Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crash on the Levee

I started running in 1970. A brief effort at track in the spring of my eighth grade year led me to Greg Morgenson. Greg was my neighbor and a junior at Abilene High School. He was eventually a state champion in the mile in Nebraska and now lives in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Greg started taking me out on his summer runs in preparation of the cross country season to come. It started with short one mile out, rest, then one mile back runs. Little did I know that it would lead to a lifetime of running.

The last four years have been indescribably tough. In the summer of 2004 I was in reasonably good shape, running four mile races in 27 minutes and 5K's in 20:30. I started getting sick, a lot. I had diverticulitis. That along with four hurricanes which compounded my physical illness took quite a toll. My fitness dwindled, until finally in December 2004 when my colon burst.

Two surgeries later and I was finally able to run a mile without stopping by March 2005. The training progressed rather slowly. A move, a new job, and tons of stressed really messed with my running. But by the summer of 2006 I could run a 5K in 21 minutes. Then I tore my achilles requiring surgery and just as I was bouncing back from that the other achilles needed the scalpel.

Finally, after four surgeries and a little more than four years later I'm just beginning to feel like a runner again. I noticed a real difference last night during a four mile run with my wife. Where as lately she simply runs away leaving me gasping to stay within a reasonable distance of her, last night I slowly caught up to her after a couple of miles. On the way home I continued the pressure until she fell off the back a mile from home. Progress, I thought.

The road back (pardon the pun) started October 2008 after several setbacks and it has been an agonizingly slow process due mainly to a major weight gain. When I moved to Fort Myers in 2003 I weighed 170 pounds. I was pushing 210 at the end of last summer. The weight is slowly melting away. My breathing, which used to sound like an ailing asthmatic is beginning to sound more like the relaxed runner that I used to be. Give me another six months of decent training and watch out. The old bald fat man will be ready to kick some ass.

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