I actually took off running and for a while, before I feared having a heart attack and throwing up in front of everyone, I enjoyed it. For a brief moment I felt like the dog hanging his head out of a moving car window, catching the breeze I created and feeling a sensation I had not experienced for two decades.
Granted, running is not a big deal for most people. I have a friend on Facebook who posts he runs 12 miles before he brushes his teeth in the mornings. Others may jog and I'd wager a majority of people could easily run if a bear, zombie, ex-wife came a-chasin'. But I'm not that way.
I, alas, am a fatass. I am 53, grossly overweight and have the knees of a 95-year-old. When my wife passed away, I gave up and didn't care about my own health. My doctor told me when I was 48 that I wouldn't make it to 50 if I didn't quit drinking those sugar-laced energy drinks. I was pounding about four a day. It took a lot of energy to haul my fat self around.
I have a newspaper job that keeps me pretty sedimentary. Exercise? Well, I type a lot. I probably have the strongest fingers around. But the rest of me is as fit as a hunk of cookie dough. My hobbies — reading and playing APBA games — require a lot of sitting. Eating potato chips and other snacks is part of both activities, as well.
In August, I began walking with a girl who works in the same building as I. I did it because I liked her, not because I had a sudden epiphany that I cared how I turned out. She asked me to go with her only to serve as a “bodyguard.” The trail we walk at is in a city park that features some secluded areas she was apprehensive about walking alone.
But as we made the 2.8-mile loop around the park, a transformation happened. I began caring and I took it seriously and I walked with purpose for myself, a direction I was unfamiliar with. I began losing weight and I watched what I ate. I told my walking partner that I was overweight, not simply because I was cramming the wrong food into my mouth, but because I had some psychological issues. Self-destruction? Fear? Anger? Bitterness? Loneliness? Lots of thoughts. I leaned toward potato chips as a comfort food. Her psychological response? “Don't eat chips, dumbass.”
It worked and now, five months after we began walking, I've lost 64 pounds as of today.
And I ran.
We ran about 50 feet along a gravel path the first time and I quit, not because I was tired but because I was afraid someone would see me. It was an odd feeling moving that fast for me; I thought I probably looked like those blubbery polar bears you see on the Discover Channel suddenly darting from a feigned sleep to nab an unsuspecting walrus.
We ran again on a parking lot. This time I opened it up and passed my friend, mocking her on the fly. But as we neared the end of the lot, I slowed down and she flew by me. I feared I'd throw up the fizzy tea drink I had and a guy chucking up his drink in front of a woman ain't pretty.
We continued walking the loop and when we finished that afternoon I had reached 200 miles of walking since we began this in August.
Again, I know the brief run I did was nothing in 95 percent of the world's opinion, but to me, for that brief flash, I felt like a kid again running with the wind and moving faster than I have in 20 years.