Have you ever watched kids RUN out of the classroom when they get a break from having to sit still? Have you just ever watched them chase each other, going every which way, for the pure JOY of it? Their mechanics are flawless, they don’t know that it’s 100 degrees in the shade, and you have to remind them to get a drink at the fountain. They will just RUN. Because they can. Because they need to. Because most people need to. But don’t.
I was one of those kids. I raced on the playground-anyone and no one. My teachers said I would be a better student if I “just slowed down”, but I could not. I begged to run ahead if we hiked. I asked to walk (run) down to the creek after dinner a half mile from the house so that I could catch crawdads. I cried when it was time to come home from trudging up steep hills where we tobogganed. I ran alongside the high school neighbor boys,as they sprinted back and forth on the front green lawns, being discussed by the grown ups, and being so aware of that at age 9 I announced that I too would run track when I got to high school. My dad put his hand on my shoulder and told me, “No, sorry, girls don’t run track”. At least not in my small midwest town. Bet me.
It began for me, 43 years ago on a cinder track during a chilly,wet spring in the midwest. Just me and a few of my gal friends from high school. Just us and the boys track team. Us in gray sweats and white Keds with an announcement that we “wanted to work out with the guys” as there was no girl’s track team. I think our goal was four times around. Big workout, hmm? It was enough to give me shin-splints and have to walk up the stairs backwards at school the next day. But I kept running.
I ran for at least five years until I thought I was “good enough” to race a 10k. I entered an “all women” race in 1977 and ended up in the top 100 under 45 min. And I loved every minute of it. I brought my 10k time down to 41:00 which is really not fast in the scheme of women’s running, but I am more of an endurance “can go all day” kind of person, so that became my focus. I tackled my first marathon in 1978 (sub 4:00), and completed a dozen marathons in the next 4-5 years that took their toll on my knees, so I started lifting weights and riding my bike. From here I did a few ultras, ran a Grand Canyon double (12:32), Pikes peak marathon (6:06) and some local mountain races where I placed first woman in quite a few and held some records for a few years. It was a small contention of runners, so no one knew about it then nor knows about it know, unless you are reading this…and it really doesn’t matter.
I never felt the need to tell anyone about it, write about it, become a “coach” to anyone except my elementary school kids, direct a race for our school district and run for my health and fitness and stress release.
I still run. It’s much slower now. I can “crank out” a ten min. mile pace for a 5k but it’s work. It’s a way for me to wake up, gather my thoughts, come up with ideas for “my” kids at school, and to give me energy for the day. It also keeps my weight at a constant (I don’t have a scale but when I am asked to weigh myself, I weigh the same I did in high school). I don’t follow diets, but eat to re-fuel and build muscle and keep my from getting those ugly germies that preschoolers carry around with them. It’s as natural to me as brushing my teeth, which is why I will probably only write one post about running. I mean, what can you say about it really?
It’s fun. It clears my head. It’s “me” time. It keeps me younger than my 61 years. It’s not pretty usually, or glamourous. It doesn’t give me “aha” moments or help me solve my or the world’s problems. I don’t need running partners. I don’t need an audience. I don’t need daily mantras or sayings or motivational quotes to get me out the door at 4:30 a.m. so that I can enjoy billions of stars, an owl hoot, a coyote’s song, the musky smell of javelina or the pungent creosote bush after a rain. Those are reasons enough alone, don’t you think? For me, yes.