How'd You Start? . . .

I had an interesting question posed to me this weekend: How did you start running?

I figured it was a round about way of asking how I got involved with GoRun Wichita's Start 2 Finish program and how I decided to do it, etc. etc. etc. I answered in a clean and succinct four minutes. Then the person repeated, ever so calmly, the question . . . How did you START running? Oh . . . oh . . . oh . . . how did I start?

"Simple," I pretended. Here is - lest anyone else is wondering - how that fist run went.

I had almost two weeks of heads up time. I had agreed to be part of the program and to complete the half marathon on October 13th and I had done tons of research about our program and other training programs, etc. in terms of what was expected and I'd started doing longer and longer walks to see if I could even convince myself that I could MOVE for 13.1 miles at a time. I had that time to ponder and mentally think about it but I knew, full and well, that one day I would have to run my first stride and that day was where "our" real story begins.

I woke up that morning. Early. I had my daughter that morning so I could not run right away but I was anxious. I put on my workout shorts and t-shirt (recent purchases for this exact purpose - think about the first day of school and remind yourself that I'm a weird, weird little man emotionally) and my best white ankle socks and my running shoes (I did not yet have the sweet, sweet Trance 11s I rock these days) and I paced. I got the kiddo up. Paced. Helped her pick out an outfit that didn't make me crazy to look at or her crazy to be beheld in. Paced. Cooked her breakfast (I had "nervous stomach" as it was). Paced. Chatted with her while she ate. Sat still. Did her hair. Paced. Walked her to her summer program. Walked the lonnnnggggg way home. Synced my iPod one. More. Time. Paced. Retied my shoes. Sat down. Looked out the windows. Alllll the windows. Paced. Thought about the pros/cons of not going running. Paced. Took my shoes and socks off. Trimmed my toe nails. Put my shoes and socks back on. Tied them good and tight this time.

About an hour later, I left the apartment. I stood in my driveway for a good ten minutes. Looking. Thinking. Sweating (nerves and the heat) and pondering the pros/cons of not going running. I walked to the sidewalk that runs along first street. I kicked at the sidewalk. I adjusted my shorts. I skipped ahead a song on my iPod (after all - like in any good first kiss scene in a movie this song would forever hang in my brain and become strangely iconic). Twice. Yeah. Jay-Z's "Young Forever" would be sufficient, I decided.

I looked to the right (west) and saw downtown Wichita in the distance. I looked to the left (east) and saw my homey-homey-home neighborhood of College Hill. I looked back to the right, back to left, to the right, to the left . . . stood there. FROZEN. I realized something - I could NOT move. I was frozen. I don't think it was fear. I don't think it was anything more than anxiety.

I knew the minute I strode out I could never again say I had never tried it. I could never tell anyone I had no idea what it felt like. I would have no one to blame but myself if I didn't run a half marathon five months later. I had no more excuses. None. I was properly dressed, I had miles of open road in every direction. My iPod was fully charged. I was hydrated.

ALL I had to do was choose "left" or "right." Then simply lift a foot and set it back down and repeat. 1 mile. That was the first assignment. And it was made abundantly clear that if ALL I did was walked no one would be upset. My obligation would be met no matter how I did that mile. But it was the start. It was the beginning. It was the first stride of the thousands and thousands that were ahead.

"Young Forever" ended. I still stood there like a fat, sweaty, workout gear adorned statue. I don't know what song played next. I don't know what the song after that was. But I knew I had been standing at the edge of my driveway looking left and right, right and left for at least twelve minutes. And then. Finally. I did it.

I looked to the left and decided I was most comfortable heading east. That is where my parents are. That is where I tell Ava to look every time she is missing them. I chose left. I hit the "back" button four times on my iPod.

"Let's dance in style, let's dance for a while.
Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies.
Hoping the best, but expecting the worst
Are you going to drop the bomb or not?"

I turned a hard 90 degrees to the left, picked up my left foot, dropped the proverbial bomb and started running. And for the next 40 yards (or so) I felt great. I felt fantastic and empowered and ready. Then I felt my lungs getting tight and my legs starting to realize I was not screwing around. And I started walking. I ran maybe 150 yards for the rest of that mile (10 yards at a time). But it started getting "better" pretty quickly. And within a week I could run 25% of the distance.

I guess my cheesy point is this - a journey of a thousand miles and a half marathon training program BOTH start with a single step. And Jay-Z.