I've been running every day since winter solstice, and have added a minute to the time run in each previous day. Today was 23 minutes. It was cold outside - perhaps high 20s or high 30s, but I'm so overweight I actually broke a sweat toward the end. 237.2 lb. Whew. That's a lot of extra weight, on the order of 30 to 40 extra pounds.

I weighed 200 lb when I ran the 1999 Chicago marathon. Since then my running has been erratic.

My older daughter got engaged on Christmas day, 2010. I'm very excited for her. Now I worry about walking her down the aisle and not embarrassing her by being too fat. So this year I have to drop weight and learn how to dance. Sometimes life just forces you to do things you've always wanted to do, but have put off doing.

The usual aches and pains accompany the journey. The body is stressed by daily running, but like every good biological system, it adapts. Aches wind up in knees and hips. Then the gait adjusts to compensate. Aches up and down my back, and between my shoulder blades. These point out how much muscle tone I've lost. The back musculature is very involved in running. When under-used muscles get tired, they complain. A few more months will cause these aches and pains to clear up. Light weightlifting and pushups help.

I haven't lost any weight yet, which is expected. Not until I run more than 1/2 hour/day do I expect the weight to come off.

The half-hour mark is important. Different things happen in this regime. You are outside for so long that you actually have to plan for some rest along the way. You may also need a drink of water. The oddest aches and pains manifest themselves. Nipple burns - quite painful, especially in the shower when the soap hits your chest. Sometimes thigh abrasions. Sometimes the tip of your penis hurts like hell, getting rubbed about inside your shorts. I don't know how to transcend this time. All the body parts seem to get calloused or something. I have no explanation, but it happens. It's a most unpleasant time - two or three weeks of irritation - but you get through it. I'm not looking forward to that time.

I used to date a woman who could run like a Kalahari bushman - for hours and hours, seemingly without effort. She made running look easy. Our relationship did not make it. Even though I may like to think it was because she moved to St. Louis, MO, it wasn't that, not really. I wasn't enough fun for her, and I wasn't fit enough for her. That's what really happened.

I don't know how to become more fun, but I can become more fit.

I'm not doing this to get back into her good graces, because there are other differences between us that I can't talk about here, and I know that we wouldn't be good together for the long term. But my heart, which is immune to logic and reason, still misses her and still wants her. I still think about her all the time. During breakfast, when we used to sit next to each other and drink coffee and make small talk and kiss. I would look at her smiling blue eyes and consider myself the luckiest guy in the world. While drinking a beer - she loves Bud Light Limes. At night, in bed, when she used me as much as I used her, after which we'd curl into each others' arms, and I'd try to not think about how perfect her ass was and how happy I was that she enjoyed sleeping in the nude.

Those memories rush back during certain moments of the day, like when I am running. That mop of blonde hair that used to run with me, the image of her in her tiniest of running outfits and her tanned muscular legs, that comes back to me when I am running. I carry so much body fat now - and she used to carry none. She was forever cheerful. She also used to pick up plastic bottles along the way. She believed in recycling. She never got mad at the careless people who used to litter. She just used to pick up the plastic bottles without a word and keep on running.

I was proud of her. I was proud to be with her, to be her man.

Now I run alone. The future is a mystery to me. Perhaps I will meet someone who will eclipse Gena in every way imaginable. The next time... I hope I am ready for her.

Until that time, however, I have to prepare for Julie's wedding. Add the minutes, add the miles, lose the pounds. A 10 miler happens in early April in downtown DC. Then a half marathon in Fredericksburg, VA. Then the Marine Corps Marathon in DC again. That will be around the time Julie may get married.

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