500 miles: The First Step

500milesI’ve been running the Peachtree Road Race, a 5k in Atlanta, for several years now. Well, “running” would be exaggerating. I walk it. A 5k, if you didn’t know is roughly 6.2 miles, and my walking it takes about an hour an fifty minutes – give or take. I have wanted to improve that ever since I began, but never bothered to actually do any training. To that end, last year, just after the Peachtree, I got a gym membership figuring that if I was paying money I would go.

That was nearly ten months ago, and this morning I finally went to the gym for the first time.

Before I went, I wanted to give myself a goal. I’ve found through nearly forty years of experience with me that I need to have measurable things. I need boxes to check. There is a great mnemonic for this: SMART. And while I was putting together music I might want to run to, mostly things with constant steady beats at a comfortable pace, I came across “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers. And while I realize that in the song the guy walks a thousand miles because he walks five hundred miles and then he walks five hundred more, I figured since they say five hundred twice as many times as they say a thousand that I would go with five hundred.

If I walk/jog/run a mile a day, it will take me five hundred days to finish five hundred miles. Longer since I wouldn’t go to the gym every single day. I, of course, would like to finish in much less than five hundred days. In fact, I would like to have done five hundred miles in less than 300 days, because that’s about how many days, minus weekends, there are until July 4th 2015, which will be the next time I run the Peachtree.

But wait, “What about 2014?” you might be asking. Well, this year, the wife and I are headed off on vacation over the 4th of July, so we will be missing out. Since we were drawn in the lottery of runners, however, it means we can defer and guarantee entry for next year. So now I have goals and deadlines.

So, back to this morning.

I put my foot on the treadmill and started walking. Slow at first, and then picking up speed. The machine, like most, does quarter mile “laps”, the same way most running tracks are set. I topped out my speed at “4”, whatever that means, which I held for most of a lap. I did four laps, one mile, in just over twenty minutes.

499 miles to go.

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