planted some seeds in my mind. I knew I would have to get better, because if anything, running is an essential part of my fitness regime. Or at least cardio, which is what I should be saying. I never wanted to be some meat head that works out merely for the muscle, I wanted to be something a little more than that. Even though at that time in 2012 I was more than a novice runner, I was really looking to try and improve my abilities. I sporadically ran during that first year, mostly resorting to walking due to the fact Jon was putting me through the ringer on most nights. Of course, at that time, just about every night at Parsons was some version of a caustic hell, for just about every night, the possibility of stopping by Reid Park and just walking on my way home was ridiculous. When I look back at the really old blog posts, they all seemed to revolve around the various exercises that Jon would introduce on a daily basis. It’s funny, considering these days I don’t want to do anything unless it is heavy and I don’t want to run unless I at least put more than five miles in to it.
I remembered the first real attempt I made to circle the loop twice at Reid Park. I tripped and fell about half a mile to the finish, and I ended up walking the rest of the way due to the fact I wrecked my knee and my stomach was hurting like crazy, a first due to the fact my stomach would only hurt unless I had eaten 10 pounds of food as opposed to the usual seven. It took a while to get back to running after that, but I finally ran the loop twice shortly after Ragnar Del Sol in 2013. I was wearing my Ragnar shirt, and circled the run in roughly 59 minutes. I know this because I had my old iPod with me, and before I ever got any applications I would specifically make playlists to help me with the time. If only I was aware of the distance back in those days, I might have had a much more different reaction, for I felt I was blowing through the track much faster than I really was. But it was probably for the better anyway, merely to the fact that these early perceived “bests” aided in my desire to keep trying and to keep getting better. I never expected this early ignorance would be so key in regards to everything involved with my running.
More than a year ago, I finally decided to get with the rest of society and get a “smartphone.” I find it hilarious something so aggravating and flimsy can be considered smart, but alas, the main inspiration to get one was not because I was discontent with my old, broken down Droid. It was because I wanted to get a decent running application and start having some good hard facts to support my running. My family was in the midst of a running challenge, and I sincerely wanted to beat them all even though the promise of money earnings never came to fruition. It was pretty funny realizing the first time I used the RunKeeper was also the night I realized the main loop at Reid Park really wasn’t three miles. It was probably a good thing I learned this fact after I had the motivation to start running rather than before. At first I just ran the main loop, but ultimately opted for the longer loop along the Reid Park running path. I decided the bigger loop was better mainly because I wanted to try and reach for the heights I reached at the Tucson Heart Walk in April of 2013. That day, I decided I would run the entire four-mile main loop of the running path (which is really more like 3.9 miles) with my brother-in-law Brandon, who not only set a blazing pace for me but it still stands as my best run yet, a day where I averaged 9.16-per mile. The near four mile loop became a staple for me in those early months, for I would run them profusely and use them as my main measuring stick. There were a couple moments where I would go beyond the four mile standard, but I rarely went over five miles. The first time I did shoot for the stars by doing the long path twice was a bit of a funny one, considering I didn’t tell my running friend Jaime we were going to do that, talking her into taking on a distance she had never tried before. By the time she finished her near eight-mile run, she was already yelling at me for trying to kill her.
Of course, I am not much different. Jon and Christa, in preparation for Ragnar Las Vegas 2014 (which ultimately fell through) wanted to run up this hill at Craycroft and River, which is pretty darn steep even for a car. I got to tell you, it is two and half miles of utter hell, and by the time you get to the top, the idea of running back down doesn’t even feel enticing because then you ultimately knew your legs would be pretty darn sore from the steepness of the hill. But that graduated climb toward hell also inspired me to take on my first eight-mile run, which unfortunately my friend Jaime got dragged into again! If anything, Jon and Christa really inspired me to enjoy that particular spot in town. Not only did I have the crazy hill, but Sabino Canyon was nearby and the running path along the Rillito River is probably best between Craycroft and Alvernon, mainly because of the massive trail running path that is pretty much adjacent to the paved path. Heck, in some cases, the trail path is a tougher endeavor than the main! Throw in the fact the Whole Foods at River and Craycroft had a full juice and coffee bar along with a good selection at their buffet, and it became a little bit of a stopping point for me after a good run. I had the best Americano and juice drink when I conquered Sabino Canyon in a time of one hour, 14 minutes and 59 seconds (I still say RunKeeper added an extra second just to mess with me! hehe). I also learned the cooks at that particular Whole Foods were exceptional at making potato samosas and Thai yellow rice.
And then came the whole half marathon kick I went on. Last summer was one of the most trying times for me, and being able to say I did it was quite a relief. I not only completed the half marathon in a time that I wanted to, it inspired me to take on another in March (albeit it will be in Tucson rather than in far off Page….but a medal is a medal!). There were a lot of things that tested my resolve during the summer, and it all had to do with effort. Running in 95-degree, 50-percent humidity was an absolute shock to the system. Going out there and attempting to run in that muck was something I didn’t really want to do. But then again, Jon and Christa were going through the same hell I was going through, so I sucked it up and kept going. I hope some day I get to repay them for the help and inspiration they gave me to train and actually finish that race. During that time, I passed a pretty hefty milestone of 400 miles, something I challenged myself to do in the span of 11 months. I did the challenge in 231 days, which is pretty impressive since I got sick and injured a couple times and was forced to not run for a few weeks at a time. And now, I crossed the plain of yet another impressive feat, one that boggles my mind and makes me thirst for more accolades and accomplishments.
I finally passed 700 miles of total running. With this being my first year of actually keeping track of my progress, it seems like a gigantic number to comprehend. I reached this summit in 360 days, which means I nearly averaged two miles per day. I didn’t think I would be able to make it when I saw how many miles I needed to go, but the last two runs I made were the keepers. I put together a little 4.62-mile run on Friday night. I needed it to clear my head more than anything, mainly because my car had broken down once again the day of. And in spite of the cold and the wind, I slowly but surely put together a little run I could be proud of. And even though four miles was good, I really pushed the envelope the next day. A Facebook friend of mine named Jennifer was hosting a little fundraiser called “Hope for Paws” at a Tucson original called Bookman’s. I knew I would have to take the bus just to get there, and I was curious what the total distance between the store and my house would be. It was 11.91 miles, and that was when the seed of a personal challenge took root. I needed 10 miles to get over the 700 threshold, and knew this would be a great test for me to take on. So with little preparation, I went about my day like any other. I went to Bookman’s, met Jennifer (which I hope is the first of many FB friends I actually meet this year) and made a little donation for her fundraiser. I loved the fact that Bookman’s actually lets you bring your dogs into the store, which just goes to show how cool locally owned businesses can be. At the corner of Wilmot and Speedway at 2:32 p.m., I began my journey. Speedway is generally at a decline going east to west, so the first seven or eight miles wasn’t too rough. Running through downtown was also interesting, for the early crowds were somewhat perplexed to see me running through their little gatherings. I saw my old friend Annalisa along the way and gave her a high five. I was feeling good and feeling fast, until I hit South Sixth Avenue.
Back in the day, South Sixth was hilariously referred to by former political gas bag Pat Buchanan as “Little Mexico,” an account he made reference to when he was a guest of the Rodeo Parade and blew up an incident about being pelted with tacos (it was really one taco, and the guy was arrested even though Buchanan insinuated otherwise). Either way, South Sixth may have a lot of Mexican restaurants and businesses appealing to the Latino populace, it is also a pain in the butt to run. The uneven brick pavement, the narrow sidewalk and the fact the road goes at an incline going south makes for some hard running. My legs eventually gave way while going through one of the neighborhoods, ending my run at 10.58 miles. I could have kept going, but the ultimate convulsions from the cramps that were starting to creep into my legs would make life quite unbearable if I hadn’t. It didn’t matter anyway, because I reached my goal (which had been unbeknownst to me at the start of the month) and walked the last mile and half home. The toughest part about the run was the fact the wind had been blowing in my face much of the time, so my mouth was dry and my lips were parched. I once again forgot to protect my “nips,” and I discovered my nipples had actually bled at one point during the run. And I also got cold pretty quick, for the lack of warmth quickly meant a hot shower when I got home (not to mention I actually turned up the furnace!).
700 miles. It sounds like a gigantic number when you put into words, but it really isn’t in the grand scope of measurements in our society. But for me, 700 miles is more than just a number. It is a reaction to a decision that has been put into effect for almost three years. The fact I ran 14 miles in less than 24 hours without a full food and training regimen proves to me that my diet and my workout regimen are working. While I have no doubt in my mind that I will reach the 600-mile goal I set for myself in September, giving myself a year to do it, it still helps to shoot higher. I thank anyone and everyone that joined me on this journey. Who knows, maybe next year I will be talking about breaking the 800-mile barrier!
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.