I’d much rather write about ‘running’ than ‘me running,’ but here goes in the hope that you, the reader, might find this blog post worthwhile.
One of my favorite running-related quotes is from George Sheehan, the outstanding runner/cardiologist/author who passed away 26 years ago: ‘For every runner who tours the world running marathons, there are thousands who run to hear the leaves and listen to the rain, and look to the day when it is suddenly as easy as a bird in flight.’
The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich got my buddies and me thinking about trying Cross Country in the fall. No need to do the math – I’m old school. With all the interest in Frank Shorter and Dave Wottle, how could one – one being an impressionable young boy – not consider distance running? It obviously helped when my mother refused to let me play football. Ok, I guess running it is (without a football in hand). It was fits and starts. A new school, hardly knew anyone and the guys were a lot bigger — I think a couple of them were already shaving. So it didn’t last and, instead of running, afternoons were spent at my friend Rick’s house shooting pool and working on algebra. Well, shooting pool anyway; and maybe a little ping pong.
Two summers later, through the encouragement of the gym teacher and a few friends, running was back on my radar and the second time it did stick. Although high school XC was a long time ago, I’m still friends with a few guys with whom I ran back then. I ran XC, indoor and outdoor all through high school and also ran XC and indoor in college. Running is the great equalizer. We don’t switch sides at halftime or substitute for teammates. Everyone gets to ‘play’ and everyone runs the same course and experiences the same feeling of finishing. But it was those middle-aged (old, but not really) runners at local road races that got me hooked. Especially the mid- and back-packers. Some of these guys were older than my parents! Gutting it out, what seemed, every week. No glory, no awards, no recognition – just great camaraderie and a tiny, 2″ x 4″ listing of race results in the local paper a couple days later. It didn’t matter; their motivation came from within. Lots of hard work and pain, and little-to-no recognition. Sign me up.
45 years and numerous road races later, I still get out there and put in a few miles every now and then. And, by the way, I’m still looking forward to the day when it’s as easy as a bird in flight.