I have never been a runner.  Never.  “The mile” was a dreaded phrase I associated with gym class since second grade when we had to start doing that as part of the physical fitness test. 

It hurts for me to run.  I get out of breath quickly and my chest becomes heavy and painful.  My legs and feet feel heavy too.  My hands get tingly and when I stop I feel light headed.  And, inevitably, I will always get a cramp in my side.

I have tried to focus on my breathing.  Keep a steady pace.  Not focus so much on how far the ending point is.  But it just never seems to help.  In my entire life, I have never run a full mile without stopping.

In school, I was often in the group that had to re-run it once, twice, three times, in order to get a passing time (don’t even get me started on those physical fitness tests, I think they’re a load of crap and not something you should be graded on).

I have never been seriously overweight.  Sure, I hate the way I look and I say that I’m fat all the time.  And according to most of those height/weight charts, I have been “too heavy” for my height since childhood (don’t get me started on those charts either, because I think they’re a load of crap too).  But really?  If you look at me, I am not obese.  Not at all.  And most of the time, you would never think that I weigh nearly as much as I actually do.  I’m sure as hell not a super model, and at the moment, I’m definitely heavier than I need to be.  But I’m not seriously overweight.

I’m not sure what the problem is, but apparently, I’ve never been very cardiovascularly fit.  I danced for 15 years growing up.  That was 15 years of feeling like I was going to die when I walked off stage because I couldn’t breathe.  It wasn’t until I was practically crawling out of the stage wings after a performance at a dance competition in high school when my parents had to carry me outside that I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with exercise enduced asthma.  I did the whole inhaler routine and all, and it was what it was, but at this point, I think I’m just not “fit.”

Even though I have never been a runner, I  have always wanted to be a runner.  I want to be one of those people that goes out for a run when they’re stressed and they feel good when they’re done, not like it was a punishment for a vicious crime they committed.

Over the last several months, I’ve talked about how I want to get in shape, get back to the size I was the year after I graduated college.  My goal was to not be embarrassed at the beach this summer or to not feel ugly and fat whenever L and I get married.  I’ve done ok, but haven’t lost more than three pounds, which really isn’t enough.

Last week, I came up with a new motivation.  I love to travel and I love pretty little southern cities.  You know, like Charleston.  I’ve been there a couple times before and it’s on my and L’s list of places we’d like to visit – especially since he’s never been.  But, we’re not the people that can just pick up and go to Charleston any weekend.  It’s about 4 1/2 hours away and it’s kind of expensive. 

But what takes place in Charleston every year that I would love to do?  The Cooper River Bridge Run.  I’ve heard of it before.  It’s a 10k race that thousands and thousands of people run in every year.  And then when I went to look up information on it, I saw this poster:

Image Courtesy of Cooper River Bridge Run

I want to run over that bridge.  In pretty Charleston.  And feel really good about myself and accomplish something that I never thought I could ever do in my entire life.  I want to run that 10k.  Those (approximately) 6 miles without stopping.

I brought the idea up to L.  He likes to run.  I asked him if he would be interested in doing this with me.  Next year (since this year’s is like this weekend).  He could easily work up to 6 miles in no time, but I on the other hand need plenty of time to practice (ok, “train”, but I’m a dancer by nature and I prefer “practice” :)). 

I thought it would be something we could do together.  Something that was ours.  And our reward will be staying in town for a long weekend and do the race and site see and enjoy the city together.  He liked the idea.

But I would need his help.  I can’t do this by myself because I know I won’t be able to push myself hard enough.

So last night we started.  I met him at the fire station after work and we began our first practice.  We didn’t bring the puppies with us because they get too distracted and get in your way or stop to smell things or chase birds or what have you.  This is something I’m really serious about, so I needed to focus.

All weekend L had been getting me ready.  Randomly giving me tips.  Telling me what we were going to do.  How there were no excuses.  How I can run farther than I think I can.  Not to go into it saying I’ll do my best, but go into it telling myself that I can and will do it.

We took part of the route we normally take our walks on.  We know how far each section is.  First we walked a mile to get warmed up.  Then we ran a half mile.  It was hard, but I made it all the way to the end.  I know that a half mile may seem like nothing or may seem like something to laugh at for most people, but for me this was a HUGE deal.  Besides yesterday, I had only run a half mile one other time in my life.  And that was sometime last summer when L tried to get me into running.  Unfortunately then we let our busy schedules get in the way and were not consistent about it.  Now, we have vowed not to let that happen.

He talked me through it the whole way.  Telling me I was doing good and I could do it and as we got closer to the end of that half mile he told me he would run ahead of me, strip naked and be waiting for me off the side of the road where no one could see us (which by the way, L, you did not fulfill that promise 😉 ).

We walked another quarter of a mile and then ran another quarter.  I really and truly did not think I was going to make it that time.  I slowed down to what was barely a jog.  In fact, I think a turtle could have jogged faster.  But I didn’t stop.  I didn’t walk – not even one step. 

It was definitely NOT pretty.  I could barely pick up my feet and I’m sure I looked like I had gotten hit by a truck, but I was still doing it.

But hey, Phoebe doesn’t run pretty either 😉

Even though I looked like a fool, the whole time L stayed with me and told me to keep going.  “You’re almost there, the stop sign is getting closer, don’t look at the ground, just a few more yards, hit the stop sign and you’re done.”

We walked another mile and a half before heading home for dinner.  I still didn’t feel great.  It took me a long time to catch my breath and not feel like I was going to die.  My hands were still tingly and my head was still a little foggy.  But I did it.  Obviously I still need to focus on my breathing.  And just do that half mile 11 more times in a row to do the race next April.

And now I’m kind of excited to go again today.  L is at work, but I’m still going to go on my own and hope that I can push myself like he helped me do yesterday.

What else is pushing me besides the fact that I want to actually run the whole 10k next year?  Obviously, it’s that I’m already planning my running outfit.  Seriously.  Pink running shorts and a black racer back tank top – or maybe vice versa.  I told you, as soon as event comes up, no matter what it is, I like to plan an outfit.

Oh yeah, and my mom bought me these.  They should arrive tomorrow, I think.  It was about time, I’ve had my sneakers since my junior year of college – which was 5 years ago.  Yeah, I think I was due for a new pair.