“I am not my pace”

I got a trophy for the first race I ran for 3rd place in my age group. I was
25 years old and it was a 3000 meter race, less than 2 miles. I was only 170
or so pounds then and I was kind of hooked. I bought Jim Fixx’s “The
Complete Book of Running”. At the height of my addiction I ran 5 miles a day
7 days a week, injury free for probably 4 years. If a day was ending and I
hadn’t run I was so miserable that being around me was insufferable. I had
been known to take off for a 3 miler at 11:00pm. Endorphins were my drug of
choice. And then, one day inexplicably, as another famous southerner said,
“One day, for no particular reason, I stopped running.” I had some issues
that precluded the stopping of this regular routine. Then, I put on some
weight. I didn’t care. I was probably depressed. And as it should life went
on. When my daughters were in their teens, and my wife worked outside the
home fulltime, we ate a lot of fast food as we dashed from softball games to
band concerts to three basketball games a week where we cheered for a
cheerleader. It was madness and the price of raising girls who knew they
were loved and wouldn’t have daddy issues was about ten pounds of weight
gain a year. Finally, I had enough of that merry go round and so I jumped
off. I started on a recumbent bicycle in a gym. Next an elliptical, and
finally a treadmill. I had wind again. I was forty pounds lighter. Finally I
went out on the trail, and whoosh three slow miles, but with no appreciable
pain. I was back.

So I ran a few 10Ks, and then trained for my first half marathon. Now I’ve
done three half marathons, including a South Carolina Trail Half Marathon in
July’s heat. But, there’s this nagging feeling, like trying to run away from
a shadow, it’s always with me, right there, right behind me. No matter how
much I run, I’m still heavy. At the height of my half marathon training I
couldn’t get under 210 pounds. I could run and I have been satisfied with my
two and a half hour-plus finishes. But I am not satisfied with being “the
big guy”, “the slow guy”, the guy bringing up the rear. So I run in big
races. In a crowd of 40,000 in Charleston, SC I am not the fattest guy
running, but I feel like the fattest guy who trained for the race. In a more
sparsely attended 13.1 mile race, I am the heaviest guy there. Still, I plod
on, a Clydesdale, not a thoroughbred anymore. But that’s okay, when I run
the fat man running is lapping everyone on the couch and it doesn’t matter
as much as it used to, because I am not my pace. I am a runner.