Becoming a runner

I still can’t believe I’m a runner.

In all honesty, I think “running” is too strong of a word to describe what I do. It’s really more of a shuffle with forward momentum. My friend and neighbor, who has often gone out jogging with Glenn and I, calls it “shoggling” – which is a combination of shuffling, jogging and jiggling! So – that’s what we call it. We don’t go for a run, or go for a jog…we go for a shoggle.

It didn’t just happen at once – I started with walking. Walking the dog. Parking further out in the parking lot so I’d have to walk further to get to the store. Getting off the bus or train a stop early so I’d have to walk the rest of the way to the office. Then I started walking 5k events. I remember my first one – my legs felt like Jell-O when it was done, but it was such an accomplishment. Over the next couple of years I walked several 5k events and really had no intention of doing more than that.

Walking in my first 5k event.

Walking in my first 5k event.

One one of numerous 5k walks over the years.

On one of numerous 5k walks over the years.

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Walking the Color Run 5k.

Then one day Glenn said, “I think I want to try jogging.”

 What? We talked about it for a week or two and I thought any day he’d come to his senses and drop the notion. He didn’t. I wanted to be a supportive partner so I reluctantly agreed to go give jogging a try one day. I was sure that after our “test run” he’d realize what a ridiculous idea it was – and we would quietly go back to our elliptical machines at the gym and forget the whole thing ever happened.

Our plan was to jog one block, then walk three, jog one, walk three, etc. That first day we couldn’t even jog the length of a single block. My lungs gasped, my thighs burned, and I felt like a complete idiot with my arms and legs flailing about. As we returned home and dragged ourselves onto the front porch, I gave him my best “see, I told you so…we aren’t meant to jog” look.

He just smiled and said, “let’s go again tomorrow!

And so we did. Soon thereafter we began the “Couch to 5k” running program. This is program that outlines a gradual strategy to slowly build up your ability to run for 30 minutes without walking. We downloaded an app for our smart phones where we could listen to music and occasionally a lady with a lovely British accent would come on and instruct us when to walk and when to run.

Soon after starting the training program we signed up to run our first 5k event.

We selected the Shamrock Run – one of the biggest and most popular fun runs in Portland – which gave us several months to get ready. Being signed up for a big event gave us the motivation we needed to stick to the “Couch to 5k” program – no skipping the training sessions! We especially needed to be ready because a cousin was flying in from Reno to do the run with us and we didn’t want to let him down. At the end of 9 weeks we were able to run (err…shuffle with forward momentum) for 30 minutes straight – which at our pace was about 2.3 miles. We gradually increased the time we could run until we were able to hit that magical 3.1 mile (5k) mark.

The Shamrock Run was a great success and I’ll never forget the feeling of crossing the finish line and thinking how I had just done something I never imagined I could do. We continued to run various 5k events over the summer and the following March we ran the 8k version of the Shamrock Run.

About to run our first 5k, the Shamrock Run.

About to run our first 5k, the Shamrock Run.

"Team Shoggle" (That's right...shuffling, jogging and jiggling!)

“Team Shoggle” (That’s right…shuffle, jog and jiggle baby!)

Since then this running thing has only gotten crazier.

We set our sights on something that was seemingly impossible and signed up to run the Portland Half-Marathon this October (2014). I can honestly say that I never thought I would attempt anything that had the word “marathon” in it that didn’t involve binge watching a full season of my favorite TV show! We knew doing a half-marathon would be beyond anything Glenn and I could prepare for on our own, at least not without getting injured.

So, we joined a marathon-training group called Portland Fit.

Similar to the “Couch to 5k” program, Portland Fit (there are similar ones all across the US) is an organized program that outlines all of the runs we needed to do during the week – 35 minutes on Monday, 45 minutes of hills on Wednesday, etc. Each Saturday we’d meet 100+ other people downtown and go for a long run (or walk…there were tons of people training to walk a half- or a full-marathon). After the run/walk the coaches would lead us through stretching exercises and we’d learn about topics like injury prevention, hydration, nutrition, etc.

I generally don’t like doing things with strangers. But, in this case I really enjoyed the sense of being part of a group of people working toward the same goal each and every week. Plus we learned a great deal about how to successfully and safely run longer distances.

This was often my view of Glenn during the long Saturday runs with the marathon training group.

This was often my view of Glenn during the long Saturday runs with the marathon training group. Mile after mile after mile…

Before you knew it, we could run over 10 miles!

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Just finished running 11 miles for the first time ever!

In June of 2014 we ran our first half-marathon – the Helvetia Half – a good 4 months ahead of schedule!

Finished running our first half-marathon. Such an accomplishment!

Finished running our first half-marathon. Such an accomplishment!

We still plan to run the Portland Half-Marathon this coming October – along with my sister-in-law and the same cousin that did the first 5k with us.  In the meantime, we are about to do one of those crazy 36 hour, 216-mile team relay races called the Cascade Lakes Relay. I honestly have no idea how we have ended agreeing to do this event – I’ve just filed it under “sounded like a good idea at the time.” Glenn and I will each run three different legs of the relay (one in the dark of night) ranging from 4 to 8 miles each, all with little to no sleep. Luckily some of the more experienced runners on the 12 person team are taking the longer, hillier relay legs. Whew!

I am really nervous about this relay event because I hate the idea of others relying on me to do something athletic. But then again, a couple of years ago I couldn’t jog a single block and I recently finished running a half-marathon. I’ve learned nothing if not that my body can do some pretty amazing things, given the opportunity.

I’ll forever be indebted to Glenn who, on that first miserable day of jogging, said “let’s go again tomorrow!

Keep on shoggling!

Keep on shoggling! (that’s me on the left)

4 comments on “Becoming a runner

  1. Wow, I just loved your story…. maybe I can move my 250 pounds more than I do, it seems just impossible. Your story gives me hope.

    Annette

    • Annette – You totally can. I just started small with small steps (literally!) and it gradually got easier and easier. I too thought it was impossible. Glenn and I would be glad to get out there with you!

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