My legs are sore

I went for a run last night. Well, a run that was interrupted quite a few times by walking. It’s the first time I’ve jogged in, oh maybe, five years, and I’m trying to get back on track.

I used to jog all the time, though I never much liked it. I ran the Peachtree Road Race (10K) thrice in my teenage years, and I was in pretty decent shape. Not now. Now, I’m much heavier than I want to be. So I’ve started eating better, and I’ve begun to exercise.

The past few years, I’ve used our Elliptical to work up a sweat. But even so, I’d always feel a little guilty, like I could do a little more. Exercising while reading a magazine or watching a sitcom just doesn’t seem quite as sporting to me.

This column by Rick Reilly, when he was with Sports Illustrated, always stuck with me. Especially when he writes, “We’re here to sprint the last 100 yards and soak our shirts and be so tired we have to sit down to pee.” You don’t get that feeling by doing 45 minutes on an Elliptical. You just don’t. You can sweat and be tired and feel good about yourself. But you – and by “you,” I mean “me” – don’t push yourself to your limit. You can’t feel your heart jackhammering like a scared rabbit.

I wanted to feel that way again, especially since I’d like to run the Peachtree again next year on July 4.

So, I waited until about 8:30 p.m., so nobody could see my struggles (I figured this wasn’t going to be me at my best), and I went out. Thirty seconds into the nice, easy run, my back was killing me and my legs were heavier than bowling balls (the big-boy balls, not the little kids’ kind). I ran for probably 5 minutes before I was done with the whole running thing. It was a little nippy outside, but my lungs felt like they were breathing in Lake-Placid-in-February air. I kept walking, but clearly, I was a long way from … well … anywhere.

I walked a little. I ran a little. I began to feel better. I began to feel worse. My breathing was the same. Heavy.

Finally, about five minutes from the house, I began to jog for the final stretch. Suddenly and strangely, I smelled the odor which only emanates from a horse. “That’s weird,” I thought to myself. “Where could there possibly be a horse in range where I could smell it? Hmm, I must be having a stroke.” But I pressed on.

Until I could see my mailbox. Where I staggered for the final few steps of my journey. I felt breathless. I felt nauseous. I felt wonderful (not at all, actually). But I did begin to remember what Reilly had written 11 years ago.

I didn’t have to sit down to pee. But I felt wildly exhausted from my 33-minute excursion. I also felt I had made some progress. My heart was really pounding. A single bead of sweat ran down my forehand. This was exercise.

This was a first step.

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