Today’s guest blog post is by Chris Morales who goes by the online name, ThatRunninGuy. He’s been running for over 25 years and has completed numerous 10K’s, 1/2 Marathon’s and Triathlons. Chris now runs to raise money for the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Chris is online in two places: his blog, http://thatrunninguy.com/ and also at The Reggae Marathon Blog where he writes as Reggae Marathon RunninGuy http://www.reggaemarathon.com/blog/
"Run, Christopher, Run!"
That’s what my wife Sally says whenever I head out for a run which has been nearly every day now for the past 25 years. But it didn’t start out that way. For most of my life up to my mid-20′s I was sedentary. OK, I was a couch potato. I wasn’t athletic in either grade school or high school although I did play squash in university. Great workout but not running.
"You are well on your way to getting high blood pressure" was the diagnosis from my doctor after my annual physical at age 28. It stunned me but I wasn’t surprised since I had a history of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure in my immediate family. Heck, my Dad had high blood pressure for years and ‘took pills’ to control it.
With 2 young kids I made the immediate decision to deal with it…and not through drugs. I decided to run. And my first run was not pretty! Running…make that walking…at night so that nobody would see me was how I started. Newbies, let me assure you that I was not a natural. It took a long time…a really long time…before running became a habit. And it took even longer before running became fun. The transition came when I purchased my first pair of pair of pants 2" less than the previous ones. Hmmm…"I like this". I was hooked. But it wasn’t until I stumbled through my first 10K that I became determined to become a real runner.
"Run, Christopher. Run!"
10 K races were all the rage at that time and once I caught the racing bug I raced nearly every month. I achieved my personal best of 42 minutes in my early 30′s within 3 years of starting to run. I still have the finish line photo in my wallet. Oh, and the T shirts. I had quite the collection of race T shirts. Oh, and the physical benefits: down to a 32" waist, down ‘a lot of weight’ and down with the blood pressure reading.
For some reason the Marathon intimidated me and for years I stayed away from them. I ran 1/2 marathons which were just starting to catch on back them and really liked that distance. I still do. But I shuddered every time I even briefly contemplated the dreaded marathon distance. "I could never finish a marathon" became my mantra. And sure enough that’s what happened when I entered my first marathon, The Unfinished Marathon. I did everything wrong: I didn’t train well, I was cocky, I started too fast, I figured I could tough it out. Bad idea, stupid idea, dumb idea, wrong! I made it to half distance before I dropped out with exhaustion and a bum knee. It was a long, cold, silent ride back to the finish line in the pickup vehicle. I did not like it one bit and the bitter taste of that unfinished marathon stuck with me for many, many years.
"Run Christopher, Run"
I loved my early morning runs. While others slept I was out running. It became my ‘alone time…my thinking time" and I grew to value it very much. I ran everywhere I traveled, I ran on vacation, I ran in good weather and bad, in cold and snow. I ran through divorce and job loss. Some of my friends went for therapy, I went for a run. Years later we laugh over a beer and wonder which was more effective. I vote for running: physical and mental health in under an hour each day.
And then my Dad died. I’d been very close to him over the final years of his fight with high blood pressure and heart disease. I’d hoped that my example of successfully reducing my high blood pressure through running would have had an impact on him. It didn’t and I was pissed! Running in the wake of his passing saved my life.
"Run! Christopher, Run!"
My universe collided with my Dad’s passing: Unfinished marathon business…anger…running…do something! And I did. Given my Jamaican heritage, I decided to finish my marathon business (Unfinished Business Finished) in Negril, Jamaica at the Reggae Marathon. I channeled my anger into my training…and I did it right this time. I started fund raising for the Heart & Stroke Foundation to help with research and education around heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
That was three years ago and I’m blessed to have the support of my sons who have run with me in three races.
Thanks Sally for getting me to ‘run, Christopher, run."
Until next time…
©Chris Morales, February 1, 2012