Friday, August 12, 2005

Confessions of a Non-Running F@#%

Running here in Arizona is challenging if not impossible at certain times of the year. With the temperatures over 100 degrees there is a serious risk of heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.

I am historically a vampire runner. I like to run in the dark.

1. I overheat easily
2. I am self conscious of myself and don’t want people to see me running

I have a treadmill in my house that basically solves both of those problems, but like many have gravitated away from working out for various reasons. I went 5 months without working out earlier this year. At one point the treadmill served as a valet and was covered with my work shirts and slacks.

My first impression of running as a hobby or past time was that it was inane, boring yet at the same time painful and meaningless experience. Once I managed to get past the third block on the run my opinion changed, but not very much.

I was made to run, it was not a choice but rather a conspiracy between my grandmother and mother who had decided that I was too fat for my own good and that the only way to get rid of the 35 extra pounds that I was carrying as a 7th grader was to run it off.

In high school I ran so slow that the gym teacher did not even stay to record my time for the 2-mile run. The entire class had left me out on the field

On the first day of basic training a drill sergeant, Sergeant Kolonie had me run up and down the street in what seemed like a meaningless exercise. After several short sprints he declared, “Flores, you are one non-running f#@%.” Later that year he would be involved in the death of a young recruit as a result of heat exhaustion on a forced march.

When I was in the 82nd Airborne Division I was constantly having challenges and was often falling behind on PT runs. No matter what I did I was just never fast enough.

My lack of running talent is highly apparent even on film. I starred as a police detective in a student film at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. As the part of an officer chasing a younger subject I in comparison look as if I am running in slow motion. It was laughable. Running in a suit, trench coat and weapon holster is no easy thing mind you.

Over the years I have picked up running now and again. It’s been more on than off and for the most part I still suck at it.

But there have been some fleeting moments, when I was in shape and able to run a long distance. I felt that I was flying, that I was not moving and that the road beneath me was. It was a Zen experience. I hope to feel that way again soon.

The human resources manager at my work started on a running program recently. She signed up with Team in Training, a program that benefits Leukemia and Lymphoma victims. She has no running experience but was brave enough to sign up for a 13.1 mile half-marathon. With all of my years of experience as a beginning runner starting over and over again I decided to impart my little wisdom and training tips to her. In doing this she in turn inspired me to start running again. All of the dress shirts and slacks have come off of the treadmill. I run 3 to 5 times a week and I’ve been at it for over two months now. Like a little hamster on a wheel I get on and plod away daily as the fake asphalt moves beneath my feet at the desired rate of speed (which is usually slow) with a comforting whirr. I wear my iPod mini and crank rock, rap and techno to help kill the strains, stitches and lung burning. Despite the runner’s pains I get better every day. So far I can run a mile and a half without stopping. My goal is to get to five miles, that’s when the real progress will kick in.

I still eat like a pig and have not lost a single pound, but I enjoy the call of the road (albeit a fake one).

I like how I feel after a good workout, and that alone is a good enough reason to do it.

I have to salute someone like Alice to rise to such a challenge. Having never run a single mile she has volunteered to run 13. It takes a lot to get out there to try and conquer the road. The road doesn’t care what you are doing and why you are doing it, nor will you receive any help from it. Yet Alice is running to help others that are much less fortunate than us. This is truly noble.

About 12 years ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia. She was given 10 years or less to live. I know that some of the treatments that she has received (and have probably extended her life as a result) are because of the donations received from the foundation. Everyday that she is here is a blessing and we are thankful.

Please donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation and assist Alice on her run:

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