Why Do I Like Running: Pt. 6
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Chapter 6: The 30s
1992 was a transition year. Through 1991, and for the 3-4 years prior, I'd been in peak physical condition, probably on par with my fitness level during high school. Living in Northern Virginia during the winter of 1992, it required a bit more effort and dedication to maintain the same sort of active lifestyle that had been so natural in Southern California. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, I lost my momentum.
I didn't become totally sedentary right away. I joined a gym, did a lot of in-line skating, played tennis, played golf and learned to snowboard on the small mountain slopes of Western Maryland. Running? Oh, I had my Nike Gel Lyte II shoes still, but they never came out except when the annual Navy Physical Fitness Test (PRT) was due and I'd have to gut out a mile and half run. But other than that, I stopped running completely.
Getting older didn't help as my metabolism began to slow to a creep. From January 1992 to March 1995, I completely lost touch with the fitness geek that had left San Diego as a youthful 31 year old. I wasn't even self-aware of that fact at the time. I just assumed I was a mere 3 or 4 weeks away from being able to whip myself back into my 20-something shape. Delusional.
Moving to Japan in 1995 only amplified the slide into middle age. I loved the adventure and the challenge of the assignment, but it consumed all of my attention and fitness rarely crossed my mind beyond the occasional "I need to get in shape." It wouldn't be until August 1997, while relieved of duties and just waiting for the start of the new fiscal year in October for the Navy to come up with the funds to transfer me back Stateside, that I had the luxury and incentive to get back on the horse, so to speak.
I started using the LifeRower ergometer at the gym, riding an old road bike around the base and actually started jogging again. I was maybe a week into my new routine when IT happened. While trying to sprint around the oval track on base, I felt a snap. It didn't hurt right away, but something felt weird with my right hamstring and I pulled up. After a few seconds, the pain started to well up and I hobbled back to my quarters to put a towel filled with ice on the injury. Other than the occasional twisted ankle, it was the first injury to ever sideline me. And here I was just a week into an effort to get back in shape.
That would be it. I moved back to San Diego. I resigned my commission in 1999 and started life as a civilian. The pulled hamstring took what seemed like forever to heal. In fact, I can still feel it a little when my hamstrings get tight, and the scar tissue is palbable when massaged. The injury happened in 1997. It would take me 11 years before I made any effort to reverse the direction of my decaying fitness.
The 90s were a fun decade for me, personally. I have a lot of good memories and experiences, and it was the period of my life when I became a husband and a daddy. But along with all that came middle age. I got weak. Soft. Lost my flexibility and resilience. My waistline expanded. When I was 30, I didn't feel 30. By the time I turned 40...I felt 40. I wanted to change. I just couldn't seem to figure out how.
Eventually, I just sort of resigned myself to the fact that I'd gotten old and that athletic conditioning and energetic youthfulness were forever distant memories. Aging was inevitable and had finally caught up with me. Running? That was some forgotten past. My running days were over.
Or so I thought.
Next: A Decade of Darkness Ends with a Spark