January 22, 2013

BILL STEWART: Plenty of reasons to run

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Nearly two years ago I put on a pair of running shoes and decided it was time.

Time for change. Time to do something different. Time to get healthy, or healthier.

It was time to try running.

I had a new pair of shoes, a renewed sense of confidence and was ready to hit the pavement.

After stretching, I strapped the kids into the stroller (where I go, they go), breathed in some fresh early spring air and off I went. I ran down the driveway, took a left and started up our street.

"Go me!" I remember thinking.

About 30 seconds into the run -- and by run I mean a turtle-like jog -- I was out of breath, my feet hurt, so did my ego, and I remember thinking, "what ... am I doing?"

The run turned into a walk that day. So did the next one, and I think even the next one as well. Everything seemed to hurt -- feet, shins, calfs, hamstrings, my dignity -- but I stuck with it.

It took time, but I slowly started covering more ground, and in May 2011 I ran my first 5-kilometer race. The goal for that race -- the annual Mother's Day 5k in Portland -- was simply to finish, and I did just that.

It felt exhilarating, particularly when crossing the finish line. Reaching a goal, big or small, can have that effect.

From there, I've continued running, sprinkling in a few more 5k races along the way.

Now, I am ready for my next challenge, one that will present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

On May 4, I will compete in the annual Run/Walk To Home Plate in Boston. The 9k (about 5.5 miles) will send runners/walkers into the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park.

My goals are, again, to finish and make sure I leave with some Fenway dirt in my pockets that I'll bottle up later.

I've (almost) convinced my wife it'd make a terrific night stand decoration.

The run to Fenway, while months away, will help keep me going out there. Like some runners, I need something set on the calendar to provide a little extra motivation. Hey, there's no turning back after registration, right? To do so would make me a bigger hypocrite than Martha Stewart (no relation, by the way).

Why?

I can't tell how many times I've reinforced with the kiddos that a commitment is a commitment.

Speaking of commitments, I also agreed to raise $750 for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program. Money raised will go to veterans suffering from combat stress or traumatic brain injuries. You can donate by visiting www.runtohomebase.org/2013runtohomebase/WilliamStewart.

Despite running for the last two years, and I admit there have been a few gaps in that time, I still consider myself a beginner. I also know I am not alone.

Surely some of you out there either just picked it up, or are contemplating it. I know there are still others who've come a long way and are on the cusp of accomplishing something that at one point never before seemed possible.

I'd like to hear from you. I'd like to hear your story.

You may just be an inspiration to somebody, and the world can use a little more of that, don't you think?

I have never run a race more than four miles so I know challenges await me in the coming days, weeks and months. I look forward to them. I look forward to setting a good example for my children, to raising money for a good cause and to getting healthier.

Good days, bad days and ones in between lie ahead.

So, too, does my goal.

Bill Stewart -- 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com

 

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