Thanksgiving week kind of threw a curveball at me. I was originally planning to go see Camera Obscura (the pop band from Glasgow) over in Rochester on the evening of Thanksgiving eve. That was unable to occur because I needed a loaded night of sleep for Thanksgiving Day: I was running the YMCA Turkey Trot in Buffalo.

The rest is a bit of a ramble, so bear with me if you’re curious to read some more.
This was a bit of a surprise on my own behalf. Just the Friday earlier while down at the Pearl Street Brewery, I was coaxed into and agreed to run the 8K race. This was a huge deal for me, as I’ve never run anything greater in distance than the de facto one-mile run that most (if not all) of us were forced to endure during our primary and secondary school years. Yet here I was, saying sure, I’ll hop onto a five mile run with no training! It helped somewhat to know that at least one of the other cohorts said she’d likely be walking along with me for lack of being out of practice as well. I think no one realized how out of shape (or how poor of a runner) I really am.

My boss was a little incredulous at the thought I was running this. He ended up hearing about this through one of those cohorts who wanted to verify whether or not I was still running it. He automatically assumed that I wasn’t. I can’t say I don’t blame him!

Seriously, I went into the run thinking it was going to take me about 90 minutes to finish. Getting started, it was really surprising to see just how long it took the masses to get moving. I was somewhere in the middle’ish of the pack, and it still took us nearly five minutes to cross the starting line after the gun fired. As the pack started to thin out enough that one could finally move ahead/between/around people, my cohorts promptly broke off. Holly was there as well, and I know she ran something of a 50ish minute run last year. Greg ran it at nearly 34 minutes last year, so it didn’t surprise me he took off. The one who was worried about being slow kept up with him fairly well, so it left just me for the remainder of the race. I just had to set my pace enough to keep going as long as I could before having to walk.

Making it an entire mile without having to walk was a huge deal. I really didn’t believe I set my pace that well for it. Every time I’ve tried to run on my own or a treadmill, I don’t make it much more than the equivalent of 5-6 blocks, tops. After that first mile, my shins were burning pretty badly from the shin splints, so I just told myself I’d walk the second mile. After those first two miles, I just had to keep alternating between running and walking as much as I could stand.

Whenever I was in the gym on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bicycles, I always tried to save the last minute (sometimes two) for a hardcore burnout; I’d push myself to max output just to give myself that extra kick. I figured I could save that for those last couple blocks of the run once I got there. Oh my lord, did I feel the lactic acid buildup at that point. I made it at a hard run for that first block, but I was dying fast for the last block to the finish line. When I saw that the clock was just getting ready to roll up to 1:15:00, that is what really kept me going. I was pushing twenty minutes faster than I had anticipated!

Ultimately, my net time was 1:08:59, which is pretty meh by most standards I’m willing to venture. I was ecstatic simply because of how I performed that first mile, and how close I really was to doing it in just under an hour.

I know I’m not really an accomplished runner. I had pretty well convinced myself that I never really would be much of one either. Thursday gave me some hope that maybe I could give it a shot, and do okay. At least enough to run an 8K for the entire distance, regardless of pace. I suppose I will just have to actually push myself and run some more, huh? Once I get some new shoes at least; my “running” shoes were nothing more than my gym cross-trainers, which seem to have inflicted some pain upon my left foot. Considering that it took me nearly an hour to run the 8K, as long as I block myself an hour of time for running 2-3 times a week (to start with), I could easily start by just trying to run 5K’s and get myself conditioned to the change of cardio workout.

As I lose some weight, this will also become far easier. Thankfully, my knees are just fine after the run. My brother and father have both had issues with their knees, so I’m fortunate to be devoid of those issues (so far). I’ll blame some of my weight on the issues with my left foot, and probably the shin splints as well. I’m carrying around 247lbs currently (give or take a couple), so I can’t imagine that’s great on my arch-collapsing feet after five miles.

Tentative goals for this newfound running training?

  • Run 5K’s this summer at 36 minutes or better (12 minute miles)
  • Run the Turkey Trot next year for the entire duration and/or 50 minutes or better (10 minute miles)
  • Near-term: let my foot heal, get some real running shoes, and start going on some two or three mile runs before the winter sets in

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