“I crossed the finish line in 53:05 and realized it was the shirt and what it means to me, that kept me going.”
What could be more hopeful in the shivers of dark, dank February than to receive news in the mail about a local 5 mile Summer run? With much glee and wistful anticipation, I checked the appropriate boxes on the application and mailed in a check for the 25th running of the Spring Lake Five, New Jersey road race. I would have plenty of time to train since it was only February and only a 5-mile run. However life, work, family and friends, take up so much time and, of course, the weather was brutish.
Suddenly, it was mid-April. Time for a serious plan of action for this wanna-be runner to sprint into first gear. Week 1: I jogged 1 mile a day and power walking on the beach. Week 2: training escalated to 2 miles a day. Things were moving along nicely, when suddenly, in May, a time-consuming family emergency sent the training program screeching to a halt, although I still harbored high hopes of running the race.
Fast forward to race day. Cool, misty, early summer weather and no training for 3 weeks. I acquiesced to accepting the fact that I would not be running the Spring Lake Five this year, even though I had a number and commemorative T-shirt. I would go out to cheer the runners.
I pinned my number on an old T-shirt to feel part of the event, threw on grungy gardening sneakers, and biked over to watch the race. Friends in the middle of the pack of 6,931 runners called out to me. I chatted with friends in the crowd, as they, geared up in sturdy running shoes, prepared to run. They stretched and warmed up Achilles tendons and hamstrings in the 57degree morning.
Suddenly the earth shook with a loud BOOM as the cannon fired, signaling the start of the race. I was trapped. I had one choice. If I didn’t run, I would be trampled upon. And so I ran, flopping stiff legs and garden sneakers in the wind without any strategy. I figured, when the pack turned the corner at the first-mile marker, I could veer out of the pack and watch the race. But as we approached the mile marker, the “Rocky” theme blasted from someone’s front yard. I couldn’t stop now. I ran to the pulsating rhythm of the music.
During the 2nd mile, I came up with a new strategy. I would stop running at mile 3 and take a shortcut to the finish line to catch the front-runners sprint across. But at mile 3, we approached downtown Spring Lake, where a band of bagpipers sounded their haunting beat. With hundreds of people flanking the streets to cheer us, how could I possibly stop?
The new plan, run mile 4, and if I could make it that far, I would easily walk the last mile. But now I was quite comfortable and settled in the rhythm of the run. I had settled in with a pack of fellow runners who moved with the same synchronization and bounce. You become part of a group, comrades. You take notice of each other, although usually no words are spoken, yet you inspire each other.
During the run, several fellow runners passed nearby and asked how I was doing. I figured they felt sorry for this pathetic jerk, trudging along in garden sneakers and khaki shorts, unlike the rest of the runners who wore proper running attire. They stopped to mention that I was doing a good thing and that I looked great because of the T-shirt I wore that day. I suddenly realized it was my faded old T-shirt that shouts in bold letters across the back, I RUN ON INSULIN.
I crossed the finish line in 53:05 and realized it was the shirt and what it means to me, that kept me going. Yeah, I have diabetes, but watch what I can do! I rode my bicycle home after the race wearing my sweaty wilted garden sneakers and a huge smile plastered across my face, revealing a deep sense of pride and satisfaction, knowing I reached out and met another challenge.
Daily exercise is one of the most important keys to excellent diabetes care. I call it a “functional cure.” Not only does daily exercise benefit blood sugars, weight management, and the cardiovascular system, it eases stress and relaxes the mind.
August 8 thru 11, there will be a DESA (Diabetes Exercise And Sports Association) conference in Washington D.C. I’ll be there to learn more about diabetes and exercise, and to give a cook’s talk and tour. Sign up on their website. Hope to see you there.
Summer is nature’s gift for us to enjoy the outdoors. Cooking is casual and uncomplicated. Ingredients are lively and very fresh. Recipe Central has some summer cooking ideas to make your languid summer days taste great with little care and plenty of time left to plant an herb garden, go for a breezy walk, or catch fireflies. Don’t forget to check your bg before you go.