I was always a late bloomer when it came to athletic endeavors.
I couldn't hit or field much of anything in my Little League days - and a couple of black eyes proved my reflexes weren't much to write home about either; could shoot but not dribble; wasn't a fan of getting hit on the football field - so forget that; and I was winded after a lap or two around the basketball court in gym class.
I grew fairly discouraged and turned my attention to the numbers of the games. Hence my early love of tracking baseball and football stats and collecting sports cards. (I also turned my attention to band, theater, literature and other excellent nerd-like pursuits.)
I toyed around with sports in high school but with several thousand students at the school and some excellent top-in-the-state teams, I had no chance of making any of the various teams. To stay close to the action and to be able to scrimmage with friends on the team, I managed the basketball teams and kept stats.
In my 20s, I found my confidence. I ended up joining several pretty tough softball leagues and intramural basketball leagues and ended up being a go-to player - not a star, but clutch.
But it still didn't take much for me to get winded after a few times up and down the court. You see, I worked in the newspaper business and dined on a steady diet of fast food eaten while driving to assignments or, later, editing at my desk at all hours - then late night/after work beers with my ragtag newspaper buds.
Ten years ago, at a highly HIGHLY stressful point in my life, I took up running. I took baby steps. Literally. I would run 1/4 of a mile, then gradually ramped it up until 1 mile became my own personal marathon. Eventually I ran my first 5K and I goofed around for many years with that distance. I tackled one 10K early on but I was a mess with it.
I never seemed to progress in my running. I never got too serious - even with Chicago's Lakefront a few hundred yards away.
But late last year I decided it was time to commit to something bigger. I have a child, finally. I'm 42 now. 42 with 43 staring me down! (Side note: When exactly did all of that aging happen? I feel like I'm 22 - well, 30 if I'm being honest - but still, not 42.)
Bottom line: Life is speeding up. It happens to the best of us.
So, on May 7, I checked off one of those - and I'm not particularly a fan of this term, but I'll say it anyways - "bucket list" items.
I ran a Half Marathon - 13.1 miles - with close to 35,000 other people - the country's largest half. Bands played, residents of the neighborhoods cheered along the route, my wife, mom and daughter were there. I got to run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I didn't blaze trails but I beat my goal by 20 minutes.
And here's the thing - I want to do it again!
Running before this had been something I had learned to enjoy - a way to cope with the stresses of life - but something I did in small doses simply to maintain a decent level of fitness. It made me feel better about my love of chocolate and pizza and the occasional bad food run.
But running became something different to me while I pounded the pavement of Indianapolis. With thousands around me, I felt alone. I loved that feeling.
It proved to be not only a physical challenge for me, but a great mental challenge. That was an awesome surprise.
I've written this as a record of my thoughts about the race but just maybe I'll inspire someone else to tackle something challenging for them - whether a run like this or anything else.