October 18, 2010

My first run

Yesterday, I finally went down to the gym at the university where I work. I had been putting off registering since I had been walking around my neighborhood and I wanted to enjoy the nice weather before the Chicago winter decides to roll in, but since I was starting the Couch-to-5k program, I wanted somewhere level and even to work on. Secretly, I also just wanted to be off the street so no one could make me feel bad. It's hard enough when I'm walking and people yell things from their cars (it happens more than I'd like to admit), but if it happened during this, a major step that I'm taking? I can't risk letting some jerk's baseless remarks get me down and make me lose my focus.

I walked in confidently - after all, the last time I was there was this summer, nearly fifty pounds ago! I handed the girl my ID card, and said I would like to apply for a membership. Then she told me I had the wrong kind of ID card, and she couldn't register me. (Whoops ... who knew faculty members need faculty ID cards? This girl was probably like, "You teach here?!") Luckily, though, she said I could still come in and work out for the day. I guess showing up in workout clothes and my fancy new running shoes made my intentions pretty clear. I put my purse in a locker and took off my glasses. I grabbed my water bottle, my stopwatch, and my Couch-to-5k Week 1 plan, and headed upstairs.

There are two gyms at this school, one on the East side and one on the West side of campus, and they're actually really nice - they just got renovated a few years ago with some of the money the school got for letting the movie "Stranger than Fiction" get filmed on campus.sfc The gym I use is on the West side, and technically it's just down the road from where I live. (In the city, that's kind of a relative term. It's only about two miles away, or fifteen blocks. Five minutes tops on the bus.) There's a pool, basketball courts, weights, and cardio machines. Above the main area with the weights and machines, there is a running track; above the basketball court, there's a walking track and a couple machines - those are the machines I almost always used to use since there are only a few and no one ever uses them, so I could work out without anyone looking at me. (One of my non-scale goals is to ease back into the main room.)

The logic is that the walking track is just for walking, but the running track has three lanes and can be used for walking or running. When I asked the girl running the main room which track I should use to alternate jogging and walking, she said it wasn't busy so I could use either, so I chose the running track. I'd never been up there before, though I'd seen people running it all the time. It was a terrific feeling to be up there, even before I started to jog. I could see everything and everyone. It reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite books, "Bee Season," when the main character (a girl who is constantly reminded of how unremarkable and average she is) wins her class spelling bee:
"Steven Sills spells WEIRD with the I before the E. Eliza spells it with the E before the I and is the last left standing. As she surveys the tops of the heads of her seated classmates she thinks, So this is what it's like to be tall."
I put down my water bottle and my locker key and stood in the lane closest to the window. I held on to my stopwatch and my index card, and then ... I was off. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the first day of my stair training. I started off great and full of adrenaline, so much so that I had to force myself to slow down and recognize that even though I was excited, there was no way I could make twenty minutes at that speed, not without hurting myself. By the second jog, my legs were feeling heavy, but not painful. As I eased into it, though, it felt more comfortable, and I finished without breathing ridiculously heavy or feeling faint. It didn't kill me - in fact, I really enjoyed it!

It was really a remarkable experience. The last time I did anything close to running (besides running for the bus) was during high school fitness testing, which I think has an opposite effect than intended and ends up souring a lot of people on fitness. Running for fitness is not the same as running for your life. It's not necessarily instinctive. We were never explicitly taught how to run, and so whenever running the mile came up at school, I would run as fast as I could, which lasted for the first half a lap, then I would have to finish by walking, panting hard for the next four and half laps. I can recall at least twice when a teacher told me I had finished even though I knew I still had a half or full lap to go, just because I was keeping everyone else outside waiting. (I never said anything because it was humiliating, and also because I would have given anything to be able to stop walking around the football field.)

This time, though, it felt manageable. I didn't feel overexerted, and even though it's a long way until the end of the program, it seems like a good, appropriate challenge for me. I'm really looking forward to running a mile without stopping for the first time in my life!

stealthily taken in the locker room - i was SO proud
The Cto5k plan has you work three days a week, so my training days will be Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Today, I will be heading to the card office for a faculty ID card (if it takes a new picture, I'll have to post it! My old student ID card is about two years younger and thirty pounds heavier). And Tuesday, I'll be back on that track, ready to give it my all again!


Jessica said...

Yay! Congrats on completing the first day of Cto5k :)

Katie Warren said...

Good luck with the Cto5K program. I keep seeing everyone post about this and it has me interested. Where did you find out about it? Is it something you have to purchase? Just curios. Funds are low but energy is high!

<3 Katie

Teresa Mof said...

Way to go! If you are like me and the math gets too complicated in the later weeks to run and keep track of the run/walk segments check out www.podrunner.com :-) you can also download the podcasts for free on iTunes. It is basically the couch to 5k program but they give you little ding tones to tell you when to walk and when to run. The call it first day to 5K but it is the same plan. I LOVE them and they are TOTALLY FREE.

Keep on running!

jayme @ Losing Half My Weight said...

there are C25K playlists that tell you when to run and walk for each week here as well:

great job!!