Breathing Easy

December 28, 2009

Approaching 40 this past summer, I had smoked for 24 years and never accomplished anything athletic in my life. A trip up the stairs would leave me winded. I had a pack-a-day habit, unsuccessfully attempting every pharmaceutical approach available to quit smoking. It was not until I tied on a pair of running shoes that I was able to quit.

That is not to say that I quit smoking right away. I had bought the shoes in 2007 – a pair of New Balance 1223. They looked good, especially when I wore them out to the patio to smoke another cigarette. I thought they looked particularly good when I jaunted down to the grocery store for a case of Killians and a bag of Doritos.

Having lost my dad to cancer in 2007, and watching my mom’s health deteriorate since then, it was with increasing determination that I set out give tobacco the boot. It was not until I learned of my cousin’s success that I knew how to quit.

The Captain is two years my senior and had smoked all his life. Then, in 2008, he started running and quit smoking. He was running regularly, counting calories and losing weight.

On June 16 of this year, I smoked my last cigarette at midnight. I went to bed and, after a good night of sleep, I strapped on my running shoes and went for a jog around the block. Rather, I should say, I jogged from my driveway to the neighbor’s driveway and walked the rest of the way.

I was terribly out of shape. The pounding my lungs took that first morning was enough to keep me off cigarettes the rest of the day. Although I wanted the pleasure of a cigarette, I knew I could not suffer a cigarette. I continued this routine for the next several days.

It did not take very long for my knees to complain.

My doctor prescribed physical therapy, and I started riding my bike, instead. This lead to my riding the 100-mile course in Pelotonia in August but, that’s another story.

Now that the weather has turned south, I’ve put the bike away. My physical therapist cleared me to start running again, so I am working up to running the Commit to be Fit 5k in the Spring, and the Columbus Marathon in the Fall. I am presently running one mile, walking two, and haven’t had a cigarette in six months.

As for the Captain, he ran in the Akron Marathon this past Fall and qualified for Boston. He really had to set the bar high. Bastard.