Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Dream Fulfilled

I've had a secret desire for years, one that I didn't think I could physically do because of the shape I had let myself get into. A year ago at this time a simple walk outside caused me to be short of breath and I was actually becoming more and more inactive, and I didn't realize just how bad it was getting until people would ask me why I was so short of breath when I answered the phone. Sadly, I had only gone from one room to another to pick up the phone and this small walk caused me to be breathing thru my mouth...yeah, pretty pathetic.

I noticed a little over a year ago that two friends of ours were losing weight at a pretty remarkable rate so I asked them how they were doing it. A simply app on their smart phones called "Lose It!" was the piece of magic, as well as a determined attitude and daily walks.

So last year on May 22nd, my wife and I embarked on a similar journey, one that saw me walking over 8 miles nearly daily and counting calories and learning to eat differently. Now, the story isn't all rosy here, because after a dramatic 43 pound weight loss, this past Winter took a toll and I gained some weight back but I kept up with hitting the treadmill here at home until weather broke this Spring.

Last Fall, I decided to try and live up to a dream I had had for years, which was to participate in the One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon, which is held the first Saturday in May each year, announcing the month of May activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. So, I registered, as did my influential friend Joe, and we planned on being in the half marathon.

This past Saturday, May 2nd, I fulfilled this dream by participating in the Mini. Joe and I walked each weekend for 5 weekends in a row and hit our 13.1 mile mark, bettering our previous week's time, all but one weekend when we made the mistake of walking in the evening instead of in the morning. We got our time down to 16:10 average per mile and were completing the 13.1 mile practice walks in just a little over 3 1/2 hours.

Last Saturday, in downtown Indianapolis, we were among 40,000 participants, on a beautiful and gorgeous Saturday, with a light breeze and bright, sunny skies. We were in the final wave, wave five, to cross the starting line at Washington and West Streets, and began a walk thru the streets of downtown Indianpolis, past the Zoo, the hospital complex and thru the Main Street area of Speedway, Indiana. Our journey included a lap around the legendary 2 1/2 mile oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and they a journey back towards downtown Indianapolis where our walk ended at the intersection of New York and West Streets.

Remarkably, we ended our walk in a record time for us of 3:20:36.6. This average brought us in at an average of 15:18 per mile, topping our best speed by nearly a minute a mile...we're guessing it was the atmosphere and the adrenalin that helped us achieve this, but it came with a bit of a price for me physically. I didn't know that my shoes and socks were not designed for this type of walking, and no doubt because of our increased speed, I managed, before the halfway point of the race, to get blisters on my right heel, as well as under the toes on both feet. I walked over 7 miles in terrible pain, that only continued to get worse as we walked.

Despite the pain, thanks to my friend's encouragement and our determination to fulfill our dream, we finished this walk and did something that a year ago would have been impossible for either one of us to achieve.

And yes, we've already registered for next year's race as well.

This year, our goal was twofold. Finish, and not finish last. Well, we finished, and when we crossed the finish line there was a mile long line of participants still behind us.

Next year our goal is to finish and better our time by one second. I don't see that being an issue, but I assure you I will have custom fit shoes and proper socks next year and do my best to avoid the problem I had this year. Trust me, I've not done a lot of walking since last Saturday and just this morning was able to put a sock on my right foot. Time will tell how I get along with that today. Hopefully it will be fine, because this weekend we are going to attend the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis and we will be doing a lot of walking to get our tickets and to get to our seats. Hopefully I'm up for that because I intend on attending two more events after the Grand Prix: Fast Friday and the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.

I don't think this weekend I'll be leading Joe to our seats like this, however.

And lastly, I have to admit I never thought I would walk 13.1 miles for a beer, let alone an 8 ounce beer, but I did just that this past weekend. And I'm looking forward to doing it again next May when I participate in my second One America 500 Festival Indy Mini Marathon.