The first person I told after I signed up for the Disney Half was someone I didn't really know very well. I'm not exactly why that is. Why didn't I tell my family, long-time friends or even co-workers?
I've come to know this person (whom I refer to as my Charming Friend) a lot better since August, and it turned out he was one of my biggest supporters during my Disney training (despite his somewhat sarcastic comments posted on this blog).
Throughout my journey, my Charming Friend has toyed with the idea of taking up running. (I try to contain my excitement when he talks about it -- thinking of what it would be like to have a steady running partner and thinking of the opportunities that training runs and races would give us to spend time together, get in shape and support good causes.)
I contain the excitement because I don't want to get my hopes up. I also don't want to be a nag or put pressure on him. I want him to run because he wants to run, not because I want him to.
You can imagine how hard it was to play it cool when he told me he just returned from Runner's Alley with a new pair of shoes. (Okay, so the shoes sat in the box for a few weeks (maybe more), but he still took the first step of buying them.)
I talked him into coming with me to the Fitness Expo before the Great Bay Half Marathon a few weekends ago, where I'd be picking up my race number for my third half marathon of the year.
Our first stop at the small expo was what I'll call the Remedies-For-All-The-Things-That-Can-Go-Wrong-With -Your-Body Booth: IT Band and knee braces, chaffing remedies, blister prevention, toe caps (I bought some of those), nipple covers (don't ask), shoe inserts and a bunch of other things designed to deal with problems that might arise while running.
It certainly wasn't a place I should be bringing a non-runner whom I hope will become my running partner, but he didn't seem to flinch. (Didn't start running right away, but it didn't scare him off entirely.)
A few days later, My Charming Friend did his first run -- a mile by himself on the concourse of the arena where he works. I was really proud, but tried my hardest to avoid gushing with compliments when he told me. (Don't scare him off, Teresa, I told myself.)
I wouldn't say he enjoyed his first run entirely -- I wish I could post an audio file of the voicemail message he left me about his aching shins, sore arches, throbbing back and the list of other ailments that his first mile had thrown at him.
But it still wasn't enough for him to quit. (I doubt that quit is in his vocabulary.)
The next day I joined him for another mile around the concourse -- a much slower mile, he told me, which I pointed out might be part of the reason he was hurting so badly after his first run.
He still didn't feel right, so brought his shoes back to Runner's Alley, exchanged them for another pair and chatted with the manager for a while about possible problems and fixes.
Not long after that, we ventured outside for a three-mile route in downtown Manchester that he created on www.mapmyrun.com -- which actually included scaling a brick wall (obviously not shown on the website route).
Three miles and he did it. And he finished strong, sprinting to our finishing point.
Again, I played it cool, congratulating him mildly on his accomplishment and patting him on the back (I know it drives him crazy to have his T-shirt pressed up against his sweaty back, so that move was partially congratulatory and partially intentionally annoying.)
He tried to play it cool, too, but I know he was proud of himself. (He sent a couple of text messages off to co-workers telling him he finished the three miles.) He also used the phrase "farther than I've ever run in my life."
TnT-ers use this phrase a lot. There's nothing like the feeling of running farther than you've ever run before.
And there's nothing like having a Charming Friend who takes up running -- or at least is willing to give it a try.