Abuse, Torture, and Excuse.

With agility testing for various agencies on the table in the near future, I decided to go for a run yesterday.

It had been six months since I’ve ran a single solitary step. Once winter hit, the most strenuous physical activity I completed was whining about shoveling snow.

…Yes, I expended more energy complaining than I actually did shoveling.

The weather seems to want to be getting warmer, and I decided it was time to shake the rust and dorito dust from my bones. Besides, when The Narrator saw me without a shirt and referred to my ‘boobies’ – That is about as good a time as any to take the slack out of the workout routine. I’m not chubby, misshapen, or lumpy, but I’ve gotten soft this winter, and spending 4 days a week in a computer chair hasn’t helped any.

So out I went. The weather called for fifty degrees, the sun was shining, and I was meeting one of my buddies who had the same idea I did about trying to shed the winter gut. My expectations were not spectacular. “I’m not even going to time myself” I said, which turned out to be a flat lie.

When I entered the academy at 29 years old, my passing standard was 11:58 on a 1.5 mile run. Only once in practice tests did I fail to meet that, but I was suffering from bronchitis, and we were running the test outside in the winter, so my lung capacity was about the same as that of a field mouse. Largely, I had no trouble passing the test. Then I turned 30 halfway through the academy and was told that my standards had gone DOWN since I was in a new age bracket. Now all I needed was a 12:24.

Rather than seize the opportunity to slack off a bit, I decided I would make it my goal to hold and beat the standards of the younger crowd. And I did too. I ended up qualifying with an 11:10 on a day when the temperatures were soaring into the mid nineties. Triumph tasted good.

Also tasting good have been the school lunches, snacks, and whatnot that I have since consumed. I knew yesterday wasn’t going to be any record-breaker, but I wanted to know where I stood compared to old, awesome me.

Six months of punishing my body for no good reason had the expected effects.
By the first 21 feet of the run, I was gasping and wheezing like a lifetime-smoker trying to outrun a bear. Thirty feet later, the knee boo-boo that I sustained the day I dropped The Narrator on the ice reminded me it was still there.

About halfway through the run at what I thought was a reasonable pace, I began to feel honest-to-God pain. I can’t tell you where in my anatomy it started, but by the time it had ceased to spread, well…there was nowhere else for it to spread to. From the top of my pointy little head, down to the soles of my somehow-still-moving feet, I hurt. I crossed the line still running and checked my phone’s timer.

12:42

Abysmal. Over two minutes slower than my best ever time on the 1.5. Winter had not been kind to me, nor had I been kind to me either.

Now come the excuses.

-First of all, I’m still not completely over the plague that we got in the house not long ago. The cough still lingers a bit.
-Second, the thermometer said Forty-one degrees when I set out, but those things are notorious for their failure to remind you about wind chills. When I got home and the “Feels Like” Temperature was a lot less….It was no wonder my lungs felt like those frozen water balloons with food coloring in them that you see on Pinterest. -Third, the trail was originally designed as a bike trail. It is littered with hills, curves, banks, and bends.

I’m convinced that with a proper track, warmer weather, and a bit more time to get over the cough and practice a little, my time might be back down to where I’m not ashamed of it anymore.

But the punishment for my laxity was not limited to the discomfort of yesterday’s post-run pain. Oh no. For you see, TODAY I am in a bit of trouble. My legs have taken on a soreness that I don’t think I’ve felt since day #2 of the academy, and my chest is also tight, presumably because I overused the muscles while gasping for oxygen for nearly 13 minutes straight.

Look kids. Exercise is important. You can’t go outside, or even stay inside anymore without someone telling you indirectly that you’re not good enough. TV commercials are loaded with content about health, signs, posters, and entire radio programs are dedicated to making you and me better. But none of these ‘helpful’ bits of programming or advertizing tell the truth. None of them mention just how terrible running is. Running is the worst, and HAVING to do it is bad enough. I can’t imagine doing it and calling it fun. Look at the faces of every jogger you see on the road. Every one of them looks as though they’re being tortured, and they are. I’ve been there.

The good news is that I might NOT have to run for a while. One of the positions I’m aiming for actually might take my test scores from the academy as acceptable for my entrance into consideration for the job. If I never post again, its because they told me I have to take the test again, and I’ve died while trying to train for something so terrible as running.

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