Guest Blogger Jamison Jossis
Where It All Started
My journey dates back to close to a decade. It was May 2002. I was sitting in a coffee shop on the corner of Alice and 14th Street in the heart of downtown Oakland, CA. My schedule had been quite hectic the last two years. I worked full-time and was going to Graduate school at California State University-Hayward. When I finished my thesis, I was wondering what my next adventure would be I never imagined that I would consider training for a Half-Marathon. But to my surprise the next 10-weeks would be filled with training for the San Francisco Marathon at the end of July.
I Never Knew The “Fun” in Run?
One of my good friends from work was talking about how he picked up running again and was running Lake Merritt several times a week. Running? I thought to myself, “Are you crazy?” I thought what kind of fun and enjoyment would running mile after mile provide? For me running was just used as conditioning for other sports. That’s what I did to get in shape for Football and Basketball and truthfully I hated every minute of it. Now people who know me are familiar that I use the word “hate” sparingly because the connotations are so powerful but in this case I think HATE describes my emotions perfectly. I HATED running!
Hearing him mention his running around the Lake triggered my own personal horror story when it came to running. I can actually remember when I first moved to Oakland in 1997, I attempted to run Lake Merritt. I got about a mile in and almost died. Do I really have to go two more miles to get around this damn lake? As a trudged around the lake I admitted that I was not built to be a distance runner. I promised myself I would stick to a life of weights and the stair stepper at the local gym; I vowed to stay within my comfort zone.
Thanks But No Thanks
Well my friend asked me if I was interested in joining him and I said, ”Thanks but no Thanks!” Well two weeks went by and I needed a hobby to keep me productive and keep my mind and body sharp. I could only handle so many hours sitting at my computer downloading music from LimeWire (joking, sort of!). So, I decided to go out and attempt to run Lake Merritt again. My friend and me headed down there after work one weekday. At that point, Apple was just coming out with their iPod series, so I did not have a MP3 instead I think I was rocking my portable CD player. We completed the lap and I felt pretty good. I actually felt energized and caught some of the thing they call a “Runner’s High”
We began running several times a week. Progressively we were getting in better and better shape and our cardiovascular keep improving. I started to dig this hobby called running. It was actually “fun”. Then it got crazy… My friend came in my classroom after school one day and handed me a piece of paper. I took the paper and glanced at it. It took a few seconds to register. I looked at it again just to make sure that I read it right. Yep, I sure did. It was an application to register for the San Francisco Half Marathon. I said, “Half Marathon?,” that is a lot of miles to run. My friend said yes 13.1 to be exact. As carefully pondered the insanity, a million thoughts went rushing through my head, I wondered how in the hell do I prepare for a half marathon? What type of training do I do? What are these things called Fartleks? Sounded like a curse word to me! I did not know anything about creating a training program, how many miles I should run, and how quickly I should increase my mileage? I just started running laps around the lake. Each lap was 3.1 miles so I figured if I work up to 4 laps on one of my long runs I could be successful on race day. My only goal was to finish the half I was not concerned with the time. Well, we continued training throughout the summer. I was glad to have a training partner, it really helped with the motivation to get my through those tough workouts when I did not feel like running.
On July 28, 2002 at 5:30am my alarm went off although I did not really need to set it. I had so much energy flowing through my body I could not sleep that night. I keep envisioning being on out on the course. I drove from Oakland and arrived at the Embarcadero. Since I was running the 2nd Half, I had to catch a bus to the Great Highway. It was a beautiful San Francisco morning when we were dropped off. It was overcast and cool, perfect conditions for running. We ran down the Great Highway for close to three miles then into Golden Gate Park. Through the park and then emerging into the city. The Haight-Ashbury, The Dog Patch, cruising along by AT&T Park, finishing in Justin Herman Plaza along the Embarcadero. Well, I did indeed finish the race. It was tough but I pushed through it and mentally toughed it out. I had to walk a few times and started cramping in my legs around mile 11, probably because I did not take advantage of the water stops (lesson learned!) My unofficial time was 2:00:25. Not to bad for a guy who could not make it around the lake several years prior.
The Finish Line
I like to share this story (condensed version) to people that I help train for running Marathons and Half-Marathons because hopefully if I can show them that I can do this thing so can you. It is a matter of dedicating yourself and believing in yourself that you have the ability to accomplish your goal of completing a Marathon or Half-Marathon.