Saturday, May 16, 2009

Morbidly Obese Woman Trains to Run a Mile

In March 2009, as a devoted swim grandma, I attended the Junior Olympics to encourage my talented, smart, funny and focused young grandson in the meet. The warm-ups took forever, so I decided to explore the giant sports complex and found myself in the bleachers watching the US National Master's Track and Field Championship.

The first event was the mile for men 85 years and over. Three gentlemen participated. One ran smoothly save for a hitch in his gait. One ran and then slowed to a jog, and then sped up again to finish. The third, who was 93, ran only the first few yards and then slowed to a moderate walk. As each past my seat, I joined the audience, which consisted largely of other athletes waiting for their events, in clapping and yelling encouragement.

The meet continued, working backwards down the age groups, alternating men and women, until my group appeared, women 60-65. There were quite a few participants -- some who looked like seasoned athletes, others who looked as if they had taken up running later in life, but were built for it, and a few, who looked extraordinarily ordinary. They had upper backs sloped forward with post-menopausal humps, varicose veins, and legs that seemed flaccid and had no definition between calves and ankles. Despite this, all of them finished.

I could do this, I thought. Somewhere in me is an athlete, albeit buried deeply under layers of fat. I know I could run. I know I could look convincing in shorts and a singlet. I know I could go a mile.

This would not even have been a thought worth noting, let alone writing a blog about, were it not for the fact that I am 5" 3" and weigh 279 lbs. I am morbidly obese. I do an management job and sit at a desk all day. I love to eat. And I don't walk anywhere, except when I absolutely have too. I always take the elevator and avoid stairs. I spend lots of time looking for those close-in parking spots.

This blog is the story of my attempt to make good on my pledge to myself: to run a mile at some sort of organized track meet. I am writing it mainly for myself, to document my ups and downs. And to keep myself honest. I hope you enjoy my story.



  1. Your stories are really fun to read!
    For me the doctor part was extra interesting and makes me think (coming from the opposite side and rarely hearing what patients really think about appointments, investigations, our advices and so on...)
    Looking foreward for the next chapters and good luck for the mile!
    Greetings from the other side of the atlantic!

  2. Glad you liked it. Please become a follower and pass it on to your mom or others that may be intrested. I am trying to build a folowing so that I can publish a book. Hope you are feeling well. Please send me a photo of you an your tummy. Love, Martha

  3. Saw the article in today's WashingtonPost Health section and it gave me encouragement. I've been disgusted with how I look when I see myself sideways in the mirror. I need to lose 40 pounds and it is a struggle. I hate to exercise especially in the summer but today's article and blog gives me encouragement to begin again. Thank you.