My 100 Mile March

runnerThere’s a reason I didn’t raise my hand right away when our meeting leader asked if anyone had any fitness milestones they met that month. I didn’t want to be a jackass.

In fact, I ran a total of 100 miles last month. Mostly ran. Really slowly. A little of it was walking. But it was 100 MILES. There were hills involved and trails and rain and sleet and snow (you know … March). My dog tried to kill me. My son, whom I’m coaching for his first half marathon, probably entertained a thought or two along that same line. I got road rash on my face.

I wanted to share all this but I didn’t.

“I’ve walked every day this week,” said one woman in a corner.

“I finally found a Lidocaine patch that would work on my shingles so I could get out and walk again,” another woman said.

I had shingles last year for about four weeks. It made me cry like a damn baby.

“My goal is to be able to fit into one airline seat. I’m almost there,” a teenager in the front said.

I’ve been coming to these meetings for the better part of two years now. At first it was to support Mike who needed SOMEONE to stop suggesting we have pizza every Friday night before a Saturday weigh-in. I also thought my knees would thank me one day if I could run a little lighter.

In all, I lost 15 pounds. It took more than a year. Then I gained back four of them. Then I took two back off.

It’s not that I’m not extremely proud of that accomplishment. I am. And I’m proud of my 100 miles in March. I’m proud that my older kid looks to us as fitness role models and has asked us to help him train for a half marathon.

I love the framework of the Weight Watchers program. I know from experience that in order to do something really difficult one has to set specific goals be accountable, celebrate incremental successes and focus on the long term.

No gimmicks. No magic. Nothing new or revolutionary.

We all want to believe in the unexpected good fortune, that we might have a rich uncle we didn’t know about who will leave us his millions. We fantasize about that lone lottery ticket we bought this year being the big winner.

Sometimes, really good things do happen sometimes by accident or luck or fate or coincidence, or whatever you want to call it. Most of the time, though, really good things happen as a result of something much more deliberate. Set your sights on a goal, take specific, incremental steps toward that goal, don’t get discouraged when you falter, celebrate small victories along the way.

Whether someone is 15 pounds or 150 pounds overweight, this process is the same. Ditto, whether someone wants to finish her first 5K or her 50th half marathon.

When I started running again after taking roughly 20 years off, I wore a heart rate monitor. I ran until my heart rate hit 160. Then I walked until I didn’t feel like someone needed to fetch the defibrillator. I kept at it because my dog was a bastard and the kids made me want to leave the house and because running clothes are cuter than they used to be.

I never had 150 pounds to lose. So I don’t do a lot of raising my hand at these meetings – although I am normally a hand raiser. Instead, I listen to stories of people making incremental progress, applaud and then internally celebrate the progresses I’ve made.

I’m not modest. Not at all. I’m just reluctant to look like an ass at 8 am on a Saturday morning. Not without a cup of coffee first.

The same was true at this meeting. Until our Weight Watchers leader held up a little charm.

“Who met their fitness goals this month for our little charm guy?” She said, turning it around to look at it. “It looks like a runner, but it could be someone walking or jumping or whatever.”

It did, indeed look like a little runner. A little running dude charm. And I’m all about the Weight Watchers charm chotskie stuff, the ‘good-job’ stickers passed out at meetings, and the smiley faces that pop up my on-line tracker when I eat my full allotment of fruits and veggies for the day.

So my hand went up, and I knew I’d have to share. And I stood a risk of looking like the skinny a-hole in the meeting with my 100-mile accomplishment, next to the woman who hadn’t been able to get out of the house in four years.

I stood a risk of looking like the skinny a-hole

But there was a charm involved. Little Running Dude. And he was calling me.

“I met a personal goal for miles run this month,” I said, steeling myself to elaborate.

“Good for you,” Weight Watcher leader lady said, handing me my Little Running Dude and moving on. No pregnant pause, no need to elaborate.

Your secret’s safe with me, Little Running Dude said.

** I should note that Weight Watchers did not sponsor this post or pay me or anything. Not that they shouldn’t. Pay me, I mean. In fact, I could totally kick Jessica Simpson’s tuckus as spokesmodel, if they’re looking for a 45 year-old who’s not afraid of Daisy Dukes.

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YOU with your votes. You are all the compensation I need. Vote at least once a day and I’ll keep sharing random crap you shouldn’t be reading at work. Because I’m a giver.

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Also … not a sponsored post, just a personal endorsement…

Mike_blanketYears ago, Mike decided to set a personal goal of running a certain number of half marathons by a certain age that may or may not rhyme with “shifty.”

He’s well on his way.

This is in addition to the relays, the 5 and 10ks that have come up since he took up this crazy activity. The shirts from these events sit stacked in the closet, threatening to spill out at any moment and suffocate someone, until I holler at him to organize and cull and stop acting like a hoarder.

But of course, every shirt has a story, which makes them incredibly hard to get rid of.

For his birthday this year, we gathered up a few of the more memorable ones and shipped them to Massachusetts, where the folks at Project Repat stitched them together for a great birthday present.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m rather anti-crafty, but I love finding new purposes for old things. I love that these shirts still have life, and are no longer a suffocation hazard or object of potential marital strife. I love that someone found a creative, low tech way to recycle some really cool stuff and are putting folks in a faltering industry back to work.

Thanks, Project Repat, and happy birthday, Mike.