Like lots of people, I have a checkered running past. Here’s the first installment.
I was not a runner as a kid. In fact, I hated taking track and field in high school. It seemed like a form of torture, with a never ending selection of activities that seemed designed not to be interesting or fun, but merely to cause physical pain and spiritual misery. Jumping over hurdles, running 100 yards so fast you wanted to puke, leaping over a bar with a huge, bent pole. What was the point?
So, I rejected running as a youth.
It’s odd that I did this, considering that my father took up running in the early 70s, when I was around eight years old, and through the 70s and 80s ran seriously, completing several marathons. Did I ever bother to ask him about his running? Of course not. I just thought my dad was crazy. What kid doesn’t?
During the late 80s, I was reasonably athletic, mostly owing to the fact that I had no money and no car and usually lived far from where I worked and from the public transportation required to get me there. So I did a lot of walking. I also bought a bike and tooled around on that sometimes. But I was basically a clueless blob. But I was thin (see the “no money” part above), if not healthy.
At the dawn of the 90s, I fell in love and, as so many people do, became fat, happy and “settled” over the subsequent years. I was no stranger to large bags of Doritos (Cool Ranch Flavor), Boston Creme Donuts and mashed potatoes. Like a lot of people who gain weight slowly, I wasn’t really aware of how I looked most of the time. But I’d see myself in a photo and think, “Sweet Jesus, I’ve gotten fat!” — at which time I would resolve to do something about it.
And I would try. I bought some running shoes and tried to run. But my knees would hurt and I’d give up after not seeing dramatic weight loss after 6 weeks (never mind that I’d not bothered to change any of my eating habits). I did this two or three times over the years.
Then a confluence of events that served to change my attitude happened. I ran into a few people I’d not seen in a while who had previously been fat and who had since gotten into shape. I was impressed and saw the possiblities. I also had taken up hiking, which was enjoyable, but often very difficult given how out of shape I was. I wanted to be a better hiker. And on my birthday in 1999, some visiting family members bought me a big honkin’ chocolate Easter bunny. The giant bunny was the last straw and psychological turning point. I decided that after I ate the bunny, I would commit to becoming fitter. And so, my running career was born in the spring of 1999, just after my 34th birthday.
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