I am not an athlete, nor am I remotely athletic.

I am not an athlete, nor am I remotely athletic.

I haven't run for the sake of exercising since high school gym. Even then, I was the girl who picked up the pace to a jog when passing the gym teacher, walked three laps and called it a mile.

I've never been able to understand people who run for enjoyment.

But when I heard about the EAS-sponsored Ring Around the Roses 5K run to benefit the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, I thought training for it and blogging about my experience would make an interesting feature.

I pitched it to my editor, who told me to go for it.

A month later, I don't know what I was thinking.

After losing 30-plus pounds two years ago based on diet alone, I've struggled to make a commitment to exercise regularly.

I joined a gym in September, and have gone on-and-off since. The winter months, in particular, were rough.

As spring approached, I toyed with the idea of training for a run as a way to motivate myself. I talked to other formerly out-of-shape runners about their experiences.

The Ring Around the Roses seemed like a sign. I regularly talk to the organizers, it benefits a cause I believe in, and I'd have plenty of time to train.

Maybe I thought the threat of public humiliation finally would motivate me into exercising regularly.

I started making it to the gym on a mostly regular basis about a month and a half ago. I've been running on the treadmill for cardio versus using the elliptical (which, by the way, is always the safe exercise option for the chronically out of shape).

I solicited the help of my sister, who somehow inherited the exercising gene that I missed out on. For the past three weeks, she has met up with me to hit the jogging trails near my house.

The first day, I ran like a champ. We did a 2.9-mile jog in 28 minutes. I think only managed because I really didn't want to be shown up by my sister.

I think my sister, who tends to be merciful of my feelings, also kept it at a fairly slow pace so I wouldn't humiliate that. Or maybe she was worried I'd collapse.

The next time out was harder. At one point, my breathing was so erratic that my sister insisted we stop and walked for awhile. The third time, my sides cramped so hard I had to walk part of the route once again.

On the positive side, we still finished at the 28-minute mark both times.

The running has gotten easier, even though we've only been at it for a few weeks. Our last two times out, I've jogged the entire way, without feeling like dieing until the last 10 minutes of our route. We've gotten our time down to 26-and-a-half minutes.

My sister has been my pace car, and thankfully she'll be running the race with me on Memorial Day.

As we train over the next three and a half weeks, we'll be working on improving our time and increasing our distance to the full 3.1 miles the 5K will comprise.

I invite you to read about my experiences on our ThisWeekNews.com blog. I'll be laying out the good, the bad and the embarrassing as I continue to train.

Hopefully, you'll see me jogging passed the finish line in Whetstone Park on May 26.

In doing so, maybe I'll inspire someone else to get passed their struggles with exercise.

And to those of you who run a 4-minute mile and will be breezing past me on the 26th, I'm asking for your mercy in not judging my un-athletic self.

Jennifer Nesbitt is a staff writer for ThisWeek.



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