As I mentioned back in January, one of my blogging goals this year is to include aspects of my life related to things other than books and reading. Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried to live a healthy lifestyle and part of that has included a commitment to getting fit and being an active person. And to tell the truth, I don’t just do it now because I’ve committed to living this way, but because I love it. I love feeling strong, pushing my body, and discovering things about myself that I never knew.

Case in point: I am a runner. No one is more shocked about that than me! Granted, I’m not a fast runner (although I’m faster now than I was two years and even a year ago) and I still remember the first time I tried to run, at 300+ pounds. It was such a foreign, uncomfortable feeling – my teeth even rattled – that I stopped within a few yards and gave it up. Then on my 35th birthday in 2008, I joined Operation Boot Camp, an exercise boot camp. It was my birthday gift to myself, although I never would have considered it if a friend (thanks Christal!) hadn’t suggested doing it together. For three weeks in December, I got up every weekday morning, gathering on a field with other exercise masochists at 5:00 a.m. in the predawn darkness. We were like the postal service; neither rain nor sleet kept us from our appointed tasks. And one of those tasks was running. I was slow, always at the back of the pack and had to take walk breaks, but I survived that boot camp. And proved to myself that I was stronger than I thought I was. That led me back to the gym and helped put me on the road to a fit, healthy life.

Fast forward to 2011 and I’m training for my second half marathon. I’ll be running in the Georgia Half Marathon with my friend Tammy, who is also my running and Weight Watcher-buddy, as we try to beat our finish time from last year’s race. My husband has also taken up running (although his heart belongs to cycling) and has committed to running at least one race a month in 2011. In February, that race was the Heart to Heart 5K, held in support of one of our local schools. I hadn’t planned to run since it didn’t really fit in with my training schedule, but then I found out it was a Peachtree Road Race qualifier, and I thought, “Well, maybe I could set a new personal record and snag a better start time at the PRR …” I passed that tidbit along to Tammy and we both decided to sign up and run.

It was a bit chilly that morning and kind of a hilly course, so none of us set any records (I finished in 29:50) but Tammy and I did manage to win 2nd place in our respective age groups! Mike had the disadvantage of being in one of the more popular age groups, so although he finished in just about the same time as we did, he wasn’t rewarded. Here’s a photo of us showing off our new medals:

heart5k

As I said, Mike’s real passion is for cycling and while I enjoy many aspects of running, including the accessibility of it (i.e. I can do it anywhere, not much in the way of expense and equipment, etc.), I do love to ride my bike. I feel strong and fast and am pretty good at it, all things considered. It’s also a lot of fun. My husband says that when he runs, many times afterwards (or sometimes, during), he’ll think, “F this! I hate running!” but that he never has that thought about cycling. And while I don’t think I’ve ever hated running, cycling just has never worn my body or mind out like running sometimes has. So if at some point I was ever forced to give one up, I would probably have to bid farewell to my running shoes, but I hope never to have to retire my bike.

And just this past weekend, we both participated in our first cycling time trial. Neither of us knew quite what to expect, but we went in hopeful that we’d do well. Although we’ve done charity and group rides before, those don’t really concern themselves with speed as they are more endurance-focused. In the race, we’d be cycling 12 miles in an out-and-back loop on the Silver Comet Trail north of Atlanta, along with a couple hundred or so other cyclists.

mett

For our first race, we didn’t do too badly. I finished in 35:36, with an average pace of 20.3 miles per hour. That put me 24th in my category, out of 65 racers. Mike finished about 30 seconds faster than I did, but again, gender was on my side and I placed higher in my category than he did in his. To give you an idea of how close the times are, the woman in first place finished in 30:10, the woman in last place finished in 46:02 and the woman in front of me beat me by 3 100s of a second. My next goal is to increase my average pace to over 21 miles an hour.

Here’s a short clip of me at the start of the race. It was a little nerve-wracking to be clipped into my bike and not moving, trusting the spotter to hold me up. I kept praying I wouldn’t fall over, so my “Woohoo!” as I took off was a mixture of excitement and relief!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes about running, from Jeff Corwin of all people, as he says so well what I think whenever someone asks me why I enjoy running and don’t I get bored by it?

“I look at running as meditation. It allows me to decompress, download, and get rid of a lot of negative stuff. That’s my secret. I go inside myself.”