Until two years ago, Lakewood businessman Bruce Bodine hated running.
In fact, he says, he hadn’t run in the 40 years since seventh-grade physical education class “unless I was late for a plane.”
Today, Bodine is a 55-year-old textbook example for learning a new sport at an age some might think is too old. He took his sweet time.
Bodine is now a self-proclaimed running addict who’s still getting faster almost every time he enters a race. And next weekend, he’ll run his first marathon, the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon.
While so many people overdo it and get hurt when they try something new at any age, Bodine started small and slowly advanced his way to the bucket-list distance of 26.2 miles.
Sure, that gradual indoctrination into running had more to do with his dislike for the sport, but there is no doubt it paid big dividends.
Thanks to several decades as a construction worker, Bodine, owner of Bodine Enterprises, has always been strong and somewhat fit. In his early 50s, he lifted weights a few times a week and thought that was good enough.
Then two years ago, he hurt his shoulder and couldn’t lift or do much of anything. He decided to give running a try.
“I’m not a wimp, but I didn’t use those muscles,” Bodine said. “I ran half a mile and thought, ‘This is awful.’ ”
This is the advice he wants to make sure every new runner hears: don’t stop. The first time is going to stink. The second time is going to stink. But it will get better.
“Three weeks,” Bodine said. “What’s that they say? If you can do it for three weeks, it becomes a habit. It’s true.”
A few days after his miserable first run, Bodine dragged himself back outside to run 34 mile. Then he ran an entire mile.
There were times when he wanted to walk as he did in the seventh grade when the teacher wasn’t watching, but inspiration to keep going wasn’t far away.
He thought about his friends and family, and the art of endurance.
“I’m a businessman, so I understand endurance,” Bodine said. “Back then we were in the middle of a deep recession. It’s still not good, but we are coming out of it. A lot of us were sucker punched pretty hard. I realized it was going to take perseverance to make it through and I thought, ‘Why can’t I take that same perseverance out with me when I exercise?’ ”
The more he ran, the more he liked it. “Now I’m like a dog,” he said. “‘Where’s the leash? Where’s the leash? I want to go.’”
Bodine worked his way up to running a 3-mile loop around his neighborhood and set what, at the time, he thought was the ultimate goal. A six-mile run around Steilacoom Lake.
“That was a big deal to me when I could do that,” Bodine said. “Now that’s a short training run.”
He also learned there were perks to learning the sport later in life. “My body hasn’t taken 40 years of pounding from running,” he said.
In November 2010, Bodine entered the Seattle Half Marathon with the same mindset that got him there – take it slow.
“Some people get caught up in the time and running faster,” Bodine said. “I’m about the distance.”
It took Bodine 2 hours, 53 minutes to cover the 13.1-mile course.
“It was like a fast walk, but it was the motion of running,” he said.
He was so slow he was passed at one point by a woman using a cane. “I know you’ll think I’m making that up,” he said. “But it’s true.”
Determined to put his pace before his pride, Bodine kept going and felt great when he finished.
“It’s a race, but it’s not like you are really racing against the thousands of people around you,” he said. “The only things most people are worried about are themselves and their time.”
As Bodine slowly adds distance and increases his speed, he loves the results. Last month, he ran the Portland Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in 2 hours, 2 minutes.
While his times get faster and the races get longer, that’s not what Bodine loves most about his new sport.
“Running is free time in my head,” he said. “I can think about anything I want. My day, my kids and they’re pretty low intensity thoughts. There’s no stress.”
It’s about having fun. “You don’t have to be a rock star to sing,” he said. “You don’t have to be a supreme athlete to run.”
Bodine figures next weekend’s marathon will be a challenge, but he’s already signed up for another on Dec. 2 in Las Vegas. He’s not sure where his new sport will take him after that, but he knows he’ll be running when he gets there.
“My seventh grade P.E. teacher would be proud.”Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via firstname.lastname@example.org and twitter.com/AdventureGuys. Also get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure and thenewstribune.com/fitness.