These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of “firsts.” I ran my first 5K, made my debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and turned 51!
As a singer reaching the stage of Carnegie Hall was, at best, a dream I thought I would never realize. As I made a profession in ministry, my singing became more of a hobby. A hobby that has ebbed and flowed over time. There are times of intense busy-ness with multiple performances and times when performances are few and far between. In the interim, it is always a good idea to keep practicing and keep honing one’s skills in order to be ready for the next performance opportunity.
In similar fashion, one does not run an organized 5K every day so continued training in the interim is crucial to success on race days. Having been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes several years ago, I embarked to create a healthier lifestyle for myself. When I began this journey to health I tipped the scales at 365 pounds. My first strategy was food intake reduction. Exercising, running in particular, was the farthest thing from my mind. As I began to lose some weight it became easier to exercise. I had read somewhere that if you wanted to “reduce your belly” that walking was a good start. I remember many days traipsing to the Y to walk on the treadmill. I worked to the level I could manage and after working at the level for a time I would push myself to do more. I would lengthen the time of the walk, change the incline of the treadmill, increase the amount of “faster” versus “slower” walks, etc. I would leave the treadmill and head to the indoor track to cool down.
For some reason, I started changing my routine so that I would walk/run the indoor track. I eventually was able to complete three miles a day, five days a week. I would walk a lap then run a lap. I would make it around the indoor track 24 times for my three miles and then walk at least an additional lap to cool down. There wasn’t any real science to it other than adding further distance and more times of running as opposed to walking. I also had to actively tell myself that there was no going back. Once I attained a level of the walk/run combination I had to do that every day. I would only increase the combination and never decrease.
All this is to day I have lost about 130 pounds and feeling healthier at 51 than I did at 41! I was, however, a bit worried about my first 5K. I wanted to run as much of the course as I could. 5K was such a long run would I be able to go all the way? What if I had to stop? I was quite nervous the day of the race. There were, however, several saving graces. It was a night run so no one would see the pain in my face. There were many runners so once those who saw me stop running and start walking passed, I wouldn’t feel the “judgement” as the others would assume I had just been walking anyway! (I’m wondering if these are all things you think in your half-crazed state of mind in regards to run preparation!!!)
To my great delight all this psyching myself out was to no avail. When I figured out that a 5K was about 3 miles, I realized this is what I run every day. I had worried for nothing as I was going out to do what I normally do – only with a bunch more people including my oldest daughter, my son and his girlfriend.
While I didn’t run the entire thing, I ran most of it and turned in a time of 34.49 minutes. I was the first of my family members to cross the finish line and I wasn’t the last one done!!! (I should mention the added incentive of the pub crawl that followed the race!)
So, practice, routine, and continued improvement are links between my running and my singing. In this instance, there was one further link – my family. It was such a joy to share my first 5K with family members. We were in it together and we all finished and we all had a great time! When I stepped out on the stage of Carnegie Hall to practice my solo the afternoon before the concert, I was quite nervous and remember shaking a bit – it’s Carnegie Hall for goodness sake! When I stepped out during the concert to sing my solo the house lights at Carnegie were not all the way down. I could see my family. I could feel their love and support and it made all the difference!
Two debuts at the age of 51 – not too bad for a roly-poly kid from Ohio!
Rev. Dan Doty
Bath Church – UCC; Bath, OH