Crossing the finish line at a five-K race meant more than a successful end to a run. It put a meaningful exclamation point on a three-month effort to improve my health.
The spring of 2016 was a rough time for my health.
Symptoms included shortness of breath, an inability to take a deep breath without coughing, fatigue, and frustration.
Something was wrong and there was a feeling that nothing could be done about it.
My wife made it her challenge to help find some answers. She would accompany me to doctor visits and trips to see specialists. I had lab work, breathing tests, and a plan of attack to keep the condition under control.
At the end of all these visits and tests was the conclusion that asthma and bronchitis were now part of my life.
Medicines were prescribed, and a recommendation was made to exercise more.
I planned to start running daily beginning the day after Independence Day. Two days prior to the execution of that plan, my back was stained.
My start to better fitness was delayed another week.
On July 11th, I took the first step toward daily exercise. I walked a pathway near my home. Later in the week, I would begin running part of that path. By the end of week two, I was running approximately a mile-and-a-half daily. The distance was increased until the desired exertion level was achieved.
Running was now part of the new normal.
Running got the heart pumping and the adrenaline flowing. The time outside was good for the lungs and great for the attitude.
The little annoyances from work and life did not seem to matter much anymore. A new way to deal with the frustrations of life was discovered. It seemed as though the running trail was my new sounding board.
By late summer, I had a routine that included a half-hour run followed by a fifteen-minute stretching exercise ritual. I was feeling better. Improved health had returned.
Follow up visits to the doctors and specialists confirmed that the action plan worked. The medicine took care of the symptoms; the exercise took care of me.
Just for kicks, I entered the UC Merced 5K Run in mid-September. 5K was about twice the length of my daily run. It was for charity, and to make the past three months of daily exercise mean something.
Crossing that finish line was a proud moment that day on the UC Merced campus. I removed my timing band, was handed a medal along with the other five hundred participants and promised to return next year.
In May, I entered the Merced Medical Center Stoke Awareness 5K. I did it for the same reason as the UC Merced Run. I wanted to raise a little money for charity and prove that all this running had a deeper meaning.
I ran in thanksgiving for the benefits from daily exercise. Thanks to the proper medicine, the care of several health professionals, and my wife’s gentle but firm reminders, I feel great.
Aside from a brief period with some aching joints, the routine continues. The benefits accrue.
I have crossed the finish line, and am ready for the next race.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced