It really does begin with one step. Tonight, as I join dozens of others in preparing for the Brooksie Way half-marathon, that step forward will also be a step back to a way of life sorely missed.
I'm eager. Afraid. Excited. Nervous.
Three and a half years ago, I crossed the finish line of the Detroit Free Press half-marathon, triumphant in accomplishing a lifelong dream. I was more fit than I'd been in a decade, and so proud of my accomplishment I didn't mind the pain searing through my calves and cramps in my feet as dehydration and exhaustion took over in the last three miles of the 13.1-mile race. I had run a half-marathon! I was invincible.
It might as well have been a lifetime ago.
In those years since October 2008, life's twists – both personal and professional – have led me to a place I never wanted to be again: Overweight, out of shape, exhausted, complacent. Feeling old and worn.
Since that exhiliarating fall run through Detroit, I've had a marathon of change: To a job that includes hours a day at a computer or sitting in meetings. On a busy day sometimes I don't leave my office chair for hours, and sometimes don't leave the house at all.
I never thought age would be an issue – I was invincible! – but years of sports, running and yo-yo weight gains and losses have taken a toll on my knees, hips, back and feet. When I experienced a pinched nerve in my back that rendered my left arm nearly useless for months, I used it as an excuse to abandon my lifelong fitness regime of lifting weights, biking and running, convincing myself I couldn't do it, didn't have time, that I'd get back in the routine "soon."
"Soon" rolled into months and years. The dreaded 50th birthday came and went last October. New Year's resolutions were ... almost made.
Then a few weeks ago, Kristin Bull, the Rochester Patch editor, mentioned to me the Brooksie Way and a training program to prepare for the Sept. 30 race – and I thought "It's now or never."
, which prepares people to run or walk a 5K (3.1 mile) race in six weeks, amounts to putting training wheels back on my fitness cycle. But that's what I need.
The program is also a steppingstone to the 16-week half-marathon training program that begins June 7.
I hope to be there, too.
But first ... I'll tie on the shoes and take that first step.
Anyone with me?