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You can always impress someone

I had intended to run for 20 minutes but decided 18 minutes was good enough because otherwise I’d be scraping my lung off the carpet after I threw it up. I was a little disappointed with myself. It was only 6 months ago that I ran a half-marathon and now I am struggling to run a half-5K. If you don’t use it, you lose it, unless of course we’re talking about weight, in which case you gain it.

“I don’t know how you do that,” said the 50-or-60-something man who was running on the treadmill next to me in my apartment’s exercise room. In light of the current economic crisis, I’ve decided to ditch my YMCA membership and use my complex’s resources instead. I’ll just have to cross my fingers that no one is using the elliptical machine when I want it and remind myself that a little patience will save hundreds of dollars a year.

“I don’t know how *I* did that,” I replied as I stepped off the treadmill to stretch. I’d interspersed my running with walking and I’d probably faked him out a few times thinking I was done with the good treadmill as he had lifted weights.

“It takes a lot of determination,” he said. “When you get to be my age, you can’t run like that anymore.” It turns out my neighbor ran the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon five times. “I never broke two hours though.”

“I could only DREAM of breaking two hours,” I replied. We had a nice little chat as I finished stretching, which was pleasantly odd because most of my neighbors seem to actively avoid conversation or eye contact. “Well, I’m going to take a shower,” I said as I put on my coat.

“Keep up with it!” He said. I no longer felt disappointed, but proud of myself. I may not be able to run a half-marathon right now, but I can run for over a mile. I’m not in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life, but I’m still in pretty good shape. It was good to be reminded of the positive when it’s so easy to focus only on the negative. And I’m going to keep up with it.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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Niccole • October 31, 2008 at 8:05 am

I am also very impressed with you. I’ve been doing karate for over a year and religiously exercising since finishing your WONDERFUL BOOK in august. The only way I could run for 18 minutes is if I was being chased by a killer (and according to movies they always seem to walk after their victims , so I could just use a brisk walking pace anyway).

Thanks for giving me a reason to smile everyday !!!


Jill • October 31, 2008 at 8:34 am

That’s so nice that he was there to encourage you! I love when things like that happen. What a nice neighbor.


kate (bunnah) • October 31, 2008 at 8:43 am

I love it when things like that happen. I think most people are a lot harder on themselves than other people (and a lot harder than they probably should be on themselves). I know I am. A friend of mine just ran her first 5K, and her time was not even close to what she thought it would be. She was disappointed, but as I told her, you started and you finished and in the middle you did your best. That is success.


Helen • October 31, 2008 at 8:56 am

Runners are waaaayyyyy too hard on themselves. We always want to be faster or go longer and rarely are satisfied with what we get. I’ve found over my running years that my running seems to flow in cycles. Sometimes, I just have a great go; other times I can’t run a 5K. I just ran the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26th. My training season had been awful, fraught with tendonitis and then a real bad bout of bronchitis and a sinus infection 3 weeks before the race. I went, I ran, I conquered finishing in a time that was neither my personal best or my worst. I felt really conflicted and then I came back home and back to work. When I got to work on Wednesday my coworkers treated me as if I’d won the race. They just kept raving about how good my time was and how proud they were that they knew me. It was sort of comical and a great attitude adjustment for me. I’m terrible at taking my own advice but I’ve always maintained that on any given day, we do what we can in the circumstances we’re under. That’s true for you too Jennette “Half-Marathoner” Fulda!


Sarah • October 31, 2008 at 9:52 am

I know exactly how you feel! I just ran a mini-marathon in April and I am struggling to get through 10 minutes before I take a walk break!

Just think of how far you (we) have come and that will keep you motivated :)


Kelly • October 31, 2008 at 10:28 am

At least he wasn’t creepy. There’s always a creepy old guy.

I’m new to running but even I find that some days just suck/don’t suck more than others. If I don’t have shin splints and I’m not getting stiches in my side, the moon is properly aligned with the sun, and some other wacky thing is right, I still may have a crappy run. Or a good one. It seems pretty random.

Great book btw, I finished it in 2 days.


Laura N • October 31, 2008 at 11:08 am

What a great story. The good thing is, you can get that running fitness back before you know it, too. BTW, I still walk–a lot–when I run. I prefer to run fast for 5 or 10 minutes and then walk for a minute, instead of running slow for the whole run. It feels better to me, and it burns more calories too. Nothing wrong with walk/running, in my book.


Nancy • October 31, 2008 at 11:20 am

That is one thing I love about runners. We are all so encouraging to other runners no matter what their skill level is. I started a year and a half ago, and at my first 5k, all the front runners came back to cheer us on. They weren’t there to criticize us or make us feel less than they did. It was an awesome experience that made me enjoy running that much more.

I think 18 minutes is great. It’s better than 18 minutes on the couch doing nothing. I was in the middle of training for a half when I was sidelined with a kidney stone, and 2.5 months later, I’m getting back on track. I’m not where I was, but I will be there again.

Best of luck!


Samantha • October 31, 2008 at 12:08 pm

What an inspirational post. I took a short hiatis from running due to some health issues and when I started again I was VERY discouraged. I was even a bit angry that I had lost all I had worked for. Its during those times that you must remember that it is not just the end result or goal-its the journey that really changes you.


Wendy • October 31, 2008 at 12:32 pm

You’ve just inspired me to get my lardy arse back into the gym ASAP. I’ve let it slide of late, and I’m going to be well disappointed with myself when I see how much I could do that I no longer can, but it won’t get any better while I sit on the sofa!


Some Blogging Chick • October 31, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Yo. I’m just here to bask in your glory, pretty much. Just started this online blogging/losing weight with an ACTUAL support system thing and thought I’d hang around the Queen in hopes of some of it rubbing off.


Apparently this is not a quick process.

I’ll be back.


Quix • October 31, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Next week I’m back to long runs (which for me means 4 trying to extend to 5 miles) after doing a month of interval training. I’m a little scared that I might keel over and die, but also hopeful it might budge my stickity stuck scale that has been evil for the last 2 months.

I definitely found use it or lose it to be true even if you think you’re using it, I stopped doing push ups but kept doing arm workouts, and when I tried to do them a few months later I could do less than half of what I did before. Argh! Sometimes you gotta suck it up, realize you can’t do everything well at the same time, and pick your battles. =)


Dawn • October 31, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Way to go on the 18 mins. It’s so true that we are hardest on ourselves. Sounds like you still have it. Nice you met one of your neighbors too, took me 3 years to meet mine lol.


Coolred38 • October 31, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Been lurking for awhile now but very impressed with your accomplishments and your blog.

Decided that as my 40th bday is just around the corner with 20 years of a very sedentary lifestyle behind me…it was time to take some action…so I bought a bike (the sort that actually takes you somewhere) and some rollerblades (very tricky buggers). For two weeks they have stood there looking at me asking me when exactly was I planning on actually using them…aaaarrgh…Im like that.

Your 18 min is an inspiration…the only thing I can do successfully for 18 min is sleep…how many calories does that burn…lol.

Keep up the good work…and I hope to get started on mine.


Jen • October 31, 2008 at 3:36 pm

This is a big issue for me too — instead of focusing on the positive, I compare what I’m doing now to what I used to do and feel lazy and inadequate. That judging voice is not our friend. What it really wants is for us to give up and go back to the couch.


Gretchen • October 31, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Just read your book and wanted to say: thanks!

What for? Being yourself and being real and not (no pun intended) sugar coating things. Here’s to continued success to you (in weight and *non weight* aspects of life).


anji • October 31, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Sometimes I think older people know when we need to hear an encouraging word!

Keep up with it :) Just remember the days when walking up a flight of stairs would kill ya…. and keep the memories of the marathon alive, so you can remember that you really CAN do it!

Take care, anji


minus10 • October 31, 2008 at 10:46 pm

You kick butt, PastaQueen. I couldn’t run two feet.


discount fitness clothes • October 31, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Hey I know what you mean. I’m the kind of person that loses a lot of what I’ve gained working out. I take a break for a week and say goodbye to my strength.


Merry • November 1, 2008 at 11:25 am

I impress my dog … especially when I feed her treats… does that count?


Matt • November 2, 2008 at 5:25 am

Running 2 hours is seems out of reach, but it is not impossible. I was there already once. It took me over 8 months of running 2-3 times a week, slowly increasing the time. You loose it very quickly though, when you neglect it for a while.

But to be honest, for a normal person, who doesn’t want to do a marathon, 40-60 minutes is absolutely enough to keep one fit and healthy, so do not worry, and know that you’re on the right track to get there :)


Christy • November 3, 2008 at 3:49 am

Keep up the hard work. It takes a lot of effort to make sure to eat healthy and work out. If it were easy we would all be skinny, toned and beautiful.


LothL • November 3, 2008 at 7:51 am

Absolutely! I have never done (and will never do) a half marathon but I ran a 10k in May and then…..stopped running. I went back out yesterday and managed a run/walk 4.5k in a staggeringly rubbishy 40 minutes. But I went, and I burned up 450 calories I would not otherwise have burned. So I will clamber slowly back onto the wagon, one foot trailing on the ground. And keep reading you for the encouragement, of course


Juice • November 4, 2008 at 10:12 am

Kudos to you for even getting on the treadmill!


Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

Man looking into telescope

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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