Today, I did something I never would have dreamed of doing in high school. I ran a 10k. My time is nothing to brag about--a 74 year old woman beat me by seven seconds--but I finished upright and breathing.
As a child I was never obese, but I did spend quite a bit of time in husky pants. By the end of my junior year in high school, I was on my way to a full blown weight problem. Fortunately, a summer with Teen Missions took about 25 pounds off of me. My senior year in high school was the first time I could get through the dreaded 1 mile physical fitness run without walking. I nearly died doing it. Since then, I have managed to keep myself from getting completely huge. Recently, however, I have started to look like a thirty-something with three kids. Not good. I have a taste for junk food and have never exercised seriously in my life. Under these conditions, I will be forty, bald, and fat in a little over six years. The first two I can't control, but the last one I can.
About four years ago, Joyce started running to lose the weight she put on with our first child. I started running a little bit as well but never kept it up for very long. I would always get busy on the farm and quit for several months at a time. Since then, we have had two more children and with each one she has managed to run off the pregnancy weight--something I am very proud of her for doing. Last May, Joyce and I decided to participate in the next Azalea Trail Run. Today, we did it and actually liked it. Me, the fat kid who avoided running like the plague, ran 6.2 miles and thought it was fun.
Over the last few months, I have wondered why I am in the best shape of my life at 33. (Not great shape, just the best I have ever achieved.) What on earth was I doing in college when I had no job, no kids, no responsibilities, and access to free fitness equipment whenever it suited my wide open schedule? Oh yeah--studying for a useless degree I don't even bother to hang on the wall any more.
Several observations. The oldest runner today was an 84 year old man who ran with his 81 year old wife. How cool is that? I saw a man wearing a race shirt from the Pizza Hut 10k in Gulfport--circa 1983. This was really neat on several levels. Number one, he has been running for at least 26 years. (Or he likes to shop at Goodwill.) Number two, he was actually wearing a shirt. Something about seeing a shirtless old man wearing little nutter shorts running down the street makes you want to either pass him, run the other way, or go blind. I guess anyone who can still run into their eighties has earned the right to wear whatever they want to. Or don't want to.