Thursday, March 06, 2008


One day in the 1980's, I woke up realizing I was over 30, overweight, and probably going crazy. I signed up for a twice-a-week aerobics class and that was fun. It was the first real exercise I'd done in probably 12 years, since I'd been riding my bike everywhere in college. One day class was cancelled and I wondered.... what to do? I needed my fix. Hey, maybe I could try running! Couldn't hurt to try....

So I went out in my Keds and started. I made it from our driveway to the first telephone pole before I had to stop and walk. Out of breath and whupped, despite the aerobics class. I hadn't run since eighth grade, when we had a yearly (yeah, YEARLY) track meet in the spring.

So I walked to the next telephone pole, then turned around and ran back to the first one, then walked from that one to the driveway and I was done in.

But I had enjoyed that run. I decided to run on the days that aerobics didn't meet.

My first goal was to run to that next telephone pole before walking.

It took about a week. And I was pleased as punch when I made it. Then I set a new goal: THREE telephone poles. That one only took a few days.

I was running about 4 times a week and doing aerobics twice. I put my toddler on the back of my clunky, rusty, one-speed bike and added biking.

I'd go out running and pass those telephone poles and decide to run to that mailbox up there, or that barn, or that driveway, before walking.

I bought running shoes. Nike's. Don't ask what model. They were Nike's and they cost me $35 and I thought they were Cadillacs.

I ran a mile without walking. Then I set me sights on making it all the way back home, for a total of 2 miles. That took another couple weeks. Yo!! I was a runner! Even though I had never heard of Runner's World or read anything about running, only knew that some of our friends did it for 5 or even 8 miles and some people even ran marathons... can you imagine, a marathon??? Like, 26 miles??? No way. Not humanly possible.

I will never, ever forget my first 4 miler. After I got solid with my 2-milers, my next goal was 3. I measured the distance with the car and figured on going half a mile past my 1-mile turnaround. But I got high on my out-trip, what with sailing past the mailboxes, barns, and road signs that had formerly been signals permitting me to walk, and although I planned on turning around after that extra half-mile, I felt good and went out 2 mile, heck, I can run 2 miles, I've been doing it for a week. Ran out 2 miles, ran it all. Ran all the way home.

I went down stairs backwards for a week. Totally trashed quads. Running was out of the question that week. So was aerobics.

I went from 0 to 30 miles a week, 0 to 6 miles per run, in 3 months, and with aerobics, pedalling that old bike with my toddler on the back, and eating a lot of vegetables, I lost 18 pounds. I was hooked on running.

I have the profoundest respect for people who run 3 or 4 miles. Three would have been plenty for me that day. Four was way too much of a stretch. Three or 4 miles.... those are good, solid distances and don't ever let me hear anyone diss people who run those distances.

Or 2 miles, or 1. Because I struggled to achieve those distances, one telephone pole, one mailbox, one driveway at a time.

Twenty years and 24 marathons ago.


bunnygirl said...

Great story! Maybe I'll write up my story of how I got into running...

BTW, I don't think Dallas is going to work for me this year. We're thisclose to having the credit cards paid off and with our summer vacation coming up at the end of May and the possibility of $4 gas on the horizon, I think it's best to keep expenses at a minimum.

Will you be back in Texas next fall or winter?

TxTriSkatemom said...

Great story. And I'm with you on anyone who runs at any distance one mile to 26+ deserving credit for just getting out there and doing it, whatever that may be for them. The number of people I meet who complain about having to walk a few blocks astounds me, and makes me realize how really unusual we are -- we don't see that since we tend to surround ourselves with similar types, but most folks just have never done any kind of exercise outside of PE class.

Jade Lady said...

Ellie - thanks for sharing your story - I feel like I've had to start back at square one since my surgery- Running one mile for me tough right now. I'll be counting the telephone poles next time I go outside to run!

I also remember my old waffle Nike shoes (blue with yellow swish). I think that was the only model they sold back in the day. Were yours the same color?

Ellie Hamilton said...

I think they were gray. But it was before they had model names. Yup, waffle-soles :-)

From Here to There said...

What a wonderful story!

Thanks for popping in and your good wishes! I'm feeling much much better this week, definitely on the mend. The nice thing about finally feeling better and not sleeping as much is getting slowly caught up on blog reading! Savageman? Holy poop! I thought you were planning on hiking - at least last time I was caught up! Must find out what's going on :)

Thanks for sharing this, and your music history as well!