Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I have already told you that I am "training" for a 5k in August.

In college I used to run every morning. I loved running outdoors because I could feel the trade winds off the ocean and I loved the fresh Hawaiian air. And afterwards - I know this sounds gross - but I loved tasting the saltwater off my lips.

Then I got married and had children and had to work outside the home. Running wasn't a priority. Eventually exercise wasn't even a priority. I struggled to find peace and happiness in what was supposed to be wedded bliss. I became sick on top of that and was on several medications (mostly hormones and a partial steroid) for years. It seemed that as each year passed, another five pounds was added. Sure, within a year a five-pound gain isn't horrific. But times that by oh - how many years? and that's like a gajillion pounds! Well, all right, maybe not THAT many, but still.

Finally with my divorce, I wanted to start feeling good again. I had already had surgery to remove the diseases so that was taken care of and no more meds. I had ventured a few trails on my own and I also found a place I like to walk outdoors. I had a great view of the valley and I usually walked at night, so the setting sun was always gorgeous. I walked that path several times a week, saving my trail for Saturdays.

Then I met Big-D, who is a trail-runner. I was impressed by how far and how high he'd run. Suddenly my little 2 or 3 miles seemed like nothing. I went with him a few times to his trail and loved it. The more I went the more I wanted to go. We would always start off at the same point, but he would take off running and I would of course, walk. I would time my walks so I knew when to turn around at the half way mark, and we'd finish together. I made it up to the radio towers and back for a total of 3.22 miles.

Then the "break-up" happened and I no longer went to the trail with Big-D except on occasion. I have done a lot of "walking" exercise over the past year, but the more I walked, the more I wanted to run. I can't explain it other than to say it was like an itch that needed scratching. As I would walk on the trail or the track or treadmill, it was like I had this energy brewing, waiting to explode. Like, I had this "thing" that was being held captive... I don't know what this "thing" is, other than perhaps "desire".

I decided to go back to the gym. I really wanted to run. BUT I did NOT want to run in front of all of those girls... You know the ones; the ones that aren't really even there to work out. They show up in their tight short-shorts and sports-bra tops and perfectly sculpted, perfectly tanned bods and they "pretend" to work out while they check out the guys who are of course also checking them out. NO. I did not want to run in front of them and feel all fat and frumpy and dumpy. Then I discovered the MOVIE ROOM! Yes. The gym has two rooms with big screens and the rooms are dark. I started going in there to use the treadmill. I figured most people were watching the movie and therefore, would NOT be watching me.

So I started running one night in the movie room. Or should I say I TRIED to run. I was no good at it. My knees started screaming, "Hey, Fatso! Remember us? We haven't hauled you around at this speed in over 16 years! And there's MORE of you now! What are you trying to do to us???" So, I walked. Then when I got home, I googled.

I found an article online called "From Couch Potato to 5K". It was a coaching guide for beginning runners to get them ready for a 5K in 8 weeks. It was perfect. After reading that along with other articles, I started to find a common denominator. They say for beginning runners, the first thing you should do is WALK! Brilliant.

So, I changed my work out a bit. I started riding the stationery bike first, to condition my knees. I did this before every "run". After 2 weeks of that, my knees felt great and I no longer needed the bike. Then on to the "training". I warm up with a 5 minute walk and then alternate running with walking. I only run until I feel winded or my chest hurts, and then I slow down to a walk. At first the running was as little as 90 seconds; sometimes more. But the whole idea is to gradually build up to a pace in which I will be able to run the entire 5K without killing myself. Again, brilliant.

A few weeks ago, I went with Big-D back to the "radio towers" trail. He was going to run "only 7 miles" that night. I figured out my half-way time and we were off - though not before him telling me to keep my eyes open as he had recently seen several rattlers and even 1 tarantula on that trail in the last few weeks. Great, I thought.

I put my music on and started off with my walk. The weather was perfect. And I noticed that I could walk much faster than before without getting winded. Then came the first little incline in the mountain. Ok, I can do this, I told myself. And I did. A few more turns, a few more inclines, and then one little down-hill. I decided to run down. Soon, I was at the radio towers. I looked at my watch. Holy Cow. It was my best time ever. I still had 10 minutes before I would have to turn around to go back. I kept going.

I felt exhilarated. I was now going to see what the other side of the mountain looked like. "Don't cry," I told myself. "It's just a freaking mountain." And yet to me, it was so much more.

I figured I wouldn't get very far in the ten minutes. But, I was wrong. To make things better, I even saw a baby deer. Soon I had hit my ten minutes and it was time to go back. I got back up to the radio towers and took some deep breaths and stretched my shins out a little. Then, I looked down the mountain towards the car. I suddenly felt on top of the world. I felt a surge of energy throughout my body and it consumed me. I decided I was going to run the rest of the way.

And I did. I ran the entire way down the mountain. When I could see the car, I slowed to a "cool down" walk. And when I got there, I realized I still had a few minutes to spare before Big-D would finish. I stretched a little and waited; secretly feeling proud. I wanted to cry and giggle all at the same time. We mapped my progress on google earth when we got home, and I had added a whole other mile! I walked/ran a complete 4.22 miles with a total elevation of 700 ft! I felt sore and tired, but I also felt great.

I don't know if I will be able to run the entire 5K come August. But I will say that my progress has me excited. For once, I feel like I am accomplishing things. This is something ONLY I can do for myself; no one can do it for me. I finally feel like I am on my way, whatever that means. And I'm not even really sure to "where"... I just feel like I am on my way.

Crap! Now I'm gonna go have a good cry... self-realization does this to me sometimes. ;)


Vickie said...

Alright Emma!! Good for you! Very inspiring. Also very brave for venturing out with the spiders and snakes. That would be hibbie jibbie land for me.

A movie room in a gym. That is fricken cool!!

springbubble said...

that's great! i like running too, i just can't run too far because it feels creepy if i don't see any m0re houses. So what i do is just go run in circles or tire myself doing all the house chores. We don't have gym here in the province with those treadmill equipments.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! That's awesome Emma! I don't think I could run that far on a hilly trail and I run a lot. Seriously, that would be so hard. I'm proud of you!

You can do the 5K. Trust me. I ran one once and didn't think I can do it (I only run short distances like 1-3 miles) but with the adrenaline of the "race" atmosphere, it keeps you going.

Anonymous said...

You go girl!!! Run like the wind and don't look back. I've got to start exercising again.

Susie said...

How liberating for you!! Good luck getting ready for the 5k!! I am rooting for you:-)

Deborah said...

Congratulations Emma! I tried using the Couch to 5k program but gave up because the only place I have to run is on concrete, and my shins can't take it. I'd run one day, then my shins would kill me for a week, then I'd do it again ... I'm working on other forms of exercise now. (I live in Cairo, Egypt--theoretically I could run on the paved roads but I'd get hit by a car, or I could go out to the wadi-desert-but my weak little ankles twist from twigs, so I don't want to think about what they'd do with the sandy holes!)

Also, you do realize, don't you, that 5k is only a little over 3 miles? You can do that. Your last run/walk was longer than that, and it sounds like you ran most of it, so you may have already run 3.1 miles.

The Willeyes said...

Good for you. You should be VERY proud of yourself! That is an awesome goal and accomplishment. Way to go :)

okeydokeyifine said...


Megs said...

I was so happy to read this because

a) you did it! you really rocked out!
b)I'm excited for you.
c) I have always HATED to run but lately I've had so many friends who love it and they all look great. I keep thinking that I'd like to figure out how to do it. so this was inspiring to read.

Ronnica said...

Good for you! I'm so not a runner...but I like to swim laps in the pool. I need to do it more often!

Holli and Billy said...

Yay Emma! You are awesome! I want to know what race you are running in August...

greenolive said...

I am jealous. I wish I could go out running and actually have the possibility of running in and finishing a 5k race.

Megan said...

That is so awesome!!!! Congratulations!!! =)

(Totally jealous that your gym has a frickin MOVIE room!! Sheesh! Every gym should have that! lol)

Betty said...

That is so great Emma! You must be so proud. Good for you!

purplehaze said...

Oh dear you made me get a little teary eyed! You go girl that is wonderful!

RhondaLue said...



I'm totally feelin' your accomplishment and am so happy for you. I know that giddy feeling where you just want to laugh but it's so great you almost need to cry!

I so wish my back wasn't so bad. I've had to quit my walking and jogging and it's totally bummin me to the max (I sound all 80's huh?)

lilianril said...

You're sure making better progress than me. I just keep slacking off and not running anywhere.