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.