In June of 2011 after successfully completing the length of a marathon while walking in support of cancer awareness at the Relay for Life event held in our town. I decided that I was going to get back to exercising everyday! I felt I needed to lose some weight (ok my doctor told me too but it always sounds better if it was my idea) and getting back into shape just might help my job performance as well. I was already participating in a half ass workout at our firehouse but I felt it was time to kick it up a notch and take full advantage of all our department had to offer!
I decided that I would start by running everyday, If I was going to lose weight, that was the first logical step! At 205 pounds I was lugging around an extra 25 pounds according to my B.M.I. chart. Now running is an art as any of you out there who run on a regular basis already know! If you just plunk along you are not really working in an aerobic state and you are destined to achieve shin splints! If sprint right off the bat like superman you are destined to become injured and receive shin splints. But if you start out slowly, walking for five minutes then working into a nice smooth rhythm while allowing your body to sink into the natural upright running position. Well you are destined to get shin splints! I guess what I am trying to say here, or the moral of this story might be, inevitably when you are 44 and havent run in ten years you are going to get bloody shin splints!!!
So off to the famous unnamed footwear store I go. All my problems will be solved by actually knocking the cob webs off my thrifty little purse,spending more than $29.99 at COSTCO for sale item shoes! Oh and spend I did! The sales associate was good! Telling me all about the dynamics of my feet and how the proper support will solve all my shin splint miseries, I will be running marathons in no time! She went on for 15 minutes about the benefits of the shoes I was purchasing, but in my mind I was already running the Boston Marathon, leading the Bay to Breakers! Wind in my hair, sweat pouring through my Nike sponsored running clothes! Women and children cheering at the mere spectacle of a man my age bolting past 20 somethings struggling on the sidewalks! Oh yes I was going to fly!
I went home, placed Thunder and Lightning (yeah I named my shoes) on my feet and instantly felt the electricity flowing through them all the way into my calves! These shoes had super powers, I just knew it! I went from an average everyday Joe to “super runner” just by donning these illustrious over priced, glitzy, shimmering blue, sweat wicking, pieces of running superiority! I trembled thinking about taking that very first step! Will they bolt me to speeds unheard of, or will they be gentle and allow me to break them in slowly! The anticipation had me sweating nervously just thinking about what was about to happen. I kept telling myself: the salesperson said these shoes were custom fitted just for me! No one has a pair just like them, and I will reap the benefits from my understanding of running technology! Oh I so bought it, hook line and sinker!
I walked in them for 5 minutes to warm up, allowing the wonder shoes to break in a little! My oldest who runs cross-country came out and looked me up one side and down the other, letting out a “Humph” when he saw the “chosen ones” upon my feet! I asked him if he liked them? (like he really needed to answer, I know jealousy when I see it) and wondered if he would like to join me in my little excursion! He mumbled something about the shoes being Ok then finished with a chuckle and: you know they wont make you run any faster. What does he know? I asked him if he wanted to join me but he said he didn’t want too. I’m thinking he didn’t want to be in the shadow of Thunder and Lightnings greatness! In reality he didn’t want to leave me behind within the first mile!
We made it to the road and Thunder and Lightning were plenty warm and ready to go! I leaned into them a little we started to pick up speed. The first mile is always the hardest! Everything hurts, you start complaining in your head, then before you know it you are arguing with yourself over whether or not you should just quit! You start saying things like “I’m getting to old for this shit” and “whose dumbass idea was this anyways”! You start telling yourself its ok to be a quitter, no one will know, heck when you get home just splash some water on yourself and everyone will praise you for your effort! Then just about the time it all is about to come apart, the endorphins are released into your system! Oh yeah, so good! No more pain, breathing is easier, you feel stoned, (not that I know what that is, just a guess) higher than a kite. Nothing is going to stop you now, oh no! You are running faster and stronger! Your knees are coming up higher and your strides are increasing. You are a runner sir! A bonafide runner! Thats right these shoes were worth every penny! No longer will I bargain shop for running shoes, oh no! My feet are on cloud nine and my brain is floating freely as I take in each deep refreshing cold breath. The countryside is flying by, the views are breathtaking! I feel as though I am Forrest Gump, I will not stop until I hit an ocean, then I will turn around and keep running until I hit the next ocean! Go Thunder and Lightning go!
We make the loop around my house and I am soaked in sweat. I feel like a true athlete, a runner of the highest caliber. My legs are throbbing, my knees are shaky, and my heart is beating so hard my eyeballs are wiggling! It’s the best feeling ever! I walk around to cool down taking part in all the proper stretches. I am sure I have just run 10 miles, I mean come on, who runs like I just did, no ordinary man I can tell you that! I pull my I-phone from my pocket to turn off Pandora and check my jogging app for distance and time. As I am waiting for it to load I exuberantly hum a rendition of Eye of the Tiger. The screen loads and my time/distance is revealed.
2.5 miles. What! that can’t be right! I know I ran more than 2.5 miles! Stupid program, who can trust military satellite technology anyways! Not me that’s for sure! Disgusted with the obvious blatant lie my I-phone has just delivered to me. I turn to walk back to the house, dejected by my effort, disappointed in my expectations of the wonder twins Thunder and Lightning. Thats when it hits me. Oh it hits me hard, nearly taking my feet right out from under me.
You see, it doesnt matter what shoes you wear. It doesn’t matter what clothes you are in, it doesn’t matter how many miles you have run. The only thing that matters after you have given it your all in an effort to turn back the hands of time and not declare yourself a overwieght 44-year-old man is; What the Hell I am going to do with these damn shin splints!! OOOOWWWWWWWW!!
I could barely walk for three days after that run. Today I run 4-5 miles a day at work and 4 miles at home on my days off. Thunder and Lightning are doing just fine. They are not the superheros I made them out to be. But in the end they have become my heroes. My feet are thankful for their existence and my shins don’t hurt as much anymore.