Runnin’ with the Devil

He lashes me with his red spiky tail, and is riding my back, as I trudge forward at a leviathan pace.  Hi! I’m BrianJane, and my Devil weighed 100 pounds more than is good for me last May.

In 2006 I was overweight, but controllably so. Then I started antidepressants which (among other things) leveled my mood, shriveled my libido, and made me put on pounds.  I have always been a man with a sedentary job, except for a couple summers when I labored at a mill and with a crew who poured concrete, but weight was never something that I was unduly worried about.

Running with a Devil on my back.

After I moved to Virginia, the pounds started creeping up on me.  My top weight was 326, last May. I had started walking in March. There were some beautiful spring days–the trees all blossom locally, and the sky is a startling blue. I wasn’t working, so walking calmed my frayed unemployed nerves and kept me from being committed. Then (I can actually pin the date) something amazing happened. I was going out for my morning walk. It was May 6, around 9:30 AM. Hundreds of parents, kids, women with strollers and leashed dogs walked the paved footpath near our house. It was the Reston Town Center’s annual March of Dimes Walk. I was on my walk anyway, so I decided to join them. Hey–it was my path and went by my house.

So I began my labored waddle along with the hundreds of happy walkers. I felt something new, like I belonged to something.  People were cheering me as I walked. Teenage kids in white-and-purple tee shirts handed me cups of water. An old lady reached out to hand me a granola bar, which I politely declined. These people were happy, and I felt like I could actually do this. I couldn’t complete the MoD walk; it was just too far for my sagging body at this point, and I knew the trails enough to find a shortcut home, after an extra mile of sweaty walking. But something had changed for me. I could own this body of mine. I didn’t have to be a slave to the 100-pound devil anymore.

So I began.  I began walking 1-2 miles a day, at first following the same path the March of Dimes walk took me on. Eventually I discovered new trails, and forged out a 2.5 mile route around Lake Anne that brought me on a round trip to my front door. I looked up online plans to do run 5km, finally settling on Couch to 5K’s running plan.  That was 3.1 miles and seemed insurmountable at the time. My first workout was “run 30 seconds; walk 1 minute 30 seconds” 7 times. I thought I would pass out. It took me four weeks to be able to get enough wind to DO the first workout. Slowly my endurance caught up with my sense of self-esteem and I could run a mile without feeling my legs giving out like overcooked pasta.

In August, on a whim, I signed up for a 10km race (for which I was grossly unqualified) and actually succeeded. I was the very last person to cross the finish line, but it was another psychological boost.

For the last 4 weeks, every Saturday I have run at least 5k–actual running. My pace today was a 14 1/2 minute mile over 3 1/4 miles. Almost 6 months after the March of Dimes, I’ve shed around 40 lbs of that red devil, and I hope to lose 60 more by next Fall.

If I can do this, so can you! I’m just a librarian. I’m not a marathoner, or a guy who even lifts weights. I refuse to actually pay for something I could do myself, so I have no gym membership, and no fancy equipment. I’ve got serious mileage out of this $30 pair of shoes from Target. I bought a $15 pair of shorts from the same place. Until August, I was wearing denim shorts and polo shirts.  I looked like a fat businessman late for an important meeting at the local taco stand. I didn’t care. I just kept plugging. I’ve recently joined a group, Reston Runners, who do pre-planned group runs every weekend around the community.

I’m not running for the sake of running. I’m running to get healthy. So my blood sugar levels out. So my kids still have me around when they’re 40 years old. To beat the Devil at his own game. Wish me luck if you read this.


3 thoughts on “Runnin’ with the Devil”

  1. Luck. And bravo. You have me beaten. As of today, I am -32, not -40, but I am still on my way. Walking, yes. Running, no. At least not yet. Maybe never, but then again…


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