Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Journey Back to Fitness

It was not long ago that I was what you call a "high school has been", or a former athlete. Recently, I have returned to a part of me that was so important to me in my formative years. It would probably be a good idea if I told you all a little bit about my journey back to fitness and the many self caused snags along the way. At one time I was that skinny kid who was always running. You know, that kid who left people scratching their heads saying "where does that kid get all his energy". Whenever I was done running, I would play basketball at one friends house or go for a bike ride or spend hours roughhousing in the neighbors pool. That did not last forever, I got fat and lazy like the rest of the good old USA. But, 2005 was the year that skinny kid came back!

Ever since high school Cross Country, I have wanted to run a triathlon. Back then, I ran, rode my mountain bike on logging trails near my rural home all day long and completed the mile swim at Boy Scout camp. In the late 1980's there were not a lot of opportunites for a hillbilly from the sticks to formally compete in a triathlon. I only heard of guys like Tinley and Scott, despite all the biking, swimming and running I did, I never thought of myself in that context. Too bad there were not the opportunities there are now!

After a short and pain filled attempt at running at the college level, I started mountian biking and I even completed a few races. One day when I was out on a training ride, I had a wreck that broke my nose, put 22 stitches down my shin and put a major hurting on my kneecap. My Cannondale was demolished. After that, I had a fear of riding fast on anything that did not have a seatbelt and windshield. At that point, I was injured, frustrated and college life was waiting with it's beer, girls and roadtrips.

After college, exercise and fitness was not really something that I had the ambition to do. Occasionally, when I looked down at my newly formed belly, or wanted to go out with a good looking young lady or made a New Year resolution, I would join a gym, or some other half assed effort, but overall my physical condition went to hell.

As I started to end my 20's, I became one of the people I never wanted to be. My weight went from 150 lbs. in high school to 205 lbs. There were parts of my anatomy that did not exist before, like a beer gut, double chin and love handles. What really really woke me up was the daily climb up the three stories to my apartment. It pissed me off that such a simple task became such a epic for a someone who once ran, biked and swam for miles in high school and college. One weekend a group of us were getting ready to go out for my bachelor party. As I was changing shirts, one of my friends looked at my pitiful physiche and said "Damn Bill, where are working out these days? China Buffet?". That pretty much got me into action. They say tough love is the best.

My days as a Boy Scout and Cross Country runner gave me an appreciation for the outdoors. I figured I could combine those interest and take up backpacking. It was perfect! I could do my excersise in the woods, far away from people that were in better shape than me. The scenery and other distractions would make it seem like I was not even working out! That was partially true, I started getting in better shape, but I still had a long way to go. In the summer of 2002, I went of a 85 backpacking mile trip in New Mexico. My hiking buddies told me I needed to get in better shape for this trip. A trip like this could be dangerous for someone in bad physical condition. There was no way I was going to ruin it for myself and the people on the trail with me. I went back to the gym and started swimming and I went on regular walks. My diet also improved, no more Hooters Wings and Blizzards. By the time my backpacking trip I was in good enough shape to complete a 85 mile journey and I had lost 20 pounds since the days of my Dairy Queen Workout.

After that, I was somewhat active. My weight was at 175 lbs, but my Body mass index was still at 22 percent. It 6'1" that is not bad, but I was wanting to do better. After a few years of going to the gym and riding my mountain bike and going on backpacking trips, I wanted to step it up a notch. In 2005, at 34 years old, I wanted to start running again. Hell, I had 11 years of rest, why not!

In June, I started walking this hilly 5 mile loop that I used to run in 35 minutes in high school. Eventually, I started running at various parts of that loop. On July 29, 2005, I finally ran that whole entire 5 mile loop...yes, I RAN the whole hilly thing! On top of that, it was 93 degrees and humid! After that, I felt like I could do just about anything.My inlaws decided to run their first marathon. They all decided to run the Disney Marathon on January 8, 2005. There was no way I was going to go down as the wuss son in law, so I got in on it. From then on, my exercise took on a focus that I have not had since high school. Since then, the training has progressed. Through hot days, cold days, ice storms, thunder storms, death in the family, work committments, aches, pains and flat out injuries.

2006 was a year that has been my "Breakthrough Year", which will be the subject of my next post.

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