Wow, it felt good to get that off of my chest! Actually, it took me a while to get up the nerve to admit (at least out loud) that I am a runner. I mean, I used to be a runner, way back in the dark ages. And I mean a “real” runner! A 100 meter specialist. And as any sprinter will tell you, real runners are fast! I had no time for long, slow runs. Even long fast runs took way too much time and energy. I was a fast twitch fiber, all or nothing, blocks to tape, stomp on the gas and go until the engine blows up running fool! At least I was a runner, until life, injuries, work, and age stepped in to put out the burner. But it was a good run, while it lasted.
Fast forward a few years and I ended up in the police academy where weekly cadence runs were the norm, gradually building to a final run of epic length. I dreaded every run. I hated every cadence call. I hurt. I suffered. Then finally, when the final run had to be completed, I finished with a DI under each arm, literally holding me up with my toes dragging to the end, puking my guts out. What is there not to love about runs like that? The run was done and I had prevailed. Never again would I be subjected to such misery!
Distance running remained nothing but a bad memory until, years later, I was subjected to yet another program that required long distance running. I was spared the degradation that was my previous lot when my back gave out at about 3 miles, and my doctor signed me off of running. Running was bad for you. I had proven that fact for the second time. Only fools would run, when Chevy made a perfectly wonderful alternative.
The years performed their cruel dance, and life finally caught up with me on one September day, as I sat in my favorite, and well formed recliner chair. I was an out of shape, over weight, broke down, retired cop, who was content to sit back and watch the world on television or on the internet, when my wife walked in and changed my life.
As Walt Disney World annual passholder’s, it is not uncommon for the slightest excuse for a trip to end up triggering a full blown planning session for a jaunt to Lake Buena Vista. This time, the “excuse” threw me for a loop. My wife declared that she wanted to run the Princess Half Marathon, so I needed to look into booking a trip around that fact. Oh, great! What was I supposed to do while she ran? Being used to her exercise fanaticism, I began looking for ways to support her, while expending the least amount of energy in the process. Maybe I could catch a great breakfast, see the start of the race, have a nice dessert, and have time to be at the finish line. Maybe this could work!
As I began to explore the logistics that being a spectator entailed, it was clear that watching the race would be a feat, in and of itself! Take a bus to here, walk to there, walk to somewhere else. Take the monorail to here, get off and walk to there. Walk back to there, then take the monorail over to another place. Walk down, walk back, then take the monorail back, only to walk, and then walk some more! I was exhausted just looking at the plan! It almost seemed easier to run the race, but that was a pretty foolish thought!
While elite runners are always battling the clock for the fastest time, slower runners have their own fight with time. While race directors will set up a course for you, they will not keep that course open forever. Many races enforce a rolling closure that begins as soon as the last runner crosses the starting line. If the minimum pace is calculated to be 15 minutes per mile, then 15 minutes after the last runner starts, they had better be past the first mile marker, or risk being removed from the course by the Grim Sweeper Bus. It’s kind of like running on a carpet that is slowly rolling up behind you. For The Princess, the sweep time is 16 minutes per mile.
Just how fast can a normal human walk? It seemed to me that 16 minutes per mile was a fairly slow pace that just might be walkable. Maybe I could just enter the race and make my life a whole lot easier! I simply had no idea if walking the course was a viable option, so I turned to a recliner jockey’s best friend – it was Google to the rescue! What I found was quite unexpected. For starters, one name kept popping up again and again. The name was Jeff Galloway, and it happened that he was a consultant for Disney running events. His claim was two fold – that walking during a marathon or half marathon was a good thing, and that anyone could run them. Right!!!!!!!
Being the person that I am, I could not allow such a claim to lay out on the net uncontested. I dug around and found an email address for Jeff Galloway and fired off an email, informing him that there was no way that this old, fat, broke down, out of shape, retired cop could ever run a half marathon, let alone a full marathon! The gauntlet had been thrown down! Take that, Jeff Galloway!
To my surprise, I received a prompt response from none other than Jeff Galloway himself! He assured me that he understood my condition and that he could guarantee, with greater than a 98% certainty, that I could run a marathon. Not only could I run a marathon, but I would cross the finish line injury free, with a smile on my face, ready to celebrate, and wanting to do it again. “I’ll bet you that you are wrong!”, was my response, and so began the journey.