Guest post by Glenn, Michele’s husband.
If you have a personal goal heed my advice and keep it to yourself – otherwise you may just have to follow through with it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against personal goals. I think finding something to challenge yourself with, especially something you aren’t quite sure is achievable, is a noble pursuit. In fact, I’ve found that I am the type of person that needs a goal to help me be my best. I need a destination to help me justify my journey. This is especially true when it has come to my health goals.
I decided I wanted to do something fitness related to celebrate my 45th birthday.
I knew I needed to have a big goal – I needed to do something that I couldn’t have accomplished a couple of years ago. I also wanted an excuse to eat a decadent birthday meal involving cake and beer. I kept looking for some big event to attempt and couldn’t find anything that seemed right.
Then I remembered that our friend Kim had run 30 miles on her 30th birthday. While I knew that there was no way I could run 45 miles in a day I thought I might be able to run 45 miles over the course of my birthday week.
I found a half-marathon the first day of my birthday week and it started and finished right by our house. Holy crap!! The universe wants me to do this!!
Silence is the language of the wise. Glenn is not wise.
My confidence was high. So high that I decided: 1) I would end the week of running at a local restaurant that bakes their own pies, 2) I would invite friends to come have pie and celebrate my birthday with me, and 3) I would (wait for it….this is where it all went wrong) tell my friends all about my running that week and invite them to join me. I made an evite explaining everything and sent it out.
I had just told quite a few people what I planned to do. What if I couldn’t do it?
The minute I hit “send” on the invitation I had just a moment of hesitation. The “45 for 45” run (also known as “The Run For Pie”) would be a failure if something went wrong. Running 37 miles wasn’t an option. 45 was in the title of the party for craps sake!
I decided at that point to go easy on my running until the week the 45-miles started. I went on a work trip to Texas and ran a couple of small training runs with my boss. I felt great. I owned this!
Texas Strikes Again
I rarely get sick when traveling but the sickest I’ve ever been on the road were both trips to Texas. Immediately upon my return from this most recent trip to Texas I began running a 102-degree fever and it was off to the doctor’s office. It turns out that I had a major sinus and bronchial infection. I got chest X-rays to see if there was fluid in my lungs and I was prescribed a drug cocktail that would have made Keith Richards proud.
I mentioned to the doctor about my epic running plans for the week. She told me, and I quote, “I guess you can’t make yourself any sicker if you are active.” She mentioned that I should be back to normal in about 3-4 weeks and perhaps I could do my runs then.
I was shattered. But…because I had already told everyone about my brilliant “45 for 45” running idea I decided to try the half-marathon just to see if I could run a few miles. I wasn’t very hopeful however. You suck Texas.
Run #1 (Antibiotics and codeine cough syrup are not performance enhancing drugs) = 13.2 of 45 miles
I want to add a quick disclaimer here. In hindsight I should not have run in the half-marathon. Honestly, I shouldn’t have run at all that week. I don’t recommend running when sick. It was miserable. Had I not had the party and final run planned I would’ve bailed on the whole thing. At this point my brother Chris was even flying in from Santa Cruz to join us on the final 5 mile run, and he’s not even a runner. I had to at least give it a shot.
Michele began doing something kind of fun to pass the time and to keep my mind off of how crappy I felt. She began asking what was going on in my life at the ages that corresponded with the miles accumulated. I somehow managed to finish the half-marathon…13.2 miles = from my birth (a fantastic day for the world) all the way to being a freshman in high school.
Run #2 (If you need a headlamp, you shouldn’t be running) = 19.5 of 45 miles
Running in the cold and dark sucks. I’ve always said that if you need to run with a headlight you should run later in the day. I stand by this statement but my work schedule didn’t allow for me to run mid-day so into the black we went. In a remarkable display of support our friend Michelle (I’ll call her Michelle #2 to help you keep all of the Michel(l)es in my life straight) joined us and we ran the miles that equated to my formative teenage years.
Some highlights of those teenage years include meeting Michele #1 (my wife) for the first time when she was a sophomore and I was a junior (although she wouldn’t succumb to my charms until much later in life), playing high school football, graduating and heading off to college. Until recently this was really the only portion of my life where I was somewhat active and could’ve run at least a few miles if required (e.g., being chased by zombies).
Run #3 (Reference headlamp comment above) = 25 of 45 miles
In the dark again we ran through my college years. I lived in a fraternity and worked as a doorman at a bar. These would easily be the least healthy years of my life. During this run I felt like I had a wicked hangover, from the codeine cough syrup I’m guessing. This was fitting as I generally had a wicked hangover for most of the college years.
Run #4 (Michelle #2 returns for more punishment) = 30.5 of 45 miles
Another cold and dark run only made better by the excellent company of Michele #1 (my wife) and our friend Michelle #2 who ran with us, again.
This run saw me through the years of moving from Reno to Portland and eventually getting reconnected with Michele #1 at a high school friend’s wedding. Emotionally things were fantastic but physically I was still a bit of a train wreck. By a bit I mean having a heart stress test, being put on blood pressure medication and being unable to be active due to my weight.
Run #5 (The pain in my foot is a huge pain in the ass) = 40 of 45 miles
This was a long run and just a few miles in I began to experience pain in my foot and toes. I thought for certain I would have to stop. We did some emergency first aid in the roadside ditch and discovered a toe blister we could wrap with tissue (one advantage of having a sinus infection is that you always have tissue with you. That’s actually the only advantage. And I guess you could just carry tissue with you regardless. In short, there are no advantages to a sinus infection) and that got rid of the pain.
The miles on this run saw me through the years where I married Michele and got more established in my career. During this time I wasn’t very active and continued to put on weight. By 2006 I was trying to be healthier but wasn’t especially organized in my approach. I knew I needed to change but had yet to truly commit.
Run #6 (The support of friends and family makes all the difference) = 45 of 45 miles!
After picking my brother up from the airport we met a group of friends downtown who ran the final 5 miles with us. The rain came down in buckets yet Alisa, Ingrid, Laura, Chris and of course Michele (#1) smiled and joked as we got soaked. It was the easiest run of the week by far and I’m convinced that everyone’s energy (and perhaps the promise of pie) really pushed me to the finish. I can’t thank them all enough.
The miles on this run saw me through my best years yet. I’ve lost over 90 pounds and am in the best shape of my life. I figured out what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be health wise, and then took this knowledge and employed it daily. It enabled me to take some adventure trips and do things I never thought possible (as evidenced by Michele’s stories on this blog).
We finished the last run at a restaurant where a bunch of good friends were waiting and birthday pie was had by all. I had done exactly what I had set out to do despite the unforeseen hurdles (sickness, darkness, foot pain). Apparently birthday goals and laundry are the only things I don’t do half-assed.
I want to acknowledge my wife (author of this fantastic blog) for her unwavering support during the week. She immediately let me off the hook when I got sick, but also knew me well enough to allow me to try to proceed. She was with me every step as she always is, regardless of the situation.
Running 45 miles in a week is something many people have probably done or could do if they desired. I was never one of those people until recently and I’m pretty damned pleased about it. And I got to have pie and beer.
So please join me the month of December, 2015. I will be eating 46 different types of jellybeans over the entire month. It’s a lofty goal but I’m putting it out there. Care to join me?