Exercise has been part of my daily routine for at least 15 years. In my 20’s, I started taking an aerobics class a few days a week. Dancing around at the Y was fun. At one point a doctor told me, “You’re in your 40’s. You have to work out every day.”

Lightweight running shoes on a white background

So I added walking. Biking. Kickboxing classes. Step classes. Weight classes. Elliptical machines. Spinning. Walking really fast on a treadmill. But never running. Oh maybe once or twice for a couple of blocks. But it always hurt. A knee. . A shoulder. A headache.

Then Tom Gihl, INB’s COO, told the sales team that he’d been thinking about a team-building exercise. He mentioned training to run in a 5K race. He talked about it once. He talked about it twice. He talked about it three times. And then he scheduled lunch meeting. Food? Of course I’ll be there.

I went on the premise that I’d like to “cover” the group’s progress for the bank blog. Document the team building that would take place. That sort of thing.

But what the heck… if I’m going to meet at 6 a.m., I might as well try to run.

The first day, trainer Wes Wooden simply wanted to get an idea of what he was working with. How long does it take to run a mile? I get to the track, and he said, “Go!”

One-fourth of a mile in, I wanted to call it quits. I slowed down. I walked a few steps. My brain caught up with my heart: “I can do this.” I ran again… slower pace. I made the mile in less than 11 minutes. Far from great. I normally walk a mile in under 14. But I get high fives from my much younger colleagues, and the coach’s mom trails me. Lynne says she only does one speed. But she always finishes. Well, I can do that, too, I thought to myself.

Training had begun, and I was hooked. I can’t always meet the group to run. If that’s the case, I simply run alone, at Washington Park or near my house. I try to follow my son’s instructions and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. While I don’t always have team members waiting for me at the finish line, I try to find another reason to feel good at the end. “I did it!” “Look at the calories I burned!” “Wow, I don’t hurt!”

I learned from initial run that I have to warm up before I can run. So when I run with the group, I get there early, walk a half mile, then start my run. The four or five guys who run with Tom and Wes usually pass me up nonetheless. And I haven’t tried to catch up. I like Lynne’s mantra. “I only have one speed.”

The best – yet worst – part of the training has been hills. For me, even the slightest incline makes running nearly impossible. Right near the Washington Park pavilion is a nice, steep incline. The first time I was asked to run up and walk down as many times as I could in 15 minutes, I always walked down and sometimes walked up. Last week. . . . I ran both directions all 15 minute. Fast? No. But I wasn’t walking.

When I started this, my goal was to write about teamwork. I’m finding “RUN Team INB” is more about camaraderie. “TEAM INB” already existed. I became part of that team the day I started working for the bank. It was reinforced when I was invited and encouraged to take part in the Run Team. Thanks to my running comrades for the high five’s when I finish a training challenge… no matter how far behind everyone else. Such nice people! It’s easy to see why they connect so well with INB customers.