I can’t run like I once did. Nowadays, I shuffle. I “shuffleran” last Sunday with 28,000 alien allies. I say “aliens” because while we were standing near the starting line downtown at sunrise, about 6:45 a.m., it truly felt like we were on another planet. For part of a morning, a community of disparates and I headed in the same direction during the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio marathon.
My race started about six months ago. I was overweight, my diabetes was out of control, and I was at risk for a stroke. No joke. My doctor hadn’t give up on me, but you could tell he was disappointed. I was a high schooler caught cutting class … again.
I’m not sure when the behavior mode stuck. The truth is the exact day had come and gone many times over the years. Remind me, what was my motivation? My kids? A class reunion? Shaking my funk? Carrots, sticks—they all feel the same when you’re flogging yourself.
I started with stretching. I had a friend work with me, but I also looked into a yoga class. Followed through on the stretching, whiffed on the yoga. Some days my bones and tendons were stretched and spread like a blanket. But I felt better afterwards; extended, but not quite limber.
This went on for a couple of months, but I was still popping pant buttons. Not the most encouraging way to start an exercise program, but it prevented me from near-term injury.
My friend and I started walking a couple of days a week. Then run-walking. Then a little more running and a little less walking. I missed a week here and there and ate my way back and forth on the scale. I was trying to fly with a feather boa.
No lift-off, just running, jumping, crashing, running, jumping, crashing.
I am diabetic, so it’s a big part of my story. But I’ll keep it short. I started taking my insulin and medicine regularly. This and some modest food adjustments – healthier snacks, lighter dinners – got my blood sugars way down (four whole points on the HbA1c over the last six months).
In the first mile of the race, my calves were burning and my eyes bounced to the pavement. I looked up and ran past a dialysis center. Then, the couple pacing me decided to start walking without letting me know. Caught a nice breeze from the o-boys (i.e. port-a-potties), and I could feel my shuffle turning into a moonwalk.
“I’ll just get around that bend, there. Okay, just a little more, where those other people are.”
Both lithe and substantial folks ran past me. I was just outpacing the allegro walkers. My lungs felt good, but my legs were singed in cement.
When I saw the finish line, I thought: Wait – I had planned to canter the last quarter mile—it’s here already? I kept running beyond the finish line to get my medal. Less Forrest Gump, more like a punch-drunk Bill Murray.
I’ve lost about 15-20 pounds over the past few months, depending on the scale and what I have in my pockets at the time. But here are my real numbers from the Rock-n-Roll:
Distance: Farthest I’ve run in five years.
Splits: No thank you.
Time: Plenty more, now.
[Author’s note: I would like to thank friend and personal trainer Manuel “Manny” Davila for his expertise, encouragement and accountability. I highly recommend Manny as both a friend and a trainer.]
Martin is the CEO of Side by Side Consulting, LLC, a consulting service for nonprofit organizations and schools. He is currently working on his first novel about the Republic of the Rio Grande.