Running For My Life
By Melissa Face
“I ran 62.5 miles over the weekend,” one of my co-workers announced.
“That sounds awful,” I told him. “Did your car break down? Aren’t you a AAA member?”
Levi laughed and continued to tell his account of participating in the Ultimate Race of Champions, a 100k race in the Appalachian Mountains of Waynesboro, Virginia. He described it as extremely challenging, a race that pushed his body and mind to their absolute limits. It was something he wanted to cross off his bucket list.
I immediately thought of my own bucket list: visit Tahiti, publish a novel and sing with a band. Nope, none of my items had anything to do with running. In fact, they had nothing to do with exercise at all.
I do not like exercising. To be perfectly honest, I despise it almost as much as my biannual trips to the dentist.
When asked if I run, I typically respond, “Only when chased.” That comment is usually met with a chuckle. But recently, instead of laughing at my sarcasm, Levi said, “Maybe you should practice. Then, if you are being chased, you might not get caught.”
I thought about his remark and the truth that it held. Maybe I would never need to outrun a mountain lion or an armed criminal. But obesity and hereditary diseases are chasing me. Those are the things I need to outrun. And Levi is right; I do need to become faster.
Since we do not live close to a gym, my husband and I purchased a treadmill. I have been exercising regularly now for a little over three months. I want to lose weight for an upcoming wedding that I will be in. More importantly, I want to improve my health and outrun the demons of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity that might try to come after me.
I am still in the very early stages of my lifestyle change, but I have already noticed some differences. My clothes fit better; I have more energy, and I am generally in a more positive mood. Plus, I am actually getting faster.
I still cannot say that I enjoy exercising. I would prefer a 30-minute nap in a hammock swing to a 30-minute jog any day. But I am tolerating exercise better and incorporating it into my life more frequently. Each week I continue to increase my speed and degree of incline. My relationship with running has also improved from one of hatred to one of respect. I am hoping to establish a true friendship sometime in the near future.
Last month, we took our annual family trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Typically, the most physical activity I engage in is a walk along the beach or a stroll through the outlet mall. This year, however, I took full advantage of our community fitness center. I exercised between thirty and sixty minutes on the treadmill, five out of seven days of my vacation. I didn’t always enjoy it, but I did appreciate how I felt afterwards.
There are days when I get moving on the treadmill, and I don’t think I will last more than five minutes. My legs feel like lead, and my mind lacks motivation. That’s when I think back to my conversation with Levi.
“Discomfort is like a door you have to pass through to get to somewhere new in your life,” he said.
That is exactly what I want to accomplish. I want a new level of fitness that my body has not seen in years. So, if that means tolerating a certain degree of discomfort, then I am game.
Levi finished his ultra marathon in 16 hours, 52 minutes and 28 seconds. He was the last person to finish under the elite cutoff, an accomplishment that few people understand. He met his goal.
I will probably never run a marathon, but next year I am going to enter a 5k. It will be my very first race, and I intend to finish it. I will try to keep in mind everything that is chasing me as I run for my life.
About this writer
- Melissa Face lives in Virginia with her husband, son and dog. Her stories and essays have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort. E-mail Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org.