Hello, Mid-Life Crisis

Ivan DeJesus. Larry Bowa. Shawon Dunston. Names not known by a large percentage of the population. But those of us who know, recognize these as the names of just three of the dozens of men who once played shortstop for the Chicago Cubs.

And I could have been one of them.

I had skills. “Mad skills,” as the kids say these days. In our youth, my best friend, Eric, and I could surely have made the team had we gone for it in school. Eric had ridiculous speed, and could cover both right and left while playing center field. I wasn’t as fast, so I was comfy in left, but loved shortstop. Sure, I was skinny, but with the right training I’d have beefed up to work the bat more. And with my love of the game, I’d have worked my tail off to make it to “the bigs.” Only trouble is, I lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ball players don’t come from little towns like Kalamazoo.

Then along came Jeter.

If that punk kid had been born before me instead of after me, he and I would have faced each other in a Cubs/Yankees World Series. Several, actually, as we would have battled back and forth for retention of the title.

Instead, here I am, a 44 year old out of shape no-name, staring mortality in the eyes. Having recently fessed up to the fact that I really need to do something about my health, I’ve begun to take steps (literal steps) to get my health back on track.

Back in the day, good ol’ Eric and I used to hang out from dawn to dusk: riding bikes, playing baseball, football, basketball…we were those kids every neighborhood dreads, because we just never stopped. The only question was at whose house would we meet today? Because once the sun came up, and we got together, we didn’t stop until the sun went back down.

And now: I’m actually jealous of kids who get to take naps. I have a fraction of the energy I once had. I tell people I didn’t so much have an “aha moment,” as it was an “uh oh” moment when I noticed how out of breath I was on a recent trip up only 3 flights of stairs.

So I began walking. I knew I wanted to get active and build back my stamina, but was at least smart enough to know I needed to start slow. I started by taking walk breaks at work. Using my phone to keep up with emails, and prospecting for new business, I would walk the perimeter of the hotel property, which turned out to be .25mi per lap. After a couple weeks, I bumped it up to two laps, equalling a half mile. Eventually, I began walking after work, and added distance. Before I knew it, I was up to 2 miles simply by walking around the property of my apartment complex.

Just as I was toying with the idea of adding pace, and giving jogging a try, I began to experience sharp shin pain as I walked. How out of shape do you have to be to get shin splints when you walk, I thought to myself? So I took a few weeks off to heal. Once I felt well enough to try again, I began walking…much slower this time. I backed it down from a sub-15minute mile to a 20minute mile, and seemed to be able to walk without pain. I spoke with my friend, Kim, who has a background in physical therapy, and she was able to give me some tips which also seemed to help. Back at it I went, adding distance while keeping the pace mild, working my way back up to over 5miles per walk, and doing it without pain. So I figured it was time to try the next level: adding some run.

For quite some time, I’ve had the Couch To 5K (aka C25K) app on my phone, but have never used it. Instead, I used RunKeeper to track my walks and other exercise, while also using a Nike+ Fuelband as added motivation, and accountability. But, if I was going to be serious about adding running to the mix, I decided to dust off the old C25K app. On day one, it alternates between 90seconds of walking with 60seconds of jogging, for 20minutes. I’m quite happy to report I survived. Because I plan to take it slow, I don’t know if I will make it to 5K level in the expected 8 weeks as prescribed. And that’s ok. Because it’s not really about being able to run a 5K race. It’s about me being able to climb stairs without sounding as if I have asthma. It’s about me being able to take part in a sport without having to stop every 30seconds to catch my breath for the next 5minutes. It’s about me wanting to get my health back in check, before being told I have to do so by a physician.

Sadly, I’ll never play shortstop for the Cubs. I’ve come to grips with the fact that ship has sailed. But maybe, just maybe, for my mid-life crisis I’ll one day run a 5K. And get a new car. Yup. Definitely a new car.

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