for as long as I could remember, so I screamed the little voice down and stopped at Dick’s Sporting Goods, in Tupelo, and purchased a windbreaker that was labeled, “Water resistant.” 
   In Columbus, work done, I went back to the motel, and took a short nap.  I got up at 7:00 PM and, without looking outside, I began to dress to run.  I slipped through the door and turned toward the parking lot, finally checking weather conditions.  It was raining.  I didn’t even consider canceling the run.  I pulled my baseball cap down lower, zipped my new water resistant windbreaker up to my neck and stepped into the rain. 
   A mile later I was in the center of downtown Columbus, moving well, for a 69 year old overweight runner, and I was soaked.  There is definite difference between water resistant and water proof.  I didn’t care.   In thirty-three years, I’ve run in places you wouldn’t believe and weather conditions you’d believe even less.  I turned left toward the Mississippi University for Woman while marveling at how much water a water resistant windbreaker can hold.
   At the school, the street I was on narrowed from five lanes to a skinny two lanes.  Since traffic seemed to be having a tough time noticing me, I turned right and began searching for a quiet street with a good surface.  After a couple of blocks, I found one that met my requirements and turned left.  A block away from the school, I noted I was in a less than wonderful residential area.
   Frankly, I wasn’t concerned.  I’ve run through San Francisco’s Tenderloin Area, more than a few times – there isn’t a neighborhood that concerns me.  However, I soon discovered that there was someone in Columbus who was concerned for me.
   About half a block before I reached a dark corner, a Columbus Police Cruiser pulled into the empty parking lot of a long-ago closed corner grocery store.  As I passed I waved but the windows of the vehicle were tinted, and I couldn’t see the driver, so I had no idea if the police officer saw me.  I kept running, thinking that the patrolman had just happened to stop at that corner and his presence had nothing to do with me.  That idea went away when a half-block later another cruiser stopped at the corner I was approaching.  Again I waved and again I received no response. 
   I ran another mile along the quiet street before turning south, going one block, turning west, and a block later back north.  In that two mile section of my six mile run, police cruisers stationed themselves at six intersections that I ran through.    I didn’t need their assistance, and I knew it.  On the other hand, I loved it.  In thirty-three years and over 40,000 miles of running, I’ve never experienced anything like that.  
   It’s reassuring to know that someone has “your back,” whether you feel you need the assistance or not.  The best part was discovering, on a cold rainy night, a long way from home, someone cared, and they showed it.
   Whose back do you have?  Do they know it?

16 comments:

  1. wonderful! It makes your heart soar a bit doesn't it?

    How come it doesn't surprise me that you are a runner. I'm happy for you that you've got back on track. That's the heavy lifting.

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    1. Kathy,
      It's appropriate that I should write this comment while I'm still catching my breath from a 7 1/2 mile run. I'll bet it's warmer than 32 at your house. Anyway, you're right, it's good to be back on track. Running has become fun again. Somehow I let the joy go out of it but now that I have it back I don't think that will happen again.
      Have a magical week.
      Bert

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  2. Whew! Made it! I had to go back to an earlier version of Firefox. The new one was totally screwing everything up!

    Love this write, Bama, and YOU. So heartwarming! That's what happens to people who live right and help others on an hourly basis. I don't have to give you good karma...you've got a world of it in store for you!

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    1. Great to see you here - Chrome got so slow I just went back to Firefox. I guess this is the new version. It's fun having to sign into to all the pages Chrome opened automatically. They forgot me like some of my girlfriends. Anyway, I guess I'll have that straight in a day or two.
      I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I got goose bumps when I realized what was going on that night in Columbus. It did feel nice. Like seeing you've left a comment on a blog post.

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  3. I can't run out here. There's a cow pattie every two feet!

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    1. That's one of the few things I don't have to concern myself about when I'm running in Huntsville. Of course I can remember 18 mile runs through the Mississippi countryside with Carl Touchstone when things I didn't even know existed in this dimension suddenly reared up and became a concern.
      Have a wonderful week my friend.

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  4. That great Bert! It sounds inspiring, but I think I will just read your post over and over again and live vicariously through your feet.

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    1. Kimberly,
      Thanks for your kind comments.
      I'll read your books and live vicariously through you so we're even my friend.
      Bert

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  5. Superb Bert. As you age and things go south it is necessary to remind yourself that you have responsibility for your body.

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    1. David,
      You are spot on, my friend. Relationship then health have to own the top priorities.
      I let health slip a bit but it's back on track now.
      Bert

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  6. Bert, OK you've inspired me. I pump iron, but now I'm heading back to the track. My goal is going to be "30 by 60," i.e., I turn 60 on April 23, so I am shooting to lose 30 pounds by then.

    On "water resistant," Seinfeld had a bit about that. He said a water resistant watch was one that said, "don't throw me in the water."

    Regards, SW

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    1. Stephen,
      I started the regular running 35 days ago today - I don't know how much I lost before I weighed Jan 8 but I do know that on that day I weighed 207 (42 pounds over my goal). Today I weighed again 199 (34 pounds over my goal). Want to compare results every Monday until we get our deals done?
      Bert

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  7. Hi Bert ~
    I love to run, but my body sometimes doesn't love me for it. Knee and ankle problems from when I broke both legs while 8 months pregnant don't stop me, they just make me more cautious and aware. I have never set mile # goals, however, and will do so now. I usually can't go more than 3 miles at a time - for both time and body reasons - so I will start with that, and set my goals. My running, and eating less have let me lose 35lbs - gained back 10 over the holidays, and they are almost gone now!!!! I want another 10 gone, but we'll see...

    Unless you were overweight when you were a high school junior, please don't tell me you want to weigh LESS than when you were in high school???!!! Be realistic, my friend, things shift and change as we age, and you certainly want a little cushion to stay healthy long term!

    Thanks for that wonderful post, and I know whose back I've got...but they are moving away in August!!!! DAMN!

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    1. Mary Kathryn,
      Here's a recommendation - I started running in Newton running shoes over two years ago - knee pain disappeared and it has stayed away - Christina and our partner, Adrienne, run in them also and you wouldn't get them into anything else. They are revolutionary. http://www.newtonrunning.com/shoes the videos will give you an idea of the difference.
      Have fun,
      Bert

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  8. Inspiring! I'm working on getting healthier too. It's so easy to find excuses not to do it. Enough of that! And it's lovely how the officers had your back. Heartwarming. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Sonia,
      I just ran in Columbus again (March 15) ninety days later. No police escort this time but I'm sure impressed with the difference time and 300+ miles has made in my physical condition.
      Bert

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