TEAM ELITE | STEVE DETMER
My first experience with running came in junior high when we had to run laps around the gravel after track and football practice. I was a “husky” kid and I disliked running — better said, I hated it. I recall distinctly dragging myself around the 1/4 mile track with the spoken cadence, “I…hate..to…run…I…hate…to…run.” Not exactly a Runner’s World-approved mantra.
Fast-forward 30 years…
When our first two kids were both near 4 years old, my wife Michelle and I started going to the gym. I’m not sure why we started going — I think we decided that in order to play on the floor with the kids and keep up with them we’d need to get in shape. 30 years of a sedentary lifestyle had left me a little flabby and inflexible.
At the end of one of my workouts, my trainer came over and saw me on the treadmill trying to run. I was only on it because I wanted to watch the TV show that was on the wall & the treadmill seemed more acceptable than dragging in a couch from the lobby.
He asked me how far I was going to run. “How far?” I said, “No – I don’t run…” And I started to explain about not running when he cut me off. “I want to you to run for 1 mile without stopping even if you have to slow down to a jog – don’t stop running.” Then he walked away.
Well, him being an ex-Army ranger, I seldom said no, so I decided to just do it. Slowly the time went by, but I eventually hit the 1.00 mark on the distance counter and hit the STOP plunger. It was the longest I had run since I was in junior high.
Even with my heart and lungs now outside my body, there was something about that moment that made me believe I might actually be able to run. And, after I decided that, I began to stop using the phrase, “I don’t run.” And I was certainly going to drop the “I…hate…to…run” cadence.
To seal the deal with myself, I committed to run the Smoke the Turkey 5k that coming Thanksgiving. I spent the summer making a lot of mistakes. The first was buying a pair of $20 tennis shoes at Meijer. the second was not really having any sort of training plan. After a lot of shin splints I finally worked my mileage up from a mile and then 1.2 miles and then 1.3 miles until I could finally run 3 miles in about 35 minutes. When the day came for the race — a day that I had been thinking about way too much the entire summer– I ran faster than I had ever run in my life. My gold was to break 30 minutes, and I came in at 28:08. I was hooked.
By the end of Thanksgiving dinner that day I had signed up for the Glass City Marathon relay and convinced Michelle, her brother and his wife to join me. We ran it the next spring, and the afternoon after the race we signed up for the Columbus Half Marathon. And yes, by 5pm the day of the Columbus Half Marathon I signed up to do the Glass City Marathon.
I’ve since done 5 marathons, including Glass City twice, Columbus, Cleveland, and NYC. I’ve trained for an additional one. In 2012 Michelle and I only made it as far as the expo in NYC the year they canceled it because of Hurricane Sandy.
I’m now training for triathlons. I don’t have anything against marathons, but I love the idea of training with others and all the cross training. I’ve learned quite a bit about myself, trying to fit training in with parenting, and injuries that I hope to share in other blogs. That said, the hardest thing about running or doing triathlons isn’t the race, it’s the commitment to start the first day of training.