How I became a runner…..(part 1)

I hated running.  I liked to walk, but I hated running.  So how is it that now, as I write this, I am less than a month away from running my first marathon?  To understand this, we have to go back in time….(thank you PitBull)

In Summer 2007, Captain John Ringquist was given orders to report to Lawrence where he would be stationed for the next two years to pursue a concurrent masters/PhD in Military History.  He brought with him his wife, Diana, daughter Lydia and son, Ben.  Because of my involvement with Girl Scouts, and specifically the troop at Sunflower elementary, I was fortunate enough to meet Diana.  She, too, had been a past leader, and her daughter Lydia was a junior, much like my daughter, Kelli.  She had called me a couple times and I finally got around to calling her back.  She came over to my house a few days later, and when I opened the door, i had one of those moments….you know the kind, where you meet someone, and before you even really know them at all, you just get a sense….a feeling….and I did with Di.  I knew this person was going to be an important person in my life and an absolute LIFE LONG FRIEND.   Now, it is important to note that John & Di were what I would then think of as fitness & health nuts.  They did all these crazy races….5Ks, half marathons, marathons, triathlons and something called an “ultra” that I didn’t even understand.  And they were crazy, too, because they’d do these things in really insane weather conditions.

In the meantime, another very dear friend, Jonathan with whom I had recently reconnected, did an incredible thing for me, and I still point to this as my initial motivation.  He very honestly and kindly said to me one evening when we were hanging out, talking, catching up, “I’d really like you to lose some weight, Cindy, because I want you to live a long, healthy and happy life.  I want you around for a long time.”  I don’t know if those were the exact words or not, but it was something like that.  You see, Jonathan had known me in high school, when I bore quite a resemblance to a twig.  So he knew that the then current version was really enough to make TWO Cindys.  The wonderful thing about Jonathan (one of the many, actually) is that there was nothing cruel about what he said.  It was honest, realistic, caring and sensitive.   And I imagine not a terribly easy thing to do.  Think about someone you know who is overweight.  Now imagine trying to talk to them about losing weight.  Makes you squirm, doesn’t it?  It does me too.  I would like to be as strong as Jonathan.  I think it’s so odd that as a society, we will verbally take note when someone loses weight, but won’t say a word when someone puts on a few pounds.  It’s really backwards if you think about it, because if someone is losing weight, chances are that they are aware of this fact already, whereas it’s actually a bit too easy to put on a few without noticing, and the a few more, and before you know it, it’s out of control.  (make a note, folks, because I worked TOO hard to take all the weight off to get back to where I was, so if you’re really my friend, do me a favour.  If you notice extra pounds starting to find me, kick my butt back to the gym!  It’s the nicest thing you could do for me).

So anyway, after the wakeup call from Jonathan, I started walking.  Now, back to John & Diana.  They were thrilled that I had started walking.  And somehow in early fall of 2008, I and my big mouth told them that I felt like I could definitely do a 5K.  We even talked about doing the Lawrence Turkey Trot.  I was going to be home alone that year for Thanksgiving.  But, as a mother to a couple of still young kids, I was looking forward to sleeping in, so I never got much past the “talking about it” phase.

John & Di, on the other hand, had different ideas.  Thursday morning, bright and early, my phone started ringing.  I muted it and rolled over.  Then the doorbell and the knocking started.  I covered my head with a pillow.  Then…..I heard my garage door open…..surely not, I thought….but then all of a sudden I heard something that sounded a lot like a drill sergeant barking out orders, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t been shipped off to basic training in my sleep.  I pulled my head out from under my pillow lifted it slightly and looked out the door to my bedroom to see Di’s face sheepishly peeking around the corner on the stairs….”you’ve got 5 minutes to get changed and down here before I come up there after you and drag you out of there and throw you in the car,” the drill sergeant voice bellowed.  “He’s not kidding,” Diana warned, “How can I help you?” As the realization set in that this wasn’t a dream and WASN’T going away set in, I looked at Di and muttered “coffee…..”  Wordlessly, she complied and in less than 5 minutes, I descended the stairs ready to go to my first 5K, and found coffee waiting for me.

I finished in under an hour.  The official times have now been removed….even the wonderful wayback machine (Internet Archive) doesn’t have a record of it.  I think it was around 57 minutes and some seconds.  Henceforth I am calling it 57:24.   Just because.  So…what happened next? Stay tuned….

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