Monday, January 5, 2009

Run, Wheels, Run

I’m not a runner. Or a biker or a swimmer. I do like sitting by a pool, though, particularly when a cabana boy is involved. And I’m very competitive, too. But I don’t think they hold triathlons for sitting, sipping, and sunning.

But still, I find actual runners do, sometimes, have something worth-while to contribute to the world, which is why I’ve asked my BFF, Wheels (an actual runner) to guest blog for all of us this week.

Wheels, whom I’ve mentioned before during my escapades in Chicago, hasn’t always been an actual runner, but she has always been one of the funniest people I’ve known. She has killer legs too, which probably has a lot to do with running, but I’m not interested in testing that one out personally.

Here is her story, I hope you enjoy. I’ll be back next week with one of my own...

In college, I had a roommate who smoked like a chimney, drank like a fish, and couched like a potato [Jules here, clarifying I’m not the roomie of which she speaks]. One day, she decided to go for a jog. Within the first four blocks, she was hit by a car. Upon learning of her escapade, my only response was, “That’s what you get for going running.”

Ten years later, then, it should come as no surprise to anyone, that the only reason I owned a gym membership was to eat brunch there on the weekends.

But in January 2006, I had an epiphany that would inspire me to frequent the gym more often, when I realized that not only did my gym serve the most heavenly (and healthy) brunch every Sunday, but my gym also had FREE daycare. Having started the year off a newly single mom with an Autistic Preschooler, a toddler, a newborn, and no income, I decided to hit the gym during the weekdays too, to cash in on that free babysitting.

And so we began a daily trek to the gym, simply so I could have an hour alone. And in that hour, I treated myself to People Magazine, coffee from home, and a long, hot shower.

After a few weeks of lounging in the locker room, I decided to emerge from the sauna just long enough to add the treadmill to my gym regimen. After all, Oprah was on, and I was going to watch her anyway, so I might as well watch her while walking on a treadmill. Turns out I wasn’t alone. Four rows of fifteen treadmills, and all 60 screens were tuned to Oprah. It felt very “Brave New World.”

One day, I noticed that the people on the other 59 treadmills were all running. They were blazing, and I was shuffling along like some 33-year-old idiot mall-walker. One of these things was definitely not like the others, and something had to be done.

First step, ditch my SAS super-soled walking shoes just like the ones nuns wore and get some Nikes crafted by Achilles himself. If I had real running shoes, then I was a real runner who could really run, right? Unbeatable logic, if you ask me.

Except that it wasn’t. I couldn’t even run a mile without walking for most of it. I had voluntarily put myself in a position to feel like a tremendous loser, incapable of doing something simple enough for 59 other boneheads to do. And some of them were running and reading a magazine AND watching Oprah at the same time. Incomprehensible!

For whatever reason (a-hem, single mom with three small kids looking for free babysitting), I kept showing up at the gym, wearing my superhuman shoes and trying to transform my steps into strides. Those were trying times on the treadmill, but mostly because Oprah was a series of re-runs, and I had to watch Regis and Kelly instead. Very irritating, indeed. But I carried on, and soon I became one of those people who actually used her gym membership for exercise. After about a month, I looked at the treadmill monitor and realized that I had just run an entire mile.

And that is the day I rushed home from the gym and pulled the “How to Run a Marathon” pamphlet the shoe salesman had given me out of my Nike bag. Delusional? Probably. Crazy? Definitely. But those marathon coaches convinced me they could train me to run a marathon in six months, even if I could barely run a mile. I didn’t believe them. Liars, liars, their Adidas pants were on fire. Still, when the weather warmed up, I left Oprah, the gym, and my 59 other treadmill twins behind and took to the streets, (okay, not Oprah, I still had TiVo) running one mile at a time.

Six months later, I ran 26.2 of them. In a row.

A lifetime away from my own couch potato days, I had run an entire marathon. And that newly-discovered stamina would come in handy too, as just a week later my youngest two sons would also be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I ran another marathon the next year, and another one the next. And, for the rest of my life, adversity will not shake me, because now I can say, “Screw you, I ran a marathon. I can do anything.”

Apparently, that’s what you get for going running.

In addition to marathons, Wheels has added triathlons to her resume and has raised over $8000 for the Organization For Autism Research by fundraising for Run For Autism. This weekend she will compete in the Goofy Challenge, a marathon-and-a-half.

She inspires me in many ways, though not in any way that will result in me running.

Follow this link to find out how you can help carry her across the finish line in her current effort to run for Autism:


mills said...

Folding Treadmills are great because it allows you to work out as much as you want and then simply fold up your treadmills for easy storage so that your huge machine can be neatly put out of the way.

Sassy Britches said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sassy Britches said...

Super inspirational! We need that as we get back into the swing of things after the holidays.

I need an excuse kids, so why should I go to the gym? :)

Morgan the Muse said...

Wow, that is pretty cool. I like it. Inspirational in these hard times.

KK said...

Wheels rocks! (As does Jules.)

adlibby said...

there's no chance of me running, unless I'm being chased by a bear or a mountain lion (and there aren't many of those in Kansas, but that was a great post, Wheels! Nice to meet ya!