Saturday, October 24, 2009

Was choice always this simple?

Jim and Phil delivered a walloping moment of truth last night. I was sniveling about how painful it is to watch the crews constructing the finish line and to know that I won’t be part of it. And instead of sympathizing with the plight of the ponderous, they said, “You chose to stop running. If you want to run the marathon again, just re-choose. Run it.” Then they shrugged in a gesture that begged the question, “How much more simple could this be, Bev?” They sat shoulder-to-shoulder, staring at me with shining eyes, waiting for me to get it.

I got it.

Jim and Phil said they would help me put together a program again. Maybe all I’ll need is a little push … like with a bulldozer. Returning to running at this weight is a Catch-22. I’m too heavy to run without killing myself, but I’m heavy because I don’t run. And I’m older now.

I could just power walk or something. But that’s not what I want. I want my marathon back.

I’m saying it out loud. I want to run the New York City Marathon one more time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Finish line going up gets me down.

The Central Park crew and the New York Road Runners are preparing for the NYC Marathon this coming weekend. As I round the corner each morning at Columbus Circle and start up the hill, I see the finish line as it takes shape at Tavern on the Green. Trailers. Bleachers on either side of the street for the crowds. Barricades that daily more clearly define areas. Television crews interviewing runners. And intense people huddled with clipboards and cell phones. As their excitement builds, I’m completely tortured and angry with myself.

This is yet one more year that I’m not running the marathon. The finish line is a monument to my stupidity. Why did I stop running?

I love that marathon. It was once mine. It was the centerpiece of my year, the driving motivation of my workout program, and the source of enduring friendships. It defined an important part of me. I have completed thirteen New Yorks. Never placed up with the big dogs, but never failed to finish. And then one day, I walked away. Not sure how that happened or why.

But of this I am sure: Once I quit running, nothing was ever right again. Worse, accustomed to being lean and fit, I have been unable to figure out how to take this older, expanded muffin body and shift it out of “lumbering” gear and back into overdrive. Rock hard discipline has been replaced by something corrosive and debilitating.

I was inspired today to try again for the gazillionth time. My body knows how to run and it wants to. I turned it loose. Just for a little while, I was running. To be frank, I was running away from the finish line at Tavern on the Green. I just couldn’t face it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I’ll do better.

I’m here in New York, working with the Whartons for a week. And as everyone knows, their workday doesn’t begin until they’ve worked out. They don’t just talk the talk and walk the walk. They run it.

For a former marathon runner, I’m embarrassingly overweight and out of shape, so while Jim and Phil were off doing serious Wharton-workouts, I went alone to Central Park and lumbered around for a couple of hours. When they asked later, I muttered something vague about having been with the runners in the park. Technically, it was true. Runners zipped past me all morning. My sweatshirt—dampened by flicking it into the shower and hung behind the bathroom door for effect—and the requisite black runner’s watch would deceive them not at all.

They know me. They know better.

When we greeted each other last night, the bear hugs lasted a few seconds too long. Oh sure, they were glad to see me, but that wasn’t it. They were gauging my body fat content. The Stretch Boys don’t need calipers and a calculator.

I’ll do better. When I’m with them, I have no choice. They take me to restaurants that don’t even serve Diet Coke. We had Tibetan burdock root and organic Japanese pumpkin sandwiches with ginger root tea for dinner last night. I don’t even know what that is, but I’m feeling organic already