Until this Thanksgiving, I had never had a sports injury – mostly because I never did anything where there was even a remote chance of getting one. I was a chubby, nerdy girl with my nose stuck in a book – not the kind of girl who ran or got sweaty.
At almost 50, after decades of wishing I was the kind of girl who ran and got sweaty, I finally figured out that I have two legs that work. My heart is beating and I can breathe. There’s no reason that I can’t run and get sweaty. So I went out and ran.
It was very hard getting started, but after about five months, right around Thanksgiving, it started getting easier. I was really enjoying my runs, kicking through the fallen leaves, breathing the crisp fall air. I was feeling confident. I was slooooow, but feeling like a “real” runner.
I spent a lot of time on the Daily Mile website, comparing myself to runners who were running 5K’s in the teens. My 5K PR is a blazing 34:50. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, I did walk a little bit. Anyway, I kept wondering what it would feel like to run that fast. It must feel like flying, I would think.
My husband Tim, daughter Jenny and I woke up early Thanksgiving morning and ran our longest run so far – 7.5 miles. I was so proud – and tired. That same morning our long-time friend Charley Hogue posted a 18:21 5K time at the Springfield Turkey Trot. That’s close to a 5:50 pace. Wow. After a bountiful Thanksgiving meal, my daughter Jessica and I were talking about how unbelievably fast that is.
“I wonder if I could run that fast for even a few seconds,” I said. “I could try it on the treadmill, just to see.”
“Your treadmill doesn’t even go that fast, Mom,” Jessica said. “Besides, I’m not sure that’s such a great idea.”
“You’re right – the fastest it goes is a 6-minute mile. I wonder what that would feel like,” I said.
So, I went downstairs, cranked that puppy up from my normal 12-minute mile to a 6. For the first five seconds, it was great. I did feel like I was flying. Then, I realized that I wasn’t running fast enough to keep up – I was churning my chubby legs as fast as they would go, but I was getting farther and farther away from the controls that I becoming more and more desperate to reach. With the last bit of strength I had left, I got close enough to grab the kill switch. As I grabbed it, I felt a weird feeling, like a rubber band broke high up in the front of my thigh. It didn’t hurt at the time, and I ran the next two days. But by Monday morning, I was hobbling around like someone with a compound fracture.
And, that’s when the bad voices started. “What are you thinking? You’re 50 years old! You have no business running. Who on earth do you think you are, flaunting yourself around in that IRC shirt like you know what you’re doing. People are probably laughing at you.”
I also had a stern lecture from a woman about how dumb it is to run, especially for older women. “It’s hard on your joints; your knees and hips can’t take that kind of pounding. See, you’ve already hurt yourself. You need to be on a consistent walking program. Don’t you know that running is extremely hard on a woman’s internal organs? Older women should never run. Never.”
I will also let all of you in on a little secret – after David dropped off our IRC shirts and I pulled it on for the first time – I felt a little bit like an impostor. Don’t IRC members run 100 miles in under 24 hours and sub-three marathons? They never walk in any races and they all have less than 6 percent body fat and are under 40 years old. “What are you thinking?” said the nasty little voice. “You’re going to look like an idiot.”
Since my mishap with the treadmill, I’ve had some time to think about all this. It has finally hit me. Yes. It’s true. I’m an Idiot.Never been prouder of myself in my whole freaking life.