As best as I can remember, this year marks the 25th anniversary of what I’ve come to call “The Year of Running with Trish.” I know it wasn’t exactly a year; and while I think that it mostly took place in 1992, it’s certainly possible that it was the year before, or perhaps the year after … but for my purposes, 1992 does nicely, even though I haven’t been able to exactly pin it down.
Trish was a coworker of mine in the late 80s and early 90s, and she is a valued, life-long friend. I don’t recall the exact reason we began running together, but my reason for running was that my weight had ballooned to 260 pounds, and I was determined to lose some of that excess weight. Trish wasn’t overweight at all, but she was game to hit the bricks with me, and so we did. Coincidentally, I became a pescatarian the same year, abandoning red meat and poultry for healthy food like McDonald’s french fries and fillet-o-fishes.
But nevertheless, the weight began to come off. Trish and I ran at lunch, occasionally after work, and on a few rare occasions, in the early morning hours. Often we could be found jogging on the Minuteman Bikeway, and if not there, along the many roads in both Lexington and Bedford that could be easily accessed from the long strip of office buildings where we worked on Lexington’s Hartwell Avenue. Trish was exactly the kind of running partner everybody dreams of … when I wanted to bag it, she pushed me to go. If she didn’t want to run, she’d let me talk her into running anyway. We both played on the company softball team, and I can remember several times when we ran the miles to the ball fields in Lexington and then playing softball.
Ultimately, over the course of the year, I lost 70 pounds. In October of the Year of Running With Trish, we traveled, along with my wife and Trish’s boyfriend, up to Montpelier, Vermont and ran the Leaf Peeper’s Half Marathon. We finished together with a time of about 2 hours and 15 minutes, a time that would have been an amazing time for a full marathon. Although I’m not certain, I believe I was the last male finisher.
Now it’s twenty-five years later, and this year, after receiving some distressing test results during a doctor’s visit in late April, I began walking. I was diagnosed with diabetes about a decade ago, and for the most part, the progression of my diabetes has occurred because I have done little to manage it. But the walking, along with a significant change in my diet, has really begun to turn things around. So far I’ve lost fifty pounds, but more importantly, I have been able to almost eliminate the diabetes meds I’ve been taking, while at the same time bringing my blood glucose numbers down to pre-diabetic levels. It has been an amazing transformation, and while outwardly it manifests itself as weight loss, the real change has been reflected in drastically improved lab results. I walk most mornings, and after getting into the swing of it in late April and May, I’ve been averaging a bit over five miles per day. As of today, September 5, I’ve walked 573 miles since April 24. I’m fifty pounds lighter and my A1C has dropped from 9.8 to 5.8. The process has truly been transformational. The walking allows for a level of reflection that isn’t possible when running, and is certainly kinder on my aging knees than running would be. I’m walking alone, and that’s fine, and probably even preferable. I do tend to believe that whenever one person is added to any endeavor (playing music, shopping, going backpacking, whatever), the level of complexity doubles. So walking alone is as simple as it gets, and I value my time spent walking in the early morning hours along the roads around my home.
But 2017 is also the 25th anniversary (give or take) of the Year of Walking with Trish, and sometimes during my early morning walks, my mind is transported back to the runs that the far younger version of myself shared with my good friend, back in 1992 ( or 1991, or 1993, or …).
It was a really good year.